The following short story was written by Margaret Prescott Montague (1878-1955). It is one of my favorite. I hope you enjoy it. --Keith Jensen :)
By Margaret Prescott Montague
(Note #1. Last Sunday, October 23, 2005, I was given another gift of peace. I have been doing a lot of heavy reading. I decided to do some “light” reading to relax and unwind. I chose volume 8 “Myths and Legends” from my 16 volume set of “The Children’s Story Hour.” I was drawn to a story by Margaret Prescott Montague called “Big Music”. This simple American folktale spoke to my own experiences and to the longings of my heart in a powerful way. It was scripture to me. –Keith Jensen)
(Note #2. If you’re interested in reading more about the characters mentioned in this story, I suggest that you read the book Up Eel River by Margaret Prescott Montague.)
“All a feller had to do was jest to jump into a tune and let it carry him on away. For when the big music comes it ain’t like little musics, you don’t dance to it, it dances you . . . (p. 346) . . . It’s like I say, when the big music comes it dances you, you don’t dance to it, but every feller’s free to pick his own tune.” (p. 348)
DOGGONE it! I wished Tony Beaver would quit being so all-fired reckless! Why, I b’lieve some day that feller’ll turn the world right spang upside down jest for to see how would she look thataway! There was more times than one up Eel River when I was skeered right down to bedrock and would of laid back my years and shot for home if Tony hadn’t of named me the Truth-teller and laid a kind of sacred trust on me, so I knowed I had to stay with the job and hang onto the truth no matter where it might take me—and it sure tuck me into some strange places.
I’m mighty glad though, I happened to be in camp when the big music busted in, for that sure was a great time, and folks have tole so many lies about it that I’m glad to give you-all the straight truth in this here tale that’s been all tried out with that paper of Tony’s, and every lie sifted outer it.
Well, Tony sure was fooling with somepen powerful dangerous that time, and yit the whole thing commenced with nothing more’n a little drop of dew: jest pure common dew like what a person kin see any nice summer morning laying over the leaves and grass and swinging onto the spider webs. That’s what started the business, but mebbe even Tony wouldn’t of been so reckless if there hadn’t a-been so much spite work going on in camp. Aw, you know how it is, sometimes a camp’ll all go right sour with spite. Every feller’ll have a gredge erginst the next feller, and there’ll be more mean tales passing from mouth to mouth behind hands than you kin shake a stick at. Every feller’ll get so techy that if a person happens to say “Hand the biscuits” kinder short, ‘stead of “I’ll thank you for them sody biscuits, if you please,” there’ll be a fight and a sulk right that minute.
Well, that was what struck the Eel River camp whilst I was up yonder. Aw, I dunno how the thing come to pass: mebbe it was dog days, or mebbe they vittles had kinder turned erginst ‘em, anyhow every feller’s temper was on a hair trigger, couldn’t nobody open his mouth ‘cept for a mean word, all the good healthy cussing and fooling had done went in the ground, and every job was tied up, ‘cause there wa’n’t no good fellowship to grease the wheels of work.
“What’s the matter with this camp is that it’s done froze up. What you-all need is somepen that’ll get you above yerselves and thaw you out, so’s you’ll be running all loose and free eregin,” Tony says looking around at all them sour dough faces, with they under jaws set and they lips pouting out. “And I’ll jest have to figger out somepen that’ll do it,” he says.
With that he goes off into the woods all to hisself, for Tony kin allus figger better when he’s out in the deep woods all alone.
Well, the very next morning he was ‘way off on the top of a high ridge all to hisself jest at sunup, when he ketched a wink from a little dewdrop what was laying out there on a bunch of green moss. And seeing’s he was all alone, Tony he winked back at the critter, for you know, stranger—you fellers what’s reading this book—a person’ll do a heap of nice fool things when there ain’t any other feller round to laf.
Well, sirs! The minute he done that, it seemed like somepen inside him jumped up and hollered, “Dewdrop! Dewdrop! Look at it, you great big two-fisted Jim-bruiser, you ain’t never seen a dewdrop afore! Look at it!”
Tony he did. He jest looked and looked at that dew drop with all the looks he had. It was filled with frosty light. And yit it had a rainbow in it too, and furst the sun would twinkle it on one side, and then it would twinkle it on the tother. And all the time it kep’ setting there so round and pretty, like it was the whole of creation and knowed a heap more’n it was aiming to tell. That kinder made Tony mad.
“Hey! You doggoned sassy little cuss!” he bawls at it. “Don’t you know I could bust yer head off with one finger?”
But the little critter didn’t sass him back nor nothing. It jest kep’ right on twinkling along there to itself, and the more Tony looked at it, the more awestruck he got, for he seen he was looking right into the very heart of creation itself.
By now all the little birds had done chirped the sun up right high, and Tony tuck a great skeer that his little dewdrop would melt. So all in a hurry he commenced plucking up leaves and moss to kiver it over. He worked like he couldn’t work fast enough, and when he had it all safe, he was dripping wet, and panting like he’d run a mile—for you know a feller’s bound to sweat if he aims to beat the sun.
Then, having got sorter acquainted with one dewdrop, Tony commenced to see all of ‘em like it was for the furst time. ‘Peared like, everywhere he’d look the sun was winkling and twinkling dewdrops at him. Tony set there in a maze, jest fa’rly carried away with the sight, and seemed like he could hear every last one of them sparklers hollering out at him, “Brother! Brother!”
By now the sun commenced to lap them dewdrops up off’n the leaves and spider webs, and all of ‘em went like they was glad to go, hopping away in the sun like they was jumping into their daddy’s lap.
About then a right peculiar thing come to pass. There was a little feller in camp what all the hands called Fiddling Jimmy, ‘count of him allus playing tunes on his fiddle, and now as Tony set there kinder dazed, watching them dewdrops hop off into the sun all so round and pretty, it seemed like he heared that little fiddler playing a tune somewhere right close. The tune it come nigher and nigher, ‘til d’rectly Tony thought he was riding erway on it, like he was riding a saw-log downstream. But when the last little dewdrop had hopped away to—well to wherever it is they go—he found hisself still setting there with his mouth gapping open.
“Well, I will be dogged!” he says. “An’ that’s what happens every morning, and me never knowing it afore!”
Then he peeked down at the twinkle of dew he’d saved, and right that minute he knowed he’d ketched there a drop outer the heart of all the world, and that what was in it was the sap in him too, and in all the varmints and critters, and rocks and rivers, and green things in all creation.
When Tony bumped erginst that big thought he goose-fleshed up all over, for he seen he was thinking too wide, and in another pair of seconds he’d slip right out over the edge and be where—well it’s the truth, I don’t know where he would be! And Tony didn’t know neither, but he give a powerful jump back in his mind from all that wide kinder thinking, and it seemed like he couldn’t git back where other humans was fast enough. He stuffed his little dewdrop into the bosom of his shirt and lit out for camp so fast he fa’rly burnt the trail up behind him.
Well, when Tony hit camp and smelled sweat and sawdust, it eased up that cold feeling down the spine of his back, and he ketched his breath, looking around for a good place to hide his dewdrop.
He’d just got it all kivered up nice under the roots of a white pine when he turns about and seen that little hand by the name of Fiddling Jimmy leaning up erginst a sapling looking at him.
Now there was sompen right peculiar about that little feller. He was might clear and wide betwixt the eyes, and had a look like he knowed a heap more’n he could tell with his tongue, so he had to try to git it out by fiddling. Mebbe you remember me speaking of him when I furst hit camp.
Tony seen right off that the little feller sensed he’d been fooling with somepen powerful dangerous, so he lighted into him furst.
“Hey!” he bawls, “what in the thunder was you doing fiddling when every other hand was on the job?”
“Me?” says the tother looking s’prised.
“Yes, you! I heared you fiddling out in the woods this morning jest at sunup.”
“Jest at sunup!” Jimmy hollers, pricking up his years mighty quick and looking kinder awe-struck too. “Aw no, Tony, that wa’n’t me. You know what it was.”
“I’ll be dogged if I do!” Tony answers him back.
“It was the big music,” the tother says, letting the words slip right out soft and respectful like.
“THE BIG MUSIC!” Tony whispers, his mouth gapping open, and the goose flesh walking up the spine of his back ergin.
“Look a-here, Tony, you better tell me all erbout it,” the Fiddler says mighty earnest and solemn.
And looking at him Tony seen he’d better. So he hands it all out to him, how he got acquainted with his dewdrop, and how all at onced he seen dewdrops and everything else different from what he ever had seen ‘em afore, and then how the music come so close it seemed like he was riding erway on it.
“Tony, you’d better mind how you go looking and looking at dewdrops and hearing music jest at sunup,” the Fiddler warns him, “or the furst thing you know you’ll look a hole spang through to the tother side and then the big music’ll bust in on us sure ‘nough!”
“Well, I wouldn’t keer if the big music was to come!” Tony hollers out, looking powerful mad and dangerous. “Things has got mighty hidebound and mean-spirited round this here camp, and you know there’s a heap of spite going on. Mebbe if the big music busts in it’ll kinder sweep things cl’ar ergin. An’ anyhow,” he lets fly at the Fiddler, “it ain’t for you to talk! You been fiddling holes all round this camp ever since you struck it. Why look a-here!” he bawls, jabbing his finger into the air. “here’s a place right this minute, where you fiddled ‘My Old Kaintucky Home’ what’s so thin a person kin nigh run his whole hand through it. And what with you all the time playing ‘Dixie’ and ‘The West Virginia Hills,’ and all them other tunes, you got the whole place punched as full of holes as a porous plaster, and why we ain't had the big music in on us afore this is a wonder to me!”
“Well, if she comes, she comes! And I don’t keer!” the Fiddler says cutting a kind of pigeon-wing.
“I don’t keer neither!” Tony hollers out, all fired up. “It’s jest the very thing this camp needs. And by the breath of the gray rocks, I’ll turn that there dewdrop loose tomorrer jest at sunup!”
“Jest at sunup! Great Day in the Morning!” Jimmy busts out, his eyes dancing, and him dancing with ‘em.
Well, now you-all kin easy see what sorter dangerous doings Tony and the little feller was up to that time. They didn’t say nothing to nobody, not even to me, but the next morning jest at daybreak, Tony tuck that powerful big cow’s horn of hisn that’s a whole sight bigger’n any natcheral born cow ever did have, and standing out there on a gray rock, he blowed sech er blast it fetched every feller tumbling outer the bunkhouse on the jump.
“Fellers,” says Tony, looking mighty strange an’ tall in the gray light, “it’s glimmering for dawn, and I want you all to take a right good look at this little dewdrop and keep on looking at it when the sun hits it, for it’s my belief that not a one of you great big two-fisted Jim-bruisers ever really seen a dewdrop afore.” With that he showed ‘em the little critter still laying on its green moss, also round and pretty.
Well, that sure was mighty reckless talk, and right that minute old Preacher Moses Mutters, what’s allus sech a calamity hunter, tuck a powerful skeer.
“Oh, my lands, Tony!” he screeches out, “you’ll have us in every kinder trouble d’rectly! Do pray take keer!”
“Man!” says Tony, flashing a crisscross look at the ole feller that twisted him into a corkscrew, “who ever seen me take keer?”
And it’s the truth, not a hand there had ever seen Tony take it.
Well, all us hands done like Tony told us to and jest looked and looked at that little dewdrop. And the more we looked, the more still and awestruck we got.
Fiddling Jimmy had tuck a stand on a cliff er rock at the head er the holler, and he kep’ a-looking and a-looking off into the dawn, holding his fiddle, and kinder stretching up on tiptoe like he was listening for somepen. Right about then a yeller strand of sunlight come wavering down the mountain and hit that little dewdrop, and the little feller commenced to burn with a spark o’ fire, and while we was a-looking at it so awestruck like, it burned brighter and brighter, ‘til it burned itself right up into the sun and was gone. When that happened every feller there felt the stillness inside of him kinder bust wide open, and he knowed he was right on the edge of somepen powerful big.
Jest that minute Fiddling Jimmy, off on his rock, let loose with a powerful yell: “She’s busted! She’s busted!” he hollers. “Great Day in the Morning! The big music’s busted through!” And with that he commenced to dance and to fiddle fit to kill hisself.
“Oh, my lands! Somepen terrible is coming!” ole Brother Mutters screeches out, flinging both arms round a right stout pine tree to kinder anchor hisself to the ground.
By now all us fellers could hear the strangest kinder music coming from ’way off yonder somewheres, and it looked like Jimmy’s fiddling up there on his rock was kinder blazing a trail for that tother music to come in by.
Well, sirs! The next thing that come to pass was a whole panel of rail fencing floating over the ridge and down the holler like it was riding a river a person couldn’t see. And whoop-ee! In another pair of seconds that panel busted itself all to pieces, and every last one o’ them gray rails up-ended and commenced to dance, whirling around and bowing to one another, back and forth and hither and yon!
“O my lands! O my lands! Jest look at that now!” pore ole Brother Mutters bellers out, taking a strangle holt of his pine tree, with his hair all bristling up and his eyes hanging out of his head.
The next thing that come was a fat old lady of a haystack dancing over the ridge and down the holler, bowing and kicking up, and carrying on like she was a two-year-old. And you better b’lieve every hand there made tracks to git outer her way in a hurry! Next there come the prettiest little pair of young maple saplings, skipping and dancing with they branches on they hips, and cakewalking along together jest as sassy as you please.
That was jest the beginning! In another pair of seconds the full tide of the big music busted in on us, pouring down the holler in a kind of torrent, like a river in flood. Every king of a tune a person every did hear, and every kind of critter and varmint and growing thing dancing to the tunes, all of ‘em wove together in the wildest sort of a jamboree. There was ‘possums and rabbits and groundhogs, ‘til you couldn’t rest, and there was b’ars and wildcats in plenty too, and strange critters what never had been seen in these mountains afore. And there was trees and bushes and saw-logs and rocks, all jumbled and dancing together, and tunes—Whoop-ee! Every tune what ever was! A feller could see ‘em as well as hear ‘em, every color of the rainbow weaving in and out amongst all them dancing critters. Every varmint and critter there blowing along by them tunes was dancing and laffing fit to kill theyselves. A old she b’ar with her cubs come rolling and bounding in, doing a kind of a breakdown along a little pink strand of a tune, and laffing so hard she jest natcherly had to clap her paws to her sides to hold ‘em in place.
All a feller had to do was jest to jump into a tune and let it carry him on away. For when the big music comes it ain’t like little musics, you don’t dance to it, it dances you. And you’d better dance! For if you try to hold out erginst it, it sure will treat you mighty rough like it done pore old Brother Mutters.
Well, all us hands in the Eel River crew, we jest let ourselves go to it, and one tune after another picked us up and swirled us off. And all the time Fiddling Jimmy was up there on his rock dancing and fiddling and singing like he was plum destracted.
The fellers they all tuck partners if they could find ‘em, but if they couldn’t they jest flapped they arms and danced by theyselves. The Sullivan feller picked him out a right stout saw-log, and danced so hard with it that the chips flew outer the log like popcorn hopping outer a hot griddle. That little Eyetalian hand, he found a monkey along of all the stream of foreign critters the music fetched in. They two sure was glad to see one another and stepped off together to the strangest kind of a wild dance ever was seen up Eel River. I can’t reely tell you what-all I danced with I was so busy watching the tother fellers.
But whoop-ee! I wished you-all could of seen Big Henry, doing the polka with that old lady haystack what come over the ridge at the start! Big Henry was sorter bashful at the beginning, but onced they got acquainted, they cert’n’y was dancers from Dancerville! That haystack, for all she was right up in years, sure was a light stepper. And courtesy—Great Day! She’d draw off from Big Henry and bob right down to the ground and up ergin and never drap a straw! Big Henry cert’n’ was taken with her, and the last the fellers seen of the two together they was going down the stream of music with Big Henry’s arm around the lady’s waist—as fer that is as it would go—and him talking matrimony to her to the tune of “I seen my lover go round the bend.”
Tony Beaver jest danced with every last thing and critter that come by. Furst off he tuck up with a big gray rock what come footing it down the ridge early in the game. “Hey, brother! Fall to it!” Tony sings out, and they ketched aholt of one another some way, and had a high old time together. But it’s the truth, that rock was so all-fired heavy every step it tuck it went down waist deep in the music, and splashed the tunes and songs up all over everybody like they was showers of rain. And having the music splashed over ‘em like that jest sent every feller off dancing harder’n ever.
Well, Tony he danced with his rock a spell, and then he broke loose from it and tuck a whirl around with a whole string of little young squirrels, what come by all sorter strung together, frisking they tails and jumping and barking and cracking out jokes like they was cracked nuts. Then Tony he tuck up with a field mouse and a hoppy toad, what was riding around together on the tune of “A frog he would a-wooing go.” And then he danced a spell with a dogwood tree what had all busted out in full bloom ergin, though its right time of flowering was over and done with nigh a month back. It sure was a pretty sight to see that tree all kivered over with its white blooms, as graceful as a young bride, with its branches waving and twinkling to the tunes. Tony he had it for a partner for a right smart spell, and after that he danced with any and every thing that come by, and between whiles he’d kick up high and low and whirl round all to hisself.
But about then, that little boy what’s sech a great buddy of Tony’s got wind of the jamboree, and come a-running and a-limping into the camp as best he could on his crippled foot, holding out his hands and hollering, “Take me! Take me, Tony! I wan’a dance too!”
“Sure! Come on, buddy! You kin dance to the big music with the best of ‘em!” Tony hollers back, ketching aholt of him, and yonder the two of ‘em went off together, laffing and dancing, bounding, whirling around, and carrying on with every last tune in the bunch, and I’ll be dogged if that there little feller, for all his crippled foot, didn’t outdance the whole shooting match.
It sure was one of the biggest sights a feller ever did see, all them hands and critters dancing and laffing there together, with the pink tunes and blue ones and red and yeller, whirling ‘em all about; and Fiddling Jimmy up there on his rock, fiddling and singing, and jest carried away in a kind of a glorification.
It was a funny thing what kind of a tune the different critters would pick out to be danced by. It’s like I say, when the big music comes it dances you, you don’t dance to it, but every feller’s free to pick his own tune. Take that string of thorn bushes now, the pretty little round kind that a person kin see most any time growing in a old run-out field: they come dancing in to the tune of “Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush.” All they little leaves was winkling and twinkling and clapping theyselves together, and all of ‘em was giggling out the prettiest little green giggles a person ever did hear.
It was all right for them bushes to pick a baby song like that, but it sure was a funny thing to see them powerful big steers of Tony’s just natcherly carried away by the tune of “Bye Baby Bunting.” When it come by in all that tangle of music, them beasts they jest got right up on they behind legs, slung they tails over they arms, and let it walse ‘em away for mile upon mile. Them critters is so powerful and large that when they dances they tromples down trees and kicks great cliffs of rock outer the mountainside, and I bet “Bye Baby Bunting” never had no sech a swath cut to it afore. But pshaw! A person can’t never say what they’ll do when the big music busts in.
And it’s like I say, when it comes you better mind and dance, or you’re mighty apt to see the same rough time ole Brother Moses Mutters seen. That ole preacher, pore feller! He sure did set a great store by his soul, and he was allus powerful oneasy for fear it might git lost, and if it was lost what in the H_ _ _ Excuse me! What in the thunder would he have to travel on when he hit the next world?
So when he seen them rails dancing over the ridge, and heard the big music coming, he knowed they was in for somepen all outer plum with his kinder religion, and he ketched aholt of that pine tree like I said to sorter anchor hisself down, for he knowed dancing was a sin and powerful onhealthy for the soul. But pshaw! I tell you, you got to dance when the big music hits you! And try as he might that pore ole feller jest couldn’t keep both foots to the ground at onced. Furst one little tune and then another’d come tickling round, and h’ist his leg up in time to it, and ‘fore he could holler out, “Aw my soul!” and git that foot jammed down nice and pious to the ground ergin, here’d be the tother up in the air shaking a dance step to every jig that come by. It sure was a right pitiful sight to see that poor old feller hanging on tight to his pine tree, trying so hard to save his soul, while furst one leg and then the tother was danced out from under him, and waving up in the air like a cat shaking its foot when it steps in water. His ole buddy Ain’t-That-So had been swept off by the tunes long since, for he ain’t got the staying powers of the preacher.
But d’rectly his pine tree failed Brother Mutters too! Whoop-ee! When the full tide of that music come down the holler, that tree give a great heave and a bound, and busting its roots loose, it jumped up outer the ground, and commenced to toss its branches and to dance with the best of ‘em, swirling pore ole Brother Mutters round and round with it, high and low, up and down.
Well, sirs! That ole pine it muster lost its soul long since, for it sure did take to dancing natcheral! And you better b’lieve it was a strange sight to see that tree dancing for all it was wurth, with the pore ole preacher feller dangling on to its trunk, his coat tails spread out right straight behind him, and him groaning and moaning over his soul. He didn’t want to dance with the tree, but onced he’d got aholt of it , he was skeered to let loose. And looked like the tree didn’t want to dance with him nother, for it jest turned itself loose and did every kind of a scan’lous worldly step a person ever heard tell of, fox-trotting and cheek-dancing with the ole feller ‘til you couldn’t rest. And every now and ergin if the preacher wa’n’t might spry the tree’d tromp down right hard on his toes—and you all know a pine tree ain’t got no light tread.
But after a spell the tree, it got plum out-done with sech a flat-footed, mean-spirited partner, and it give a great bound and a kick and slung Brother Mutters up to a high ledge of rock ‘way above all that tide of music. After that the pine tree hucked branches with a red oak, and the two of ‘em went downstream together kicking out jigs and cutting pigeonwings and dancing so hard the sap sweated out in great beads all over ‘em.
Ole Brother Mutters, he lay up there on his ledge all tousled to pieces, yammering and moaning and panting out, “Oh my soul! It’s lost! It’s lost!” and peeking down over the edge at all that swirl of music and dancing down below, like he was looking to see where his soul had done went. The hands and critters what was dancing, they got pretty night tickled to death over the old feller and his soul, and ‘fore they hardly knowed it, they was all dancing out a game acting like they was hunting for the preacher’s soul. They made up a little song, “Has anybody seen Brother Mutters’s soul?” It went off real nice to the tune of “Has anybody here seen Kelly?” ‘Course Tony Beaver, he had to start the thing. Him and his little buddy walsed over to Big Henry and his haystack, splashing the music up every which away as they come, and bows and sings out, “Has anybody seen Brother Mutters’s soul?” Big Henry and his partner, they danced it on to that string of little young squirrels, Big Henry he bowed to the squirrels, and the hayrick she bobbed a courtesy to ‘em, and both together they sings, “Has anybody seen Brother Mutters’s soul?” The squirrels they jerked they tails and frisked and barked it out all up and down the line, ‘til d’rectly the whole shooting match, hands and critters, trees, rocks, and varmints, was all doing the ladies’ chain to the tune of “Has anybody seen Brother Mutters’s soul?” all of ‘em skipping and laffing fit to bust they heads off. It sure was scan’lous, but it’s the truth when the big music is dancing you around, the thing that’ll tickle you most is to have anybody think they kin lose they souls.
And all the time Fiddling Jimmy stood up there on his rock, with all that stream of music and dancing critters splashing and bobbing and whirling past him. One little tune after another’d come lapping up round his ankles, asking him to come on with it, but he jest kep’ on where he was, fiddling and dancing all to hisself, and waiting. And then, by and by, a wonderful big tune come rolling in that was bigger and grander than any of us rough hands up Eel River ever had heard afore. It was all blue in the middle where the soft notes was, and pink up high, and way down gray in the low notes. It come in to a long thundering march, mighty solemn and beautiful, like the skies had opened and stood back for to let it come through, and like it was rolling outer the heart of all creation. Fiddling Jimmy, he tuck one look at that big tune and hollers out, “Here I am!” mighty high and joyful, like they’d been a-looking for one another since the world commenced, and with that he jumped right out into the heart of it. The tune it never broke its stride, but it ketched the little fiddler up and went on rolling away all so grand and beautiful. And all them other little tunes, they drawed up on both sides and all the dancers with them, making a kinder rainbow lane of sound, as you might say, for that big tune and the fiddler to pass down. After that--? Well, that was all. The minute that big tune passed away, all the rest of the big music sorter gathered itself together and blowed off to—Well, to wherever it had come from. The sound and the sight of it all died away; the hole where it had busted through closed right up tight; all the critters and varmints scuttled away into the woods, the trees jumped back into the ground, and in the shake of a lam’s tail there wa’n’t nothing to show for it all but jest a few gray rocks laying around outer place, a little dogwood sapling in full bloom a month outer season, a parcel of husky hands all outer breath, and ole Brother Moses Mutters still lamenting up there on his ledge. Fiddling Jimmy we never did see no more, but we didn’t feel too bad about that ‘cause the feller looked so all-fired happy when him and that there big tune ketched hands and danced off together thataway.
But every hand there felt mighty limber and free. All the meanness and spite work was clean swep’ away, for we’d seen a dewdrop for the furst time, and we’d danced to the big music, and we was all kinder stretched up and above out common selves.
More’n that there was another grand big thing come outer it all. Whilst we was all laying round, sorter ketching our breaths, and feeling mighty friendly to each other ‘count of all the spite work having clean blowed away, all to onced that little buddy of Tony’s hollers out, “Aw, look! Look at me, Tony!”
And when we looks there was the little feller, running and jumping, and cutting up capers jest to beat the band, for I’ll be dogged if the big music hadn’t straightened his crippled foot all out, so’s it was jest as limber and free as the tother.
“Aw, look, Tony! Watch me—watch!” he kep’ a-hollering out, jumping and cutting up, and laffing all carried away with hisself.
Well, sirs! All us hands bust loose with a great shout at that, and Tony ketched his little buddy high up on his shoulder and went off into another wild dance, with the young-un setting up there, his arm hugged right tight round Tony’s neck, kicking his heels, and singing out a little song, “I kin walk! I kin walk! Tony, I kin walk!”
For you see, strangers, that little feller had danced to the big music jest right. He hadn’t helt back or been mean-spirited or skeered, he’d jumped right into the middle of it and let it dance him on away jest anywheres it pleased.
And that’s what you better mind and do too. If the big music comes, you mind and dance to it, for if you don’t you’re mighty apt to git treated like it done Preacher Moses Mutters. That ole brother, pore feller! His coat tails was all tore to strings, his whiskers was raveled out, and it’s the truth! He ain’t had a sprig of hair on his head from that day to this—no, sir! Not one sprig!
And if any of you readers don’t trust me and the lie-paper to hand you out the truth, all you have to do is to go up Eel River for yerself, and any hand there kin show you a kind of a crinkled place on the face of one of the highest cliffs up yonder, what marks the spot where the big music busted in—and then mebbe you’ll know the truth when you see it!