Mountaineers and Mill Folks


WE camped beside the blanched road near the foot of the hill, where we could lie and look across the shining ford of the little river into the moon-drenched valley below. The mountaineer in the near-by cabin had said, ‘Ef you-all won’t sleep hyar, you’d best go on half a quarter and sleep in the schoolhouse. The mill folks carries liquor down this road sometimes. They goes up tother way, but sometimes they comes back by hyar — hit’s a lonesomer way. And you best tie up you-all’s dog. The mill folks jist runs over our houn’s licketysplit! They won’t mis-putt theyselves ter stop whin they kills one even.’

But vacant schoolhouses were not for us. For there we heard sounds of revelry by night, and the smell of liquor lingered there by day, and the floors were often deep in dirt and torn textbooks. Once during a drizzling rain we had camped for three days in a schoolhouse where four men kept their tools, which they said were for digging graphite — though we saw no evidence of graphite and much evidence of moonshine. One of these men asked us for our newspapers received at the last mountain post office.

‘I’m the onliest one thet kin read in this settlemint, and whin I gits a-holt of a paper I reads hit to all the neighbors. I cain’t read writin’, though. I wusht I could,’ he ended wistfully. Peter asked him if he could not learn to write at the school here. He answered, ‘This hyar schoolhouse hes ben built three yars, and thar hain’t ben a term o’ school in hit. Whut with the boll weevil and the chillern hevin’ ter work and all the likely young folks gone down ter the mill, thar hain’t nobody ter go noways.’

But this night there was a full moon, and witchery was in the air. For months we had slept under the stars, seldom putting up our little tent, though always carefully packing Sisyphus, our pushcart, in case of a storm or a sudden alarm. A night under the open sky is a royal adventure; and sleep under a full moon is not an abdication. For sleep means not merely surcease from sorrow while the ‘ sleave of care’ is knitted; the full moon is a silver trumpet calling a challenge from some enchanted world of otherwhereness, which we answer bravely, taking consciousness gladly to new fields of magic where the moon is a monarch. Earth, under the full moon, answers the call with a quickened pulse, and the water’s lagging feet obey her lyric summons with a quickened measure. Even John, our beloved dog, who just missed being a setter, gazed at the moon and howled mournfully from the depths of some dread memory in answer to her solemn call. But when a mocking bird, teetering on the very tip of a dogwood bough above him, — a premeditated insult, — burst into a passion of song, John, chained to the wheel of Sisyphus, stiffened in resentment, turned around four times, flung himself to earth, and slept. And after a while there was whispering in the willows by the river, and a little breeze, drugged with the scent of honeysuckle, stole out and softly touched our faces — and we too slept.

In the chill of the night we were awakened by the noise of a motor car clattering down the mountain road. It splashed through the ford and groaned a sudden stop, and a woman’s drunken laugh profaned the night. John leaped the length of his chain as two men ran from the car and stood upon our blankets. I looked up into the face of one, who grasped my arm and cried, ‘Get up and come on down to the schoolhouse!’ But Peter had seized the loaded rifle by his side and, pointing it at the man’s head, said icily, in his best chest tones, ‘Gentlemen, we are sleeping here by permission of the landowner; and we do not desire to be disturbed.’ With the rifle waving before them they backed silently to the car, and presently from the schoolhouse came sounds of drunken revelry.

‘Here,’ I said, ’is where I take up my bed and walk. They will come back, and we shall be compelled to shoot someone.’ And not long after we heard yells and shots at our abandoned camp.

The next morning the mountain woman said, ‘Hit wuz some o’ thim mill folks. I knows who hit wuz. They hain’t bad folks. They wuz drinkin’ and they’ll be pow’ful ’shamed this mornin’. They ust ter live up hyar. But ’pears like whin they gits down ter the mill they jist goes hawg-wild! You know,’ she went on, fixing her great melancholy eyes on the far horizon of the mountains, ’they’s ben lonesome so long.'

’Ya-a-s,’ said t he man, ‘my womern’s got kin down ter the mill, and onct she went thar ter visit ’em. I had a great chanct o’ peaches thet yar, and hit did n’t dis-abundance me ter send some, and hit did n’t mis-putt Viney ter take ’em. Viney says they did n’t can up a one! They jist sets down and et ’em up and give ’em away. They even don’t bake they own bread. Jist runs out and buys a loaf, — they’s a big store they calls a commissary,—and cats and lights out fur thim picture movies. Hit seems ter make ’em go hawg-wild ter git ter the mill. They forgits Gawddlemighty en-tire!’


We set out on the road to the mill with reluctance. But at the mill was the only bridge across the river to Deer Mountain, where we wished to go. So we loitered on the way, and in the afternoon there suddenly appeared on the summit of the mountain, overlooking the valley of the mill, a place that simply demanded a camp. Back from a grassy meadow sprawled an old unpainted house under immense pine trees. At the right was a cuplike dell filled with blossoming altheas. Everywhere we had found altheas in dooryards; for an althea twig makes the best snuff stick, and a snuff stick is a salient feature of a mountain woman’s face. But these altheas were almost trees, and trembling above and among the blossoms were hundreds of humming birds, the Western sun glinting their tiny green feathers until they shimmered with myriad iridescent hues. We went through the big gate, and I could scarcely get Peter, John, and Sisyphus past the fascinating open workshop at the left. From the house came a woman in a long brown calico dress. She was so tall and so thin that, as she came rapidly across the grass, she seemed to be walking on stilts. And her great black eyes, glassy with age, burned with unquenched fire as she cried, ‘Ef you-all air sellin’ medicine, you-all need n’t come in! I sells all the medicine this hyar mounting needs. I ben arrested fur hit. But I jist tole ’em to crack they whup! I jist go on sellin’. ’T ain’t no ust comin’ in hyar!’

We explained meekly that we were only attracted by the beauty of the place, and wanted to camp for the night by the humming birds in the dell. Around the corner of the house, walking softly on the myrtle, solid and thick as a carpet, a small clean-shaven old man drifted toward us. We afterward found that he never approached a destination other than obliquely. John ran forward to meet him and stood statuelike in amazement. For the man had a Captain Cuttle hook for his left hand, only this was of two iron prongs tied to his wrist by a leather thong.

‘James,’ said the woman, ‘these hyar folks thinks our place is so purty they wants ter stay all night.’

‘Hit is a purty place,’ said the old man gently. ‘Hit ust ter be a great place fur the highrostocracy afore the war atween the States. They ust ter come frum the South with they niggers and they carriages. They’s a fine chalybeate spring jist past thim posies down the hill. The chimbleys is thar yit whar they burnt the big hotels in the war. Come round ter the back door and see whar they ust ter dance. Thar’s names cyarved on the rock frum way back.’

Worn smooth by the dancing feet of forgotten belles and beaus lay an enormous rock, level as a floor, on the edge of a precipice overlooking a wide valley. An old insecure iron fence protected one who dared look down.

‘Be keerful!’ warned the old man. ‘Ef we hed iny chillern I’d fix thet fence.’ I looked eagerly at the names carved there, and exclaimed when I found one I knew. The date was 1824.

‘ Yas,’said the man, ‘my grandpappy knowed thim folks. I ricollect hit, fur the name wuz so quare.’

‘De la Vergne,’ I said.

‘Thet’s hit!’ he cried. ‘They all kim frum the North, and one of ’em painted a picter o’ whar my grandpappy’s pigpen war. And hit’s framed and hangin’ in our house hyar. And one like hit sold fur money. And one time my granny said thet Mr. Devilin et at her house, and she hed ter rub his plate with a onion, though he would n’t eat no onion. I’ve heerd her tell hit and laugh!’

‘That was my great-grandfather,’I said.

‘Think o’ thet, Marthy! Ole Mr. Devilin’s her great-grandpappy! Come right in the house ’n’ rest! Er maybe you-all’d like ter try some o’ my seedlin’ peaches? I keeps the finest tree fur my friends. Thar’s four props under hit this yar. I never sells a peach frum hit. I calls hit my Friends’ Tree.’

‘Humph!’ said his wife acidly. ‘They is all his friends’ trees! He won’t sell nothin’ fur whut hit’s wuth!’

‘Now, Marthy,’ he answered patiently, ‘I sells ’em. But to sell too expensive is whut the Bible calls “doublin’ and thriblin’,” and hit’s agin the Book.’

‘Oh, thet Bouk! Thet Bouk!’ she cried contemptuously. ‘I’ll bring out some cheers and knives, and you-all jist set under the tree and eat. Thet’s whut all his friends does!'

‘Don’t mind Marthy. Marthy’s a good Christian womern, though she don’t seem to reelize hit. See this hat? Hit’s a good hat,’ he said, removing his wide gray felt. ‘I hain’t hed hit but two yars and hit’s all frayed on the aidge. You see, mornin’s after chorin’s done I th’ows hit in the kitchen door, and ef hit comes rollin’ back I lights out fur the work shed and waits around a spell. But ef hit don’t come bouncin’ back, I jist walks right in ter breakfast.’


The Friends’ Tree, near the house, stood on a little knoll overlooking the valley, and under the four props was a bower where one could sit and, without rising, pick the rosy peaches. Our host said, ‘ Don’t take iny but the very finest. Thar’s more’n we’ll eat. I hain’t got enough friends! Whin you-all eats all you want, come round ter the back porch. They’s some sugar-sweet muskmelons I ben wantin’ somebody ter try.’

It was an experience to see the old man wash his iron hand, deftly carve a melon, and offer a slice politely on a prong. John turned surprised and delighted eyes on me, as if to say, ‘Here is a man that is a man!’

‘Whut’s you-all’s name?’ called the woman from the kitchen door. We told her, and she said, ‘Our name’s Brent, but iverbody calls us Aunt Marthy and Uncle James. I reckon you-all kin too. Why n’t you-all come in the house? I don’t like folks ter light on me and stay in the yard!'

‘I’ll go round and roll you-all’s little wagon inter a room,’ said Uncle James.

We explained that for our health we preferred to camp outdoors. Aunt Marthy sniffed something about ‘pink pills fur pale people,’ and we entered the great beamed kitchen with its huge fireplace and polished stove. At the east was an open door with a fence across it, which looked down a sheer drop of hundreds of feet. And as Aunt Marthy bent her tall form and vehemently threw out the dishwater I trembled for fear she would bring up in the valley below.

It rained for the next two days, and we moved into the house, which leaked like a sieve.

‘Git yerself cheers and hunt a dry spot and set down,’ said Aunt Marthy, who was occupying the most commodious spot, engaged in quilting a wonderful Texas Star quilt. ‘James wants ter putt on a new roof. But we’re old, and we hain’t much comp’ny, and thar’s allers spots fur cheers whar hit don’t leak — though we cain’t allers set in the same room, the leaks not bein’ in the right spots. Kin youall read print?'

Peter answered that we could.

‘Wal, I got a book. Hit’s titled Leny Rivers, by Mary J. Holmes. I’ve hed hit more’n twinty yars, and whiniver inybody comes as kin read they reads hit ter me. I cain’t read, and James won’t read nothin’ but newspaper lies and thet Bouk! Lord, I’ve hed ter hyar so much about thet Bouk thet hit’s plumb spiled my natur’! I don’t hold with cussin’, but iver’ time James says “the Bouk” I feel like tellin’ him who died fur him!’

And Aunt Marthy opened a trunk and carefully unwrapped Lena Rivers from a blue silk handkerchief.

The pride of a mountain woman’s heart is a trunk. Though she has never traveled, nor ever expects to travel, and would be aghast at the thought, her social position is determined by the size and quality of her trunk; and Aunt Marthy smiled appreciatively when Peter cried, ‘Some trunk!’

So I followed Lena from childhood in the country to adolescence in the cruel city, when suddenly Aunt Marthy called to Peter, who sat with Uncle James in respective dry spots in the next room.

‘Hyar you, Peter! You read a spell. She’s tired.’

‘Aunt Marthy,’ said Peter mendaciously, ‘I’ve read — er — Lena — er — Riverton. I’ll read you a good piece out of my paper.’

‘In case o’ thet.’ said Uncle James, ‘I’ll bring my harness in ter mend. I’ve hed ter hyar Leny in spots fur more’n twinty yars — though I cain’t say I’ve iver connected hit up.’

Peter hurriedly selected a back-tothe-land article. With fervor it called the weary wayworn city dweller back to the farm, and urged him to relax, relax. Aunt Marthy looked bored. She took snuff, spat, and looked mortified. She said, ‘Fur Gawd’s sake, Peter, whut is that air ree-lax and how do you do hit?’

Peter gave me an appealing glance, and I said, ‘He means “to ease up — not try too hard. Be peaceful.” He wants the poor tired city man to go on a farm and — er — relax, you know.’

‘Humph!’ cried Aunt Marthy, and missed the fireplace again. ‘Thet man’s got a farm ter sell! Does he think we gits a ree-lax outen hoein’ cawn and choppin’ cotton, er raisin’ leetle things like chickens and calves jist ter kill ’em er sell ’em? The onliest ree-lax I kin git on a farm is ter kill a rattler in my sang patch, er look down the bar’l o’ my gun at a revenue officer! Now, Peter — you jist quit that ree-lax piece and read some in Leny.’

Peter, anxious to avoid Leny and to cover his lack of literary taste, said, ‘I looked down the barrel of my rifle on the road last night.’ I told the story, and Aunt Marthy cried, ‘Hit wuz thim no-count ornery mill folks! I wusht you-all’d shot ’em whilst youall hed the chanct!’

‘Now, now, Marthy,’ said Uncle James, ‘they is jist the same folks thet ust ter be our friends — leastways they mammies and puppies wuz. I don’t low they would a harmed you-all. But whin they gits ter the mill, civileyezation takes holt and hit ruinates thim fur a while — jist like a fever takes holt. They is ust ter still places, and Gawddlemighty, and lonesomeness, and they don’t know how ter be in the world and out of hit too like the Good Book tells us ter be. You never knows whut civileyezation’s a-goin’ ter do whin hit fust takes holt. Now you take Willie Lemon — he’s jist Hell-bent fur civileyezation. You see, thar is Willie Lemon — ’

‘Ya-a-a-s,’ said Aunt Marthy cynically, ‘thar is Willie Lemon! I see him stanterin’ thu the huckleberry patch now, comin’ down the mounting ter set under yo’ Friends’ Tree and hyar you norate! Willie Lemon ort ter be shot fur laziness. He don’t work a lick! ’

‘Willie hain’t ter say lazy exactly. He claims he’s diskivered hit hain’t no use ter work, and the Book does say ter take no thought fur the morrer.’


Peter, intrigued by this fascinating doctrine, asked, ‘Who is Willie Lemon?' Aunt Marthy answered gladly, ‘Willie Lemon’s a wood’s colt. His mammy war Lily Ann Lemon, and I wuz thar whin he wuz borned. She war a-layin’ thar white as death and iverbody thought a-dyin’, and the preacher he come and told Lily Ann she’d go to Hell ef she did n’t tell who the pappy wuz and confess her sin; and she jist smiled and niver said a word, and got well and met a mill feller and married him and left Willie with his grandpappy and he died too. And Willie he ketches rattlers and sells the ile and the skins thu the mail order. He won’t trap, fur he won’t kill nothin’ but a rattler er a copperhead. I claim Willie Lemon is lackin’, myself.’

‘No, Willie hain’t lackin’. But he war a quare young un. He war four yar old afore he ’d speak a word. One day they kotched a big rat, and they war ashowin’ hit in a trap, and they all went outen the room, and whin they comes back the rat wuz gone, and they wuz a-marvelin’, and Willie Lemon up and says, “I let that rat out, and I’m glad I done hit!” Fust word he iver spoke! And whin he went ter school he jist set thar, and the teacher, thinkin’ he wuz lackin’, jist let him set. And one day whin thar wuz a sum a big boy could n’t do, Willie went ter the blackboard and done the sum right, and set down and never said a word. No, Willie hain’t lackin’.’

‘Hyar he comes thu the big gate,’ said Aunt Marthy.

But Willie Lemon did not come through the big gate. He came over it like a bird, and with one continuous gesture he cart-wheeled across the grass with a bunch of white grapes in his hand, which he presented to Aunt Marthy, apparently without the loss of a grape. And Willie Lemon was the most perfect specimen of the human race we had ever seen. He was twentythree, of medium height, broad of shoulder and small of thigh. His jetblack hair might have been permanently waved at a beauty parlor; his skin was milk-white and apparently did not tan. For, unlike the mountaineer, he wore no hat. His features were like chiseled marble, and his soft black eyes under their curling lashes gleamed with veiled fire beneath their gentleness. During the week we spent with Aunt Marthy he came every day, and he never spoke but to answer a question, though he was quick to see when any helpful act could be performed for any of us.

Willie Lemon seemed closer to his hands, his feet, his head, his body, than other human creature ever was. I spoke of this one day, and Uncle James said, ‘Willie, show how you kin walk on yer haid.’ Obligingly Willie bounced away over the grass on his head, gracefully and seemingly without effort. We used to speculate as to whether Willie Lemon was his body, or whether he stood outside his body and commanded it. And one day, as we all sat on the gallery, Willie Lemon, as ever silent, and with his eyes fixed on the distant mountains, suddenly arose and ran off in a direction opposite from his home.

‘Willie’s had a call,’ said Aunt Marthy.

‘Yes, he has ’em too, like Samuel in the Good Book, and like — ’

‘Shucks!’ cried Aunt Marthy. ‘I reckon Samuel did n’t smell a rattler whin he had a call! I claim he smells ’em! I low Willie Lemon kin smell a rattler miles away!’

And after a while Willie returned, carrying a huge rattlesnake, with twelve rattles, on a stick.

‘ Whar ’d ye find hit, Willie?' asked Uncle James admiringly.

‘Hit war a mile down the road under the stile whar the Reed chillern passes frum school. I jist got thar afore ’em.’

The day before we left he suddenly spoke to me. ‘Do you-all know inybody in Kansas City?' he asked.

I told him I once lived there.

‘I wusht I knowed someone thar. I larned about automobiles by mail order frum thar, all about, ’em and how ter drive one. I ’m a-goin’ thar.’

‘Oh, Willie Lemon!’ I answered, pained. ‘Why? Why?'

‘I wants ter putt my hand on er wheel and go faster ’n iny varmint in these hyar mountings. Sometime I wants er airship.’

So that was why Uncle James knew that ‘civileyezation had tuck holt o’ Willie Lemon ’!

We gave him a letter to someone we knew in Kansas City, and I doubt not that Willie Lemon stood silent for a time before some garage or factory, and suddenly proved his ability to drive in a race!


There came a day when for the last time I took the perilous path down through the altheas to the chalybeate spring by the desolate chimneys of the old hotels. And as I climbed back up the rocky way I wondered how those delicate women of America’s feudalism, in their hoop skirts and thin slippers, ever managed to reach the dancing rock. I walked for the last time through the grove of altheas, where the humming birds, not at all afraid of me, bobbed about like tiny soap bubbles iridescent in the sunlight; and I walked across the thick, soundless myrtle and sat down on the edge of the gallery to rest. Through the open window came the voice of Uncle James in melancholy groans.

‘I tole you, James Brent,’ cried Aunt Marthy’s voice, ‘I tole you whut’d happen ef you et so many o’ thim muskmelons! Now jist groan away!’

‘Hit hain’t thet, Marthy! Hit hain’t muskmelons! Hit’s Peter and Eleanor!’ He groaned again. ‘They is good folks! Fine folks! But they lives down thar in civileyezation, and they hain’t obeyed they Book’s commands. Good folks! Fine folks! And lost! Lost!’

And he groaned again.

Aunt Marthy hissed one famous Napoleonic word which expressed all her contempt for creeds outworn; and I tiptoed across the myrtle to the Friends’ Tree, hardly knowing whether to laugh or to weep.

Peter sat under the tree, and as I saw Uncle James emerge from the house, followed by his hat, and tack toward the workshop, I knew he would come to anchor presently at the peach tree. So I said, ‘Here comes Uncle James to speak to us about our souls. Be careful not to hurt him. He is suffering about our souls.’

‘Our souls!’ cried Peter in a frightened voice, slipping the Little Blue Book of Nietzsche into his pocket.

Uncle James took off his hat, and spoke with grave dignity. ‘I don’t aim ter be brash ner conceitful, but I feels I jist gotter speak ter you afore you-all leaves. I knows hit’s hard ter keep onspotted frum the world, down in civileyezation whar you-all belongs ter go back ter. And now Willie Lemon, he’s Hell-bent fur hit too — and I jist cain’t stand hit, somehow! I’ve watched civileyezation take holt o’ our own mounting folks down at the mill and — ’

He turned away his head and wiped his eyes with his red handkerchief.

Peter, nervous about his soul and anxious to confuse the issue, said, ‘But, Uncle James, civilization is just an easier way of doing things. Just machinery. Now those mill folks, their natural needs — things they have always wanted — are for the first time being supplied. It’s like food to a starving man. It intoxicates them — makes them hysterical — ’

‘Peter,’ said Uncle James, gently but reproachfully, ‘hit hain’t as ef I could n’t read. I kin read the plain commands o’ the Good Book, and I takes the Atlanty Constitution, and I knows about civileyezation. Thet thar machinery jist kills thousands and thousands jist runnin’ over folks, and in mines and factories. And the folks as owns ’em is doublin’ and thriblin’ and makin’ some folks rich and some folks pore, and nobody keers! I wuz in civileyezation a whole yar onct, and I lef’ my hand thar twell the Resurrection, whin please Gawd I’ll hev hit agin! Fur the Lord is comin’ in His power sooner’n you know! And — and — I reckon you-all hain’t even ever ben baptized!’

‘Uncle James,’ I cried desperately, ‘whatever God you love, I’m sure I love Him too!’

‘Hit hain’t enough, honey,’ he said, patting my arm with his iron prongs, ‘we gotter obey thim plain commands.’

Blessed Aunt Marthy called at this moment, — for I should have committed myself to anything, — ‘You-all quit listenin’ ter James and come in ter dinner. This is you-all’s last day and you-all gotter eat with me. I got fried chicken and chess pie!’

Uncle James smiled in a relieved way, and placed his peace barometer firmly on his head. Peter, in the freemasonry of men, cried, ‘Fair weather, and mild, Uncle James.’

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Now you take Marthy. Once saved, allers saved. Marthy’s saved, though she don’t know hit. But you see, she’s obeyed thim commands — and I’m afeared you-all hain’t.’

‘Uncle James,’ said Peter, ‘those commands have made a mighty good man out of you. And I promise to read them all over again.’ And we did.

The next morning, as we looked back at the old house under the pines, and at the althea dell, and at Aunt Marthy and Uncle James waving from the big gate, I brushed the tears from my eyes and said, ‘Maybe we’ll meet them again under the Friends’ Tree in Paradise. But it will not be the same. Aunt Marthy’s dear wicked fire will be quenched, and Uncle James will walk directly on those golden streets, and he ’ll not have the Captain Cuttle hand, and he will have lost that lovely blend of wisdom and superstition!’

‘But,’ said Peter, ‘if Uncle James wants to gain his hand and lose his naïvetée we should n’t stand in his way!’

‘Therein,’ I answered, ‘ is a mystery. The problem of love, and growth, and separation and everything. We’ll consider that at the camp fire to-night.’


But there was no camp fire that night or for several nights. For, arriving at the valley of the mill, civilization ‘tuck holt,’ and we moved into a large vacant hotel where from our deep window ledge we could drop a penny — and I did — into the chuckling water of the river below. Across the road, in the great red brick mansion with its white stone pillars and spacious grounds, lived a delightful family, and there was music in the evenings, and much talk of books. For they were lonely folks, burdened with household cares; and, while the mill continued to run, no one could be persuaded to go out to service.

Peter spent much of his time at the woolen mill. But, after once seeing that the piteous bundles of fleeces — shipped in from some place where civilization had ‘tuck strong holt’ — were filled with rags, old iron, and old shoes to increase the weight, I wandered, instead, among the shabby, neglected homes of the mill people, where no blooming geraniums in tin cans adorned the windows, as in all mountain homes. For the home is kept by a child too young to work at the mill, or a woman too old.

One morning I stopped at a shackly house where an old woman sat with a child on the little porch. Observing that the boy did not run about, I asked if he wore sick. ‘No,’ she answered, ‘ he’s jist got the rickets. We hes a heap o’ lung trouble and rickets hyar. But lawzy, whin we had pellagry up in the mountings we jist up and died without no doctor. We got good doctors hyar.’

‘But don’t you sometimes wish for the mountains?’ I asked.

‘Me? I would n’t go back to thim mountings fur nothin’ in this hyar world! Allers choppin’ cotton, and splittin’ stove wood, and niver seein’ nobody! We-uns is goin’ ter hev a dance ’cross the river frum the hotel ternight. You-all come over.’

I thanked her and told her we would, and that they were decorating the hotel also for a dance to-night, and many of the guests and the music would come from the state capital. I asked her if she would like to come and watch the dance with us.

‘No’m, I don’t low as I will. I don’t keer fur thet bellerin’ music. I’ve heerd hit. Some o’ our mill girls’d like ter dance like thim city folks, but our men won’t dance with ’em like thet. You cain’t git ’em ter jiggle round and kick out behint like thet! Cain’t even git our manager ter dance like thet, but he goes to ’em — reckon he jist has ter caper to ’em.’

That night the guests arrived in cars and danced to an excellent jazz band. By the window where we sat two old men, mill hands, looked on from outside. The floor manager approached them and said civilly, ‘Move on, will you? We need the air. The ladies complain that it is too warm.’

One of the men replied easily, ‘Wal, I would n’t low as they needs more air. They don’t ’pear ter hev on no more clo’es then’d wad a shotgun.’ And they walked quietly away.

We followed them across the bridge to the mill dance. A solitary fiddler sat in the fork of a tree, playing ‘Money Musk.’ Children danced together on the grass, and the grandmother of the child with the rickets swung about the small platform and ‘balanced all’ with the best of them. I dare say that moonshine as well as moonlight contributed to the joy of the occasion, but there was no rowdyism, and no hint of envy of the hotel dance across the river. For these mill folks are mountaineers or descendants of mountaineers, proud of their heritage and tenacious of their customs. So they danced the summer night happily away, forgetting the day’s toil and the threat of to-morrow’s drudgery — for they were together.