Courtin' on Cutshin by John Fox Jr.
Hit was this way, stranger. When hit comes to handlin' a right peert gal, Jeb Somers air about the porest man on Fryin' Pan, I reckon; an' Polly Ann Sturgill have got the vineg'rest tongue on Cutshin or any other crick.
So the boys over on Fryin' Pan made it up to git 'em together. Abe Shivers--you've heerd tell o' Abe-- tol' Jeb that Polly Ann had seed him in Hazlan (which she hadn't, of co'se), an' had said p'int-blank that he was the likeliest feller she'd seed in them mountains. An' he tol' Polly Ann that Jeb was ravin' crazy 'bout her. The pure misery of it jes made him plumb delirious, Abe said; an' 'f Polly Ann wanted to find her match fer languige an' talkin' out peert--well, she jes ought to strike Jeb Somers. Fact is, stranger, Jeb Somers air might' nigh a idgit; but Jeb 'lowed he'd rack right over on Cutshin an' set up with Polly Ann Sturgill; an' Abe tells Polly Ann the king bee air comin'. An' Polly Ann's cousin, Nance Osborn, comes over from Hell fer Sartain (whut runs into Kingdom-Come) to stay all night an' see the fun.
Now, I hain't been a-raftin' logs down to the settlemints o' Kaintuck fer nigh on to twenty year fer nothin', An' I know gallivantin' is diff'ent with us mountain fellers an' you furriners, in the premises, anyways, as them lawyers up to court says; though I reckon hit's purty much the same atter the premises is over. Whar you says ``courtin','' now, we says ``talkin' to.'' Sallie Spurlock over on Fryin' Pan is a-talkin' to Jim Howard now. Sallie's sister hain't nuver talked to no man. An' whar you says ``makin' a call on a young lady,'' we says ``settin' up with a gal''! An', stranger, we does it. We hain't got more'n one room hardly ever in these mountains, an' we're jes obleeged to set up to do any courtin' at all.
Well, you go over to Sallie's to stay all night some time, an' purty soon atter supper Jim Howard comes in. The ole man an' the ole woman goes to bed, an' the chil'un an' you go to bed, an' ef you keeps one eye open you'll see Jim's cheer an' Sallie's cheer a-movin' purty soon, till they gets plumb together. Then, stranger, hit begins. Now I want ye to understand that settin' up means business. We don't 'low no foolishness in these mountains; an' 'f two fellers happens to meet at the same house, they jes makes the gal say which one she likes best, an' t'other one gits! Well, you'll see Jim put his arm 'round Sallie's neck an' whisper a long while--jes so. Mebbe you've noticed whut fellers us mountain folks air fer whisperin'. You've seed fellers a-whisperin' all over Hazlan on court day, hain't ye? Ole Tom Perkins 'll put his arm aroun' yo' neck an' whisper in yo' year ef he's ten mile out'n the woods. I reckon thar's jes so much devilmint a-goin' on in these mountains, folks is naturely afeerd to talk out loud.
Well, Jim let's go an' Sallie puts her arm aroun' Jim's neck an' whispers a long while--jes so; an' 'f you happen to wake up anywhar to two o'clock in the mornin' you'll see jes that a-goin' on. Brother, that's settin' up.
Well, Jeb Somers, as I was a-sayin' in the premises, 'lowed he'd rack right over on Cutshin an' set up with Polly Ann comin' Christmas night. An' Abe tells Polly Ann Jeb says he aims to have her fer a Christmas gift afore mornin'. Polly Ann jes sniffed sorter, but you know women folks air always mighty ambitious jes to see a feller anyways, 'f he's a-pinin' fer 'em. So Jeb come, an' Jeb was fixed up now fittin' to kill. Jeb had his hair oiled down nice an' slick, and his mustache was jes black as powder could make hit. Naturely hit was red; but a feller can't do nothin' in these mountains with a red mustache; an' Jeb had a big black ribbon tied in the butt o' the bigges' pistol Abe Shivers could borrer fer him--hit was a badge o' death an' deestruction to his enemies, Abe said, an' I tell ye Jeb did look like a man. He never opened his mouth atter he says ``howdy''--Jeb never does say nothin'; Jeb's one o' them fellers whut hides thar lack o' brains by a-lookin' solemn an' a-keepin' still, but thar don't nobody say much tell the ole folks air gone to bed, an' Polly Ann jes 'lowed Jeb was a-waitin'. Fact is, stranger, Abe Shivers had got Jeb a leetle disguised by liquer, an' he did look fat an' sassy, ef he couldn't talk, a-settin' over in the corner a- plunkin' the banjer an' a-knockin' off ``Sour-wood Mountain'' an' ``Jinny git aroun' '' an' ``Soapsuds over the Fence.''
``Chickens a-crowin' on Sour-wood Mountain, Heh-o-dee-um-dee-eedy-dahdy-dee! Git yo' dawgs an' we'll go huntin', Heh-o-dee-um-dee-eedy-dahdy-dee!''
An' when Jeb comes to
``I've got a gal at the head o' the holler, Heh-o-dee-um-dee-eedy-dahdy-dee!''
he jes turns one eye 'round on Polly Ann, an' then swings his chin aroun' as though he didn't give a cuss fer nothin'.
``She won't come, an' I won't foller, Heh-o-dee-um-dee-eedy-dahdy-dee!''
Well, sir, Nance seed that Polly Ann was a-eyin' Jeb sort o' flustered like, an' she come might' nigh splittin' right thar an' a-sp'ilin' the fun, fer she knowed what a skeery fool Jeb was. An' when the ole folks goes to bed, Nance lays thar under a quilt a-watchin' an' a-listenin'. Well, Jeb knowed the premises, ef he couldn't talk, an' purty soon Nance heerd Jeb's cheer creak a leetle, an' she says, Jeb's a- comin', and Jeb was; an' Polly Ann 'lowed Jeb was jes a leetle too resolute an' quick-like, an' she got her hand ready to give him one lick anyways fer bein' so brigaty. I don't know as she'd 'a' hit him more'n once. Jeb had a farm, an' Polly Ann--well, Polly Ann was a-gittin' along. But Polly Ann sot thar jes as though she didn't know Jeb was a-comin', an' Jeb stopped once an' says,
``You hain't got nothin' agin me, has ye?''
An' Polly Ann says, sorter quick,
``Naw; ef I had, I'd push it.''
Well, Jeb mos' fell off his cheer, when, ef he hadn't been sech a skeery idgit, he'd 'a' knowed that Polly Ann was plain open an' shet a-biddin' fer him. But he sot thar like a knot on a log fer haffen hour, an' then he rickollected, I reckon, that Abe had tol' him Polly Ann was peppery an' he mustn't mind, fer Jeb begun a-movin' ag'in till he was slam-bang agin Polly Ann's cheer. An' thar he sot like a punkin, not sayin' a word nur doin' nothin'. An' while Polly Ann was a-wonderin' ef he was gone plumb crazy, blame me ef that durned fool didn't turn roun' to that peppery gal an' say,
``Booh, Polly Ann!''
Well, Nance had to stuff the bedquilt in her mouth right thar to keep from hollerin' out loud, fer Polly Ann's hand was a-hangin' down by the cheer, jes a-waitin' fer a job, and Nance seed the fingers a-twitchin'. An' Jeb waits another haffen hour an' Jeb says,
``Ortern't I be killed?''
``Whut fer?'' says Polly Ann, sorter sharp.
An' Jeb says, ``Fer bein' so devilish.''
Well, brother, Nance snorted right out thar, an' Polly Ann Sturgill's hand riz up jes once; an' I've heerd Jeb Somers say the next time he jumps out o' the Fryin' Pan he's a-goin' to take hell- fire 'stid o' Cutshin fer a place to light.