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´╗┐Title: Diddie, Dumps & Tot - or, Plantation child-life
Author: Pyrnelle, Louise Clarke, 1850-1907
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Diddie, Dumps & Tot - or, Plantation child-life" ***

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[Illustration: EVENING DEVOTIONS.]

DIDDIE, DUMPS
& TOT

OR
PLANTATION CHILD-LIFE

By
Louise-Clarke Pyrnelle

Originally Published 1882

TO MY DEAR FATHER

DR. RICHARD CLARKE

OF SELMA, ALABAMA

MY HERO AND MY BEAU IDEAL OF A GENTLEMAN

I Dedicate this Book

WITH THE LOVE OF HIS

DAUGHTER



PREFACE.


In writing this little volume, I had for my primary object the idea of
keeping alive many of the old stories, legends, traditions, games,
hymns, and superstitions of the Southern slaves, which, with this
generation of negroes, will pass away. There are now no more dear old
"Mammies" and "Aunties" in our nurseries, no more good old "Uncles" in
the workshops, to tell the children those old tales that have been told
to our mothers and grandmothers for generations--the stories that kept
our fathers and grandfathers quiet at night, and induced them to go
early to bed that they might hear them the sooner.

Nor does my little book pretend to be any defence of slavery. I know not
whether it was right or wrong (there are many pros and cons on that
subject); but it was the law of the land, made by statesmen from the
North as well as the South, long before my day, or my father's or
grandfather's day; and, born under that law a slave-holder, and the
descendant of slave-holders, raised in the heart of the cotton section,
surrounded by negroes from my earliest infancy, "I KNOW whereof I do
speak;" and it is to tell of the pleasant and happy relations that
existed between master and slave that I write this story of "Diddie,
Dumps, and Tot."

The stories, plantation games, and hymns are just as I heard them in my
childhood. I have learned that Mr. Harris, in "Uncle Remus," has already
given the "Tar Baby;" but I have not seen his book, and, as our versions
are probably different, I shall let mine remain just as "Chris" told it
to the "chil'en."

I hope that none of my readers will be shocked at the seeming
irreverence of my book, for that _intimacy_ with the "Lord" was
characteristic of the negroes. They believed implicitly in a Special
Providence and direct punishment or reward, and that faith they
religiously tried to impress upon their young charges, white or black;
and "heavy, heavy hung over our heads" was the DEVIL!

The least little departure from a marked-out course of morals or manners
was sure to be followed by, "Nem' min', de deb'l gwine git yer."

And what the Lord 'lowed and what he didn't 'low was perfectly well
known to every darky. For instance, "he didn't 'low no singin' uv
week-er-day chunes uv er Sunday," nor "no singin' uv reel chunes" (dance
music) at any time; nor did he "'low no sassin' of ole pussons."

The "chu'ch membahs" had their little differences of opinion. Of course
they might differ on such minor points as "immersion" and "sprinklin',"
"open" or "close" communion; but when it came to such grave matters as
"singin' uv reel chunes," or "sassin' uv ole pussons," Baptists and
Methodists met on common ground, and stood firm.

Nor did our Mammies and Aunties neglect our manners. To say "yes" or
"no" to any person, white or black, older than ourselves was considered
very rude; it must always be "yes, mam," "no, mam;" "yes, sir," "no,
sir;" and those expressions are still, and I hope ever will be,
characteristic of Southerners.

The child-life that I have portrayed is over now; for no hireling can
ever be to the children what their Mammies were, and the strong tie
between the negroes and "marster's chil'en" is broken forever.

So, hoping that my book (which claims no literary merit) will serve to
amuse the little folks, and give them an insight into a childhood
peculiar to the South in her palmy days, without further preface I send
out my volume of Plantation Child-life.

Louise-Clarke Pyrnelle.

Columbus, Ga.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER                                                   PAGE

I.  Diddie, Dumps, And Tot                                  13

II. Christmas On The Old Plantation                         29

III. Mammy's Story                                          44

IV. Old Billy                                               50

V. Diddie's Book                                            67

VI. Uncle Snake-bit Bob's Sunday-school                     82

VII. Poor Ann                                               92

VIII. Uncle Bob's Proposition                              106

IX. Aunt Edy's Story                                       111

X. Plantation Games                                        119

XI. Diddie In Trouble                                      128

XII. How The Woodpecker's Head And The Robin's Breast
     Came To Be Red                                        140

XIII. A Plantation Meeting, And Uncle Daniel's Sermon      152

XIV. Diddie And Dumps Go Visiting                          166

XV. The Fourth Of July                                     182

XVI. "'Struck'n uv de Chil'en"                             199

XVII. What Became Of Them                                  212



ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                        PAGE
Evening Devotions                                  Frontispiece.

Sanitary Measures                                           19

Playing "Injuns"                                            39

"Ole Billy"                                                 59

"The Tar Baby"                                              79

"My Min', Hit's Made Up"                                   103

"Yer'll all Be Havin' De Croup Next"                       135

"Well, My Invice Is Dis"                                   147

"Monahs 'pun Top Er Monahs"                                163

"Bringin' 'im the Picnic"                                  171

"Swinging On Grape-vines and Riding On Saplings"           195

"'Struck'n uv de Chil'en"                                  201



DIDDIE, DUMPS, AND TOT.



CHAPTER I.

DIDDIE, DUMPS, AND TOT.


They were three little sisters, daughters of a Southern planter, and
they lived in a big white house on a cotton plantation in Mississippi.
The house stood in a grove of cedars and live-oaks, and on one side was
a flower-garden, with two summer-houses covered with climbing roses and
honeysuckles, where the little girls would often have tea-parties in the
pleasant spring and summer days. Back of the house was a long avenue of
water-oaks leading to the quarters where the negroes lived.

Major Waldron, the father of the children, owned a large number of
slaves, and they loved him and his children very dearly. And the little
girls loved them, particularly "Mammy," who had nursed their mother, and
now had entire charge of the children; and Aunt Milly, a lame yellow
woman, who helped Mammy in the nursery; and Aunt Edy, the head
laundress, who was never too busy to amuse them. Then there was Aunt
Nancy, the "tender," who attended to the children for the field-hands,
and old Uncle Snake-bit Bob, who could scarcely walk at all, because he
had been bitten by a snake when he was a boy: so now he had a little
shop, where he made baskets of white-oak splits for the hands to pick
cotton in; and he always had a story ready for the children, and would
let them help him weave baskets whenever Mammy would take them to the
shop.

Besides these, there were Riar, Chris, and Dilsey, three little negroes,
who belonged to the little girls and played with them, and were in
training to be their maids by-and-by.

Diddie, the oldest of the children, was nine years of age, and had a
governess, Miss Carrie, who had taught her to read quite well, and even
to write a letter. She was a quiet, thoughtful little girl, well
advanced for her age, and ladylike in her manners.

Dumps, the second sister, was five, full of fun and mischief, and gave
Mammy a great deal of trouble on account of her wild tomboyish ways.

Tot, the baby, was a tiny, little blue-eyed child of three, with long
light curls, who was always amiable and sweet-tempered, and was petted
by everybody who knew her.

Now, you must not think that the little girls had been carried to the
font and baptized with such ridiculous names as Diddie, Dumps, and Tot:
these were only pet names that Mammy had given them; but they had been
called by them so long that many persons forgot that Diddie's name was
Madeleine, that Dumps had been baptized Elinor, and that Tot bore her
mother's name of Eugenia, for they were known as Diddie, Dumps, and Tot
to all of their friends.

The little girls were very happy in their plantation home. 'Tis true
they lived 'way out in the country, and had no museums nor toy-shops to
visit, no fine parks to walk or ride in, nor did they have a very great
variety of toys. They had some dolls and books, and a baby-house
furnished with little beds and chairs and tables; and they had a big
Newfoundland dog, Old Bruno; and Dumps and Tot both had a little kitten
apiece; and there was "Old Billy," who once upon a time had been a
frisky little lamb, Diddie's special pet; but now he was a vicious old
sheep, who amused the children very much by running after them whenever
he could catch them out-of-doors. Sometimes, though, he would butt them
over and hurt them, and Major Waldron had several times had him turned
into the pasture; but Diddie would always cry and beg for him to be
brought back, and so Old Billy was nearly always in the yard.

Then there was Corbin, the little white pony that belonged to all of the
children together, and was saddled and bridled every fair day, and tied
to the horse-rack, that the little girls might ride him whenever they
chose; and 'twas no unusual sight to see two of them on him at once,
cantering down the big road or through the grove.

And, besides all these amusements, Mammy or Aunt Milly or Aunt Edy, or
some of the negroes, would tell them tales; and once in a while they
would slip off and go to the quarters, to Aunt Nancy the tender's cabin,
and play with the little quarter children. They particularly liked to go
there about dark to hear the little negroes say their prayers.

Aunt Nancy would make them all kneel down in a row, and clasp their
hands and shut their eyes: then she would say, "Our Father, who art in
heaven," and all the little darkies together would repeat each petition
after her; and if they didn't all keep up, and come out together, she
would give the delinquent a sharp cut with a long switch that she always
kept near her. So the prayer was very much interrupted by the little
"nigs" telling on each other, calling out "Granny" (as they all called
Aunt Nancy), "Jim didn't say his 'kingdom come.'"

"Yes I did, Granny; don't yer b'lieve dat gal; I said jes' much 'kingdom
come' ez she did."

And presently Jim would retaliate by saying,

"Granny, Polly nuber sed nuf'n 'bout her 'cruspusses.'"

"Lord-ee! jes' lis'n at dat nigger," Polly would say. "Granny, don't
yer min' 'im; I sed furgib us cruspusses, jes' ez plain ez anybody, and
Ginny hyeard me; didn't yer, Ginny?"

At these interruptions Aunt Nancy would stop to investigate the matter,
and whoever was found in fault was punished with strict and impartial
justice.

Another very interesting time to visit the quarters was in the morning
before breakfast, to see Aunt Nancy give the little darkies their
"vermifuge." She had great faith in the curative properties of a very
nauseous vermifuge that she had made herself by stewing some kind of
herbs in molasses, and every morning she would administer a teaspoonful
of it to every child under her care; and she used to say,

"Ef'n hit want fur dat furmifuge, den marster wouldn't hab all dem
niggers w'at yer see hyear."

Now, I don't know about that; but I do know that the little darkies
would rather have had fewer "niggers" and less "furmifuge;" for they
acted shamefully every time they were called upon to take a dose. In the
first place, whenever Aunt Nancy appeared with the bottle and spoon, as
many of the children as could get away would flee for their lives, and
hide themselves behind the hen-coops and ash-barrels, and under the
cabins, and anywhere they could conceal themselves.

But that precaution was utterly useless, for Aunt Nancy would make them
all form in a line, and in that way would soon miss any absentees; but
there were always volunteers to hunt out and run down and bring back the
shirkers, who, besides having to take the vermifuge, would get a
whipping into the bargain.

And even after Aunt Nancy would get them into line, and their hands
crossed behind their backs, she would have to watch very closely, or
some wicked little "nig" would slip into the place of the one just above
him, and make a horrible face, and spit, and wipe his mouth as if he had
just taken his dose; and thereby the one whose place he had taken would
have to swallow a double portion, while he escaped entirely; or else a
scuffle would ensue, and a very animated discussion between the parties
as to who had taken the last dose; and unless it could be decided
satisfactorily, Aunt Nancy would administer a dose to each one; for, in
her opinion, "too much furmifuge wuz better 'n none."

And so you see the giving of the vermifuge consumed considerable time.
After that was through with, she would begin again at the head of the
line, and, making each child open its mouth to its fullest extent, she
would examine each throat closely, and if any of them had their "palates
down," she would catch up a little clump of hair right on top of their
heads and wrap it around as tightly as she could with a string, and
then, catching hold of this "topknot," she would pull with all her
might to bring up the palate. The unlucky little "nig" in the meanwhile
kept up the most unearthly yells, for so great was the depravity among
them that they had rather have their palates down than up. Keeping their
"palate locks" tied was a source of great trouble and worriment to Aunt
Nancy.

[Illustration: SANITARY MEASURES.]

The winter was always a great season with the children; Mammy would let
them have so many candy-stews, and they parched "goobers" in the
evenings, and Aunt Milly had to make them so many new doll's clothes, to
"keep them quiet," as Dumps said; and such romps and games as they would
have in the old nursery!

There were two rooms included in the nursery--one the children's bedroom
and the other their playroom, where they kept all their toys and litter;
and during the winter bright wood fires were kept up in both rooms, that
the children might not take cold, and around both fireplaces were tall
brass fenders that were kept polished till they shone like gold. Yet, in
spite of this precaution, do you know that once Dilsey, Diddie's little
maid, actually caught on fire, and her linsey dress was burned off, and
Aunt Milly had to roll her over and over on the floor, and didn't get
her put out till her little black neck was badly burned, and her little
woolly head all singed. After that she had to be nursed for several
days. Diddie carried her her meals, and Dumps gave her "Stella," a
china doll that was perfectly good, only she had one leg off and her
neck cracked; but, for all that, she was a great favorite in the
nursery, and it grieved Dumps very much to part with her; but she
thought it was her "Christian juty," as she told Diddie; so Aunt Milly
made Stella a new green muslin dress, and she was transferred to Dilsey.

There was no railroad near the plantation, but it was only fifteen miles
to the river, and Major Waldron would go down to New Orleans every
winter to lay in his year's supplies, which were shipped by steamboats
to the landing and hauled from there to the plantation. It was a jolly
time for both white and black when the wagons came from the river; there
were always boxes of fruits and candies and nuts, besides large trunks
which were carried into the store-room till Christmas, and which
everybody knew contained Christmas presents for "all hands." One winter
evening in 1853, the children were all gathered at the big gate, on the
lookout for the wagons. Diddie was perched upon one gate-post and Dumps
on the other, while Tot was sitting on the fence, held on by Riar, lest
she might fall. Dilsey and Chris were stationed 'way down the road to
catch the first glimpse of the wagons. They were all getting very
impatient, for they had been out there nearly an hour, and it was now
getting so late they knew Mammy would not let them stay much longer.

"I know de reason dey so late, Miss Diddie," said Riar; "dey got dat
new mule Sam in de lead in one de wagins and Unker Bill say he know he
gwine cut up, f'um de look in he's eyes."

"Uncle Bill don't know everything," answered Diddie. "There are six
mules in the wagon, and Sam's jest only one of 'em; I reckon he can't
cut up much by hisself; five's more 'n one, ain't it?"

"I do b'lieve we've been out hyear er hun-der-d hours," said Dumps,
yawning wearily; and just then Dilsey and Chris came running towards the
gate, waving their arms and crying,

"Hyear dey come! hyear dey come!" and, sure enough, the great
white-covered wagons came slowly down the road, and Major Waldron on
Prince, his black horse, riding in advance.

He quickened his pace when he caught sight of the children; for he was
very fond of his little daughters, and had been away from them two
weeks, trading in New Orleans. He rode up now to the fence, and lifting
Tot to the saddle before him, took her in his arms and kissed her.

Diddie and Dumps scrambled down from the gate-posts and ran along by the
side of Prince to the house, where their mamma was waiting on the porch.
And oh! such a joyful meeting! such hugging and kissing all around!

Then the wagons came up, and the strong negro men began taking out the
boxes and bundles and carrying them to the store-room.

"Hand me out that covered basket, Nelson," said Major Waldron to one of
the men; and, taking it carefully to the house, he untied the cover, and
there lay two little _white woolly puppies_--one for Diddie, and one for
Dumps.

The little girls clapped their hands and danced with delight.

"Ain't they lovely?" said Dumps, squeezing hers in her arms.

"Lubly," echoed Tot, burying her chubby little hands in the puppy's
wool, while Diddie cuddled hers in her arms as tenderly as if it had
been a baby.

Mammy made a bed for the doggies in a box in one corner of the nursery,
and the children were so excited and so happy that she could hardly get
them to bed at all; but after a while Tot's blue eyes began to droop,
and she fell asleep in Mammy's arms, murmuring, "De booful itty doggie."

"De booful itty doggies," however, did not behave very well; they cried
and howled, and Dumps insisted on taking hers up and rocking him to
sleep.

"Hit's er gittin' so late, honey," urged Mammy, "let 'um stay in de box,
an' go ter bed now, like good chil'en."

"I know I ain't, Mammy," replied Dumps. "You mus' think I ain't got no
feelin's ter go ter bed an' leave 'im hollerin'. I'm er goin' ter rock
'im ter sleep in my little rockin'-cheer, an' you needn't be er fussin'
at me nuther."

"I ain't er fussin' at yer, chile; I'm jes' visin' uv yer fur yer good;
caze hit's yer bedtime, an' dem puppies will likely holler all night."

"Then we will sit up all night," said Diddie, in her determined way.
"I'm like Dumps; I'm not going to bed an' leave 'im cryin'."

So Mammy drew her shawl over her head and lay back in her chair for a
nap, while Diddie and Dumps took the little dogs in their arms and sat
before the fire rocking; and Chris and Dilsey and Riar all squatted on
the floor around the fender, very much interested in the process of
getting the puppies quiet.

Presently Dumps began to sing:

"Ef'n 'ligion was er thing that money could buy,
  O reign, Marse Jesus, er reign;
De rich would live, an' de po' would die,
  O reign, Marse Jesus, er reign.

    _Chorus._

    O reign, reign, reign, er my Lord,
      O reign, Marse Jesus, er reign:
    O reign, reign, reign, er my Lord,
      O reign, Marse Jesus, er reign.

But de Lord he 'lowed he wouldn't have it so,
  O reign, Marse Jesus, er reign;
So de rich mus' die jes' same as de po',
  O reign, Marse Jesus, er reign."

This was one of the plantation hymns with which Mammy often used to
sing Tot to sleep, and all the children were familiar with the words and
air; so now they all joined in the singing, and very sweet music it was.
They had sung it through several times, and the puppies, finding
themselves so outdone in the matter of noise, had curled up in the
children's laps and were fast asleep, when Diddie interrupted the chorus
to ask:

"Dumps, what are you goin' ter name your doggie?"

"I b'lieve I'll name 'im 'Papa,'" replied Dumps, "because he give 'im
ter me."

"'Papa,' indeed!" said Diddie, contemptuously; "that's no name for a
dog; I'm goin' ter name mine after some great big somebody."

"Lord-ee! I tell yer, Miss Diddie; name 'im Marse Samson, atter de man
w'at Mammy wuz tellin' 'bout totin' off de gates," said Dilsey.

"No yer don't, Miss Diddie; don't yer name 'im no sich," said Chris;
"le's name im' Marse Whale, w'at swallered de man an' nuber chawed 'im."

"No, I sha'n't name him nothin' out'n the Bible," said Diddie, "because
that's wicked, and maybe God wouldn't let him live, just for that; I
b'lieve I'll name him Christopher Columbus, 'cause if he hadn't
discovered America there wouldn't er been no people hyear, an' I
wouldn't er had no father nor mother, nor dog, nor nothin': an', Dumps,
sposin' you name yours Pocahontas, that was er _beau-ti-ful_ Injun
girl, an' she throwed her arms 'roun' Mr. Smith an' never let the
tomahawks kill 'im."

"I know I ain't goin' to name mine no Injun," said Dumps, decidedly.

"Yer right, Miss Dumps; now yer's er talkin'," said Riar; "I wouldn't
name 'im no Injun; have 'im tearin' folks' hyar off, like Miss Diddie
reads in de book. I don't want ter hab nuffin 'tall ter do wid no
Injuns; no, sar! I don't like dem folks."

"Now, chil'en, de dogs is 'sleep," said Mammy, yawning and rubbing her
eyes; "go ter bed, won't yer?"

And the little girls, after laying the puppies in the box and covering
them with an old shawl, were soon fast asleep. But there was not much
sleep in the nursery that night; the ungrateful little dogs howled and
cried all night. Mammy got up three times and gave them warm milk, and
tucked them up in the shawl; but no sooner would she put them back in
the box than they would begin to cry and howl. And so at the
breakfast-table next morning, when Dumps asked her papa to tell her
something to name her puppy, Diddie gravely remarked,

"I think, Dumps, we had better name 'um Cherubim an' Seraphim, for they
continually do cry."

And her papa was so amused at the idea that he said he thought so too;
and thus the puzzling question of the names was decided, and the little
woolly poodles were called Cherubim and Seraphim, and became great pets
in the household.



CHAPTER II.

CHRISTMAS ON THE OLD PLANTATION.


Christmas morning, 1853, dawned cold and rainy, and scarcely had the
first gray streak appeared when the bolt of the nursery was quietly
turned, and Dilsey's little black head peered in through the half-open
door.

"Chris'mus gif', chil'en!" she called out, and in a twinkling Diddie,
Dumps, and Tot were all wide awake, and climbing over the side of the
bed. Then the three little sisters and Dilsey tip-toed all around to
everybody's rooms, catching "Chris'mus gif';" but just as they were
creeping down stairs to papa and mamma two little forms jumped from
behind the hall door, and Riar and Chris called out, "Chris'mus gif'!"
and laughed and danced to think they had "cotch de white chil'en."

As soon as everybody had been caught they all went into the sitting-room
to see what Santa Claus had brought, and there were eight stockings all
stuffed full! Three long, white stockings, that looked as if they might
be mamma's, were for the little girls, and three coarse woollen
stockings were for the little nigs; and now whom do you suppose the
others were for? Why, for Mammy and Aunt Milly, to be sure! Oh, such
lots of things--candies and nuts, and raisins and fruits in every
stocking; then there was a doll baby for each of the children. Diddie's
was a big china doll, with kid feet and hands, and dressed in a red
frock trimmed with black velvet. Dumps's was a wax baby with eyes that
would open and shut; and it had on a long white dress, just like a
sure-enough baby, and a little yellow sack, all worked around with
white.

Tot was so little, and treated her dollies so badly, that "Old Santa"
had brought her an India-rubber baby, dressed in pink tarlatan, with a
white sash.

Dilsey, Chris, and Riar each had an alabaster baby, dressed in white
Swiss, and they were all just alike, except that they had different
colored sashes on.

And Diddie had a book full of beautiful stories, and Dumps had a slate
and pencil, and Tot had a "Noah's ark," and Mammy and Aunt Milly had red
and yellow head "handkerchiefs," and Mammy had a new pair of "specs" and
a nice warm hood, and Aunt Milly had a delaine dress; and 'way down in
the toes of their stockings they each found a five-dollar gold piece,
for Old Santa had seen how patient and good the two dear old women were
to the children, and so he had "thrown in" these gold pieces.

How the little folks laughed and chatted as they pulled the things out
of their stockings! But pretty soon Mammy made them put them all away,
to get ready for breakfast.

After breakfast the big plantation bell was rung, and the negroes all
came up to the house. And then a great box that had been in the
store-room ever since the wagons got back from the river, three weeks
before, was brought in and opened, and Mrs. Waldron took from it dresses
and hats, and bonnets and coats, and vests and all sorts of things,
until every pair of black hands had received a present, and every pair
of thick lips exclaimed,

"Thankee, mistis! thankee, honey; an' God bless yer!"

And then Chris, who had been looking anxiously every moment or two
towards the quarters, cried out,

"Yon' dey is! I see um! Yon' dey come!"

And down the long avenue appeared the funniest sort of a procession.
First came Aunt Nancy, the "tender," with her head handkerchief tied in
a sharp point that stuck straight up from her head; and behind her, two
and two, came the little quarter negroes, dressed in their brightest and
newest clothes. All were there--from the boys and girls of fourteen down
to the little wee toddlers of two or three, and some even younger than
that; for in the arms of several of the larger girls were little bits of
black babies, looking all around in their queer kind of way, and
wondering what all this was about.

The procession drew up in front of the house, and Diddie, Dumps, and
Tot went from one end of it to the other distributing candies and
apples, and oranges and toys; and how the bright faces did light up with
joy as the little darkies laughed and chuckled, and I dare say would
have jumped up and clapped their hands but for Aunt Nancy, who was
keeping a sharp eye upon them, and who would say, as every present was
delivered,

"Min' yer manners, now!"

At which the little nigs would make a comical little "bob-down" courtesy
and say, "Thankee, marm."

When the presents were all delivered, Major Waldron told the negroes
that their mistress and himself were going to the quarters to take
presents to the old negroes and the sick, who could not walk to the
house, and that after that he would have service in the chapel, and that
he hoped as many as could would attend.

Then the crowd dispersed, and the children's mamma filled a basket with
"good things," and presents for old Aunt Sally, who was almost blind;
and poor Jane, who had been sick a long time; and Daddy Jake, the oldest
negro on the place, who never ventured out in bad weather for fear of
the "rheumatiz;" and then, accompanied by her husband and children, she
carried it to the quarters to wish the old negroes a happy Christmas.

The quarters presented a scene of the greatest excitement. Men and
women were bustling about, in and out of the cabins, and the young folks
were busily engaged cleaning up the big barn and dressing it with boughs
of holly and cedar; for you see Aunt Sukey's Jim was going to be married
that very night, and the event had been talked of for weeks, for he was
a great favorite on the place.

He was a tall, handsome black fellow, with white teeth and bright eyes,
and he could play the fiddle and pick the banjo, and knock the bones and
cut the pigeon-wing, and, besides all that, he was the best hoe-hand,
and could pick more cotton than any other negro on the plantation. He
had amused himself by courting and flirting with all of the negro girls;
but at last he had been caught himself by pretty Candace, one of the
house-maids, and a merry dance she had led him.

She had kept poor Jim six long months on the rack. First she'd say she'd
marry him, and then she'd say she wouldn't (not that she ever really
_meant_ that she wouldn't), for she just wanted to torment him; and she
succeeded so well that Jim became utterly wretched, and went to his
master to know "ef'n he couldn't make dat yaller gal 'have herse'f."

But his master assured him it was a matter that he had nothing on earth
to do with, and even told Jim that it was but fair that he, who had
enjoyed flirting so long, should now be flirted with.

However, one evening his mistress came upon the poor fellow sitting on
the creek bank looking very disconsolate, and overheard him talking to
himself.

"Yes, sar!" he was saying, as if arguing with somebody. "Yes, sar, by
rights dat nigger gal oughter be beat mos' ter deff, she clean bodder de
life out'n me, an' marster, he jes' oughter kill dat nigger. I dunno
w'at makes me kyar so much er bout'n her no way; dar's plenty er
likelier gals 'n her, an' I jes' b'lieve dat's er trick nigger; anyhow
she's tricked me, sho's yer born; an' ef'n I didn't b'long ter nobody,
I'd jump right inter dis creek an' drown myse'f. But I ain't got no
right ter be killin' up marster's niggers dat way; I'm wuff er thousan'
dollars, an' marster ain't got no thousan' dollars ter was'e in dis
creek, long er dat lazy, shif'less, good-fur-nuffin' yaller nigger."

The poor fellow's dejected countenance and evident distress enlisted the
sympathy of his mistress, and thinking that any negro who took such good
care of his master's property would make a good husband, she sought an
interview with Candace, and so pleaded with her in behalf of poor Jim
that the dusky coquette relented, and went down herself to Aunt Sukey's
cabin to tell her lover that she did love him all along, and was "jis'
er projeckin' wid 'im," and that she would surely marry him
Christmas-night.

Their master had had a new cabin built for them, and their mistress had
furnished it neatly for the young folks to begin housekeeping, and in
mamma's wardrobe was a white dress and a veil and wreath that were to be
the bride's Christmas gifts. They were to be married in the parlor at
the house, and dance afterwards in the barn, and the wedding supper was
to be set in the laundry.

So you see it was a busy day, with so much of cake-baking and icing and
trimming to be done; and then the girls had to see about their dresses
for the evening, and the young men had their shoes to black, and their
best clothes to brush, and their hair to unwrap; but, notwithstanding
all this, when Major Waldron and his family entered the chapel they
found a large congregation assembled; indeed, all were there except the
sick; and master and slaves, the white children and black, united their
hearts and voices to

"Laud and magnify His holy name,"

and to return thanks to God for his great Christmas gift of a Saviour to
the world.

As they were leaving the chapel after service, Dumps drew close to her
mother and whispered,

"Mamma, bein' as this is Chris'mas, an' it's rainin', can't we have some
of the little quarter niggers to go to the house and play Injuns with
us?"

Mamma was about to refuse, for the little girls were not allowed to play
with the quarter children; but Dumps looked very wistful, and, besides,
Mammy would be with them in the nursery, so she consented, and each of
the children were told that they might select one of the little negroes
to play with them.

Diddie took a little mulatto girl named Agnes. Dumps had so many
favorites that it was hard for her to decide; but finally she selected
Frances, a lively little darky, who could dance and pat and sing and
shout, and do lots of funny things.

Tot took Polly, a big girl of fourteen, who could, and sometimes did,
take the little one on her back and trot around with her. She lifted her
now to her shoulders, and, throwing her head up and snorting like a
horse, started off in a canter to the house; while Diddie and Dumps, and
Chris and Riar, and Agnes and Frances followed on behind, all barking
like dogs, and making believe that Tot was going hunting and they were
the hounds.

"See, Mammy, here's Agnes and Polly and Frances," said Diddie, as they
entered the nursery; "mamma let us have them, and they are to stay here
a long time and play Injuns with us."

"Now, Miss Diddie, honey," said Mammy, "Injuns is sich a sackremenchus
play, an' makes so much litter and fuss; git yer dolls, an' play like er
little lady."

"No, no, no," interrupted Dumps; "we're goin' ter play Injuns! We're
goin' ter make out we're travellin' in the big rockin'-cheer, goin' ter
New Orleans, an' the little niggers is got ter be Injuns, hid all behin'
the trunks an' beds an' door; an' after we rock an' rock er _lo-o-ong_
time, then we're goin' ter make out it's night, an' stretch mamma's big
shawl over two cheers an' make er tent, and be cookin' supper in our
little pots an' kittles, an' the little niggers is got ter holler,
'Who-ee, who-eee,' an' jump out on us, an' cut off our heads with er
billycrow."

"How silly you do talk, Dumps!" said Diddie: "there ain't any Injuns
between here and New Orleans; we've got ter be goin' ter California, a
far ways f'um here. An' I don't b'lieve there's nothin' in this world
named er '_billycrow_;' it's er tommyhawk you're thinkin' about: an'
Injuns don't cut off people's heads; it was Henry the Eighth. Injuns
jes' cut off the hair and call it sculpin', don't they, Mammy?"

"Lor', chile," replied Mammy, "I dunno, honey; I allers hyeard dat
Injuns wuz monstrous onstreperous, an' I wouldn't play no sich er game."

But "Injuns, Injuns, Injuns!" persisted all the little folks, and Mammy
had to yield.

The big chair was put in the middle of the room, and the little girls
got in. Chris sat up on the arms to be the driver, and they started off
for California. After travelling some time night set in, and the
emigrants got out, and pitched a tent and made preparations for cooking
supper: little bits of paper were torn up and put into the miniature
pots and kettles, and the children were busy stirring them round with a
stick for a spoon, when the terrible war-whoop rang in their ears, and
from under the bed and behind the furniture jumped out the five little
negroes.

The travellers ran in every direction, and the Injuns after them. Diddie
hid in the wardrobe, and Mammy covered Tot up in the middle of the bed;
Chris turned the chip-box over and tried to get under it, but the fierce
savages dragged her out, and she was soon tied hand and foot; Dumps
jumped into the clothes-basket, and Aunt Milly threw a blanket over her,
but Frances had such keen little eyes that she soon spied her and
captured her at once.

Then a wild yell was sounded, and Polly and Dilsey pounced upon Tot, who
had become tired of lying still, and was wriggling about so that she had
been discovered; and now all the travellers were captured except Diddie.
The Injuns looked everywhere for her in vain.

"She mus' er gone up fru de chimbly, like Marse Santion Claws," said
Agnes; and Diddie thought that was so funny that she giggled outright,
and in a moment the wardrobe was opened and she was also taken prisoner.
Then the four little captives were laid on their backs, and Polly
scalped them with a clothes-brush for a tomahawk.

As soon as they were all scalped they started over again, and kept up
the fun until the big plantation bell sounded, and then the Injuns
deserted in a body and ran off pell-mell to the quarters; for that bell
was for the Christmas dinner, and they wouldn't miss that for all the
scalps that ever were taken.

[Illustration: PLAYING "INJUNS."]

There were three long tables, supplied with good, well-cooked food,
followed by a nice dessert of pudding and cake, and the darkies, one and
all, did full justice to it.

Up at the house was a grand dinner, with turkey, mince-pie, and
plum-pudding, of course.

When that was through with, mamma told the little girls that the little
quarter negroes were to have a candy stew, and that Mammy might take
them to witness the pulling. This was a great treat, for there was
nothing the children enjoyed so much as going to the quarters to see the
little negroes play.

The candy stew had been suggested by Aunt Nancy as a fine device for
getting rid of the little darkies for the night. They were to have the
frolic only on condition that they would go to bed and not insist on
being at the wedding. This they readily agreed to; for they feared they
would not be allowed to sit up any way, and they thought best to make
sure of the candy-pulling.

When the little girls reached Aunt Nancy's cabin, two big kettles of
molasses were on the fire, and, to judge by the sputtering and
simmering, the candy was getting on famously. Uncle Sambo had brought
his fiddle in, and some of the children were patting and singing and
dancing, while others were shelling goobers and picking out scaly-barks
to put in the candy; and when the pulling began, if you could have heard
the laughing and joking you would have thought there was no fun like a
candy stew.

As a special favor, the little girls were allowed to stay up and see
Candace married; and very nice she looked when her mistress had finished
dressing her: her white Swiss was fresh and new, and the wreath and veil
were very becoming, and she made quite a pretty bride; at least Jim
thought so, and that was enough for her.

Jim was dressed in a new pepper-and-salt suit, his Christmas present
from his master, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen all looked very fine.
Mamma arranged the bridal party in the back parlor, and the
folding-doors were thrown open. Both rooms and the large hall were full
of negroes. The ceremony was performed by old Uncle Daniel, the negro
preacher on the place, and the children's father gave the bride away.

After the marriage, the darkies adjourned to the barn to dance. Diddie
and Dumps begged to be allowed to go and look at them "just a little
while," but it was their bedtime, and Mammy marched them off to the
nursery.

About twelve o'clock supper was announced, and old and young repaired to
the laundry. The room was festooned with wreaths of holly and cedar, and
very bright and pretty and tempting the table looked, spread out with
meats and breads, and pickles and preserves, and home-made wine, and
cakes of all sorts and sizes, iced and plain; large bowls of custard and
jelly; and candies, and fruits and nuts.

In the centre of the table was a pyramid, beginning with a large cake at
the bottom and ending with a "snowball" on top.

At the head of the table was the bride-cake, containing the "ring" and
the "dime;" it was handsomely iced, and had a candy Cupid perched over
it, on a holly bough which was stuck in a hole in the middle of the
cake. It was to be cut after a while by each of the bridesmaids and
groomsmen in turns; and whoever should cut the slice containing the ring
would be the next one to get married; but whoever should get the dime
was to be an old maid or an old bachelor.

The supper was enjoyed hugely, particularly a big bowl of eggnog, which
so enlivened them all that the dancing was entered into with renewed
vigor, and kept up till the gray tints in the east warned them that
another day had dawned, and that Christmas was over.

But you may be sure that in all Christendom it had been welcomed in and
ushered out by no merrier, lighter hearts than those of the happy,
contented folks on the old plantation.



CHAPTER III.

MAMMY'S STORY.


One cold, rainy night a little group were assembled around a crackling
wood fire in the nursery; Mammy was seated in a low chair, with Tot in
her arms; Dumps was rocking her doll back and forth, and Diddie was
sitting at the table reading; Aunt Milly was knitting, and the three
little darkies were nodding by the fire.

"Mammy," said Dumps, "s'posin' you tell us a tale." Tot warmly seconded
the motion, and Mammy, who was never more delighted than when
astonishing the children with her wonderful stories, at once assumed a
meditative air. "Lem me see," said the old woman, scratching her head;
"I reckon I'll tell yer 'bout de wushin'-stone, ain't neber told yer dat
yit. I know yer've maybe hearn on it, leastways Milly has; but den she
mayn't have hearn de straight on it, fur 'taint eb'y nigger knows it.
Yer see, Milly, my mammy was er 'riginal Guinea nigger, an' she knowed
'bout de wushin'-stone herse'f, an' she told me one Wednesday night on
de full er de moon, an' w'at I'm gwine ter tell yer is de truff."

Having thus authenticated her story beyond a doubt, Mammy hugged Tot a
little closer and began:

"Once 'pon er time dar wuz a beautiful gyarden wid all kind er nice
blossoms, an' trees, an' brooks, an' things, whar all de little chil'en
usen ter go and play, an' in dis gyarden de grass wuz allers green, de
blossoms allers bright, and de streams allers clar, caze hit b'longed to
er little Fraid, named Cheery."

"A 'little Fraid,'" interrupted Diddie, contemptuously. "Why, Mammy,
there's no such a thing as a 'Fraid.'"

"Lord, Miss Diddie, 'deed dey is," said Dilsey, with her round eyes
stretched to their utmost; "I done seed 'em myse'f, an' our Club-foot
Bill he was er gwine 'long one time--"

"Look er hyear, yer kinky-head nigger, whar's yer manners?" asked Mammy,
"'ruptin uv eld'ly pussons. "I'm de one w'at's 'struck'n dese chil'en,
done strucked dey mother fuss; I'll tell 'em w'at's becomin' fur 'em ter
know; I don't want 'em ter hyear nuf'n 'bout sich low cornfiel' niggers
ez Club-foot Bill.

"Yes, Miss Diddie, honey," said Mammy, resuming her story, "dar sholy is
Fraids; Mammy ain't gwine tell yer nuf'n', honey, w'at she dun know fur
er fack; so as I wuz er sayin', dis little Fraid wuz name Cheery, an'
she'd go all 'roun' eb'y mornin' an' tech up de grass an' blossoms an'
keep 'em fresh, fur she loved ter see chil'en happy, an' w'en dey
rolled ober on de grass, an' strung de blossoms, an' waded up an' down
de streams, an' peeped roun' de trees, Cheery'd clap 'er han's an'
laugh, an' dance roun' an' roun'; an' sometimes dar'd be little po'
white chil'en, an' little misfortnit niggers would go dar; an' w'en
she'd see de bright look in dey tired eyes, she'd fix things prettier 'n
eber.

"Now dar wuz er nudder little Fraid name Dreary; an' she wuz sad an'
gloomy, an' nebber dance, nor play, nor nuf'n; but would jes go off
poutin' like to herse'f. Well, one day she seed er big flat stone under
a tree. She said ter herse'f, 'I ain't gwine ter be like dat foolish
Cheery, dancin' an' laughin' foreber, caze she thinks sich things ez
flowers an' grass kin make folks happy; but I'm gwine ter do er rael
good ter eb'ybody;' so she laid er spell on de stone, so dat w'en
anybody sot on de stone an' wush anything dey'd hab jes w'at dey wush
fur; an' so as ter let er heap er folks wush at once, she made it so dat
eb'y wush would make de stone twice ez big ez 'twuz befo'.

"Po' little Cheery was mighty troubled in her min' w'en she foun' out
bout'n hit, an' she beg Dreary ter tuck de spell off; but no, she
wouldn't do it. She 'lowed, do, ef anybody should eber wush anything fur
anybody else, dat den de stone might shrink up ergin; fur who, she sez
ter herse'f, is gwine ter wush fur things fur tudder folks? An' she tol'
de little birds dat stay in de tree de stone wuz under, when anybody
sot on de stone dey mus' sing,' I wush I had,' an' 'I wush I wuz,' so as
ter min 'em bout'n de wushin'-stone. Well, 'twan't long fo' de gyarden
wuz plum crowded wid folks come ter wush on de stone, an' hit wuz er
growin' bigger an' bigger all de time, an' mashin' de blossoms an'
grass; an' dar wan't no mo' merry chil'en playin' 'mong de trees an'
wadin' in de streams; no soun's ob laughin' and joy in de gyarden;
eb'ybody wuz er quarlin' bout'n who should hab de nex' place, or wuz
tryin' ter study up what dey'd wush fur; an' Cheery wuz jes ez mizer'bul
as er free nigger, 'bout her gyarden.

"De folks would set on de stone, while de little birds would sing,' I
wush I had;' an' dey'd wush dey had money, an' fren's, an' sense, an'
happiness, an' 'ligion; an' 'twould all come true jes like dey wush fur.
Den de little birds would sing,' I wush I wuz;' an' dey'd wush dey wuz
lubly, an' good, an' gran'; un' 'twould all come ter pass jes so.

"But all dat time nobody neber wush nobody else was rich, an' good, an'
lubly, an' happy; fur don't yer see de birds neber sung,' I wush _you_
wuz,' 'I wush _dey_ had;' but all de time 'I wush _I_ wuz,' 'I wush _I_
had.' At last, one day dar come inter de gyarden er po' little cripple
gal, who lived 'way off in er ole tumble-down house. She wuz er little
po' white chile, an' she didn't hab no farder nor mudder, nor niggers
ter do fur her, an' she had to do all her own wuck herse'f."

"Bress de Lord!" ejaculated Aunt Milly, who was becoming very much
interested in the story, while tears gathered in Dumps's blue eyes; and
even Diddie was seen to wink a little at the forlorn condition of "de
po' white chile."

"Yes, indeed," continued Mammy, "she done all her own wuk herse'f, an'
nobody ter say er blessed word ter her, nor he'p her a bit; an' she
neber eben hyeard ob de wushin'-stone, but had jes come out fur er
little while ter enjoy de birds, an' de fresh air, an' flowers, same as
de quality folks; fur she was mos' all de time sick, an' dis wuz jes de
same as Christmus ter her. She hobbled erlong on her crutchers, an'
atter while she got ter de stone; an' hit so happened dar wan't nobody
dar, so she sot down ter res'. Well, mun, she hadn't mo'n totch de stone
when de little birds began, 'I wush I had,' 'I wush I wuz.'

"'Oh, what er sweet, pretty place!' de little gal said; an' what nice
little birds! I wush dat po' ole sick man what libs next ter us could
come out here and see it all.'

"'I wush I had,' 'I wush I wuz,' sung de little birds. 'I wush all de
po' chil'en could come an' spen' de day here,' said de little gal; 'what
er nice time dey would hab!'

"'I wush I wuz,' 'I wush I had,' sung de birds in er flutter, hoppin'
all 'bout 'mong de branches.

"'An' all de lame people, an' sick people, an' ole people,' said de
little gal, 'I wush dey could all git well, an strong, an' lib in er
beautiful place jes like dis, an' all be happy.'

"Oh, de little birds! what er bustle dey wuz in, to be sho'! Dey sot
upon de bery topes' branches, an' dey sung like dey d split dey troats,

"'I wush _I_ had,' 'I wush _I_ wuz.'

"But de little gal neber min' 'em. She was rested, an hobbled on all by
herse'f, but now, sence she done wush fur blessin's fur tudder folks, de
spell was loosen', an' de stone all drawed up ter a little bit er stone,
den sunk away in de groun' clar out o' sight. An' dat wuz de last ob de
wushin'-stone."

"Dar now!" exclaimed Aunt Milly.

"De truff, sho'! jes like I ben tellin' yer," said Mammy.

"But, Mammy, what about the little girl? did she ever get well an'
strong, an' not be lame any more?" asked Dumps.

"Well, honey, yer see de Lord, he fixes all dat. He son't fur her one
night, an' she jes smiled, bright an' happy like, an' laid right back in
de angel's arms; an' he tuck her right along up thu de hebenly gates,
an' soon as eber he sot her down, an' her foot totch dem golden streets,
de lameness, an' sickness, an' po'ness all come right; an' her fader,
an' her mudder, an' her niggers wuz all dar, an' she wuz well an'
strong, an' good an' happy. Jes' like she wush fur de po' folks, an' de
sick folks, de Lord he fixed it jes dat way fur her. He fixed all dat
hisse'f."



CHAPTER IV.

OLD BILLY.


The gin-house on the plantation was some distance from the house, and in
an opposite direction from the quarters. It was out in an open field,
but a narrow strip of woods lay between the field and the house, so the
gin-house was completely hidden.

Just back of the gin-house was a pile of lumber that Major Waldron had
had hauled to build a new pick-room, and which was piled so as to form
little squares, large enough to hold three of the children at once.
During the last ginning season they had gone down once with Mammy to
"ride on the gin," but had soon abandoned that amusement to play
housekeeping on the lumber, and have the little squares for rooms. They
had often since thought of that evening, and had repeatedly begged Mammy
to let them go down to the lumber pile; but she was afraid they would
tear their clothes, or hurt themselves in some way, and would never
consent.

So one day in the early spring, when Mammy and Aunt Milly were having a
great cleaning-up in the nursery and the children had been sent into
the yard to play, Chris suggested that they should all slip off, and go
and play on the lumber pile.

"Oh yes," said Dumps, "that will be the very thing, an' Mammy won't
never know it, 'cause we'll be sho' ter come back befo' snack-time."

"But something might happen to us, you know," said Diddie, "like the boy
in my blue book, who went off fishin' when his mother told him not to,
an' the boat upsetted and drownded him."

"Tain't no boat there," urged Dumps; "tain't no water even, an' I don't
b'lieve we'd be drownded; an' tain't no bears roun' this place like them
that eat up the bad little chil'en in the Bible; and tain't no Injuns in
this country, an' tain't no snakes nor lizards till summer-time, an' all
the cows is out in the pasture; an' tain't no ghos'es in the daytime,
an' I don't b'lieve there's nothin' ter happen to us; an' ef there wuz,
I reckon God kin take care of us, can't he?"

"He won't do it, though, ef we don't mind our mother," replied Diddie.

"Mammy ain't none of our mother, and tain't none of her business not to
be lettin' us play on the lumber, neither. Please come, Diddie, we'll
have such a fun, an' nothin' can't hurt us. If you'll come, we'll let
you keep the hotel, an' me an' Tot'll be the boarders."

The idea of keeping the hotel was too much for Diddie's scruples, and
she readily agreed to the plan. Dilsey was then despatched to the
nursery to bring the dolls, and Chris ran off to the wood-pile to get
the wheelbarrow, which was to be the omnibus for carrying passengers to
and from the hotel.

These details being satisfactorily arranged, the next thing was to slip
off from Cherubim and Seraphim, for they followed the little girls
everywhere, and they would be too much trouble on this occasion, since
they couldn't climb up on the pile themselves, and would whine piteously
if the children left them.

The plan finally decided upon was this: Diddie was to coax them to the
kitchen to get some meat, while the other children were to go as fast as
they could down the avenue and wait for her where the road turned, and
she was to slip off while the puppies were eating, and join them.

They had only waited a few minutes when Diddie came running down the
road, and behind her (unknown to her) came Old Billy.

"Oh, what made you bring him?" asked Dumps, as Diddie came up.

"I didn't know he was comin'," replied Diddie, "but he won't hurt: he'll
just eat grass all about, and we needn't notice him."

"Yes, he will hurt," said Dumps; "he behaves jus' dreadful, an' I don't
want ter go, neither, ef he's got ter be er comin'."

"Well--I know he _shall_ come," retorted Diddie. "You jes don't like him
'cause he's gettin' old. I'd be ashamed to turn against my friends like
that. When he was little and white, you always wanted to be er playin'
with him; an' now, jes 'cause he ain't pretty, you don't want him to
come anywhere, nor have no fun nor nothin'; yes--he _shall_ come; an' ef
that's the way you're goin' to do, I'm goin' right back to the house,
an' tell Mammy you've all slipped off, an' she'll come right after you,
an' then you won't get to play on the lumber."

Diddie having taken this decided stand, there was nothing for it but to
let Old Billy be of the party; and peace being thus restored, the
children continued their way, and were soon on the lumber-pile. Diddie
at once opened her hotel. Chris was the chambermaid, Riar was the
waiter, and Dilsey was the man to take the omnibus down for the
passengers. Dumps and Tot, who were to be the boarders, withdrew to the
gin-house steps, which was to be the depot, to await the arrival of the
omnibus.

"I want ter go to the hotel," said Dumps, as Dilsey came up rolling the
wheelbarrow--"me an' my three little chil'en."

"Yes, marm, jes git in," said Dilsey, and Dumps, with her wax baby and
a rag doll for her little daughters, and a large cotton-stalk for her
little boy, took a seat in the omnibus. Dilsey wheeled her up to the
hotel, and Diddie met her at the door.

"What is your name, madam?" she inquired.

"My name is Mrs. Dumps," replied the guest, "an' this is my little boy,
an' these is my little girls."

"Oh, Dumps, you play so cur'us," said Diddie; "who ever heard of anybody
bein' named Mrs. Dumps? there ain't no name like that."

"Well, I don't know nothin' else," said Dumps; "I couldn't think of
nothin'."

"Sposin' you be named Mrs. Washington, after General Washington?" said
Diddie, who was now studying a child's history of America, and was very
much interested in it.

"All right," said Dumps; and Mrs. Washington, with her son and
daughters, was assigned apartments, and Chris was sent up with
refreshments, composed of pieces of old cotton-bolls and gray moss,
served on bits of broken china.

The omnibus now returned with Tot and her family, consisting of an
India-rubber baby with a very cracked face, and a rag body that had once
sported a china head, and now had no head of any kind; but it was nicely
dressed, and there were red shoes on the feet, and it answered Tot's
purpose very well.

"Dese my 'itty dirls," said Tot, as Diddie received her, "an' I tome in
de bumberbuss."

"What is your name?" asked Diddie.

"I name--I name--I name--Miss Ginhouse," said Tot, who had evidently
never thought of a name, and had suddenly decided upon gin-house, as her
eye fell upon that object.

"No, no, Tot, that's a _thing_; that ain't no name for folks," said
Diddie. "Let's play you're Mrs. Bunker Hill, that's a nice name."

"Yes, I name Miss Unker Bill," said the gentle little girl, who rarely
objected to playing just as the others wished. Miss "Unker Bill" was
shown to her room; and now Riar came out, shaking her hand up and down,
and saying, "Ting-er-ling--ting-er-ling--ting-er-ling!" That was the
dinner-bell, and they all assembled around a table that Riar had
improvised out of a piece of plank supported on two bricks, and which
was temptingly set out with mud pies and cakes and green leaves, and
just such delicacies as Riar and Diddie could pick up.

As soon as Mrs. Washington laid eyes on the mud cakes and pies, she
exclaimed,

"Oh, Diddie, I'm er goin' ter be the cook, an' make the pies an'
things."

"I doin' ter be de took an' make de itty mud takes," said Miss Unker
Bill, and the table at once became a scene of confusion.

"No, Dumps," said Diddie, "somebody's got to be stoppin' at the hotel,
an' I think the niggers ought to be the cooks."

"But I want ter make the mud cakes," persisted Dumps, an' Tot can be the
folks at the hotel--she and the doll-babies."

"No, I doin' ter make de mud takes, too," said Tot, and the hotel seemed
in imminent danger of being closed for want of custom, when a happy
thought struck Dilsey.

"Lor-dy, chil'en! I tell yer: le's play Ole Billy is er gemman what writ
ter Miss Diddie in er letter dat he was er comin' ter de hotel, an' ter
git ready fur 'im gins he come."

"Yes," said Diddie, "and lets play Dumps an' Tot was two mo' niggers I
had ter bring up from the quarters to help cook; an' we'll make out Ole
Billy is some great general or somethin', an' we'll have ter make lots
of cakes an' puddin's for 'im. Oh, I know; we'll play he's Lord
Burgoyne."

All of the little folks were pleased at that idea, and Diddie
immediately began to issue her orders.

"You, Dumps, an' Tot an' Dilsey, an' all of yer--I've got er letter from
Lord Burgoyne, an' he'll be here to-morrow, an' I want you all to go
right into the kitchen an' make pies an' cakes." And so the whole party
adjourned to a little ditch where mud and water were plentiful (and
which on that account had been selected as the kitchen), and began at
once to prepare an elegant dinner.

Dear me! how busy the little housekeepers were! and such beautiful pies
they made, and lovely cakes all iced with white sand, and bits of grass
laid around the edges for trimming! and all the time laughing and
chatting as gayly as could be.

"Ain't we havin' fun?" said Dumps, who, regardless of her nice clothes,
was down on her knees in the ditch, with her sleeves rolled up, and her
fat little arms muddy to the elbows; "an' ain't you glad we slipped off,
Diddie? I tol' yer there wan't nothin' goin' to hurt us."

"And ain't you glad we let Billy come?" said Diddie; "we wouldn't er had
nobody to be Lord Burgoyne."

"Yes," replied Dumps; "an' he ain't behaved bad at all; he ain't butted
nobody, an' he ain't runned after nobody to-day."

"'Ook at de take," interrupted Tot, holding up a mudball that she had
moulded with her own little hands, and which she regarded with great
pride.

And now, the plank being as full as it would hold, they all returned to
the hotel to arrange the table. But after the table was set the
excitement was all over, for there was nobody to be the guest.

"Ef Ole Billy wan't so mean," said Chris, "we could fotch 'im hyear in
de omnibus. I wush we'd a let Chubbum an' Suppum come; dey'd er been
Lord Bugon."

"I b'lieve Billy would let us haul 'im," said Diddie, who was always
ready to take up for her pet; "he's rael gentle now, an' he's quit
buttin'; the only thing is, he's so big we couldn't get 'im in the
wheelbarrer."

"Me 'n Chris kin put 'im in," said Dilsey. "We kin lif 'im, ef dat's
all;" and accordingly the omnibus was dispatched for Lord Burgoyne, who
was quietly nibbling grass on the ditch bank at some little distance
from the hotel.

He raised his head as the children approached, and regarded them
attentively. "Billy! Billy! po' Ole Billy!" soothingly murmured Diddie,
who had accompanied Dilsey and Chris with the omnibus, as she had more
influence over Old Billy than anybody else. He came now at once to her
side, and rubbed his head gently against her; and while she caressed
him, Dilsey on one side and Chris on the other lifted him up to put him
on the wheelbarrow.

And now the scene changed. Lord Burgoyne, all unmindful of love or
gratitude, and with an eye single to avenging this insult to his
dignity, struggled from the arms of his captors, and, planting his head
full in Diddie's chest, turned her a somersault in the mud. Then,
lowering his head and rushing at Chris, he butted her with such force
that over she went headforemost into the ditch! and now, spying Dilsey,
who was running with all her might to gain the lumber-pile, he took
after her, and catching up with her just as she reached the gin-house,
placed his head in the middle of her back, and sent her sprawling on her
face. Diddie and Chris had by this time regained their feet, both of
them very muddy, and Chris with her face all scratched from the roots
and briers in the ditch. Seeing Old Billy occupied with Dilsey, they
started in a run for the lumber; but the wily old sheep was on the
lookout, and, taking after them full tilt, he soon landed them flat on
the ground. And now Dilsey had scrambled up, and was wiping the dirt
from her eyes, preparatory to making a fresh start. Billy, however,
seemed to have made up his mind that nobody had a right to stand up
except himself, and, before the poor little darky could get out of his
way, once more he had butted her down.

[Illustration: "OLE BILLY."]

Diddie and Chris were more fortunate this time; they were nearer the
lumber than Dilsey, and, not losing a minute, they set out for the pile
as soon as Old Billy's back was turned, and made such good time that
they both reached it, and Chris had climbed to the top before he saw
them; Diddie, however, was only half-way up, so he made a run at her,
and butted her feet from under her, and threw her back to the ground.
This time he hurt her very much, for her head struck against the
lumber, and it cut a gash in her forehead and made the blood come. This
alarmed Dumps and Tot, and they both began to cry, though they, with
Riar, were safely ensconced on top of the lumber, out of all danger.
Diddie, too, was crying bitterly; and as soon as Billy ran back to butt
at Dilsey, Chris and Riar caught hold of her hands and drew her up on
the pile.

Poor little Dilsey was now in a very sad predicament. Billy, seeing that
the other children were out of his reach, devoted his entire time and
attention to her, and her only safety was in lying flat on the ground.
If she so much as lifted her head to reconnoitre, he would plant a full
blow upon it.

The children were at their wits' end. It was long past their
dinner-time, and they were getting hungry; their clothes were all muddy,
and Diddie's dress almost torn off of her; the blood was trickling down
from the gash in her forehead, and Chris was all scratched and dirty,
and her eyes smarted from the sand in them. So it was a disconsolate
little group that sat huddled together on top of the lumber, while Old
Billy stood guard over Dilsey, but with one eye on the pile, ready to
make a dash at anybody who should be foolish enough to venture down.

"I tol' yer not to let 'im come," sobbed Dumps, "an' now I spec' we'll
hafter stay here all night, an' not have no supper nor nothin'."

"I didn't let 'im come," replied Diddie; "he come himself, an' ef you
hadn't made us run away fum Mammy, we wouldn't er happened to all this
trouble."

"I never made yer," retorted Dumps, "you come jes ez much ez anybody;
an' ef it hadn't er been fur you, Ole Billy would er stayed at home.
You're all time pettin' 'im an' feedin' 'im--hateful old thing--tell he
thinks he's got ter go ev'ywhere we go. You ought ter be 'shamed er
yourse'f. Ef I was you, I'd think myse'f too good ter be always er
'soshatin' with sheeps."

"You're mighty fond of 'im sometimes," said Diddie, "an' you was mighty
glad he was here jes now, to be Lord Burgoyne: he's jes doin' this fur
fun; an' ef Chris was _my_ nigger, I'd make her git down an' drive 'im
away."

Chris belonged to Dumps, and Mammy had taught the children never to give
orders to each other's maids, unless with full permission of the owner.

"I ain't gwine hab nuf'n ter do wid 'im," said Chris.

"Yes you are, Chris," replied Dumps, who had eagerly caught at Diddie's
suggestion of having him driven away. "Get down this minute, an' drive
'im off; ef yer don't, I'll tell Mammy you wouldn't min' me."

"Mammy'll hatter whup me, den," said Chris (for Mammy always punished
the little negroes for disobedience to their mistresses); "she'll
hatter whup me, caze I ain't gwine ter hab nuf'n tall ter do wid dat
sheep; I ain't gwine ter meddle long 'im, hab 'im buttin' me in de
ditch."

"Riar, you go," said Diddie; "he ain't butted you yet."

"He ain't gwine ter, nuther," said Riar, "caze I gwine ter stay up hyear
long o' Miss Tot, like Mammy tell me. I 'longs to her, an' I gwine stay
wid 'er myse'f, an' nuss 'er jes like Mammy say."

It was now almost dark, and Old Billy showed no signs of weariness; his
vigilance was unabated, and the children were very miserable, when they
heard the welcome sound of Mammy's voice calling "Chil'en! O-o-o-o,
chil-en!"

"Ma-a-a-m!" answered all of the little folks at once.

"Whar is yer?" called Mammy,

"On top the lumber-pile," answered the children; and soon Mammy appeared
coming through the woods.

She had missed the children at snack-time, and had been down to the
quarters, and, in fact, all over the place, hunting for them. The
children were delighted to see her now, and so, indeed, seemed Old
Billy, for, quitting his position at Dilsey's head, he set out at his
best speed for Mammy, and Dilsey immediately jumped to her feet, and was
soon on the lumber with her companions.

"Now yer gwuf fum yer, gwuf fum yer!" said Mammy, furiously waving a
cotton-stalk at Old Billy. "Gwuf fum yer, I tell you! I ain't bodern'
you. I jes come fur de chil'en, an' yer bet not fool 'long er me, yer
low-life sheep."

But Old Billy, not caring a fig for Mammy's dignity or importance,
planted his head in her breast, and over the old lady went backwards. At
this the children, who loved Mammy dearly, set up a yell, and Mammy,
still waving the cotton-stalk, attempted to rise, but Billy was ready
for her, and, with a well-aimed blow, sent her back to the earth.

"Now yer stop dat," said Mammy. "I don't want ter fool wid yer; I lay
I'll bus' yer head open mun, ef I git er good lick at yer; yer better
gwuf fum yer!" But Billy, being master of the situation, stood his
ground, and I dare say Mammy would have been lying there yet, but
fortunately Uncle Sambo and Bill, the wagoners, came along the big road,
and, hearing the children's cries, they came upon the scene of action,
and, taking their whips to Old Billy, soon drove him away.

"Mammy, we won't never run away any more," said Diddie, as Mammy came
up; "'twas Dumps's fault, anyhow."

"Nem min,' yer ma's gwine whup yer," said Mammy; "yer'd no business at
dis gin-house long o' dat sheep, an' I won'er what you kinky-head
niggers is fur, ef yer can't keep de chil'en in de yard: come yer ter
me!" And, picking up a cotton-stalk, she gave each of the little darkies
a sound whipping.

The children were more fortunate. Mamma lectured them on the sin of
running away from Mammy; but she put a piece of court-plaster on
Diddie's head, and kissed all of the dirty little faces, much to Mammy's
disgust, who grumbled a good deal because they were not punished,
saying,

"Missis is er spilin' dese chil'en, let'n uv 'em cut up all kind er
capers. Yer all better hyear me, mun. Yer better quit dem ways yer got,
er runnin' off an' er gwine in de mud, an' er gittin' yer cloes tor'd,
an' er gittin' me butted wid sheeps; yer better quit it, I tell yer; ef
yer don't, de deb'l gwine git yer, sho's yer born."

But, notwithstanding her remarks, the little girls had a nice hot
supper, and went to bed quite happy, while Mammy seated herself in her
rocking-chair, and entertained Aunt Milly for some time with the
children's evil doings and their mother's leniency.



CHAPTER V.

DIDDIE'S BOOK.


One morning Diddie came into the nursery with a big blank-book and a
lead-pencil in her hand.

"What's that, Diddie?" asked Dumps, leaving her paper dolls on the floor
where she had been playing with Chris, and coming to her sister's side.

"Now don't you bother me, Dumps," said Diddie; "I'm goin' to write a
book."

"Are you?" said Dumps, her eyes opening wide in astonishment. "Who's
goin' ter tell yer what ter say?"

"I'm goin' ter make it up out o' my head," said Diddie; "all about
little girls and boys and ladies."

"I wouldn't have no boys in it," said Dumps; "they're always so hateful:
there's Cousin Frank broke up my tea-set, an' Johnnie Miller tied er
string so tight roun' Cherubim's neck till hit nyearly choked 'im. Ef I
was writin' er book, I wouldn't have no boys in it."

"There's boun' ter be boys in it, Dumps; you can't write a book
without'n boys;" and Diddie seated herself, and opened the book before
her, while Dumps, with her elbows on the table and face in her hands,
looked on anxiously. "I'm not goin' ter write jes one straight book,"
said Diddie; "I'm goin' ter have little short stories, an' little pieces
of poetry, an' all kin' of things; an' I'll name one of the stories
'Nettie Herbert:' don't you think that's a pretty name, Dumps?"

"Jes' beautiful," replied Dumps; and Diddie wrote the name at the
beginning of the book.

"Don't you think two pages on this big paper will be long enough for one
story?" asked Diddie.

"Plenty," answered Dumps. So at the bottom of the second page Diddie
wrote "The END of Nettie Herbert."

"Now, what would you name the second story?" asked Diddie, biting her
pencil thoughtfully.

"I'd name it 'The Bad Little Girl,'" answered Dumps.

"Yes, that will do," said Diddie, and she wrote "The Bad Little Girl" at
the top of the third page; and, allowing two pages for the story, she
wrote "The END of The Bad Little Girl" at the bottom of the next page.

"And now it's time for some poetry," said Diddie, and she wrote "Poetry"
at the top of the fifth page, and so on until she had divided all of her
book into places for stories and poetry. She had three stories--"Nettie
Herbert," "The Bad Little Girl," and "Annie's Visit to her Grandma."
She had one place for poetry, and two places she had marked "History;"
for, as she told Dumps, she wasn't going to write anything unless it was
useful; she wasn't going to write just trash.

The titles being all decided upon, Dumps and Chris went back to their
dolls, and Diddie began to write her first story.

"Nettie Herbert."

"Nettie Herbert was a poor little girl;" and then she stopped and asked,

"Dumps, would you have Nettie Herbert a po' little girl?"

"No, I wouldn't have nobody er po' little girl," said Dumps,
conclusively, and Diddie drew a line through what she had written, and
began again.

"Nettie Herbert was a rich little girl, and she lived with her pa and ma
in a big house in Nu Orlins; and one time her father give her a gold
dollar, and she went down town, and bort a grate big wax doll with open
and shet eyes, and a little cooking stove with pots and kittles, and a
wuck box, and lots uv pieces uv clorf to make doll cloes, and a
bu-te-ful gold ring, and a lockit with her pas hare in it, and a big box
full uv all kinds uv candy and nuts and razens and ornges and things,
and a little git-ar to play chunes on, and two little tubs and some
little iuns to wash her doll cloes with; then she bort a little
wheelbarrer, and put all the things in it, and started fur home. When
she was going a long, presently she herd sumbody cryin and jes a sobbin
himself most to deaf; and twas a poor little boy all barefooted and jes
as hungry as he could be; and he said his ma was sick, and his pa was
dead, and he had nine little sisters and seven little bruthers, and he
hadn't had a mouthful to eat in two weeks, and no place to sleep, nor
nuthin'. So Nettie went to a doctors house, and told him she would give
him the gold ring fur some fyssick fur the little boys muther; and the
doctor give her some castor-oil and parrygorick, and then she went on
tell they got to the house, and Nettie give her the fyssick, and some
candy to take the taste out of her mouth, and it done her lots uv good;
and she give all her nuts and candy to the poor little chillen. And she
went back to the man what sold her the things, and told him all about
it; and he took back all the little stoves and tubs and iuns and things
she had bort, and give her the money, and she carried it strait to the
poor woman, and told her to buy some bread and cloes for her chillen.
The poor woman thanked her very much, and Nettie told em good-by, and
started fur home."

Here Diddie stopped suddenly and said,

"Come here a little minute, Dumps; I want you to help me wind up this
tale." Then, after reading it aloud, she said, "You see, I've only got
six mo' lines of paper, an' I haven't got room to tell all that happened
to her, an' what become of her. How would you wind up, if you were me?"

"I b'lieve I'd say, she furgive her sisters, an' married the prince, an'
lived happy ever afterwards, like 'Cinderilla an' the Little Glass
Slipper.'"

"Oh, Dumps, you're such er little goose; that kind of endin' wouldn't
suit my story at all," said Diddie; "but I'll have to wind up somehow,
for all the little girls who read the book will want to know what become
of her, an' there's only six lines to wind up in; an' she's only a
little girl, an' she can't get married; besides, there ain't any prince
in Nu Orlins. No, somethin' will have to happen to her. I tell you, I
b'lieve I'll make a runaway horse run over her goin' home."

"Oh, no, Diddie, please don't," entreated Dumps; "po' little Nettie,
don't make the horse run over her."

"I'm _obliged to_, Dumps; you mustn't be so tender-hearted; she's got
ter be wound up somehow, an' I might let the Injuns scalp her, or the
bears eat her up, an' I'm sure that's a heap worse than jes er horse
runnin' over her; an' then you know she ain't no sho' nuff little girl;
she's only made up out of my head."

"I don't care, I don't want the horse to run over her. I think it's bad
enough to make her give 'way all her candy an' little tubs an' iuns an'
wheelbarrers, without lettin' the horses run over her; an' ef that's
the way you're goin' ter do, I sha'n't have nuthin' 'tall ter do with
it."

And Dumps, having thus washed her hands of the whole affair, went back
to her dolls, and Diddie resumed her writing:

"As she was agoin along, presently she herd sumthin cumin
book-er-ty-book, book-er-ty-book, and there was a big horse and a buggy
cum tearin down the road, and she ran jes hard as she could; but befo
she could git out er the way, the horse ran rite over her, and killed
her, and all the people took her up and carried her home, and put
flowers all on her, and buried her at the church, and played the organ
'bout her; and that's

"The END of Nettie Herbert."

"Oh, dear me!" she sighed, when she had finished, "I am tired of writin'
books; Dumps, sposin' you make up 'bout the 'Bad Little Girl,' an' I'll
write it down jes like you tell me."

"All right," assented Dumps, once more leaving her dolls, and coming to
the table. Then, after thinking for a moment, she began, with great
earnestness:

"Once pun er time there was er bad little girl, an' she wouldn't min'
nobody, nor do no way nobody wanted her to; and when her mother went ter
give her fyssick, you jes ought ter seen her cuttin' up! _she_ skweeled,
an' _she_ holler'd, an' _she_ kicked, an' she jes done ev'y bad way she
could; an' one time when she was er goin' on like that the spoon slipped
down her throat, an' choked her plum ter death; an' not long after that,
when she was er playin' one day--"

"Oh, but, Dumps," interrupted Diddie, "you said she was dead."

"No, I nuver said nuthin' 'bout her bein' dead," replied Dumps; "an' ef
you wrote down that she's dead, then you wrote a story, 'cause she's
livin' as anybody."

"You said the spoon choked her to death," said Diddie.

"Well, hit nuver killed her, anyhow," said Dumps; "hit jes only give her
spasums; an' now you've gone and put me all out; what was I sayin'?"

"When she was er playin' one day," prompted Diddie.

"Oh yes," continued Dumps, "when she was er playin' one day on the side
uv the creek with her little sister, she got ter fightin' an' pinchin'
an' scrougin', an' the fus thing she knowed, she fell kersplash in the
creek, and got drownded. An' one time her mammy tol' 'er not nuber ter
clim' up on the fender, an' she neber min' 'er, but clum right upon the
fender ter git an apple off'n the mantel-piece; an' the fender turned
over, an' she fell in the fire an' burnt all up. An' another time, jes
er week after that, she was er foolin' 'long--"

"Dumps, what are you talkin' 'bout?" again interrupted Diddie. "She
couldn't be er foolin' long o' nothin' ef she's dead."

"But she ain't dead, Diddie," persisted Dumps.

"Well, you said the fire burned her up," retorted Diddie.

"I don't care ef hit did," said Dumps; "she nuver died bout hit; an' ef
you're goin' ter keep sayin' she's dead, then I sha'n't tell yer no
mo'."

"Go on, then," said Diddie, "and I won't bother you."

"Well, one time," continued Dumps, "when she was er foolin' 'long o'
cow, what she had no business, the cow run his horns right through her
neck, an' throwed her way-ay-ay up yon'er; an' she nuver come down no
mo', an' that's all."

"But, Dumps, what become of her?" asked Diddie.

"I dunno what become uv her," said Dumps. "She went ter hebn, I reckon."

"But she couldn't go ter hebn ef she's so bad," said Diddie; "the angel
wouldn't let her come in."

"The cow throwed her in," said Dumps, "an' the angel wan't er lookin',
an' he nuver knowed nuthin' 'bout it."

"That's er mighty funny story," said Diddie; "but I'll let it stay in
the book--only you ain't finished it, Dumps, Hyear's fo' mo' lines of
paper ain't written yet."

"That's all I know," replied Dumps. And Diddie, after considering
awhile, said she thought it would be very nice to wind it up with a
piece of poetry. Dumps was delighted at that suggestion, and the little
girls puzzled their brains for rhymes. After thinking for some time,
Diddie wrote,

"Once 'twas a little girl, and she was so bad,"

and read it aloud; then said, "Now, Dumps, sposin' you make up the nex'
line."

Dumps buried her face in her hands, and remained in deep study for a few
moments, and presently said,

"And now she is dead, an' I am so glad."

"Oh, Dumps, that's too wicked," said Diddie. "You mustn't never be glad
when anybody's dead; that's too wicked a poetry; I sha'n't write it in
the book."

"Well, I nuver knowed nuthin' else," said Dumps. "I couldn't hardly make
that up; I jes had ter study all my might; and I'm tired of writin
poetry, anyhow; you make it up all by yoursef."

Diddie, with her brows drawn together in a frown, and her eyes tight
shut, chewed the end of her pencil, and, after a few moments, said,

"Dumps, do you min' ef the cow was to run his horns through her _forrid_
stid of her neck?"

"No, hit don't make no diffrence to me," replied Dumps.

"Well, then," said Diddie, "ef 'twas her _forrid_, I kin fix it."

So, after a little more study and thought, Diddie wound up the story
thus:

"Once 'twas er little girl, so wicked and horrid,
Till the cow run his horns right slap through her forrid,
And throwed her to hebn all full of her sin,
And, the gate bein open, he pitched her right in."

And that was "The END of the Bad Little Girl."

"Now there's jes one mo' tale," said Diddie, "and that's about 'Annie's
Visit,' an' I'm tired of makin' up books; Chris, can't you make up
that?"

"I dunno hit," said Chris, "but I kin tell yer 'bout'n de tar baby, ef
dat'll do."

"Don't you think that'll do jes as well, Dumps?" asked Diddie.

"Certingly!" replied Dumps. So Diddie drew her pencil through "Annie's
Visit," and wrote in its place,

"The Tar Baby,"

and Chris began:

"Once pun a time, 'twuz er ole Rabbit an' er ole Fox and er ole Coon:
an' dey all lived close togedder; an' de ole Fox he had him er mighty
fine goober-patch, w'at he nuber 'low nobody ter tech; an' one mornin'
atter he git up, an' wuz er walkin' 'bout in his gyarden, he seed
tracks, an' he foller de tracks, an' he see whar sumbody ben er grabbin'
uv his goobers. An' ev'y day he see de same thing; an' he watch, an' he
watch, an' he couldn't nuber cotch nobody! an' he went, he did, ter de
Coon, and he sez, sezee, 'Brer Coon, dar's sumbody stealin' uv my
goobers.'

"'Well,' sez Brer Coon, sezee, 'I bet yer hit's Brer Rabbit.'

"'I lay I'll fix 'im,' sez Brer Fox; so he goes, he does, and he tuck'n
made er man out'n tar, an' he sot 'im, he did, right in de middle uv de
goober-patch. Well, sar, soon ez eber de moon riz, Brer Rabbit, he stole
outn his house, and he lit right out fur dem goobers; and by'mby he sees
de tar man er stanin' dar, an' he hollers out, 'Who's dat er stanin' dar
an' er fixin' ter steal Brer Fox's goobers?' Den he lis'en, and nobody
nuver anser, and he 'gin ter git mad, and he sez, sezee, 'Yer brack
nigger you, yer better anser me wen I speaks ter yer;' and wid dat he
hault off, he did, and hit de tar baby side de head, and his han' stuck
fas' in de tar. 'Now yer better turn me er loose,' sez Brer Rabbit,
sezee; 'I got er nuther han' lef',' and 'ker bum' he come wid his udder
han', on de tar baby's tuther jaw, an' dat han' stuck.

"'Look er hyear! who yer foolin' wid?' sez Brer Rabbit; 'I got er foot
yit.' Den he kick wid all his might, an' his foot stuck. Den he kick wid
his udder foot, an' dat stuck. Den Brer Rabbit he 'gun ter git madder'n
he wuz, an' sezee, 'Ef yer fool 'long o' me mun, I'll butt de life out'n
yer;' an' he hault off wid his head, an' butt de tar baby right in de
chis, an' his head stuck. Den dar he wuz! an' dar he had ter stay, till,
by'mby, Brer Fox he come er long, an' he seed de Rabbit er stickin' dar,
an' he tuck him up, an' he cyard 'im long ter Brer Coon's house, an' he
sez, sezee,

"'Brer Coon, hyear's de man wat stole my goobers; now wat mus' I do wid
'im?'

"Brer Coon tuck de Fox off one side, he did, an' he say, 'Le's give 'im
his chice, wheder he'd er ruther be tho'd in de fire or de brier-patch;
an' ef he say de fire, den we'll fling 'im in de briers; an' ef he say
de briers, den we'll fling 'im in de fire.' So dey went back ter de
Rabbit, an' ax 'im wheder he'd er ruther be tho'd in de fire or de
briers.

"'Oh, Brer Fox,' sezee, 'plee-ee-eeze don't tho me in de briers, an' git
me all scratched up; plee-ee-eeze tho me in de fire; fur de Lord's
sake,' sezee, 'don't tho me in de briers.'

"And wid dat, Brer Fox he lif' 'im up, an' tho'd 'im way-ay-ay over in
de briers. Den Brer Rabbit he kick up his heels, he did, an' he laugh,
an' he laugh, an' he holler out,

"'Good-bye, Brer Fox! Far' yer well, Brer Coon! I wuz born an' riz in de
briers!' And wid dat he lit right out, he did, an' he nuber stop tell he
got clean smack home."

[Illustration: "THE TAR BABY."]

The children were mightily pleased with this story; and Diddie, after
carefully writing underneath it,

"The END of The Tar Baby,"

said she could write the poetry and history part some other day; so she
closed the book, and gave it to Mammy to put away for her, and she and
Dumps went out for a ride on Corbin.



CHAPTER VI.

UNCLE SNAKE-BIT BOB'S SUNDAY-SCHOOL.


There was no more faithful slave in all the Southland than old Uncle
Snake-bit Bob. He had been bitten by a rattlesnake when he was a boy,
and the limb had to be amputated, and its place was supplied with a
wooden peg. There were three or four other "Bobs" on the plantation, and
he was called _Snake-bit_ to distinguish him. Though lame, and sick a
good deal of his time, his life had not been wasted, nor had he been a
useless slave to his master. He made all of the baskets that were used
in the cotton-picking season, and had learned to mend shoes; besides
that, he was the great horse-doctor of the neighborhood, and not only
cured his master's horses and mules, but was sent for for miles around
to see the sick stock; and then, too, he could re-bottom chairs, and
make buckets and tubs and brooms; and all of the money he made was his
own: so the old man had quite a little store of gold and silver sewed up
in an old bag and buried somewhere--nobody knew where except himself;
for Uncle Snake-bit Bob had never married, and had no family ties; and,
furthermore, he was old Granny Rachel's only child, and Granny had died
long, _long_ ago, ever since the children's mother was a baby, and he
had no brothers or sisters. So, having no cause to spend his money, he
had laid it up until now he was a miser, and would steal out by himself
at night and count his gold and silver, and chuckle over it with great
delight.

But he was a very good old man; as Mammy used to say, "he wuz de piuses
man dar wuz on de place;" and he had for years led in "de
pra'r-meetin's, and called up de mo'ners."

One evening, as he sat on a hog-pen talking to Uncle Daniel, who was a
preacher, they began to speak of the wickedness among the young negroes
on the plantation.

"Pyears ter me," said Uncle Bob, "ez ef dem niggers done furgot dey got
ter die; dey jes er dancin' an' er cavortin' ev'y night, an' dey'll git
lef', mun, wheneber dat angel blow his horn. I tell you what I ben er
stud'n, Brer Dan'l. I ben er stud'n dat what's de matter wid deze
niggers is, dat de chil'en ain't riz right. Yer know de Book hit sez ef
yer raise de chil'en, like yer want 'em ter go, den de ole uns dey won't
part fum hit; an', sar, ef de Lord spars me tell nex' Sunday, I 'low ter
ax marster ter lemme teach er Sunday-school in de gin-house fur de
chil'en."

Major Waldron heartily consented to Uncle Bob's proposition, and had
the gin-house all swept out for him, and had the carpenter to make him
some rough benches. And when the next Sunday evening came around, all of
the little darkies, with their heads combed and their Sunday clothes on,
assembled for the Sunday-school. The white children begged so hard to go
too, that finally Mammy consented to take them. So when Uncle Snake-bit
Bob walked into the gin-house, their eager little faces were among those
of his pupils. "Now, you all sot down," said Uncle Bob, "an' 'have
yerse'fs till I fix yer in er line." Having arranged them to his
satisfaction, he delivered to them a short address, setting forth the
object of the meeting, and his intentions concerning them. "Chil'en," he
began, "I fotch yer hyear dis ebenin fur ter raise yer like yer ought
ter be riz. De folks deze days is er gwine ter strucshun er dancin' an'
er pickin' uv banjers an' er singin' uv reel chunes an' er cuttin' up uv
ev'y kin' er dev'lment. I ben er watchin' 'em; an', min' yer, when de
horn hit soun' fur de jes' ter rise, half de niggers gwine ter be wid de
onjes'. An' I 'low ter myse'f dat I wuz gwine ter try ter save de
chil'en. I gwine ter pray fur yer, I gwine ter struc yer, an' I gwine do
my bes' ter lan' yer in hebn. Now yer jes pay tenshun ter de strucshun I
gwine give yer--dat's all I ax uv yer--an' me an' de Lord we gwine do de
res'."

After this exhortation, the old man began at the top of the line, and
asked "Gus," a bright-eyed little nig, "Who made you?"

"I dun no, sar," answered Gus, very untruthfully, for Aunt Nancy had
told him repeatedly.

"God made yer," said Uncle Bob. "Now, who made yer?"

"God," answered Gus.

"Dat's right," said the old man; then proceeded to "Jim," the next in
order. "What'd he make yer outn?" demanded the teacher.

"I dunno, sar," answered Jim, with as little regard for truth as Gus had
shown.

"He made yer out'n dut," said Uncle Bob. "Now, what'd he make yer
out'n?"

"Dut," answered Jim, promptly, and the old man passed on to the next.

"What'd he make yer fur?"

Again the answer was, "I dunno, sar;" and the old man, after scratching
his head and reflecting a moment, said, "Fur ter do de bes' yer kin,"
which the child repeated after him.

"Who wuz de fus man?" was his next question; and the little nig
professing ignorance, as usual, the old man replied, "Marse Adum." And
so he went all down the line, explaining that "Marse Cain kilt his
brudder;" that "Marse Abel wuz de fus man slewed;" that "Marse Noah
built de ark;" that "Marse Thuselum wuz de oldes' man," and so on, until
he reached the end of the line, and had almost exhausted his store of
information. Then, thinking to see how much the children remembered, he
began at the top of the line once more, and asked the child,

"Who made yer?"

"Dut," answered the little negro.

"Who?" demanded Uncle Bob, in astonishment.

"Dut," replied the child.

"Didn' I tell yer God made yer?" asked the old man.

"No, sar," replied the boy; "dat'n wat God made done slip out de do'."

And so it was. As soon as Uncle Bob's back was turned, Gus, who had
wearied of the Sunday-school, slipped out, and the old man had not
noticed the change.

The confusion resulting from this trifling circumstance was fearful.
"Dut" made the first child. The question, "What did he make yer fur?"
was promptly answered, "Marse Adum." "Eve wuz de fus man." "Marse Cain
wuz de fus 'oman." "Marse Abel kilt his brudder." "Marse Noah wuz de fus
one slewed." "Marse Thuselum built de ark." And so on, until the old man
had to begin all over again, and give each one a new answer. The
catechising through with, Uncle Bob said:

"Now, chil'en, I gwine splain de Scripchurs ter yer. I gwine tell yer
boutn Dan'l in de lions' den. Dan'l wuz er good Christyun man wat lived
in de Bible; and whedder he wuz er white man or whedder he wuz er brack
man I dunno; I ain't nuber hyeard nobody say. But dat's neder hyear nor
dar; he wuz er good man, and he pray tree times eby day. At de fus
peepin' uv de day, Brer Dan'l he usen fur ter hop outn his bed and git
down on his knees; and soon's eber de horn hit blowed fur de hans ter
come outn de field fur dinner, Brer Dan'l he went in his house, he did,
and he flop right back on 'is knees. And wen de sun set, den dar he wuz
agin er prayin' and er strivin' wid de Lord.

"Well, de king uv dat kentry, he 'low he nuber want no prayin' bout 'im;
he sez, sezee, 'I want de thing fur ter stop;' but Brer Dan'l, he nuber
studid 'im; he jes prayed right on, tell by'mby de king he 'low dat de
nex' man wat he cotch prayin' he wuz gwine cas'm in de lions' den.

"Well, nex' mornin, soon's Brer Dan'l riz fum 'is bed, he lit right on
'is knees, an' went ter prayin'; an' wile he wuz er wrestlin' in prar de
pater-rollers dey come in, an' dey tied 'im han' an' foot wid er rope,
an' tuck 'im right erlong tell dey come ter de lions' den; an' wen dey
wuz yit er fur ways fum dar dey hyeard de lions er ro'in an' er sayin',
'Ar-ooorrrrar! aroooorrrrrar!' an' all dey hearts 'gun ter quake sept'n
Brer Dan'l's; he nuber note's 'em; he jes pray 'long. By'mby dey git
ter de den, an' dey tie er long rope roun' Brer Dan'l's was'e, an' tho
'im right in! an' den dey drawed up de rope, an' went back whar dey come
fum.

"Well, yearly nex' mornin hyear dey come agin, an' dis time de king he
come wid 'em; an' dey hyeard de lions er ro'in, 'Ar-ooorrrrar!
arooorrrrar!' an' dey come ter de den, an' dey open de do', an' dar wuz
de lions wid dey mouf open an' dey eyes er shinin', jes er trompin'
backerds an' forerds; an' dar in de corner sot an angel smoovin' uv 'is
wings; an' right in de middle uv de den was Dan'l, jes er sot'n back
dar! Gemmun, _he wuzn totch!_ he nuber so much as had de smell uv de
lions bout'n 'im! he wuz jes as whole, mun, as he wuz de day he wuz
born! Eben de boots on 'im, sar, wuz ez shiny ez dey wuz wen dey put 'im
in dar.

"An' he jes clum up de side uv de den, he did; an' soon's uber his feet
tech de yeath, he sez ter de king, sezee, 'King, hit ain't no usen fur
yer ter fool erlong o' me,' sezee; 'I'm er prayin' man mysef, an I 'low
ter live an' die on my knees er prayin' an' er sarvin' de Lord.' Sezee,
'De Lord ain't gwine let de lions meddle long o' me,' sezee; 'I ain't
fyeard o' nufn,' sezee. 'De Lord is my strengt an' my rocks, an' I ain't
er fyeard o' NO man.' An' wid dat he helt er preachin', sar, right whar
he wuz; an' he tol' 'em uv dey sins, an' de goodness uv de Lord. He
preach de word, he did, right erlong, an' atter dat he 'gun ter sing dis
hymn:

"'Dan'l wuz er prayin' man;
  He pray tree times er day;
De Lord he hist de winder,
  Fur ter hyear po' Dan'l pray.'

"Den he 'gun ter call up de mo'ners, an' dey come too! Mun, de whole
yeath wuz erlive wid 'em: de white folks dey went up; an' de niggers
_dey_ went up; an' de pater-rollers _dey_ went up; an' de king _he_ went
up; an' dey all come thu an' got 'ligion; an' fum dat day dem folks is
er sarvin' de Lord.

"An' now, chil'en, efn yer be like Brer Dan'l, an' say yer prars, an'
put yer pen'ence in de Lord, yer needn be er fyeard uv no lions; de
Lord, he'll take cyar uv yer, an' he'll be mighty proud ter do it.

"Now," continued the old man, "we'll close dis meet'n by singin' uv er
hymn, an' den yer kin all go. I'll give de hymn out, so's dar needn't be
no 'scuse 'bout not know'n uv de words, an' so's yer all kin sing."

The children rose to their feet, and Uncle Bob, with great solemnity,
gave out the following hymn, which they all, white and black, sang with
great fervor:

"O bless us, Lord! O bless us, Lord!
  O bless us mo' an' mo';
Unless yer'll come an' bless us, Lord,
  We will not let yer go.

"My marster, Lord; my marster, Lord--
  O Lord, he does his bes',
So when yer savin' sinners, Lord,
  Save him wid all de res'.
O bless us, Lord! O bless us, Lord!
  An' keep us in yer cyar;
Unless yer'll come an' bless us, Lord,
  We're gwine ter hol' yer hyear.

"My missus, Lord; my missus, Lord,
  O bless my missus now--
She's tryin' hard ter serve yer, Lord,
  But den she dunno how.
O bless us, Lord! O bless us, Lord!
  O bless us now, we pray;
Unless yer'll come an' bless us, Lord,
  We won't leave hyear ter day.

"Deze chil'en, Lord; deze chil'en, Lord,
  O keep dey little feet
Er gwien straight ter hebn, Lord,
  Fur ter walk dat golden street.
O bless us, Lord! O bless us, Lord!
  O come in all yer might;
Unless yer'll come an' bless us, Lord,
  We'll wrestle hyear all night.

"Deze niggers, Lord; deze niggers, Lord,
  Dey skins is black, hit's true,
But den dey souls is white, my Lord,
  So won't yer bless dem too?
O bless us, Lord! O bless us, Lord!
  O bless us mo' an' mo';
Unless yer'll come an' bless us, Lord,
  We'll keep yer hyear fur sho.

"All folkses, Lord; all folkses, Lord--
  O Lord, bless all de same.
O bless de good, an' bless de bad,
  Fur de glory uv dy name.
Now bless us, Lord! now bless us, Lord!
  Don't fool 'long o' us, no mo';
O sen' us down de blessin', Lord,
  An' den we'll let yer go."



CHAPTER VII.

POOR ANN.


"Miss Diddie!" called Dilsey, running into the nursery one morning in a
great state of excitement; then, seeing that Diddie was not there, she
stopped short, and demanded, "Whar Miss Diddie?"

"She's sayin' her lessons," answered Dumps. "What do you want with her?"

"De specerlaters is come," said Dilsey; "dey's right down yon'er on de
crick banks back er de quarters."

In an instant Dumps and Tot had abandoned their dolls, and Chris and
Riar had thrown aside their quilt-pieces (for Aunt Milly was teaching
them to sew), and they were all just leaving the room when Mammy
entered.

"Whar yer gwine?" asked Mammy.

"Oh, Mammy, de specerlaters is come," said Dumps, "an' we're goin' down
to the creek to see 'um."

"No yer ain't, nuther," said Mammy. "Yer ain't er gwine er nyear dem
specerlaters, er cotchin' uv measles an' hookin'-coffs an' sich, fum
dem niggers. Yer ain't gwine er nyear 'um; an' yer jes ez well fur ter
tuck off dem bunnits, an' ter set yerse'fs right back on de flo' an' go
ter playin'. An' efn you little niggers don't tuck up dem quilt-pieces
an' go ter patchin' uv 'em, I lay I'll hu't yer, mun! Who dat tell deze
chil'en 'bout de specerlaters?"

"Hit uz Dilsey," answered Chris and Riar in a breath; and Mammy, giving
Dilsey a sharp slap, said,

"Now yer come er prancin' in hyear ergin wid all kin' er news, an' I bet
yer'll be sorry fur it. Yer know better'n dat. Yer know deze chil'en
ain't got no bizness 'long o' specerlaters."

In the meanwhile Dumps and Tot were crying over their disappointment.

"Yer mean old thing!" sobbed Dumps. "I ain't goin' ter min' yer, nuther;
an' I sha'n't nuver go ter sleep no mo', an' let yer go to
prayer-meetin's; jes all time botherin' me, an' won't lemme see de
specerlaters, nor nothin'."

"Jes lis'en how yer talkin'," said Mammy, "givin' me all dat sass.
You're de sassies' chile marster's got. Nobody can't nuver larn yer no
manners, aller er sassin ole pussons. Jes keep on, an' yer'll see wat'll
happen ter yer; yer'll wake up some er deze mornins, an' yer won't have
no hyar on yer head. I knowed er little gal onct wat sassed her mudder,
an' de Lord he sent er angel in de night, he did, an' struck her plum'
bald-headed."

"You ain't none o' my mother," replied Dumps. "You're mos' black ez my
shoes; an' de Lord ain't er goin' ter pull all my hair off jes 'boutn
you."

"I gwine right down-sta'rs an' tell yer ma," said Mammy. "She don't 'low
none o' you chil'en fur ter sass me, an' ter call me brack; she nuver
done it herse'f, wen she wuz little. I'se got ter be treated wid 'spec
myse'f; ef I don't, den hit's time fur me ter quit min'en chil'en: I
gwine tell yer ma."

And Mammy left the room in high dudgeon, but presently came back, and
said Dumps was to go to her mother at once.

"What is the matter with my little daughter?" asked her father, as she
came slowly down-stairs, crying bitterly, and met him in the hall.

"Mammy's ben er sa-a-as-sin me," sobbed Dumps; "an' she sa-aid de Lord
wuz goin' ter sen' an angel fur ter git my ha-air, an' she won't lem'me
go-o-o ter see de spec-ec-ec-erlaters."

"Well, come in mamma's room," said her father, "and we'll talk it all
over."

And the upshot of the matter was that Major Waldron said he would
himself take the children to the speculator's camp; and accordingly, as
soon as dinner was over, they all started off in high glee--the three
little girls and the three little negroes--leaving Mammy standing at the
top of the stairs, muttering to herself, "Er catchin' uv de measles an'
de hookin'-coffs."

The speculator's camp was situated on the bank of the creek, and a very
bright scene it presented as Major Waldron and his party came up to it.
At a little distance from the main encampment was the speculator's tent,
and the tents for the negroes were dotted here and there among the
trees. Some of the women were washing at the creek, others were cooking,
and some were sitting in front of their tents sewing; numbers of little
negroes were playing about, and, altogether, the "speculator's camp" was
not the horrible thing that one might suppose.

The speculator, who was a jolly-looking man weighing over two hundred
pounds, came forward to meet Major Waldron and show him over the
encampment.

The negroes were well clothed, well fed, and the great majority of them
looked exceedingly happy.

They came across one group of boys and girls dancing and singing. An old
man, in another group, had collected a number of eager listeners around
him, and was recounting some marvellous tale; but occasionally there
would be a sad face and a tearful eye, and Mr. Waldron sighed as he
passed these, knowing that they were probably grieving over the home and
friends they had left.

As they came to one of the tents, the speculator said, "There is a sick
yellow woman in there, that I bought in Maryland. She had to be sold in
the settlement of an estate, and she has fretted herself almost to
death; she is in such bad health now that I doubt if anybody will buy
her, though she has a very likely little boy about two years old."

Mr. Waldron expressed a wish to see the woman, and they went in.

Lying on a very comfortable bed was a woman nearly white; her eyes were
deep-sunken in her head, and she was painfully thin. Mr. Waldron took
her hand in his, and looked into her sad eyes.

"Do you feel much pain?" he asked, tenderly.

"Yes, sir," answered the woman, "I suffer a great deal; and I am so
unhappy, sir, about my baby; I can't live long, and what will become of
him? If I only had a home, where I could make friends for him before I
die, where I could beg and entreat the people to be kind to him and take
care of him! 'Tis that keeps me sick, sir."

By this time Diddie's eyes were swimming in tears, and Dumps was sobbing
aloud; seeing which, Tot began to cry too, though she hadn't the
slightest idea what was the matter; and Diddie, going to the side of the
bed, smoothed the woman's long black hair, and said,

"We'll take you home with us, an' we'll be good to your little boy, me
an' Dumps an' Tot, an' I'll give 'im some of my marbles."

"An' my little painted wagin," put in Dumps.

"An' you shall live with us always," continued Diddie; "an' Mammy'll put
yer feet into hot water, an' rub turkentine on yer ches', an' give yer
'fermifuge' ev'y mornin', an' you'll soon be well. Papa, sha'n't she go
home with us?"

Major Waldron's own eyes moistened as he answered,

"We will see about it, my daughter;" and, telling the woman, whose name
was Ann, that he would see her again, he left the tent, and presently
the camp.

That night, after the little folks were asleep, Major Waldron and his
wife had a long talk about the sick woman and her little boy, and it was
decided between them that Major Waldron should go the next morning and
purchase them both.

The children were delighted when they knew of this decision, and took an
active part in preparing one room of the laundry for Ann's reception.
Their mother had a plain bedstead moved in, and sent down from the house
a bed and mattress, which she supplied with sheets, pillows, blankets,
and a quilt. Then Uncle Nathan, the carpenter, took a large wooden box
and put shelves in it, and tacked some bright-colored calico all around
it, and made a bureau. Two or three chairs were spared from the
nursery, and Diddie put some of her toys on the mantel-piece for the
baby; and then, when they had brought in a little square table and
covered it with a neat white cloth, and placed upon it a mug of flowers,
and when Uncle Nathan had put up some shelves in one corner of the room,
and driven some pegs to hang clothes on, they pronounced the room all
ready.

And Ann, who had lived for several months in the camp, was delighted
with her new home and the preparations that her little mistresses had
made for her. The baby, too, laughed and clapped his hands over the toys
the children gave him. His name was Henry, and a very pretty child he
was. He was almost as white as Tot, and his black hair curled in
ringlets all over his head; but, strange to say, neither he nor his
mother gained favor with the negroes on the place.

Mammy said openly that she "nuver had no 'pinion uv wite niggers," and
that "marster sholy had niggers 'nuff fur ter wait on 'im doutn buyen
'em."

But, for all that, Ann and her little boy were quite happy. She was
still sick, and could never be well, for she had consumption; though she
got much better, and could walk about the yard, and sit in front of her
door with Henry in her lap. Her devotion to her baby was unusual in a
slave; she could not bear to have him out of her sight, and never seemed
happy unless he was playing around her or nestling in her arms.

Mrs. Waldron, of course, never exacted any work of Ann. They had bought
her simply to give her a home and take care of her, and faithfully that
duty was performed. Her meals were carried from the table, and she had
every attention paid to her comfort.

One bright evening, when she was feeling better than usual, she went out
for a walk, and, passing Uncle Snake-bit Bob's shop, she stopped to look
at his baskets, and to let little Henry pick up some white-oak splits
that he seemed to have set his heart on.

The old man, like all the other negroes, was indignant that his master
should have purchased her; for they all prided themselves on being
inherited, and "didn't want no bought folks" among them. He had never
seen her, and now would scarcely look at or speak to her.

"You weave these very nicely," said Ann, examining one of his baskets.
Uncle Bob looked up, and, seeing she was pale and thin, offered her a
seat, which she accepted.

"Is this always your work?" asked Ann, by way of opening a conversation
with the old man.

"In cose 'tis," he replied; "who dat gwine ter make de baskits les'n
hit's me? I done make baskits 'fo mistiss wuz born; I usen ter 'long ter
her pa; I ain't no bort nigger myse'f."

"You are certainly very fortunate," answered Ann, "for the slave that
has never been on the block can never know the full bitterness of
slavery."

"Wy, yer talkin' same ez wite folks," said Uncle Bob. "Whar yer git all
dem fine talkin's fum? ain't you er nigger same ez me?"

"Yes, I am a negress, Uncle Bob; or, rather, my mother was a slave, and
I was born in slavery; but I have had the misfortune to have been
educated."

"Kin yer read in de book?" asked the old man earnestly.

"Oh yes, as well as anybody."

"Who showed yer?" asked Uncle Bob.

"My mistress had me taught; but, if it won't bother you, I'll just tell
you all about it, for I want to get your interest, Uncle Bob, and gain
your love, if I can--yours, and everybody's on the place--for I am sick,
and must die, and I want to make friends, so they will be kind to my
baby. Shall I tell you my story?"

The old man nodded his head, and went on with his work, while Ann
related to him the sad history of her life.

"My mother, who was a favorite slave, died when I was born; and my
mistress, who had a young baby only a few days older than myself, took
me to nurse. I slept, during my infancy, in the cradle with my little
mistress, and afterwards in the room with her, and thus we grew up as
playmates and companions until we reached our seventh year, when we
both had scarlet fever. My little mistress, who was the only child of a
widow, died; and her mother, bending over her death-bed, cried, 'I will
have no little daughter now!' when the child placed her arms about her
and said, 'Mamma, let Ann be your daughter; she'll be your little girl;
I'll go to her mamma, and she'll stay with my mamma.'

"And from that time I was no more a slave, but a child in the house. My
mistress brought a governess for me from the North, and I was taught as
white girls are. I was fond of my books, and my life was a very happy
one, though we lived on a lonely plantation, and had but little company.

"I was almost white, as you see, and my mistress had taught me to call
her mamma. I was devoted to her, and very fond of my governess, and they
both petted me as if I really had been a daughter instead of a slave.
Four years ago the brother of my governess came out from Vermont to make
his sister a visit at our home. He fell in love with me, and I loved him
dearly, and, accompanied by my 'mamma' and his sister, we went into
Pennsylvania, and were married. You know we could not be married in
Maryland, for it is a Slave State, and I was a slave. My mistress had,
of course, always intended that I should be free, but neglected from
time to time to draw up the proper papers.

"For two years after my marriage my husband and I lived on the
plantation, he managing the estate until he was called to Washington on
business, and, in returning, the train was thrown down an embankment,
and he was among the killed.

"Soon after that my baby was born, and before he was six months old my
mistress died suddenly, when it was found that the estate was insolvent,
and everything must be sold to pay the debts; and I and my baby, with
the other goods and chattels, were put up for sale. Mr. Martin, the
speculator, bought me, thinking I would bring a fancy price; but my
heart was broken, and I grieved until my health gave way, so that nobody
ever wanted me, until your kind-hearted master bought me to give me a
home to die in. But oh, Uncle Bob," she continued, bursting into tears,
"to think my boy, my baby, must be a slave! His father's relatives are
poor. He had only a widowed mother and two sisters. They are not able to
buy my child, and he must be raised in ignorance, to do another's
bidding all his life, my poor little baby! His dear father hated
slavery, and it seems so hard that his son must be a slave!"

"Now don't yer take on like dat, er makin' uv yerse'f sick," said Uncle
Bob; "I know wat I gwine do; my min' hit's made up; hit's true, I'm
brack, but den my min' hit's made up. Now you go on back ter de house,
outn dis damp a'r, an' tuck cyar er yerse'f, an' don't yer be er
frettin', nuther, caze my marster, he's de bes' man dey is; an' den,
'sides dat, my min' hit's made up. Hyear, honey," addressing the child,
"take deze hyear wite-oak splits an' go'n make yer er baskit 'long o'
yer ma."

[Illustration: "MY MIN' HIT'S MADE UP."]

Ann and her baby returned to the house, but Uncle Snake-bit Bob, long
after the sun went down, still sat on his little bench in front of his
shop, his elbows on his knees, and his face buried in his hands; and
when it grew quite dark he rose, and put away his splits and his
baskets, saying to himself,

"Well, I know wat I'm gwine do; my min', hit's made up."



CHAPTER VIII.

UNCLE BOB'S PROPOSITION.


The night after Ann's interview with Uncle Bob, Major Waldron was
sitting in his library overlooking some papers, when some one knocked at
the door, and, in response to his hearty "Come in," Uncle Snake-bit Bob
entered.

"Ebenin' ter yer, marster," said the old man, scraping his foot and
bowing his head.

"How are you, Uncle Bob?" responded his master.

"I'm jes po'ly, thank God," replied Uncle Bob, in the answer invariably
given by Southern slaves to the query "How are you?" No matter if they
were fat as seals, and had never had a day's sickness in their lives,
the answer was always the same--"I'm po'ly, thank God."

"Well, Uncle Bob, what is it now?" asked Major Waldron. "The little
negroes been bothering your splits again?"

"Dey's all de time at dat, marster, an' dey gwine git hu't, mun, ef dey
fool long o' me; but den dat ain't wat I come fur dis time. I come fur
ter hab er talk wid yer, sar, ef yer kin spar de ole nigger de time."

"There's plenty of time, Uncle Bob; take a seat, then, if we are to have
a talk;" and Major Waldron lit his cigar, and leaned back, while Uncle
Bob seated himself on a low chair, and said:

"Marster, I come ter ax yer wat'll yer take fur dat little boy yer
bought fum de specerlaters?"

"Ann's little boy?" asked his master; "why, I would not sell him at all.
I only bought him because his mother was dying of exposure and fatigue,
and I wanted to relieve her mind of anxiety on his account. I would
certainly never sell her child away from her."

"Yes, sar, dat's so," replied the old man; "but den my min', hit's made
up. I've laid me up er little money fum time ter time, wen I'd be er
doct'in' uv hosses an' mules an' men'in' cheers, an' all sich ez dat; de
folks dey pays me lib'ul; an', let erlone dat, I'm done mighty well wid
my taters an' goobers, er sellin' uv 'em ter de steamboat han's, wat
takes 'em ter de town, an' 'sposes uv 'em. So I'm got er right smart
chance uv money laid up, sar; an' now I wants ter buy me er nigger, same
ez wite folks, fur ter wait on me an' bresh my coat an' drive my
kerridge; an' I 'lowed ef yer'd sell de little wite nigger, I'd buy
'im," and Uncle Bob chuckled and laughed.

"Why, Bob, I believe you are crazy," said his master, "or drunk."

"I ain't neder one, marster; but den I'm er jokin' too much, mo'n de
'lenity uv de cazhun inquires, an' now I'll splain de facks, sar."

And Uncle Bob related Ann's story to his master, and wound up by saying:

"An' now, marster, my min', hit's made up. I wants ter buy de little
chap, an' give 'im ter his mammy, de one wat God give 'im to. Hit'll go
mighty hard wid me ter part fum all dat money, caze I ben years pun top
er years er layin' uv it up, an' hit's er mighty cumfut ter me er
countin' an' er jinglin' uv it; but hit ain't doin' nobody no good er
buried in de groun'; an' I don't special need it myse'f, caze you gives
me my cloes, an' my shoes, an' my eatin's, an' my backer, an' my wisky,
an' I ain't got no cazhun fur ter spen' it; an', let erlone dat, I can't
stay hyear fureber, er countin' an' er jinglin' dat money, caze wen de
angel soun' dat horn, de ole nigger he's got ter go; he's boun' fur ter
be dar! de money can't hol' 'im! De Lord, he ain't gwine ter say, 'Scuze
dat nigger, caze he got money piled up; lef 'im erlone, fur ter count
dat gol' an' silver.' No, sar! But, marster, maybe in de jedgemun' day,
wen Ole Bob is er stan'in' fo' de Lord wid his knees er trim'lin', an'
de angel fotches out dat book er hisn, an' de Lord tell 'im fur ter read
wat he writ gins 'im, an' de angel he 'gin ter read how de ole nigger
drunk too much wisky, how he stoled watermillions in de night, how he
cussed, how he axed too much fur doct'in' uv hosses, an' wen he wuz
men'in' cheers, how he wouldn't men' 'em strong, so's he'd git ter men'
'em ergin some time; an' den, wen he read all dat an' shet de book,
maybe de Lord he'll say, 'Well, he's er pow'ful sinful nigger, but den
he tuck his money, he did, an' buy'd de little baby fur ter give 'im ter
his mammy, an' I sha'n't be too hard on 'im."

"Maybe he'll say dat, an' den ergin maybe he won't. Maybe he'll punish
de ole nigger ter de full stent uv his 'greshuns; an' den, ergin, maybe
he'll let him off light; but dat ain't neder hyear nur dar. What'll yer
take fur de baby, caze my min' hit's made up?"

"And mine is too, Uncle Bob," said his master, rising, and grasping in
his the big black hand. "Mine is too. I will give Ann her freedom and
her baby, and the same amount of money that you give her; that will take
her to her husband's relatives, and she can die happy, knowing that her
baby will be taken care of."

The next day Uncle Bob dug up his money, and the bag was found to
contain three hundred dollars.

His master put with it a check for the same amount, and sent him into
the laundry to tell Ann of her good fortune.

The poor woman was overcome with happiness and gratitude, and, throwing
her arms around Uncle Bob, she sobbed and cried on his shoulder.

She wrote at once to her husband's relatives, and a few weeks after
Major Waldron took her to New Orleans, had the requisite papers drawn up
for her freedom, and accompanied her on board of a vessel bound for New
York; and then, paying her passage himself, so that she might keep her
money for future emergencies, he bade adieu to the only slaves he ever
bought.



CHAPTER IX.

AUNT EDY'S STORY.


Aunt Edy was the principal laundress, and a great favorite she was with
the little girls. She was never too busy to do up a doll's frock or
apron, and was always glad when she could amuse and entertain them. One
evening Dumps and Tot stole off from Mammy, and ran as fast as they
could clip it to the laundry, with a whole armful of their dollies'
clothes, to get Aunt Edy to let them "iun des er 'ittle," as Tot said.

"Lemme see wat yer got," said Aunt Edy; and they spread out on the table
garments of worsted and silk and muslin and lace and tarlatan and calico
and homespun, just whatever their little hands had been able to gather
up.

"Lor', chil'en, ef yer washes deze fine close yer'll ruint 'em," said
Aunt Edy, examining the bundles laid out; "de suds'll tuck all de color
out'n 'em; s'posin' yer jes press 'em out on de little stool ober dar
wid er nice cole iun."

"Yes, that's the very thing," said Dumps; and Aunt Edy folded some
towels, and laid them on the little stools, and gave each of the
children a cold iron. And, kneeling down, so as to get at their work
conveniently, the little girls were soon busy smoothing and pressing the
things they had brought.

"Aunt Edy," said Dumps, presently, "could'n yer tell us 'bout Po' Nancy
Jane O?"

"Dar now!" exclaimed Aunt Edy; "dem chil'en nuber is tierd er hyearn'
dat tale; pyears like dey like hit mo' an' mo' eb'y time dey hyears
hit;" and she laughed slyly, for she was the only one on the plantation
who knew about "Po' Nancy Jane O," and she was pleased because it was
such a favorite story with the children.

"Once pun er time," she began, "dar wuz er bird name' Nancy Jane O, an'
she wuz guv up ter be de swif'es'-fly'n thing dar wuz in de a'r. Well,
at dat time de king uv all de fishes an' birds, an' all de little
beas'es, like snakes an' frogs an' wums an' tarrypins an' bugs, an' all
sich ez dat, he wur er mole dat year! an' he wuz blin' in bof 'is eyes,
jes same like any udder mole; an', somehow, he had hyearn some way dat
dar wuz er little bit er stone name' de gol'-stone, way off fum dar, in
er muddy crick, an' ef'n he could git dat stone, an' hol' it in his
mouf, he could see same ez anybody.

"Den he 'gun ter steddy how wuz he fur ter git dat stone.

"He stedded an' _he stedded_, an' pyeard like de mo' he stedded de mo'
he couldn' fix no way fur ter git it. He knowed he wuz blin', an' he
knowed he trab'l so slow dat he 'lowed 'twould be years pun top er years
befo' he'd git ter de crick, an' so he made up in 'is min' dat he'd let
somebody git it fur 'im. Den, bein' ez he wuz de king, an' could grant
any kin' er wush, he sont all roun' thu de kentry eb'ywhar, an' 'lowed
dat any bird or fish, or any kin' er little beas' dat 'oud fotch 'im dat
stone, he'd grant 'em de deares' wush er dey hearts.

"Well, mun, in er few days de whole yearth wuz er movin'; eb'ything dar
wuz in de lan' wuz er gwine.

"Some wuz er hoppin' an' some wuz er crawlin' an' some wuz er flyin',
jes 'cord'n to dey natur'; de birds dey 'lowed ter git dar fus', on
'count er fly'n so fas'; but den de little stone wuz in de water, an'
dey'd hatter wait till de crick run down, so 'twuz jes 'bout broad ez
'twuz long.

"Well, wile dey wuz all er gwine, an' de birds wuz in de lead, one day
dey hyeard sump'n gwine f-l-u-shsh--f-l-u-shsh--an' sump'n streaked by
like lightnin', and dey look way erhead, dey did, an' dey seed Nancy
Jane O. Den dey hearts 'gun ter sink, an' dey gin right up, caze dey
knowed she'd outfly eb'ything on de road. An' by'mby de crow, wat wuz
allers er cunnin' bird, sez,' I tell yer wat we'll do; we'll all gin er
feas',' sezee, 'an' git Nancy Jane O ter come, an' den we'll all club
togedder an' tie her, sezee.

"Dat took dey fancy, an' dey sont de lark on erhead fur ter cotch up
wid Nancy Jane O, an' ter ax 'er ter de feas'. Well, mun, de lark he
nearly kill hese'f er flyin'. He flew an' he flew an' he flew, but
pyear'd like de fas'er he went de furder erhead wuz Nancy Jane O.

"But Nancy Jane O, bein' so fur er start uv all de res', an' not er
dreamin' 'bout no kin' er develment, she 'lowed she'd stop an' take er
nap, an' so de lark he come up wid 'er, wile she wuz er set'n on er
sweet-gum lim', wid 'er head un'er 'er wing. Den de lark spoke up, an',
sezee, 'Sis Nancy Jane O,' sezee, 'we birds is gwinter gin er big feas',
caze we'll be sho' ter win de race any how, an' bein' ez we've flew'd so
long an' so fur, wy we're gwine ter stop an' res' er spell, an' gin er
feas'. An' Brer Crow he 'lowed 'twouldn' be no feas' 'tall les'n you
could be dar; so dey sont me on ter tell yer to hol' up tell dey come:
dey's done got seeds an' bugs an' wums, an' Brer Crow he's gwine ter
furnish de corn.'

"Nancy Jane O she 'lowed ter herse'f she could soon git erhead uv 'em
ergin, so she 'greed ter wait; an' by'mby hyear dey come er flyin'. An'
de nex' day dey gin de feas'; an' wile Nancy Jane O wuz er eatin' an' er
stuffin' herse'f wid wums an' seeds, an' one thing er nudder, de blue
jay he slope up behin' 'er, an' tied 'er fas' ter er little bush. An'
dey all laft an' flopped dey wings; an' sez dey, 'Good-bye ter yer, Sis
Nancy Jane O. I hope yer'll enjoy yerse'f,' sez dey; an' den dey riz up
an' stretched out dey wings, an' away dey flewed.

"Wen Po' Nancy Jane O seed de trick wat dey played her, she couldn'
hardly stan' still, she wuz so mad; an' she pulled an' she jerked an'
she stretched ter git er loose, but de string wuz so strong, an' de bush
wuz so fum, she wuz jes er was'en 'er strengt'. An' den she sot down,
an' she 'gun ter cry ter herse'f, an' ter sing,

"'Please on-tie, please on-tie Po' Nancy Jane O!
Please on-tie, please on-tie Po' Nancy Jane O!'

"An' atter er wile hyear come de ole bullfrog Pigunawaya. He sez ter
hisse'f, sezee, 'Wat's dat I hyear?' Den he lis'en, an' he hyear sump'n
gwine,

"'Please on-tie, please on-tie Po' Nancy Jane O!'

an' he went whar he hyeard de soun', an' dar wuz de po' bird layin' down
all tied ter de bush.

"'Umph!' says Pigunawaya, sezee, 'Ain't dis Nancy Jane O, de
swif'es'-flyin' bird dey is?' sezee; 'wat ail 'long yer, chile? wat yer
cryin' 'bout?' An' atter Nancy Jane O she up an' tol' 'im, den de frog
sez:

"'Now look er yer; I wuz er gwine myse'f ter see ef'n I could'n git dat
gol'-stone; hit's true I don't stan' much showin' 'long o' _birds_, but
den ef'n eber I gits dar, wy I kin jes jump right in an' fotch up de
stone wile de birds is er waitin' fur de crick ter run down. An' now,
s'posin' I wuz ter ontie yer, Nancy Jane O, could yer tuck me on yer
back an' cyar me ter de crick? an' den we'd hab de sho' thing on de
gol'-stone, caze soon's eber we git dar, I'll git it, an' we'll cyar it
bof tergedder ter de king, an' den we'll bof git de deares' wush uv our
hearts. Now wat yer say? speak yer min'. Ef'n yer able an' willin' ter
tote me fum hyear ter de crick, I'll ontie yer; efn yer ain't, den far
yer well, caze I mus' be er gittin' erlong.'

"Well, Nancy Jane O, she stedded an' stedded in her min', an' by'mby she
sez, 'Brer Frog,' sez she, 'I b'lieve I'll try yer; ontie me,' sez she,
'an' git on, an' I'll tuck yer ter de crick.' Den de frog he clum on her
back an' ontied her, an' she flopped her wings an' started off. Hit wuz
mighty hard flyin' wid dat big frog on her back; but Nancy Jane O wuz er
flyer, mun, yer hyeard me! an' she jes lit right out, an' she flew an'
she flew, an' atter er wile she got in sight er de birds, an' dey
looked, an' dey see her comin', an' den dey 'gun ter holler,

"'Who on-tied, who on-tied Po' Nancy Jane O?'

An' de frog he holler back,

"'Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!'

"Den, gemmun, yer oughten seed dat race; dem birds dey done dey leb'l
bes', but Nancy Jane O, spite er all dey could do, she gaint on 'em, an'
ole Pigunawaya he sot up dar, an' he kep' er urg'n an' er urg'n Nancy
Jane O.

"'Dat's you!' sezee; 'git erhead!' sezee. 'Now we're gwine it!' sezee;
an' pres'nly Nancy Jane O shot erhead clean befo' all de res'; an' wen
de birds dey seed dat de race wuz los', den dey all 'gun ter holler,

"'Who on-tied, who on-tied Po' Nancy Jane O?'

An' de frog, he turnt roun', he did, an' he wave his han' roun' his
head, an' he holler back,

"'Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!'

"Atter Nancy Jane O got erhead er de birds, den de hardes' flyin' wuz
thu wid; so she jes went 'long, an' went 'long, kin' er easy like, tell
she got ter de stone; an' she lit on er' simmon-bush close ter de crick,
an' Pigunawaya he slipt off, he did, an' he hist up his feet, an' he gin
er jump, kerchug he went down inter de water; an' by'mby hyear he come
wid de stone in his mouf. Den he mount on Nancy Jane O, he did; an',
mun, she wuz so proud, she an' de frog bof, tell dey flew all roun' an'
roun', an' Nancy Jane O, she 'gun ter sing,

"' Who on-tied, who on-tied Po' Nancy Jane O?'

An' de frog he ans'er back,

"'Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!'

"An' wile dey wuz er singin' an' er j'yin' uv deyselves, hyear come de
birds; an' de frog he felt so big, caze he'd got de stone, tell he stood
up on Nancy Jane O's back, he did, an' he tuck'n shuck de stone at de
birds, an' he holler at 'em

"'O Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!'

An' jes ez he said dat, he felt hisse'f slippin', an' dat made him
clutch on ter Po' Nancy Jane O, an' down dey bof' went tergedder
kersplash, right inter de crick.

"De frog he fell slap on ter er big rock, an' bust his head all ter
pieces; an' Po' Nancy Jane O sunk down in de water an' got drownded; an'
dat's de een'."

"Did the king get the stone, Aunt Edy?" asked Dumps.

"Wy no, chile; don't yer know de mole he's blin' tell yit? ef'n he could
er got dat stone, he could er seen out'n his eyes befo' now. But I ain't
got no time ter fool 'long er you chil'en. I mus' git marster's shuts
done, I mus'."

And Aunt Edy turned to her ironing-table, as if she didn't care for
company; and Dumps and Tot, seeing that she was tired of them, went back
to the house, Tot singing,

"Who on-tied, who on-tied Po' Nanty Dane O?"

and Dumps answering back,

"Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!"



CHAPTER X.

PLANTATION GAMES.


"Mammy, the quarter folks are goin' ter play to-night; can't we go look
at 'em?" pleaded Diddie one Saturday evening, as Mammy was busy sorting
out the children's clothes and putting them away.

"Yer allers want ter be 'long er dem quarter-folks," said Mammy. "Dem
ain't de 'soshuts fur you chil'en."

"We don't want ter 'soshate with 'em, Mammy; we only want ter look at
'em play 'Monkey Moshuns' and 'Lipto' and 'The Lady You Like Best,' and
hear Jim pick the banjo, and see 'em dance; can't we go?
PLEASE! It's warm weather now, an' er moonshiny night; can't we
go?"

And Diddie placed one arm around Mammy's neck, and laid the other little
hand caressingly on her cheek; and Mammy, after much persuasion, agreed
to take them, if they would come home quietly when she wanted them to.

As soon as the little girls had had their supper, they set out for the
quarters. Dilsey and Chris and Riar, of course, accompanied them, though
Chris had had some difficulty in joining the party. She had come to
grief about her quilt patching, having sewed the squares together in
such a way that the corners wouldn't hit, and Mammy had made her rip it
all out and sew it over again, and had boxed her soundly, and now said
she shouldn't go with the others to the quarters; but here Dumps
interfered, and said Mammy shouldn't be "all time 'posin' on Chris," and
she went down to see her father about it, who interceded with Mammy so
effectually that, when the little folks started off, Chris was with
them. When they got to the open space back of Aunt Nancy's cabin, and
which was called "de play-groun'," they found that a bright fire of
light-wood knots had been kindled to give a light, and a large pile of
pine-knots and dried branches of trees was lying near for the purpose of
keeping it up. Aunt Nancy had a bench moved out of her cabin for
"marster's chil'en" to sit on, while all of the little negroes squatted
around on the ground to look on. These games were confined to the young
men and women, and the negro children were not allowed to participate.

Mammy, seeing that the children were safe and in good hands, repaired to
"Sis Haly's house," where "de chu'ch membahs" had assembled for a
prayer-meeting.

Soon after the children had taken their seats, the young folks came out
on the play-ground for a game of Monkey Motions.

They all joined hands, and made a ring around one who stood in the
middle, and then began to dance around in a circle, singing,

"I ac' monkey moshuns, too-re-loo;
I ac' monkey moshuns, so I do;
I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'--
I ac' jes like dem monkeys ac'.

"I ac' gemmun moshuns, too-re-loo;
I ac' gemmun moshuns, so I do;
I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'--
I ac' jes like dem gemmuns ac'.

"I ac' lady moshuns, too-re-loo;
I ac' lady moshuns, so I do;
I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'--
I ac' jes like dem ladies ac'.

"I ac' chil'en moshuns, too-re-loo;
I ac' chil'en moshuns, so I do;
I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'--
I ac' jes like dem chil'ens ac'.

"I ac' preacher moshuns, too-re-loo;
I ac' preacher moshuns, so I do;
I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'--
I ac' jes like dem preachers ac'.

"I ac' nigger moshuns, too-re-loo;
I ac' nigger moshuns, so I do;
I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'--
I ac' jes like dem niggers ac'."

The song had a lively air, and Jim picked the accompaniment on the
banjo. Many of the negroes had good voices, and the singing was indeed
excellent.

While the dancers were singing the first verse, "I ac' monkey moshuns,"
the one in the middle would screw up his face and hump his shoulders in
the most grotesque manner, to represent a monkey.

When they sang "I ac' gemmun moshuns," he would stick his hat on one
side of his head, take a walking-cane in his hand, and strut back and
forth, to represent a gentleman.

In the "lady moshuns," he would take little mincing steps, and toss his
head from side to side, and pretend to be fanning with his hand.

"I ac' chil'en moshuns" was portrayed by his pouting out his lips and
twirling his thumbs, or giggling or crying.

When they sang "I ac' preacher moshuns," he straightened himself back,
and began to "lay off" his hands in the most extravagant gestures.

"I ac' nigger moshuns" was represented by scratching his head, or by
bending over and pretending to be picking cotton or hoeing.

The representation of the different motions was left entirely to the
taste and ingenuity of the actor, though it was the rule of the game
that no two people should represent the same character in the same way.
If one acted the lady by a mincing walk, the next one must devise some
other manner of portraying her, such as sewing, or playing on an
imaginary piano, or giving orders to servants, or anything that his
fancy would suggest.

The middle man or woman was always selected for his or her skill in
taking off the different characters; and when they were clever at it,
the game was very amusing to a spectator.

After one or two games of "Monkey Moshuns," some one proposed they
should play "Lipto," which was readily acceded to.

All joined hands, and formed a ring around one in the middle, as before,
and danced around, singing,

"Lipto, lipto, jine de ring;
Lipto, lipto, dance an' sing;
Dance an' sing, an' laugh an' play,
Fur dis is now er holerday."

Then, letting loose hands, they would all wheel around three times,
singing,

"Turn erroun' an' roun' an' roun';"

then they would clap their hands, singing,

"Clap yer han's, an' make 'em soun';"

then they would bow their heads, singing,

"Bow yer heads, an' bow 'em low;"

then, joining hands again, they would dance around, singing,

"All jine han's, an' hyear we go."

And now the dancers would drop hands once more, and go to patting, while
one of the men would step out with a branch of honeysuckle or yellow
jessamine, or something twined to form a wreath, or a paper cap would
answer, or even one of the boys' hats--anything that would serve for a
crown; then he would sing,

"Lipto, lipto--fi-yi-yi;
Lipto, lipto, hyear am I,
Er holdin' uv dis goldin' crown,
An' I choose my gal fur ter dance me down."

Then he must place the crown on the head of any girl he chooses, and she
must step out and dance with him, or, as they expressed it, "set to him"
(while all the rest patted), until one or the other "broke down," when
the man stepped back in the ring, leaving the girl in the middle, when
they all joined hands, and began the game over again, going through with
the wheeling around and clapping of hands and the bowing of heads just
as before; after which the girl would choose her partner for a "set to,"
the song being the same that was sung by the man, with the exception of
the last line, which was changed to

"An' I choose my man fur ter dance me down."

"Lipto" was followed by "De One I Like de Bes'," which was a kissing
game, and gave rise to much merriment. It was played, as the others
were, by the dancers joining hands and forming a ring, with some one in
the middle, and singing,

"Now while we all will dance an' sing,
O choose er partner fum de ring;
O choose de lady you like bes';
O pick her out fum all de res',
Fur her hansum face an' figur neat;
O pick her out ter kiss her sweet.
O walk wid her erroun' an' roun';
O kneel wid her upon de groun';
O kiss her once, an' one time mo';
O kiss her sweet, an' let her go.
O lif' her up fum off de groun',
An' all jine han's erroun' an' roun',
An' while we all will dance an' sing,
O choose er partner fum de ring."

At the words "choose de lady you like bes'," the middle man must make
his selection, and, giving her his hand, lead her out of the ring. At
the words "walk wid her erroun' an' roun'," he offers her his arm, and
they promenade; at the words "kneel wid her upon de groun'," both kneel;
when they sing "Kiss her once," he kisses her; and at the words "one
time mo'" the kiss is repeated; and when the dancers sing "Lif' her up
fum off de groun'," he assists her to rise; and when they sing "All jine
han's erroun' an' roun'," he steps back into the ring, and the girl must
make a choice, the dancers singing, "O choose de gemmun you like bes';"
and then the promenading and kneeling and kissing were all gone through
with again.

Some of the girls were great favorites, and were chosen frequently;
while others not so popular would perhaps not be in the middle during
the game.

"De One I Like de Bes'" was a favorite play, and the young folks kept it
up for some time, until some one suggested sending for "Uncle Sambo" and
his fiddle, and turning it into a sure-enough dance. Uncle Sambo was
very accommodating, and soon made his appearance, when partners were
taken, and an Old Virginia reel formed. The tune that they danced by was
"Cotton-eyed Joe," and, the words being familiar to all of them as they
danced they sang,

"Cotton-eyed Joe, Cotton-eyed Joe,
What did make you sarve me so,
Fur ter take my gal erway fum me,
An' cyar her plum ter Tennessee?
Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe,
I'd er been married long ergo.

"His eyes wuz crossed, an' his nose wuz flat,
An' his teef wuz out, but wat uv dat?
Fur he wuz tall, an' he wuz slim,
An' so my gal she follered him.
Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe,
I'd er ben married long ergo.

"No gal so hansum could be foun',
Not in all dis country roun',
Wid her kinky head, an' her eyes so bright;
Wid her lips so red an' her teef so white.
Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe,
I'd er been married long ergo.

"An' I loved dat gal wid all my heart,
An' she swo' fum me she'd never part;
But den wid Joe she runned away,
An' lef' me hyear fur ter weep all day.
O Cotton-eyed Joe, O Cotton-eyed Joe,
What did make you sarve me so?
O Joe, ef it hadn't er ben fur you,
I'd er married dat gal fur true."

And what with Uncle Sambo's fiddle and Jim's banjo, and all of those
fresh, happy young voices, the music was enough to make even the church
members want to dance.

The children enjoyed the dancing even more than they had the playing,
and Diddie and Dumps and Tot and all of the little darkies were patting
their hands and singing "Cotton-eyed Joe" at the very top of their
voices, when Mammy appeared upon the scene, and said it was time to go
home.

"No, Mammy," urged Dumps; "we ain't er goin' ter; we want ter sing
'Cotton-eyed Joe;' hit ain't late."

"Umph-humph! dat's jes wat I 'lowed," said Mammy. "I 'lowed yer wouldn't
be willin' fur ter go, er set'n' hyear an' er patt'n' yer han's same ez
niggers, an' er singin' uv reel chunes; I dunno wat makes you chil'en so
onstrep'rous."

"Yes, Dumps, you know we promised," said Diddie, "and so we must go when
Mammy tells us."

Dumps, finding herself overruled, had to yield, and they all went back
to the house, talking very animatedly of the quarter folks and their
plays and dances.



CHAPTER XI.

DIDDIE IN TROUBLE.


Diddie was generally a very good and studious little girl, and therefore
it was a matter of surprise to everybody when Miss Carrie came down to
dinner one day without her, and, in answer to Major Waldron's inquiry
concerning her, replied that Diddie had been so wayward that she had
been forced to keep her in, and that she was not to have any dinner.

Neither Major nor Mrs. Waldron ever interfered with Miss Carrie's
management, so the family sat down to the meal, leaving the little girl
in the schoolroom.

Dumps and Tot, however, were very indignant, and ate but little dinner;
and, as soon as their mamma excused them, they ran right to the nursery
to tell Mammy about it. They found her overhauling a trunk of old
clothes, with a view of giving them out to such of the little negroes as
they would fit; but she dropped everything after Dumps had stated the
case, and at once began to expatiate on the tyranny of teachers in
general, and of Miss Carrie in particular.

"I know'd how 'twould be," she said, "wen marster fotch her hyear; she
got too much wite in her eye to suit me, er shettin' my chile up, an' er
starvin' uv her; I ain't got no 'pinion uv po' wite folks, nohow."

"Is Miss Carrie po' white folks, Mammy?" asked Dumps, in horror, for she
had been taught by Mammy and Aunt Milly both that the lowest classes of
persons in the world were "po' white folks" and "free niggers."

"She ain't no _rich_ wite folks," answered Mammy, evasively; "caze efn
she wuz, she wouldn't be teachin' school fur er livin'; an' den ergin,
efn she's so mighty rich, whar's her niggers? I neber seed 'em. An', let
erlone dat, I ain't neber hyeard uv 'em yit;" for Mammy could not
conceive of a person's being rich without niggers.

"But, wedder she's rich or po'," continued the old lady, "she ain't no
bizness er shettin' up my chile; an' marster, he oughtn't ter 'low it."

And Mammy resumed her work, but all the time grumbling, and muttering
something about "ole maids" and "po' wite folks."

"I don't like her, nohow," said Dumps, "an' I'm glad me an' Tot's too
little ter go ter school; I don't want never to learn to read all my
life. An', Mammy, can't you go an' turn Diddie erloose?"

"No, I can't," answered Mammy. "Yer pa don't 'low me fur ter do it; he
won't do it hisse'f, an' he won't let dem do it wat wants ter. I dunno
wat's gittin' in 'im myse'f. But, you chil'en, put on yer bunnits, an'
run an' play in de yard tell I fixes dis chis' uv cloes; an' you little
niggers, go wid 'em, an' tuck cyar uv 'em; an' ef dem chil'en git hut,
yer'll be sorry fur it, mun; so yer'd better keep em off'n seesaws an'
all sich ez dat."

Dumps and Tot, attended by their little maids, went out in the yard at
Mammy's bidding, but not to play; their hearts were too heavy about poor
little Diddie, and the little negroes were no less grieved than they
were, so they all held a consultation as to what they should do.

"Le's go 'roun' ter de schoolroom winder, an' talk ter her," said
Dilsey. And, accordingly, they repaired to the back of the house, and
took their stand under the schoolroom window. The schoolroom was on the
first floor, but the house was raised some distance from the ground by
means of stone pillars, so none of the children were tall enough to see
into the room.

Dilsey called Diddie softly, and the little girl appeared at the window.

"Have you said your lesson yet?" asked Dumps.

"No, an' I ain't ergoin' to, neither," answered Diddie.

"An' yer ain't had yer dinner, nuther, is yer, Miss Diddie?" asked
Dilsey.

"No; but I don't care 'bout that; I sha'n't say my lesson not ef she
starves me clean ter death."

At this dismal prospect, the tears sprang to Tot's eyes, and saying,
"I'll dit it, Diddie; don' yer min', I'll dit it," she ran as fast as
her little feet could carry her to the kitchen, and told Aunt Mary, the
cook, that "Diddie is sut up; dey lock her all up in de woom, an' s'e
neber had no dinner, an' s'e's starve mos' ter def. Miss Tawwy done it,
an' s'e's des ez mean!" Then, putting her chubby little arms around Aunt
Mary's neck, she added, "_Please_ sen' Diddie some dinner."

And Aunt Mary, who loved the children, rose from the low chair on which
she was sitting to eat her own dinner, and, picking out a nice piece of
fried chicken and a baked sweet potato, with a piece of bread and a good
slice of ginger pudding, she put them on a plate for the child.

Now it so happened that Douglas, the head dining-room servant, was also
in the kitchen eating his dinner, and, being exceedingly fond of Tot, he
told her to wait a moment, and he would get her something from the
house. So, getting the keys from Aunt Delia, the housekeeper, on
pretence of putting away something, he buttered two or three slices of
light bread, and spread them with jam, and, putting with them some thin
chips of cold ham and several slices of cake, he carried them back to
the kitchen as an addition to Diddie's dinner.

Tot was delighted, and walked very carefully with the plate until she
joined the little group waiting under the window, when she called out,
joyfully,

"Hyear 'tis, Diddie! 'tis des de bes'es kine er dinner!"

And now the trouble was how to get it up to Diddie.

"I tell yer," said Chris; "me 'n Dilsey'll fotch de step-ladder wat
Uncle Douglas washes de winders wid."

No sooner said than done, and in a few moments the step-ladder was
placed against the house, and Dilsey prepared to mount it with the plate
in her hand.

But just at this juncture Diddie decided that she would make good her
escape, and, to the great delight of the children, she climbed out of
the window, and descended the ladder, and soon stood safe among them on
the ground.

Then, taking the dinner with them, they ran as fast as they could to the
grove, where they came to a halt on the ditch bank, and Diddie seated
herself on a root of a tree to eat her dinner, while Dumps and Tot
watched the little negroes wade up and down the ditch. The water was
very clear, and not quite knee-deep, and the temptation was too great to
withstand; so the little girls took off their shoes and stockings, and
were soon wading too.

When Diddie had finished her dinner, she joined them; and such a merry
time as they had, burying their little naked feet in the sand, and
splashing the water against each other!

"I tell yer, Diddie," said Dumps, "I don't b'lieve nuthin' 'bout bad
little girls gittin' hurt, an' not havin' no fun when they runs away,
an' don't min' nobody. I b'lieve Mammy jes makes that up ter skyeer us."

"I don't know," replied Diddie; "you 'member the time 'bout Ole Billy?"

"Oh, I ain't er countin' him," said Dumps; "I ain't er countin' no
sheeps; I'm jes er talkin' 'bout ditches an' things."

And just then the little girls heard some one singing,

"De jay bird died wid de hookin'-coff,
  Oh, ladies, ain't yer sorry?"

and Uncle Snake-bit Bob came up the ditch bank with an armful of
white-oak splits.

"Yer'd better git outn dat water," he called, as soon as he saw the
children. "Yer'll all be havin' de croup nex'. Git out, I tell yer! Efn
yer don't, I gwine straight an' tell yer pa."

It needed no second bidding, and the little girls scrambled up the bank,
and, drying their feet as best they could upon their skirts, they put on
their shoes and stockings.

"What are you doin', Uncle Bob?" called Diddie.

"I'm jes er cuttin' me er few willers fur ter make baskit-handles outn."

"Can't we come an' look at yer?" asked Diddie.

"Yes, honey, efn yer wants ter," replied Uncle Bob, mightily pleased.
"You're all pow'ful fon' er dis ole nigger; you're allers wantin' ter be
roun' him."

"It's 'cause you always tell us tales, an' don't quar'l with us,"
replied Diddie, as the children drew near the old man, and watched him
cut the long willow branches.

"Uncle Bob," asked Dumps, "what was that you was singin' 'bout the jay
bird?"

"Lor', honey, hit wuz jes 'boutn 'im dyin' wid de hookin'-coff; but yer
better lef' dem jay birds erlone; yer needn' be er wantin' ter hyear
boutn 'em."

"Why, Uncle Bob?"

"Caze, honey, dem jay birds dey cyars news ter de deb'l, dey do; an' yer
better not fool 'long 'em."

"Do they tell him everything?" asked Diddie, in some solicitude.

"Dat dey do! Dey tells 'im e'bything dey see you do wat ain't right; dey
cyars hit right erlong ter de deb'l."

"Uncle Bob," said Dumps, thoughtfully, "s'posin' they wuz some little
girls l-o-n-g _time_ ergo what stole ernuther little girl outn the
winder, an' then run'd erway, an' waded in er ditch, what they Mammy
never would let 'em; efn er jay bird would see 'em, would he tell the
deb'l nuthin' erbout it?"

"Lor', honey, dat 'ud be jes nuts fur 'im; he'd light right out wid it;
an' he wouldn't was'e no time, nuther, he'd be so fyeard he'd furgit
part'n it."

[Illustration: "YER'LL ALL BE HAVIN' DE CROUP NEXT."]

"I don't see none 'bout hyear," said Dumps, looking anxiously up at
the trees. "They don't stay 'bout hyear much, does they, Uncle Bob?"

"I seed one er settin' on dat sweet-gum dar ez I come up de ditch," said
Uncle Bob. "He had his head turnt one side, he did, er lookin' mighty
hard at you chil'en, an' I 'lowed ter myse'f now I won'er wat is he er
watchin' dem chil'en fur? but, den, I knowed _you_ chil'en wouldn't do
nuffin wrong, an' I knowed he wouldn't have nuffin fur ter tell."

"Don't he never make up things an' tell 'em?" asked Dumps.

"I ain't neber hyeard boutn dat," said the old man. "Efn he do, or efn
he don't, I can't say, caze I ain't neber hyeard; but de bes' way is fur
ter keep 'way fum 'em."

"Well, I bet he do," said Dumps. "I jes bet he tells M-O-O-O-R-E
S-T-O-R-I-E-S than anybody. An', Uncle Bob, efn he tells the deb'l
sump'n 'boutn three little white girls an' three little niggers runnin'
erway fum they teacher an' wadin' in er ditch, then I jes b'lieve _he
made it up_! Now that's jes what I b'lieve; an' can't you tell the deb'l
so, Uncle Bob?"

"Who? Me? Umph, umph! yer talkin' ter de wrong nigger now, chile! I
don't hab nuffin te do wid 'im mysef! I'se er God-fyearn nigger, I is;
an', let erlone dat, I keeps erway fum dem jay birds. Didn' yer neber
hyear wat er trick he played de woodpecker?"

"No, Uncle Bob," answered Diddie; "what did he do to him?"

"Ain't yer neber hyeard how come de woodpecker's head ter be red, an'
wat makes de robin hab er red breas'?"

"Oh, I know 'bout the robin's breast," said Diddie. "When the Saviour
was on the cross, an' the wicked men had put er crown of thorns on him,
an' his forehead was all scratched up an' bleedin', er little robin was
settin' on er tree lookin' at him; an' he felt so sorry 'bout it till he
flew down, an' tried to pick the thorns out of the crown; an' while he
was pullin' at 'em, one of 'em run in his breast, an' made the blood
come, an' ever since that the robin's breast has been red."

"Well, I dunno," said the old man, thoughtfully, scratching his head; "I
dunno, dat _mout_ be de way; I neber hyeard it, do; but den I ain't
sayin' tain't true, caze hit mout be de way; an' wat I'm er stan'in' by
is _dis_, dat _dat_ ain't de way I hyeard hit."

"Tell us how you heard it, Uncle Bob," asked Diddie.

"Well, hit all come 'long o' de jay bird," said Uncle Bob. "An' efn yer
got time fur ter go 'long o' me ter de shop, an' sot dar wile I plats on
dese baskits fur de oberseer's wife, I'll tell jes wat I hyearn 'boutn
hit."

Of course they had plenty of time, and they all followed him to the
shop, where he turned some baskets bottom-side up for seats for the
children, and, seating himself on his accustomed stool, while the little
darkies sat around on the dirt-floor, he began to weave the splits
dexterously in and out, and proceeded to tell the story.



CHAPTER XII.

HOW THE WOODPECKER'S HEAD AND THE ROBIN'S BREAST CAME TO BE RED.


"Well" began Uncle Bob, "hit wuz all erlong er de jay bird, jes ez I wuz
tellin' yer. Yer see, Mr. Jay Bird he fell'd in love, he did, 'long o'
Miss Robin, an' he wuz er courtin' her, too; ev'y day de Lord sen', he'd
be er gwine ter see her, an' er singin' ter her, an' er cyarin' her
berries an' wums; but, somehow or udder, she didn't pyear ter tuck no
shine ter him. She'd go er walkin' 'long 'im, an' she'd sing songs wid
'im, an' she'd gobble up de berries an' de wums wat he fotch, but den
w'en hit come ter marry'n uv 'im, she wan't dar.

"Well, she wouldn't gib 'im no kin' er 'couragement, tell he got right
sick at his heart, he did; an' one day, ez he wuz er settin' in his nes'
an' er steddin how ter wuck on Miss Robin so's ter git her love, he
hyeard somebody er laughin' an' talkin', an' he lookt out, he did, an'
dar wuz Miss Robin er prumurradin' wid de Woodpecker. An' wen he seed
dat, he got pow'ful mad, an' he 'low'd ter hisse'f dat efn de Lord
spar'd him, he inten' fur ter fix dat Woodpecker.

"In dem times de Woodpecker's head wuz right black, same ez er crow, an'
he had er topknot on 'im like er rooster. Gemmun, he wuz er han'sum
bird, too. See 'im uv er Sunday, wid his 'go-ter-meetin'' cloze on, an'
dar wan't no bird could totch 'im fur looks.

"Well, he an' Miss Robin dey went on by, er laffin' an' er talkin' wid
one ernudder; an' de Jay he sot dar, wid his head turnt one side, er
steddin an' er steddin ter hisse'f; an' by'mby, atter he made up his
min', he sot right ter wuck, he did, an' he fix him er trap.

"He got 'im some sticks, an' he nailt 'em cross'n 'is do' same ez er
plank-fence, only he lef' space 'nuff twix' de bottum stick an' de nex'
one fur er bird ter git thu; den, stid er nailin' de stick nex' de
bottum, he tuck'n prope it up at one een wid er little chip fur ter hole
it, an' den jes res' tudder een 'gins de side er de nes'. Soon's eber he
done dat, he crawlt out thu de crack mighty kyeerful, I tell yer, caze
he wuz fyeared he mout er knock de stick down, an' git his own se'f
cotch in de trap; so yer hyeard me, mun, he crawlt thu mighty tick'ler.

"Atter he got thu, den he santer 'long, he did, fur ter hunt up de
Woodpecker; an' by'mby he hyeard him peckin' at er log; an' he went up
ter him kin' er kyeerless, an' he sez, 'Good-mornin',' sezee; 'yer
pow'ful busy ter day.'

"Den de Woodpecker he pass de kempulmence wid 'im, des same ez any
udder gemmun; an' atter dey talk er wile, den de Blue Jay he up'n sez,
'I wuz jes er lookin' fur yer,' sezee; 'I gwine ter hab er party
ter-morrer night, an' I'd like fur yer ter come. All de birds'll be dar,
Miss Robin in speshul,' sezee.

"An' wen de Woodpecker hyearn dat, he 'lowed he'd try fur ter git dar.
An' den de Jay he tell him good-mornin', an' went on ter Miss Robin's
house. Well, hit pyeart like Miss Robin wuz mo' cole dan uzhul dat day,
an' by'mby de Jay Bird, fur ter warm her up, sez, 'Yer lookin' mighty
hansum dis mornin',' sezee. An' sez she, 'I'm proud ter hyear yer say
so; but, speakin' uv hansum,' sez she, 'hev yer seed Mr. Peckerwood
lately?'

"Dat made de Blue Jay kint er mad; an' sezee, 'Yer pyear ter tuck er
mighty intrus' in 'im.'

"'Well, I dunno 'bout'n dat,' sez Miss Robin, sez she, kinter lookin'
shame. 'I dunno 'boutn dat; but, den I tink he's er mighty _hansum_
bird,' sez she.

"Well, wid dat de Jay Bird 'gun ter git madder'n he wuz, an' he 'lowed
ter hisse'f dat he'd ax Miss Robin ter his house, so's she could see how
he'd fix de Peckerwood; so he sez,

"'Miss Robin, I gwine ter hab er party ter-morrer night; de
Woodpecker'll be dar, an' I'd like fur yer ter come.'

"Miss Robin 'lowed she'd come, an' de Jay Bird tuck his leave.

"Well, de nex' night de Jay sot in 'is nes' er waitin' fur 'is cump'ny;
an' atter er wile hyear come de Woodpecker. Soon's eber he seed de
sticks ercross de do', he sez, 'Wy, pyears like yer ben er fixin' up,'
sezee. 'Ain't yer ben er buildin'?'

"'Well,' sez de Jay Bird, 'I've jes put er few 'provemunce up, fur ter
keep de scritch-owls outn my nes'; but dar's plenty room fur my frien's
ter git thu; jes come in,' sezee; an' de Woodpecker he started thu de
crack. Soon's eber he got his head thu, de Jay pullt de chip out, an' de
big stick fell right crossn his neck. Den dar he wuz, wid his head in
an' his feet out! an' de Jay Bird 'gun ter laff, an' ter make fun atn
'im. Sezee, 'I hope I see yer! Yer look like sparkin' Miss Robin now!
hit's er gre't pity she can't see yer stretched out like dat; an' she'll
be hyear, too, d'rectly; she's er comin' ter de party,' sezee, 'an' I'm
gwine ter gib her er new dish; I'm gwine ter sot her down ter roas'
Woodpecker dis ebenin'. An' now, efn yer'll 'scuse me, I'll lef' yer
hyear fur ter sorter 'muse yerse'f wile I grin's my ax fur ten' ter
yer.'

"An' wid dat de Jay went out, an' lef de po' Woodpecker er lyin' dar;
an' by'mby Miss Robin come erlong; an' wen she seed de Woodpecker, she
axt 'im 'wat's he doin' down dar on de groun'?' an' atter he up an' tol'
her, an' tol' her how de Jay Bird wuz er grin'in' his axe fur ter chop
offn his head, den de Robin she sot to an' try ter lif' de stick offn
him. She straint an' she straint, but her strengt' wan't 'nuff fur ter
move hit den; an' so she sez, 'Mr. Woodpecker,' sez she, 's'posin' I
cotch holt yer feet, an' try ter pull yer back dis way?' 'All right,'
sez de Woodpecker; an' de Robin, she cotch er good grip on his feet, an'
she brace herse'f up 'gins er bush, an' pullt wid all her might, an'
atter er wile she fotch 'im thu; but she wuz bleeged fur ter lef' his
topknot behin', fur his head wuz skunt des ez clean ez yer han'; an'
'twuz jes ez raw, honey, ez er piece er beef.

"An' wen de Robin seed dat, she wuz mighty 'stressed; an' she tuck his
head an' helt it gins her breas' fur ter try an' cumfut him, an' de
blood got all ober her breas', an' hit's red plum tell yit.

"Well, de Woodpecker he went erlong home, an' de Robin she nusst him
tell his head got well; but de topknot wuz gone, an' it pyeart like de
blood all settled in his head, caze fum _dat_ day ter _dis_ his head's
ben red."

"An' did he marry the Robin?" asked Diddie.

"Now I done tol' yer all I know," said Uncle Bob. "I gun yer de tale jes
like I hyearn it, an' I ain't er gwine ter make up _nuffin'_, an' tell
yer wat I dunno ter be de truff. Efn dar's any mo' ter it, den I ain't
neber hyearn hit. I gun yer de tale jes like hit wuz gunt ter me, an'
efn yer ain't satisfied wid hit, den I can't holp it."

"But we _are_ satisfied, Uncle Bob," said Diddie. "It was a very pretty
tale, and we are much obliged to you."

"Yer mo'n welcome, honey," said Uncle Bob, soothed by Diddie's
answer--"yer mo'n welcome; but hit's gittin' too late fur you chil'en
ter be out; yer'd better be er gittin' toerds home."

Here the little girls looked at each other in some perplexity, for they
knew Diddie had been missed, and they were afraid to go to the house.

"Uncle Bob," said Diddie, "we've done er wrong thing this evenin': we
ran away fum Miss Carrie, an' we're scared of papa; he might er lock us
all up in the library, an' talk to us, an' say he's 'stonished an'
mortified, an' so we're scared to go home."

"Umph!" said Uncle Bob; "you chil'en is mighty bad, anyhow."

"I think we're heap mo' _better_'n we're _bad_," said Dumps.

"Well, dat mout er be so," said the old man; "I ain't er 'sputin' it,
but you chil'en comes fum er mighty high-minded stock uv white folks,
an' hit ain't becomin' in yer fur ter be runnin' erway an' er hidin'
out, same ez oberseer's chil'en, an' all kin' er po' white trash."

"We _are_ sorry about it now, Uncle Bob," said Diddie "but what would
you 'vize us to do?" "Well, my invice is _dis_," said Uncle Bob, "fur
ter go ter yer pa, an' tell him de truff; state all de konkumstances des
like dey happen; don't lebe out none er de facks; tell him you're sorry
yer 'haved so onstreperous, an' ax him fur ter furgib yer; an' ef he
_do_, wy dat's all right; an' den ef he _don't_, wy yer mus' 'bide by de
kinsequonces. But fuss, do, fo' yer axes fur furgibness, yer mus' turn
yer min's ter repintunce. Now I ax you chil'en _dis_,
Is--you--sorry--dat--you--runned--off?
an'--is--you--'pentin'--uv--wadin'--in--de--ditch?"

Uncle Bob spoke very slowly and solemnly, and in a deep tone; and
Diddie, feeling very much as if she had been guilty of murder, replied,

"Yes, I am truly sorry, Uncle Bob."

Dumps and Tot and the three little darkies gravely nodded their heads in
assent.

"Den jes go an' tell yer pa so," said the old man. "An', anyway, yer'll
hatter be gwine, caze hit's gittin' dark."

The little folks walked off slowly towards the house, and presently
Dumps said,

"Diddie, I don't b'lieve I'm _rael_ sorry we runned off, an' I don't
_right_ 'pent 'bout wadin' in the ditch, cause we had er mighty heap er
fun; an' yer reckon ef I'm jes _sorter_ sorry, an' jes _toler'ble_
'pent, that'll do?"

"I don't know about that," said Diddie; "but _I'm_ right sorry, and I'll
tell papa for all of us."

[Illustration: "WELL, MY INVICE IS DIS."]

The children went at once to the library, where Major Waldron was
found reading.

"Papa," said Diddie, "we've ben very bad, an' we've come ter tell yer
'bout it."

"An' the Jay Bird, he tol' the deb'l," put in Dumps, "an' 'twan't none
er his business."

"Hush up, Dumps," said Diddie, "till I tell papa 'bout it. I wouldn't
say my lesson, papa, an' Miss Carrie locked me up, an' the chil'en
brought me my dinner."

"'Tuz me," chimed in Tot. "I b'ing 'er de _besses_ dinner--take an' jam
an' pud'n in de p'ate. Aunt Mawy durn turn me."

"Hush, Tot," said Diddie, "till I get through. An' then, papa, I climbed
out the winder on the step-ladder, an' I--"

"Dilsey an' Chris got the ladder," put in Dumps.

"HUSH UP, Dumps!" said Diddie; "you're all time 'ruptin' me."

"I reckon I done jes bad ez you," retorted Dumps, "an' I got jes much
right ter tell 'boutn it. You think nobody can't be bad but yerse'f.'

"Well, then, you can tell it all," said Diddie, with dignity. "Papa,
Dumps will tell you."

And Dumps, nothing daunted, continued:

"Dilsey an' Chris brought the step-ladder, an' Diddie clum out; an' we
runned erway in the woods, an' waded in the ditch, an' got all muddy
up; an' the Jay Bird, he was settin' on er limb watchin' us, an' he
carried the news ter the deb'l; an' Uncle Snake-bit Bob let us go ter
his shop, an' tol' us 'bout the Woodpecker's head, an' that's all; only
we ain't n-e-v-er goin' ter do it no mo'; an', oh yes, I furgot--an'
Diddie's rael sorry an' right 'pents; an' I'm sorter sorry, an'
toler'ble 'pents. An', please, are you mad, papa?"

"It was certainly very wrong," said her father, "to help Diddie to get
out, when Miss Carrie had locked her in; and I am surprised that Diddie
should need to be kept in. Why didn't you learn your lesson, my
daughter?"

"I did," answered Diddie; "I knew it every word; but Miss Carrie jus'
cut up, an' wouldn't let me say it like 'twas in the book; an' she
laughed at me; an' then I got mad, an' wouldn't say it at all."

"Which lesson was it?" asked Major Waldron.

"'Twas er hist'ry lesson, an' the question was, 'Who was Columbus?' an'
the answer was, 'He was the son of er extinguished alligator;' an' Miss
Carrie laughed, an' said that wan't it."

"And I rather think Miss Carrie was right," said the father. "Go and
bring me the book."

Diddie soon returned with her little history, and, showing the passage
to her father, said, eagerly,

"Now don't you see here, papa?"

And Major Waldron read, "He was the son of a _distinguished
navigator_." Then, making Diddie spell the words in the book, he
explained to her her mistake, and said he would like to have her
apologize to Miss Carrie for being so rude to her.

This Diddie was very willing to do, and her father went with her to the
sitting-room to find Miss Carrie, who readily forgave Diddie for her
rebellion, and Dumps and Tot for interfering with her discipline. And
that was a great deal more than Mammy did, when she saw the state of
their shoes and stockings, and found that they had been wading in the
ditch.

She slapped the little darkies, and tied red-flannel rags wet with
turpentine round the children's necks to keep them from taking cold, and
scolded and fussed so that the little girls pulled the cover over their
heads and went to sleep, and left her quarrelling.



CHAPTER XIII.

A PLANTATION MEETING AND UNCLE DANIEL'S SERMON.


"Are you gwine ter meetin', Mammy?" asked Diddie one Sunday evening, as
Mammy came out of the house attired in her best flowered muslin, with an
old-fashioned mantilla (that had once been Diddie's grandmother's)
around her shoulders.

"Cose I gwine ter meetin', honey; I'se er tryin' ter sarve de Lord, I
is, caze we ain't gwine stay hyear on dis yearth all de time. We got ter
go ter nudder kentry, chile; an' efn yer don't go ter meetin', an' watch
an' pray, like de Book say fur yer ter do, den yer mus' look out fur
yerse'f wen dat Big Day come wat I hyears 'em talkin' 'bout."

"Can't we go with you, Mammy? We'll be good, an' not laugh at 'em
shoutin'."

"I dunno wat yer gwine loff at 'em shoutin' fur; efn yer don't min' de
loff gwine ter be turnt some er deze days, an' dem wat yer loffs at
hyear, dem's de ones wat's gwine ter do de loffin' wen we gits up
yon'er! But, let erlone dat, yer kin go efn yer wants ter; an' efn
yer'll make has'e an' git yer bunnits, caze I ain't gwine wait no gret
wile. I don't like ter go ter meetin' atter hit starts. I want ter hyear
Brer Dan'l's tex', I duz. I can't neber enj'y de sermon doutn I hyears
de tex'."

You may be sure it wasn't long before the children were all ready, for
they knew Mammy would be as good as her word, and would not wait for
them. When they reached the church, which was a very nice wooden
building that Major Waldron had had built for that purpose, there was a
large crowd assembled; for, besides Major Waldron's own slaves, quite a
number from the adjoining plantations were there. The younger negroes
were laughing and chatting in groups outside the door, but the older
ones wore very solemn countenances, and walked gravely in and up to the
very front pews. On Mammy's arrival, she placed the little girls in
seats at the back of the house, and left Dilsey and Chris and Riar on
the seat just behind them, "fur ter min' 'em," as she said (for the
children must always be under the supervision of somebody), and then she
went to her accustomed place at the front; for Mammy was one of the
leading members, and sat in the amen corner.

Soon after they had taken their seats, Uncle Gabe, who had a powerful
voice, and led the singing, struck up:

"Roll, Jordan, roll! roll, Jordan, roll!
  I want ter go ter heb'n wen I die,
Fur ter hyear sweet Jordan roll.

"Oh, pray, my brudder, pray!
  Yes, my Lord;
My brudder's settin' in de kingdum,
  Fur ter hyear sweet Jordan roll.

  _Chorus._

  Roll, Jordan, roll! roll, Jordan, roll!
    I want ter go ter heb'n wen I die,
  Fur ter hyear sweet Jordan roll.

"Oh, shout, my sister, shout!
  Yes, my Lord;
My sister she's er shoutin'
  Caze she hyears sweet Jordan roll.

"Oh, moan, you monahs, moan!
  Yes, my Lord;
De monahs sobbin' an' er weepin',
  Fur ter hyear sweet Jordan roll.

"Oh, scoff, you scoffers, scoff!
  Yes, my Lord;
Dem sinners wat's er scoffin'
  Can't hyear sweet Jordan roll."

And as the flood of melody poured through the house, the groups on the
outside came in to join the singing.

After the hymn, Uncle Snake-bit Bob led in prayer, and what the old man
lacked in grammar and rhetoric was fully made up for in fervency and
zeal.

The prayer ended, Uncle Daniel arose, and, carefully adjusting his
spectacles, he opened his Bible with all the gravity and dignity
imaginable, and proceeded to give out his text.

Now the opening of the Bible was a mere matter of form, for Uncle Daniel
didn't even know his letters; but he thought it was more impressive to
have the Bible open, and therefore never omitted that part of the
ceremony.

"My bredren an' my sistren," he began, looking solemnly over his specs
at the congregation, "de tex' wat I'se gwine ter gib fur yer 'strucshun
dis ebenin' yer'll not fin' in de foremus' part er de Book, nur yit in
de hine part. Hit's swotuwated mo' in de middle like, 'boutn ez fur fum
one een ez 'tiz fum tudder, an' de wuds uv de tex' is dis:

"'Burhol', I'll punish um! dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey
sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'

"My bredren, embracin' uv de sistren, I'se ben 'stressed in my min'
'boutn de wickedness I sees er gwine on. Eby night de Lord sen' dar's
dancin' an' loffin' an' fiddlin'; an' efn er man raises 'im er few
chickens an' watermillions, dey ain't safe no longer'n his back's turnt;
an', let erlone dat, dar's quarlin' 'longer one nudder, an' dar's
sassin' uv wite folks an' ole pussuns, an' dar's drinkin' uv whiskey,
an' dar's beatin' uv wives, an' dar's dev'lin' uv husban's, an' dar's
imperrence uv chil'en, an' dar's makin' fun uv 'ligion, an' dar's
singin' uv reel chunes, an' dar's slightin' uv wuck, an' dar's stayin'
fum meetin', an' dar's swearin' an' cussin', an' dar's eby kin' er
wickedness an' dev'lment loose in de land.

"An', my bredren, takin' in de sistren, I've talked ter yer, an' I've
tol' yer uv de goodness an' de long-suff'rin' uv de Lord. I tol' yer
outn his Book, whar he'd lead yer side de waters, an' be a Shepherd ter
yer; an' yer kep' straight on, an' neber paid no 'tenshun; so tudder
night, wile I wuz er layin' in de bed an' er steddin' wat ter preach
'bout, sumpin' kin' er speak in my ear; an' hit sez, 'Brer Dan'l, yer've
tol' 'em 'bout de Lord's leadin' uv 'em, an' now tell 'em 'boutn his
drivin' uv 'em. An', my bredren, includin' uv de sistren, I ain't gwine
ter spare yer feelin's dis day. I'm er stan'in' hyear fur ter 'liver de
message outn de Book, an' dis is de message:

"'Burhol', I'll punish um! dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey
sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'

"Yer all hyear it, don't yer? An' now yer want ter know who sont it. De
Lord! Hit's true he sont it by a po' ole nigger, but den hit's his own
wuds; hit's in his Book. An', fussly, we'll pursidder dis: IS HE ABLE
TER DO IT? Is he able fur ter kill marster's niggers wid de s'ord an' de
famine? My bredren, he is able! Didn' he prize open de whale's mouf, an'
take Jonah right outn him? Didn' he hol' back de lions wen dey wuz er
rampin' an' er tearin' roun' atter Dan'l in de den? Wen de flood come,
an' all de yearth wuz drownded, didn' he paddle de ark till he landed
her on top de mount er rats? Yes, my bredren, embracin' uv de sistren,
an' de same Lord wat done all er dat, he's de man wat's got de s'ords
an' de famines ready fur dem wat feels deyse'f too smart ter 'bey de
teachin's uv de Book. 'Dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons
an' dey daughters by de famine.'

"Oh, you chu'ch membahs wat shouts an' prays uv er Sundays an' steals
watermillions uv er week-days! Oh, you young men wat's er cussin' an' er
robbin' uv hen-rooses! Oh, you young women wat's er singin' uv reel
chunes! Oh, you chil'en wat's er sassin' uv ole folks! Oh, you ole
pussons wat's er fussin' an' quarlin'! Oh, you young folks wat's er
dancin' an' prancin'! Oh, you niggers wat's er slightin' uv yer wuck!
Oh! pay 'tenshun ter de message dis ebenin', caze yer gwine wake up some
er deze mornin's, an' dar at yer do's 'll be de s'ord an' de famine.

"'Burhol', I'll punish um! dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey
sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'

"Bredren, an' likewise sistren, yer dunno wat yer foolin' wid! Dem
s'ords an' dem famines is de wust things dey is. Dey's wuss'n de
rheumatiz; dey's wuss'n de toofache; dey's wuss'n de cramps; dey's
wuss'n de lockjaw; dey's wuss'n anything. Wen Adam an' Ebe wuz turnt
outn de gyarden, an' de Lord want ter keep 'em out, wat's dat he put
dar fur ter skyer 'em? Wuz it er elfunt? No, sar! Wuz it er lion? No,
sar! He had plenty beases uv eby kin', but den he didn' cyar 'boutn usen
uv 'em. Wuz hit rain or hail, or fire, or thunder, or lightnin'? No, my
bredren, hit wuz er s'ord! Caze de Lord knowed weneber dey seed de s'ord
dar dey wan't gwine ter facin' it. Oh, den, lis'en at de message dis
ebenin'.

"'Dey young men shall die by de s'ord.'

"An' den, ergin, dars dem famines, my bredren, takin' in de sistren--dem
famines come plum fum Egypt! dey turnt 'em erloose dar one time, mun,
an' de Book sez all de lan' wuz sore, an' thousan's pun top er thousan's
wuz slaint.

"Dey ain't no way fur ter git roun' dem famines. Yer may hide, yer may
run in de swamps, yer may climb de trees, but, bredren, efn eber dem
famines git atter yer, yer gone! dey'll cotch yer! dey's nuffin like 'em
on de face uv de yearth, les'n hit's de s'ord; dar ain't much chice twix
dem two. Wen hit comes ter s'ords an' famines, I tell yer, gemmun, hit's
nip an' tuck. Yit de message, hit sez, 'dey young men shall die by de
s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'

"Now, bredren an' sistren, an' monahs an' sinners, don't le's force de
Lord fur ter drive us; le's try fur ter sarve him, an' fur ter git
erlong doutn de s'ords an de famines. Come up hyear roun' dis altar, an'
wrestle fur 'ligion, an' dem few uv us wat is godly--me an' Brer
Snake-bit Bob an' Sis Haly an' Brer Gabe, an' Brer Lige an' Brer
One-eyed Pete, an' Sis Rachel (Mammy) an' Sis Hannah--we're gwine put in
licks fur yer dis ebenin'. Oh, my frens, yer done hyeard de message. Oh,
spar' us de s'ords an de famines! don't drive de Lord fur ter use 'em!
Come up hyear now dis ebenin', an' let us all try ter hep yer git thu.
Leave yer dancin' an' yer singin' an' yer playin'; leave yer whiskey an'
yer cussin' an' yer swearin', an' tu'n yer min's ter de s'ords an' de
famines.

"Wen de Lord fotches dem s'ords outn Eden, an' dem famines outn Egyp',
an' tu'n 'em erloose on dis plantation, I tell yer, mun, dar's gwine be
skyeared niggers hyear. Yer won't see no dancin' den; yer won't hyear no
cussin', nor no chickens hollin' uv er night; dey won't be no reel
chunes sung den; yer'll want ter go ter prayin', an' yer'll be er
callin' on us wat is stedfus in de faith fur ter hep yer; but we can't
hep yer den. We'll be er tryin' on our wings an' er floppin' 'em" ("Yes,
bless God!" thus Uncle Snake-bit Bob), "an' er gittin' ready fur ter
start upuds! We'll be er lacin' up dem golden shoes" ("Yes, marster!"
thus Mammy), "fur ter walk thu dem pearly gates. We can't stop den. We
can't 'liver no message den; de Book'll be shot. So, bredren, hyear it
dis ebenin'. 'Dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey
daughters by de famine.'

"Now, I've said ernuff; dey's no use fur ter keep er talkin', an' all
you backslidin' chu'ch membahs, tremblin' sinners, an' weepin' monahs,
come up hyear dis ebenin', an' try ter git erroun' dem s'ords an' dem
famines. Now my skyearts is clar, caze I done 'liver de message. I done
tol' yer whar hit come fum. I tol' yer 'twas in de Book, 'boutn
middle-ways twix' een an' een; an' wedder David writ it or Sam'l writ
it, or Gen'sis writ it or Paul writ it, or Phesians writ it or Loshuns
writ it, dat ain't nudder hyear nor dar; dat don't make no diffunce;
some on 'em writ it, caze hit's sholy in de Book, fur de oberseer's wife
she read hit ter me outn dar; an' I tuck 'tickler notice, too, so's I
could tell yer right whar ter fin' it. An', bredren, I'm er tellin' yer
de truf dis ebenin'; hit's jes 'bout de middle twix' een an' een. Hit's
dar, sho's yer born, an' dar ain't no way fur ter 'sputin' it, nor ter
git roun' it, 'septin' fur ter tu'n fum yer wickedness. An' now, Brudder
Gabe, raise er chune; an' sing hit lively, bredren; an' wile dey's
singin' hit, I want yer ter come up hyear an' fill deze monahs' benches
plum full. Bredren, I want monahs 'pun top er monahs dis ebenin'.
Bredren, I want 'em in crowds. I want 'em in droves. I want 'em in
layers. I want 'em in piles. I want 'em laid 'pun top er one ernudder,
bredren, tell yer can't see de bottumus' monahs. I want 'em piled up
hyear dis ebenin'. I want 'em packed down, mun, an' den tromped on, ter
make room fur de nex' load. Oh, my bredren, come! fur 'dey young men
shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'"

The scene that followed baffles all description. Uncle Gabe struck up--

"Oh, lebe de woods uv damnation;
Come out in de fields uv salvation;
Fur de Lord's gwine ter bu'n up creation,
  Wen de day uv jedgment come."

"Oh, sinners, yer may stan' dar er laffin',
Wile de res' uv us is er quaffin'
Uv de streams wich de win's is er waffin'
  Right fresh fum de heb'nly sho'."

"But, min', dar's er day is er comin',
Wen yer'll hyear a mighty pow'ful hummin';
Wen dem angels is er blowin' an' er drummin',
  In de awful jedgment day."

"Oh, monahs, you may stan' dar er weepin',
Fur de brooms uv de Lord is er sweepin',
An' all de trash dey's er heapin'
  Outside er de golden gate."

"So, sinners, yer'd better be er tu'nin',
Er climbin' an' er scramblin' an' er runnin',
Fur ter 'scape dat drefful burnin'
  In de awful jedgment day."

And while the hymn was being sung, Uncle Daniel had his wish of "monahs
'pun top er monahs," for the benches and aisles immediately around the
altar were soon crowded with the weeping negroes. Some were crying, some
shouting Glory! some praying aloud, some exhorting the sinners, some
comforting the mourners, some shrieking and screaming, and, above all
the din and confusion, Uncle Daniel could be heard halloing, at the top
of his voice, "Dem s'ords an' dem famines!" After nearly an hour of this
intense excitement, the congregation was dismissed, one of them, at
least, more dead than alive; for "Aunt Ceely," who had long been known
as "er pow'ful sinful ooman," had fallen into a trance, whether real or
assumed must be determined by wiser heads than mine; for it was no
uncommon occurrence for those "seekin' 'ligion" to lie in a state of
unconsciousness for several hours, and, on their return to
consciousness, to relate the most wonderful experiences of what had
happened to them while in the trance. Aunt Ceely lay as if she were
dead, and two of the Christian men (for no sinner must touch her at this
critical period) bore her to her cabin, followed by the "chu'ch
membahs," who would continue their singing and praying until she "come
thu," even if the trance should last all night. The children returned to
the house without Mammy, for she was with the procession which had
followed Aunt Ceely; and as they reached the yard, they met their father
returning from the lot.

"Papa," called Dumps, "we're goin' ter have awful troubles hyear."

"How, my little daughter?" asked her father.

"The Lord's goin' ter sen' s'ords an' famines, an' they'll eat up all
the young men, an' ev'ybody's sons an' daughters," she replied,
earnestly. "Uncle Dan'l said so in meetin'; an' all the folks was
screamin' an' shoutin', an' Aunt Ceely is in a trance 'bout it, an' she
ain't come thu yet."

[Illustration: "MONAH'S 'PUN TOP ER MONAHS."]

Major Waldron was annoyed that his children should have witnessed any
such scene, for they were all very much excited and frightened at the
fearful fate that they felt was approaching them; so he took them into
his library, and explained the meaning of the terms "swords and
famines," and read to them the whole chapter, explaining how the prophet
referred only to the calamities that should befall the Hebrews; but,
notwithstanding all that, the children were uneasy, and made Aunt Milly
sit by the bedside until they went to sleep, to keep the "swords and the
famines" from getting them.



CHAPTER XIV.

DIDDIE AND DUMPS GO VISITING.


It was some time in June that, the weather being fine, Mammy gave the
children permission to go down to the woods beyond the gin-house and
have a picnic.

They had a nice lunch put up in their little baskets, and started off in
high glee, taking with them Cherubim and Seraphim and the doll babies.
They were not to stay all day, only till dinner-time; so they had no
time to lose, but set to playing at once.

First, it was "Ladies come to see," and each of them had a house under
the shade of a tree, and spent most of the time in visiting and in
taking care of their respective families. Dumps had started out with
Cherubim for her little boy; but he proved so refractory, and kept her
so busy catching him, that she decided to play he was the yard dog, and
content herself with the dolls for her children. Riar, too, had some
trouble in _her_ family; in passing through the yard, she had inveigled
Hester's little two-year-old son to go with them, and now was desirous
of claiming him as her son and heir--a position which he filled very
contentedly until Diddie became ambitious of living in more style than
her neighbors, and offered Pip (Hester's baby) the position of
dining-room servant in her establishment; and he, lured off by the
prospect of playing with the little cups and saucers, deserted Riar for
Diddie. This produced a little coolness, but gradually it wore off, and
the visiting between the parties was resumed.

After "ladies come to see" had lost its novelty, they made little
leaf-boats, and sailed them in the ditch. Then they played "hide the
switch," and at last concluded to try a game of hide-and-seek. This
afforded considerable amusement, so they kept it up some time; and once,
when it became Dumps's time to hide, she ran away to the gin-house, and
got into the pick-room. And while she was standing there all by herself
in the dark, she thought she heard somebody breathing. This frightened
her very much, and she had just opened the door to get out, when a negro
man crawled from under a pile of dirty cotton, and said,

"Little missy, fur de Lord's sake, can't yer gimme sump'n t' eat?"

Dumps was so scared she could hardly stand; but, notwithstanding the
man's haggard face and hollow eyes, and his weird appearance, with the
cotton sticking to his head, his tone was gentle, and she stopped to
look at him more closely.

"Little missy," he said, piteously, "I'se er starvin' ter def. I ain't
had er mouf'l ter eat in fo' days."

"What's the reason?" asked Dumps. "Are you a runaway nigger?"

"Yes, honey; I 'longs ter ole Tight-fis' Smith; an' he wanted ter whup
me fur not gittin' out ter de fiel' in time, an' I tuck'n runned erway
fum 'im, an' now I'm skyeert ter go back, an' ter go anywhar; an' I
can't fin' nuf'n t' eat, an' I'se er starvin' ter def."

"Well, you wait," said Dumps, "an' I'll go bring yer the picnic."

"Don't tell nobody 'boutn my bein' hyear, honey."

"No, I won't," said Dumps, "only Diddie; she's good, an' she won't tell
nobody; an' she can read an' write, an' she'll know what to do better'n
me, because I'm all the time such a little goose. But I'll bring yer
sump'n t' eat; you jes wait er little minute; an' don't yer starve ter
def till I come back."

Dumps ran back to the ditch where the children were, and, taking Diddie
aside in a very mysterious manner, she told her about the poor man who
was hiding in the gin-house, and about his being so hungry.

"An' I tol' 'im I'd bring 'im the picnic," concluded Dumps; and Diddie,
being the gentlest and kindest-hearted little girl imaginable, at once
consented to that plan; and, leaving Tot with the little negroes in the
woods, the two children took their baskets, and went higher up the
ditch, on pretence of finding a good place to set the table; but, as
soon as they were out of sight, they cut across the grove, and were soon
at the gin-house. They entered the pick-room cautiously, and closed the
door behind them, The man came out from his hiding-place, and the little
girls emptied their baskets in his hands.

He ate ravenously, and Diddie and Dumps saw with pleasure how much he
enjoyed the nice tarts and sandwiches and cakes that Mammy had provided
for the picnic.

"Do you sleep here at night?" asked Diddie.

"Yes, honey, I'se skyeert ter go out anywhar; I'se so skyeert uv
Tight-fis' Smith."

"He's awful mean, ain't he?" asked Dumps.

"Dat he is, chile," replied the man; "he's cruel an' bad."

"Then don't you ever go back to him," said Dumps. "You stay right here
an' me'n Diddie'll bring you ev'y-thing ter eat, an' have you fur our
nigger."

The man laughed softly at that idea, but said he would stay there for
the present, anyway; and the children, bidding him good-bye, and telling
him they would be sure to bring him something to eat the next day, went
back to their playmates at the ditch.

"Tot," said Diddie, "we gave all the picnic away to a poor old man who
was very hungry; but you don't mind, do you? we'll go back to the
house, and Mammy will give you just as many cakes as you want."

Tot was a little bit disappointed, for she had wanted to eat the picnic
in the woods; but Diddie soon comforted her, and before they reached the
house she was as merry and bright as any of them.

The next morning Diddie and Dumps were very much perplexed to know how
to get off to the gin-house without being seen. There was no difficulty
about obtaining the provisions; their mother always let them have
whatever they wanted to have tea-parties with, and this was their excuse
for procuring some slices of pie and cake, while Aunt Mary gave them
bread and meat, and Douglass gave them some cold buttered biscuit with
ham between.

They wrapped it all up carefully in a bundle, and then, watching their
chances, they slipped off from Tot and the little darkies, as well as
from Mammy, and carried it to their guest in the pick-room. He was truly
glad to see them, and to get the nice breakfast they had brought; and
the little girls, having now lost all fear of him, sat down on a pile of
cotton to have a talk with him.

"Did you always b'long to Mr. Tight-fis' Smith?" asked Diddie.

"No, honey; he bought me fum de Powell 'state, an' I ain't b'longst ter
him no mo'n 'boutn fo' years."

[Illustration: "BRINGIN' 'IM THE PICNIC."]

"Is he got any little girls?" asked Dumps.

"No, missy; his wife an' two chil'en wuz bu'nt up on de steamboat gwine
ter New 'Leans, some twenty years ergo; an' de folks sez dat's wat makes
'im sich er kintankrus man. Dey sez fo' dat he usen ter hab meetin' on
his place, an' he wuz er Christyun man hisse'f; but he got mad 'long er
de Lord caze de steamboat bu'nt up, an' eber sence dat he's been er
mighty wicked man; an' he won't let none er his folks sarve de Lord; an'
he don't 'pyear ter cyar fur nuffin' 'cep'n hit's money. But den, honey,
he ain't no born gemmun, nohow; he's jes only er oberseer wat made 'im
er little money, an' bought 'im er few niggers; an', I tells yer, he
makes 'em wuck, too; we'se got ter be in de fiel' long fo' day; an' I
oberslep' mysef tudder mornin' an' he wuz cussin' an' er gwine on, an'
'lowed he wuz er gwine ter whup me, an' so I des up an' runned erway fum
'im, an' now I'se skyeert ter go back; an', let erlone dat, I'se skyeert
ter stay; caze, efn he gits Mr. Upson's dogs, dey'll trace me plum
hyear; an' wat I is ter do I dunno; I jes prays constunt ter de Lord.
He'll he'p me, I reckon, caze I prays tree times eby day, an' den in
'tween times."

"Is your name Brer Dan'l?" asked Dumps, who remembered Uncle Bob's story
of Daniel's praying three times a day.

"No, honey, my name's Pomp; but den I'm er prayin' man, des same ez
Dan'l wuz."

"Well, Uncle Pomp," said Diddie, "you stay here just as long as you can,
an' I'll ask papa to see Mr. Tight-fis' Smith, an' he'll get--"

"Lor', chile," interrupted Uncle Pomp, "don't tell yer pa nuf'n 'boutn
it; he'll sho' ter sen' me back, an' dat man'll beat me half ter def:
caze I'se mos' loss er week's time now, an' hit's er mighty 'tickler
time in de crap."

"But, s'posin' the dogs might come?" said Dumps.

"Well, honey, dey ain't come yit; an' wen dey duz come, den hit'll be
time fur ter tell yer pa."

"Anyhow, we'll bring you something to eat," said Diddie, "and try and
help you all we can; but we must go back now, befo' Mammy hunts for us;
so good-bye;" and again they left him to himself.

As they neared the house, Dumps asked Diddie how far it was to Mr.
"Tight-fis' Smith's."

"I don't know exactly," said Diddie; "'bout three miles, I think."

"Couldn't we walk there, an' ask him not to whup Uncle Pomp? Maybe he
wouldn't, ef we was ter beg him right hard."

"Yes, that's jest what we'll do, Dumps; and we'll get Dilsey to go with
us, 'cause she knows the way."

Dilsey was soon found, and was very willing to accompany them, but was
puzzled to know why they wanted to go. The children, however, would not
gratify her curiosity, and they started at once, so as to be back in
time for dinner.

It was all of three miles to Mr. Smith's plantation, and the little
girls were very tired long before they got there. Dumps, indeed, almost
gave out, and once began to cry, and only stopped with Diddie's
reminding her of poor Uncle Pomp, and with Dilsey's carrying her a
little way.

At last, about two o'clock, they reached Mr. Smith's place. The hands
had just gone out into the field after dinner, and of course their
master, who was only a small planter and kept no overseer, was with
them. The children found the doors all open, and went in.

The house was a double log-cabin, with a hall between, and they entered
the room on the right, which seemed to be the principal living-room.
There was a shabby old bed in one corner, with the cover all
disarranged, as if its occupant had just left it. A table, littered with
unwashed dishes, stood in the middle of the floor, and one or two rude
split-bottomed chairs completed the furniture.

The little girls were frightened at the unusual silence about the place,
as well as the dirt and disorder, but, being very tired, they sat down
to rest.

"Diddie," asked Dumps, after a little time, "ain't yer scared?"

"I don't think I'm scared, Dumps," replied Diddie; "but I'm not right
comfor'ble."

"_I'm_ scared," said Dumps. "I'm _jes_ ez fraid of Mr. Tight-fis'
Smith!"

"Dat's hit!" said Dilsey. "Now yer talkin', Miss Dumps; dat's er mean
wite man, an' he mighter git mad erlong us, an' take us all fur his
niggers."

"But we ain't black, Diddie an' me," said Dumps.

"Dat don't make no diffunce ter him; he des soon hab wite niggers ez
black uns," remarked Dilsey, consolingly; and Dumps, being now
thoroughly frightened, said,

"Well, I'm er goin' ter put my pen'ence in de Lord. I'm er goin' ter
pray."

Diddie and Dilsey thought this a wise move, and, the three children
kneeling down, Dumps began,

"Now, I lay me down to sleep."

And just at this moment Mr. Smith, returning from the field, was
surprised to hear a voice proceeding from the house, and, stepping
lightly to the window, beheld, to his amazement, the three children on
their knees, with their eyes tightly closed and their hands clasped,
while Dumps was saying, with great fervor,

"If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take;
An' this I ask for Jesus' sake."

"Amen!" reverently responded Diddie and Dilsey; and they all rose from
their knees much comforted.

"I ain't 'fraid uv him now," said Dumps, "'cause I b'lieve the Lord'll
he'p us, an' not let Mr. Tight-fis' Smith git us."

"I b'lieve so too," said Diddie; and, turning to the window, she found
Mr. Smith watching them.

"Are you Mr. Tight-fis' Smith?" asked Diddie, timidly.

"I am Mr. Smith, and I have heard that I am called '_tight_-fisted' in
the neighborhood," he replied, with a smile.

"Well, we are Major Waldron's little girls, Diddie and Dumps, an' this
is my maid, Dilsey, an' we've come ter see yer on business."

"On business, eh?" replied Mr. Smith, stepping in at the low window.
"Well, what's the business, little ones?" and he took a seat on the side
of the bed, and regarded them curiously. But here Diddie stopped, for
she felt it was a delicate matter to speak to this genial,
pleasant-faced old man of cruelty to his own slaves. Dumps, however, was
troubled with no such scruples; and, finding that Mr. Smith was not so
terrible as she had feared, she approached him boldly, and, standing by
his side, she laid one hand on his gray head, and said:

"Mr. Smith, we've come ter beg you please not ter whup Uncle Pomp if he
comes back. He is runned erway, an' me an' Diddie know where he is, an'
we've ben feedin' him, an' we don't want you ter whup him; will you
please don't?" and Dumps's arm slipped down from the old man's head,
until it rested around his neck; and Mr. Smith, looking into her eager,
childish face, and seeing the blue eyes filled with tears, thought of
the little faces that long years ago had looked up to his; and, bending
his head, he kissed the rosy mouth.

"You won't whup him, will you?" urged Dumps.

"Don't you think he ought to be punished for running away and staying
all this time, when I needed him in the crop?" asked Mr. Smith, gently.

"But, indeed, he _is_ punished," said Diddie; "he was almost starved to
death when me and Dumps carried him the picnic; and then he is so
scared, he's been punished, Mr. Smith; so please let him come home, and
don't whup him."

"Yes, PLE-EE-ASE promise," said Dumps, tightening her hold on his neck;
and Mr. Smith, in memory of the little arms that once clung round him,
and the little fingers that in other days clasped his, said:

"Well, I'll promise, little ones. Pomp may come home, and I'll not whip
or punish him in any way;" and then he kissed them both, and said they
must have a lunch with him, and then he would take them home and bring
Pomp back; for he was astonished to learn that they had walked so long a
distance, and would not hear of their walking back, though Diddie
persisted that they must go, as they had stolen off, and nobody knew
where they were.

He made the cook bake them some hot corn hoe-cakes and boil them some
eggs; and while she was fixing it, and getting the fresh butter and
buttermilk to add to the meal, Mr. Smith took them to the June
apple-tree, and gave them just as many red apples as they wanted to eat,
and some to take home to Tot. And Dumps told him all about "Old Billy"
and Cherubim and Seraphim, and the old man laughed, and enjoyed it all,
for he had no relatives or friends, and lived entirely alone--a stern,
cold man, whose life had been embittered by the sudden loss of his loved
ones, and it had been many weary years since he had heard children's
voices chatting and laughing under the apple-tree.

After the lunch, which his guests enjoyed very much, Mr. Smith had a
little donkey brought out for Dilsey to ride, and, taking Diddie behind
him on his horse, and Dumps in his arms, he started with them for home.

There was but one saddle, so Dilsey was riding "bareback," and had to
sit astride of the donkey to keep from falling off, which so amused the
children that merry peals of laughter rang out from time to time;
indeed, Dumps laughed so much, that, if Mr. Smith had not held her
tightly, she certainly would have fallen off. But it was not very funny
to Dilsey; she held on with all her might to the donkey's short mane,
and even then could scarcely keep her seat. She was highly indignant
with the children for laughing at her, and said.

"I dunno wat yer kill'n yerse'f laffin' 'bout, got me er settin' on dis
hyear beas'; I ain't gwine wid yer no mo'."

Major Waldron was sitting on the veranda as the cavalcade came up, and
was surprised to see his little daughters with Mr. Smith, and still more
so to learn that they had walked all the way to his house on a mission
of mercy; but being a kind man, and not wishing to check the germs of
love and sympathy in their young hearts, he forbore to scold them, and
went with them and Mr. Smith to the gin-house for the runaway.

On reaching the pick-room, the children went in alone, and told Uncle
Pomp that his master had come for him, and had promised not to punish
him; but still the old man was afraid to go out, and stood there in
alarm till Mr. Smith called:

"Come out, Pomp! I'll keep my promise to the little ones; you shall not
be punished in any way. Come out, and let's go home."

And Uncle Pomp emerged from his hiding-place, presenting a very
ludicrous spectacle, with his unwashed face and uncombed hair, and the
dirty cotton sticking to his clothes.

"Ef'n yer'll furgib de ole nigger dis time, marster, he ain't neber
gwine run erway no mo'; an', mo'n dat, he gwine ter make speshul 'spress
'rangemunce fur ter git up sooner in de mornin'; he is dat, jes sho's
yer born!" said the old negro, as he came before his master.

"Don't make too many promises, Pomp," kindly replied Mr. Smith; "we
will both try to do better; at any rate, you shall not be punished this
time. Now take your leave of your kind little friends, and let's get
towards home; we are losing lots of time this fine day."

"Good-bye, little misses," said Uncle Pomp, grasping Diddie's hand in
one of his and Dumps's in the other; "good-bye; I gwine pray fur yer bof
ev'y night wat de Lord sen'; an', mo'n dat, I gwine fotch yer some
pattridge aigs de fus' nes' wat I fin's."

And Uncle Pomp mounted the donkey that Dilsey had ridden, and rode off
with his master, while Diddie and Dumps climbed on top of the fence to
catch the last glimpse of them, waving their sun-bonnets and calling
out,

"Good-bye, Mr. Tight-fis' Smith and Uncle Pomp."



CHAPTER XV.

THE FOURTH OF JULY.


"The glorious Fourth" was always a holiday on every Southern plantation,
and, of course, Major Waldron's was no exception to the rule. His
negroes not only had holiday, but a barbecue, and it was a day of
general mirth and festivity.

On this particular "Fourth" the barbecue was to be on the banks of the
creek formed by the back-waters of the river, and was to be a "fish-fry"
as well as a barbecue.

All hands on the plantation were up by daylight, and preparing for the
frolic. Some of the negro men, indeed, had been down to the creek all
night setting out their fish-baskets and getting the "pit" ready for the
meats. The pit was a large hole, in which a fire was kindled to roast
the animals, which were suspended over it; and they must commence the
barbecuing very early in the morning, in order to get everything ready
by dinner-time. The children were as much excited over it as the negroes
were, and Mammy could hardly keep them still enough to dress them, they
were so eager to be off. Major and Mrs. Waldron were to go in the light
carriage, but the little folks were to go with Mammy and Aunt Milly in
the spring-wagon, along with the baskets of provisions for the "white
folks' tables;" the bread and vegetables and cakes and pastry for the
negroes' tables had been sent off in a large wagon, and were at the
place for the barbecue long before the white family started from home.
The negroes, too, had all gone. Those who were not able to walk had gone
in wagons, but most of them had walked, for it was only about three
miles from the house.

Despite all their efforts to hurry up Mammy, it was nearly nine o'clock
before the children could get her off; and even then she didn't want to
let Cherubim and Seraphim go, and Uncle Snake-bit Bob, who was driving
the wagon, had to add his entreaties to those of the little folks before
she would consent at all; and after that matter had been decided, and
the baskets all packed in, and the children all comfortably seated, and
Dilsey and Chris and Riar squeezed into the back of the wagon between
the ice-cream freezer and the lemonade buckets, and Cherubim and
Seraphim in the children's laps, and Mammy and Aunt Milly on two
split-bottomed chairs, just back of the driver's seat, and Uncle
Snake-bit Bob, with the reins in his hands, just ready to drive
off--whom should they see but Old Daddy Jake coming down the avenue, and
waving his hat for them to wait for him.

"Dar now!" said Mammy; "de folks done gone an' lef Ole Daddy, an' we
got ter stuff 'im in hyear somewhar."

"They ain't no room in hyear," said Dumps, tightening her grasp on
Cherubim, for she strongly suspected that Mammy would insist on leaving
the puppies to make room for Daddy.

"Well, he ain't got ter be lef'," said Mammy; "I wuz allers larnt ter
'spect ole folks myse'f, an' ef'n dis wagin goes, why den Daddy Jake's
got ter go in it;" and, Major and Mrs. Waldron having gone, Mammy was
the next highest in command, and from her decision there was no appeal.

"How come yer ter git lef, Daddy?" asked Uncle Snake-bit Bob, as the old
man came up hobbling on his stick.

"Well, yer see, chile, I wuz er lightin' uv my pipe, an' er fixin' uv er
new stim in it, an' I nuber notus wen de wagins went off. Yer see I'm er
gittin' er little deef in deze ole yurs uv mine: dey ben er fasten't on
ter dis ole nigger's head er long time, uperds uv er hunderd years or
mo'; an' de time hez ben wen dey could hyear de leaves fall uv er
nights; but dey gittin' out'n fix somehow; dey ain't wuckin' like dey
oughter; an' dey jes sot up dar, an' let de wagins drive off, an' leave
de ole nigger er lightin' uv his pipe; an' wen I got thu, an' went ter
de do', den I hyeard er mighty stillness in de quarters, an', bless yer
heart, de folks wuz gone; an' I lookt up dis way, an' I seed de wagin
hyear, an' I 'lowed yer'd all gimme er lif' some way."

"Dem little niggers'll hatter stay at home," said Mammy, sharply, eying
the little darkies, "or else dey'll hatter walk, caze Daddy's got ter
come in dis wagin. Now, you git out, you little niggers."

At this, Dilsey and Chris and Riar began to unpack themselves, crying
bitterly the while, because they were afraid to walk by themselves, and
they knew they couldn't walk fast enough to keep up with the wagon; but
here Diddie came to the rescue, and persuaded Uncle Bob to go to the
stable and saddle Corbin, and all three of the little negroes mounted
him, and rode on behind the wagon, while Daddy Jake was comfortably
fixed in the space they had occupied; and now they were fairly off.

"Mammy, what does folks have Fourf of Julys for?" asked Dumps, after a
little while.

"I dunno, honey," answered Mammy; "I hyearn 'em say hit wuz 'long o'
some fightin' or nuther wat de wite folks fit one time; but whedder dat
wuz de time wat Brer David fit Goliar or not, I dunno; I ain't hyeard
'em say 'bout dat: it mout er ben dat time, an' den ergin it mout er ben
de time wat Brer Samson kilt up de folks wid de jawbone. I ain't right
sho' _wat_ time hit wuz; but den I knows hit wuz some fightin' or
nuther."

"It was the 'Declination of Independence,'" said Diddie. "It's in the
little history; and it wasn't any fightin', it was a _writin'_; and
there's the picture of it in the book; and all the men are settin'
roun', and one of 'em is writin'."

"Yes, dat's jes wat I hyearn," said Uncle Bob. "I hyearn 'em say dat dey
had de fuss' Defemation uv Ondepen'ence on de fourf uv July, an' eber
sence den de folks ben er habin' holerday an' barbecues on dat day."

"What's er Defemation, Uncle Bob?" asked Dumps, who possessed an
inquiring mind.

"Well, I mos' furgits de zack meanin'," said the old man, scratching his
head; "hit's some kin' er writin', do, jes like Miss Diddie say; but,
let erlone dat, hit's in de squshionary, an' yer ma kin fin' hit fur
yer, an' 'splain de zack meanin' uv de word; but de Defemation uv
Ondepen'ence, hit happened on de fuss fourf uv July, an' hit happens
ev'y fourf uv July sence den; an' dat's 'cordin' ter my onderstandin' uv
hit," said Uncle Bob, whipping up his horses.

"What's dat, Brer Bob?" asked Daddy Jake; and as soon as Uncle Bob had
yelled at him Dumps's query and his answer to it, the old man said:

"Yer wrong, Brer Bob; I 'members well de fus' fourf uv July; hit wuz er
man, honey. Marse Fofer July wuz er _man_, an' de day wuz name atter
him. He wuz er pow'ful fightin' man; but den who it wuz he fit I mos'
furgot, hit's ben so long ergo; but I 'members, do, I wuz er right
smart slip uv er boy, an' I went wid my ole marster, yer pa's gran'pa,
to er big dinner wat dey had on de Jeems Riber, in ole Furginny; an' dat
day, sar, Marse Fofer July wuz dar; an' he made er big speech ter de
wite folks, caze I hyeard 'em clappin' uv dey han's. I nuber seed 'im,
but I hyeard he wuz dar, do, an' I knows he _wuz_ dar, caze I sho'ly
hyeard 'em clappin' uv dey han's; an', 'cordin' ter de way I 'members
bout'n it, dis is his birfday, wat de folks keeps plum till yet, caze
dey ain't no men nowerdays like Marse Fofer July. He wuz er gre't man,
an' he had sense, too; an' den, 'sides dat, he wuz some er de fus'
famblys in dem days. Wy, his folks usen ter visit our wite folks. I helt
his horse fur 'im de many er time; an', let erlone dat, I knowed some uv
his niggers; but den dat's ben er long time ergo."

"But what was he writin' about, Daddy?" asked Diddie, who remembered the
picture too well to give up the "writing part."

"He wuz jes signin' some kin' er deeds or sump'n," said Daddy. "I dunno
wat he wuz writin' erbout; but den he wuz er man, caze he lived in my
recommembrunce, an' I done seed 'im myse'f."

That settled the whole matter, though Diddie was not entirely satisfied;
but, as the wagon drove up to the creek bank just then, she was too much
interested in the barbecue to care very much for "Marse Fofer July."

The children all had their fishing-lines and hooks, and as soon as they
were on the ground started to find a good place to fish. Dilsey got some
bait from the negro boys, and baited the hooks; and it was a comical
sight to see all of the children, white and black, perched upon the
roots of trees or seated flat on the ground, watching intently their
hooks, which they kept bobbing up and down so fast that the fish must
have been very quick indeed to catch them.

They soon wearied of such dull sport, and began to set their wits to
work to know what to do next.

"Le's go 'possum-huntin'," suggested Dilsey.

"There ain't any 'possums in the daytime," said Diddie.

"Yes dey is, Miss Diddie, lots uv 'em; folks jes goes at night fur ter
save time. I knows how ter hunt fur 'possums; I kin tree 'em jes same ez
er dog."

And the children, delighted at the novelty of the thing, all started off
"'possum-hunting," for Mammy was helping unpack the dinner-baskets, and
was not watching them just then. They wandered off some distance,
climbing over logs and falling into mud-puddles, for they all had their
heads thrown back and their faces turned up to the trees, looking for
the 'possums, and thereby missed seeing the impediments in the way.

At length Dilsey called out, "Hyear he is! Hyear de 'possum!" and they
all came to a dead halt under a large oak-tree, which Dilsey and Chris,
and even Diddie and Dumps, I regret to say, prepared to climb. But the
climbing consisted mostly in active and fruitless endeavors to make a
start, for Dilsey was the only one of the party who got as much as three
feet from the ground; but _she_ actually did climb up until she reached
the first limb, and then crawled along it until she got near enough to
shake off the 'possum, which proved to be a big chunk of wood that had
lodged up there from a falling branch, probably; and when Dilsey shook
the limb it fell down right upon Riar's upturned face, and made her nose
bleed.

"Wat you doin', you nigger you?" demanded Riar, angrily, as she wiped
the blood from her face. "I dar' yer ter come down out'n dat tree, an'
I'll beat de life out'n yer; I'll larn yer who ter be shakin' chunks
on."

"In vain did Dilsey apologize, and say she thought it was a "'possum;"
Riar would listen to no excuse; and as soon as Dilsey reached the ground
they had a rough-and-tumble fight, in which both parties got
considerably worsted in the way of losing valuable hair, and of having
their eyes filled with dirt and their clean dresses all muddied; but Tot
was so much afraid Riar, her little nurse and maid, would get hurt that
she screamed and cried, and refused to be comforted until the combatants
suspended active hostilities, though they kept up quarrelling for some
time, even after they had recommenced their search for 'possums.

"Dilsey don't know how to tree no 'possums," said Riar, contemptuously,
after they had walked for some time, and anxiously looked up into every
tree they passed.

"Yes I kin," retorted Dilsey; "I kin tree 'em jes ez same ez er dog,
ef'n dar's any 'possums fur ter tree; but I can't _make_ 'possums, do;
an' ef dey ain't no 'possums, den I can't tree 'em, dat's all."

"Maybe they don't come out on the Fourf uv July," said Dumps. "Maybe
'possums keeps it same as peoples."

"Now, maybe dey duz," said Dilsey, who was glad to have some excuse for
her profitless 'possum-hunting; and the children, being fairly tired
out, started back to the creek bank, when they came upon Uncle Snake-bit
Bob, wandering through the woods, and looking intently on the ground.

"What are you looking for, Uncle Bob?" asked Diddie.

"Des er few buckeyes, honey," answered the old man.

"What you goin' ter do with 'em?" asked Dumps, as the little girls
joined him in his search.

"Well, I don't want ter die no drunkard, myse'f," said Uncle Bob, whose
besetting sin was love of whiskey.

"Does buckeyes keep folks from dying drunkards?" asked Dumps.

"Dat's wat dey sez; an' I 'lowed I'd lay me in er few, caze I've allers
hyearn dat dem folks wat totes a buckeye in dey lef britches pocket,
an' den ernudder in de right-han' coat pocket, dat dey ain't gwine die
no drunkards."

"But if they would stop drinkin' whiskey they wouldn't die drunkards
anyhow, would they, Uncle Bob?"

"Well, I dunno, honey; yer pinnin' de ole nigger mighty close; de
whiskey mout hab sump'n ter do wid it; I ain't sputin' dat--but wat I
stan's on is dis: dem folks wat I seed die drunk, dey nuber had no
buckeyes in dey pockets; caze I 'members dat oberseer wat Marse Brunson
had, he died wid delirums treums, an' he runned, he did, fur ter git
'way fum de things wat he seed atter him; an' he jumped into de riber,
an' he got drownded; an' I wuz dar wen dey pulled 'im out; an' I sez ter
Brer John Small, who wuz er standin' dar, sez I, now I lay yer he ain't
got no buckeyes in his pockets; and wid dat me 'n Brer John we tuck'n
turnt his pockets wrong side outerds; an', less yer soul, chile, hit wuz
jes like I say; DAR WA'N'T NO BUCKEYES DAR! Well, I'd b'lieved in de ole
sayin' befo', but dat jes kinter sot me on it fas'er 'n eber; an' I
don't cyare wat de wedder is, nor wat de hurry is; hit may rain an' hit
may shine, an' de time may be er pressin', but ole Bob he don't stir
out'n his house mornin's 'cep'n he's got buckeyes in his pockets. But I
seed 'em gittin' ready fur dinner as I comed erlong, an' you chil'en
better be er gittin' toerds de table."

That was enough for the little folks, and they hurried back to the
creek. The table was formed by driving posts into the ground, and laying
planks across them, and had been fixed up the day before by some of the
men. The dinner was excellent--barbecued mutton and shote and lamb and
squirrels, and very fine "gumbo," and plenty of vegetables and
watermelons and fruits, and fresh fish which the negroes had caught in
the seine, for none of the anglers had been successful.

Everybody was hungry, for they had had very early breakfast, and,
besides, it had been a fatiguing day, for most of the negroes had walked
the three miles, and then had danced and played games nearly all the
morning, and so they were ready for dinner. And everybody seemed very
happy and gay except Mammy; she had been so upset at the children's torn
dresses and dirty faces that she could not regain her good-humor all at
once; and then, too, Dumps had lost her sun-bonnet, and there were some
unmistakable freckles across her little nose, and so Mammy looked very
cross, and grumbled a good deal, though her appetite seemed good, and
she did full justice to the barbecue.

Now Mammy had some peculiar ideas of her own as to the right and proper
way for ladies to conduct themselves, and one of her theories was that
no _white lady_ should ever eat heartily in company; she might eat
between meals, if desired, or even go back after the meal was over and
satisfy her appetite; but to sit down with a party of ladies and
gentlemen and make a good "square" meal, Mammy considered very ungenteel
indeed. This idea she was always trying to impress upon the little
girls, so as to render them as ladylike as possible in the years to
come; and on this occasion, as there were quite a number of the families
from the adjacent plantations present, she was horrified to see Dumps
eating as heartily, and with as evident satisfaction, as if she had been
alone in the nursery at home. Diddie, too, had taken her second piece of
barbecued squirrel, and seemed to be enjoying it very much, when a shake
of Mammy's head reminded her of the impropriety of such a proceeding; so
she laid aside the squirrel, and minced delicately over some less
substantial food. The frowns and nods, however, were thrown away upon
Dumps; she ate of everything she wanted until she was fully satisfied,
and I grieve to say that her papa encouraged her in such unladylike
behavior by helping her liberally to whatever she asked for.

But after the dinner was over, and after the darkies had played and
danced until quite late, and after the ladies and gentlemen had had
several very interesting games of euchre and whist, and after the little
folks had wandered about as much as they pleased--swinging on
grape-vines and riding on "saplings," and playing "base" and "stealing
goods," and tiring themselves out generally--and after they had been
all duly stowed away in the spring-wagon and had started for home, then
Mammy began at Dumps about her unpardonable appetite.

"But I was hungry, Mammy," apologized the little girl.

"I don't cyar ef'n yer wuz," replied Mammy; "dat ain't no reason fur yer
furgittin' yer manners, an' stuffin' yerse'f right fo' all de gemmuns.
Miss Diddie dar, she burhavt like er little lady, jes kinter foolin' wid
her knife an' fork, an' nuber eatin nuffin' hardly; an' dar you wuz jes
er pilin' in shotes an' lams an' squ'ls, an' roas'n yurs, an' pickles
an' puddin's an' cakes an' watermillions, tell I wuz dat shame fur ter
call yer marster's darter!"

And poor little Dumps, now that the enormity of her sin was brought home
to her, and the articles eaten so carefully enumerated, began to feel
very much like a boa-constrictor, and the tears fell from her eyes as
Mammy continued:

"I done nust er heap er chil'en in my time, but I ain't nuber seed no
wite chile eat fo de gemmuns like you duz. It pyears like I can't nuber
larn you no manners, nohow."

"Let de chile erlone, Sis Rachel," interposed Uncle Bob; "she ain't no
grown lady, an' I seed marster he'p'n uv her plate hisse'f; she nuber
eat none too much, consid'n hit wuz de Fourf uv July."

"Didn't I eat no shotes an' lambs, Uncle Bob?" asked Dumps, wiping her
eyes.

[Illustration: "SWINGING ON GRAPE-VINES AND RIDING ON SAPLINGS."]

"I don't b'lieve yer did," said Uncle Bob. "I seed yer eat er squ'l or
two, an' er few fish, likely, an' dem, wid er sprinklin' uv roas'n yurs
an' cakes, wuz de mos' wat I seed yer eat."

"An' dat wuz too much," said Mammy, "right befo' de gemmuns."

But Dumps was comforted at Uncle Bob's moderate statement of the case,
and so Mammy's lecture lost much of its intended severity.

As they were driving through the grove before reaching the house it was
quite dark, and they heard an owl hooting in one of the trees.

"I see yer keep on sayin' yer sass," said Daddy Jake, addressing the
owl. "Ef'n I'd er done happen ter all you is 'bout'n hit, I'd let hit
erlone myse'f."

"What's he sayin'?" asked Diddie.

"Wy, don't yer hyear him, honey, er sayin,

"Who cooks fur you-oo-a?
Who cooks fur you-oo-a?
Ef you'll cook for my folks,
Den I'll cook fur y' all-l-lll?"

"Well, hit wuz 'long er dat very chune wat he los' his eyes, an' can't
see no mo' in de daytime; an' ef'n I wuz him, I'd let folks' cookin'
erlone."

"Can't you tell us about it, Daddy?" asked Dumps.

"I ain't got de time now," said the old man, "caze hyear's de wagin
almos' at de do'; an', let erlone dat, I ain't nuber hyeard 'twus good
luck ter be tellin' no tales on de Fourf uv July; but ef'n yer kin come
ter my cabin some ebenin' wen yer's er airin' uv yerse'fs, den I'll tell
yer jes wat I hyearn 'bout'n de owl, an' 'struck yer in er many er thing
wat yer don't know now."

And now the wagon stopped at the back gate, and the little girls and
Mammy and the little darkies got out, and Mammy made the children say
good-night to Daddy Jake and Uncle Bob, and they all went into the house
very tired and very sleepy, and very dirty, with their celebration of
"Marse Fofer July's burfday."



CHAPTER XVI.

"'STRUCK'N UV DE CHIL'EN."


It was several days before the children could get off to Daddy Jake's
cabin to hear about the owl; but on Saturday evening, after dinner,
Mammy said they might go; and, having promised to go straight to Daddy
Jake's house, and to come home before dark, they all started off.

Daddy Jake was the oldest negro on the plantation--perhaps the oldest in
the State. He had been raised by Major Waldron's grandfather in
Virginia, and remembered well the Revolutionary War; and then he had
been brought to Mississippi by Major Waldron's father, and remembered
all about the War of 1812 and the troubles with the Indians. It had been
thirty years or more since Daddy Jake had done any work. He had a very
comfortable cabin; and although his wives (for the old man had been
married several times) were all dead, and many of his children were now
old and infirm, he had a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren
who attended to his wants; and then, too, his master cared very
particularly for his comfort, and saw that Daddy Jake had good fires,
and that his clothes were kept clean and mended, and his food nicely
cooked; so the old man passed his days in peace and quiet.

The children found him now lying stretched out on a bench in front of
his cabin, while Polly, his great-granddaughter, was scratching and
"looking" his head.

"We've come for you to tell us about the Owl, Daddy," said Diddie, after
she had given the old man some cake and a bottle of muscadine wine that
her mother had sent to him.

"All right, little misses," replied Daddy; and, sitting up on the bench,
he lifted Tot beside him, while Diddie and Dumps sat on the door-sill,
and Dilsey and Chris and Riar and Polly sat flat on the ground.

"Well, yer see de Owl," began Daddy Jake, "he usen fur ter see in de
daytime des same ez he do now in de night; an' one time he wuz in his
kitchen er cookin' uv his dinner, wen hyear come de Peafowl er struttin'
by. Well, in dem days de Peafowl he nuber had none er dem eyes on his
tail wat he got now; his tail wuz des er clean blue."

"Did you see him, Daddy?" interrupted Dumps.

[Illustration: "'STRUCK'N UV DE CHIL'EN."]

"No, honey, I ain't seed 'im wen he wuz dat way; dat wuz fo' my time;
but den I know hit's de truf, do'; his tail wuz er clar blue dout'n no
eyes on it; an' he wuz er pow'ful proud bird, an', 'stid er him 'ten'in
ter his bizness, he des prumeraded de streets an' de roads, an' he
felt hisse'f too big fur ter ten' ter his wuck. Well, de Owl knowed dat,
an' so wen he seed de Peafowl walkin' by so big, an' him in de kitchen
er cookin', it kinter hu't his feelin's, so he tuck'n holler'd at de
Peafowl,

"'Whooo cooks fur you-oo-a?
Whooo cooks fur you-oo-a?
I cooks fur my folks,
But who cooks fur y'all-ll-l?'

"Now he jes done dat out'n pyo' sass'ness, caze he knowed de Peafowl
felt hisse'f 'bove cookin'; an' wen de Peafowl hyeard dat, he 'gun ter
git mad; an' he 'lowed dat ef'n de Owl said dat ter him ergin dey'd be
er fuss on his han's. Well, de nex' day de Owl seed him comin', an' he
'gun fur ter scrape out'n his pots an' skillets, an' ez he scrope 'em he
holler'd out,

"'Whoo cooks fur you-oo-a?
Whoo cooks fur you-oo-a?
Ef you'll cook fur my folks,
Den I'll cook fur y'all-ll.'

"An' wid dat de Peafowl tuck'n bounct him; an' dar dey had it, er
scrougin' an' er peckin' an' er clawin' uv one nudder; an' somehow, in
de skrummidge, de Owl's eyes dey got skwushed on ter de Peafowl's tail,
an' fur er long time he couldn't see nuffin' 'tall; but de rattlesnake
doctored on him."

"The rattlesnake?" asked Diddie, in horror.

"Hit's true, des like I'm tellin' yer," said Daddy; "hit wuz de
rattlesnake; an' dey's de bes' doctors dey is 'mongst all de beases. Yer
may see him creepin' 'long thu de grass like he don't know nuffin', but
he kin doctor den."

"How does he doctor, Daddy?" asked Dumps.

"Now you chil'en look er hyear," said the old man; "I ain't gwine ter
tell yer all I know 'bout'n de rattlesnake; dar's some things fur ter
tell, and den ergin dar's some things fur ter keep ter yerse'f; an' wat
dey is twix' me an' de rattlesnake, hit's des twix' me'n him; an' you
ain't de fust ones wat want ter know an' couldn't. Yer may ax, but axin'
ain't findin' out den; an', mo'n dat, ef'n I'm got ter be bothered wid
axin' uv questions, den I ain't gwine obstruck yer, dat's all."

The children begged his pardon, and promised not to interrupt again, and
Daddy Jake continued his story.

"Yes, de rattlesnake doctored on him, an' atter er wile he got so he
could see some uv nights; but he can't see much in de daytime, do; an'
ez fur de Peafowl, he shuck an' he shuck his tail, but dem spots is dar
tell yit! An' wen he foun' he couldn't git 'em off, den he 'gun ter 'ten
like he wuz glad uv 'em on dar, and dat wat makes him spread his tail
and ac' so foolish in de spring uv de year.

"Dey's er heap uv de beases done ruint deyse'fs wid dey cuttin's up an'
gwines on," continued Daddy Jake "Now dar's de Beaver, he usen fur ter
hab er smoove roun' tail des like er 'possum's, wat wuz er heap handier
fur him ter tote dan dat flat tail wat he got now; but den he wouldn't
let de frogs erlone: he des tored down dey houses an' devilled 'em, till
dey 'lowed dey wouldn't stan' it; an' so, one moonshiny night, wen he
wuz er stan'in on de bank uv er mighty swif'-runnin' creek, ole Brer
Bullfrog he hollered at him,

"'Come over! come over!'

"He knowed de water wuz too swiff fur de beaver, but den he 'lowed ter
pay him back fur tearin' down his house. Well, de Beaver he stood dar er
lookin' at de creek, an' by'mby he axes,

"'How deep is it?'

"'Knee-deep, knee-deep,' answered the little frogs. An' de Bullfrogs,
dey kep' er sayin, 'Come over, come over;' an' de little frogs kep' er
hollin,' 'Jus' knee-keep; jus' knee-deep,' tell de Beaver he pitched in
fur ter swim 'cross; an', gemmun, de creek wuz so deep, an de water so
swiff, tell hit put 'im up ter all he knowed. He had ter strain an' ter
wrestle wid dat water tell hit flattent his tail out same ez er shobel,
an' er little mo'n he'd er los' his life; but hit larnt him er lesson. I
ain't _nuber_ hyeard uv his meddlin' wid nuffin' fum dat time ter dis;
but, I tell yer, in de hot summer nights, wen he hatter drag dat flat
tail uv his'n atter him ev'ywhar he go, 'stid er havin' er nice handy
tail wat he kin turn ober his back like er squ'l, I lay yer, mun, he's
wusht er many er time he'd er kep' his dev'lment ter hisse'f, an' let
dem frogs erlone."

Here Daddy Jake happened to look down, and he caught Polly nodding.

"Oh yes!" said the old man, "yer may nod; dat's des wat's de matter wid
de niggers now, dem sleepy-head ways wat dey got is de cazhun uv dey
hyar bein' kunkt up an' dey skins bein' black."

"Is that what makes it, Daddy?" asked Diddie, much interested.

"Ub cose hit is," replied Daddy. "Ef'n de nigger hadn't ben so
sleepy-headed, he'd er ben wite, an' his hyar'd er ben straight des like
yourn. Yer see, atter de Lord made 'im, den he lont him up 'gins de
fence-corner in de sun fur ter dry; an' no sooner wuz de Lord's back
turnt, an' de sun 'gun ter come out kin'er hot, dan de nigger he 'gun
ter nod, an' er little mo'n he wuz fas' ter sleep. Well, wen de Lord
sont atter 'im fur ter finish uv 'im up, de angel couldn't fin' 'im,
caze he didn't know de zack spot whar de Lord sot 'im; an' so he
hollered an' called, an' de nigger he wuz 'sleep, an' he nuber hyeard
'im; so de angel tuck de wite man, an' cyard him 'long, an' de Lord
polished uv 'im off. Well, by'mby de nigger he waked up; but, dar now!
he wuz bu'nt black, an' his hyar wuz all swuv'llt up right kinky.

"De Lord, seein' he wuz spilte, he didn't 'low fur ter finish 'im, an'
wuz des 'bout'n ter thow 'im 'way, wen de wite man axt fur 'im; so de
Lord he finished 'im up des like he wuz, wid his skin black an' his hyar
kunkt up, an' he gun 'im ter de wite man, an' I see he's got 'im plum
tell yit."

"Was it you, Daddy?" asked Dumps.

"Wy, no, honey, hit wan't me, hit wuz my forecisters."

"What's a forecister, Daddy?" asked Diddie, rather curious about the
relationship.

"Yer forecisters," explained Daddy, "is dem uv yer _way back folks_,
wat's born'd fo' you is yerse'f, an' fo' yer pa is. Now, like my ole
marster, yer pa's gran'pa, wat riz me in ole Furginny, he's you
chil'en's forecister; an' dis nigger wat I'm tellin' yer 'bout'n, he waz
my _fuss forecister_; an' dats' de way dat I've allers hyearn dat he
come ter be black, an' his hyar kinky; an' I b'lieves hit, too, caze er
nigger's de sleepies'-headed critter dey is; an' den, 'sides dat, I've
seed er heap er niggers in my time, but I ain't nuber seed dat nigger
yit wat's wite, an' got straight hyar on his head.

"Now I ain't er talkin' 'bout'n _murlatters_, caze dey ain't no reg'lar
folks 'tall; dey's des er mixtry. Dey ain't wite, an' dey ain't black,
an' dey ain't nuffin'; dey's des de same kin' er _folks_ ez de muel is
er _horse_!

"An' den dar's Injuns; dey's ergin ernudder kin' er folks.

"I usen ter hyear 'em say dat de deb'l made de fuss Injun. He seed de
Lord er makin' folks, an' he 'lowed he'd make him some; so he got up his
dut and his water, an' all his 'grejunces, an' he went ter wuck; an'
wedder he cooked him too long, or wedder he put in too much red clay fur
de water wat he had, wy, I ain't nuber hyeard; but den I knows de deb'l
made 'im, caze I allers hyearn so; an', mo'n dat, I done seed 'em fo'
now, an' dey got mighty dev'lish ways. I wuz wid yer gran'pa at Fort
Mimms, down erbout Mobile, an' I seed 'em killin' folks an' sculpin' uv
'em; an, mo'n dat, ef'n I hadn't er crope under er log, an' flattent
myse'f out like er allergator, dey'd er got me; an' den, ergin, dey
don't talk like no folks. I met er Injun one time in de road, an' I axed
'im wuz he de man wat kilt an' sculpt Sis Leah, wat usen ter b'longst
ter yer gran'pa, an' wat de Injuns kilt. I axt 'im 'ticklur, caze I had
my axe erlong, an' ef'n he wuz de man, I 'lowed fur ter lay him out.
But, bless yer life, chile, he went on fur ter say,

"'Ump, ump, kinterlosha wannycoola tusky noba, inickskymuncha
fluxkerscenuck kintergunter skoop.'

"An' wen he sed dat, I tuck'n lef' him, caze I seed hit wouldn't do fur
ter fool 'long him; an', mo'n dat, he 'gun fur ter shine his eyes out,
an' so I des off wid my hat, an' scrope my lef' foot, an' said, 'Good
ebenin', marster, same ez ef he wuz er wite man; an' den I tuck thu de
woods tell I come ter de fork-han' een' er de road, an' I eberlastin'
dusted fum dar! I put deze feets in motion, yer hyeard me! an' I kep'
'em er gwine, too, tell I come ter de outskwirts uv de quarters; an'
eber sence den I ain't stopped no Injun wat I sees in de road, an' I
ain't meddled 'long o' who kilt Sis Leah, nudder, caze she's ben in
glory deze fifty years or mo', an' hit's all one to her now who sculpt
her."

But now, as it was getting late, Daddy said he was afraid to stay out in
the night air, as it sometimes "gun him de rheumatiz," and wound up his
remarks by saying,

"Tell yer ma I'm mighty 'bleeged fur de cake an' drinkin's, an' weneber
yer gits de time, an' kin come down hyear any ebenin', de ole man he'll
'struck yer, caze he's gwine erway fo' long, an' dem things wat he knows
is onbeknownst ter de mos' uv folks."

"Where are you going, Daddy," asked Diddie.

"I gwine ter de 'kingdum,' honey, an' de Lord knows hit's time; I ben
hyear long ernuff; but hit's 'bout time fur me ter be er startin' now,
caze las' Sat'dy wuz er week gone I wuz er stretchin' my ole legs in de
fiel', an' er rabbit run right ercross de road foreninst me, an' I
knowed 'twuz er sho' sign uv er death; an' den, night fo' las', de
scritch-owls wuz er talkin' ter one ernudder right close ter my do', an'
I knowed de time wuz come fur de ole nigger ter take dat trip; so, ef'n
yer wants him ter 'struck yer, yer'd better be er ten'in' ter it, caze
wen de Lord sen's fur 'im he's er _gwine_."

The children were very much awed at Daddy's forebodings, and Dumps
insisted on shaking hands with him, as she felt that she would probably
never see him again, and they all bade him good-night, and started for
the house.

"Miss Diddie, did you know ole Daddy wuz er _trick_ nigger?" asked
Dilsey, as they left the old man's cabin.

"What's er trick nigger?" asked Dumps.

"Wy, don't yer know, Miss Dumps? Trick niggers dey ties up snakes' toofs
an' frogs' eyes an' birds' claws, an' all kineter charms; an' den, wen
dey gits mad 'long o' folks, dey puts dem little bags under dey do's, or
in de road somewhar, whar dey'll hatter pass, an' dem folks wat steps
ober 'em den dey's _tricked_; an' dey gits sick, an' dey can't sleep uv
nights, an' dey chickens all dies, an' dey can't nuber hab no luck nor
nuf'n tell de tricks is tuck off. Didn't yer hyear wat he said 'bout'n
de snakes? an' de folks all sez ez how ole Daddy is er trick nigger, an'
dat's wat makes him don't die."

"Well, I wish I was a trick nigger, then," remarked Dumps, gravely.

"Lordy, Miss Dumps, yer'd better not be er talkin' like dat," said
Dilsey, her eyes open wide in horror. "Hit's pow'ful wicked ter be trick
niggers."

"I don't know what's the matter with Dumps," said Diddie; "she's
gettin' ter be so sinful; an' ef she don't stop it, I sha'n't sleep with
her. She'll be er breakin' out with the measles or sump'n some uv these
days, jes fur er judgment on her; an' I don't want ter be catchin' no
judgments just on account of her badness."

"Well, I'll take it back, Diddie," humbly answered Dumps. "I didn't know
it was wicked; and won't you sleep with me now?"

Diddie having promised to consider the matter, the little folks walked
slowly on to the house, Dilsey and Chris and Riar all taking turns in
telling them the wonderful spells and cures and troubles that Daddy Jake
had wrought with his "trick-bags."



CHAPTER XVII.

WHAT BECAME OF THEM.


Well, of course, I can't tell you _all_ that happened to these little
girls. I have tried to give you some idea of how they lived in their
Mississippi home, and I hope you have been amused and entertained; and
now, as "Diddie" said about _her_ book, I've got to "wind up," and tell
you what became of them.

The family lived happily on the plantation until the war broke out in
1861.

Then Major Waldron clasped his wife to his heart, kissed his daughters,
shook hands with his faithful slaves, and went as a soldier to Virginia;
and he is sleeping now on the slope of Malvern Hill, where he

"Nobly died for Dixie."

The old house was burned during the war, and on the old plantation where
that happy home once stood there are now three or four chimneys and an
old tumbled-down gin-house. That is all.

The agony of those terrible days of war, together with the loss of her
husband and home, broke the heart and sickened the brain of Mrs.
Waldron; and in the State Lunatic Asylum is an old white-haired woman,
with a weary, patient look in her eyes, and this gentle old woman, who
sits day after day just looking out at the sunshine and the flowers, is
the once beautiful "mamma" of Diddie, Dumps, and Tot.

Diddie grew up to be a very pretty, graceful woman, and when the war
began was in her eighteenth year. She was engaged to one of the young
men in the neighborhood; and, though she was so young, her father
consented to the marriage, as her lover was going into the army, and
wanted to make her his wife before leaving. So, early in '61, before
Major Waldron went to Virginia, there was a quiet wedding in the parlor
one night; and not many days afterwards the young Confederate soldier
donned his gray coat, and rode away with Forrest's Cavalry.

"And ere long a messenger came,
  Bringing the sad, sad story--
A riderless horse: a funeral march:
  Dead on the field of glory!"

After his death her baby came to gladden the young widow's desolate
life; and he is now almost grown, handsome and noble, and the idol of
his mother.

Diddie is a widow still. She was young and pretty when the war ended,
and has had many offers of marriage; but a vision of a cold white face,
with its fair hair dabbled in blood, is ever in her heart. So Diddie
lives for her boy. Their home is in Natchez now; for of course they
could never live in the old place any more. When the slaves were free,
they had no money to rebuild the houses, and the plantation has never
been worked since the war.

The land is just lying there useless, worthless; and the squirrels play
in and out among the trees, and the mocking-birds sing in the
honeysuckles and magnolias and rose-bushes where the front yard used to
be.

And at the quarters, where the happy slave-voices used to sing "Monkey
Motions," and the merry feet used to dance to "Cotton-eyed Joe," weeds
and thick underbrush have all grown up, and partridges build their nests
there; and sometimes, at dusk, a wild-cat or a fox may be seen stealing
across the old play-ground.

Tot, long years ago, before the war even, when she was yet a pure,
sinless little girl, was added to that bright band of angel children who
hover around the throne of God; and so she was already there, you see,
to meet and welcome her "papa" when his stainless soul went up from
Malvern Hill.

Well, for "Mammy" and "Daddy Jake" and "Aunt Milly" and "Uncle Dan'l,"
"dat angel" has long since "blowed de horn," and I hope and believe they
are happily walking "dem golden streets" in which they had such
implicit faith, and of which they never wearied of telling.

And the rest of the negroes are all scattered; some doing well, some
badly; some living, some dead. Aunt Sukey's Jim, who married Candace
that Christmas-night, is a politician. He has been in the Legislature,
and spends his time in making long and exciting speeches to the loyal
leaguers against the Southern whites, all unmindful of his happy
childhood, and of the kind and generous master who strove in every way
to render his bondage (for which that master was in no way to blame) a
light and happy one.

Uncle Snake-bit Bob is living still. He has a little candy-store in a
country town. He does not meddle with politics. He says, "I don't cas'
my suffrins fur de Dimercracks, nur yit fur de 'Publicans. I can't go
'ginst my color by votin' de Dimercrack papers; an' ez fur dem
'Publicans! Well, ole Bob he done hyearn wat de _Book_ say 'boutn
publicans an' sinners, an' dat's ernuff fur him. He's er gittin' uperds
in years now; pretty soon he'll hatter shove off fur dat 'heb'nly sho';'
an' wen de Lord sen' atter him, he don't want dat angel ter cotch him in
no kinwunshuns 'long wid 'publicans an' sinners.'" And so Uncle Bob
attends to his store, and mends chairs and tubs, and deals extensively
in chickens and eggs; and perhaps he is doing just as well as if he
were in Congress.

Dilsey and Chris and Riar are all women now, and are all married and
have children of their own; and nothing delights them more than to tell
to their little ones what "us an' de wite chil'en usen ter do."

And the last I heard of Aunt Nancy, the "tender," she was going to
school, but not progressing very rapidly. She did learn her letters
once, but, having to stop school to make a living, she soon forgot them,
and she explained it by saying:

"Yer see, honey, dat man wat larnt me dem readin's, he wuz sich er
onstedfus' man, an' gittin' drunk, an' votin' an' sich, tell I
furgittin' wat he larnt me; but dey's er colored gemman fum de Norf
wat's tuck him up er pay-school ober hyear in de 'catermy, an' ef'n I
kin git him fur ter take out'n his pay in dat furmifuge wat I makes, I
'low ter go ter him er time er two, caze he's er membah ub de Zion
Chu'ch, an' er mighty stedfus' man, an' dat wat he larns me den I'll stay
larnt."

And Dumps? Well, the merry, light-hearted little girl is an "old maid"
now; and if Mammy could see her, she would think she was "steady" enough
at last.

Somebody, you know, must attend to the wants and comfort of the
gray-haired woman in the asylum; and Diddie had her boy to support and
educate, so Dumps teaches school and takes care of her mother, and is
doing what Uncle Snake-bit Bob told the Sunday-school children that God
had made them to do; for

Dumps is doing "DE BES' SHE KIN."





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