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A Mountain Woman Elia W. Peattie

The Three Johns

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"You'll get on if we have anything to do with it," he cried, suppressing an oath with difficulty, just from pure emotion.

And he told her about the three Johns' ranch, and found it was only three miles distant, and that both were on the same road; only her cabin, having been put up during the past week, had of course been unknown to him. So it ended in a sort of compact that they were to help each other in such ways as they could. Meanwhile the fire got genial, and the coffee filled the cabin with its comfortable scent, and all of them ate together quite merrily, Henderson cutting up the ham for the youngsters; and he told how he chanced to come out; and she entertained him with stories of what she thought at first when she was brought a bride to Hamilton, the adjacent village, and convulsed him with stories of the people, whom she saw with humorous eyes.

Henderson marvelled how she could in those few minutes have rescued the cabin from the desolation in which the storm had plunged it. Out of the window he could see the stricken grasses dripping cold moisture, and the sky still angrily plunging forward like a disturbed sea. Not a tree or a house broke the view. The desolation of it swept over him as it never had before. But within the little ones were chattering to themselves in odd baby dialect, and the mother was laughing with them.

"Women aren't always useless," she said, at parting; "and you tell your chums that when they get hungry for a slice of homemade bread they can get it here. And the next time they go by, I want them to stop in and look at the children. It'll do them good. They may think they won't enjoy themselves, but they will."

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"Oh, I'll answer for that!" cried he, shaking hands with her. "I'll tell them we have just the right sort of a neighbor."

"Thank you," said she, heartily. "And you may tell them that her name is Catherine Ford."

Once at home, he told his story.

"H'm!" said Gillispie, "I guess I'll have to go to town myself to-morrow."

Henderson looked at him blackly. "She's a woman alone, Gillispie," said he, severely, "trying to make her way with handicaps -- "

"Shet up, can't ye, ye darned fool?" roared Gillispie. "What do yeh take me fur?"

Waite was putting on his rubber coat preparatory to going out for his night with the cattle. "Guess you're makin' a mistake, my boy," he said, gently. "There ain't no danger of any woman bein' treated rude in these parts."

"I know it, by Jove!" cried Henderson, in quick contriteness.

"All right," grunted Gillispie, in tacit acceptance of this apology. "I guess you thought you was in civilized parts."

Two days after this Waite came in late to his supper. "Well, I seen her," he announced.

"Oh! did you?" cried Henderson, knowing perfectly well whom he meant. "What was she doing?"

"Killin' snakes, b'gosh! She says th' baby's crazy fur um, an' so she takes aroun' a hoe on her shoulder wherever she goes, an' when she sees a snake, she has it out with 'im then an' there. I says to 'er, 'Yer don't expec' t' git all th' snakes outen this here country, d' yeh?' 'Well,' she says, 'I'm as good a man as St. Patrick any day.' She is a jolly one, Henderson. She tuk me in an' showed me th' kids, and give me a loaf of gingerbread to bring home. Here it is; see?"

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A Mountain Woman
Elia W. Peattie

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