“But you don’t know him,” protested Ruth. “And, besides, he was—he was a peddler.”
“I don’t care if he was,” said Annette. “And if I don’t know him, it’s no sign I am not g-going to.”
Aunt Melvy chuckled as she rose to encourage the fire with a pair of squeaking old bellows.
Martha looked about the room curiously. “Can you really tell what’s going to happen?” she asked timidly.
“Indeed she can,” said Annette. “She told Jane Lewis that she was g-going to have some g-good luck, and the v-very next week her aunt died and left her a turquoise-ring!”
“Yas, chile,” said Aunt Melvy, bending over the fire to light her pipe; “I been habin’ divisions for gwine on five year. Dat’s what made me think I wuz gwine git religion; but hit ain’t come yit—not yit. I’m a mourner an’ a seeker.” Her pipe dropped unheeded, and she gazed with fixed eyes out of the window.
“Tell us about your visions,” demanded Annette.
“Well,” said Aunt Melvy, “de fust I knowed about it wuz de lizards in my legs. I could feel ’em jus’ as plain as day, dese here little green lizards a-runnin’ round inside my legs. I tole de doctor ’bout hit, Miss Nettie; but he said ‘t warn’t nothin’ but de fidgits. I knowed better ‘n he did dat time. Dat night I had a division, an’ de dream say, ‘Put on yer purple mournin’-dress an’ set wid yer feet in a barrel ob b’ilin’ water till de smoke comes down de chimbly.’ An’ so I done, a-settin’ up dere on dat chist o’ drawers all night, wid my purple mournin’-dress on an’ my feet in de b’ilin’ water, an’ de lizards run away so fur dat dey ain’t even stopped yit.”
“Aunt Melvy, do you tell fortunes by palmistry?” asked Ruth.
“Yas’m; I reckon dat’s what you call hit. I tells by de tea-leaves. Lor’, Miss Rufe, you sutenly put me in min’ o’ yer grandmaw! She kerried her haid up in de air jus’ lak you do, an’ she wuz jus’ as putty as you is, too. We libed in de ole plantation what’s done burned down now, an’ I lubed my missus—I sutenly did. When my ole man fust come here from de country I nebber seen sech a fool. He didn’t know no more ‘bout courtin’ dan nothin’; but I wuz better qualified. I jus’ tole ole miss how ‘t wuz, an’ she fixed up de weddin’. I nebber will fergit de day we walk ober de plantation an’ say we wuz married. George he had on a brand-new pair pants dat cost two hundred an’ sixty-four dollars in Confederate money.”
“Isn’t the water b-boiling yet?” asked Annette, impatiently.
“So ’t is, so ’t is,” said Aunt Melvy, lifting the kettle from the crane. She dropped a few tea-leaves in three china cups, and then with great solemnity and occasional guttural ejaculations poured the water over them.
Before the last cup was filled, Annette, with a wry face, had drained the contents of hers and held it out to Aunt Melvy.
“There are my leaves. If they don’t tell about a lover with b-blue eyes and an Irish accent, I’ll never b-believe them.”