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Charley came out of the ground and Mother laughed as though she had washed and ate dinner. He said it was been running; she said polite things like old times to eat honest-to-gosh cook while they went into the house. It was ing again, and mother looked sad. logs on the inside, too, and bits of dayUncle Charley should not say honest-to- light came through between them. gosh; it was a bad word.
Women and many children were sitting “Will you stay to supper, Charley?” around the fireplace. They were all baremother said.
footed and wore queer gray dresses, and Uncle Charley made marks with his they all looked at mother's dress and at toe in the red mud. “Hang it all! yes,” Mary Alice's shoes. A woman put out a he said.
long skinny arm and pulled Mary Alice After supper ne sat with father on close to her. The woman's face was all the doorstep and mother sat near them deep-brown wrinkles and her chewing in the rocking-chair and sang songs to
mouth was somehow like a rog jumping. them; they forgot it was bedtime. Aunt “Nyow here's a right peart little girl," Molly came up the road in the moon she said. “I'd give a pretty for a little
ht, her face and her arms and her feet girl like you." were white in the moonlight, and she Mary Alice shyly said nothing, leanstood at the edge of the piney woods and ing against the woman's friendly knee. called:
Aunt Molly sat on her heels by the “Charley!”
fireplace, mixing cornmeal and water Mother asked her to come in, but she with her fingers. She took handfuls of it said, “No thanks; I reckon we-all 'll be and patted them flat between her hands; gitting along home.”
she made a print of her hands on each Uncle Charley did not come any more side. Mary Alice admired it very much. to dig, and father and mother talked Then Aunt Molly laid the yellow cake in about it. Mother said they must be the ashes and covered it with ashes and nice to Aunt Molly. She did not want made another. to, but she pinned up her hair and put Each woman had only one or two long on her sunbonnet and she and Mary yellow teeth, but they never stopped Alice went up the white road. Sunshine brushing them. They dipped little sticks slanted through the piney woods and into boxes of brown dust, and chewed, and struck the white road. Lizards lay on the spit into the fireplace. Mary Alice had zigzag fence waggling their sleek throats, never seen anyone spit so far and so and ants went across the road in crawl well. There was a box on the knee beside ing lines, little red lines and big black her, and she looked into it, politely. lines. White dust was on the toes of The woman understood; she dipped her Mary Alice's little shoes and mother's stick into the box and twirled it until it big shoes.,
was brown, and offered it to Mary Alice. They came to Uncle Charley's house. Mary Alice took it eagerly, but mother's It was made of logs,and skins were spread eyes opened wide, and then she shook out on the walls. The ground around it her head. was bare and hard and hens were walk "She's too little yet, I'm afraid," ing about. Large bony dogs with flap- mother said, and her blue eyes were very ping ears stood up and growled, but blue in her pink face. “Thank the lady Aunt Molly came to the door and said: nicely, and put it back, Mary Alice,”
"Hesh up, you ornery dawgs! I'm and mother looked around at the faces right proud to see you-all,” she said, timidly. looking at mother's calico dress. “We “My childern's dipped snuff sence all ain't fine like Northerners, but sech they was weanlings,” said the woman. as we got is good enough for we-uns. Mary Alice wanted to cry, but she let Light 'n' come in."
the woman take back the stick. Aunt
Molly stood up, and made again that “Now come in this house, and eat, frightening sound like a laugh. Mary and don't let me hear another word out Alice felt queer, as though she were big of you!" and mother little and something wanted Mary Alice sat bowed on the bench to hurt mother; she went and stood with and swallowed as much as she could. her back against mother.
She was most miserable. Afterward they The men came tramping in. They went home, and all down the white road were Aunt Molly's brothers—tall, loud Mary Alice did not say anything, only men, even bigger than Uncle Charley. she looked up at mother now and then They hung their guns on the wall and and felt confused. When they got home were noisy; they slapped their big hands she hurried into the house and sat alone on Aunt Molly's shoulders, and she in a corner, holding her rag doll. laughed. Aunt Molly's black eyes The days were forlorn. Uncle Charley seemed hot, her black hair was alive. did not come, father did not laugh, and It did not hang limp like the other mother never tickled toes any more when women's, but each lock of it curled and she pulled the covers off the cot in the twisted into the air. She did not look at mornings. Father had finished the well; Uncle Charley, and he did not speak to there was no more red clay, and in the mother. All the women sat by the fire yard there were only lizards and ants to while the men ate, and Aunt Molly watch. went back and forth with dishes. When One night Mary Alice had a dream. her feet touched the floor they seemed to She dreamed that some one came tapbound. The corn cakes smelled good ping at the door in the night. Father and Mary Alice was hungry, but she said, “Who's there?” and Uncle Charwas afraid of the big men, and even ley's voice answered, very low. Father mother seemed strange.
got up and lighted the lamp in the Uncle Charley was the last of the men kitchen, and mother got up. Mary Alice to go. He stood in the doorway turning thought she sat up in bed and looked his hat in his fingers and not looking at through the door into the kitchen. anybody. Then he went away and all Mother's long braid hung down her the women got up and began putting wrapper, and mother said to father: the children on the benches by the table “No! I won't do it, Howard. Everyand finding places themselves. Some one thing we own in the world is in this filled Mary Alice's tin dish with grease farm. You won't be driven off it while and meat and corn cake; there was a I have anything to say about it.” confusing noise of voices and tin cups Father's wrinkles were deep black rattling, a woman slapped a boy and he marks on his face above the lamp. He howled, and suddenly Mary Alice cried: said, “Well, but Mary—"
"I don't want nasty black things to “I don't believe it, anyway!" mother eat with! Why aren't they white, said. “She couldn't hate us like that. mother, like ours?"
What have we ever done to her?" Everybody looked at her, and mother Uncle Charley's voice was there, but reached down and took her under one Mary Alice could not see Uncle Charley. arm and carried her out of the house; Mother turned quickly and spoke toMary Alice did not know why. Mother ward the voice. did not listen to anything she said; “Well, why don't you?” she said. mother set her down hard and held her “You don't belong with such people. head under one arm and lifted
her You used to be the finest boy in Webster skirts and struck her from behind. Mary County, and what's she doing to you? Alice yelled with amazement and terror. You know it isn't true; you know I've Mother struck her more than once, and never said a word to turn you against then said:
her, but I say it now. Yes, leave her!
Married or not married, there's some anything until I say you may. Do you things wrong in the sight of God. If understand? Tell me, Mary Alice." you'll come with us, Charley, we'll go. “I must never eat anything until you We'll go back home."
say I may," said Mary Alice, rememberThen Mary Alice heard the pineying hard.
ing hard. And next morning mother woods whispering, and she was fright- tickled her toes, but it was not as it used ened and cold and wanted to call to to be, and Mary Alice did not want mother, but did not dare.
mother to do it because she was asked. Uncle Charley said, “It's too late, One could play in the garden, putting Mary."
the peanut blossoms to bed. Mary Alice Mother said: “It isn't too late. Yes, bad carefully picked up the peanut I say it. I don't care if you'd married blossoms and dusted them, until father her twenty times—”
found her doing it. He laughed then, Then Uncle Charley said a strange and called mother to laugh, too. Peanut thing. He said: "Mary, you don't blossoms must dig down into the ground know—you don't know what she'd do. to make peanuts. So now she put them The moon's shining.” Mother's face in little holes and buried them—the went all still and hard in the lamplight. peanut blossoms were glad because she Then she was out of sight, and Mary was helping them. Alice heard her crying voice, "Oh, Char "Well, I guess we'll have to live on ley, don't! don't!" and a terrible, the peanuts," father said. The cow was hoarse, gasping sound. Father coughed, dead. He had found her in the piney and then he grew very large and very woods with her legs cut, so he had had small and the terrible sounds went on to kill her, and there would not be any and on, until Mary Alice opened her little calf. Mother looked sick. She eyes. The sounds were only the whis said: "How can human beings do such pering of the piney woods and mother things! But I won't back down for was combing her hair in the morning. them,” she said; "it's like going away
“Where is Uncle Charley?" said Mary and leaving Charley." Alice. "Mother, is the moon shining?" There were no more peanut blossoms.
“What do you mean?” mother ex Under the ground there were peanuts, claimed. “You've been dreaming, Mary and father was digging them up; some Alice. Nobody's been here. Moonshin- day mother would roast them. The ing is a bad word. You must never say
banana plant in the yard had grown it again.” Mary Alice's bewilderment taller than Mary Alice; its broad leaves opened her mouth, but mother was so hung limp and warm in the sun. Beneath stern that she closed it again.
it on the ground a moth fluttered; it After breakfast mother took Mary was alive, but it was covered with ants. Alice between her knees and spoke to The ants were eating it. Mary Alice got her seriously. “I want you to listen to
a grass stem and fought them. She me, Mary Alice,” she said. “You must poked them off as fast as she could, but never eat anything that anyone gives they kept coming, and the poor moth you. Never eat anything until I give it fluttered. She must not touch moths, to you, or father. Do you understand?" a touch brushed the weeny little feathers
“Oh, mother," said Mary Alice, off their wings, and hurt them. Mary “aren't you ever going to tickle
Alice fought the ants as fast as she again, ever, ever, any more?”
could, but in a moment the moth jerked, Mother scrunched her up tight in her twisted up its legs, and died. Mary warm, clean-smelling calico lap and arms, Alice stood up. Aunt Molly was leaning laughing and catching her breath. But on the fence, watching her from the in a minute she was stern again. “Lis shadows of a sunbonnet. She did not ten, dear. You must never, never eat speak, but beckoned with her hand.
"See what I've fetched you hon “The black baking pan,” said mother. ey,” she said, like a secret. She un “All right,” said Mary Alice. Mother curled her fingers, and on her palm was got the black baking pan and filled it a little red ball. “It's spruce gum,” she with peanuts. She put the pan in the said. “It grows in the piney woods. oven and shut the oven door. Then she Your aunt Molly's fetched it and chawed went out. Mary Alice sat on a stool and it all soft for you."
waited. She looked at the sunshine on She felt warm and grateful toward the floor and at the ironing board laid Aunt Molly. But Aunt Molly's eyes on the backs of the two chairs; she were strange; their look came out of heard the piney woods whispering, and them and pushed Mary Alice's gaze the safe sound of the teakettle. Now and down. She could not look at Aunt Molly. then she sniffed. She smelled the peaShe turned the red ball over in her hand. nuts. She smelled them very loud. She
“Chaw it,” said Aunt Molly. “Chaw began to smell them anxiously; they it.”
smelled burning. She was trying to open It was only to chaw; it was not some the oven door when suddenly some one thing to eat. Mary Alice lifted it to her seized her. Mother had her tight; mouth, and then took it down and looked mother was shaking and sobbing and at it again. But it was not to eat. The laughing, her face was wet and twisted screen door slammed, and she looked against Mary Alice's. Mary Alice up guiltily.
shrieked aloud and struggled, screaming. "Mother, see!" she said. "See what Father came in, running, the hoe in Aunt Molly gave me! Mother, can I eat his hand. Mother cried: “She died! it? It's gum."
She's dead!” and laughed horribly. Mother looked at Aunt Molly. Aunt Father shook them both. “O my God! Molly stood up straight, and the sun O my God! Whai is it?” he said. bonnet fell back; her face came out “Answer me!” hard and bright, and she smiled at Mother stumbled across the floor, carmother.
rying Mary Alice to the doorway. Out“Yes, Mary Alice,” you may have it, side, on the stain of red mud, the said mother, and just as joy leaped in Plymouth Rock hen lay dead with her Mary Alice, mother's hand came down quickly and took the red ball. “After “I threw it to her, and she swallowed supper,” she said.
it, and died,” said mother. Mary Alice looked up, protesting, and And Mary Alice sincerely wept, bewas struck silent. Something vast and cause she had liked the ben, too. Father terrible was there, in the air, invisible, and mother comforted her, and talked coming out of the eyes of Aunt Molly over her head. and mother. Mary Alice's legs stumbled There was no supper that night. Mary as mother led her by the hand into the Alice was given a piece of bread and house.
butter, and she was not to be put to Mother sat down and took Mary Alice bed. Father had hitched up the horses, into her lap. She rocked her for a while and they were going back to grandand then said:
father's. Trunks and boxes were packed “Mary Alice, I promised you the gum, and piled in the wagon, with the stove and and mother always keeps her promises. table and chairs and the sacks of peanuts. The gum is yours. Will you give it to As soon as it was dark they started. me for a pan of peanuts?"
The piney woods were shadowy in the Mary Alice thought. She thought of moonlight and things without shapes the red ball, how good it looked, and she moved through them; the horses' feet thought of hot, crackling peanuts. made dull thudding sounds and the “A large pan?” she asked.
wagon creaked, the harness jingled.
They had gone a long way, but Mary me. She'd have the revenuers after me Alice was still awake when the horses to-morrow. I-I 'ain't got the nerve, shied and some one was holding on to any more. You better hurry on. Goodthe wheel and looking upward.
by. I- Good-by, Mary!" “Good-by!” Uncle Charley panted. Then he was gone, and father put his “I just made it in time across the hill arm around mother and clucked to the way. I thought I'd get there and fight horses. Mary Alice thought at first that 'em with you. But it's better for you mother was crying, but she was not; she
Don't stop. Keep going. was quite still. They'll be at the house in half an hour. *Aren't we going to see Uncle Charley Good-by.”
again?” Mary Alice asked. Mother leaned down to him. “Get in “Hush, Mary Alice!" said father. and come with us,” she said. “Oh, The piney woods were filled with Charley, how'll I ever stand it? We'll strangeness; the gray, straight trunks get you off, somehow, Charley. I can't moved stealthily, and the road was a go away and leave you here."
glimmer that went out in darkness The piney woods were still, listening. ahead. But Mary Alice slipped away
“God! Mary, I can't,” Uncle Charley from all vague wonderings into the cozisaid. “You don't know her. She's got ness of sleep.