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On Hell-Fer-Sartain Creek
by [?]

Thar was a dancin’-party Christmas night on “Hell fer Sartain.” Jes tu’n up the fust crick beyond the bend thar, an’ climb onto a stump, an’ holler about ONCE, an’ you’ll see how the name come. Stranger, hit’s HELL fer sartain! Well, Rich Harp was thar from the head-waters, an’ Harve Hall toted Nance Osborn clean across the Cumberlan’. Fust one ud swing Nance, an’ then t’other. Then they’d take a pull out’n the same bottle o’ moonshine, an’–fust one an’ then t’other–they’d swing her agin. An’ Abe Shivers a-settin’ thar by the fire a-bitin’ his thumbs!

Well, things was sorter whoopin’, when somebody ups an’ tells Harve that Rich had said somep’n’ agin Nance an’ him, an’ somebody ups an’ tells Rich that Harve had said somep’n’ agin Nance an’ HIM. In a minute, stranger, hit was like two wild-cats in thar. Folks got ’em parted, though, but thar was no more a-swingin’ of Nance that night. Harve toted her back over the Cumberlan’, an’ Rich’s kinsfolks tuk him up “Hell fer Sartain”; but Rich got loose, an’ lit out lickety-split fer Nance Osborn’s. He knowed Harve lived too fer over Black Mountain to go home that night, an’ he rid right across the river an’ up to Nance’s house, an’ hollered fer Harve. Harve poked his head out’n the loft–he knowed whut was wanted–an’ Harve says, “Uh, come in hyeh an’ go to bed. Hit’s too late!” An’ Rich seed him a-gapin’ like a chicken, an’ in he walked, stumblin’ might’ nigh agin the bed whar Nance was a-layin’, listenin’ an’ not sayin’ a word.

Stranger, them two fellers slept together plum frien’ly, an’ they et together plum frien’ly next mornin’, an’ they sa’ntered down to the grocery plum frien’ly. An’ Rich says, “Harve,” says he, “let’s have a drink.” “All right, Rich,” says Harve. An’ Rich says, “Harve,” says he, “you go out’n that door an’ I’ll go out’n this door.” “All right, Rich,” says Harve, an’ out they walked, steady, an’ thar was two shoots shot, an’ Rich an’ Harve both drapped, an’ in ten minutes they was stretched out on Nance’s bed an’ Nance was a-lopin’ away fer the yarb doctor.

The gal nussed ’em both plum faithful. Rich didn’t hev much to say, an’ Harve didn’t hev much to say. Nance was sorter quiet, an’ Nance’s mammy, ole Nance, jes grinned. Folks come in to ax atter ’em right peart. Abe Shivers come cl’ar ‘cross the river–powerful frien’ly–an’ ever’ time Nance ud walk out to the fence with him. One time she didn’t come back, an’ ole Nance fotched the boys thar dinner, an’ ole Nance fotched thar supper, an’ then Rich he axed whut was the matter with young Nance. An’ ole Nance jes snorted. Atter a while Rich says: “Harve,” says he, “who tol’ you that I said that word agin you an’ Nance?” “Abe Shivers,” says Harve. “An’ who tol’ you,” says Harve, “that I said that word agin Nance an’ YOU?” “Abe Shivers,” says Rich. An’ both says, “Well, damn me!” An’ Rich tu’ned right over an’ begun pullin’ straws out’n the bed. He got two out, an’ he bit one off, an’ he says: “Harve,” says he, “I reckon we better draw fer him. The shortes’ gits him.” An’ they drawed. Well, nobody ever knowed which got the shortes’ straw, stranger, but–

Thar’ll be a dancin’-party comin’ Christmas night on “Hell fer Sartain.” Rich Harp ‘ll be thar from the head-waters. Harve Hall’s a-goin’ to tote the Widder Shivers clean across the Cumberlan’. Fust one ‘ll swing Nance, an’ then t’other. Then they’ll take a pull out’n the same bottle o’ moonshine, an’–fust one an’ then t’other–they’ll swing her agin, jes the same. ABE won’t be thar. He’s a-settin’ by a bigger fire, I reckon (ef he ain’t in it), a-bitin’ his thumbs!