图书图片
PDF
ePub

of the straps, and the red streak was, on every such occasion, Imade a little wider.

"Talk to her, 'squire ! talk to her!" said Uncle Kit; "when yer Uncle Kit was young, he didn't do nothin' but talk to the gals, he-e-yah! yah!"

We endeavored to make ourselves agreeable to Miss Winny, of course, and during the whispering of one of those confidential nothings common in such circumstances our head came almost in contact with hers. Seizing the opportunity, Mr. Kuncker brought his close up, and with his lips produced such an explosion as might have resulted had we kissed Miss Winny.

"Ha!" exclaimed the old fellow, starting back in wellfeigned amazement; "at it a'ready, 'squire! Well! 'twas a buster, anyway!" whereupon he laughed immoderately, as did most of the company. Miss Winny turned red, and we looked foolish-we suppose.

"Some people's too derned smart, anyhow!" said the gentleman in buff cassimere, who supposed that we had really kissed Miss Winny.

"And some ain't smart enough, Ikey Hetson," said Uncle Kit; "or they wouldn't let other people cut 'em out-would they, Winny?"

Winny smiled, but said nothing, and Mr. Kuncker raising himself half up, so as again to intercept Mr. Hetson's view, produced another explosion.

"For shame, 'squire!" said he, sitting down again.

"I kin whip any pocket-knife lawyer that ever made a moccasin track in Datesville!" said Ike, striding backward and forward behind Mr. Kuncker's chair, like a lion in his cagefuriously jealous.

Uncle Kit laughed until his wife called to him across the room, and told him he was a "stark naitral old fool!"

"I wouldn't be a gump, ef I was you, Ike Hetson," remarked Miss Winny.

"Them that don't care nothin' for me," replied Ike, "I don't care nothin' for them, nuther."

"The 'squire's mouth ain't pisen, I reckon," said Miss Winny very sharply; "and it wouldn't kill a body ef he did kiss 'em!" "Let's see!" said we, doing that same before Miss Winny could help herself.

"Go it! my rip-roarin', little union 'squire: you're elected!" shouted Uncle Kit, in a paroxysm of delight.

"Dern my everlastin' dog-skin ef I'll stand it!" said the furious lover-"I'll die in my tracks fust! I'm jist as good as town folks, ef they do war shoe-boots and store close. I'm jist a hunderd and forty seving pound, neat weight, and I'm a wheel-horse!" and then Mr. Hetson doubled his fists and shook himself all over, with an energy that looked dangerous, considered in reference to the excessive tightness of his buff cassimeres.

Aunt Hetty now interposed-"Do, Ikey! do, now, son, don't be fretted so-don't be so jealous-hearted! The 'squire didn't mean no harm in the world, by bussin' Winny; and Winny didn't mean none by lettin' of him—'

[ocr errors]

"I didn't let him: he done it hisself!" said Winny.

"Oh, well! we all know that, to be sure," said Aunt Hetty. "It were jist the romancin' of that simple old crittur, that's never easy without he's got somebody in a brile. I wouldn't mind it, Ikey, no more'n I would

But Mr. Hetson did mind it; and he didn't wait for Aunt Hetty to fish up a figure whereby to illustrate its insignificance before he made a "burst" at us-but Mr. Kuncker caught him by the shoulder.

"Stop!" said Uncle Kit.

"What?" inquired Hetson.

Uncle Kit paused, and then slowly but most emphatically remarked:

"You'll tar them trousers!"-and the whole company laughed at Uncle Kit's remark, or Ike Hetson's trousers-or perhaps at both. And Ike hung down his head, and was evidently "used up."

'Thar's but one way to settle this, and to know who's to have Winny-you or my little union 'squire."

"How's that?" asked Hetson.

"Andy will tell us all about it!"

Mr. Hetson turned very pale, for he had great faith in the predictions of Andy.

A general rush-supper being over-to the big room followed this announcement, and Uncle Kit whistled Andy into the house. The dog-prophet came in slowly and crouchingly, for the fear of his mistress was before his eyes; and as he got opposite Mrs. Kuncker he emitted a deprecatory whine, and with a bound attained his master's legs. Aunt Hetty, however, made no attempt to strike him.

"Now, Andy, boy," said Uncle Kit, "I've fetched you in here to tell all about Miss Winny Folsom's fortin; and you must do it mighty nice and good, for she's a pretty little union gal!" He then set about drawing a huge circle and several smaller circles within, and an immense number of radii and, between these, rude representations of animals, both real and fabulous—while Andy sat by, wagging his tail and looking very intelligent.

"It a-i-n-t right-it a-i-n-t right!-it's a-g-i-n Scriptur'!" said Granny Whipple, shaking her head, and dwelling on the italicized words as she surveyed the necromantic operations of old Kit-"you're a-doin' of a w-r-o-n-g thing, Christopher

Kuncker! I t-e-l-l you you are!" But Mr. Kuncker only laughed at Granny Whipple.

While Mr. Kuncker was engaged in preparing for the delivery of the oracles, secundum artem, the conversation in the room turned on the degree of credit to be given them.

"What do you think 'bout Andy's fortin tellin', Miss Wilkerson?" asked Mrs. Naron. "Do you believe he raaly knows what's gwine to come to pass?"

"Well, now," replied Mrs. Wilkerson, "I don't know what tu say. It's a mighty strange thing how knowin' some brutes is. Thar's my 'Cherry' cow, I raaly b'lieve the critter knows when I'm a-gwine to feed her jist as well as I do my own dear self! That minute I picks up my tub to go and tote her the slops, she'll 'moo,' and 'moo,' and 'moo.' And the knowinest look out of her eyes you ever seen a critter have in all your days!"

"Oh, law!" exclaimed several old women.

"Miss Kuncker, what do you say to it?" queried the first speaker; "you oughter know, ef anybody does. He's your old man's dog. Does Andy know the futur, or not?"

"It's a mighty hard thing," said Aunt Hetty, "a mighty hard thing to spend a 'pinion 'pon. Sometimes I think it's only Kit's devilment-and then, agin, the dog do tell sich quar things, looks like I'm 'bleeged to think he knows. Last week, I b'lieve it was-yes, only last week-Jim Hissup fotch a twogallon jug o' sperrets home, for the old man, from town. Well! Kit he 'spicioned Jim o' drinkin' some on the way, but Jim denied it mighty bitter. So the old man foch Andy in the house, and Andy give the sign that Jim had tuk some! and then Jim right away owned to it, and told the old man how much he tuk, which was two drinks, as nigh as I can remember!"

"Good gracious!" burst from three or four.

"I don't believe nothin' about it," said a withered old crone, as she sucked away industriously to prevent her pipe going out; "I know Andy can tell what'll happen. Brutes, in a common way"-she continued aphoristically, as she pushed down the tobacco in the bowl of her pipe with her forefinger"is more knowiner 'an humans. Did ye ever hear, 'mongst ye, of the snake at John Green's?"

"Dear Saviour alive!" exclaimed a dozen-"what about the snake?" and they all drew long breaths and opened their eyes at one another.

"I'll tell ye! John Green's sister (the grass widder, as lives with 'em), she goes to her battlin' bench, and what does she see thar, a-quiled up on it, a-sunnin' of itself, but a big black snake

[ocr errors]

"Laws a-massey!" ejaculated the entire group.

"Jest as I tells ye-thar it was! and it licked out its tongueit did, as sure's you're born-right at the widder, and looked the venomousest ever was! Well, she run in the house and fainted right away; and ef you'll b'lieve me, the very next week, her little boy, as can jest run about, swallowed a punkin seed, and like to a' died. Ef its uncle hadn't a' hit it on the back and a' made the punkin seed fly out, that child never would a' drawd another breath no more'n-shah! you may tell me that snakes and dogs don't know things, but-" and Granny Richards didn't finish the sentence, but bobbed her head emphatically, as much as to say that she couldn't be humbugged by any such assertions.

Everything was now ready: the rings, the radii, the serpents, the bats, the unicorns, and the scorpions, all complete; and Andy was seen seated in the exact center of the whole, upon his hind legs, and looking very wise.

"Yes!" said Uncle Kit, mentally contrasting Andy with

« 上一页继续 »