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When 'Bear Cat' Went Dry   By: (1879-1930)

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WHEN 'BEAR CAT' WENT DRY

[Illustration: You're agoing to marry me and we're goin' to dwell thar together]

WHEN 'BEAR CAT' WENT DRY

BY

CHARLES NEVILLE BUCK

Author of "THE CALL OF THE CUMBERLANDS," etc.

Illustrations by GEORGE W. GAGE

NEW YORK W. J. WATT & COMPANY PUBLISHERS

Copyright, 1918, by W. J. WATT & COMPANY

OTHER BOOKS

By

CHARLES NEVILLE BUCK

THE KEY TO YESTERDAY THE LIGHTED MATCH THE PORTAL OF DREAMS THE CALL OF THE CUMBERLANDS THE BATTLE CRY THE CODE OF THE MOUNTAINS DESTINY THE TYRANNY OF WEAKNESS

PRESS OF BRAUNWORTH & CO. BOOK MANUFACTURERS BROOKLYN, N. Y.

TO

M. F.

WHEN 'BEAR CAT' WENT DRY

CHAPTER I

A creaking complaint of loose and rattling boards rose under the old mountaineer's brogans as he stepped from the threshold to the porch. His eyes, searching the wooded mountain side, held at first only that penetration which born woodsmen share with the hawk and ferret, but presently they kindled into irascibility as well.

He raised his voice in a loud whoop that went skittering off across the rocky creek bed where Little Slippery crawled along to feed the trickle of Big Slippery ten miles below, and the volume of sound broke into a splintering of echoes against the forested crags of the Old Wilderness Ridges.

"You, Turner!" bellowed the man with such a bull like roar as might have issued from the chest of a Viking. "You, Turner, don't ye heer me a callin' ye?"

A woman, rawboned and crone like before her time under the merciless forcing of drudgery, appeared in the door, wiping reddened hands on a coarse cotton apron.

"I reckon he'll be hyar, presently, paw," she suggested in a high pitched voice meant to be placating. "I reckon he hain't fared far away."

The hodden gray figure of the man turned to his wife and his voice, as it dropped to conversational pitch, held a surprisingly low and drawling cadence.

"What needcessity did he hev ter go away a tall?" came his interrogation. "He knowed I aimed ter hev him tote thet gryste acrost ther ridge ter the tub mill, didn't he? He knows that hits perilous business ter leave corn like that a layin' 'round, don't he sprouted corn !"

A flash of poignant anxiety clouded the woman's eyes. Corn sprouted in the grain before grinding! She knew well enough what that meant incrimination in the eyes of the Government trial, perhaps, and imprisonment.

"Ye 'lowed a long while since, Lone," she reminded him with a trace of wistfulness in her voice, "that ye aimed ter quit makin' blockade licker fer all time. Hit don't pleasure me none ter see ye a follerin' hit ergin. Seems like thar's a curse on hit from start ter finish."

"I don't foller hit because I delights in hit," he retorted grimly. "But what else is thar ter do? I reckon we've got ter live somehow hain't we?" For an instant his eyes flared with an upleaping of rebellion; then he turned again on his heel and roared "Turner you, Turner!"

"Ther boy seemed kinderly fagged out when he come in. I reckon he aimed ter slip off and rest in ther shade somewhars fer a lettle spell afore ye needed him," volunteered the boy's mother, but the suggestion failed to mollify the mounting impatience of the father.

"Fagged! What's fagged him? I hain't never disc'arned nothin' puny about him. He's survigrous enough ter go a snortin' an' a stompin' over ther hills like a yearlin' bull, a honin' fer battle. He's knowed from God's Blessin' Creek ter Hell's Holler by ther name of Bear Cat Stacy, hain't he? Bear Cat Stacy! I'd hate ter take my name from a varmint but it pleasures him."

"I don't sca'cely b'lieve he seeks no aimless quarrels," argued the mother defensively. "Thar hain't no meanness in him. He's jest like you was, Lone, when ye was twenty a goin' on twenty one. He's full o' sperrit. I reckon Bear Cat jest means thet he's quick like an' supple... Continue reading book >>




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