Fall, 1941 MOUNTAIN LirE AND WORK
critter was dead and dust.
Peep Eye stood pretty as a bunty bird. jimp and I leaned giddily against the jinny pole. Peep Eye said, "I know something you fcllers don't. Plurney's marrying Rant Branders tonight."
"Be-doggies," Jimp swore. "Rant promised I was the only one to know. Secrets nor varmints nobody can keep."
"One secret I've kept," Peep Eye bragged. "I've larnt why the square's here. A scanty few knows that."
We plead with her to tell, but she wouldn't. She would only talk of the wedding. "When I grow as tall and fair as Plumey," she said, "I'm going to pick the a man who can jounce air one o' my brothers, one strong as Pappy, and able to take his part."
"By doomsday you won't be fair as Plumey," Jimp said contrarily.
Peep Eye frowned. Her mouth puckered.
"You're the born image of Plumey," I said, "except for a beauty spot. Now, I choose a mole on a woman's cheek."
"I kin make me one out o' a soot pill," Peep Eye said.
"Be-doggies," Jimp grumbled. "I hain't ever aiming to marry."
I sat on the pole and swung my legs. "I'll not be a bachelor or a. widow-man,"I spoke.
Peep Eye looked strangely at me. She raised her arms and pushed me backward, and fled. I stood on my head yon side the finny.
Jiinp said, "Girls allus let a feller know when they like him a mite."
Under the sirup kettle fire blazed so lively the darkness was eaten away, and pale glimmers of lanterns swallowed, and far tops of the Billy trees lit. I sat on a heap of milled sorghum stalks, my molassy spoon ready, anxious to taste the foam. Jump crouched beside me, grinding his teeth in anger. He'd heard his ferret was dead, and he stared auger holes at Bailus and Squire Letcher. Oh, Bailus hadn't got rid of the squire. The squire rested on an empty keg, sighing wearily and clapping a hand to his mouth.
I had ,limp point Rant Branders out. Rant appeared barebones, yet in height he stood taller than the Buckhearts. He was long armed and long legged, and a grain awkward. I said, "I bet
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he's a cagey one. He's a grasshopper of a man." And I began counting the people who had come to the stir-off. I named my fingers five times and over. I saw Plumey whispering to a bunch of girls, and Old Gid moseying around wondering at the crowd, and Peep Eye flitting here and yon like a silk butterfly. I kept gazing at Peep Eye.
"My beastie's stone dead," Jimp glummed. "That law-square and Bailus's to blame. Had I a chip o' money I'd hire fellers to trick them into the sorghum hole. Be-dogs, I would."
"Fellers'd be scared of a magistrate," I said. "Anyhow, your ferret wasn't shot a-purpose. Hit was mistook for a rabbit."
"My pap hain't afeared o' the Law. He could scare that square in without tipping him."
I caught Peep Eye watching me, and I wanted to leave the sorghum heap. I saw her face was pouty and cold. I thought inside my head, "Hit's not like what Jimp said. I bet she hates my gizzard." But I said aloud to Jimp, "I'm bound to eat molassy foam when it's first done. Hain't but one thing better, and that's pull-candy."
Jimp harped his troubles. "Ram's broke his swear-word. He promised me knucks to fit, and then made 'um shooting big. They'd fit U Z." He fetched them from a pocket and the finger places