The approaching hop possessed right of way over every other thought. By the combined assistance of Mrs. Hollis and Aunt Melvy, he had been ready at half-past seven. The dance did not begin until nine; but he was to take Annette, and the doctor, whose habits were as fixed as the numbers on a clock, had insisted that she should attend prayer-meeting as usual before the dance.

I 'spect de doctor would put' near die ef he knowed dat Miss Annette was a-havin' incandescent meetin's wif Carter Nelson 'most ever' day." "Is Sandy after Annette, too?" "No, sonny, no!" said Aunt Melvy, to whom all men were "sonny" until they died of old age. "Mist' Sandy he's aimin' at high game. He's fix' his eyeball on de shore-'nough quality." "Do you mean Ruth Nelson?" asked Mrs.

"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.

Aunt Melvy wagged her head knowingly as she held a paper across the fireplace to start the blaze. "I ain't gwine tell no tales on Mist' Sandy. But yer can't fool dis heah ole nigger. I mind de signs; I knows mo' 'bout de young folks in dis heah town den dey t'ink I do. Fust t'ing you know, I'm gwine tell on some ob 'em, too.

For a week she had been absorbed in his nuptial outfit, jealously guarding his new clothes, to keep him from wearing them all before the wedding. Aunt Melvy was half an hour late in arriving, for she had tarried at "Who'd 'a' Thought It" to perform the last mystic rites over a rabbit's foot which was to be her gift to the groom. The whole town was early astir and wore a holiday air.

Hollis, looking over his shoulder. "There comes the Nelson phaëton this minute! Melvy, get on your white apron. I'll wind up the cuckoo-clock and unlock the parlor door." "Who is it?" ventured Sandy, with internal tremors. "Hit's Mrs. Nelson an' her niece, Miss Rufe," said Aunt Melvy, nervously trying to reverse her apron after tying the bow in the front. "Dey's big bugs, dey is.

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?"

"Wasn't it g-grand in Judge Hollis to send him to school?" said Annette. "Of course he's going to work for him b-between times. They say even Mrs. Hollis is glad he is going to stay." "'Co'se she is," said Aunt Melvy; "dere nebber was nobody come it over Miss Sue lak he done."

But Miss Rufe she ain't like none ob dem Nelsons; she favors her maw. She's quality inside an' out." A peal of the bell cut short further interesting revelations. Aunt Melvy hurried through the hall, leaving doors open behind her. At the front door she paused in dismay. Before her stood the Nelsons in calling attire, presenting two immaculate cards for her acceptance.

It was Aunt Melvy who burst in upon his reverie with these ominous words. She had been expected to assist with the wedding breakfast, but the events above-stairs had proved too alluring. Sandy's hand flew to his neck. "It's at the farm," he cried in great excitement, "wrapped in tissue-paper in the top drawer. Send Jim, or Joe, or Nick any of the darkies you can find!"