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NERYIE'S LESSON. AN AMERICAN IDYLL. Now hit wer lowed by all as my Mandy and me has ther prettiest gal in Shady Holler. Our Nervie can't be beat. Thur's the lily on her brow, the rose upon her cheek, an' ther vilet in her eye, an' she's good as perty," said Lige Bennett to an old friend whom he had met by accident at the Cross Roads store. But my Mandy ain't 'nough human ter take ther credit ter herself. Hit's God's gif', Lige,' she seys, an' hit ought to make us more humble, seeing as how he is favoured us more'n other.' Hit's wonder- ful the 'ligion my Mandy's got, being as ther preacher don't git to our parts but twict a year; but my Mandy 'lows hit ain't ther lot of seed sowed as alius brings ther biggest crop, but ther ground hit's in. She sez yer can measure the 'mount of 'ligion by how they'uns are arter doin' good or harm one anuther." And Lige Bennett shouldered his sack of goods for which he had come, and wended his way with slow tread along the mountain road toward his home in Shady Hollow, which well deserved its name. It was a narrow valley, or gulch, lying between two precipi- tous mountains, grand and furrowed, shutting in almost perpetual shadow the Holler," the sun only at noon chasing away the mountains' sombre frown, the shadow of evening creeping early upon it, as a crouching beast upon- its helpless prey. Mandy sat in the cabin door, her work done up," waiting, with new expectancy in her eyes, for the appearance of Lige, who soon came in sight along the rugged path. A gaunt man, with the stoop in hit broad shoulders which told so plainly of his life of toil, the bearing of heavy burdens, the stooping to the ploughshares o'er the rock strewn patches." Back, Lige ?" That I be, and thankful uv." Nervie has gone fur water," said Mandy. What's the news, Lige?" 'Taint me as has ther news, Mandy. Anything up?' He had taken in the unusual in her manner with one sidelong glance. Hit's Nervie's news, Lige." "Hit's a caillpin' set as has pitched ther tents right m the Holler," said Nervie, returned from the spring with a bucket of water steadied on her head by a ihapely bare arm. Life was so monotonous in Shady Hollow that any kind of news was as welcome as early greens." She had just come from the spring, where she had met two of the camping party, and could describe them in glowing colours. "An'law! mam, they uns want to git milk and cow butter and aigs of yer, an' some brilers, an' I sed I knowed as yer could let un." The young men had looked at her with undis- guised admiration, and asked her name. Nervie," she had answered. Minerva! Ye gods, what a figure-what glorious colouring-what unique blending of simplicity and stateliness! A perfect Parthenia for my new picture," she had heard one young man remark to the other. Praise is exhilarating. The flush on her cheek grew deeper, the sparkle in her eye brighter, her step more elastic. She is as graceful as an antelope. I must get her to pose for me." So Nervie, who was but human, was finally per- suaded and flattered into compliance with the artist's request, much to the annoyance of her lover, John Graham. He needn't be grumping 'roud as if he owned me," she said defiantly. Hit's time 'nough when I'm his'n." Nervie had had some "schoolin' Habit is stronger than culture, however, and not easily eradi- cated even by strictest of rules. Still, John Graham, who noted every change in her, knew that she dropped some of her provincialisms after the comin' of them campers," who made the wood ring with their shouts, laughter, guns and dogs. John's good 'nough for any gal, Nervie," said her father. I haven't said nothing 'ginst him, pap." 'Peers like you have dropped him, Nervie." I was never a toting him, pap, an' he's dry as bone these times." Bones kin ache." Has John been a tellin' of you uns 1" Yer know that ain't John's way, Nerv The girl looked abashed. They uns'll be gone afore ther next new moon, Nervie, an' John yer kin count on fur all yer life." They uns is coming back next summer, fur thej seys ther is somethin' in the spring water as tones 'em up." True to their word the hunting party had several cabins built, and the next summer mothers and sisters were rusticating in them, enjoying the cool of Shady Hollow, drinking-the chalybete water, and admiring Nervie's beauty. Nervie was much impressed by their style and manner, and in imitation showed great adaptability of nature, not to the satisfaction of either the artist or her lover. However, the former entered into the project (Df giving her work in town. He wished to display his Parthenia." Nervie thought of how bleak' it was all winter in Shady Hollow, and how little sunshine lingered to gladden the sombre grandeur, and how nice it would be to become a lady. Then everybody had money in the city, and she could send some home to her hard-working father and ailing mother, and make life brighter for them, and perhaps by-and-by they might come to her-and John-and live in the sunny outer world of which she had long dreamed. John Graham set his teeth hard together, but had never a word to say. Not so Lige he warred in his wrath even to the extent of dislocating some of the j'ints of the chairs by rough handling. "Now, Lige," said Mandy, "don't you know our Nervie ain't no common kind ?. If hit's a lady ther Lord 'tends her ter be, let her go her way an' see how hit will come out." It was a sad day when Nervie said goodbye to the Hollow. Mandy required all her Christian fortitude to bear it. John hid his feelings under the stolid exterior which is so characteristic of mountain people, but his heart cried out: They uns have took my little Nervie, that I have toted about since she was knee high, an' I ken never hope ter have her a caring fur a rough feller like me agin." But no one heard the plaint. That winter seemed to lay a burden on Mandy, and she bent J beneath it, almost to the breaking of the strong resolve to see Nervie a lady. Yet no com- plaint came. She said she had extra rheumatism this winter, and did not feel like going any, so she sat with her Bible on her knee, spelling out its promises in her patient, plodding way, trying to make Lige feel their meaning. Lige oft shook his head. My Mandy hain't right," he said helplessly, "fin she's givin' me 'ligion'alapath, and she knows I can't take hit more'n home'path. She hain't well, but she won't give in and send fur Nervie, an'that's what will ever do her eny rail good." When Christmas time drew near Mandy's resolve weakened. Nervie wrote often, and almost as often sent money, which never came amiss in that humble home. She must be prosperous, therefore but there had been of late something in her letters that spoke to the mother heart of disappointment and sorrow. "Lige," said Mandy one day, I want yer ter go an' see Nervie fur me, an' take her some things I has fixed up fur her Christmes. Be sure and not tell, her, mind, that her maw is down with rheumatis in her j'ints, or how she's a pinin' to sot her eyes on her. Tell her hit's been mighty bleak here all winter, an' hit's well she missed hit. Ther's a shadow in ther Holler, but ther's sunlig ht on ther hill. An' if she's happy an' comf'able, jest let her be. Ef she hain't Well, Mandy ?" Bring her home with yer, Lige-oh, bring my gal home!" cried the mother, breaking down at last. John would send no message. She knows I'm waitin' fer her, and won't look at another gal, Lige; but I'll not stan' in her way. If she comes back, well an' good; I'll never ask her to." Long before Lige Bennett came to the dwelling which Nervie claimed-he did not dream she was only a servant in it-he began to scrape his boots on the pavements. He was uneasy in the Sunday suit and stiff collar, the buttons of which he fre- quently fumbled over with great rough fingers "ter see if ther durned things had come unhitched." Arrived at the door he sought, he waited I what seemed to him an interminable time, but which was in reality only a few moments, before a tall pale young woman, neatly but simply dressed, responded to his summons. At first be did not recognise her. Then he cried: Nervie I My little gal I". In a moment her anus were around his neck, hef fane was laid aeainst, hi a Oh, pap, I'm so glad you've come I Is maw well P" She's sent you uns lots of things, Nervie." And she is well ? Oh, she is sick, an' yer tryin' ter fool me!" she cried with a half sob. Now don't, Nervie, chile I She said as I must not tell yer nary word 'bout hit, fur we uns don't want ter stan' in ther way o' you bein' a lady." "A lady!" she repeated with scorn. Are you satisfied 'thout me, pap ?" "Naw, Nervie, I'se bound ter tell yer 'bout hit. Maw's jest pinin' fur a sight of yer an' I'm cravin' for yer back agin. But we uns dent want ter hinder yer, fur hit 'peers like things is nicer here, an' you mout be happier long with 'em." "Is the wild bird happy in a cage? I've been a thirstin' fer you uns same as a landed trout fur hits mountain stream. My heart's been a turnin' ter yer, same as old Flossie turns ter home in ther evenin' but I were a waitin' fer yer ter say the word as yer needed me. I was 'shamed to let yer know what a fool I'd been in my ignorance and conceit, thinkin' I, a pore gal who can't even talk proper, could be equal with folks that have money an learnin'. I'm only fit to cook their vituals and do their washin' for 'em, paw, an' I'm tired of that. An' thought p'raps you'd rather have some of the money I earnt than me, so I jes staid on an' fretted for the dear old Hollfer." She did not tell him that in her heart had been the hope that young Vincent, the artist, would say all his eyes had said, but in a month after persuading her with buoyant words to leave her home, he had married a woman of his own station. Thinking of this her heart went back to its old allegiance, and she asked shyly: An' John ?" Is a waitin' fur yer, Nervie, as is all on us. What do we care for the money, child ? It is you we want, and only you." A great joy flooded the white face with colour. Oh pap, I don't deserve sich love, but if yer'll take me back I'll never leave yer again-never, never!" she sobbed. "I hain't fit to be a lady—I'm only yer own lovin' Nervie, an' I'll be that as long's we uns live." On her wedding day, Nervie decorated the humble cabin, which was home to her in its dearest sense, with evergreens growing in Shady Hollow.




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