Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Poplar Mountain by Dellani Oakes Part 1



Dorothea Belloit, commonly known as Dollie, walked up the grassy path to the log cabin. Holding her hat in hand, she swung her arms freely, enjoying the sun on her dark brown hair. Her light cotton spring dress blew in the stout breeze that whipped around the curve of the mountain. Smiling, she admired the view. From here, the valley spread out below her, the creek wound along looking more like a snail trail than the rapidly moving mountain stream.
"Lo, Miss Dollie!" Rachel Henry called from the front porch of her split log cabin.
"Lo, Rachel! Is Lucius home?"
"He's up the holler, Miss Dollie. Kin I fotch him for ya?"
"Yes, please. I need his help down at the school."
"Sit down, rest a spell. I'll send one the young'uns for him." She stood, calling into the house. "Sally, go git Lucius!"
"Yes, Mama!" A barefoot, girl with sand colored braids darted out of the house and ran up the hill as nimbly as a mountain goat.
The women watched her go. Dollie smiled at her companion. Rachel Henry was a slight built woman with golden blonde hair and dancing green eyes.
"She'll be old enough for school next year, won't she?"
"Day school, m'bee," Rachel replied. "Her daddy and me ain't sure we want her overnight."
"Oh, she'd do fine in day school. And six is a little young for boarding. Besides, with you so close, there's no real need for her to board."
"Reckon Lucius could fotch her most days."
"Of course he could. They hope to get a bus up here soon."
Rachel Henry made a rude noise of disgust. "Them new fangled inventions! Don't trust 'em. Gimme a mule any day."
"Rachel, cars are hardly new fangled. And they're such fun. In fact, I just bought a new Studebaker Champion. I named her Bonnie Blue."
Rachel's eyes widened and she bit her lip. "A real car, Miss Dollie? Why, that'd be a sight for sure!" Used to trucks, she still puzzled over cars a little.
"When you get a chance, come down with Lucius and I'll give you both a ride."
"Not sure Big Earl would like that much."
Big Earl was Rachel's husband. True to his name, he was a large man—brutish and slow witted. Dollie often wondered what had attracted the pretty, vivacious, intelligent Rachel to a man as boring and dull witted as Earl Henry. Love could be blind, but this bordered on insane.
"We don't have to tell him," Dollie replied.
"Oh, shucks, no. Someone'd see us and tell him for sure," Rachel replied, fear obvious in her eyes.
"We'll talk about it another time then," Dollie said, ending the uncomfortable subject.
"Hey-o, Miss Dollie!" a pleasant male voice called.
Dollie looked up, smiling. Sally was back with her older brother, Lucius, in tow. He was a taller version of his mother, lean and sandy haired with eyes as green as mountain hemlock. He brushed his palms on the seat of his dungarees. Grinning, he stepped forward to shake her hand.
Standing, Dollie took his hand with a shy smile and slight blush. Lucius was about her age, in his early twenties, and worked part time at Poplar Mountain Settlement School tending animals and doing odd jobs. Dollie worked in the office as secretary. She and her older sister, Patty, had worked there about a year and a half. Patty did the accounting.
"Sally said you needed me?"
Dollie sighed dramatically. "I got handed the reins to the play party tonight. Last minute, Mrs. Barnes decided she just didn't have time. Anyway, nothing's been done and I can't get the boys to help hang decorations. If you're not busy...."
"I'd be proud to help you, Miss Dollie. Mama, I done my chores. Mind if I go help out?"
"You go on," his mother said, a delighted glitter in her eyes. "I'll save you supper."
"Don't worry about it," Dollie said. "Lucius is invited to dine with Patty and me as payment for helping."
"I'll take a good meal," Lucius said, rubbing his belly. "Man my size is always hungry."
"You're invited to the play party too," Dollie said quickly. "It might be rather late...."
"I'll hunker down in a bunk sommers," Lucius said. "Mama, don't 'spect me home till tomorrow."
"All right. Well, I'd best mind my young'uns," she said. "Miss Dollie, come on back when you can set a spell."
"I'll do that, Rachel. Thanks for letting me borrow Lucius."
Rachel laughed, huffing slightly. "Like I'd be able to stop him." She winked at her son.
He made a face at her behind Dollie's back. It was no secret to his mother that he'd taken a shine to Dorothea Belloit. That the interest was returned hadn't escaped Rachel's discerning eye. She encouraged her son's suit and hoped he'd make a good match with the pretty, dark haired woman.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes


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