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The Sociable At Dudley’s: Dancing The "Weevily Wheat"
by [?]

“Hello, Milt. That you?”

“It’s me. Been waiting?”

“I should say I had. Begun t’ think you’d gone back on me. Everybody else’s gone.”

“Well! Hop in here before you freeze; we’ll not be the last ones there. Yes, bring the shawl; you’ll need it t’ keep the snow off your face,” he called, authoritatively.

“‘Tain’t snowin’, is it?” she asked as she shut the door and came to the sleigh’s side.

“Clear as a bell,” he said as he helped her in.

“Then where’ll the snow come from?”

“From Marc’s heels.”

“Goodness sakes! you don’t expect me t’ ride after that wild-headed critter, do you?”

His answer was a chirp which sent Marc half-way to the gate before Bettie could catch her breath. The reins stiffened in his hands. Bettie clung to him, shrieking at every turn in the road. “Milton Jennings, if you tip us over, I’ll”—-

Milton laughed, drew the colt down to a steady, swift stride, and Bettie put her hands back under the robe.

“I wonder who that is ahead?” he asked after a few minutes, which brought them in sound of bells.

“I guess it’s Cy Hurd; it sounded like his bells when he went past. I guess it’s him and Bill an’ Belle an’ Cad Hines.”

“Expect to see Ed there?” asked Milton after a little pause.

“I don’t care whether I ever see him again or not,” she snapped.

“Oh, yes, you do!” he answered, feeling somehow her insincerity.

“Well–I don’t!”

Milton didn’t care to push the peace-making any further. However, he had curiosity enough to ask, “What upset things ‘tween you ‘n Ed?”

“Oh, nothing.”

“You mean none o’ my business?”

“I didn’t say so.”

“No, you didn’t need to,” he laughed, and she joined in.

“Yes, that’s Cy Hurd. I know that laugh of his far’s I c’n hear it,” said Bottie as they jingled along. “I wonder who’s with him?”

“We’ll mighty soon see,” said Milton, as he wound the lines around his hands and braced his feet, giving a low whistle, which seemed to run through the colt’s blood like fire. His stride did not increase in rate, but its reach grew majestic as he seemed to lengthen and lower. His broad feet flung great disks of hard-packed snow over the dasher, and under the clash of his bells the noise of the other team grew plainer.

“Get out of the way,” sang Milton, as he approached the other team. There was challenge and exultation in his tone.

“Hello! In a hurry?” shouted those in front, without increasing their own pace.

“Ya-as, something of a hurry,” drawled Milton in a disguised voice.

“Wa-al? Turn out an’ go by if you are.”

“No, thankee, I’ll just let m’ nag nibble the hay out o’ your box an’ take it easy.”

“Sure o’ that?”

“You bet high I am.” Milton nudged Bettie, who was laughing with delight. “It’s Bill an’ his bays. He thinks there isn’t a team in the country can keep up with him. Get out o’ the way there!” he shouted again. “I’m in a hurry.”

“Let ’em out! Let ’em out, Bill,” they heard Cy say, and the bays sprang forward along the level road, the bells ringing like mad, the snow flying, the girls screaming at every lurch of the sleighs. But Marc’s head still shook haughtily above the end-gate; still the foam from his lips fell upon the hay in the box ahead.

“Git out o’ this! Yip!” yelled Bill to his bays, but Marc merely made a lunging leap and tugged at the lines as if asking for more liberty. Milton gave him his head and laughed to see the great limbs rise and fall like the pistons of an engine. They swept over the weeds like a hawk skimming the stubble of a wheat field.

“Get out o’ the way or I’ll run right over your back,” yelled Milton again.

“Try it,” was the reply.

“Grab hold of me, Bettie, and lean to the right. When we turn this corner I’m going to take the inside track and pass ’em.”