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Authors: Lee Smith

Tags: #Historical, #Adult

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BOOK: Fair and Tender Ladies
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We have party names too, I am the Princess Lucia she is the Princess Melissa Clarissa and Beulah used to play too sometimes, she was Miss Margaret White, who knows where she got that name? But Beulah will not play no more, she is courting Curtis Bostick from Poorbottom, he rides up here on his listed horse and takes her walking. I do not know what they will do when it gets cold and they cannot go walking, as we are so many here in the house and Curtis Bostick dont know how to court good inside a house Beulah says he just sits like a bump on a log. He is not a bit good at sweethearting, to do it as much as he does.
Anyway now we do not have Miss Margaret White so we have made up a Miss France who wears a big pink hat and sticks out her finger and laghs la-la-la, I cannot tell if Silvaney knows that Miss France is made up or not. Well Ethel is only nine but she will not play party, when I say I have some scrumptious cake she says it is only pone and when I say, hear the lovely music Miss Ethel it is violins, she says
my name is nothing but Ethel, just plain Ethel, and that is birds.
Ethel will not even play Town but Victor will watch sometimes and Garnie will preach. What you do is make you some little houses outen sticks and you can chink up your logs with mud iffen you wish to, and you can have some rocks for furniture, all covered over with moss that you find by the creek where it gets so little and bouncy starting up Pilgrim Knob. Now this will be your fancy furniture, that is your bed and chairs and all, and you will make corncob people, you can have pinecones for pigs, and a cow and the chicks in the yard.
And your own people can come to and fro, they can go courting and have a baby and die or get saved or whatever you want to happen. One time me and Victor, this is my elder brother, he wont play no more nether, one time me and Victor stoled us some thread and hitched up some big old bugs and made us horses named Buck and Berry. And iffen you want little old Garnie to play, you have got to let him preach a funeral and sing, been a long time travelling here below, been a long time travelling here below, been a long time travelling from my home, to lay this body down. But then you will have to pour water on Silvaneys face, she crys so hard at a funeral. Momma said, stop this, this is awful, and Silvaney is too old to play. But we sneak off, we have us a time, I guess.
What do you all play?
Mrs. Brown said I should tell you about our Chores but they are never over, it is so hard on a farm without no mule we had one but it died a year ago come April I think it was. And Daddy has had a big falling-out with Revel now so we cant get no more mules from him, aint none of us set eyes on Revel for over a year. So we go down on Home Creek and get the loan of one from the Rolettes. Folks is real nice, they know Daddy is sick. So Victor he runs the farm, and Momma, the bestest they can, and I will get up in the morning before full ligt and milk Bessie, and Beulah she will start in cooking and Ethel will dress the younguns and Silvaney looks for eggs. And then I will bring up the milk and strain it and put it in the churn and rinch out the strainer and things, and hang them up, and later on I will have to churn or go out and hoe the corn and such as that, it is always something to do on a farm.
The next leastest has to watch out for the leastest ones, and I loved to do that, I used to take Garnie and Ethel up under the rocky-clifts by the cornfield to watch them while everbody was working, its fun in there you can go way back and keep so cool. One time we was up there and I seed a rattlesnake all quiled up and singing to beat the band, I had to snatch up Ethel, she thogt it was a play-pretty.
Babe killed it with a hoe. He loves to kill things, Babe does. I am so glad he is gone from here now, I hope he is gone for good. This is my eldest brother named Clarence Wayne but called Babe, he is mean as a snake hisself. He works for Frank Ritter Lumber Company now in Bone Valley we think, he dont send us hardly a thing.
When we was all real little I recall Daddy showing us how to make frog houses out in the yard, this is where you put your bare foot down in the dirt and push up the dirt all around it and then you take out your foot and you have got you a house, you would leave them there of a summer nigt for the frogs to come. But Babe used to stomp them down. They say he takes after my daddys brother Revel Rowe and this is so, but Revel is funny too and a handsome man even iffen he is sorry as they say.
I will stop now and fold up this letter which I have writ as neat and as small as posible, it has took days and days, I hope you will enjoy to read it, and be my Pen Friend always. I will carry this letter down to Mrs. Brown when next I go, I have not been to school for a long time now nor has any one of us, as my daddy is not doing any good atall, nor is Danny, and it is coming on for winter at this time we have to pull the fodder now and get it down offen the mountain on the woodsled, this is very hard without no mule. We have all holped to do this Chore.
I wonder very much what your Chores are, and do you grow very tired, also? And are you afeared sometimes of things you cannot put a name to, as I am? Sometimes I am afeared so and I culd not tell you for why, it is like a fire in my hart when my daddy coughs so loud or Momma sets her face agin us and will not speak. And I look at Silvaney who smiles with the ligt in her eyes that scares me for she does not understand. So I will love to have a Letter from you. I hope your family is gayly I remane your devoted Pen Friend I am hoping.
 
IVY ROWE.
Dear Mrs. Brown,
 
Victor says he will bring this letter to you, he will come by on his way to Majestic where he is going to see old Doc Trout to try and get some medicine for Daddy who is not doing good at all. Daddy is cold all the time and his face is so dreamy it seems. We keep that fire just roaring we are like to burn down the house Momma says, but it does him no good. He eats scarcely a bite these days and looks so little, like ther is nothing in the bed at all. We have got him under the rising star quilt that Granny Rowe made and given us. We have got him rigt up by the fire too, it does no good. So you see I can not come to school now and for why.
I am so thankful for all the writting paper you have sent to me, and for the poems of Eugene Field. I read them out loud to my daddy, this is all that will bring a smile. He loves to hear of the Sugar Plum Tree in the garden of Shut-Eye Town. My bestest is Wyncken Blinken and Nod one nigt sailed off in a wooden shoe, Sailed on a river of crystal ligt, Into a sea of dew.
But Mrs. Brown this poem makes me so sad too because of the wooden shoe, I have wanted a Pen Friend always ever since I learned of them and I do not understand what you mean that my letter is too long and not approprite. I did not know you wuld read my letter ether. So I have written another letter to send to Miss Hanneke Van Veldt I will send it to you also by Victor, it is very short.
Granny Rowe has come to holp us, she chews tobaccy and spits in the fire. Granny Rowe is my antie I think not my granny relly. Granny Rowe has give Daddy a potion it dont do no good, he has vomited yaller insted. Momma is given him whisky and honey its bettern nothing at best but it makes him dreamy. Theys ice in the water of Sugar Fork now it hangs to the rocks on the side it shines out so pretty of a morning when the sun comes up. It is cold up here now we are keepen the younguns inside iffen we can do it, it is hard to make those twins do ary a thing thogh and Momma is acten so funny sometimes she sits out in the cold at the back of the house and oncet I follered her up Pilgrim Knob, she tried to hold later that she was chasing after chickens but she was not.
She was standing there on the rocky-clift looking out in the wind and her hair blowed all around her face but she never cared. Who knowed what she was thinking? and they was never a chicken in sight. I think of you so and I think, does she still wear the purple dress, and the hat with the fether? And the ladys face so fine on the pretty pin I think it is camio. Another one I love is the Little Boy Blue but it makes us cry and mostly Silvaney. We do not know what is a trundle bed. I hope you are keeping fine, I shall remane forever your devoted,
 
IVY ROWE.
My dear Hanneke,
 
I am a girl 12 years old very pretty I have very long hair and eight brothers and sisters and my Mother and my Father, he is ill. We live on a farm on the Sugar Fork of Home Creek on Blue Star Mountain the clostest town is Majestic, Virginia. It is so pretty up here but rigt now it is so cold.
I want to be a famous writter when I grow up, I will write of Love.
My Chores are many but sometimes we have some fun too, as when we go hunting chestnuts away up on the mountain beyond Pilgrim Knob which we done yesterday, Victor taken us. Daddy loved this so but he cant go no more as he is sick.
We start out walking by the tulip tree and the little rocky-clift ther on Pilgrim Knob where the chickens runs but then we keep rigt on going follering Sugar Fork for a while, you get swallered up in ivy to where it is just like nigt, but direckly you will come out in the clear. You will be so high then it gives you a stitch in your side you have to stop then and rest, and drink some water from Sugar Fork which is little up there and runs so gayly. And so you go along the footpath where the trees grow few and the grass is everywhere like a carpet in the spring but now in winter the grass is all froze and you can feel it crunch down when you step, you can hear it too. We was having a big time crunching it down. When the sun shined on it, it looked like dimond sticks, a million million strong.
Now this was me and Ethel and Beulah and Silvaney and Garnie. Victor taken us. I am wearing Daddys old black coat, I resemble a hant, we are laghing and laghing. When we get to the chestnut trees they is four of them, and Victor says hush now, you hush Silvaney we will play a trick on Garnie whose never been up here before.
So we get Garnie jumping up and down on the froze-grass, and crushing it down, and Victor he runs around behind this great big old rock up there and grabs aholt of the leastest tree and we walk over there with Garnie, not acting like nothing is happening.
Get you some chestnuts Garnie, Ethel says.
Wheres the chestnuts, Garnie says.
Dont you know how to get no chestnuts honey, Beulah says, you just start picking them up like this, look at me, it is all they is to it honey, Beulah says.
So we all bend over and act like we are putting chestnuts in the poke but Garnie cant see no chestnuts.
Wheres the chestnuts? Wheres the chestnuts? he axes pulling on Ethel so hard that he liked to of pulled her over.
Then Victor he starts hollering and shaking that leastest chestnut tree real hard, and the chestnuts come falling down all around us like a big hard rain, and Garnie he just stands ther he is so suprised and then he starts laghing and dancing all around crunching down on the icy grass.
And then we was all doing it, and laghing, and then we have to get Silvaney quite, now this is hard, and then we filled our pokes up plum to the top and started down. We was not but halfway up Blue Star Mountain but you culd feel the wind already, they is a famous endless wind on the clift at the tip top of the mountain, I have never been up ther. You roast a chestnut in the fire, they taste so sweet. Victor carried Garnie on his sholders all the way down.
I see I have writ so long agin, nevermind I will give this letter to Victor anyway. I have got a scar on my wrist like a little moon from one time I cut it when I was cleaning a trout fish, what else? My eyes are blue and my hair is red, I will remane forever I hope your devoted Pen Friend,
 
IVY ROWE.
BOOK: Fair and Tender Ladies
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