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Chapter Eleven
The Lester's heard Dude blowing the horn far down the tobacco road long before the new automobile came within sight, and they all ran to the farthest corner of the yard, and even out into the broom-sedge, to see Dude and Bessie arrive. Even the old grandmother was excited, and she waited behind a chinaberry tree to be among the first to see the new car. "Here they come!" Jeeter shouted. "Just look at them! It's a brand-new automobile, all right--just look at that shiny black paint! Great-day-in-the-morning! Just look at them coming yonder!" Dude was driving about twenty miles an hour, and he was so busy blowing the horn he forgot to slow down when he turned into the yard. The car jolted across the ditch, throwing Bessie against the top three or four times in quick succession, and breaking several leaves of the rear spring. Dude slowed down then, and the automobile rolled across the yard and came to a stop by the side of the house. Jeeter was the first to reach the new motor car. He had run behind it while Dude was putting on the brakes, and he had held to the rear mudguard while trying to keep up with it. Ellie May and Ada were not far behind. The grandmother came as quickly as she could. "I never seen a finer-looking automobile in all my days," Jeeter said. "It sure does make me happy again to see such a handsome machine. Don't you reckon you could take me for a little trip, Bessie? I sure would like to go off in it for a piece." Bessie opened the door and got out. The first thing she did was to take the bottom of her skirt and rub the dust off of the front fenders. "I reckon we can take you riding in it some time," she said. "When me and Dude gets back, you can go riding." "Where is you and Dude going to, Bessie?" "We're going to ride around like married folks," she said proudly. "When folks get married, they always like to take a little ride together somewhere." Ada and Ellie May inspected the car with stifled admiration. Both of them then gathered up the bottoms of their skirts and shined the doors and fenders. The new automobile shone in the 'bright sun like a looking-glass when they had finished. Dude climbed over the door and ordered his mother and sister away from the car. "You and Ellie May will be ruining it," he said. "Don't put your hands on it and don't stand too close to it." "Did you and Dude get married in Fuller?" Jeeter asked Bessie. "Not all the way," she said. "I got leave of the county, however. It cost two dollars to do that little bit." "Ain't you going to get a preacher to finish doing it?" "I is not! Ain't I a preacher of the gospel? I'm going to do it myself. I wouldn't allow no Hard-shell Baptist to fool with us." "I knowed you would do it the right way," Jeeter said. "You sure is a fine woman preacher, Sister Bessie." Bessie moved toward the front porch, twisting the marriage license in her hands. Every one else was still looking at the new automobile. Ellie May and Ada stood at a safe distance so Dude would not run them away with a stick. The old grandmother had gone behind a chinaberry tree again, awed by the sight. Dude walked around in a circle so he could see all sides of the car. He wanted to be certain that nobody put his hands on the car and dulled its lustre. Jeeter sat down on his heels and admired it. Bessie had gone half way up the front steps, and she was trying to attract Dude's attention. She coughed several times, scraped her feet on the boards, and rapped on the porch with her knuckles. Jeeter heard her, and he looked around to find out what she was doing. "By God and by Jesus!" he said, jumping to his feet. "Now wasn't that just like a fool man?" The others turned around and looked at Bessie. Ellie May giggled from behind the chinaberry tree. "Ada," Jeeter said, "Sister Bessie is wanting to go in the house. You go show her in." Ada went inside and threw open the blinds. She could be heard dragging chairs around the room and pushing the beds back into the corners. "Didn't you and Dude stop off in the woods coming back from Fuller?" he asked Bessie. "We was in a hurry to get back here," she said. "I mentioned it, sort of, to Dude, but he was blowing the horn so much he couldn't hear me." "Dude," Jeeter said, "don't you see how bad Sister Bessie is wanting to go in the house? You go in there with her--I'll keep my eye on the automobile." While Dude was being urged to go into the house, Bessie went slowly across the porch to the door, waiting to see if Dude were following. Ellie May drew herself up on her toes and tried to look into the bedroom through the open window. Ada was still busily engaged in straightening up the room, and every few minutes she would push a chair across the floor and jerk an end of one of the beds into a new position. "What is they going to do in there, Ma?" Ellie May asked. Ada came t............
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