forgotten that I was present at the
dance myself, sub sequently gave me a full account of the evening.
"Yeh see, Watty," said Jock, "th’
dance wuz giv at Dooley’s jes’ arter th’ boys cum back frum th’ drive.
Thar wuz more’n thirty couple on deck, some comin’ frum Hornersville,
Tuffy’s Corners, an’ th’ Snow Road, ‘cause Dooley’s dances is famous, an’
no one iver thinks uv missin’ ‘em, whether he gits to bed er no. Mrs.
Dooley hed hed a quiltin’ bee in th’ arternoon, an’ th’ boys wuz invited
fer th’ evenin’.
"Thar wuz th’ boys frum th’ back
country, an’ they come mostly dressed in thar ‘iverydays,’ fact bein’,"
said Jock, aside, "thet they hed nothin’ else t’ wear. Some young bloods
wuz out frum th’ town wearin’ dickeys an’ standin’ collars. Frum th’ first
thar wuz bad blood atwixt th’ townshippers an’ th’ town gang. Es fer our
own boys on th’ Ninth an’ adjacent Concessions, they uv course wore thar
bests, an’ es paper collars an’ hair ile hed come in fashion, they wuz
slicked up most impressive like.
"I noticed," said Jock, after a
pause, and with a ripple of merriment on his countenance, "thet th’ Greig
boys thet didn’t hey any paper collars uv thar own, hed appropriated thar
father’s, an’ es his neck wuz about es large round es Nathan Larkins’
sassiety bull, an’ thar’s wuz very thin (takin’ arter th’ female side uv
th’ house), they hed t’ make a pleat t’ get them t’ fit. I sejested t’ th’
youngest lad thet he might better uv cut one in two, an’ it would hey done
two at a time an’ hey gone furder. Howsumever, most uv all our own boys
hed paper collars uv thar own, an’ ef they hadn’t, they hed jest borryed
frum somebody else. Some uv th’ toniest boys present, ‘specially them frum
th’ town, who were extrey tony, hed thar pants made with a spring so’s t’
cover most uv thar boots. I must confess," added Jock, reflectively,
"although I’m no connozure, thet I’m a bit struck on them air spring pants
myself, an’ thet I’m a-goin’ t’ hey a pair when I sell th’ pigs in th’
"Wall, th’ getherin’ wuz a very
respectable one, an’ th’ paper collars an’ fancy coloured flannel shirts
lent an air uv gorgeousness t’ th’ scene, even if supposin’ th’ gurls
wasn’t thar at all. But speakin’ uv th’ gurls," said Jock, "I’m bound t’
confess they wuz perfectly scrumptious. Most uv ‘em come in muslin in
plenty, although them frum th’ Tenth Concession an’ Tuffy’s
Corners come in flannel frocks, some
dyed in butternut, others black an’ red, an’ some with yalla stripes,
runnin’ perpendic’lar er crossways, I fergit which. A few uv ‘em wore thar
aprons an’ carried real flowers with ornaments t’ match, as I seed in a
description uv a big ball at Montreal, thet wuz in th’ paper. Although no
connozure, es I sed afore, arter sizin’ th’ hull affair up, I felt bound
t’ award th’ prize t’ th’ gurls uv th’ Ninth Concession, fer they hed two
black silks made down f rum th’ bridal dresses uv thar mothers, one
imitation satin an’ two winceys, t’ say nothin’ uv Kearstie McLachlan’s
patchwork dress, which tuck th’ prize at seven consecativ’ fall shows.
"After all th’ crowd hed arriv, ole
man Dooley, whose lively speerits wuz elevated by this time, strode into
th’ centre uv th’ room in his shirtsleeves an’ announced thet they wuz
about t’ clear th’ deck fer action. He called on several uv th’ boys t’
giv him a han’, an’ soon chairs, tables, an’ boxes, an’ everythin’ thet
could obstruct wuz cleared away (just as stoves, etc., are removed at
country dances at the present day).
"T’ th’ gineral constarnation, ‘twuz
foun’, when this wuz done, thet th’ fiddler hed not arrove, an’ when
inquiry come t’ be made, ‘twuz foun’ thet he hed been entirely overlooked,
an’ so a couple uv chaps wuz started off fer th’ Ferry, nine miles
distant, t’ git th’ moosic. Meantime, howsumever, es proceedin’s could not
be delayed, Tugal Cameron’s daughter Tena wuz axed t’ lilt fer a
cotillion, an’ when th’ next dance wuz called, Mrs. Dooley took her place
on th’ table, an’ placin’ a bit uv paper over a comb, played ‘The White
Cockade’ ‘with great acceptability,’ as th’ noosepapers say. Tena lilted
‘Down the river, down the river, down the O - I - O,' which is a splendid
toon fer a cotillion, an’ Goarden, arter much coaxin’,
wuz pursuaded t’
"Honours t’ pardners!’ he shouted at
the top uv his voice, frum whar he stood on th’ table. An’ th’ titterin’
guns an’ boys got off their best curtesies. ‘Half right an’ lef’!’ called
out Goarden, es Tena reached th’ O - I - O part uv th’ toon. ‘Half right
an’ lef’ back!’ An’ th’ dancers cluntered back t’ thar places. ‘Adam an’
lef’!’ Which they did with great enjoyment. ‘Balance!’ An’ th’ heels uv th’
cowhides come down with sitch force es t’ threaten th’ flure.
"Swing!’ This command wuz obeyed
with a vigger an’ alacrity thet would make yer hair stan’ on end. Th’ boys
an’ guns uv th’ settlemint hey made a special stidy uv th’ swing, an’ most
uv ‘em kin perform about seventeen revolutions t’ th’ second. Th’ ony
thing I kin liken th’ swing t’, Watty," continued Jock, "is th’ upright
shaft in th’ town grist-mill, when it’s goin’ with a full head uv water.
Yeh know th’ idee, Watty. It is t’ stan’ on one foot, an’ usin’ th’ other
a propeller, see ef yeh can go roun’
quicker’n chain lightnin’d chase a squrl roun’ a crooked grained hemlock
with th’ bark off. Oh, it’s a great movement, is thet air swing! ‘Shoo fly
all’ wuz th’ last call in th’ fust figger, an’ when th’ hired man issued
it, a feelin’ uv sadness seemed t’ hit th’ dancers at bein’ obliged t’
close off th’ swing.
"Wall, arter Tena hed lilted fer
five er six dances, an’ Mrs. Dooley hed played on th’ comb fer es many
more rounds, wheels wuz heerd at the dure, an’ in a moment Dave, the
fiddler, wuz in our midst. But it tuck s’long t’ toon his fiddle thet th’
company almost got ‘sasperated. At las’ th’ fiddle wuz tooned, an’ Dave
wuz about t’ strike up, when he made th’ discovery thet he hed no rossum,
an’ he refused t’ draw a bow. Here wuz a purty fix, an’ Tena an’ Mrs.
Dooley hed t’ start in again until some one hunted about th’ settlemint t’
git a supply uv rossum. Wall, at las’ it wuz got an’ it wuz mos’ midnight.
Howsumever, when th’ fun did start it started in airnest an’ wuz kep’ up
at a two-forty-one-an’a-haff clip till broad daylight th’ nex’ mornin’. It
wuz some time afore midnight," observed Jock, after some reflection, "thet
th’ paper collars begun t’ giv out, an’ once they started, it didn’t take
long t’ d’mollish th’ lot.
"Twuz arter supper," Jock went on,
"which wuz served at one in th’ mornin’, an’ which consisted uv bread an’
butter, cold b’iled pork, fried eggs, apple sass,
beet pickles, an’ sitch like, thet
th’ real fun begun. A dispute arose atween a gent frum th’ Snow Road an’ a
dandy frum town es t' which hed th’ right uv way t’ dance with Dolly
Pepper. Uv course Dolly preferred th’ town dandy, but th’ Snow Road man
wouldn’t hey it so, an’ he stumped th’ hull town gang out, an’ out they
went with thar frien’s at thar heels t’ settle it among ‘em. Th’ fight wuz
a red-hot one, an’ wound up in th’ teetotal rout uv th’ town gang, an’
they didn’t show up at th’ dance fer th’ rest uv thet night.
"Now, Watty," said Jock, when he was
done, "I think I hey covered th’ groun’ fer yeh purty well, an’ thar’s no
use uv me goin’ any furder with th’ descriptions." And the short-legged,
stumpy little chap, toddled laughingly off down the Concession.