What My Heart Wants to Tell
by Verna Mae Slone
Chapter Index | Chapter II | Chapter IV

Chapter III

It was May in the year 1872. It had been raining almost all morning, but now, about ten o'clock, the sun was trying to shine.

It had rained a lot this spring, and many of the folks up and down Trace were far behind with their corn planting.

Jim was down with the "rumatis" again, and Frankie and the boys were thinking about having a "working," if it ever cleared up enough. They did not like to ask other folks to help them, when everyone's corn was just as weedy, but maybe they would have to.

Kitteneye sat in the open door where the sun came slanting in. The warm sun felt good on his back. All the other boys and the two girls were pulling sprouts, the young shoots that came up around the stumps in the new ground. But Kitteneye had a sore throat. His mother came to the door and looked outside, anxiously scanning the sky.

"Well, the rain's over. Begin 'fore seven, quit 'fore eleven," she said, more to herself than to the small boy. Then her eyes turned up the hollow. She saw someone walking slowly down the side of the creek--a woman with a bundle in her arms. When she saw the woman slow down as she approached the gate, she knew she was going to have a welcome visitor.

"Well, I do declare, here comes Cindy with the young'un. First time I've seen her out of the holler since last summer."

Kitteneye got up and pulled his chair out of the door, making room for her to enter.

"Come on in, Cindy, shore glad to see ye, and ye bring ye young'un. I been aiming to come up to see it before now, but with one thing and another, I jest kep' putting it off. Here, Kitteneye, give Cindy a chair."

"Yeah, I shore am out of breath. This child is a heavy'un to tote so fer." She sat down as she spoke.

"Here, give me ye bonnet and I'll put it here on the bed." Cindy pulled off her bonnet and used it for fanning her face. "Well, let me see if this one looks like all the rest." Frankie took the baby and unwrapped its bundle. "My land's sake, its almost growed up already. Look here, Kitteneye, look how purty."

Kitteneye gave a shy look and reached for the baby. Taking it gently in his arms, he placed it on the bed and sat down beside it.

"Well, you puny agin, Isom?" Cindy asked.

"Yeah," his mother said, not giving him time to answer for himself. "The palate of his mouth is falling down again. He's allus having trouble that 'er way."

"I heard tell that it was a present cure, if'n you tie ye sock around ye neck and sleep with it on." Cindy was fanning away as she talked.

"I already done that," Kitteneye spoke from the bed. "Maw pulled my ears and my hair straight up. She'll have me bald 'fore I get growed up."

"Jim feeling puny agin?" Cindy aksed.

"Yeah, down with the rumatis. Nothin' does him a bit of good. He carried a buckeye in his pocket and turned his shoes with the bottoms up under his bed every night, but he aches and pains. This rain spell makes it worse."

"Oh, Maw, ye know Paw always gets better after we'uns get the corn laid by," Kitteneye laughed.

"Ye better'n let ye paw hear ye say that, he'll whup the hide off'n ye."

"Well, Maw, ye know everbidy says Paw jest has the rumatis in the summer. That's why they call him Jim Summer."

"It don't aggravate ye paw none to be called Jim Summer." Then turning to her visitor she asked, "What brings ye out in this here bad weather?" She wanted to keep Kitteneye from saying more about his father.

"Well, I wanted to see if'n ye could spare me some cabbage plants. Mine did not do one bit of good this year. They jest spindled and died soon as they come up."

"I got a'plenty. Already set out all I want. Ye can have all the rest of the bed fer as I care. This is a good time to set 'em out. It's been raining; the ground's good and wet. Ye won't have to water 'em none hardly a'tall," Frankie reached for her own bonnet hanging from a nail behind the door.

Cindy put her bonnet back on and answered, "Well, I don't know if the sign's right or not, but I guess if'n I want any sauerkraut fer this winter I better git some cabbage plants in the ground."

"Well, I never thunk it mattered much where the sign was when ye sat 'em out. It all depended on when ye planted the seed. I heard tell if'n ye made kraut, when the sign was in the bowels, it would smell awful." As they started out the door toward the garden, Frankie looked over her back and cautioned Kitteneye.

"Ye stay with the baby while we go pull up them cabbage plants. Be shore and don't leave it fer one minute, fer that old might climb up in the bed and take its breath."

"Shore, Maw, I know."

The two women walked off the porch and through the yard toward the garden.

I see ye got a right smart of beans planted, got a sight of blooms on 'em. It will be a caution of beans ye'll have, if'n the blooms don't all off too soon," Cindy remarked.

"Yeah," Frankie answered. "Cindy, I know ye have som'um a'bearing on ye mind. What is it?"

They had been good friends and neighbors for years and could speak frankly with each other.

"Well, it's what happened yesterday. I 'speck ye knowed that Vince's paw had come back on the creek?"

"Yeah, I knowed, I seed him go up the holler yesterday mornin'."

"Well," Cindy went on, "he come up to our house. Quick as I seed him, I knowed who it was. He had been gone for a long time, but I knowed it was Grandpa Reece soon as I laid eyes on him. Vince takes after his paw a lot. He axed where Vince was and I told him he had took all the big young'uns way back up thar in the last flat to rake weeds. I told him to come in and sit a spell, but he said how he 'spected he would go find Vince. I axed him if he knowed the way and he said he had not fergitten the lay of the land. He kep' a'looking at everything like it pleased him to be back. Well, ye knowed Vince. Hen han't one to talk much, but the boys told me what happened. Poor old man. He axed Vince did he recollect him, and he said yeah, he had never fergit him. Then Reece axed could he come and live with us, said how he would give him his hoss and what money he had if he would take him in and keep him long as he had to live."

Cindy took the corner of her apron and wiped her eyes, ant then went on. "Vince never even stopped working, jest said "Paw, ye never cared what happened to me and my brothers and sisters. When we was little ye left maw and went off. Now ye come to me. I don't want ye hoss nor ye money, and I don't want you. "That's what the boys told me."

"Well, I lay waid him as he come back out of the holler. He looked so pitifullike. I tried to git him to come in and eat a bite, but he wouldn'. I took him out a plateful of grub and some coffee. I know he treated his wife and family real mean, goin' off that way. But I still felt sorry fer him. Vince told him to go stay with his Indian young'uns. Well, anyway, I hate to go agin Vince. It sure is good to talk about it."

"Well, let's don't fergit the cabbage plants," Frankie said. "I hope they han't took the hard shanks a'staying here too long."

"They look alright to me," Cindy answered as she stooped to pull up the cabbage plants.

Frankie broke several large leaves from a "pie plant" nearby, and as Cindy pulled the plants up and handed them to her friend, Frankie rolled the rhubarb leaves around their roots. Each woman was in deep thought.

"Well, ye better go home with me. Guess I'll take this short cut through ye truck patch."

"Ye jest better stay all day," Frankie returned.

When the older woman entered her door she heard Kitteneye laughing.

"Well, what's ticklin' ye so. Ye are smiling like a summer possum."

"Why, Maw, "Kitteneye said, "Cindy done and went off and fergit her baby."

"I do declare." She ran to the door and looked up the road. "Maybe I can holler to her 'fore she gits too fer. Oh, no, she is clear out of sight. Well!"

"Maw, can we git to keep her?" the boy asked.

"Well, ye know she'll recollect her 'fore she gets much further. She was a'worrin' a right smart. But to fergit ye own newborn baby. I never heard of such. She will sure be plagued when she comes back."

"Yeah, bet her face will be as red as her hair," laughed Kitteneye. "Oh, Maw, an I nuss the baby 'fore she comes back?" he pleaded.

"Yeah, don't see how it would hurt anything. Ye beat everything I ever seed, the way ye take to young'uns, ye being a boy child."

Frankie went to the bed and brought the baby to where Kitteneye sat in his chair.

"Now hold ye hand to its back and don't tetch the soft place there in the top of its head. Ye can kill a young'un by mashing that soft spot."

They both looked up as they heard the gate open and Cindy soon burst through the door.

"Say, did ye ever hear tell of such a person goin' off and fergitten their own flesh and blood baby?" She dropped on the nearest chair and began to fan her face with her bonnet.

"Kitteneye was a'hopin' ye wouldn't come back a'tall. He wants to keep her," Frankie explained.

After a few more moments of talking Cindy took her baby and again started for the door.

"Ye all go up with me," she said.

Kitteneye said, "Ye can taker her now but someday I'll come git her."

"All right, son," Cindy promised, "some day I'll give her to ye when she is all growed up, puny as you are. If'n she takes after the Owens, she will catch up with you.

They both knew they were speaking in jest. Little did they know that these words would be remembered for many a day, repeated several times, and even told for generations to come.

For this was the first time my father met my mother, Sarah, his future wife.

You have also found out how we became known as the Summer Slones, a nickname that everyone in Knott County (who can lay claim to it), wears proudly, even to the fifth and sixth generations.

End of Chapter III
Verna Mae Slone

Chapter Index | Chapter II | Chapter IV

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