ONE evening, about a week after the burning of the farm, a little company of women and children, in varying degrees of undress, was gathered in the larger room of Mamenah's hut. A fire had been kindled in the middle of the earthen floor; for the first showers, forerunners of the coming rainy season, had fallen. The children amused themselves as inclination led them, with sports ranging from gentle kitten-like romps, to a genuine fight, with biting, scratching, and hair-pulling accompaniments.
There was evident among the women, a feeling of abundant leisure, and of relaxation from responsibility. The "planting" of the rice had been completed. The seed had been scattered over the lately burned ground, had been rudely scratched in with a very primitive hoe, and was now awaiting germination under the moisture of the oncoming rains, and the warmth of occasional sunshine.
So the women felt free to spend the hours in gossip, and in the telling of tales. They chatted about personal matters, about the rice just planted, and then about the precautions taken to ward off evil influences, and to secure favorable conditions for their crops.
Mammy Mamenah told what a tempting bowl of rice she had prepared and offered to the spirit that dwelt in the big cotton tree near the corner of the farm, in order to enlist his kindly offices in guarding the rice field.
Mammy Yamah had set up a stick at the edge of her farm, and placed on top of it a bit of medicine wrapped in a leaf, which she had secured for an exorbitant fee from a medicine man. She was sure that anyone daring to molest would fall in spasms and die. Each had some specific with which to avert harm, or to secure favor.
Mammy Magbindee had a bit of news that made Konah's eyes dilate with wonder. It had been told in the village that very day by a person who had it from one who saw the mound, and of course it was true. Besides such occurrences had often been known before, and could not be doubted. A rich man had died in an adjoining town a few years before, and had been fittingly buried. Just now the grave had been accidentally opened, and strange to relate, it was found that gold had grown out of the ears of the man, and kept on growing until it filled the whole grave. But of course gold grows this way, for gold is in the world, and if it does not grow, where does it come from? Freaks of Nature can have but one cause, the presence of some "devil," and this thought reminded Mammy Mamenah of an old legend regarding another marvel of nature, which she proceeded to relate much to the delight of the whole company.