HE WALKED OFF. ..AND LEANED AGAINST A TREE (Page 68)
Tales of the Home Falke
Peace and War
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
AUTHOR OF UNCLE REMUS AND HIS FRIENDS,
NIGHTS WITH UNCLE REMUS, AND THE
T. FISHER UNWIN
26, PATERNOSTER 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
Tuer CoLonetâ€™s â€œNiccer Docâ€
A Run or Luck
Tae Late Mr. Watkins or GEORGIA
A Brie or St. VALERIEN
Tar Comedy or War .
A Boitp DrsEeRTER
A Basy IN THE SIEGE .
Tue Basyâ€™s Fortune
Tuer Cause or THE DirricuLty
Tue Basyâ€™s CHRISTMAS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
HE WALKED OFF... AND LEANED AGAINST A TREE
(Page 68) Frontispiece.
â€œGo!â€ THe MARISTE REPEATED . : , 5 144
Lirrte BILLY TROTTED BY HIS SIDE 5 ; . 210
â€œGOD BLESS YOU, ME Bâ€™y!â€. Ã© A 5 5 336
TALES OF THE HOME FOLKS IN
PEACE AND WAR
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A
Marr Kinpatrick of Putnam used to
laugh and say that his famous foxhound
Whalebone was responsible for a very bril-
hant 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 â€” and it was a sound one â€” was that
where a lady dog is skipping along and _ per-
forming to the queenâ€™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 Whaleboneâ€™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 38
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 schoolmaâ€™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-
loverâ€™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 colonelâ€™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. â€œDing â€™em,â€
he exclaimed, â€œtell â€™em to bring their dogs.
Mind now! tell â€™em to bring their dogs.â€
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 colonelâ€™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-
nelâ€™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,
â€œGo ahead, honey! Cut just as big a dash
as you please with your Thanksgiving. Ill
enjoy it as much as you will, maybe more.
The Lord knows weâ€™ve got a heap to be
thankful for. Well cut a big dash and
be thankful, and then when Christmas comes
we â€™ll cut a big dash and be happy.â€
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 daughterâ€™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 fatherâ€™s
ardent temperament and good-nature, and
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 7
her motherâ€™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 â€œihe
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 Maryâ€™s
preference until the fact fluttered out before
everybodyâ€™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 Maryâ€™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 â€” 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-
terâ€™s mind. Moreover, Miss Lou had great
confidence in Maryâ€™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
Roachâ€™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
â€œMr. Riversâ€ (she never called him colo-
nel), â€œI do hope you havenâ€™t asked your
friends to bring their hound-dogs with them.
Why, they â€™Il take the whole place. Youâ€™ve
got twelve of your own. What on earth do
you want with any more?â€
â€œWhy, yes, honey,â€ said the colonel, with
a sigh. â€œ 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.â€
Mrs. Rivers dropped her hands in her lap
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 11
in helpless dismay. â€œMercies upon us! I
thought you surely had dogs enough of your
â€œWhy, honey,â€ the colonel expostulated,
â€œyou â€™ve let the niggers chunk my dogs till
they are no manner account.â€
â€œWell, I do hate hound-dogs!â€ exclaimed
Miss Lou; â€œsneaking around, sticking their
noses in the pots and pans, and squalling like
they â€™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 werenâ€™t too lazy to
open their eyes.â€
â€œThose are just the foxes we â€™re going to
catch, honey,â€ remarked the colonel sooth-
â€œ Well, Iâ€™d rather feed the foxes a whole
year than to have forty or fifty hound-dogs
quartered on this place three or four days.â€
The colonel made no reply, and after a while
his wife remarked, pleasantly, if not cheer-
fully, â€œ Well, I guess Iâ€™ll have bigger trou-
bles than that before I die. If I donâ€™t, it will
be a mercy.â€
â€œTf you donâ€™t, honey, youll live and die
a happy woman,â€ 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.
â€œJust think, folks!â€ she exclaimed.
â€œFour more days and Iâ€™ll be eighteen! A
woman grown, but with the sweet disposition
of a child!â€
The colonel laughed and his wife flushed
a little. â€œWhere did you hear that?â€ she
asked her daughter.
â€œ Why, I heard you say those words to
father no longer than last night. Look, fa-
ther! mother is actually blushing ! â€
â€œT believe I did say something like that,â€
said Miss Lou. â€œI 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 â€™ve got to feed.â€
â€œOh, father!â€ exclaimed Mary, â€œare we
to have a fox-hunt? And may I go?â€ The
colonel nodded a prompt assent, but Miss
Lou protested. â€œNow, 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 18
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, â€” though I think they could be bet-
ter employed, â€” but I think the line ought to
be drawn at the women.â€
â€œWhy, mother, how many times have I
been fox-hunting with father ?â€
â€œJust as many times as you have made
me miserable,â€ replied Miss Lou; â€œjust that
many times and no more.â€
â€œNow, momsy! donâ€™t scold your onliest
and oldest daughter,â€ pleaded Mary.
â€œDonâ€™t wheedle around me!â€ cried Miss
Lou, pretending to be very angry. â€œ Mr.
Rivers, you need nâ€™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
â€œ Well, honey â€™ â€”
â€œT donâ€™t care what anybody says,â€ Miss
Lou broke in. â€œHere 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 !â€
14 HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING
â€œYou hear that, father? Momsy says
Iâ€™m old enough to get married. Ill marry
the man that brings me the foxâ€™s brush the
day after Christmas. And momsy shall bake
the cake, and she â€™ll burn it just as the cake
is burning now.â€
Miss Lou lifted her nose in the air. â€œTI
declare, if old Dilsey has gone to sleep and
left that fruit-cake to burn, Iâ€™ll send her to
the overseer |â€
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 Louâ€™s temper was all on the
The colonel looked at his daughter over
his spectacles and smiled. â€œI reckon you
know, precious, that we â€™ll have to catch the
fox before your beau can give you the brush.
But we'll have some good dogs here. So
you â€™d better tell your sweetheart to stir his
stumps. Maybe the wrong chap will get the
â€œWhy, you wonâ€™t let me have one little
joke, father,â€ cried Mary. â€œOf course I
won't â€˜marry the man that gives me the
brush â€ â€” 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 â€”â€œ unless
heâ€™s the right person.â€â€ 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 â€” 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 Maryâ€™s
mother. Preston was not a planter and had
no dogs, but he was very fond of cross-coun-
try ridmg, 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 ose
who sat around it had to form a very wide
half-circle indeed, for the flaring logs and
glowing embers sent forth a rn 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,â€”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. â€œThis mince-pie,â€ he said, â€œ was
made by Mary. I donâ€™t think she put enough
of the twang into it.â€
â€œTt is magnificent ! â€â€™ exclaimed Colston.
â€œ Superb!â€™ Preston declared.
â€œTt â€™s as good as any,â€ said Tom Collings-
worth ; â€œbut 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 â€™s ready to get married.â€
â€œThat is her strong point!â€ cried the
colonel. â€œShe beats anybody at that.â€
â€œWell, then,â€ said Collingsworth, â€œyou
just go and get her wedding goods.â€
â€œTâ€™m beginningâ€™ to think so, too,â€ replied
the colonel. â€œNo longer than the other day Â°
she declared she â€™d marry the man that brings
her the foxâ€™s brush to-morrow. What do you
think of that?â€
â€œ Why, father !â€â€™ exclaimed Mary, blushing
â€œThen itâ€™s just as good as settled,â€ re-
plied Collingsworth gravely. â€œIâ€™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 â€™ll whistle â€™em up and
shake it at â€™em to-night.â€
â€œ But remember, Mr. Collingsworth, you
are already married,â€™ Mary suggested archly.
â€œT know â€”I know! But my old woman
has been complaining mightâ€™ly of late â€” com-
plaming mightâ€™ly. When I started away, she
says, â€˜Tom, you ought nâ€™t to ride your big
gray; heâ€™s lots too young for you.â€™ But
something told me that Iâ€™d need the big
gray, and, sure enough, hereâ€™s right where
the big gray comes in.â€
â€œT brought my sorrel along,â€ remarked
â€œOh, you did?â€ inquired Collingsworth,
sarcastically. â€˜â€œ Well, Iâ€™ll 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 ainâ€™t but one
nag Iâ€™m afraid of, and thatâ€™s Jack Prestonâ€™s
roan filly. You did nâ€™t bring her, did you,
Jack? Well,â€ continued Collingsworth with
a sigh, as Jack nodded assent, â€œI'll give
you one tussle anyhow. But that roan is a
half-sister of Watersâ€™s Timoleon. I declare,
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 19
Jack, you ought nâ€™t to be riding that filly
around in the underbrush.â€
â€œShe needs exercise,â€ Preston explained.
â€œShe â€™s been in the stable eating her head off
for a week.â€
Collingsworth shook his head. â€œ Well,â€
he said, after a while, â€œjust keep her on the
ground and Iâ€™ll try to follow along after you
the best I can.â€
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 â€”
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-
â€œ How is it, Harvey ?â€
â€œSplendid! Could nâ€™t be better. Itâ€™s
warmer. Been drizzling a little.â€
â€œThank the Lord for that!â€ 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 Maryâ€™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 Dilseyâ€™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
dÃ©tour in order to cross Murder Creek, so
that it was near half-past six oâ€™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 : â€”
â€œNow, Miss Mary, which of the two would
you like to receive the brush from?â€
â€œTl allow you to choose for me. You
are a good judge.â€
â€œWell,â€ said Collingsworth, â€œif a man
was to back me up against the wall, and
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 28
draw a knife on me, and I could nâ€™t help
myself, Iâ€™d say Preston. Thatâ€™s a fact.â€
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.
â€œThat â€™s my beauty!â€ exclaimed Collings-
worth. â€œ Thatâ€™s Music, telling what she
thinks she knows. Wait!â€
Again the long-drawn note came out of the
valley, but this time it was eager, significant.
â€œ Now sheâ€™s telling what she knows,â€ ex-
The dogs went scampering to the signal.
Music was not indulging in any flirtation.
The drag was very warm. Whalebone, Matt
Kilpatrickâ€™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-
â€œTf you lk excuse me, Miss Mary, I'll go
down and try to untangle that skem. That
fox is nâ€™t forty yards from Musieâ€™s nose.â€
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, forâ€™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 Prestonâ€™s roan filly was going at a much
easier gait than Colstonâ€™s sorrel.
Where the ridge and the hunt entered the
woods there was what is known as a â€œclay
gall,â€ 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 pot 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.
â€œ Wait,â€ said Matt Kilpatrick. â€œ Whale-
bone and Music and Rowan have gone off to
investigate matters. Letâ€™s hear what they
have to say.â€
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 colonelâ€™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-
â€œ Donâ€™t ride so hard, Miss Mary,â€ he said.
â€œ You â€œIl have plenty of hard riding to do
when that old red comes back. Iâ€™m going to
take my stand on yonder hill, and if you â€™ll
keep me company, our horses will be fresh
when the big scuffle comes.â€™
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 clea#; 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
â€œNow,â€ said Collingsworth, â€œ we â€™ll ride a
half-mile to the left here, and I think well
then be in the hock of the ham.â€
HOW WHALEBONE CAUSED A WEDDING 29
â€œTn the hock of the ham!â€ exclaimed
â€œ Oh, I was talking to myself,â€ explained
the gray cavalier, laughing. â€œIf youll 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 heâ€™ll come back. If
you ask me why a fox will run up stream
when heâ€™s not hard pushed, Iâ€™ll never tell
you, but thatâ€™s the way they do.â€
A quarter of an hour passed â€” a half-hour
â€” three quarters. Then, far to the left, there
came upon the morning wind a whimpering
sound that gradually swelled into a chorus of
â€œHeâ€™s cut out a bigger ham than I
thought he would,â€ said Collingsworth.
The sun was now shining. brightly. An
old bell-cow, browsing on the Bermuda roots
â€˜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 viewâ€”a â€œlittle bobble,â€™ as Mr.
Collingsworth phrased it â€” and they deployed
about very rapidly, knowing by instinct that
they had no time to lose. Old Blue, the
_ colonelâ€™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 381
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 smiled,
but she did not return the smile. She was
very pale, and she swished the air with her
ridmg-whip so suddenly and so vigorously
that her horse jumped and snorted.
â€œDonâ€™t do that, child!â€ said Collings-
worth, in a lowtone. 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-
tonâ€™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, â€” once, twice, thrice; â€” 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 fillyâ€™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 338
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 â€œBy your leave,â€ tied it to Miss
Maryâ€™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 â€” those
who had ambled along with the colonel â€”the
whole party turned their horsesâ€™ 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
One morning Colonel Rivers of Jasper,
standing on his back porch, called to a negro
man who was passing through the yard.
Pe Ben tes
â€œ How â€™s everything at the home place?â€
â€œ Tollerble, suh, â€” des tollerble.â€â€™
â€œ Tell Shade I want to see him this morn-
â€œUnk Shade done gone, suh. He sho is.
He done gone!â€
â€œ Gone where?â€
â€œHe done tuck ter de woods, suh. Yas-
ser! he done gone!â€
A frown clouded the colonelâ€™s otherwise
â€œWhat is the matter with the old simple-
â€œSome kinder gwines on â€™twix him anâ€™
Marse Preston, suh. I dunno de rights un
it. But Unk Shade done gone, suh!â€
THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 35
â€œ When did he go?â€
â€œ Vistiddy, suh.â€
The colonel turned and went into. the
house, and the negro passed on, shakingâ€™ 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 â€œa
speaking likeness,â€ 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,â€” old Shade
a runaway! What would his mother say if
she were alive? The colonel felt, too, â€” he
could not help but feel,â€”that he was largely
responsible for the fact that old Shade was a
When Mary Rivers married Jack Preston,
the colonel, Maryâ€™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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
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 colonelâ€™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 boysâ€” the
colonel, the oldest, was in his teensâ€”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, â€” their father had
lived temperately and died a Christian. Be-
sides that consolation, she had an abundance
THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 3T
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 hourâ€™s sickness. She would have parted
with her right hand sooner than sell one of
them. She took her little boys from school
â€”the youngest was ten and the oldest four-
teen â€”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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 39
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
Unele Shade was afraid of going to the sher-
ifs 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
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 Shadeâ€™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 schoolmaâ€™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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 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 husbandâ€™s
purse was pinched. The son, having married
the woman of his choice, built him a home
within a stoneâ€™s throw of his motherâ€™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, â€” the
significance of candor and simplicity.
Something of his mistressâ€™s energy and in-
42 THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
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
wasnâ€™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 negroâ€™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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 43
by those who knew no other way of showing
their respect and esteem. But in her will
the colonelâ€™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
â€œlonesome,â€ 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
This was the state of affairs when the colo-
nelâ€™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 â€œ favorâ€ â€”as they called it â€”
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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 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
negroâ€™s shoulders. The unusual noise set the
chickens to cackling, the turkeys to gobbling,
and the dogs to barking.
â€œOld man,â€™ said Preston, when Uncle
Shade had gravely resumed his place near
the dining-room door, â€œtake â€™em farther
away from the house the next time you kill
â€œT7ll do so, suh,â€™â€ 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
nothing of the sensitiveness of an old family
servant. On the other hand, Uncle Shade
had a dim idea of Prestonâ€™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 â€œduds,â€ 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 motherâ€™s disposition
â€” a little of her temper if not much of her
energy â€” and he decided to take a more seri-
- THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 47
ous view of Uncle Shadeâ€™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 â€” 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.
â€œ What is it?â€ his wife asked.
â€œ Well, I'll tell you,â€ said the colonel, hes-
itating a little. â€œIâ€™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.â€
The wife regarded the husband with amaze-
â€œWhy, Mr. Rivers, what are you thinking
of?â€ she exclaimed. â€œYou donâ€™t mean to
tell me that you are going to put yourself on
a level with Bill Favers and go trollopmg
around the country, hunting negroes with
hound-dogs? I never heard you say that
48 THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
any of your family ever stooped to such as
â€œThey never did,â€ the colonel rejoimed
testily. â€œâ€˜ But they never had such a rantan-
kerous nigger to deal with.â€
â€œ Just as he is, just so he was made,â€™ was
Mrs. Riversâ€™s matter-of-fact comment.
â€œT know that mighty well,â€ said the
colonel. â€œBut the time has come when he
ought to be taken in hand. I could get Bill
Faversâ€™s dogs and run him down in an hour,
but Iâ€™m going to catch my own nigger with
my own nigger dog.â€
â€œWhy, Mr. Rivers, you have nâ€™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.â€
â€œWell,â€ replied the colonel, wincing a lit-
tle, â€œ Matt Kilpatrick has promised to give
me one of his beagles, and Iâ€™m going to
take him and train him to track niggers.â€
â€œ Another dog on the place!â€ exclaimed
Mrs. Rivers. â€œ Well, you â€˜Il have to sell
some negroes. We canâ€™t afford to feed a lot
of no-account negroes and no-account dogs
THE COLONELS â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 49
without selling something. You canâ€™t even
give the dogs away â€” and I would nâ€™t let you
impose on anybody that way, if you could ;
so you ll 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 thereâ€™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 Kilpatrickâ€™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 heâ€™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 colonelâ€™s â€œnigger dogâ€ 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
he had a colder nose than Bill Faversâ€™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, â€” 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 51
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.
â€œ Mighty quare â€™bout Unk Shade,â€ said the
â€œHuh! dat ole nigger-man de devil, mon !â€
replied the cook, rattling the dishes.
â€œTJ bounâ€™ ef â€™twuz any er we-all gwine on
52 THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
dat away runninâ€™ off anâ€™ cominâ€™ back when we
git good anâ€™ ready, anâ€™ eatinâ€™ right dar in de
house in broad daylight, anâ€™ marster gwine
right by de doâ€™ â€”I bounâ€™ you weâ€™d be kotch
anâ€™ fotch back,â€ remarked the girl, in an in-
â€œTa! I ainâ€™t studyinâ€™ *bout ole Shade
kinginâ€™ it â€™rounâ€™ here,â€ exclaimed the cook.
â€œHe been gwine on dat away so long dat
*t ainâ€™t nothinâ€™ new.â€™ Here she paused and
â€œ What you laughinâ€™ at?â€ inquired the
girl, pausing in her work.
â€œ At de way dat ole nigger man been gwine
on,â€ responded the cook. â€œTI hear tell dat
marster got dat ar little hounâ€™-dog traininâ€™
now fer ter track ole Shade down. Dar de
dog anâ€™ dar old Shade, but dey ainâ€™t been no
trackinâ€™ 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
*twixâ€™ daybreak anâ€™ sun-up, anâ€™ dar hell
finâ€™ de track er dat ole nigger man hot anâ€™
â€œT donâ€™t keer ef dey does ketch â€™im,â€ said
the house-girl, by way of comment. â€œ De wuss
frailinâ€™ I ever got he giâ€™ me. He skeerâ€™d
THE COLONEL'S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 53
me den, anâ€™ I been skeerâ€™d un â€™im fum dat
â€œDe white folks kin git â€™im any time dey
want â€™im,â€ said the cook. â€œ But you hear
me ! â€” dey donâ€™t want â€™im.â€
â€œHoney, I bâ€™lieve you,â€ 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 colonelâ€™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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
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.
â€œJT speck you musâ€™ be tired,â€ she said when
everything was ready â€” â€œ 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
â€œDe Lord knows Id quit hidinâ€™ out in de
woods ef I wuz you,â€ said his wife. â€œI
would nâ€™t be gwine â€™rounâ€™ like some wilâ€™ var-
mint â€” dat I would nâ€™t!â€”Iâ€™d let um come
git me anâ€™ do what dey gwine ter do. Dey
canâ€™t lull you.â€
THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 55
â€œDatâ€™s so,â€ 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
â€œ How come you ainâ€™t up yonder whar you
bâ€™long ?â€ 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.
â€œTâ€™m here kaze marster tolâ€™ me ter get
brekkus by sun-up, anâ€™ I know by de way
he done dat he gwine ter come and put dat
ar nigger dog on yoâ€™ track.â€
â€œ What good dat gwine ter do?â€ Uncle
â€œNow, ez ter dat,â€ replied the cook, â€œI
canâ€™t tell you. It may do harm, anâ€™ it may
not, but what good it gwine ter do, Iâ€™m
never is ter tell you.â€
â€œ What de dog gwine ter do?â€ 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.
â€œYou mosâ€™ too much fer me,â€ she re-
marked as she went toward the door. â€œ Mosâ€™
56 THE COLONELS â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
a long ways too much. Ef you kin git off de
grounâ€™ anâ€™ walk in de elements, de dog ainâ€™t
gwine do nothinâ€™. Maybe you kin do dat ;
I dunno. But ef you canâ€™t dat ar dog â€™ll track
you down sho ez you er settinâ€™ dar.â€ 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, â€” gimlets, hinges, horn but-
tons, tangled twine, quilt pieces, and broken
crockery. At the bottom he found what he
was looking for, â€”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.
â€œWell, den,â€ said his wife, â€œwhat you
gwine ter do?â€
â€œJ7ll tell you,â€ he said. He leaned over
and placed one hand on her knee. â€œ Hf he
donâ€™t ketch me, I ainâ€™t cominâ€™ back. Ef he
ketch me, Ill show â€™im dat,â€ â€” indicating
the letter, â€” â€œanâ€™ ef dat ainâ€™t do no good,
THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ On
Iâ€™m gwine ter jump off Injun Bluff in de
â€œSho nuff?â€ his wife asked, in a low
â€œ Sho nuff!â€ 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 â€” 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 Shadeâ€™s house,
called a negro to hold his horse, and went in,
followed by Jeff.
â€œWhere did Shade sleep last night?â€ he
asked of Shadeâ€™s wife.
â€œ Well, suh, what little sleepinâ€™ he done,
he done right dar, suh â€” right dar in de baid,
58 THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
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. â€œIf he eats
that meat-skin,â€ he thought, â€œTâ€™ll go get my
gun and kill him.â€ 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. Asa matter of fact, Uncle Shade
THE COLONELS â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 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 weekâ€™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 negroâ€™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 colonelâ€™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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 61
and then flung himself over, striking into a
footpath. â€˜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 colonelâ€™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 colonelâ€™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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
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, here 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 63
training and instinct kept him out of the old
negroâ€™s reach. Jeff made a wide circle around
Uncle Shade and finally stopped and bayed
him, standing far out of harmâ€™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, â€” 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
of the case. But the master had inherited
obstinacy, and pride had added to the store.
Anger returned to her throne.
â€œ What do you mean by defying me in this
way ?â€ the colonel asked hotly. â€œWhat do
you mean by running away, and hiding in
the bushes? Do you suppose I am going to
put up with it?â€
The colonel worked himself up to a terri-
ble pitch, but the old negro looked at his
master with a level and disconcerting eye.
â€œWell, suh,â€ replied Uncle Shade, fum-
bling with a pebble in his hand, â€œef my
mistiss wuz *bove groun* dis day Iâ€™d be
right whar she wuz at, â€” right dar doinâ€™ my
work, des like I usen ter. Dat what I mean,
â€œDo 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.â€
â€œShe never is done it yet, suh, anâ€™ I been
live wid â€™er in about fifty year.â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™m going to do it,â€ cried the colo-
nel excitedly. He rode under a swinging
THE COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 65
limb and tied his horse. A leather strap
fixed to a wooden handle hung from the horn
of his saddle. â€œTake off that coat,â€™ he ex-
Uncle Shade rose and began to search in
his pockets. â€œ Well, suh,â€ he said, â€œâ€™foâ€™ I
does dat I got sumpâ€™n here I want you to
â€œJT want to see nothing,â€ cried the colonel.
â€œTâ€™ve put up with your rascality until Iâ€™m
tired. Off with that coat!â€
â€œBut I got a letter fer you, suh, anâ€™ dey
tolâ€™ me to put it in yoâ€™ hanâ€™ de fus time you
flewâ€™d up anâ€™ got mad wid me.â€
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 colonelâ€™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. â€œItâ€™s his conjure-bag,â€ the colonel
said to himself, and at the thought of it he
could hardly keep his face straight.
66 THE COLONELS â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
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.
â€œWhat is this?â€ the colonel asked me
chanically, although he had no difficulty in
recognizing the writing as that of his mother,
â€”the stiff, uncompromising, perpendicular
strokes of the pen could not be mistaken.
â€œ What is this?â€ he repeated.
â€œLetter fer you, suh,â€ said Uncle Shade.
â€œWhere did you get it?â€ the colonel in-
â€œT tuck it right out â€™n mistissâ€™ hanâ€™, suh,â€
Uncle Shade replied.
The colonel put on his spectacles and
spread the letter out carefully. This is what
he read : â€”
My par Sow: 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 67
read these lines he may surely depend on
you. He has been a faithful servant to me â€”
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.
Iam 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 COLONELâ€™S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
The colonelâ€™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.
â€œNo, no!â€ the colonel cried. â€œIt 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.
â€œWhat place is this?â€ he asked.
â€œTnjun Bluff, suh.â€
â€œDidnâ€™t we come out here fishing once,
when I was a little boy?â€
â€œ Yasser,â€ replied Uncle Shade, with some
animation. â€˜ You waâ€™nâ€™t so mighty little,
nudder. You wuza right smart chunk of a
chap, suh. We tuck â€™nâ€™ comeâ€™d out here, anâ€™
fished, anâ€™ I got you a hankcher full er deze
here quare rocks, anâ€™ you played like dey wuz
diamonâ€™s, anâ€™ you upâ€™d anâ€™ said that you liked
me better â€™n you liked anybody â€™ceppinâ€™ yoâ€™
own blood kin. But times done change,
THE COLONEL'S: â€œNIGGER DOGâ€ 69
suh. Iâ€™m de came nigger, but yuther folks
ainâ€™t de same.â€™
The colonel cleared his throat again and
pulled off his spectacles, on which a mist had
â€œ Whose land is pha ee he asked Breen:
â€œ Stith Ingramâ€™ Ss, SU
â€œHow far is his hase? 233
â€œDes cross dat fielâ€™, suh.â€
â€œWell, take my hankcher and get me
some more of the rocks. We'll take â€™em
Uncle Shade gathered the specimens of
quartz with alacrity. Then the two, Uncle
Shade leading the horse, went across the
field to Stith Ingramâ€™s, and, as they went,
Jeff, the colonelâ€™s â€œ nigger dog,â€ 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
â€œWell, I declare!â€ he exclaimed. â€œ Well,
the great Tecumseh! Why, colonel! Why,
70 THE COLONEL'S â€œNIGGER DOGâ€
what in the world! Iâ€™m powerful glad to
see you! Is that you, Shade? Well, take
your masterâ€™s horse right round to the lot
and brush him up a little. Colonel, come in!
Itâ€™s been a mighty long time since youâ€™ve
darkened this door. Where â€™ve you been ?â€
â€œTâ€™ve just been out training my nigger
dog,â€ the colonel replied. â€œOld Shade
started out before day, and just kept moving.
He was in one of his tantrums, I reckon.
But Iâ€™m glad of it. It gives me a chance to
take dinner with you.â€
â€œGlad!â€ exclaimed Mr. Ingram. â€œWell,
you ainâ€™t half as glad as I am. That old
Shadeâ€™s a caution. Maybe he was trying to
get away, sure enough.â€
â€œOh, no,â€ replied the colonel. â€˜Shade
knows well enough he couldnâ€™t get away
That afternoon, Mr. Ingram carried the
colonel and Jeff home in his buggy, and
Uncle Shade rode the colonelâ€™s horse.
A RUN OF LUCK
Ir 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-
72 A RUN OF LUCK
tion of a festival occasion. And such indeed
it was â€” 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
â€˜mere holes in the wall. The gable of the
porch was twisted and rentâ€” 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 73
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 4 new
highway had been seized upon â€” 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 Morelandâ€™s day â€” 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.
â€œHowdy, suh! I â€™lowd you wuz tryinâ€™ fer
ter finâ€™ yoâ€™ way ter de house, suh. Dat what
make I come. De time wuz, suh, when my ole
Marster wuz â€™live, en long atter dat, dat no-
body on top er de grounâ€™ hatter ax de way
ter dat house up yander. But deyâ€™s been a
mighty churninâ€™ up sence dem days, suh, en
in de churninâ€™ de whey done got de notion
dat itâ€™s more wholesomer dan de butter â€” en
I speck it is, suh, ter dem what like whey.â€
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
â€œ Wait, suh! des wait! I ainâ€™t gwine ter
be outdone dataway. Ainâ€™t you de same little
boy what showâ€™d me whar de buzzud nesâ€™ wuz
on de two-mile place, enâ€™ which he use ter go
*possum-huntinâ€™ long wid me?â€ 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, â€œ Ah-yi! Primus gittinâ€™ olâ€™, suh,
but he ainâ€™t gwine ter be outdone when it
come ter knowinâ€™ dem what he use ter know,
anâ€™ moâ€™ speshually when he knowâ€™d â€™em en-
durinâ€™ er de farminâ€™ days. You er kind er
fleshened up, suh, en you look like you er moâ€™
settled dan what you wuz in dem days. Kaze
T dunner how come you â€™scaped breakinâ€™ yoâ€™
neck when you wuz stayinâ€™ at de Terrell plan-
I was as much pleased at Uncle Primusâ€™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 repairmg 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 TT
the insurance agency in disgust, and went off
I had often heard of old family servants
attaching themselves to their mastersâ€™ 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
â€œ Well, suh,â€ he said, after a while, â€œ I come
mighty nigh gwine off wid my young marster.
I speck Iâ€™d â€™aâ€™ gone ef he â€™dâ€™aâ€™ had any chil-
lun, but he ainâ€™t had a blessed one. En it
look like ter me, suh, dat ef de Lord gwine
ter stanâ€™ by a man, He ewine ter giâ€™ â€œim chil-
lun. But dat ainâ€™t all, suh. JI done been
out dar ter Massysip wid my young marster,
en dat one time wuz too much fer me. Fust
dar wuz de rippit on de steamboat, en den dar
wuz de burninâ€™ er de boat, en den come de
swamps, en de canebrakes ; en I tell you right
now, suh, I dunner which wuz de wuss â€” de
rippit on de boat, er de fier, er de swamps,
er de canebrakes. Dat ainâ€™t no country like
ourâ€™n, suh. Deyâ€™s nuff water in de State er
Massysip fer ter float Noahâ€™s ark. Hitâ€™s in
78 A RUN OF LUCK
de veâ€™y lanâ€™ what dey plant der cotton in, suh.
De grounâ€™ is mushy. En black! You may nâ€™t
bâ€™lieve me, suh, but dey wuz times when I wuz
out dar, dat Iâ€™dâ€™aâ€™ paid a sevâ€™mpunce fer ter
git a whiff er dish yer red dusâ€™ up my nose.
When you come to farminâ€™, suh, gi me de
red lanâ€™ er de gray. Hit may not make ez
much cotton in one season, but it lasâ€™s longer,
en hit â€™s lots moâ€™ wholesome.â€
To pass the time away, I asked Uncle
Primus about the â€œrippitâ€ on the boat, as
he called it. He shook his head and groaned.
Finally he brightened up, and said : â€”
â€œ You ainâ€™t know much about my young
marster, suh ; you wuz too little; but he had
de famâ€™ly failinâ€™, ef you kin call it dat. He
wuz up fer whatsomever wuz gwine on, let it
be a fight, er let it be a frolic. â€™T wuz all de
same ter him, suh; yit, ef he had de choosinâ€™,
*t would â€™aâ€™ bin a fight mighty nigh all de
time. I dunner but what he wuz wuss at dat
dan ole marster wuz, en de Lord knows he
wuz bad *nuff.
â€œ Well, suh, nothin â€™d do my young marster
but he musâ€™ travel, but stidder travelinâ€™ up
dar in Boston, en Phillimindelphy, whar folks
live at, he tuck de notion dat he musâ€™ go out
A RUN OF LUCK 79
dar in de neighborhoods er Massysip. En I
had ter go â€˜long wid â€™im. I kinder hung
back, kaze I done hearn tell â€™bout de gwines-
on dey had out dar ; but de moâ€™ I hung back,
de moâ€™ my young marster want me ter go.
I wuz lots younger den dan what I is now, en
lots moâ€™ soopler, en I â€™low ter myself dat ef
anybody kin stanâ€™ fer ter go out dar spectinâ€™
ter come back wid breff in um, dat somebody
wuz Primus. â€T wuz like de olâ€™ sayin,â€™ suh â€”
start out wid a weak heart ef you want ter
come home wid a whole hide. En so we start
off. My young marster wuz mighty gayly.
He cracked jokes, en went on mighty nigh
de whole time; en I â€™spicioned den dat dey
wuz gwine ter be some devilment cut up foâ€™
we got back. En sho nuff dey wuz.
â€œ Well, suh, stidder gwine right straight
toâ€™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 â€™d move, wed
move. Ef it hadnâ€™t â€™aâ€™ been fer me, suh,
my young marster would â€™aâ€™ teetotally ruint
80 A RUN OF LUCK
hisseâ€™f wid gamblinâ€™ en gwine on. I seed dat
sump'n had ter be done, en dat mighty quick,
so I tuck â€™im off one side en ax â€™im ef he â€™d
bet on de hoss what Iâ€™d pick out fer â€™im de
next day. Dat wuz des fun fer my young
marster, suh. He tuck me right up, en des
vowed heâ€™d put his lasâ€™ dollar on â€™im.
â€œ?T waâ€™nâ€™t no moâ€™ trouble ter me, suh, ter
pick out de winninâ€™ hoss dan â€™twuz ter wash
my face. Dat night I made my young mars-
ter gi me a tickler full er dram, en den I
went â€™mong de stables whar dey kepâ€™ de race-
hosses, en â€™t wâ€™anâ€™t no time â€™foâ€™ I knowâ€™d eveâ€™y
hoss dat wuz gwine ter win de nexâ€™ day, en
de day arter, en de day arter dat â€” kaze de
nigger boys, what rode de hosses, knowâ€™d,
en dey tolâ€™ me what dey would nâ€™t dast ter
tell no white man dat ever wuz bornâ€™d.
â€œ Well, suh, we sorter helt back on de fust
two races, but de nexâ€™ un wuz de big un, en
my young marster plankt down all he had
on de hoss I picked, en we walked â€™way fum
dar wid mighty nigh â€™nuff money ter fill a
bedtick. De biggest pile my young marster
got, he wonâ€™d fum a great big man, wid white
whiskers en blue eyes. He look moâ€™ like a
preacher dan any hoss-race man I ever is see.
A RUN OF LUCK 81
De man wid de white whiskers en bluÃ© eyes
counted out de bills slow, en all de time he
wuz doinâ€™ it he look hard at me en my young
marster. Arter we got back in de tavern,
my young marster say, â€˜Primus!â€™ I say,
â€˜Suh!â€™ He â€˜low, â€˜Is you see how dat olâ€™
man look at us whence he wuz countinâ€™ out
dat money?â€™ I â€˜low, â€˜ Well, suh, I notice
"im glance at us moâ€™ dan once.â€™ He say, â€˜ You
know what dat means?â€™ I say, â€˜No, suh,
lessâ€™n hitâ€™s kaze he hate ter drap so much
good money.â€™ Heâ€™low, â€˜ Dat man got de idee
in â€œim big ez a mule dat I â€™m a swindler.
Damn â€™im! Ill put a hole thoo â€™im de fust
chance I git.â€™ I low, â€˜ Better wait twel we
git some moâ€™ er his money.â€™ But my young
marster tuck it mighty hard. He walk de
floâ€™ en walk de floâ€™. But ez fer me â€” well,
suh, I des set down at de foot er de bed, en
de fus news I knowâ€™d I wuz done gone ter
de land er Nod.
â€œ Well, suh, we went on cross de country
twel we come ter St. Louis. We ainâ€™t do
much dar, â€™cept ter spenâ€™ money, en bimeby
my young marster tuck a notion dat heâ€™d
go ter New â€™leans. I â€˜low, â€˜Dar now!â€™ but
dat ainâ€™t do no good. My young marster
82 A RUN OF LUCK
done make up his minâ€™. So I got evrything
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 meetinâ€™-
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 rounâ€™ de rim. En de
smoke dat come a-bilinâ€™ outâ€™n um wuz dat
black en thick dat it look like you might er
cut it wid a kyarvinâ€™ knife.
â€œT followed â€˜long atter my young marster,
T 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 marster won
de big pile er money fum. He look moâ€™ like
a preacher man dan ever, kaze he wuz drest
up moâ€™ slicker dan what he had been. I
ainâ€™t blame â€™im fer dat when I seed what
he had wid â€™im. I done laid eyes on lots er
purty white ladies, but I ainâ€™t seed none no
purtier dan de one what dat ar preacher-
lookinâ€™ man had wid â€™im. She walk, suh,
like she wuz on springs, en when she laugh
it look like she lit up de boat, en her haâ€™r
shine like when de sun strike down thoo de
A RUN OF LUCK 83
trees whar de water ripple at. When de man
â€™ud look at her, hit seem like his eyes got
moâ€™ bluer, but dey waâ€™nâ€™t no moâ€™ bluer dan
what herâ€™n wuz en not moreâ€™n half ez big.
I knowâ€™d by de way she hung on de manâ€™s
arm en projicked wid â€™im, dat dey wuz some
kin er nudder, en I say ter myseâ€™f, â€˜Name
er de Lord, white man, why nâ€™t you drap dis
gamblinâ€™ business en settle down someâ€™ers en
take keer er dat gal?â€™ Bless yoâ€™ soul, suh,
whiles I wuz sayinâ€™ dat de gal wuz pullinâ€™ at
de manâ€™s whiskers ; en bimeby, she up en â€”
smack ! â€” she kissed â€™im, en den I knowâ€™dâ€”
he wuz her daddy.
â€œMy young marster wuz watchinâ€™ all deze
motions moâ€™ samer dan what I wuz. He
watch de gal so close dat bimeby de man
kotch â€™im at it, en when my young marster
seed he wuz kotched he up en blush wussâ€™n
de gal did. But de preacher-lookinâ€™ man
ainâ€™t say nothinâ€™. He look at my young
marster an grin des nuff fer ter show his
tushes. â€â€œTwaâ€™nâ€™t no laugh; â€œtwuz one er
deze yer grins like you see on er dog des
foâ€™ he start ter snap you. Den he hustled
de gal off, en I dunner whar dey went.
â€œ Arter supper some er de men what my
84 A RUN OF LUCK
young marster been talkinâ€™ wid said sumpâ€™n
â€™bout gittinâ€™ up a little game. Dey talked
en smoked, en bimeby my young marster en
two moâ€™ greed ter try dey hanâ€™ at poker.
Dey went off toâ€™rds a little room what dey
had at one eenâ€™ er de boat, en I went long
wid um. My fust notion wuz ter go off
someâ€™ers en go ter bed, but when I got ter
whar dey wuz gwine, dar wuz de preacher-
lookinâ€™ man settinâ€™ in dar by his lone seâ€™f
shufflinâ€™ a deck er kyards. He look up, he
did, when my young marster en de yuthers
â€œwent in, en den he showed his tushes en
bowed. But he kepâ€™ on settinâ€™ dar shufflinâ€™
de kyards, en it look like ter me dat he done
been shuffle kyards befoâ€™. I been see lots er
men shuffle kyards in my day, but dat ar
preacher-lookinâ€™ man, he beat my time by de
way he handle dat deck. â€Tâ€™ wuz slicker dan
â€œ Right den en dar, suh, I say ter myseâ€™f
dat dish yer preacher-lookinâ€™ man wuz one er
dem ar river-gamblers, what you hear folks
talk "bout, en dat he waâ€™nâ€™t doinâ€™ nothinâ€™ in
de rounâ€™ worlâ€™ but layinâ€™ fer my young mars-
ter. Dey sorter pass de time er day, dey
did, en my young marster â€˜low dat he hope
A RUN OF LUCK 85
he ainâ€™t doinâ€™ no intrusion, en de preacher-
lookinâ€™ man say ef deyâ€™s anybody doinâ€™ any
intrusion, itâ€™s him, kaze he ainâ€™t doinâ€™ nothinâ€™
but settinâ€™ dar projickinâ€™ with de kyards
waitinâ€™ fer bed-time. Den my young mars-
ter ax â€œ1m ef he wonâ€™t jine in de game, en
he â€™low he donâ€™t keer ef he do, but he say it
twonâ€™t do no good fer ter jine in de game
ef my young marster know ez much â€™bout
kyards ez he do "bout race-hosses. Wid
dat, my young marster â€˜low dat he never
wonâ€™d a dollar on any hoss what he pick
out hisseâ€™f. Dis make de preacher-lookinâ€™
man open his eyes wide, en dey look moâ€™
bluer dan befoâ€™; en he â€˜low: â€”
â€œÂ¢Who does de pickinâ€™ fer you?â€™
â€œMy young marster nod his head to eds
me. â€˜ Darâ€™s my picker.â€™
â€œDe man say, â€˜ Who larnt you so much
"bout race-hosses ? â€™
â€œâ€˜T make answer, â€˜ Well, suh, hit â€™s mighty
much de same wid hosses ez â€™tis wid folks.
Look at um right close en watch der motions,
en you'll ne what dey got in um, but you
wonâ€™t know how you know it.â€™
â€œDe man say, â€˜ Kin you pick out kyards
same ez you does hosses ?â€™
86 A RUN OF LUCK
â€œT low, â€˜ Well, suh, I has played sevâ€™m-up
on Sundays, en I ken pick out de kyards
when I see um.â€™
â€œDis make de man grin moâ€™ samer dan
befoâ€™, but my young marster looks mighty
sollum. He drum on de table wid his fingers
like he studyinâ€™ â€™bout sumpâ€™n, en bimeby he
say : â€”
â€œ<< Primus, I wus des *bout ter senâ€™ you off
ter bed, but I reckon you better set dar be-
hine me en giâ€™ me good luck.â€™
â€œDe man look at me, en den he look at my
young marster. I â€™low:â€”
ef dat â€™ll g? you good luck.â€™
â€œ 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 shufflinâ€™, en dat woke me. De two
men what come in wid my young marster had
done got tired er playinâ€™, en dey drawâ€™d out
en went off ter bed. My young marster wuz
fer drawinâ€™ out too, but de preacher-lookinâ€™
man would nâ€™t hear ter dat. He say, â€˜Gi
me er chance ter win my money back,â€™ en I
A RUN OF LUCK 8T
knowâ€™d by dat dat my young marster ainâ€™t
been losinâ€™ much.
â€œ Dey played on, en I kinder kepâ€™ one eye
on de game. My young marster played des
like he tryinâ€™ ter lose. But â€™t waâ€™nâ€™t no use.
Luck wuz runninâ€™ his way, en she des runâ€™d
all over him. She got â€˜im down en wal-
lered â€™im, en den she sot on top un im.
Dey ainâ€™t no use talkinâ€™, suh: hit wuz des
scanlous. Dey waâ€™nâ€™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
kyards runded so quare, suh, dat dey fair
made my flesh crawl, kaze I knowâ€™d how it
bleedze ter look like swindlinâ€™ ter de man
what wuz so busy losinâ€™ all his money. Ef I
had nâ€™t er knowâ€™d my young marster, nobody
could nâ€™t er tolâ€™ me dat he waâ€™nâ€™t playinâ€™ a
skin game, kaze I would nâ€™t bâ€™lieved um. En
datâ€™s de way â€™t wuz wid dat ar preacher-
lookinâ€™? man. He played en played, but
bimeby he put his kyards down on de table,
en drawâ€™d a long breff, en look at my young
marster. Den he â€˜low :â€”
â€œÂ¢T geed 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.â€™
88 A RUN OF LUCK
â€œMy young marster sorter half-way shet
his eyes en lean on de table en look at de
man. He ax: â€”
â€œÂ¢ What yoâ€™ name?â€™
â€œ Man say, â€˜ Barksdale er Loueeziana.â€™
â€œMy young marster had his hanâ€™ on a
tumâ€™ler er water, en he â€™low, â€˜ Well, Barks-
dale er Loueeziana, olâ€™ ez you is, Ill hatter
Yarn you some manners.â€™
â€œWid dat, he dash de water in de manâ€™s
face wid one hanâ€™ en drawâ€™d his gun wid de
yuther. De man wipe de water out er his
eyes wid one hanâ€™ en drawâ€™d his gun wid de
yuther. Leasâ€™ways, I speck he drawâ€™d it,
kaze de pistol what my young marster had
wuz so techous, ez you may say, dat I duckt
my head when I seed â€™im put his hanâ€™ on it.
â€œBut â€™foâ€™ anybody could do any damage,
suh, I heerd a squall dat make my blood run
colâ€™. Hit come fum a â€™oman, too, kaze dey
ainâ€™t nothinâ€™ ner nobody what kin make dat
kinder fuss â€™cepâ€™ itâ€™s a â€™oman er a mad hoss.
Traise my head at dat, en dar stood my
young marster en de man wid der hanâ€™s on
der guns en de table â€™twixâ€™ um. De squall
ainâ€™t moâ€™ dan die away, â€™foâ€™ somebody holler
â€˜ Fier!â€™ en time dat word come, I could see
A RUN OF LUCK 89
de red shadder flashinâ€™ on de water, en den
hit come â€™cross my minâ€™ 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 nâ€™t skacely keep fum bustinâ€™ out en
cryinâ€™ boo-hoo right den en dar. De man
look at my young marster en say : â€”
â€œ<*Scuze me des one minnit. My daugh-
â€œ<Â¢ Certnâ€™y, suh!â€™ sez my young marster,
en den he bowed des ez perlite ez ef heâ€™da
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-rushinâ€™ outâ€™n der rooms, en â€™foâ€™ you
kin wink yoâ€™ eyeball dey wuz a-crowdinâ€™ en
a-pushinâ€™ en a-pullinâ€™ en a-haulinâ€™, en a-cryinâ€™
en a-fightinâ€™, en a-cussinâ€™ en a-prayinâ€™.
â€œ Well, suh, I put it down in my minâ€™ den,
en I ainâ€™t never rub it out, dat ef you take
proudness outâ€™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
outâ€™n um, en dey went on wussâ€™n a passel er
four-footed creeturs. Hitâ€™s de Lordâ€™s trufe,
suh, â€”all â€™cepâ€™n my young marster en de
90 A RUN OF LUCK
preacher-lookinâ€™ man. Dem two wuz des ez
cool ez cowcumbers, en I say ter myseâ€™f, I did, |
â€˜JT â€™ll des up en wait twel dey gits skeerâ€™d, en
den Iâ€™ll show um how skeerâ€™d a nigger kin
git when he ainâ€™t got nothinâ€™ on his minâ€™.â€™
â€œ Dat ar Mr. Barksdale, he wuz fur shovinâ€™
right â€œlong froo de crowd, but my young
marster say dey better stay on de top deck
whar dey kin see what gwine on. â€œBout dat
time I cotch sight er de young â€™oman in de
jam right close at us, en I pâ€™int her out ter
my young marster. Time he kin say, â€˜ Dar
yo daughter right nexâ€™ ter de railinâ€™,â€™ de
crowd sorter swayed back, de rope railinâ€™ give
â€™way, en inter de water de gal went, wid a lot
moâ€™ unum. My young marster hanâ€™ me his
coat en pistol en over he went; I hanâ€™ um
ter Mr. Barksdale, whiles he sayinâ€™, â€˜ Oh,
Lord! oh, Lordy!â€™ en over I went, â€” kaze
in dem days I ainâ€™t had no better sense dan
ter go whar my young marster 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 headinâ€™ fer de bank, suh, en she
flung a broadside er light on de water, en I
ainâ€™t hit moâ€™n a dozen licks â€™foâ€™ I seed my
A RUN OF LUCK 91
young marster holâ€™inâ€™ de gal, anâ€™ swimminâ€™
â€œ Well, suh, what should I do but des up
en fetch one er dem ar olâ€™-time fox-huntinâ€™
hollers, en I bounâ€™ you mought er heerd it
two mile. My young marster make answer,
en den I knowâ€™d de resâ€™ wuz easy. Kaze me
anâ€™ him wuz at home in de water. I holler
out, I did, â€˜ Giâ€™ me room, Marse Lint!â€™ en I
pulled up â€œlong side er him same ez a pacinâ€™
hoss. My young marster say sumpâ€™n, I dis-
remember what, en den he laugh, en when
de young â€™oman hear dis, she open her eyes,
en make some kind er movement. My young
marster low, â€˜ Donâ€™t grab me, please, maâ€™am,â€™
en she say she ainâ€™t skeerâ€™d a bit. "Bout dat
time we come up wid a nigger man in a
canoe. Stidder tryinâ€™ ter save us, ef we
needed any savinâ€™, he done his level best ter
git away. But he ainâ€™t hit two licks wid de
paddle foâ€™ I had de boat, en I say, â€˜ You
dunner who you foolinâ€™ wid, nigger!â€™
â€œ Well, suh, he dez riz up in de boat en
light out same ez a bull-frog in a mill-ponâ€™.
My young marster say he wuz a runaway
nigger, en I speck he wuz, kaze what business
he got jumpinâ€™ in de water des kaze we want
92 A RUN 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 ainâ€™t nobody in it, but
hereâ€™s what does. .De sides is lots too tick-
lish. I dez grab de eenâ€™ en sorter spring up
en down twel I got de swing un it, en den I
straddle it des like playinâ€™ lip-frog. Dat
done, dey waâ€™nâ€™t no trouble tall. I lf? de
young â€™oman in, en den my young marster he
clomb in, en dar we wuz a little chilly in de
winâ€™, but warm â€™nuff fer ter thank de Lord
we had life in us. I tuck de paddle, I did,
en look at my young marster. He nod his
head toâ€™rd de burninâ€™ boat. De young â€™oman
wuz cryinâ€™ en moaninâ€™, en gwine on turrible
â€™bout her daddy, but I des jerk dat canoe
along. Her daddy wuz dead, she des knowâ€™d
it; sumpâ€™n done tolâ€™ her so; en nobody ner
nothinâ€™ canâ€™t make her bâ€™lieve he â€™live, no
matter ef day done seed â€™im â€™live en well.
You know how de wimmin folk runs on, suh.
But while she gwine on dat a-way, I wuz des
makinâ€™ dat canoe zoon, pullinâ€™ fust on one
side en den on tâ€™er.
â€œ By dis time, suh, de burninâ€™ boat done
been run on de bank, en, mon, she lit up de
A RUN OF LUCK 93
worlâ€™. De fier wuz shootinâ€™ mosly fum de
middle, en mosâ€™ all de folks wuz at de eenâ€™
nexâ€™ ter de bank, but on de hine eenâ€™ en way
on de top deck dey wuz a man standinâ€™. He
wuz wringinâ€™ his hanâ€™s en lookinâ€™ out on de
water, en he waâ€™nâ€™t no moâ€™ tryinâ€™ ter save his-
sef dan de smoke-stacks wuz. De light
shined right on â€™im, en I knowâ€™d de minnit
I seed im dat â€™t wus dat ar Mr. Barksdale.
So I turn my head en say ter de young
â€˜oman, â€˜ Mistiss, yonâ€™ yoâ€™ pa now.â€™ She ainâ€™t
look up â€™t all. She â€™low, â€˜I donâ€™t bâ€™lieve it!
I never is ter bâ€™lieve it!â€™ I say, â€˜ Marse Lint,
who dat ar gemman on de top deck all by his
own â€™lone seâ€™f?â€™ My young marster â€˜low,
â€˜Hitâ€™s Mr. Barksdale.â€™ De young â€™oman
moan en cry out, â€˜Oh, it canâ€™t be!â€™
â€œBut I des drove dat ar canoe â€™long, en
bimeby we wuz right at de hine eenâ€™, en my
young marster sot in ter holler at dat ar Mr.
Barksdale. But look like he canâ€™t make â€™m
hear, de folks on de eenâ€™ wuz makinâ€™ sech a
racket, en de fier wuz roâ€™in so. I say, â€˜Wait,
Marse Lint,â€™ en den I back de canoe out in
de light, en fetched one er dem olâ€™-time corn-
shuckinâ€™ whoops. Dis make de man look
down. I holler, â€˜Here yoâ€™ daughter waitinâ€™
for you! Climb down â€” climb down! :
94 A RUN OF LUCK
â€œ Well, suh, he sorter rub his hanâ€™ â€™cross
his eyes, en den de young â€™oman fetched a
squall en called im by name. Wid dat, he
stoop down en pick up my young marsterâ€™s
coat en den he clomb down des ez cool ez a
cowcumber. *T wanâ€™t long atter dat foâ€™ we
made a landinâ€™. You may nâ€™t bâ€™lieve it, suh,
but folks in gettinâ€™ off dat burninâ€™ boat, what
wid der crowdinâ€™ en der pushinâ€™, would drown
deyseâ€™f in water dat wa nâ€™t up ter der chin ef
deyâ€™d a stood up. Itâ€™s de Lordâ€™s trufe.
Not one here en dar, suh, but a whole drove
â€œ De folks in de neighborhood seed de light
en knowâ€™d purty much what de matter wuz, en
*t waâ€™nâ€™t long foâ€™ here dey come wid der bug-
gies, en der carryalls, en der waggins, en by
sunup meanâ€™ my young marster, en de young
oman en her daddy, wuz all doinâ€™ mighty
well at a house not moâ€™n two mile fum de
river. Leasâ€™ways, I know I wuz doinâ€™ mighty
well, suh, kaze I wuz drinkinâ€™ hot coffee en
eatinâ€™ hot biscuits in de kitchen, en I speck
de yuthers wuz doinâ€™ de same in de house.
En what better kin you ax dan dat?
â€œ Atter dinner, whiles I wuz settinâ€™ out on
de hoss-block sunninâ€™ myseâ€™fâ€”kaze de sun
A RUN OF LUCK 95
feel mighty good, suh, when you done got
yo fill er vittlesâ€”TI wuz settinâ€™ dar, I wuz,
kinder huvâ€™rinâ€™ â€™twixâ€™ sleep en slumber, when
I hear my young marster talkinâ€™. I open
my eyes, en dar wuz him en Mr. Barksdale
cominâ€™ down fum de house. Dey stop not so
mighty fur fum whar I wuz, en talk mighty
sollum. Bimeby Mr. Barksdale beckon to me.
He â€œlow â€”
one what hear what I say ter yoâ€™ young
marster lasâ€™ night, en I want you ter hear
what I say now, en datâ€™s dis: Iâ€™m ready ter
git on my knees, en â€™polergize on account er
de insults what passed.â€™
â€œT say: â€˜Yasser, I knowâ€™d sumpâ€™n nâ€™er
had ter be done â€™bout dat, kaze my white
folks ainâ€™t got no stomach fer dat kind er
talk, let it come fum who it shill en whence
â€œHe look at me right hard, en den he
laugh, en â€œlow: â€˜Shake hanâ€™s wid me. Nig-
ger ez you is, you er better dan one half de
white folks dat Pm â€™quainted wid.â€™
â€œ Well, suh, you wuz â€™rounâ€™ here when my
young marster come back wid my young
mistiss? Dat wuz de upshot un it. We
96 A RUN OF LUCK
went home wid Marse Barksdale, en when we
come â€™way fum dar, Marse Lint brung wid
â€™im de gal what he pick up in de river.
â€œDey ainâ€™t but one thing â€™bout my young
marster dat I canâ€™t onkivver en onravel.
What in de name er goodness de reason dat
he canâ€™t stay right here whar he bornâ€™d at,
stidder gwine out dar in Massysip er Loueez-
iany, er wharsomever hit is? Dat what I
want ter know.â€
When I last saw him, Uncle Primus was
sitting on a log, evidently still trying to solve
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
HIS RELATION TO ORIENTAL FOLK-LORE
Owr1ne to the fact that I have compiled
and published from time to time such stories
of the Southern plantations as chanced to fall
in my way, an opinion has gone abroad that
if lam not a genuine professor of the science
of folk-lore I at least know all about the
comparative branch of the subject. There is
no mystery as to how this impression got
abroad. I beat my forehead in the dust at
the readerâ€™s feet and make a full confession.
It is all owing to the wonderfully learned in-
troduction to the volume of plantation stories
called â€œ Nights with Uncle Remus.â€ There
is nothing egotistical in my characterization
of that introduction. I speak as a spectator,
â€”an outsider, as it were. I am not a bit
proud of it, but I marvel at it. Where did I
get hold of all the information that seems to
be packed in those unobtrusive pages, and
how did I have the patience to string it out
98 THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
and make it fit so the joints would nâ€™t show ?
It is the habit of man, the world over, to
stand in awe, secret or avowed, of that which
he does not understand. When I say, there-
fore, that the introduction is wonderfully
learned, I mean that I do not understand it.
To that introduction I owe my reputation
abroad (very much abroad) as a student or a
professor of folk-lore. To that introduction
also the reader owes the curious narrative (or
narratives) which I have concluded to put on
record here, in order (if I may be so fortu-
nate) to put an end to a bitter dispute that
has raged and is still raging in the various
folk-lore societies in Europe and Asia, from
Jahore to London, â€”a dispute that is not
the less bitter or demoralizing because it is
carried on in seven different languages and
thirteen different dialects.
The way of it was this. On the 16th of
February, 1892, â€” the date is in my note-
book, though it is not of the slightest impor-
tance, â€”I received a communication from
Sir Waddy Wyndham, one of her Majestyâ€™s
officials at Jahore. Sir Waddy evidently had
plenty of time at his command, for his letter
contained fourteen sheets of note-paper, con-
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA 99
taining by actual count two hundred and
eleven words to the page. The envelope to
the letter had a weather-beaten appearance.
It was literally covered with post-marks, save
the address and one little spot in a corner,
where some one, evidently a postal-clerk in
Georgia, had written, â€œAll for Joe!â€ Sir
Waddyâ€™s cramped handwriting was trying,
but I managed to make out that he had read
with great pleasure the learned introduction
to the plantation stories, and was proud to
know that he and his coadjutors in India and
other parts of the world had so worthy a co-
worker in the fertile fields of South America.
Without further introduction he would take
the liberty of sending me a story which he
regarded as the key to the folk-lore of India.
â€œTf you can find even a trace of this story
on the South American plantations,â€™ he
wrote, â€œyou will solve a riddle that has
been puzzling us for years, and give the sci-
ence of folk-lore a new claim to the consider-
ation of the thoughtful.â€™ The story that
Sir Waddy sent is interesting enough to nar-
rate here. I have taken the liberty to tell it
in my own way, â€” which is decidedly not the
way of a professional folk-lorist.
100 THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
THE SYMPATHETIC VINE
At a certain place, which is marked by a
river, a furrow, a hedge, and a range of hills,
there dwelt a prince who made his people
very unhappy. A Brahmin, going into the
forest to do penance, had told the prince
that there was a great supply of gold in his
â€œHow shall I get it ?â€ the prince inquired.
â€œ Dig: for it,â€ said the Brahmin.
â€œWhere shall I dig?â€ asked the prince.
â€œIn the space of land,â€ replied the Brah-
min, â€œthat is marked off by a river, a furrow,
a hedge, and a range of hills.â€
The Brahmin, after receiving the kindest
treatment, took his leave and went forward
into the forest. The prince immediately sum-
moned his subjects and told them that, as
there was to be a great scarcity of food the
next year, the best thing they could do would
be to become farmers.
â€œ You have little land,â€ said the prince,
â€œbut I have plenty. Go yonder where the
land is marked off by a river, a furrow, a
hedge, and a range of hills. Dig there, and
make the ground arable. The mists will rise
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA 101
from the river and help you, and the dew will
fall from the hills and make the soil sweet.â€™
So they went, some gladly, but others with
a bad grace.
â€œ How shall we begin?â€ asked one old
â€œ Dig,â€ said the prince.
â€œWhen we have dug, what then?â€ asked
a young man.
â€œ Continue to dig,â€ replied the prince.
Now, the prince, being afraid that the peo-
ple would find the gold and hide it, took his
stand by a tree on the range of hills and
watched them, and at night when they could
no longer work he caused the laborers to
pass near him, in single file, so that he might
question them. â€˜To each he said, â€œWhat
have you found?â€ and the reply was, â€œ No-
thing but the trouble of digging.â€
This happened day after day, and the
workers got no rest except the little they
found at night. The young men asked
when it could end, and the old men shook
their heads. Life is a little span, but greed
runs from generation to generation. So the
people dug and dug from day to day, and
the prince sat by the tree and watched them.
102 THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
At last, one day, an old man, while dig-
ging wearily, turned up a lump of gold. It
was dingy and dirty, but he knew it was gold
because it was hard and very heavy. After
this, it seemed that the field was full of gold,
and when night had come, each took a lump,
intending to give it to the prince who was
watching by the tree. So they came to him,
and an old man said, â€œ Your high mightiness,
we have found something.â€
But the prince answered not a word. He
sat there still and cold. A quick-growing
vine had wrapped around his body, crushing
his bones and strangling him. The Brahmin,
coming out of the forest, saw the people
gathered together. He went to them and
said, â€œ What you have found is yours; what
your master has found is his.â€
So they went to their homes, leaving the
prince dead and covered with ants.
I need not quote Sir Waddy Wyndhamâ€™s
letter, nor recite the history of this legend
as he had traced it through the several In-
dian dialects. It struck me as being very
tame at best, lacking both the humor and the
picturesque verity (if I may say so) of planta-
tion stories with which I am familiar.
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA 1038
For a time Sir Waddyâ€™s letter and the
story, and all his remarks about Bidpai and
other fabulists passed out of my mind. But
one day, a few months ago, while adjusting
the fixtures of the pump near the kitchen
door, I overheard a conversation between my
cook, Mrs. Edie Strickland, and Mrs. Caro-
line Biggers, a colored lady who cooks for a
neighbor, and this conversation reminded me
of Sir Waddy Wyndhamâ€™s Indian story. I
concluded at once that I had found it here,
somewhat disfigured, it is true, but still able
to speak for itself. Without loss of time, I
reduced the story I had heard in the kitchen
to writing, and sent a brief outline of it to
Sir Waddy. Perhaps this was a mistake, and
yet my intentions were of the best. I regret
now that I violated a rule made several years
ago, not to reply to letters from strangers.
No doubt Sir Waddy regrets it too, but it is
only fair to say that no word of complaint
has ever come from him. Nevertheless, some
one has sent me an envelope containing slips
from an Indian newspaper, though neither
the name of the paper nor the date accom-
panies them, and I gather from these that a
most furious controversy has been going on
104. THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
amongâ€™ the professors of folk-lore in that far-
away country. One communication charges
that Sir Waddy Wyndham has been deceived,
first by his own imagination, and second by
â€œa South American impostor.â€ There is no
doubt that the writer of the communication
is a very learned man, and he touches on the
folk-tales of India in a way that shows his
familiarity with the foot-notes and appen-
dices of a great number of volumes. The
next in order is a card from Sir Waddy him-
self, who explains that the attack on him and
his â€œSouth American correspondentâ€ is the
result of a professional grudge, Sir Waddy
having refused to admit that either the In-
dian story or the alleged South American
â€œfragmentâ€? is intended to typify the eclipse
of the sun.
I have reason to believe that this unhappy
controversy has spread or is spreading to
other countries, and, in order to prevent any
misconception or misunderstanding, â€” seeing
that the outline of the American story on
which Sir Waddy bases his defense is imper-
fect, â€”I deem it best to give here a correct
version of the story as told by Mrs. Caroline
Biggers to Mrs. Edie Strickland, and repeated
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA 105
to me by Mrs. Biggers a few weeks ago.
This can be done in the language of Mrs.
Biggers, who is a pleasant and fairly well
educated young woman.
â€œTY thought Miss Edie done mighty funny
when she told me you wanted to see me,â€
said Mrs. Biggers, striving to hide her em-
barrassment. She laughed and went on. â€œTI
declare, if you had nâ€™t come out there just
when you did, I would have been goneâ€”
gone. Yes, sir, I would. If I could tell
tales like my grandmother did, I could keep
you up at night. But nobody can tell tales
unless they â€™re sitting in front of a big wood
fire, where the sparks will fly out and spangle
right before your eyes. My grandmother
always said that what was a good tale at night
was mighty weak talk in the daytime. And
I reckon itâ€™s so, because she was a mighty
old woman. I can tell you what I told Miss
Kdie, but I know mighty well it wonâ€™t sound
right.â€ Whereupon Mrs. Biggers settled her-
self, and told
THE STORY OF MR. WATKINS
â€œMaybe you didnâ€™t know much about
the Watkinses. Well, they lived in Jasper
106 THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
County, and a mighty big family it was.
Some of â€™em was good people, but one â€”
old Mr. Watkins â€” was mean as gar-broth.
He was mean and rich. You take notice,
and â€™most all the time youâ€™ll see the meanest
folks have more money than anybody else.
I donâ€™t know why it is, unless itâ€™s because
they are just too mean to spend it. Well,
this Mr. Watkins was so mean that he had
all the chincapin-trees, and all the chestnut-
trees, and all the muscadine vines, and all
the plum-bushes on his place cut down to
keep the children from getting them. Now,
you know that waâ€™nâ€™t right, was it? I tell
you, now, when anybody gets that mean,
something will certainly happen to â€™em.
â€œTt seemed like everybody knew how mean
this Mr. Watkins was, and they tried to shun
him. When people went by his house go-
ing to church, or coming back from frolics,
they â€™d stop talking and laughing. Some of
â€™em would say, â€˜Hush! Mr. Watkins may be
out on his front porch ;â€™ and then theyâ€™d go
by just like somebody was dead in the house.
And my grandmother used to say that some-
times theyâ€™d hear noises like somebody was
in great pain.
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA 107
â€œ But Mr. Watkins did nâ€™t pay any atten-
tion to how people done, so long as they
didnâ€™t come bothering him. He was all
crippled up like he had the palsy or some-
thing, and he had to be moved about from
room to room. He could walk a little by
holding on to two of his negroes and shuf-
fling along, but in general they toted him
about on a chair. Once a week he went to
town. They toted him out to his buggy and
wrapped a blanket around his legs, and then
a little negro, about the size of Miss Edieâ€™s
Zach, got in the buggy and drove him to
town. There heâ€™d get his jimmy-john filled,
and then heâ€™d go back home and sit in his
front porch and talk to himself all day when
he was nâ€™t dozing.
â€œT canâ€™t tell it like my grandmother did.
She used to get started, and she â€™d stand up
on the floor and shuffle around and roll her
eyeballs and skeer us children mighty near to
â€œNow, youâ€™d think that nobody would be
afraid of Mr. Watkins, weak and crippled
like that ; but he had everybody on his place
under his thumb. Temper! he was rank
poison. And cuss! my grandmother used to
108 THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
say heâ€™d lean back in his seat and cuss till
heâ€™d make the cold chills run up and down
your back. He could sit right still and run
the chickens out of the garden and drive the
dogs off the place. Now, you know a man
must be mighty mean when he can stay right
still and do all that.
â€œThis was during the week-days. On Sun-
dayâ€”well!â€? Here Mrs. Biggers raised both
hands vigorously, and then permitted them to
fall helplessly in her lap. â€˜â€œ That was the day
he let his meanness come out, sure enough.
I know you ainâ€™t ready to believe what Iâ€™m
going to tell you. The children believed it
because my grandmother told it at night
when she was combing her hair. She said
her grandmother was well acquamted with
Mr. Watkins, because she lived on a joiming
plantation. Some things she heard tell of,
and some she saw with her own eyes. I told
you that Mr. Watkins was rich. Well, I
donâ€™t know whether he had much money,
but he had a heap of negroes. And he
made â€™em work. Yes, sir, work! Up in the
morning by the crack of day â€” work, work
â€”until dark, and, if the moon shone, until
away in the night. And that waâ€™nâ€™t all.
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA 109
No, sir! He made â€™em work Sundays! Iâ€™m
tellmg you the truth. Sundays! I know
that it donâ€™t look like the truth, but my
grandmother heard her grandmother tell
about it, and this much she saw with her
â€œYes, sir! That old man, crippled and
trembly as he was, made his negroes work on
Sunday same as any other day. Heâ€™d make
"em tote him out to. the field and put him up
on a stump close by the big road, and there
heâ€™d stay all day. If he saw anybody com-
ing along the road, heâ€™d wave his stick, and
the negroes would lay down in the field till
the people went by. Then heâ€™d wave his
stick, and the negroes would get up and go
to work again.
â€œTJ donâ€™t know how long this went on â€”I
canâ€™t tell it like my grandmother did, because
she went through the motions; but Mr. Wat-
kins made his negroes work Sunday after
Sunday. They worked until he waved his
walking-cane or called them, and then they â€™d
come and tell him how much they had done.
Then they â€™d take him off the stump and put
him in his chair and tote him to the house.
â€œWell, one Sunday, while the negroes were
110 THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
at work, a man passed along the road, and
Mr. Watkins didnâ€™t wave his cane. But the
negroes stopped work anyhow and looked at
him. The man was tall and dark-looking.
He had on black clothes, and he rode a big
black horse. When he came close to Mr.
Watkins there was a flash of fire. Some
said the manâ€™s horse hit his shoe against a
flint rock and made the blaze, and some said
not. My grandmother did nâ€™t know how that
was, because her grandmother was nâ€™t there
to see. But there was the tall dark man
riding a big black horse, and there was the
flash of fire, and there on the stump was Mr.
â€œWell, sir, when the time come for the
negroes to quit work, Mr. Watkins did nâ€™t
wave his cane, and so they kept on until it
got too dark to work. Then they went to
where Mr. Watkins was perched up on the
stump, and asked him if it was time to quit.
He wouldnâ€™t say anything, so they hung
around and did nâ€™t know what to do. They
thought they could smell brimstone; but
they waâ€™nâ€™t certain. Anyhow, when they
tried to lift Mr. Watkins off the stump
they couldnâ€™t budge him. No, sir! They
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA 111
could nâ€™t budge him: Some of the negroes
run to the house and told Mr. Watkinsâ€™s
family, and they got torches and went to see
â€œ Well, sir, Mr. Watkins had done growed
to the stump. I know you wonâ€™t believe me,
because Iâ€™m half laughing when I tell you
about it, but my grandmother, she could tell
it with a straight face. She was old and set-
tled. Yes, sir! Mr. Watkins was growed to
the stump, and they could nâ€™t pull him loose.
First they pulled and then they tried to prize
him up. But there he was. It seemed like
the stump had fastened to him somehow.
They sent for the doctor, but you know your-
self the doctor could nâ€™t do nothing for a man
in that kind of a fix. He might drench him
with horse medicine, and even that would nâ€™t Â°
do any good. Mr. Watkins was there on the
stump, and no doctor could nâ€™t take him loose.
The doctor came, but what good could the
doctor do? He just looked at Mr. Watkins
and felt of him, and looked at the stump and
felt of it, and then he shook his head and
rubbed his chin. You know how it is when
a doctor shakes his head and rubs his chin.
That was the way it was with Mr. Watkins.
112 THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA
â€œ People come and looked at him, but they
could nâ€™t do any good, and, after so long a
time, the negroes dug the stump up and put
it in a wagon with Mr. Watkins and carried
?em both home. There they was, Mr. Wat-
kins and the stump. Then when the time
come to bury Mr. Watkins, they had to bury
the stump with him. I wonâ€™t blame you if
you donâ€™t believe all this, but my grandmother
vowed that her grandmother saw Mr. Watkins
on the stump, and if you could hear her tell
it youâ€™d feel like every word of it was so, and
you â€™d never forget it as long as you lived.â€
This is the story the rough outline of which
has caused such a commotion among the folk-
lore students and scholars in India, in Bom-
â€˜bay and Jahore. There are symptoms that
the controversy is to be transferred, in part
at least, to these shores, and I feel it to be
due to all concerned that a true version of
the story of the late Mr. Watkins of Georgia,
together with all the facts in the case, should
be laid before the public. No one can re-
gret more than I do that any act or word of
mine, however well intended, should have pro-
voked, even indirectly, a controversy that has
THE LATE MR. WATKINS OF GEORGIA 118
resulted in the resignation of Sir Waddy
Wyndham as secretary of the Folk-Lore So-
ciety of Jahore, a position he has adorned
during the last five years.
The question arises, What bearing has the
Indian folk-lore story on the final episode in
the career of the late Mr. Watkins of Geor-
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
You will flit through on the steam cars, or
rush along the great winding river, and say,
â€œIt is a very fine life here in New France.â€
You will look to the right, you will look to
the left, and, as far as the eye can see, the
roofs and steeples of the little churches will
be sparkling in the sun, and you will say,
â€œ How beautiful! How full of peace and re-
pose!â€ and if you go away from the river
and the railway you will say, â€œ What sim-
plicity! What contentment!â€ When you
come to St. Valerien, you will say, â€œ The life
here is the most beautiful of all.â€ Yes; that
is because you want to get away from the
noise and confusion. It is very beautiful at
St. Valerien. The gentle curÃ©, smiling al-
ways, moves slowly along the board walk to
the little church. The bright-eyed boys who
attend the school of the FrÃ©res Maristes, close
by, are not boisterous at their play. The
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 115
neighbors do not talk loudly when they gos-
sip together, and the cattle lie down in the
fields long before noon. Everything has the
air of repose; contentment seems to brood
Very well. But suppose you were com-
pelled to remain in St. Valerien, and partake
of its peace and contentment from yearâ€™s end
to yearâ€™s end?
when the children are picking wild raspberries
in the fields near by, and singing their songs,
â€”that is not much. But a whole lifetime !
Well, yes, that is another matter. Look at
Monsieur Phaneuf. Seventy-seven years here
at St. Valerien, and every hour of them spent
within sight of the shining church steeple.
You think he is contented? Well, then, keep
away from him, if you do not want to hear
your funeral preached. Look at Madame
Delima Benoit. Born here at St. Valerien ;
married three husbands here, and buried two.
You think she ought to be happy and con-
tented? Well, then, donâ€™t pass her doors
without putting your fingers in your ears.
You â€˜see AimÃ© Joutras, the tall shoemaker ;
AimÃ©, but yes, it is a friendly name. You
see him there on the corner â€” tap, tap, tap,
116 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
â€” stitch, stitch, stitch, â€”all day long, and
humming a tune; you see him cut out the
sabot, you see him fashion the soulier-de-
beuf, and you think, â€œ Here is a man who
ought to glow with happiness.â€ But good!
Wait till you hear him railing at his little
ones, and growling at the belle-mÃ©re who is
at once his slave and his benefactress. Wait
till you see him jostle rudely against the old
pepere who sits drooling and dribbling in the
corner, and then tell me whether he is happy
and contented. Look, yonder is EKuphemie
Toupin, running lightly across the fields, the
roses blooming in her face, her eyes spar-
kling with youth and hope, and her beautiful
hair flying loose in the wind. Presently you
will hear her calling the cows, â€” â€œCome
thou! Come thou on!â€ and the echo will fall
softly and sweetly on her own ears, â€” â€œ Come
thou! Come thou on!â€ And then the mem-
ory of another voice calling thus in a neigh-
boring field will rise in her heart, and she
will clasp her hands together and give way to
No, no, messieurs, the peace and content-
ment at St. Valerien, as elsewhere, are found
in the deep skies, in the purple mists that
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 117
settle over the far-lying fields, and in the little
garden of the dead. There is life here, and
where there is life there you will find trouble
and passion, doubt and despair, and, whirling
in and around these, the stinging swarm of
worries and vexations that belong to human
experience. Is it not so, Caderet? Is it not
so, Desmoulins? Where men and women meet
and look at each other, and smile and take
hold of hands, there is much to be forgotten
There was Euphrasie Charette. Is it true,
then, that you have never heard of her? I
wonder at that, for it was a fine piece of gos-
sip she set going about here. The men
shrugged their shoulders and lifted their eye-
brows, and the women put their heads _to-
gether over the palings and in the chimney
corners. Pouah! to hear the chatter was
sickening, and it was kept up until, one Sun-
day, PÃ©re Archambault stood up in his pulpit
and looked at the people a long time. Then
he hung his head and sighed, saying, â€œ My
friends, to-day I shall preach you two sermons.
My first sermon is this: What is bolder than
innocence?â€ Then he paused again, turned
over the leaves of the Book, read from the
118 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
gospel, and preached his second sermon, on
Well, the gossip. soon died out, and no
wonder ; for, with all her beauty and wild
impulsiveness, where could be found a purer
or a tenderer-hearted girl than Euphrasie Cha-
rette? It will be very many years before an-
other such as she will be running and romp-
ing and singing through the village, laughing
with the young and sympathizing with the
old. This was when the great world beyond
St. Valerien was a dream as vague to her as
the story of le lowp-garou. Then, when she
was a little older and more beautiful than
ever, she was sent to the convent at St.
Hyacinthe, and there she heard larger ru-
mors of the great world. She had not much
to learn in music, â€” her whole nature was
tuned to melody ; but while she was learning
her English and her other lessons, she was
also learning something of the world she had
barely caught a glimpse of. Not much, no,
but something, â€”just a little. Two of her
school friends were from the States. French,
yes; their families belonged near Montreal,
but had gone to the States, where work is
easy and wages are good. Euphrasie, inquis-
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 119
itive as a weasel, found out everything her
school friends knew; how their mothers
worked in the big: cotton-mills, and how their
older sisters clerked in the stores. She saw
some photographs of these sisters, and oh,
how lovely they looked, with their lace and
finery, and their hair frisÃ©! And she saw
some of the letters the girls wrote, telling of
the gay times the young people had in the
All this in the ears of a child of St. Vale-
rien. She was not young, â€” seventeen is
neither old nor young, â€” but she was at the
turning-point. Take it to yourself! Would
you prefer the life in St. Valerien to that in
the mill town in the States, where everything
is gay? Think of it! All the summer long,
calling the cows and milking them, cooking,
scrubbing, working, raking hay ; all the win-
ter long, mending, scrubbing, washing, spin-
ning, weaving, and attending to the sheep
and cattle. It is very nice, you think. Yes,
for a little while, but wait until you have tried
it for a whole lifetime, and then tell me what
Well, Maâ€™mâ€™selle Charette was old enough to
look at these things, and she made up her
120 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
mind. She liked St. Valerien, and she was
fond of the people here ; and she was so fond
of Joi Billette, her little cavalier, that the
children had long ago run their names to-
gether in some nonsense rhymes. LHuphrasie
Charette, little Joi Billette,â€” you see how
they go? She made up her mind that she
would see something of those gay times in
the mill town in the States, and so when she
came home from the convent there was no
longer any peace among the Charettes. Hu-
phrasie could not go to the mill town in the
States ; that was settled. Madame Charette
said so, and madame had a quick temper
and a sharp tongue. â€œAnd you!â€ she would
say to Euphrasie, â€” â€œhow would you look,
a young girl like you, running away to the
States ? Have you any shame?â€ But Pierre
Charette, the father, sat in the corner and
smiled to himself. He had been in the
States, and he knew it was no great journey.
â€œ Would you then go away and leave Joi and
St. Valerien ?â€? madame would say.
â€œ â€˜What, then,â€ Euphrasie would reply, â€œis
Joiastick that he can no longer walk? And
what storm is to blow St. Valerien away?â€
Then letters came to Euphrasie from her
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 121
school friends ; and finally her sister, the wife
of Victor Donais, made up her mind to go to
the States. As for Victor, he said that where
the tongs went the shovel must go, and that
was all. Madame Charette made a fine quarrel,
â€”the sheep in the fields could hear her; but
Pierre Charette sat in the corner smoking his
black pipe and smiling to himself; and when
madame could quarrel no more, he rubbed his
knees, and said that Euphrasie would find
much benefit in traveling in the States.
â€œOho! a fine lady! traveling in the
States! But yes, a fine lady! She will have
money, â€” oh, a great pocketful! Oh, cer-
tainly!â€ Madame Charette made a grand
â€œ Well, then,â€ remarked Joi Billette, who
was sitting near Euphrasie, his head leaning
on his hands, â€œshe can have some money
â€œYes? Then you would do well to keep
it for yourself.â€
â€œTt is hers,â€ Joi said. â€œI can make
There was nothing to do but for Madame
Charette to give her consent; and though
her tongue was sharp her heart was tender,
122 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
for she wept more than any one when Eu-
phrasie was going, and in the long nights
afterwards she lay awake to weep. But there
was so much to do nobody could sit and
grieve. Joi Billette worked harder than ever,
and he found time to help the madame. He
cut wood and carried water, and she told him
he was handier about the house than Euphra-
sie, who had too many ideas from books.
It was not such a long year, after all. In
the spring and summer there was the farm
work to do, the milk to be carried to the
cheese factory, and the bark to be gathered
for the tannery. Everybody was busy, and
Joi Billette was busiest of all. For a little
while Euphrasie wrote to him every week,
and then she wrote no more. Joi said â€˜no-
thing.. He could hear of her through Ma-
dame Charette, and that was enough. Per-
haps she was too busy, â€” perhaps everything,
except that she had forgotten him. So the
year went on, and at last Euphrasie wrote
that she was coming home for the fÃ©te of
Jour delâ€™An. It is the custom here for the
absent ones to return home on the first day
of the year, to ask their fatherâ€™s blessing ;
and there is often a friendly contest among
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 123
the members of the family as to which shall
get the blessing first.
Euphrasie came on the Day of the New
Year, and she was dressed very fine, â€” oh,
ever so much finer than any girl you see here
in St. Valerien. When her father had given
her his blessing, he sat and watched her curtâ€™
ously a long time without smiling. Then he
said in English, speaking slowly : â€”
â€œT ting you toss youâ€™ â€™ead too much.â€
â€œMe toss my â€™ead too much!â€ replied Eu-
phrasie. â€œWell, you should see dem girl of
Fall River. If you can see dem girl toss â€™er
â€˜ead, I ting you wonâ€™t say I toss my â€™ead
â€œT ting you â€™ave too much feader on de
â€™at,â€ suggested the father, not without some
display of diffidence. His daughter had de-
veloped into a beautiful young woman, and
her finery was not unbecoming.
â€œ Well, now!â€ Euphrasie retorted trium-
phantly, â€œif you only can see how much
feader dem oder girl â€™ave, I ting you will say
dere is not one feader on my â€™at.â€
â€œ What is it, then?â€ cried the madame
sharply. She could not understand English.
â€œ(est rien, ma bonne femme,â€ the old
124 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
â€œJT ting I give you good â€™ug for dat.â€ Hu-
phrasie put her arms around her fatherâ€™s
He shook his head slowly as he filled his
pipe, and said no more.
Joi Billette sat in the corner, watching
everything and listening. He was restless
and uneasy. He was quick to see the great
change that had come over Euphrasie. She
was no longer his little girl of St. Valerien.
The change meant more to him than it did to
the others. More than once it seemed to him
that some other girl had donned Euphrasieâ€™s
face and voice for a New Yearâ€™s masquerade.
He had heard of such things in the fireside
folk tales. Would Euphrasie look at him
scornfully or speak to him mockingly, as this
vision of beauty did? No, it could not be
so. He looked at his hard and horny hands,
at his coarse and dirty shoes, at his rough
clothes, and then at the trim, neat figure of
Euphrasie, her white hands and dainty feet.
He rose, playing with his hat nervously, and
would have slipped away, but Pierre Charette
laid a detaining hand on his arm.
â€œ Wouldst thou go, then? Thy place is
here. Let the women talk.â€
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 125
At that moment Euphrasie was busy tell-
ing Suzette Benoit about a Monsieur Sam
Pettingill, who had come all the way from
Fall River to Montreal, and who was coming
to St. Valerien. Pierre Charette was carry-
ing his pipe to his mouth, but he paused, with
his hand suspended in the air.
â€œâ€™Ow you call *is name?â€ he asked in
â€œMâ€™sieu Sam Pattangeel,â€ said Euphrasie,
reddening a little.
â€œ You know â€™im, you?â€
â€œ Oh, yes ; â€™e was clerk in de mill store.â€
â€œHi clerk dere no more ; no?â€
â€œOf course, yes. Â°E is taking his recess.
"E belong at de store.â€â€™ Euphrasie contin-
ued to redden. English was not often heard
in that house, and the women were vainly
straining their ears to catch the meaning. Â»
â€œ Aha-a-a!â€ exclaimed the old man. There
was the faintest trace of contempt in his tone.
â€œÂ°K say â€™e come to see de country, if â€™e
like it or not,â€ explained Kuphrasie.
â€œTf â€™e like it, den â€™e carry it back to â€™is
â€˜ouse ?â€â€ Pierre Charette suggested.
â€œOw â€™e can do dat?â€ asked Euphrasie.
â€œT â€™ave seen dem clerk, me,â€ said the old
126 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
man. â€œ Dey de mosâ€™ powful of all. If dis
one like de country so â€™e musâ€™ take it back,
what we goinâ€™ do? Ifâ€™e donâ€™t like it soâ€™e
musâ€™ take *is scissor to cut it off, what we
Euphrasie could not misunderstand the
sarcasm that seasoned the old manâ€™s tongue.
It touched her temper.
â€œTf â€™e come visitinâ€™ de country, ow I can
â€™elp im? If you can â€™elp â€™im, den go â€™elp
im.â€ Her tone was sharper than her words.
â€œ Ah-h-h!â€ cried Pierre Charette, â€œ dat is
â€™ow you fine ladies talk to old man!â€
â€œNo, no,â€ said the girl impulsively, â€œI
mean not dat. No, no.â€™ She went to her
father and would have embraced him, but he
pushed her away and resumed his pipe, while
Euphrasie threw herself on a chair and began
But it was a small storm, more wind than
rain, as the farmers say, and it soon passed
over, but not until the madame had made
some vigorous remarks, aimed at those who
forget themselves sufficiently to quarrel in
the English tongue. It was a queer father
who would abuse his daughter the instant she
set foot in the house, and it was a queer
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 127
daughter who would be disrespectful to the
father she had not seen for a year, â€” and all
in English, too. Well, madame knew men,
large and small, and she knew girls, old and
young, but never did she know such a man
as this, never did she see such a girl. As for
the English, â€”bah! Câ€™est-la blague!
Around the corner from Pierre Charetteâ€™s
and not very far up the street is the little
auberge, kept by Toussaint Chicoine. There
Joi Billette went when he could slip out of
the family storm, and there he found some of
his village comrades sitting around the huge
stove in the public room, listening to the
famous stories told by Chicoine. Of course
you will think Chicoine is nobody, because
he can do nothing but keep this tavern, with
his mother and his sisters and his old father.
But good! You wait! Before long you will
see that man in the Parliament at Quebec.
When he is not telling stories he is talking
politics. Some people are quick to forget.
Chicoine is fifty, and remembers. A Liberal?
Yes, and better, â€”a Red; le Rouge written
in his glowing eyes and in his quick gestures.
128 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
No sooner had Joi Billette settled himself to
listen to Chicoineâ€™s tremendous yarns than
the sound of sleighbells was heard coming
over the snow.
â€œOne dollar it is Barieâ€™s horse,â€ said Chi-
coine, â€” â€œ Barie of Upton.â€
â€œHow then can you know?â€ asked Joi
â€œ Hard-head! It is by the sound of the
â€œTt is even so,â€ said Pierre Charette, who
had followed Joi.
At that moment the sleigh paused at the
door, and Barie himself called out : â€”
â€œHey, Chicoine! Hey! Are you deaf,
â€œ Good-day, Barie,â€ said Chicoine, opening
the door. â€œGood-day, mâ€™sieu. Within you
will find it warmer.â€
â€œTt is to be hoped,â€ replied Barie dryly.
â€œJT have brought you a customer, Chicoine,â€
he continued. â€œ Lift your feet; make some
The customer Barie had brought was Mr.
Sam Pettingill, of Fall River. He was nice
looking, yes, but you would not say he was
fine. He had yellow hair and gray eyes, and
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 129
one of his front teeth was gone. He was
smoking a cigarette, and he had a look on
his face as if he knew a great deal more than
older people. He kept trying to twist his
little mustache, which was too thin to be
â€œ Great Scott!â€™ he exclaimed, as he got
out of the sleigh; â€œis this the Hotel Impe-
â€œâ€™Ow you please,â€™ replied Chicoine gravely.
â€œOtel, auberge, â€™ouse, â€” it all de same when
you git colâ€™ anâ€™ â€™ungry. You spik French?
â€œRats!â€ cried young Mr. Pettingill.
â€œHow can I speak French in this weather ?
It freezes everything except American cuss-
words. You ask his Nibs, here, if it donâ€™t.â€
Barie shrugged his shoulders and threw the
sleigh robe over his horse. â€œYou may nâ€™t
have much of a hotel,â€ said Pettingill, â€œ but
maybe youâ€™ve got a fire. Itâ€™s colder â€™n
With his hat on the side of his head, and
his red cravat creeping from under his over-
coat, Pettingill swaggered into the little tav-
ern and stood close to the big stove. Joi
Billette looked at the new-comer, and then at
130 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
Pierre Charette. Pierre Charette looked at
the new-comer, and then at Joi Billette.
Each, by an almostâ€™ imperceptible shrug of
the shoulders, telegraphed his comment. You
know how the shoulders and the eyebrows can
talk here in St. Valerien: a word, a glance, a
little movement of the shoulders, and much
more than a long story is told.
â€œSay!â€ said Pettingill, removing his over-
coat, â€œI donâ€™t see no hotel register around
here, but I guess thatâ€™s all skewvee. My
name â€™s Pettingill, and it would be the same
if it was wrote down in a book.â€
â€œ Hall riâ€™, mâ€™sieu,â€ returned Toussaint Chi-
cone, bowing. â€œYou â€™ear dat, Joutras?
You â€™ear dat, Billette? You â€™ear dat, every-
body? Mâ€™sieu Pattungeel.â€
â€œKee-rect,â€ said Pettingill approvingly.
â€œYou flatten it a little too much in the mid-
dle, and pull it out too much at the end, but
that â€™s my maiden name.â€ He shook himself,
and strode around the room, looking at the
cheap prints pasted on the wall. The little
company looked at each other somewhat
sheepishly, all save Charette and Chicoine.
Charette stood gloomily by the stove, while
Chicoine, with his arms akimbo and _ his chin
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 131
drawn in until it was hid by the muscles of
his neck, watched Pettingill closely.
At one end of the room, above a worn and
battered sofa, hung a faded tintype. It was
the picture of a very old man. He was lean-
ing forward on a stout cane, and a weak and
trembling smile had been caught and fastened
on his face.
â€œWhat old duck is this?â€ asked Pettin-
gill, after studying the picture. Receiving
no answer, he turned and looked at Chicoine.
â€œâ€™Ow you call it, mâ€™sieu?â€ Surely there
was no menace in the sweetly spoken accent.
Yet something that he heard or felt caused
Pettingill to change his question.
â€œ What old gent is this?â€ he asked.
â€œ Dat my fader,â€ replied Chicoine.
â€œTs he still kicking ?â€
â€œTs he dead?â€
â€œNo, no, mâ€™sieu. â€™E right in dis â€™ouse.â€
â€œ Well, I wanter know!â€ Pettingill ex-
claimed, with genuine admiration. â€œTI thought
old uncle Cy Pettingill, down to Pittsfield,
was the oldest inhabitant, but the colonel
here can give him odds and beat him thirteen
laps in a mile.â€
1382 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
â€œâ€™Ow you say, mâ€™sieu ?â€ asked Chicoine.
â€œJ was lettinâ€™ out a family secret. Uncle
Cy Pettingill is so old he canâ€™t see nothinâ€™
but a silver dollar, but the colonel here lays a
long ways over him. Iâ€™d like to see them
two old coons git together and jabber about
the landinâ€™ of Christopher Columbus.â€
â€œYes, yes, mâ€™sieu, pairâ€™aps dat would be
nice.â€ Chicoime spoke so seriously that Pet-
tingill had to lean against the wall to laugh.
â€œJust have my grip sent up to my room,â€
he said, after a while. â€œIll hang out here
a day or two, and see how the climate suits
my complexion. And while youâ€™re about it,
you might jest as well show me where I am
â€œYou want finâ€™ you room? Well, I show
He led Monsieur Pettingill up a narrow
stairway into a snug little attic.
â€œTt ainâ€™t bigger â€™n a squirrel cage,â€ said
â€œTt â€™ave comfort.â€ Chicoine stretched his
hand toward the stovepipe, which ran through
a sheet-iron drum; then he went down.
Charette, Billette, Joutras, and the rest sat
just as he had left them. They had neither
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 133
moved nor spoken. Chicoine stood and glared
at them, his arms akimbo, his chin drawn into
his neck, and his under lip stuck out omi-
nously. Suddenly he raised his right arm, and
brought down his clenched fist in the palm
of the other hand with a tremendous whack.
â€œ Pig! beast! that he should strut in this
place! But that I had pity on him I would
have crushed him with my hand.â€ Toussaint
Chicoineâ€™s eyes gleamed.
â€œSoftly, softly!â€™â€™ Pierre Charette raised
â€œ Ah-h-h! Softly, yes, softly. Good!
But I have seen my old father take off his
hat and bend his knee to just such a man as
that. Yes, me! I have seen that. I am
old enough. When the lord of the land
came where his slaves could see him â€” off
hat! bend knee! Well, yes, I have seen
that.â€ The veins in Chicoineâ€™s neck stood
out angrily. :
â€œ But those days, they are no more.â€ Cha-
rette spoke gently.
â€œNo?â€ Chicoine made a hideous grimace.
â€œWell, they are here!â€ With that he struck
his broad breast a tremendous blow. â€œ For
what does he come ?â€
134 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
Joi Billette rose and shook himself vi-
ciously, and turned his back to the stove.
â€œThis ugly beast 1s-detestable ! â€
â€œ But wait, then!â€ It was Joutras who
spoke. â€œWhat the thunder! Are we all
taking leave of ourselves? Let this pig alone.
Is he stealing corn from our pen? Well, then,
show it to me.â€
Pierre Charette chuckled to himself, and
Joi Billette shrugged his shoulders.
It was not long before Monsieur Pettingill
came down from his room. He found only
Chicoine and Joi Billette. As if to refresh
his memory or to confirm some afterthought,
he went again to the portrait of old Anthime
Chicoine. He looked at it a little while, and
then shook his head.
â€œThat lays over uncle Cy Pettingill,â€ he
repeated, with admiration. â€œHe â€™s mighty
nigh too old to make a shadder.â€â€™ He paused
a moment, and then, with just the faintest
trace of embarrassment, remarked: â€œSay!
can any of you chaps tell me where Miss Eu-
phrasie Charette lives? As long as Iâ€™m in
town, with nothinâ€™ much to prey on my mind,
I might as well drop in anâ€™ tell her Iâ€™m still
her humble-come-tumble. See?â€
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 1385
â€œT dunno if I can show you,â€ said Chi-
coine; â€œpairâ€™aps Mâ€™sieu Billette will show
you de â€™ouse. He been dere some time befoâ€™
now. Is not that so, Mâ€™sieu Billette?â€ he
went on, switching off into French. â€œI have
told mâ€™sieu that you would have much plea-
sure to show him the house of Charette. Is
it not so, then? Ah, little boy! make not
your face to wrinkle so. At forty you will
laugh at the physic of this kind.â€
Billette shrugged his shoulders, but he did
â€œÂ°K spik only French,â€ said Chicoine to
Pettingill, by way of explanation, â€œbut dat
make no diffrance. â€™E can show you de
â€œ All skewvee,â€ said Pettingill. â€œIf he
can walk in English, thatâ€™s enough for me.â€
Joi Billette, coiled in the chair, had seemed
to be an insignificant creature, but when he
rose, glancing furtively at Chicoine, it was seen
that he was taller than Pettingill, â€” taller
and stronger, and much handsomer. The
innocence of youth shone in his face. With-
out a word, he went out at the door, followed
by Pettingill. Billetteâ€™s slouching gait carried
him forward swiftly, and in a few moments
1386 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
he paused, waved his hand toward Charetteâ€™s
house, from which the blue smoke cheerfully
curled, and stood watching Pettingill as he
made his way to the door. He saw the door
open, and heard Euphrasieâ€™s exclamation : â€”
â€œAh, â€™t is you. I diâ€™ nâ€™ ting you come so
When the door was closed, Billette went
forward to the house, and passed through the
yard and into the kitchen. There he found
Pierre Charette enjoying his pipe. As Joi
entered, Charette nodded his head toward the
inner room and shrugged his shoulders.
â€œ Yes,â€ said Joi, â€œit is the stranger. Ku-
phrasie was glad to see him, then ?â€
â€œHow can I know?â€ responded Charette.
â€œOf the women we know nothing. They
pet the pig and scald it. Go see for yourself
if she is glad. The man cannot compre-
â€œNo, no,â€ said Joi, the blood mounting to
â€œYou have fear, then? Yes?â€
For reply Joi laughed loudly, and the sound
was so harsh and unnatural that those in the
next room paused to listen, and madame put
her head in the door to make inquiry.
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 1387
â€œPrutt! prutt!â€™â€™ exclaimed Pierre Cha-
rette, mimicking the inquisitive turkey hen.
â€œÂ« Allez-vous-en! Back to the pig.â€
Then there was silence in the kitchen.
The old man and the young man sat smok-
ing. Each had his own thoughts. One was
thinking how much money his grain and hay
would fetch; the other was thinking bitterly
of the day, a year ago, when he and Kuphra-
sie, with their village companions, sang their
holiday songs together. Ah! they were happy
then, but now â€”
Madame Charette was surely at her best
this day. She rattled away at Pettingill in
French, and Euphrasie interpreted the words
the best she knew how; but she could not
keep up, madame was so jolly and hearty.
Pettingill had never been in such a storm of
French and broken English, and he wished
himself well out of it. All he could do was
to sit and grin helplessly, and mop his face
aimlessly with his gorgeous silk handkerchief.
Euphrasie, too, was jolly, or pretended to be,
and she carried on her interpretations with a
great deal of laughter.
â€œMa mÃ©re say if you like dis country?â€
138 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
â€œ Just tell her,â€™ said Pettingill, â€œthat if
she will give me the daughter she may keep
the country.â€ ;
â€œâ€™Ush up, you!â€ said Kuphrasie, blush-
ing; â€œyou too bad.â€ To her mother, â€œHe
is very fond of the country, oh, â€” much.â€
This caught the ear of Pierre Charette, and
it recalled him from his mental grain specula-
tion. He turned in his chair and looked at
Billette with half-closed eyes. At this moment
there was a shuffling of feet and a moving of
chairs in the next room. Some of the girls
and boys of the village had come in to see
Euphrasie. Presently, madame, glowing with
hospitality, came into the litchen for more
â€œTt is the whole village,â€™ she explained.
â€œ And Joi hiding like a thief! Shame upon
him! Take these chairs, then, and cease to
be a stick. Leave dozing to the gray cat.â€
Joi Billette took the chairs, but with no
good grace. He was not himself. He placed
them around the room mechanically, and
stood in the midst of his friends, awkward
and ill at ease. Some wanted to laugh at
him, while others tried to tease him, but his
air of preoccupation restrained them; they
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 139
were already somewhat subdued by the pre-
sence of a stranger. In this diffident com-
pany Pettingill sat serene, smiling and con-
fident. He was even patronizing. When
an embarrassing silence was about to fall on
all, he was superior to circumstances.
â€œRats!â€ he exclaimed. â€œDonâ€™t set here
moping. Canâ€™t we have some play-songs?â€
â€œOh,â€ said Euphrasie, trying to under-
stand, â€œsome play-song, â€” yes.â€
â€œSomething like â€˜ Hereâ€™s a young man set
down to sleepâ€™ â€â€™
â€œOh, to sleep! I know,â€ said Euphrasie.
â€œOh, yes,â€”to kip â€™im â€™wake!â€ Then
she rattled away in French to the rest. The
result was that all the young men chose part-
ners, except Joi, â€” there was no partner for
him to choose,â€” and proceeded to prome-
nade slowly around the small room, singing
as they went. The song was about a maiden
and her bashful lover, and the clear voice of
Euphrasie carried the tune. The cavalier
sees his sweetheart laughing; then runs the
song : â€”
â€œ Quâ€™avez-vous, belle? Quâ€™avez-vous, belle ?
Quâ€™avez-vous 4 tant rire ?â€
140 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
Whereupon the girl replies : â€”
â€œJe ris de moi, je ris de toi,
De nos fortes entreprises :
Câ€™est dâ€™avoir passÃ© le bois
Sans un petit mot me dire !â€
The maiden is going away from the lover,
who is too bashful to speak the little word.
She is supposed to be waving her hand in the
distance. Then the lover is aroused.
â€œ Revenez, belle! Revenez, belle!
Je vous donnerai cent livres !â€â€™
But the girl does nâ€™t want his fortune. She
has had a glimpse of a larger world.
Â«Ni pour un cent, ni pour deux cent,
Ni pour cing cent mille livres :
Tl fallait mangÃ© la perdrix
Tandis quâ€™elle Ã©tait prise !â€
And the pretty little partridge will never
come back. The girl, still going, cries : â€”
â€œLa perdrix a pris sa volÃ©e,
Elle se mit en ville ;
Je vois mes amants promener
Dans le pare de la ville!â€
All through the singing Joi Billette kept
his eyes on Euphrasie, and he thought she
was singing at him. The motions of her
pretty head, the glances of her bright: eyes,
â€” in every way she seemed to be saying that
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 141
she would not return, but would promenade
with other lovers. Joi understood it so, too,
for by the time the song was ended he had dis-
appeared, and the small company saw him no
more that day. But they heard of him, â€”
He went into the kitchen, and sat with his
face in his hands. No one could say whether
his attitude was one of laziness or despair, so
little do we know of what is going on before
our very eyes. For a while he sat still as
death ; then he rose and went about the room,
searching for something. On the wall hung
a piece of looking-glass. He looked into it
as he passed, and saw that his face was very
white. He shook his head; he did not know
the man that looked back at him from the
glass. He went about the room, hunting in
the corners, on the shelves, and under the
pans. At last a long knife lay under his
hand. He picked it up, looked at it curr
ously, and hid it under his jacket. Then he
seated himself again, his face hid in his hands,
and waited. Huphrasie came for a drink of
water; he knew the rustle of her dress, the
sound of her footsteps, but he did not stir.
She looked at him and tossed her head. She
142 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
said to herself, â€œâ€˜ Now he is angry ; to-morrow
he will feel better.â€ He sat and waited, his
face in his hands. â€˜Some one went away, â€”
that was HÃ©lÃ©ne Joutras; he knew her voice.
One by one they all went away, except the
serene and smiling stranger. Then, too, after
a while, he was ready to go. Euphrasie went
to the door with him. Her broken English
seemed very queer to Joi Billette, and very
beautiful, too. The door was closed, and
then Joi heard the strangerâ€™s feet crunching
in the snow. He rose from his chair, feeling
strangely oppressed. He was so weak he was
compelled to steady himself. It was not
fear; it was pity. He heard Pettingill going
along whistling a gay tune, and he pitied
him. But what was pity? There are other
things more important than pity. He went
out at the back door, and the cold air stung
his face and made him feel stronger.
Once out of the gate, he pressed forward
rapidly. Just ahead of him Pettingill was
sauntering along, still whistling. The stran-
ger was in no hurry, then? So much the
better. Joi Billette was so intent on carry-
ing out the purpose he had formed that he
â€˜did not hear heavy footsteps behind him, nor
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 148
did he hear a strong voice call his name. He
had eyes and ears for no one but Pettingill.
As he went forward, he drew the knife from
beneath his jacket and held it firmly in his
hand, quickening his pace. Pettingillâ€™s care-
less swagger whetted his anger. The wretch!
Would he come here, then, and lord it oyer
the village ?
Pettingill, hearing footsteps behind him,
paused and looked around. He saw Joi Bil-
lette coming swiftly towards him, followed as
swiftly by a tall, black-robed figure. Like a
flash his mind recurred to the stories he had
read of Roman Catholics, and now, here
before his eyes, as he imagined, was an emis-
sary of the Pope about to administer disci-
â€œ Run, buster! heâ€™s gaininâ€™ on you!â€ he
called out gayly. He had no opportunity to
say more. At that moment Joi Billette seized
him by the arm and swung him around vio-
â€œ Beast! devil!â€ the Canadian hissed
through his clenched teeth. â€œTake that!â€
He made an effort to plunge the knife into
the American, but a powerful hand was laid
on his arm. He turned, looked into the eyes
144 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
of the frÃ©re directeur of the Maristes, and
then sank trembling on the snow. The Ma-
riste stood over him, tall and severe.
â€œ What, then, have I taught thee to assas-
sinate?â€ There was grief in his voice and
Pe Say!â€ exclaimed Pettingill, who had
been too much astonished to speak, â€œ what
kinder game is he up to? Ainâ€™t he off his
â€œGo!â€ - The Mariste waved his hand im-
â€œCome off!â€ Pettingill spoke roughly.
â€œWait till I give you a pointer. Donâ€™t you
let that chap rush after me. Because if you
doâ€? â€”he drew a shining pistol from his
overcoat pocket â€”â€œIâ€™ll give him a tetch of
the United States that â€™ll last him.â€
â€œGo!â€ the Mariste repeated.
â€œSo long,â€ said Pettingill, whereupon he
turned on his heel and went away.
The Mariste lifted Joi Billette to his feet,
brushed the snow from his clothes, took him
by the hand, and led him back the way
he had come. Past Charetteâ€™s, past all the
houses, they went, the Mariste still holding
Joi by the hand. At the end of the street,
iy EBovo SmitH =
â€œGO!â€ THE MARISTE REPEATED
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 145
the white crosses of the little cemetery
gleamed almost as white as the snow piled
up on the graves. Into the garden of the
dead they went, and there the Mariste led
Joi to one of the little white crosses. In the
centre of the cross had been fixed a small
frame, and in this frame was the likeness of
a young woman, a souvenir of the dead. It
was a common tintype, but there was an air
of nobility about it. It had the beauty of
youth and the tenderness of maturity. It
was the picture of Joi Billetteâ€™s mother. He
fell on his knees before it, and sobbed con-
vulsively. The Mariste stood, with hat off
and folded arms, his black hair blown about
by the wind. AimÃ© Joutras, watchmg from
a distance, saw the two emerge from the
cemetery and go into the church, not far
away. Then he saw them no more.
When Pettingill returned to the little au-
berge, he found Barie still there, tasting and
testing Chicoineâ€™s la pâ€™tite biÃ©re, and it was
not long before he was seated in the grizzled
habitantâ€™s sleigh, on his way to Upton. One
day passed, then two days, then three. Pet-
tingill could be accounted for, â€” he had gone
146 A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN
away; but where was Joi Billette? The
times were not so gay at Charetteâ€™s as before.
Huphrasie ceased to toss her head and forgot
to put on her fine airs. She was continually
looking up the street for Joi, but no Joi
came. She went to see AndrÃ© Billette, Joiâ€™s
father, but AndrÃ© looked at her coldly and
shook his head. He had no information to
give. Joi was of age: he could take care of
â€œYou know where he is?â€ said Euphrasie.
â€œT know where I am, maâ€™mâ€™selle,â€ said
AndrÃ©. â€œI bother nobody.â€
There was no comfort for the girl in such
talk as that. Then there was the story that
Joutras told of seeing Joi with the frÃ©re di-
recteur of the Mariste school. To the school
Huphrasie went. One of the pupils opened
the door, and in a little while the frÃ©re direc-
teur came. He was very grave, but there
was a twinkle of fun in his eyes when he saw
Kuphrasie. The girl was excited and defiant.
Her face was very white, and her hands
trembled. She made no salutation.
â€œWhere is Joi Billette?â€ she asked
The Mariste regarded her curiously.
A BELLE OF ST. VALERIEN 147
_ â€œWhy do you come to me for Joi Bil-
lette?â€ he asked gently. â€œIf he is here,
why disturb him? He asks to see no one.
He is content.â€
â€œT ask you,. where is Joi Billette?â€ the
gurl repeated. Her attitude was almost
â€œ Why come to me?â€ the Mariste insisted.
â€œWhat am I?â€
â€œFor you,â€ exclaimed Kuphrasie, â€œI do
not care that!â€ She raised her hand and
snapped her fingers. â€œ Where is Joi Bil-
Her voice rang through the hallway, and
at that moment Joi appeared behind the Ma-
riste, his face pale and his eyes full of won-
der. When Euphrasie saw him she turned
away from the door and began to weep. Joi
looked at the Mariste for an explanation, but,
without waiting for it, he ran to Euphrasie,
as she was going away, and threw his arms
The Mariste nodded his head approvingly,
and closed the door.
THE COMEDY OF WAR
ON THE UNION SIDE
Private Oâ€™Hattoray, detailed for special
duty in advance of the picket line, sat reclin-
ing against a huge red oak. Within reach
lay a rifle of beautiful workmanship. In one
hand he held a blackened brier-root pipe,
gazing on it with an air of mock regret. It
had been his companion on many a weary
march and on many a lonely day, when, as
now, he was doing duty as a sharpshooter.
But it was not much of a companion now.
Tt held the flavor, but not the fragrance, of
other days. It was empty, and so was Oâ€™Hal-
loranâ€™s tobacco-pouch. It was nothing to
grumble about, but the big, laughing Irish-
man liked his pipe, especially when it was
full of tobacco. The words of an old song
came to him, and he hummed them to him-
self : â€”
THE COMEDY OF WAR 149
Â«There was an ould man, anâ€™ he had a wooden leg,
Anâ€™ he had no terbacky, nor terbacky could he beg ;
There was another ould man, as keen as a fox,
Anâ€™ he always had terbacky in his ould terbacky box.
Â«Sez one ould man, â€˜ Will yez give me a chew?â€™
Sez the other ould man, â€˜Iâ€™ll be dommed ef I do.
Kape away from them gin-mills, anâ€™ save up yure rocks,
Anâ€™ yeâ€™ll always have terbacky in yer ould terbacky box.â€™â€
What with the singing and the far-away
thoughts that accompanied the song, Private
Oâ€™Halloran failed to hear footsteps approach-
ing until they sounded quite near.
â€œHalt!â€ he cried, seizing his rifle and
springing to his feet. The newcomer wore
the insignia of a Federal captain, seeing
which, Oâ€™Halloran lowered his weapon and
saluted. â€œSure, sor, youâ€™re not to mind me
capers. I thought the inimy had me com-
plately surrounded â€”I did, upon me sowl.â€
â€œAnd I,â€ said the captain, laughing,
â€œthought the Johnnies had caught me. It
is a pleasant surprise. You are O'Halloran
of the Sharpshooters; I have heard of you
â€”a gay singer and a great fighter.â€
â€œSure itâ€™s not for me to say that same. I
sings a little bechwane times for to kape up
me sperits, and takes me chances, right and
lift. Youâ€™re takinâ€™ a good many yourself,
150 THE COMEDY OF WAR
sor, so far away from the picket line. If I
make no mistake, sor, it is Captain Fambrough
Iâ€™m talkinâ€™ to.â€
â€œ That is my name,â€ the captain said.
â€œT was touchinâ€™ elbows witâ€™ you at Gettys-
The captain looked at Oâ€™Halloran again.
â€œWhy, certainly!â€™â€™ he exclaimed. â€˜ You
are the big fellow that lifted one of the
Johnnies over the stone wall.â€
â€œ By the slack of the trousers. J am that
same, sor. He was nothinâ€™ but a bit of a
lad, sor, but he fought right up to the end
of me nose. The men was jabbinâ€™ at â€™im witâ€™
their bayâ€™nets, so I sez to him, says I, â€˜Come
in out of the inclemency of the weather,â€™ says
I, and thin I lifted him over. He made at
me, sor, when I put â€™im down, anâ€™ it took two
men for to lead â€™im kindly to the rear. It
was a warm hour, sor.â€
As O'Halloran talked, he kept his eyes far
â€œSure, sor,â€ he went on, â€œyou stand too
much in the open. They had one muddle-
head on that post yesterday; they â€™ll not put
another there to-day, sor.â€ As he said this,
the big Irishman seized the captain by the
THE COMEDY OF WAR 151
arm and gave him a sudden jerk. It was an
unceremonious proceeding, but a very timely
one, for the next moment the sapling against
which the captain had been lightly leaning
was shattered by a-ball from the Confederate
â€œÂ°Tis an old friend of mine, sor,â€ said
Oâ€™Halloran ; â€œI know â€™im by his handwritinâ€™.
They had a muddlehead there yesterday, sor.
I set in full sight of â€™im, anâ€™ he blazed at me
twice; the last time I had me fist above me
head, anâ€™ he grazed me knuckles. â€˜ Bedad,â€™
says I, â€˜youâ€™re no good in your place ;â€™ anâ€™
when he showed his mug, I plugged â€™im where
the nose says howdy to the eyebrows. â€™T was
no hurt to â€™im, sor; if he seen the flash,
*t was as much.â€
To the left, in a little clearing, was a com-
fortable farmhouse. Stacks of fodder and
straw and pens of corn in the shuck were
ranged around. There was every appearance
of prosperity, but no sign of life, save two
bluebirds, the pioneers of spring, that were
fighting around the martin gourds, preparing
to take possession.
â€œThere â€™s where I was born.â€ The cap-
tain pointed to the farmhouse. â€œIt is five
years since I have seen the place.â€
152 THE COMEDY OF WAR
â€œ You donâ€™t tell me, sor! I see in the
â€˜Hurâ€™ldâ€™ that they call it the Civil War, but
itâ€™s nothinâ€™ but oncivil, sor, for to fight aginâ€™
your ould home.â€
â€œYou are right,â€ assented the captain.
â€œThereâ€™s nothing civil about war. I sup-
pose the old house has long been deserted.â€
â€œSure, look at the forage, thin. *Tis
piled up as nately as you plaze. Wait till
the bâ€™ys git at it! Look at the smoke of
the chimbly. Barrinâ€™ the jay-birds, â€™tis the
peacefullest sight Iâ€™ve seen.â€
â€œMy people are gone,â€ said the captain.
â€œ My father was a Union man. I would nâ€™t
be surprised to hear of him somewhere at the
North. The day that I was eighteen he gave
me a larruping for disobedience, and I ran
â€œ Donâ€™t spake of it, sor.â€ Oâ€™Halloran held
up his hands. â€œ Manyâ€™s the time Iâ€™ve had
me feelinâ€™s hurted witâ€™ a barâ€™] stave.â€
â€œ That was in 1860,â€ said the captain. â€œTI
was too proud to go back home, but when
the war began I remembered what a strong
Union man my father was, and I joined the
â€œÂ°T is a great scheme for a play,â€ said the
big Ivishman solemnly.
THE COMEDY OF WAR 153
â€œâ€˜My mother was dead,â€ the captain went
on, â€œmy oldest sister was married, and my
youngest sister was at school in Philadelphia,
and my brother, two years older than myself,
made life miserable for me in trying to boss
â€œOh!â€ exclaimed Oâ€™Halloran, â€œdonâ€™t I
know that same? *T is meself thatâ€™s been
Captain Fambrough looked at the old place,
carefully noting the outward changes, which
were comparatively few. He noted, too, with
the eye of a soldier, that when the impend-
ing conflict took place between the forces
then facing each other, there would be a
sharp struggle for the knoll on which the
house stood; and he thought it was a curi-
ous feat for his mind to perform, to regard
the old home where he had been both happy
and miserable as a strategic point of battle.
Private O'Halloran had no such memories to
please or to vex him. To the extent of his
opportunities he was a man of business. He
took a piece of white cloth from his pocket
and hung it on the broken sapling.
â€œ Tl] see, sor, if yon chap is in the grocery
154 THE COMEDY OF WAR
As he turned away, there was a puff of
smoke on the farther hill, a crackling report,
and the hanging cloth jumped as though it
â€œ Faith, itâ€™s him, sor!â€ exclaimed Oâ€™ Hal-
loran, â€œ anâ€™ heâ€™s in a mighty hurry.â€ Where-
upon the big Irishman brushed a pile of
leaves from an oil-cloth strapped together in
the semblance of a knapsack.
â€œWhat have you there?â€ asked Captain
â€œSure, â€™tis me grocery store, sor. Coffee,
tay, anâ€™ sugar. Faith, Iâ€™ll make the divvleâ€™s
mouth water like a baby cuttinâ€™ his stomach
tathe. Would ye mind cominâ€™ along, sor, for
to kape me from swindlinâ€™ the Johnny out of
all his belonginâ€™s ?â€
ON THE CONFEDERATE SIDE
THREE men sat in a gully that had once
been a hillside ditch. Their uniforms were
various, the result of accident and capture.
One of them wore a very fine blue overcoat
which was in queer contrast to his ragged
THE COMEDY OF WAR 155
pantaloons. This was Lieutenant Clopton,
who had charge of the picket line. Another
had on the uniform of an artilleryman, and
his left arm was in a sling. He had come
out of the hospital to do duty as a guide.
This was Private John Fambrough. The
third had on no uniform at all, but was
dressed in plain citizenâ€™s clothes, much the
worse for wear. This was Jack Kilpatrick,
scout and sharpshooter, â€” Happy Jack, as he
How long since the gully had been a ditch
it would be impossible to say, but it must
have been a good many years, for the pines
had grown into stout trees, and here and
there a black-jack loomed up vigorously.
â€œDonâ€™t git too permiscus around here,â€
said Happy Jack, as the others were moving
about. â€œThis ainâ€™t no fancy spot.â€ He
eased himself upward on his elbow, and made
a swift but careful survey of the woodland .
vista that led to the Federal lines. Then
he shook down the breech of his rifle, and
slipped a long cartridge into its place. â€œYou
see that big poplar over yonder? Well, un-
der that tree thereâ€™s a man, leastways he
ought to be there, because heâ€™s always hang-
inâ€™ around in front of me.â€
156 THE COMEDY OF WAR
â€œWhy donâ€™t you nail him?â€ asked Fam-
â€œ Bosh! Why donâ€™t he nail me? Itâ€™s
because he canâ€™t do it. Well, thatâ€™s the rea-
son I donâ€™t nail him. You know what hap-
pened yesterday, donâ€™t you? You saw that
elegant lookinâ€™ chap that came out to take
my place, didnâ€™t you? Did you see him
when he went back ?â€â€™
Lieutenant Clopton replied with a little
grimace, but Fambrough said never a word.
He only looked at Kilpatrick with inquiring
â€œWhy, he was the nicest lookinâ€™ man in
the army â€” hair combed, clothes brushed,
and rings on his fingers. He was all the
way from New â€™leans, with a silver-mounted
rifle and a globe sight.â€
â€œ A which?â€ asked Fambrough.
â€œA globe sight. Set down on yourself
a little further, sonny,â€™ said Happy Jack;
â€œyour headâ€™s too high. I says to him, says
I, â€˜Friend, you are goinâ€™ where youâ€™ll have
to strip that dollâ€™s step-ladder offâ€™n your gun,
anâ€™ come down to business,â€™ says I. I says,
says I, â€˜You may have to face a red-headed
flannel-mouthed Irishman, and you donâ€™t want
THE COMEDY OF WAR 157
to look at him through all that machinery,â€™
says I.â€ :
â€œ What did he say?â€ Fambrough asked.
â€œ He said, â€˜Iâ€™ll git him.â€™ Now, how did
he git hin? Why, he come down here,
lammed aloose a time or two, and then hung
his head over the edge of the gully there,
with a ball right spang betwixt his eyes. I
went behind the picket line to get a wink of -
sleep, but I had nâ€™t moreâ€™n curled up in the
broom-sage before I heard that chap a-banginâ€™
away. Then come the reply like thisâ€ â€”
Happy Jack snapped his fingers ; â€œand then
I went to sleep waitinâ€™ for the rejâ€™inder.â€
Kilpatrick paused, and looked steadily in
the direction of the poplar.
â€œWell, dog my cats! Yonderâ€™s a chap
standinâ€™ right out in front of me. It ainâ€™t
the Mickey, neither. Ill see what heâ€™s up
to.â€ He raised his rifle with a light swingmg
movement, chirruped to it as though it were
a horse or a little child, and in another mo-
ment the deadly business of war would have
been resumed, but Fambrough laid his hand
on the sharpshooterâ€™s arm.
â€œ Wait,â€ he said. â€œThat may be my old
man wandering around out there. Donâ€™t be
158 THE COMEDY OF WAR
too quick on trigger. I ainâ€™t got but one
â€œ Shucks!â€ exclaimed Kilpatrick pettishly ;
â€œyou reckon I donâ€™t know your old man?
Heâ€™s big in the body, anâ€™ wobbly in his legs.
You â€™ve spiled a mighty purty shot. I believe
in my soul that chap was a colonel, anâ€™ he
might â€™aâ€™ been a general. Now thatâ€™s
â€œ What â€™s funny?â€ asked Fambrough.
â€œWhy, that chap. He â€™ll never know you
saved him, anâ€™ if he knowâ€™d it he would nâ€™t
thank you. Iâ€™dâ€™aâ€™ put a hole right through
his gizzard. Now heâ€™s behind the poplar.â€
â€œTtâ€™s luck,â€ Lieutenant Clopton suggested.
â€œMaybe,â€ said Kilpatrick. â€œâ€˜ Yonder he
is agâ€™in. Luck wonâ€™t save him this time.â€
He raised his rifle, glanced down the barrel,
and pulled the trigger. Simultaneously with
the report an expression of disgust passed
over his face, and with an oath he struck the
ground with his fist.
â€œDonâ€™t tell me you missed him,â€ said
â€œ Miss what ?â€ exclaimed Kilpatrick scorn-
fully. â€œIf he ainâ€™t drunk, somebody pulled
him out of the way.â€
THE COMEDY OF WAR 159
â€œT told you it was luck,â€ commented Clop-
â€œâ€˜Shucks! donâ€™t tell me. Luck â€™s like
lightninâ€™. She never hits twice in the same
Kilpatrick sank back in the gully and gave
himself up to ruminating. He leaned on his
elbows and pulled up little tufts of grass and
weeds growing here and there. Lieutenant
Clopton, looking across towards the poplar,
suddenly reached for the sharpshooterâ€™s rifle,
but Kilpatrick placed his hand on it jealously.
â€œGive me the gun. Yonderâ€™s a Yank in
Kilpatrick, still holding his rifle, raised
himself and looked.
â€œWhy, heâ€™s hanging out a flag of truce,â€
said Clopton. â€œ What does the fellow mean?â€
â€œTtâ€™s a message,â€ said Kilpatrick, â€œanâ€™
hereâ€™s the answer.â€ With that he raised his
rifle, dropped it gently in the palm of his left
hand, and fired.
â€œYou saw the hankcher jump, did nâ€™t
you?â€ he exclaimed. â€œWell, that lets us
out. That â€™s my Mickey. He wants to-
bacco, and I want coffee anâ€™ tea. Come,
watch me swap him out of his eye teeth.â€
160 THE COMEDY OF WAR
Then Kilpatrick went to a clump of broom-
sedge and drew forth a wallet containing
several pounds of prepared smoking tobacco
and a bundle of plug tobacco, and in a few
moments the trio were picking their way
through the underwood towards the open.
ON NEUTRAL GROUND
Marrers were getting critical for Squire
Fambrough. He had vowed and declared
that he would never be a refugee, but he had
a responsibility on his hands that he had not
counted on. â€˜That responsibility was his
daughter Julia, twenty-two years old, and as
obstinate as her father. The Squire had sent
off his sonâ€™s wife and her children, together
with as many negroes as had refused to go
into the Union lines. He had expected his
daughter to go at the same time, but when
the time arrived, the fair Julia showed that
she had a mind of her own. She made no
scene, she did not go into hysterics; but
when everything was ready, she asked her
father if he was going. He said he would
THE COMEDY OF WAR 161
follow along after a while. She called to a
negro, and made him take her trunks and
band-boxes from the wagon and carry them
into the house, while Squire Fambrough
stood scratching his head.
â€œWhy donâ€™t you make her come?â€ his
daughter-in-law asked, somewhat sharply.
â€œ Well, Susannah,â€ the Squire remarked,
â€œJT ainâ€™t been a jestice of the peace and a
married man, off and on for forty year, with-
out findinâ€™ out when to fool with the wimen
sek anâ€™ when not to fool wiâ€™ â€™em.â€
â€œJT â€™d make her come,â€ said the daughter-
â€œT give you lief, Susannah, freely anâ€™
fully. Lay your baby someâ€™rs wherâ€™ it wonâ€™t
git run over, anâ€™ take off your surplus har-
ness, anâ€™ go anâ€™ fetch her out of the house anâ€™
put her in the buggy.â€
But the daughter-in-law treated the cour-
teous invitation with proper scorn, and the
small caravan moved off, leaving the fair
Julia and her father in possession of the
premises. According to human understand-
ing, the refugees got off just in the nick of
time. A day or two afterwards, the Union
army, figuratively speaking, marched up,
162 THE COMEDY OF WAR
looked over Squire Fambroughâ€™s front pal-
ings, and then fell back to reflect over the
situation. Shortly afterwards the Confeder-
ate army marched up, looked over the Squireâ€™s
back palings, and also fell back to reflect.
Evidently the situation was one to justify
reflection, for presently both armies fell back
still farther. These movements were so cour-
teous and discreet â€” were such a colossal
display of etiquette â€” that war seemed to be
out of the question. Of course there were
the conservative pickets, the thoughtful ve-
dettes, and the careful sharpshooters, ready
to occasion a little bloodshed, accidentally or
intentionally. But by far the most boister-
ously ferocious appendages of the two armies
were the two brass bands. They were con-
tinually challenging each other, beginning
early in the morning and ending late in the
afternoon; one firing off â€œ Dixie,â€™ and the
â€˜other â€œ Yankee Doodle.â€ It was â€œ Yankee
Doodle, howdy do?â€ and â€œ Doodle-doodle,
Dixie, too,â€ like two chanticleers challenging
each other afar off.
This was the situation as it appeared to
Squire Fambrough and his daughter. On
this particular morning the sun was shining
THE COMEDY OF WAR 163
brightly, and the birds were fluttering joy-
ously in the budding trees. Miss Julia had
brought her book out into the grove of ven-
erable oaks which was the chief beauty of
the place, and had seated herself on a rustic
bench that was built around one of the trees.
Just as she had become interested, she heard
a rifle-shot. She moved uneasily, but fell to
reading again, and was apparently absorbed
in the book, when she heard another shot.
Then she threw the book down and rose to
her feet, making a very pretty centrepiece in
the woodland setting.
â€œOh! what is the matter with every-
thing?â€ she exclaimed. â€œ Thereâ€™s the
shooting again! How can I read books and
sit quietly here while the soldiers are prepar-
ing to fight? Oh, me! I donâ€™t know what
to do! If there should be a battle here, I
donâ€™t know what would become of us.â€
Julia, in her despair, was fair to look
upon. Her gown of striped homespun stuff,
simply made, set off to admiration her strong
but supple figure. Excitement added a new
lustre to her eye and gave a heightened color
to the rose that bloomed on her cheeks. She
stood a moment as if listening, and then a
164 THE COMEDY OF WAR
faint smile showed on her lips. She heard
her father calling : â€”
â€œJule! Jule! O Jule!â€
â€œ Here I am, father!â€™ she cried. â€œ What
â€œ Well, the Lord heâ€™p my soul! Iâ€™ve
been huntinâ€™ for you high anâ€™ low. Did you
hear that shootinâ€™? I lowed may be youâ€™d
been took prisoner anâ€™ carried bodaciously
off. Didnâ€™t I hear you talkinâ€™ to some-
Squire Fambrough pulled off his hat and
scratched his head. His face, set in a fringe
of gray beard, was kindly and full of humor,
but it contained not a few of the hard lines
â€œNo, father,â€ said Julia, in reply to the
squireâ€™s question. â€œI was only talking to
â€œ Jest makinâ€™ a speech, eh? Well, I donâ€™t
blame you, honey. Iâ€™m a great mind to
jump out here in the clearinâ€™ anâ€™ yell out my
sentiments so that both sides can hear â€™em.â€
â€œ Why, what is the matter, father ?â€â€™
â€œTâ€™m mad, honey! Iâ€™m jest nachally
stirred up, â€” dog my cats ef I ainâ€™t! Along
at fust I did hope there would nâ€™t be no
THE COMEDY OF WAR 165
fightinâ€™ in this neighborhood, but now I jest
want to see them two blamed armies light
into one another, tooth and toe-nail.â€
â€œWhy, father!â€ Julia made a pretty
gesture of dismay. â€œ How can you talk so?â€
â€œ Half of my niggers is gone,â€ said Squire
Fambrough ; â€œone side has got my hosses,
and tâ€™ other side has stole my cattle. The
Yankees has grabbed my grist mill, anâ€™ the
Confeds has laid holt of my corncrib. One
army is squattinâ€™ in my tater patch, and
Â¢â€™ other one is roostinâ€™ in my cow pasturâ€™. Do
you reckon I was born to set down here anâ€™
put up wiâ€™ that kind of business ?â€
â€œBut, father, what can you do? How
can you help yourself? For heavenâ€™s sake,
let â€™s go away from here! â€ .
â€œGreat Moses, Jule! Have you gone anâ€™
lost what little bit of common sense you was
born with? Do you reckon Iâ€™m argoinâ€™ to
be a-refugeeinâ€™ anâ€™ a-skeedaddlinâ€™ across the
country like a skeerâ€™d rabbit at my time of
life? I hainâ€™t afeared of nary two armies
they can find room for on these hills! Hainâ€™t
I got one son on one side anâ€™ another son on
? other side? Much good they are doinâ€™,
too. If they â€™dâ€™aâ€™felt like me they â€™dâ€™aâ€™ fit
166 THE COMEDY OF WAR
both sides. Do you reckon Iâ€™m a-gwine to
be drove offâ€™n the place where I was born,
anâ€™ where your granpappy was born, anâ€™
where your mother lies buried ? No,
_â€œ But, father, you know we canâ€™t stay
here. Suppose there should be a battle?â€
â€œCome, honey! come!â€ There was a
touch of petulance in the old manâ€™s tone.
â€œDonâ€™t get me flustrated. I told you to go
when Johnâ€™s wife anâ€™ the children went. By
this time youd â€™aâ€™ been out of hearinâ€™ of the
â€œ But, father, how could I go and leave
you here all by yourself?â€ The girl laid
her hand on the squireâ€™s shoulder caress-
â€œNo,â€ exclaimed the squire angrily ;
â€œstay you would, stay you did, anâ€™ here you
â€œYes, and now I want to go away, and I
want you to go with me. All the horses are
not taken, and the spring wagon and the
barouche are here.â€
â€œ Donâ€™t come a-pesterinâ€™ me, honey! Iâ€™m
pestered enough as it is. Lord, if I had the
big men here what started the war, Iâ€™d take
THE COMEDY OF WAR 167
â€˜em anâ€™ butt their cussed heads together tell
you would nâ€™t know â€™em from a lot of spiled
â€œ Now, donâ€™t get angry and say bad words,
â€œT canâ€™t help it, Jule; I jest canâ€™t help it.
When the fuss was a-brewinâ€™ I sot down anâ€™
wrote to Jeems Buchanan, and told him, jest
as plain as the words could be put on paper,
that war was bounâ€™ to come if he did nâ€™t look
sharp ; anâ€™ then when old Buck dropped out,
I sot down anâ€™ wrote to Abe Lincoln anâ€™ told
him that coercion would nâ€™t work worth a
cent, but conciliation â€â€™ â€”
â€œWait, father!â€ Julia held up her pretty
hand. â€œJI hear some one calling. Listen!â€
Not far away they heard the voice of a
negro. â€˜ Marse Dave Henry! O Marse
â€œHello! Who the nation are you hol-
lerinâ€™ at?â€ said Squire Fambrough as a
youngish-looking negro man came in view.
â€œâ€˜ Anâ€™ where did you come from, anâ€™ where
are you goinâ€™ ?â€
â€œ Howdy, mistiss, â€” howdy, marster ! â€
The negro took off his hat as he came up.
â€œ Whatâ€™s your name?â€ asked the squire.
168 THE COMEDY OF WAR
â€œIâ€™m name Tuck, suh. None er you all
ainâ€™t seed nothinâ€™ er Marseâ€â€? â€”
â€œWho do you belong to?â€
â€œJT bâ€™longs ter de Cloptons down dar in
Georgy, suh. None er you-all ainâ€™t seed
nothinâ€™ â€â€ â€”
â€œWhat are you domâ€™ here?â€ demanded
Squire Fambrough, somewhat angrily.
â€œDonâ€™t you know you are liable to get
killed any minute? Ainâ€™t you makinâ€™ your
way to the Yankee army?â€
â€œNo, suh.â€ The negro spoke with unc-
tion. â€œIâ€™m des a-huntinâ€™ my young marster,
suh. He name Dave Henry Clopton. Dat
what we call him,â€” Marse Dave Henry.
None er you-all ainâ€™t seed â€™im, is you?â€
â€œ Jule,â€ said the squire, rubbing his nose
thoughtfully, â€œainâ€™t that the name of the
chap that used to hang. around here before
the Yankees got too close ?â€â€™
â€œDo you mean Lieutenant Clopton, fa-
ther?â€ asked Julia, showing some confusion.
â€œ Yessum.â€ Tuck grinned and rubbed
his hands together. â€œ Marse Dave Henry is
sholy a lieutender in de company, anâ€™ mistiss
she say heâ€™d a done been a ginerâ€™l ef dey
waâ€™nâ€™t so much enviousness in de army.â€
THE COMEDY OF WAR 169
â€œT saw him this morning, â€”I meanâ€ â€”
Julia blushed and hesitated. â€œI mean, I
heard him talking out here in the grove.â€
â€œWho was he talking to, Jule?â€ The
squire put the question calmly and deliber-
There was a little pause. Julia, still blush-
ing, adjusted an imaginary hairpin. â€˜The
negro looked sheepishly from one to the
other. The squire repeated his question.
â€œWho was he talking to, Jule?â€
â€œ Nobody but me,â€ said the young lady,
growing redder. Her embarrassment was
not lessened by an involuntary â€œeh â€” eh,â€
from the negro. Squire Fambrough raised
his eyes heavenwards and allowed both his
heavy hands to drop helplessly by his side.
Â«â€œ What was he talkinâ€™ about?â€ The old
man spoke with apparent humility.
â€œ N-o-t-h--n-g,â€ said Julia demurely, look-
ing at her pink finger-nails. â€œHe just asked
me if I thought it would rain, and I told him
I did nâ€™t know; and then he said the spring
was coming on very rapidly, and I said, â€˜ Yes,
I thought it was.â€™ And then he had found
a bunch of violets and asked me if I would
accept them, and I said, â€˜ Thank you.â€™â€â€™
170 THE COMEDY OF WAR
â€œLand of the livinâ€™ Moses!â€ exclaimed
Squire Fambrough, lifting his hands above
his head and allowing them to fall heavily
again. â€œ And they call this war!â€
â€œ Yessum!â€ The negroâ€™s tone was trium-
phant. â€œDat sholy wuz Marse Dave Henry.
War er no war, dat wuz him. Dat des de
way he goes â€™mongst de ladies. He giâ€™ â€™um
candy yit, let â€˜lone flowers. Shoo! You
canâ€™t tell me nothinâ€™ â€™t all bout Marse Dave
â€œWhat are you wanderinâ€™ â€™round here in
the woods for?â€ asked the squire. His tone
was somewhat severe. â€œDid anybody tell
you he was here?â€ â€”
â€œNo, suh!â€ replied Tuck. <â€œ Dey tolâ€™ me
back dar at de camps dat Iâ€™d finâ€™ â€™im out on
de picket line, anâ€™ when I got dar dey tolâ€™
me he wuz out dis a-way, whar dey wuz some
sharpshootinâ€™ gwine on, but I ainâ€™t founâ€™ im
â€œ Ainâ€™t you been with him all the time?â€
The squire was disposed to treat the negro
as a witness for the defense.
â€œTor, no, suh! I des now come right
straight fum Georgy. Mistiss,â€” she Marse
Dave Henryâ€™s ma,â€”she hear talk dat de
THE COMEDY OF WAR 171
solyers ainâ€™t got no cloze fer ter war anâ€™ no
vittles fer ter eat, skacely, anâ€™ she tuck â€™n
made me come anâ€™ fetch â€™im a box full er
duds anâ€™ er box full er vittles. She put cake
in dar, yit, â€™kaze I smelt it whiles I wuz han-
dlinâ€™ de box. De boxes, dey er dar at de
camp, anâ€™ here me, but wharbouts is Marse
Dave Henry ? Not ter be a-hidinâ€™ fum some-
body, he de hardest white man ter finâ€™ what
I ever laid eyes on. I speck I better be
knockinâ€™ â€˜long. Good-by, marster ; good-by,
young mistiss. Ef I donâ€™ finâ€™ Marse Dave
Henry nowheres, Iâ€™Il know whar ter come anâ€™
watch fer *im.â€
The squire watched the negro disappear in
the woods, and then turned to his daughter.
To his surprise, her eyes were full of tears ;
but before he could make any comment, or
ask any question, he heard the noise of tramp-
ing feet in the woods, and presently saw two
Union soldiers approaching. Almost imme-
diately Julia called his attention to three
soldiers coming from the Confederate side.
â€œT believe in my soul weâ€™re surrounded
by both armies,â€ remarked the squire dryly.
â€œBut donâ€™t git skeerâ€™d, honey. Iâ€™m goinâ€™ to
see what they â€™re trespassinâ€™ on my premises
172 THE COMEDY OF WAR
COMMERCE AND SENTIMENT
â€œUpon me sowl,â€ said O'Halloran, as he
and Captain Fambrough went forward, the
big Irishman leading the way, â€œIâ€™m afeard
Iâ€™m tollinâ€™ you into a trap.â€
â€œ How?â€ asked the captain.
â€œWhy, there â€™s three of the Johnnies
cominâ€™, sor, anâ€™ the ould man anâ€™ the gurrul
â€œHalt!â€ said the captain, using the word
by force of habit. The two paused, and the
captain took in the situation at a glance.
Then he turned to the big Irishman with a
queer look on his face.
â€œ What is it, sor?â€
â€œTâ€™m in for it now. That is my father
yonder, and the young lady is my sister.â€
â€œThe Divvle anâ€™ Tom Walker!â€ exclaimed
Oâ€™Halloran. â€œTis quite a family rayunion,
â€œT donâ€™t know whether to make myself
known or not. What could have possessed
them to stay here? Iâ€™ll see whether they
know me.â€ As they went forward, the cap-
THE COMEDY OF WAR 173
tain plucked Oâ€™Halloran by the sleeve. â€œ1â€™ll
be shot if the Johnny with his arm in the
sling is nâ€™t my brother.â€
â€œT was expectinâ€™ it, sor,â€ said the big
Irishman, giving matters a humorous turn.
â€œSoon the cousins will be poppinâ€™ out from
under the bushes.â€
By this time the two were near enough to
the approaching Confederates to carry on a
conversation by lifting their voices a little.
â€œ Hello, Johnny,â€ said Oâ€™ Halloran.
â€œ Hello, Yank,â€ replied Kilpatrick.
â€œ Whatâ€™s the countersign, Johnny?â€
â€œTobacco. What is it on your side,
â€œTay anâ€™ coffee, Johnny.â€
â€œYou are mighty right,â€ Kilpatrick ex-
claimed. â€œStack your arms agin a tree.â€
Â«The same to you,â€ said O'Halloran.
The Irishman, using his foot as a broom,
cleared the dead leaves and twigs from a
little space of ground, where he deposited his
bundle, and Kilpatrick did the same. John
Fambrough, the wounded Confederate, went
forward to greet his father and sister, and
Lieutenant Clopton went with him. The
squire was not in a good humor.
174 THE COMEDY OF WAR
â€œT tell you what, John,â€ he said to his
son, â€œI donâ€™t like to be harborinâ€™ nary side.
Itâ€™s aginâ€™ my principles. I donâ€™t like this
colloguinâ€™ anâ€™ palaverinâ€™ betwixt folks that
ought to be by good rights a-knockinâ€™ one an-
other on the head. If they want to collogue
anâ€™ palaver, why donâ€™t they go somâ€™ers
The squireâ€™s son tried to explain, but the
old gentleman hooted at the explanation.
â€œCome on, Jule, let â€™s go and see what
they â€™re up to.â€
As they approached, the Irishman glanced
at Captain Fambrough, and saw that he had
turned away, cap in hand, to hide his emotion.
â€œYou â€™re just in time,â€ the Irishman said
to Squire Fambrough in a bantering tone,
â€œto watch the continding armies. This mite
of a Johnny will swindle the Government, if
I donâ€™t kape me eye on him.â€
â€œTs this what you call war?â€ the Squire
inquired sarcastically. â€œWho axed you to
come trespassinâ€™ on my land ?â€
â€œQh, we â€™ll put the leaves back where we
found them,â€ said Kilpatrick, â€œif we have
to git a furlough.â€
â€œ Right you are!â€ said the Irishman.
THE COMEDY OF WAR 175
â€œTt is just a little trading frolic among the
boys!â€ Captain Fambrough turned to the
old man with a courteous bow. â€œ They will
do no harm. Iâ€™ll answer for that.â€
â€œ Well, I ll tell you how I feel about
it!â€™ Squire Fambrough exclaimed with some
warmth. â€œIâ€™m in here betwixt the hostiles.
They ainâ€™t nobody here but me anâ€™ my daugh-
ter. We donâ€™t pester nobody, anâ€™ we donâ€™t
want nobody to pester us. One of my sons
is in the Union army, I hear tell, anâ€™ the
other is in the Confederate army when he ainâ€™t
in the hospital. These boys, you see, found
their old daddy a-straddle of the fence, anâ€™
one clomb down one leg on the Union side,
anâ€™ t? other one clomb down tâ€™ other leg on
the Confederate side.â€
â€œThat is what I call an interesting situa-
tion,â€ said the captain, drawing a long breath.
â€œPerhaps I have seen your Union son.â€
â€œMaybe so, maybe so,â€ assented the squire.
â€œ Perhaps you have seen him yourself since
the war began?â€
Before the squire could make any reply,
Julia rushed at the captain and threw her
arms around his neck, crying, â€œO brother
George, I know you!â€
176 THE COMEDY OF WAR
The squire seemed to be dazed by this dis-
covery. He went towards the captain slowly.
The tears streamed down his face and the
hand he held out trembled. â€”
â€œ George,â€ he exclaimed, â€œGod Aâ€™mighty
knows Iâ€™m glad to see you!â€
Oâ€™Halloran and Kilpatrick had paused in
the midst of their traffic to watch this scene,
but when they saw the gray-haired old man
crying and hugging his son, and the young
girl clinging to the two, they were confused.
Oâ€™Halloran turned and kicked his bundles. -
â€œTake all the tay and coffee, you bloody
booger! Just give me a pipeful of the
Kilpatrick shook his fist at the big Ivish-
â€œ Take the darned tobacco, you redmouthed
Mickey! What do I want with your tea
and coffee?â€ Then both started to go a
little way into the woods, Lieutenant Clopton
following. The captain called them back,
but they would nâ€™t accept the invitation.
â€œWe are just turninâ€™ our backs, sor, while
you hold a family orgie,â€ said O'Halloran,
â€œMe anâ€™ this measly Johnny will just go anâ€™
complate the transaction of swappinâ€™.
THE COMEDY OF WAR 177
At this moment Tuck reappeared on the
scene. Seeing his young master, he stopped
still and looked at him, and then broke out
into loud complaints.
â€œMarse Dave Henry, whar de nam er good-
ness you been? You better come read dish
yer letter what yoâ€™ ma writ you. Iâ€™m gwine
tell mistiss she come mighty nigh losinâ€™ a
likely nigger, anâ€™ she â€˜Il rake you over de
â€œWhy, howdy, Tuck,â€ exclaimed Lieuten-
ant Clopton. â€œ Ainâ€™t you glad to see me?â€
â€œYasser, I speck I is.â€ The negro spoke
in a querulous and somewhat doubtful tone,
as he produced a letter from the lining of his
hat. â€œBut Iâ€™dâ€™aâ€™ been a heap gladder ef I
had nâ€™t mighty nigh traipsed all de gladness
out â€™n me.â€
Young Clopton took the letter and read it
with a smile on his lips and a dimness in his
eyes. The negro, left to himself, had his
attention attracted by the coffee and tobacco
lying exposed on the ground. He looked at
the display, scratching his head.
â€œ Boss, is dat sho nuff coffee?â€
â€œTt is that same,â€ said Oâ€™ Halloran.
â€œDe ginnywine ole-time coffee ?â€ insisted
178 THE COMEDY OF WAR
â€œTis nothinâ€™ else, simlin-head.â€â€™
â€œMarse Dave Henry,â€ the negro yelled,
â€œrun here anâ€™ look at dish yer ginnywine
coffee! Dey â€™s nuff coffee dar fer ter make
mistiss happy de balance er her days. Some
done spill out!â€ he exclaimed. â€œ Boss, kin
T have dem whatâ€™s on de grounâ€™?â€
â€œTake â€™em,â€ said Oâ€™ Halloran, â€œ anâ€™ much
good may they do you.â€
â€œOne, two, thâ€™ee, foâ€™, fiâ€™, sick, sevâ€™m.â€
The negro counted the grains as he picked
them up. â€œO Marse Dave Henry, run here
anâ€™ look! I got sevâ€™m grains er ginnywine ~
coffee. Iâ€™m gwine take um ter mistiss.â€â€™
The Irishman regarded the negro with
curiosity. Then taking the dead branch of a
tree he drew a line several yards in length
between himself and Kilpatrick.
â€œD â€™ye see that line there ?â€ he said to the
â€œDat ar mark? Oh, yasser, I sees de mark.â€
â€œ Very well. On that side of the line you
are in slavery â€”on this side the line you are
â€œ< Who? Mee
â€œ Who else but you?â€
â€œT been hear talk er freedom, but I ainâ€™t
THE COMEDY OF WAR 179
seed â€™er yit, anâ€™ I dunner how she feel.â€ The
negro scratched his head and grinned expec-
â€œTis as I tell you,â€ said the Irishman.
â€œT bâ€™lieve Ill step â€™cross anâ€™ see how she
feel.â€â€™ The negro stepped over the line, and
walked up and down as if to test the matter
physically. â€œIT ainâ€™t needer no hotter ner
no colder on dis side dan what â€™tis on dat,â€
he remarked. Then he cried out to his young
master: â€œLook at me, Marse Dave Henry;
Iâ€™m free now.â€
â€œ All right.â€ The young man waved his
hand without taking his eyes from the letter
he was reading.
â€œâ€˜ He take it mosâ€™ too easy fer ter suit me,â€
said the negro. Then he called out to his
young master again: â€œO Marse Dave Henry!
Donâ€™t you tell mistiss dat I been free, kaze
she â€™Il take a bresh-broom anâ€™ run me offâ€™n de
place when I go back home.â€
THE CURTAIN FALLS
Squire Fambrough insisted that his son
should go to the house and look it over for
180 THE COMEDY OF WAR
the sake of old times, and young Clopton
went along to keep Miss Julia company.
Oâ€™Halloran, Kilpatrick, and the negro stayed
where they were â€”the white men smoking
their pipes, and the negro chewing the first
â€œmannyfacâ€ tobacco he had seen in many a
The others were not gone long. As they
came back, a courier was seen riding through
the woods at break-neck speed, going from
the Union lines to those of the Confederates,
and carrying a white flag. Kilpatrick hailed
him, and he drew rein long enough to cry
out, as he waved his flag : â€”
â€œâ€˜ Lee has surrendered !â€
â€œJ was looking out for it,â€ said Kilpatrick,
â€œbut dang me if I had nâ€™t ruther somebody
had a-shot me right spang in the gizzard.â€
Lieutenant Clopton took out his pocket-
knife and began to whittle a stick. John
Fambrough turned away, and his sister leaned
her hands on his shoulder and began to weep.
Squire Fambrough rubbed his chin thought-
fully and sighed.
â€œTt had to be, father,â€ the captain said.
â€œTtâ€™s a piece of news that brings peace to
THE COMEDY OF WAR 181
â€œOh, yes, but it leaves us flat. No money,
and nothing to make a crop with.â€
â€œJT have government bonds that will be
worth a hundred thousand dollars. The in-
terest will keep us comfortably.â€
â€œ For my part,â€ said Clopton, â€œ I have no-
thing but this free nigger.â€
â€œYou bâ€™lieve de half er dat,â€ spoke up the
free nigger. â€œ Mistiss been savinâ€™ her cotton
craps, anâ€™ ef she got one bale she got two
The captain figured a moment. â€œThey
will bring more than a hundred thousand
â€œâ€œT have me two arrums,â€ said Oâ€™ Halloran.
â€œTâ€™ve got a mighty fine pack of fox-
hounds,â€ remarked Kilpatrick with real pride.
There was a pause in the conversation. In
the distance could be heard the shouting of
the Union soldiers and the band with its
â€œYankee Doodle, how dâ€™y-do?â€ Suddenly
Clopton turned to Captain Fambrough : â€”
â€œJT want to ask you how many troops have
you got over there â€” fighting men?â€
The captain laughed. Then he put his
hand to his mouth and said in a stage
whisper : â€”
182 THE COMEDY OF WAR
â€œWell, dang my hide!â€ exclaimed Kil-
â€œWhat is your fighting force?â€ Captain
â€œ Four companies,â€ said Clopton.
â€œThink oâ€™ that, sir!â€ cried the Irishman ;
â€œanâ€™ me out there defendinâ€™ meself agâ€™in a
â€œMore than that,â€™ said Clopton, â€œ our
colonel is a Connecticut man.â€
â€œShake!â€ the captain exclaimed. â€œ My
colonel is a Virginian.â€ .
â€œLord â€™aâ€™ mercy! Lord â€™aâ€™ mercy!â€ It
was Squire Fambrough who spoke. â€œIâ€™m
a-goinâ€™ off someâ€™rs anâ€™ ontangle the tangle
we ve got into.â€
Soon the small company separated. The
squire went a short distance towards the
Union army with his new-found son. Kil-
patrick and the negro went trudging back to
the Confederate camp, while Clopton lingered
awhile, saying something of great importance
to the fair Julia and himself.
What they said was commonplace, even tri-
fling; what they meant carried their minds
and their hearts high above all ordinary mat-
THE COMEDY OF WAR 183
ters; lifted them, indeed, into the region of
poetry and romance â€” lifted and held them
there for one brief, blissful half hour. Their
questions and their answers, heavy with doubt,
or light with shy hope, were such as swarm
in Loveâ€™s convoy whether he precedes or fol-
lows comedy or tragedy. They flourish in
the thunders of war as serenely as in the sun-
shine of peace.
A BOLD DESERTER
THE war wasnâ€™t much of a bother to Hills-
borough, for the town was remote from the
field of operations. Occasionally news would
come that made the women cry out and the
old men weep, but the intervals were long
between these episodes, and to all appear-
ances affairs moved forward as serenely as
This was during the first year or two of
the struggle. Then came the Impressment
Law, which created bad feelings and caused
a good deal of grumbling. Following this
came the Conscript Act, which made matters
much worse, especially when strange men
were sent to enforce it. This disturbed the
serenity of Hillsborough very seriously.
Nevertheless, Hillsborough could have put
up with the Conscript Act but for one event
that stirred the little community from centre
to circumference. The conscript officers had Â°
A BOLD DESERTER 185
not been in the town a week before they
pounced upon little Billy Cochran, the sole
support of his widowed mother, who was
known throughout that region as Aunt Sally.
Little Billy himself was a puzzle to the more
thoughtful people. He was so simple and
innocent-minded, so ready to do for others
what he would nâ€™t do for himself, that some
said he was a half-wit, while others contended
that he would have sense enough if his heart
was nâ€™t so big.
But everybody liked little Billy â€” for his
motherâ€™s sake, if not for his own, for Aunt
Sally was, indeed, a good Samaritan. She
seemed to know by instinct where trouble
and sickness and suffering were to be found,
and there, too, she was to be found. High
or low, rich or poor, she passed none by. |
And, though she was as simple and as in-
nocent-minded as little Billy, these qualities
seemed to fit her better than they did her
awkward and bashful boy.
Aunt Sally and little Billy were both as
industrious as the day was long, yet they
made but a precarious living on their little
patch of ground,â€”a bale or two of cotton,
* that didnâ€™t bring a good price, and a little bit
186 A BOLD DESERTER
of garden truck, which, with a few chickens
and eggs, they brought to town occasionally
in a rickety one-horse wagon. Aunt Sally
would take no pay for nursing the sick, no
matter how much of her time was taken up,
but she supplemented the meagre income
they got from the, one-horse farm by mak-
ing quilts, and counterpanes, and bedspreads,
and by taking in weaving, being very expert
at the loom.
As may be supposed, Aunt Sally and little
Billy did nâ€™t wear fine clothes nor put on any
airs. Living in middle Georgia (the most
democratic region, socially, in the world),
they had no need for either the one or the
other. They made a bare living, and were
tolerably satisfied with that.
One day, shortly after the conscript officer
had established his headquarters in Hillsbor-
ough, Aunt Sally and little Billy drove into
town -with a few dozen eggs'and three or
four chickens to sell. The conscript officer,
sitting on the veranda of the tavern, noticed
that little Billy was a well-grown lad, and
kept his eye on him, as the rickety, one-horse
â€˜wagon came through the public square.
_ There were two or three loungers sittingâ€™
A BOLD DESERTER 187
on the veranda, including Major Goolsby.
One of them tapped the major on the shoul-
der and pointed to little Billy with his fore-
finger and to the conscript officer with his
thumb. The major nodded gravely once or
twice, and presently hitched his chair closer
to the conscript officer.
â€œYou ainâ€™t a-bagging much game in these
parts, I reckon,â€ said the major, addressing
the officer, with half-closed eyes.
â€œ Business is not very good,â€ replied the |
other, with a chuckle, â€œbut we manage to
pick up a few stragglers now and then.
Yonderâ€™s a chap nowâ€ â€” pointing to little
Billy â€”â€œ that looks like he would be an orna-
ment to the rear-guard in an engagement.â€
The officer was a big, rough-looking man,
and seemed to find his present duties very
â€œDo you mean little Billy Cochran ?â€ in-
quired the major.
â€œJT donâ€™t know his name,â€ said the officer.
â€œT mean that chap riding in the chariot with,
the fat woman.â€
â€œThat boy,â€ remarked the major with an
emphasis that caused the conscript officer to
* regard him with surprise, â€œis the sole support
188 A BOLD DESERTER
of his mother. Heâ€™s all sheâ€™s got to make
â€œMay be so,â€ the officer said, â€œbut the
law makes no provision for cases of that
â€œYou said, â€˜May be so,â€™â€ suggested the
major. â€œDo you mean to doubt my word?â€
His voice was soft as the notes of a flute.
â€œ Why, certainly not!â€ exclaimed the offi-
cer, flushing a little.
The major made no further remark, but
sat bolt upright in his chair. The rickety
wagon drove to the tavern door, and little
Billy got out, a basket of eggs in one hand
and the chickens in the other. He went into
the tavern, and while he was gone, Aunt
Sally passed the time of day with the major
and the rest of her acquaintances on the
Evidently little Billy had no difficulty in
disposing of his eggs and chickens, for he
soon came out smiling. The officer arose as
little Billy appeared in the door, and so did
Major Goolsby. The loungers nudged one
another in a gleeful way. As little Billy
came out, the conscript officer drew a for-
midable-looking memorandum-book from his
A BOLD DESERTER 189
pocket and tapped the young man on the
shoulder. Little Billy looked around in sur-
prise, the blood mounted to his face, and he
â€œ What is your name?â€ the officer asked,
poising his pencil.
â€œWilliam Henry Harrison Cochran,â€ re-
plied little Billy.
â€œ How old are you?â€
â€œ Twenty, April gone.â€
â€œ Report at my office, under the Temper-
ance Hall, next Wednesday morning, the day
after to-morrow. The army needs your ser-
â€œDo you want me to go to the war?â€
asked little Billy, a quaver in his voice.
â€œYes,â€ the officer replied. â€œYou fall
under the conscript law.â€
â€œ What ll mammy do?â€
â€œ Really, I donâ€™t know. The Confederacy
needs you worse than your mammy does just
Little Billy hung his head and walked to
the rickety wagon.
â€œ Mind,â€ ad the officer, â€œ Wednesday
morning at ten oâ€™clock. I donâ€™t want to
send after you.â€
190 A BOLD DESERTER
â€œWhy, what in the round world is the
matter, honey?â€ Aunt Sally inquired, see-
ing the downcast look of her son.
Little Billy simply shook his head. He
could not have uttered a word then had his
life depended on it.
â€œGit up, Beck!â€ exclaimed Aunt Sally,
slapping her old mule with the rope reins.
Major Goolsby watched the mother and
son for a few moments as they drove back
across the public square. His lip quivered
as he remembered how, years before, Aunt
Sally had nursed his dead wife. He turned
to the conscript officer and straightened him-
â€œ Misterâ€ â€” his voice was soft, sweet, and
insinuating â€” â€œ Mister, how many of your
kind are loafing around in the South, pick-
ing up the mainstay of widows?â€
â€œAs many as are necessary, sir,â€ replied
the officer. :
â€œÂ«As many as are necessary, sir,â€ said
the major, turning to his acquaintances and
mimicking: the tones of the officer. â€œ Boys,
thatâ€™s what they call statistics â€” the exact
figures. Well, sir, if thereâ€™s one for every
town in the Confederacy, thereâ€™s more than
A BOLD DESERTER 191
a regiment of â€™em. Donâ€™t you reckon Dm
about right in my figuresâ€™ one
â€œJT could nâ€™t say,â€ replied the officer, in an
indifferent way. He saw that Major Goolsby
was angry, but he didnâ€™t know what the
majorâ€™s anger meant. â€œTI could nâ€™t say. If
all of them have enlisted as many men as I
have, the army will be a great deal larger in
the course of the next three months.â€
â€œDonâ€™t you think you could do a great
deal more damage to the Yankees, if you had
the will, than that boy youâ€™ve just served
notice on?â€ asked the major, with a little
more asperity than he had yet shown. â€œWhy
donâ€™t you get a basket and catch tomtits, and
send â€™em on to the front? .The woods are
full of â€™em.â€
â€œ Now, if youâ€™ll tell me how all this con-
cerns you,â€ said the officer, bristling up, â€œIll
be much obliged to you.â€
The major took one step forward and,
with a movement quick as lightning, slapped
the officer in the face with his open hand.
â€œ That â€™s for little Billy!â€ he exclaimed.
The officer sprang back and placed his
hand under his coat as if to draw a pistol.
The major whipped out a big morocco pocket-
192 A BOLD DESERTER
book, fumbled about in it a moment, and
then threw five twenty-dollar gold pieces at
the feet of the officer.
â€œTâ€™ll send that to your family,â€ he said,
â€œif you ll pull your pistol out where I can
But the officer by this time had taken a
sober second thought, and he turned away
from the major and went to his office across
the public square. The older citizens of
Hillsborough applauded his coolness and dis-
cretion, and one of them told him confiden-
tially that if he had drawn his pistol when
Major Goolsby begged him to he would have
been a dead man before he could have pulled
the hammer back.
Of course, everybody sympathized with
Aunt Sally, and their sympathy added to her
grief, for she was a tender-hearted woman.
Moreover, when. she found herself the object
of so much condolence, she naturally con-
cluded that her trouble was a great deal
worse than she had any idea of, and she sat
in her humble home and wept, and, like
Rachel, refused to be comforted.
A BOLD DESERTER 193 .
But the situation was not nearly so bad
as Aunt Sally thought it was, or as Major
Goolsby expected it would be. The major
himself sent her a little negro girl to keep
her company, and the neighbors for miles
around contended with one another in their
efforts to make her comfortable. Not a day
passed, except Sundays, that Miss Mary, the
majorâ€™s daughter, didnâ€™t drive out to Aunt
Sallyâ€™s little place and spend an hour or two
with her. Miss Mary was eighteen, as pretty
as a peach, and as full of fun as an egg is of
meat. She was a brunette with blue eyes,
and although they were laughing eyes, they
could look very sad and tender when occasion
called for it.
She made herself very useful to Aunt
Sally. She read to her the letters that little
Billy sent back from the camp of instruction
at Loudersville, and answered them at Aunt
Sallyâ€™s dictation. In this way she came to
feel that she knew little Billy better than any
one else except his mother. She was sur-
prised to find that, although little Billy had
had few advantages in the way of schooling,
he could write a beautiful letter. She took
the fact home to her innocent bosom and
194 A BOLD DESERTER
wondered how it could be that this country
lad had the knack of putting himself into his
letters along with so many other things that
were interesting. She was touched, too, by
the love for his mother that shone through
every line he wrote. Over and over again,
he called her his dear mammy and tried to
comfort her; and sometimes he spoke of Miss
Mary, and he was so deft in expressing his
gratitude to her that the young lady blushed
and trembled lest some one else was writing
little Billyâ€™s letters, as she was writing his
And then, somehow, she never knew how,
his face came back to her memory and planted
itself in her mind and remained there. Little
Billy was no longer the green, awkward, and
ungainly country boy, peddling the scanty
fruits of his poverty about the village, but a
hero, who had no thought for anybody or
anything except his dear old mammy.
As the cold weather came on, little Billy
wrote that he would feel a great deal more
comfortable in the mind if he knew where
he could get a thick suit of clothes and a
heavy pair of shoes. But he begged his dear
mammy not to worry about that, for he had
A BOLD DESERTER 195
no doubt the clothes and shoes would be
forthcoming when he needed them most.
Miss Mary skipped this part of the letter
when she was reading it aloud to Aunt Sally,
but it wasnâ€™t long before the clothes were
made, with the aid and under the direction
of little Billyâ€™s mother; and the shoes were
bought, costing Major Goolsby a pretty round
sum in Confederate currency. Moreover, Miss
Mary baked a fruit cake with her own hands,
and this was to be put in the box with the
clothes and shoes.
The next thing was to find out if anybody
from Hillsborough or from the country side
was going to the camp of instruction, where
little Billyâ€™s headquarters were. But right
in the midst of expectation and preparation
Aunt Sally fell ill. She had never reconciled
herself to her separation from little Billy.
Until the conscript law tore him away from
her side she had never been parted from him
a day since the Lord, sent him to her arms.
The strain was too much for the motherly
heart to bear. Aunt Sally gradually pined
away, though she tried hard to be cheerful,
and, at last, just before little Billyâ€™s Christ-
mas box was to be sent, she took to her bed
196 A BOLD DESERTER
and lay there as helpless as a child. The
doctor came and prescribed, but little Billy
was the only medicine that would do Aunt
Sally any good. So she kept to her bed, grow-
ing weaker and weaker, in spite of everything
that the doctor and the neighbors could do.
And at last, when an opportunity came to
forward the box, Miss Mary wrote a note and
pinned it where it could be seen the first
thing. She began it with â€œDear Little
Billy,â€ but this seemed too familiar, and
she began it with â€œMr. Cochran.â€ She told
him that his dear mammy was very ill, and
if he wanted to see her he would do well to
come home at once. It was a very pretty
letter, brief, simple, and sympathetic.
This duty done, Miss Mary turned her at-
tention to nursing Aunt Sally, and, except
at night, was never absent from her bedside
more than an hour at a time.
When little Billy arrived at the camp of
instruction, the first person on whom his eye
fell was Private Chadwick. Simultaneously
the eye of Private Chadwick fell on little
Billy. Mr. Chadwick was something of a
A BOLD DESERTER 197
humorist in his way, and a rough one, as the
raw conscripts found out to their cost.
heartless jest rose to his lips, but something
in little Billyâ€™s face â€” an expression of lone-
liness, perhaps â€” stayed it. In another mo-
ment Private Chadwickâ€™s hand fell on little
Billyâ€™s shoulder, and it was a friendly hand.
â€œWhere from ?â€â€™ he asked.
â€œClose about Hillsborowg, â€ little Billy
_ â€œTJ reckon you know the Tripps and the
â€œ Mighty well,â€ said little Billy.
â€œ What name?â€
â€œ How old?â€
â€œ Twenty, last April gone.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t look like youâ€™re fitten to do
much soldierinâ€™,â€ suggested Private Chad-
â€œOh, Iâ€™m tough,â€ said little Billy, laugh-
ing, though he had a big lump in his throat.
â€˜â€œ Conte. with me, buddy,â€ remarked the old
soldier, smiling. â€œIf Iâ€™m ever to keep a
tavern, I teekon I might as well begin with
you as a boarder.â€
And so, for the time at least, little Billy
198 A BOLD DESERTER
was installed in Private Chadwickâ€™s tent,
much to the surprise of those who knew the
peculiarities of the man. The camp was in
charge of Captain Mosely, who was recover-
ing from a wound, and he had selected his
old comrade, Private Chadwick, as his drill-
master, â€”a curious selection it seemed to be
to those who did nâ€™t know the man, but the
truth was that Private Chadwick knew as
much about tactics as any West Pointer, and
had the knack, too, of imparting what he
knew, even if he had to use his belt-strap to
emphasize his remarks.
The upshot of the matter was that little
Billy went to Private Chadwickâ€™s tent and
remained there. He and the private became
inseparable companions when neither was on
duty, and in these hours of leisure little Billy
learned as much about tactics as he did from
the actual practice of drilling. He seemed to
take to the business naturally, and far out-
stripped even the men who had been drilling
twice a day for three months. Naturally,
therefore, Private Chadwick was very proud
of his pupil, and frequently called Captain
Moselyâ€™s attention to little Billyâ€™s proficiency.
Over and often during the pleasant days of
A BOLD DESERTER 199
November, Private Chadwick could be seen
sitting in front of their tent engaged in ear-
nest: conversation, little Billy leaning his face
on his hands, and Private Chadwick making
fantastic figures in the sand with the point of
his bayonet. On such occasions little Billy
would be talking about his dear old mammy,
and about Miss Mary, and, although Private
Chadwick was something of a joker, in his
way, he never could see anything to laugh at
in little Billyâ€™s devotion to his mother, or in
his innocent regard for Miss Mary Goolsby.
Somehow it carried the private back to his
own boyhood days, and he listened to the lad
with a sympathy that was as quick and as
delicate as a womanâ€™s.
About the middle of December, little
Billyâ€™s box came. He carried it to Private
Chadwickâ€™s tent in great glee, and opened it
He had said to himself as he went along
that he was sure there was something nice in
the box, and he hoped to find Mr. Chadwick
either in the tent or close by; but the drill-
master was engaged just then in making a
refractory conscript mark time in the guard
tent by jabbing a bayonet at his toes.
200 A BOLD DESERTER
So, for the moment, little Billy had his
precious box all to himself. He opened it
and found the letter that Miss Mary had
pinned to the clothes. It ran thus : â€”
Mr. Cocuran,â€” Aunt Sally is very ill
now and has been ill for some time. We are
afraid that you are the only person in the
world that can cure her. She is calling your.
name and talking about you all the time. It
would do her so much good to see you that I
hope you can make it convenient to come
home very soon, if only for a day. We
should all be so glad to see you.
Your true friend,
Holding this letter in his hand, little Billy
sank down on a camp-stool and sat there.
He forgot all about the box. He sat as still
as a statue, and he was sitting thus when
Private Chadwick came into the tent a half-
hour later. Little Billy neither turned his
head nor moved when the drill-master came
in, snorting with rage and consigning all awk-
ward recruits to places too warm to be men-
tioned in polite conversation. But he pulled
A BOLD DESERTER 201
himself up when he saw little Billy sitting on _
the camp-stool staring at vacancy.
â€œHello!â€ he cried. â€œ What kind of a
picnic is this? If my nose ainâ€™t gone and
forgot her manners, I smell cake.â€ He
paused and looked at little Billy. Seeing
that the lad was troubled about something,
he lowered his voice. â€œ Whatâ€™s the matter,
old man? If itâ€™s trouble, itll do you more
good to talk about it than to think about it.â€
For answer, little Billy held out the letter.
Private Chadwick took it and began to read
it. Then he held it close to his eyes.
â€œ Now, this is right down funny,â€ he said,
â€œand itâ€™s just like a gal. Sheâ€™s gone and
scratched out the best part.â€ Little Billy
neither moved nor spoke, but turned inquir-
ing eyes on his patron and friend. â€œShe
began it â€˜ Dear Little Billy,â€™ â€ Private Chad-
wick continued, â€œand then she went and
scratched it out.â€
It was a very fortunate stroke indeed. The
color slowly came back into little Billyâ€™s face
and stayed there. After Private Chadwick
had read the letter, little Billy took it and
gave it a careful inspection. His face was so
full of color at what he saw that a stranger
would have said he was blushing.
202 A BOLD DESERTER
â€œ Whatâ€™s to be done about it?â€ Private
â€œT must go home and see mammy,â€ re-
plied little Billy.
Private Chadwick shook his head, and con-
tinued to shake it, as if by that means he
would blot out the idea.
â€œCan't I get a furlough * oe little Billy
asked, with tears in his voice.
If any other conscript had asked him this
question, Private Chadwick would have used
violent language, but the innocence and igno-
rance of little Billy were dear to him.
â€œNow, who ever heard of the like of
that?â€ he said in a kindly tone. â€œThere
ainâ€™t but one way for a conscript to leave this
camp, and that is to desert.â€
â€œTl do it!â€ exclaimed little Billy.
â€œYou know what that means, I reckon,â€
said Private Chadwick dryly.
â€œTt means that Iâ€™ll see my dear mammy
once more,â€ replied little Billy. â€œ And after
that, I donâ€™t care what happens.â€
Private Chadwick looked at little Billy
long and hard, smiling under his mustache,
and then went out. He walked to the centre
of the encampment, where the flag-pole stood.
A BOLD DESERTER 2038
This inoffensive affair he struck hard with
his fist, exclaiming under his breath, â€œ Lord,
Lord! What makes some people have such
big gizzards ?â€
The next day little Billy was missing.
Captain Mosely had the camp searched, but
without result, and in a little while everybody
knew that the lad was a deserter. During
the morning Private Chadwick had a long
talk with Captain Mosely, and the result of
it was that no immediate arrangements were
made to send a guard after little Billy.
Meanwhile, Aunt Sally was growing
weaker and weaker. Sometimes, in her trou-
bled dreams, she imagined that little Billy
had come, and at such moments she would
ery out a glad welcome, and laugh as heart-
ily as ever. But, for the most part, she knew
that he was still absent, and that all her
dreams were futile and fleeting.
Nevertheless, one bright morning in the
latter part of December, little Billy walked
into his motherâ€™s humble home, weary and
footsore. Aunt Sally heard his footstep on
the door-sill, and, weak as she was, sat up in
204 A BOLD DESERTER
bed and held out her arms to him. Her
dreams had come true, but they had come
true too late. When little Billy removed the
support of his arms, in order to look at his
dear mammyâ€™s face, she was dead. The joy
of meeting her son again was too much for
the faithful and tender heart.
All that could be done by kind hearts and
willing hands was done by Miss Mary and the
neighbors. Little Billy shed no tears. The
shock had benumbed all his faculties. He
went about in a dazed condition. But when,
the day after the funeral, he went to tell Miss
Mary good-by, the ineffable pity that shone
in her face touched the source of his grief,
and he fell to weeping as he had never wept
before. He would have kissed her hand, but
she drew it away, and, as he straightened
himself, tiptoed and kissed him on the fore-
head. With that she, too, fell to weeping,
and thus they parted. But for many a long
day little Billy felt the pressure of soft and
rosy lips on his forehead.
He sold the old mule that had served his
dear mammy so faithfully, and this gave him
sufficient money to pay his way back to camp
on the railroad, with some dollars to spare.
A BOLD DESERTER 205
As good fortune would have it, the first man
he saw when the train stopped at the station
nearest the camp was Private Chadwick.
Little Billy spoke to his friend with as much
cheerfulness as he could command.
â€œTâ€™m mighty glad to see you, old man,â€
said Chadwick. â€œI knowed in reason that
you was certain to come back, â€” and, sure
enough, here you are. Youâ€™ve had trouble,
too. Well, trouble has got a long arm and a
hard hand, and I ainâ€™t never saw the livinâ€™
human beinâ€™ that could git away from it
when it begins to feel around for â€™em.â€
â€œYes,â€ replied little Billy simply; â€œIâ€™ll
never have any more trouble like that Iâ€™ve
â€œTtâ€™s mighty hard at first, always,â€ re-
marked Private Chadwick, with a sigh, â€œ but
itâ€™s mighty seasoninâ€™. The man that ainâ€™t
the better for it in the long run ainâ€™t much
ofaman. Thatâ€™s the way I put it down.â€
â€œAm I a deserter, sure enough?â€ asked
little Billy, suddenly remembering his posi-
â€œ Well, itâ€™s a mixed case,â€™ answered the
private. â€œYou â€™ve gone and broke the rules
and articles of war,â€”I reckon thatâ€™s what
206 A BOLD DESERTER
they call â€™em. You took Dutch leave. The
Cap said if you did nâ€™t come back in ten days
heâ€™d send a file of men after you, and then
your cake would â€™aâ€™ been all dough. But
now you â€™ve come back of your own free will,
and the case is mixed. You are bound to be
arrested. All thatâ€™s been fixed, and thatâ€™s
the reason Iâ€™ve been cominâ€™ to the train every
day sence youâ€™ve been gone. I wanted to
arrest you myself.â€
-.â€œ Then Iâ€™m a prisoner,â€ suggested little
â€œThat â€™s about the size and shape of it,â€
replied Private Chadwick. .
His tone was so emphatic that little Billy
looked at him. But there was a kindly light
in the privateâ€™s eyes and a pleasant smile
lurking under his mustache: so that the
young fellow thought he might safely go
back to his grief again.
When they arrived at camp, Private Chad-
wick, with a great show of fierce formality,
led little Billy to the guard tent, and there
placed him in charge of a newly-made cor-
poral, who knew so little of his duties-that he
went inside the tent, placed his gun on the
ground, and had a long familiar chat with
A BOLD DESERTER 207
After the camp had gone to bed, Private
Chadwick relieved the guard, and carried
little Billy to his own tent, where Captain
Mosely was waiting.
This rough old soldier gave little Billy a
lecture that was the more severe because it
was delivered in a kindly tone. At the end
he informed little Billy that the next day a
squad of picked men from the conscript camp
was to go to the front in charge of Private
Chadwick, the enemy having shown a pur-
pose to make a winter campaign.
â€œWould you like to go?â€ the captain
Little Billy seized the captainâ€™s arm.
â€œ Donâ€™t fool me,â€ he cried. â€œIf I am fit to
go, let me go. Thatâ€™s what I am longing
The captain felt about in the dark for
little Billyâ€™s hand, and grasped it. â€œ You
shall go,â€ he said, and walked from the dark
tent into the starlight outside.
The nights are long to those who sleep
with sorrow, but, after all, the days come
quickly, as little Billy soon found out. The
next morning he found himself whirling away
to Virginia, where some cruel business was
208 A BOLD DESERTER
on foot. The days went fast enough then,
and the railway train, with its load of sol-
diers, puffed and snorted as if it wanted to
go faster, too; but it went fast enough, â€”
just fast enough to be switched off to the
right of Richmond and plunge its load of
conscripts and raw recruits unprepared into a
furious battle that had just reached the high
tide of destruction. Private Chadwick was
swept along with the rest, and he tried hard
to keep his eye on little Billy, but found it
impossible, since they were soon mixed with
men who were wounded and with men who
were running away. Some of the latter
turned again when they saw the reinforce-
ments rushing forward pellmell. ,
Little Billy was far in front of the others.
He heard the crackle of musketry and the
thunder of the cannon, and ran toward the
smoke and confusion.
front of him and spun around, spitting fire,
but he ran on, and never even heard the ex-
plosion that shattered the trees around, and
played havoc with the reinforcements that
were following. He jumped over men that
were lying on the ground, whether dead or
wounded, he never knew. Some one, appa-
A BOLD DESERTER 209
rently in command, yelled at him with a sav-
age curse, but he paid no attention to it.
Directly in front of him he saw a battery of
three guns. Two were in action, but one had
no one to manage it. On each side of this
battery, and a little to the rear, the line of
battle stretched away.
Seeing little Billy running forward, fol-
lowed by the recruits from the train, the line
of battle began to cheer, and at the same
time to advance. He had practiced with an
old six-pounder at the conscript camp, and
he now ran, as if by instinct, to the gun
that had been silenced. The Confederates
charged, but had to fall back again, and then
they began to retire, slowly at first, and then
with some haste. Little Billy paid no atten-
tion to this movement at all. He continued
to serve his gun and fire it as rapidly as he
could. Shot and shell from the Federal bat-
teries plowed up the ground around him, but
never touched him. Presently a tall man
with a long brown beard rode out of the
smoke and ordered little Bully to retreat,
pointing, as he did so, to the bristling line of
Federals charging up the hill.
â€œTake hold of my stirrup,â€ said the tall
210 A BOLD DESERTER
man. He spurred his horse into a rapid trot,
and little Billy trotted by his side, mightily
helped by holding on to the stirrup. In this
way they were soon out of it, and in a little
while had caught up with the main body,
which had planted itself a couple of miles
farther back, while the brigade in which little
Billy had fought was holding the enemy at
Little Billyâ€™s face was black with powder,
but his eyes shone like stars. He knew now
that never again would danger or-the fear of
death cause him to flinch.
â€œWhat regiment do you belong to?â€
asked the tall man as they went along.
â€œ None,â€ replied little Billy simply. Then
he told how he was just from a conscript
camp in Georgia. When they arrived at the
Confederate position the tall man called to an
officer : â€”
â€œThis is my rear guard,â€ said he. â€œSee
that he is cared for.â€ Then to little Billy,
â€œ When this affair blows over, brush up and
call on General Jeb Stuart. He needs a cou-
rier, and you are the man.â€
As there was no sign of a fight the next
day, little Billy went to General Stuartâ€™s
LITTLE BILLY TROTTED BY HIS SIDE
A BOLD DESERTER 211
headquarters and was ushered in. That fa-
mous fighter, who happened to be the officer
who had noticed him the day before, took
him by the arm and introduced him to his
staff, and told how he had found him serving
a gun after the entire brigade had begun to
This was the beginning. Little Billy be-
came a courier, then an aid, and when the
war closed he was in command of a regi-
ment. His recklessness as a fighter had given
a sort of romantic color to his name, so that
the newspaper correspondents found nothing
more popular than an anecdote about Colonel
His fame had preceded him to Hillsbor-
ough, and he had a queer feeling when the
older citizens, men who had once awed him
by their pride and their fine presence, took
off their hats as they greeted him. The
most demonstrative among these was Major
â€œ You are to come right to my house, Colo-
nel. You belong to us, you know.â€ This
was Major Goolsbyâ€™s greeting, as he clung to
Colonel Cochranâ€™s hand. â€œ It will be a great
surprise to Mary. Sheâ€™ll never know you in
212 A BOLD DESERTER
the round world. Why, youâ€™ve grown to be
So there was nothing for Colonel Cochran
to do but to go to the Goolsby place, a fine
house built on a hill beyond the old church.
The major wanted to give his daughter a sur-
prise, and so he carried Colonel Cochran into
the parlor, and then told Miss Mary that one
of her friends had called to see her.
The young lady went skipping into the
parlor, and then paused with a frightened air,
as she saw a six-foot man in faded uniform
rise to meet her.
â€œMiss Mary,â€ said Colonel Cochran, hold-
ing out his hand.
â€œAre youâ€ â€” She paused, grew white
and then red, and suddenly turned and ran
out of the room, nearly upsetting the major,
who was standing near the door.
â€œ Why, what on earthâ€™s the matter?â€ he
cried. â€œ Well, if this donâ€™t beat â€” Did
she know you, Colonel? â€
â€œTâ€™m afraid she did,â€ replied the colonel
The major tiptoed to his daughterâ€™s room,
opened the door softly, and found her on
her knees by her bed, crying. Thereupon he
A BOLD DESERTER 213
tiptoed back again, and said to Colonel Coch-
ran, â€œItâ€™s all right. Sheâ€™s crying.â€
The colonel smiled dryly. â€œIf I make the
women cry, what will the children do when |
they see me!â€
The major laid his hand affectionately on
Cochranâ€™s arm. â€œDonâ€™t you fret,â€ he said.
â€œ Just wait.â€
And so wonderful are the ways of women,
that when Miss Mary came out again, she
greeted the colonel cordially, and was as gay
as a lark. And nothing would do but he
must fight his battles over again, which he
did with great spirit when he saw her fine
eyes kindling with enthusiasm, and her lips
trembling from sheer sympathy.
Strange to say, nobody knew what it all
meant but the old cook, who stood in the
doorway leading from the dining-room to
the kitchen and watched her young mistress.
She went back in the kitchen and said to her
husband : â€”
â€œ Ef you want ter see how folks does when
dey er in love, go ter de door dar anâ€™ look at
dat ar chile er ourâ€™n.â€
The old man looked in, watched Miss Mary
a moment, and then looked hard at Colonel
214 A BOLD DESERTER
â€œT dunno so much â€™bout de gal,â€ he said,
when he went back, â€œbut dat ar man got moâ€™
in his eye dan what his tongue want ter tell.â€
And it was so; and, being so, the whole
story is told.
A BABY IN THE SIEGE
THE war correspondents have had their
say about the siege of Atlanta, and some of
their remarks figure forth as history. They
have presented the matter with technical dia-
grams, and in language flying beyond the
reach of idiom into the regions of rhetoric ;
and the artists have followed close behind
with illuminated crayons, turning the Chat-
tahoochee Hills crosswise the horizon, and
giving the muddy river a tendency to wash
itself in the Pacific Ocean. These are but
the tassels and embroideries that history deco-
rates herself with in order to attract atten-
tion, and they are inevitable ; for experience
must serve a long and an arduous apprentice-
ship to life before it discovers that a fact is
more imposing in its simplicity than in any
The imposing fact about the siege of At-
lanta is that the besieged came to regard it as
216 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
a very tame affair. It is natural, too, that
this should have been so, for the lines of
defense were two or three miles from the
centre of the city, and the lines of the be-
siegers were almost as far again. The bom-
bardment was not such an affair as a lively
imagination might conjure up, being casual
and desultory. The streets were thronged
day after day with soldiers and civilians, and
even women and children were not lacking to
lend liveliness to the scene. Business seemed
to thrive, and the ordinary forms of gayety
went forward with the zest, if not the fre-
quency, characteristic of the piping times of
It seemed that the confusion â€” the feeling
of present or impending danger â€” had lifted
from the population that sense of responsi-
bility that lends an air of sobriety and sedate-
ness to communities that are blessed with
peace. Manâ€™s crust of civilization is not by
any means as thick as he pretends to believe,
and war has the knack of thrusting its long
sword through in unexpected places, strip-
ping off the disguise, and exposing the whole
While Atlanta was enjoying itself in a
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 217
reckless way, in spite of its portentous sur-
roundings, the outer lines of defense were
kept busy. The big guns and the little guns
were engaged in a rattling controversy, an
incessant dispute, which died away in one
quarter only to be renewed in another. This
was all very satisfactory, but while it was
goimg on, what must have been the feelings
of the inner lines of defense? The outer
lines had their morning, noon, and evening
frays, and Atlanta had its frolics, but the
inner lines lay still and stupid. Here were
the reserves â€” the fiery and dapper little
State cadets, fretting and fuming because
they were not ordered to the front with the
veterans. Here were Joe Brownâ€™s â€œ melish,â€
to be hereafter the victims of the wild mis-
take at Griswoldsville; and here were the
conscripts that had been seasoning them-
selves at the camp of instruction at Adairs-
ville, until Johnstonâ€™s army â€” performing its
celebrated feat of retiring and sweeping the
ground clean as it wentâ€” fell upon and
absorbed them, giving them an unexpected
taste of active service.
Naturally, the inner lines were discontented.
The shells that went Atlantaward flew harm-
218 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
lessly over their heads, and the main business
of war going forward in the outer ditches
came to them like the echo of the toy artil-
lery that the children prank with on holidays.
The monotony was all but unbearable, and
the pert and fearless little cadets began to
break it by â€œrunning the blockade.â€ They
had an occasional mishap, but their example
was contagious among those who had a spirit
of enterprise and were fond of an adventure
that had a spice of danger in it. The new
and jaunty uniform of the cadets seemed to
carry good luck with it, for those who wore
it went unchallenged about the town at all
hours of the day and night; whereas the rag-
tag and bobtail, who had no such neat and
conspicuous toggery, were frequently put to
it to escape arrest and detention.
Captain Mosely, who commanded the con-
script contingent, was not surprised, there-
fore, when, on the occasion of a visit to the
city, he saw his drill sergeant, Private Chad-
wick, sauntermg along the street arrayed in
the uniform of the cadets. The suit was a
misfit. The jacket was too short in the waist,
and the trousers were too short in the legs,
but Chadwick slouched along in happy un-
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 219
consciousness of the figure he was cutting.
The truth is, no one noticed him except his
captain. The people who passed him on the
street, and whom he passed, were much too
busy to be critical There was hardly a
spectacle so singular as to have the charm of
novelty to them.
In point of fact, there was at that moment,
not a hundred feet in front of Private Chad-
wick, a curious creature in the similitude of
aman, capering about in the middle of the
street, waving its arms and jabbering away
with a volubility and an incoherence that
struck painfully on the ear. And yet hun-
dreds of people passed the spectacle by with-
out so much as turning their heads. But a
few paused to watch the antics of the mon-
strosity, and among them was Private Chad-
wick. Captain Mosely also paused a little
distance away, and gazed curiously at the
cringing and writhing figure in the street.
A closer inspection showed that what ap-
peared to be a monstrosity was merely antic
exaggeration, the contortions of a remark-
ably agile hunchback.
Captain Mosely watched the capers of the
hunchback with an interest that seemed to
220 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
breed familiarity. The long and limber legs,
the long and muscular arms, where had he
seen them before? The hunchback moved
from side to side, gesticulating and jabbering
like one possessed. Some of the spectators
tossed money to him, and some tobacco.
These gifts he seized and stowed away with
the quickness of a monkey. Suddenly, as he
was whirling around in idiotic frenzy, his eyes
met those of Captain Mosely. As quick as
a flash the hunchbackâ€™s demeanor changed.
His arms dropped to his side, his head, with
its mass of wild and tangled hair, fell forward
on his breast, and he sidled off down the
street, the crowd readily making way for
Private Chadwick, who had been watching
these manceuvres with almost breathless in-
terest, observed the change that came over
the hunchback, and looked around to find
the cause of it. His eye fell on Captain
Mosely, and he brought his right hand down
on the palm of his left with a resounding
â€œT knowâ€™d it!â€ he exclaimed breathlessly,
as he reached the captainâ€™s side.
â€œ â€˜You knew what?â€
A BABY IN THE SIEGE â€” 221
â€œWhy, I knowâ€™d that imp of Satan the
minnit I laid eyes on him. I knowâ€™d him as
quick as he did you.â€
â€œWho is he?â€
_ â€œWhy, good Lord, Cap! donâ€™t you know
the chap that tuck you in on Sugar Mountain
when we went after Spurlock? The man
that shot Lovejoy? Donâ€™t you know Danny
For answer Captain Mosely gave a long,
low whistle of astonishment.
â€œ Anâ€™ now heâ€™s here playinâ€™ crazy. Iâ€™d
like to know what he â€™s up to, ding his
â€œHeâ€™s a spy,â€ said Captain Mosely. â€œHe
was a Union man on Sugar Mountain. He
commanded the bushwhackers. He has
slipped through the lines. We must nâ€™t let
him slip back again. He â€™s a dangerous
character. I want you to follow him. He
must be arrested. Report to the provost
marshal ; you know where his headquarters
are. Iâ€™Il leave instructions there for you.â€
Chadwick had been trying to keep an eye
on the hunchback while talking with his cap-
tain, but it was by the merest chance that he
saw him turn out of Alabama Street into
222 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
Whitehall. He was going, as Chadwick ex-
pressed it, â€œin a half-canter,â€™ waving his
arms and jabbering, and the people were
giving him as much room on the sidewalk as
he wanted. Private Chadwick walked as
rapidly as he could without attracting atten-
tion. His instinct told him that if he ran or
even appeared to be in too great a hurry he
would presently be arrested ;-so he went for-
ward easily but swiftly; his slouching gait
being well calculated to deceive the eyes of
those who might be moved to regard him
But at the corner of Whitehall Street he
was delayed by a file of soldiers conveying a
squad of forlorn prisoners, captured in some
sally or skirmish on the outer lines. Disen-
tangling himself from the small rabble that
surrounded and accompanied the soldiers and
their prisoners, Chadwick pressed forward
again. Looking far down Whitehall he saw
the hunchback whisk into Mitchell Street.
He hastened forward, but thereafter he was
compelled to rely wholly on his own judg-
ment, for when he reached the corner of
Mitchell, the hunchback had_ disappeared.
At the outset, therefore, Chadwick had a
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 223
problem before him. Did the hunchback
turn back down Forsyth Street? Did he go
out Mitchell, or did he turn down Peters
Street? Chadwick asked a few of the peo-
ple whom he met if they had seen the hunch-
back, but he received unsatisfactory replies.
He therefore turned into Peters Street,
which at that time led into the most disre-
putable part of the town. It led through
â€œSnake Nation,â€ where crime had its head-
quarters, and then outward and onward
through green fields and forests until it lost
itself in the red trenches that war had dug.
Private Chadwick followed the street some-
what aimlessly, knowing that only an acci-
dent would enable him to find the hunch-
back. As he crossed the railroad, a shrill
voice railed out at him; it may have carried
a curse, it may have borne an invitation; he
did not wait to see. On the hill-top beyond,
he paused. Here Peters Street became once
more the public road, and here Private Chad-
wick commanded a fine view of the town and
the country beyond. As he stood hesitating,
he heard the voice of a woman calling him.
He would have shrunk from it as from the
voice of Snake Nation, but this voice pro-
nounced his name.
224 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
He turned and saw a woman standing at
the gate of a neat-looking cottage, a hundred
feet back from the street. With her hair
half-falling down, and her sleeves rolled up,
this woman did not present a pretty picture
at first sight; but, within hearing of Snake
Nation, a face that wore the stamp of imno-
cence was a thing of beauty. Private Chad-
wick saw it and felt it, and though the gesture
with which he tipped his hat was awkward,
it was quick and sincere.
â€œT â€™mosâ€™ know you â€™ve done fergot me,â€
she said, as Chadwick went toward her. â€œBut
Iâ€™d a knowâ€™d youif Iâ€™d aseed youin Texas.â€
There was something pathetic in her eager-
ness to be recognized, yet her attitude was
not one of expectation. Chadwick looked at
her and shook his head slowly.
â€œNoâ€™m. I disremember if I â€™ve ever seed
you. But, Lord! Iâ€™ve been so tore up anâ€™
twisted arounâ€™ sence this fuss begun, that I
would nâ€™t know my own sister if she wuz to
meet me in a strange place. You may be
her, for all I know.â€
The woman smiled at the deftly put com-
â€œNo, my goodness! I ainâ€™t your sister.
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 225
I wisht I wuz right now, Iâ€™d feel lots better.
No! Donâ€™t you remember that Christmas
on Sugar Mountain when Israel Spurlock anâ€™
Polly Powers wuz married ?â€
â€œWhy, yes â€™m!â€ exclaimed Chadwick,
â€œYT â€™ve been a-thinkinâ€™ â€™bout that all day
â€œWell, I wuz right thar!â€
â€œNow, you donâ€™t say! You ainâ€™t Cassy
â€” Cassy â€ â€”
â€œCassy Tatum! Yes, siree! The very
gal!â€ She laughed, as though well pleased
that Chadwick should remember her first
* â€œ Well â€” well â€” well! â€ said Chadwick.
â€œYes, I married right along after that, anâ€™
you canâ€™t guess who to?â€
Chadwick scratched his head and pretended
to be trying to guess. By this time, Cassy
had led him into the house by the back en-
trance, and placed a chair for him in a little
room that was apparently her own. A baby
lay sleeping on the bed. Chadwick gazed at
it suspiciously as he seated himself in the
chair she placed for him. He felt out of
â€œOh, youâ€™d never guess it while the sun,
226 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
moon, anâ€™ stars shine,â€ continued Cassy. â€œI
married Danny Lemmons!â€
â€œThe great kingdom come!â€ exclaimed
Chadwick, leaping from his chair. â€œThe
humpback man? Is he anywheres arounâ€™
here? Ef he is, donâ€™t tell meâ€” donâ€™t tell
me! Heâ€™d never forgive you while the worlâ€™
â€œWhat â€™s he got agin you?â€ inquired
â€œ Not anything, maâ€™am, that I knows on,â€
replied Chadwick, sitting down again.
â€œHow I come to marry him Iâ€™ll never tell
you,â€ said Cassy, seating herself on the side
of the bed. â€œ But you know how gals is.
They donâ€™t know their own mind ef they â€™ve
got one. Pap was in the war fightinâ€™ fer
sesaysion, anâ€™ Maw wuz dead, anâ€™ thar I wuz
a-livinâ€™ rounâ€™ from family to family, spinninâ€™
anâ€™ weavinâ€™, anâ€™ waitinâ€™ on the sick. I tell
you now, a gal thatâ€™s got to live from hanâ€™
to mouth thataway, anâ€™ be a dependinâ€™ on
Tom, Dick, anâ€™ Harry anâ€™ theâ€™r wives â€” that
gal hainâ€™t in no gyarden of Eden â€” now, you
may say what you please! Well, jest about
that time, here come this here creetur you call
Danny Lemmons. He pestered me mighty
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 227
nigh to death. I could nâ€™t take two steps
away from the house but what he â€™d jump
out.of the bushes anâ€™ ast me to have â€™im.
Anâ€™ a whole passel of people up anâ€™ tolâ€™ me
Iâ€™d better marry â€™im. They â€™lowâ€™d a cripple
man wuz better â€™n no man. Well, they ag-
gervated me tell I married â€™im.â€
Cassy paused here, picking imaginary
thrums and ravelings from her apron. Chad-
wick fumbled with his hat and looked gravely
at a sun-spot as round as a dollar dancing on
â€œT married him,â€ she went on, â€œanâ€™ I
jumped out of the fryinâ€™-pan right spang in
the fire. I tell you, heâ€™s the Devil â€” claws
anâ€™ all. He led me a dogâ€™s life. Jealous!
Fidgety! Mean! Low-minded! Nasty !â€”
Shucks! I could nâ€™t begin to tell you about
that creetur ef I wuz to set here anâ€™ talk a
week. It got so that I couldnâ€™t no more Â©
live wiâ€™ him than I could live in a pot er
bilinâ€™ water. So when the army come along,
I tuck my baby anâ€™ come away. He vowed
day in anâ€™ day out that ef I ever run off heâ€™d
foller me up anâ€™ git the baby thar, anâ€™ take
it off in the woods anâ€™ make â€™way wi it.â€
At this point the baby in question joined
228 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
the conversation with some remarks in its
own peculiar language, and Cassy lifted it
from the bed, a squirming bundle of red fists
and keen squalls, and, turning her chair away
from Chadwick, proceeded to silence it with
the old-fashioned argument that healthy mo-
thers know so well how to use. It was a
bundle of such doubtful shape that Chadwick
had his suspicions aroused.
â€œThe young unâ€™s all right, ainâ€™t it?â€ he
ventured. â€œIt donâ€™t take atter the daddy, I
For answer Cassy bent over the baby,
laughing and cooing.
â€œDid â€™e nassy olâ€™ man sink mammyâ€™s itty
bitty pudnum pie have a hump onâ€™e fweet
itty bitty back? Nyassum did sink so!
Mammyâ€™s itty bitty pudnum pie be mad in
Chadwick, listening with something of a
sheepish air, understood from this philological
discourse that any person who suggested or
intimated that the young Lemmons was
shapen or misshapen on the pattern of the
senior Lemmons was an unnatural and a per-
verse slanderer. Cassy looked over her shoul-
der at him and laughed. In a few moments
she placed the baby on the bed.
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 229
â€œWell,â€ said Chadwick, shuffling his feet
about on the floor uneasily, â€œyou may as well
primp up anâ€™ look your best, bekaze it hainâ€™t
been a half-hour sence I seed Danny Lem-
mons a-caperinâ€™ about in town yander.â€
The color fled from the womanâ€™s face, leay-
ing it white as a sheet. The blue veins in
her temples shone ghastly through the skin.
â€œT hope you ainâ€™t afeard of im?â€ inquired
Chadwick, with a pitying glance.
â€œ Afeard! Yes, Iâ€™m afeard to do mur-
der. Iâ€™m afeard to have his blood on me!â€
She spoke in a husky whisper. Her eyes
glittered and her lips were drawn and dry.
As she reached for her chair, her hands shook.
After she sat down, her fingers opened and
shut convulsively. â€œIâ€™ve done dreampt about
it,â€™ she went on, trying to clear her throat,
â€œanâ€™ itâ€™s obleege to be. Sevâ€™m times has it
come to me in my sleep that Iâ€™ve got his
blood on my hanâ€™s. Hit wuz as plain as the
nose on your face. I seed it anâ€™ felt it. How
it come thar, my dreams hainâ€™t tole me, but
I know in reason hit â€™s bekaze I killt â€˜im.
Well, ef itâ€™s got to come, I wisht it â€™ud make
â€™aste anâ€™ come, anâ€™ be done wi it.â€
She went to a little cupboard in one corner
230 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
of the room, turned the wooden button that
kept the door shut, and drew forth a carpen-
terâ€™s hatchet. The blue steel of the blade
shone brightly. It was brand new.
â€œThat little thing,â€ she said, holding it
up, â€œcost sevâ€™m dollars and a half. But, la!
T reckon itâ€™s wuth the money.â€ She lifted
her apron, showing a small wire bent in the
shape of a hook, and suspended from her
belt. On this wire she hung the hatchet,
the hook fitting into the slit or notch on the
inner side of the blade.
â€œ Well,â€ exclaimed Chadwick admiringly,
â€œthatâ€™s the fust time I ever knowâ€™d what a
notch in a hatchet wuz fer!â€
â€œLet a woman â€˜lone fer that!â€ replied
Cassy, making an effort to laugh.
â€œT donâ€™t pocorn Danny Lemmons ll likely
finâ€™ you here,â€ said Chadwick after a while.
â€œ Whoâ€”him! Why, heâ€™s the imp of the
Ole Boy. Ef heâ€™s in town, he kin shet his
eyes tight anâ€™ walk right straight here. The
human beinâ€™ donâ€™t live that kin fool Danny
Lemmons. I reckon maybe I could take the
baby anâ€™ hide out in the woods; but them
ole folks in the house thar, they tuck me in
when I did nâ€™t have a moufile to eat nera
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 231
place to lay my head, anâ€™ now they â€™re in
trouble I hainâ€™t a-gwine to sneak off anâ€™ leave
â€™emâ€”TI hainâ€™t a-gwine to do it. They â€™re
both ole anâ€™ trimbly. The ole man says heâ€™s
got a pile er money hid arounâ€™ here someâ€™rs,
but heâ€™s done gone anâ€™ fergot wharbouts he
put it at, anâ€™ he jes vows he wonâ€™t go off anâ€™
She spoke slowly, and paused every now
and then to pick at her apron, as though re-
flecting over matters that had no part in her
â€œ*T declare to gracious!â€ she continued,
â€œitâ€™s pitiful to see them two ole creeturs go
moaninâ€™ anâ€™ mumblinâ€™ arounâ€™, a-pokinâ€™ in
cracks anâ€™ in the holes in the grounâ€™ a-huntinâ€™
fer theâ€™r money. They â€™ve ripped up theâ€™r
bed-ticks anâ€™ tore up the floor a time or two.
They hainâ€™t got nothinâ€™ to live fer â€™lessâ€™n itâ€™s
Chadwick took his leave as soon as he could
do so without breaking the thread of Cassyâ€™s
discourse. He left her talking volubly to
the baby, which had jumped in its sleep and
woke screaming with fright.
â€œJ reckon it dreampt it seed its daddy,â€
said Chadwick, as he bowed himself out.
932 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
Meanwhile Danny Lemmons was carrying
out plans of his own. He was a spy without
knowing what a serious venture he was en-
gaged in. Hehad been roaming around in
the Federal lines for a fortnight, playing his
fiddle, and cutting up his queer antics. One
night, after playing a selection of jigs and
reels fora group of young officers attached to
General Slocumâ€™s staff, he said he was going
into Atlanta after his baby.
â€œ Youll never go,â€ said one of the offi-
â€œT7ll go or bust,â€ replied Danny Lem-
â€œTf you go you â€™ll stay,â€ remarked another
officer. â€œI believe youâ€™re a Johnny, any-
â€œTl go, and Iâ€™ll come back right here,
anâ€™ Iâ€™ll fetch my baby back.â€
â€œBah! Bring us some papers. Ransack
Joe Johnstonâ€™s headquarters. Stuff a map
under your jacket. Bring us something to
show you â€™ve been in Atlanta. Anybody can
skirmish around here and steal a baby, but
not one man in a thousand can go through
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 233
the lines and ransack the headquarters of the
Johnnies and bring back documents to show
â€œTâ€™m the man! Jest holâ€™ my fiddle till I
git back!â€ exclaimed Danny Lemmons.
How the hunchback passed the Confeder-
ate lines it would be impossible to say. He
was as alert as any flying creature, as cun-
ning as any creeping thing, as crafty as
patience and practice can make a man. He
reached Atlanta and made himself as much
at home in the streets as any of the little
arabs that flitted from corner to corner.
He saw Captain Mosely, knew him, and was
anxious to avoid him, not because he appre-
ciated the danger of his position, but be-
cause he could not successfully play the part
of an imbecile under Moselyâ€™s eyes.
He went rapidly down Whitehall Street,
keeping up the pretence of idiocy, but when
he turned and went into Forsyth, he dropped
the character altogether, and became once
more the Danny Lemmons of Sugar Moun-
tain, â€” queer but shrewd. He inquired the
way to headquarters. The soldier whom he
asked directed him to the provost-marshalâ€™s
office, which was not far from where the
234 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
Kimball House now stands. He made no
haste to get there, loitering as he went along,
and examining whatever was new or strange
with the curiosity of a countryman.
The result was that when he reached the
provost-marshalâ€™s office, that official was pre-
paring to send out and arrest him. Captain
Mosely had preceded him by half an hour.
The moment he entered Danny Lemmons
knew that something was wrong, and, quick
as a flash, he assumed the character of a
â€œloony.â€ The transition was so quick that
it was unobserved by two keen-eyed men who
fixed their attention on him as soon as he
entered the door. He paused and gazed at
them with a deprecating grin.
â€œTs this place whar they conscript them
what wants to jine the war?.â€™â€ he asked.
The provost-marshal, a man with a tremen-
dous mustache and beetling eyebrows, stared
at him savagely, but made no reply.
â€œOh, yes, hit is!â€ exclaimed Danny Lem-
mons, â€œ bekaze they tolâ€™ me down the road
that you-all â€™d let me jine the war.â€
â€œ You are a spy!â€ said the officer fiercely.
â€œLord, yes! Wussâ€™n that, I reckon. I
kin run anâ€™ jump, anâ€™ rastle. Whoopee, yes!
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 235
You ainâ€™t never seed me rastle. Shucks! I
kin tie one hanâ€™ behinâ€™ me anâ€™ put your back
in the dirt. Yes-sir-ree!â€ He stuck his
tongue out of the corner of his mouth and
stood blinking at the officer.
The two men who were standing near, one
tall and muscular and the other short and
fat, exchanged glances and tried their best
to keep their faces straight.
â€œ When did you leave the Yankee army?â€
the officer asked.
â€œTasâ€™ night!â€ responded Danny Lem-
mons. â€œLord, yes! I follered â€™em down
from Sugar Mountain, tryinâ€™ to see what dev-
ilment they wuz up to. When I wanted to
jine in the war, they â€˜lowâ€™d I wuz crazy in
the head anâ€™ unbefittinâ€™ in the body.â€
It was a bold stroke, but it was effectual.
The fierce look of the officer faded into one
â€œHow did you get through the lines?â€
â€œJT walked,â€ replied Danny Lemmons; â€œI
jest had to walk. Them fellers tuck my
creetur away from me.â€
â€œGo in that room there and wait till I call
you,â€ said the officer.
236 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
â€œTs that whar they jine inter the war?â€
asked the hunchback.
â€œYes; I'll attend to you directly.â€ The
officer stepped to the door and shut it, and
turned to the two men who had been listen-
ing to the conversation. â€œ What do you
think of him, boys ?â€
The tall man, whose name was Blandford,
was picking his teeth. The short, fat man,
whose name was Deomateri, was busily en-
gaged in polishing his finger-nails. They
had served as scouts with Morgan, and later
with Forrest. Mr. Blandford passed his hand
through his long black hair and shook his
head. Mr. Deomateri put his knife in his
pocket, kicked his heels against the floor one
after the other, and remarked : â€”
â€œTf he isnâ€™t an idiot, he is the smartest
man in this town.â€
â€œT started to say so,â€ said Mr. Blandford, .
â€œbut it takes a mighty spraddle-legged â€˜ifâ€™
to reach that far.â€
â€œ Well, Iâ€™ll tell you,â€ exclaimed the officer,
â€œhe hasnâ€™t got sense enough to know how
to tell a lie. Iâ€™Il keep him here until Mosely
or his man comes, and then Iâ€™ll give him a
drink and turn him loose.â€
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 237
As this seemed to dispose of the matter,
neither Blandford nor Deomateri made any
response. The clerks in the office were busy
writing out reports and filling out blanks of -
various kinds, and to these for a time the offi-
cer in charge devoted his attention.
The room in which Danny Lemmons had
been placed was the provost-marshalâ€™s private
office. On his desk was a rough map of the
inner defenses of Atlanta. In the pigeon-
holes were a number of papers of more or
less importance. In the farther end of the
room was a door. It was locked, and the
key gone, but in one of the pigeon-holes was
a large brass key. Danny Lemmons noted
all these things with inward satisfaction. He
took the key, unlocked the door, and saw
that it led into an alley-way. Then he re-
placed the key in the pigeon-hole, leaving
the door unlocked.- He waited five or ten
minutes, and then stuck his head into the
outer office, exclaiming : â€”
â€œDonâ€™t you all run off anâ€™ leave me by
myseâ€™f, bekaze I hainâ€™t usen to it.â€
The clerks laughed, and even Mr. Bland-
ford smiled sadly, but there was no other
response. Danny Lemmons shut the door,
288 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
seized the map, and as many papers as he
could conveniently stuff under his jacket and
in his pockets, opened the back-door noise-
lessly, locked it again, threw the key away,
and turned swiftly into Pryor Street.
After a while Chadwick made his appear-
ance. He went in and modestly inquired if
Captain Mosely had been there. The pro-
vost-marshal, who was at that moment talk-
ing to Blandford and Deomateri about their
experience with Morgan, recognized Chad-
wick as the person who had been sent in
pursuit of the spy.
â€œDid you catch your man?â€ he inquired.
â€œ Ketch nothinâ€™,â€ respondedâ€™ Chadwick.
â€œ A creetur-company could nâ€™t ketch him.â€
â€œWell, we â€™ve caught him!â€
â€œ Whereâ€™bouts is he?â€ inquired Chad-
â€œTn my room there.â€
â€œIn there by hisself ?â€
â€œ Well, sir,â€ exclaimed Chadwick excitedly,
â€œTâ€™ll bet you a thrip agin a bushel of chest-
nuts that he ainâ€™t in there.â€
â€œWhat. do you know about him?â€ in-
quired Mr. Blandford.
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 239
â€œBless you, man! I seed his capers in
â€œGo in there and see if heâ€™s the man you
are hunting for.â€
Chadwick went to the door, opened it, and
glanced casually around the empty room.
â€œOh, yes! Heâ€™s the man Iâ€™m huntinâ€™
fer,â€ he said as he turned away.
â€œHow do you know?â€ asked Deomateri,
observing an expression of humorous disgust
on Chadwickâ€™s face.
â€œ Bekaze he ainâ€™t in there, by jing!â€
The provost-marshal rushed into the room,
followed by Blandford, Deomateri, and the
whole army of clerks. He saw that his desk
had been rifled of important papers, and he
sank in a chair, pale and trembling, and gasp-
ing for breath.
â€œ Gentlemen,â€â€™ said Blandford to the clerks,
â€œget back to your work. There is nothing
to excite you.â€ Then he closed the door and
turned to the officer. â€œ My friend, you will
demoralize your office, and destroy all disci-
pline. Brace up and give your backbone a
chance to do its work.â€
â€œT am ruined,â€ cried the officer. â€œ Ruined!
That miserable thief has stolen the papers that
240 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
I ought to have sent to headquarters yester-
â€œWell, you neeâ€™ nâ€™t to worry about it,â€
remarked Chadwick dryly, â€œbekaze Danny
Lemmons has fooled lots smarter folks â€™n
But for Blandford and Deomateri, a great
uproar would have been made in the provost-
marshalâ€™s office. That functionary sat in his
chair and cried â€œ Ruined!â€ until he had been
fortified with two or three hearty slugs of
whiskey, and then the blood began to flow
in his veins and he took courage. In fact
he became bloodthirsty. He walked the floor
and waved his arms, and swore that he would
crush Danny Lemmons when he caught him.
He would hardly remain quiet long enough
to agree to any rational plan for the recap-
ture of the hunchback, but he finally con-
sented to let Chadwick have his saddle-horse,
Blandford and Deomateri having horses of
The three were soon in the saddle, and
now it was Chadwick who undertook to con-
duct the expedition. By his direction, Mr.
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 241
Deomateri was to ride out Peters Street, Mr.
Blandford out Whitehall, while he himself
was to ride out Pryor and turn into White-
hall Street, some distance out. At the junc-
tion of Whitehall and Peters they were to
meet and decide on their future course of
action, This plan was faithfully carried out,
but it came to nothing.
At the point where they met the two thor-
oughfares had ceased to be streets, and
merged into a public road, with a growth of
timber-oak and pine on each side.
â€œWhy do we come here?â€ inquired Deo-
materi. Blandford merely shook his head.
He had dismounted and was leaning against
his horse, making a picturesque figure in the
â€œWell,â€ responded Chadwick, â€œwe might
jest as well be here as to be anywhere, ac-
cordinâ€™ to my notions. This road is open
plum to Jonesboro anâ€™ furder. Weâ€™ve been
keepinâ€™ it open. The Yanks are bent arounâ€™
the town like a hoss-shoe, anâ€™ this road runs
right betwixt the pâ€™ints where their lines
â€œ That â€™s so,â€ remarked Blandford, regard-
ing Chadwick with some interest.
949 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
â€œWell, then, we ainâ€™t got nothinâ€™ to do
wiâ€™ how Danny Lemmons got in. Heâ€™s slick-
erâ€™n sin, anâ€™ he mought â€™aâ€™ run the picket
lines at night; but shore as shootinâ€™, he canâ€™t
run â€™em in the daytime. Now, howâ€™ll he git
â€œ Perhaps he has already passed here,â€â€™ Deo-
â€œ Well, sir,â€ said Chadwick, â€œheâ€™s come
to town on business, anâ€™ he â€™Il try to attend to
it.â€™ Then Chadwick told his companions
about his adventure with Mrs. Lemmons and
â€œBy George, Deo!â€ exclaimed Blandford,
swinging himself into his saddle, â€œthis be-
gins to look like sport.â€
â€œ For the baby ?â€ inquired Deomateri.
â€œ For all hands,â€ said Blandford gayly.
â€œBut ef Mizzes Lemmons lays her eyes on
Mister Lemmons,â€ remarked Chadwick, â€œ the
baby â€œIl lack a daddy, anâ€™ the lack *Il be no
Thereupon, the three men turned their
horsesâ€™ heads into Peters Street and rode to-
ward the hill where Chadwick had found
Mrs. Lemmons. They rode leisurely, watch-
ing on all sides for the hunchback. When
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 243
they reached the point where McDaniel
Street now crosses Peters, they saw a woman
coming toward them waving her arms wildly,
and shouting something they could not hear.
â€œEf I ainâ€™t mighty much mistaken,â€ said
Chadwick, â€œthatâ€™s the lady weâ€™ve been
talkinâ€™ about. Yes, sir!â€ he exclaimed, as
she came nearer, â€œthat â€™s her, certain and
shore! That hellian has gone anâ€™ got the
baby!â€ He spurred his horse forward to
meet the woman, who, as soon as she saw
him, screamed out : â€”
â€œYou told him, you sneakinâ€™ wretch! You
told him wherâ€™ my baby wuz! You didâ€”
you did â€” you did!â€
In the extremity of her excitement she
would have laid her hands on Chadwick, but
his horse shied, and kept him out of her
â€œWhat â€™s this? Whatâ€™s this?â€ exclaimed
â€œOh, Iâ€™m distracted!â€ cried Cassy, break-
ing down. â€œMy babyâ€™s gone! That slink
of Satan has took anâ€™ run off wi? my poor
little baby!â€ she turned to Chadwick and
then to the others. â€œOh, ef youâ€™ve got
any pity in you, run and overtake him. Jesâ€™
944. A BABY IN THE SIEGE
ketch â€™m anâ€™ holâ€™ â€™im tell I can git my hanâ€™s
â€œ Which way did he go?â€ asked Bland-
â€œHe went right up dat away!â€ exclaimed
a negro woman excitedly. She pointed across
the railroad. â€œHe come lopinâ€™ â€™long here,
anâ€™ he went right up dat away. I seed â€™im.
I wuz right at im. Yasser. Right up dat
away.â€ She was both excited and indig-
nant. â€œHe look moâ€™ like de Devil dan any
white man I ever is see. Anâ€™ de baby wuz
cryinâ€™ like it heart done broke!â€
â€œ Oh, Lord â€™aâ€™ mercy, what shall I do?â€
cried Cassy, wringing her hands.
â€œÂ°T ainâ€™t been long, nuther,â€â€™ said the
negro woman, .â€œâ€™kaze I been stanâ€™inâ€™ right
here waitinâ€™. I des knowd sumpâ€™n nâ€™er wuz
gwine ter happen. I des knowâ€™d it. Why nâ€™t
you all run on anâ€™ ketch im? I bounâ€™ ef I
had a hoss anâ€™ could ride straddle Iâ€™d ketch
â€œOh, what shall I do?â€ cried Cassy.
What is now McDaniel Street was not then
laid off. It was a short cut through a cow
pasture, running through an open country,
dotted here and there with clumps of pine
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 245
and scrub oak. Through this the horsemen
rode at a swinging gallop, followed at some
distance, as they could observe, by Cassy, the
negro woman, and a few stragglers, whose
curiosity had been turned into sympathetic
interest. Chadwick bore toward the left
calkin of the line that he had described as a
horseshoe, and in a little while his companions
heard him shout and saw him wave his hand.
They swerved to the right and rode towardâ€™
him, their horses running easily. As soon
as they caught sight of the fugitive, Bland-
ford rode at full speed until he had passed
the hunchback, and then turned and rode to-
ward him, holding in his right hand a cavalry
pistol that sparkled in the sun.
The hunchback saw that escape was impos-
sible, and he made no further attempt. He
ceased to run and sat down at the foot of a
huge pine, making a vain effort to soothe the
frantic baby, which â€˜had screamed until its
cries sounded like those of some wild animal
in mortal agony. This and the sinister aspect
of the hunchback so wrought upon Bland-
ford that he leaped from his horse and would
have brained the creature on the spot, but
for the intervention of Deomateri, who was
in time to seize his arm.
246 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
â€œWatch out, Blandford!â€ cried Deoma-
teri in great good-humor ; â€œdonâ€™t scare the
baby. If it lets out another link it will go
into spasms. Come here, chicksy,â€ he said
to the baby. â€œ Poor little thing! Hushaby,
now!â€ He tried in vain to quiet the child,
but it would not be quieted. He walked up
and down with it, clucked to it, tried to give
it his watch to play with, dandled it in his
hands, but all to no purpose. It continued
its hoarse and gasping cries.
Meanwhile, Chadwick and Blandford were
giving attention to Danny Lemmons. They
searched him from head to foot, and took
from him every scrap of paper they could
find on his person. Blandford did the search-
ing, and he was not at all gentle in his meth-
ods. The hunchback was captured, but not
â€œGood God Aâ€™mighty, gentermen! canâ€™t a
man come anâ€™ git his own baby atter his
wife â€™s run off wiâ€™ some un else? How you
know she didnâ€™t tell me to take anâ€™ take it
-home to Sugar Mountain? Dad blast you!
Ef you â€˜ll jest giâ€™ me a fair showinâ€™ I kin
whip arry one on you! Iâ€™ma great minâ€™ to
spit in your face!â€
A BABY IN THE SIEGE 247
Thus he raved as Blandford searched him,
and even after his hands had been securely
tied with a tether that had hung at Deoma-
teriâ€™s saddle. Meanwhile the baby refused
to be comforted. It seemed to be nearly ex-
hausted, and the hoarse and unnatural sounds
it made were more pitiable than its natural
cries would have been. At last Chadwick
offered to take it. To his astonishment it
held out its little hands to him, and immedi-
ately ceased its frantic efforts to cry as soon
as it found itself in his arms, though it con-
tinued to moan and sob a little. But the
child was no longer afraid, for it looked up
in Chadwickâ€™s face and tried to smile as it
nestled against his shoulder.
The problem of the baby temporarily
solved, the three soldiers would have made
toward the city with their prisoner, but here
a fresh difficulty presented itself. The
hunchback refused to budge. He had
ceased his threats and curses, and was now
ominously quiet. If he had been stone-
blind and deaf he could not have more com-
pletely ignored the orders to get up and
â€œ Break off a hickory limâ€™ anâ€™ frail hâ€”ll
248 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
outâ€™n im,â€ said Chadwick. â€œ Thatâ€™s the way
T use to do when my ole steer lay down in
But Deomateri shook his head. For sun-
dry reasons this mode of moving the hunch-
back was not to be thought of. While they
were holding what Chadwick called a council
of war, Danny Lemmonsâ€™s wife came in sight,
followed by the negro woman who had been
the means of the capture of the hunch-
â€œ Well,â€ remarked Chadwick, â€” anticipa-
tion in his tone, â€” â€œ yander comes Miss
Cassy herself. I reckon maybe sheâ€™ll up anâ€™
tell us how to make the creeturâ€™ move; anâ€™
ef I ainâ€™t mighty much mistaken she â€˜Il whirl
in anâ€™ heâ€™p us.â€
At this the hunchback showed signs of
uneasiness. He twisted himself around, as
if to see where his wife was. Failing in this,
he gathered his long legs under him and rose
to his feet. He saw the woman and then
glanced furtively around as if to find some
avenue of escape. ;
â€œ Gentermen !â€ he cried, â€œ you-all â€œll have
to keep Cassy offâ€™n me, bekaze sheâ€™s plum
ravinâ€™ deestracted when she gits mad.â€ His
A BABY IN THE SIEGE | 249
voice was a whine, and anxiety had taken the
place of craftiness in his countenance.
The woman strode forward steadily, but
not hurriedly. Her face was pale, and there
was a drawn and pinched expression about
her mouth that might have been mistaken for
grief or fear. Chadwick pressed toward her
with the baby, as though proud of the oppor-
tunity to deliver it into her arms. But she
passed by him with an impatient gesture, in
spite of the renewed whimpering of the child
at sight of her; and the negro woman came
forward and took it instead.
The hunchback would have made a barri-
cade of Blandford, but that blunt soldier
seized him by his arm and brought him face
to face with his wife.
â€œYou mean, sneakinâ€™, thievinâ€™ houn
she cried, gazing at him and breathing hard.
Then she untied her bonnet, which had fallen
on her shoulders, and threw it on the ground,
her hair falling loose as she did so. Still
catching her breath in little gasps, she began
to roll up her sleeves, showing an arm as hard
and as firm as that of a man.
â€œOh, no!â€ exclaimed Blandford, perceiv-
ing what she would be at. â€œNone of that,
250 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
maâ€™am. Donâ€™t scratch him. We want him
to look as pretty as possible.â€
â€œMister!â€ she cried, flinging her head
back and turning to Blandford, â€œ donâ€™t git
me stirred up. You seed what he wuz tryinâ€™
to do, but you donâ€™t nigh know what he kin
do. Ontie him, anâ€™ he kin whip arry one of
you, fair fist anâ€™ skull, rush anâ€™ scramble.â€
Her tone was both argumentative and appeal-
ing. Asshe spoke a shell went spinning and
singing overhead. The hunchback dodged
involuntarily, but the woman remained un-
moved. â€œI tell you, now,â€ she went on,
â€œyou donâ€™t know him. You canâ€™t carry him
to town ef it wuz to save the world: Heâ€™d
hamstring your creeturs anâ€™ git away. You
think heâ€™s cripple, anâ€™ he does look cripple,
but the man donâ€™t live that kin out-do him.
You think I want to take the inturn on him,
but I donâ€™t. I ainâ€™t nothinâ€™ but a woman,
but me anâ€™ him is got a score to settle. On-
tie him, ef he ainâ€™t done ontied hisself, anâ€™
give him a knife or a pistol or anything. I
donâ€™t want nothinâ€™ but my naked hanâ€™s.â€
Her bosom rose and fell convulsively and her
hands refused to remain at rest.
â€œ Donâ€™t do it, gentermen!â€ exclaimed the
hunchback. â€œShell kill me.â€
_A BABY IN THE SIEGE 251
The tragic features of the situation es.
caped Blandford and Deomateri, but the sim-
ple mind of Chadwick recognized them, â€”
recognized, in fact, nothing else.
â€œJT think,â€ said Blandford, winking at
Deomateri, â€œ that we â€™d better untie this chap
until he and his wife settle this family quar-
rel. What do you think about it?â€
â€œOh, by all-means let the family quarrel
be settled!â€ remarked Deomateri in a mat-
The result of this grim humor could hardly
have been foreseen. In some way the hunch-
back had worked his hands loose from the
thong that bound them, and he made a des-
perate dash for liberty. The woman was
after him in.a moment. As she ran, she
drew forth from under her apron the hatchet
that Chadwick had seen her conceal there.
She was hardly a match for the hunchback
in a foot-race, but passion, hatred, the venom
that had supplanted anxiety for her child,
lent swiftness to her feet, and the soldiers,
who stood watching as if paralyzed, expected
every moment to see her bury the hatchet in
the manâ€™s deformity. She poised her glitter-
ing weapon to strike, but at that moment her
252 A BABY IN THE SIEGE
foot slipped and she fell to the ground.
Then there was'a zooning sound in the air,
a thud, and a deafening roar. A shell had
burst, as it seemed, full upon pursuer and
The soldiers, watching, saw the shell strike
and felt the concussion shake the ground at
their very feet. They saw a volume of dust
and turf spout violently upward. When this
had subsided they rode forward to view the
scene. The woman, unhurt, sat on the
ground, half-laughing and half-crying. Not
far away lay Danny Lemmons, torn, shat-
tered, and lifeless.
â€œ You all thought,â€ said. Cassy Â«simply,
â€œthat I wuz atter him by myself. But I
knowâ€™d all the time the Almighty wuz wi
me.â€ She rose, seized the baby, and hugged
it tightly to her bosom,. where it lay laughing
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
Tue random shells flung into Atlanta dur-
ing the siege by your Uncle Tecumsehâ€™s gun-
ners were sometimes very freakish. The his-
tory of that period, written, of course, by
those who have small knowledge of the facts,
proceeds on the supposition that the town
was in a state of terror, and that every time
the population heard a shell zooning through
the air it scuttled off to its cellars and bomb-
proofs, or to whatever holes it had to hide
in. This doubtless occurred during the first
day or two of â€˜the siege, but human nature
has the knack of getting on friendly terms
with danger. As the Rev. Sam Jones would
remark, those who hourly defy the wrath of
heaven are not likely for long at a time to
remain in awe of random shells.
Yet the freaks of these random shells were
very queer. One of the missiles (to mention
one instance out of many) went tumbling
254 THE BABY'S FORTUNE
down Alabama Street, turned into Whitehall,
following the grade, and rolled through the â€”
iron lamp-post that stands in front of the old
Jamesâ€™s Bank building. It was moving along
so leisurely that a negro lounging near the
corner tried to stop it with his foot. He was
carried off with a broken leg. The lamp-
post stands there to this day, having been |
thoughtfully preserved as a relic that might
be of interest, and if you give it a careful
glance as you pass, you â€˜Il see the jagged hole
grinning at you with open-mouthed famil-
A family living on Forsyth Street, near
where that thoroughfare crosses Mitchell, saw
a weary-looking Confederate sauntering by
and thoughtfully invited him in to share a
pot of genuine vegetable soup, â€”a very rare
delicacy in those days. It chanced that the
soldier was Private Chadwick, and he was
prompt to accept the proffered hospitality.
Morever, he was politer about it than any
other private would have been.
Private Chadwick, being the guest, was
served first, but, just as the plate of soup
was placed before him, a shell came tearing
through the dining-room, entering at one end
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 255
and going out at the other, grazing the ceil-
ing in its passage and bringing down a shower
of plastering, dust, and trash. Chadwick was
almost as quick as the shell. He snatched
his hat from his knee, and when his hosts
had recovered from their momentary alarm
they saw him sitting bolt upright in his chair
using his head covering as an umbrella to
shield his soup from the shower that fell
from the shattered ceiling.
â€œHowdy and good-by,â€ he said. â€œ You
might â€™aâ€™ spâ€™iled my dinner, but you ranged
too high to spâ€™ile my appetite.â€
â€œT can see why you are holding your hat
over your plate, and Iâ€™m sorry I did nâ€™t have
something of the kind to hold over mine,â€
remarked the lady who had invited him in;
â€œbut I canâ€™t imagine why you are sitting so
straight in your chair.â€
â€œ Well, maâ€™am,â€â€™ replied Private Chadwick,
â€œ seeinâ€™ as how youâ€™ve been so kind, I'll tell
you the honest truth. I was afeared if I
humped too much over my plate that the
next shell â€™d take me to be the twin of Danny
Naturally this aroused the curiosity of
the ladies â€” there were three of them â€” and
_ 256 THE BABY'â€™S FORTUNE:
nothing would do but Chadwick must tell
that tragic story. When it was concluded,
one of the ladies inquired if Danny Lemmons
had a twin brother.
â€œNo â€™m, not that I know of,â€ said Chad-
wick, laughing at the agility with which the
feminine mind can leave tragedy and fly back
to inconsequential trifles ; â€œbut a shell ainâ€™t
got time to choose betwixt folks that favor.â€
You â€™ve heard the story of Danny Lem-
mons and Cassy Tatum, and so it is unneces-
sary to repeat the details. They are all true
enough, but so antique is the war that they
strike the modern ear as lightly as if they
had been filched from a manuscript found in
the pocket of a stranded play-actor. It is
enough to say here that Danny Lemmons
was a hunchback â€” a mountaineer â€” who
married Cassy Tatum, and who, when Cassy
left him, followed her to Atlanta, making his
way through the Federal and Confederate
lines.. He had stolen Cassyâ€™s baby â€”if a man
â€˜can be said to steal his own child â€” and was
on his way back to the Federal lines, pursued
by his wife, by Private Chadwick, and one or
two other soldiers, when he was killed by the
explosion of a shell. -
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 257
That story was not as old when Private
Chadwick told it over his soup as it is now.
Indeed, it was as new as any event that hap-
pened the day before yesterday can be. Pri-
vate Chadwick told the story as it happened,
and he was sure he was telling all of it, but
if he could have joined the ladies at their
table a week later he would have been able
to add some facts that would have caused his
small audience to wonder at the mysterious
ways of Providence, as, indeed, all of us must
wonder when we pause and take the time
and the trouble to think about the matter,
even in regard to the most trivial and ordi-
When Cassy Tatum (she declared over and
over again that she never did, and never
could have the stomach to call herself Mrs.
Lemmons) left her husband and went to At-
lanta, she took up her abode with an old
couple, who lived in a small ramshackle house
that sat on a hill overlooking Peters Street.
This hill was called Castleberryâ€™s Hill a few
years ago, whatever it may be called now,
and, before it was graded down to suit the
258 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
convenience of contractors who were greedy
for jobs, was the most elevated spot in At-
lanta, and the most picturesque, too, for that
matter, for a fine growth of timber crowned
At night the lights of the town twinkled,
and Cassy Tatum, sitting on the front steps,
after everything had been put to rights, and
the old folks had gone to bed, could hear the
cracked and noisy laughter of the women
who lived in the shanties that were scattered
about at the foot of the hill. The place
where these shanties were grouped was called
Snake Nation, and was proud of the name.
Snake Nation slept soundly all day, but at
night â€” well, old Babylon has its echoes and
imitations in the newest town that ever had a
corporation line run around it at equal dis-
tances from the police court.
â€œ What I hear at night makes me sick, and
what I see in the daytime makes me sorry,â€
remarked Cassy Tatum to Mrs. Shacklett
shortly after she had taken up her abode in
the small house that has been described.
â€œYou donâ€™t have to hear â€™em, and you
donâ€™t have to see â€™em,â€â€™ remarked Mrs. Shack-
lett, in her squeaky voice. â€œDonâ€™t bother
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 259
â€˜em and they â€˜ll not bother you; you may
depend on that.â€
â€œWell, if they donâ€™t pester me tell I pester
them,â€ said Cassy, â€œthey "Il never so much
as know that Iâ€™m a-livinâ€™.â€
Mrs. Shacklett was very old, but time, that
had played havoc with her youth, had in
no wise disturbed the fluency of her tongue.
Her voice was cracked and squeaky, but that,
she said, was asthma and not age. She wore
a white cap, that covered her head and ears,
and the edges that framed her face were
fluted and ruffled. A narrow band of blue
ribbon, tied in a bow on the top of the cap,
ran down under the fluting and was tied
under her chin. She always wore a cape
over her shoulders, but beyond this her frock
was prim and plain, and the cape was as
prim as the frock.
Mrs. Shacklett was eighty-seven years old,
so she said, and this fact gave a sort of: his-
' toric dignity to her presence, where otherwise
dignity would have been sadly lacking, for
her head shook as with a tremor when she
talked, and the uncertainty of old age had
taken charge of all her movements. Her
mind was fairly good, but it seemed to hesi-
260 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
tate, fluttering and hovering now and then,
as if on the point of deserting the weak and
worn body that had been its tenement for so
And no wonder. Born near the begin-
ding of one epoch-making war, she was on
the point of seeing another brought to an
end. The republic wanted but twelve years
to round out its century. Hers lacked but
thirteen to complete it. A historian eager
for facts that give warmth and color to his-
tory might have gathered from her lips an
account of many remarkable events and epi-
sodes that time has given over to oblivion.
Of recent and passing events her memory
took small account, but of matters relating
to the past she could talk by the hour, and
with a fluency that was out of all proportion
to her ability to deal with the events of the
Mr. Shacklett, her husband, was not so old
by several years, and he was better preserved
physically, but his mind was quite as feeble,
and his memory more unstable, if such a
thing could be. If he stayed out of bed a
quarter of an hour after taking his toddy at
night, he betrayed an almost uncontrollable
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 261
tendency to shed tears over the price of wool
hats and the scarcity of tea and coffee. At
â€˜such times it was pathetic to hear his wife
try to soothe and console him.
â€œCover up and go to sleÃ©p, honey, and
youll soon disremember all about it,â€ she
would say. â€œThatâ€™s the way I do. The
war canâ€™t last always,.nohow.â€
â€œCanâ€™t it? How do you know it canâ€™t?
Hey? Itâ€™ll outlast me. You mark my
words.â€ In half a minute heâ€™d be asleep
and snoring as loud as the feeble muscles
of his chest would permit.
Tt was with this time-worn and childish
couple that Cassy Tatum took up her abode,
when, with her baby on her arm, she ran
away from her husband. She had come into
Atlanta on the Western & Atlantic Rail-
road, and, in wandering about, searching for
a lodging, chanced to come upon this house.
Though it sat high on Castleberryâ€™s Hill, it
was too small to be conspicuous, and so she
knocked at the door. She afterward declared ,
that Providence sent her there, for when she
arrived the old couple were in quite a pre-
dicament. A negro woman who had long
ministered to their simple wants had just
262 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
died, and Cassy found them sitting by their
cheerless hearth, unable even to kindle a fire.
She did not hear their feeble response to
her knocking, but boldly opened the door
and walked in, expecting and hoping to find
the house vacant. Her surprise at seeing the
old people sitting there was so great that she
uttered an exclamation, and this bred in the
minds of Mr. and Mrs. Shacklett suspicions
that they were long in recovering from.
â€œT declare! you giâ€™ me sech a turn that a
little more anâ€™ Iâ€™d â€™aâ€™ drapped the baby.â€
â€œYou thought we was dead, did you?
Hey ?â€ inquired Mr. Shacklett with as near
an approach to sarcasm as he could bring to
voice and face. â€œYou thought we was dead,
and youâ€™d come foraging arounâ€™ to see what
you could pick up and tote off. You did,
did you? Hey? Well, we ainâ€™t dead, by
grabs, and nowheres nigh it, I hope. You
hear that, donâ€™t you? Hey?â€
The thought that they had been mistaken
for dead people, when, as a matter of fact,
they were so very much alive, caused such an
energetic flame of indignation to burn in
Mr. Shacklettâ€™s bosom, that he rose from his
chair, and, holding by the chimney-jamb, pre-
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 263
tended to be hunting for his pipe, which, as
a matter of fact, was on the floor beside him.
He realized this after a little, but in his agi-
tation he found great difficulty in getting
into his seat again, and would have fallen
had Cassy not made a step forward and
caught him with her free hand.
Mr. Shacklett was not at all mollified by
this timely aid, but kept his anger glowing.
â€œYou see we ainâ€™t dead, donâ€™t you? Hey?
â€™T ainâ€™t all the time that Iâ€™m shaky this way.
Itâ€™s only because our niggerâ€™s dead. She
was a good nigger, â€”a right good nigger.
We raised her from a baby. Sheâ€™s dead,
but we ainâ€™t, by grabs! One time a man
come in the door there. He was lots bigger â€™n
you are, but we did nâ€™t want him about, and
I had to get my gun and shoot him. Heâ€™s
dead, but we ainâ€™t. No, by grabs. We donâ€™t
look like we â€™re dead, do we? Hey?â€
All this time Cassy Tatum stood with her
baby on her arm, staring at the old people
with open-mouthed wonder, not knowing what
to say or do, and unable to frame any excuse
for her intrusion that she thought likely to
appeal to their childish understanding. But
she caught a humorous twinkle in Mrs. Shack-
264 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
lettâ€™s eye, and was on the pot of saying
something, when the old lady spoke.
â€œDonâ€™t mind him,â€ she said. â€œ He never
shot anybody. Why, Marty would nâ€™t harm
â€œOh, I wouldnâ€™t, would 1? Hey?â€ he
cried peevishly. â€œ Who made you so wise ?
Hey? How do you know but what I shot a
man whiles you was asleep and had him drug
off? How do you know but what I done it?
Hey?â€ Mr. Shacklett turned half around in
his chair and glared at his wife. â€œTell me
that â€” hey ?â€
â€œ Why, honey, I would nâ€™t â€™aâ€™ believed it
if Iâ€™d â€™aâ€™ seen it â€” much less when I didnâ€™t.
Youâ€™ll make this good woman here believe
that a parcel of murderers is harbored in this
house, and then she â€™ll go out and set the law
This rather cooled Mr. Shacklettâ€™s indigna-
tion, but it still smouldered and smoked, so
â€œ Much I care for the law,â€ he said, trying
to snap thumb and middle finger, a trick he
failed to compass, though he made three
trials. â€œ Ainâ€™t we got no propâ€™ty rights?
Hey? Must we set down here and be run
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 265
over and trompled on? Hey? You may if
you want to, but not while the breath of life
lasts will I set down here and be run over
and trompled on.â€
â€œWhy, honey, whoâ€™s a-trying to run over
and tromple on you?â€ Mrs. Shacklett in-
â€œHey? Did you ax me who?â€ cried Mr.
Shacklett. â€œScores and scores of folks if
they wasnâ€™t afeard. But I darâ€™ â€™em to so
much as try it. I jest darâ€™ â€™em to!â€
With that he settled himself more comfort-
ably in his chair, and closed his eyes, as if
he were willing to give scores and scores of
folks all the opportunity they wanted if they
had any idea of running over and trampling
onhim. As Mr. Shacklett said nothing more,
Cassy Tatum thought proper to explain her
â€œThe Lord knows Iâ€™m sorry I come in
your door,â€ she said, â€œanâ€™ Iâ€™d go right out,
but Iâ€™d be worried mighty nigh to death ef
I went off leavinâ€™ you-all believinâ€™ that I thess
walked in here â€™cause youâ€™re both ol anâ€™
Mr. Shacklett fired up again at this sug-
gestion. â€œCrippled? Who told you we was
266 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
crippled? Hey? You may thank your stars
if you ainâ€™t no more crippled than what I am.
You hear that, donâ€™t you? Hey?â€
Cassy paid no attention to him, but ad-
dressed herself to Mrs. Shacklett. â€œI tell
you now, Iâ€™m new to this town, branâ€™ new.
Tt hainâ€™t been two hours sence I landed here,
anâ€™ this is the first door Iâ€™ve knocked at.
I knocked a dozen times, anâ€™ I stood thar
waitinâ€™ to hear somebody say, â€˜Go off,â€™ or
â€˜Come in,â€™ anâ€™ when I didnâ€™t hear nothinâ€™,
I says to myself, says I, â€˜Ill thess go in any-
how, anâ€™ rest myself, anâ€™ fix the baby up,
anâ€™ maybe tharâ€™s a well in the yard whar I
kin git a drink of water.â€™ I never no more
â€™spected to see you-all a-settinâ€™ here than I
*spected to fly. Hit took me back so I didnâ€™t
know what to say. I hainâ€™t had sech a turn
in I dunno when.â€
â€œTf you want water,â€ said Mrs. Shacklett,
â€œyou ll find a bucket out there on the shelf
and a well in the yard. We ainâ€™t had no-
body to draw us none sence they come after
our dead nigger. I tell you I was mighty
sorry to lose the gyirl. She was worth twenty
thousand dollars if she was worth a cent.â€
Mr. Shacklett turned half around in his
THE BABY'â€™S FORTUNE 267
chair. â€œ Hey? Twenty thousand dollars ?
Not in our money.â€™
â€œHush, honey! I said paper-money,â€ re-
marked his wife soothingly.
â€œ Hey ? not good paper-money.â€
Seeing no end of such a dispute as this,
Cassy deposited her baby unceremoniously on
the floor and went out after the water.
The child kicked its pink feet from under
its skirts, turned its head toward Mrs. Shack-
lett, and laughed cutely. The old lady
nodded her head pleasantly and chirruped -
as well as she could.
Mr. Shacklett, hearing a noise he could
not understand, called out for information.
â€œHey? Whatâ€™s that? What did you say?
Hey?â€ Receiving no answer, he turned his
head and saw the baby sptawling on the
floor. Instantly he became very much ex-
cited. â€œ Run and call her back! What do
you mean by setting flat in that cheer and
letting her run off and leave that young un:
here? Hey? Ainâ€™t you gwine to jump up
and call her back? Hey? Do you want me
to go? Tell me thatâ€”hey? If I do sheâ€™ll
He was making a painful effort to rise
268 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
from his chair when Cassy reÃ©ntered the
room â€˜smiling and bringing a tin dipperful
of fresh water.
â€œ Humph!â€ he grunted, and sank in his
â€œT reckon you think Iâ€™ve been gone a
mighty long time, but I had to rench out the
bucket anâ€™ the gourd too, â€” they was so full
er dirt anâ€™ dust,â€ Cassy explained. â€œTI allers
said Iâ€™d never let no nigger fool wiâ€™ nothinâ€™
I had to put to my mouth, anâ€™ Iâ€™ll say it
â€œThey â€™re not the cleanest in the world,â€
remarked Mrs. Shacklett, taking the dipper
in her trembling hand. â€œHave you drank?â€
â€œNoâ€™m,â€ said Cassy. â€œ Atter you is man-
ners.â€ She still held the handle of the dipper
gently, but firmly, and guided it to Mrs.
Mr. Shacklett heard this last remark and
turned his head and stared at Cassy. And
somehow the expression of displeasure and
suspicion cleared away from his face. : â€œ Ill
have some, too, if you please,â€ he said.
â€œJT wouldnâ€™t slight you fer the world,â€
replied Cassy, and went after another supply
THE BABY'â€™S FORTUNE 269
Mr. Shacklett leaned sidewise as far as was
safe for him, and touched his wife on the
arm. She looked at him, and he nodded sol-
emnly in the direction Cassy had gone.
â€œ What now?â€ she asked. Â»
â€œ Whatâ€™s she up tonow? Tell me that?
â€œSheâ€™s gone after some water for you.â€
â€œHumph!â€ grunted old Mr. Shacklett.
â€œ Youll find out before you â€™re much older.â€
Once more Cassy came in, bringing the
water, and Mr. Shacklett drank to his heartâ€™s
content. Then Cassy gave the baby some
water. Of course it had to strangle itself, as
babies will do, but instead of crying over it,
the child merely laughed and wanted to get
on the floor again, where, flat on its back, it
promptly gave itself up to the contemplation
of the problem that its chubby fingers pre-
sented when all ten were held tip to tip close
to its wondering eyes.
â€œThat â€™s a right down pretty baby,â€ re-
marked Mrs. Shacklett.
â€œJ dunner so much about the purty part,â€
replied Cassy with modest pride, â€œbut heâ€™s
the best baby that ever was born. Why, he
hainâ€™t no more trouble than nothinâ€™ in the
270 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
The child, as if understanding that it was
the subject of comment, dropped the study
of its fingers, caught the eye of its mother,
kicked its pink feet in the air, and fairly
squealed in its enthusiastic delight at being
able to sprawl about on the floor after its
long imprisonment in Cassyâ€™s arms.
â€œT thess wish to goodness youâ€™d look at
mm!â€ exclaimed Cassy. â€œ Hainâ€™t he thess
too sweet to live!â€ Then she switched from
vigorous mountain English to a lingo that
the baby could better understand and appre-
ciate. â€œNyassum is mammyâ€™s fweetnum pud-
num pie, â€” de besses shilluns of all um shil-
luns. Nyassum is!â€
â€œ Hey ?â€ inquired Mr. Shacklett. Receiv-
ing no answer, he found one for himself.
â€œ Humph !â€
At this high praise so beautifully bestowed,
the baby kicked and crowed and had a regu-
lar frolic. Then it suddenly discovered that
it needed more stimulating food than it had
found in the tin dipper, and Cassy, seating
herself in a chair, promptly satisfied the just
demand. And in the midst of it all, the
baby went fast to sleep, making a pretty pic-
ture as it lay happy in its motherâ€™s arms.
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 271
Mrs. Shacklett, whose age had not robbed
her of the maternal instinct that is so deeply
implanted in a womanâ€™s breast, looked all
around the room as if remembering some-
thing, and suddenly remarked : â€”
â€œLay him on the bed in the next room.
Nobody sleeps in there.â€
â€œ Hey?â€ said Mr. Shacklett, and then,
â€œ Humph !â€
â€œKf you reely mean it, anâ€™ think it wonâ€™t
put you out the least little bit in the world,â€
suggested Cassy. The tone of her voice was
serious, and there was a touch of sadness in
it which the â€˜ear of Mrs. Shacklett did not
fail to catch.
â€œLay him in there on the bed,â€ she re-
â€œ Hey ?â€ inquired old Mr. Shacklett.
â€œ Humph !â€
â€œEf you only knowâ€™d how mighty much
Iâ€™m obleeged to you, Iâ€™d feel better,â€ re-
plied Cassy, the tears coming to her eyes.
She carried the child into the adjoining
room, placed it on the bed, darkened the win-
dows as well as she could, and went back to
where the old people were sitting.
â€œ Now, hainâ€™t there nothinâ€™ I kin do?
272 THE BABY'â€™S FORTUNE
Hainâ€™t there nothinâ€™ I kin put to rights?â€
â€œNothing Iâ€™d like to ask you to do,â€
replied Mrs. Shacklett, shaking her head.
â€œWe ainâ€™t got no claim on you.â€
â€œWhy, hainâ€™t you human, anâ€™ hainâ€™t I
human? What more do you want than
that?â€ There was a touch of wonder in
But Mrs. Shacklett shook her head doubt-
fully. Fortunately for all concerned, Mr.
Shacklett roused himself.
â€œTJ ainâ€™t had a bite of breakfast yet. Now
when are you going to have dinner? Tell
me that. Hey?â€
â€œWe've had nobody to cook for us sence
our nigger died,â€ Mrs. Shacklett explained.
â€œT hated mightily to give her up. She was
worth two thousand dollars and she did
everything for us.â€
Cassy opened wide her eyes. â€œ Well, for
the Lordâ€™s â€˜sake! No breâ€™kfusâ€™ anâ€™ mighty
little prospecâ€™ of dinner! No wonder you
hainâ€™t able to walk. Itâ€™s a sin anâ€™ a shame
you didnâ€™t tell me about it when I walked
in the door. Why, I bâ€™lieve in my soul you
two poor olâ€™ creetursâ€™d set thar anâ€™ starve
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 273
before youâ€™d ax me to whirl in anâ€™ warm
somethinâ€™ for you. Ill not wait to be axed.
Thess show me whar the things is anâ€™ I'll
have yous snack cooked before you can run
arounâ€™ the house.â€
â€œ Hey?â€ inquired Mr. Shacklett. â€œIs
dinner ready? Hey? Donâ€™t I smell meat
a-frying somewhere? Hey?â€
â€œDonâ€™t be worried, honey,â€ said Mrs.
Shacklett. Then she turned to Cassy. â€œ If
youll give me your hand and fetch my chair
for me, Iâ€™ll go in the cook-room and show
you where everything is, the best I can.â€
â€œDid nâ€™t I tell you I smell meat a-frying?
Hey?â€ cried Mr. Shacklett as his wife went
out, bearing on Cassyâ€™s strong arm.
The larder was pretty well stocked, as
Cassy discovered, but Mrs. Shacklett found
an insuperable obstacle to all their plans.
â€œThereâ€™s no wood!â€ she exclaimed de-
â€œWhy, I seed plenty in the yard while
ago,â€ said Cassy.
â€œ Yes, child, but itâ€™s not cut.â€
Cassy laughed. â€œNot cut? Well, ef I
couldnâ€™t cut wood as good as any man, I
ruther think Iâ€™d feel ashamed of myseâ€™f.â€
oT4 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
So she found the ax, cut and split two
sticks of wood, and soon had a fire on the
kitchen hearth. The rest was easy. Cassyâ€™s
cooking would hardly have passed muster at
Delmonicoâ€™s or any of the fashionable hotels,
but for the time and the occasion it was just
as good as there was any use for. And, won-
derful to relate, Mrs. Shacklett, after much
hunting and fumbling with keys, drew forth
a package of genuine coffee, and grudgingly
measured out enough for three cups of the
Cassy picked up two or three grains and
examined them with an interest that partook
of awe. â€œThe landâ€™s sake!â€ she cried;
â€œwhy, hitâ€™s the ginnywine coffee! I hainâ€™t
seed none in so long tell the sight â€™s good for
sore eyes. I minâ€™ thess as well as if it â€™t was
yestiday the day anâ€™ hour anâ€™ the time anâ€™
place whar I last laid eyes on ginnywine cof-
fee.â€ She held the green grains in her hand
and put them to her nose, but fire had not
yet released their fragrance.
â€œCan you parch it?â€ Mrs. Shacklett
â€œ Thess watch me,â€ said Cassy somewhat
boastfully. â€œYou neednâ€™t put in moreâ€™n
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 275
three grains fer me,â€ she went on. â€œ Hitâ€™s
too skace anâ€™ too good to be wasted on com-
After dinner Mr. Shacklett and his wife
were much spryer and in a better humor than
they had been on Cassyâ€™s arrival. Mr. Shack-
lett himself felt so much improved in mind
and body that he ventured to walk out on
the primitive porch, where he stood and
gazed abroad in quite a patriarchal way, clear-
ing his throat and pulling down his vest with
an attempt at stateliness that would have been
comic but for its feebleness.
It was settled in the most natural way in
the world that Cassy should remain as long
as she found it convenient to make her boris
there. In fact it was settled by Cassy her-
self. Before the day was over she had made
herself indispensable to the old people. She
looked after their bodily comfort with a deft-
ness that they were strangers to, and her
thoughtfulness was so forward that it outran
and forestalled their desires.
A few days after she had been caring for
the old people, she remarked that she had
perhaps pestered them long enough.
â€œWhatâ€™s that?â€ cried old Mr. Shacklett.
276 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
â€œT knew that would be the way of it,â€
said Mrs. Shacklett, and then she fumbled
about until she found her handkerchief, and
held it to her face, crying softly. This settled
â€˜the matter so far as Cassy was concerned.
She knelt on the floor beside Mrs. Shackletit
and petted and consoled her as if she had
been a child.
Matters went on smoothly until Cassyâ€™s
husband, Danny Lemmons, slipped in one
day and stole her baby. The result of that
performance is too well known in history to
be repeated here. Cassy pursued her hus-
band and came back a widow, but she wore
There was only one thing that worried the
old people. For years they had been saving
and hiding all the gold and silver coin they
could lay hands on, and according to their
account, told to Cassy in confidence, they had
accumulated a considerable store. When their
negro girl fell ill, the old people, fearing that
she had discovered the hiding-place and would
reveal the secret to some of her colored friends
who came to visit her, removed their hoard
to a new place of concealment. The gul
lingered for a week and then suddenly died.
Â° THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE Q27T
The event was so unexpected to Mr. and
Mrs. Shacklett, and threw them into such a
state of doubt and confusion, that they were
not able to remember where they had hid the
They had many harmless disputes and spats
about the matter, and they hunted and hunted,
and poked about in the cracks of the chim-
ney, and made Cassy lift up the big flat
stones in the hearths, and wandered about in
the yard, until it made the young woman
â€œT declare to gracious!â€ she would ex-
claim, â€œ you-all gi me the all-overs everâ€™ min-
nit in the day wiâ€™ your scratchinâ€™ in the ashes
and pokinâ€™ in the cracks. Youll fall over
the pots anâ€™ kittles some of these days and
Mrs. Shacklett had often boasted that she
was a Sandedge, and she made no conceal-
ment of her belief that the Sandedges were
higher in the social scale than the Shackletts.
Mr. Shacklett could remember this, even if
he had forgotten where the money had been
hid. Indeed, his mind dwelt upon it.
â€œYou ought to know where we put the
money. You was there; you helped to do
278 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
it. Ifthe Sandedges is so mighty much bet-
ter than the Shackletts, why nâ€™t you mind
where we put the money? Hey? Tell me
that. You â€™re a Sandedge, and I ainâ€™t no-
thing but a plain Shacklett. â€™T ainâ€™t no
trouble for me to forget, but how can a
Sandedge forget? Hey? Tell me that.
When it comes down to hard sense I reckon
the Shackletts is just as good as the Sand-
But all this did no good. The old peo- |
ple failed to find their precious store. They
sat and tried to trace their movements on the
day they had carried the money to its new
place of concealment, but they never could
agree. The death of the negro was the only
event they could clearly remember. Each ex-
claimed, many times a day: â€œOh, I know!â€
as if a flash of memory had revealed to them
the place, but it always ended in nothing.
Cassy soon became accustomed to the con-
â€˜stant talking and hunting for hidden money,
and finally came to the conclusion that the
old people were the victims of a strange delu-
sion. She compared it in her mind to the
game of hide-the-switch which the children
play. At the last, she paid no more atten-
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 279
tion to the matter than if the old couple had
been a pair of toddling infants fretting over
some imaginary trouble.
Now it happened that while Private Chad-
wick was enjoying his soup under the gentle
auspices of the ladies who had invited him to
be their guest, his comrades in the trenches
and round about had received some news
that seemed to them to be very bad indeed.
It was in the shape of a rumor merely, but
among soldiers a rumor is merely the fore-
runner of facts. The news was to the effect
that General Johnston was about to be re-
moved and General Hood put in his place.
The news had not yet appeared in the news-
papers, and it had reached the soldiers before
it came to the ears of their officers. How,
nobody knows. The commander of a brigade
in Virginia made the rounds of his camp
one night. He saw considerable bustle among
the troopsâ€”fires burning and rations cooking.
Inquiring the cause, he was told that the
brigade would receive orders to march before
sunrise the next morning. The brigadier
laughed at this, thinking it was a joke on
280 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
the men, but when he returned to his head-
â€˜quarters he found a courier awaiting him
with orders for his brigade to move at dawn.
In the same way, General Johnstonâ€™s re-
moval was well known to the private soldiers
before the newspapers had printed the infor-
mation. The news was not very well received,
for, in spite of the fact that they had been
retreating from Dalton to Atlanta, the men
were well enough acquainted with the tactics
of war to know that these retreats were mas-
terly, and they felt that their general was
gathering all his resources well in hand for
a decisive battle at the proper moment.
General Hood, as the successor of General
Johnston, knew what was expected of him by
the political generals and the military editors.
He was a gallant man and a hard fighter, and
he lost no time in showing these qualities.
But the responsibility that had been thrust
upon him was too great for him. He did
the best he could; he hurled himself against
General Sherman and inaugurated the series
of battles around Atlanta that has made the
city and the region round about historic
ground. Finally, he swung his army loose
from the town and went hurrying toward
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 281
Nashville, followed by General Thomas, while
Sherman took possession of the Southâ€™s sup-
ply-centre and prepared for his leisurely and
unopposed march across the State to Savan-
When the city was evacuated Private Chad-
wick found himself among the last of the
straggling Confederates who were leaving.
He found himself, indeed, with the little
squad of riflemen commanded by Jack Kil-
patrick, captain of the sharpshooters. The
line of retreat led along Whitehall and Peters
Streets. Chadwick turned into Peters as
much by accident as by design, and was of
two minds whether to cut across and go into
Whitehall, or whether to go on as he had
started. But a thought of Cassy Tatum
decided him, and so he kept on, the way he
was going. Jack Kilpatrick accompanied
him for old acquaintanceâ€™s sake, sending some
of his dozen men along Whitehall. They
talked of old times as they rode along.
â€œ Jack, I allers use to think you was the
purtiest boy I ever laid eyes on,â€ remarked
â€œTs that so?â€ Kilpatrick asked dubiously.
He was slim and trim, and his features were
very delicately moulded.
282 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
â€œYes,â€ replied Chadwick, â€œ and if you was
to shave off what little mustache you.â€™ve got,
blamed if you would nâ€™t make a right-down
good-looking woman. And youâ€™ve got a
hand not much bigger â€™n a nine-year-old boy.
I reckon thatâ€™s the reason you draw so fine
a bead sech a long ways off.â€
Kilpatrick smiled boyishly, and, as if to
show what a nice girl he could be, threw a
leg over the pommel of his saddle and rode
sidewise. Far before them they could see
clouds of dust rising slowly. Behind them
and a little to their left they could hear the
Federal guns feeling of the town, and occa-
sionally a shell more venomous than the rest
flew over their heads, crying as shrilly as if
it had life. This was particularly the case
when they came to Castleberryâ€™s Hill, which
was a more conspicuous eminence then than
it is now. Occasionally one of the missiles
would strike the brow of the hill and fly
shrieking off, or bury itself in the red clay
with a queer fluttermg sound.
As they came to the brow of the hill,
Chadwick saw Cassy Tatum standing on the
porch of the house where she lived. He
waved his hand and asked her if she intended
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 283
to remain. Mistaking his gesture, or not
understending his words, she came running
along the pathway.
â€œHowdy?â€ said Chadwick; â€œwhy ainâ€™t
you refugeeinâ€™ wiâ€™ the rest ?â€
â€œT declare I dunno,â€ she replied, with a
laugh that was more than half pathetic. â€œI
oughter, I reckon, Some of the Shack-
lettsâ€™s kinnery come by in a carryall soon
this morninâ€™ anâ€™ tuck â€™em away, whether or
no. I like to â€™aâ€™ cried, they went on so.
They didnâ€™t want to go one bit, anâ€™ they
hollerâ€™d anâ€™ went on so that it made me feel
right down sorry.â€
â€œWhat â€œIl you do? Why nâ€™t you go wiâ€™
em?â€ inquired Chadwick.
â€œWell, I had sevâ€™m good reasons,â€ replied
Cassy, trying hard to joke, â€œanâ€™ all sevâ€™m of
"em was that the folks didnâ€™ ax me. It
looked mighty funny to me that they â€™d let
the poor olâ€™ creeturs live here all this time
at the mercy of the world, as you may say,
anâ€™ then come anâ€™ snatch â€™em up anâ€™ bundle
"em off that-away.â€
â€œDid they ever find their money ?â€ Chad-
â€œNot a thrip of it,â€ said Cassy. â€œThatâ€™s
284 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
the reason they went on so when theâ€™r folks
come atter â€™em. Hf they didnâ€™t Mave no
money they thought mighty hard they had it.â€
At that moment a shell came hurtling
through the air. The pang of it sounded so
near that Cassy dodged, and even the troopers
glanced quickly upward. Then there was a
crashing sound close at hand. Those who
had their eyes turned toward the house â€”
and Cassy was one of themâ€” saw shingles
fly from the roof, saw the top of the chimney
sink out of sight, and saw a part of the roof
itself sway and fall in. Cassy stood for an
instant paralyzed, and then flinging her arms
wildly, and yet helplessly, above her head,
sprang. toward the house with a scream of
â€œMy baby! my baby!â€ she cried. â€œOh,
my poor little baby!â€
Chadwick and Kilpatrick and their com-
rades sprang after her. As she reached the
house one of the walls that had been pushed
outward by the falling roof cracked loudly
and seemed to be about to fall. Chadwick
would have dragged Cassy out of the way,
but she shook his hand off furiously, seized
the wall by one of the gaping edges, and
THE BABY'â€™S FORTUNE 285
pulled it down. Then she rushed at the roof
itelf, seized the ends of two of the rafters,
and made as if she would overturn the whole
â€œWait!â€ commanded Kilpatrick. â€œIf the
young unâ€™s under there you'll fetch the whole
roof down on him.â€
This brought Cassy to her senses, and when
a woman is clothed and in her right mind she
knows by instinct that the best she can do is to
cry. Cassy tried to do this now ; but her eyes
were dry, and all the sound that her parched
throat and trembling lips could utter was a
low and continuous moan so pitiful that it
wrung the hearts of the rough soldiers.
To add to the strain and suspense of the
occasion, a smothered, wailing cry was heard
somewhere in the midst of the ruins. At
this Cassy, instead of making another effort
to tear away the roof by main strength, as
Chadwick expected her to do, fell flat on the
ground with a heart-rending shriek of despair
and lay there quivering and moaning.
In the midst of all this, Kilpatrick had the
forethought to cast his eye occasionally on
the portion of the street that lay beyond the
railroad. He now saw a small squad of horse-
286 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
men in blue riding down the incline. He
ran to his horse, and his companions, with
the exception of Chadwick, did the same.
As for the private, he had made up his mind
in a flash that he would rather undergo the
diet and discipline of Elmira prison than
- desert Cassy at that moment. ~
But he had misunderstood Kilpatrickâ€™s in-
tentions. Instead of mounting his horse and
riding away, the boyish-looking sharpshooter
whipped a field-glass from the case that hung
on the saddle, and proceeded to carefully
inspect the approaching Federals, who were
moving cautiously. The inspection seemed
to satisfy him, for he closed the glass, went
out into the open ground, and waved his
handkerchief so as to attract the attention of
the horsemen in blue. They stopped, and
their horses huddled together in the road as
if they were engaged in consultation. Then
one of them, a tall man on a powerful sorrel,
detached himself from the group and came
riding up the hill at an easy canter, his rifle
glittering as it lay across his bridle arm ready
for instant service.
â€œ Well, dag-gone your skin, Johnny! What
are you doinâ€™ here this time er day? Hainâ€™t
THE BABY'â€™S FORTUNE 287
you the same. measly chap that tried to duck
me in the Chattymahoochee when we stuck
up a white flag anâ€™ went in washinâ€™? Why â€™n
the world didnâ€™t you do what I told youâ€”
go home to your mammy anâ€™ let grown men
fight it out? Youâ€™re a good shot though,
dag-goned ef you ainâ€™t!â€ He spoke with a
strong Georgia accent, but was from Indiana.
The two men had faced each other on the
vedette line for so many weeks that they had
become acquainted. In fact, they were very
friendly. Once when the â€œ Chattymahoo-
cheeâ€ (as the tall Indianian facetiously called
that stream) divided the opposing armies, the
advance line of each went in bathing to-
gether every day, and they grew so friendly
that the Confederate generals issued a pro-
Briefly Kilpatrick explained the situation
to the Federal sharpshooter, and by this time
his companions were on the ground.
The force was sufficiently large now to lift
the roof (which was small, and old, and frail),
and turn it over. The scheme was danger-
ous if the baby happened to be alive, but it
was the best that could be done, and it was
288 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
Cassy still lay upon the ground moaning
pitifully and clutching convulsively at the
tussocks that came in contact with her fin-
gers. The spectacle that the fallen roof had
hid caused the men to utter exclamations of
wonder. Mistaking the purport of these,
Cassy Tatum writhed on the ground in an
agony of grief, and refused to answer when
Private Chadwick called her.
The sight that met the eyes of the men
was enough to carry them away with aston-
ishment. The baby, unhurt, lay on the floor
in the midst of hundreds of gold and silver
pieces, and was trying to rub the dust out of
â€œDag-gone my skin!â€ exclaimed the tall
Indianian ; â€œthat babyâ€™s pyore grit!â€ Then
he added, with a chuckle, â€œ Literâ€™ly kiverâ€™d
Chadwick went to Cassy, and, stooping
over, laid his hand on her shoulder, saying
gently : â€œJest come anâ€™ look at him, Cassy !â€
Mistaking his tone and intention, she
writhed away from his hand, crying out:
â€œOh, kill me! kill me before I kill myself.
Oh, please make haste! Oh,me! He was all
I had in the worl!â€
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 289
â€œWhatâ€™s the matter?â€ asked the tall In-
â€œShe thinks the babyâ€™s dead,â€ replied
â€œDag-gone it!â€ laughed the Indianian ;
â€œwhy nâ€™t she git up anâ€™ see?â€
The laugh startled Cassy so, that she sat
up and looked around, throwing her hair be-
hind her shoulders and making an instinctive
effort to tidy up.
â€œWhat â€™s the matter?â€ she moaned.
â€œWhatâ€™s he laughinâ€™ at?â€
â€œT reckon itâ€™s because you â€™re worse hurt
than the baby is,â€ responded Chadwick.
â€œWhere is he?â€ she cried. â€œOh, donâ€™t
leâ€™ me go there ef heâ€™s dead er mangled!
Please, mister, donâ€™t leâ€™ me go where he is ef
heâ€™s mashed ! â€
â€œ All a-settinâ€™, maâ€™am!â€ said the Federal
sharpshooter. â€œ Jest walk this way.â€
At that moment the baby began to cry,
and Cassy leaped toward it with a mother-cry
that thrilled the soldiers. She snatched the
child from the floor and hugged it so closely
to her bosom that it had to kick and fight
for air and freedom. Then she began to cry,
and in a few moments was calm and appar-
290 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
ently happy, but there was a haggard and
drawn look in her face that no one had.ever
seen there before. Chadwick, observing this,
turned to Kilpatrick and remarked : â€”
â€œTf she ainâ€™t lost twenty pound in the last
quarter of an hour Iâ€™m the biggest liar that
ever drawed breath.â€ This was an exaggera-
tion, perhaps, and yet it was descriptive too.
â€œYou see what the Yankee shell fetched
you, maâ€™am,â€ said the Federal sharpshooter.
For the first time Cassy saw the gold and
silver pieces that were strewn about. â€œThe
land er the livinâ€™!â€ she exclaimed. â€œThatâ€™s
them poor olâ€™ creetursâ€™ money.â€ She looked
at it in a dejected, dispirited way. â€œ You-all
kin take it,â€ she went on, speaking to the
Federals. â€œTake it -anâ€™ welcome ef you â€™ll
thess leâ€™ me alone. My babyâ€™s money enough
â€œJTtâ€™s dag-goned invitinâ€™,â€ replied the In-
dianian, laughing, â€œbut you'll have to excuse
us this time. It might be a pick-up ef we
caught a passel er Johnnies with it â€” but
that money there belongs to the baby, if it
belongs to anybody. Would you mind loaninâ€™
me your apron a minnit?â€
Cassy untied her apron with one hand,
THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE 291
and threw it to the Federal sharpshooter, and
in a few minutes. he and the rest of the men
had picked up all the coins they could find
and tied them in the apron, which was a stout
piece of checked homespun. The general
estimate was that the money amounted to
two or three thousand dollars.
Then came what seemed to be the most
important question of all. Should Cassy go
with the Confederates or remain behind with
the Federals ?
â€œYou â€œll have to make up your mind in
three flirts of a chipmunkâ€™s tail,â€ remarked
the Indianian. â€œThe cavalry â€™ll be along in
less *n no time.â€
â€œTI donâ€™t see how I kin go,â€ said Cassy
â€œRide behind me,â€ suggested Kilpatrick.
â€œBut what about my baby?â€
â€œOh, Iâ€™ll look after that bundle,â€ said
Private Chadwick. Another man could carry
the money ; and so it was all arranged.
â€œDonâ€™t I look it?â€ laughed Cassy, when
she had mounted behind Kilpatrick.
â€œYesâ€™m, you do,â€ bluntly replied the In-
dianian. â€œSet square on the hoss ef you
can, anâ€™ donâ€™t squeeze the feller too tight.
292 THE BABYâ€™S FORTUNE
Heâ€™s nothinâ€™ but a young thing.â€ Where-
upon both Cassy and Kilpatrick blushed, and
even Chadwick seemed to be somewhat dis-
So they rode away, and when, far out
Peters Street, Cassy chanced to glance back
to Castleberryâ€™s Hill, she saw that it was
crowded with a swarm of cavalrymen. But
somehow she felt safe. She seemed to know
that they would come no farther, for a time
at least. She and her escort traveled. as
rapidly as they could, and Cassy, her baby,
and the money were soon safe from pursuit.
Mr. and Mrs. Shacklett were never heard
of again by either Chadwick or Cassy Tatum.
After the war these two married and settled -
in Atlanta, and one day Cassy heard that
some one had been digging the night before
on Castleberryâ€™s Hill for a box of gold that
had been buried there during the war. Chad-
wick laughed over the report, but Mrs. Chad-
wick saw no joke in it. She was combing
her sonâ€™s hair at the time, and she stooped
and. kissed him.
Ir befell that in the first scuffle that oc-
curred between the Federals and Confed-
erates somewhere in the neighborhood of
Jonesboro, when Sherman was preparing to
swing loose from his base at Atlanta, Jack
Kilpatrick, commanding a squad of sharp-
shooters, was seriously wounded. It was all
his own fault, too. He was acting outside
- his regular duties. Some excited colonel
called for a courier to send an unnecessary
message to an imaginary regiment. Kilpat-
rick, seeing no courier at hand, rode forward
and. offered his services.
Mounted on his black mare, he made it a
point to expose himself. He could nâ€™t help it
for the life of him. Jt was in his blood. So,
instead of going to the rear, he galloped out
between the lines. A big Irishman on the
Federal side, whose name was Oâ€™Halloran,
leveled his rifle at the horseman. Then he
294 AN AMBUSCADE
lifted his eyes from the sights and took an-
other look at the venturesome rider.
â€œ?â€™T is the young Johnny, or Oiâ€™m a nay-
gur!â€ he exclaimed. Then he drew a long
breath. â€œOi was in wan of tetchinâ€™ the
But there were other marksmen farther up
the line who were not nice in such matters.
There was a rattling fire of musketry. Plato,
Kilpatrickâ€™s body servant, saw his young mas-
ter reel in the saddle as the reins fell loose
from the hand that held them â€” saw him
reel again as the mare turned of her own
accord and brought her rider whirling back
to the point of departure â€” where he fell
fainting in the arms of his own men.
Kilpatrick had taken many chances before
and escaped unscathed; but this time a bul-
let went tearing through his shoulder, enter-
ing obliquely, and going out at the collar-
bone under his chin. He was promptly
carried to the rear by his men, followed by
Plato, leading the black mare. A surgeon
dressed the wound hastily, remarking that it
was a pity the young man could nâ€™t be carried
where he might get the benefit of careful
AN AMBUSCADE 295
â€œJ kin kyar â€™im home, suh,â€ said Plato.
~â€œ'Tainâ€™t so mighty fur ter whar my young
marster live at.â€
â€œ How far ?â€ asked the surgeon.
â€œJn de neighborhoods er forty mile, suh,â€
The surgeon shook his head. â€œ He. canâ€™t
ride horseback. But heâ€™ll die if heâ€™s left
â€œTJ wuz layinâ€™ off fer ter borry a buggy
someâ€™rs,â€ remarked Plato.
The surgeon considered the matter. â€œ Well,
get it,â€ he said presently, â€œand be quick
about it. Ill pad him up for traveling the
best I can. Itâ€™s one chance in ten thousand.
But heâ€™s young and strong, and the one
chance is his.â€
Plato sprang on the black mare, and in
less than half an hour had returned with a
â€œThat â€™s the very thing,â€ said the surgeon.
The rear seat was taken out, the cushions
of both seats were placed on the bottom, and
over these a hospital mattress and some blan-
kets were spread. On these the wounded
man was placed, and then the surgeon deftly
packed a dozen layers of cotton batting
296 AN AMBUSCADE
under the shattered shoulder. Altogether
Jack was made as comfortable as a badly
wounded man could be under the circum-
â€œTt is now ten oâ€™clock,â€ said the surgeon,
looking at his watch. â€œ You ought to -have
him in his own bed by six this afternoon.
Kill the horse on level ground, but bring it
to life in the rough places. You know what
â€œTf he hurts that mare,â€ young Kilpatrick
declared, with as much energy as he could
command, â€œIll see him about it when I get
â€œT wish ter de Lord you could git up anâ€™
see me "bout it now,â€ remarked Plato with
unction. â€œ Kaze dish yer filly is sho got ter
pick up â€™er foots anâ€™ put em down agin dis
day ef she ainâ€™t never done it befoâ€™.â€
Whereupon he climbed back into the
buggy, looked around at his young master
to see that everything was all right, and then
gave the mare the word. . Though the spir-
ited animal had been broken to harness by
Plato himself, she had been under the saddle
so long that this new position fretted her.
She was peevish as a woman, Plato said.
AN AMBUSCADE . 297
The harness chafed her, the shafts worried
her, and the rattle of the buggy disturbed
her. She wobbled from one side of the road
to the other, and went about this unusual
business as awkwardly as a colt. Finally
Plato stopped her in the road and cut the
blinders from the bridle. This was a great
relief to the high-strung creature. She could
now see what was going on in front, behind,
and on both sides. She gave a snort of sat-
isfaction and settled down to work with a
will that pleased the negro immensely.
Plato knew every foot of the road, having
often traveled it at night, and so the only
stops that were made were when the wounded
man wanted water, which was to be had from
the roadside springs. The journey was made
without incident, and Plato, while driving
rapidly, had driven so carefully that when
he reached home his young master was fast
asleep. And the mare, while tired, was in
fine condition, only her rations of food and
supply of water had to be cut short until
after she had thoroughly cooled off.
Plato had hardly got out of sight of the
smoke of the firing before the Confederates
fell back before the great odds before them
298 AN AMBUSCADE
and moved aside from Shermanâ€™s path. They
were not in a panic, but the pressure was
too heavy, and when they retired they were
compelled to leave some of their wounded in
a field hospital in charge of the surgeon
who had sent Jack Kilpatrick home. The
enemy's skirmishers promptly moved up to
the position vacated by the Confederates.
Among the foremost was a big soldier who
went directly to the rude shelters that had
been rigged up to accommodate the wounded.
He went through each and examined the
- faces of the wounded,
-â€œ What the devil are you after?â€ asked
the surgeon in a tone in which curiosity and
irritability were strangely mixed.
â€œÂ°T is nothinâ€™ but a slip of a lad Oiâ€™m
lookan for, sor,â€ replied the big soldier with
extraordinary politeness, considering the time
â€œThere are no wounded Yanks here,â€ the
surgeon explained, smiling pleasantly as he
glanced at the puzzled, good-natured face of
â€œ?T is a Johnny lad Oiâ€™m lookan for, â€”a
bâ€™y not bigger â€™n me two fists. Oi seen um
gallopinâ€™ on a black horse, anâ€™ I seen um
AN AMBUSCADE 299
stagger whin a dirty blacksmith in the line
give it to um in the shoulder, â€” the black-
guard that he was!â€
â€œOh!â€ exclaimed the surgeon; â€œ that was
â€œThe same, sor.â€
â€œHow did you come to know Kilpatrick ?â€
â€œ Sharpshootinâ€™, sor. We had the divvleâ€™s
own time thryinâ€™ to ploog aych ither bechune
the two eyes. But we wuz chums, sor, be-
twixt the lines. Oi sez to meself, sez Oi,
â€˜Oiâ€™ll be lookan afther the lad, whin we
brush the Johnnies away, anâ€™ maybe fetch
â€™im a docther.â€™ Is he clane done for, sor?â€
â€œHe â€™ll need a doctor before he gets one,
Iâ€™m thinking,â€™ remarked the surgeon, and
then he told how Jack Kilpatrick had been
The big Irishman seemed better satisfied,
and pushed forward with the advancing lines.
Plato was a very wise negro, considering
his opportunities, and as he sat on the edge
of the veranda next day, near the window of
his young masterâ€™s room, he shook his head
and wondered whether he had acted for the -
3800 AN AMBUSCADE
best in coming home, â€” whether it would nâ€™t
have been better if his young master had
been left to take his chances with the rest in
the rude field hospitals.
For it was perfectly clear to Plato that the
home people were thoroughly demoralized.
â€œOle miss,â€ â€”this was Jackâ€™s mother, a
woman of as clear a head and as steady a
hand as anybody in the world, a woman of
unfailing resources, as it seemed to her friends
and dependents, â€” was now as nervous and
as fidgety and as helpless as any other wo-
man. â€œYoung mistiss,â€™ â€” this was Jackâ€™s
sister Flora, a girl with as much fire and
courage as are given to women,â€” was in a
state of collapse. Now, if it had been some-
body elseâ€™s son, somebody elseâ€™s brother, who
had been brought to their house wounded,
these ladies would have been entirely equal
to the occasion. But it was Jack, of all per-
sons in the world; it was the son, the
brother. Courage fled like a shadow, and
all resources were dissipated as if they had
been so much vapor.
The wounded man had slept fairly well
during the night, but in the early hours of
morning his fever began to rise, as was to be
AN AMBUSCADE 301
expected, and then he became delirious. He
talked and laughed and rattled away with his
jokes, â€” he was noted for his dry humor, â€”
and occasionally he paused to take breath and
groan. And all that the resourceful Mrs.
Kilpatrick and the courageous Flora could
do was to sit and gaze at each other and wipe
their overflowing eyes with trembling hands.
Plato was sent to the village, nine miles
away, for the family doctor, but he returned
with a note from that fat and amiable old
gentleman, saying that he had just been in-
formed that the entire Federal army was
marching to surround the village, and, as for
him, he proposed to stay and defend his
family. This news went to Aunt Candace,
the plantation nurse, in short order. Plato
was her son, and he felt called on to tell her
Aunt Candace made no comment whatever.
She knocked the ashes out of her pipe, leaned
it in a corner of the fireplace, tightened up
her head handkerchief, and waddled off to
the big house. Plato knew by the way his
mammy looked that there would be a fuss,
and he hung back, pretending that he had
some business at the horse lot,
802 AN AMBUSCADE
â€œWhar you gwine?â€ asked Aunt Can-
dace, seeing he was not coming.
â€œTâ€™m des gwine â€â€”
â€œYouer des gwine long wid me, datâ€™s
whar you des gwine. Anâ€™ you better come
on. Ef I lay my hanâ€™ on you, youâ€™ll feel it,
â€œYassum, Iâ€™m cominâ€™,â€ replied Plato. He
was very polite when he knew his mammy
had her dander up.
Aunt Candace marched into the big house
with an air of proprietorship.
â€œ Wharbouts is dat chile?â€ she asked in a
tone that a stranger would have described
â€œHeâ€™s in here, Candace,â€ replied Mrs.
Candace went into the room and stood by
the bedside. The weather was chilly, and
she placed her cold hand on Jackâ€™s burning
brow. Instantly he stopped talking and
seemed to sleep.
â€œGod knows, honey,â€ she said; â€œdey â€™d
set here anâ€™ let de green flies blow you befoâ€™
dey â€™d git up outâ€™n der cheers anâ€™ heâ€™p you.â€
Mrs. Kilpatrick and Flora forgot their grief
for a moment and stared at Aunt Candace
AN AMBUSCADE 2 303
with speechless indignation. This was just
what the old negro wanted them to do.
â€œPlato!â€ she cried, â€œtake de ax anâ€™ run
down ter de branch anâ€™ git me yoâ€™ double
hanâ€™ful er dogwood bark, â€” not de outside ;
IT want de skin on de inside. Anâ€™ I want
some red-oak bark, â€”a hatfull. Anâ€™ donâ€™t
you be gone long, needer. Keze ef I hafter
holler at you, Ill jump on you anâ€™ giâ€™ you a
frailinâ€™. Now, ef you donâ€™t believe it, you
des try me.â€
But Plato did believe it, and he went hur-
rying off as rapidly as he used to go when he
was a boy.
â€œ â€˜Whar dat house gal?â€ asked Aunt Can-
â€œTâ€™ll call her,â€ said Flora; but the girl
that moment appeared at the door.
â€œ Whar you been, you lazy wench !â€â€™ cried
Aunt Candace. â€œGo git me a pan er colâ€™
water anâ€™ a clean towel; I donâ€™t keer ef itâ€™s
a vag, ef itâ€™s a clean rag.â€ Then she turned
her attention to Jack. â€œ God knows, honey,
ef you canâ€™t git nobody else ter do nothinâ€™
fer you, olâ€™ Candace ll do it. Sheâ€™s nussed
you befoâ€™ anâ€™ she â€™Il do it again.â€
Aunt Candaceâ€™s words and manner were
304: AN AMBUSCADE
calculated and intended to exasperate her old
mistress and her young mistress.
â€œTf you think I intend to submit to your
impudence â€â€” Mrs. Kilpatrick began with as
much dignity as she could command under
the circumstances. But Aunt Candace was
equal to the-emergency. Before her mistress
could say what she intended, the old negress
rose from the bedside, her eyes blazing with
â€œWhose imperdence? Whose imperdence?
Ef I felt dat away, 1â€™dâ€™aâ€™ sot down yander
anâ€™ nussed my own sickness anâ€™ let dis chile
die. Heâ€™s yoâ€™ chile; he ainâ€™t none er mine;
anâ€™ yit youer settinâ€™ dar holâ€™in yoâ€™ hanâ€™s anâ€™
wipinâ€™ yoâ€™ eyes, whiles de fever fair buâ€™ninâ€™
â€œHe ainâ€™t none er my chile, yit ef he ainâ€™t
got none er my blood in â€™im, itâ€™s kaze nig-
ger milk donâ€™t turn to blood. I donâ€™t keer
what you say; I donâ€™t keer what you do;
you canâ€™t skeer me, anâ€™ you canâ€™t drive me.
I'll see you bofe in torment, anâ€™ go dar my-
self befoâ€™ I'll set down anâ€™ see Jack Kilpat-
rick lay dar an die! You hear dat, donâ€™t
you? Now, go on anâ€™ do what you gwine
AN AMBUSCADE 305
Here was defiance, revolt, insurrection, and
riot, and yet somehow Mrs. Kilpatrick and
Flora felt relieved when the explosion came.
Aunt Candace was very much in earnest, but
it needed something of the kind to rouse
mother and daughter from the stupor of help-
less grief. They began to move about and
set things to rights, and in a little while all
ther faculties came back to them. The
house girl returned with cold water and a
towel, and Aunt Candace, entirely recovered
from her outburst of anger, said to Flora : â€”
â€œEf you want ter do sumpâ€™n, honey, set
on de side er de bed here anâ€™ folâ€™ dis towel
up anâ€™ dip it in de water anâ€™ wring it out anâ€™
lay it on yoâ€™ brerâ€™s forrerd. Holâ€™ yoâ€™ hanâ€™ on
it, anâ€™ soon ez you feel it gittinâ€™ warm, dip it
in de water anâ€™ wring it out anâ€™ put it back
agin. Anâ€™ make dat gal change de water off
With that Aunt Candace waddled out into
the kitchen, where she busied herself making
preparations for the decoctions she intended
to brew from the red oak and dogwood bark
which Plato had been sent after.
To those in the house Plato seemed to be
making a good long stay at the branch, but
306 AN AMBUSCADE
Plato was doing the best he could. He had
so much confidence in his mammyâ€™s skill and
experience, and was so anxious in behalf of
his young master, that he took pains in select-
ing the trees from which he was to chop the
bark. And then he was very particular as
to the quality of the bark; and, in order
that there might be no mistake about it, he
chipped off a larger supply than was neces-
sary. This took time, and when he was
ready to start back to the big house he heard
his mammy calling him, and there was a cer-
tain vital emphasis in her remarks that caused
him to return in a run.
In fact, Aunt Candace had infused new
energy into everybody about the place. The
little negroes that usually swarmed about the
yard prudently went to play in the barn, but
they were careful not to make a noise that
would prevent them from hearing her voice
if Aunt Candace should chance to want one
of them to run on an errand. The plantation
medicine chest was ransacked in search of
something, Mrs. Kilpatrick and her daughter
knew not what. At any rate the search was
a relief. They no longer sat supinely in the
midst of their grief. They made little jour-
AN AMBUSCADE 807
neys to the kitchen, where Aunt Candace was
brewing her simples, and she watched them
out of the corner of her eye.
â€œSâ€™posen heâ€™d â€™aâ€™ got kilt dead,â€ She re-
marked; â€œ whatâ€™d you â€™aâ€™ done den? Better
go â€œlong anâ€™ set down anâ€™ nuss yoâ€™seâ€™ves.
Iâ€™ll nuss Jack Kilpatrick. Anâ€™ â€™twonâ€™t be
de fust time Iâ€™ve nussâ€™d â€™im all by myseâ€™f
Scolding and domineering, Aunt Candace
went ahead with her brewing, and in a little
while had a crock of dogwood-bark tea
ready, as well as a red-oak bark poultice.
Her remedies were simple, but she had the
greatest faith in them. She applied the
poultice to the wound on the shattered collar-
bone, and compelled Jack to drink a tumbler-
ful of the dogwood-bark tea. The dose was
a heroic one, and bitter in proportion. Toa
certain extent both remedies were efficacious.
The poultice was a cooling astringent, and
the tea allayed the fever, â€” for somewhere in
the dogwood-tree, between root and blossom,
there lies the active principle of quinine.
Jack fell into a deep sleep, from which he was
only aroused by one of those remarkable
events that could have occurred in no country
but the American republic.
308 AN AMBUSCADE
When Plato started back to the house
from the spring branch, where he had been
chopping the red-oak and dogwood bark, he
was in such a hurry that he forgot his axe,
and when he wanted it again, a few hours
afterwards, he hunted all over the yard for it,
until he suddenly remembered where he had
left it. He started after it, but: as he was
going down the spring branch he heard a
clatter in the road to the left, and, looking
in that direction, saw two Federal cavalry-
men galloping by.
â€œ Ah-yi!â€ he exclaimed, as if by that
means he could find vent for surprise, and
slipped behind a tree. The day was raw and
drizzly, and there was no movement on the
plantation. The negroes were in their cabins,
the horses were in their stable, the mules
were standing quietly under the long shed in
the lot, and even the sheep that were in the
ginhouse pasture were huddled together under
shelter, nibbling ata pile of waste cotton seed.
The riders were couriers, and Plato, observ-
ing them, saw that they did not pursue the
road to the village, but turned off squarely to
AN AMBUSCADE 309
the right. For Sherman had already begun
his famous march to the sea. He had begun
it, indeed, before the little skirmish in which
Jack Kilpatrick had been wounded, and,
though Plato had no knowledge of the fact,
he traveled with his young master for fifteen
miles between the parallel lines of the ad-
vancing army, Slocumâ€™s corps being one of
the lines and Howardâ€™s corps another.
Ignorant of this fact, Plato was very much
surprised to see the Federals riding by. â€œDey
er pursuinâ€™ right on atter us,â€ he remarked
aloud. â€œA little moâ€™ enâ€™ deyâ€™dâ€™aâ€™ cotch us,
sho. Anâ€™ dey may ketch us yit. Kaze
Marse Jack canâ€™t hide out, anâ€™ I know mighty
well I ainâ€™t gwine nowhar whiles Marse Jack
got ter stay.â€ He turned back and went to
the big house, but once there he remembered
his axe and started after it again.
He found it where he had left it. He
picked it up and flung it across his shoulder..
As he raised his head he saw a big Federal
soldier sitting on a horse fifty yards away,
watching him intently. â€œName er Gawd!â€
he exclaimed. He stared at the soldier, un-
decided whether to run or to stand where he
was. Then he saw the soldier beckoning to
310 AN AMBUSCADE
him, and he made a great pretense of hurry-
â€œTis the name of the place Oiâ€™m afther,â€
said the soldier.
â€œSuh ?â€ exclaimed Plato.
â€œWho lives in the house ferninst us ?â€
â€œOle Miss anâ€™ Miss Floe,â€ replied Plato.
â€œAh, to the divvle wit? ye!â€ exclaimed
the soldier impatiently. â€œâ€™Tis the name
Oiâ€™m axinâ€™ ye.â€
â€œ Dis de Kilpatrick place, suh.â€
â€œ Where â€™s the wounded Johnny ?â€
â€œWho? Marse Jack?â€ inquired Plato
cautiously. â€œWhat make you ax dat?
Marse Jack ainâ€™t never hurted you, is he?â€
â€œTs he killt intirely?â€ the soldier persisted,
misled by the serious aspect of the negroâ€™s
â€œ How you know he been: hurted?â€ Plato
â€œOi seen â€™im whin the ball pasted â€™im,â€ re-
plied the soldier, with a careless toss of his
head. â€œWhere â€™ve ye tuck â€™im?â€
â€œWhat you gwine do wid â€™im when you
finâ€™ "im? You ainâ€™t gwine ter take â€™im ter
prison ner nothinâ€™ er dat kinâ€™, is you?â€
â€œListen at the gab av â€™im!â€ exclaimed
AN AMBUSCADE 311
the soldier impatiently. â€œIs the Johnny
â€œWho? Marse Jack? No, suh. He
hurted mighty bad, but he ainâ€™t daid yit.
Ainâ€™t you one er dem ar gentermens what I
seed tradinâ€™ wid Marse Jack anâ€™ de yuthers
out dar twix de camps?â€
â€œUpon me soul, ye â€™re a long time makinâ€™
that out. Oiâ€™m that same peddler.â€
Platoâ€™s honest face broadened into a grin.
â€œ Marse Jack up dar at de house,â€ he said in
a confidential tone. â€œEf his minâ€™ done come
back I speck heâ€™d be moâ€™ dan glad ter see
you. But Iâ€™m skeerâ€™d ter kyarâ€™ you up dar,
kaze I dunner what ole Miss, anâ€™ Miss Floe,
anâ€™ mammy â€™Il say.â€
â€œTrust me for that same,â€ remarked the
soldier. â€œTake me down this fince, will ye,
anâ€™ tell em at the house that private Oâ€™Hal-
loran, av the sharpshooters, has taken the
liberty for to call on the lad.â€
The negro proceeded to make a gap in the
worm fence, remarking as he did so: â€œI be
blessâ€™ ef I donâ€™t bâ€™lieve dat ar nag what you
er settinâ€™ on is Marse "Lisha Perrymanâ€™s sad-
â€œLike as not,â€ said private Oâ€™Halloran
812 AN AMBUSCADE
â€œMon! wonâ€™t he rip anâ€™ râ€™ar when he miss
dat ar hoss? Ef â€™t wuz me, anâ€™ I had tooken
dat ar hoss, Iâ€™d be gallopinâ€™ outâ€™n de county
by dis time. Kaze Marse â€™Lisha is de mosâ€™
servigrous white man in deze parts. He
mighty nigh ez servigrous ez olâ€™ marster use
ter be in his primy days. Iâ€™m tellinâ€™ you de
naked trufe, mon!â€
Private Oâ€™Halloran laughed by way of
reply, as he rode through the gap Plato had
made in the fence.
â€œOiâ€™ll go up anâ€™ put me two eyes onâ€™im,â€
said Oâ€™Halloran, as he turned his horseâ€™s
head towards the house, â€œ anâ€™ see the look av
â€™im be the toime the Twintieth Army Corps
comes trudginâ€™ by.â€
â€œYasser,â€ replied Plato, taking another
critical view of the steed the big Irishman
was riding. Then he laughed.
â€œ Fwhatâ€™s the joke?â€ imquired Oâ€™ Halloran.
â€œ?T ainâ€™t no joke ef you "ll hear my horn,â€
said Plato. â€œI wuz des thinkinâ€™ how Marse
â€™Lisha Perryman gwine ter cut up when he
finâ€™ out his saddle-hoss been rid off. I dun-
ner whever he â€™ll kill a Yankee er a nigger,
er whever he â€œIl go out anâ€™ shoot a steer. He
the most servigrous man J ever see, anâ€™ he
AN AMBUSCADB 313
sho did like dat ar hoss. You er de onliest
white man what been straddle un â€™im ceppinâ€™
Marse â€™Lisha. I ainâ€™t gwine to be nowhars
â€™rounâ€™ when he come huntinâ€™ dat hoss.â€
The horse evidently knew all about the
Kilpatrick place, for he went directly to the
hitching-post and there stopped. As Oâ€™Hal-
loran dismounted, Plato took the halter strap,
dexterously fastened it to the ring in the post,
and promptly disappeared. He evidently had
no idea of being made an interested party in
the scene that he supposed would take place
when the big Irishman loomed up before
the astonished gaze of his mistress and her
But the scene he anticipated did not occur.
It is the unexpected that happens, and it
happened in this instance. Oâ€™Halloran went
to the door that Plato had indicated, removed
his waterproof coat, shook off the shinmg
rain mist, and laid it on a convenient bench
seat. Then he took off his hat, roached back
his hair, and knocked confidently at the door.
He was quite a presentable figure as he stood '
there, considering all the circumstances. His
look of expectation had a genial smile for its
basis, and there was a large spark of humor
glistening in his fine black eyes.
314 AN AMBUSCADE
It chanced that Aunt Candace came to the
door in response to the summons. She
opened it wide with a frown on her face, but
when she saw the Federal soldier looming up
she threw up her hands with a loud ery.
â€œMy Gawd! Dey got us! Dey got us!â€
Then recovering herself somewhat, she planted
herself in the doorway. â€œ Gâ€™way fum here!
Gâ€™way fum here, I tell you! Dey ainâ€™t no-
body on de place but wimmen anâ€™ childern,
nohow! Go on off, man! Donâ€™t you hear
â€œ Aisy, aisy! Will ye be aisy, now?â€ said
O'Halloran, when he could get in a word
edgewise. â€˜ Whereâ€™s the lady ?â€
â€œWhat you want wid her?â€ cried Aunt
Candace. â€œGâ€™way fum here!â€ She stood
like a tiger at bay.
At that moment Mrs. Kilpatrick appeared
in the hallway. The sight of the soldier in
blue paralyzed all her faculties except mem-
ory of the fact that her son lay wounded not
forty feet away. Making a supreme effort at
self-control, she stood before the big Irish-
man with white face and clasped hands.
Something in her attitude touched the sol-
dier. He bent low before her.
AN AMBUSCADE 815
â€œNo harm to you, mum, begginâ€™ your
pardon. Oi says to a nagur in passinâ€™,
â€˜Whose iligant place is this?â€™ â€˜The Kil-
pathrick place,â€™ says he. â€˜Upon me sow,â€™
says Oi, â€˜â€™t will be no harm for to call in anâ€™
see the bâ€™y.â€™ How is he, mum?â€
â€œDo you know my son?â€ Her voice was
so harsh and strained that she hardly recog-
nized it. The big Irishman had no need to
answer. The door through which the lady
had entered the hall was thrown open, and a
weak voice called out : â€”
â€œTf that is O'Halloran, let him come in.â€
â€œÂ°T is that same,â€ replied the Federal sol-
dier with a smile. But he waited for the
lady to lead the way, and then followed her. _
On the bed lay Jack Kilpatrick, and near the
fireplace stood his sister Flora, statuesque
and scornful. Oâ€™Halloran bowed to her as
politely as he knew how, but her lip curled
disdainfully. An expression of perplexity
crept into the honest, smiling face of the
Irishman ; but this quickly changed into one
of genuine pleasure when he caught sight of
young Kilpatrick s face.
â€œWhy, yeâ€™re as snug as a bug in a rug!
exclaimed O'Halloran cheerily. Ã© Which paw
316 AN AMBUSCADE
shall Oi squeeze? The lift? Well, â€™tis
nearest the gizzard. Ah! but â€™t was a close
shave ye had, me bâ€™y. Oi seen ye cominâ€™
betwixt the lines, anâ€™ says Oi, â€˜ Fwhat the
divvle ails the lad?â€™ Â°â€™T was the very word
Oi said. Oi seen ye roll in the saddle, anâ€™
thin Oi put me rifle to me shoulder. Says
Oi, â€˜If the nag runs wild anâ€™ the lad falls
anâ€™ his fut hangs, Ovll fetch the craycher
down.â€™ But divvle a run â€” begginâ€™ pardin
of the ladies. Anâ€™ so yeâ€™re here, me bâ€™y,
more worried than hurt!â€
Jack Kilpatrick was really glad to see his
friend, the enemy, and said so as heartily as
he could. Oâ€™Halloran drew a chair by the
bed, and, in the midst of his talk, which was
as cheerful as. he could make it, studied the
_ young Confederateâ€™s condition. He made the
wounded man fill his lungs with air several
times, and: placed his ear close to the expand-
ing chest. Then he sat twirling his thumbs
and looking at the bed-quilt, which was home-
made and of a curious pattern. Finally he
turned to Mrs. Kilpatrick with a more seri-
ous air than he had yet displayed.
â€œHe wants a surgeon, mum. â€œTis an
aisy case wit? a surgeon standinâ€™ â€™rounâ€™ anâ€™
AN AMBUSCADE 317
puckerinâ€™ his forrerd; Oiâ€™ve seen â€™em doâ€™t
manyâ€™s the tome. Wan surgeon in the nick
av toime is like to do more good than forty
docthers at a funerâ€™].â€
â€œ We can get no surgeon; that is out of the
question,â€ said the lady curtly and positively.
Once more Oâ€™Halloran fell to studying the
pattern of the quilt. He even went so far as
to count the pieces in one of the figures.
Flora and her mother resented this as a piece
of unnecessary impertinence, and moved rest-
lessly about the room.
â€œThat is what they call the broken stove
lid,â€ explained Jack, seeing the big Ivish-
manâ€™s apparent interest in the quilt: pattern.
â€œNow is that so?â€ said Oâ€™Halloran.
â€œUpon me sowl it looks as if the whole chim-
ley had tumbled down on top avit. Faith!
Oi have it!â€ he exclaimed with a laugh.
â€œQi7ll rope in the chap that drinched me
the same as if Oi was a sick horse. *T will
be somethinâ€™ traymenjous, upon me sowl!
Heâ€™s a bloominâ€™ pillmaker from wistern New
â€™ The big Irishman paused and hugged him-
self with his Samson-like arms as he bent
over with laughter.
318 AN AMBUSCADE
â€œ Bedad, â€™t will be the joke of the day!â€
he exclaimed. â€œâ€™Tis all laid out as plain as
the nose on me face. Dâ€™ ye mind this now,
me bâ€™y: "Tis no Kilpatrick ye are, for ye â€™ve
thried to killme manyâ€™s the odd time. Yeâ€™re
from Hornellsville, â€” mind that now; upon
me sowl, â€™tis the nub av the whole bloominâ€™
â€œWhere â€™s Hornellsville ?â€â€ asked Jack.
â€œTn York State, bedad. Yeâ€™re Capâ€™n Jar-
vis, av Hornellsville. Ye know the Finches
anâ€™ the Purvises, but yeâ€™re too wake for to
argy till he fixes ye foine anâ€™ doses ye.â€
Mrs. Kilpatrick uttered a protest that would
have been indignant, but for her apprehen-
sions in regard to Jack.
â€œHe.â€™s a darlinâ€™ of a surgeon, mum,â€ ex-
plained Oâ€™Halloran. â€œâ€™T is a business he
knows loike a book. Nayther is he bad
lookinâ€™. The loikes av him is hard for to _
come up witâ€™ in the Twintieth Army Corps â€”
clane as a pache anâ€™ smilinâ€™ as a basket av
chips. â€™T will be no harm to him for to fix
anâ€™ dose ye. Two days av fixinâ€™ will put ye
right, anâ€™ then he kin ketch his rijmint.â€
â€œScoop him up and fetch him in,â€ said
Jack, and to this the mother and daughter
AN AMBUSCADE 319
made no serious objection, bitter as their pre-
Among his own belongings Oâ€™Halloran
was carrying the haversack of his captain, in
which he knew there was a coat. This he
took out, carried into the house, and hung on
the back of a chair near Jackâ€™s bed. Then
he mounted his horse and rode to the big
gate, where he knew the Twentieth Corps
would shortly pass.
He was just in time, too, for a party of
foragers was engaged in gathering up the
horses, mules, and cattle that were on the
place. These he dispersed in a twinkling,
by explaining that the ladies of the house
were engaged in caring for a Federal captain,
who had been compelled by his wounds to
seek refuge there. This explanation Oâ€™Hal-
loran made to all the would-be foragers who
came that way, with the result that the stock
on the place remained unmolested. In a lit-
tle while the Twentieth Army Corps began to
march by, and many an acquaintance saluted
the big Irishman as he sat serenely on his
borrowed horse near the entrance to the wide
avenue. The troops going by supposed as a
matter of course that he had been stationed
820 AN AMBUSCADE
To Mrs. Kilpatrick and her daughter,
watching this vast procession from behind
the curtains of the windows, the spectacle
was by no means an enchanting one. Their
belief in the righteousness of the Southern
cause amounted to a passion ; it was almost. a
part of their religion, and they prayed for its
success with a fervor impossible to describe.
It was a cause for which they were prepared
to make any sacrifice, and it is no wonder
that they watched the army go by with pal-
lid and grief-stricken faces. Their despair
would have been of a blacker hue if they had
not remembered that, away off in Virginia,
Robert Lee was mustering his army against
the hosts that were opposing him.
The spectacle of this army in blue march-
ing by was so strange â€” so impossible, in fact
â€” that their amazement would not have been
materially increased if the whole vast array
had been lifted in air by a gust of wind, to
dissolve and disappear in the swaying and
Presently they saw Oâ€™Halloran spur his
horse toward the moving files, and touch hisâ€™
AN AMBUSCADE 321
cap by way of salute. Then another horse-
man, after some delay, detached himself from
the ranks, joined the big Irishman, and the
two came up the avenue together. Mrs. Kil-
patrick, by an instinct rather than an impulse
of hospitality, prepared to go to the door to
receive them, pausing in Jackâ€™s room to see
that everything was ship-shape. As the two
came up the broad, high steps, and delayed
a moment on the veranda to remove their
waterproofs, Flora, peeping from behind the
red curtains in the parlor, saw that the sur-
geon was both young and stalwart. His
brown hair was cut short, and the fierce curl
of his mustache was relieved by a pair of gold
spectacles, that gave a benign and somewhat
ministerial air to features that were otherwise
firm and soldier-like. He was not as tall as
the Irishman, â€” few men in all that army
were, â€” but he bore himself more easily and
When Qâ€™Halloran knocked at the door,
Mrs. Kilpatrick opened it without a momentâ€™s
â€œÂ°T is the surgeon, mum, to see the cap-
â€œGood morning, madam. Dr. Pruden.
3822 AN AMBUSCADE
The man here tells me that Captain Jarvis of
a New York regiment les wounded in this
house.â€ He held his cap in his hand, and his
bearing was all that was affable and polite.
â€œCome in, sir,â€ said the lady, inclining her
He stepped into the hallway, O'Halloran
following with a broad grin on his face that
disappeared as by magic whenever the sur-
geon glanced in his direction. Mrs. Kilpat-
rick led the way to Jackâ€™s room, to which
Flora had flitted when the knock came at the
door. Dr. Pruden acknowledged her pre-
sence with a bow and then turned his atten-
tion to his patient.
â€œIâ€™m sorry to see you on your back, Cap-
tain Jarvis,â€ he said sympathetically. â€˜â€œ And
yet, with such quarters and such nurses, I dare
say you are better off than the rest of us.â€
â€œ Yes â€” well off,â€ replied Jack in a weak
voice that was not borrowed for the occasion.
In fact, the surgeon had not arrived any too
soon. The wounded man had grown feebler,
and his condition was not helped by an occa-
sional fit of coughing that racked his whole
body and threatened to tear his wounds open
AN AMBUSCADE â€” 823
Dr. Pruden wiped his hands on a towel
that chanced to be hanging on a chair near
by, and then proceeded to examine into the
wounded manâ€™s condition.
â€œYou may thank your stars, young man,â€
he said after a while, â€œ that these ladies were
charitable enough to forget the color of your
coat there and give you the snelter and the
care and attention that were absolutely neces-
The note of unaffected gratitude in the
young surgeonâ€™s voice was so simple and gen-
wine that Flora felt a momentary pang of
regret that he should have been made the
victim of the Irishmanâ€™s crafty scheme. But
the pang was only momentary ; for what the
Irishman did he had done for Jackâ€™s sake,
and that. was a sufficient excuse. And yet
the knowledge that the surgeon had been de-
ceived made both mother and daughter more
considerate in their demeanor â€” more genial
in their attitude â€” than they could otherwise
Oâ€™Halloran stood watching the ladies and
the surgeon with a quizzical expression, keep-
ing his hand in the neighborhood of his
mouth to screen his smiles. Finally he
824 AN AMBUSCADE
seemed to discover that he could not safely
remain and maintain his dignity.
â€œ Qi ll be goinâ€™, captain,â€ he said to Jack.
â€œThe ladies â€™Il look afther yure belonginâ€™s.
Termorrer whin the rear guard comes by
maybe yeâ€™ll be well enough for to be lifted
in the ambulance I brung ye in.â€
â€œ What. amuses you?â€ inquired the sur-
geon, seeing the Irishman trying to suppress
â€œUpon me word, sor, Oi was thinkinâ€™ av
the drinch ye give me whin Oi was ailinâ€™.
Says Oi: â€˜Hf â€™tis as bitter to the captain
here as â€™t was to me, heâ€™ll be on his feet in
Whereupon Oâ€™Halloran turned on his heel
and went out, closing the door gently after
Dr. Pruden went to work with a will. He
smiled at the big poultice that Aunt Candace
had applied to the wound made by the bullet
in its exit, but found that the inflammation
had been controlled by it. Then with the
aid of the fair Flora, who offered her assist-
ance, he proceeded to deal with the wound on
the shoulder, which he found to be in a much
more serious condition.
AN AMBUSCADE 325
He had no need to probe the wound, but
saw at once that, while it was a painful and
dangerous hurt, no vital part had been
touched. To Flora, who asked many ques-
tions in a tone of unaffected concern, he ex-
plained that the cough was caused by inflam-
mation of the lung tissues, which would pass
away as the wound healed. He said that it
would be necessary for him to give the wound
only one more dressing, which could be done
the next morning, if the ladies could put up
with his presence for that length of time ; â€˜or,
if they preferred, he could call an ambulance
and have the wounded man carried along with
the army, though that would be both awk-
ward and dangerous. The condition of the
lungs, he said, was such that the slightest
exposure might result in pleurisy or pneu-
Both the ladies protested so earnestly
against the removal of the wounded man
that Dr. Pruden inwardly abused himself for
having formed the idea that Southern wo-
men had violent prejudices against the Yan-
kees. During the discussion Aunt Candace
had come in. She knew nothing of the
scheme that Oâ€™Halloran had employed to se-
826 AN AMBUSCADE
cure the services of a surgeon for her young
master. When she heard the suggestion that
Jack could be placed in an ambulance and
carried along with the army she pricked up
- her ears.
â€œWhich army you gwine take him â€˜long
wid? De Yankee army?â€ she exclaimed.
â€œ Huh! ef you do youll hafter kyarâ€™ me wid
â€œ Are you wounded, too?â€ Dr. Pruden
â€œ No, I ainâ€™t; but I wonâ€™t answer fer dem
what try ter take dat boy fum undâ€™ dis roof.â€
She turned and stared at her mistress and
young mistress as if she had never seen them
before. Then she raised her fat arms above
her head and allowed them to drop helplessly
by her side, muttering, â€œGawd knows, you
ainâ€™t no moâ€™ de same folks dan ef youâ€™dâ€™aâ€™
been moulded outer new dirt.â€
And after that she watched Mrs. Kilpat-
- rick and Flora closely, and listened intently
to every word they said, and shook her head,
and muttered to herself. To Plato she made
haste to give out her version of the puzzle
that the situation presented.
â€œ You kin talk much ez you please *bout
AN AMBUSCADE 327
de Kilpatrick blood, but hit done runâ€™d
â€œ How come?â€ Plato inquired.
â€œ Ainâ€™t you got no eyes in yoâ€™ haid?
Canâ€™t you see what gwine on right spang
undâ€™ yoâ€™ nose? Ef mistiss anâ€™ Miss Floe
ainâ€™t done gone ravinâ€™ â€™stracted, den I done
losâ€™ what little minâ€™ I had. You make me
bâ€™lieve dat ole missâ€™d set up dar in de house
anâ€™ let any Yankee datâ€™s ever been bornâ€™d
talk "bout takin â€™yoâ€™ Marse Jack off wid de
army, anâ€™ dat, too, when he layinâ€™ dar flat er
his back wid a hole thoo â€™im dat you kin
mighty nigh run yoâ€™ hanâ€™ in? Uh-uh!
uh-uh! you neeâ€™ â€™nâ€™ tell me! Ole miss
would a riz up anâ€™ slewâ€™d â€™im â€” dat what
she â€™d â€™aâ€™ done.â€
Plato scratched his head and ruminated
over the puzzle.
â€œDid mistiss anâ€™ young mistiss bofe say
dey want Marse Jack tuck off wid de army
des like he is?â€
â€œDee ainâ€™t say it right out in black anâ€™
white, but dey sot dar anâ€™ let dat ar Yankee
talk "bout it widout so much ez battinâ€™ der
eyes. Anâ€™ Miss Floe,â€” she sot dar anâ€™ make
out she want ter laugh. I could â€™aâ€™ slapped
3828 AN AMBUSCADE
her, anâ€™ little moâ€™ anâ€™ Iâ€™d â€™aâ€™ done it, too.â€
Aunt Candaceâ€™s anger was almost venomous.
â€œ Well, I tell you now,â€ responded Plato,
â€œT seed some mighty quare doinâ€™s up yander
endurinâ€™ de war.â€ He nodded his head to-
wards Atlanta. â€œ Dey wuz one time when a
river runâ€™d right â€™twixt de lines, anâ€™ it got so
dat mighty nigh eveâ€™y day de Yankees anâ€™ our
boys â€™d go in washinâ€™ anâ€™ play in de water
dar des like a passel er chillun. Marse Jack
wuz in dar eveâ€™y chance he got, anâ€™ him anâ€™
dat ar big Yankee what wuz in de house â€”
he up yander watchinâ€™ de stock right now â€”
dey â€™d git ter projickinâ€™ anâ€™ tryinâ€™ ter duck one
anâ€™er, anâ€™ I tuck notice dat de big Yankee
allers let Marse Jack do de duckinâ€™. â€™Foâ€™ dat,
dey â€™d meet twixt de lines when dey waâ€™nâ€™t no
rumpus g'wine on, anâ€™ dey â€™d swap anâ€™ trade
anâ€™ laugh anâ€™ talk anâ€™ take on like dey been
raised wid one anâ€™er.â€
â€œHuh! Much he look like beinâ€™ raised
wid Marse Jack!â€ snorted Aunt Candace.
â€œMaybe he de one what want ter take
Marse Jack off wid de army,â€ suggested
Plato, pursuing the subject. â€œ Ef he is you
neeâ€™ nâ€™ ter let dat worry you, kaze heâ€™ll be
safe wid. dat big Yankee, sho.â€
AN AMBUSCADE 329
â€œ No, he wonâ€™t needer!â€ exclaimed Aunt
â€œHow come?â€ asked her son.
â€œKaze he ainâ€™t gwine, datâ€™s how come!â€
Plato shook his head significantly, as if his
mammyâ€™s decision settled the whole matter.
Still he was puzzled at the alleged willing-
ness of his mistress and Miss Floe to allow |
Jack to be carried off by the Yankee army.
Dr. Pruden, the surgeon, was also worried
with a problem he could not fathom, and
puzzled by a great many things he could not
understand. The problem was not very seri-
ous, as matters go in time of war, but it was
very interesting. Why should these Southern
ladies, who, his instinct told him, had very
bitter prejudices against the Northern people,
and especially against the Union soldiers, be-
tray such interest in Captain Jarvis of New
York? And not interest only, but genuine
solicitude, that they sought in vain to con-
ceal? The surgeon was a young man, not
more than twenty-five or thirty years old, but
he had knocked about a good deal, and, as
he said to himself, he was no fool. In fact,
he had a pretty good knowledge of human
nature, and a reasonably quick eye for
830 AN AMBUSCADE
He cared nothing whatever for such pre-
judices as the ladies surely had. They were
natural and inevitable. They belonged to
the order of things. They were to be ex-
pected. It was their absence in the case of
Captain Jarvis that worried him. He could
see that these prejudices were in full bloom,
so far as he was concerned, and that his pres-
ence was tolerated only because he could be
of some possible service to Jarvis.
While dressing Jackâ€™s wounded shoulder,
which, under the circumstances, was a tedious
operation, Dr. Pruden noticed what beautiful
hands Flora had. She was helping him the
best she could, and in that way her hands
were very much in evidence. He observed,
too, that these beautiful hands had a knack
of stroking the wounded manâ€™s hair, and once
he saw such an unmistakable caress expressed
in the pressure of the fingers that he glanced
quickly at her face. The surgeonâ€™s glance
was so frankly inquisitive that Flora blushed
in spite of herself; and it was the rosiest. of
blushes, too, for she instinctively knew that
the man suspected her to be desperately in
love with a Yankee captain after the ac-
quaintance of only a few hours. Then she
AN AMBUSCADE 38381
was angry because she! blushed, and was so
disturbed and distressed withal that Dr. Pru-
den, discovering these signs of mental per-
turbation, was vexed with himself for being
the involuntary cause of it.
But he was none the less satisfied that he
had surprised and discovered the young wo-
manâ€™s secret; and he wondered that it should
be so, weaving with his wonderment the pret-
tiest little romance imaginable. It was such
a queer little romance, too, that he could not
repress a smile as he bent over Jackâ€™s broken
shoulder and deftly applied the bandages.
Flora saw the smile and with a womanâ€™s
intuition read its meaning. Whereupon,
with ready tact, she transferred her anger.
She made the surgeon, instead of herself, the
object of it, so that when Jackâ€™s wounds
had been properly dressed, Dr. Pruden found
that the young ladyâ€™s haughtiness toward
him was in significant contrast to the tender
solicitude she felt for the supposed Captain
The surgeon paid small attention to this,
as he told himself, and yet it was not a plea-
sant experience. The careful way in which
Flora avoided his glances gave him an oppor-
8382 AN AMBUSCADE
tunity to study her face, and the more he
studied it the more it impressed him. He
thought to himself with a sigh that Jarvis
would be a lucky fellow should his little ro-
mance turn out happily.
He would have been glad to talk with
Jarvis, but that was out of the question now;
to-morrow would do as-well. So he sat in
the library and smoked his pipe, finding
some very good tobacco in an old cigar-box
on the table, and heard the Twentieth Army
Corps go tramping by, the noise the troops
made harmonizing well with the dull roar of
the November wind as its gusts went through
the tree-tops outside. Strangely enough, it
all seemed to emanate from the flames in the
fireplace. After a while, he leaned his head
against the cushion on the back of his chair
and closed his eyes.
When he opened them again night was
falling. On one side of the fireplace Plato
sat prone on the floor. On the other side
sat Oâ€™Halloran. Plato was nodding, his head
falling from side to side. The big Irishman
was leaning forward, gazing into the fire, his
elbows on his knees and his chin on his
AN AMBUSCADE 8383
â€œ What time is it?â€ the surgeon asked.
â€œÂ°Tis long past yure dinner hour, sor,â€
replied Oâ€™Halloran, straightening himself.
Plato aroused himself, drew a pine knot
from some place of concealment, and threw it
on the glowing bank of coals.
_ â€œMistiss say yoâ€™ vittles wuz ter be kepâ€™
warm in de dininâ€™-room, suh,â€ said Plato.
â€œDey ringded de dinner bell all â€™rounâ€™ you,
anâ€™ mistiss come in ter ax you ter have some
dinner, but she low you wuz sleepinâ€™ so sounâ€™
she diâ€™nâ€™ want ter wake you up.â€
â€œWell,â€ replied Dr. Pruden, â€œa bite of
something would nâ€™t hurt, thatâ€™s a fact. I'll
go in and see how Jarvis is, while you have
it fixed for me.â€
A candle in the hall showed the surgeon
the way to his patientâ€™s room. There was
no need for the surgeon to go there, for Jack
was still asleep. The candle had been placed
on the floor to keep the light from shining in
the wounded manâ€™s face, and the room was
darker on that account; but it was not too
dark for the surgeon to see as he entered the
room that Flora was sitting over against the
bed. And, if he was not mistaken, she had
been holding Jarvisâ€™s hand, for he saw her
8384 AN AMBUSCADE
make a quick movement as he entered, and
the patient stirred slightly. This seemed to
confirm all his inferences, and increased his
wonder that such a complication could arise
here in the very heart of rebeldom, as it were.
He seated himself by the bed and laid his
hand on the patientâ€™s forehead.
â€œ How long have you been awake, Jarvis?â€
he asked presently.
â€œ Not long,â€ replied Jack. â€œ How did you
know I was awake?â€
â€œWhy, I heard you swallow,â€ replied Dr.
Jack tried to laugh, but he found that his
chest was very sore, and the laugh ended in
â€œ Donâ€™t try to laugh, and donâ€™t talk,â€ said
the surgeon, in a professional tone. â€œYou
are out of danger now, and you cups to be
forever grateful to your nurse.â€™
: Mou mean old Aunt Candace?â€ sug-
gested Jack, with dry humor.
Dr. Pruden stared at his patient with wide
open eyes. â€œIâ€™m surprised at you, Jarvis,â€
he said, in a tone of rebuke. â€œI mean Miss
Kilpatrick, of course. Go to sleep now ; your
head is still in a flighty condition.â€
AN AMBUSCADE 8385
Whereupon â€œDr. Pruden went from the
room into the library again. Soon he was
summoned to the dining-room, where, con-
trary to his expectations, he found Mrs. Kil-
patrick presiding at the table. Naturally
they fell into a conversation about the war,
but both restrained their prejudices, and the
talk turned out to be so pleasant â€” though
there were critical moments that had to be
bridged over with silence â€” that Dr. Pruden
thought he had never seen a more charming
or a more gracious hostess.
At early dawn the next morning, Oâ€™Hal-
loran, piloted by Plato, went into Jackâ€™s
room, took his captainâ€™s coat from the back
of the chair where he had placed it, folded it
up neatly and tucked it under his waterproof.
Jack stirred uneasily and then awoke. Plato
and the Irishman looked like huge shadows.
Aunt Candace, seated in a rocking-chair be-
fore the fireplace, snored as gently as she
could under the circumstances.
â€œWhat is the matter?â€ asked Jack. He
felt so much better that he wanted to sit up in
bed, but found that his shoulder was too sore.
836 AN AMBUSCADE
â€œ?T is but a whim of mine for to come anâ€™
kiss me hand to ye, me bâ€™y. The naygur
here says that a squad av Johnnies wint past
this half hour. So Oi says to aman Oi know,
â€˜O'Halloran, we â€™ll while away the tomme with
a canter acrost the country.â€™ The naygur
~ knows the way, me bâ€™y, anâ€™ â€™t will take â€™im not
moreâ€™n a hour for to put me betwixt the trot-
tinâ€™ Johnnies anâ€™ the stragglers.â€
â€œWhat about the other fellow, â€” this doc-
tor?â€ asked Jack.
â€œQi misdoubt but he'll board along wid
ye,â€ remarked the big Irishman with a broad
grin. â€œâ€™T will be a nate way fer to pay â€™im
his fay, Oi dunno! Molly! but Oi hould the
taste oâ€™ his phaysic in me goozle down to this
blissed day anâ€™ hour !â€
He patted Jack affectionately on the head,
and with â€œGod bless you, me bâ€™y!â€ went
from the room, followed by Plato.
Outside the house Plato turned to the big
Irishman. â€œBoss, you gwine ter walk?â€
â€œ Anâ€™ lade me horse? "Tis not in me
bones to do that same.â€
â€œ Youâ€” youâ€” you sholy ainâ€™t gwine ter
take Marse â€™Lisha Berman s saddle-hoss, is
AN AMBUSCADE 3387
â€œNot in the laste, ye booger. â€™Tis the
horse that will be takinâ€™ me.â€
â€œ Well, de Lawd knows I donâ€™t want ter
be nowhars â€™rounâ€™ in deze diggins when
Marse â€™Lisha finâ€™ out dat dat horse done been
took anâ€™ tooken.â€â€™
Plato said nothing more, but he shook his
head significantly many times, while he was
helping the big Irishman saddle Mr. Perry-
manâ€™s favorite horse. In a short while they
were on their way, and, by traveling along
the plantation by-waysâ€” paths known to the
negroes and to the cattle â€” Oâ€™Halloran soon
came up with the rear guard of the Twen-
tieth Army Corps.
Meanwhile, after breakfast, Surgeon Pruden
dressed Jackâ€™s wound again and then began
to make his preparations to rejoin the army.
He called for the big Irishman, and was a
little uneasy when he learned that Oâ€™Halloran
had left before sunrise. Nevertheless, he
went on with his preparations, and was ready
to take his departure, waiting only for Mrs.
Kilpatrick to come into the library where he
stood with Flora to tell them farewell to-
gether, when he heard the clatter of hoofs on
the graveled avenue. Looking from the win-
338 AN AMBUSCADE
dow he saw a squad of Confederate cavalry-
men galloping toward the house. At their
head rode a man in citizenâ€™s clothes, â€”a man
past middle age, but with a fierce military air.
Flora saw them at the same moment, and the
color left her cheek. She knew the man in
citizenâ€™s clothes for Mr. Perryman, their
neighbor, who had a great reputation for
ferocity in that section. Mr. Perryman had
missed his horse, and had been told by some
of his negroes that the man who had taken
him had stopped over night at the Kilpatrick
place. He was a widower who had been
casting fond eyes on Flora for some time, and
now thought to render her an important ser-
vice and give her cause for lively gratitude by
ridding her of the presence of the Yankee sol-
dier, if he were still in possession of the house,
or, if he had escaped, to attract her admiration
by leading the Confederates to her rescue.
Surgeon Pruden drummed a brief tattoo on
the windowpane, and then threw back his
head with a contemptuous laugh.
â€œT see!â€ he exclaimed. â€œMy comrade
and myself have been drawn into an ambus-
cade. I thank you, Miss Kilpatrick, for this
revelation of Southern hospitality.â€
AN AMBUSCADE 839
â€œTnto an ambuscade
â€œWhy, certainly! into a trap! I have but
one favor to ask of you, Miss Kilpatrick.
Let them take me and leave my comrade.
Surely he can do you no harm!â€
â€œThey will not take you,â€ she said with a
calmness he thought assumed.
â€œWill they not? It will be their fault
then. If I could escape by raising my finger
â€”soâ€”TI would scorn to do it. Not if I
knew they would furnish you a spectacle by
hanging me to the nearest tree.â€
She looked at him so hard, and such a
singular light blazed in her eyes that he could
not fathom her thoughts.
â€œâ€˜ What do you take me for?â€ she cried.
â€œFor a Southern lady loyal to her friends,â€
he replied, in a tone bitingly sarcastic. â€œCall
them in! But stayâ€”you shall be spared
that trouble. I will go to them. I ask only
that my comrade be not disturbed.â€
He started for the door, but she was before
him. She reached it just as Mr. Perryman
knocked, and opened it at once.
â€œGood morning, Mr. Perryman,â€ said
cried Flora, her
340 AN AMBUSCADE
Mr. Perryman took off his hat and was in
the act of politely responding to the salute,
as was his habit, when, glancing over Floraâ€™s
shoulder, he saw Surgeon Pruden staring
serenely at him through gold spectacles.
Thus, instead of saying â€œGood morning,
Miss Flora; I hope you are well this morn-
ing,â€ as was his habit, Mr. Perryman cried
out : â€” :
â€œThere â€™s that scoundrel now! Surround
the house, men! Look to the windows! Iâ€™ll
take care of the door! Watch the side win-
Mr. Perryman was so far carried away by
excitement that he failed to hear Floraâ€™s
voice, which called out to him sharply once
or twice. He was somewhat cooled, however,
when he saw the surgeon drawing on a pair
of heavy worsted gloves instead of trying to
escape. And at last Flora got his ear.
â€œMr. Perryman, this gentleman is our
guest. Dr. Pruden, this is our good neigh-
bor, Mr. Perryman. Under the circumstances,
his excitement is excusable.â€
The surgeon acknowledged his new ac-
quaintance with a bow, but Mr. Perrymanâ€™s
surprise gave him no opportunity to respond.
AN AMBUSCADE 341
â€œWhy, my God! the manâ€™s a Yankee!
Your guest! JI know you are mistaken.
Why, heâ€™s the fellow that stole my horse !â€â€
â€œâ€˜ My horse is in the stable,â€ remarked the
surgeon coolly, yet reddening a little under
the charge. â€œIf he is yours, you can have
â€œT know how it is, Miss Flora,â€ Mr. Perry-
man insisted. â€œ Youâ€™re a woman, and you
donâ€™t want to see this Yankee dealt with.â€
â€œTâ€™m a woman, Mr. Perryman; but I am
beginning to believe you are not as much of
a man as I once thought you were. This
gentleman has saved my brotherâ€™s life. He
is more than our guest; he is our bene-
Mr. Perryman stood dumbfounded. As
the phrase goes, his comb fell. His mus-
tachios ceased to bristle. The surgeon on
his side was as much surprised as Mr. Perry-
man. He turned to Flora with a puzzled
expression on his faceâ€”and the look. he
gave her was sufficient to prevent Mr. Perry-
man from throwing away his suspicions.
â€œDo you mean Jack?â€
â€œCertainly, Mr. Perryman. I have no
brother but Jack.â€
842 AN AMBUSCADE
â€œWhen and where did you save Jack Kil-
patrickâ€™s life?â€ asked Mr. Perryman, turning
to Dr. Pruden abruptly.
â€œTâ€™m sure I could nâ€™t tell you,â€ replied
the surgeon placidly. He was engaged in
wiping his spectacles, but turned to Flora.
â€œTs the wounded man your brother, Miss
â€œCertainly,â€ she answered.
â€œTâ€™m glad of it,â€ he said simply.
â€œYou'd better be glad!â€ exclaimed Mr.
The surgeon threw his right hand upward.
â€œNonsense, man! Iâ€™d be glad if I had to
be shot or hanged in half an hour.â€
â€œCome in and see Jack, Mr. Perryman,â€
said Flora, with such a change in her voice
and attitude that both men looked at her.
Mr. Perryman stepped into the hallway,
and Flora led the way to Jackâ€™s room.
After that no explanation was necessary.
Mr. Perryman talked to Jack with tears in
his eyes, for behind his savage temper he
carried a warm heart. He and Jack had been
companions in many a foxhunt and on many
a frolic, and there was a real friendship be-â€™
tween the two..
AN AMBUSCADE 843
Finally Mr. Perryman turned to Dr. Pru-
den. â€œIâ€™m mighty glad to meet you, sir,
and I hope youâ€™ll allow me to shake your
hand. Youâ€™ve been caught in a trap, but I
hope you'll find bigger and better bait in it
than is often found in such places.â€
Just then there was a knock at the door.
The captain of the cavalry squad wanted to
know what was going on, and why the Yan-
kee prisoner was nâ€™t brought out. The state
of affairs was made known to him briefly.
â€œThat satisfies me, I reckon, but I ainâ€™t
certain that it â€˜ll satisfy my men.â€
â€œWhat command do they belong to?â€
asked Mr. Perryman.
â€œ Wheelerâ€™s cavalry.â€
â€œ Aunt Candace! Aunt Candace!â€ cried
Flora. â€œGive Wheelerâ€™s cavalry a drink of
buttermilk and let them go!â€
The hit was as palpable as it was aaa
for the men of this command were known
far and wide as the Buttermilk Rangers.
It need hardly be said that Surgeon Pruden
had a very comfortable time in that neighbor-
hood. Within the course of a few months
the war was over, and he was free to go
home; but in 1866 he came South and set-
844 AN AMBUSCADE
tled in Atlanta. Then, to make a long story
short, he married Flora Kilpatrick. At the
wedding, Mr. Perryman, irreconcilable as he
was, nudged Dr. Pruden in the ribs and
â€œWhat â€™d I tell you about the bait in the
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
Ir you are a reader of the newspapers you
saw the account they printed the other day
in regard to the murder of a young woman
by Toog Parmalee, in the neighborhood of
â€œ Hatcherâ€™s Ford.â€ You could nâ€™t have missed
it. The night editors dished it up as a great
sensation, spreading it out- under startling
The account said that two young ladies â€”
sisters â€” were walking along the road, when
they saw Toog Parmalee come out of the
bushes with a pistol in his hand. He had
been courting one of them for two or three
years, and when she now saw him coming she
turned and fled in the opposite direction, while
the other sister, not knowing what to think
or how to act, stood still. In this way she
probably saved her own life, for Toog passed
her by in pursuit of the flyg girl, who was
overtaken and shot in cold blood. These
346 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
harrowing details were spread out with great
particularity in the newspapers, and the ver-
dict, made up by those who furnished the
details, was that Parmalee was stark crazy.
The only fact given in the account was
that Parmalee had killed his sweetheart, and
this could have been made clear in much less
space than a column of reading matter occu-
pies, for Hatcherâ€™s Ford is tifty miles from
the settlement where the affair occurred.
That settlement is known as Hatchâ€™s Clearing,
because, as Mrs. Pruett says, nobody by the
name of Hatch ever lived there, or on any
clearing on that side of Tray Mountain, and
as for the other side â€” well, that was in an-
other part of the county altogether.
So much for the first mistake; and now
for the second. Was Toog Parmalee crazy ?
There â€™s no need for you to take the word of
an outsider on that subject, but before you
make up your mind go and ask Mrs. Pruett.
It is a tiresome journey, to be sure, but it
is always worth the trouble to find out the
truth. You may go to Clarksville from At-
lanta, but at Clarksville you â€™ll have to hire a
buggy, and, although the road is a long one,
it is very interesting. It would be well to
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 347
take a companion with you, if your horse is
skittish, forâ€™ it will be necessary to open a
great many big gates as you go along. All
the farms are under fence in this particular
region, and the gates are a necessity.
Though the road to Hatchâ€™s Clearing is a
long and winding one, you canâ€™t miss your
way. You turn into it suddenly and unex-
pectedly twelve miles from Clarksville, and
after that there is no need of making inquir-
ies, for there are no cross-roads and no
â€œforksâ€? to embarrass you. There â€™s only
one trouble about it. You ascend the moun-
tain by such a gentle grade that when you
reach the top you refuse to believe you are
on the summit at all. This lack of belief is
helped mightily by the fact that the mountain
itself is such a big affair.
Presently you will hear a cowbell jingling
somewhere in the distance, and ten to one
you will meet a ten-year-old boy in the road,
his breeches hanging by one suspender and
an old wool hat flopping on the back of his
head. The boy will conduct you cheerfully
if not gayly along the road, and in a Little
while you will hear the hens cackling in Mrs.
Pruettâ€™s horse lot. This will give the lad an
348 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
excuse to run on ahead of you. He will ex-
claim, with as much energy as his plaintive
voice can command : â€”
â€œOh, Lordy! them plegged dogs is done
run the ole dominicker hen offâ€™n the nest.â€
Whereupon he will start to running and |
pretend to go to the horse lot. But it is all
a pretense, for when you come in sight of
the house you will see three or four, maybe
a half-dozen, white-headed children on the
fence watching for you, and if you have said
a kind word to the boy who volunteered to
be your guide, Mrs. Pruett herself will be
standing on the porch, the right arm stretched
across her ample bosom, so that the hand
may serve as a rest for the elbow of the left
arm, which is bent so that the reed stem of
her beloved pipe may be held on a level with
her good-humored mouth. You will have time
to notice, as your horse ascends the incline
that leads to the big gate, that the house is
a very comfortable one for the mountains,
neatly weather-boarded and compactly built,
with four rooms and a â€œ shed,â€ which serves as
a dining-room and a kitchen. Two boxwood
plants stand sentinel inside the gate, and are,
perhaps, the largest you have ever seen.
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 849
There is also a ragged hedge of privet, which
seems to lack thrift.
Mrs. Pruett will turn first to the right and
then to the left. Seeing no one but the
children, she will call out, in a penetrating,
but not unpleasant, voice : â€”
â€˜â€œâ€˜ Where on the face of the yeth is Saryâ€™s
Tom?â€ Forth from the house will come the
boy you met on the road. â€œCanâ€™t you move?â€
Mrs. Pruett will say. â€œ Yanderâ€™s the stran-
ger a-wonderinâ€™ anâ€™ a-reckâ€™ninâ€™ what kind of
a place heâ€™s come to, anâ€™ hereâ€™s everâ€™body
a-standinâ€™ arounâ€™ anâ€™ a-star-gazinâ€™ anâ€™a-suckinâ€™
theâ€™r thumbs. Will you stir â€™rounâ€™, Tom, er
shill I go out anâ€™ take the strangerâ€™s hoss ?
Ax â€™im to come right inâ€”anâ€™, het you,
Mirandy ! ! fetch out â€˜that big foun -cheer !â€
It is safe to say that you will enjoy every-
thing that is set before you; you will not
complain even if the meat is fried, for the
atmosphere of the mountain fits the appetite
to the fare. If Mrs. Pruett likes your looks
you will catch her in an attitude of listening
for something. Finally, you will hear a
shuffling aiand in one of the rooms, as if
aman were moving about, and then, if it is
Mrs. Pruettâ€™s â€œ old manâ€ â€”and she well
350 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
knows by the sound â€” she ll lift her voice
and call out: â€œJerd! what on the face of
the yeth air you doinâ€™ in there? You'll
stumble anâ€™ break some er them things in
there thereckly. Why donâ€™t you come out
anâ€™ show yoursef? You hainâ€™t afeard er
nothinâ€™ ner nobody, I hope.â€
Whereupon Mr. Pruett will come out â€”a
giant in height, with a slight stoop in his
shoulders and a pleasant smile on his face.
And he will give you a hearty greeting, and
his mild blue eyes will regard you so stead-
fastly that you will wonder why Mrs. Pruett
asked him if he was afraid of anybody. Later,
you will discover that this inquiry is a stand-
ing joke with his wife, for Jerd Pruett is
renowned in all that region as the most dan-
gerous man in the mountains when his tem-
per is aroused. Fortunately for him and his
neighbors, he has the patience of Job.
You will find on closer acquaintance with
Jerd Pruett that he is a man of considera-
ble information in a great many directions,
and that he is possessed of a large fund of
common sense. Naturally the talk will drift
to the murder of the young woman by Toog
Parmalee. If you donâ€™t mention it, Mrs.
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY Â© 851
Pruett will, for she has her own ideas in re-
gard to the tragedy.
â€œWhat â€™s bred in the bone will come out
in the blood,â€ she will say. â€œCrazy! why
Toog Parmalee wer nâ€™t no more crazy when
he killt Sally Williams than Jerd there â€” anâ€™
much he looks like beinâ€™ crazy !â€
And then Mrs. Pruett will hark back to
old times, and tell a story that has some curi-
ous points of interest. It is a long story the
way she tells it, but it will bear condensation.
It was in the sixties, as time goes, when
noxious influences had culminated in war in
this vast nursery of manhood, the American
republic. Some of us have already for-
gotten what the bother was about, never hav-
ing had very clear ideas as to the occasion of
so much desperation. Nevertheless it will be
a long time before some of the details and
developments are wiped from our memories.
As good luck would have it, Tray Mountain
was out of the line of march, so to speak.
The great trouble encircled it, to be sure,
but the noxious vapors were thinner here
than elsewhere, so that Tray elbowed his way _
skyward in perfect peace and security and
would hardly have known that the war was
852 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
going on but for one event which came like
an explosion on the quiet neighborhood. The
echo of the explosion, Mrs. Pruett claims,
was not heard until Toog Parmaleeâ€™s pistol
went off close to his sweetheartâ€™s bosom â€”
and that was only the other day.
Now, the war began gently enough and
went along easily enough so far as Tray
Mountain was concerned. Its sunsets were
not more golden nor its wonderful dawns
rosier on that account. The thunders that
shook Manassas, and Malvern Hill, and Get-
tysburg, gave forth no sounds in the crags
of Tray. If the truth must be told, there
are no crags nearer than those of Yonah, or
those which lift up and form the chasm of
Tallulah, for Tray.is a commonplace, drowsy
old mountain, and it does nothing but sit
warming its sway-back in the sun or cooling
it in the rain.
But Tray Mountain had one attraction, if
no other, and the name of this attraction was
Loorany Parmalee. In a moment of high
good humor, Mrs. Pruett remarked that â€œef
Jerd had any fault in the world it was im
beinâ€™ too good.â€ Paraphrase this tender tri-
bute, and it would fit Loorany Parmalee to
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 3853
aT. If she had any fault it was in being
too handsome. But beauty, it must be borne
in mind, is a relative term when you employ
it in a descriptive sense. No doubt Loorany
would have cut a very unfashionable figure
in a group of beautiful girls dressed according
to the demands of fashion. She lacked the
high color and the lines that are produced by
contact with refining influences; but on the
mountain, in her own neighborhood, she was
aâ€˜cut or a cut and a half above any of the
rest of the girls. Her eyes were black as
coals, and latent heat sparkled in their depths.
Her features were regular, and yet a little
hard, her under-lip being a trifle too thin,
but she had the sweetest smile and the whit-
est teeth ever seen on Tray Mountain. Her
figure â€” well, her figure was what nature
made it, and that wise old lady knows how
to fashion things when sheâ€™s let alone and has
the right kind of material to work on. She
had the leisure as well as the material in
Looranyâ€™s case, and the result was that in
form and in grace the girl belonged to the
age that we see in some of the Grecian mar-
In the right light, and in the foreground
854 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
of a boulder, with a roguish streak of sun-
shine whipping across her black hair, her
sunbonnet hanging between her shoulders,
her right hand lifted as if listening, her lips
half parted, and a saucy smile dancing in her
eyes, no artist in our day and time has ever
conceived a lovelier picture than Loorany
Parmalee made. To find its counterpart, you
will have to hark back to the romantic rascals
who laid on the color in old times.
Anyhow, Looranyâ€™s beauty was known far
beyond the cloud-skirted heights of Tray
Mountain. Nacoochee, the Vale of the
Evening Star, had heard about it, and was
curious, and far away on the banks of the
Chattahoochee, in the county of Hall, a young
man knew of it, and became â€œ restless in the
mind,â€ as Mrs. Pruett would say. This
young manâ€™s name was Hildreth; Hildreth
of Hall, he was called, because there was a
Hildreth in Habersham.
Now, it would have been better in the end
for Hildreth of Hall if he had never heard of
Loorany Parmalee, but small blame should
be laid at his door on account of his igno-
rance ; the future was a sealed book to him, as
it is to all of us. It was what he knew and
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 355
what he did that he is to be blamed for, if
a dead man can be blamed for anything.
It happened in the summer of 1863 that
Hildreth of Hall was visiting Hildreth of
Habersham, â€” there was some matter of rela-
tionship between them, â€” and they both con-
cluded to attend the camp-meeting that was
held every year on Taylorâ€™s Range, a small
spur that seemed to have been sent down by
Tray to inform the Vale of the Evening Star
that it could spread out no farther in that
direction. Nacoochee was polite and agree-
able, and went wandering off westward, where
it stands to-day, the loveliest valley in all the
world. But Taylorâ€™s Range so far caught
the infection from the valley as to permit its
top to spread out as level as a table, and on
this table the Christians pitched their rude
tents and built them a rough tabernacle, and
here they held their yearly campmeeting.
To this meeting in 1863 came Hildreth of
Hall and his kinsmen. Hither also came a
number of people from Hatchâ€™s Clearing, and
among them Loorany Parmalee. The old
people had come to pray, but the youngsters
had come to frolic, and the gayest of all was
Loorany Parmalee. There were girls from
356 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
the villages round about, as well as girls from
the valley, and some of these made believe
to laugh at Loorany, but the laugh was
against them when they saw the boys and
young men flocking after her. Mrs. Pruett
had more than half promised to keep an eye
on Loorany, and she did her best, but how
can a pious, maimed lady keep up with a
good-looking girl who is at an age when
she is less a woman and feels more like one
than at any other stage of her existence?
Mrs. Pruett tried good-humoredly to put a
curb on Loorany, but the lass laughed and
shook the bridle off, and no wonder, con- â€”
sidering the weakness:of human nature. She
was beginning to taste the sweets of her first
real conquest, for here was Hildreth of Hall,
the finest young fellow of the lot, following
her about like a dog, and running hither and
yon to please her whims and fancies.
It is true that John Wesley Millirons had
been casting sheepâ€™s eyes at her for several
years, hanging around the house on Sunday
afternoons and riding with her to church on
Sundays; but what of that? Wasnâ€™t John
Wesley almost the same as home folks? And
did he ever see the day that he was as polite,
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 357
or as quick to fetch and carry, or as nimble
with his tongue as Hildreth of Hall?
Go along with your talk about solid qual-
ities! Girls must enjoy themselves and have
fun, and how can you have the heart to ask
them to sit for hours with a chap that mopes
or is too bashful to talk fluently, or who
looks like he is frightened to death all the
time? It is too much to ask. Girls must
have a chance, and if you donâ€™t give it to
them they will take it.
So Mrs. Pruett watched Loorany gallanting
around with Hildreth of Hall, and all the
other chaps ready to take his place, except
John Wesley Millirons, who sat in the shade
and made marks in the sand with a twig.
Mrs. Pruett watched all this, and gravely
shook her head. And yet the head-shaking
was good-humored and lenient. If Mrs.
Pruett had been asked at the time why she
shook her head she could nâ€™t have told. She
said afterwards that she knew why she shook
her head, and she was inclined to plume her-
self on her foresight. But you know how
people are. If matters had gone on smoothly,
or even if Loorany had been like other girls,
Mrs. Pruett would have forgotten all about
358 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
the fact that she shook her head when she
saw the lass gallanting around with Hildreth
Mrs. Pruett had a â€œtentâ€ on â€˜the camp-
ground, a small cabin, roughly, but very
comfortably, fixed up, and she stayed the
week out. So did Loorany. So did Hil-
dreth of Hall. But along about Wednesday
â€”the meeting had begun on Sunday, â€”
John Wesley Millirons flung his saddle on his
mule and made for home. Loorany Parma-
lee and Hildreth of Hall were sitting in-a
buggy under a big umbrella, and very close
together, when John Wesley went trotting
by, his long legs flapping against the sides of
the mule. He bowed gravely as he passed,
but never turned his head.
â€œDonâ€™t he look it?â€ laughed Loorany, as
he passed out of sight up the road that led
As may be supposed, John Wesley Mill-
irons was nâ€™t feeling very well when he rode
off, leaving Loorany sitting close to Hildreth
of Hall, under the big umbrella. And yet
he was nâ€™t feeling very much out of sorts,
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 359
either. His patience was of that remarkable
kind that mountain life breeds, â€”the kind
that belongs to the everlasting hills, the over-
So John Wesley Millirons, as he rode home,
laughed to himself at the thought that he
was the mountain and Loorany the weather.
It was an uncouth thought that could nâ€™t be
worked out logically, but it pleased John
Wesley to hug the idea to his bosom, logic
or no logic. And so he carried it home with
him and nursed it long and patiently, as an
invalid woman in a poorhouse nurses a sick
After the camp-meeting Hildreth of Hall
became a familiar figure on Tray Mountain,
especially in the neighborhood of Hatchâ€™s
Clearing. As the year 1863 was a period of
war, you will wonder how such a strapping
young fellow as Hildreth of Hall kept out of
the Confederate army, since there was such
a strenuous demand for food for the guns,
big and little. The truth is, it was a puzzle
to a good many people about that time, but
there was no secret at all about it. The
Hildreths, both of Hall and Habersham, had
a good deal of political influence. If you
360 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
think war shuts out politics and politicians
you are very much mistaken. On the con-
trary, it widens their field of operations and
thus sharpens their wits. In the confusion
and uproar their increased activity escapes
attention. Thus it happened that Hildreth
of Hall was a commissary. He had a horse
and buggy at the expense of the govern-
ment, and the taxpayers of the country had
to pay him well for every trip he made to
Under these circumstances, you understand,
courting was not only easy and pleasant, but
profitable as well, and Hildreth of Hall took
due advantage of the situation. He would
have made his headquarters at Mrs. Pruettâ€™s,
but somehow that lady, who was thirty-odd
years younger then than she is now, had no
fancy for the young man. She politely re-
jected his overtures, and so he made arrange-
ments to put up at old man Millironsâ€™ â€” of
all places in the world. It was such a queer
come-off that John Wesley used to go behind
the corn-crib and chuckle over it by the hour,
especially on Sundays, when he had nothing
else to do.
It was plain to everybody, except John
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 361
Wesley Millirons, that Loorany was perfectly
crazy about Hildreth of Hall, but a good
many, impressed by Mrs. Pruettâ€™s prejudice
against the young man, had their doubts as
to whether he was crazy about Loorany. On
the other hand, there were just as many,
including the majority of the young people,
who were certain, as they said, that Hildreth
of Hall loved Loorany Parmalee every bit
and grain as hard as Loorany loved him.
Between the two friendly factions you could
hear all the facts in regard to the case and
still never get at the rights of it.
Once Mrs. Pruett took John Wesley to
task in a kindly fashion. â€œI never knowâ€™d
you was so clever, John Wesley, tell I seed
you give the road to Hildâ€™eth oâ€™ Hallâ€” anâ€™
Loorany arstandinâ€™ right spang in the middle
watinâ€™ to see which un â€™ud git to â€™er fust.
Oh, yes, John Wesley, you er eâ€™en about the
cleverest feller in the worlâ€™.â€
â€œHow come, Mis Pruett?â€ he inquired
â€œWhy, bekaze you was so quick to give
way to that chap from below.â€
â€œShucks! that feller hainâ€™t a-botherinâ€™
me,â€ exclaimed John Wesley.
362 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
â€œOh, I hope not,â€ said Mrs. Pruett; â€œthe
Lord knowsI do. Fer ef he ainâ€™t a-botherinâ€™
you, I know mighty well he ainâ€™t a-botherinâ€™
Loorany. Ef you couldâ€™aâ€™ seed â€™em a-swinginâ€™
in the bullace vine, as I did yistiddy, you
would nâ€™t â€™a thought Loorany was bothered
much. Well, not much!â€ Mrs. Pruett added,
â€œT seed â€™em,â€ remarked John Wesley,
â€œYou did?â€ cried Mrs. Pruett. She was
Po surprised and indignant.
â€œ Lorâ€™, yassum! I thess sot up an â€™ laughed.
Set The feller thinks bekaze heâ€™s got his
arm â€™rounâ€™ Loorany that sheâ€™s done hisâ€™n!â€™
I laughed so I was afeared they â€™d hear me.â€
Mrs. Pruett said afterwards that her heart
jumped into her throat when she heard John
Wesley talking in such a strain, for the idea
flashed in her mind that he was distracted â€”
and it so impressed her that for one brief
moment she was overtaken by fear.
â€œ Well,â€ she said, trying to turn the mat-
ter off lightly, â€œwhen you see a feller wiâ€™
his arm arounâ€™ a gal anâ€™ she not doinâ€™ any
squealinâ€™ to speak of, you may know itâ€™s
not so mighty long tell the weddinâ€™.â€ -
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 363
â€œYassum,â€ responded John Wesley, still
chuckling, â€œit may be so wiâ€™ some folks, but
not when the gal is Loorany Parmalee. No,
ma'am! You thess wait.â€
â€œOh, it hainâ€™t no trouble to me to wait,â€
said Mrs. Pruett; â€œ but whatâ€™d I do ef I was
a-standinâ€™ in your shoes?â€ _
â€œYouâ€™d make yourseâ€™f comfortuble, thess
hike Iâ€™m a-doinâ€™,â€ remarked John Wesley.
Mrs. Pruett was so much disturbed that
she told her husband about it, and suggested
that he look into the matter to the extent of
making such inquiries as a man can make.
But Jerd shook his head and snapped his big
â€œOh, come now, mother,â€ he said, â€œitâ€™s
uther too soon er itâ€™s too late. Anâ€™ that
hainâ€™t all, mother; by the time I git done
tendinâ€™ to my own business anâ€™ yourn, I feel
like drappinâ€™ off ter sleep.â€
Matters went on in this way until late in
1863, and then there came a time when Hil-
dreth of Hall ceased to visit Hatchâ€™s Clearing.
Some said he had been â€œ conscripted into the
war,â€ as they called: it, and some said he had
been appointed to another office that took up
his time and attention. But, whatever the
864 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
cause of his absence was, Loorany seemed to
be satisfied. She went about as gay as a
lark and as spry as a ground squirrel. John
Wesley, too, continued to take things easy.
He made no show of elation over the absence
of Hildreth of Hall, and never inquired about
it. He had never ceased his visits to the
Parmalees, but he went no oftener, now that
his rival had disappeared from the field, than
-he had gone before. As Mrs. Pruett re-
marked, he was the same old John Wesley
in fair weather as he was in foul. Patient
and willing, and good-humored, for all his
seriousness, he went along attending to his
own business and helping everybody else who
needed help. Thus, in a way, he was very
popular, but somehow those who liked him
least had a pity. for him that was almost con-
temptuous. John Wesley paid no attention
to such things. He just rocked along, as
Mrs. Pruett said.
It was the same when, one day in the
spring of 1864, Hildreth of Hall came riding
up the mountain driving a pair of handsome
horses to a top buggy. He wore a gray
uniform, and the coat had a long tail to it, â€”
a sure sign he was an officer of some kind,
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 365
for Jerd Pruett had seen just such coats worn
by the officers in the village below. To be
sure, there ought to have been some kind of
a mark on the sleeves or shoulders; but no
matter about that; nobody but officers could
wear long-tailed coats. That point was
settled without much argument.
And the buggy was new or had been
newly varnished, for the spokes shone in the
sun, and the sides of the body glistened like
glass. What of that? Well, a good deal,
you may be sure; for some people can put
two and two together as well as other people,
and the folks on the mountain had nâ€™t been
living for nothing. What of that, indeed!
Two fine horses and a shiny top-buggy meant
only one thing, and that was a wedding.
Everybody was sure of it but John Wesley
Millirons. When Mrs. Pruett twitted him with
this overwhelming evidence he had the same
old answer ready: â€œ You-all thess wait.â€
â€œ Well, we hainâ€™t got long to wait,â€ said
â€œYou reckon?â€ exclaimed John Wesley,
with pretended astonishment. Then he
chuckled and went on his way, apparently
happy and unconcerned.
3866 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
Hildreth of Hall remained in the neighbor-
hood about a week, and was with Loorany
Parmalee pretty much all the time, except
when he was asleep. They took long buggy
rides together, and everything seemed to be
getting along swimmingly. But one morn-
ing early Hildreth of Hall harnessed up his
horses with his own hands and went off down
the road leading to Clarksville.
It was noticed after that that Loorany was
not as gay and as spry as she had been. In
fact, the women folks could see that she was
not the same girl at all. She used to go and
sit in Mrs. Pruettâ€™s porch and watch the road,
and sometimes her mind would be so far
away that she would have to be asked the
same question twice before sheâ€™d make any
reply. And she had a way of sighing that
Mrs. Pruett didnâ€™t like at all. You know
how peculiar some people are when they are
fond of anybody. Well, that was the way
with Mrs. Pruett.
Nearly two months after Hildreth of Hall
went away with his two fine horses and his
shiny top-buggy, Tray Mountain got wind
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 3867
of some strange news. The word was that
conscript-officers were coming up after some
of the men, both old and young, who were of
the lawful age. The news was brought by
a son of Widow Purvis, Jerd Pruettâ€™s sister,
who lived within a mile of Clarksville. She
had gone to town with butter and eggs to
exchange for some factory thread â€” â€œ spun
truck â€ Mrs. Pruett called it â€” and she heard
it from old man Hathaway, who was a partic-
ular friend of Jerd Pruettâ€™s.
Word reached the mountain just in time,
too, for within thirty-six hours four horsemen
came riding along the road and stopped at
Mrs. Pruettâ€™s. And who should be leading -
them but Hildreth of Hall! Mrs. Pruett saw
this much when she peeped through a crack
in the door, and she was so taken aback that
you might have knocked her down with a
feather. But in an instant she was as mad
â€œHello, Mrs. Pruett!â€ says Hildreth of
Hall. â€œ Whereâ€™s Jerd?â€
â€œ And who may Jerd be?â€ inquired Mrs.
The young manâ€™s face fell at this, but he
said with a bold voice : â€”
368 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
â€œ Why, donâ€™t you know me, Mrs. Pruett?â€
â€œT mought â€™aâ€™ seed you before, but folks
is constant a-cominâ€™ anâ€™ a-gwine. They pass
up the road anâ€™ down the road anâ€™ then they
pass outâ€™n my mind.â€
â€œWell, you have nâ€™t forgotten me, I know;
Iâ€™m Hildreth of Hall.â€
â€œIs that so, now?â€ remarked Mrs. Pruett,
with just the faintest show of interest. â€œIt
"pears to me we hyearn you was dead. Whatâ€™s
your will and pleasure wiâ€™ me, Mr. Hall?â€
The unconscious air with which Mrs. Pru-
ett miscalled the young manâ€™s name was as
effectual as a blow. He lost his composure,
and turned almost helplessly to his compan-
ions. If he expected sympathy he missed it.
One of them laughed loudly and cried out to
the others: â€œWell have to call him Blow-
hard. Why, he declared by everything good
and bad that he was just as chummy with
these folks as their own kin. And now, right
at the _ beginning, they donâ€™t even know his
â€œWhereâ€™s your husband ?.â€ inquired Hil-
dreth of Hall. â€œIf he donâ€™t know me he
will before the day â€™s over.â€
â€œHe may know you better â€™n I do,â€ said
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 3869
Mrs. Pruett, â€œbut I hardly reckon he does,
bekaze Id mosâ€™ likely â€™aâ€™ hyearn on it.â€
â€œ Where is he?â€ insisted the young man.
â€œWho? my ole man? Oh, him anâ€™ a whole
passel of the boys took their guns anâ€™ went
off toâ€™ards Hillmanâ€™s spur bright anâ€™ early
this morninâ€™. They said signs of a bâ€™ar had
been seed thar, but I allowed to myseâ€™f that
they was thess a-gwine on a frolic.â€
Mrs. Pruett took off her spectacles, wiped
them on her apron, and readjusted them to
her head, smiling serenely all the while.
â€œWe may as well go to the Millironsâ€™,â€
remarked Hildreth of Hall.
â€œJ donâ€™t care where you go, so you donâ€™t
lead us into a trap,â€ remarked one of the
They turned away from Mrs. Pruettâ€™s and
rode farther into the settlement. But they
soon discovered that Tray Mountain had
practically closed its gates against them. The
women they saw were as grim and as silent
as the mountain. Hildreth of Hall had been
telling his companions what a lively place
(considering all the circumstances) Hatchâ€™s
Clearing was, and this added to his embar-
rassment and increased his irritation. So
370 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
that you may well believe he was neither gay
nor good-humored when, after passing several
houses, he came to Millironsâ€™, where he had
been in the habit of making himself free and
Everything was as grim and silent as the
grave, and John Wesley sat on the fence as
grim and as silent as any of the surroundings.
â€œThereâ€™s one man, anyway,â€ remarked
one of Hildrethâ€™s companions. â€œ Be blanked
if I donâ€™t feel like going up and shaking
hands with himâ€”that is, if heâ€™s alive.â€
For John Wesley neither turned his head nor
â€œHow are you, Millirons?â€ said Hildreth
of Hall curtly.
â€œPurty well,â€ replied John Wesley, with-
â€œWe are going to put our horses under
the shed yonder and give them a handful of
fodder,â€ Hildreth of Hall declared. John
Wesley made no reply to this. â€œDid you
hear what I said?â€ asked the young man,
â€œT hyearn you,â€ answered John Wesley.
Whereupon Hildreth of Hall spurred his
horse through the open lot gate, followed by
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 3871
his companions. They took off saddles and
bridles, made some halters out of plough
lines, and gave their horses a heavy feed of
fodder. Then they returned to the house,
and found John Wesley sitting where they
had left him, and in precisely the same posi-
â€œCan we get dinner?â€ asked Hildreth of
â€œT reckon not,â€ replied John Wesley.
â€œâ€˜ Nobody at home but me anâ€™ the tomcat,
anâ€™ weâ€™re locked out. Maybe you can git
dinner at Parmaleeâ€™s when the time comes.
They â€™re all at home. But it hainâ€™t nigh din-
ner time yit.â€ John Wesley slowly straight-
ened himself out and came off the fence with
an apologetic smile on his face. â€œHf these
gentermen here donâ€™t mind, Iâ€™d like to have
a word wiâ€™ you, sorter private like.â€ He
looked at Hildreth of Hall, still smiling.
For answer, Hildreth of Hall walked to a
mountain oak a hundred feet away, followed
by John Wesley. â€œWhat do you want?â€
â€œT sâ€™pose youâ€™ve come up to marry the
gal?â€ suggested John Wesley.
â€œJT have not,â€ replied Hildreth of Hall.
872 HE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
â€œT mean Loorany Parmalee,â€ said John
Wesley, pulling a small piece of bark from
â€œTt matters not to me who you mean,â€ re-
â€œT just wanted to find out,â€ John Wesley
went on, fitting the piece of bark between
thumb and forefinger as if it were a marble.
â€œT allers allowed you was a d dog.â€
The bark flew into the face of Hildreth of
Hall and left a stinging red mark there, as
John Wesley, with a contemptuous gesture,
Hildrethâ€™s hand flew to his hip pocket.
â€œ Watch out there!â€ cried one of his com-
panions in a warning tone. â€œHell shoot!â€
â€œT reckon not,â€™ said John Wesley, without
turning his head. â€œ The fact of the business
is, gentermen, they wonâ€™t narry one on you
foller a sheep-killinâ€™ hounâ€™ to the pastur, anâ€™
a bench-legged fice can run â€™im. You-all
may nâ€™t believe it, but itâ€™s the fact-truth.â€
But John Wesley would have been shot
all the same if the thought had nâ€™t flashed
on Hildrethâ€™s mind that the house was full
of armed mountaineers. This stayed his
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 3873
hand â€” not only stayed his hand, but, appar-
ently, put him in a good humor. He fol-
lowed John Wesley and said : â€”
â€œ As you are so brash about it, we â€™Il go
and see the young lady. Come on, boys.â€
â€œWhat about the horses?â€ asked one of
â€œCome on,â€ said Hildreth of Hall in a
low voice.â€™ â€œ The horses are all right. These
chaps donâ€™t steal. Come on; that house is
full of men.â€
â€œT told you you were leading us into a
trap,â€ growled one of his companions; â€œand
here we are.â€
When they were out of sight, John Wes-
ley went into the lot and looked at the horses.
He was so much interested in their comfort
that he loosed their halters. Then he cast a
glance upwards and chuckled. A waspsâ€™
nest as big as a manâ€™s hat was hanging be-
tween two of the rafters, teeming with these
irritable insects. John Wesley went outside,
climbed up to the top of the shed, counted
the clapboards both ways, planted himself
above the waspsâ€™ nest, and with one quick
stamp of the foot knocked a hole in the rot-
ten plank. The noise startled the horses,
3874 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
the wasps swarmed down on them, and the
next instant they were going down the road
the way they had come, squealing, whicker-
ing, kicking, and running like mad.
When they were out of hearing John Wes-
ley went into the house by a back door, got
his rifle, and went off through the woods.
Hildreth of Hall and his companions must
have had a cool reception at Parmaleeâ€™s, for
in about an hour they came back in some
haste. If they were alarmed, that feeling
was increased tenfold at finding their horses
gone. Their saddles and bridles were where
they had left them, but the horses were gone.
They held a hurried consultation in the lot,
climbed the fence instead of coming out near
the house, skirted through the woods, and
entered the road near Mrs. Pruettâ€™s, moving
as rapidly as men can who are not running.
A half-mile farther down, the road turned to
the left and led through a ravine. _
On one bank, hid by the bushes, John
Wesley sat with his rifle across his lap, lost
in meditation. Occasionally he plucked a
rotten twig and crumbled it in his fingers.
After a while he heard voices. He raised
himself on his right knee and placed his left
THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY 375
foot forward as an additional support. Then
he raised his gun, struck the stock lightly â€”
with the palm of his hand to shake the
powder down, and held himself in readiness.
When the men came in sight Hildreth of
Hall was slightly in advance of the others.
John Wesley slowly raised his rifle and
was about to bring the barrel to a level with
his eyes when he saw a flash of fire on the
opposite bank, and heard the sharp crack of
a rifle. He was so taken by surprise that he
raised himself in the bushes and looked about
him. Hildreth of Hall had tumbled forward
in a heap at the flash, and the other men
jumped over his body and ran lke rabbits.
Before the hatful of smoke had lifted to the
level of the tree-tops they. were out of hear-
John Wesley crossed the road and went to
the other side. There he saw Loorany Parma-
lee leaning against a tree, breathing hard.
At her feet lay a rifle.
â€œYou spâ€™iled my game,â€ he remarked.
â€œTs he dead?â€ she asked.
â€œ Hen about,â€ he replied. She threw her
head back and breathed hard. John Wesley
picked up the rifle and examined it.
376 THE CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY
â€œWas you gwine to kill him?â€ Loorany
â€œWell, sorter that away, I reckon.â€
â€œDid you have the notion that Iâ€™d marry
you atterwards ?â€
â€œT waâ€™nâ€™t a-gwine to ax you,â€ said John
â€œ Will you take me now, jest as I am?â€
â€œ Why, I reckon,â€ he replied, in a matter-
So they went home and left other people
to look after Hildreth of Hall.
In course of time a boy was born to Loo-
rany Millirons, and the event made her hus-
band a widower, but the child was never
known by any other name than that of Toog
Parmalee â€” and Toog was the chap that shot
his sweetheart. a5
All these things, as Mrs. Pruett said, were
the cause of the difficulty you read about in
the newspapers the other day. â€œ Thribble
the generations,â€ she added, â€œ anâ€™ sinâ€™s arm
is long enough to retch through â€™em all.â€
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
RockvitLE ought to have been a har
monious community if there ever was one.
The same families had been living there for
generations, and they had intermarried un-
til everybody was everybody elseâ€™s cousin.
Those who were no kin at all called one an-
other cousin in public,â€” such is the force
of example and habit. Little children play-
ing with other children would hear them call
one another cousin, and so the habit grew
until even the few newcomers who took up
their abode in Rockville speedily became
There were different degrees of prosperity
in the village before and during the war, but
everybody was comfortably well off, so that
there was no necessity for drawing social dis-
tinctions. Those who were comparatively
poor boasted of good blood, and they made
as nice cousins as those who were richer.
3878 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS '
When the editor of the â€œ Vade Mecumâ€
wished to impress on his subscribers the ne-
cessity of settling their accounts, he prefaced
his remarks with this statement: â€œ We are a
homogeneous people. We are united. What
is the interest of one is the interest of all.
We must continue to preserve our harmony.â€
But envy knows no race or clime, and it
had taken up its abode among the cousins of
Rockville. It was not even rooted out by the
disastrous results of the war, which tended
to bring each and every cousin down to the
same level of hopeless poverty. When, there-
fore, Colonel Asbury announced in the streets
that his wife had concluded to take boarders,
and caused to be inserted in the â€œ Vade Me-
cumâ€ a notice to the effect that â€œa few select
partiesâ€ could find accommodations at The
Cedars, there were a good many smothered
exclamations of affected surprise among the
cousins, with no little secret satisfaction that
â€œCousin Becky T.â€™â€™ had at last been com-
pelled to â€œget off her high, horse,â€ â€” to
employ the vernacular of Rockville.
Such an announcement was certainly the
next thing to a crash in the social fabric,
and while some of the cousins were secretly
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 3879
pleased, there were others who shook their
heads in sorrow, feeling that a deep and last-
ing humiliation had been visited on the com-
munity. For if ever a human being was
seized and possessed by pride of family and
position, that person was Cousin Becky T.
Her pride was reÃ©nforced by a will as firm,
and an individuality as strong, as ever wo-
man had; and these characteristics were so
marked that she was never known among her
acquaintances as Mrs. Asbury, but always as
Rebecca Tumlin or â€œCousin Rebecca T.â€
The colonel himself invariably referred to
her, even in his most hilarious moments, as
Rebecca Tumlin. Times were hard indeed
when this gentlewoman could be induced to
throw open to boarders the fine old mansion,
with its massive white pillars standing out
against a background of red brick.
The colonel had three plantations, â€” one
near Rockville, one in the low country, and
one in the Cherokee region; but in 1868
these possessions were a burden to him to
the extent of the taxes he was compelled to
pay. There was no market for agricultural
lands. The value they might have had was
swallowed up in the poverty and depression
380 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
that enveloped everything in the region
where war had dropped its litter of furies.
Colonel Asbury might have practiced law:
he did practice it, in fact; but it was like
building a windmill over a dry well.
Cousin Rebecca Tumlin finally solved the
problem by announcing that she purposed to
take boarders. No one ever knew what it
cost her to make that announcement. Envi-
ous people suspected the nature of the strug-
gle through which she passed,â€” the hard
and bitter struggle between pride and neces:
sity, â€” and some of them predicted it would
do her good. The colonel, who was proud
after his own fashion, and also sympathetic,
was shocked at first and then grieved. But
he made no remark. Comment was unneces-
sary. He walked back and forth on the
colonnade, and measured many a mile before
his agitation. was allayed. More than once
he went down the long graveled avenue, and
turned and gazed fondly at the perspective
that carried the eye to the fine old house.
It seemed as if he were bidding farewell to
the beauty and glory of it all. But he made
no complaint. When he grew tired of walk-
ing, he went in with the intention of â€˜taking
THE BABY'â€™S CHRISTMAS 381
down some family pictures that adorned the
walls of the wide hall. But his wife had
forestalled him. The house, by a few deft
changes, had been made as cheerless as the
most fastidious boarder could wish.
And so the word went round that Cousin
Rebecca Tumlin would be pleased to take
boarders. The response was all that she
could have desired. The young men â€”the
bachelor storekeepers and their clerks â€” de-
serted the rickety old tavern and the smaller
â€˜ boarding-houses, and took up their abode at
The Cedars, and soon the house was gay with
a company that was profitable if not pleasant.
The advent of boardersâ€”some of them
transient traveling -men â€” opened a new
world for Mary Asbury, Cousin Rebecca
Tumlinâ€™s daughter, and she made the most
of it. She followed the example of her fa-
ther, the colonel, and made herself agreeable
to the young men. She made herself espe-
cially agreeable to Laban Pierson, the young
conductor of the daily train on the little
branch railroad that connected Rockville
with the outside world. Cousin Rebecca T.
held herself severely aloof from her boarders,
but her attitude was so serene and graceful,
382 THE BABY'â€™S CHRISTMAS
so evidently the natural and correct thing,
that it caused no ill-natured comment. Mary
was sixteen, and when she sat at the head of
the table, her mother was not missed. The
young girlâ€™s manners were a rare combina-
tion of sweetness, grace, and dignity. She
was affable, she was thoughtful, and she had
a fair share of her fatherâ€™s humor. Above
all, she was beautiful. Naturally, therefore,
while her mother nursed her pride, and
counted the money, Mary beamed on the
boarders, and her father drew upon his vast
fund of anecdote for their instruction and
Laban Pierson was not a very brilliant
young man, but he was fairly good-looking,
and he knew how to make himself agreeable.
His train arrived at Rockville at half-past two
in the afternoon, and left at five oâ€™clock in
the morning, so that he had plenty of time to
make himself agreeable to Miss Mary Asbury,
and he did so with only a vague notion of
what the end would be. Mary made herself
agreeable to Laban simply because it was her
nature to be pleasant to everybody. As for
any other reason, â€” why, the idea of such a
thing! If young Pierson had told himself
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 883
that he was courting Mary Asbury, he would
have blushed with alarm. Perhaps he would
have left The Cedars and gone to the old
tavern again. Who knows? Young men
will do very desperate things at certain
stages of their checkered careers.
It was the old story with its own particular
variations. Mary loved Laban, and was too
shy to know what she was about. Laban
loved Mary, and never discovered it until the
disease had become epidemic in his system,
and spread over his heart and mind in every
direction. Neither one of them discovered
it. It was a beautiful dream, too good to be
true, too sweet to last. Finally the discovery
was made by old Aunt Mimy, the cook, who
had never seen Mary and Laban together.
The affair, if it can be called by so imposing
a name, had been going on a year or more,
and Mary was past seventeen, when one after-
noon the train failed to arrive on time. The
afternoon wore into evening, and still the
train did not come. Mary had the habit of
sitting in the kitchen with Aunt Mimy when
anything troubled her, and on this particular
afternoon, after waiting an hour for the train,
she went to her old seat near the window.
384 THE BABYâ€™S: CHRISTMAS
Aunt Mimy was beating biscuit. Mary
looked out of the window toward the depot.
â€œTrain ainâ€™t come yit, is she, honey?â€
asked Aunt Mimy.
â€œNo, not yet,â€ replied Mary. â€œWhat can
be the matter ?â€ .
â€œRun off de trussle, I speck,â€ said Aunt
â€œO mammy!â€ cried Mary, starting to her
feet ; â€œdo you really think so? What have
you heard ? â€
The girl stood with one hand against her
bosom, her face pale, and her nether lip trem-
bling. Aunt Mimy regarded her with aston-
ishment for a moment, and then the shrewd
old negro jumped to a conclusion. She paused
with her arm uplifted.
â€œTs yoâ€™ ma on dat train? Is yoâ€™ pa on
dat train? What de name er de Lord you
got ter do wid dat train?â€ -
She brought the beater down on the pliant
dough with a resounding thwack. Mary hid
her face in her hands. After a little she
went out, leavmg Aunt Mimy mumbling and
talking to herself.
The cook lost no time in relating this inci-
dent to Cousin Rebecca T., and that lady lost
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 885
just as little in making plain to her daughter
the folly and futility of interesting herself
in such a person as the young conductor.
Cousin Rebecca T. gave Mary a brief but
picturesque biography of Laban Pierson.
His family belonged to the poor white trash
before the war, and he was no_ better.
Muddy well, muddy water. He had been a
train-hand, a brakeman, baggage-master, and
what not. The colonel was called in to ver-
ify these biographical details.
Maryâ€™s reply to it all was characteristic.
â€™ She listened and smiled, and tossed her head.
â€œWhat do J care about Laban Pierson ?
What have J to do with his affairs? Ought
Ito have jumped for joy when mammy told
me the train had dropped through the tres-
The colonel accepted this logic without
question, but Cousin Rebecca T. saw through
it. She was a woman, and had a natural
contempt for logic, especially a womanâ€™s
logic. She simply realized that she had
made a mistake. She had gone about the
matter in the wrong way. As for Mary, she
had found out her own secret. She hard-
ened her heart against Aunt Mimy, and when
3886 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
the old woman sought an explanation, it was
â€œYou got me into trouble,â€ said Mary ;
â€œyou wonâ€™t get me into any more if I can
help it.â€™ Aunt Mimy grieved over the situ-
ation to such an extent that she made her-
self disagreeable to everybody, especially to
Cousin Rebecca T. She broke dishes, she
burned the waffles, she flung the dish-water
into the yard, and for a day or two she
whipped the little negroes every time she got
her hands on them.
Cousin Rebecca T. did not let the matter
drop, as she might have done. The colonel
used to tell his intimate friends that his wife
had a fearful amount of misdirected energy,
and the results that it wrought in this par-
ticular instance justified the colonelâ€™s descrip-
tion. Cousin Rebecca T. went straight to
young Laban Pierson, and gave him to under-
stand, without circumlocution or mincing of
words, what she thought of any possible no-
tion he had or might have of uniting his for-
tunes with those of her daughter. As might
have been expected, Laban was. thunder-
struck. He blushed violently, turned pale,
stammered, and, in short, acted just as any
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 387.
other young fellow would act when con-
fronted with his own secret thoughts and de-
sires, hardly acknowledged even to himself.
To Cousin Rebecca T. all this was in the
nature of a confession of guilt, and she con-
gratulated herself on the promptness with
which she had put an end to the whole mis-
erable business. As a matter of fact, she did
what many another hasty-tempered woman
has done before her; she kindled into flame
a spark that might have expired if let alone.
Young Mr. Pierson promptly took himself
away from The Cedars, and it was not until
after he was gone that the other guests dis-
covered what an interesting companion he
was at table and on the wide veranda. They
began to talk about him and to discuss his
good qualities. He was a clean, manly,
bright, industrious, genial, generous young
fellow. This was the verdict. The colonel,
missing the cigars that Laban was in the
habit of bringing him, and resenting the sit-
uation (inflamed, perhaps, by a little too much
toddy), went further, and said that in the
whole course of his career, sir, he had never
seen a finer young man, sir. So that in spite
of the fact that Laban sat at the table no
longer, he was more in evidence than ever.
388 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
Affairs went on without a break or a
ripple. Occasionally Mary would walk in
the direction of the depot in the afternoon,
and whenever she saw Laban she made ita
point to bow to him, and this salutation he
always returned with marked emphasis. But
Mary was not happy. She no longer went
singing through the house. She was cheer-
ful, but not in the old fashion. No one no-
ticed the change but old Aunt Mimy, and
perhaps she would have been blind to it if
her conscience had not hurt her. The old
womanâ€™s conscience was not specially active
or sensitive, but her affections were set on
Mary, and for many long weeks the girl had
hardly deigned to speak to her. Conscience
lives next door to the affections. Aunt Mimy
rebelled against hers for a long time, but at
last it roused her to action.
One afternoon, when dinner had _ been
cleared away, she filled her pipe, adjusted
her head-kerchief, and sallied out in the di-
rection of the depot. The wheezy old loco-
motive was engaged in shifting the cars
about, and Conductor Pierson was assisting
the brakeman. Aunt Mimy seated herself
on the depot platform, smoked her pipe, and
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 889
patiently â€˜waited till the shunting was over.
Then she placed herself in Piersonâ€™s way.
He seemed to be preoccupied, but the old
woman did not stand on ceremony.
â€œLook like our victuals waâ€™nâ€™t good â€™nough
fer you,â€ she said bluntly.
â€œ Why, this is Aunt Mimy!â€ He shook
hands with her, and asked about her health,
and this pleased her very much. He asked
about the family, and especially about Miss
Mary. When it came to this, Aunt Mimy
took her pipe out of her mouth, drew a long
breath, and shook her head. She could have
given points on the art of pantomime to any
strolling company of players. The whole his-
tory of the sad case of Mary Asbury was in
the lift of her eyebrows, the motions of her
head, and in her sorrowful sigh; and Con-
ductor Pierson seemed to be able to read a
part of it, for he asked Aunt Mimy into the
passenger-coach, and there the two sat and
talked until it was time for Aunt Mimy to go
home and see about supper.
That night, as Aunt Mimy sat on the
kitchen steps smoking her pipe and resting
herself, preparatory to going to bed, she saw
Mary sitting at her room window looking out
390 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
into the moonlight. It was not a very beau-
tiful scene that fell under the young girlâ€™s
eye. There was nothing romantic or pictur-
esque in the view of the back yard, with the
kitchen and the comical figure of the fat old
cook in the foreground: but when a young
girl is in love, it is wonderful what a mellow-
ing influence the moonlight has on the most
forbidding scene. It pushes the shadows
into strange places, and softens and subdues
all that is angular and ugly. Take the moon
out of our scheme, and a good deal of our
poetry and romance would vanish with it,
and even true love would take on a prosiness
that it does not now possess.
Aunt Mimy looked at Mary, and felt sorry
for her. Mary looked at Aunt Mimy, and
felt that she would be glad to be able to
despise the old negro if she could. Aunt
Mimy spoke to her presently in a subdued,
â€œTs dat you, honey?â€
â€œ Better fling on yoâ€™ capeâ€ â€”
â€œTâ€™m not cold.â€
â€œ Anâ€™ come down here anâ€™ talk wid me.â€
â€œT donâ€™t feel like talking.â€
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS â€” 391
â€œBeen long time sence you felt like talkinâ€™
wid me. Well, dem dat donâ€™t talk donâ€™t
never hear tell.â€
She pulled from somewhere under her
apron something white and oblong, dropped
it on the ground purposely, picked it up, and
put it back under her apron. Then she
said : â€”
â€œGood-night, honey! I ainâ€™t -tellinâ€™ you
good-night des fer myseâ€™f.â€
Aunt Mimyâ€™s tone was charged with infor-
mation. Mary vanished from the window,
and came tripping out to the kitchen. Then
followed a whispered conversation between
the cook and the young lady. At something
or other that Aunt Mimy said to her â€”
some quaint comment, or maybe a happy
piece of intelligence â€” Mary laughed loudly.
The sound of it reached the ears of Cousin
Rebecca T., who was playing whist. The
colonel was dealing. She slipped away from
the table, peeped through the blinds of the
dining-room, and was just in time to see Aunt
Mimy hand Mary something that had the
appearance of a letter.. She returned to the
whist-table, revoked on the first round, and
trumped her partnerâ€™s trick on the second.
892 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
Such a thing had never been heard of before.
Her partner shook his head, and buried his.
face in his cards. Her husband regarded
her with amazement. She made no excuse
or explanation, but in the next two hands
more than made up in brilliant play for the
advantage she had lost.
Meanwhile Mary was reading the letter
that Laban Pierson had sent her. It was a
frank, manly declaration of his love expressed
in plain and simple language. He had writ-
ten, he said, on the impulse of the moment,
but he did not propose to engage in-a clan-
destine correspondence. He did not invite
or expect a reply, but would always â€” ah,
well, the formula was the same old one that
we are all familiar with.
Mary placed the letter where she could
feel her heart beat against it, and went to
bed happy, and was soon dreaming about
Laban Pierson. Cousin Rebecca T. played
whist fiercely and won continuously. After
the game was over, she went upstairs, stirred
a stiff toddy for the colonel, and put him to
bed. Then she went into her daughterâ€™s
room, shading the lamp with her hand so
that the light would not arouse Innocence
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 893
from its happy dreams. She moved as noise-
lessly as Lady Macbeth moves in the play,
though not with the same intent. She
searched everywhere for the letter, and at
last found it where a more feminine woman
would have hunted for it at first. One cor-
ner of this human document was peeping
modestly forth from the virgin bosom of In-
nocence. Deftly, gently, even lovingly,
Cousin Rebecca T. lifted the letter from its
warm and shy covert.
It was a very simple thing to do, but there
were hours and days and years when Cousin
Rebecca T. would have given all her posses-
sions to have left the letter nestling in her
daughterâ€™s bosom ; for, in lifting it out, Inno-
cence was aroused from its sleep and caught
Experience in the very act of making a fool
of itself. Mary opened her wondering eyes,
and found her mother with Labanâ€™s letter in
her hand. The young lady sat bolt upright
in bed. Cousin Rebecca T. was imwardly
startled, but outwardly she was as calm as the
moonlight that threw its slanting shadows
â€œ T donâ€™t wonder that you blush,â€ she cried,
holding up the letter.
394 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
â€œDo you think I am blushing for my-
self ?â€ asked Mary.
â€œTf you know what shame is, you ought
to feel it now,â€ exclaimed her mother.
â€œT doâ€”TI do,â€ said Mary, with rising
indignation. â€œ After to-night I shall always
be ashamed of myself and of my family.â€
Cousin Rebecca T., stung by the tone and
by this first sign of rebellion, turned upon
her daughter; but her anger quickly died
away, for she saw in her daughterâ€™s eyes her
own courage and her own unconquerable
The scene did not end there, but the rest
of it need not be described here. Innocence
has as long a tongue as Experience when it
feels itself wronged, and the result of this
family quarrel was that Innocence went far-
ther than Experience would have dared to
go. When Laban Piersonâ€™s train went puff-
ing out of Rockville at five oâ€™clock the next
morning, it carried among its few passengers
Miss Mary Asbury and old Aunt Mimy. The
colonel and Cousin Rebecca T. lost a daugh-
ter, and their boarders had to wait a long
time for their breakfast or go without.
The next number of the â€œ Vade Mecumâ€
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 895
had a beautifully written account of the mar-
riage of Mary Asbury to Laban Pierson, un-
der the double heading
Love Lavueus at Locksmrrus
A LOCAL ROMANCE WITH A HAPPY ENDING
Cousin Rebecca T. turned up her nose at .
the newspaper account, but the colonel cut it
out and hid it away in his large morocco
pocket-book. That night, after he had
taken his toddy and was'sound asleep, Cousin
Rebecca T. took the clipping from its hiding-
place, and read it over carefully. Then she
put out the light, and sat by the window and
cried until far into the night. But she cried
so softly that a little bird, sitting on its nest
in the honeysuckle vine not two feet away
from the ladyâ€™s grief, did not take its head
from under its wing.
This was at the beginning of 1870, and
about this time Colonel Asburyâ€™s fortunes
took a decided turn for the better. During
the war, in a spirit of speculative reckless-
ness, he had invested thirty thousand dollars
in Confederate money in ten thousand acres
396 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
of land in Texas. He thought so little of the
investment then, and afterwards, that he did
not take the trouble to pay the taxes. But
the purchase of the land was a fortunate
stroke for the colonel. In 1870 land-values
in Texas were not what they were in Georgia.
That vast southwestern empire (as the phrase
goes) was just beginning to attract the atten-
tion of Northern and foreign capital. Rail-
way promoters, British land syndicates, and
native boomers, were combining to develop
the material resources of the wonderful State.
In the early part of 1870, a powerful com-
bination of railway promoters determined to
build a line straight through the colonelâ€™s
Texan possessions. His land there increased
in value to thirty dollars, and then to forty
dollars, an acre, at which figure the colonel
was induced to part with his titles. Cousin
Rebecca Tumlin thus found herself to be
the wife of a very rich man, and her pride at
last found something substantial to cling to.
The Cedars ceased to be a boarding-house.
The old family pictures were brought down
from the garret, dusted, and hung in their ac-
customed places. Great improvements were
made in the place, and Cousin Rebecca and
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 389T
the colonel sat down to enjoy life as they
thought it ought to be enjoyed. .
But something was lacking. Life did not
run as pleasantly as before. The dollar that
brings content is at such a high premium
among the nations of the earth that it can
never be made the standard of value. That
dollar was not among the four hundred thou-
sand dollars the colonel received for his Texan
lands. The old style did not fit the new times.
The colonelâ€™s old friends did not fall away
from him, but they were less friendly and
more obsequious. His daughter did not come
forward to ask his forgiveness and his blessing.
Something was wrong somewhere. â€˜The colo-
nel and Cousin Rebecca Tumlin fretted a
good deal, and finally concluded to move to
Atlanta. So they closed their house in Rock-
ville, and built a mansion in Peachtree Street
in the city whose name has come to be iden-
tified with: all that is progressive in the
The building is on the left as you go out
Peachtree. You canâ€™t mistake it. It is a
queer mixture of summer cottage and feudal
castle, with a great deal of fussy detail that
bewilders the eye, and a serene stretch of
398 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
roof broken by a delirious display of scroll-
work. It is Rebecca Tumlin all over; pride
â€”pride nailed to the grim walls, and vexa-
tion of spirit worked into the ornamentation.
Yet it isa house that easily catches the eye.
It is on a little elevation, and it has about it
a: certain suggestion of individuality. On
the dome of the middle gable a smart and
business-like dragon upholds the weather-vane
with his curled and gilded tail.
The colonel prospered steadily. He was
regarded as one of the most successful busi-
ness men and financiers the South has ever
produced. It is no wonder the Bible parable
gives money the name of â€œtalent.â€ It is a
talent. Give it half a chance, and it is the
most active talent that man possesses. It is
always in a state of fermentation; it grows;
it accumulates. At any rate, the colonel
_ thought so. His capital carried him into the
inner circles of investment and speculation,
and he found himself growing richer and
richer, only vaguely realizing how the result
was brought about.
The receptions at the Asbury mansion were
conceded to be the most fashionable that At-
lanta had ever seen ; for along in the seventies
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 399
Atlanta was merely experimenting with the
social instinct. The â€œsmart setâ€ had no
kind of organization. Society was engaged
in disentangling itself from the furious busi-
ness energy that has made Atlanta the best-
known city in the South. It was at this
juncture that Cousin Rebecca T., with her
money, her taste, and her ambition to lead,
appeared on the scene. She had all the re-
quisites of a leader. Pride is a quickening
quality, and it had made of Cousin Rebecca
T. a most accomplished woman. There was
something attractive and refreshing about her
strong individuality. There was a simplicity
about her methods that commended her to
the social experimenters, who stood in great
awe of forms and conventions.
Naturally, therefore, the Asbury mansion
was the social centre. The younger set gath-
ered there to be gay, and the married peo-
ple went there to meet their friends. But
many and many a night after the lights
were out in the parlors, and the gas was
turned low in the hall, Cousin Rebecca T.
and the colonel sat and thought about their
daughter Mary, each refraining from men-
tioning her name to the other, â€” the colonel
400 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS -
because he was afraid of irritating his wife,
and Cousin Rebecca T. because she was
afraid of exhibiting any weakness before her
husband. Each, unknown to the other, had
set on foot inquiries in regard to the where-
abouts of Mary, and the fact that the in-
quiries elicited no response and no informa-
tion gave the two old people a more valid
excuse for misery than they had ever known.
The trouble was that their inquiries had
begun too late. For a few months after her
marriage the colonel had kept himself in-
formed about his daughter. He expected
her to write to him. He had a vague and
unformed notion that in due season Mary
would return and ask her motherâ€™s forgive-
ness, and then, if Cousin Rebecca T. showed
any hardness of heart, he proposed to put
his foot down, and show her that he was not
a cipher in the family. The mother, for her
part, fully expected that some day when she
was going about the house, neither doing
nor thinking of anything in particular, her
daughter would rush suddenly in upon her
and tell her between laughter and tears that
there was no happiness away from home.
Cousin Rebecca T. had her part all pre-
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 401
pared. She would frown at first, and then
throw her arms around Mary, and tell her
what a naughty girl she had been.
But all this mental preparation was in vain.
Weeks, months, and years passed by, but
Mary never came. When the colonel and
Cousin Rebecca T. woke up to their new
prosperity, they were very busily engaged for
some time in fitting themselves to it. It was
during this period that Mary and her hus-
band disappeared. The colonel heard in a
vague way that Laban Pierson had moved to
Atlanta, and that from Atlanta he had gone
out West. All the rest was mystery.
But it was no mystery to Laban and Mary.
For a little while their affairs went along
comfortably. Laban became the conductor
of a passenger-train on the main line of the
Central of Georgia. Then he moved to At-
lanta. Afterward he accepted a position on
the Louisville and Nashville Railway, and
there had the misfortune to lose a leg in a
collision. This was the beginning of troubles
that seemed to pursue Laban and Mary. Pov-
erty laid its grim hand upon them at every
turn. Mary did the best she could. She
was indeed a helpmate and a comforter ; she
402 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
was brave and hopeful; yet she would have
given up in despair but for old Aunt Mimy,
who worked and slaved that her young mis-
tress might be spared the bitterest pangs of
poverty. Her faithfulness was without bound-
ary or limit. Day and night she toiled, cook-
ing, washing, and taking care of the toddling
baby that had come to share the troubles of
Laban and Mary. As soon as Laban could
get about on his crutches, he tried to find
work; but his efforts were fruitless. The
time came when he was ready to say to his
wife that he could do no more.
Finally the little family drifted back to
Atlanta. Here Laban found. employment in
a small way as a solicitor of life insurance.
He was doing so well in this business that
a rival company sought his services, offering
to pay a fixed salary instead of commissions.
But no sooner had he given notice to his
employers that he intended to accept the new
position than a complication arose in his ac-
counts. How it happened Laban never knew;
he was as innocent as a lamb. The company
was a new one, trying to establish a busi-
ness in the Atlanta territory, and out of the
funds he collected he used money to. pay
THE BABY'â€™S CHRISTMAS 403
expenses incurred in the companyâ€™s behalf.
His vouchers showed it all; he had been
careful to put down everything, even to the
cost of a postal card. He turned over these
vouchers and accounts to his employers. But
when it was found that he had entered the
service of a rival company, the charge of
embezzlement was made against him. He
found it impossible to give bonds, and was
compelled to go to jail. A young lawyer
took his case, and was sure he could clear
him when the case came to trial. But mean-
while Laban was in jail, and to Mary this
was the end of all things; for a time she
was utterly prostrated. She refused to eat
or sleep, but sat holding her child to her
bosom, and crying over it. This went on
for so long a time that Aunt Mimy thought
it best to interfere. So she took the two-
year-old child from its mother, and made
some characteristic observations.
â€œYou ainâ€™t gwine ter git Marse Laban
outâ€™n jail by settinâ€™ dar cryin,â€™ honey. Bet-
ter git mad anâ€™ stir rounâ€™, anâ€™ hurt some-
bodyâ€™s feelinâ€™s. Make you feelâ€™ lots better,
kaze I done tried it.â€
â€œOQ mammy! mammy!â€ moaned Mary.
404 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
â€œDay atter ter-morrer â€˜ll be Chrisâ€™mus,â€
Aunt Mimy continued, â€œanâ€™ Marse Laban
got ter be here ter dinner. Dey ainâ€™t no two
ways *bout dat.â€
â€œOh, what a Christmas!â€ cried Mary.
â€œYes â€™m; anâ€™ de cake done baked. Donâ€™t
you fret, honey! De Lord ainâ€™t fur fom
whar folks is in trouble. I done notice dat.
He may nâ€™t be right dar in de nexâ€™ room, anâ€™
maybe he ainâ€™t right rounâ€™ de cornder, but
he ainâ€™t so mighty fur off. Now, I tell you
Whereupon Aunt Mimy, carrying the child,
went out of the house into the street, and
was so disturbed in mind that she walked on
and on with no thought of the distance. |
After a while she found herself on Peachtree
Street, where the babyâ€™s attention was at-
tracted by the jingling bells of the street-car
horses. In front of one of the large man-
sions a fine carriage was standing. On the
veranda a lady stood drawing on her gloves
and giving some parting orders to a servant
in the hall. Aunt Mimy knew at once that
the lady was her old mistress. But she
turned to the negro coachman, who sat on
the box stiff and stolid in all the grandeur of
a long coat and brass buttons.
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 405
â€œâ€˜ Who liveâ€™ here?â€ she asked.
â€œ Cun-nol Asbeâ€™y,â€ the coachman replied.
â€œ Ainâ€™t dat Becky Tumlin yonder?â€ in-
quired Aunt Mimy, with some asperity.
â€œNo, maâ€™am; dat is Missus Cun-nol As+
â€œ â€˜Well, de Lord heâ€™p my soul! â€ exclaimed
Then she turned and went back home as
fast as she could, talking to herself and the
child. Once she looked back, but Cousin
Rebecca T. was sitting grandly in the car-
riage, and the carriage was going rapidly to-
ward the business portion of the city. Cousin
Rebecca T. bowed right and left to her ac-
quaintances and smiled pleasantly as the car-
riage rolled along. She bowed and smiled,
but she was thinking about her daughter.
Aunt Mimy hurried home as fast as she
could go. She had intended at first to tell
Mary of her discovery, but she thought bet-
ter of it. She had another plan.
â€œYou see me gwine â€˜long here?â€ she said,
as much to herself as to the baby. â€œ Well, ef
I donâ€™t fix dat ar white oman you kin put
me in de calaboose.â€ She stood at the gate
of the house Laban had rented, and com-
406 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
pared its appearance with the magnificence
of the mansion she had just left. The con-
trast was so startling that all the comment
she could make was, â€œDe Lord heâ€™p my
soul!â€ She took the child in, got its play-
things, and then went about her business
more briskly than she had gone in many a
day. If Mary had not been so deeply en-
gaged in contemplating her troubles, she
would have discovered at once that some-
thing unusual had occurred. Aunt Mimy was
agitated. Her mind was not in her work.
She drew a bucket of water from the well
when she intended to get wood for the little
stove. Occasionally she would pause in her
work and stand lost in thought. At last
Mary remarked her agitation.
â€œWhat is the matter, mammy ?â€ she asked.
â€œSomething has happened.â€
â€œAh, Lord, honey! â€™T ainâ€™t happenâ€™ yit,
but itâ€™s gwine ter happen.â€
â€œWell,â€ said Mary, shaking her head, â€œ let
it happen. Nothing can hurt me. The worst
has already happened.â€
Aunt Mimy made no audible comment, but
went about mumbling and talking to herself.
Mary sat rocking and moaning, and the little
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS . 407
child made the most of the situation by tod-
dling from room to room, getting into all
sorts of mischief without let or hindrance.
After a while Aunt Mimy asked : â€”
â€œHoney, donâ€™t you know whar yoâ€™ pa anâ€™
â€œYes,â€ said Mary languidly ; â€œthey live
â€œ Right here in dis town ?â€
â€œ Wharâ€™ bouts ?â€
â€œOh, donâ€™t worry me, mammy! I donâ€™t
know. They care nothing for me. See how
they have treated Laban !â€
â€œWhy nâ€™t you hunt â€™em up, anâ€™ tell â€™em
what kinder fix you in? I bounâ€™ dey â€™d heâ€™p
you out.â€ Mary gazed at Aunt Mimy with
open-eyed wonder. â€œâ€˜ Write a letter ter yoâ€™
ma. Hereâ€™s whatâ€™ll take it. Jâ€™ll finâ€™ out
whar she live at.â€
Mary rose from her chair and took a step
toward Aunt Mimy, not in anger, but by way
â€œ Mammy,â€ she cried, â€œ donâ€™t speak of such
â€œHumph!â€ Aunt Mimy grunted; â€œef
you ainâ€™t de veâ€™y spiâ€™t anâ€™ image er Becky
408 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
Tumlin, Iâ€™m a saddle-hoss. Proud! con-
sated! Dat ainâ€™t no name fer it. De nigger
man what I got now ainâ€™t much, but ef he
wuz in jail Iâ€™d be trottinâ€™ rounâ€™ right now
tryinâ€™ ter git â€™im out.â€
The next morning Aunt Mimy was up be- -
times. She cooked breakfast, and after that
meal was over (it need not have been pre-
pared so far as Mary was concerned), she |
dressed the baby in some of its commonest
clothes, and put on its feet a pair of shoes
that were worn at the toes. This done, she
took the lively youngster in her arms and
â€œ â€˜Where are you going?â€ Mary asked.
â€œBaby gwine ter walk,â€ Aunt Mimy an-
â€œâ€˜ Not in those clothes !â€™â€™ Mary protested.
â€œNow, honey,â€ exclaimed Aunt Mimy,
â€œdoes you speck I ainâ€™t got no better sense
dan ter rig dis baby out, anâ€™ his pa down
yonder in de dungeons ?â€
â€œ Oh, what shall I do?â€ cried Mary, for-
getting everything else but her own misery
and her husbandâ€™s disgrace.
â€œStay right here, honey, tell I come back.
T wonâ€™t be gone so mighty long. Den you
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 409
kin take dis precious baby down ter see
The day was clear and bright, and although
it was Christmas, the soft breezes and the in-
vigorating sunshine had the flavor and quality
of spring. Aunt Mimy paid no attention to
the auspicious weather, but made her way
straight to the Asbury mansion on Peachtree
Street. On her face there was a frown, and
her â€œhead-hanâ€™kâ€™cher,â€ which usually sat
straight back from her forehead, had an
upward tilt that gave her a warlike appear-
She went up the tiled walk and rang the
door-bell. A quadroon girl came to the door ;
the girlâ€™s voice was soft, and her manners
gentle, but Aunt Mimy had a strong prejudice
against mulattoes, and it came to the surface
â€œTs yoâ€™ mistâ€™ess in?â€ she asked harshly.
â€œ Misâ€™ Asbury is in,â€ said the girl softly.
â€œÂ« Ax her kin I see her.â€
The girl slipped away from the door, leav-
ing it ajar. The glimpse of the magnificence
within angered Aunt Mimy. Presently the
girl returned. |
â€œ Has you got any message?â€ she asked.
410 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
â€œNo, I ainâ€™t. Tell her dat aâ€™ ole nigger
oman fum de country want ter see her.â€
Cousin Rebecca T. was listening at the
farther end of the hall, and thought she
recognized the voice. The girl turned away
with a smile to deliver the message, but her
mistress was standing near. With a wave of
her hand, Cousin Rebecca T. dismissed the
servant, saw her safely out of hearing, and
then opened wide the door.
â€œCome in, Mimy,â€ she said in a voice as
serene as a summer morning; â€œcome into
my room. I havenâ€™t seen you in a coonâ€™s
age.â€ She dropped easily into the vernacular
of Rockville and the region round about.
She took Aunt Mimy somewhat off her guard,
but this only served to increase the agitation
of the old negro. Cousin Rebecca T. led the
way to her back parlor.
â€œCome in,â€ she said kindly. - â€œ How have
you been since I saw you last?â€ She shut
the door and caught the thumb-bolt. â€œSit
in that chair. Now, what have you to tell
Aunt Mimy saw that the thin white hand
of her old mistress trembled as she raised it
to her hair.
THE BABY'S CHRISTMAS 411 ~
â€œWellum,â€ Aunt Mimy replied, â€œI des
tuck er notion Iâ€™d drap by anâ€™ say â€˜Chrisâ€™mus
Gif.â€™ You know how we useâ€™ ter do down
dar at home. I ainâ€™t seed you so long, itâ€™s
des de same ez sayinâ€™ howdy ?â€™â€
Cousin Rebecca T. looked hard at the old
darky, and drew a long breath.
â€œ Do you mean to say you have nothing to
tell me â€” nothing? What do you want?â€
She would have laid her hand on Aunt
Mimyâ€™s shoulder, but the old woman shrunk
away, exclaiming : â€”
â€œGod knows dey ainâ€™t nothinâ€™ here J want!
Cousin Rebecca T. took a step toward her
â€œWhere is Mary?â€ she asked, almost in a
â€œShe down yander â€” down dar at de
house.â€ Aunt Mimy put the child down,
faced Cousin Rebecca T., whose agitation
was now extreme, and raised her strong right
arm in the air. â€œI thank my God, I ainâ€™t got
no chillun! I thank â€™im day anâ€™ night. Ef
Iâ€™dâ€™aâ€™ had â€™em, maybe I â€™d â€™aâ€™ done â€™em like
you done yone.â€
â€œYou are impudent,â€ said Cousin Rebecca
412 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
T. The little child had gone to her, and her
hand rested on its curly head.
â€œWellum,â€ Aunt Mimy rejoined, â€œef you
want ter call de trufe by some yuther name,
let it go at dat.â€
â€œ Whose child is this?â€
â€œHeh!â€ the old negro grunted. â€œHe
look like he know who he kin ter.â€
Cousin Rebecca T. took the child in her
arms and carried it into her bedroom, closing
the door behind her. Aunt Mimy went to
the door on tiptoe, and listened silently for a
moment. Then she nodded her head vigor-
ously, ejaculating at intervals â€”â€œ Aha-a-a!â€
â€œWhat I tell you?â€ â€œ Ah-yi!â€
Cousin Rebecca T. placed the child on the
floor and knelt beside it.
â€œ Darling, what is your name?â€
â€œ Azzerbewy Tummerlin Pierson,â€™
the child solemnly.
â€œOh, will the Lord ever forgive me?â€
cried Cousin Rebecea T., falling prone on the
floor in her grief and humiliation.
â€œ Yonner mudder!â€ said the child.
â€œWhere?â€ exclaimed Cousin Rebecca T.,
â€œYonner.â€ The youngster pointed to a
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 413
picture of his mother hanging on the wall, an
enlarged copy of a photograph taken before
she was married. Seeing that the lady was
erying, the child went to her, laid its soft
face against hers, and gently patted her with
one of its pretty hands.
â€œMudder eâ€™y â€”all, allâ€™e time,â€ said the
child, by way of consolation.
â€œOh, precious baby!â€ exclaimed Cousin
Rebecca T., â€œshe shall never cry any more if
I can help it.â€
â€œ Ah-yi!â€ responded Aunt Mimy on the
At this juncture the colonel walked into
the back parlor. â€œ Well, my dear,â€ he said,
â€œwhat is the programme to-day? In my
opinion â€”why, this is Mimy! Mimy,â€ â€”
his voice sank to a whisper, â€”â€œ where is your
young mistress ?â€â€™
Â«â€œ Ah, Lord! you been waitinâ€™ a mighty
long time â€™foâ€™ you ax anybody dat quesh-
â€œMimy, is she dead?â€ â€˜The ruddy color
had fled from his face.
â€œGo in dar, suh.â€ Aunt Mimy pointed to
the door leading into the bedroom.
The colonel found his wife weeping over
414 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
the little child, and, being a tender-hearted
man, he joined her. As Aunt Mimy said
afterward, â€œ Dey went on in dar moâ€™ samer
dan ef dey â€™dâ€™a? done got erligion sho â€™nough,
anâ€™ de Lord knows dey needed it mighty
The colonel went on at-a great rate over
the baby. â€œLook at the little shoes with
holes in them!â€ he cried. â€œLook at the
torn frock!â€ Then he fairly blubbered.
In the midst of it all, Aunt Mimy opened
the door and walked into the room, calm,
cool, and indifferent. Ah, how wonderfully
she could play the hypocrite!
â€œCome on, honey,â€ she said. â€œ Mudder
waitinâ€™ fer you. I toleâ€™er we wuz cominâ€™
right back. Come ter mammy.â€ The baby
ran away from its old nurse, and hid its face in
its grandmotherâ€™s bosom, then sought refuge
between its grandfatherâ€™s knees, and was oth-
erwise as cute and as cunning as babies know
so well how to be. But Aunt Mimy was
â€œCome on, honey; time ter go. Spile you
ter stay here. Too much finery fer poâ€™
â€œ Randall,â€ said Cousin Rebecca T., call-
THE BABYâ€™S. CHRISTMAS 415
ing her husband by his first name (something
she had not done for years), â€œorder the car-
â€œNo, maâ€™am; no, maam!â€ Aunt Mimy
cried. â€œYou shaâ€™nâ€™t be arsailinâ€™ rounâ€™ my
chile in a fine carriage wid a big nigger man
settinâ€™ up dar grinninâ€™â€”no, maâ€™am! I
won't go wid you. I wonâ€™t show you de
way. Iâ€™m free, anâ€™ Iâ€™ll die fust. I ainâ€™t
gwine ter have no fine carriage sailinâ€™ rounâ€™
dar, and Marse Laban lyinâ€™ down town dar in
â€œTn jail!â€ cried the colonel. â€œ What has
â€œ Nothinâ€™ â€™t all,â€ said Aunt Mimy. â€œDe
folks des put â€™im in dar â€™caâ€™se he wuz poâ€™.â€
â€œ Randall, go and get him out, and bring
him here. Take the carriage.â€ In this way
Cousin Rebecca settled the trouble about the
carriage. Then she went with Aunt Mimy
to find her daughter, and the old woman had
to walk rapidly to keep up with her. When
they came to the door, Aunt Mimy paused and
looked at her old mistress, and for the first
time felt a little sympathy for her. Cousin
Rebeccaâ€™s hands were trembling, and her lips
416 THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS
â€œDes go anâ€™ knock at de door,â€ said Aunt
Mimy kindly. â€œDe poâ€™ chileâ€™s in dar
someâ€™râ€™s. Iâ€™m gwine rounâ€™.â€
She went round the corner of the house,
and there paused to listen. Cousin Rebecca
T. knocked, a little timidly at first, and then
a little louder. Mary opened the door, and
saw standing there a richly dressed lady cry-
ing as if her heart would break. For a mo-
ment she was appalled by this appearance of
grief incarnate on her threshold, and stood
with surprise and pity shining from her eyes.
â€œMy precious child!â€ cried Cousin Re-
becca T., â€œ have you forgotten me?â€
% Mother ! !â€ exclaimed Mary.
Then Aunt Mimy heard the door cleus:
â€œCome on, honey,â€ she said to the baby ;
â€œTâ€™ll turn you loose in dar wid â€™em.â€â€™
Cousin Rebecca T. took her daughter
home, and not long afterward the colonel
appeared with Laban, and the babyâ€™s Christ-
mas was celebrated in grand style. Aunt
Mimy was particularly conspicuous, taking
charge of affairs in a high-handed way, and
laughing and crying whenever she found her-
â€œNummine!â€ she said to herself, seeing
THE BABYâ€™S CHRISTMAS 417
Mary and Laban and the old folks laughing
and carrying on like little children â€” â€œ Num-
mine! Youâ€™re all here now, anâ€™ datâ€™s doinâ€™
mighty well atter so long a time. I bâ€™lieve
dat ar aig-nog done flewâ€™d ter der heads. I
know mighty well itâ€™s done flewâ€™d ter mine, â€”
kaze how come I wanter cry one minute anâ€™
laugh de nexâ€™ ?â€
Che Kiverside WresÃ©
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, U. S. Ac
ELECTROTYPED AND PRINTED BY
H. O. HOUGHTON AND CO.
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