There’s Sonny’s step, now. I can tell it quick ez he sets it on the back steps. Sence I’m sort o’ laid up, Sonny gits into the saddle every day an’ rides over the place an’ gives orders for me.
Come out here, son, an’ shake hands with the doctor.
Pretty warm, you say it is, son! An’ th’ ain’t nothin’ goin’ astray on the place? Well, that’s good. An’, doc’, here, he says thet his bill for this visit is a unwarranted extravagance ’cause they ain’t a thing I need but to start on the downward way thet leads to ruin. He’s got me all threatened with the tremens now, so thet I hardly know how to match my pronouns to suit their genders an’ persons. He’s give me fully a tablespoonful o’ the reverend stuff in one toddy. I tell him he must write out a prescription for the gold cure an’ leave it with me, so’s in case he should drop off befo’ I need it, I could git it, ‘thout applyin’ to a strange doctor an’ disgracin’ everybody in America by the name o’ Jones.
Do you notice how strong he favors her to-day, doctor?
I don’t know whether it’s the toddy I’ve took thet calls my attention to it or not.
[Illustration: “When I set here by myself on this po’ch so much these days an’ think.”]
She always seemed to see me in him—but I never could. Far ez I can see, he never taken nothin’ from me but his sect—an’ yo’ name, son, of co’se. ‘Cep’in’ for me, you couldn’t ‘a’ been no Jones—’t least not in our branch.
Put yo’ hand on my forr’d, son, an’ bresh it up’ards a few times, while I shet my eyes.
Do you know when he does that, doc’, I couldn’t tell his hand from hers.
He taken his touch after her, exact—an’ his hands, too, sech good firm fingers, not all plowed out o’ shape, like mine. I never seemed to reelize it tell she’d passed away.
That’ll do now, boy. I know you want to go in an’ see where the little wife is, an’ I’ve no doubt you’ll find her with a wishful look in her eyes, wonderin’ what keeps you out here so long.
Funny, doctor, how seein’ him and little Mary Elizabeth together brings back my own youth to me—an’ wife’s.
From the first day we was married to the day we laid her away under the poplars, the first thing I done on enterin’ the house was to wonder where she was an’ go an’ find her. An’ quick ez I’d git her located, why, I’d feel sort o’ rested, an’ know things was all right.
Heap of his ma’s ways I seem to see in Sonny since she’s went.
An’ what do you think, doc’? He’s took to kissin’ me nights and mornin’s since she’s passed away, an’ I couldn’t tell you how it seems to comfort me.
Maybe that sounds strange to you in a grown-up man, but it don’t come no ways strange to me—not from Sonny. Now he’s started it, seems like ez ef I’d ’ve missed it if he hadn’t.
Ez I look back, they ain’t no lovin’ way thet a boy could have thet ain’t seemed to come nachel to him—not a one. An’ his little wife, Mary Elizabeth, why, they never was a sweeter daughter on earth.