'Mirandy and Brother Wind' Editor's note: To win first prize in the junior cakewalk, Mirandy tries to capture the wind for her partner

Story Time

July 05, 1998|By Patricia C. McKissack

Swish! Swish!

It was spring, and Brother Wind was back. He come high steppin' through Ridgetop, dressed in his finest and trailing that long, silvery wind cape behind him.

Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!

"Sure wish Brother Wind could be my partner at the junior cakewalk tomorrow night," say Mirandy, her face pressed against the cool cabin window. "Then I'd be sure to win."

Ma Dear smiled. "There's an old saying that whoever catch the Wind can make him do their bidding."

"I'm goin' to," say Mirandy. And she danced around the room, dipping, swinging, turning, wheeling. "This is my first cakewalk. And I'm gon' dance with the Wind!"

The cakewalk was only a few hours away, and Mirandy was moping on the front porch swing when Brother Wind swooped over the hedges, kicking up dust. He leaped over the lilacs, around the snowball tree, and into the barn.

While he was inside shaking the rafters and scaring Ma Dear's hens, Mirandy slipped up quiet-like and slammed the door. No way for him to get out, 'cause Pa had stuffed all the cracks.

"I got you!" she say, clapping her hands. "Now you've got to do whatever I ask."

At dusk, the neighbors from the Ridge started gathering at the school house, everybody dressed in their Sunday best. The fiddlers stood in one corner, and Grandmama Beasely and the other elder folk sat in the judges' seats. Elder Thomas brought in two big triple-decker cakes - one for the junior cakewalk winners and the other for the grown-up winners. Somebody drew a big square in the middle of the floor, and the cakewalk jubilee began.

First thing, Orlinda come siding up to Mirandy, asking, "Who gon' be yo' partner?"

Mirandy tried not to act excited. "He's real special." Then she added, "I wish you and Ezel luck. Ya'll gon' need it."

"Me and Ezel? Girl, don't be silly. He asked, but I wouldn't dance with that ol' clumsy boy for nothing," she say, fanning herself. "Why, he can't even now walk and breathe at the same time. I didn't want him tripping over my feet in front of the whole county." And the girls laughed.

Mirandy put her hands on her hips and moved right in close to Orlinda. "You just hush making fun of Ezel, you hear?" she say quiet-like. "He's my friend, and it just so happens we're gon' win that cake!" And she tossed her head in the air and hurried away.

Outside Mirandy wondered why she'd said such a tomfool thing. She'd caught Brother Wind. Ezel couldn't be her partner. But an idea came.

"Brother Wind," she called. "You still in there?" The barn door rattled and almost shook off its hinges. "I'm ready with my wish." She whispered it, then hurried to find Ezel.

Weeks passed, and still Ridge folk talked 'bout how Mirandy and Ezel had won the junior cakewalk. That night they'd pranced 'round and 'round, cutting corners with style and grace. Swish! Swish! And when the music had changed to a fast gait, they'd arched their backs, kicked up their heels and reeled from side to side. Swoosh! Swoosh!

Folk still talked about how Mirandy was a picture of pretty, dressed in yellow with two colorful scarves tied 'round each wrist. And everybody agreed Ezel had never stood taller or held his head higher.

When Grandmama Beasley had seen Mirandy and Ezel turning and spinning, moving like shadows in the flickering candlelight, she'd thrown back her head, laughed, and said, "Them chullin' is dancing with the Wind."

From the book MIRANDY AND BROTHER WIND by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Text copyright 1988 by Patricia C. McKissack. Illustrations copyright 1988 by Jerry Pinkney. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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