Vol. VIII, No. 4, 1995


"Pappy" Payne was an old Civil War veteran who lived on a mountainside farm above Mount Judea. He was known in that area as Pappy, partly because of his extreme age and partly because he had reared a family of over two dozen children, and the Lord only knew how many grandchildren and greatgrandchildren he had. When his third wife lay fatally ill he had hired a big, fat gift from over in Red Rock Valley to stay and wait on her. One day he asked her if she would marry him if the sick wife didn't "hold out." The girl allowed she would and of course that made his wife's final sickness and departure a lot easier on the old fellow.

Evidently he was a practical man, for he had the papers ready by the time his wife passed on. They hauled her in a wagon to Carver on the Buffalo so that she might rest among her people. On the way back home he and the fat gift were married by the J. P. at Vendor. His reasoning was that since he already had things fixed up they might as well marry on the funeral day as the day after, and anyway it would save a wagon trip back to Vendor over a rough road.

At Mount Judea he stopped at Eph Greenhaw's shoe cobbling shop to see if Polly (the fat girl) could wear the shoes which he had ordered for his late wife. The shoes were ready and fit Polly Payne very well. You might say she literally stepped into the shoes of the former Mrs. Payne.

Well, Pappy and Polly lived happily on their mountain farm for several years. Polly was never considered to be very bright by her neighbors, but she was a hard worker and friendly and fit in with them very well. One late summer morning she came ambling down the mountain trail from her home.

She stopped with the nearest neighbor, and seated herself comfortably on the porch. There she sat until near noon. dipping snuff and exchanging gossip, and helping her neighbor lady shell peas. Finally she arose and said she guessed she had better be getting back home or the cats might be working on Pappy.

The neighbor sat puzzling over that strange statement, as Polly went on to say that bad luck had surely been with them that year. The crops had dried up in the drought, the well had gone dry, the hogs had taken cholera, and just about breakfast that morning, Pappy had happened to bad luck.

"Do tell." the neighbor inquired, "What on earth happent to him?"

"Why, he done laid down and died," Polly replied as she stepped from the porch and started back up the mountain trail.


Buffalo Tales,

by Bud Phillips, 1978.


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