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

“You’ll tip us over”—-

“No, I won’t! Do as I tell you.”

They were nearing a wide corner, where the road turned to the right and bore due south through the woods. Milton caught sight of the turn, gave a quick twist of the lines around his hands, leaned over the dasher and spoke shrilly:

“Git out o’ this, Marc!”

The splendid brute swerved to the right and made a leap that seemed to lift the sleigh and all into the air. The snow flew in such stinging showers Milton could see nothing. The sleigh was on one runner, heeling like a yacht in a gale; the girl was clinging to his neck; he could hear the bells of the other sleigh to his left; Marc was passing them; he heard shouts and the swish of a whip. Another convulsive effort of the gray, and then Milton found himself in the road again, in the moonlight, where the apparently unwearied horse, with head out-thrust, nostril wide-blown and body squared, was trotting like a veteran on the track. The team was behind.

“Stiddy, boy!”

Milton soothed Marc down to a long, easy pace; then turned to Bettie, who had uncovered her face again.

“How d’ y’ like it?”

“My sakes! I don’t want any more of that. If I’d ‘a’ known you was goin’ t’ drive like that I wouldn’t ‘a’ come. You’re worse’n Ed. I expected every minute we’d be down in the ditch. But, oh! ain’t he jest splendint?” she added, in admiration of the horse.

“Don’t y’ want to drive him?”

“Oh, yes; let me try. I drive our teams.”

She took the lines, and at Milton’s suggestion wound them around her hands. She looked very pretty with the moon shining on her face, her eyes big and black with excitement, and Milton immediately put his arm around her and laid his head on her shoulder. “Milton Jennings, you don’t”—-

“Look out,” he cried in mock alarm, “don’t you drop those lines!” He gave her a severe hug.

“Milton Jennings, you let go me!”

“That’s what you said before.”

“Take these lines.”

“Can’t do it,” he laughed; my hands are cold. Got to warm them, see?” He pulled off his mitten and put his icy hand under her chin. The horse was going at a tremendous pace again.

“O-o-o-oh! If you don’t take these lines I’ll drop ’em, so there!”

“Don’t y’ do it,” he called warningly, but she did, and boxed his ears soundly while he was getting Marc in hand again. Bettie’s rage was fleeting as the blown breath from Marc’s nostrils, and when Milton turned to her again all was as if his deportment had been grave and cavalier.

The stinging air made itself felt, and they drew close under their huge buffalo robes as Marc strode steadily forward. The dark groves fell behind, the clashing bells marked the rods and miles and kept time to the songs they hummed.

“Jingle, bells! Jingle, bells!
Jingle all the way.
Oh, what joy it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.”

They overtook another laughing, singing load of young folks–a great wood sleigh packed full with boys and girls, two and two–hooded girls, and boys with caps drawn down over their ears. A babel of tongues arose from the sweeping, creaking bob-sleigh, and rose into the silent air like a mighty peal of laughter.


A school-house set beneath the shelter of great oaks was the center of motion and sound. On one side of it the teams stood shaking their bells under their insufficient blankets, making a soft chorus of fitful trills heard in the pauses of the merry shrieks of the boys playing “pom-pom pullaway” across the road before the house, which radiated light and laughter. A group of young men stood on the porch as Milton drove up.

“Hello, Milt,” said a familiar voice as he reined Marc close to the step.

“That you, Shep?”

“Chuss, it’s me,” replied Shep.