This story is not intended in any way to belittle people living in rural mountainous areas. My own family is descended from the McCoys of Hatfield and McCoy feuding fame, and I still have tons of relatives in the Virginia/Kentucky mountains.
"Pa! Pa!" Ma cried, running into the cabin in the Virginia mountains that belonged to the Bennet clan. "Them thar Bingleys done moved themselves onto Netherfield Mountain! Get out yor shotgun and make 'em move!"
"I'll do it, Pa!" Janie Lou shouted, running for her own shotgun. "I'll take out them no-good Bingleys fer ya!"
"Whars Lizzy Mae?" Ma asked, satisfied that her eldest would tend to the job at hand. "She can go, too!"
"She's done took a walk, Ma," Mary Sue said, looking up from the Bennet family Bible, the only book in the house. She was the one Bennet who had done took to reading and cyphering and the whole family was proud. What she really meant, though, was that Lizzy Mae was up in the hills checking on the family's hidden stills.
"Hey!" Pa called from the back porch, where he sat with his shotgun, his jug of corn squeezins and his blue-tick hound, Hill. "Take Katy Lynn and Lyddie June, Janie Lou. Lyddie's a right-good aim with a 12-gauge."
Lyddie cain't, Pa," Mary Sue said, "She's in the Wick's barn with Georgie Bob..."
"Dang it!" Pa roared, jumping up out of his chair. Hill barked and chickens scattered as he ran for his mule. "Georgie Bob best not be messin' with my Lyddie!" He took his shotgun, just in case.
Katy Lynn couldn't be found (wuz probably off somewhars taking pot shots at Weezy Hurst and Carrie Jo Bingley), so Janie, with no mule, took to walkin' - it was three miles, and it began to rain. She didn't pay the rain no mind, though - she was huntin' Bingleys.
She didn't have far to go to find them Bingleys - they wuz all laughin' and dancin' around a tied-up Katy Lynn at the bottom of Netherfield Mountain. Janie Lou's sister was howlin' like Hill, but they wuzn't payin' her no mind a'tall.
"Let's scalp her!" Carrie Jo cried. "Like an injun!"
"Scalpin's too good fer her!" Weezy said with an evil leer. "Let's burn her at the stake!"
"She ain't no witch, Weezy, fars I can tell," Charlie Dan said, scratchin' the fleas right outta his haid. "So we caint burn her. Let's let her go, give her a five-minute start and shoot her down like a deer. It's huntin' season, ain't it?"
They debated their method of torture fer about a minute or so, and Janie Lou was gettin all het up about them talkin' 'bout her sister an' all, and she let go a blast on her shotgun that scared the heebie-jeebies outta the Bingleys. They scattered and Janie Lou wuz laughin', even as she untied her sister. She didn't pay no mind, but Charlie Dan wuz watchin' her even as she and Katy Lynn ran off into the woods.
Lizzy Mae, in the meantime, wuz checkin' her stills up on Longborn Ridge, when she heard a noise in the bushes.
"Who's thar?" she called. She wasn't frightened - she was just wary of the revenooers findin' her stills. The rustlin' sound came again.
"You better not be no bare," she shouted. "I shoot bares! And then I et 'em!"
The noise was heard again, and Lizzy Mae went chargin' into the bushes to find a tall, dark, handsome man in a fancy, city-slickin' suit staring back at her.
"Wut you doin', spyin' on me, you revenooer!" she cried, and cocked back the trigger on her gun. "I et revenooers, too!"
She took aim, pointed the gun barrel up to the sky and started cackling. "Run, mister, run! An' don't you come back here no more!"
The man took off down the side of the mountain and Lizzy Mae went back to tendin' to her still, but her thoughts were with the city-slickin' revenooer high-tailin' it back to town. Whoo-whee, but he was purty!
Pa Bennet made it to the Wicks farm in time to catch Georgie Bob kissin' Lyddie June in the hayloft, Lyddie's bare feet kickin' hay down on her pa's haid.
"Get your cotton-pickin' hands off my dotter!" Pa cried, wavin' that shotgun in the air. "Or we're gonna have ourselves a weddin'!"
"Awww, Pa!" Lyddie June wailed, climbin' down the ladder. "We ain't done nuttin' wrong..." She turned around and her pa done saw her shirt was unbuttoned, and he started shootin' that there shotgun in the air.
"We's havin' ourselves a weddin'!" he shouted. "Right now!"
"Not so fast!" came a voice from outside. "Caint be no weddin' if'n the fambly ain't alive..."
"Bingleys!" Pa whispered, even though the other two knew exactly who was outside. "Run along now, you yeller-bellied, lady-insultin' Bingleys afore I shoot ya full of lead! You done made fun-a my wife and now you is gonna pay! Are ya with me?" he asked Lyddie June and Georgie Bob, but they had done lit out the back of the barn and Pa Bennet was on his own.
"Awwww, dang it!"
Lizzy Mae went into town with Janie Lou to pick up feed and stables. Janie headed for the general store for flour, cornmeal and shotgun shells, and Lizzy went to the livery stables with the mule and wagon.
"I heared tell y'alls Pa is holed up in the Wicks' barn and surrounded by Bingleys - Charlie Dan and Carrie Jo, and Weezy and Big Bubba Hurst!" the stables owner said.
"Wut in tarnation am I doin' here?" Lizzy cried, whipped the mule up right smart and drove hell bent for leather down Meryton's one street to the general store, where she whistled for Janie.
Janie knew the signal and raced out of the store, not realizing Lizzy had seen her fingering ribbons at the notions counter. She stared hard at her sister.
"Wut?" Janie asked rather dumbly as they barreled out of town.
"Pa's done been caught by the Bingleys in the Wicks' barn and you're in the store lookin' at ribbins!" she accused.
"Wut?" Janie wasn't goin' to admit she had been thinkin' 'bout Charlie Dan Bingley and not about the horehound drops Ma wanted from the candy counter fer her nerves.
Ma's nerves had been bad for a year or so (and many times afore that), ever since Charlie Dan's dumb sister, Carrie Jo, had insulted her in church one Sunday. She'd said Ma wuz the wurst matchmaker in the county, cuz she couldn't get no boys to marry her own dotters. Then Carrie Jo had allowed that Ma's girls were not quite marryin' material, and Pa had whipped out his shotgun right there in the middle of "Sweet Hour of Prayer" and done shot Charlie Dan in the backside fer lettin' his sister insult the Bennet gals. They'd been a'feudin' ever since.
Janie, in perticular, had not taken kindly to Carrie Jo after that, cuz she'd been sweet on Charlie Dan and had hopes he'd start courtin' her soon, only to have it all fall down the outhouse hole.
She wuz still daydreamin' 'bout Charlie Dan when Lizzy Mae ran the mule and wagon straight into the back of Georgie Bob's barn, got Pa to jump in right quick and get 'em all out of there afore the Bingleys (who wuz dumb as stumps in Lizzy's mind) even knew they wuz gone.
Ma wuz glad to see 'em all when they done got home, even though she had to send Janie and Lizzy back to town fer their staples and feed - not to mention the horehound drops fer her nerves.
Lizzy dropped Janie off again at the general store, fussin' at her to stay away from the fripperies and such, and then stalked off to the land office to see if them thar Bingleys really had bought them some propity on Netherfield Mountain.
She stormed into the office only to come face to face with that blasted revenooer wut had been spyin' on her still!
"Here's the little lady I wuz tellin' you about, Mr. Darcy," the local surveyor said. "Miss Lizzy Mae Bennet. Her family done got all the land on Longborn Ridge. Some down in the valley near Netherfield Mountain, too."
"That's right," Lizzy said proudly. "So you'd best stay off our propity, mister, iff'n you know wuts good fer ya!"
Mr. Darcy nodded. Lizzy got the information she needed and lit out of there; that city-slickin' revenooer wuz makin' her mighty nervous.
Janie was more than ready to go when Lizzy got back to the general store, and they took their supplies home. Janie then lit out of the house with her shotgun, tellin' Pa she wuz off to find Lyddie June. Lizzy headed off again to check her stills, cuz it wuz time to start bottlin' the corn squeezins. She would fetch a pretty penny fer her special moonshine down in Meryton.
She wuz headin' back home when she saw Janie and Charlie Dan, and they wuz kissin' and canoodlin' in a haystack in the back field. She snuck up on them and Charlie Dan suddenly found hisself face to face with Lizzy's shotgun.
"Wut you doin' with my sister?" she growled.
"Leave him alone, Lizzy!" Janie insisted. "We is sparkin'."
Lizzy figgered she wouldn't argue with Janie and went home to hear that Lyddie and Georgie Bob was hitched, courtesy of someone's shotgun.
"My Lyddie done got hitched!" Ma Bennet was exclaimin' over and over again.
"Wut caused them to do that?" Lizzy asked her pa.
"I dunno, but they's hitched and Lyddie done took her stuff to the Wicks farm over to New Castle." He shook his head sadly. "Wuthless fool." Lizzy could only assume he meant Georgie Bob, but he could have been speakin' of either of them, in her opinion. Georgie Bob'd done shown some interest in her awhile back, but she weren't dumb - he'd dropped her like hot white lightnin' when the feud started.
Lizzy was more concarned with Janie and that Bingley. Until she went out very early the next morning to lug her likker down the side of the mountain.
She wuz busy fuzzin' at the mule, who weren't budgin' from his last stop, and didn't hear that darned revenooer till he snuck up ahind her.
"Good morning, Miss Bennet."
"Wut you doin' here?"
"I came to see if you needed assistance with your clandestine alcohol transportation. Your mule seems to be troubled. Is it the illegal activity he objects to, or the fact that he is overloaded with jars of untaxed alcohol?"
"You shore do talk purty..." Lizzy said with a sigh, not understandin' a word he said, but thinkin' he was mighty fine to look at. She blushed, thinkin' he wuzn't the type to go sparkin' in a haystack in the moonlight. He wuz a sight better'n the menfolk hereabouts and could have his pick of pretty, edumacated city gals.
"So wut you doin' in Meryton anyhow?" she asked as he quietly got the mule moving once more.
"I'm interested in developing some land."
"You ain't a revenooer?"
"No," he said with a laugh.
"That's why you wuz in the land office?"
"That's why I was in the land office," he agreed. "But tell me why you spend your time up here making illicit liquor when you could be doing something else?"
"Like wut?" she asked.
"Go to school, perhaps?"
"I went up to the third grade," she said proudly. "But then Pa got sick and Ma has her nerves sometimes, and Janie... well, let's face it. She's as dumb as a post. Someone had to do somethin'. But Mary got to the eighth grade cuz of me!" she added. "An' Katy and Lyddie don't care nuthin' 'bout no larnin'."
"I see. But if you had the chance, you would?" They had reached the road leading to the Bennet farm just as the sun came peeking over Longborn Ridge.
"Yes, sir, I would."
"Let me see what I can do to help."
Mr. Darcy was as good as his word. With Janie being courted by Charlie Dan and Lyddie hitched (courtesy of Mr. Darcy but he never said a word), Katy Lynn took over the moonshine business, allowing Lizzy to go back to school. Several years later, after she had taken accelerated classes and had passed (without honors, but she didn't care), Mr. Darcy made an offer she couldn't refuse.
They got hitched and they built a big house in the shadow of neighboring Pemberley Valley, and lived happily ever after. And if Lizzy slipped out occasionally to tend to her own private still, it was her own business.
© 2004 Copyright held by the author.
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