The moon shone high reflecting off the glistening waters of the Gulf. The sea breeze had picked up sending salty vapor over the island clearing my sinuses. My cotton shirt and pants stuck to me from the gathering of moisture and streaming sweat. If Grandma Emma knew that I wore pants she would faint from embarrassment. I could hear her high shrill screeching voice, “ A ‘Lady’ should never be seen wearing mans clothing it is ungodly.” She had absolutely no inkling of my other secret but Grandpa did and would smile everytime she went into her unladylike rants concerning me. He and I both knew that she would absolutely die of embarrassment to know that our family held such a secret, not only about me but also my brother and my father (her son-in-law). I was thankful that I was here on the island with Nicholas (my older brother) and not in Mobile attending the tea parties and dinner engagements that Sophie (my twin sister) was having to attend,atleast she enjoyed those things.
In the distance I could hear the baying of Jake and Speck they must have treed a coon. Reluctantly, I turned from the shore and made my way through palmettos and thick green foliage of the inner most parts of the island. Uncle Max, my mother’s older brother, could be heard blowing on his old cow horn the thick moist night air vibrated with low deep sound of horn. I picked up my pace afraid Uncle Max would get winded form his excited blowing and passes out from lack of oxygen. Following the horn I arrived at a small clearing to find that Jake had climbed half way up a low growing scrub oak and was trying to pick his way up toward the thin upper branches.
“Bought’ time,” Nicholas growled at me.
“Your dog keeps tryin' to climb up after the stupid thing. It was all I could do not to him. He is lucky I only brought three shells with me.”
“Well I am sure he is grateful,” I replied with a hint of sarcasm. “but he would have been more grateful if you were a better shot.” He snarled at me this time. A hint of anger flashed across is indigo eyes.
“Jake, Speck come!”, Jake sailed out of the tree to land at my feet. Speck laid down continuing to stare intently toward the tree top of the neighboring water oak.
I smiled at Nicholas with satisfaction. Uncle Max hollered “Boy shoot!” with that Nicholas pulled the trigger and the coon jumped to a larger water oak scurrying to the higher upper branches. When the gun smoke finally desipated two round eyes peered down at us from a fork in the tree. I think he was laughing. Uncle Max let out a grunt, “I think you might have hit a few hairs son.” I could hear Nicholas swearing under his breath. “Get him Jake!” I whispered and the hunt was back on. Both dogs took off for the oak and Jake once again tried to climb up the tree after the black eyed bandit. The coon realizing his best chance of survival would be to skeedaddle away from the glowering eyes and nashing teeth of the crazy dog trying to climb up and get him, sailed to the outstretched limbs of a neighboring white oak, with Jake and Speck still hot on his trail.
Uncle Max looked at Nicholas, “Boy would you like for me to try this time? You missed him by a foot. I thought you Savants were good shots, boy you might need to break the rust out, your aim is stuck?”
“Very funny Uncle Max!” Nicolas angrily growled as he stomped off in the direction the dogs following their baying. I shrugged innocently at Uncle Max and followed Nicholas. Uncle Max brought up the rear laughing silently under his breath. Nicholas’s next shot was true, sending the old male coon flopping through the branches to land in a quiet thud at his feet. Nicholas smiled with satisfaction. “Bought time, I thought I was gonna have to let Old Jake catch him if you had missed again.” Nicholas rolled his eyes and grabbed the coon before Speck took a bite.
Nicholas and Uncle Max had set up camp on the freshwater lake located on the east end of the island near the fort. Uncle Max had left some oyster stew on the fire and the smell drifted toward us as we approached. My stomach growled with a menace, the blue crabs we had eaten for lunch earlier had worn off leaving me starving. I quickly set to getting the bowls, spoons and cups out. I truly enjoyed my time spent on the island.
It was early September and the weather was still extremely warm which was fine with me. With the summer coming to an end I dreaded the up and coming debutant ball. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy going to balls it was the meaning that this particular ball held, getting married and having lots of children. Sophie and I had finished up our last semester at Marshall Institute in Springhill. The we studied music, French, reading, etiquette, how to be a good wife/mother …etc.; Many of the girls I had gone to school with would be returning for the ball as well. This I did look forward to, spending time going to the many plays, picnics and parties with them.
Nicholas would be stating in the city to attend Alabama School of Medicine located in Mobile. I am not sure what I would do if he had decided to move far away in October. I watched him as he built the fire and wondered what this next year held for us. I felt as if something was about to happen that was going to change everything about who we are and what we are destined to become.