The Message in the Sand by John Fox Jr.
Stranger, you furriners don't nuver seem to consider that a woman has always got the devil to fight in two people at once! Hit's two agin one, I tell ye, an' hit hain't fa'r.
That's what I said more'n two year ago, when Rosie Branham was a-layin' up thar at Dave Hall's, white an' mos' dead. An', God, boys, I says, that leetle thing in thar by her shorely can't be to blame.
Thar hain't been a word agin Rosie sence; an', stranger, I reckon thar nuver will be. Fer, while the gal hain't got hide o' kith or kin, thar air two fellers up hyeh sorter lookin' atter Rosie; an' one of 'em is the shootin'es' man on this crick, I reckon, 'cept one; an', stranger, that's t'other.
Rosie kep' her mouth shet fer a long while; an' I reckon as how the feller 'lowed she wasn't goin' to tell. Co'se the woman folks got hit out'n her--they al'ays gits whut they want, as you know --an' thar the sorry cuss was--a-livin' up thar in the Bend, jes aroun' that bluff o' lorrel yander, a-lookin' pious, an' a-singin', an' a-sayin' Amen louder 'n anybody when thar was meetin'.
Well, my boy Jim an' a lot o' fellers jes went up fer him right away. I don't know as the boys would 'a' killed him exactly ef they had kotched him, though they mought; but they got Abe Shivers, as tol' the feller they was a-comin'-- you've heard tell o' Abe-an' they mos' beat Abraham Shivers to death. Stranger, the sorry cuss was Dave. Rosie hadn't no daddy an' no mammy; an' she was jes a-workin' at Dave's fer her victuals an' clo'es. 'Pears like the pore gal was jes tricked into evil. Looked like she was sorter 'witched--an' anyways, stranger, she was a fightin' Satan in herself, as well as in Dave. Hit was two agin one, I tell ye, an' hit wasn't fa'r.
Co'se they turned Rosie right out in the road I hain't got a word to say agin Dave's wife fer that; an' atter a while the boys lets Dave come back, to take keer o' his ole mammy, of co'se, but I tell ye Dave's a-playin' a purty lonesome tune. He keeps purty shy yit. He don't nuver sa'nter down this way. 'Pears like he don't seem to think hit's healthy fer him down hyeh, an' I reckon Dave's right.
Rosie? Oh, well, I sorter tuk Rosie in myself. Yes, she's been livin' thar in the shack with me an' my boy Jim, an' the-- Why, thar he is now, stranger. That's him a-wallerin' out thar in the road. Do you reckon thar'd be a single thing agin that leetle cuss ef he had to stan' up on Jedgment Day jes as he is now?
Look hyeh, stranger, whut you reckon the Lawd kep' a-writin' thar on the groun' that day when them fellers was a-pesterin' him 'bout that pore woman? Don't you jes know he was a writin' 'bout sech as him--an' Rosie? I tell ye, brother, he writ thar jes what I'm al'ays a-sayin'.
Hit hain't the woman's fault. I said it more'n two year ago, when Rosie was up thar at ole Dave's, an' I said it yestiddy, when my boy Jim come to me an' 'lowed as how he aimed to take Rosie down to town to-day an' git married.
``You ricollect, dad,'' says Jim, ``her mammy?''
``Yes, Jim,'' I says; ``all the better reason not to be too hard on Rosie.''
I'm a-lookin' fer 'em both back right now, stranger; an' ef you will, I'll be mighty glad to have ye stay right hyeh to the infair this very night. Thar nuver was a word agin Rosie afore, thar hain't been sence, an' you kin ride up an' down this river till the crack o' doom an' you'll nuver hear a word agin her ag'in. Fer, as I tol' you, my boy, Jim is the shoot- in'es' feller on this crick, I reckon, 'cept one, an', stranger, that's me!