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Time to Dance! Part 9

Pearl and Maggie woke up from under the tree where they had been resting and looked at each other and smiled big smiles. It wouldn’t be long now and it would be time for the dance.

Pearl had told Maggie all about Zeb asking her to save a dance tonight, but she was wondering if anyone had ask Maggie or if there was anyone Maggie had her eye on. So she asked and to her surprise Maggie did have her cap set for someone special. She liked Big John.

Pearl couldn’t help but laugh and it kind of vexed Maggie and she asked what was so funny about that. Pearl said she was sorry it was just she couldn’t imagine Maggie as small and petite as she was with the big blond hulk of a guy like Big John or even thinking about him after seeing his momma Berta Muller in action today. That right there was enough to scare Pearl off. Maggie giggled and thought to herself it did make for an odd couple but she still couldn’t help but think about him with fondness and she would deal with Berta Muller when the time came. Maggie might be small but she never backed down from a challenge. Then she and Pearl got up and when over to the woman folk to straighten there dresses and hair before the dance.


The Muller family Clovis and Berta had come to America right after they had been married in Germany. Berta came from a family of hearty German dairy farmers and was one of three girls. Berta towered over her sisters and had flax colored hair she wore back in a long braid down her back. She helped her father on the farm as well as any son could and her two sisters helped out some but stayed more to the house and there mother.  Berta was lonesome with only the cows to talk to. None of the local boys would court her because of her size but her sisters had lots of suitors that called on them to go to the local parties. Berta always felt out of place going with them without and escort of her own and when she did go no one ever asked her to dance which made her very sad because she loved the music.

Clovis was a little man that was looking for a wife and knew what he wanted. He wanted a woman to go to America with him and start his own dairy farm.  When he first set eyes on Berta while checking out her father’s stock he knew at once that she was the girl he would marry. Her size didn’t intimidate him at all even though she stood a head taller than him. When he approached Berta and told her what he planned she was skeptical but thought this might be her only chance for a family of her own.  Clovis soon won her over with his sweet nature. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body and he escorted her to town as though she were a queen on his arm. Berta fell deeply in love with this little man and his big dreams and agreed to marry him as soon as he got permission from her father. 

Clovis pulled himself up to look as tall as he could and one evening came calling to ask for Berta’s hand in marriage. Berta’s father wasn’t sure this little man was the best match for his daughter and wasn’t to happy about losing the best help he had on the farm. Berta father loved her dearly and she was still his little girl. The thought of this man taking her so far away that they would never see her again tore at his heart but seeing the look in Berta’s eyes told him he could do nothing else but say yes.

The next week they were married and Clovis wasted no time buying tickets on the next ship to America. It was a tearful goodbye between Berta and her Mama and papa. Even her sisters broke down too see their sister walk up the plank to the big ship. Berta stood on the deck tears streaming down her cheeks as the people on the docks turned to small specks. The crossing would take up to two weeks depending on the weather.  Clovis stood beside his wife in silence with his arm around her waist comforting her till all the tears were gone then they turned and went to their cabin.

Berta’s papa had given them a bull and three bred heifers from his finest stock of Red Anglers to get them started in America. Clovis got Berta settled and then headed down to the belly of the ship to check on the cattle and make sure they were well taken care of.  He was very proud of them and sure didn’t want to lose any of them on the trip. He and Berta had promised fresh milk for the ship on the trip.  Clovis had been able to get them brought across for the trade and he was happy not to have to spend any more of their nest egg he had saved up.


nce they got to American they had bought a wagon and joined a group of other immigrants heading south to Kentucky where Clovis had heard there was plenty of a land and green pasture to start his dairy.

When they got to Kentucky Clovis bought some land in the foot hills of Eastern Kentucky to start his farm.  Soon he had a house built just in time for the birth of their first son Eckhard or Eck as they would call him, named after Clovis’ father. 

The Dairy was soon under way and they were very happy working together to make it grow right along with their family since every time you saw Berta she was pregnant with another big boy nine in total right down to Big John the youngest but largest of the bunch. Clovis and Berta loved all their boys but Berta had always wanted a girl which never seemed to happen no matter how many times she and Clovis tried.


Sometime during the evening the traveling preacher had showed up. He had heard about the barn razing and he didn’t want to miss out on a large gathering of folk like this to have a sermon. He told ever one he would hold services in the barn the following morning at daybreak. Many of the men groaned and rolled their eyes as their wives looked at them sideways with the look that they all understood. No matter how tired they were from work or dance they would be there bright eyed and bushy tailed. No exceptions!

With the barn up and the roof in place and everyone cleaned up the music started playing and the dance was underway. Pearl, Maggie and the other young girls sat on a bale of straw that had been brought in just for that. Some bales had planks of wood between them for the women to sit on but most just stood around and talked or danced when ask.

Soon Papa led Mamma out onto the floor and they began to dance to a waltz that the fiddler was playing. Both were smiling and Pearl was happy to see her parents having fun. Next Clovis took Berta by the hand and led her out onto the dance floor. Giggles could be heard around the room because of the little man and his big wife. Berta transformed on the dance floor, she may be a large woman but when she danced she was so graceful to watch and so light on her feet.  The look between the two was magical as Berta’s face lit up when she smiled at her husband. 

When the waltz was done the fiddler then called a square dance and Zeb came over to where she was sitting and asked her to dance.  Pearl said yes as he took her hand and led her out onto the dance floor. The music was fast and Pearl laughed as Zeb spun her faster and faster to the music as the fiddler called “Swing your partner” Pearls feet near came off the floor and when the music stopped Zeb led her to the table and got them a cup of punch to cool them down.

Maggie still sat on the straw looking a little let down that she hadn’t been asked to dance yet. Pearl confided in Zeb that she had taken a liking to Big John and Zeb in turn whispered it to Big John.  As soon as the next dance music started Big John wasted no time in making his way to the bale where Maggie sat to ask her to dance.  Grinning from ear to ear he lead her out and began to dance.

Big John was no were as graceful as his parents had been but he didn’t have he made up with enthusiasm.  He swung small Maggie so fast her feet would come clean off the floor and they would both laugh so loud the soon caught the attention of Berta. When the dance was over she made her way around the room where Maggie had settled down on a bale with John and Pearl and Zeb sat close by.

Big John smiled and introduced her to his mamma. Berta looked to be sizing the small girl up so Maggie gave her the biggest smile she had and wrapped her arms around the large woman and gave her a big hug. Berta’s heart instantly melted and she squeezed Maggie back till Maggie thought her back might break.  Soon Berta was sitting on the bale next the them and talking to Maggie and hovering over the girl like a mother hen. She had always wanted a girl and had all boys. Now none of the older ones had married yet. Maybe John would remedy that she thought to herself and smiled.

Everyone was getting tired of dancing and had settle back as Pearls mamma and papa got out the dulcimer and sat in the middle of the floor knee to knee and started playing a sweet tune and her mother  lifted her head and sang Pretty Saro in her sweet voice. Then she sang Twa Sisters which was a dark sad song about one sister killing the other for the love of a young man. Pearl shuddered when her mamma sang this song with the harp made of the girl’s breast bone that could play by itself.

A big hay wagon was pulled to the front of the barn and the night would end with a ride through the fields under the moon light.  Zeb asked Pearls mamma if she could sit with him on the hay ride and her mamma said yes. Thank goodness her papa wasn’t around at the moment. Zeb lifted her up on the wagon with ease and Big John did the same with poor Maggie who almost went off the other side when he swung her up. But once again she laughed and the hay ride began.  Not much was said but one young boy brought along his guitar and played softly as they rode.  When they got back to the barn Zeb asked if he could ask her papas permission to come calling the following Sunday at their cabin and Pearl said yes as he helped her down.  He bent down and pecked her on the cheek in the dark where no one would see.  Although she was sure her face was so red any one nearby could see it lit up.  Papa was in the wagon with mamma and Maggie was in the back waiting for her so they could head to Maggie’s house for the night. The girls were so tired they just looked at each other and smiled a secret smile.  It had been a wonderful night for both of them.




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Comment by Robin Thompson on April 1, 2014 at 10:53pm
Sweet courting!
Comment by Patty from Virginia on April 1, 2014 at 10:09pm

Thanks Dana!!! I love a good story

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