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The Strength Of Gideon
by [?]

“Well, it sholy was mighty pretty. Indeed it was.”

“Oh, thanky, Brothah Gidjon, thanky.”

Then a little later they began to walk back to the master’s house together, for Martha, too, was one of the favored ones, and served, not in the field, but in the big house.

The old women looked on and conversed in whispers about the pair, for they were wise, and what their old eyes saw, they saw.

“Oomph,” said Mam’ Henry, for she commented on everything, “dem too is jes’ natchelly singin’ demse’ves togeddah.”

“Dey’s lak de mo’nin’ stahs,” interjected Aunt Sophy.

“How ’bout dat?” sniffed the older woman, for she objected to any one’s alluding to subjects she did not understand.

“Why, Mam’ Henry, ain’ you nevah hyeahd tell o’ de mo’nin’ stahs whut sung deyse’ves togeddah?”

“No, I ain’t, an’ I been livin’ a mighty sight longah’n you, too. I knows all ’bout when de stahs fell, but dey ain’ nevah done no singin’ dat I knows ’bout.”

“Do heish, Mam’ Henry, you sho’ su’prises me. W’y, dat ain’ happenin’s, dat’s Scripter.”

“Look hyeah, gal, don’t you tell me dat’s Scripter, an’ me been a-settin’ undah de Scripter fu’ nigh onto sixty yeah.”

“Well, Mam’ Henry, I may ‘a’ been mistook, but sho’ I took hit fu’ Scripter. Mebbe de preachah I hyeahd was jes’ inlinin’.”

“Well, wheddah hit’s Scripter er not, dey’s one t’ing su’tain, I tell you,–dem two is singin’ deyse’ves togeddah.”

“Hit’s a fac’, an’ I believe it.”

“An’ it’s a mighty good thing, too. Brothah Gidjon is de nicest house dahky dat I ever hyeahd tell on. Dey jes’ de same diffunce ‘twixt him an’ de othah house-boys as dey is ‘tween real quality an’ strainers–he got mannahs, but he ain’t got aihs.”

“Heish, ain’t you right!”

“An’ while de res’ of dem ain’ thinkin’ ’bout nothin’ but dancin’ an’ ca’in’ on, he makin’ his peace, callin’, an’ ‘lection sho’.”

“I tell you, Mam’ Henry, dey ain’ nothin’ like a spichul named chile.”

“Humph! g’long, gal; ’tain’t in de name; de biggest devil I evah knowed was named Moses Aaron. ‘Tain’t in de name, hit’s all in de man hisse’f.”

But notwithstanding what the gossips said of him, Gideon went on his way, and knew not that the one great power of earth had taken hold of him until they gave the great party down in the quarters, and he saw Martha in all her glory. Then love spoke to him with no uncertain sound.

It was a dancing-party, and because neither he nor Martha dared countenance dancing, they had strolled away together under the pines that lined the white road, whiter now in the soft moonlight. He had never known the pine-cones smell so sweet before in all his life. She had never known just how the moonlight flecked the road before. This was lovers’ lane to them. He didn’t understand why his heart kept throbbing so furiously, for they were walking slowly, and when a shadow thrown across the road from a by-standing bush frightened her into pressing close up to him, he could not have told why his arm stole round her waist and drew her slim form up to him, or why his lips found hers, as eye looked into eye. For their simple hearts love’s mystery was too deep, as it is for wiser ones.

Some few stammering words came to his lips, and she answered the best she could. Then why did the moonlight flood them so, and why were the heavens so full of stars? Out yonder in the black hedge a mocking-bird was singing, and he was translating–oh, so poorly–the song of their hearts. They forgot the dance, they forgot all but their love.

“An’ you won’t ma’y nobody else but me, Martha?”

“You know I won’t, Gidjon.”

“But I mus’ wait de yeah out?”

“Yes, an’ den don’t you think Mas’ Stone’ll let us have a little cabin of ouah own jest outside de quahtahs?”

“Won’t it be blessid? Won’t it be blessid?” he cried, and then the kindly moon went under a cloud for a moment and came out smiling, for he had peeped through and had seen what passed. Then they walked back hand in hand to the dance along the transfigured road, and they found that the first part of the festivities were over, and all the people had sat down to supper. Every one laughed when they went in. Martha held back and perspired with embarrassment. But even though he saw some of the older heads whispering in a corner, Gideon was not ashamed. A new light was in his eyes, and a new boldness had come to him. He led Martha up to the grinning group, and said in his best singing voice, “Whut you laughin’ at? Yes, I’s popped de question, an’ she says ‘Yes,’ an’ long ’bout a yeah f’om now you kin all ‘spec’ a’ invitation.” This was a formal announcement. A shout arose from the happy-go-lucky people, who sorrowed alike in each other’s sorrows, and joyed in each other’s joys. They sat down at a table, and their health was drunk in cups of cider and persimmon beer.