We took the wagon with us to carry our bedding and the other plunder, driving along with us a cow and a calf of Jack’s, the little “Flower Pot” cow, and a beef. Our outfit reached Jack’s house by the middle of the afternoon. The first thing was to be introduced to the bride. Jack did the honors himself, presenting each one of us, and seemed just as proud as a little boy with new boots. Then we were given introductions to several good-looking neighbor girls. We began to feel our own inferiority.
While we were hanging up the quarters of beef on some pegs on the north side of the cabin, Edwards said, whispering, “Jack must have pictured this claim mighty hifalutin to that gal, for she’s a way up good-looker. Another thing, watch me build to the one inside with the black eyes. I claimed her first, remember. As soon as we get this beef hung up I’m going in and sidle up to her.”
“We won’t differ with you on that point,” remarked Mouse, “but if she takes any special shine to a runt like you, when there’s boys like the rest of us standing around, all I’ve got to say is, her tastes must be a heap sight sorry and depraved. I expect to dance with the bride—in the head set—a whirl or two myself.”
“If I’d only thought,” chimed in Coon, “I’d sent up to the State and got me a white shirt and a standing collar and a red necktie. You galoots out-hold me on togs. But where I was raised, back down in Palo Pinto County, Texas, I was some punkins as a ladies’ man myself—you hear me.”
“Oh, you look all right,” said Edwards. “You would look all right with only a cotton string around your neck.”
After tending to our horses, we all went into the house. There sat Miller talking to the bride just as if he had known her always, with Jack standing with his back to the fire, grinning like a cat eating paste. The neighbor girls fell to getting supper, and our cook turned to and helped. We managed to get fairly well acquainted with the company by the time the meal was over. The fiddlers came early, in fact, dined with us. Jack said if there were enough girls, we could run three sets, and he thought there would be, as he had asked every one both sides of the creek for five miles. The beds were taken down and stowed away, as there would be no use for them that night.
The company came early. Most of the young fellows brought their best girls seated behind them on saddle horses. This manner gave the girl a chance to show her trustful, clinging nature. A horse that would carry double was a prize animal. In settling up a new country, primitive methods crop out as a matter of necessity.
Ben Thorn, an old-timer in the Strip, called off. While the company was gathering, the fiddlers began to tune up, which sent a thrill through us. When Ben gave the word, “Secure your pardners for the first quadrille,” Miller led out the bride to the first position in the best room, Jack’s short leg barring him as a participant. This was the signal for the rest of us, and we fell in promptly. The fiddles struck up “Hounds in the Woods,” the prompter’s voice rang out “Honors to your pardner,” and the dance was on.