Miss Betsy Beaver


WELL, sirs, I sure do wish I could claim kin with them Beaver folks lives up Eel River! They cert’nly must be a mighty onusual race of humans. Thar ‘s Tony Beaver, of course, and I reckon thar ain’t a hand on this log job but what ‘s heard about him. Then too thar ‘s his sister, Miss Betsy Beaver, what I ‘m aiming to tell you-all about this evening.

Yes Jake, I don’t keer if I do have a bite off ‘n you. Mebbe it ‘ll sorter help me to chaw out this tale.

Well, now, Miss Betsy Beaver she’s jest the nicest commonest kinder woman a feller ever did see. You-all knows the kind, jest going right along sewing on buttons, making griddle-cakes, and helping a neighbor out when the new baby’s coming. Feet squar’ to the ground, right on the job all the time, and if thar ‘s any clouds round, you better b’lieve Miss Betsy she ain’t got her head up in none of ‘em.

All hands up Eel River they jest thinks the world of Miss Betsy. She don’t stay up thar regular, but about once in so often she ‘ll come by and git ‘em all sorter straightened out — pants patched, kittles scraped, and all like that.

She sure is a mighty good-hearted somebody. Thar ain’t a hand up Eel River what ain’t had to thank her for somep’n’; and it ‘s jest the truth, if it wa’n’t for her, I reckon them three pore dog-goned pine trees, what Tony ‘s allus been so mean to, would ‘a’ been skeered into turpentine long since.

You say you ain’t heard of them trees?

Well, they ‘s jest three right pitiful pine trees on a ridge up Eel River. They ‘s all of a size, like they ‘d been hatched outer the one cone, and all going up the ridge one right behind the tother. Well some way them trees heard tell of what a powerful lumberjack Tony Beaver is, and ever since then they been a-running and a-running to git away from Tony. But course, all of you hands here knows a tree jest natcherly can’t run. So all them pore critters kin do is to kinder hunch up they backs, and strain and strain to bust they roots loose, and git on away. And thar they been for a person can’t hardly say how long, a-running, and a-running up the ridge, but never gitting nowhar.

Well, them trees they jest erbout tickle Tony to death. He would n’t really lay a finger on one of ‘em, but he can’t help fooling with ‘em, and every once in so often he ‘ll holler out to the hands, ‘Hey now, fellers! We got to git to work on them pine trees at sunup!’ And at that the rosin it ‘ll bust out over them trees in a cold sweat, and all night afterwards you ‘ll hear the pore dog-goned things crying and fretting, and shivering to theyselves, swishing they branches across they noses, and sniffling out in the kinder windy way a pine tree talks, ‘B-e-av-e-r, To-n-y B-e-a-v-e-r ‘s coming!’

And Tony he ‘s got ‘em so skeered now, that he don’t even have to say a word to ‘em. All he has to do to make ‘em sweat rosin is jest to spit on his hands, and roll up his sleeves right easy as he walks by ‘em. And it ‘s the truth, them trees they jest hates Tony so bad, that if they ketches a sight of him way off on a far ridge, they bristles up they needles like you ‘ve seen a cat fur up its tail when dogs is about.

Oh, all right! If you-all don’t b’lieve me, some other feller in this bunk-house kin finish out the tale. Well then, I ‘ll tune up ergin.

Miss Betsy now, she’s mighty softhearted, so every night along about early candlelight she ‘ll slip out on the ridge, and sorter stroke them trees down, telling ‘em Tony was jest fooling, and talking to ‘em mighty motherly and nice, like she was tucking the kivers in around ‘em and hearing ‘em say they prayers. And the pore doggoned critters ‘ll quit shivering and sniffling, and dreaming turrible dreams about fresh chips and spilled sawdust; and then all night a person kin hear ‘em whispering to theyselves, swishing out, ‘M-i-s-s B-e-t-s-y B-e-a-v-e-r ‘s here! M-i-s-s B-e-t-s-y’s here!’ Like they was turning over in bed comforting theyselves.

Tony, too, he thinks a heap of Miss Betsy; but course you-all know you don’t never view yer own sister through no kind of a pretty haze like yer apt to see the tother feller’s sister. And anyhow, Tony he ‘s right sure that the real big feller in the Beaver family has a T to the front of they names, ‘stead of a B.

Still and all, he ain’t fergitting that they ‘s more ‘n one time when Miss Betsy’s pulled him and the Eel River crew outer a tight fix. Mebbe you fellers recollect the time Big Henry cut into that sugar maple what was a bleeder, and come nigh drowning the whole camp in sugar water?

You ain’t heard tell of that?

Well, sirs, fellers! That sure was a time! And outer it too thar come one of the biggest eye-openers Tony Beaver ever got.

Big Henry now, he ‘s jest a hog fer tree molasses on his griddlecakes, so one spring he sets out to tap the sugar maples ‘round camp. But whoop-ee! He ain’t notched more ‘n a couple, when he struck that thar one what ‘peared to be a bleeder, like I said, and swish! the sap outer that dog-goned tree, it squirted up pretty nigh fifty feet high! And in jest the shake of a lamb’s tail, every hand thar was wading knee-deep in sugar water.

It ‘s the truth, that thar maple had sont its roots so all-fired deep it had jest natcherly tapped the res-e-voy, way, way down in the ground whar the spring sap of all the trees is stored; and when Big Henry cut into it so keerless, it was like he ‘d yanked the plug outer the whole Atlantic ocean — ‘cept course this was sweet water ‘stead of salt. And it was, ‘Mind out, all hands, that yer don’t git drowned!’

The fellers they rustled round in a hurry, and got a couple of ditches dug, and jest did git that turrible tide of water headed off into Eel River ‘fore it washed the whole camp away. But that dog-goned tree, it kep’ right erlong spouting up day and night, night and day. It sure was a turrible e-vent, for let erlone stopping work, and putting everything under two feet of sugar water, it was wasting erway the sap from all the tother trees, and the whole forest got skeered fer fear they was about to bleed to death, and sunt a delegation in to Tony to ast him please to stop the leak.

Tony now, course he hated mighty bad to have them trees all mad at him, so him and Big Henry tied ropes to theyselves, and swimmed out across all that torrent, and though they was swep’ away a time or two, in the end, both of them being right stout hands, they got they selves anchored, and chopped the tree down.

But pshaw! come to find out, that did n’t do one par-tickle of good, for the dog-goned stump, it spouted up worse ‘n the tree had done. It sure was a miserable cur’osity, jest setting thar squirting up sugar water, day and night, night and day, leaking away the greenness from all the tother trees.

Ole preacher Moses Mutters ‘lowed it was the beginning of another Flood, and he was all for gitting the hands to work on a ark, thinking he ‘d be a second Noah, I reckon. But he oughter knowed he could n’t of got none of them big Eel River Jim-bruisers into a ark, two by two, nor any other ways. And anyhow, while he was searching the Scripters, trying to figger out how many cubicles went to a ephod, and then devide them all by omers to git the measurements right, Tony got the flood checked up. He tuck a log chain, and after a right smart tussle, he got it fastened round that stump, and then he grubbed the blamed thing up with them powerful steers of hisn, and when the roots was busted loose, the flood quit.


Well, after all that big to-do, the hands they was pretty nigh wore out. So they wrenched the sugar water outer they shirts and pants, and kinder spread theyselves out on the banks of Eel River to rest up.

But you know thar ain’t no rest to Tony Beaver! He jest shuck heself off, more like some kinder wild varmint than a human, and then he commences to study on all of that thar maple sap. Thar was the river jest swimming full of it, from bank to bank, and end to end. It sure did look like a pity to have it go to waste, and all hands sech hogs for tree molasses too.

Well Tony he studies a spell, and then he goes up stream to whar he’s got him a oil well, and not saying nuthing to nobody, he pulled the plug outer it, and let a whole mess of oil run into the river atop of all that sugar water, and then he tetched the whole blamed thing off with a match.

Well, sirs! I don’t reckon thar ever was sech a biling and a brewing! The whole of Eel River jest bubbled and blazed and carried on somep’n’ scandalous. And when at last the fires burnt out, and the smoke clared, thar was the river full up with tree molasses.

Tony he sure was tickled at his smartness that time! But pshaw! come to find out, them molasses they wa’n’t no ‘count for nuthing. They was jest so rank with burnt oil, they was n’t even fitten for hogs, let erlone humans.

And it wa’n’t no time nuther, ‘fore Tony seen he’d got the whole outfit into a awful fix. Thar was Eel River so stuck up with tree molasses from end to end that the waters jest natcherly could n’t run. The waters could n’t run, and course the logs could n’t travel, and thar was Tony’s big spring drive all tied up, and the river jest ruined.

And bees — Who-ee! every bee that was out that spring come a-hustling up Eel River with the ole lady and all of the kids. The dog-goned critters was a-swarming, and a-stinging, and jest into everything! Every kinder bee that ever was! Why, they tell me they was even some of Paul Bunyan’s bees come down from way up north somewhars, to git a taste of that sweetness. Paul Bunyan, he’s that great lumberjack they tells so many tales erbout, a person would come nigh thinking he was Tony Beaver heself. Them bees of hisn, they say, is jest the awfulest stinging critters ever heard tell of. Every one of ‘em’s nigh as big as a ox, and Paul crossed some of ‘em once with a gang of moskeeters, and ever since then, the dog-goned cusses has had stings both before and behind.

Yes, sir! They sure was in a fix that spring! And Tony heself jest could n’t git it figgered out how to clar the place of them bees, and git the river to running ergin.

Well erlong ‘bout that time, Miss Betsy she hit camp. She did n’t take more ‘n erbout one look at Eel River all ruined like it was with tree molasses, and right black with bees, ‘fore she hollers out, ‘My lands, Tony! Why in the name of common sense don’t yer finish the job?’

‘Finish the job?’ Tony says, kinder blank.

‘Why, sure!’ Miss Betsy answers him back. ‘Here,’ she hollers, ‘you fellers jump round now, and run some more oil into that thar river.’

Well, all hands cert’nly was glad to have Miss Betsy take over the job. So they run the oil in like she said, and then Miss Betsy lighted the whole mess up once more. The river, she biled and bubbled and smoked from end to end ergin; but this time, when the flame died down, hold and below! all of that long sweetening had done biled down to short sweetening, and thar was Eel River all froze across with maple sugar. All the hands had to do was jest to go out and chop the blamed stuff loose, and let the spring freshets carry it away, and jest d’rectly the water was running nice and free, with the log drive going down stream, and all of them turrible bees burned to death.

Well now, course that was pretty smart of Miss Betsy. But still and all, it wa’n’t much more ‘n what ‘most any of the woman-folks woulder thought of — and anyhow, Tony was pretty nigh sure he’d of figgered it out fer heself in another pair of seconds. So he jest kep’ right erlong thinking of Miss Betsy as nice and common, and knowing that the real big feller in the Beaver fam’ly had a T to the front of they names ‘stead of a B.

Course, Miss Betsy, she did n’t think nuthing ‘t all of it. She stayed round camp fer a spell, gitting things sorter straightened up, and speaking a kind word to them pore little dog-goned pine trees; and then, seeing as how the traveling was good, ‘count of the blocks of maple sugar still in the river, she borrowed a cheer and a ole quilt from camp, and had the hands to hook her in a good-sized chunk of sugar, and she spreads the quilt out on it, and setting down in the cheer, opens her ole umbrel’. A little breeze come erlong, and Miss Betsy floated on down stream jest as pretty and nice as you please, going down to the levels, whar was a pore woman needing her, with a new baby on the way, and no daddy thar to do the gander walk, ‘count of him having jest got kilt on a log drive. And as she floated on round the bend, the hands heard Miss Betsy singing a little song that went kinder this way, —

‘Make the beds, and mix the dough;
Feed the chickens, and sew and sew;
Tend the baby, and milk the cow;
Fer a person ‘s job is here and now.’


Well, I reckon you fellers would of thought that was all of that, but it was outer all that big biling of tree molasses that Tony he got the great eye-opener I been promising you-all.

Course, that fire it was turrible hot, and it burned or melted or busted everything it tetched. Amongst tother things it melted a ole glass tickler laying alongside of the river whar some feller had throwed it. Thar was a gray rock laying close to it, and when the flame come erlong that melted the tickler, it busted the rock too, and whatsoever was in the heart of that rock it got all melted up with the glass, and it sure did make a awful strange brew. Tony he found it laying thar mighty innocent on the river’s edge. The glass had cooled off right thin like a window light, and was sech a peculiar color that jest outer pure idleness Tony picked it up and squinted through the blamed thing. And Great Day in the Morning! he was a-squinting into the next world!

Well, sirs! what Tony seen come at him so sudden it broke the breath right off short in his throat, and the hide all down the spine of his back kinder riz up in bristles.

He give sech a jump that the glass jerked outer his hand and busted itself up erginst a rock. But still thar was a piece left big enough fer a feller to see through.

Tony was all by heself out thar on the edge of Eel River. It was gitting erlong toward dark, and a ole bullfrog, setting in a puddle somewhars, was making a mighty big, round, lonesome kind of a noise in his throat. Tony throwed a cat eye down at that thar strange piece of glass, and then he looked all erbout him right easy — most ‘specially he looked to the back of him. Then he glanced over toward camp, and it sure did supple up that stiff feeling down the spine of his back to see everything so nice and common over thar. Thar was the good hot smell of sody biscuits and coffee; and thar was Big Henry and the Sullivan feller in they blue shirts coming on down the ridge into camp, they axes over they shoulders, not keering nuthing fer nobody.

Well then, Tony he stoops over sorter stiff like, and picking up the glass squints through it ergin — and thar ergin was the next world!

What ‘s that you fellers say?

Well, of course I can’t say for sure it was the next world. It mought of been the world right to the back of this one, and then ergin it mought of been two, three worlds on ahead. All I know fer certain is it wa’n’t no sorter world Tony Beaver ever had seen afore.

Course, all of you fellers knows thar’s kinds of glass that ‘ll make little things look big, and tother kinds that ‘ll make fur-away things, like stars, look close; but this dog-goned glass done more ‘n that: it showed things what was right spang up erginst this world, but what nobody did n’t know was there.

Well, Tony he helt it up to his eye ergin, and jest looked and looked, with all of the looks he had. The last thing he recollected was hearing Jim Sullivan whistling ‘Sourwood Mountain’ over on the ridge, and the next thing he knowed, Big Henry was shaking him by the arm.

‘Hey, Tony, whar air you! Hey, Tony! H-e-y, T-o-n-y!’ Big Henry hollers, like Tony was fur away.

Big Henry ‘s shaking him jostled the glass outer Tony’s hand, so he sorter come back to heself. And now the twilight was all gone, and seemed like it was way late in the night.

‘Hey, Tony!’ Big Henry says, still shaking him, and still hollering; ‘we been a-looking, and a-hollering fer you half the night.’

‘Half the night?’ Tony says, in a kind of a daze.

‘Yes, sure!’ Big Henry tells him. ‘Supper’s done eat and over a whole while back.’

‘Supper?’ Tony says, like his thoughts was coming through a fog.

‘Yes, supper! supper! SUPPER!’ Big Henry yells at him; fer he ‘s a hand what knows a holler to victuals will fetch a feller to heself when no other sound would.

Tony sets down on a stump kinder weak-like. ‘Big Henry,’ he says, speaking like he was at prayer meeting, ‘I been a-looking into the next world.’

‘Come on back to camp, and sleep it off,’ Big Henry tells him. ‘You been a-drinking on a empty stomick.’ Only Big Henry did n’t use no sech genteel word as stomick.

But Tony he fishes up that piece of glass, and holds it out to the tother feller — and in the end, it was Tony led Big Henry back to camp.

Well, now, that was how the business commenced, and I tell you it wa’n’t hardly no time ‘fore the awfulest kind of a blight had fell over them hands up Eel River. Thar was all the spring jobs jest fa’rly hollering out to be done: tanbark to be spudded, logs on the skidways, and the drive jammed in the river. But in place of a camp roaring with work, thar was jest a turrible sickly silence over everything, and a gang of half-starved fellers setting in a circle passing a little piece of glass from hand to hand.

Oh, don’t ast me what the glass showed ‘em, fer I jest natcherly don’t know. Not a feller thar could ever lay out in words what he seen. And if he had been able to, I would n’t of listened, fer I know dog-goned well it ain’t fer no common hand like me to go turning over the leaves thataway, trying to read the end of the tale ‘fore time fetches it up natcheral.

And it wa’n’t good fer none of them Eel River hands neither. They looked and looked so hard through that doggoned little squint-hole, that they come pretty nigh looking theyselves right over the edge and into the next world itself. They jest honkered down thar on the river bank, passing the glass from hand to hand, licking they chops over what they seen, and every last one of ‘em acting like a fool fer want of sense.

Tony he let ‘em all look in turn, ‘cept ole Brother Moses Mutters. That ole preacher feller had the next world all figgered out and lined off in his own mind so nice, with harpers harping on they harps, and all like that, Tony was skeered he mought be right badly upsot if he was to ketch a glimpse of what it was like sure ‘nough.

So ole man Mutters was the only one of ‘em had any sense left, and when he seen how it was working on Tony and all them tother pore fellers, he tuck his foot in his hand and put out after Miss Betsy Beaver, and fotched her into camp.

When Miss Betsy got thar, she found that turrible blight over everything, with all of them stout hands so fell erway that they looked like a gang of razor-backed hogs. Thar was they boots and shirts and pants, with the hide and bones still in ‘em, but looked like whatsoever it is makes every feller a real person had pretty nigh oozed away into the next world, leaving them all jest sorter pitiful shells of theyselves.

Well, Tony he did have the sense to know Miss Betsy, and he holds out the piece of glass to her and says, ‘Hey, sis! Look a-here! ‘ with a kinder maudlin smile on his face.

But he would n’t let the glass go outer his hand, holding it right tight while she looked.

‘Well, what do yer see?’ he says, all swelled up proud like a toad, and waiting fer her to git excited.

‘I don’t see nothing outer the common,’ Miss Betsy ‘lows.

‘Aw, sis’, you air of the earth earthy, and jest natcherly can’t behold celestial sights.’

Tony had to swaller some after he got them big words out, fer that was next-world talk that his tongue did n’t come by natcheral.

‘Tony,’ Miss Betsy says, ‘the sawmill ‘s run down, the steers is loose and trampling up the whole world, and the logs is jammed in the river; quit spying into the next world, and git on back to yer job in this one.’

With that Miss Betsy tried to snatch that blamed glass erway. But Tony he helt a-holt of it fer all he was worth.

So Miss Betsy let him be, and not saying nuthing to nobody, she went on over to the cook-house. Thar she fired up the stove, and commenced biling coffee, baking biscuits, and frying meat. And all the while she sung a nice little song, —

‘Biscuits, and coffee, and bacon fry,
Come on and eat a-fore you die.’

Well, sirs! it wa’n’t long ‘fore the smell of all them good victuals come a-blowing down the wind to whar them pore fools, what had pretty nigh oozed all away into the next world, was a-setting. Big Henry and the Sullivan feller was the first to git a whiff of the victuals. When that smell come to ‘em, they kinder woke up and put they noses up in the wind like you ‘ve seen a hound dog do. And they snuffed, and they snuffed. And they had n’t drawed in that smell long ‘fore they knowed thar wa’n’t nuthing in all the next world they wanted so bad as they wanted Miss Betsy’s sody biscuits and coffee. With that they kinder flopped over, and then they scrabbled up on they hoofs and come a-loping to the cook-house, all lopsided and weak-like.

‘Pore fellers!’ Miss Betsy says, not even making ‘em wash up nor nuthing, but jest setting ‘em down and pouring they coffee into they saucers for ‘em. ‘Pore fellers! you sure ain’t ready for the next world yit!

Miss Betsy keeps right erlong feeding ‘em, and cooking, and singing, —

' Biscuits and coffee, and bacon fry,
Come on and eat a-fore you die.’

And now, all mixed up with the smell of victuals and Miss Betsy’s little song, the tother hands could hear Big Henry and Jim Sullivan smacking they lips, rattling they knives, and lapping up they coffee, fer they was hungry, and did n’t keer who knowed it. And at that sound, first one and then a nother of the other fellers busted loose from the next world, and come a-staggering into camp, yelping for grub like a hound on a hot trail; twill it wa’n’t hardly no time ‘fore Miss Betsy had ‘em pretty nigh all sung home ergin, jest to the tune of sody biscuits and coffee.

But they was jest a few pore fellers so fur over the edge of the next world, that victuals could n’t pull ‘em back. And Tony he was one of ‘em. So then Miss Betsy she went off on a nother trail, and sets all the hands to work what had been fed good. They was like folks come home from a far country, and they was mighty glad to roll up they sleeves and git back on the job ergin, being jest natcherly homesick for the sound of a sawmill running, and the feel of a axe-helve in the palm of a man’s hand. Jest d’rectly the whole camp was roaring with work ergin; sawmill sending up squirts of steam erginst the ridge, axes chopping, trees falling, and the fellers whooping and hollering, cracking jokes, and smelling all good and hot once more.

Well now, you-all know they is jest a very few hands, not more ‘n erbout one to fifty, say, what would rather work than eat; and them few pore fellers what was still stuck in the next world was this kind. Victuals could n’t fotch ‘em, but when they heard the mill running, and the axes ringing and ketched a whiff of tanbark and sweat all sorter mixed up together, the sap of this world commenced to run through ‘em once more. They staggered up to they feet, all dry and stiff-like; and sorter slow, and uncertain, like they was remembering somep’n’ from away back, they pushed up they sleeves and spits in they hands — And whoop-ee! that was the charm that busted ‘em loose, and set ‘em right back ergin whar they belonged.

All, that is, ‘cept Tony. He did sorter raise up with the rest, but he was holding the glass at the time, and seemed like ‘fore he could stop heself, he tuck a nother big mouthful of the next world, and that turrible blight fell down over him ergin.

So now all the hands was home but Tony. Miss Betsy come on down to whar he was setting and commenced to sing to him; but now her voice did n’t hardly sound human no more. It sounded like wind swishing through the white oak trees, and water running in spring. And this was her song: —

‘ Outer the earth come a red flower,
And outer the earth come a blue;
And outer the earth come rocks and rivers,
And outer the earth come you.’

Tony sorter stirred when he heard that song, like somep’n’ was hollering to him that he oughter know. But it come to him mighty dim and distant.

Miss Betsy she lays her hand on his arm. Miss Betsy’s hand, now, it’s right large and weather-worn, and looks like the brown earth itself. She went on a-singing to him in that curous voice of hers that sounded more like running water and trees and birds, than it sounded human.

‘Red flower, and blue flower,
A-shaking in the breeze;
And sap, sap, spring sap,
A-running up all the trees.’

And now Tony looks up at Miss Betsy, with that dim next-worldness commencing to blow off his face, like mists blowing off a mountain ridge.

Miss Betsy’s hand slided on down and closed over hisn, while she kep’ on singing.

‘They’s next worlds, and last worlds,
And tother worlds maybe,
But the green earth and the brown earth
Is world enough for me.’

Miss Betsy’s fingers closed right tight over that thar piece of glass.

‘Come on home, honey,’ she says. ‘The Spring’s done come, and the birds is singing.’

She looks down at Tony, and he nods back at her kinder faint-like. And right then Miss Betsy pitched that turrible squint-hole into the next world away over into the middle of Eel River, whar could n’t nobody ever find it no more.

And after that she tuck Tony back to camp, and fed him good.

Tony he eat, and he eat; and ‘fore long he was all fed full, with the sap running through him good ergin, and powerful glad to be back whar he belonged, with both feet squar’ to the ground, and the trees showing green erginst the sky.

Still and all, he ‘s got to show off some before his sister.

‘I reckon you thought I was acting mighty strange,’ he says; ‘but you don’t know what I was a-seeing through that little piece of glass.’

‘Why, of course I know,’ Miss Betsy says, going right erlong scraping up the dishes, and gitting ‘em ready to wash.

‘Aw, no, Betsy, you don’t know what I seen,’ Tony tells her mighty grand. ‘I was a-looking into the next world.’

‘Why, cert’nly you was,’ Miss Betsy tells him. ‘But I been a-looking thar all of my life.’

‘You what? What’s that you say?’ Tony asts her, still too wropt up in his own grandness to sense what the woman was saying.

‘Why, my lands, Tony!’ Miss Betsy busts out like she was jest clar out-done with the feller. ‘ Why, I was born seeing all them things you had to peek through a little squint of glass to even ketch a glimpse of! And the more I sees of the next world,’ she says, swishing the yeller soap ‘round in the hot dishwater, ‘the more I knows a person oughter git busy in this one.’

‘Betsy! Why, Betsy!’ Tony cries, so tuck aback he could n’t hardly git his words out.

Miss Betsy quit swishing the hot soap-suds ‘round, and rests both hands on the kitchen table.

‘Tony,’ she says, ‘look at me — look at me right good.’

Tony done like she said, and all to once, right thar in his own sister’s face, looking down at him over the rim of a common dishpan, it seemed like he could see all of them things, and more besides, that he’d been a-peeking at over thar in the next world.

‘Betsy! Sister!’ he stammers out, jest so awe-struck that he kinder hunkered down on the ground at her feet, and reached out for to kiss her hand.

But at that Miss Betsy broke out in a laugh, the strange tother-world look on her face wrinkled all erway, and thar she was ergin, jest Sister Betsy Beaver, what Tony had knowed all of his life.

‘Aw, Tony,’ she says, ‘quit that foolishness, and take that dirty shirt off yer back so ‘s I kin git it into the washtub.’

Tony he laughs too, but he ‘s still mighty humble. ‘Well, sister,’ he says, ‘if yer won’t let me kiss yer hand, maybe you ‘ll let me help you hang out the wash, anyhow.’

And that’s how Tony come to find out that the real big person in the Beaver fam’ly had a B to the front of they names, ‘stead of a T. And when them three little ole pine trees got word of it all, they pretty nigh laughed theyselves to death; and all night long a feller could hear ‘em whispering and swishing they branches together, snickering out, ‘ B-e-a-v-e-r! M-i-s-s B-c-t-s-y B-e-a-v-e-r, fooled T-o-n-y B-e-a-v-e-r! ‘