Mary E. Adair
Mom told us it'd be cold, an' sure 'nough, the wind was cold! It was warm in the field where the sun was shinin', but there 'neath the trees, in the shade, it whupped about my lil' Bud an' me 'most enough to blow the sheeps-burrs from our clothes. It whistled through the boughs of the maples an' poplars, soundin' diff'rent through the black walnut trees. Comin' up through the grape arbor on the side o' the hill, it hadn't bothered us, but 'bove the whistlin' was a high, cold whine. Back home, it was a warmin' up, an' the sand was a startin' in to blow, yet here at Grandma's, only the first Spring green things were peepin' out.
The night before, Dad an' Grandpa'd told us kids skeery stories, 'bout boys crawlin' in holler logs, an' gittin' stuck, an' dyin' an' all, 'til years later all could be found was their bones. Then Mom'd made us go to bed. When we started on our hike, we promised not to go crawlin' 'round - sorta on 'count of copperheads, too!
We kept a turnin', an' a goin' up an' down through the diff'rent hollers, or groves, 'til we came to an ol' burned-up cabin. The chimney was still a standin' an' there was a cellar - but its door was stuck. We fooled 'round there some, an' Dan opened the knapsack and ate one of the sandwiches Mom made us. He found a wood violet, too, always sharp-eyed, my lil' Bud!
We went on then - saw a redbird, but didn't get it counted - Mom taught us always count to three before it's gone, an' that's for good luck. I found some black walnuts on the ground, an' we cracked 'em on a big stone with a baseball sized rock an' picked out the good parts from the shell parts, an' ate 'em, too! Then, we found an ol' trail. It was to our left, an' the air, even, was awful quiet, all still-like, an' it was awful dark all 'round. I was wonderin' which way was North, but the moss was a growin' plumb 'round the tree trunks! An' it grew on the rocks, an' the ground, too!
The trail led along the edge of a ravine, an' jus' kept a goin' up. Purty soon, we reached the top, an' it was a bit brighter, but still awful quiet, so that we didn't much want to go down in another holler. But, we did - 'cause the top o' the hill jus' ran out.
We kept watchin' fer some squirrels, an' sorta wond'rin' if we'd see a bear, then we heered a bubblin' sound. We looked all 'round, 'til we saw this rock spring here, an' sittin' by it was an ol' man. We was sure some glad to see him - we'd been lonely an' kinda skeered, you know. We stopped right by that rock over there, but when we said, "Howdy!" he just nodded.
We was right thirsty, an' asked if the water was good. He nodded and Dan hurried to get our tin cup out of our knapsack to drink some of it. He sure wasn't kiddin' when he said, I mean, when he, well, nodded yes, 'cause it sure was good. I told him so, an' he jus' nodded agin. Dan an' I sat down to visit with him, iffen you can call two talkers an' one nodder a visitin'! Ha!
He jus' kept a fillin' our cup fer us, an' we kept drinkin', an' the sun was so warm, we jus' finally went to sleep. When we woke up, he was gone, but we've been a sittin' here an' a drinkin' an' a talkin' a long time . . .
What? Still thirsty, Lad? Well, have another drink. I figure you had a right long walk yourself, today. You say why was that ol' feller jus' a sittin' by the rock, an' only noddin'? Well, I reckon when you don't have someone to talk with fer a spell, you mebbe forget how to visit. You see, Lad, that ol' man jus' couldn't leave 'til someone else drank from the Spring. Yes, Lad, you can have another drink - we two ol' men are right pleased to serve you.
Huh? What's that? You say you're sleepy - sure! Jus' curl up there by ol' Dan, he won't mind, will you, lil'Bud?