• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 An evening with the ku-klux
 "When Jess went a-fiddlin'"
 How Aunt Minervy Ann ran away and...
 How she joined the Georgia...
 How she went into business
 How she and Major Perdue frailed...
 Major Perdue's bargain
 The case of Mary Ellen
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: chronicles of Aunt Minervy Ann
Title: The chronicles of Aunt Minervy Ann
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
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STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00089018/00001
 Material Information
Title: The chronicles of Aunt Minervy Ann
Physical Description: ix, 210, p., 32 leaves of plates : ill. ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Harris, Joel Chandler, 1848-1908
Frost, A. B ( Arthur Burdett ), 1851-1928 ( Illustrator )
J. M. Dent & Co ( Publisher )
Publisher: J.M. Dent & Co.
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1899
 Subjects
Subject: African Americans -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Domestics -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Freedmen -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Plantation life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Courage -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Kindness -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Prejudices -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Husband and wife -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Legislative bodies -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Georgia   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1899
Genre: novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Joel Chandler Harris ; illustrated by A.B. Frost.
General Note: Title page printed in red and black.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00089018
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002231199
notis - ALH1567
oclc - 07499193

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
        Page ii
    Half Title
        Page iii
    Frontispiece
        Page iv
    Title Page
        Page v
    Table of Contents
        Page vi
    List of Illustrations
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
    An evening with the ku-klux
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 6a
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 8a
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 10a
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 14a
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 18a
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 26a
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 30a
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 32a
        Page 33
    "When Jess went a-fiddlin'"
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
    How Aunt Minervy Ann ran away and ran back again
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 72a
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 76a
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 78a
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 80a
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 82a
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 84a
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 90a
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
    How she joined the Georgia legislature
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
    How she went into business
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 122a
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 124a
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 126a
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 128a
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 130a
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 132a
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 134a
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 136a
        Page 137
        Page 138
    How she and Major Perdue frailed out the Gossett boys
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
    Major Perdue's bargain
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 160a
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 162a
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 164a
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 166a
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 172a
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 176a
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 178a
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 180a
        Page 181
    The case of Mary Ellen
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
    Back Cover
        Page 211
        Page 212
    Spine
        Page 213
Full Text

















THE CHRONICLES OF

AUNT MINERVY ANN






























































" 1 ain't fergot dat ar 'possum.".


~r~,-~-----------








THE CHRONICLES


OF

AUNT MINERVY ANN




BY

JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS


ILLUSTRATED BY
A. B. FROST










1899.
LONDON:
J. M. DENT & CO.,
29 AND 30, BEDFORD STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
















CONTENTS

PAGE
I. An Evening with the Ku-Klux .. 1

II. "When Jess went a-fiddlin'" ... 34

Ill. How Aunt Minervy Ann Ran Away and
Ran Back Again . . 70

IV. How She Joined the Georgia Legislature 97

V. How She Went Into Business. .. .119

VI. How She and Major Perdue Frailed Out
the Gossett Boys . . 139

VII. Major Perdue's Bargain ...... 157

VIII. The Case of Mary Ellen . .. 182





















LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"I ain't fergot dat ar 'possnm" .


Front


"Well, he can't lead me"

He wore a blue army overcoat and a stove-pipe hat .

"Sholy you-all ain't gwine put dat in de paper, is you?"

Inquired what day the paper came out

"I was on the lookout," the Major explained

In the third he placed only powder

We administered to his hurts the best we could

"I'd a heap rather you'd pull your shot-gun on me thal
your pen"

The Committee of Public Comfort .

Buying cotton on his own account .

"Miss Vallie I" .
vii


ispiece

FACING
PAGE
6

S8

10

14

18

26

30










LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"I saw him fling his hand to his shoulder and ho
there". .

"Dat ar grape jelly on de right han' side"

"'Conant!' here and'Conant' dar" .

"Drapt down on de groun' dar an' holler an' cry" .

"Oh, my shoulder I".

"Marse Tumlin never did pass a nigger on de road"

"We made twelve pies ef we made one" .

"I gi' Miss Vallie de money"

"Ef here ain't ol' Minervy Ann wid pies" "

'You see dat nigger 'oman?"

'An' he sot dar, suh, wid his haid 'twix' his han's
dunner how long"

"You'll settle dis wid me" .

"Dat money ain't gwine ter las' when you buy dat
er doin's"

Trimmin' up de 01' Mules .

"She wuz cryin'-settin' dar cryin'" .

"Here come a nigger boy leading' a bob-tail hoss"


FACING
PAGE
Id it
S80

.*82

S84

90

122

.124

.126

.128

.130

.132

fer I
134

136

Skin'
.160

162

164

166










LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FACING
PAGE
"He been axin' me lots 'bout Miss Vallie" 172

"Marse Tumlin 'low he'll take anything what he can chaw,
sop, er drink" 176

"I hatter stop an' pass do time er day" 178

"Hunt up an' down fer dat ar Tom Perryman" 180













THE CHRONICLES OF


AUNT MINERVY ANN

I
AN EVENING WITH THE .KU-KLUX
THE happiest, the most vivid, and certainly the
most critical period of a man's life is combined in
the years that stretch between sixteen and twenty-
two. His responsibilities do not sit heavily on him,
he has hardly begun to realize them, and yet he has
begun to see and feel, to observe and absorb; he is
for once and for the last time an interested, and yet
an irresponsible, spectator of the passing show.
This period I had passed very pleasantly, if not
profitably, at Halcyondale in Middle Georgia, di-
rectly after the great war, and the town and the
people there had a place apart, in my mind. When,
therefore, some ten years after leaving there, I re-
ceived a cordial invitation to attend the county fair,
which had been organized by some of the enterpris-
ing spirits of the town and county, among whom








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

were Paul Conant and his father-in-law, Major
Tumlin Perdue, it was natural that the fact should
revive old memories.
The most persistent of these memories were those
which clustered around Major Perdue, his daughter
Vallie, and his brother-in-law, Colonel Bolivar
Blasengame, and Aunt Minervy Ann Perdue.
Curiously enough, my recollection of this negro
woman was the most persistent of all. Her individ-
ualityseemed to stand out more vitally than the rest.
She was what is called a character," and something
more besides. The truth is, I should have missed a
good deal if I had never known Aunt Minervy Ann
Perdue, who, as she described herself, was Affikin
fum 'way back yander 'fo' de flood, an' fum de
word go "-a fact which seriously interferes with
the somewhat complacent theory that Ham, son of
Noah, was the original negro.
It is a fact that Aunt Minervy Ann's great-grand-
mother, who lived to be a hundred and twenty years
old, had an eagle tattooed on her breast, the mark
of royalty. The brother of this princess, Qua, who
died in Augusta at the age of one hundred years, had
two eagles tattooed on his breast. This, taken in'
connection with his name, which means The Eagle,
shows that he was either the ruler of his tribe or
2







AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


the heir apparent. The prince and princess were
very small, compared with the average African, but
the records kept by a member of the Clopton family
show that during the Revolution Qua performed
some wonderful feats, and went through some
strange adventures in behalf of liberty. He was in
his element when war was at its hottest-and it has
never been hotter in any age or time, or in any part
of the world, savage or civilized, than it was then
in the section of Georgia now comprised in the
counties of Burke, Columbia, Richmond, and El-
bert.
However, that has nothing to do with Aunt Mi-
nervy Ann Perdue; but her relationship to Qua and
to the royal family of his tribe, remote though it
was, accounted for the most prominent traits of her
character, and many contradictory elements of her
strong and sharply defined individuality. She had
a bad temper, and was both fierce and fearless when
it was aroused; but it was accompanied by a heart
as tender and a devotion as unselfish as any mortal
ever possessed or displayed. Her temper was more
widely advertised than her tenderness, and her inde-
pendence more clearly in evidence than her un-
selfish devotion, except to those who knew her well
or intimately.







THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

And so it happened that Aunt Minervy Ann,
after freedom gave her the privilege of showing her
extraordinary qualities of self-sacrifice, walked
about in the midst of the suspicion and distrust of
her own race, and was followed by the misappre-
hensions and misconceptions of many of the whites.
She knew the situation and laughed at it, and.if she
wasn't proud of it her attitude belied her.
It was at the moment of transition from the old
conditions to the new that I had known Aunt Mi-
nervy Ann and the persons in whom she was so pro-
foundly interested, and she and they, as I have said,
had a place apart in my memory and experience.
I also remembered Hamp, Aunt Minervy Ann's hus-
band, and the queer contrast between the two. It
was mainly on account of Hamp, perhaps, that Aunt
Minervy Ann was led to take such a friendly in-
terest in the somewhat lonely youth who was editor,
compositor, and pressman of Halcyondale's ambi-
tious weekly newspaper in the days following the
collapse of the confederacy.
When a slave, Hamp had belonged to an estate
which was in the hands of the Court of Ordinary
(or, as it was then called, the Inferior Court), to be
administered in the interest of minor heirs. This
was not a fortunate thing for the negroes, of which
4







AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


there were above one hundred and fifty. Men,
women, and children were hired out, some far and
some near. They came back home at Christmas-
time, enjoyed a week's frolic, and were then hired
out again, perhaps to new employers. But whether
to new or old, it is certain that hired hands in those
days did not receive the consideration that men gave
to their own negroes.
This experience told heavily on Hamp's mind.
It made him reserved, suspicious, and antagonistic.
He had few pleasant memories to fall back on, and
these were of the days of his early youth, when he
used to trot around holding to his old master's coat-
tails-the kind old master who had finally been sent
to the insane asylum. Hamp never got over the idea
(he had heard some of the older negroes talking
about it) that his old master had been judged to be
crazy simply because he was unusually kind to his
negroes, especially the little ones. Hamp's after-
experience seemed to prove this, for he received
small share of kindness, as well as scrimped rations,
from the majority of those who hired him.
It was a very good thing for Hamp that he mar-
ried Aunt Minervy Ann, otherwise he would have
become a wanderer and a vagabond when freedom
came. It was a fate he didn't miss a hair's breadth;
5







THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

he broke loose," as he described it, and went off,
but finally came back and tried in vain to persuade
Aunt Minervy Ann to leave Major Perdue. He
finally settled down, but acquired no very friendly
feelings toward the white race.
He joined the secret political societies, strangely
called "Union Leagues," and aided in disseminat
ing the belief that the whites were only awaiting a
favorable opportunity to re-enslave his race. He
was only repeating what the carpet-baggers had told
him. Perhaps he believed the statement, perhaps
not. At any rate, he repeated it fervently and fre-
quently, and soon came to be the recognized leader
of the negroes in the county of which Halcyondale
was the capital That is to say, the leader of all ex-
cept one. At church one Sunday night some of the
brethren congratulated Aunt Minervy Ann on the
fact that Hamp was now the leader of the colored
people in that region.
"What colored people? snapped Aunt Minervy
Ann.
"We-all," responded a deacon, emphatically.
"Well, he can't lead me, I'll tell you dat right
now! exclaimed Aunt Minervy Ann.
Anyhow, when the time came to elect members
of the Legislature (the constitutional convention






























$3' 1.


" Well, he can't lead me."







AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


had already been held), Hamp was chosen to be the
candidate of the negro Republicans. A white man
wanted to run, but the negroes said they preferred
their own color, and they had their way. They had
their way at the polls, too, for, as nearly all the
whites who would have voted had served in the
Confederate army, they were at that time disfran-
chised.
So Hamp was elected overwhelmingly, world'
widout een'," as he put it, and the effect it had on
him was a perfect illustration of one aspect of hu-
man nature. Before and during the election (which
lasted three days) Hamp had been going around
puffed up with importance. He wore a blue army
overcoat and a stove-pipe hat, and went about smok-
ing a big cigar. When the election was over, and
he was declared the choice of the county, he col-
lapsed. His dignity all disappeared. His air of
self-importance and confidence deserted him. His
responsibilities seemed to weigh him down.
He had once rolled in the little printing-office
where the machinery consisted of a No. 2 Wash-
ington hand-press, a wooden imposing-stone, three
stands for the cases, a rickety table for "wetting
down" the paper, and a tub in which to wash the
forms. This office chanced to be my headquarters,








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

and the day after the election I was somewhat sur-
prised to see Hamp saunter in. So was Major Tum-
lin Perdue, who was reading the exchanges.
He's come to demand a retraction," remarked
the Major, and you'll have to set him right. He's
no longer plain Hamp; he's the Hon. Hamp-
what's your other name? turning to the negro.
"Hamp Tumlin my fergiven name, suh. I
thought 'Nervy Ann tol' you dat."
"Why, who named you after me? inquired the
Major, somewhat angrily.
Me an' 'Nervy Ann fix it up, sub. She say it's
about de purtiest name in town."
The Major melted a little, but his bristles rose.
again, as it were.
Look here, Hamp! he exclaimed in a tone that
nobody ever forgot or misinterpreted; "don't you
go and stick Perdue onto it. I won't stand
that! "
No, suh! responded Hamp. I started ter do
it, but 'Nervy Ann say she ain't gwine ter have de
Perdue name bandied about up dar whar de Legis-
latur's at."
Again the Major thawed, and though he looked
long at Hamp it was with friendly eyes. He seemed
to be studying the negro-" sizing him up," as the

























I


He wore a blue army overcoat and a stove-pipe hat.


Z,



9 0 -4







AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


saying is. For a newly elected member of the Leg-
islature, Hamp seemed to take a great deal of in-
terest in the old duties he once performed about the
office. He went first to the box in which the roll-
er" was kept, and felt of its surface carefully.
"You'll hatter have a bran new roller 'fo' de
mont's out," he said, "an' I won't be here to he'p
you make it."
Then he went to the roller-frame, turned the
handle, and looked at the wooden cylinders. Dey
don't look atter it like I use ter, suh; an' dish yer
frame monst'us shackly."
From there he passed to the forms where the ad-
vertisements remained standing. He passed his
thumb over the type and looked at it critically.
" Dey er mighty skeer'd dey'll git all de ink off,"
was his comment. Do what he would, Hamp
couldn't hide his embarrassment.
Meanwhile, Major Perdue scratched off a few
lines in pencil. I wish you'd get this in Tuesday's
paper," he said. Then he read: The Hon. Hamp-
ton Tumlin, recently elected a member of the Legis-
lature, paid us a pop-call last Saturday. We are al-
ways pleased to meet our distinguished fellow-towns-
man and representative. We trust Hon. Hampton
Tumlin will call again when the Ku-Klux are in."
9








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

Why, certainly," said I, humoring the joke.
Sholy you-all ain't gwine put dat in de paper, is
you inquired Hamp, in amazement.
"Of course," replied the Major; why not?"
"Kaze, ef you does, I'm a ruint nigger. Ef
'Nervy Ann hear talk 'bout my name an' entitle-
ments bein' in de paper, she'll quit me sho. Uh-uhl
I'm gwine 'way fum here! With that Hamp
bowed and disappeared. The Major chuckled over
his little joke, but soon returned to his newspaper.
For a quarter of an hour there was absolute quiet in
the room, and, as it seemed, in the entire building,
which was a brick structure of two stories, the stair-
way being in the centre. The hallway was, perhaps,
seventy-five feet long, and on each side, at regular
intervals; there were four rooms, making eight in all,
and, with one exception, variously occupied as law-
yers' offices or sleeping apartments, the exception
being the printing-office in which Major Perdue and
I were sitting. This was at the extreme rear of the
hallway.
I had frequently been struck by the acoustic prop-
erties of this hallway. A conversation carried on in
ordinary tones in the printing-office could hardly be
heard in the adjoining room. Transferred to the
front rooms, however, or even to the sidewalk fac-


















































"Sholy you-all ain't gwine put dat in de paper, is you?"








AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


ing the entrance to the stairway, the lightest tone
was magnified in volume. A German professor of
music, who for a time occupied the apartment oppo-
site the printing-office, was so harassed by the thun-
derous sounds of laughter and conversation rolling
back upon him that he tried to remedy the matter
by nailing two thicknesses of bagging along the floor
from the stairway to the rear window. This was,
indeed, something of a help, but when the German
left, being of an economical turn of mind, he took
his bagging away with him, and once more the hall-
way was torn and rent, as you may say, with the
lightest whisper.
Thus it happened that, while the Major and I
were sitting enjoying an extraordinary season of
calm, suddenly there came a thundering sound from
the stairway. A troop of horse could hardly have
made a greater uproar, and yet I knew that fewer
than half a dozen people were ascending the steps.
Some one stumbled and caught himself, and the
multiplied and magnified reverberations were as
loud as if the roof had caved in, carrying the better
part of the structure with it. Some one laughed
at the misstep, and the sound came to our ears with
the deafening effect of an explosion, he party filed
with a dull roar into one of the front rooms, the








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

office of a harum-scarum young lawyer who had
more empty bottles behind his door than he had
ever had briefs on his desk.
"Well, the great Gemini!" exclaimed Major
Perdue, "how do you manage to stand that sort of
thing? "
I shrugged my shoulders and laughed, and was
about to begin anew a very old tirade.against caves
and halls of thunder, when the Major raised a warn-
ing hand. Some one was saying-
He hangs out right on ol' Major Perdue's lot.
He's got a wife there."
By jing! exclaimed another voice; "is that
so? Well, I don't water git mixed up wi' the
Major. He may be wobbly on his legs, but I don't
water be the one to run up ag'in 'im."
The Major pursed up his lips and looked at the
ceiling, his attitude being one of rapt attention.
Shucks! cried another; by the time the ol'
cock gits his bellyful of dram, thunder wouldn't
roust 'im."
A shrewd, foxy, almost sinister expression came
over the Major's rosy face as he glanced at me. His
left hand went to his goatee, an invariable signal of
deep feeling, such as anger, grief, or serious trouble.
Another voice broke in here, a voice that we both
12







AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


knew to be that of Larry Pulliam, a big Kentuckian
who had refugee to Halcyondale during the war.
"Blast it all!" exclaimed Larry Pulliam, "I
hope the Major will come out. Me an' him hain't
never butted heads yit, an' it's gittin' high time. Ef
he comes out, you fellers jest go ahead with your rat-
killin'. I'll'ten' to him."
Why, you'd make two of him, Pulliam," said
the young lawyer.
Oh, I'll not hurt 'im; that is, not much-jest
enough to let 'im know I'm livin' in the same vil-
lage," replied Mr. Pulliam. The voice of the town
bull could not have had a more terrifying sound.
Glancing at the Major, I saw that he had entirely
recovered his equanimity. More than that, a smile
of sweet satisfaction and contentment settled on his
rosy face, and stayed there.
"I wouldn't take a hundred dollars for that last
remark," whispered the Major. That chap's been
a-raisin' his hackle at me ever since he's been here,
and every time I try to get him to make a flutter he's
off and gone. Of course it wouldn't do for me to
push a row on him just dry so. But now-" The
Major laughed softly, rubbed his hands together,
and seemed to be as happy as a child with a new toy.
"My son," said he after awhile, "ain't there
13








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

some way of finding out who the other fellows are?
Ain't you got some word you want Seab Griffin "-
this was the young lawyer-" to spell for you?"
Spelling was the Major's weakness. He was a
well-educated man, and could write vigorous Eng-
lish, but only a few days before he had asked me how
many f's there are in graphic.
"Let's see," he went on, rubbing the top of his
head. Do you spell Byzantium with two y's, or
with two i's, or with one y and one if It'll make
Seab feel right good to be asked that before com-
pany, and he certainly needs to feel good if he's go-
ing with that crowd."
So, with a manuscript copy in my hand, I went
hurriedly down the hall and put the important ques-
tion. Mr. Griffin was all politeness, but not quite
sure of the facts in the case. But he searched in his
books of reference, including the Geographical Ga-
zette, until finally he was able to give me the in-
formation I was supposed to stand in need of.
While he was searching, Mr. Pulliam turned to
me and inquired what day the paper came out.
When told that the date was Tuesday, he smiled and
nodded his head mysteriously.
"That's good," he declared; you'll be in time
to ketch the news."






1,- 4 ...
^*" t1
li '-; .!


, '. I -


Inquired what day the paper came out.








AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


"What news? I inquired.
"Well, ef you don't hear about it before to-mor-
rer night, jest inquire of Major Perdue'. He'll tell
you all about it."
Mr. Pulliam's tone was so supercilious that I was
afraid the Major would lose his temper and come
raging down the hallway. But he did nothing of
the kind. When I returned he was fairly beaming,
and seemed to be perfectly happy. The Major took
down the names in his note-book-I have forgotten
all except those of Buck Sanford and Larry Pull-
iam; they were all from the country except Larry
Pulliam and the young lawyer.
After my visit to the room, the men spoke in
lower tones, but every word came back to us as dis-
tinctly as before.
The feed of the horses won't cost us a cent," re-
marked young Sanford. Tom Gresham said he'd
'ten' to that. They're in the stable right now. And
we're to have supper in Tom's back room, have a
little game of ante, and along about twelve or one
we'll sa'nter down and yank that darned nigger
from betwixt his blankets, ef he's got any, and leave
him to cool off at the cross-roads. Won't you go
'long, Seab, and see it well done? "
I'll go and see if the supper's well done, and I'll








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

take a shy at your ante," replied Mr. Griffin. But
when it comes to the balance of the programme-
well, I'm a lawyer, you know, and you couldn't ex-
pect me to witness the affair. I might have to take
your cases and prove an alibi, you know, and I
couldn't conscientiously do that if I was on hand at
the time."
The Ku-Klux don't have to have alibis," sug-
gested Larry Pulliam.
"Perhaps not, still-" Apparently Mr. Griffin
disposed of the matter with a gesture.
When all the details of their plan had been care-
fully arranged, the amateur Ku-Klux went filing
out, the noise they made dying away like the echoes
of a storm.
Major Perdue leaned his head against the back of
his chair, closed his eyes, and sat there so quietly that
I thought he was asleep. But this was a mistake.
Suddenly he began to laugh, and he laughed until
the tears ran down his face. It was laughter that
was contagious, and presently I found myself join-
ing in without knowing why. This started the Ma-
jor afresh, and we both laughed until exhaustion
came to our aid.
0 Lord! cried the Major, panting, I haven't
had as much fun since the war, and a long time be-
16








AN EVENING WITH THE EU-KLUX


fore. That blamed Pulliam is going to walk into a
trap of his own setting. Now you jest watch how he
goes out ag'in."
But I'll not be there," I suggested.
Oh, yes! exclaimed the Major, you can't af-
ford to miss it. It'll be the finest piece of news your
paper ever had. You'll go to supper with me-"
He paused. No, I'll go home, send Valentine to
her Aunt Emmy's, get Blasengame to come around,
and we'll have supper about nine. That'll fix it.
Some of them chaps might have an eye on my house,
and I don't want 'em to see anybody but me go in
there. Now, if you don't come at nine, I'll send
Blasengame after you."
"I shall be glad to come, Major. I was simply
fishing for an invitation."
That fish is always on your hook, and you know
it," the Major insisted.
As it was arranged, so it fell out. At nine, I
lifted and dropped the knocker on the Major's front
door. It opened so promptly that I was somewhat
taken by surprise, but in a moment the hand of my
host was on my arm, and he pulled me inside un-
ceremoniously.
"I was on the lookout," the Major explained.
" Minervy Ann has fixed to have waffles, and she's
17








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

crazy about having' 'em just right. If she waits too
long to make 'em, the batter'll spoil; and if she puts
'em on before everybody's ready, they won't be
good. That's what she says. Here he is, you old
Hessian!." the Major cried, as Minervy Ann peeped
in from the dining-room. "Now slap that supper
together and let's get at it."
"I'm mighty glad you come, suh," said Aunt
Minervy Ann, with a courtesy and a smile, and then
she disappeared. In an incredibly short time sup-
per was announced, and though Aunt Minervy has
since informed me confidentially that the Perdues
were having a hard time of it at that period, I'll do
her the justice to say that the supper she furnished
forth was as good as any to be had in that town-
waffles, beat biscuit, fried chicken, buttermilk, and
coffee that could not be surpassed.
"How about the biscuit, Minervy Ann?" in-
quired Colonel Blasengame, who was the Major's
brother-in-law, and therefore one of the family.
"I turned de dough on de block twelve times, an'
hit it a hundred an forty-sev'm licks," replied Aunt
Minervy Ann.
I'm afeard you hit it one lick too many,"-said
Colonel Blasengame, winking at me.
"Well, suh, I been hitting' dat away a mighty
















































" I was on the lookout," the Major explained.







AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


long time," Aunt Minervy Ann explained, and I
ain't never hear no complaints."
Oh, I'm not complaining Minervy Ann." Col-
onel Blasengame waved his hand. "I'm mighty
glad you did hit the dough a lick too many. If you
hadn't, the biscuit would 'a' melted in my mouth,
and I believe I'd rather chew on 'em to get the
taste."
"He des running' on, suh," said Aunt Minervy
Ann to me. Marse Bolivar know mighty well
dat he got ter go 'way fum de Nunited State fer ter
git any better biscuits dan what I kin bake."
Then there was a long pause, which was broken
by an attempt on the part of Major Perdue to give
Aunt Minervy Ann an inkling of the events likely
to happen during the night. She seemed to be both
hard of hearing and dull of understanding when
the subject was broached; or she mayhave suspected
the Major was joking or trying to run a rig on
her. Her questions and comments, however, were
very characteristic.
I dunner what dey want wid Hamp," she said.
"Ef dey know'd how no-count he is, dey'd let 'im
'lone. What dey want wid 'im? "
Well, two or three of the country boys and may-
be some of the town chaps are going to call on him
19








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

between midnight and day. They want to take him
out to the cross-roads. Hadn't you better fix 'em up
a little snack? Hamp won't want anything, but the
boys will feel a little hungry after the job is over."
Nobody ain't never tell me dat de Legislatur'
wuz like de Free Masons, whar dey have ter ride a
billy goat an' go down in a dry well wid de chains
a-clankin'. I done tol' Hamp dat he better not fool
wid white folks' doin's."
Only the colored members have to be initiated,"
explained the Major, solemnly.
What does dey do wid um? inquired Aunt
Minervy Ann.
Well," replied the Major, "they take 'em out
to the nearest cross-roads, put ropes around their
necks, run the ropes over limbs, and pull away as if
they were drawing water from a well."
What dey do dat fer? asked Aunt Minervy
Ann, apparently still oblivious to the meaning of it
all.
They want to see which'll break first, the ropes
or the necks," the Major explained.
"Ef dey takes Hamp out," remarked Aunt Mi-
nervy Ann, tentatively-feeling her way, as it were
-" what time will he come back? "
"You've heard about the Resurrection Morn,








AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


haven't you, Minervy Ann? There was a pious
twang in the Major's voice as he pronounced the
words.
I hear de preacher say sump'n 'bout it," replied
Aunt Minervy Ann.
"Well," said the Major, '" along about that time
Hamp will return. I hope his record is good enough
to give him wings."
Shuh! Marse Tumlin! you-all des fool'in' me.
I don't keer-Hamp ain't gwine wid um. I tell
you dat right now."
Oh, he may not want to go," persisted the Ma-
jor, but he'll go all the same if they get their hands
on him."
My life er me! exclaimed Aunt Minervy Ann,
bristling up, does you-all 'speck I'm gwine ter let
um take Iamp out dat away? De fus' man come ter
my door, less'n it's one er you-all, I'm gwine ter fling
a pan er hot embers in his face ef de Lord'll gi' me
de strenk. An' ef dat don't do no good, I'll scald
um wid b'ilin' water. You hear dat, don't you? "
"Minervy Ann," said the Major, sweetly, have
you ever heard of the Ku-Klux? "
Yasser, I is! she exclaimed with startling em-
phasis. She stopped still and gazed hard at the Ma-
jor. In response, he merely shrugged his shoulders







THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

and raised his right hand with a swift gesture that
told the whole story.
Name er God! Marse Tumlin, is you an' Marse
Bolivar and dish yer young genterman gwine ter set
down here flat-footed and let dem Kukluckers scari-
fy Hamp?"
Why should we do anything? You've got
everything arranged. You're going to singe 'em
with hot embers, and you're going to take their hides
off with scalding water. What more do you want?"
The Major spoke with an air of benign resigna-
tion.
Aunt Minervy Ann shook her head vigorously.
"Ef dey er de Kukluckers, fire won't do um no
harm. Dey totes der haids in der han's."
"Their heads in their hands?" cried Colonel
Blasengame, excitedly.
Dat what dey say, suh," replied Aunt Minervy
Ann.
Colonel Blasengame looked at his watch. Tum-
lin, I'll have to ask you to excuse me to-night," he
said. "I-well, the fact is, I have a mighty im-
portant engagement up town. I'm obliged to fill
it." He turned to Aunt Minervy Ann: "Did I
understand you to say the Ku-Klux carry their
heads in their hands? "







AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


Dat what folks tell me. I hear my own color
sesso," replied Aunt Minervy Ann.
"I'd be glad to stay with you, Tumlin," the Col-
onel declared; "but-well, under the circum-
stances, I think I'd better fill that engagement.
Justice to my family demands it."
"Well," responded Major Perdue, "if you are
going, I reckon we'd just as well go, too."
"Huh!" exclaimed Aunt Minervy Ann, "ef
gwine's de word, dey can't nobody beat me gittin'
way fum here. Dey may beat me coming' back, I
ain't 'sputin' dat; but dey can't beat me gwine 'way.
I'm ol', but I got mighty nigh ez much go in me ez
a quarter-boss."
Colonel Blasengame leaned back in his chair and
studied the ceiling. "It seems to me, Tumlin, we
might compromise on this. Suppose we get Hamp
to come in here. Minervy Ann can stay out there in
the kitchen and throw a rock against the back door
when the Ku-Klux come."
Aunt Minervy Ann fairly gasped. "Who?
Me? I'll die fust. I'll t'ar dat do' down; I'll holler
twel ev'ybody in de neighborhood come a-runnin'.
Ef you don't believe me, you des try me. I'll paw
up dat back-yard."
Major Perdue went to the back door and called
23








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

Hamp, but there was no answer. He called him a
second time, with the same result.
Well," said the Major, they've stolen a march
on us. They've come and carried him off while we
were talking."
No, suh, dey ain't, needer. I know right whar
he is, an' I'm gwine atter 'im. He's right 'cross de
street dar, colloguin' wid dat ol' Ceely Ensign.
Dat's right whar he is."
"Old! Why, Celia is young," remarked the Ma-
jor. They say she's the best cook in town."
Aunt Minervy Ann whipped out of the room and
was gone some little time. When she returned, she
had Hamp with her, and I noticed that both were
laboring under excitement which they strove in vain
to suppress.
Here I is, suh," said Hamp. "'Nervy Ann say
you call me."
How is Celia to-night?" Colonel Blasengame
inquired, suavely.
This inquiry, so suddenly and unexpectedly put,
seemed to disconcert Hamp. He shuffled his feet
and put his hand to his face. I noticed a blue welt
over his eye, which was not there when he visited
me in the afternoon.
Well, suh, I 'speck she's tolerbul."








AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


"Is she? Is she? Ah-h-h! cried Aunt Mi-
nervy Ann.
She must be pretty well," said the Major. I
see she's hit you a clip over the left eye."
Dat's some er 'Nervy Ann's doin's, suh," re-
plied Hamp, somewhat disconsolately.
"Den what you git in de way fer?" snapped
Aunt Minervy Ann.
Marse Tumlin, dat ar 'oman ain't done nothing'
in de roun' world She say she want me to buy some
hime books fer de church when I went to Atlanty,
an' I went over dar atter de money."
"I himed 'er an' I churched 'er!" exclaimed
Aunt Minervy Ann.
"Here de money right here," said Hamp, pull-
ing a small roll of shinplasters out of his pocket;
"an' whiles we setting' dar counting' de money,
'Nervy Ann come in dar an' frail dat 'oman out."
Ain't you hear dat nigger holler, Marse Tum-
lin? inquired Minervy Ann. She was in high
good-humor now. "Look like ter me dey could
a-heerd 'er blate in de nex' county ef dey'd been
a-lis'nin'. 'Twuz same ez a picnic, suh, an' I'm
gwine 'cross dar 'fo' long an' pay my party call."
Then she began to laugh, and pretty soon went
through the whole episode for our edification,








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

dwelling with unction on that part where the un-
fortunate victim of her jealousy had called her
" Miss 'Nervy." The more she laughed the more
serious Iamp became.
At the proper time he was told of the visitation
that was to be made by the Ku-Klux, and this in-
formation seemed to perplex and worry him no lit-
tle. But his face lit up with genuine thankfulness
when the programme for the occasion was an-
nounced to him. He and Minervy Ann were to re-
main in the house and not show their heads until
the Major or the Colonel or their guest came to the
back door and drummed on it lightly with the
fingers.
Then the arms-three shot-guns-were brought
out, and I noticed with some degree of surprise, that
as the Major and the Colonel began to handle these,
their spirits rose perceptibly. The Major hummed
a tune and the Colonel whistled softly as they oiled
the locks and tried the triggers. The Major, in
coming home, had purchased four pounds of mus-
tard-seed shot, and with this he proceeded to load
two of the guns. In the third he placed only pow-
der. This harmless weapon was intended for me,
while the others were to be handled by Major Per-
due and Colonel Blasengame. I learned afterward
26



























































In the third he placed only powder.


n_l








AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


that the arrangement was made solely for my bene-
fit. The Major and the Colonel were afraid that a
young hand might become excited and fire too high
at close range, in which event mustard-seed shot
would be as dangerous as the larger variety.
At twelve o'clock I noticed that both Hamp and
Aunt Minervy were growing restless.
You hear dat clock, don't you, Marse Tum-
lin?" said Minervy as the chimes died away. Ef
you don't min', de Kukluckers'll be a-stickin' der
haids in de back do'."
But the Major and the Colonel were playing a
rubber of seven-up (or high-low-Jack) and paid no
attention. It was a quarter after twelve when the
game was concluded and the players pushed their
chairs back from the table.
Ef you don't fin' um in de yard waiting' fer you,
I'll be fooled might'ly," remarked Aunt Minervy
Ann.
Go and see if they're out there," said the Major.
Me, Marse Tumlin? Me? I wouldn't go out
dat do' not for ham."
The Major took out his watch. "They'll eat
and drink until twelve or a little after, and then
they'll get ready to start. Then they'll have an-
other drink all 'round, and finally they'll take an-








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY.ANN

other. It'll be a quarter to one or after when they
get in the grove in the far end of the lot. But we'll
go out now and see how the land lays. By the time
they get here, our eyes will be used to the darkness."
The light was carried to a front room, and we
groped our way out at the back door the best we
could. The night was dark, but the stars were shin-
ing. I noticed that the belt and sword of Orion had
drifted above the tree-tops in the east, following the
Pleiades. In a little while the darkness seemed to
grow less dense, and I could make out the outlines
of trees twenty feet away.
Behind one of these trees, near the outhouse in
which Hamp and Aunt Minervy lived, I was to take
my stand, while the Major and the Colonel were to
go farther into the wood-lot so as to greet the would-
be Ku-Klux as they made their retreat, of which
Major Perdue had not the slightest doubt.
"You stand here," said the Major in a whisper.
"We'll go to the far-end of the lot where they're
likely to come in. They'll pass us all right enough,
but as soon as you see one of 'em, up with the gun
an' lam aloose, an' before they can get away give
'em the other barrel. Then you'll hear from us."
Major Perdue and Colonel Blasengame disap-
peared in the darkness, leaving me, as it were, on







AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


the inner picket line. I found the situation some-
what ticklish, as the saying is. There was not the
slightest danger, and I knew it, but if you ever have
occasion to stand out in the dark, waiting for some-
thing to happen, you'll find there's a certain degree
of suspense attached to it. And the loneliness and
silence of the night will take a shape almost tangi-
ble. The stirring of the half-dead leaves, the chirp-
ing of a belated cricket, simply emphasized the lone-
liness and made the silence more profound. At
intervals, all nature seemed to heave a deep sigh,
and address itself to slumber again.
In the house I heard the muffled sound of the
clock chime one, but whether it was striking the
half-hour or the hour I could not tell. Then I heard
the stealthy tread of feet. Someone stumbled over
a stick of timber, and the noise was followed by a
smothered exclamation and a confused murmur of
voices. As the story-writers say, I knew that the
hour had come. I could hear whisperings, and then
I saw a tall shadow steal from behind Aunt Miner-
vy's house, and heard it rap gently on the door. I
raised the gun, pulled the hammer back, and let
drive. A stream of fire shot from the gun, accom-
panied by a report that tore the silence to atoms. I
heard a sharp exclamation of surprise, then the noise
29








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

of running feet, and off went the other barrel. In
a moment the Major and the Colonel opened on the
fugitives. I heard a loud cry of pain from one, and,
in the midst of it all, the mustard-seed shot rattled
on the plank fence like hominy-snow on a tin roof.
The next instant I heard someone running back
in my direction, as if for dear life. He knew the
place apparently, for he tried to go through the or-
chard, but just before he reached the orchard fence,
he uttered a half-strangled cry of terror, and then I
heard him fall as heavily as if he had dropped from
the top of the house.
It was impossible to imagine what had happened,
and it was not until we had investigated the matter
that the cause of the trouble was discovered. A wire
clothes-line, stretched across the yard, had caught
the would-be Ku-Klux under the chin, his legs flew
from under him, and he had a fall, from the effects
of which he was long in recovering. He was a
young man about town, very well connected, who
had gone into the affair in a spirit of mischief. We
carried him into the house, and administered to his
hurts the best we could; Aunt Minervy Ann, be it
said to her credit, being more active in this direction
than any of us.
On the Tuesday following, the county paper con-
80




















hiF --- .~

aA aB;:


We administered to his hurts the best we could.


,fi''i


.-!A


-----;







AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


trained the news in a form that remains to this day
unique. It is hardly necessary to say that it was
from the pen of Major Tumlin Perdue.
Last Saturday afternoon our local editor was
informed by a prominent citizen that if he would
apply to Major Perdue he would be put in posses-
sion of a very interesting piece of news. Acting
upon this hint, ye local yesterday went to Major
Perdue, who, being in high good-humor, wrote out
the following with his own hand:
"'Late Saturday night, while engaged with a
party of friends in searching for a stray dog on my
premises, I was surprised to see four or five men
climb over my back fence and proceed toward my
residence. As my most intimate friends do not visit
me by climbing over my back fence, I immediately
deployed my party in such a manner as to make the
best of a threatening situation. The skirmish
opened at my kitchen-door, with two rounds from
a howitzer. This demoralized the enemy, who
promptly retreated the way they came. One of
them, the leader of the attacking party, carried away
with him two loads of mustard-seed shot, delivered
in the general neighborhood and region of the coat-
tails, which, being on a level with the horizon, af-
forded as fair a target as could be had in the dark.
81







THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

I understand on good authority that Mr. Larry Pull-
iam, one of our leading and deservedly popular
citizens, has had as much as a quart of mustard-
seed shot picked from his carcass. Though hit in
a vulnerable spot, the wound is not mortal.-T.
PERDUE.' "
I did my best to have Mr. Pulliam's name sup-
pressed, but the Major would not have it so.
No, sir," he insisted; "the man has insulted
me behind my back, and he's got to cut wood or put
down the axe."
Naturally this free and easy card created quite a
sensation in Halcyondale and the country round
about. People knew what it would mean if Major
Perdue's name had been used in such an off-hand
manner by Mr. Pulliam, and they naturally sup-
posed that a fracas would be the outcome. Public
expectation was on, tiptoe, and yet the whole town
seemed to take the Major's card humorously. Some
of the older citizens laughed until they could hardly
sit up, and even Mr. Pulliam's friends caught the
infection. Indeed, it is said that Mr. Pulliam, him-
self, after the first shock of surprise was over, paid
the Major's audacious humor the tribute of a hearty
laugh. When Mr. Pulliam appeared in public,
among the first men he saw was Major Perdue. This


















































1 %..'


"I'd a heap rather you'd pull your shot-gun on me than your pen."








AN EVENING WITH THE KU-KLUX


was natural, for the Major made it a point to be on
hand. He was not a ruffler, but he thought it was
his duty to give Mr. Pulliam a fair opportunity to
wreak vengeance on him. If the boys about town
imagined that a row was to be the result of this first
meeting, they were mistaken. Mr. Pulliam looked
at the Major and then began to laugh.
"Major Perdue," he said, "I'd a heap rather
you'd pull your shot-gun on me than your pen."
And that ended the matter.


















"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"

The foregoing recital is unquestionably a long
and tame preface to the statement that, after think-
ing the matter over I concluded to accept the official
invitation to the fair-" The Middle Georgia Exposi-
tion it was called-:if nothing occurred to prevent.
With this conclusion I dismissed the matter from
my mind for the time being, and would probably
have thought of it no more until the moment ar-
rived to make a final decision, if the matter had not
been called somewhat sharply to my attention.
Sitting on the veranda one day, ruminating over
other people's troubles, I heard an unfamiliar voice
calling, "You-all got any bitin' dogs here? The
voice failed to match the serenity of the suburban
scene. Its tone was pitched a trifle too high for the
surroundings.
But before I could make any reply the gate was
flung open, and the new-comer, who was no other
than Aunt Minervy Ann, flirted in and began to
84







"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN"'


climb the terraces. My recognition of her was not
immediate, partly because it had been long since I
saw her and partly because she wore her Sunday
toggery, in which, following the oriental tastes of
her race, the reds and yellows were emphasized with
startling effect. She began to talk by the time she
was half-way between the house and gate, and it
was owing to this special and particular volubility
that I was able to recognize her.
"Huh! she exclaimed, "hit's des like clim'in'
up sta'rs. Folks what live here bleeze ter b'long ter
de Sons er Tempunce." There was a relish about
this reference to the difficulties of three terraces
that at once identified Aunt Minervy Ann. More
than that, one of the most conspicuous features of
the country town where she lived was a large brick
building, covering half a block, across the top of
which stretched a sign-" Temperance Hall "-in
letters that could be read half a mile away.
Aunt Minervy Ann received a greeting that
seemed to please her, whereupon she explained that
an excursion had come to Atlanta from her town,
and she had seized the opportunity to pay me a visit.
" I tol' um," said she, "dat dey could stay up in
town dar an' hang 'roun' de kyar-shed ef dey water,
but here's what wuz gwine ter come out an' see whar
35








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN.

you live at, an' fin' out fer Marse Tumlin ef you
coming' down ter de fa'r."
She was informed that, though she was welcome,
she would get small pleasure from her visit. The
cook had failed to make her appearance, and the
lady of the house was at that moment in the kitchen'
and in a very fretful state of mind, not because she
had to cook, but because she had about reached the
point where she could place no dependence in the
sisterhood of colored cooks.
"Is she in de kitchen now' Aunt Minervy's
tone was a curious mixture of amusement and indig-
nation. "I started not ter come, but I had a call, I
sho' did; sump'n tol' me dat you mought need me
out here." With that, she went into the house,
slamming the screen-door after her, and untying
her bonnet as she went.
Now, the lady of the house had heard of Aunt
Minervy Ann, but had never met her, and I was
afraid that the characteristics of my old-time friend
would be misunderstood and misinterpreted. The
lady in question knew nothing of the negro race
until long after emancipation, and she had not been'
able to form a very favorable opinion of its repre-
sentatives. Therefore, I hastened after Aunt Mi-
nervy Ann, hoping to tone down by explanation"
86







"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


whatever bad impression she might create. She
paused at the screen-door that barred the entrance
to the kitchen, and, for an instant, surveyed the
scene within. Then she cried out:
"You des ez well ter come out'n dat kitchen!
You ain't got no mo' bizness in dar dan a new-born
baby."
Aunt Minervy Ann's voice was so loud and abso-
lute that the lady gazed at her in mute astonishment.
"You des es well ter come out! she insisted.
Are you crazy?" the lady asked, in all serious-
ness.
I'm des ez crazy now ez I ever been; an' I tell
you you des ez well ter come out'n dar."
Who are you anyhow? "
I'm Minervy Ann Perdue, at home an' abroad,
an' in dish yer great town whar you can't git niggers
ter cook fer you."
"Well, if you want me to come out of the
kitchen, you will have to come in and do the cook-
ing."
Dat 'zackly what I'm gwine ter do! exclaimed
Aunt Minervy Ann. She went into the kitchen,
demanded an apron, and took entire charge. I'm
mighty glad I come 'fo' you got started," she said,
"'kaze you got 'nuff fier in dis stove fer ter bar-
87







THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

becue a boss; an' you got it so hot in here dat it's a
wonder you ain't bust a blood-vessel."
She removed all the vessels from the range, and
opened the door of the furnace so that the fire
might die down. And when it was nearly out-as
I was told afterward--she replaced the vessels and
proceeded to cook a dinner which, in all its char-
acteristics, marked a red letter day in the household.
She's the best cook in the country," said the
lady, and she's not very polite."
"Not very hypocritical, you mean; well if she
was a hypocrite, she wouldn't be Aunt Minervy
Ann."
The cook failed to come in the afternoon, and so
Aunt Minervy Ann felt it her duty to remain over
night. Hamp'll vow I done run away wid some-
body," she said, laughing, but I don't keer what
he think."
After supper, which was as good as thedinner had
been, Aunt Minervy Ann came out on the veran-
da and sat on the steps. After some conversation,
she placed the lady of the house on the witness-stand.
"Mistiss, wharbouts in Georgy wuz you born
at? "
I wasn't born in Georgia; I was born in Lans-
ingburgh, New York."








"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


"I know'd it! Aunt Minervy turned to me and
nodded her head with energy. I know'd it right
pine blank!"
You knew what? the presiding genius of the
household inquired with some curiosity.
I know'd 'm dat you wuz a Northron lady."
I don't see how you knew it," I remarked.
Well, suh, she talk like we-all do, an' she got
mighty much de same ways. But when I went out
dar dis morning' an' holler at 'er in de kitchen, I
know'd by de way she turn 'roun' on me dat she ain't
been brung up wid niggers. Ef she'd 'a' been a
Southron lady, she'd 'a' laughed an' said, 'Come in
here an' cook dis dinner yo'se'f, you ole vilyun,' er
she'd 'a' come out an' crackt me over de head with
dat i'on spoon what she had in her han'."
I could perceive a vast amount of acuteness in the
observation, but I said nothing, and, after a con-
siderable pause, Aunt Minervy Ann remarked:
Dey er lots er mighty good folks up dar "-in-
dicating the North-" some I've seed wid my own
eyes an' de yuthers I've heern talk un. Mighty
fine folks, an' dey say dey mighty sorry fer de nig-
gers. But I'll tell um all anywhar, any day, dat I'd
lots druther dey'd be good ter me dan ter be sorry
fer me. You know dat ar white lady what Marse








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

Tom Chippendale married? Her pa come down
here ter he'p de niggers, an' he done it de best he
kin, but Marse Tom's wife can't b'ar de sight un um.
She won't let um go in her kitchen, she won't let
um go in her house, an' she don't want um nowhars
'roun'. She's mighty sorry fer 'm, but she don't
like um. I don't blame 'er much myse'f, bekaze it
look like dat de niggers what been growing' up sence
freedom is des trying' der han' fer ter see how no
'count dey kin be. Dey'll git better-dey er bleeze
ter git better, 'kaze dey can't git no wuss."
Here came another pause, which continued until
Aunt Minervy Ann, turning her head toward me,
asked if I knew the lady that Jesse Towers married;
and before I had time to reply with certainty, she
went on:
"No, suh, you des can't know 'er. She ain't
come dar twel sev'mty, an' I mos' know you ain't
see 'er dat time you went down home de las' time,
'kaze she wasn't gwine out dat year. Well, she wuz
a Northron lady. I come mighty nigh tellin' you
'bout 'er when you wuz livin' dar, but fus' one
thing an' den anudder jumped in de way; er maybe
'twuz too new ter be goshup'd 'roun' right den. But
de way she come ter be dar an' de way it all turn
out beats any er dem tales what de ol' folks use ter








"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


tell we childun. I may not know all de ins an' outs,
but what I does know I knows mighty well, 'kaze
de young 'oman tol' me herse'f right out 'er own
mouf.
Fus' an' fo'mus', dar wuz ol' Gabe Towers. He
wuz dar whence you wuz dar, an' long time 'fo' dat.
You know'd him, sho', 'kaze he wuz one er dem
kinder men what sticks out fum de res' like a wag-
gin' tongue. Not dat he wuz any better'n anybody
else, but he had dem kinder ways what make folks
talk 'bout 'im an' 'pen' on 'im. I dunner 'zackly
what de ways wuz, but I knows dat whatsoever ol'
Gabe Towers say an' do, folks 'd nod der head an'
say an' do de same. An' me 'long er de res'. He
had dem kinder ways 'bout 'im, an' 'twa'n't no use
talking. "
In these few words, Aunt Minervy conjured up
in my mind the memory of one of the most remark-
able men I had ever known. He was tall, with iron-
gray hair. His eyes were black and brilliant, his
nose slightly curved, and his chin firm without
heaviness. To this day Gabriel Towers stands out
in my admiration foremost among all the men I
have ever known. He might have been a great
statesman; he would have been great in anything
to which he turned his hand. But h& contented








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

himself with instructing smaller men, who were
merely politicians, and with sowing and reaping on
his plantation. More than one senator went to him
for ideas with which to make a reputation.
His will seemed to dominate everybody with
whom he came in contact, not violently, but serenely
and surely, and as a matter of course. Whether
this was due to his age--he was sixty-eight when I
knew him, having been born in the closing year of
the eighteenth century-or to his moral power, or
to his personal magnetism, it is hardly worth while
to inquire. Major Perdue said that the secret of his
influence was common-sense, and this is perhaps as
good an explanation as any. The immortality of
Socrates and Plato should be enough to convince us
that common-sense is almost as inspiring as the gift
of prophecy. To interpret Aunt Minervy Ann in
this way is merely to give a correct report of what
occurred on the veranda, for explanation of this kind
was necessary to give the lady of the house some-
thing like a familiar interest in the recital.
"Yes, suh," Aunt Minervy Ann went on, he
had dem kinder ways 'bout 'im, an' whatsoever he
say you can't shoo it off like you would a hen on de
garden fence. Dar 'twuz an' dar it stayed.
Well, de time come when ol' Marse Gabe had







"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


a grandson, an' he name 'im Jesse in 'cordance wid
de Bible. Jesse grow'd an' grow'd twel he got ter
be a right smart chunk uv a boy, but he wasn't no
mo' like de Towerses dan he wuz like de Chippen-
dales, which he wa'n't no kin to. He tuck atter his
ma, an' who his ma tuck atter I'll never tell you,
'kaze Bill Henry Towers married 'er way off yander
somers. She wuz purty but puny, yit puny ez she
wuz she could play de peanner by de hour, an' play
it mo' samer de man what make it.
"Well, suh, Jesse tuck atter his ma in looks, but
'stidder playing' de peanner, he l'arnt how ter play de
fiddle, an' by de time he wuz twelve year ol', he
could make it talk. Hit's de fatal trufe, suh; he
could make it talk. You hear folks playing' de fiddle,
an' you know what dey doin'; you kin hear de
strings a-plunkin' an' you kin hear de bow raspin' on
um on 'count de rozzum, but when Jesse Towers
swiped de bow cross his fiddle, 'twa'n't no fiddle-
'twuz human; I ain't tellin' you no lie, suh, 'twuz
human. Dat chile could make yo' heart ache; he
could fetch yo' sins up befo' you. Don't tell me!
many an' many a night when I hear Jesse Towers
playing I could shet my eyes an' hear my childun
cryin', dem what been dead an' buried long time
ago. Don't make no diffunce 'bout de chune, reel,
43








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

jig, er promenade, de human cryin' wuz behime all
un um.
Bimeby, Jesse got so dat he didn't keer nothing'
'tall 'bout books. It uz fiddle, fiddle, all day long,
an' half de night ef dey'd let 'im. Den folks 'gun
ter talk. No need ter tell you what all dey say. De
world' over, fum what I kin hear, dey got de idee dat
a fiddle is a free pass ter whar ole Scratch live at.
Well, sub, Jesse got so he'd run away fum school an'
go off in de woods an' play his fiddle. Hamp use ter
come 'pon 'im when he haulin' wood, an' he say dat
fiddle ain't soun' no mo' like de fiddles what you
hear in common dan a flute soun' like a bass drum.
"Now you know yo'se'f, suh, dat dis kinder
doin's ain't gwine ter suit Marse Gabe Towers.
Time he hear un it, he put his foot down on fiddler,
an' fiddle, an' fiddlin'. Ez you may say, he sot
down on de fiddle an' smash it. Dis happen when
Jesse wuz sixteen year ol', an' by dat time he wuz
mo' in love wid de fiddle dan what he wuz wid his
gran'daddy. An' so dar 'twuz. He ain't look like
it, but Jesse wuz about ez high strung ez his fid-
dle wuz, an' when his gran'daddy laid de law down,
he sol out his pony an' buggy an' made his disap-
pearance fum dem parts.
Well, suh, 'twa'n't so mighty often you'd hear







"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN' "


sassy talk 'bout Marse Gabe Towers, but you could
hear it den. Folks is allers onreasonable wid dem
dey like de bes';: you know dat yo'se'f, suh. Marse
Gabe ain't make no 'lowance fer Jesse, an' folks
ain't make none fer Marse Gabe. Marse Tumlin
wuz dat riled wid de man dat dey come mighty nigh
having' a falling' out. Dey had a splutter 'bout de
time when sump'n n'er had happen, an' atter dey
wrangle a little, Marse Tumlin sot de date by sayin'
dat 'twuz a year 'fo' de day when Jess went a-fid-
dlin'' Dat sayin' kindled de fier,. suh, an' it spread
fur an' wide.. Marse Tom Chippendale say dat folks
what never is hear tell er de Towerses went 'roun'
talking' 'bout 'de time when Jess went a-fiddlin'.'"
Aunt Minervy Ann chuckled over this, probably
because she regarded it as a sort of victory for Major
Tumlin Perdue. She went on:
Yes, suh, 'twuz a by-word wid de childun. No
matter what happen, er when it happen, er ef 'tain't
happen, 'twuz 'fo' er atter 'de day when Jess went
a-fiddlin'.' Hit look like dat Marse Gabe sorter
drapt a notch or two in folks' min's. Yit he belt his
head dez ez high. He bleeze ter hol' it high, 'kaze
he had in 'im de blood uv bofe de Tumlins an' de
Perdues; I dunner how much, but 'nuff fer ter
keep his head up.








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

"I ain't no almanac, suh, but I never is ter fergit
de year when Jess went a-fiddlin. 'Twuz sixty, 'kaze
de nex' year de war 'gun ter bile, an' 'twa'n't long
'fo' it biled over. Yes, suh! dar wuz de war come
on an Jess done gone. Dey banged aloose, dey did,
dem on der side, an' we on our'n, an' dey kep' on a
bangin' twel we-all can't bang no mo'. An' den
de war hushed up, an' freedom come, an' still no-
body ain't hear tell er Jesse. Den you come down
dar, suh, an' stay what time you did; still nobody
ain't hear tell er Jesse. He mought er writ ter his
ma, but ef he did, she kep' it mighty close. Marse
Gabe ain't los' no flesh 'bout it, an' ef he los' any
sleep on account er Jess, he ain't never brag 'bout it.
"Well, suh, it went on dis away twel, ten year
matter Jess went a-fiddlin', his wife come home. Yes,
suh! His wife! Well! I wuz stan'in' right in de
hall talking' wid Miss Fanny-dat's Jesse's ma-
when she come, an' when de news broke on me you
could 'a' knockt me down wid a perimeter fan. De
house-gal show'd 'er in de parler, an' den come attcr
Miss Fanny. Miss Fanny she went in dar, an' I
stayed outside talking' wid de house-gal. De gal say,
'Aunt Minervy Ann, dey sho' is sump'n n'er de
matter wid dat white lady. She white ez any er de
dead, an' she can't git 'er breff good.' 'Bout dat
46







"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN' "


time, I hear somebody cry out in de parler, an' den
I hear sump'n fall. De house-gal cotch holt er me
an' 'gun ter whimper. I shuck 'er off, I did, an'
went right straight in de parler, an' dar wuz Miss
Fanny layin' face fo'mus' on a sofy wid a letter in
'er han' an' de white lady sprawled out on de flo'.
Well, suh, you can't skeer me wid trouble 'kaze
I done see too much; so I shuck Miss Fanny by de
arm an' ax 'er what de matter, an' she cry out,
'Jesse's dead an' his wife come home.' She uz plum
heart-broke, suh, an' I 'speck I wuz blubberin' some
myse'f when Marse Gabe walkt in, but I wuz trying'
ter work wid de white lady on de flo'. 'Twix' Marse
Gabe an' Miss Fanny, 'twuz sho'ly a trying' time.
When one er dem hard an' uppity men lose der grip
on deyse'f, dey turn loose everything, an' dat wuz de
way wid Marse Gabe. When dat de case, sump'n
n'er got ter be done, an' it got ter be done mighty
quick."
Aunt Minervy Ann paused here and rubbed her
hands together contemplatively, as if trying to re-
store the scene more completely to her memory.
You know how loud I kin talk, sub, when I'm
min' ter. Well, I talk loud den an' dar. I 'low,
'What you-all doing ? Is you gwine ter let Marse
Jesse's wife lay here an' die des 'kaze he dead? Ef
47 "








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

you is, I'll des go whar I b'longs at!' Dis kinder
fotch um 'roun', an' 'twa'n't no time 'fo' we had de
white lady in de bed whar Jesse use ter sleep at, an'
soon's we got 'er cuddled down in it, she come 'roun'.
But she wuz in a mighty bad fix. She water git up
an' go off, an' 'twuz all I could do fer ter keep 'er in
bed. She done like she wuz plum distracted. Dey
wasn't skacely a minnit fer long hours, an' dey wuz
mighty long uns, suh, dat she wa'n't moanin' an'
sayin' dat she wa'n't gwine ter stay, an' she hope de
Lord'd fergive 'er. I tell you, suh, 'twuz tarryfyin'.
I shuck nex' day des like folks do when dey er
honin' matter dram.
You may ax me how come I ter stay dar," Aunt
Minervy Ann suggested with a laugh. Well, suh,
'twa'n't none er my doin's. I 'speck dey mus' be
sump'n wrong 'bout me, 'kaze no matter how rough
I talk ner how ugly I look, sick folks an' childun
allers takes up wid me. When I go whar dey is, it's
mighty hard fer ter git 'way fum um. So, when I
say ter Jesse's wife, Keep still, honey, an' I'll go
home an' not pester you,' she sot up in bed an' say
ef I gwine she gwine too. I say, 'Nummine 'bout
me, honey, you lay down dar an' don't talk too
much.' She 'low, Le' me talk ter you an' tell you
all 'bout it.' But I shuck my head an' say dat ef







"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


she don't hush up an' keep still I'm gwine right
home.
I had ter do 'er des like she wuz a baby, sub.
She wasn't so mighty purty, but she had purty ways,
'stracted ez she wuz, an' de biggest black eyes you
mos' ever seed, an' black curly ha'r cut short kinder,
like our folks use ter w'ar der'n. Den de house-gal
fotched some tea an' toas', an' dis holp 'er up might-
ly, an' atter dat I sont ter Marse Gabe fer some
dram, an' de gal fetched de decanter fum de side-
bode. Bein', ez you may say, de nurse, I tuck an'
tas'e er de dram fer ter make sho' dat nobody ain't
put nothing' in it. An', sho' 'nuff, dey ain't."
Aunt Minervy Ann paused and smacked her lips.
"Atter she got de vittles an' de dram, she sorter
drap off ter sleep, but 'twuz a mighty flighty kinder
sleep. She'd wake wid a jump des 'zackly like ba-
bies does, an' den she'd moan an' worry twel she
dozed off ag'in. I nodded, suh, bekaze you can't set
me down in a cheer, night er day, but what I'll nod,
but in betwix' an' between I kin hear Marse Gabe
Towers'walkin' up an' down in de liberry; walk,
walk; walk, walk, up an' down. I 'speck ef I'd 'a'
been one er de nervous an' flighty kin' dey'd 'a' had
to tote me out er dat house de nex' day; but me! I
des kep' on a-noddin'.








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERYY ANN

"Bimeby, I hear sump'n come swishin' 'long,
an'in walkt Miss Fanny. I tell you now, suh, ef I'd
a met 'er coming' down de road, I'd 'a' made a break
fer de bushes, she look so much like you know sper-
rets oughter look-an' Marse Jesse's wife wuz layin'
dar wid 'er eyes wide open. She sorter swunk back
in de bed when she see Miss Fanny, an' cry out,
'Oh, I'm mighty sorry fer ter trouble you; I'm
gwine 'way in de morning. Miss Fanny went ter de
bed an' knelt down 'side it, an' 'low, No, you ain't
gwine no whar but right in dis house. Yo' place is
here, wid his mudder an' his gran'fadder.' Wid dat,
Marse Jesse's wife put her face in de piller an' moan
an' cry, twel I hatter ax Miss Fanny fer ter please,
ma'm, go git some res'.
Well, suh, I stayed dar dat night an part er de
nex' day, an' by dat time all un um wuz kinder
quieted down, but dey wuz mighty restless in de
min', 'speshually Marse Jesse's wife, which her
name wuz Miss Sadie. It seem like dat Marse Jesse
wuz livin' at a town up dar in de fur North whar
dey wuz a big lake, an' he went out wid one er dem
'scursion parties, an' a storm come up an' shuck de
boat ter pieces. Dat what make I say what I does.
I don't min'. gwine. on 'scursions on de ground but
when it come ter water-well, suh, I ain't gwine ter








"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN' '


trus' myse'f on water twel I kin walk on it an' not
wet my foots. Marse Jesse wuz de Captain uv a
music-ban' up dar, an' de papers fum dar had some
long pieces 'bout 'im, an' de paper at home had a
piece 'bout 'im. It say he wuz one er de mos' re-
nounced music-makers what yever had been, an' dat
when it come ter dat kinder doin's he wuz a puffick
prodigal. I 'member de words, suh, bekaze I made
Hamp read de piece out loud mo' dan once.
"Miss Sadie, she got mo' calmer atter while, an'
'twa'n't long 'fo' Marse Gabe an' Miss Fanny wuz;
bofe mighty tuck up wid 'er. Dey much'd 'er up
an' made a heap un 'er, an' she fa'rly hung on dem.
I done tol' you she ain't purty, but dey wuz sump'n
'bout 'er better dan purtiness. It mought er been 'er
eyes, en den ag'in mought er been de way er de gal;
but whatsoever -'twuz, hit made you think 'bout-
'er at odd times during' de day, an' des 'fo' you go'ter
sleep at night.
"Eve'ything went swimming' along des ez natchul.
ez a duck floatin' on de mill-pon'. Dey wasn't skace-
ly a day but what I seed Miss Sadie. Ef I ain't go
ter Marse Gabe's house she'd be sho' ter come ter
mine. Dat uz atter Hamp wuz electedd ter de legis-
latur, suh. He 'low dat a member er de ingener'l.
ensembly ain't got no bizness living' in a kitchen, but








THE CHRONICLES Of AUNT MINERVY ANN

I say he ain't a whit better den dan he wuz befo'.
So be, I done been cross 'im so much dat I tell 'im
ter git de house an' I'd live in it ef 'twa'n't too fur
fum Miss Vallie an' Marse Tumlin. Well, he had it
built on de outskyirts, not a big jump fum Miss Val-
lie an' betwix' de town an' Marse Gabe Towers's.
When you come down ter de fa'r, you mus' come
see me. Me an' Hamp'll treat you right; we sholy
will.
Well, suh, in dem days dey wasn't so many nig-
gers willing' ter do an' be done by, an' on account er
dat, ef Miss Vallie wasn't hollin' fer 'Nervy Ann,
Miss Fanny er Miss Sadie wuz, an' when I wa'n't at
one place, you might know I'd be at de yuther one.
It went on dis away, an' went on twel one day got so
much like an'er dat you can't tell Monday fum Fri-
day. An' it went on an' went on twel bimeby I wuz
bleeze ter say sump'n ter Hamp. You take notice,
suh, an' when you see de sun shinin' nice an' warm
an' de win' blown' so saft an' cool dat you water
go in a-washin' in it-when you see dis an' feel dat
away, Watch out! Watch out, I tell you! Dat des
de time when de iarrycane gwine ter come up out'n
de middle er de swamp an' t'ar things ter tatters.
Same way when folks getting on so nice dat dey
don't know dey er gittin' on.
523








"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


De fus' news I know'd Miss Sadie wuz bringing'
little bundles ter my house 'twix' .sundown an' dark.
She'd 'low, 'Aunt Minervy Ann, I'll des put dis in
de corner here; I may want it some time.' Nex'
day it'd be de same doin's over ag'in. 'Aunt Mi-
nervy Ann, please take keer er dis; I may want it
some time.' Well, it went on dis away fum day ter
day, but I ain't pay no 'tention. Ef any 'spicion
cross my min' it wuz dat maybe Miss Sadie putting'
dem things dar fer ter 'sprise me Chris'mus by tellin'
me dey wuz fer me. But one day she come ter my
house, an' sot down.an' put her ban's over her face
like she got de headache er sump'n.
Wellum "-Aunt Minervy Ann, with real tact,
now began to address herself to the lady of thehouse
-" Wellum, she sot dar so long dat bimeby I ax 'er
what de matter is. She ain't say nothing ; she ain't
make no motion. I 'low ter myse'f dat she don't
water be pestered, so I let 'er 'lone an' went on
'bout my business. But, bless you! de nex' time I
look at 'er she wuz setting' des dat away wid 'er ban's
over her face. She sot so still dat it sorter make me
feel quare, an' I went, I did, an' cotch holt er her
ban's sorter playful-like. Wellum, de way dey felt
made me flinch. All I could say wuz, 'Lord 'a'
mercy She tuck her ban's down, she did, an' look
53








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

at me an' smile kinder faint-like. She 'low, Wuz
my ban's col', Aunt Minervy Ann?' I look at 'er
an' grunt, 'Huh! dey won't be no colder when
your dead.' She ain't say nothing an' terreckly I
'low, 'What de name er goodness is de matter"wid
you, Miss Sadie?' She say, 'Nothin' much. I'm
gwine ter stay here ter-night, an' ter-morrer morning'
I'm gwine 'way.' I ax 'er, How come dat? What
is dey done to you?' She say, 'Nothin' 'tall.' I
'low, 'Does Marse Gabe an' Miss Fanny know you
gwine? She say, 'No; I can't tell um.'
"Wellum, I flopt down on a cheer; yessum, I
sho' did. My min' wuz gwine like a whirligig an'
my head wuz swimming I des sot dar an' look at
'er. Bimeby she up an' say, pickin' all de time at
her frock, 'I know'd sump'n wuz gwine ter happen.
Dat de reason I been bringing' dem bundles here.
In dem ar bundles you'll fin' all de things I fotch
here. I ain't got nothing' dey give me 'cep'n dish
yer black dress I got on. I'd 'a' fotchc my ol' trunk,
but I dunner what dey done wid it. Hamp'll hatter
buy me one an' pay for it hisse'f, 'kaze I ain't got a
cent er money.' Dem de ve'y words she say. I
'low, 'Sump'n must 'a' happen den.' She nodded,
an' bimeby she say, Mr. Towers coming' home ter-
night. Dey done got a telegraph fum 'im.'
54








"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"

"I stood up in de flo', I did, an' ax 'er, 'Which
Mr. Towers?' She say, 'Mr. Jesse Towers.' I 'low,
' He done dead.' She say, No, he ain't; ef he wuz
he done come ter life; dey done got a telegraph fum
'im, I tell you.' 'Is dat de reason you gwine 'way? '
I des holla'd it at 'er. She draw'd a long breff an'
say, 'Yes, dat's de reason.'
I tell you right now, ma'm, I didn't know ef I
wuz stannin' on my head er floatin' in de a'r. I wuz
plum outdone. But dar she sot des es cool ez a cur-
cumber wid de dew on it. I went out de do', I did,
an' walk 'roun' de house once ter de right an' twice
ter de lef' bekaze de ol' folks use ter tell me dat ef
you wuz bewitched, dat 'ud take de spell away. I
ain't tellin' you no lie, ma'm-fer de longest' kinder
minnit I didn't no mo' believe dat Miss Sadie wuz
setting' dar in my house tellin' me dat kinder riga-
marole, dan I believe I'm flyin' right now. Dat
bein' de case, I bleeze ter fall back on bewitchments,
an' so I walk 'roun' de house. But when I went
back in, dar she wuz, setting' in a cheer an' looking'
up at de rafters.
Wellum, I went in an' drapt down in a cheer
an' lookt at 'er. Bimeby, I say, Miss Sadie, does
you mean ter set dar an' tell me your gwine 'way
'kaze yo' husband' coming' home?' She flung her








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

arms behime 'er head, she did, an' say, I ain't none
er his wife; I des been playing' off!' De way she
look an' de way she say it wuz 'nuff fer me. I wuz
pairlized; yessum, I wuz dumfounder'd. Ef any-
body had des but totch me wid de tip er der finger,
I'd 'a' fell off'n dat cheer an' never stirred atter I
hit de flo'. Everything 'bout de house lookt quare.
Miss Vallie had a lookin'-glass one time wid de pict-
ur' uv a church at de bottom. When de glass got
broke, she gimme de picture an' I sot it up on de
mantel-shelf. I never know'd 'fo' dat night dat de
steeple er der church wuz crooked. But dar 'twuz.
Mo' dan dat I cotch myse'f feeling' er my fingers fer
ter see ef 'twuz me an' ef I wuz dar.
Talk 'bout dreams dey wasn't no dream could
beat dat, I don't keer how twisted it mought be.
An' den, ma'm, she sot back dar an' tol' me de whole
tale 'bout how she come ter be dar. I'll never tell it
like she did; dey ain't nobody in de wide world' kin
do dat. But it seem like she an' Marse Jesse wuz
staying' in de same neighborhoods, er stayin' at de
same place, he a-fiddlin' an' she a-knockin' on de
peanner er de harp, I fergit which. Anyhow, dey
seed a heap er one an'er. Bofe un um had come dar
fum way off yan', an' ain't got nobody but deyse'f
fer ter 'pen' on, an' dat kinder flung um togedder.








"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN' "


I 'speck dey must er swapt talk 'bout love an' mar-
ryin'-you know yo'se'f, ma'm, dat dat's de way
young folks is. Howsomever dat may be, Marse
Jesse, des ter tease 'er, sot down one day an' writ a
long letter ter his wife. Tooby sho' he ain't got no
wife, but he des make out he got one, an' dat letter
he lef' layin' 'roun' whar Miss Sadie kin see it.
'Twa'n't in no envelyup, ner nothing an' you know
mighty well, ma'm, dat when a 'oman, young er ol',
see dat kinder letter layin' 'roun' she'd die ef she
don't read it. Fum de way Miss Sadie talk, dat let-
ter must 'a' stirred up a coolness 'twix' um, kaze de
morning' when he wuz gwine on dat 'scursion, Marse
Jesse pass by de place whar she wuz setting' at an'
flung de letter in her lap an' say, What's in dar wuz
fer you.'
Wellum, wid dat he wuz gone, an' de fus' news
Miss Sadie know'd de papers wuz full er de names
er dem what got drowned in de boat, an' Marse
Jesse head de roll, 'kaze he wuz de mos' pop'lous
music-maker in de whole settlement. Den dar wuz
de gal an' de letter. I wish I could tell dis part like
she tol' me setting' dar in my house. You'll never git
it straight in yo' head less'n you'd 'a' been dar an'
hear de way she tol' it. Nigger ez I is, I know
mighty well dat a white 'oman ain't got no business








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

parmin' 'erse'f off ez a man's wife. But de way she
tol it tuck all de rough aidges off'n it. She wuz dar
in dat big town, wuss'n a wilderness, ez you may
say, by 'erse'f, nobody 'penin' on 'er an' nobody
ter 'pen' on, tired down an' plum wo' out, an' wid
all dem kinder longin's what you know yo'se'f,
ma'am, all wimmen bleeze ter have, ef dey er white
er ef dey er black.
"Yit she ain't never tol'nobody dat she wuz Marse
Jesse's wife. She des han' de letter what she'd kep'
ter Miss Fanny, an' fell down on de flo' in a dead
faint, an' she say dat ef it hadn't but 'a' been fer me,
she'd a got out er de bed dat fust night an' went
'way fum dar; an' I know dat's so, too, bekaze she
wuz franklin' fer ter git up fum dar. But at de time
I put all dat down ter de credit er de deleeriums, an'
made 'er stay in bed.
"Wellum, ef I know'd all de books in de world
by heart, I couldn't tell you how I felt atter she
done tol' me dat tale. She sot back dar des ez calm
ez a baby. Bimeby she say, I'm glad I tol' you;
I feel better dan I felt in a mighty long time.' It
look like, ma'am, dat a load done been lift fum 'er
min'. Now I know'd pine blank dat sump'n gotter
be done, 'kaze de trained .be in at midnight, an'
den when Marse Jesse come dey'd be a tarrifyin'
58








"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


time at Gabe Towers's. Atter while I up an' ax 'er,
' Miss Sadie, did you reely love Marse Jesse?' She
say, 'Yes, I did '-des so. I ax 'er, 'Does you love
'im now?' She say, 'Yes, I does-an' I love dem
ar people up dar at de house; dat de reason I'm
gwine 'way.' She talk right out; she done come to
de p'int whar she ain't got nothing' ter hide.
"I say, 'Well, Miss Sadie, dem folks up at de
house, dey loves you.' She sorter flincht at dis.
I 'low, 'Dey been mighty good ter you. What
you done, you done done, an' dat can't be holp, but
what you ain't gone an' done, dat kin be holp; an'
what you oughter do, dat oughtn't ter be holp.' I
see 'er clinch 'er han's an' den I riz fum de
cheer." Suiting the action to the word, Aunt
Minervy Ann rose from the step where she had
been sitting, and moved toward the ladyof the
house.
"I riz, I did, an' tuck my stan' befo' 'er. I 'low,
You say you love Marse Jesse, an' you say you love
his folks. Well, den ef you got any blood in you,
ef you got any heart in yo' body, ef you got any
feeling' fer anybody in de roun' worl' 'cep'n' yo'
naked se'f, you'll go up dar ter dat house an' tell
'Gabe Towers dat you want ter see 'im, an' you'll tell
Fanny Towers dat you want ter see her, an' you'll








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

stan' up befo' um an' tell um de tale you tol' ter me;
word fer word. Ef you'll do dat, an' you hatter
come back here, come! come! Bless God! come!
an' me an' Hamp'll rake an' scrape up 'nuff money
fer ter kyar you whar you gwine. An' don't you be
a'skeer'd er Gabe Towers. Me an' Marse Tumlin
ain't a-skeer'd un 'im. I'm gwine wid you, an' ef he
say one word out de way, you des come ter de do'
an' call me, an' ef I don't preach his funeral, it'll be
bekaze de Lord'll strike me dumb!' An' she
went! "
Aunt Minervy paused. She had wrought the
miracle of summoning to life one of the crises
through which she had passed with others. It was
:not the words she used. There was nothing in
them to stir the heart or quicken the pulse. iHer
power lay in the tones of her voice, whereby she was
able to recall the passion of a moment that had long
spent itself; in the fluent and 'responsive attitudes;
.in gesticulation that told far more than her words
did. The light from the vestibule lamp shone full
upon her and upon the lady whom she unconsciously
selected to play the part of the young woman whose
,story she was telling. The illusion was perfect.
We were in Aunt Minervy Ann's house, Miss Sadie
was sitting helpless and hopeless before her-the
60







"'WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


whole scene was vivid and complete. She paused;
her arm, which had been outstretched and rigid
for an instant, slowly fell to her side, and-the
illusion was gone; but while it lasted, it was as
real as any sudden and extraordinary experience
can be.
Aunt Minervy Ann resumed her seat, with a
chuckle, apparently ashamed that she had been be-
trayed into such a display of energy and emotion,
saying, Yessum, she sho' went."
I don't wonder at it," remarked the lady of the
house, with a long-drawn sigh of relief.
Aunt Minervy Ann laughed again, rather sheep-
ishly, and then, after rubbing her hands together,
took up the thread of the narrative, this time direct-
ing her words to me: All de way ter de house, suh,
she ain't say two words. She had holt er my ban',
but she ain't walk like she uz weak. She went along
ez peart ez I did. When we got dar, some er de
niggers wuz out in de flower garden an' out in de
big grove calling' 'er; an' dey call so loud dat I hatter
put um down. Hush up!' I say, an' go on 'bout
yo' business! Can't yo' Miss Sadie take a walk
widout a whole passel er you niggers a-hollerin' yo'
heads off?' One un um make answer, 'Miss Fan-
ny huntin' fer 'er.' She sorter grip my han' at dat,
61








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

hut I say, 'She de one you water see-her an'
Gabe Towers.'
"We went up on de po'ch, an' dar wuz Miss
Fanny an' likewise Marse Gabe. I know'd what
dey wanted; dey wanted ter talk wid 'er 'bout Marse
Jesse. She clum de steps fus' an' I clum matter
her. She cotch er 'breff hard when she fus' hit de
steps, an' den it come over me like a flash how
deep an' big her trouble wuz, an' I tell you right
now, ef dat had 'a' been Miss Vallie gwine up dar,
I believe I'd 'a' flew at ol' Gab Towers an' to' 'im
lim' fum lim' 'fo' anybody could 'a' pull me off.
Hit's de trufe! You may laugh, but I sho' would
'a' done it. I had it in me. Miss Fanny seed
sump'n wuz wrong, de minnit delight fell on de gal's
face. She say, Why, Sadie, darlin', what de mat-
ter wid you? '-des so-an' made ez ef ter put 'er
arms 'roun 'er; but Miss Sadie swunk back. Miss
Fanny sorter swell up. She say, 'Oh, ef I've
hurt yo' feeling's ter-day-ter-day uv all de days
-please, please fergi' me!' Well, suh, I dunner
whar all dis gwine ter lead ter, an' I put in,
' She des water have a talk wid you an' Marse
Gabe, Miss Fanny; an' ef ter-day is one er de
days her feeling's oughtn'ter be hurted, take keer
dat you don't do it. Kyar 'er in de parler dar, Miss
62








" WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN' "


Fanny.' I 'speck you'll think I wuz takin' a mighty
heap on myse'f, fer a nigger 'oman," remarked
Aunt Minervy Ann, smoothing the wrinkles out of
her lap, "but I wuz des ez much at home in dat
house ez I wuz in my own, an' des ez free wid
um ez I wuz wid my own folks. Miss Fanny look
skeer'd, an' Marse Gabe foller'd atter, rubbin' a
little mole he had on de top er his head. When he
wus worried er aggervated, he allers rub dat mole.
"Well, sub, dey went in, dey did, an' I shot de
do' an' tuck up my stan' close by, ready fer to go in
when Miss Sadie call me. I had myse'f keyed up ter
de p'int whar I'd 'a' tol' Marse Gabe sump'n 'bout
his own fambly connection; you know dey ain't no-
body but what got i'on rust on some er der cloze.
But dey stayed in dar an' stayed, twel I 'gun ter git
oneasy. All kinder quare idees run th'oo my head.
Atter while some un pull de do' open, an' hol' it dat
away, an' I hear Marse Gabe say, wid a trimble an'
ketch in his th'oat, 'Don't talk so, chil'. Ef you
done wrong, you ain't hurt nobody but yo'se'f, an'
it oughtn'ter hurt you. You been a mighty big
blessin' ter me, an' ter Fanny here, an' I wouldn't
'a' missed known' you, not fer nothing Wid dat,
he come out cle'rin up his th'oat an' blowin' his nose
twel it soun' like a dinner-horn. His eye fell on me,








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

an' he 'low, 'Look like you er allers on han' when
dey's trouble.' I made answer, 'Well, Marse Gabe,
dey might be wusser ones 'roun' dan me.' He look
at me right hard an' say, 'Dey ain't no better, Mi-
nervy Ann.' Well, suh, little mo' an' I'd 'a' broke
down, it come so sudden. I had ter gulp hard an'
quick, I tell you. He say, 'Minervy Ann, go back
S dar an' tell de house-gal ter wake up de carriage-
driver ef he's 'sleep, an' tell 'im to go meet Jesse
at de train. An' he mus' tell Jesse dat we'd 'a'
,all come, but his ma ain't feeling' so well.' I say,
I'll go wake 'im up myse'f, suh.' I look in de
parler an' say, 'Miss Sadie, does you need me
right now?' She 'low, 'No, not right now; I'll
stay twel-twel Mr. Towers come.' Miss Fanny
wuz setting' dar holding' Miss Sadie's han'.
I'll never tell you how dey patcht it up in dar,
but I made a long guess. Fus' an' fo'mus', dey wuz
right down fon' er Miss Sadie, an' den ef she run
off time Marse Jesse put his foot in de town dey'd
be a big scandal; an' so dey fix it up dat ef she wuz
bleeze ter go, 'twuz better to go a mont' er two atter
Marse Jesse come back. Folks may like you mighty
,well, but dey allers got one eye on der own consarns.
Dat de way I put it down.
"Well, suh, de wuss job wuz lef' fer de las', 'kaze







"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN''"


dar wuz Marse Jesse. Sump'n tol' me dat he
oughter know what been gwine on 'fo' he got in de
house, 'kaze den he won't be aggervated inter saying'
an' doin' sump'n he oughtn'ter. So when de car-
riage wuz ready, I got in an' went down ter de depot;
an' when Marse Jesse got off de train, I wuz de fus'
one he laid eyes on. I'd 'a' never know'd 'im in de
world but he know'd me. He holler out, 'Ef dar
ain't Aunt Minervy Ann! Bless yo' ol' soul! how
you come on anyhow? He come mighty nigh hug-
gin' me, he wuz so glad ter see me. He wuz big ez
a skinned boss an' strong ez a mule. He say, 'Ef
I had you in my min' once, Aunt Minervy Ann, I
had you in dar ten thousand' times.'
Whiles de carriage rollin' 'long an' grindin' de
san' I try ter gi' 'im a kinder inkling er what been
gwine on, but 'twuz all a joke wid 'im. I wuz fear'd
I mought go at 'im de wrong way, but I can't do no
better. I say, 'Marse Jesse, yo' wife been waiting'
here fer you a long time.' He laugh an' 'low, Oh,
yes! did she bring de childun?' I say, 'Shucks,
Marse Jesse! Dey's a lady in deep trouble at Marse
Gabe's house, an' I don't want you ter go dar jokin'.
She's a monst'us fine lady, too.' Dis kinder steady
'im, an' he say, All right, Aunt Minervy Ann; I'll
behave myse'f des like a Sunday-school scholar. I
65








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

won't say bad words an' I won't talk loud.' He had
his fiddle-case in his lap, an' he drummed on it like'
he keeping' time ter some chune in his min'.
"Well, sub, we got dar in de due time, an' 'twuz
a great meeting' twixtt Marse Jesse an' his folks.
Dey des swarmed on 'im, ez you may say, an' while
dis gwine on, I went in de parler whar Miss Sadie
wuz. She wuz pale, tooby sha', but she had done
firm'd 'erse'f. She wuz standing' by de fier-place,
looking' down, but she lookt up when she hear de
do' open, an' den she say, 'I'm mighty glad it's
you, Aunt Minervy Ann; I want you ter stay in
here.' I 'low, 'I'll stay, honey, ef you say stay.'
Den she tuck 'er stand by me an' cotch holt er my,
arm wid bofe 'er han's an' kinder leant ag'in me.
Bimeby, here come Marse Jesse. Trouble wuz
in his eye when he open de do', but when he saw de
gal, his face lit up des like when you strike a match.
in a closet, He say,' Why, Miss Sadie! You dun-
ner how glad I is ter see you. I been huntin' all
over de country fer you.' He make ez ef ter shake
han's, but she draw'd back. Dis cut 'im. He say:
'What de matter? Who you in mourning' fer?'
She 'low,' Fer myse'f.' Wid dat she wuz gwine on
ter tel 'im 'bout what she had done, but he. wouldn't
have it dat way. He say, When I come back ter








"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


life, matter I wuz drowned, I 'gun ter hunt fer you
des ez soon's I got out'n de hospittle. I wuz huntin'
fer you ter tell you dat I love you. I'd 'a' tol' you
dat den, an' I tell you dat now.' She grip my arm
mighty hard at dat. Marse Jesse went on mightily.
He tell 'er dat she ain't done nobody no harm, dat
she wuz welcome ter his name ef he'd 'a' been dead,
an' mo' welcome now dat he wuz livin'. She try ter
put in a word here an' dar, but he won't have it.
Stan'in' up dat he wuz ol' Gabe Towers over ag'in;
'twuz de fus' time I know'd he faver'd 'im.
He tol 'er 'bout how he wrenched a do' off'n
one er de rooms in de boat, an' how he floated on dat
twel he got so col' an' num' dat he can't hol' on no
longer, an' how he turn loose an' don't know nothing'
twel he wake up in some yuther town; an' how,
atter he git well, he had de plooisy an' lay dar a
mont' er two, an' den he 'gun ter hunt fer her. He
went 'way up dar ter Hampsher whar she come fum,
but she ain't dar, an' den he come home; an' won't
she be good 'nuff ter set down an' listen at 'im?
Well, suh, dey wuz mo' in Marse Jesse dan I
had any idee. He wuz a rank talker, sho'. I see 'er
face warmin' up, an' I say, 'Miss Sadie, I 'speck I
better be gwine.' Marse Jesse say, 'You ain't in
my way, Aunt Minervy Ann; I done foun' my








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

sweetheart, an' I ain't gwine: ter lose 'er no mo',
you kin des bet on dat.' She ain't say nothing' an' I
know'd purty well dat everything wuz all skew vee."
I hope they married," remarked the lady of the
house, after waiting a moment for Aunt Minervy
Ann to resume. There was just a shade of suspicion
in her tone.
"-Oh, dey married, all right 'nuff," said Aunt
Minervy Ann, laughing.
'"Didn't it create a good deal of talk?" the
lady asked, suspicion still in her voice.
Talk? No, ma'm! De man what dey git de
license fum wuz Miss Fanny's br'er, Gus Feather-
stone, an' de man what married um wuz Marse
Gabe's bro'er, John Towers. Dey wa'n't nobody
ter do no talking De nex' morning' me an Miss
Sadie an" Marse Jesse got in de carriage an' drove
out ter John: Towers's place whar he running' a
church, an' 'twuz all done an" over wid mos' quick
ez. a nigger kin swaller a dram."
What do you think of it?" I asked the lady of
the house.
"Why, it is almost like a story in a book."
"Does dey put dat kinder doin's in books? asked
Aunt Minervy Ann, with some solicitude.
Certainly," replied the lady.








"WHEN JESS WENT A-FIDDLIN'"


Wid all de turmile, an' trouble, an' tribulation
-an' all de worry an' aggervation? Well, Hamp
wanted me ter l'arn how ter read, but I thank my
stars dat I can't read no books. Dey's 'nuff er all
dat right whar we live at widout huntin' it up in
books."
After this just observation, it was time to put out.
the lights.

















HOW AUNT MINERVY ANN RAN AWAY AND
RAN BACK AGAIN

IN the matter of attending the fair at Halcyon-
dale, Aunt Minervy Ann's hospitable wishes jumped
with my own desires, and it was not difficult to give
her a hard and fast promise in the matter; nor did it
take the edge off my desires to entertain a suspicion,
verified long afterward, that Aunt Minervy Ann's
anxiety was based on a hope, expressed by Major
Perdue, that the fair would be properly handled in
the Atlanta papers.
The directors of the fair were represented at the
little railway station, at Halcyondale, by a commit-
tee, and into the hands of this committee fell every
man, woman, and child that stepped from the pass-
ing trains. It mattered little what the business of
these incoming travellers was; whether they came
to visit the fair or to attend to their own private af-
fairs. They were seized, bag and baggage, by the
committee and borne triumphantly to the hotel, or








HOW AUNT MINERVY ANN RAN AWAY

to a boarding-place, or to some private house. The
members of the committee had a duty to perform,
and they performed it with an energy and a thor-
oughness that was amazing if not altogether satis-
factory. As I remember, this vigorous body was
called the Committee on Public Comfort, and most
heroically did it live up to its name and its duties.
These things I learned by observation and not by
experience, for before the train on which I was a
passenger had cleared the suburbs of Atlanta, I
caught a glimpse of Major Tumlin Perdue, who had
long been a prominent citizen of Halcyondale. He
had changed but little during the ten years. His
hair was whiter, and he was a trifle thinner, but his
complexion was still rosy and his manners as buoy-
ant as ever. I doubted whether he would know
me again, though he had been very friendly with
me in the old days, seeming to know by instinct
just when and how to drop a word of encourage-
ment and appreciation, and so I forbore to renew
the acquaintance. The Major could be boisterous
enough in those times when in the humor, but when
at his best he had more ways like those of a woman
(and a noble and tender-hearted woman at that)
than any man I had ever known. He had a wom-
an's tact, intuition, and sympathy; and these quali-








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

ties were so exquisitely developed in him that they
lifted him high in the estimation of a young man
who was living away from his mother, and who was
somewhat lonely on that account.
Presently, the Major came along the aisle for a
drink of water. As he was in the act of drinking,
his eyes met mine, and he recognized me instantly.
He swallowed the water with a gulp.
"Why, bless my soul! he exclaimed, greeting
me with the simple cordiality that springs from an
affectionate nature. "Why, I wouldn't take ten
dollars for this! I was thinking about you this very
day. Don't you remember the night we went out to
ku-klux the Ku-klux, and the chap that mighty
nigh broke his neck running into a wire clothes-line?
I saw him to-day. He would hardly speak to me,"
the Major went on, laughing heartily. He's never
got over that night's business. I thought about you,
and I started to hunt you up; but you know how it
is in Atlanta. Folks ain't got time to eat, much less'
to tell you where anybody lives. A man that's too
busy is bound to worry, and worry will kill him
every bit and grain as quick as John Barleycorn.
Business is bound to be the ruin of this country, and
if you don't live to see it, your children will."
Thus the Major talked, blending wisdom with
72
















A 4


I i I ..


The Committee of Public Comfort.








HOW AUNT MINERVY ANN RAN AWAY

impracticable ideas in the most delightful way. He
seemed to be highly pleased when he found that I
was to spend a week at Halcyondale, attending the
fair and renewing old friendships.
Then you belong to me! he exclaimed. It's
no use," he went on, shaking his head when I
would have protested against imposing on his good-
nature; "you needn't say a word. The tavern is
stuffed full of people, and even if it wasn't, you'd
go to my house. If you ain't been ruined by living
in Atlanta, it'll seem like home to you. Dang it all!
I'll make it seem like home to you anyhow."
Now, the affectation of hospitality is one of the
commonest hypocrisies in life, and, to a thoughtful
man, one of the most sinister; but the Major's hos-
pitality was genuine. It was brought over from the
times before the war, and had stood the test of age
and long usage, and, most trying of all, the test of
poverty. If you were welcome when I was well
off, how much more welcome you'll be now that I
am poor! This was not said by the Major, but by
one of his contemporaries. The phrase fitted a
whole generation of noble men and women, and I
thank Heaven that it was true at one time even if it
is not true now.
When the train, with much clinking and clank-








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

ing and hissing, came to a standstill at Halcyondale,
the Major hustled me off on the side opposite the
station, and so I escaped the ordeal of resisting the
efforts of the Committee on Public Comfort to con-
vey me to a lodging not of my own selection. The
Major's buggy was in waiting, with a negro driver,
who got out to make room for me. He bowed very
politely, calling me by name.
You remember Hamp, I reckon," said the Ma-
jor. "He was a member of the Legislature when
you lived here."
Certainly I remembered Hamp, who was Aunt
Minervy Ann's husband. I inquired about her, and
Hamp, who had swung up to the trunk-rack as
the buggy moved off, replied that she was at home
and as well as she could be.
Yes," said the Major, she's at my house. You
may see somebody else besides Minervy Ann, but
you won't hear anybody else. She owns the whole
place and the people on it. I had a Boston man to
dinner some time ago, one of Conant's friends-
you remember Paul Conant, don't you?-and I
stirred Minervy Ann up just to see what the man
would say. We had a terrible quarrel, and the man
never did know it was all in fun. He said they
never would have such a lack of discipline among
74








HOW AUNT MINERVY ANN RAN AWAY

the servants in Boston. I told him I would give him
any reasonable amount if he would go out and dis-
cipline Minervy Ann, just to show me how it was
done. It would have been better than a circus.
You heard her, didn't you, Hamp? "
Hamp chuckled good-naturedly. Yasser, I did,
an' it make col' chills run over me ter hear how
Minervy Ann went on. She cert'n'y did try herse'f
dat day."
The Major smiled a little proudly as I thought,
slapped the horse-a bob-tailed black-with the left
rein, and we went skimming along the level, sandy
street at a three-minute gait. In a short while we
were at the Major's house, where I received a warm
welcome from his daughter, whom I had known
when she was a school-girl. She was now Mrs. Paul
Conant, and even more beautiful as a matron than
she had been as a girl. I had also known her hus-
band, who had begun his business career in the town
a year or two before I left, and even at that time he
was one of the most prominent and promising young
business men in the town.
He had served in the army the last year of the
war, and the service did him a world of good, physi-
cally and mentally. His faculties were broadened
and enlarged. Contact with all sorts and conditions







THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

of men gave him ample knowledge of his kind, and
yet he kept in touch with the finer issues of life. He
was ripened and not hardened.
The surrender had no such crushing effects on
him as it had on older men. It left him youth, and
where youth is there must be hope and energy. He
returned home, remained a few weeks, sold a couple
of horses he had picked up in the track of Sherman's
army, and then went into the office of a cotton factor
in Savannah, giving his services for the knowledge
and experience he desired to gain. In a very short
time he learned all the secrets of sampling and
grading the great staple. He might have remained
in the office at a salary, for his aptness had made him
useful, but he preferred to return to Halcyondale,
where he engaged in buying cotton on his own ac-
count. There was just enough risk in this to stimu-
late his energies, and not enough to lead to serious
speculation.
To this business he added others as his capital
grew, and he was soon the most prosperous man in
the town. He had formed the stock company under
whose auspices the county fair was held, and was
president of the board of directors.
Aunt Minervy Ann was very much in evidence,
for she acted as cook, nurse, and house-girl. The
76
















































cpt" am


;, -


Buying cotton on his own account.


rI
zr








HOW AUNT MINERVY ANN RAN AWAY

first glimpse I had of her, she had a bucket of water
in her right hand and Conant's baby-a bouncing
boy-on her left arm. Just then Major Perdue
hustled me off to my room, thus postponing, as I
thought, the greeting I had for Aunt Minervy Ann.
But presently I heard her coming upstairs talking
to herself.
Ef dey gwine ter have folks putting' up wid um,
dey better tell me in de due time, so I can fix up fer
um. Dey ain't been no fresh water in deze rooms
sence dat baby wuz born'd."
She went on to the end of the hall and looked in
each of the rooms. Then, with an exclamation I
failed to catch, she knocked at my door, which was
promptly opened. As she saw me a broad smile
flashed over her good-natured face.
I 'low'd 'twuz you," she said, an' I'm mighty
glad you come." She started to pour the water
from can to pitcher, when suddenly she stayed her
hand. With the exclamation, Well, ef dis don't
bang my time! she went to the head of the stairs
and cried out: "Miss Vallie! Miss Vallie! you
don't want no town folks stuck in dish yer back
room, does you?"
Why, certainly not! cried the lady. What
could father have been thinking of "
77








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

"Shoo! he like all de men folks," responded
Aunt Minervy Ann.
With that she seized my valise with one hand,
and, carrying the can of water in the other, escorted
me to one of the front rooms. It was an improve-
ment on the back room only because it had more
windows to admit the air and light. I put in a word
for the Major, which I hoped would be carried to
the ears of the daughter.
"The Major gave me that room because he
wanted to treat me as if I were one of the home
folks. Now you've brought me here, and I'll feel
as uncomfortable as if I were company, sure
enough."
"Dey's sump'n in dat, I 'speck," replied Aunt
Minervy Ann, laughing; but, lawsy, massy! you
done been in dis house too much ter talk dat-a-way.
When kin folks come home, we allus gin um de bes'
dey is fer de fus' week er so. Atter dat dey kin
rustle 'roun' fer deyse'f."
It is hardly necessary to say that Aunt Minervy
Ann took very good care that I should want for
none of those little attentions that sharpen the ap-
preciation of a guest; and, in her case, obtrusive-
ness was not a fault, for her intentions shone clearly
and unmistakably through it all.
78
































B--WY.
vi Wil1i

7- ,


*r~~SZ~


"Miss Vallie! "


111~


~~"' ''"


1F`.')i-it I~i
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HOW AUNT MINERVY ANN RAN AWAY

Major Perdue had the art of entertainment at his
fingers' ends, which, though it is very simple, not one
man in a hundred learns. It is the knack of leaving
the guest to his own devices without seeming to do
so. Most fortunate in his gifts is the host who
knows how to temper his attentions!
In his efforts to get the fair under way, Paul Co-
nant found it impossible to come to dinner, but sent
his apologies.
You'll think it is a mighty small concern when
you see it," said the Major, "but it takes all that
Paul can do to keep it from getting into a tangle.
He has to be here, there, and everywhere, and there
hasn't been a minute for a week or more but what
forty people were hollering at him at once, and forty
more pulling and hauling him about. If he wasn't
a steam-engine, he couldn't hold out half an hour."
Well, he'll soon straighten matters out," said I,
"and then they'll stay so."
"That's so," remarked the Major; "but when
that's done, he'll have to rush around from post to
pillar to keep 'em straight."
Did he seem to be greatly worried?" Valentine
asked.
"No-o-o-o," replied the Major, slowly and hesi-
tatingly, but I'm afear'd his shoulder has begun








THE CHRONICLES OF AUNT MINERVY ANN

to trouble him again." lHe leaned back in his chair
and looked at the ceiling, apparently lost in thought.
Why should you think that, father? "
Once or twice, whilst he was rustling about I
saw him fling his hand to his shoulder and hold it
there, and I'm mightily afear'd it's hurting him."
The Major drew a deep sigh as he spoke, and silence
fell on all. It was brief, but it was long enough for
one to know that an unpleasant subject had been
touched on-that there was something more behind
it all than a pain in Conant's shoulder. Aunt Mi-
nervy Ann, who was equal to every emergency,
created a diversion with the baby, and the Major
soon pulled himself together.
Paul Conant came home to supper, and in the
sitting-room, before the meal was announced, I ob-
served that the Major was as solicitous about him
as a mother is of her baby. His eyes were constantly
on his son-in-law, and if the latter showed any sign
of worry, or frowned as if in pain, a shadow would
pass over the Major's genial face.
This intense solicitude was something out of the
usual order, and I wondered what was behind it.
But the next day it was forgotten, nor was it remem-
bered until Aunt Minervy Ann reminded me of it.
I had been faithful in my attendance on the fair,




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