Flaggin' Down the Train If you think that little boys are the only ones who are bad, listen to the escapade these little cousins had. You'd never had a bad thought about these little girls. They always looked like cherubs, with their golden bouncy curls. One cousin's name was Elly Mae, the other Sadie Lou. I don't know which one first thought up the pranks they liked to do, but they pulled off a trick or two, whene'er they took a whim. But then they looked so innocent, no one suspected them. They played along the woodland, by the Tuckerton Railroad track, where everyday they saw the train roar by and then come back. One day their play got tiresome, so they thought they'd have some fun. They'd fix a signal for the train to stop, and then they'd run. Now, Sadie wore a flannel petticoat of scarlet red. "This would be the very thing to stop a train," she said. She took it off while Elly found a dead branch from a tree. They fastened them together; a distress flag it would be. They planted it between two ties, and ran away to wait. "Let's not do it," Sadie cried, but by then it was too late. The train was coming into view, and it was coming fast. It looked like it would speed on by, but slowed and stopped at last. The train man climbed down from the train; his language burned their ears. He ripped the petticoat to shreds while they looked on, in tears. "We'll never tell a livin' soul," they promised one another. "But, look at my poor petticoat! What'll I tell Mother?" And big tears streaked Sad'e's dusty cheeks, as they rolled down her face. As the engineer got steam up, they watched from their hiding place. Then Elly held Sad'e in her arms, and vowed she'd share the blame. Both worried for the loss of honor to their family name. "Maybe it would be for best, if we just ran away." "No, Sadie Lou, our folks would grieve," said trembling Elly Mae. "I guess we'll have to just stay here until our famblies miss us, and when they find us safe and sound, they'll prob'ly hug and kiss us." "We'll pretend we fell asleep and lost track of the hours." All afternoon they played, and roamed around and picked wildflowers. The girls were missed at supper, but their folks didn't look them up. Each family thought the other one had asked their child to sup. Meanwhile, the girls got hungry; they hadn't ate since noon. They found a patch of teaberries, and hoped they'd be found soon. "Guess I'll go fetch Elly," her Pa said, "'fore it gets late." But, he met Sadie's father by the pasture gate.
"I was jest a comin' over; where are you off to?" "Why, I was on my way to yer place to walk home Sadie Lou." "Why, Sadie ain't to our house; didn't Elly eat with you? It's been since early afternoon we laid eyes on them two." "Now, where on earth do you suppose them thoughtless younguns are?" "Maybe they're with Jenny's girls - they wouldn'a gone too far." They made a search from house to house; none of their playmates knew where Elly Mae was hiding with her cousin, Sadie Lou. The townsmen all lit lanterns, while the mothers watched and prayed, as they searched along the woodland where the cousins often played. Someone mentioned they'd seen gypsys in a camp nearby, which made the mothers wring their hands, and their little playmates cry. When, at last, the girls were found, they really were asleep, lying in each other's arms, heads resting on a heap. "Oh, Papa," Sadie cried, when wakened, "I have been so bad. I ruined my good petticoat, and made the train man mad." When the village heard about the escapade confessed, the punishment of their disgrace was more than they had guessed. Right then and there they vowed that no more tricks they'd ever do. One of their playmates told me this old story, and it's true. The old folks, when they reminisce still tell this tale of woe that happened here in Waretown, some hundred years ago. - Lillian Arnold Lopez "Pineylore