Aunt Melvy bent over the cup, and her sides shook. “You gwine be a farmer’s wife,” she said, chuckling at the girl’s grimace. “You gwine raise chickens an’ chillun.”
“Ugh!” said Annette as the other girls laughed; “are his eyes b-blue?”
Aunt Melvy pondered over the leaves. “Well, now, ’pears to me he’s sorter dark-complected an’ fat, like Mr. Sid Gray,” she said.
“Never!” declared Annette. “I loathe Sid.”
“Tell my future!” cried Martha, pushing her cup forward eagerly.
“Dey ain’t none!” cried Aunt Melvy, aghast, as she saw the few broken leaves in the bottom of the cup. “You done drinked up yer fortune. Dat’s de sign ob early death. I gwine fix you a good-luck bag; dey say ef you carry it all de time, hit’s a cross-sign ag’in’ death.”
“But can’t you tell me anything?” persisted Martha.
“Dey ain’t nothin’ to tell,” repeated Aunt Melvy, “‘cep’n’ to warn you to carry dat good-luck bag all de time.”
“Now, mine,” said Ruth, with an incredulous but curious smile.
For several moments Aunt Melvy bent over the cup in deep consideration, and then she rose and took it to the window, with fearsome, anxious looks at Ruth meanwhile. Once or twice she made a sign with her fingers, and frowned anxiously.
“What is it, Aunt Melvy?” Ruth demanded. “Am I going to be an old maid?”
“’T ain’t no time to joke, chile,” whispered Aunt Melvy, all the superstition of her race embodied in her trembling figure. “What I see, I see. Hit’s de galluses what I see in de bottom ob yer cup!”
“Do you m-mean suspenders?” laughed Annette.
Aunt Melvy did, not hear her; she was looking over the cup into space, swaying and moaning.
“To t’ink ob my ole missus’ gran’chile bein’ mixed up wif a gallus lak dey hang de niggers on! But hit’s dere, jus’ as plain as day, de two poles an’ de cross-beam.”
Ruth laughed as she looked into the cup.
“Is it for me?”
“Don’t know, honey; de signs don’t p’int to no one person: but hit’s in yer life, an’ de shadow rests ag’in’ you.”
By this time Martha was at the door, urging the others to hurry. Her face was pale and her eyes were troubled. Ruth saw her nervousness and slipped her arm about her. “It’s all in fun,” she whispered.
“Of course,” said Annette. “You m-mustn’t mind her foolishness. Besides, I g-got the worst of it. I’d rather die young or be hanged, any day, than to m-marry Sid Gray.”
Aunt Melvy followed them to the door, shaking her head. “I’se gwine make you chillun some good-luck bags. De fust time de new moon holds water I’se sholy gwine fix ’em. ’T ain’t safe not to mind de signs; ’t ain’t safe.”
And with muttered warnings she watched them until they were lost to view behind the hill.