. . .
. . .
. . . .
.. ... .
F. . . .
. .. ...
.. ... .. .
... ....... .. .
.. ......... ... ..... .. . .. .
............ ....... .. . .
.... ..... ... ...
. ... ..... .
. . . .
i: ...... . .
.. ..... ..
. . .
. . .
4.4 .. .. .. .. .. .. .... ....
..... . .......
. .. . .
. . .. ..... ...
..... .. .. .............. .
... . . . . .. ... .
.. .. . . . .. .. .
....... .. ...
i M. b. .
HE WALKED OFF.. .AND LEANED AGAINST A TREE (Page 68)
Tales of the Home Folks
Peace and War
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
AUTHOR OF UNCLE REMUS AND HIS FRIENDS,
NIGHTS WITH UNCLE REMUS, AND THE
T. FISHER UNWIN
26, PATEBNOSTER SQUARE
TO MY DAUGHTER LILLIAN
Who will know why I have included in Tales
of the Home Folks the little skit about
our friends in St. Valerien
How WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
A RUN OF LUCK .
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
THE COMEDY OF WAR .
A BOLD DESERTER .
A BABY IN THE SIEGE .
THE BABY'S FORTUNE .
AN AMBUSCADE .
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
THE BABY'S CHRISTMAS .
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
HE WALKED OFF AND LEANED AGAINST A TREE
(Page 68) Frontispiece.
"GO I" THE MARISTE REPEATED 14
LITTLE BILLY TROTTED BY HIS SIDE 210
" GOD BLESS YOU, ME B'Y" 336
TALES OF THE HOME FOLKS IN
PEACE AND WAR
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A
MATT KILPATRICK Of Putnam used to
laugh and say that his famous foxhound
Whalebone was responsible for a very bril-
liant wedding in Jasper. When Harvey
Dennis and Tom Collingsworth were among
his listeners (which was pretty much all the
time, for the three were inseparable), they
had a way of shaking their heads dubiously
over this statement. Mr. Dennis thought
that his dog Rowan (pronounced Ro-ann)
ought to have some of the credit, while Mr.
Collingsworth was equally sure that Music
had as much to do with the happy event as
any of the rest. The Collingsworth argu-
ment- and it was a sound one was that
where a lady dog is skipping along and per-
forming to the queen's taste all the work that
2 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
is cut out for her, she ought to come ahead
of the gentlemen dogs in any historical state-
ment or reminiscence.
When I first heard the story, considera-
tions of local pride led me to feel that Rowan
had been unjustly robbed of the credit that
belonged to him; but time cools the ardor
of youth, and mellows and sweetens the
sources of partisanship. I can say now that
Rowan had small advantage over his two
famous rivals, when the scent was as high as
the saddle-skirts and the pace the kind that
Mr. Kilpatrick used to tell the story as a
joke, and frequently he repeated it merely to
tease those who were interested in the results
of Whalebone's exploit, or to worry his fox-
hunting rivals, who were his dearest friends.
But the story was true. In repeating it I
shall have to include details that Mr. Kilpat-
rick found it unnecessary to burden himself
with, for they were as familiar to his neigh-
borhood audience as any of their own per-
The way of it was this: One day in the
beginning of December, 1860, Colonel El-
more Rivers, of Jasper County, put a negro
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 3
boy on a mule and sent him around with an
invitation to certain of his friends, request-
ing them to do him the honor of eating their
Christmas dinner with him. This invitation
was prepared with great care by Mrs. Rivers,
who was a schoolma'am from Connecticut
when the colonel married her. It was beauti-
fully written on the inside of a sheet of fools-
cap, and this sheet was tacked to a piece of
card-board, by means of a deftly made true-
lover's-knot of blue ribbon. The card-board
was placed in a satchel, and the satchel was
arranged to swing over the shoulders of the
negro, so that there was no danger of losing
it. There was only one invitation, and it
was to be carried from one of the colonel's
friends to the other until all had been noti-
fied of his hospitable desires.
The colonel added an oral postscript as
he gave the negro a stiff dram. "Ding 'em,"
he exclaimed, "tell 'em to bring their dogs.
Mind now tell 'em to bring their dogs."
Mrs. Rivers enjoyed Christmas as heartily
as anybody, but in beginning preparations
for the festival she always had her misgiv-
ings. Her father, Dr. Joshua Penniman, had
been a Puritan among Puritans, and some-
4 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
how she had got the idea from him that there
was a good deal of popery concealed in the
Christmas ceremonials. But when once the
necessity for preparation was upon her she
cast her scruples aside, and her Christmas
dinners were famous in that whole region.
By catering to the colonel's social instincts
in this and other particulars, she managed, at
a later period of his life, to lead him trium-
phantly into the fold of the Baptist Church.
It was a great victory for Miss Lou, as every-
body called her, and she lived long to enjoy
the distinction it conferred upon her.
The day after the invitation had been sent
around, a couple of weanling pigs were
caught and penned, and, until the day be-
fore Christmas, they were fed and fattened
on nubbins and roasted white-oak acorns.
Three young gobblers were also caught and
put upon such diet as, according to the colo-
nel's theory, would add to their toothsome-
ness, and give them a more delicate flavor.
These are merely hints of the extensive pre-
parations for the Christmas festival on the
What the colonel always wanted was a
merry Christmas, and there could be no mer-
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 5
riment where good humor and good cheer
were lacking. He had said to his wife years
before, when she was somewhat doubtful
about introducing her New England holiday,
" Go ahead, honey! Cut just as big a dash
as you please with your Thanksgiving. I 'll
enjoy it as much as you will, maybe more.
The Lord knows we've got a heap to be
thankful for. We'll cut a big dash and
be thankful, and then when Christmas comes
we'll cut a big dash and be happy."
Thenceforward they had both Thanksgiv-
ing and Christmas on that plantation, and
Miss Lou was as anxious to satisfy the colo-
nel with her Christmas arrangements as he
had been to please her with his zeal for
Thanksgiving. Indeed, one Christmas-day,
a year or two after their marriage, Miss Lou
went so far as to present her husband with a
daughter, and ever after that Christmas had
a new significance in that household: Miss
Lou satisfied her Puritan scruples by pre-
tending to herself that she was engaged in
celebrating her daughter's birthday, and the
colonel was glad that two of the most impor-
tant days in the calendar were merged into
6 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
When the child was born, a poor lonely
old woman, named Betsey Cole, who lived in
the woods between the Rivers plantation and
town, sent the colonel word that the little
lass would grow up to be both good and
beautiful. Nothing would do after that but
the colonel must send the fortune-teller a
wagon-load of provisions, and he kept it up
every Christmas as long as Betsey Cole lived.
The fortune-teller certainly made no mis-
take in her prediction. The child grew to be
the most beautiful young woman in all that
region. The colonel named her Mary after
his mother, and the name seemed to fit her,
for her character was as lovely as her face.
Even the women and little children loved her,
and when this kind of manifestation is made
over a girl, it is needless to inquire about her
character or disposition.
It might be supposed that Mary had a
lover, but if so, no one knew it but her own
sweet self. Her father, the colonel, declared
she was as cool as a cucumber when the boys
were around, and the young men who raved
over her thought she was even cooler than a
cucumber. And yet she had her father's
ardent temperament and good-nature, and
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 7
her mother's prudence and sound discretion.
It was a happy combination in all respects,
and it had its climax in a piquant individu-
ality that impressed old and young with its
There were two young men, among the
many that were smitten, who made it a point
to pay particular attention to the young lady.
One was Jack Preston, and the other was
Andy, Colston. Both were handsome and
ambitious, and both had good prospects.
Colston already had the advantage of a for-
tune, but Preston was as hopeful and as
cheerful as if he possessed a dozen planta-
tions and a thousand negroes. Mentally they
were about evenly matched, but Preston had
been compelled by circumstances to cultivate
an energy in the matter of steady application
that Colston never knew the necessity of.
These young men were intimate friends,
and they did not attempt to conceal from
each other their attitude toward Mary Rivers.
It was perhaps well that this was so. Both
were high-strung and high-tempered, and if
they had been anything but intimate with
each other, the slightest cause or provocation
would have precipitated trouble between
8 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
them. And this would have been very un-
fortunate indeed; for, if the name of Mary
Rivers had been even remotely hinted as the
cause of such trouble, the colonel would have
locked himself in his library, read a chapter
in the family Bible, called for his saddle-
horse and shot-gun, and gone cantering up
the big road on business connected with the
But these rival lovers were bosom friends.
There were points about each that attracted
the other. When Preston was with Miss
Mary he lost no opportunity of praising the
good qualities of Colston, and Colston made
no concealment of the fact that he considered
Preston the salt of the earth, as we say in
All this was very pleasant and very confus-
ing. Mary was in love with one of- them,
but she never admitted the fact, even to her-
self, until a curious episode compelled her to
acknowledge it. Even her mother confessed
that she had been unable to discover Mary's
preference until the fact fluttered out before
everybody's eyes, like a startled bird from its
nest. For a while the mother would think
that her daughter preferred Preston. Then
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 9
she would imagine that the girl was in love
with Colston. And sometimes she would con-
clude that Mary's heart had not been touched
at all. Miss Lou herself preferred Colston,
but she was not opposed to Preston. Col-
ston had a solid fortune, and Preston well,
Connecticut knows very well how many long
days and how many hard licks are necessary
to lay up a fortune. Young people may put
up True Love as their candidate and pout at
Hard Cash as much as they please, but if they
had to go through the experience that Con-
necticut and the neighboring States went
through sixty odd years ago (to go back no
farther), they would come to the conclusion
that Hard Cash has peculiar merits of its own.
Nevertheless, Miss Lou was too wise to say
anything about the matter. She knew that
her husband, although he possessed land and
negroes and money, had a certain fine scorn
for the privileges and distinctions that mere
wealth confers. He was emphatically a man
of the people, and he would have tolerated no
effort to implant false notions in his daugh-
ter's mind. Moreover, Miss Lou had great
confidence in Mary's sound judgment. It
was one comfort, the mother thought, that
10 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
Mary was not giddy. She was as gay as a
lark, and full of the spirit of innocent fun,
but (thank goodness) not giddy nor foolish.
But, after all, the chief worry of Miss Lou
on the approach of this particular Christmas
was not about Mary and her beaux. It was
about the preparations that the colonel was
making on his own responsibility. She saw
several extra bags of meal coming in from
Roach's Mill, and her heart sank within her
at the thought of numberless fox-hounds
swarming under the house and in the yard,
and roaming around over the plantation. At
the first convenient opportunity she broached
"Mr. Rivers (she never called him colo-
nel), "I do hope you have n't asked your
friends to bring their hound-dogs with them.
Why, they'll take the whole place. You've
got twelve of your own. What on earth do
you want with any more ? "
"Why, yes, honey," said the colonel, with
a sigh. Harvey Dennis and Matt Kilpat-
rick and Tom Collingsworth will fetch their
dogs, and I reckon maybe Jack Casswell and
Bill Hearn will fetch theirs."
Mrs. Rivers dropped her hands in her lap
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 11
in helpless dismay. "Mercies upon us! I
thought you surely had dogs enough of your
"Why, honey," the colonel expostulated,
you've let the niggers chunk my dogs till
they are no manner account."
"Well, I do hate hound-dogs exclaimed
Miss Lou; sneaking around, sticking their
noses in the pots and pans, and squalling like
they're killed if you lift your hand. Why,
the foxes come right up in the yard and take
off the geese and ducks, where your dogs
could see them if they were n't too lazy to
open their eyes."
"Those are just the foxes we're going to
catch, honey," remarked the colonel sooth-
Well, I'd rather feed the foxes a whole
year than to have forty or fifty hound-dogs
quartered on this place three or four days."
The colonel made no reply, and after a while
his wife remarked, pleasantly, if not cheer-
fully, Well, I guess I'11 have bigger trou-
bles than that before I die. If I don't, it will
be a mercy."
"If you don't, honey, you '11 live and die
a happy woman," responded the colonel.
12 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
Miss Lou wiped her face on her apron and
sat absorbed in thought. Presently, Mary
came dancing in., Her face was shining with
health and high spirits.
"Just think, folks! she exclaimed.
"Four more days and I'll be eighteen! A
woman grown, but with the sweet disposition
of a child "
The colonel laughed and his wife flushed
a little. "Where did you hear that?" she
asked her daughter.
Why, I heard you say those words to
father no longer than last night. Look, fa-
ther mother is actually blushing "
"I believe I did say something like that,"
said Miss Lou. "I intended to tell your fa-
ther afterward that very few children have
sweet dispositions. But my mind has been
worried all day with the thought of the
hound-dogs we've got to feed."
Oh, father exclaimed Mary, are we
to have a fox-hunt ? And may I go ? The
colonel nodded a prompt assent, but Miss
Lou protested. Now, Mr. Rivers, I think
that is going too far. I certainly do. I have
always been opposed to it. There is no
earthly reason why Mary at her age should
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 13
get on a horse and go galloping about the
country with a crowd of yelling men and
howling dogs. It may be well enough for
the men, though I think they could be bet-
ter employed, but I think the line ought to
be drawn at the women."
"Why, mother, how many times have I
been fox-hunting with father ? "
"Just as many times as you have made
me miserable," replied Miss Lou; "just that
many times and no more."
"Now, momsy! don't scold your onliest
and oldest daughter," pleaded Mary.
"Don't- wheedle around me!" cried Miss
Lou, pretending to be very angry. "Mr.
Rivers, you need n't be winking at Mary be-
hind your paper. I do think it is a shame
that you should allow your daughter to go
ripping and tearing about the country hunt-
ing foxes. I think it is a burning shame. I
Well, honey "--
"I don't care what anybody says," Miss
Lou broke in. "Here is Mary old enough
to get married, and now she must go scamper-
ing about with a lot of men on horseback.
It is ridiculous 1"
14 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
You hear that, father? Momsy says
I'm old enough to get married. I'll marry
the man that brings me the fox's brush the
day after Christmas. And momsy shall bake
the cake, and she 'll burn it just as the cake
is burning now."
Miss Lou lifted her nose in the air. "I
declare, if old Dilsey has gone to sleep and
left that fruit-cake to burn, I '11 send her to
the overseer "
Whereupon she skipped from the room,
and soon after the colonel and Mary heard
her laughing at something the fat old cook
had said. Miss Lou's temper was all on the
The colonel looked at his daughter over
his spectacles and smiled. "I reckon you
know, precious, that we '11 have to catch the
fox before your beau can give you the brush.
But we 'll have some good dogs here. So
you 'd better tell your sweetheart to stir his
stumps. Maybe the wrong chap will get the
"Why, you won't let me have one little
joke, father," cried Mary. "Of course I
won't 'marry the man that gives me the
brush she paused, went to the long mir-
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 15
ror that slanted forward from the wall, and
made a pretty mouth at herself -" unless
he's the right person." Then she ran away,
Preparations for the Christmas festival
went forward rapidly, and when the day came
a goodly company had assembled to do honor
to the hearty hospitality of Colonel Rivers.
As Miss Lou had foreseen, the yard fairly
swarmed with dogs. Harvey Dennis brought
seven, Matt Kilpatrick ten, Tom Collings-
worth twelve, Jack Casswell eight, and Bill
Hearn fourteen about fifty hounds in all.
Colston and Preston had arrived the night
before. 'Colston had dogs, but he left them
at home. He knew the prejudices of Mary's
mother. Preston was not a planter and had
no dogs, but he was very fond of cross-coun-
try riding, and never lost an opportunity to
engage in the sport.
The colonel was in ecstasies. The wide
fireplace in the sitting-room was piled high
with half-seasoned hickory wood, and those
who sat around it had to form a very wide
half-circle indeed, for the flaring logs and
glowing embers sent forth a warmth that
penetrated to all parts of the room, big as it
16 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
And it was a goodly company that sat
around the blazing fire, men of affairs,
planters with very large interests depending
on their energy and foresight, lawyers who
had won more than a local fame, and yet all
as gay and as good-humored as a parcel of
schoolboys. The conversation was seasoned
with apt anecdotes inimitably told, and full of
the peculiar humor that has not its counter-
part anywhere in the world outside of middle
And the dinner was magnificent. Miss
Lou was really proud of it, as she had a right
to be. There are very few things that a
Georgia plantation will not produce when it
is coaxed, and the colonel had a knack of
coaxing that was the envy of his neighbors.
Miss Lou could not doubt the sincerity of the
praise bestowed on her dinner. All the
guests were high-livers, and they declared
solemnly that they had never before sat down
to such a royal feast.
The servants moved about as silently as
ghosts. There were four negro girls to wait
on the table, and they attended to their du-
ties with a promptness and precision that
were constant tributes to the pains that Miss
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING- 17
Lou had taken to train them, and to the vigi-
lance with which she watched their move-
Over the dessert, the colonel grew commu-
nicative. "This mince-pie," he said, was
made by Mary. I don't think she put enough
of the twang into it."
It is magnificent! exclaimed Colston.
"Superb Preston declared.
"It's as good as any," said Tom Collings-
worth; "but this pie business is mighty de-
ceiving.. Miss Molly is eighteen, and if she
can bake a pone of corn-bread as it ought to
be baked, she 's ready to get married."
That is her strong point! "* cried the
colonel. She beats anybody at that."
Well, then," said Collingsworth, "you
just go and get her wedding goods."
"I 'm beginning to think so, too," replied
the colonel. No longer than the other day
she declared she'd marry the man that brings
her the fox's brush to-morrow. What do you
think of that ? "
Why, father! exclaimed Mary, blushing
Then it's just as good as settled," re-
plied Collingsworth gravely. I'm just as
18 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
certain to tail that fox as the sun shines. I
rubbed my rabbit-foot on Music and Rowdy-
before I started, and I '11 whistle 'em up and
shake it at 'em to-night."
"But remember, Mr. Collingsworth, you
are already married," Mary suggested archly.
"I know I know But my old woman
has been complaining might'ly of late com-
plaining might'ly. When I started away, she
says, 'Tom, you ought n't to ride your big
gray; he's lots too young for you.' But
something told me that I'd need the big
gray, and, sure enough, here's right where
the big gray comes in."
I brought my sorrel along," remarked
"Oh, you did?" inquired Collingsworth,
sarcastically. Well, I '1 give your sorrel
half-way across a ten-acre field and run right
spang over you with my big gray before you
can get out of the way. There ain't but one
nag I'm afraid of, and that's Jack Preston's
roan filly. You did n't bring her, did you,
Jack? Well," continued Collingsworth with
a sigh, as Jack nodded assent, ."I '11 give
you one tussle anyhow. But that roan is a
half-sister of Waters's Timoleon. I declare,
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 19
Jack, you ought n't to be riding that filly
around in the underbrush."
"She needs exercise," Preston explained.
"She's been in the stable eating her head off
for a week."
Collingsworth shook his head. "Well,"
he said, after a while, "just keep her on the
ground and I'11 try to follow along after you
the best I can."
That day and nearly all night there was
fun in the big house and fun on the planta-
tion. The colonel insisted on having some
yam-potatoes roasted in the ashes to go along
with persimmon beer. The negroes made the
night melodious with their play-songs, and
everything combined to make the occasion a
memorable one, especially to the young peo-
ple. Toward bedtime the hunters went out
and inspected their dogs, and an abundant
feed of warm ash-cake was served out to
them. Then Tom Collingsworth hung his
saddle-blanket on the fence, and under it and
around it his dogs curled themselves in the
oak-leaves; and the rest of the dogs followed
their example, so that when morning came
not a hound was missing.
During the night Mary was awakened by
20 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
the tramping of feet. Some one had come
in. Then she heard the voice of Collings-
"How is it, Harvey ?"
"Splendid! Couldn't be better. It's
warmer. Been drizzling a little."
"Thank the Lord for that!" exclaimed
Then Mary heard the big clock in the hall
chime three. In a little while she heard
Aunt Dilsey, the cook, shuffling in. A fire
was already crackling and blazing in the sit-
ting-room. Then the clock chimed four, and
at once there seemed to be a subdued stir
all over the house. The house-girl came
into Mary's room with a lighted candle and
quickly kindled a fire, and in a quarter of
an hour the young lady tripped lightly down-
stairs, the skirt of her riding-habit flung over
It was not long before the company of fox-
hunters was gathered around the breakfast-
table. The aroma of Aunt Dilsey's hot coffee
filled the room, mingled with the odor of
fried chicken, and, after the colonel had
asked a blessing, they all fell to, with a
heartiness of appetite that made Aunt Dil-
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 21
sey grin as she stood in the door of the
dining-room, giving some parting advice to
her young mistress.
There was a stir in the yard and in front
of the house. The dogs, seeing the horses
brought out, knew that there was fun on
foot, and they were running about and yelp-
ing with delight. And the negroes were
laughing and talking, and the horses snort-
ing and whinnying, and, altogether, the scene
was full of life and animation. The morning
was a little damp and chilly, but what did
that matter? The drifting clouds, tinged
with the dim twilight of dawn, were more
ominous in appearance than in fact. They
were driving steadily eastward and breaking
up, and the day promised to be all that could
At half past five the cavalcade moved off.
Mary had disposed of a possible complication
by requesting Tom Collingsworth to be her
escort until the hunt should need his atten-
tion. In addition, she had Bob, the man-of-
all-work, to look to her safety, and, although
Bob was astride of a mule, he considered
himself as well mounted as any of the rest.
So they set out, Bob leading the way to open
22 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
the plantation gates that led to the old sedge-
fields, where a fox was always found.
The riders had been compelled to make a
detour in order to cross Murder Creek, so
that it was near half-past six o'clock when
they reached the fields. Once upon a time
these fields had been covered with broom-
sedge, but now they had been taken by Ber-
muda grass, and were as clean-looking as if
they were under cultivation. But they were
still called the old sedge-fields.,
As the east reddened, the huge shadows
crept down into the valleys to find a hiding-
place. They rested there a little, and then
slowly disappeared, moving westward, and
leaving behind them the light of day.
Tom Collingsworth had carried Mary to a
hill that overlooked every part of the wide
valley in which the dogs were hunting. He
had been teasing her about Colston and Pres-
ton. Finally he asked :--
"Now, Miss Mary, which of the two would
you like to receive the brush from ? "
I '11 allow you to choose for me. You
are a good judge."
"Well," said Collingsworth, "if a man
was to back me up against the wall, and
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 23
draw a knife on me, and I could n't help
myself, I 'd say Preston. That's a fact."
What Mary would have said the old hunter
never knew until long afterward, for just at
that moment a quavering, long-drawn note
came stealing up from the valley below.
"That's my beauty !" exclaimed Collings-
worth. That's Music, telling what she
thinks she knows. Wait "
Again the long-drawn note came out of the
valley, but this time it was eager, significant.
Now she's telling what she knows," ex-
The dogs went scampering to the signal.
Music was not indulging in any flirtation.
The drag was very warm. Whalebone, Matt
Kilpatrick's brag dog, picked it up with an
exultant cry that made the horses prick their
ears forward. Then Rowan joined in, and
presently it was taken up by every ambitious
dog on the ground. But there seemed to be
some trouble. The dogs made no headway.
They were casting about eagerly, but in con-
If you 'll excuse me, Miss Mary, I'11 go
down and try to untangle that skein. That
fox is n't forty yards from Music's nose."
24 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
He spurred his horse forward, but had to
rein him up again. Whalebone swept out of
the underbrush, a hundred yards away, fol-
lowed by Music and Rowan, gave a wild,
exultant challenge that thrilled and vibrated
on the air, and went whirling past Mary and
Collingsworth not fifty yards from where they
stood. Collingsworth gave a series of yells
that brought the whole field into the chase,
not far behind the leaders.
The drag led through and across a series
of undulations, and Miss Mary and Collings-
worth, cantering leisurely along a skirting
ridge, had an excellent view of hunt and
huntsmen. The drag was warm enough to
be inviting, but not warm enough to excite
the hounds. Whalebone, Music, and Rowan
were running easily twenty yards ahead of
the pack, and for a good part of the time a
horse-blanket would have covered them.
It was evident, Mr. Collingsworth said,
that the fox had run around at the head of
the valley in some confusion, and had then
slipped away before the hunt came upon the
ground. It was a red, too, for'a gray would
have played around in the undergrowth with
the dogs at his heels before breaking cover.
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 25
The ridge along which Miss Mary and Col-
lingsworth rode bore gradually to the left,
inclosing for three miles or more a low range
of Bermuda hills, and a series of sweeping
valleys, fringed here and there with pine and
The chase led toward the point where this
ridge intersected the woodland region, so that
the young lady and Collingsworth not only
had an almost uninterrupted view of the hunt
from the moment the hounds got away, but
were taking a short cut to the point whither
the dogs seemed to be going. Both Preston
and Colston were well up with the hounds,
but Preston's roan filly was going at a much
easier gait than Colston's sorrel.
Where the ridge and the hunt entered the
woods there was what is known as a "clay
gall," a barren spot, above two acres in ex-
tent. The surface soil had been washed away
and the red clay lay bare and unproductive.
At this point the fox seemed to have taken
unto himself wings. The drag had vanished.
Who can solve the mystery of scent?
Xenophon, who knew as much (and as little)
about it as anybody knew before or has
known since, puzzled himself and his readers
26 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
with a dissertation on the subject. There is
a superstition that wild animals can withhold
their scent, and there is a theory held by
some hunters that a fox badly frightened
will leave no scent behind him at all. Those
who have followed the hounds know that
many a hopeful chase has suddenly come to
an end under circumstances as mysterious as
they were exasperating.
The old riders looked at one another sig-
nificantly when the dogs ran whining about
the clay gall. Matt Kilpatrick groaned and
shook his head. Harvey Dennis encouraged
the dogs and urged them on, and they seemed
to do their best, but not a whimper came
from the noisiest of the pack. Some of the
huntsmen began to exhibit signs of despair.
But the older ones were more philosophical.
Wait," said Matt Kilpatrick. Whale-
bone and Music and Rowan have gone off to
investigate matters. Let 's hear what they
have to say."
This seemed to be a pretty tame piece of
advice to give a parcel of impatient people
who had just got a taste of the chase, but it
was reasonable; and so they waited with such
appearance of resignation as they could mus-
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 27
ter. They did not have long to wait. By
the time Collingsworth could throw a leg over
the pommel of his saddle and take out his
pocket-knife preparatory to whittling a twig,
Whalebone gave a short, sharp challenge a
quarter of a mile away. He was joined in-
stantly by Rowan and Music, and then Bob,
the negro, gave a yell as he heard Old Blue,
the colonel's brag dog, put in his mouth.
The rest of the dogs joined in the best they
could, but a good many were thrown out, for
the fox had been taking matters easily, it
seems, until he heard the dogs coming over
the hills, and then he made a bee-line for Lit-
tle River, seven miles away.
The chase went with a rush from the mo-
ment 'Whalebone picked up the drag in the
big woods. When the fox broke away he
turned sharply to the left, and in a few mo-
ments the dogs streamed out into the open
and struck across the Bermuda hills. Mr. Col-
lingsworth, still escorting Mary, was compelled
to let his big gray out a few links. It was
fun for the young lady, who had a quick eye
and a firm hand. She gave the black she was
riding two sharp strokes with her whip, and,
for a couple of miles, she set the pace for the
28 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
riders. But it was a pace not good for the
horses, as the older hunters knew, and Col-
"Don't ride .so hard, Miss Mary," he said.
"You 'll have plenty of hard riding to do
when that old red comes back. I'm going to
take my stand on yonder hill, and if you '1
keep me company, our horses will be fresh
when the big scuffle comes."
So they took their stand on the hill, and
the hounds swept away toward the river, fol-
lowed by the more enthusiastic riders. They
were riders, however, who seemed to have a
knack of taking care of their horses. When
the hounds went over a hill the music of their
voices rose loud and cleaf; when they dipped
down into the valleys, it came sweet and faint.
They disappeared in the woods, two miles
away, and their melody swelled out on the
morning air like the notes of some powerful
organ softly played. Then the music became
fainter and fainter, falling on the ears as
gently as a whisper, and finally it died away
"Now," said Collingsworth, we '11 ride a
half-mile to the left here, and I think we'll
then be in the hock of the ham."
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 29
"In the hock of the ham!" exclaimed
Oh, I was talking to myself," explained
the gray cavalier, laughing. "If you'll put
a ham on the ground and make an outline of
it, you 'll get a good map of this chase, in my
opinion. The line at the big end of the ham
will be Little River. The line on the right
will be the way the fox went, and the line on
the left will be the way he'll come back. If
you ask me why a fox will run up stream
when he's not hard pushed, I'll never tell
you, but that's the way they do."
A quarter of an hour passed a half-hour
- three quarters. Then, far to the left, there
came upon the morning wind a whimpering
sound that gradually swelled into a chorus of
"He's cut out a bigger ham than I
thought he would," said Collingsworth.
The sun was now shining, brightly. An
old bell-cow, browsing on the Bermuda roots
on the hillside, lifted her head suddenly as
she heard the hounds, and the kling-kolangle
of the bell made a curious accompaniment
to the music of the dogs, as they burst from
a thicket of scrub-pine and persimmon bushes
30 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
that crowned the farthest hill on the left.
There was a short pause as the leading dogs
came into view -a "little bobble," as Mr.
Collingsworth phrased it and they deployed
about very rapidly, knowing by instinct that
they had no time to lose. Old Blue, the
colonel's dog, was still with the leaders, and
seemed to be as spry as any of them. It was
Old Blue, in fact, that recovered the drag a
little to the right of the point where the dogs
had made their appearance. The chase then
swerved somewhat to the right, and half-way
down the hill the dogs took a running jump
at a ten-rail fence. Whalebone took it in
grand style, knocking the top-rail off be-
hind him. Rowan and Music went over
easily, but Old Blue had to scramble a little.
He made up for lost time when he did get
over, and Mary grew enthusiastic. She de-
clared that hereafter Old Blue should be
treated with due respect.
By this time the rest of the dogs had made
their appearance. It was a pretty sight to
see them swarming, helter-skelter, over the
fence, and the sweet discord their voices
made was thrilling indeed.
A rider appeared on the hill to the left.
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 81
It was Preston, and he seemed to be riding
easily and contentedly. On the hill to the
right the silhouette of another rider appeared.
It was Colston, and he was going as hard as
he could. The fox, too, had given Colston
a decided advantage, for he had swerved con-
siderably to the left, a fact that placed Pres-
ton nearly a half-mile farther from the dogs
than Colston was.
Collingsworth glanced at Mary and slliled,
but she did not return the smile. She was
very pale, and she swished the air with her
riding-whip so suddenly and so vigorously
that her horse jumped and snorted.
"Don't do that, child!" said Collings-
worth, in a low tone. His eye had run ahead
of the dogs, and he caught sight of the fox,
doubling back up the valley, the dogs going
down on one side of a low swampy growth
that extended part of the way through the
low ground, and the fox going back on the
other side. He was going very nimbly, too,
but his brush was heavy with dew, and his
mouth was half open.
Mary glanced at Collingsworth, but that
gentleman was looking steadily at Preston.
Then a singular thing happened. Preston,
32 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
riding to the hounds, raised his right hand
above his head and held it there an instant.
As quick as a flash, Collingsworth leaned
from his saddle and shook his left hand, and
then bent and unbent his arm rapidly. Pres-
ton's roan filly seemed to understand it, for
she made three or four leaps forward, and
then came to a standstill.
At this juncture Mr. Collingsworth gave
the view halloo, once, twice, thrice, and
then spurred his big gray toward the fox,
which was now going at full speed. Whale-
bone responded with a howl of delight that
rang clear and sharp, and in another moment
he and Rowan and Music and Old Blue were
going with their heads up and tails down.
When Bob, the negro, saw Old Blue going
with the best, he gave utterance to a shout
which few white men could imitate, but which
no sensible dog could misunderstand. At that
instant the four dogs caught sight of the fox,
and they went after him at a pace that nei-
ther he nor any of his tribe could improve
on. He plunged into the swampy barrier,
was forced out, and the dogs ran into him at
the roan filly's feet. He leaped into the air
with a squall, and fell into the red jaws of
Whalebone and Old Blue.
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 33
Preston leaped from the filly so quickly
that some of the others thought he had been
thrown. When he rose to his feet he held
the coveted brush in his, hand, and without
saying "By your leave," tied it to Miss
Mary's saddle bow. Mr. Collingsworth
growled a little because Music was not the
first to touch the fox. But otherwise he
seemed to be very happy. Colston rode up,
a little flushed, but he was not sulky. Mary
seemed to pay no attention whatever to the
little episode. Her face was somewhat rosier
than usual, but this was undoubtedly due to
the excitement and exercise of the chase.
When the belated hunters arrived those
who had ambled along with the colonel-the
whole party turned their horses' heads toward
the Rivers place, and, as they went along,
Collingsworth noticed that Mary kept watch-
ing the brush to see that it was not lost.
A good deal more might be said, but I
simply set out to explain why Matt Kilpat-
rick of Putnam used to laugh and say that
his dog Whalebone caused a wedding.
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
ONE morning Colonel Rivers of Jasper,
standing on his back porch, called to a negro
man who was passing through the yard.
"How's everything at the home place ?"
Tollerble, sub, des tollerble."
Tell Shade I want to see him this morn-
Unk Shade done gone, suh. He sho is.
He done gone "
Gone where ?"
"He done tuck ter de woods, suh. Yas-
ser he done gone "
A frown clouded the colonel's otherwise
"What is the matter with the old simple-
Some kinder gwines on 'twix him an'
Marse Preston, suh. I dunno de rights un
it. But Unk Shade done gone, suh! "
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 35
"When did he go?"
The colonel turned and went into the
house, and the negro passed on, shaking his
head and talking to himself. The colonel
walked up and down the wide hall a little
while, and then went into his library and
flung himself into an easy-chair. As it hap-
pened, the chair sat facing his writing-desk,
and over the desk hung a large portrait of
his mother. It was what people call "a
speaking likeness," and the colonel felt this
as he looked at it. The face was full of
character. Firmness shone in the eyes and
played about the lips. The colonel regarded
the portrait with an interest that was almost
new. Old Shade in the woods,- old Shade
a runaway !" What would his mother say if
she were alive ? The colonel felt, too, he
could not help but feel,--that he was largely
responsible for the fact that old Shade was a
When Mary Rivers married Jack Preston,
the colonel, Mary's father, insisted that the
couple should live at the old home place.
The desire was natural. Mary was the apple
of his eye, and he wanted to see her rule in
36 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
the home over which his mother had reigned.
The colonel himself had been born there, and
his mother had lived there for more than
forty years. His father had died in 1830,
but his mother lived until the day after the
fiftieth anniversary of her wedding.
For near a quarter of a century this excel-
lent lady had been the manager of her own
estate, and she had succeeded, by dint of
hard and pinching economy and untiring
energy, in retrieving the fortune which her
husband had left in a precarious condition.
It was said of the colonel's father, William
Rivers, that he was a man perverse in his
ways and with a head full of queer notions,
and it seems to be certain that he frittered
away large opportunities in pursuit of small
When William Rivers died he left his
widow as a legacy four small boys the
colonel, the oldest, was in his teens a
past-due mortgage on the plantation, and a
whole raft (as you may say) of small debts.
She had one consolation that she breathed
often to her little boys, their father had
lived temperately and died a Christian. Be-
sides that consolation, she had an abundance
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 87
of hope and energy. She could have sold a
negro or two, but there were only a dozen of
them, big and little, and they were all mem-
bers of one family. The older ones had grown
up with their mistress, and the younger ones
she had nursed and attended through many
an hour's sickness. She would have parted
with her right hand sooner than sell one of
them. She took her little boys from school
- the youngest was ten and the oldest four-
teen and put them to work in the fields
with the negroes for one year. At the end
of that period she began to see daylight, as
it were, and then the boys went back to
school, but their vacations for several years
afterward were spent behind the plough. She
was as uncompromising in her business as in
her religion. In one she stickled for the last
thrip that was her due; in the other she be-
lieved in the final perseverance of the saints.
It is enough to say that she succeeded.
She transacted her own business. She did
it well at the very beginning, and thereafter
with an aptitude that was constantly grow-
ing. She paid the estate out of debt, and
added to it, and when her oldest son gradu-
ated at Princeton, she had the finest and
38 THE COLONELS NIGGEB DOG"
most profitable plantation in Jasper County.
All the old people said that if her father,
Judge Walthall, could have returned to life,
he would have been proud of the success of
his daughter, which was in that day and still
remains the most remarkable event in the
annals of Jasper County.
The main dependence of Mrs. Rivers, even
after her boys grew up, was a negro man
named Shadrach. He grew old with his mis-
tress and imbibed many of her matter-of-fact
ways and methods. At first he was known
as Uncle Shed, but the negro pronunciation
lengthened this to Shade, and he was known
by everybody in the counties round as Uncle
Uncle Shade knew how important his ser-
vices were to his mistress and what store she
set by his energy and faithfulness, and the
knowledge made him more independent in
his attitude and temper than the average
negro. The truth is, he was not an aver-
age negro, and he knew it. He knew it by
the fact that the rest of the negroes obeyed
his most exacting orders with as much alac-
rity as they obeyed those of white men, and
were quite as anxious to please him. He
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 89
knew it, too, by the fact that his mistress
had selected him in preference to his own
father to take charge of the active manage-
ment of the plantation business.
The selection was certainly a good one.
Whatever effect it may have had on Uncle
Shade, it was the salvation of the plans of
his mistress. The negro seemed to have a
keen appreciation of the necessities of the
situation. He worked the hands harder than
any white man could have worked them, and
kept them in a good humor by doing as
much as any two of them. The Saturday
half-holiday was abolished for a time, and
the ploughs and the hoes were kept going
just as long as the negroes could see how to
run a furrow.
A theory of the neighborhood was that
Uncle Shade was afraid of going to the sher-
iff's block, and if this theory was wrong it
was at least plausible. The majority of those
who worked under Uncle Shade were his own
flesh and blood, but his mistress had made
bold to hire four extra negroes in order to
carry out the plans she had in view, and these
four worked as hard and as cheerfully as any
of the rest.
40 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
Such was the energy with which Uncle
Shade managed the rougher details of the
plantation work, that at the end of the first
year his mistress saw her way clear to enlar-
ging her plans. She found that within five
years she would be able to pay off all the
old debts and make large profits to boot. So
she sent her boys back to school, bought two
of the four hired hands, and hired four more.
These new ones, under Uncle Shade's man-
agement, worked as willingly as the others.
In this way the estate was cleared of debt,
and gradually enlarged, and Mrs. Rivers had
been able, in the midst of it all, to send her
boys to Princeton, where they took high rank
in their studies.
The youngest drifted to California in the
fifties, and disappeared; the second went into
business in Charleston as a cotton factor and
commission merchant. The oldest, after tak-
ing a law course, settled down at home, prac-
ticed law a little and farmed a great deal.
He finally fell in love with a schoolma'am
from Connecticut. His mother, who had been
through the mill, as the saying is, and knew
all about the dignity and lack of dignity
there is in labor, rather approved the match,
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 41
although some of the neighbors, whose pre-
tensions were far beyond their possessions,
shook their heads and said that the young
man might have done better.
Nevertheless, the son did very well indeed.
He did a great deal better than some of those
who criticised his choice, for he got a wife
who knew how to put her shoulder to the
wheel when there was any necessity for it,
and how to economize when her husband's
purse was pinched. The son, having married
the woman of his choice, built him a home
within a stone's throw of his mother's, and
during her life not a day passed but he
spent a part of it in her company. He had
always been fond of his mother, and as he
grew older, his filial devotion was fortified
and strengthened by the profound impression
which her character made on him. It was a
character that had been moulded on heroic
lines. As a child, she had imbibed the spirit
of the Revolution, and everything she said
and did was flavored with the energy and in-
dependence that gave our colonial society its
special and most beautiful significance, the
significance of candor and simplicity.
Something of his mistress's energy and in-
42 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
dependence was reflected in the character of
Uncle Shade, and the result of it was that
he was not very popular with those that did
not know him well. The young master came
back from college with a highly improved
idea of his own importance. His mother,
although she was secretly proud of his airs,
told him with trenchant bluntness that his
vanity stuck out like a pot-leg and must be
lopped off. This was bad enough, but when
Uncle Shade let it be understood that he
was n't going to run hither and yon at the
beck and call of a boy, nothing prevented a
collision but the firm will that controlled
everything on the plantation. After that,
both the young master and the negro were
more considerate of each other, but neither
forgot the little episode.
When the young man married, he and
Uncle Shade saw less of each other, and
there was no more friction between them for
four or five years. But in 1850 the negro's
mistress died, and he and the rest of the
negroes, together with the old home place,
became the property of the son, who was
now a prosperous planter, looked up to by
his neighbors, and given the title of colonel
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
by those who knew no other way of showing
their respect and esteem. But in her will
the colonel's mother made ample provision,
as she thought, for the protection of Uncle
Shade. He was to retain, under all circum-
stances, his house on the home place; he
was never to be sold, and he was to be
treated with the consideration due to a ser-
vant who had cheerfully given more than
the best part of his life to the service of
The terms of the will were strictly com-
plied with. The colonel had loved his mother
tenderly, and he respected her memory. He
made it a point to treat Uncle Shade with
consideration. He appealed to his judgment
whenever opportunity offered, and frequently
found it profitable to do so. But the old
negro still held himself aloof. Whether from
grief at the death of his mistress, or for other
reasons, he lost interest in the affairs of the
plantation. The other negroes said he was
"lonesome," and this description of his con-
dition, vague as it was, was perhaps the best
that could be given. Except in the matter
of temper, Uncle Shade was not the negro he
was before his old mistress died.
44 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
This was the state of affairs when the colo-
nel's daughter, Mary, married Jack Preston
in 1861. When this event occurred, the
colonel insisted that the young couple should
take up their abode at the old home place.
He had various sentimental reasons for this.
For one thing, Mary was very much like her
grandmother, in spite of her youth and
beauty. Those who had known the old lady
remarked the favor as they called it -
as soon as they saw the granddaughter. For
another, the old home place was close at hand,
almost next door, and the house and grounds
had been kept in apple-pie order by Uncle
Shade. The flower-garden was the finest to
be seen in all that region, and the house itself
and every room of it was as carefully kept as
if the dead mistress had simply gone on a
visit and was likely to return at any moment.
Naturally, the young couple found it hard
to resist the entreaties of the colonel, particu-
larly as Mary objected very seriously to living
in town. So they went to the old home
place, and were affably received by Uncle
Shade. They found everything arranged to
Their first meal at the old home place was
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 45
dinner. The colonel had told Uncle Shade
that. he would have company at noon, and
they found the dinner smoking on the table
when they arrived. A young negro man was
set to wait on the table. He made some blun-
der, and instantly a young negro girl came
in, smiling, to take his place. Uncle Shade,
who was standing in the door of the dining-
room, dressed in his Sunday best, took the
offender by the arm as he passed out, and in
a little while those who were at table heard
the swish of a buggy whip as it fell on the
negro's shoulders. The unusual noise set the
chickens to cackling, the turkeys to gobbling,
and the dogs to barking.
Old man," said Preston, when Uncle
Shade had gravely resumed his place near
the dining-room door, "take 'em farther
away from the house the next time you kill
"I 'll do so, suh," replied Uncle Shade
dryly, and with a little frown.
Matters went along smoothly enough for
all concerned, but somehow Preston failed to
appreciate the family standing and importance
of Uncle Shade. The young man was as genial
and as clever as the day is long, but he knew
46 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
nothing of the sensitiveness of an old family
servant. On th4 other hand, Uncle Shade
had a dim idea of Preston's ignorance, and
resented it. He regarded the young man as
an interloper in the family, and made little
effort to conceal his feelings.
One thing led to another until finally there
was an explosion. Preston would have taken
harsh measures, but Uncle Shade gathered up
a bundle of duds," and took to the woods.
Nominally he was a runaway, but he came
and went pretty much as suited his pleasure,
always taking care to keep out of the way of
At last the colonel, who had made the way
clear for Uncle Shade to come back and make
an apology, grew tired of waiting for that
event; the longer he waited, the longer the
old negro stayed away.
The colonel made one or two serious efforts
to see Uncle Shade, but the old darky, mis-
understanding his intentions, made it a point
to elude him. Finding his efforts in this di-
rection unavailing, the colonel grew angry.
He had something of his mother's disposition
- a little of her temper if not much of her
energy and he decided to take a more seri-
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 47
ous view of Uncle Shade's capers. It was a
shame and a disgrace, anyhow, that one of
the Rivers negroes should be hiding in the
woods without any excuse, and the colonel
determined to put an end to it once for all.
He would do more he would teach Uncle
Shade once for all that there was a limit to
the forbearance with which he had been
Therefore, after trying many times to cap-
ture Uncle Shade and always without success,
the colonel announced to his wife that he had
formed a plan calculated to bring the old
negro to terms.
"What is it ? his wife asked.
Well, I'll tell you," said the colonel, hes-
itating a little. "I 'm going to get me a
nigger dog and run old Shade down and
catch him, if it takes me a year to do it."
The wife regarded the husband with amaze-
Why, Mr. Rivers, what are you thinking
of?" she exclaimed. "You don't mean to
tell me that you are going to put yourself on
a level with Bill Favers and go trolloping
around the country, hunting negroes with
hound-dogs? I never heard you say that
48 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
any of your family ever stooped to such as
"They never did," the colonel rejoined
testily. But they never had such a rantan-
kerous nigger to deal with."
Just as he is, just so he was made," was
Mrs. Rivers's matter-of-fact comment.
"I know that mighty well," said the
colonel. "But the time has come when he
ought to be taken in hand. I could get Bill
Favers's dogs and run him down in an hour,
but I 'm going to catch my own nigger with
my own nigger dog."
Why, Mr. Rivers, you have n't a dog on
the place that will run a pig out of the gar-
den, much less catch a negro. There are ten
or fifteen hound-dogs around the yard, and
they are actually too no-account to scratch
the fleas off."
"Well," replied the colonel, wincing a lit-
tle, "Matt Kilpatrick has promised to give
me one of his beagles, and I 'm going to
take him and train him to track niggers."
"Another dog on the place! exclaimed
Mrs. Rivers. Well, you 'll have to sell
some negroes. We can't afford to feed a lot
of no-account negroes and no-account dogs
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
without selling something. You can't even
give the dogs away and I would n't let you
impose on anybody that way, if you could;
so you '11 have to sell some of the negroes.
They are lazy and no-account enough, good-
ness knows, but they can manage to walk
around and pick up chips and get a thimble-
ful of milk from twenty cows, and sweep off
the porch when there 's anybody to keep
Nevertheless, the colonel got his beagle,
and he soon came to take more interest in it
than in all his other dogs. He named it Jeff,
after Matt Kilpatrick's old beagle, and Jeff
turned out to be the cutest little dog ever
seen in that section. The colonel trained him
assiduously. Twice a day he'd hold Jeff and
make one of the little negroes run down by
the spring-house and out across the cow-lot.
When the little negro was well out of sight
the colonel would unleash Jeff and away the
miniature hunt would go across the fields,
the colonel cheering it on in regulation style.
The colonel's nigger dog was eight
months old when he was taken in hand, and by
the time he was a year old he had developed
amazingly. The claim was gravely made that
50 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
he had a colder nose than Bill Favers's dog
Sound, who could follow a scent thirty-six
hours old. It is not to be supposed that the
training of Jeff went no farther than tracking
the little negroes within sight of the house.
The time speedily came when he was put
on the trails of negroes who had hours the
start, negroes who crept along on fences
and waded wide streams in their efforts to
baffle the dog.
But Jeff was not easily baffled. He devel-
oped such intelligence and such powers of
discriminating scent as would have put to
shame the lubberly and inefficient dogs known
as bloodhounds. Bloodhounds have figured
very largely in fiction and in the newspapers
as the incarnation of ferocity and intelligence.
As a matter of fact,' Jeff, the little beagle,
could have whipped a shuck-pen full of them
without ever showing his teeth, and he could
run half a mile while a bloodhound was
holding his senseless head in the air to give
Naturally the colonel was very proud of
Jeff. He had the dog always at his heels,
whether going to town or about the planta-
tion, and he waited for the opportunity to
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
come when he might run Uncle Shade to his
hiding-place in the swamps of Murder Creek
and capture him. The opportunity was not
long in coming, though it seemed long to the
There was this much to be said about Uncle
Shade. He had grown somewhat wary, and
he had warned all the negroes on both plan-
tations that if they made any reports of his
movements, the day of wrath would soon
come for them. And they believed him fully,
so that, for some months, he might have been
whirled away on a cloud or swallowed by the
earth for all the colonel could hear or dis-
But one day, while he was dozing in his
library, he heard a dialogue between the
housemaid and the cook. The housemaid
was sweeping in the rear hall, and the cook
was fixing things in the dining-room. They
judged by the stillness of the house that there
was no one to overhear them.
Mighty quare 'bout Unk Shade," said the
Huh! dat ole nigger-man de devil, mon!"
replied the cook, rattling the dishes.
"I boun' ef 'twuz any er we-all gwine on
52 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
dat away running' off an' coming' back when we
git good an' ready, an' eatin' right dar in de
house in broad daylight, an' master gwine
right by de do' I boun' you we 'd be kotch
an' fotch back," remarked the girl, in an in-
La! I ain't studying' 'bout ole Shade
kingin' it 'roun' here," exclaimed the cook.
"He been gwine on dat away so long dat
't ain't nothing' new." Here she paused and
What you laughing' at ?" inquired the
girl, pausing in her work.
At de way dat ole nigger man been gwine
on," responded the cook. "I hear tell dat
master got dat ar little houn'-dog training'
now fer ter track ole Shade down. Dar de
dog an' dar old Shade, but dey ain't been no
trackin' done yit. Dat dog bleedzter be no
'count, kaze all he got ter do is to go down
dar by the house whar ole Shade live at
'twix' daybreak an' sun-up, an' dar he '11
fin' de track er dat ole nigger man hot an'
"I don't keer ef dey does ketch 'im," said
the house-girl, by way of comment. De wuss
frailin' I ever got he gi' me. He skeer'd
THE COLONEL'S NIGGER DOG" 53
me den, an' I been skeer'd un 'im fum dat
De white folks kin git 'im any time dey
want 'im," said the cook. "But you hear
me! dey don't want 'im."
"Honey, I believe you," exclaimed the girl.
At this juncture the colonel raised his head
and uttered an exclamation of anger. In-
stantly there was the most profound silence
in the dining-room and in the hall. The
house-girl slipped up the stairway as noise-
lessly as a ghost, and the cook disappeared
as if by magic.
The colonel called both negroes, but they
seemed to be out of hearing. Finally the cook
answered. Her voice came from the spring
lot, and it was the voice of conscious inno-
cence. It had its effect, too, for the colonel's
heavy frown cleared away, and he indulged
in a hearty laugh. When the cook came up,
he told her to have breakfast the next morn-
ing by sunrise.
The woman knew what this meant, and she
made up her mind accordingly. In spite of
the fact that she pretended to despise Uncle
Shade, she had a secret respect for his in-
dependence of character, and she resolved to
54 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
repair, as far as she knew how, the damage
her unbridled tongue had wrought.
Thus it was that when Uncle Shade made
his appearance that night he found the cook
nodding by the chimney corner, while his wife
was mending some old clothes. A covered
skillet sat near the fire, and a little mound of
ashes in one corner showed where the ash-
cake was baking or the sweet potatoes roast-
ing. Uncle Shade said nothing. He came
in silently, placed his tin bucket in the hearth,
and seated himself on a wooden stool. There
was no greeting on the part of his wife. She
laid aside her mending, and fixed his supper
on a rude table close at hand.
I speck you mus' be tired," she said when
everything was ready tired and hongry
Uncle Shade made no response. He sat
gazing steadily into the pine-knot flame in
the fireplace that gave the only light in the
De Lord knows I 'd quit hidin' out in de
woods ef I wuz you," said his wife. "I
would n't be gwine 'roun' like some wil' var-
mint dat I would n't I'd let um come
git me an' do what dey gwine ter do. Dey
can't kill you."
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 55
"Dat's so," exclaimed the cook, by way
of making herself agreeable.
Uncle Shade raised his eyebrows and looked
at the woman until she moved about in her
How come you ain't up yonder whar you
b'long ? he asked. He was not angry; the
tone of his voice was not even unkind; but
the cook was so embarrassed that she could
hardly find her tongue.
"I'm here kaze master tol' me ter get
brekkus by sun-up, an' I know by de way
he done dat he gwine ter come and put dat
ar nigger dog on yo' track."
What good dat gwine ter do ? Uncle
"Now, ez ter dat," replied the cook, "I
can't tell you. It may do harm, an' it may
not, but what good it gwine ter do, I'm
never is ter tell you."
What de dog gwine ter do ? inquired
The cook looked at the other woman and
laughed, and then rose from her seat, adjust-
ing her head handkerchief as she did so.
"You mos' too much fer me," she re-
marked as she went toward the door. Mos'
56 THE COLONEL'S NIGGER DOG"
a long ways too much. Ef you kin git off de
groun' an' walk in de elements, de dog ain't
gwine do nothing Maybe you kin do dat;
I dunno. But ef you can't dat ar dog 'll track
you down sho ez you er setting' dar." Then
she went out.
Uncle Shade ate his supper and then sat be-
fore the fire smoking his pipe. After a while
he got a piece of candle out of an old cigar-
box, lit it, and proceeded to ransack a wooden
chest which seemed to be filled with all sorts
of odds and ends,-gimlets, hinges, horn but-
tons, tangled twine, quilt pieces, and broken
crockery. At the bottom he found what he
was looking for, a letter that had been
rolled in cylindrical shape. Around it had.
been wrapped a long strip of cloth. He un-
rolled the package, took the letter out and
looked at it, rolled it up again, and then
placed it carefully in his hat.
"Well, den," said his wife, "what you
gwine ter do ? "
"I 'll tell you," he said. He leaned over
and placed one hand on her knee. "Ef he
don't ketch me, I ain't coming' back. Ef he
ketch me, I'11 show 'im dat," indicating
the letter, -" an' ef dat ain't do no good,
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 57
I 'm gwine ter jump off Injun Bluff in de
"Sho nuff?" his wife asked, in a low
Sho nuff! he answered, in a voice as low.
The woman sighed as she rose from her
chair to clear away the little table. In a little
while she began to sing a hymn, and by that
time Uncle Shade, lying across the foot of the
bed, was fast asleep.
The cook, out of abundant caution, gave
her master his breakfast before sunrise. The
colonel called Jeff into the dining-room and
gave him some substantial scraps of warm
victuals an unheard-of proceeding in that
After breakfast the colonel mounted his
horse, which was standing saddled at the
gate, and rode over to the old home place.
He rode straight to Uncle Shade's house,
called a negro to hold his horse, and went in,
followed by Jeff.
Where did Shade sleep last night ?" he
asked of Shade's wife.
"Well, suh, what little sleeping' he done,
he done right dar, sub right dar in de baid,
58 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
The colonel pulled off one of the blankets,
made Jeff smell of it, and then went out and
mounted his horse. Once in the saddle, he
spoke an encouraging word to the dog. The
task set for Jeff was much more difficult than
the colonel thought it was. The dog circled
around the house, once, twice, thrice, his nose
to the ground. Then he ran back to the
door, and tried to unravel the riddle again.
He went off a little way, flung back, and en-
tered the house, nosed the bed carefully, and
then came out, giving tongue for the first
Near by was a low wooden bench. Jeff
leaped upon it and gave tongue again. A
piece of bacon-rind lay on the bench. The
dog nosed around it very carefully. The colo-
nel clenched his teeth together. If he eats
that meat-skin," he thought, "I '11 go get my
gun and kill him." But Jeff did no such
thing. He had solved a problem that had
puzzled his intelligent nose, and he sprang
away from the bench with a ringing chal-
Some of the negroes who had been watch-
ing the dog looked at each other and shook
their heads. As a matter of fact, Uncle Shade
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 59
had sat on that bench and greased the soles
of his shoes with the bacon-rind. He had a
theory of his own that the dog would be
unable to follow him after his shoes were
It is certain that Jeff had considerable dif-
ficulty in getting away from the negro quar-
ters, for Uncle Shade, true to his habits, had
gone to several of the cabins and issued his
orders, laying off a week's work for the
plough-hands, and telling them what to do
in the event that rains suspended their opera-
tions. Patiently Jeff threaded the maze of
the old negro's comings and goings, and at
last he found the final clue at the stile that
led from the negro quarters into the avenue.
The colonel rode around by the big gate,
and when he passed through Jeff was going
down the big avenue at a pretty lively clip,
but he was not running as freely as his cus-
tom was. Where a bush or a weed touched
the footpath, he would examine it with his
nose, but he kept the colonel's horse in a
canter. When he left the avenue for the
public road he ran in a more assured manner,
and the colonel was compelled to force the
canter into a gallop.
60 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
This was nothing like a fox-hunt, of
course. The excitement of companionship
and rivalry, and the thrill of the restless and
eager-moving pack were lacking, but the en-
thusiasm of the colonel was mingled with
pride as he rode after the dog that was guid-
ing him so swiftly and unerringly. The en-
thusiasm was as persistent as the pride. But
Jeff had no room for such emotions. The
path of duty, straight or crooked, lay before
him, and he followed it up as nimbly as he
The colonel was puzzled by the route they
were taking. He had heard a good deal of
runaway negroes, and had seen some after
they were caught, but he had always ima-
gined that they went into the deep woods or
into the dim swamps for shelter and safety.
But here was old Shade going poling down
the public road where every passer-by could
see him. Or was the dog at fault ? Was it
some visiting negro who had called in to see
the negroes at the home place, and had then
gone home by the road?
While the colonel was nursing these suspi-
cions, Jeff paused and ran back toward him.
At a low place in the fence, the dog hesitated
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 61
and then flung himself over, striking into a
footpath. This began to look like business.
The path led to a ravine, and the ravine must
naturally lead to a swamp. But the path
really led to a spring, and before the colonel
could throw a few rails from the fence and
remount his horse, Jeff had reached the
spring and was clicking up the hill beyond
in the path that led back to the road.
It appeared that Uncle Shade had rested
at the spring a while, for the dog went for-
ward more rapidly. The spring was six
miles from the colonel's house, and he began
to have grave doubts as to the sagacity of
Jeff. What could have possessed old Shade
to run away by this public route ? But if
the colonel had doubts, Jeff had none. He
pressed forward vigorously, splashing through
the streams that crossed the road and going
as rapidly up hill as he went down.
The colonel's horse was a good one, but
the colonel himself was a heavy weight, and
the pace began to tell on the animal. Nev-
ertheless, the colonel kept him steadily at his
work. Four or five miles farther they went,
and then Jeff, after casting about for a while,
struck off through an old sedge field.
62 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
Here, at last, there was no room for doubt,
for Jeff no longer had to put his nose to the
ground. The tall sedge held the scent, and
the dog plunged through it almost as rapidly
as if he had been chasing a rabbit. The
colonel, in his excitement, cheered the dog
on lustily, and the chase from that moment
went at top speed.
Uncle Shade, moving along on a bluff
overlooking Little River, nearly a mile away,
heard it and paused to listen. He thought
he knew the voices of man and dog, but he
was not sure, so he lifted a hand to his ear
and frowned as he listened. There could be
no doubt about it. He was caught. He
looked all around the horizon and up at the
glittering sky. There was no way of escape.
So he took his bundle from the end of his
cane, dropped it at the foot of a huge hick-
ory-tree, and sat down.
Presently Jeff came in sight, running like
a quarter-horse. Uncle Shade thought if he
could manage to kill the dog, there would
still be a chance for him. His master was
not in sight, and it would be an easy matter
to slip down the bluff and so escape. But,
no; the dog was not to be trapped. His
THE COLONEL'S NIGGER DOG" 63
training and instinct kept him out of the old
negro's reach. Jeff made a wide circle around
Uncle Shade and finally stopped and bayed
him, standing far out of harm's way.
The old negro took off his hat, folded it
once and placed it between his head and
the tree as a sort of cushion. And then the
colonel came galloping up, his horse in a
lather of sweat. He drew rein and con-
fronted Uncle Shade. For a moment he
knew not what to say. It seemed as though
his anger choked him; and yet it was not so.
He was nonplussed. Here before him was
the object of his pursuit, the irritating cause
of his heated and hurried journey. There
was in the. spectacle that which drove the
anger out of his heart, and the color out
of his face. Here he saw the very essence
and incarnation of helplessness, an old
man grown gray and well-nigh decrepit in
the service of the family, who had witnessed
the very beginning and birth, as it were,
of the family fortune.
What was to be done with him ? Here in
the forest that was almost a wilderness, the
spirit of justice threatened to step forth from
some convenient covert and take possession
64 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
of the case. But the master had inherited
obstinacy, and pride had added to the store.
Anger returned to her throne.
What do you mean by defying me in this
way ?" the colonel asked hotly. "What do
you mean by running away, and hiding in
the bushes ? Do you suppose I am going to
put up with it ? "
The colonel worked himself up to a terri-
ble pitch, but the old negro looked at his
master with a level and disconcerting eye.
Well, suh," replied Uncle Shade, fum-
bling with a pebble in his hand, ef my
mistiss wuz 'bove groun' dis day I 'd be
right whar she wuz at, right dar doin' my
work, des like I usen ter. Dat what I mean,
Do you mean to tell me, you impudent
rascal, that because your mistress is dead you
have the privilege of running off and hiding
in the woods every time anybody snaps a
finger at you ? Why, if your mistress was
alive to-day she'd have your hide taken off."
"She never is done it yet, suh, an' I been
live wid 'er in about fifty year."
"Well, I'm going to do it," cried the colo-
nel excitedly. He rode under a swinging
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 65
limb and tied his horse. A leather strap
fixed to a wooden handle hung from the horn
of his saddle. Take off that coat," he ex-
Uncle Shade rose and began to search in
his pockets. Well, suh," he said, "'fo' I
does dat I got sump'n here I want you to
I want to see nothing," cried the colonel.
" I 've put up with your rascality until I 'm
tired. Off with that coat! "
But I got a letter fer you, suh, an' dey
tol' me to put it in yo' han' de fus time you
flew'd up an' got mad wid me."
It is a short jump from the extreme of
one emotion to the extreme of another. The
simplicity and earnestness of the old negro
suddenly appealed to the colonel's sense of
the ridiculous, and once more his anger took
wings. Uncle Shade searched in his pockets
until he suddenly remembered that he had
placed it in the lining of his hat. As he
drew it forth with a hand that shook a little
from excitement, it seemed to be a bundle of
rags. It's his conjure-bag," the colonel
said to himself, and at the thought of it he
could hardly keep his face straight.
66 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
Carefully unrolling the long strip of cloth,
which the colonel immediately recognized as
part of a dress his mother used to wear, Uncle
Shade presently came to a yellow letter. This
he handed to the colonel, who examined it
curiously. Though the paper was yellow
with age and creased, the ink had not faded.
"What is this?" the colonel asked me-
chanically, although he had no difficulty in
recognizing the writing as that of his mother,
- the stiff, uncompromising, perpendicular
strokes of the pen could not be mistaken.
"What is this ? he repeated.
Letter fer you, suh," said Uncle Shade.
"Where did you get it?" the colonel in-
"I tuck it right out 'n mistiss' han', suh,"
Uncle Shade replied.
The colonel put on his spectacles and
spread the letter out carefully. This is what
MY DEAR SON: I write this letter to com-
mend the negro Shade to your special care
and protection. He will need your protec-
tion most when it comes into your hand. I
have told him that in the hour when you
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 67
read these lines he may surely depend on
you. He has been a faithful servant to me -
and to you. No human being could be more
devoted to my interests and yours than he
has been. Whatever may have been his
duty, he has gone far beyond it. But for
him, the estate and even the homestead
would have gone to the sheriff's block long
ago. The fact that the mortgages have been
paid is due to his devotion and his judgment.
I am grateful to him, and I want my gratitude
to protect him as long as he shall live. I
have tried to make this plain in my will, but
there may come a time when he will especially
need your protection, as he has frequently
needed mine. When that time comes I want
you to do as I would do. I want you to
stand by him as he has stood by us. To this
hour he has never failed to do more than his
duty where your interests and mine were
concerned. It will never be necessary for
him to give you this letter while I am alive;
it will come to you as a message from the
grave. God bless you and keep you is the
wish of your
68 THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG"
The colonel's hands trembled a little as he
folded the letter, and he cleared his throat in
a somewhat boisterous way. Uncle Shade
held out his hand for the letter.
"No, no the colonel cried. "'It is for
me. I need it a great deal worse than you
Thereupon he put the document in his
pocket. Then he walked off a little way and
leaned against a tree. A piece of crystal
quartz at his feet attracted his attention. A
mussel shell was lying near. He stooped and
picked them both up and turned them over
in his hand.
"What place is this? he asked.
"Injun Bluff, suh."
"Didn't we come out here fishing once,
when I was a little boy? "
"Yasser," replied Uncle Shade, with some
animation. You wasn't so mighty little,
nudder. You wuz a right smart chunk of a
chap, suh. We tuck 'n' come'd out here, an'
fished, an' I got you a hankcher full er deze
here quare rocks, an' you played like dey wuz
diamon's, an' you up'd an' said that you liked
me better 'n you liked anybody 'ceppin' yo'
own blood kin. But times done change,
THE COLONEL'S "NIGGER DOG" 69
suh. I'm de same nigger, but yuther folks
ain't de same."
The colonel cleared his throat again and
pulled off his spectacles, on which a mist had
"Whose land is this ?" he asked presently.
"Stith Ingram's, suh."
"How far is his house? "
"Des cross dat field suh."
"Well, take my hankcher and get me
some more of the rocks. We'll take 'em
Uncle Shade gathered the specimens of
quartz with alacrity. Then the two, Uncle
Shade leading the horse, went across the
field to Stith Ingram's, and, as they went,
Jeff, the colonel's nigger dog," fawned first
on one and then on the other with the utmost
impartiality, although he was too weary to cut
up many capers.
Mr. Ingram himself, fat and saucy, was
sitting on his piazza when the small proces-
sion came in sight. He stared at it until he
saw who composed it, and then he began to
"Well, I declare!" he exclaimed. "Well,
the great Tecumseh! Why, colonel! Why,
70 THE COLONEL'S ,"NIGGER DOG"
what in the world! I'm powerful glad to
see you! Is that you, Shade? Well, take
your master's horse right round to the lot
and brush him up a little. Colonel, come in !
It's been a mighty long time since you've
darkened this door. Where've you been ?"
"I've just been out training my nigger
dog," the colonel replied. "Old Shade
started out before day, and just kept moving.
He was in one of his tantrums, I reckon.
But I'm glad of it. It gives me a chance to
take dinner with you."
"Glad! exclaimed Mr. Ingram. "Well,
you ain't half as glad as I am. That old
Shade's a caution. Maybe he was trying to
get away, sure enough."
Oh, no," replied the colonel. "Shade
knows well enough he couldn't get away
That afternoon, Mr. Ingram carried the
colonel and Jeff home in his buggy, and
Uncle Shade rode the colonel's horse.
A RUN OF LUCK
IT was natural that the war and its re-
sults should bring about great changes in the
South; but I never fully realized what a
wonderful change had been wrought until,
a dozen years after the struggle, business,
combined with pleasure, led me to visit the
old Moreland Place, in middle Georgia. The
whole neighborhood for miles around had
been familiar to my youth, and was still dear to
my memory. Driving along the well-remem-
bered road, I conjured up the brilliant and
picturesque spectacle that the Moreland Place
presented when I saw it last: a stately house
on a wooded hill, the huge, white pillars that
supported the porch rising high enough to
catch the reflection of a rosy sunset, the porch
itself and the beautiful lawn in front filled
with a happy crowd of lovely women and gal-
lant men, young and old, the wide avenues
lined with carriages, and the whole place lit
up (as it were) and alive with the gay commo-
A BUN OF LUCK
tion of a festival occasion. And such indeed
it was the occasion of the home-coming of
Linton Moreland, the master, with a bride he
had won in far-off Mississippi.
The contrast that now presented itself
would have been pathetic if it had not been
amazing. The change that had taken place
seemed impossible enough to stagger belief.
It had been easier to imagine that some con-
vulsion had swept the Moreland Place from
the face of the earth than to believe that in
twenty years neglect and decay could work
such preposterous ravages. The great house
was all but dismantled. One corner of the
roof had fallen in. The wide windows were
'mere holes in the wall. The gable of the
porch was twisted and rent- so much so that
two of the high pillars had toppled over,
while another, following the sinking floor, had
parted company with the burden it was in-
tended to support and sustain. The cornices,
with their queer ornamentation, had disap-
peared, and more than one of the chimney-
tops had crumbled, leaving a ragged pile of
bricks peeping above the edge of the roof.
The lawn and avenues leading to it were
rankly overgrown with weeds. The grove of
A RUN OF LUCK
magnificent trees that had been one of the
features of the Place had not been spared.
Some were lying prone upon the ground and
others had been cut into cord-wood, while
those that had been left standing had been
trimmed and topped and shorn of their
Even the topography of the Place had
changed. The bed of the old highway lead-
ing to the gate that opened on the main
avenue had now become a gully, and a new
highway had been seized upon a highway
so little used that it held out small promise to
the stranger who desired to reach the house.
The surroundings were so strange that I was
undecided whether to follow the new road,
and my horse, responsive to the indecision of
my hand, stopped still. At this an old negro
man, whom I had noticed sitting on the trunk
of a fallen tree not far from the house, rose
and came forward as fast as his age would
permit him. I knew him at once as Uncle
Primus, who had been the head servant in the
Place in Linton Moreland's day carriage-
driver, horse-trainer, foreman, and general
factotum. I spoke to him as he came for-
ward, hat in hand and smiling.
74 A RUN OF LUCK
He bowed in quite the old fashion.
"Howdy, suh! I 'low'd you wuz trying' fer
ter fin' yo' way ter de house, suh. Dat what
make I come. De time wuz, suh, when my ole
Marster wuz 'live, en long atter dat, dat no-
body on top er de groun' hatter ax de way
ter dat house up yander. But dey's been a
mighty churnin' up sence dem days, suh, en
in de churnin' de whey done got de notion
dat it's more wholesomer dan de butter en
I speck it is, suh, ter dem what like whey."
He paused and looked at me with a shrewd
twinkle in his eye, which quickly faded away
when, in responding to his remark, I called
his name again. He regarded me closely, but
not impolitely, and then began to scratch his
head in a puzzled way. I was on the point
of telling him who I was when he raised his
hand, a broad grin of pleasure spreading over
Wait, suh des wait! I ain't gwine ter
be outdone dataway. Ain't you de same little
boy what show'd me whar de buzzud nes' wuz
on de two-mile place, en' which he use ter go
'possum-huntin' long wid me ?" Assuring
Uncle Primus that his identification was com-
plete in all particulars, he brought his two
A RUN OF LUCK 75
hands together with a resounding clap, ex-
claiming, Ah-yi Primus gittin' ol', suh,
but he ain't gwine ter be outdone when it
come ter known' dem what he use ter know,
an' mo' speshually when he know'd 'em en-
durin' er de farmin' days. You er kind er
fleshened up, suh, en you look like you er mo'
settled dan what you wuz in dem days. Kaze
I dunner how come you escapedd breaking' yo'
neck when you wuz stayin' at de Terrell plan-
I was as much pleased at Uncle Primus's
recognition after these long and fateful years
as he seemed to be, and we had much to say
to each other as he piloted me along the new
road to the new gate. The house and the
home place were now owned by a Mr. Yar-
brough, who had at one time followed the call-
ing of an overseer. Having bought the house,
it was a marvel why he allowed it to go to
rack, but he did. Instead of repairing the
fine old house and living in it, he built a
modest dwelling of his own. There is a psy-
chological explanation of this, into which it
is not necessary now to go. At the time I
could find small excuse for the man who could
use the Moreland house as a storage place for
76 A RUN OF LUCK
corn, wheat, potatoes, and fodder, and that,
too, when there were no locks on the doors,
and only boards nailed across the lower win-
But Mr. Yarbrough gave me a good dinner,
as well as a good part of the information I
had come in search of, and it would have
become me ill to inquire too closely into his
motives for abandoning the Moreland dwell-
ing to the elements. After dinner, I walked
about the place with Uncle Primus, visiting
first the rock-spring, that I remembered well,
and the old family burying-ground in the
orchard. Here all the marbles were old and
weather-beaten, and I had much trouble in
making out some of the names and dates. I
knew that Linton Moreland had returned
home after the war, with some military repu-
tation, which he tried in vain to turn to ac-
count in business matters. Farming was such
a precarious affair directly after the war that he
gave it up in disgust, and moved to Savannah,
where- he took charge of the general agency
of an insurance company. Lacking all busi-
ness training, and wanting the instinct of
economy in all things, great or small, it was
no surprise to his friends when he gave up
A RUN OF LUCK 77
the insurance agency in disgust, and went off
I had often heard of old family servants
attaching themselves to their masters' families,
and I wondered why Uncle Primus had not
accompanied Linton. The old negro either
divined my thoughts, or I expressed my won-
der in words not now remembered, for he be-
gan to shake his head solemnly, by way of
"Well, suh," he said, after a while, I come
mighty nigh gwine off wid my young master.
I 'speck I 'd 'a' gone ef he 'd 'a' had any chil-
lun, but he ain't had a blessed one. En it
look like ter me, suh, dat ef de Lord gwine
ter stan' by a man, He gwine ter gi' 'im chil-
lun. But dat ain't all, suh. I done been
out dar ter Massysip wid my young master,
en dat one time wuz too much fer me. Fust
dar wuz de rippit on de steamboat, en den dar
wuz de burnin' er de boat, en den come .de
swamps, en de canebrakes; en I tell you right
now, suh, I dunner which wuz de wuss de
rippit on de boat, er de fier, er de swamps,
er de canebrakes. Dat ain't no country like
our'n, suh. Dey's nuff water in de State er
Massysip fer ter float Noah's ark. Hit's in
78 A RUN OF LUCK
de ve'y lan' what dey plant der cotton in, suh.
De groun' is mushy. En black! You may n't
believe me, suh, but dey wuz times when I wuz
out dar, dat I'd 'a' paid a sev'mpunce fer ter
git a whiff er dish yer red dus' up my nose.
When you come to farmin', suh, gi' me de
red lan' er de gray. Hit may not make ez
much cotton in one season, but it las's longer,
en hit's lots mo' wholesome."
To pass the time away, I asked Uncle
Primus about the "rippit" on the boat, as
he called it. He shook his head and groaned.
Finally he brightened up, and said: -
You ain't know much about my young
master, suh; you wuz too little; but he had
de family failin', ef you kin call it dat. He
wuz up fer whatsoever wuz gwine on, let it
be a fight, er let it be a frolic. 'T wuz all de
same ter him, suh; yit, ef he had de choosing ,
't would 'a' bin a fight mighty nigh all de
time. I dunner but what he wuz wuss at dat
dan ole master wuz, en de Lord knows he
wuz bad 'nuff.
Well, suh, nothing 'd do my young master
but he mus' travel, but stidder traveling' up
dar in Boston, en Phillimindelphy, whar folks
live at, he tuck de notion dat he mus' go out
A RUN OF LUCK 79
dar in de neighborhoods er Massysip. En I
had ter go 'long wid 'im. I kinder hung
back, kaze I done hearn tell 'bout de gwines-
on dey had out dar; but de mo' I hung back,
de mo' my young master want me ter go.
I wuz lots younger den dan what I is now, en
lots mo' soopler, en I 'low ter myself dat ef
anybody kin stan' fer ter go out dar spectin'
ter come back wid breff in um, dat somebody
wuz Primus. 'T wuz like de ol' sayin,' sub -
start out wid a weak heart ef you want ter
come home wid a whole hide. En so we start
off. My young master wuz mighty gayly.
He cracked jokes, en went on mighty nigh
de whole time; en I 'spicioned den dat dey
wuz gwine ter be some devilment cut up 'fo'
we got back. En sho nuff dey wuz.
Well, suh, stidder gwine right straight
to'rds Massysip, we tuck de stage en went ter
Nashville, en den ter Kaintucky, en den fum
dar up ter St. Louis. Hit look like dat whar-
somever dey wuz a hoss-race, er a chicken
fight, er a game er farrer gwine on, right dar
we wuz, en dar we staid twel de light wuz out,
ez you may say. En when dey 'd move, we'd
move. Ef it hadn't 'a' been fer me, suh,
my young master would 'a' teetotally ruint
A BUN OF LUCK
hisse'f wid gambling' en gwine on. I seed dat
sump'n had ter be done, en dat mighty quick,
so I tuck 'im off one side en ax 'im ef he 'd
bet on de boss what I'd pick out fer 'im de
next day. Dat wuz des fun fer my young
master, sub. He tuck me right up, en des
vowed he'd put his las' dollar on 'im.
'T wa'n't no mo' trouble ter me, suh, ter
pick out de winning' hoss dan 'twuz ter wash
my face. Dat night I made my young mars-
ter gi' me a tickler full er dram, en den I
went 'mong de stables whar dey kep' de race-
hosses, en 't w'an't no time 'fo' I know'd eve'y
boss dat wuz gwine ter win de nex' day, en
de day arter, en- de day arter dat kaze de
nigger boys, what rode de hosses, know'd,
en dey tol' me what dey would n't dast ter
tell no white man dat ever wuz born'd.
"Well, suh, we sorter belt back on de fust
two races, but de nex' un wuz de big un, en
my young master plankt down all he had
on de boss I picked, en we walked 'way fum
dar wid mighty nigh 'nuff money ter fill a
bedtick. De biggest pile my young master
got, he won'd fum a great big man, wid white
whiskers en blue eyes. He look mo' like a
preacher dan any boss-race man I ever is see.
A RUN OF LUCK 81
De man wid de white whiskers en blue eyes
counted out de bills slow, en all de time he
wuz doin' it he look hard at me en my young
master. Arter we got back in de tavern,
my young master say, 'Primus !' I say,
'Suh !' He 'low, 'Is you see how dat ol'
man look at us whence he wuz counting' out
dat money?' I 'low, 'Well, suh, I notice
'im glance at us mo' dan once.' He say,' You
know what dat means?' I say, 'No, suh,
less'n hit's kaze he hate ter drap so much
good money.' He 'low, 'Dat man got de idee
in 'im big ez a mule dat I 'm a swindler.
Damn 'im I 'I put a hole thoo 'im de fust
chance I git.' I 'low, 'Better wait twel we
git some mo' er his money.' But my young
master tuck it mighty hard. He walk de
flo' en walk de flo'. But ez fer me well,
suh, I des set down at de foot er de bed, en
de fus news I know'd I wuz done gone ter
de land er Nod.
Well, suh, we went on cross de country
twel we come ter St. Louis. We ain't do
much dar, 'cept ter spen' money, en bimeby
my young master tuck a -notion dat he'd
go ter New 'leans. I 'low, Dar now !' but
dat ain't do no good. My young master
A RUN OF LUCK
done make up his min'. So I got everything
ready, en terreckly atter dinner we went
down en got on de boat. Hit look like ter
me, suh, dat she wuz bigger dan a meetin'-
house. Mon, she loomed up so high, dat I
got sorter skittish, en den on top er dat wuz
two great big smoke-stacks, scolloped on de
aidge, en painted red roun' de rim. En de
smoke dat come a-bilin' out'n um wuz dat
black en thick dat it look like you might er
cut it wid a kyarvin' knife.
I followed 'long atter my young master,
I did, en when we got up on top dar whar de
balance er de folks wuz, de fust man I laid
eyes on wuz dat ar man wid de white whiskers
en de blue eyes what my young master won
de big pile er money fum. He look mo' like
a preacher man dan ever, kaze he wuz drest
up mo' slicker dan what he had been. I
ain't blame 'im fer dat when I seed what
he had wid 'im. I done laid eyes on lots er
purty white ladies, but I ain't seed none no
purtier dan de one what dat ar preacher-
lookin' man had wid 'im. She walk, suh,
like she wuz on,springs, en when she laugh
it look like she lit up de boat, en her ha'r
shine like when de sun strike down thoo de
A RUN OF LUCK 83
trees whar de water ripple at. When de man
'ud look at her, hit seem like his eyes got
mo' bluer, but dey wa'n't no mo' bluer dan
what her 'n wuz en not more'n half ez big.
I know'd by de way she hung on de man's
arm en projicked wid 'im, dat dey wuz some
kin er nudder, en I say ter myse'f, 'Name
er de Lord, white man, why n't you drap dis
gambling' business en settle down some'ers en
take keer er dat gal?' Bless yo' soul, suh,
whiles I wuz sayin' dat de gal wuz pullin' at
de man's whiskers; en bimeby, she up en-
smack she kissed 'im, en den I know'd
he wuz her daddy.
My young master wuz watching' all deze
motions mo' samer dan what I wuz. He
watch de gal so close dat bimeby de man
kotch 'im at it, en when my young master
seed he wuz kotched he up en blush wuss 'n
de gal did. But de preacher-lookin' man
ain't say nothing He look at my young
master an grin des nuff fer ter show his
tushes. 'Twa'n't no laugh; 'twuz one er
deze yer grins like you see on er dog des
'fo' he start ter snap you. Den he hustled
de gal off, en I dunner whar dey went.
"Arter supper some er de men what my
A BUN OF LUCK
young master been talking' wid said sump'n
'bout gittin' up a little game. Dey talked
en smoked, en bimeby my young master en
two mo' 'greed ter try dey han' at poker.
Dey went off to'rds a little room what dey
had at .one een' er de boat, en I went 'long
wid um. My fust notion wuz ter go off
some'ers en go ter bed, but when I got ter
whar dey wuz gwine, dar wuz de preacher-
lookin' man setting' in dar by his lone se'f
shuflin' a deck er yards. He look up, he
did, when my young master en de yuthers
went in, en den he showed his tushes en
bowed. But he kep' on setting' dar shufflin'
de yards, en it look like ter me dat he done
been shuffle yards befo'. I been see lots er
men shuffle yards in my day, but dat ar
preacher-lookin' man, he beat my time by de
way he handle dat deck. 'T wuz slicker dan
Right den en dar, suh, I say ter myse'f
dat dish yer preacher-lookin' man wuz one er
dem ar river-gamblers, what you hear folks
talk 'bout, en dat he wasn't doin' nothing' in
de roun' world' but layin' fer my young mars-
ter. Dey sorter pass de time er day, dey
did, en my young master 'low dat he hope
A RUN OF LUCK
he ain't doin' no intrusion, en de preacher-
lookin' man say ef dey's anybody doin' any
intrusion, it's him, kaze he ain't doin' nothing'
but setting' dar projickin' with de yards
waiting' fer bed-time. Den my young mars-
ter ax 'im ef he won't jine in de game, en
he 'low he don't keer ef he do, but he say it
twon't do no good fer ter jine in de game
ef my young master know ez much 'bout
yards ez he do 'bout race-bosses. Wid
dat, my young master 'low dat he never
won'd a dollar on any boss what he pick
out hisse'f. Dis make de preacher-lookin'
man open his eyes wide, en dey look mo'
bluer dan befo'; en he 'low: -
"'Who does de pickin' fer you?'
"My young master nod his head to'rds
me. Dar's my picker.'
De man say, 'Who larnt you so much
I make answer, Well, sub, hit's mighty
much de same wid bosses ez 'tis wid folks.
Look at um right close en watch der motions,
en you 'll know what dey got in um, but you
won't know how you know it.'
De man say, Kin you pick out yards
same ez you does losses ?'
86 A BUN OF LUCK
SI 'low, 'Well, suh, I has played sev'm-up
on Sunday, en I ken pick out de yards
when I see um.'
"Dis make de man grin mo' samer dan
befo', but my young master looks mighty
sollum. He drum on de table wid his fingers
like he studying' 'bout sump'n, en bimeby he
"' Primus, I wus des 'bout ter sen' you off
ter bed, but I reckon you better set dar be-
hine me en gi' me good luck.'
De man look at me, en den he look at my
young master. I 'low:-
"' I 'I set behime you en nod, Marse Lint,
ef dat '11 gi' you good luck.'
Well, suh, dey started in wid de game.
Dey had corn fer chips, en er empty seegyar
box wuz de bank. I watched um long ez I
could, en den I drapt off ter sleep. I dunner
how long I sot dar en nodded, but bimeby I
hear a shufflin', en dat woke me. De two
men what come in wid my young master had
done got tired er playing en dey draw'd out
en went off ter bed. My young master wuz
fer drawin' out too, but de preacher-lookin'
man would n't hear ter dat. He say, 'Gi'
me er chance ter win my money back,' en I
A BUN OF LUCK 87
know'd by dat dat my young master ain't
been losin' much.
Dey played on, en I kinder kep' one eye
on de game. My young master played des
like he trying' ter lose. But 't wa'n't no use.
Luck wuz running' his way, en she des run'd
all over him. She got 'im down en wal-
lered 'im, en den she sot on top un 'im.
Dey ain't no use talking suh: hit wuz des
scanlous. Dey wa'n't no sleep fer me while
dat wuz gwine on. I des sot dar wid bofe
eyes open, en my mouf too, I speck. De
yards runded so quare, suh, dat dey fair
made my flesh crawl, kaze I know'd how it
bleedze ter look like swindlin' ter de man
what wuz so busy losin' all his money. Ef I
had n't er know'd my young master, nobody
could n't er tol' me dat he wa'n't playing' a
skin game, kaze I would n't believed um. En
dat's de way 't wuz wid dat ar preacher-
lookin' man. He played en played, but
bimeby he put his yards down on de table,
en draw'd a long breff, en look at my young
master. Den he 'low : -
I seed lots er folks in my day en time,
but you en your dam nigger is de slickest
pair dat I ever is lay eyes on.'
88 A BUN OF LUCK
"My young master sorter half-way shet
his eyes en lean on de table en look at de
man. He ax: -
"' What yo' name?'
"Man say, Barksdale er Loueeziana.'
"My young master had his ban' on a
tum'ler er water, en he 'low, 'Well, Barks-
dale er Loueeziana, ol' ez you is, I 'l hatter
l'arn you some manners.'
Wid dat, he dash de water in de man's
face wid one han' en draw'd his gun wid de
yuther. De man wipe de water out er his
eyes wid one han' en draw'd his gun wid de
yuther. Leas'ways, I speck he draw'd it,
kaze de pistol what my young master had
wuz so techous, ez you may say, dat I duckt
my head when I seed 'im put his han' on it.
"But 'fo' anybody could do any damage,
suh, I heerd a squall dat make my blood run
col'. Hit come fum a 'oman, too, kaze dey
ain't nothing' ner nobody what kin make dat
kinder fuss 'cep' it's a 'oman er a mad hoss.
I raise my head at dat, en dar stood my
young master en de man wid der han's on
der guns en de table 'twix' um. De squall
ain't mo' dan die away, 'fo' somebody holler
' Fier!' en time dat word come, I could see
A RUN OF LUCK 89
de red shadder flashin' on de water, en den
hit come 'cross my min' dat dey wuz one nig-
ger man a mighty fur ways from home, en hit
make me feel so sorry fer de nigger man dat
I could n't skacely keep fum bustin' out en
cryin' boo-hoo right den en dar. De man
look at my young master en say: -
'Scuze me des one minnit. My daugh-
'Certn'y, suh!' sez my young master,
en den he bowed des ez perlite ez ef he'd a
had a fiddle stidder a pistol. De man, he
bowed back, en went out, en my young mars-
ter follered arter. By dat time de folks in
de boat (en dey wuz a pile un um, mon !)
come a-rushin' out'n der rooms, en 'fo' you
kin wink yo' eyeball dey wuz a-crowdin' en
a-pushin' en a-pullin' en a-haulin', en a-cryin'
en a-fightin', en a-cussin' en a-prayin'.
Well, suh, I put it down in my min' den,
en I ain't never rub it out, dat ef you take
proudness out'n de white folks dey er des ez
skeery ez de niggers. En dem white folks
on dat boat dat night had all de proudness
out'n um, en dey went on wuss 'n a passel er
four-footed creeturs. Hit's de Lord's trufe,
suh, -all 'cep'n my young master en de
90 A RUN OF LUCK
preacher-lookin' man. Dem two wuz des ez
cool ez cowcumbers, en I say ter myse'f, I did,
' I '1 des up en wait twel dey gits skeer'd, en
den I 'll show um how skeer'd a nigger kin
git when he ain't got nothing' on his min'.'
Dat ar Mr. Barksdale, he wuz fur shovin'
right 'long froo de crowd, but my young
master say dey better stay on de top deck
whar dey kin see what gwine on. 'Bout dat
time I cotch sight er de young 'oman in de
jam right close at us, en I p'int her out ter
my young master. Time he kin say, Dar
yo' daughter right nex' ter de railin',' de
crowd sorter swayed back, de rope railin' give
'way, en inter de water de gal went, wid a lot
mo' un um. My young master han' me his
coat en pistol en over he went; I han' um
ter Mr. Barksdale, whiles he sayin', 'Oh,
Lord oh, Lordy !' en over I went, kaze
in dem days I ain't had no better sense dan
ter go whar my young master went. I hit
somebody when I struck de water, en I like
ter jolted my gizzard out, en when I riz hit
look like de boat had done got a mile away,
but she wuz headin' fer de bank, suh, en she
flung a broadside er light on de water, en I
ain't hit mo'n a dozen licks 'fo' I seed my
A RUN OF LUCK 91
young master hol'in' de gal, an' swimming'
Well, suh, what should I do but des up
en fetch one er dem ar ol'-time fox-huntin'
hollers, en I boun' you mought er heerd it
two mile. My young master make answer,
en den I know'd de res' wuz easy. Kaze me
an' him wuz at home in de water. I holler
out, I did, Gi' me room, Marse Lint!' en I
pulled up 'long side er him same ez a pacin'
hoss. My young master say sump'n, I dis-
remember what, en den he laugh, en when
de young 'oman hear dis, she open her eyes,
en make some kind er movement. My young
master 'low, Don't grab me, please, ma'am,'
en she say she ain't skeer'd a bit. 'Bout dat
time we come up wid a nigger man in a
canoe. Stidder trying' ter save us, ef we
needed any savin', he done his level best ter
git away. But he ain't hit two licks wid de
paddle 'fo' I had de boat, en I say, 'You
dunner who you foolin' wid, nigger!'
"Well, suh, he dez riz up in de boat en
light out same ez a bull-frog in a mill-pon'.
My young master say he wuz a runaway
nigger, en I speck he wuz, kaze what business
he got jumpin' in de water des kaze we want
92 A BUN OF LUCK
ter git in his boat? Dat zackly what he
done; he lipt out same ez er bull-frog. Now,
some folks dunner how ter git in a boat fum
de water when dey ain't nobody in it, but
here's what does. De sides is lots too tick-
lish. I dez grab de een' en sorter spring up
en down twel I got de swing un it, en den I
straddle it des like playing' lip-frog. Dat
done, dey wa'n't no trouble 't all. I lif' de
young 'oman in, en den my young master he
clomb in, en dar we wuz a little chilly in de
win', but warm 'nuff fer ter thank de Lord
we had life in us. I tuck de paddle, I did,
en look at my young master. He nod his
head to'rd de burnin' boat. De young 'oman
wuz cryin' en moanin', en gwine on terrible
'bout her daddy, but I des jerk dat canoe
along. Her daddy wuz dead, she des know'd
it; sump'n done tol' her so; en nobody ner
nothing' can't make her believe he 'live, no
matter ef day done seed 'im 'live en well.
You know how de wimmin folk runs on, suh.
But while she gwine on dat a-way, I wuz des
making' dat canoe zoon, pullin' fust on one
side en den on t'er.
"By dis time, suh, de burnin' boat done
been run on de bank, en, mon, she lit up de