The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Ozark Dreams and Mountain Memories - Part 7 of 24

By Lillie A. Emery © 1987

Issue: September, 1987

The "Chiveree"

After stuffing themselves, as soon as the food was brought out, the O'Hara twins along with Mr. Martin began to complain about the lemonade. They told Shane that any man that would serve his friends nothing better than lemonade to drink at a chivaree should be learned better. Mr. Martin said it was a dad–burned shame him riding his mule so far and getting only lemonade to drink. The O'Hara twins said they could find better tasting stump water down on the creek to drink than that. So they got on their motorcycle and headed down the road through the woods toward the creek. Some other young fellows followed them on horses and Mr. Martin behind that group was on his mule hollering, "Gitty up, gitty up mule." Behind him was a couple of his coon hounds running along baying at the moon, I guess.

Shane smiled happily at his brothers as that bunch departed. Then for the longest time there was music played, and ballads sung. Then some couples began square dancing. Some of the Baptist and Methodist ladies looked on that sinful dancing with tightly drawn lips. Then Shane stood up and asked if anyone could play a waltz and to my astonishment Papa picked up a fiddle and began to play so soft and low you could hardly hear it.

Shane went over and took Little Nelly's hand, led her out in the center of the circle of people and began to dance so gracefully they just seemed to glide along without even touching the ground. I thought, so that's what falling in love and getting married is really like. They looked happy and pretty together as two blue birds in flight. Everyone just sat there in sort of a trance watching them two dance. Some of the ladies, even some of the Baptist ones, whispered, "Why ain't that the prettiest sight?"

Just as Shane and Little Nelly finished the waltz, there was the O'Hara twins back riding someone else's horses. They sat out in the road calling and heckling Shane to come out for a drink of "real good stump water." Shane glanced uncertainly from Little Nelly, to his Dad and then toward his brothers but looking so handsome in his fine clothes, he walked out to where the two troublemakers were.

It was quite dark out there, I couldn't see them. But someone said the O'Hara boys threw a six foot pick sack over Shane's head then threw him across one of the horses and lit out for the woods as fast as they could gallop.

That started a real commotion. Little Nelly started crying; John and David said they would beat all the hide and hair off them skunks, friends or not. They jumped on their motorcycles and went tearing off after their brother.

Mr. Shaughnessy made a hasty apology to the crowd for the ruckus. He then came over to Papa and whispered that it was just a prank but he wasn't sure how much the O'Hara boys had been drinking so therefore he thought he'd just go see what they were up to. He assured everyone that he needed no help. He then jumped on a horse and galloped off with a shotgun swinging from the saddle.

By now Mrs. Shaughnessy had joined Little Nelly, helping her cry. A group of ladies fluttered around them trying to assure them that the boys were just teasing and meant no harm at all.

Papa told Ben to find Earl so we could go home. But Earl was already in the wagon asleep. That seemed to me rather strange for Earl to fall asleep with so much excitement going on. We all loaded into the wagon along with Widow Blooms who was going to ride down to the creek with us before she would have to turn down the cattle trail through the woods to her farm. It was a beautiful night. A full moon had sprayed all the outdoors with a silvery glow. The shade beneath the trees was dark and mysterious looking. A few night birds were calling and in the distance was the baying of dogs.

As we neared the creek, we could see a camp fire flickering through the heavy foliage of the woods. It seemed to be near the swimming hole on the other side of the bank. There was a lot of noise coming from there also. People were yelling, dogs were barking and a motorcycle was roaring.

As we rounded the bend in the logging road, Papa gave the horses a swift crack with the lines so as to get up enough speed to pull the wagon up over the steep creek bank.

The sight just over that creek bank caused my hair to stand on end and the breath just to leave my throat. There in the deep shadows beneath the trees was, I thought at first, a gathering of witches or a gang of outlaws having a fun hanging or something. But when my brain collected my thoughts enough to tell me what I was really seeing, I recognized the O'Hara twins and Mr. Martin sitting beside a small camp fire with pointed shotguns. They were pointed toward Mr. Shaughnessy, John, David and several other fellows who were standing in the shadows beside the swimming hole. Just behind that group, hanging from a big oak limb out over the water, was a wriggly looking pick sack with only Shane's fine white shoes showing. Then just behind Mr. Martin and the camp fire was another pick sack hanging from a limb; from inside the odd looking bag came a muffled, squeaky noise. Whoever was in there was sure trying to get out and no wonder, they must be choking, I thought.

There was a funeral like silence for a while as we just sat there in the wagon looking at all that. Then I noticed the motorcycle lying on the creek bank all wet and muddy – later we were told that the O'Hara twins were doing some stunt riding showing off for Mr. Martin and when they tried to ride their cycle across the creek on the foot log they fell in the creek, cycle and all.

The awful silence was broken finally by one of the O'Hara twins as he began in a slurred drunken voice, "There hain't any need fur 'uall to be jest standing and sittin' aroun' here. Shoo, go a runnin' along home now, ye hear me? An' there's not a bit o' use fur to be a worrying about our good friend Shane." Then he picked up a mason jar and took a long slow drink and coughed and made silly looking faces at nobody in particular. Then unsteadily he got up and passed the jar around to his twin and Mr. Martin and they made slurping noises as they drank and coughed and wiped their mouths on their sleeves.

The other O'Hara twin continued talking and pointed his shotgun at everyone as he waved it around in a flourishing unsteady manner. He looked at the other Shaughnessys as he started talking, "We hain't aimin' to hurt Shane none atall fur we love him jest lik' he wus one of us blood twins. We's just goin' to learn him to be more polite to his friends an' serve up something better than lemonade at his chivaree."

He then cleared his throat as he still nervously pointed the shotgun at Mr. Shaughnessy and said, "Now you other Shaughnessys an' other folks go a running on home an' don't be worryin' atall. Hits like I jest said, why us three have been jest like three twins instead of two fur we rode these cycles up an' down these here roads and hills; and we hunted coon and drank stump water in all these here woods for miles about. But now Shane done went an' got hifalutin' after he's been courting an marryin' up with Lil Ole Nelly from the county seat. So we jest got to learn him proper."

Just then a horse whinnied and backed into the wiggling sack hanging just behind Mr. Martin; the sack fell to the ground and with much squawking and cackling, a flock of dominiker chickens scattered about flying and running every which a way. One of the O'Hara twins laughed and said, "Why Mr. Martin, there goes your fine crop of fine fat dominiker chickens."

Shane's brothers made a dash for the shotguns pointing toward them but before they could get to them, one of them went off with a blast just over Mr. Shaughnessy's head. John and David stepped back and John said, "If you varmint skunks don't lay them guns down and turn Shane loose, us Shaughnessys will hunt up and shoot down every polecat in these parts by the name of O'Hara."

Mr. Martin grinned a tobacco colored grin and said, "Dang ifn they hain't gettin' all rowled up now."

There was a fluttery commotion from our wagon as Widow Blooms jumped down to the ground like a blue streak; and as she ran towards Mr. Martin she grabbed a small revolver from a striped feather tickling holster from somewhere beneath her many skirts and she fired point blank towards his head. Mr. Martin fell backwards as though he had been hit between the eyes. The O'Hara twins dropped their guns in open–mouth amazement. The three troublemakers were pounced on and thrown into the swimming hole several times just as fast as they could crawl out.

Meanwhile Widow Blooms just stood there and said in a sure calm voice, "I'll learn that common chicken thief, Mr. Martin, to steal my dominicker chickens."