“Harmon, I think it’s time we be babtized. We’re gettin’ older and we need to be goin’ to
church. Make amends.”
“Church? Make amends? Even with them thievin’ McCoys?”
“Yes, Harmon. Even them ol’ coots.”
“WhooHoo, Clara Mae, thet’s some idea ya’ got thar.” He knocked the pipe he’d stolen
off the McCoys’ porch onto the tabletop, spilling tobacco ashes. “Stop the feudin’ with
“Not jest stoppin’, Harmon, but endin’ the feud. The circuit preacher’ll be ‘round next
week. Ya’ want to make things right with the Lord, don’t ya’?” She threw kindling in the
stove to start supper.
“I guess you’re right. Do I have to take a bath? Wear anything special?”
“No, Harmon, we’re gettin’ babtized in the river. You’ll get yer bath. Jest be sure ya’
wear your longjohns under yer overalls.”
“Chester, today at the general store, I heard the Hatfields is gettin’ baptytized Sunday
down at Tug Fork River. They’s turnin’ a new leaf.”
“Yer joshin’, Thelma Lou! That ol’ Hatfield cain’t never change his ways. He’s evil
through and through and his woman’s worse than him.”
Chester’s better half tasted the rabbit stew she was stirring for their dinner. “Yum. This
tame rabbit you stole from the McCoys shure is tasty.”
“If’n Hatfield gets religion, he cain’t come after me any more for taking ‘em either,” he
laughed. “I think we should go and watch come Sunday. You know, kinda egg ‘em...”
he cleared his throat, “I mean, spur ‘em on.”
Sunday morning both the Hatfields and the McCoys entered the church’s door for the
first time. They sat on opposite sides eyeing each other. “What’s the McCoys doin’
here?” hissed Harmon. “Them rascals have never been here afore.” Clara Mae patted
his hand. He settled down, determined to listen to the preacher.
Preacher Finley finished his dandy sermon. “Well, folks, now we’ll all go down to the
Tug Fork. We got us a baptism service to perform.”
Everyone left the pews and walked the short distance to the river’s edge. As they
gathered around, the preacher announced, “Hatfields come on down to the river.” The
crowd gasped and whispered to each other as they watched Clara Mae and Harmon
make their way.
The McCoys also walked to the river’s edge, grinning, displaying their mostly bare
gums. “Hey, Hatfields. You gonna stop feudin’ with us?”
”Yes,” said Harmon, scowling.
Preacher Finley tugged on Harmon’s sleeve. “Come on, Harmon. Don’t pay them no
attention. Let’s get the Lord’s work done.”
So Harmon and Clara Mae stepped into the river along with the preacher and they
waded out to waist deep water. The preacher dunked Clara Mae first. She came up
with arms flailing, coughing and sputterng. Finley then laid his hands on Harmon and
just as he was about to dunk the sinner, Chester McCoy bellered. “Hatfield, that pig I
got off your place last week was sure delicious.”
“Ignore him, Harmon,” encouraged the preacher.
Harmon’s hands became fists. If he’d had teeth he could have snapped a nail in two.
But he said nothing
Chester continued. “Yeah, and the rabbit too! What you feed ‘em? Sure makes good
“Shut up, McCoy!” Harmon seethed.
“Now, now,” cooed the preacher.
“Hatfield, no more makin’ or sellin’ moonshine,” Chester whooped. “Can I have your
still?” He slapped his leg, laughing.
Harmon shook himself loose from the preacher and scrambled through the water to get
to Chester McCoy.
“Wait, wait, Harmon, ya ain’t baptized yet!” the preacher pleaded.
But the man who made his living by making moonshine had forgotten the baptism. He
only wanted to get his hands around McCoy’s skinny neck and throttle the sniveling
The preacher, not wanting to lose his one opportunity to get the Hatfield household
baptized, grabbed up a hand full of water and threw it at the top of Harmon’s head. It
ran into his eyes as he chased after Chester.
“Come back here, you scoundrel,” Harmon screeched at McCoy.
“You can’t chase me, Harmon. The feud’s over for your side, remember. You got
“No, I didn’t get dunked.”
“But you got sprinkled! It’s all the same.”
“Sure enough is, Harmon,” he hollered behind him. "You're baptytized whether you like it
So was Harmon really baptized? It all depends on who you ask. Harmon says no. The
McCoys say yes. Dunking or sprinkling? Which is right? And so the feud continues
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