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Lousiana by Frances Hodgson Burnett

With one copperas colored leg crossed over the other


She tried to laugh, but broke off in the middle of a harsh sound. Her father, with one copperas-colored leg crossed over the other, was chewing his tobacco slowly, after the manner of a ruminating animal, while he watched her.

"Don't you see?" she asked.

"Wa-al, no," he answered. "Not rightly."

She actually assumed a kind of spectral gayety.

"I never thought of it until I saw it was not Cassandry who was in the kitchen," she said. "The woman who is there didn't know me, and it came into my mind that--that we might play off on them," using the phraseology to which he was the most accustomed.

"Waal, we mought," he admitted, with a speculative deliberateness. "Thet's so. We mought--if thar was any use in it."

"It's only for a joke," she persisted, hurriedly.

"Thet's so," he repeated. "Thet's so."

He got up slowly and rather lumberingly from his seat and dusted the chips from his copperas-colored legs.

"Hev ye ben enjyin' yerself, Louisianny?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered. "Never better."

"Ye must hev," he returned, "or ye wouldn't be in sperrits to play jokes."

Then he changed his tone so suddenly that she was startled.

"What do ye want me to do?" he asked.

She put her hand on his shoulder and tried to laugh again.

"To pretend you don't know me--to pretend I have never been here before. That's joke enough, isn't it? They will think so when I tell them the truth. You slow old father! Why don't you laugh?"

"P'r'aps," he said, "it's on account o' me bein' slow, Louisianny. Mebbe I shall begin arter a while."

"Don't begin at the wrong time," she said, still keeping up her feverish laugh, "or you'll spoil it all. Now come along in and--and pretend you don't know me," she continued, drawing him forward by the arm. "They might suspect something if we stay so long. All you've got to do is to pretend you don't know me."

"That's so, Louisianny," with a kindly glance downward at her excited face as he followed her out. "Thar aint no call fur me to do nothin' else, is there--just pretend I don't know ye?"

It was wonderful how well he did it, too. When she preceded him into the room the girl was quivering with excitement. He might break down, and it would be all over in a second. But she looked Ferrol boldly in the face when she made her first speech.

"This is the gentleman of the house," she said. "I found him on the back porch. He had just come in. He has been kind enough to say we may stay until the storm is over."

"Oh, yes," said he hospitably, "stay an' welcome. Ye aint the first as has stopped over. Storms come up sorter suddent, an' we haint the kind as turns folks away."

Ferrol thanked him, Olivia joining in with a murmur of gratitude. They were very much indebted to him for his hospitality; they considered themselves very fortunate.


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