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Title: Free Joe and Other Georgian Sketches
Author: Harris, Joel Chandler, 1848-1908
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.

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[Illustration: Cover]

[Illustration: "Den I tell him 'bout de man down dar in de gully"

                                                    --_Free Joe_]



FREE JOE

AND

OTHER GEORGIAN SKETCHES

BY

JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS

AUTHOR OF "UNCLE REMUS," ETC., ETC.

_ILLUSTRATED_

          P. F. COLLIER & SON
          NEW YORK



          Copyright 1887 by
          CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
                              _Free Joe_



CONTENTS


                                       PAGE

          FREE JOE                       3

          LITTLE COMPTON                30

          AUNT FOUNTAIN'S PRISONER      98

          TROUBLE ON LOST MOUNTAIN     133

          AZALIA                       183



FREE JOE AND THE REST OF THE WORLD

THE name of Free Joe strikes humorously upon the ear of memory. It is
impossible to say why, for he was the humblest, the simplest, and the
most serious of all God's living creatures, sadly lacking in all those
elements that suggest the humorous. It is certain, moreover, that in
1850 the sober-minded citizens of the little Georgian village of
Hillsborough were not inclined to take a humorous view of Free Joe, and
neither his name nor his presence provoked a smile. He was a black atom,
drifting hither and thither without an owner, blown about by all the
winds of circumstance, and given over to shiftlessness.

The problems of one generation are the paradoxes of a succeeding one,
particularly if war, or some such incident, intervenes to clarify the
atmosphere and strengthen the understanding. Thus, in 1850, Free Joe
represented not only a problem of large concern, but, in the watchful
eyes of Hillsborough, he was the embodiment of that vague and mysterious
danger that seemed to be forever lurking on the outskirts of slavery,
ready to sound a shrill and ghostly signal in the impenetrable swamps,
and steal forth under the midnight stars to murder, rapine, and
pillage--a danger always threatening, and yet never assuming shape;
intangible, and yet real; impossible, and yet not improbable. Across the
serene and smiling front of safety, the pale outlines of the awful
shadow of insurrection sometimes fell. With this invisible panorama as a
background, it was natural that the figure of Free Joe, simple and
humble as it was, should assume undue proportions. Go where he would, do
what he might, he could not escape the finger of observation and the
kindling eye of suspicion. His lightest words were noted, his slightest
actions marked.

Under all the circumstances it was natural that his peculiar condition
should reflect itself in his habits and manners. The slaves laughed
loudly day by day, but Free Joe rarely laughed. The slaves sang at their
work and danced at their frolics, but no one ever heard Free Joe sing or
saw him dance. There was something painfully plaintive and appealing in
his attitude, something touching in his anxiety to please. He was of the
friendliest nature, and seemed to be delighted when he could amuse the
little children who had made a playground of the public square. At times
he would please them by making his little dog Dan perform all sorts of
curious tricks, or he would tell them quaint stories of the beasts of
the field and birds of the air; and frequently he was coaxed into
relating the story of his own freedom. That story was brief, but
tragical.

In the year of our Lord 1840, when a negro speculator of a sportive turn
of mind reached the little village of Hillsborough on his way to the
Mississippi region, with a caravan of likely negroes of both sexes, he
found much to interest him. In that day and at that time there were a
number of young men in the village who had not bound themselves over to
repentance for the various misdeeds of the flesh. To these young men the
negro speculator (Major Frampton was his name) proceeded to address
himself. He was a Virginian, he declared; and, to prove the statement,
he referred all the festively inclined young men of Hillsborough to a
barrel of peach-brandy in one of his covered wagons. In the minds of
these young men there was less doubt in regard to the age and quality of
the brandy than there was in regard to the negro trader's birthplace.
Major Frampton might or might not have been born in the Old
Dominion--that was a matter for consideration and inquiry--but there
could be no question as to the mellow pungency of the peach-brandy.

In his own estimation, Major Frampton was one of the most accomplished
of men. He had summered at the Virginia Springs; he had been to
Philadelphia, to Washington, to Richmond, to Lynchburg, and to
Charleston, and had accumulated a great deal of experience which he
found useful. Hillsborough was hid in the woods of Middle Georgia, and
its general aspect of innocence impressed him. He looked on the young
men who had shown their readiness to test his peach-brandy as overgrown
country boys who needed to be introduced to some of the arts and
sciences he had at his command. Thereupon the major pitched his tents,
figuratively speaking, and became, for the time being, a part and parcel
of the innocence that characterized Hillsborough. A wiser man would
doubtless have made the same mistake.

The little village possessed advantages that seemed to be providentially
arranged to fit the various enterprises that Major Frampton had in view.
There was the auction block in front of the stuccoed court-house, if he
desired to dispose of a few of his negroes; there was a quarter-track,
laid out to his hand and in excellent order, if he chose to enjoy the
pleasures of horse-racing; there were secluded pine thickets within easy
reach, if he desired to indulge in the exciting pastime of
cock-fighting; and variously lonely and unoccupied rooms in the second
story of the tavern, if he cared to challenge the chances of dice or
cards.

Major Frampton tried them all with varying luck, until he began his
famous game of poker with Judge Alfred Wellington, a stately gentleman
with a flowing white beard and mild blue eyes that gave him the
appearance of a benevolent patriarch. The history of the game in which
Major Frampton and Judge Alfred Wellington took part is something more
than a tradition in Hillsborough, for there are still living three or
four men who sat around the table and watched its progress. It is said
that at various stages of the game Major Frampton would destroy the
cards with which they were playing, and send for a new pack, but the
result was always the same. The mild blue eyes of Judge Wellington, with
few exceptions, continued to overlook "hands" that were invincible--a
habit they had acquired during a long and arduous course of training
from Saratoga to New Orleans. Major Frampton lost his money, his horses,
his wagons, and all his negroes but one, his body-servant. When his
misfortune had reached this limit, the major adjourned the game. The sun
was shining brightly, and all nature was cheerful. It is said that the
major also seemed to be cheerful. However this may be, he visited the
court-house, and executed the papers that gave his body-servant his
freedom. This being done, Major Frampton sauntered into a convenient
pine thicket, and blew out his brains.

The negro thus freed came to be known as Free Joe. Compelled, under the
law, to choose a guardian, he chose Judge Wellington, chiefly because
his wife Lucinda was among the negroes won from Major Frampton. For
several years Free Joe had what may be called a jovial time. His wife
Lucinda was well provided for, and he found it a comparatively easy
matter to provide for himself; so that, taking all the circumstances
into consideration, it is not matter for astonishment that he became
somewhat shiftless.

When Judge Wellington died, Free Joe's troubles began. The judge's
negroes, including Lucinda, went to his half-brother, a man named
Calderwood, who was a hard master and a rough customer generally--a man
of many eccentricities of mind and character. His neighbors had a habit
of alluding to him as "Old Spite"; and the name seemed to fit him so
completely that he was known far and near as "Spite" Calderwood. He
probably enjoyed the distinction the name gave him, at any rate he never
resented it, and it was not often that he missed an opportunity to show
that he deserved it. Calderwood's place was two or three miles from the
village of Hillsborough, and Free Joe visited his wife twice a week,
Wednesday and Saturday nights.

One Sunday he was sitting in front of Lucinda's cabin, when Calderwood
happened to pass that way.

"Howdy, marster?" said Free Joe, taking off his hat.

"Who are you?" exclaimed Calderwood abruptly, halting and staring at the
negro.

"I'm name' Joe, marster. I'm Lucindy's ole man."

"Who do you belong to?"

"Marse John Evans is my gyardeen, marster."

"Big name--gyardeen. Show your pass."

Free Joe produced that document, and Calderwood read it aloud slowly,
as if he found it difficult to get at the meaning:

"_To whom it may concern: This is to certify that the boy Joe Frampton
has my permission to visit his wife Lucinda._"

This was dated at Hillsborough, and signed "_John W. Evans_."

Calderwood read it twice, and then looked at Free Joe, elevating his
eyebrows, and showing his discolored teeth.

"Some mighty big words in that there. Evans owns this place, I reckon.
When's he comin' down to take hold?"

Free Joe fumbled with his hat. He was badly frightened.

"Lucindy say she speck you wouldn't min' my comin', long ez I behave,
marster."

Calderwood tore the pass in pieces and flung it away.

"Don't want no free niggers 'round here," he exclaimed. "There's the big
road. It'll carry you to town. Don't let me catch you here no more. Now,
mind what I tell you."

Free Joe presented a shabby spectacle as he moved off with his little
dog Dan slinking at his heels. It should be said in behalf of Dan,
however, that his bristles were up, and that he looked back and growled.
It may be that the dog had the advantage of insignificance, but it is
difficult to conceive how a dog bold enough to raise his bristles under
Calderwood's very eyes could be as insignificant as Free Joe. But both
the negro and his little dog seemed to give a new and more dismal aspect
to forlornness as they turned into the road and went toward
Hillsborough.

After this incident Free Joe appeared to have clearer ideas concerning
his peculiar condition. He realized the fact that though he was free he
was more helpless than any slave. Having no owner, every man was his
master. He knew that he was the object of suspicion, and therefore all
his slender resources (ah! how pitifully slender they were!) were
devoted to winning, not kindness and appreciation, but toleration; all
his efforts were in the direction of mitigating the circumstances that
tended to make his condition so much worse than that of the negroes
around him--negroes who had friends because they had masters.

So far as his own race was concerned, Free Joe was an exile. If the
slaves secretly envied him his freedom (which is to be doubted,
considering his miserable condition), they openly despised him, and lost
no opportunity to treat him with contumely. Perhaps this was in some
measure the result of the attitude which Free Joe chose to maintain
toward them. No doubt his instinct taught him that to hold himself aloof
from the slaves would be to invite from the whites the toleration which
he coveted, and without which even his miserable condition would be
rendered more miserable still.

His greatest trouble was the fact that he was not allowed to visit his
wife; but he soon found a way out of his difficulty. After he had been
ordered away from the Calderwood place, he was in the habit of wandering
as far in that direction as prudence would permit. Near the Calderwood
place, but not on Calderwood's land, lived an old man named Micajah
Staley and his sister Becky Staley. These people were old and very
poor. Old Micajah had a palsied arm and hand; but, in spite of this, he
managed to earn a precarious living with his turning-lathe.

When he was a slave Free Joe would have scorned these representatives of
a class known as poor white trash, but now he found them sympathetic and
helpful in various ways. From the back door of their cabin he could hear
the Calderwood negroes singing at night, and he sometimes fancied he
could distinguish Lucinda's shrill treble rising above the other voices.
A large poplar grew in the woods some distance from the Staley cabin,
and at the foot of this tree Free Joe would sit for hours with his face
turned toward Calderwood's. His little dog Dan would curl up in the
leaves near by, and the two seemed to be as comfortable as possible.

One Saturday afternoon Free Joe, sitting at the foot of this friendly
poplar, fell asleep. How long he slept, he could not tell; but when he
awoke little Dan was licking his face, the moon was shining brightly,
and Lucinda his wife stood before him laughing. The dog, seeing that
Free Joe was asleep, had grown somewhat impatient, and he concluded to
make an excursion to the Calderwood place on his own account. Lucinda
was inclined to give the incident a twist in the direction of
superstition.

"I 'uz settn' down front er de fireplace," she said, "cookin' me some
meat, w'en all of a sudden I year sumpin at de do'--scratch, scratch. I
tuck'n tu'n de meat over, en make out I ain't year it. Bimeby it come
dar 'gin--scratch, scratch. I up en open de do', I did, en, bless de
Lord! dar wuz little Dan, en it look like ter me dat his ribs done grow
terge'er. I gin 'im some bread, en den, w'en he start out, I tuck'n
foller 'im, kaze, I say ter myse'f, maybe my nigger man mought be
some'rs 'roun'. Dat ar little dog got sense, mon."

Free Joe laughed and dropped his hand lightly on Dan's head. For a long
time after that he had no difficulty in seeing his wife. He had only to
sit by the poplar tree until little Dan could run and fetch her. But
after a while the other negroes discovered that Lucinda was meeting Free
Joe in the woods, and information of the fact soon reached Calderwood's
ears. Calderwood was what is called a man of action. He said nothing;
but one day he put Lucinda in his buggy, and carried her to Macon, sixty
miles away. He carried her to Macon, and came back without her; and
nobody in or around Hillsborough, or in that section, ever saw her
again.

For many a night after that Free Joe sat in the woods and waited. Little
Dan would run merrily off and be gone a long time, but he always came
back without Lucinda. This happened over and over again. The
"willis-whistlers" would call and call, like fantom huntsmen wandering
on a far-off shore; the screech-owl would shake and shiver in the depths
of the woods; the night-hawks, sweeping by on noiseless wings, would
snap their beaks as though they enjoyed the huge joke of which Free Joe
and little Dan were the victims; and the whip-poor-wills would cry to
each other through the gloom. Each night seemed to be lonelier than the
preceding, but Free Joe's patience was proof against loneliness. There
came a time, however, when little Dan refused to go after Lucinda. When
Free Joe motioned him in the direction of the Calderwood place, he would
simply move about uneasily and whine; then he would curl up in the
leaves and make himself comfortable.

One night, instead of going to the poplar tree to wait for Lucinda, Free
Joe went to the Staley cabin, and, in order to make his welcome good, as
he expressed it, he carried with him an armful of fat-pine splinters.
Miss Becky Staley had a great reputation in those parts as a
fortune-teller, and the schoolgirls, as well as older people, often
tested her powers in this direction, some in jest and some in earnest.
Free Joe placed his humble offering of light-wood in the chimney corner,
and then seated himself on the steps, dropping his hat on the ground
outside.

"Miss Becky," he said presently, "whar in de name er gracious you reckon
Lucindy is?"

"Well, the Lord he'p the nigger!" exclaimed Miss Becky, in a tone that
seemed to reproduce, by some curious agreement of sight with sound, her
general aspect of peakedness. "Well, the Lord he'p the nigger! hain't
you been a-seein' her all this blessed time? She's over at old Spite
Calderwood's, if she's anywheres, I reckon."

"No'm, dat I ain't, Miss Becky. I ain't seen Lucindy in now gwine on
mighty nigh a mont'."

"Well, it hain't a-gwine to hurt you," said Miss Becky, somewhat
sharply. "In my day an' time it wuz allers took to be a bad sign when
niggers got to honeyin' 'roun' an' gwine on."

"Yessum," said Free Joe, cheerfully assenting to the
proposition--"yessum, dat's so, but me an' my ole 'oman, we 'uz raise
terge'er, en dey ain't bin many days w'en we 'uz' 'way fum one 'n'er
like we is now."

"Maybe she's up an' took up wi' some un else," said Micajah Staley from
the corner. "You know what the sayin' is: 'New master, new nigger.'"

"Dat's so, dat's de sayin', but tain't wid my ole 'oman like 'tis wid
yuther niggers. Me en her wuz des natally raise up terge'er. Dey's lots
likelier niggers dan w'at I is," said Free Joe, viewing his shabbiness
with a critical eye, "but I knows Lucindy mos' good ez I does little
Dan dar--dat I does."

There was no reply to this, and Free Joe continued:

"Miss Becky, I wish you please, ma'am, take en run yo' kyards en see
sump'n n'er 'bout Lucindy; kaze ef she sick, I'm gwine dar. Dey ken take
en take me up en gimme a stroppin', but I'm gwine dar."

Miss Becky got her cards, but first she picked up a cup, in the bottom
of which were some coffee-grounds. These she whirled slowly round and
round, ending finally by turning the cup upside down on the hearth and
allowing it to remain in that position.

"I'll turn the cup first," said Miss Becky, "and then I'll run the cards
and see what they say."

As she shuffled the cards the fire on the hearth burned low, and in its
fitful light the gray-haired, thin-featured woman seemed to deserve the
weird reputation which rumor and gossip had given her. She shuffled the
cards for some moments, gazing intently in the dying fire; then,
throwing a piece of pine on the coals, she made three divisions of the
pack, disposing them about in her lap. Then she took the first pile, ran
the cards slowly through her fingers, and studied them carefully. To the
first she added the second pile. The study of these was evidently not
satisfactory. She said nothing, but frowned heavily; and the frown
deepened as she added the rest of the cards until the entire fifty-two
had passed in review before her. Though she frowned, she seemed to be
deeply interested. Without changing the relative position of the cards,
she ran them all over again. Then she threw a larger piece of pine on
the fire, shuffled the cards afresh, divided them into three piles, and
subjected them to the same careful and critical examination.

"I can't tell the day when I've seed the cards run this a-way," she said
after a while. "What is an' what ain't, I'll never tell you; but I know
what the cards sez."

"W'at does dey say, Miss Becky?" the negro inquired, in a tone the
solemnity of which was heightened by its eagerness.

"They er runnin' quare. These here that I'm a-lookin' at," said Miss
Becky, "they stan' for the past. Them there, they er the present; and
the t'others, they er the future. Here's a bundle"--tapping the ace of
clubs with her thumb--"an' here's a journey as plain as the nose on a
man's face. Here's Lucinda--"

"Whar she, Miss Becky?"

"Here she is--the queen of spades."

Free Joe grinned. The idea seemed to please him immensely.

"Well, well, well!" he exclaimed. "Ef dat don't beat my time! De queen
er spades! W'en Lucindy year dat hit'll tickle 'er, sho'!"

Miss Becky continued to run the cards back and forth through her
fingers.

"Here's a bundle an' a journey, and here's Lucinda. An' here's ole Spite
Calderwood."

She held the cards toward the negro and touched the king of clubs.

"De Lord he'p my soul!" exclaimed Free Joe with a chuckle. "De faver's
dar. Yesser, dat's him! W'at de matter 'long wid all un um, Miss
Becky?"

The old woman added the second pile of cards to the first, and then the
third, still running them through her fingers slowly and critically. By
this time the piece of pine in the fireplace had wrapped itself in a
mantle of flame, illuminating the cabin and throwing into strange relief
the figure of Miss Becky as she sat studying the cards. She frowned
ominously at the cards and mumbled a few words to herself. Then she
dropped her hands in her lap and gazed once more into the fire. Her
shadow danced and capered on the wall and floor behind her, as if,
looking over her shoulder into the future, it could behold a rare
spectacle. After a while she picked up the cup that had been turned on
the hearth. The coffee-grounds, shaken around, presented what seemed to
be a most intricate map.

"Here's the journey," said Miss Becky, presently; "here's the big road,
here's rivers to cross, here's the bundle to tote." She paused and
sighed. "They hain't no names writ here, an' what it all means I'll
never tell you. Cajy, I wish you'd be so good as to han' me my pipe."

"I hain't no hand wi' the kyards," said Cajy, as he handed the pipe,
"but I reckon I can patch out your misinformation, Becky, bekaze the
other day, whiles I was a-finishin' up Mizzers Perdue's rollin'-pin, I
hearn a rattlin' in the road. I looked out, an' Spite Calderwood was
a-drivin' by in his buggy, an' thar sot Lucinda by him. It'd in-about
drapt out er my min'."

Free Joe sat on the door-sill and fumbled at his hat, flinging it from
one hand to the other.

"You ain't see um gwine back, is you, Mars Cajy?" he asked after a
while.

"Ef they went back by this road," said Mr. Staley, with the air of one
who is accustomed to weigh well his words, "it must 'a' bin endurin' of
the time whiles I was asleep, bekaze I hain't bin no furder from my shop
than to yon bed."

"Well, sir!" exclaimed Free Joe in an awed tone, which Mr. Staley seemed
to regard as a tribute to his extraordinary powers of statement.

"Ef it's my beliefs you want," continued the old man, "I'll pitch 'em at
you fair and free. My beliefs is that Spite Calderwood is gone an' took
Lucindy outen the county. Bless your heart and soul! when Spite
Calderwood meets the Old Boy in the road they'll be a turrible scuffle.
You mark what I tell you."

Free Joe, still fumbling with his hat, rose and leaned against the
door-facing. He seemed to be embarrassed. Presently he said:

"I speck I better be gittin' 'long. Nex' time I see Lucindy, I'm gwine
tell 'er w'at Miss Becky say 'bout de queen er spades--dat I is. Ef dat
don't tickle 'er, dey ain't no nigger 'oman never bin tickle'."

He paused a moment, as though waiting for some remark or comment, some
confirmation of misfortune, or, at the very least, some endorsement of
his suggestion that Lucinda would be greatly pleased to know that she
had figured as the queen of spades; but neither Miss Becky nor her
brother said anything.

"One minnit ridin' in the buggy 'longside er Mars Spite, en de nex'
highfalutin' 'roun' playin' de queen er spades. Mon, deze yer nigger
gals gittin' up in de pictur's; dey sholy is."

With a brief "Good night, Miss Becky, Mars Cajy," Free Joe went out into
the darkness, followed by little Dan. He made his way to the poplar,
where Lucinda had been in the habit of meeting him, and sat down. He sat
there a long time; he sat there until little Dan, growing restless,
trotted off in the direction of the Calderwood place. Dozing against the
poplar, in the gray dawn of the morning, Free Joe heard Spite
Calderwood's fox-hounds in full cry a mile away.

"Shoo!" he exclaimed, scratching his head, and laughing to himself, "dem
ar dogs is des a-warmin' dat old fox up."

But it was Dan the hounds were after, and the little dog came back no
more. Free Joe waited and waited, until he grew tired of waiting. He
went back the next night and waited, and for many nights thereafter. His
waiting was in vain, and yet he never regarded it as in vain. Careless
and shabby as he was, Free Joe was thoughtful enough to have his theory.
He was convinced that little Dan had found Lucinda, and that some night
when the moon was shining brightly through the trees, the dog would
rouse him from his dreams as he sat sleeping at the foot of the poplar
tree, and he would open his eyes and behold Lucinda standing over him,
laughing merrily as of old; and then he thought what fun they would have
about the queen of spades.

How many long nights Free Joe waited at the foot of the poplar tree for
Lucinda and little Dan no one can ever know. He kept no account of them,
and they were not recorded by Micajah Staley nor by Miss Becky. The
season ran into summer and then into fall. One night he went to the
Staley cabin, cut the two old people an armful of wood, and seated
himself on the doorsteps, where he rested. He was always thankful--and
proud, as it seemed--when Miss Becky gave him a cup of coffee, which she
was sometimes thoughtful enough to do. He was especially thankful on
this particular night.

"You er still layin' off for to strike up wi' Lucindy out thar in the
woods, I reckon," said Micajah Staley, smiling grimly. The situation was
not without its humorous aspects.

"Oh, dey er comin', Mars Cajy, dey er comin', sho," Free Joe replied. "I
boun' you dey'll come; en w'en dey does come, I'll des take en fetch um
yer, whar you kin see um wid you own eyes, you en Miss Becky."

"No," said Mr. Staley, with a quick and emphatic gesture of disapproval.
"Don't! don't fetch 'em anywheres. Stay right wi' 'em as long as may
be."

Free Joe chuckled, and slipped away into the night, while the two old
people sat gazing in the fire. Finally Micajah spoke.

"Look at that nigger; look at 'im. He's pine-blank as happy now as a
killdee by a mill-race. You can't faze 'em. I'd in-about give up my
t'other hand ef I could stan' flat-footed, an' grin at trouble like that
there nigger."

"Niggers is niggers," said Miss Becky, smiling grimly, "an' you can't
rub it out; yit I lay I've seed a heap of white people lots meaner'n
Free Joe. He grins--an' that's nigger--but I've ketched his under jaw
a-tremblin' when Lucindy's name uz brung up. An' I tell you," she went
on, bridling up a little, and speaking with almost fierce emphasis, "the
Old Boy's done sharpened his claws for Spite Calderwood. You'll see
it."

"Me, Rebecca?" said Mr. Staley, hugging his palsied arm; "me? I hope
not."

"Well, you'll know it then," said Miss Becky, laughing heartily at her
brother's look of alarm.

The next morning Micajah Staley had occasion to go into the woods after
a piece of timber. He saw Free Joe sitting at the foot of the poplar,
and the sight vexed him somewhat.

"Git up from there," he cried, "an' go an' arn your livin'. A mighty
purty pass it's come to, when great big buck niggers can lie a-snorin'
in the woods all day, when t'other folks is got to be up an' a-gwine.
Git up from there!"

Receiving no response, Mr. Staley went to Free Joe, and shook him by the
shoulder; but the negro made no response. He was dead. His hat was off,
his head was bent, and a smile was on his face. It was as if he had
bowed and smiled when death stood before him, humble to the last. His
clothes were ragged; his hands were rough and callous; his shoes were
literally tied together with strings; he was shabby in the extreme. A
passer-by, glancing at him, could have no idea that such a humble
creature had been summoned as a witness before the Lord God of Hosts.



LITTLE COMPTON


VERY few Southern country towns have been more profitably influenced by
the new order of things than Hillsborough in Middle Georgia. At various
intervals since the war it has had what the local weekly calls "a
business boom." The old tavern has been torn down, and in its place
stands a new three-story brick hotel, managed by a very brisk young man,
who is shrewd enough to advertise in the newspapers of the neighboring
towns that he has "special accommodations and special rates for
commercial travelers." Although Hillsborough is comparatively a small
town, it is the centre of a very productive region, and its trade is
somewhat important. Consequently, the commercial travelers, with
characteristic energy, lose no opportunity of taking advantage of the
hospitable invitation of the landlord of the Hillsborough hotel.

Not many years ago a representative of this class visited the old town.
He was from the North, and, being much interested in what he saw, was
duly inquisitive. Among other things that attracted his attention was a
little one-armed man who seemed to be the life of the place. He was
here, there, and everywhere; and wherever he went the atmosphere seemed
to lighten and brighten. Sometimes he was flying around town in a buggy;
at such times he was driven by a sweet-faced lady, whose smiling air of
proprietorship proclaimed her to be his wife: but more often he was on
foot. His cheerfulness and good humor were infectious. The old men
sitting at Perdue's Corner, where they had been gathering for forty
years and more, looked up and laughed as he passed; the ladies shopping
in the streets paused to chat with him; and even the dry-goods clerks
and lawyers, playing chess or draughts under the China trees that shaded
the sidewalks, were willing to be interrupted long enough to exchange
jokes with him.

"Rather a lively chap that," said the observant commercial traveler.

"Well, I reckon you won't find no livelier in these diggin's," replied
the landlord, to whom the remark was addressed. There was a suggestion
of suppressed local pride in his tones. "He's a little chunk of a man,
but he's monst'us peart."

"A colonel, I guess," said the stranger, smiling.

"Oh, no," the other rejoined. "He ain't no colonel, but he'd 'a' made a
prime one. It's mighty curious to me," he went on, "that them Yankees up
there didn't make him one."

"The Yankees?" inquired the commercial traveler.

"Why, yes," said the landlord. "He's a Yankee; and that lady you seen
drivin' him around, she's a Yankee. He courted her here and he married
her here. Major Jimmy Bass wanted him to marry her in his house, but
Captain Jack Walthall put his foot down and said the weddin' had to be
in _his_ house; and there's where it was, in that big white house over
yander with the hip roof. Yes, sir."

"Oh," said the commercial traveler, with a cynical smile, "he stayed
down here to keep out of the army. He was a lucky fellow."

"Well, I reckon he was lucky not to get killed," said the landlord,
laughing. "He fought with the Yankees, and they do say that Little
Compton was a rattler."

The commercial traveler gave a long, low whistle, expressive of his
profound astonishment. And yet, under all the circumstances, there was
nothing to create astonishment. The lively little man had a history.

Among the genial and popular citizens of Hillsborough, in the days
before the war, none were more genial or more popular than Little
Compton. He was popular with all classes, with old and with young, with
whites and with blacks. He was sober, discreet, sympathetic, and
generous. He was neither handsome nor magnetic. He was awkward and
somewhat bashful, but his manners and his conversation had the rare
merit of spontaneity. His sallow face was unrelieved by either mustache
or whiskers, and his eyes were black and very small, but they glistened
with good-humor and sociability. He was somewhat small in stature, and
for that reason the young men about Hillsborough had given him the name
of Little Compton.

Little Compton's introduction to Hillsborough was not wholly without
suggestive incidents. He made his appearance there in 1850, and opened a
small grocery store. Thereupon the young men of the town, with nothing
better to do than to seek such amusement as they could find in so small
a community, promptly proceeded to make him the victim of their pranks
and practical jokes. Little Compton's forbearance was wonderful. He
laughed heartily when he found his modest signboard hanging over an
adjacent barroom, and smiled good-humoredly when he found the sidewalk
in front of his door barricaded with barrels and dry-goods boxes. An
impatient man would have looked on these things as in the nature of
indignities, but Little Compton was not an impatient man.

This went on at odd intervals, until at last the fun-loving young men
began to appreciate Little Compton's admirable temper; and then for a
season they played their jokes on other citizens, leaving Little Compton
entirely unmolested. These young men were boisterous, but good-natured,
and they had their own ideas of what constituted fair play. They were
ready to fight or to have fun, but in neither case would they willingly
take what they considered a mean advantage of a man.

By degrees they warmed to Little Compton. His gentleness won upon them;
his patient good-humor attracted them. Without taking account of the
matter, the most of them became his friends. This was demonstrated one
day when one of the Pulliam boys from Jasper County made some slurring
remark about "the little Yankee." As Pulliam was somewhat in his cups,
no attention was paid to his remark; whereupon he followed it up with
others of a more seriously abusive character. Little Compton was waiting
on a customer; but Pulliam was standing in front of his door, and he
could not fail to hear the abuse. Young Jack Walthall was sitting in a
chair near the door, whittling a piece of white pine. He put his knife
in his pocket, and, whistling softly, looked at Little Compton
curiously. Then he walked to where Pulliam was standing.

"If I were you, Pulliam," he said, "and wanted to abuse anybody, I'd
pick out a bigger man than that."

"I don't see anybody," said Pulliam.

"Well, d---- you!" exclaimed Walthall, "if you are that blind, I'll open
your eyes for you!"

Whereupon he knocked Pulliam down. At this Little Compton ran out
excitedly, and it was the impression of the spectators that he intended
to attack the man who had been abusing him; but, instead of that, he
knelt over the prostrate bully, wiped the blood from his eyes, and
finally succeeded in getting him to his feet. Then Little Compton
assisted him into the store, placed him in a chair, and proceeded to
bandage his wounded eye. Walthall, looking on with an air of supreme
indifference, uttered an exclamation of astonishment, and sauntered
carelessly away.

Sauntering back an hour or so afterward, he found that Pulliam was still
in Little Compton's store. He would have passed on, but Little Compton
called to him. He went in prepared to be attacked, for he knew Pulliam
to be one of the most dangerous men in that region, and the most
revengeful; but, instead of making an attack, Pulliam offered his hand.

"Let's call it square, Jack. Your mother and my father are blood
cousins, and I don't want any bad feelings to grow out of this racket.
I've apologized to Mr. Compton here, and now I'm ready to apologize to
you."

Walthall looked at Pulliam and at his proffered hand, and then looked at
Little Compton. The latter was smiling pleasantly. This appeared to be
satisfactory, and Walthall seized his kinsman's hand, and exclaimed:

"Well, by George, Miles Pulliam! if you've apologized to Little Compton,
then it's my turn to apologize to you. Maybe I was too quick with my
hands, but that chap there is such a d---- clever little rascal that it
works me up to see anybody pester him."

"Why, Jack," said Compton, his little eyes glistening, "I'm not such a
scrap as you make out. It's just your temper, Jack. Your temper runs
clean away with your judgment."

"My temper! Why, good Lord, man! don't I just sit right down, and let
folks run over me whenever they want to? Would I have done anything if
Miles Pulliam had abused _me_?"

"Why, the gilded Queen of Sheba!" exclaimed Miles Pulliam, laughing
loudly, in spite of his bruises; "only last sale day you mighty nigh
jolted the life out of Bill-Tom Saunders, with the big end of a hickory
stick."

"That's so," said Walthall reflectively; "but did I follow him up to do
it? Wasn't he dogging after me all day, and strutting around bragging
about what he was going to do? Didn't I play the little stray lamb till
he rubbed his fist in my face?"

The others laughed. They knew that Jack Walthall wasn't at all lamblike
in his disposition. He was tall and strong and handsome, with pale
classic features, jet-black curling hair, and beautiful white hands that
never knew what labor was. He was something of a dandy in Hillsborough,
but in a large, manly, generous way. With his perfect manners, stately
and stiff, or genial and engaging, as occasion might demand, Mr.
Walthall was just such a romantic figure as one reads about in books, or
as one expects to see step from behind the wings of the stage with a
guitar or a long dagger. Indeed, he was the veritable original of
Cyrille Brandon, the hero of Miss Amelia Baxter's elegant novel entitled
"The Haunted Manor; or, Souvenirs of the Sunny Southland." If those who
are fortunate enough to possess a copy of this graphic book, which was
printed in Charleston for the author, will turn to the description of
Cyrille Brandon, they will get a much better idea of Mr. Walthall than
they can hope to get in this brief and imperfect chronicle. It is true,
the picture there drawn is somewhat exaggerated to suit the purposes of
fictive art, but it shows perfectly the serious impression Mr. Walthall
made on the ladies who were his contemporaries.

It is only fair to say, however, that the real Mr. Walthall was
altogether different from the ideal Cyrille Brandon of Miss Baxter's
powerfully written book. He was by no means ignorant of the impression
he made on the fair sex, and he was somewhat proud of it; but he had no
romantic ideas of his own. He was, in fact, a very practical young man.
When the Walthall estate, composed of thousands of acres of land and
several hundred healthy, well-fed negroes, was divided up, he chose to
take his portion in money; and this he loaned out at a fair interest to
those who were in need of ready cash. This gave him large leisure; and,
as was the custom among the young men of leisure, he gambled a little
when the humor was on him, having the judgment and the nerve to make the
game of poker exceedingly interesting to those who sat with him at
table.

No one could ever explain why the handsome and gallant Jack Walthall
should go so far as to stand between his own cousin and Little Compton;
indeed, no one tried to explain it. The fact was accepted for what it
was worth, and it was a great deal to Little Compton in a social and
business way. After the row which has just been described, Mr. Walthall
was usually to be found at Compton's store--in the summer sitting in
front of the door under the grateful shade of the China trees, and in
the winter sitting by the comfortable fire that Compton kept burning in
his back room. As Mr. Walthall was the recognized leader of the young
men, Little Compton's store soon became the headquarters for all of
them. They met there, and they made themselves at home there,
introducing their affable host to many queer antics and capers peculiar
to the youth of that day and time, and to the social organism of which
that youth was the outcome.

That Little Compton enjoyed their company is certain; but it is doubtful
if he entered heartily into the plans of their escapades, which they
freely discussed around his hearth. Perhaps it was because he had
outlived the folly of youth. Though his face was smooth and round, and
his eye bright, Little Compton bore the marks of maturity and
experience. He used to laugh, and say that he was born in New Jersey,
and died there when he was young. What significance this statement
possessed no one ever knew; probably no one in Hillsborough cared to
know. The people of that town had their own notions and their own
opinions. They were not unduly inquisitive, save when their
inquisitiveness seemed to take a political shape; and then it was
somewhat aggressive.

There were a great many things in Hillsborough likely to puzzle a
stranger. Little Compton observed that the young men, no matter how
young they might be, were absorbed in politics. They had the political
history of the country at their tongues' ends, and the discussions they
carried on were interminable. This interest extended to all classes: the
planters discussed politics with their overseers; and lawyers,
merchants, tradesmen, and gentlemen of elegant leisure discussed
politics with each other. Schoolboys knew all about the Missouri
Compromise, the fugitive slave law, and States rights. Sometimes the
arguments used were more substantial than mere words, but this was only
when some old feud was back of the discussion. There was one question,
as Little Compton discovered, in regard to which there was no
discussion. That question was slavery. It loomed up everywhere and in
everything, and was the basis of all the arguments, and yet it was not
discussed: there was no room for discussion. There was but one idea, and
that was that slavery must be defended at all hazards, and against all
enemies. That was the temper of the time, and Little Compton was not
long in discovering that of all dangerous issues slavery was the most
dangerous.

The young men, in their free-and-easy way, told him the story of a
wayfarer who once came through that region preaching abolitionism to the
negroes. The negroes themselves betrayed him, and he was promptly taken
in charge. His body was found afterward hanging in the woods, and he was
buried at the expense of the county. Even his name had been forgotten,
and his grave was all but obliterated. All these things made an
impression on Little Compton's mind. The tragedy itself was recalled by
one of the pranks of the young men, that was conceived and carried out
under his eyes. It happened after he had become well used to the ways of
Hillsborough. There came a stranger to the town, whose queer acts
excited the suspicions of a naturally suspicious community. Professedly
he was a colporteur; but, instead of trying to dispose of books and
tracts, of which he had a visible supply, he devoted himself to arguing
with the village politicians under the shade of the trees. It was
observed, also, that he would frequently note down observations in a
memorandum book. Just about that time the controversy between the
slaveholders and the abolitionists was at its height. John Brown had
made his raid on Harper's Ferry, and there was a good deal of excitement
throughout the State. It was rumored that Brown had emissaries traveling
from State to State, preparing the negroes for insurrection; and every
community, even Hillsborough, was on the alert, watching, waiting,
suspecting.

The time assuredly was not auspicious for the stranger with the ready
memorandum book. Sitting in front of Compton's store, he fell into
conversation one day with Uncle Abner Lazenberry, a patriarch who lived
in the country, and who had a habit of coming to Hillsborough at least
once a week "to talk with the boys." Uncle Abner belonged to the poorer
class of planters; that is to say, he had a small farm and not more than
half a dozen negroes. But he was decidedly popular, and his
conversation--somewhat caustic at times--was thoroughly enjoyed by the
younger generation. On this occasion he had been talking to Jack
Walthall, when the stranger drew a chair within hearing distance.

"You take all your men," Uncle Abner was saying--"take all un 'em, but
gimme Hennery Clay. Them abolishioners, they may come an' git all six er
my niggers, if they'll jess but lemme keep the ginnywine ole Whig
docterin'. That's me up an' down--that's wher' your Uncle Abner
Lazenberry stan's, boys." By this time the stranger had taken out his
inevitable note-book, and Uncle Abner went on: "Yes, siree! You may jess
mark me down that away. 'Come,' sez I, 'an' take all my niggers an' the
ole gray mar',' sez I, 'but lemme keep my Whig docterin',' sez I. Lord,
I've seed sights wi' them niggers. They hain't no manner account. They
won't work, an' I'm ablidge to feed 'em, else they'd whirl in an' steal
from the neighbors. Hit's in-about broke me for to maintain 'em in the'r
laziness. Bless your soul, little children! I'm in a turrible fix--a
turrible fix. I'm that bankruptured that when I come to town, ef I fine
a thrip in my britches-pocket for to buy me a dram I'm the happiest
mortal in the county. Yes, siree! hit's got down to that."

Here Uncle Abner Lazenberry paused and eyed the stranger shrewdly, to
whom, presently, he addressed himself in a very insinuating tone:

"What mought be your name, mister?"

"Oh," said the stranger, taken somewhat aback by the suddenness of the
question, "my name might be Jones, but it happens to be Davies."

Uncle Abner Lazenberry stared at Davies a moment as if amazed, and then
exclaimed:

"Jesso! Well, dog my cats ef times hain't a-changin' an' a-changin' tell
bimeby the natchul world an' all the hummysp'eres 'll make the'r
disappearance een'-uppermost. Yit, whiles they er changin' an'
a-disappearin', I hope they'll leave me my ole Whig docterin', an' my
name, which the fust an' last un it is Abner Lazenberry. An' more'n
that," the old man went on, with severe emphasis--"an' more'n that, they
hain't never been a day sence the creation of the world an' the
hummysp'eres when my name mought er'been anything else under the shinin'
sun but Abner Lazenberry; an' ef the time's done come when any mortal
name mought er been anything but what hit reely is, then we jess better
turn the nation an' the federation over to demockeracy an' giner'l
damnation. Now that's me, right pine-plank."

By way of emphasizing his remarks, Uncle Abner brought the end of his
hickory cane down upon the ground with a tremendous thump. The stranger
reddened a little at the unexpected criticism, and was evidently ill at
ease, but he remarked politely:

"This is just a saying I've picked up somewhere in my travels. My name
is Davies, and I am traveling through the country selling a few choice
books, and picking up information as I go."

"I know a mighty heap of Davises," said Uncle Abner, "but I disremember
of anybody named Davies."

"Well, sir," said Mr. Davies, "the name is not uncommon in my part of
the country. I am from Vermont."

"Well, well!" said Uncle Abner, tapping the ground thoughtfully with his
cane. "A mighty fur ways Vermont is, tooby shore. In my day an' time
I've seed as many as three men folks from Vermont, an' one un 'em, he
wuz a wheelwright, an' one wuz a tin-pedler, an' the yuther one wuz a
clock-maker. But that wuz a long time ago. How is the abolishioners
gittin' on up that away, an' when in the name er patience is they
a-comin' arter my niggers? Lord! if them niggers wuz free, I wouldn't
have to slave for 'em."

"Well, sir," said Mr. Davies, "I take little or no interest in those
things. I have to make a humble living, and I leave political questions
to the politicians."

The conversation was carried an at some length, the younger men joining
in occasionally to ask questions; and nothing could have been friendlier
than their attitude toward Mr. Davies. They treated him with the
greatest consideration. His manner and speech were those of an educated
man, and he seemed to make himself thoroughly agreeable. But that night,
as Mr. Jack Walthall was about to go to bed, his body-servant, a negro
named Jake, began to question him about the abolitionists.

"What do you know about abolitionists?" Mr. Walthall asked with some
degree of severity.

"Nothin' 'tall, Marse Jack, 'cep'in' w'at dish yer new w'ite man down
dar at de tavern say."

"And what did he say?" Mr. Walthall inquired.

"I ax 'im, I say, 'Marse Boss, is dese yer bobolitionists got horns en
huffs?' en he 'low, he did, dat dey ain't no bobolitionists, kaze dey er
babolitionists, an' dey ain't got needer horns ner huffs."

"What else did he say?"

Jake laughed. It was a hearty and humorous laugh.

"Well, sir," he replied, "dat man des preached. He sholy did. He ax me
ef de niggers' roun' yer wouldn' all like ter be free, en I tole 'im I
don't speck dey would, kaze all de free niggers w'at I ever seed is de
mos' no-'countes' niggers in de lan'."

Mr. Walthall dismissed the negro somewhat curtly. He had prepared to
retire for the night, but apparently thought better of it, for he
resumed his coat and vest, and went out into the cool moonlight. He
walked around the public square, and finally perched himself on the
stile that led over the court-house enclosure. He sat there a long time.
Little Compton passed by, escorting Miss Lizzie Fairleigh, the
schoolmistress, home from some social gathering; and finally the lights
in the village went out one by one--all save the one that shone in the
window of the room occupied by Mr. Davies. Watching this window somewhat
closely, Mr. Jack Walthall observed that there was movement in the room.
Shadows played on the white window-curtains--human shadows passing to
and fro. The curtains, quivering in the night wind, distorted these
shadows, and made confusion of them; but the wind died away for a
moment, and, outlined on the curtains, the patient watcher saw a
silhouette of Jake, his body-servant. Mr. Walthall beheld the spectacle
with amazement. It never occurred to him that the picture he saw was
part--the beginning indeed--of a tremendous panorama which would shortly
engage the attention of the civilized world, but he gazed at it with a
feeling of vague uneasiness.

The next morning Little Compton was somewhat surprised at the absence of
the young men who were in the habit of gathering in front of his store.
Even Mr. Jack Walthall, who could be depended on to tilt his chair
against the China tree and sit there for an hour or more after
breakfast, failed to put in an appearance. After putting his store to
rights, and posting up some accounts left over from the day before,
Little Compton came out on the sidewalk, and walked up and down in front
of the door. He was in excellent humor, and as he walked he hummed a
tune. He did not lack for companionship, for his cat, Tommy Tinktums, an
extraordinarily large one, followed him back and forth, rubbing against
him and running between his legs; but somehow he felt lonely. The town
was very quiet. It was quiet at all times, but on this particular
morning it seemed to Little Compton that there was less stir than usual.
There was no sign of life anywhere around the public square save at
Perdue's Corner. Shading his eyes with his hand, Little Compton observed
a group of citizens apparently engaged in a very interesting discussion.
Among them he recognized the tall form of Mr. Jack Walthall and the
somewhat ponderous presence of Major Jimmy Bass. Little Compton watched
the group because he had nothing better to do. He saw Major Jimmy Bass
bring the end of his cane down upon the ground with a tremendous thump,
and gesticulate like a man laboring under strong excitement; but this
was nothing out of the ordinary, for Major Jimmy had been known to get
excited over the most trivial discussion; on one occasion, indeed, he
had even mounted a dry-goods box, and, as the boys expressed it,
"cussed out the town."

Still watching the group, Little Compton saw Mr. Jack Walthall take Buck
Ransome by the arm, and walk across the public square in the direction
of the court-house. They were followed by Mr. Alvin Cozart, Major Jimmy
Bass, and young Rowan Wornum. They went to the court-house stile, and
formed a little group, while Mr. Walthall appeared to be explaining
something, pointing frequently in the direction of the tavern. In a
little while they returned to those they had left at Perdue's Corner,
where they were presently joined by a number of other citizens. Once
Little Compton thought he would lock his door and join them, but by the
time he had made up his mind the group had dispersed.

A little later on, Compton's curiosity was more than satisfied. One of
the young men, Buck Ransome, came into Compton's store, bringing a
queer-looking bundle. Unwrapping it, Mr. Ransome brought to view two
large pillows. Whistling a gay tune, he ran his keen knife into one of
these, and felt of the feathers. His manner was that of an expert. The
examination seemed to satisfy him; for he rolled the pillows into a
bundle again, and deposited them in the back part of the store.

"You'd be a nice housekeeper, Buck, if you did all your pillows that
way," said Compton.

"Why, bless your great big soul, Compy," said Mr. Ransome, striking an
attitude, "I'm the finest in the land."

Just then Mr. Alvin Cozart came in, bearing a small bucket, which he
handled very carefully. Little Compton thought he detected the odor of
tar.

"Stick her in the back room there," said Mr. Ransome; "she'll keep."

Compton was somewhat mystified by these proceedings; but everything was
made clear when, an hour later, the young men of the town, reenforced by
Major Jimmy Bass, marched into his store, bringing with them Mr. Davies,
the Vermont colporteur, who had been flourishing his note-book in the
faces of the inhabitants. Jake, Mr. Walthall's body-servant, was
prominent in the crowd by reason of his color and his frightened
appearance. The colporteur was very pale, but he seemed to be cool. As
the last one filed in, Mr. Walthall stepped to the front door and shut
and locked it.

Compton was too amazed to say anything. The faces before him, always so
full of humor and fun, were serious enough now. As the key turned in the
lock, the colporteur found his voice.

"Gentlemen!" he exclaimed with some show of indignation, "what is the
meaning of this? What would you do?"

"You know mighty well, sir, what we ought to do," cried Major Bass. "We
ought to hang you, you imperdent scounderl! A-comin' down here
a-pesterin' an' a-meddlin' with t'other people's business."

"Why, gentlemen," said Davies, "I'm a peaceable citizen; I trouble
nobody. I am simply traveling through the country selling books to those
who are able to buy, and giving them away to those who are not."

"Mr. Davies," said Mr. Jack Walthall, leaning gracefully against the
counter, "what kind of books are you selling?"

"Religious books, sir."

"Jake!" exclaimed Mr. Walthall somewhat sharply, so sharply, indeed,
that the negro jumped as though he had been shot. "Jake! stand out
there. Hold up your head, sir!--Mr. Davies, how many religious books did
you sell to that nigger there last night?"

"I sold him none, sir; I--"

"How many did you _try_ to sell him?"

"I made no attempt to sell him any books; I knew he couldn't read. I
merely asked him to give me some information."

Major Jimmy Bass scowled dreadfully; but Mr. Jack Walthall smiled
pleasantly, and turned to the negro.

"Jake! do you know this man?"

"I seed 'im, Marse Jack; I des seed 'im; dat's all I know 'bout 'im."

"What were you doing sasshaying around in his room last night?"

Jake scratched his head, dropped his eyes, and shuffled about on the
floor with his feet. All eyes were turned on him. He made so long a
pause that Alvin Cozart remarked in his drawling tone:

"Jack, hadn't we better take this nigger over to the calaboose?"

"Not yet," said Mr. Walthall pleasantly. "If I have to take him over
there I'll not bring him back in a hurry."

"I wuz des up in his room kaze he tole me fer ter come back en see 'im.
Name er God, Marse Jack, w'at ail' you all w'ite folks now?"

"What did he say to you?" asked Mr. Walthall.

"He ax me w'at make de niggers stay in slave'y," said the frightened
negro; "he ax me w'at de reason dey don't git free deyse'f."

"He was warm after information," Mr. Walthall suggested.

"Call it what you please," said the Vermont colporteur. "I asked him
those questions and more." He was pale, but he no longer acted like a
man troubled with fear.

"Oh, we know that, mister," said Buck Ransome. "We know what you come
for, and we know what you're goin' away for. We'll excuse you if you'll
excuse us, and then there'll be no hard feelin's--that is, not many;
none to growl about.--Jake, hand me that bundle there on the barrel, and
fetch that tar-bucket.--You've got the makin' of a mighty fine bird in
you, mister," Ransome went on, addressing the colporteur; "all you
lack's the feathers, and we've got oodles of 'em right here. Now, will
you shuck them duds?"

For the first time the fact dawned on Little Compton's mind that the
young men were about to administer a coat of tar and feathers to the
stranger from Vermont; and he immediately began to protest.

"Why, Jack," said he, "what has the man done?"

"Well," replied Mr. Walthall, "you heard what the nigger said. We can't
afford to have these abolitionists preaching insurrection right in our
back yards. We just can't afford it, that's the long and short of it.
Maybe you don't understand it; maybe you don't feel as we do; but that's
the way the matter stands. We are in a sort of a corner, and we are
compelled to protect ourselves."

"I don't believe in no tar and feathers for this chap," remarked Major
Jimmy Bass, assuming a judicial air. "He'll just go out here to the town
branch and wash 'em off, and then he'll go on through the plantations
raising h---- among the niggers. That'll be the upshot of it--now, you
mark my words. He ought to be hung."

"Now, boys," said Little Compton, still protesting, "what is the use?
This man hasn't done any real harm. He might preach insurrection around
here for a thousand years, and the niggers wouldn't listen to him. Now,
you know that yourselves. Turn the poor devil loose, and let him get out
of town. Why, haven't you got any confidence in the niggers you've
raised yourselves?"

"My dear sir," said Rowan Wornum, in his most insinuating tone, "we've
got all the confidence in the world in the niggers, but we can't afford
to take any risks. Why, my dear sir," he went on, "if we let this chap
go, it won't be six months before the whole country'll be full of this
kind. Look at that Harper's Ferry business."

"Well," said Compton somewhat hotly, "look at it. What harm has been
done? Has there been any nigger insurrection?"

Jack Walthall laughed good-naturedly. "Little Compton is a quick talker,
boys. Let's give the man the benefit of all the arguments."

"Great God! You don't mean to let this d---- rascal go, do you, Jack?"
exclaimed Major Jimmy Bass.

"No, no, sweet uncle; but I've got a nicer dose than tar and feathers."

The result was that the stranger's face and hands were given a coat of
lampblack, his arms were tied to his body, and a large placard was
fastened to his back. The placard bore this inscription:

                           ABOLITIONIST!

                         PASS HIM ON, BOYS

Mr. Davies was a pitiful-looking object after the young men had
plastered his face and hands with lampblack and oil, and yet his
appearance bore a certain queer relation to the humorous exhibitions one
sees on the negro minstrel stage. Particularly was this the case when he
smiled at Compton.

"By George, boys!" exclaimed Mr. Buck Ransome, "this chap could play Old
Bob Ridley at the circus."

When everything was arranged to suit them, the young men formed a
procession, and marched the blackened stranger from Little Compton's
door into the public street. Little Compton seemed to be very much
interested in the proceeding. It was remarked afterward that he seemed
to be very much agitated, and that he took a position very near the
placarded abolitionist. The procession, as it moved up the street,
attracted considerable attention. Rumors that an abolitionist was to be
dealt with had apparently been circulated, and a majority of the male
inhabitants of the town were out to view the spectacle. The procession
passed entirely around the public square, of which the court-house was
the centre, and then across the square to the park-like enclosure that
surrounded the temple of justice.

As the young men and their prisoner crossed this open space, Major Jimmy
Bass, fat as he was, grew so hilarious that he straddled his cane as
children do broomsticks, and pretended that he had as much as he could
do to hold his fiery wooden steed. He waddled and pranced out in front
of the abolitionist, and turned and faced him, whereat his steed showed
the most violent symptoms of running away. The young men roared with
laughter, and the spectators roared with them, and even the abolitionist
laughed. All laughed but Little Compton. The procession was marched to
the court-house enclosure, and there the prisoner was made to stand on
the sale-block so that all might have a fair view of him. He was kept
there until the stage was ready to go; and then he was given a seat on
that swaying vehicle, and forwarded to Rockville, where, presumably, the
"boys" placed him on the train and "passed him on" to the "boys" in
other towns.

For months thereafter there was peace in Hillsborough, so far as the
abolitionists were concerned; and then came the secession movement. A
majority of the citizens of the little town were strong Union men; but
the secession movement seemed to take even the oldest off their feet,
and by the time the Republican President was inaugurated, the Union
sentiment that had marked Hillsborough had practically disappeared. In
South Carolina companies of minutemen had been formed, and the entire
white male population was wearing blue cockades. With some
modifications, these symptoms were reproduced in Hillsborough. The
modifications were that a few of the old men still stood up for the
Union, and that some of the young men, though they wore the blue
cockade, did not aline themselves with the minutemen.

Little Compton took no part in these proceedings. He was discreetly
quiet. He tended his store, and smoked his pipe, and watched events. One
morning he was aroused from his slumbers by a tremendous crash--a crash
that rattled the windows of his store and shook its very walls. He lay
quiet a while, thinking that a small earthquake had been turned loose
on the town. Then the crash was repeated; and he knew that Hillsborough
was firing a salute from its little six-pounder, a relic of the
Revolution, that had often served the purpose of celebrating the
nation's birthday in a noisily becoming manner.

Little Compton arose, and dressed himself, and prepared to put his store
in order. Issuing forth into the street, he saw that the town was in
considerable commotion. A citizen who had been in attendance on the
convention at Milledgeville had arrived during the night, bringing the
information that the ordinance of secession had been adopted, and that
Georgia was now a sovereign and independent government. The original
secessionists were in high feather, and their hilarious enthusiasm had
its effect on all save a few of the Union men.

Early as it was, Little Compton saw two flags floating from an
improvised flagstaff on top of the court-house. One was the flag of the
State, with its pillars, its sentinel, and its legend of "Wisdom,
Justice, and Moderation." The design of the other was entirely new to
Little Compton. It was a pine tree on a field of white, with a
rattlesnake coiled at its roots, and the inscription, "DON'T TREAD ON
ME!" A few hours later Uncle Abner Lazenberry made his appearance in
front of Compton's store. He had just hitched his horse to the rack near
the court-house.

"Merciful heavens" he exclaimed, wiping his red face with a red
handkerchief, "is the Ole Boy done gone an' turned hisself loose? I
hearn the racket, an' I sez to the ole woman, sez I: 'I'll fling the
saddle on the gray mar' an' canter to town an' see what in the
dingnation the matter is. An' ef the worl's about to fetch a lurch, I'll
git me another dram an' die happy,' sez I. Whar's Jack Walthall? He can
tell his Uncle Abner all about it."

"Well, sir," said Little Compton, "the State has seceded, and the boys
are celebrating."

"I know'd it," cried the old man angrily. "My min' tole me so." Then he
turned and looked at the flags flying from the top of the court-house.
"Is them rags the things they er gwine to fly out'n the Union with?" he
exclaimed scornfully. "Why, bless your soul an body, hit'll take bigger
wings than them! Well, sir, I'm sick; I am that away. I wuz born in the
Union, an' I'd like mighty well to die thar. Ain't it mine? ain't it
our'n? Jess as shore as you're born, thar's trouble ahead--big trouble.
You're from the North, ain't you?" Uncle Abner asked, looking curiously
at Little Compton.

"Yes, sir, I am," Compton replied; "that is, I am from New Jersey, but
they say New Jersey is out of the Union."

Uncle Abner did not respond to Compton's smile. He continued to gaze at
him significantly.

"Well," the old man remarked somewhat bluntly, "you better go back where
you come from. You ain't got nothin' in the roun' worl' to do with all
this hellabaloo. When the pinch comes, as come it must, I'm jes gwine to
swap a nigger for a sack er flour an' settle down; but you had better go
back where you come from."

Little Compton knew the old man was friendly; but his words, so solemnly
and significantly uttered, made a deep impression. The words recalled
to Compton's mind the spectacle of the man from Vermont who had been
paraded through the streets of Hillsborough, with his face blackened and
a placard on his back. The little Jerseyman also recalled other
incidents, some of them trifling enough, but all of them together going
to show the hot temper of the people around him; and for a day or two he
brooded rather seriously over the situation. He knew that the times were
critical.

For several weeks the excitement in Hillsborough, as elsewhere in the
South, continued to run high. The blood of the people was at fever heat.
The air was full of the portents and premonitions of war. Drums were
beating, flags were flying, and military companies were parading. Jack
Walthall had raised a company, and it had gone into camp in an old field
near the town. The tents shone snowy white in the sun, uniforms of the
men were bright and gay, and the boys thought this was war. But, instead
of that, they were merely enjoying a holiday. The ladies of the town
sent them wagon-loads of provisions every day, and the occasion was a
veritable picnic--a picnic that some of the young men remembered a year
or two later when they were trudging ragged, barefooted, and hungry,
through the snow and slush of a Virginia winter.

But, with all their drilling and parading in the peaceful camp at
Hillsborough, the young men had many idle hours, and they devoted these
to various forms of amusements. On one occasion, after they had
exhausted their ingenuity in search of entertainment, one of them,
Lieutenant Buck Ransome, suggested that it might be interesting to get
up a joke on Little Compton.

"But how?" asked Lieutenant Cozart.

"Why, the easiest in the world," said Lieutenant Ransome. "Write him a
note, and tell him that the time has come for an English-speaking people
to take sides, and fling in a kind of side-wiper about New Jersey."

Captain Jack Walthall, leaning comfortably against a huge box that was
supposed to bear some relation to a camp-chest, blew a cloud of smoke
through his sensitive nostrils and laughed. "Why, stuff, boys!" he
exclaimed somewhat impatiently, "you can't scare Little Compton. He's
got grit, and it's the right kind of grit. Why, I'll tell you what's a
fact--the sand in that man's gizzard would make enough mortar to build a
fort."

"Well, I'll tell you what we'll do," said Lieutenant Ransome. "We'll
sling him a line or two, and if it don't stir him up, all right; but if
it does, we'll have some tall fun."

Whereupon, Lieutenant Ransome fished around in the chest, and drew forth
pen and ink and paper. With some aid from his brother officers he
managed to compose the following:

          "LITTLE MR. COMPTON. _Dear Sir_--The time has
          arrived when every man should show his colors.
          Those who are not for us are against us. Your best
          friends, when asked where you stand, do not know
          what to say. If you are for the North in this
          struggle, your place is at the North. If you are
          for the South, your place is with those who are
          preparing to defend the rights and liberties of
          the South. A word to the wise is sufficient. You
          will hear from me again in due time.
                                        NEMESIS."

This was duly sealed and dropped in the Hillsborough post-office, and
Little Compton received it the same afternoon. He smiled as he broke the
seal, but ceased to smile when he read the note. It happened to fit a
certain vague feeling of uneasiness that possessed him. He laid it down
on his desk, walked up and down behind his counter, and then returned
and read it again. The sprawling words seemed to possess a fascination
for him. He read them again and again, and turned them over and over in
his mind. It was characteristic of his simple nature that he never once
attributed the origin of the note to the humor of the young men with
whom he was so familiar. He regarded it seriously. Looking up from the
note, he could see in the corner of his store the brush and pot that had
been used as arguments on the Vermont abolitionist. He vividly recalled
the time when that unfortunate person was brought up before the
self-constituted tribunal that assembled in his store.

Little Compton thought he had gaged accurately the temper of the people
about him; and he had, but his modesty prevented him from accurately
gaging or even thinking about, the impression he had made on them. The
note troubled him a good deal more than he would at first confess to
himself. He seated himself on a low box behind his counter to think it
over, resting his face in his hands. A little boy who wanted to buy a
thrip's worth of candy went slowly out again after trying in vain to
attract the attention of the hitherto prompt and friendly storekeeper.
Tommy Tinktums, the cat, seeing that his master was sitting down, came
forward with the expectation of being told to perform his famous
"bouncing" trick, a feat that was at once the wonder and delight of the
youngsters around Hillsborough. But Tommy Tinktums was not commanded to
bounce; and so he contented himself with washing his face, pausing every
now and then to watch his master with half-closed eyes.

While sitting thus reflecting, it suddenly occurred to Little Compton
that he had had very few customers during the past several days; and it
seemed to him, as he continued to think the matter over, that the
people, especially the young men, had been less cordial lately than they
had ever been before. It never occurred to him that the threatened war,
and the excitement of the period, occupied their entire attention. He
simply remembered that the young men who had made his modest little
store their headquarters met there no more. Little Compton sat behind
his counter a long time, thinking. The sun went down, and the dusk fell,
and the night came on and found him there.

After a while he lit a candle, spread the communication out on his desk,
and read it again. To his mind, there was no mistaking its meaning. It
meant that he must either fight against the Union, or array against
himself all the bitter and aggressive suspicion of the period. He sighed
heavily, closed his store, and went out into the darkness. He made his
way to the residence of Major Jimmy Bass, where Miss Lizzie Fairleigh
boarded. The major himself was sitting on the veranda; and he welcomed
Little Compton with effusive hospitality--a hospitality that possessed
an old-fashioned flavor.

"I'm mighty glad you come--yes, sir, I am. It looks like the whole
world's out at the camps, and it makes me feel sorter lonesome. Yes,
sir; it does that. If I wasn't so plump I'd be out there too. It's a
mighty good place to be about this time of the year. I tell you what,
sir, them boys is got the devil in 'em. Yes, sir; there ain't no two
ways about that. When they turn themselves loose, somebody or something
will git hurt. Now, you mark what I tell you. It's a tough lot--a mighty
tough lot. Lord! wouldn't I hate to be a Yankee, and fall in their
hands! I'd be glad if I had time for to say my prayers. Yes, sir; I
would that."

Thus spoke the cheerful Major Bass; and every word he said seemed to
rime with Little Compton's own thoughts, and to confirm the fears that
had been aroused by the note. After he had listened to the major a
while, Little Compton asked for Miss Fairleigh.

"Oho!" said the major. Then he called to a negro who happened to be
passing through the hall: "Jesse, tell Miss Lizzie that Mr. Compton is
in the parlor." Then he turned to Compton. "I tell you what, sir, that
gal looks mighty puny. She's from the North, and I reckon she's
homesick. And then there's all this talk about war. She knows our
boys'll eat the Yankees plum up, and I don't blame her for being sorter
down-hearted. I wish you'd try to cheer her up. She's a good gal if
there ever was one on the face of the earth."

Little Compton went into the parlor, where he was presently joined by
Miss Fairleigh. They talked a long time together, but what they said no
one ever knew. They conversed in low tones; and once or twice the
hospitable major, sitting on the veranda, detected himself trying to
hear what they said. He could see them from where he sat, and he
observed that both appeared to be profoundly dejected. Not once did they
laugh, or, so far as the major could see, even smile. Occasionally
Little Compton arose and walked the length of the parlor, but Miss
Fairleigh sat with bowed head. It may have been a trick of the lamp, but
it seemed to the major that they were both very pale.

Finally Little Compton rose to go. The major observed with a chuckle
that he held Miss Fairleigh's hand a little longer than was strictly
necessary under the circumstances. He held it so long, indeed, that Miss
Fairleigh half averted her face, but the major noted that she was still
pale. "We shall have a wedding in this house before the war opens," he
thought to himself; and his mind was dwelling on such a contingency when
Little Compton came out on the veranda.

"Don't tear yourself away in the heat of the day," said Major Bass
jocularly.

"I must go," replied Compton. "Good-by!" He seized the major's hand and
wrung it.

"Good night," said the major, "and God bless you!"

The next day was Sunday. But on Monday it was observed that Compton's
store was closed. Nothing was said and little thought of it. People's
minds were busy with other matters. The drums were beating, the flags
flying, and the citizen soldiery parading. It was a noisy and an
exciting time, and a larger store than Little Compton's might have
remained closed for several days without attracting attention. But one
day, when the young men from the camp were in the village, it occurred
to them to inquire what effect the anonymous note had had on Little
Compton; whereupon they went in a body to his store; but the door was
closed, and they found it had been closed a week or more. They also
discovered that Compton had disappeared.

This had a very peculiar effect upon Captain Jack Walthall. He took off
his uniform, put on his citizen's clothes, and proceeded to investigate
Compton's disappearance. He sought in vain for a clue. He interested
others to such an extent that a great many people in Hillsborough forgot
all about the military situation. But there was no trace of Little
Compton. His store was entered from a rear window, and everything found
to be intact. Nothing had been removed. The jars of striped candy that
had proved so attractive to the youngsters of Hillsborough stood in long
rows on the shelves, flanked by the thousand and one notions that make
up the stock of a country grocery store. Little Compton's disappearance
was a mysterious one, and under ordinary circumstances would have
created intense excitement in the community; but at that particular time
the most sensational event would have seemed tame and commonplace
alongside the preparations for war.

Owing probably to a lack of the faculty of organization at Richmond--a
lack which, if we are to believe the various historians who have tried
to describe and account for some of the results of that period, was the
cause of many bitter controversies, and of many disastrous failures in
the field--a month or more passed away before the Hillsborough company
received orders to go to the front. Fort Sumter had been fired on,
troops from all parts of the South had gathered in Virginia, and the war
was beginning in earnest. Captain Jack Walthall of the Hillsborough
Guards chafed at the delay that kept his men resting on their arms, so
to speak; but he had ample opportunity, meanwhile, to wonder what had
become of Little Compton. In his leisure moments he often found himself
sitting on the dry-goods boxes in the neighborhood of Little Compton's
store. Sitting thus one day, he was approached by his body-servant. Jake
had his hat in his hand, and showed by his manner that he had something
to say. He shuffled around, looked first one way and then another, and
scratched his head.

"Marse Jack," he began.

"Well, what is it?" said the other, somewhat sharply.

"Marse Jack, I hope ter de Lord you ain't gwine ter git mad wid me; yit
I mos' knows you is, kaze I oughter done tole you a long time ago."

"You ought to have told me what?"

"'Bout my drivin' yo' hoss en buggy over ter Rockville dat time--dat
time what I ain't never tole you 'bout. But I 'uz mos' 'blige' ter do
it. I 'low ter myse'f, I did, dat I oughter come tell you right den, but
I 'uz skeer'd you mought git mad, en den you wuz out dar at de camps,
'long wid dem milliumterry folks."

"What have you got to tell?"

"Well, Marse Jack, des 'bout takin' yo' hoss en buggy. Marse Compton
'lowed you wouldn't keer, en w'en he say dat, I des went en hich up de
hoss en kyar'd 'im over ter Rockville."

"What under heaven did you want to go to Rockville for?"

"Who? me, Marse Jack? 'Twa'n't me wanter go. Hit 'uz Marse Compton."

"Little Compton?" exclaimed Walthall.

"Yes, sir, dat ve'y same man."

"What did you carry Little Compton to Rockville for?"

"Fo' de Lord, Marse Jack, I dunno w'at Marse Compton wanter go fer. I
des know'd I 'uz doin' wrong, but he tuck'n 'low dat hit'd be all right
wid you, kaze you bin knowin' him so monst'us well. En den he up'n ax me
not to tell you twell he done plum out'n yearin'."

"Didn't he say anything? Didn't he tell you where he was going? Didn't
he send any word back?"

This seemed to remind Jake of something. He clapped his hand to his
head, and exclaimed:

"Well, de Lord he'p my soul! Ef I ain't de beatenest nigger on de top
side er de yeth! Marse Compton gun me a letter, en I tuck'n shove it
un' de buggy seat, en it's right dar yit ef somebody ain't tored it up."

By certain well-known signs Jake knew that his Marse Jack was very mad,
and he was hurrying out. But Walthall called him.

"Come here, sir!" The tone made Jake tremble. "Do you stand up there,
sir, and tell me all this, and think I am going to put up with it?"

"I'm gwine after dat note, Marse Jack, des ez hard ez ever I kin."

Jake managed to find the note after some little search, and carried it
to Jack Walthall. It was crumpled and soiled. It had evidently seen
rough service under the buggy seat. Walthall took it from the negro,
turned it over and looked at it. It was sealed, and addressed to Miss
Lizzie Fairleigh.

Jack Walthall arrayed himself in his best, and made his way to Major
Jimmy Bass's, where he inquired for Miss Fairleigh. That young lady
promptly made her appearance. She was pale and seemed to be troubled.
Walthall explained his errand, and handed her the note. He thought her
hand trembled, but he may have been mistaken, as he afterward
confessed. She read it, and handed it to Captain Walthall with a vague
little smile that would have told him volumes if he had been able to
read the feminine mind.

Major Jimmy Bass was a wiser man than Walthall, and he remarked long
afterward that he knew by the way the poor girl looked that she was in
trouble, and it is not to be denied, at least, it is not to be denied in
Hillsborough, where he was known and respected, that Major Bass's
impressions were as important as the average man's convictions. This is
what Captain Jack Walthall read:

          "DEAR MISS FAIRLEIGH--When you see this I shall be
          on my way home. My eyes have recently been opened
          to the fact that there is to be a war for and
          against the Union. I have strong friendships here,
          but I feel that I owe a duty to the old flag. When
          I bade you good-by last night, it was good-by
          forever. I had hoped--I had desired--to say more
          than I did; but perhaps it is better so. Perhaps
          it is better that I should carry with me a fond
          dream of what might have been than to have been
          told by you that such a dream could never come
          true. I had intended to give you the highest
          evidence of my respect and esteem that man can
          give to woman, but I have been overruled by fate
          or circumstance. I shall love you as long as I
          live. One thing more: should you ever find
          yourself in need of the services of a friend--a
          friend in whom you may place the most implicit
          confidence--send for Mr. Jack Walthall. Say to him
          that Little Compton commended you to his care and
          attention, and give him my love."

Walthall drew a long breath and threw his head back as he finished
reading this. Whatever emotion he may have felt, he managed to conceal,
but there was a little color in his usually pale face, and his dark eyes
shone with a new light.

"This is a very unfortunate mistake," he exclaimed. "What is to be
done?"

Miss Fairleigh smiled.

"There is no mistake, Mr. Walthall," she replied. "Mr. Compton is a
Northern man, and he has gone to join the Northern army. I think he is
right."

"Well," said Walthall, "he will do what he thinks is right, but I wish
he was here to-night."

"Oh, so do I!" exclaimed Miss Fairleigh, and then she blushed; seeing
which, Mr. Jack Walthall drew his own conclusions.

"If I could get through the lines," she went on, "I would go home."
Whereupon Walthall offered her all the assistance in his power, and
offered to escort her to the Potomac. But before arrangements for the
journey could be made, there came the news of the first battle of
Manassas, and the conflict was begun in earnest; so earnest, indeed,
that it changed the course of a great many lives, and gave even a new
direction to American history.

Miss Fairleigh's friends in Hillsborough would not permit her to risk
the journey through the lines; and Captain Walthall's company was
ordered to the front, where the young men composing it entered headlong
into the hurly-burly that goes by the name of war.

There was one little episode growing out of Jack Walthall's visit to
Miss Fairleigh that ought to be told. When that young gentleman bade her
good evening, and passed out of the parlor, Miss Fairleigh placed her
hands to her face and fell to weeping, as women will.

Major Bass, sitting on the veranda, had been an interested spectator of
the conference in the parlor, but it was in the nature of a pantomime.
He could hear nothing that was said, but he could see that Miss
Fairleigh and Walthall were both laboring under some strong excitement.
When, therefore, he saw Walthall pass hurriedly out, leaving Miss
Fairleigh in tears in the parlor, it occurred to him that, as the head
of the household and the natural protector of the women under his roof,
he was bound to take some action. He called Jesse, the negro
house-servant, who was on duty in the dining-room.

"Jess! Jess! Oh, Jess!" There was an insinuating sweetness in his voice
as it echoed through the hall. Jesse, doubtless recognizing the velvety
quality of the tone, made his appearance promptly. "Jess," said the
major softly, "I wish you'd please fetch me my shotgun. Make 'aste,
Jess, and don't make no furse."

Jesse went after the shotgun, and the major waddled into the parlor. He
cleared his throat at the door, and Miss Fairleigh looked up.

"Miss Lizzie, did Jack Walthall insult you here in my house?"

"Insult me, sir! Why, he's the noblest gentleman alive."

The major drew a deep breath of relief, and smiled.

"Well, I'm mighty glad to hear you say so!" he exclaimed. "I couldn't
tell, to save my life, what put it into my mind. Why, I might 'a' know'd
that Jack Walthall ain't that kind of a chap. Lord! I reckon I must be
getting old and weak-minded. Don't cry no more, honey. Go right along
and go to bed." As he turned to go out of the parlor, he was confronted
by Jesse with the shotgun. "Oh, go put her up, Jess," he said
apologetically; "go put her up, boy. I wanted to blaze away at a dog out
there trying to scratch under the palings; but the dog's done gone. Go
put her up, Jess."

When Jess carried the gun back, he remarked casually to his mistress:

"Miss Sa'h, you better keep yo' eye on Marse Maje. He talkin' mighty
funny, en he doin' mighty quare."

Thereafter, for many a long day, the genial major sat in his cool
veranda, and thought of Jack Walthall and the boys in Virginia.
Sometimes between dozes he would make his way to Perdue's Corner, and
discuss the various campaigns. How many desperate campaigns were fought
on that Corner! All the older citizens, who found it convenient or
necessary to stay at home, had in them the instinct and emotions of
great commanders. They knew how victory could be wrung from defeat, and
how success could be made more overwhelming. At Perdue's Corner,
Washington City was taken not less than a dozen times a week, and
occasionally both New York and Boston were captured and sacked. Of all
the generals who fought their battles at the Corner, Major Jimmy Bass
was the most energetic, the most daring, and the most skilful. As a
strategist he had no superior. He had a way of illustrating the
feasibility of his plans by drawing them in the sand with his cane. Fat
as he was, the major had a way of "surroundering" the enemy so that no
avenue was left for his escape. At Perdue's Corner he captured Scott,
and McClellan, and Joe Hooker, and John Pope, and held their entire
forces as prisoners of war.

In spite of all this, however, the war went on. Sometimes word would
come that one of the Hillsborough boys had been shot to death. Now and
then one would come home with an arm or a leg missing; so that, before
many months had passed, even the generals conducting their campaigns at
Perdue's Corner managed to discover that war was a very serious
business.

It happened that one day in July, Captain Jack Walthall and his men,
together with quite an imposing array of comrades, were called upon to
breast the sultry thunder of Gettysburg. They bore themselves like men;
they went forward with a shout and a rush, facing the deadly slaughter
of the guns; they ran up the hill and to the rock wall. With others,
Captain Walthall leaped over the wall. They were met by a murderous
fire that mowed down the men like grass. The line in the rear wavered,
fell back, and went forward again. Captain Walthall heard his name
called in his front, and then some one cried, "Don't shoot!" and Little
Compton, his face blackened with powder, and his eyes glistening with
excitement, rushed into Walthall's arms. The order not to shoot--if it
was an order--came too late. There was another volley. As the
Confederates rushed forward, the Federal line retreated a little way,
and Walthall found himself surrounded by the small remnant of his men.
The Confederates made one more effort to advance, but it was useless.
The line was borne back, and finally retreated; but when it went down
the slope, Walthall and Lieutenant Ransome had Little Compton between
them. He was a prisoner. Just how it all happened, no one of the three
could describe, but Little Compton was carried into the Confederate
lines. He was wounded in the shoulder and in the arm, and the ball that
shattered his arm shattered Walthall's arm.

They were carried to the field hospital, where Walthall insisted that
Little Compton's wounds should be looked after first. The result was
that Walthall lost his left arm and Compton his right; and then, when by
some special interposition of Providence they escaped gangrene and other
results of imperfect surgery and bad nursing, they went to Richmond,
where Walthall's money and influence secured them comfortable quarters.

Hillsborough had heard of all this in a vague way--indeed, a rumor of it
had been printed in the Rockville "Vade Mecum"--but the generals and
commanders in consultation at Perdue's Corner were astonished one day
when the stage-coach set down at the door of the tavern a tall,
one-armed gentleman in gray, and a short, one-armed gentleman in blue.

"By the livin' Lord!" exclaimed Major Jimmy Bass, "if that ain't Jack
Walthall! And you may put out my two eyes if that ain't Little Compton!
Why, shucks, boys!" he exclaimed, as he waddled across the street, "I'd
'a' know'd you anywheres. I'm a little short-sighted, and I'm mighty
nigh took off wi' the dropsy, but I'd 'a' know'd you anywheres."

There were handshakings and congratulations from everybody in the town.
The clerks and the merchants deserted their stores to greet the
newcomers, and there seemed to be a general jubilee. For weeks Captain
Jack Walthall was compelled to tell his Gettysburg story over and over
again, frequently to the same hearers; and, curiously enough, there was
never a murmur of dissent when he told how Little Compton had insisted
on wearing his Federal uniform.

"Great Jiminy Craminy!" Major Jimmy Bass would exclaim; "don't we all
know Little Compton like a book? And ain't he got a right to wear his
own duds?"

Rockville, like every other railroad town in the South at that period,
had become the site of a Confederate hospital; and sometimes the
hangers-on and convalescents paid brief visits of inspection to the
neighboring villages. On one occasion a little squad of them made their
appearance on the streets of Hillsborough, and made a good-natured
attempt to fraternize with the honest citizens who gathered daily at
Perdue's Corner. While they were thus engaged, Little Compton, arrayed
in his blue uniform, passed down the street. The visitors made some
inquiries, and Major Bass gave them a very sympathetic history of Little
Compton. Evidently they failed to appreciate the situation; for one of
them, a tall Mississippian, stretched himself and remarked to his
companions:

"Boys, when we go, we'll just about lift that feller and take him along.
He belongs in Andersonville, that's where he belongs."

Major Bass looked at the tall Mississippian and smiled.

"I reckon you must 'a' been mighty sick over yander," said the major,
indicating Rockville.

"Well, yes," said the Mississippian; "I've had a pretty tough time."

"And you ain't strong yet," the major went on.

"Well, I'm able to get about right lively," said the other.

"Strong enough to go to war?"

"Oh, well, no--not just yet."

"Well, then," said the major in his bluntest tone, "you better be
mighty keerful of yourself in this town. If you ain't strong enough to
go to war, you better let Little Compton alone."

The tall Mississippian and his friends took the hint, and Little Compton
continued to wear his blue uniform unmolested. About this time Atlanta
fell; and there were vague rumors in the air, chiefly among the negroes,
that Sherman's army would march down and capture Hillsborough, which, by
the assembly of generals at Perdue's Corner, was regarded as a strategic
point. These vague rumors proved to be correct; and by the time the
first frosts fell, Perdue's Corner had reason to believe that General
Sherman was marching down on Hillsborough. Dire rumors of fire, rapine,
and pillage preceded the approach of the Federal army, and it may well
be supposed that these rumors spread consternation in the air. Major
Bass professed to believe that General Sherman would be "surroundered"
and captured before his troops reached Middle Georgia; but the three
columns, miles apart, continued their march unopposed.

It was observed that during this period of doubt, anxiety, and terror,
Little Compton was on the alert. He appeared to be nervous and restless.
His conduct was so peculiar that some of the more suspicious citizens of
the region predicted that he had been playing the part of a spy, and
that he was merely waiting for the advent of Sherman's army in order to
point out where his acquaintances had concealed their treasures.

One fine morning a company of Federal troopers rode into Hillsborough.
They were met by Little Compton, who had borrowed one of Jack Walthall's
horses for just such an occasion. The cavalcade paused in the public
square, and, after a somewhat prolonged consultation with Little
Compton, rode on in the direction of Rockville. During the day small
parties of foragers made their appearance. Little Compton had some
trouble with these; but, by hurrying hither and thither, he managed to
prevent any depredations. He even succeeded in convincing the majority
of them that they owed some sort of respect to that small town. There
was one obstinate fellow, however, who seemed determined to prosecute
his search for valuables. He was a German who evidently did not
understand English.

In the confusion Little Compton lost sight of the German, though he had
determined to keep an eye on him. It was not long before he heard of him
again; for one of the Walthall negroes came running across the public
square, showing by voice and gesture that he was very much alarmed.

"Marse Compton! Marse Compton!" he cried, "you better run up ter Marse
Jack's, kaze one er dem mens is gwine in dar whar ole Miss is, en ef he
do dat he gwine ter git hurted!"

Little Compton hurried to the Walthall place, and he was just in time to
see Jack rushing the German down the wide flight of steps that led to
the veranda. What might have happened, no one can say; what did happen
may be briefly told. The German, his face inflamed with passion, had
seized his gun, which had been left outside, and was aiming at Jack
Walthall, who stood on the steps, cool and erect. An exclamation of
mingled horror and indignation from Little Compton attracted the
German's attention, and caused him to turn his head. This delay probably
saved Jack Walthall's life; for the German, thinking that a comrade was
coming to his aid, leveled his gun again and fired. But Little Compton
had seized the weapon near the muzzle and wrested it around. The bullet,
instead of reaching its target, tore its way through Compton's empty
sleeve. In another instant the German was covered by Compton's revolver.
The hand that held it was steady, and the eyes that glanced along its
shining barrel fairly blazed. The German dropped his gun. All trace of
passion disappeared from his face; and presently seeing that the crisis
had passed, so far as he was concerned, he wheeled in his tracks,
gravely saluted Little Compton, and made off at a double-quick.

"You mustn't think hard of the boys, Jack, on account of that chap. They
understand the whole business, and they are going to take care of this
town."

And they did. The army came marching along presently, and the stragglers
found Hillsborough patrolled by a detachment of cavalry.

Walthall and Little Compton stood on the wide steps, and reviewed this
imposing array as it passed before them. The tall Confederate, in his
uniform of gray, rested his one hand affectionately on the shoulder of
the stout little man in blue, and on the bosom of each was pinned an
empty sleeve. Unconsciously, they made an impressive picture.

The Commander, grim, gray, and resolute, observed it with sparkling
eyes. The spectacle was so unusual--so utterly opposed to the logic of
events--that he stopped with his staff long enough to hear Little
Compton tell his story. He was a grizzled, aggressive man, this
Commander, but his face lighted up wonderfully at the recital.

"Well, you know this sort of thing doesn't end the war, boys," he said,
as he shook hands with Walthall and Little Compton; "but I shall sleep
better to-night."

Perhaps he did. Perhaps he dreamed that what he had seen and heard was
prophetic of the days to come, when peace and fraternity should seize
upon the land, and bring unity, happiness, and prosperity to the
people.



AUNT FOUNTAIN'S PRISONER


IT is curious how the smallest incident, the most unimportant
circumstance, will recall old friends and old associations. An old
gentleman, who is noted far and near for his prodigious memory of dates
and events, once told me that his memory, so astonishing to his friends
and acquaintances, consisted not so much in remembering names and dates
and facts, as in associating each of these with some special group of
facts and events; so that he always had at command a series of
associations to which he could refer instantly and confidently. This is
an explanation of the system of employing facts, but not of the method
by which they are accumulated and stored away.

I was reminded of this some years ago by a paragraph in one of the
county newspapers that sometimes come under my observation. It was a
very commonplace paragraph; indeed, it was in the nature of an
advertisement--an announcement of the fact that orders for "gilt-edged
butter" from the Jersey farm on the Tomlinson Place should be left at
the drugstore in Rockville, where the first that came would be the first
served. This businesslike notice was signed by Ferris Trunion. The name
was not only peculiar, but new to me; but this was of no importance at
all. The fact that struck me was the bald and bold announcement that the
Tomlinson Place was the site and centre of trading and other commercial
transactions in butter. I can only imagine what effect this announcement
would have had on my grandmother, who died years ago, and on some other
old people I used to know. Certainly they would have been horrified; and
no wonder, for when they were in their prime the Tomlinson Place was the
seat of all that was high, and mighty, and grand, in the social world in
the neighborhood of Rockville. I remember that everybody stood in awe of
the Tomlinsons. Just why this was so, I never could make out. They were
very rich; the Place embraced several thousand acres; but if the
impressions made on me when a child are worth anything, they were
extremely simple in their ways. Though, no doubt, they could be formal
and conventional enough when occasion required.

I have no distinct recollection of Judge Addison Tomlinson, except that
he was a very tall old gentleman, much older than his wife, who went
about the streets of Rockville carrying a tremendous gold-headed cane
carved in a curious manner. In those days I knew more of Mrs. Tomlinson
than I did of the judge, mainly because I heard a great deal more about
her. Some of the women called her Mrs. Judge Tomlinson; but my
grandmother never called her anything else but Harriet Bledsoe, which
was her maiden name. It was a name, too, that seemed to suit her, so
that when you once heard her called Harriet Bledsoe, you never forgot it
afterward. I do not know now, any more than I did when a child, why this
particular name should fit her so exactly; but, as I have been told, a
lack of knowledge does not alter facts.

I think my grandmother used to go to church to see what kind of clothes
Harriet Bledsoe wore; for I have often heard her say, after the sermon
was over, that Harriet's bonnet, or Harriet's dress, was perfectly
charming. Certainly Mrs. Tomlinson was always dressed in the height of
fashion, though it was a very simple fashion when compared with the
flounces and furbelows of her neighbors. I remember this distinctly,
that she seemed to be perfectly cool the hottest Sunday in summer, and
comfortably warm the coldest Sunday in winter; and I am convinced that
this impression, made on the mind of a child, must bear some definite
relation to Mrs. Tomlinson's good taste.

Certainly my grandmother was never tired of telling me that Harriet
Bledsoe was blessed with exceptionally good taste and fine manners; and
I remember that she told me often how she wished I was a girl, so that I
might one day be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities I
had had of profiting by Harriet Bledsoe's example. I think there was
some sort of attachment between my grandmother and Mrs. Tomlinson,
formed when they were at school together, though my grandmother was much
the older of the two. But there was no intimacy. The gulf that money
sometimes makes between those who have it and those who lack it lay
between them. Though I think my grandmother was more sensitive about
crossing this gulf than Mrs. Tomlinson.

I was never in the Tomlinson house but once when a child. Whether it was
because it was two or three miles away from Rockville, or whether it was
because I stood in awe of my grandmother's Harriet Bledsoe, I do not
know. But I have a very vivid recollection of the only time I went there
as a boy. One of my play-mates, a rough-and-tumble little fellow, was
sent by his mother, a poor sick woman, to ask Mrs. Tomlinson for some
preserves. I think this woman and her little boy were in some way
related to the Tomlinsons. The richest and most powerful people, I have
heard it said, are not so rich and powerful but they are pestered by
poor kin, and the Tomlinsons were no exception to the rule.

I went with this little boy I spoke of, and I was afraid afterward that
I was in some way responsible for his boldness. He walked right into the
presence of Mrs. Tomlinson, and, without waiting to return the lady's
salutation, he said in a loud voice:

"Aunt Harriet, ma says send her some of your nicest preserves."

"_Aunt Harriet_, indeed!" she exclaimed, and then she gave him a look
that was cold enough to freeze him, and hard enough to send him through
the floor.

I think she relented a little, for she went to one of the windows,
bigger than any door you see nowadays, and looked out over the blooming
orchard; and then after a while she came back to us, and was very
gracious. She patted me on the head; and I must have shrunk from her
touch, for she laughed and said she never bit nice little boys. Then she
asked me my name; and when I told her, she said my grandmother was the
dearest woman in the world. Moreover, she told my companion that it
would spoil preserves to carry them about in a tin bucket; and then she
fetched a big basket, and had it filled with preserves, and jelly, and
cake. There were some ginger-preserves among the rest, and I remember
that I appreciated them very highly; the more so, since my companion had
a theory of his own that ginger-preserves and fruit-cake were not good
for sick people.

I remember, too, that Mrs. Tomlinson had a little daughter about my own
age. She had long yellow hair and very black eyes. She rode around in
the Tomlinson carriage a great deal, and everybody said she was
remarkably pretty, with a style and a spirit all her own. The negroes
used to say that she was as affectionate as she was wilful, which was
saying a good deal. It was characteristic of Harriet Bledsoe, my
grandmother said, that her little girl should be named Lady.

I heard a great many of the facts I have stated from old Aunt Fountain,
one of the Tomlinson negroes, who, for some reason or other, was
permitted to sell ginger-cakes and persimmon-beer under the
wide-spreading China trees in Rockville on public days and during court
week. There was a theory among certain envious people in
Rockville--there are envious people everywhere--that the Tomlinsons,
notwithstanding the extent of their landed estate and the number of
their negroes, were sometimes short of ready cash; and it was hinted
that they pocketed the proceeds of Aunt Fountain's persimmon-beer and
ginger-cakes. Undoubtedly such stories as these were the outcome of pure
envy. When my grandmother heard such gossip as this, she sighed, and
said that people who would talk about Harriet Bledsoe in that way would
talk about anybody under the sun. My own opinion is, that Aunt Fountain
got the money and kept it; otherwise she would not have been so fond of
her master and mistress, nor so proud of the family and its position. I
spent many an hour near Aunt Fountain's cake and beer stand, for I liked
to hear her talk. Besides, she had a very funny name, and I thought
there was always a probability that she would explain how she got it.
But she never did.

I had forgotten all about the Tomlinsons until the advertisement I have
mentioned was accidentally brought to my notice, whereupon memory
suddenly became wonderfully active. I am keenly alive to the happier
results of the war, and I hope I appreciate at their full value the
emancipation of both whites and blacks from the deadly effects of negro
slavery, and the wonderful development of our material resources that
the war has rendered possible; but I must confess it was with a feeling
of regret that I learned that the Tomlinson Place had been turned into a
dairy farm. Moreover, the name of Ferris Trunion had a foreign and an
unfamiliar sound. His bluntly worded advertisement appeared to come from
the mind of a man who would not hesitate to sweep away both romance and
tradition if they happened to stand in the way of a profitable bargain.

I was therefore much gratified, some time after reading Trunion's
advertisement, to receive a note from a friend who deals in real estate,
telling me that some land near the Tomlinson Place had been placed in
his hands for sale, and asking me to go to Rockville to see if the land
and the situation were all they were described to be. I lost no time in
undertaking this part of the business, for I was anxious to see how the
old place looked in the hands of strangers, and unsympathetic strangers
at that.

It is not far from Atlanta to Rockville--a day and a night--and the
journey is not fatiguing; so that a few hours after receiving my
friend's request I was sitting in the veranda of the Rockville Hotel,
observing, with some degree of wonder, the vast changes that had taken
place--the most of them for the better. There were new faces and new
enterprises all around me, and there was a bustle about the town that
must have caused queer sensations in the minds of the few old citizens
who still gathered at the post-office for the purpose of carrying on
ancient political controversies with each other.

Among the few familiar figures that attracted my attention was that of
Aunt Fountain. The old China tree in the shade of which she used to sit
had been blasted by lightning or fire; but she still had her stand
there, and she was keeping the flies and dust away with the same old
turkey-tail fan. I could see no change. If her hair was grayer, it was
covered and concealed from view by the snow-white handkerchief tied
around her head. From my place I could hear her humming a tune--the tune
I had heard her sing in precisely the same way years ago. I heard her
scolding a little boy. The gesture, the voice, the words, were the same
she had employed in trying to convince me that my room was much better
than my company, especially in the neighborhood of her cake-stand. To
see and hear her thus gave me a peculiar feeling of homesickness. I
approached and saluted her. She bowed with old-fashioned politeness, but
without looking up.

"De biggest uns, dee er ten cent," she said, pointing to her cakes; "en
de littlest, dee er fi' cent. I make um all myse'f, suh. En de beer in
dat jug--dat beer got body, suh."

"I have eaten many a one of your cakes, Aunt Fountain," said I, "and
drank many a glass of your beer; but you have forgotten me."

"My eye weak, suh, but dee ain' weak nuff fer dat." She shaded her eyes
with her fan, and looked at me. Then she rose briskly from her chair.
"De Lord he'p my soul!" she exclaimed enthusiastically. "W'y, I know you
w'en you little boy. W'at make I ain' know you w'en you big man? My eye
weak, suh, but dee ain' weak nuff fer dat. Well, suh, you mus' eat some
my ginger-cake. De Lord know you has make way wid um w'en you wuz little
boy."

The invitation was accepted, but somehow the ginger-cakes had lost their
old-time relish; in me the taste and spirit of youth were lacking.

We talked of old times and old friends, and I told Aunt Fountain that I
had come to Rockville for the purpose of visiting in the neighborhood of
the Tomlinson Place.

"Den I gwine wid you, suh," she cried, shaking her head vigorously. "I
gwine wid you." And go she did.

"I been layin' off ter go see my young mistiss dis long time," said Aunt
Fountain, the next day, after we had started. "I glad I gwine deer in
style. De niggers won' know me skacely, ridin' in de buggy dis away."

"Your young mistress?" I inquired.

"Yes, suh. You know Miss Lady w'en she little gal. She grown 'oman now."

"Well, who is this Trunion I have heard of?"

"He monst'ous nice w'ite man, suh. He married my young mistiss. He
monst'ous nice w'ite man."

"But who is he? Where did he come from?"

Aunt Fountain chuckled convulsively as I asked these questions.

"We-all des pick 'im up, suh. Yes, suh; we-all des pick 'im up. Ain' you
year talk 'bout dat, suh? I dunner whar you bin at ef you ain' never is
year talk 'bout dat. He de fus' w'ite man w'at I ever pick up, suh. Yes,
suh; de ve'y fus' one."

"I don't understand you," said I; "tell me about it."

At this Aunt Fountain laughed long and loudly. She evidently enjoyed my
ignorance keenly.

"De Lord know I oughtn' be laughin' like dis. I ain' laugh so hearty
sence I wuz little gal mos', en dat wuz de time w'en Marse Rowan
Tomlinson come 'long en ax me my name. I tell 'im, I did: 'I'm name
Flew Ellen, suh.' Marse Rowan he deaf ez any dead hoss. He 'low: 'Hey?'
I say: 'I'm name Flew Ellen, suh.' Marse Rowan say: 'Fountain! Huh! he
quare name.' I holler en laugh, en w'en de folks ax me w'at I hollerin'
'bout, I tell um dat Marse Rowan say I'm name Fountain. Well, suh, fum
dat day down ter dis, stedder Flew Ellen, I'm bin name Fountain. I laugh
hearty den en my name got change, en I feared ef I laugh now de hoss'll
run away en turn de buggy upperside down right spang on top er me."

"But about this Mr. Trunion?" said I.

"Name er de Lord!" exclaimed Aunt Fountain, "ain' you never is bin year
'bout dat? You bin mighty fur ways, suh, kaze we all bin knowin' 'bout
it fum de jump."

"No doubt. Now tell me about it."

Aunt Fountain shook her head, and her face assumed a serious expression.

"I dunno 'bout dat, suh. I year tell dat niggers ain' got no business
fer go talkin' 'bout fambly doin's. Yit dar wuz yo' gran-mammy. My
mistiss sot lots by her, en you been bornded right yer 'long wid um. I
don't speck it'll be gwine so mighty fur out'n de fambly ef I tell you
'bout it."

I made no attempt to coax Aunt Fountain to tell me about Trunion, for I
knew it would be difficult to bribe her not to talk about him. She
waited a while, evidently to tease my curiosity; but as I betrayed none,
and even made an effort to talk about something else, she began:

"Well, suh, you ax me 'bout Marse Fess Trunion. I know you bleeze ter
like dat man. He ain' b'long ter we-all folks, no furder dan he my young
mistiss ole man, but dee ain' no finer w'ite man dan him. No, suh; dee
ain'. I tell you dat p'intedly. De niggers, dee say he mighty close en
pinchin', but deze is mighty pinchin' times--you know dat yo'se'f, suh.
Ef a man don' fa'rly fling 'way he money, dem Tomlinson niggers, dee'll
say he mighty pinchin'. I hatter be pinchin' myse'f, suh, kaze I know
time I sell my ginger-cakes dat ef I don't grip onter de money, dee won'
be none lef' fer buy flour en 'lasses fer make mo'. It de Lord's trufe,
suh, kaze I done had trouble dat way many's de time. I say dis 'bout
Marse Fess Trunion, ef he ain' got de blood, he got de breedin'. Ef he
ain' good ez de Tomlinsons, he lots better dan some folks w'at I know."

I gathered from all this that Trunion was a foreigner of some kind, but
I found out my mistake later.

"I pick dat man up myse'f, en I knows 'im 'most good ez ef he wuz one er
we-all."

"What do you mean when you say you 'picked him up'?" I asked, unable to
restrain my impatience.

"Well, suh, de fus' time I see Marse Fess Trunion wuz terreckerly atter
de Sherman army come 'long. Dem wuz hot times, suh, col' ez de wedder
wuz. Dee wuz in-about er million un um look like ter me, en dee des
ravage de face er de yeth. Dee tuck all de hosses, en all de cows, en
all de chickens. Yes, suh; dee cert'n'y did. Man come 'long, en 'low:
'Aunty, you free now,' en den he tuck all my ginger-cakes w'at I bin
bakin' 'g'inst Chris'mus; en den I say: 'Ef I wuz free ez you is, suh,
I'd fling you down en take dem ginger-cakes 'way fum you.' Yes, suh. I
tole 'im dat. It make me mad fer see de way dat man walk off wid my
ginger-cakes.

"I got so mad, suh, dat I foller 'long atter him little ways; but dat
ain' do no good, kaze he come ter whar dee wuz some yuther men, en dee
'vide up dem cakes till de wa'n't no cake lef'. Den I struck 'cross de
plan'ation, en walked 'bout in de drizzlin' rain tell I cool off my
madness, suh, kaze de flour dat went in dem cakes cos' me mos 'a hunderd
dollars in good Confederick money. Yes, suh; it did dat. En I work for
dat money mighty hard.

"Well, suh, I ain' walk fur 'fo' it seem like I year some un talkin'. I
stop, I did, en lissen, en still I year um. I ain' see nobody, suh, but
still I year um. I walk fus' dis away en den dat away, en den I walk
'roun' en 'roun', en den it pop in my min' 'bout de big gully. It ain'
dar now, suh, but in dem days we call it de big gully, kaze it wuz wide
en deep. Well, suh, 'fo' I git dar I see hoss-tracks, en dee led right
up ter de brink. I look in, I did, en down dar dee wuz a man en a hoss.
Yes, suh; dee wuz bofe down dar. De man wuz layin' out flat on he back,
en de hoss he wuz layin' sorter up en down de gully en right on top er
one er de man legs, en eve'y time de hoss'd scrample en try fer git up
de man 'ud talk at 'im. I know dat hoss mus' des nat'ally a groun' dat
man legs in de yeth, suh. Yes, suh. It make my flesh crawl w'en I look
at um. Yit de man ain' talk like he mad. No, suh, he ain'; en it make me
feel like somebody done gone en hit me on de funny-bone w'en I year 'im
talkin' dat away. Eve'y time de hoss scuffle, de man he 'low: 'Hol' up,
ole fel, you er mashin' all de shape out'n me.' Dat w'at he say, suh. En
den he 'low: 'Ef you know how you hurtin', ole fel, I des know you'd be
still.' Yes, suh. Dem he ve'y words.

"All dis time de rain wuz a-siftin' down. It fall mighty saft, but 'twuz
monst'ous wet, suh. Bimeby I crope up nigher de aidge, en w'en de man
see me he holler out: 'Hol' on, aunty; don't you fall down yer!'

"I ax 'im, I say: 'Marster, is you hurted much?' Kaze time I look at 'im
I know he ain' de villyun w'at make off wid my ginger-cakes. Den he
'low: 'I speck I hurt purty bad, aunty, en de wuss un it is dat my hoss
keep hurtin' me mo'.'

"Den nex' time de hoss move it errortate me so, suh, dat I holler at 'im
loud ez I ken: 'Wo dar, you scan'lous villyun! Wo!' Well, suh, I speck
dat hoss mus a-bin use'n ter niggers, kaze time I holler at 'im he lay
right still, suh. I slid down dat bank, en I kotch holter dat bridle--I
don't look like I'm mighty strong, does I, suh?" said Aunt Fountain,
pausing suddenly in her narrative to ask the question.

"Well, no," said I, humoring her as much as possible. "You don't seem to
be as strong as some people I've seen."

"Dat's it, suh!" she exclaimed. "Dat w'at worry me. I slid down dat
bank, en I kotch dat hoss by de bridle. De man say: 'Watch out dar,
aunty! don't let he foot hit you. Dee one cripple too much now.' I ain'
pay no 'tention, suh. I des grab de bridle, en I slew dat hoss head
roun', en I fa'rly lif 'im on he foots. Yes, suh, I des lif 'im on he
foots. Den I led 'im down de gully en turnt 'im a-loose, en you ain'
never see no hoss supjued like dat hoss wuz, suh. Den I went back whar
de man layin', en ax 'im ef he feel better, en he 'low dat he feel like
he got a big load lif' offen he min', en den, mos' time he say dat, suh,
he faint dead away. Yes, suh. He des faint dead away. I ain' never is
see no man like dat, w'at kin be jokin' one minnit en den de nex' be
dead, ez you may say. But dat's Marse Fess Trunion, suh. Dat's him up en
down.

"Well, suh, I stan' dar, I did, en I ain' know w'at in de name er de
Lord I gwine do. I wuz des ez wringin' wet ez if I'd a-bin baptize in de
water; en de man he wuz mo' wetter dan w'at I wuz, en goodness knows how
long he bin layin' dar. I run back ter de big 'ouse, suh, mighty nigh a
mile, en I done my level bes' fer fin' some er de niggers en git um fer
go wid me back dar en git de man. But I ain' fin' none un um, suh. Dem
w'at ain' gone wid de Sherman army, dee done hide out. Den I went in de
big 'ouse, suh, en tell Mistiss 'bout de man down dar in de gully, en
how he done hurted so bad he ain' kin walk. Den Mistiss--I speck you
done fergit Mistiss, suh--Mistiss, she draw herse'f up en ax w'at
business dat man er any yuther man got on her plan'ation. I say:
'Yassum, dat so; but he done dar, en ef he stay dar he gwine die dar.'
Yes, suh; dat w'at I say. I des put it at Mistiss right pine-blank.

"Den my young mistiss--dat's Miss Lady, suh--she say dat dough she spize
um all dez bad az she kin, dat man mus' be brung away from dar. Kaze,
she say, she don't keer how yuther folks go on, de Tomlinsons is bleeze
to do like Christian people. Yes, suh; she say dem ve'y words. Den
Mistiss, she 'low dat de man kin be brung up, en put in de corn-crib,
but Miss Lady she say no, he mus' be brung en put right dar in de big
'ouse in one er de upsta'rs rooms, kaze maybe some er dem State er
Georgy boys mought be hurted up dar in de Norf, en want some place fer
stay at. Yes, suh; dat des de way she talk. Den Mistiss, she ain' say
nothin', yit she hol' her head mighty high.

"Well, suh, I went back out in de yard, en den I went 'cross ter de
nigger-quarter, en I ain' gone fur tell I year my ole man prayin' in dar
some'r's. I know 'im by he v'ice, suh, en he wuz prayin' des like it
wuz camp-meetin' time. I hunt 'roun' fer 'im, suh, en bimeby I fin' 'im
squattin' down behime de do'. I grab 'im, I did, en I shuck 'im, en I
'low: 'Git up fum yer, you nasty, stinkin' ole villyun, you!' Yes, suh;
I wuz mad. I say: 'W'at you doin' squattin' down on de flo'? Git up fum
dar en come go 'long wid me!' I hatter laugh, suh, kaze w'en I shuck my
ole man be de shoulder, en holler at 'im, he put up he two han', suh, en
squall out: 'Oh, pray, marster! don't kill me dis time, en I ain' never
gwine do it no mo'!'

"Atter he 'come pacify, suh, den I tell him 'bout de man down dar in de
gully, en yit we ain' know w'at ter do. My ole man done hide out some er
de mules en hosses down in de swamp, en he feard ter go atter um, suh,
kaze he skeerd de Sherman army would come marchin' back en fine um, en
he 'low dat he mos' know dee er comin' back atter dat man down dar. Yes,
suh; he de skeerdest nigger w'at I ever see, if I do say it myse'f. Yit,
bimeby he put out atter one er de hosses, en he brung 'im back; en we
hitch 'im up in de spring-waggin, en atter dat man we went. Yes, suh;
we did dat. En w'en we git dar, dat ar man wuz plum ravin' deestracted.
He wuz laughin' en talkin' wid hese'f, en gwine on, tell it make yo'
blood run col' fer lissen at 'im. Yes, suh.

"Me en my ole man, we pick 'im up des like he wuz baby. I come mighty
nigh droppin' 'im, suh, kaze one time, wiles we kyarn 'im up de bank, I
year de bones in he leg rasp up 'g'inst one er n'er. Yes, suh. It make
me blin' sick, suh. We kyard 'im home en put 'im upst'ars, en dar he
stayed fer many's de long day."

"Where was Judge Tomlinson?" I asked. At this Aunt Fountain grew more
serious than ever--a seriousness that was expressed by an increased
particularity and emphasis in both speech and manner.

"You axin' 'bout Marster? Well, suh, he wuz dar. He wuz cert'n'y dar wid
Mistiss en Miss Lady, suh, but look like he ain' take no intruss in w'at
gwine on. _Some_ folks 'low, suh, dat he ain' right in he head, but dee
ain' know 'im--dee ain't know 'im, suh, like we-all. Endurin' er de war,
suh, he wuz strucken wid de polzy, en den w'en he git well, he ain'
take no intruss in w'at gwine on. Dey'd be long days, suh, w'en he ain'
take no notice er nobody ner nuttin' but Miss Lady. He des had dem
spells; en den, ag'in, he'd set out on de peazzer en sing by hese'f, en
it make me feel so lonesome dat I bleeze ter cry. Yes, suh; it's de
Lord's trufe.

"Well, suh, dat man w'at I fin' out dar in de gully wuz Marse Fess
Trunion. Yes, suh, de ve'y same man. Dee ain' no tellin' w'at dat po'
creetur gone thoo wid. He had fever, he had pneumony, en he had dat
broke leg. En all 'long wid dat dee want skacely no time w'en he want
laughin' en jokin'. Our w'ite folks, dee des spized 'im kaze he bin wid
Sherman army. Dee say he wuz Yankee; but I tell um, suh, dat ef Yankee
look dat away dee wuz cert'n'y mighty like we-all. Mistiss, she ain'
never go 'bout 'im wiles he sick; en Miss Lady, she keep mighty shy, en
she tu'n up her nose eve'y time she year 'im laugh. Oh, yes, suh; dee
cert'n'y spize de Yankees endurin' er dem times. Dee hated um rank, suh.
I tell um, I say: 'You-all des wait. Dee ain' no nicer man dan w'at he
is, en you-all des wait tell you know 'im.' _Shoo!_ I des might ez well
talk ter de win', suh--dee hate de Yankees dat rank.

"By de time dat man git so he kin creep 'bout on crutches, he look mos'
good ez he do now. He wuz dat full er life, suh, dat he bleeze ter go
downsta'rs, en down he went. Well, suh, he wuz mighty lucky dat day.
Kaze ef he'd a run up wid Mistiss en Miss Lady by hese'f, dee'd er done
sumpn' ner fer ter make 'im feel bad. Dee cert'n'y would, suh. But dee
wuz walkin' 'roun' in de yard, en he come out on de peazzer whar Marster
wuz sunnin' hese'f and singin'. I wouldn' b'lieve it, suh, ef I ain' see
it wid my two eyes; but Marster got up out'n he cheer, en straighten
hese'f, en shuck han's wid Mars Fess, en look like he know all 'bout it.
Dee sot dar, suh, en talk en laugh, en laugh en talk, tell bimeby I 'gun
ter git skeerd on de accounts er bofe un um. Dee talk 'bout de war, en
dee talk 'bout de Yankees, en dee talk politics right straight 'long des
like Marster done 'fo' he bin strucken wid de polzy. En he talk sense,
suh. He cert'n'y did. Bimeby Mistiss en Miss Lady come back fum dee
walk, en dee look like dee gwine drap w'en dee see w'at gwine on. Dem
two mens wuz so busy takin', suh, dat dee ain' see de wimmen folks, en
dee des keep right on wid dee argafyin'. Mistiss en Miss Lady, dee ain'
know w'at ter make er all dis, en dee stan' dar lookin' fus' at Marster
en den at one er n'er. Bimeby dee went up de steps en start to go by,
but Marster he riz up en stop um. Yes, suh. He riz right up en stop um,
en right den en dar, suh, he make um interjuced ter one an'er. He stan'
up, en he say: 'Mr. Trunion, dis my wife; Mr. Trunion, dis my daughter.'

"Well, suh, I wuz stannin' back in de big hall, en we'n I see Marster
gwine on dat away my knees come mighty nigh failin' me, suh. Dis de fus'
time w'at he reckermember anybody name, an de fus' time he do like he
useter, sence he bin sick wid de polzy. Mistiss en Miss Lady, dee come
'long in atter w'ile, en dee look like dee skeerd. Well, suh, I des
far'ly preach at um. Yes, suh; I did dat. I say: 'You see dat? You see
how Marster doin'? Ef de han' er de Lord ain' in dat, den de han' ain'
bin in nuttin' on de top side er dis yeth.' I say: 'You see how you bin
cuttin' up 'roun' dat sick w'ite man wid yo' biggity capers, en yit de
Lord retch down en make Marster soun' en well time de yuther w'ite man
tetch 'im. Well, suh, dey wuz dat worked up dat dey sot down en cried.
Yes, suh; dey did dat. Dey cried. En I ain' tellin' you no lie, suh, I
stood dar en cried wid um. Let 'lone dat, I des far'ly boohooed. Yes,
suh; dat's me. Wen I git ter cryin' sho' nuff, I bleeze ter boohoo.

"Fum dat on, Marster do like hese'f, en talk like hese'f. It look like
he bin sleep long time, suh, en de sleep done 'im good. All he sense
come back; en you know, suh, de Tomlinsons, w'en dey at deese'f, got
much sense ez dee want en some fer give way. Mistiss and Miss Lady, dee
wuz mighty proud 'bout Marster, suh, but dee ain' fergit dat de yuther
man wuz Yankee, en dee hol' deese'f monst'ous stiff. He notice dat
hese'f, en he want ter go 'way, but Marster, he 'fuse ter lissen at 'im
right pine-plank, suh. He say de dead Tomlinsons would in-about turn
over in dee graves ef dee know he sont a cripple man 'way from he
'ouse. Den he want ter pay he board, but Marster ain' lissen ter dat, en
needer is Mistiss; en dis mighty funny, too, kaze right dat minnit dee
wa'n't a half er dollar er good money in de whole fambly, ceppin' some
silver w'at I work fer, en w'at I hide in er chink er my chimbly. No,
suh. Dee want er half er dollar in de whole fambly, suh. En yit dee
won't take de greenbacks w'at dat man offer um.

"By dat time, suh, de war wuz done done, en dee wuz tough times. Dee
cert'n'y wuz, suh. De railroads wuz all broke up, en eve'ything look
like it gwine helter-skelter right straight ter de Ole Boy. Ded wa'n't
no law, suh, en dey wa'n't no nuttin'; en ef it hadn't er bin fer me en
my ole man, I speck de Tomlinsons, proud ez dee wuz, would er bin
mightily pincht fer fin' bread en meat. But dee ain' never want fer it
yit, suh, kaze w'en me en my ole man git whar we can't move no furder,
Marse Fess Trunion, he tuck holt er de place en he fetcht it right side
up terreckerly. He say ter me dat he gwine pay he board dat away, suh,
but he ain' say it whar de Tomlinsons kin year 'im, kaze den dee'd
a-bin a fuss, suh. But he kotch holt, en me, en him, en my ole man, we
des he't eve'ything hot. Mo' speshually Marse Fess Trunion, suh. You
ain' know 'im, suh, but dat ar w'ite man, he got mo' ways ter work, en
mo' short cuts ter de ways, suh, dan any w'ite man w'at I ever see, en I
done see lots un um. It got so, suh, dat me en my ole man ain' have ter
draw no mo' rashuns fum de F'eedman Bureau; but dee wuz one spell, suh,
w'en wuss rashuns dan dem wuz on de Tomlinson table.

"Well, suh, dat w'ite man, he work en he scuffle; he hire niggers, and
he turn um off; he plan, en he projick; en 'tain' so mighty long, suh,
'fo' he got eve'ything gwine straight. How he done it, I'll never tell
you, suh; but do it he did. He put he own money in dar, suh, kaze dee
wuz two times dat I knows un w'en he git money out'n de pos'-office, en
I see 'im pay it out ter de niggers, suh. En all dat time he look like
he de happies' w'ite man on top er de groun', suh. Yes, suh. En w'en he
at de 'ouse Marster stuck right by 'im, en ef he bin he own son he
couldn't pay him mo' 'tention. Dee wuz times, suh, w'en it seem like ter
me dat Marse Fess Trunion wuz a-cuttin' he eye at Miss Lady, en den I
'low ter myse'f: 'Shoo, man, you mighty nice en all dat, but you Yankee,
en you nee'nter be a-drappin' yo' wing 'roun' Miss Lady, kaze she too
high-strung fer dat.'

"It look like he see it de same way I do, suh, kaze atter he git
eve'ything straight he say he gwine home. Marster look like he feel
mighty bad, but Mistiss en Miss Lady, dee ain't say nuttin' 'tall. Den,
atter w'ile, suh, Marse Fess Trunion fix up, en off he put. Yes, suh. He
went off whar he come fum, en I speck he folks wuz mighty glad ter see
'im atter so long, kaze ef dee ever wuz a plum nice man it wuz dat man.
He want no great big man, suh, en he ain' make much fuss, yit he lef a
mighty big hole at de Tomlinson Place, w'en he pulled out fum dar. Yes,
suh; he did dat. It look like it lonesome all over de plan'ation.
Marster, he 'gun ter git droopy, but eve'y time de dinner bell ring he
go ter de foot er de sta'rs en call out: 'Come on. Trunion!' Yes, suh.
He holler dat out eve'y day, en den, w'iles he be talkin', he'd stop en
look roun' en say: 'Whar Trunion?' It ain' make no difference who he
talkin' wid, suh, he'd des stop right still en ax: 'Whar Trunion?' Den
de niggers, dee got slack, en eve'ything 'gun ter go een'-ways. One day
I run up on Miss Lady settin' down cryin', en I ax her w'at de name er
goodness de matter, en she say nuff de matter. Den I say she better go
ask her pappy whar Trunion, en den she git red in de face, en 'low I
better go 'ten' ter my business; en den I tell her dat ef somebody ain'
tell us whar Trunion is, en dat mighty quick, dee won't be no business
on dat place fer 'ten' ter. Yes, suh. I tol' her dat right p'intedly,
suh.

"Well, suh, one day Marse Fess Trunion come a-drivin' up in a shiny
double buggy, en he look like he des step right out'n a ban'-box; en ef
ever I wuz glad ter see anybody, I wuz glad ter see dat man. Marster wuz
glad; en dis time, suh, Miss Lady wuz glad, en she show it right plain;
but Mistiss, she still sniff de a'r en hol' her head high. T'wa'n't
long, suh, 'fo' we all knowd dat Marse Fess wuz gwine marry Miss Lady.
I ain' know how dee fix it, kaze Mistiss never is come right out en say
she agreeable 'bout it, but Miss Lady wuz a Bledsoe too, en a Tomlinson
ter boot, en I ain' never see nobody w'at impatient nuff fer ter stan'
out 'g'inst dat gal. It ain' all happen, suh, quick ez I tell it, but it
happen; en but fer dat, I dunno w'at in de name er goodness would er
'come er dis place."

A few hours later, as I sat with Trunion on the veranda of his house, he
verified Aunt Fountain's story, but not until after he was convinced
that I was familiar with the history of the family. There was much in
that history he could afford to be proud of, modern though he was. A man
who believes in the results of blood in cattle is not likely to ignore
the possibility of similar results in human beings; and I think he
regarded the matter in some such practical light. He was a man, it
seemed, who was disposed to look lightly on trouble, once it was over
with; and I found he was not so much impressed with his struggle against
the positive scorn and contempt of Mrs. Tomlinson--a struggle that was
infinitely more important and protracted than Aunt Fountain had
described it to be--as he was with his conflict with Bermuda grass. He
told me laughingly of some of his troubles with his hot-headed neighbors
in the early days after the war, but nothing of this sort seemed to be
as important as his difficulties with Bermuda grass. Here the practical
and progressive man showed himself; for I have a very vivid recollection
of the desperate attempts of the farmers of that region to uproot and
destroy this particular variety.

As for Trunion, he conquered it by cultivating it for the benefit of
himself and his neighbors; and I suspect that this is the way he
conquered his other opponents. It was a great victory over the grass, at
any rate. I walked with him over the place, and the picture of it all is
still framed in my mind--the wonderful hedges of Cherokee roses, and the
fragrant and fertile stretches of green Bermuda through which beautiful
fawn-colored cattle were leisurely making their way. He had a theory
that this was the only grass in the world fit for the dainty Jersey cow
to eat.

There were comforts and conveniences on the Tomlinson Place not dreamed
of in the old days, and I think there was substantial happiness there
too. Trunion himself was a wholesome man, a man full of honest
affection, hearty laughter, and hard work--a breezy, companionable,
energetic man. There was something boyish, unaffected, and winsome in
his manners; and I can easily understand why Judge Addison Tomlinson, in
his old age, insisted on astonishing his family and his guests by
exclaiming: "Where's Trunion?" Certainly he was a man to think about and
inquire after.

I have rarely seen a lovelier woman than his wife, and I think her
happiness helped to make her so. She had inherited a certain degree of
cold stateliness from her ancestors; but her experience after the war,
and Trunion's unaffected ways, had acted as powerful correctives, and
there was nothing in the shape of indifference or haughtiness to mar her
singular beauty.

As for Mrs. Tomlinson--the habit is still strong in me to call her
Harriet Bledsoe--I think that in her secret soul she had an
ineradicable contempt for Trunion's extraordinary business energy. I
think his "push and vim," as the phrase goes, shocked her sense of
propriety to a far greater extent than she would have been willing to
admit. But she had little time to think of these matters; for she had
taken possession of her grandson, Master Addison Tomlinson Trunion, and
was absorbed in his wild and boisterous ways, as grandmothers will be.
This boy, a brave and manly little fellow, had Trunion's temper, but he
had inherited the Tomlinson air. It became him well, too, and I think
Trunion was proud of it.

"I am glad," said I, in parting, "that I have seen Aunt Fountain's
Prisoner."

"Ah!" said he, looking at his wife, who smiled and blushed, "that was
during the war. Since then I have been a Prisoner of Peace."

I do not know what industrial theories Trunion has impressed on his
neighborhood by this time; but he gave me a practical illustration of
the fact that one may be a Yankee and a Southerner too, simply by being
a large-hearted, whole-souled American.



TROUBLE ON LOST MOUNTAIN


THERE is no doubt that when Miss Babe Hightower stepped out on the
porch, just after sunrise one fine morning in the spring of 1876, she
had the opportunity of enjoying a scene as beautiful as any that nature
offers to the human eye. She was poised, so to speak, on the shoulder of
Lost Mountain, a spot made cheerful and hospitable by her father's
industry, and by her own inspiring presence. The scene, indeed, was
almost portentous in its beauty. Away above her the summit of the
mountain was bathed in sunlight, while in the valley below the shadows
of dawn were still hovering--a slow-moving sea of transparent gray,
touched here and there with silvery reflections of light. Across the
face of the mountain that lifted itself to the skies, a belated cloud
trailed its wet skirts, revealing, as it fled westward, a panorama of
exquisite loveliness. The fresh, tender foliage of the young pines,
massed here and there against the mountain side, moved and swayed in the
morning breeze until it seemed to be a part of the atmosphere, a
pale-green mist that would presently mount into the upper air and melt
away. On a dead pine a quarter of a mile away, a turkey-buzzard sat with
wings outspread to catch the warmth of the sun; while far above him,
poised in the illimitable blue, serene, almost motionless, as though
swung in the centre of space, his mate overlooked the world. The wild
honeysuckles clambered from bush to bush, and from tree to tree,
mingling their faint, sweet perfume with the delicious odors that seemed
to rise from the valley, and float down from the mountain to meet in a
little whirlpool of fragrance in the porch where Miss Babe Hightower
stood. The flowers and the trees could speak for themselves; the
slightest breeze gave them motion: but the majesty of the mountain was
voiceless; its beauty was forever motionless. Its silence seemed more
suggestive than the lapse of time, more profound than a prophet's vision
of eternity, more mysterious than any problem of the human mind.

It is fair to say, however, that Miss Babe Hightower did not survey the
panorama that lay spread out below her, around her, and above her, with
any peculiar emotions. She was not without sentiment, for she was a
young girl just budding into womanhood, but all the scenery that the
mountain or the valley could show was as familiar to her as the
fox-hounds that lay curled up in the fence-corners, or the fowls that
crowed and clucked and cackled in the yard. She had discovered, indeed,
that the individuality of the mountain was impressive, for she was
always lonely and melancholy when away from it; but she viewed it, not
as a picturesque affair to wonder at, but as a companion with whom she
might hold communion. The mountain was something more than a mountain to
her. Hundreds of times, when a little child, she had told it her small
troubles, and it had seemed to her that the spirit of comfort dwelt
somewhere near the precipitous summit. As she grew older the mountain
played a less important part in her imagination, but she continued to
regard it with a feeling of fellowship which she never troubled herself
to explain or define.

Nevertheless, she did not step out on the porch to worship at the shrine
of the mountain, or to enjoy the marvelous picture that nature presented
to the eye. She went out in obedience to the shrilly uttered command of
her mother:

"Run, Babe, run! That plegged old cat's a-tryin' to drink out'n the
water-bucket. Fling a cheer at 'er! Sick the dogs on 'er."

The cat, understanding the situation, promptly disappeared when it saw
Babe, and the latter had nothing to do but make such demonstrations as
are natural to youth, if not to beauty. She seized one of the many
curious crystal formations which she had picked up on the mountain, and
employed for various purposes of ornamentation, and sent it flying after
the cat. She threw with great strength and accuracy, but the cat was
gone. The crystal went zooning into the fence-corner where one of the
hounds lay; and this sensitive creature, taking it for granted that he
had been made the special object of attack, set up a series of loud
yells by way of protest. This aroused the rest of the dogs, and in a
moment that particular part of the mountain was in an uproar. Just at
that instant a stalwart man came around the corner of the house. He was
bareheaded, and wore neither coat nor vest. He was tall and well made,
though rather too massive to be supple. His beard, which was full and
flowing, was plentifully streaked with gray. His appearance would have
been strikingly ferocious but for his eyes, which showed a nature at
once simple and humorous--and certainly the strongly molded, square-set
jaws, and the firm lips needed some such pleasant corrective.

"Great Jerusalem, Babe!" cried this mild-eyed giant. "What could 'a'
possessed you to be a-chunkin' ole Blue that away? Ag'in bullaces is
ripe you'll git your heart sot on 'possum, an' whar' is the 'possum
comin' from ef ole Blue's laid up? Blame my hide ef you ain't a-cuttin'
up some mighty quare capers fer a young gal."

"Why, Pap!" exclaimed Babe, as soon as she could control her laughter,
"that rock didn't tetch ole Blue. He's sech a make-believe, I'm a great
mind to hit him a clip jest to show you how he can go on."

"Now, don't do that, honey," said her father. "Ef you want to chunk
anybody, chunk me. I kin holler lots purtier'n ole Blue. An' ef you
don't want to chunk me, chunk your mammy fer ole acquaintance' sake.
She's big an' fat."

"Oh, Lordy!" exclaimed Mrs. Hightower from the inside of the house.
"Don't set her atter me, Abe--don't, fer mercy's sake. Get her in the
notion, an' she'll be a-yerkin' me aroun' thereckly like I wuz a
rag-baby. I'm a-gittin' too ole fer ter be romped aroun' by a great big
double-j'inted gal like Babe. Projick wi' 'er yourself, but make 'er let
me alone."

Abe turned and went around the house again, leaving his daughter
standing on the porch, her cheeks glowing, and her black eyes sparkling
with laughter. Babe loitered on the porch a moment, looking into the
valley. The gray mists had lifted themselves into the upper air, and the
atmosphere was so clear that the road leading to the mountain could be
followed by the eye, save where it ran under the masses of foliage; and
it seemed to be a most devious and versatile road, turning back on
itself at one moment only to plunge boldly forward the next. Nor was it
lacking in color. On the levels it was of dazzling whiteness, shining
like a pool of water; but at points where it made a visible descent it
was alternately red and gray. Something or other on this variegated road
attracted Miss Babe's attention, for she shaded her eyes with her hand,
and leaned forward. Presently she cried out:

"Pap!--oh, pap! there's a man a-ridin' up Peevy's Ridge."

This information was repeated by Babe's mother; and in a few moments the
porch, which was none too commodious, though it was very substantial,
was occupied by the entire Hightower family, which included Grandsir
Hightower, a white-haired old man, whose serenity seemed to be borrowed
from another world. Mrs. Hightower herself was a stout, motherly-looking
woman, whose whole appearance betokened contentment, if not happiness.
Abe shaded his eyes with his broad hand, and looked toward Peevy's
Ridge.

"I reckon maybe it's Tuck Peevy hisse'f," Mrs. Hightower remarked.

"That's who I 'lowed hit wiz," said Grandsir Hightower, in the tone of
one who had previously made up his mind.

"Well, I reckon I ought to know Tuck Peevy," exclaimed Babe.

"That's so," said Grandsir Hightower. "Babe oughter know Tuck. She
oughter know him certain an' shore; bekaze he's bin a-floppin' in an'
out er this house ever' Sunday fer mighty nigh two year'. Some sez he
likes Babe, an' some sez he likes Susan's fried chicken. Now, in my day
and time--"

"He's in the dreen now," said Babe, interrupting her loquacious
grandparent, who threatened to make some embarrassing remark. "He's
a-ridin' a gray."

"He's a mighty early bird," said Abe, "less'n he's a-headin' fer the
furder side. Maybe he's a revenue man," he continued. "They say they're
a-gwine to heat the hills mighty hot from this on."

"You hain't got nothing gwine on down on the branch, is you, Abe?"
inquired Grandsir Hightower, with pardonable solicitude.

"Well," said Abe evasively, "I hain't kindled no fires yit, but you
better b'lieve I'm a-gwine to keep my beer from sp'ilin'. The way I do
my countin', one tub of beer is natchally wuth two revenue chaps."

By this time the horseman who had attracted Babe's attention came into
view again. Abe studied him a moment, and remarked:

"That hoss steps right along, an' the chap a-straddle of him is got on
store-clo'es. Fetch me my rifle, Babe. I'll meet that feller half-way
an' make some inquirements about his famerly, an' maybe I'll fetch a
squir'l back."

With this Abe called to his dogs, and started off.

"Better keep your eye open, Pap," cried Sis. "Maybe it's the sheriff."

Abe paused a moment, and then pretended to be hunting a stone with which
to demolish his daughter, whereupon Babe ran laughing into the house.
The allusion to the sheriff was a stock joke in the Hightower household,
though none of them made such free use of it as Babe, who was something
more than a privileged character, so far as her father was concerned. On
one occasion shortly after the war, Abe had gone to the little county
town on business, and had been vexed into laying rough hands on one of
the prominent citizens who was a trifle under the influence of liquor. A
warrant was issued, and Dave McLendon, the sheriff of the county, a
stumpy little man, whose boldness and prudence made him the terror of
criminals, was sent to serve it. Abe, who was on the lookout for some
such visitation, saw him coming, and prepared himself. He stood in the
doorway, with his rifle flung carelessly across his left arm.

"Hold on thar, Dave!" he cried, as the latter came up. The sheriff,
knowing his man, halted.

"I hate to fling away my manners, Dave," he went on, "but folks is
gittin' to be mighty funny these days. A man's obleeged to s'arch his
best frien's 'fore he kin find out the'r which aways. Dave, what sort
of a dockyment is you got ag'in' me?"

"I got a warrant, Abe," said the sheriff, pleasantly.

"Well, Dave, hit won't fetch me," said Abe.

"Oh, yes!" said the sheriff. "Yes, it will, Abe. I bin a-usin' these
kind er warrants a mighty long time, an' they fetches a feller every
whack."

"Now, I'll tell you what, Dave," said Abe, patting his rifle, "I got a
dockyment here that'll fetch you a blame sight quicker'n your
dockyment'll fetch me; an' I tell you right now, plain an' flat, I
hain't a-gwine to be drug aroun' an' slapped in jail."

The sheriff leaned carelessly against the rail fence in the attitude of
a man who is willing to argue an interesting question.

"Well, I tell you how I feel about it, Abe," said the sheriff, speaking
very slowly. "You kin shoot me, but you can't shoot the law. Bang away
at me, an' thar's another warrant atter you. This yer one what I'm
already got don't amount to shucks, so you better fling on your coat
saddle your horse, an' go right along wi' me thes es neighborly ez you
please."

"Dave," said Abe, "if you come in at that gate you er a goner."

"Well, Abe," the sheriff replied, "I 'lowed you'd kick; I know what
human natur' on these hills is, an' so I thes axed some er the boys to
come along. They er right down thar in the holler. They ain't got no mo'
idea what I come fer'n the man in the moon; yit they'd make a mighty
peart posse. Tooby shore, a great big man like you ain't afeard fer ter
face a little bit er law."

Abe Hightower hesitated a moment, and then went into the house. In a few
minutes he issued forth and went out to the gate where the sheriff was.
The faces of the two men were a study. Neither betrayed any emotion nor
alluded to the warrant. The sheriff asked after the "crap"; and Abe told
him it was "middlin' peart," and asked him to go into the house and make
himself at home until the horse could be saddled. After a while the two
rode away. Once during the ride Abe said:

"I'm mighty glad it wa'n't that feller what run ag'in' you last fall,
Dave."

"Why?" asked the sheriff.

"Bekaze I'd 'a' plugged him, certain an' shore," said Abe.

"Well," said the sheriff, laughing, "I wuz a-wishin' mighty hard thes
about that time that the t'other feller had got 'lected."

The warrant amounted to nothing, and Abe was soon at home with his
family; but it suited his high-spirited daughter to twit him
occasionally because of his tame surrender to the sheriff, and it suited
Dave to treat the matter good-humoredly.

Abe Hightower took his way down the mountain; and about two miles from
his house, as the road ran, he met the stranger who had attracted Babe's
attention. He was a handsome young fellow, and he was riding a handsome
horse--a gray, that was evidently used to sleeping in a stable where
there was plenty of feed in the trough.

The rider also had a well-fed appearance. He sat his horse somewhat
jauntily, and there was a jocund expression in his features very
pleasing to behold. He drew rein as he saw Abe, and gave a military
salute in a careless, offhand way that was in strict keeping with his
appearance.

"Good morning, sir," he said.

"Howdy?" said Abe.

"Fine day this."

"Well, what little I've saw of it is purty tollerbul."

The young fellow laughed, and his laughter was worth hearing. It had the
ring of youth in it.

"Do you chance to know a Mr. Hightower?" he asked, throwing a leg over
the pommel of the saddle.

"Do he live anywheres aroun' in these parts?" Abe inquired.

"So I'm told."

"Well, the reason I ast," said Abe, leaning his rifle against a tree,
"is bekaze they mought be more'n one Hightower runnin' loose."

"You don't know him, then?"

"I know one on 'em. Any business wi' him?"

"Well, yes--a little. I was told he lived on this road. How far is his
house?"

"Well, I'll tell you"--Abe took off his hat and scratched his
head--"some folks mought take a notion hit wuz a long ways off, an'
then, ag'in, yuther folks mought take a notion that hit wuz lots nigher.
Hit's accordin' to the way you look at it."

"Is Mr. Hightower at home?" inquired the stranger, regarding Abe with
some curiosity.

"Well," said Abe cautiously, "I don't reckon he's right slam bang at
home, but I lay he ain't fur off."

"If you happen to see him, pray tell him there's a gentleman at his
house who would like very much to see him."

"Well, I tell you what, mister," said Abe, speaking very slowly. "You're
a mighty nice young feller--anybody kin shet the'r eyes and see
that--but folks 'roun' here is mighty kuse; they is that away. Ef I was
you, I'd thes turn right 'roun' in my tracks 'n' let that ar Mister
Hightower alone. I wouldn't pester wi' 'im. He hain't no fitten company
fer you."

"Oh, but I must see him," said the stranger. "I have business with him.
Why, they told me down in the valley that Hightower, in many respects,
is the best man in the county."

Abe smiled for the first time. It was the ghost of a smile.

"Shoo!" he exclaimed. "They don't know him down thar nigh as good as
he's know'd up here. An' that hain't all. Thish yer Mister Hightower you
er talkin' about is got a mighty bad case of measles at his house. You'd
be ableedze to ketch 'em ef you went thar."

"I've had the measles," said the stranger.

"But these here measles," persisted Abe, half shutting his eyes and
gazing at the young man steadily, "kin be cotched twicet. Thayer wuss 'n
the smallpox--lots wuss."

"My dear sir, what do you mean?" the young man inquired, observing the
significant emphasis of the mountaineer's language.

"Hit's thes like I tell you," said Abe. "Looks like folks has mighty bad
luck when they go a-rippitin' hether an' yan on the mounting. It hain't
been sech a monst'us long time sense one er them revenue fellers come
a-paradin' up thish yer same road, a-makin' inquirements fer Hightower.
_He_ cotch the measles; bless you, he took an' cotch 'em by the time he
got in hailin' distance of Hightower's, an' he had to be toted down. I
disremember his name, but he wuz a mighty nice-lookin' young feller,
peart an' soople, an' thes about your size an' weight."

"It was no doubt a great pity about the revenue chap," said the young
man sarcastically.

"Lor', yes!" exclaimed Abe seriously; "lots er nice folks must 'a' cried
about that man!"

"Well," said the other, smiling, "I must see Hightower. I guess he's a
nicer man than his neighbors think he is."

"Shoo!" said Abe, "he hain't a bit nicer'n what I am, an' I lay he
hain't no purtier. What mought be your name, mister?"

"My name is Chichester, and I'm buying land for some Boston people. I
want to buy some land right on this mountain if I can get it cheap
enough."

"Jesso," said Abe, "but wharbouts in thar do Hightower come in?"

"Oh, he knows all about the mountain, and I want to ask his advice and
get his opinions," said Chichester.

Something about Mr. Chichester seemed to attract Abe Hightower. Perhaps
it was the young fellow's fresh, handsome appearance; perhaps it was his
free-and-easy attitude, suggestive of the commercial tourist, that met
the approbation of the mountaineer. At any rate, Abe smiled upon the
young man in a fatherly way and said: "'Twixt you an' me an' yon pine,
you hain't got no furder to go fer to strike up wi' Hightower. I'm the
man you er atter."

Chichester regarded him with some degree of amazement.

"My dear sir," he exclaimed, "why should you desire to play the sphinx?"

"Spinks?" said Abe, with something like a grimace; "the Spinks famerly
lived furder up the mounting, but they er done bin weeded out by the
revenue men too long ago to talk about. The ole man's in jail in Atlanty
er some'rs else, the boys is done run'd off, an' the gal's a trollop. No
Spinks in mine, cap', _ef_ you please!"

Chichester laughed at the other's earnestness. He mistook it for
drollery.

"I let you know, cap'," Abe went on, "you can't be boss er your own
doin's an' give ever' passin' man your name."

"Well, I'm very glad to meet you," said Chichester heartily; "I'll have
a good deal of business in this neighborhood first and last, and I'm
told there isn't anything worth knowing about the mountain that you
don't know."

"That kind er talk," Abe replied, "kin be run in the groun', yit I
hain't a-denyin' but what I've got a kind er speakin' acquaintance wi'
the neighborhood whar I'm a-livin' at. Ef you er huntin' my house, thes
drive right on. I'll be thar ag'in you git thar."

Chichester found a very cordial welcome awaiting him when he arrived at
Hightower's house. Even the dogs were friendly, and the big cat came out
from its hiding-place to rub against his legs as he sat on the little
porch.

"By the time you rest your face an' han's," said Abe, "I reckon
breakfast'll be ready."

Chichester, who was anxious to give no trouble, explained that he had
had a cup of coffee at Peevy's before starting up the mountain. He said,
moreover, that the mountain was so bracing that he felt as if he could
fast a week and still fatten.

"Well, sir," Abe remarked, "hit's mighty little we er got to offer, an'
that little's mighty common, but, sech as 'tis, you er more'n welcome.
Hit's diffunt wi' me when the mornin' air blows at me. Hit makes me
wanter nibble at somepin'. I dunner whar you come from, an' I ain't
makin' no inquirements, but down in these parts you can't spat a man
harder betwixt the eyes than to set back an' not break bread wi' 'im."

Mr. Chichester had been warned not to wound the hospitality of the
simple people among whom he was going, and he was quick to perceive that
his refusal to "break bread" with the Hightowers would be taken too
seriously. Whereupon, he made a most substantial apology--an apology
that took the shape of a ravenous appetite, and did more than justice to
Mrs. Hightower's fried chicken, crisp biscuits, and genuine coffee. Mr.
Chichester also made himself as agreeable as he knew how, and he was so
pleased with the impression he made that he, on his side, admitted to
himself that the Hightowers were charmingly quaint, especially the shy
girl of whom he caught a brief glimpse now and then as she handed her
mother fresh supplies of chicken and biscuits.

There was nothing mysterious connected with the visit of Mr. Chichester
to Lost Mountain. He was the agent of a company of Boston capitalists
who were anxious to invest money in Georgia marble quarries, and
Chichester was on Lost Mountain for the purpose of discovering the
marble beds that had been said by some to exist there. He had the
versatility of a modern young man, being something of a civil engineer
and something of a geologist; in fine, he was one of the many "general
utility" men that improved methods enable the high schools and colleges
to turn out. He was in the habit of making himself agreeable wherever he
went, but behind his levity and general good-humor there was a good deal
of seriousness and firmness of purpose.

He talked with great freedom to the Hightowers, giving a sort of
commercial coloring, so to speak, to the plans of his company with
respect to land investments on Lost Mountain; but he said nothing about
his quest for marble.

"The Lord send they won't be atter fetchin' the railroad kyars among
us," said Grandsir Hightower fervently.

"Well, sir," said Chichester, "there isn't much danger."

"Now, I dunno 'bout that," said the old man querulously, "I dunno 'bout
that. They're gittin' so these days they'll whirl in an' do e'enamost
anything what you don't want 'em to do. I kin stan' out thar in the
hoss-lot any cle'r day an' see the smoke er their ingines, an' sometimes
hit looks like I kin hear 'em snort an' cough. They er plenty nigh
enough. The Lord send they won't fetch 'em no nigher. Fum Giner'l
Jackson's time plump tell now, they ere bin a-fetchin' destruction to
the country. You'll see it. I mayn't see it myself, but you'll see it.
Fust hit was Giner'l Jackson an' the bank, an' now hit's the railroad
kyars. You'll see it!"

"And yet," said Chichester, turning toward the old man, as Hope might
beam benignantly on the Past, "everybody and everything seems to be
getting along very well. I think the only thing necessary now is to
invent something or other to keep the cinders out of a man's eyes when
he rides on the railroads."

"Don't let 'em fool you," said the old man earnestly. "Ever'thing's in a
tangle, an' ther hain't no Whig party for to ontangle it. Giner'l
Jackson an' the cussid bank is what done it."

Just then Miss Babe came out on the little porch, and seated herself on
the bench that ran across one end. "Cap'," said Abe, with some show of
embarrassment, as if not knowing how to get through a necessary
ceremony, "this is my gal, Babe. She's the oldest and the youngest. I'm
name' Abe an' she's name' Babe, sort er rimin' like."

The unaffected shyness of the young girl was pleasant to behold, and if
it did not heighten her beauty, it certainly did not detract from it. It
was a shyness in which there was not an awkward element, for Babe had
the grace of youth and beauty, and conscious independence animated all
her movements.

"'Ceppin' me an' the ole 'oman," said Abe, "Babe is the best-lookin' one
er the famerly."

The girl reddened a little, and laughed lightly with the air of one who
is accustomed to give and take jokes, but said nothing.

"I heard of Miss Babe last night," said Chichester, "and I've got a
message for her."

"Wait!" exclaimed Abe triumphantly; "I'll bet a hoss I kin call the name
'thout movin' out'n my cheer. Hold on!" he continued. "I'll bet another
hoss I kin relate the message word for word."

Babe blushed violently, but laughed good-humoredly. Chichester adjusted
himself at once to this unexpected informality, and allowed himself to
become involved in it.

"Come, now!" he cried, "I'll take the bet."

"I declare!" said Mrs. Hightower, laughing, "you all oughtn' to pester
Babe that away."

"Wait!" said Abe. "The name er the man what sont the word is Tuck Peevy,
an' when he know'd you was a-comin' here, he sort er sidled up an' ast
you for to please be so good as to tell Miss Babe he'd drap in nex'
Sunday, an' see what her mammy is a-gwine ter have for dinner."

"Well, I have won the bet," said Chichester. "Mr. Peevy simply asked me
to tell Miss Babe that there would be a singing at Philadelphia
camp-ground Sunday. I hardly know what to do with two horses."

"Maybe you'll feel better," said Abe, "when somebody tells you that my
hoss is a mule. Well, well, well!" he went on. "Tuck didn't say he was
comin', but I be boun' he comes, an' more'n that, I be boun' a whole
passel er gals an' boys'll foller Babe home."

"In giner'lly," said Grandsir Hightower, "I hate for to make remarks
'bout folks when they hain't settin' whar they kin hear me, but that ar
Tuck Peevy is got a mighty bad eye. I hearn 'im a-quollin' wi' one er
them Simmons boys las' Sunday gone wuz a week, an' I tell you he's got
the Ole Boy in 'im. An' his appetite's wuss'n his eye."

"Well," said Mrs. Hightower, "nobody 'roun' here don't begrudge him his
vittles, I reckon."

"Oh, by no means--by no manner er means," said the old man, suddenly
remembering the presence of Chichester. "Yit they oughter be reason in
all things; that's what I say--reason in all things, espeshually when
hit comes to gormandizin'."

The evident seriousness of the old man was very comical. He seemed to be
possessed by the unreasonable economy that not infrequently seizes on
old age.

"They hain't no begrudgin' 'roun' here," he went on. "Lord! ef I'd 'a'
bin a-begrudgin' I'd 'a' thes natchally bin e't up wi' begrudges. What
wer' the word the poor creetur sent to Babe?"

Chichester repeated the brief and apparently uninteresting message, and
Grandsir Hightower groaned dismally.

"I dunner what sot him so ag'in' Tuck Peevy," said Abe, laughing.
"Tuck's e'en about the peartest chap in the settlement, an' a mighty
handy man, put him whar you will."

"Why, Aberham!" exclaimed the old man, "you go on like a man what's done
gone an' took leave of his sev'm senses. You dunner what sot me ag'in'
the poor creetur? Why, time an' time ag'in I've tol' you it's his
ongodly hankerin' atter the flesh-pots. The Bible's ag'in' it, an' I'm
ag'in' it. Wharbouts is it put down that a man is ever foun' grace in
the cubberd?"

"Well, I lay a man that works is boun' ter eat," said Abe.

"Oh, _I_ hain't no 'count--_I_ can't work," said the old man, his wrath,
which had been wrought to a high pitch, suddenly taking the shape of
plaintive humility. "Yit 'tain't for long. _I'll_ soon be out'n the way,
Aberham."

"Shoo!" said Abe, placing his hand affectionately on the old man's
shoulder. "You er mighty nigh as spry as a kitten. Babe, honey, fill
your grandsir's pipe. He's a-missin' his mornin' smoke."

Soothed by his pipe, the old man seemed to forget the existence of Tuck
Peevy, and his name came up for discussion no more.

But Chichester, being a man of quick perceptions, gathered from the
animosity of the old man, and the rather uneasy attitude of Miss Babe,
that the discussion of Peevy's appetite had its origin in the lover-like
attentions which he had been paying to the girl. Certainly Peevy was
excusable, and if his attentions had been favorably received, he was to
be congratulated, Chichester thought; for in all that region it would
have been difficult to find a lovelier specimen of budding womanhood
than the young girl who had striven so unsuccessfully to hide her
embarrassment as her grandfather proceeded, with the merciless
recklessness of age, to criticize Peevy's strength and weakness as a
trencherman.

As Chichester had occasion to discover afterward, Peevy had his
peculiarities; but he did not seem to be greatly different from other
young men to be found in that region. One of his peculiarities was that
he never argued about anything. He had opinions on a great many
subjects, but his reasons for holding his opinions he kept to himself.
The arguments of those who held contrary views he would listen to with
great patience, even with interest; but his only reply would be a slow,
irritating smile and a shake of the head. Peevy was homely, but there
was nothing repulsive about his homeliness. He was tall and somewhat
angular; he was sallow; he had high cheek-bones, and small eyes that
seemed to be as alert and as watchful as those of a ferret; and he was
slow and deliberate in all his movements, taking time to digest and
consider his thoughts before replying to the simplest question, and even
then his reply was apt to be evasive. But he was good-humored and
obliging, and, consequently, was well thought of by his neighbors and
acquaintances.

There was one subject in regard to which he made no concealment, and
that was his admiration for Miss Babe Hightower. So far as Peevy was
concerned, she was the one woman in the world. His love for her was a
passion at once patient, hopeful, and innocent. He displayed his
devotion less in words than in his attitude; and so successful had he
been that it was generally understood that by camp-meeting time Miss
Babe Hightower would be Mrs. Tuck Peevy. That is to say, it was
understood by all except Grandsir Hightower, who was apt to chuckle
sarcastically when the subject was broached.

"They hain't arry livin' man," he would say, "what's ever seed anybody
wi' them kind er eyes settled down an' married. No, sirs! Hit's the
vittles Tuck Peevy's atter. Why, bless your soul an' body! he thes
natchally dribbles at the mouth when he gits a whiff from the
dinner-pot."

Certainly no one would have supposed that Tuck Peevy ever had a
sentimental emotion or a romantic notion, but Grandsir Hightower did him
great injustice. Behind his careless serenity he was exceedingly
sensitive. It is true he was a man difficult to arouse; but he was what
his friends called "a mighty tetchy man" on some subjects, and one of
these subjects was Babe. Another was the revenue men. It was generally
supposed by Peevy's acquaintances on Lost Mountain that he had a
moonshine apparatus over on Sweetwater; but this supposition was the
result, doubtless, of his well-known prejudice against the deputies sent
out to enforce the revenue laws.

It had been the intention of Chichester to remain only a few days in
that neighborhood; but the Hightowers were so hospitably inclined, and
the outcroppings of minerals so interesting, that his stay was somewhat
prolonged. Naturally, he saw a good deal of Peevy, who knew all about
the mountain, and who was frequently able to go with him on his little
excursions when Abe Hightower was otherwise engaged. Naturally enough,
too, Chichester saw a great deal of Babe. He was interested in her
because she was young and beautiful, and because of her quaint
individuality. She was not only unconventional, but charmingly so. Her
crudeness and her ignorance seemed to be merely phases of originality.

Chichester's interest in Babe was that of a studiously courteous and
deferent observer, but it was jealously noted and resented by Tuck
Peevy. The result of this was not at first apparent. For a time Peevy
kept his jealous suggestions to himself, but he found it impossible to
conceal their effect. Gradually, he held himself aloof, and finally made
it a point to avoid Chichester altogether. For a time Babe made the most
of her lover's jealousy. After the manner of her sex, she was secretly
delighted to discover that he was furious at the thought that she might
inadvertently have cast a little bit of a smile at Mr. Chichester; and
on several occasions she heartily enjoyed Peevy's angry suspicions. But
after a while she grew tired of such inconsistent and foolish
manifestations. They made her unhappy, and she was too vigorous and too
practical to submit to unhappiness with that degree of humility which
her more cultivated sisters sometimes exhibit. One Sunday afternoon,
knowing Chichester to be away, Tuck Peevy sauntered carelessly into
Hightower's yard, and seated himself on the steps of the little porch.
It was his first visit for several days, and Babe received him with an
air of subdued coolness and indifference that did credit to her sex.

"Wharbouts is your fine gent this mornin'?" inquired Peevy, after a
while.

"Wharbouts is who?"

"Your fine gent wi' the sto'-clo'es on."

"I reckon you mean Cap'n Chichester, don't you?" inquired Babe
innocently.

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Peevy; "he's the chap I'm a-making my inquirements
atter."

"He's over on Sweetwater, I reckon. Leastways thar's whar he started to
go."

"On Sweetwater. Oh, yes!" Peevy paused and ran his long slim fingers
through his thin straight hair. "I'm mighty much afeard," he went on
after a pause, "that that fine gent o' yourn is a-gwine ter turn out for
to be a snake. That's what I'm afeard un."

"Well," said Babe, with irritating coolness, "he don't do any of his
sneakin' aroun' here. Ef he sneaks, he goes some'ers else to sneak. He
don't hang aroun' an' watch his chance to drap in an' pay his calls. I
reckon he'd walk right in at the gate thar ef he know'd the Gov'ner er
the State wuz a-settin' here. I'm mighty glad I hain't saw none er his
sneakin'."

Peevy writhed under this comment on his own actions, but said nothing in
reply.

"You don't come to see folks like you useter," said Babe, softening a
little. "I reckon you er mighty busy down thar wi' your craps."

Peevy smiled until he showed his yellow teeth. It was not intended to be
a pleasant smile.

"I reckon I come lots more'n I'm wanted," he replied. "I hain't got much
sense," he went on, "but I got a leetle bit, an' I know when my room's
wuth more'n my comp'ny."

"Your hints has got more wings'n stings," said Babe. "But ef I had in my
min' what you er got in yourn--"

"Don't say the word, Babe!" exclaimed Peevy, for the first time fixing
his restless eyes on her face. "Don't!"

"Yes, I'll say it," said Babe solemnly. "I oughter 'a' said it a long
time ago when you wuz a-cuttin' up your capers bekaze Phli Varnadoe wuz
a-comin' here to see Pap. I oughter 'a' said it then, but I'll say it
now, right pine-blank. Ef I had in my min' what you er got in yourn, I
wouldn't never darken this door no more."

Peevy rose, and walked up and down the porch. He was deeply moved, but
his face showed his emotion only by a slight increase of sallowness.
Finally he paused, looking at Babe.

"I lay you'd be mighty glad ef I didn't come no more," he said, with a
half smile. "I reckon it kinder rankles you for to see old Tuck Peevy
a-hangin' roun' when the t'other feller's in sight." Babe's only reply
was a scornful toss of the head.

"Oh, yes!" Peevy went on, "hit rankles you might'ly; yit I lay it won't
rankle you so much atter your daddy is took an' jerked off to Atlanty. I
tell you, Babe, that ar man is one er the revenues--they hain't no two
ways about that."

Babe regarded her angry lover seriously.

"Hit ain't no wonder you make up your min' ag'in' him when you er done
made it up ag'in' me. I know in reason they must be somep'n 'nother
wrong when a great big grown man kin work hisself up to holdin' spite.
Goodness knows, I wish you wuz like you useter be when I fust know'd
you."

Peevy's sallow face flushed a little at the remembrance of those
pleasant, peaceful days; but, somehow, the memory of them had the effect
of intensifying his jealous mood.

"'Tain't me that's changed aroun'," he exclaimed passionately, "an'
'tain't the days nuther. Hit's you--you! An' that fine gent that's a
hanging roun' here is the 'casion of it. Ever'whar I go, hit's the talk.
Babe, you know you er lovin' that man!"

Peevy was wide of the mark, but the accusation was so suddenly and so
bluntly made that it brought the blood to Babe's face--a tremulous
flush that made her fairly radiant for a moment. Undoubtedly Mr.
Chichester had played a very pleasing part in her youthful imagination,
but never for an instant had he superseded the homely figure of Tuck
Peevy. The knowledge that she was blushing gave Babe an excuse for
indignation that women are quick to take advantage of. She was so angry,
indeed, that she made another mistake.

"Why, Tuck Peevy!" she cried, "you shorely must be crazy. He wouldn't
wipe his feet on sech as me!"

"No," said Peevy, "I 'lowed he wouldn't, an' I 'lowed as how you
wouldn't wipe your feet on me." He paused a moment, still smiling his
peculiar smile. "Hit's a long ways down to Peevy, ain't it?"

"You er doin' all the belittlin'," said Babe.

"Oh, no, Babe! Ever'thing's changed. Why, even them dogs barks atter me.
Ever'thing's turned wrong-sud-outerds. An' you er changed wuss'n all."

"Well, you don't reckon I'm a-gwine ter run out'n the gate thar an'
fling myself at you, do you?" exclaimed Babe.

"No, I don't. I've thes come to-day for to git a cle'r understan'in'."
He hesitated a moment and then went on: "Babe, will you marry me
to-morrow?" He asked the question with more eagerness than he had yet
displayed.

"No, I won't!" exclaimed Babe, "ner the nex' day nuther. The man I
marry'll have a lots better opinion of me than what you er got."

Babe was very indignant, but she paused to see what effect her words
would have. Peevy rubbed his hands nervously together, but he made no
response. His serenity was more puzzling than that of the mountain. He
still smiled vaguely, but it was not a pleasing smile. He looked hard at
Babe for a moment, and then down at his clumsy feet. His agitation was
manifest, but it did not take the shape of words. In the trees overhead
two jays were quarreling with a catbird, and in the upper air a
bee-martin was fiercely pursuing a sparrow-hawk.

"Well," he said, after a while, "I reckon I better be gwine."

"Wait till your hurry's over," said Babe, in a gentler tone.

Peevy made no reply, but passed out into the road and disappeared down
the mountain. Babe followed him to the gate, and stood looking after
him; but he turned his head neither to the right nor to the left, and in
a little while she went into the house with her head bent upon her
bosom. She was weeping. Grandsir Hightower, who had shuffled out on the
porch to sun himself, stared at the girl with amazement.

"Why, honey!" he exclaimed, "what upon the top side er the yeth ails
you?"

"Tuck has gone home mad, an' he won't never come back no more," she
cried.

"What's the matter wi' 'im?"

"Oh, he's thes mad along er me."

"Well, well, well!" exclaimed the old man, fumbling feebly in his
pockets for his red bandanna handkerchief, "what kind of a come-off is
this? Did you ast him to stay to dinner, honey?"

"No--no; he didn't gimme a chance."

"I 'lowed you didn't," exclaimed Grandsir Hightower triumphantly. "I
thes natchally 'lowed you didn't. That's what riled 'im. An' now he'll
go off an' vilify you. Well, well, well! he's missed his dinner! The
fust time in many's the long day. Watch 'im, Babe! Watch 'im, honey! The
Ole Boy's in 'im. I know 'im; I've kep' my two eyes on 'im. For a mess
er turnip-greens an' dumperlin's that man 'u'd do murder." The old man
paused and looked all around, as if by that means to dissipate a
suspicion that he was dreaming. "An' so Tuck missed his dinner! Tooby
shore--tooby shore!"

"Oh, hit ain't that," cried Babe; "he's jealous of Cap'n Chichester."

"Why, the good Lord, honey! what makes you run on that way?"

"He tol' me so," said Babe.

"Jealous!" exclaimed Grandsir Hightower, "jealous er that young feller!
Merciful powers, honey! he's a-begrudgin' 'im the vittles what he eats.
I know'd it the minnit I seed 'im come a-sa'nterin' in the yard. Lord,
Lord! I wish in my soul the poor creetur could git a chance at one er
them ar big Whig barbecues what they useter have."

But there was small consolation in all this for Babe; and she went into
the house, where her forlorn appearance attracted the attention of her
mother. "Why, Babe! what in the worl'!" exclaimed this practical woman,
dropping her work in amazement. "What in the name er sense ails you?"
Babe had no hesitation in telling her mother the facts.

"Well, my goodness!" was Mrs. Hightower's comment, "I wouldn't go aroun'
whinin' about it, ef I wuz you--that I wouldn't. Nobody never ketched me
whinin' 'roun' atter your pappy 'fore we wuz married, an' he wuz lots
purtier than what Tuck Peevy is. When your pappy got tetchy, I thes says
to myself, s'I: 'Ef I'm wuth havin', I'm wuth scramblin' atter;' an' ef
your pappy hadn't 'a' scrambled an' scuffled 'roun' he wouldn't 'a' got
me nuther, ef I do up an' say it myself. I'd a heap druther see you
fillin' them slays an' a-fixin' up for to weave your pappy some shirts,
than to see you a-whinin' 'roun' atter any chap on the top side er the
yeth, let 'lone Tuck Peevy."

There was little consolation even in this, but Babe went about her
simple duties with some show of spirit; and when her father and
Chichester returned from their trip on Sweetwater, it would have
required a sharp eye to discover that Babe regarded herself as "wearing
the green willow." For a few days she avoided Chichester, as if to prove
her loyalty to Peevy; but as Peevy was not present to approve her
conduct or to take advantage of it, she soon grew tired of playing an
unnecessary part. Peevy persisted in staying away; and the result was
that Babe's anger--a healthy quality in a young girl--got the better of
her grief. Then wonder took the place of anger; but behind it all was
the hope that before many days Peevy would saunter into the house, armed
with his inscrutable smile, and inquire, as he had done a hundred times
before, how long before dinner would be ready. This theory was held by
Grandsir Hightower, but, as it was a very plausible one, Babe adopted it
as her own.

Meanwhile, it is not to be supposed that two lovers, one sulking and the
other sighing, had any influence on the season. The spring had made
some delay in the valley before taking complete possession of the
mountain, but this delay was not significant. Even on the mountain, the
days began to suggest the ardor of summer. The air was alternately warm
and hazy, and crisp and clear. One day Kenesaw would cast aside its
atmospheric trappings, and appear to lie within speaking distance of
Hightower's door; the next, it would withdraw behind its blue veil, and
seem far enough away to belong to another world. On Hightower's farm the
corn was high enough to whet its green sabres against the wind. One
evening Chichester, Hightower, and Babe sat on the little porch with
their faces turned toward Kenesaw. They had been watching a line of blue
smoke on the mountain in the distance; and, as the twilight deepened
into dusk, they saw that the summit of Kenesaw was crowned by a thin
fringe of fire. As the darkness gathered, the bright belt of flame
projected against the vast expanse of night seemed to belong to the
vision of St. John.

"It looks like a picture out of the Bible," suggested Chichester
somewhat vaguely.

"It's wuss'n that, I reckon," said Abe. "Some un's a-losin' a mighty
sight of fencin'; an' timber's timber these days, lemme tell you."

"Maybe someun's a-burnin' bresh," said Babe.

"Bless you! they don't pile bresh in a streak a mile long," said Abe.

The thin line of fire crept along slowly, and the people on the little
porch sat and watched it. Occasionally it would crawl to the top of a
dead pine, and leave a fiery signal flaming in the air.

"What is the matter with Peevy?" asked Chichester. "I met him on the
mountain the other day, and he seemed not to know me."

"He don't know anybody aroun' here," said Babe with a sigh.

"Hit's thes some er his an' Babe's capers," Hightower remarked with a
laugh. "They er bin a-cuttin' up this away now gwine on two year'. I
reckon ag'in' camp-meetin' time Tuck'll drap in an' make hisself know'd.
Gals and boys is mighty funny wi' the'r gwines-on."

After a little, Abe went into the house, and left the young people to
watch the fiery procession on Kenesaw.

"The next time I see Peevy," said Chichester gallantly, "I'll take him
by the sleeve, and show him the road to Beauty's bower."

"Well, you nee'nter pester wi' 'im on account of me," said Babe.
Chichester laughed. The fact that so handsome a girl as Babe should
deliberately fall in love with so lank and ungainly a person as Tuck
Peevy seemed to him to be one of the problems that philosophers ought to
concern themselves with; but, from his point of view, the fact that Babe
had not gradually faded away, according to the approved rules of
romance, was entirely creditable to human nature on the mountain. A
candle, burning in the room that Chichester occupied, shone through the
window faintly, and fell on Babe, while Chichester sat in the shadow. As
they were talking, a mocking-bird in the apple trees awoke, and poured
into the ear of night a flood of delicious melody. Hearing this, Babe
seized Chichester's hat, and placed it on her head.

"There must be some omen in that," said Chichester.

"They say," said Babe, laughing merrily, "that ef a gal puts on a man's
hat when she hears a mocker sing at night, she'll get married that year
an' do well."

"Well, I'm sorry I haven't got a bonnet to put on," exclaimed
Chichester.

"Oh, it don't work that away!" cried Babe.

The mocking-bird continued to sing, and finally brought its concert to a
close by giving a most marvelous imitation of the liquid, silvery chimes
of the wood-thrush.

There was a silence for one brief moment. Then there was a red flash
under the apple trees followed by the sharp crack of a rifle. There was
another brief moment of silence, and then the young girl sighed softly,
leaned forward, and fell from her chair.

"What's this?" cried Abe, coming to the door.

"The Lord only knows!" exclaimed Chichester. "Look at your daughter!"

Abe stepped forward, and touched the girl on the shoulder. Then he shook
her gently, as he had a thousand times when rousing her from sleep.

"Babe! git up! Git up, honey, an' go in the house. You ought to 'a'
been abed long ago. Git up honey." Chichester stood like one paralyzed.
For the moment, he was incapable of either speech or action.

"I know what sh'e atter," said Abe tenderly. "You wouldn't believe it
skacely, but this yer great big chunk of a gal wants her ole pappy to
pick her up an' tote her thes like he useter when she was er little bit
of a scrap."

"I think she has been shot," said Chichester. To his own ears his voice
seemed to be the voice of some other man.

"Shot!" exclaimed Abe. "Why, who's a-gwine to shoot Babe? Lord, Cap'n!
you dunner nothin' 'tall 'bout Babe ef you talk that away.--Come on,
honey." With that Abe lifted his child in his arms, and carried her into
the house. Chichester followed. All his faculties were benumbed, and he
seemed to be walking in a dream. It seemed that no such horrible
confusion as that by which he was surrounded could have the remotest
relation to reality.

Nevertheless, it did not add to his surprise and consternation to find,
when Abe had placed the girl on her bed, that she was dead. A little
red spot on her forehead, half-hidden by the glossy curling hair, showed
that whoever held the rifle aimed it well.

"Why, honey," said Abe, wiping away the slight blood-stain that showed
itself, "you struck your head a'in' a nail. Git up! you oughtn't to be
a-gwine on this away before comp'ny."

"I tell you she is dead!" cried Chichester. "She has been murdered!" The
girl's mother had already realized this fact, and her tearless grief was
something pitiful to behold. The gray-haired grandfather had also
realized it.

"I'd druther see her a-lyin' thar dead," he exclaimed, raising his weak
and trembling hands heavenward, "than to see her Tuck Peevy's wife."

"Why, gentermen!" exclaimed Abe, "how _kin_ she be dead? I oughter know
my own gal, I reckon. Many's an' many's the time she's worried me,
a-playin' 'possum, an' many's an' many's the time has I sot by her
waitin' tell she let on to wake up. Don't you all pester wi' her. She'll
wake up therreckly."

At this juncture Tuck Peevy walked into the room. There was a strange
glitter in his eyes, a new energy in his movements. Chichester sprang at
him, seized him by the throat, and dragged him to the bedside.

"You cowardly, skulking murderer!" he exclaimed, "see what you have
done!"

Peevy's sallow face grew ashen. He seemed to shrink and collapse under
Chichester's hand. His breath came thick and short. His long, bony
fingers clutched nervously at his clothes.

"I aimed at the hat!" he exclaimed huskily.

He would have leaned over the girl, but Chichester flung him away from
the bedside, and he sank down in a corner, moaning and shaking. Abe took
no notice of Peevy's entrance, and paid no attention to the crouching
figure mumbling in the corner, except, perhaps, so far as he seemed to
recognize in Chichester's attack on Peevy a somewhat vigorous protest
against his own theory; for, when there was comparative quiet in the
room, Hightower raised himself, and exclaimed, in a tone that showed
both impatience and excitement:

"Why, great God A'mighty, gentermen, don't go on that way! They hain't
no harm done. Thes let us alone. Me an' Babe's all right. She's bin
a-playin' this away ev'ry sence she wuz a little bit of a gal. Don't
less make her mad, gentermen, bekaze ef we do she'll take plum tell day
atter to-morrer for to come 'roun' right."

Looking closely at Hightower, Chichester could see that his face was
colorless. His eyes were sunken, but shone with a peculiar brilliancy,
and great beads of perspiration stood on his forehead. His whole
appearance was that of a man distraught. Here was another tragedy!

Seeking a momentary escape from the confusion and perplexity into which
he had been plunged by the horrible events of the night, Chichester
passed out into the yard, and stood bareheaded in the cool wind that was
faintly stirring among the trees. The stars shone remote and tranquil,
and the serenity of the mountain, the awful silence that seemed to be,
not the absence of sound, but the presence of some spiritual entity,
gave assurance of peace. Out there, in the cold air, or in the wide
skies, or in the vast gulf of night, there was nothing to suggest
either pity or compassion--only the mysterious tranquillity of nature.

This was the end, so far as Chichester knew. He never entered the
Hightower house again. Something prompted him to saddle his horse and
ride down the mountain. The tragedy and its attendant troubles were
never reported in the newspapers. The peace of the mountain remained
undisturbed, its silence unbroken.

But should Chichester, who at last accounts was surveying a line of
railway in Mexico, ever return to Lost Mountain, he would find Tuck
Peevy a gaunt and shrunken creature, working on the Hightower farm, and
managing such of its small affairs as call for management. Sometimes,
when the day's work is over, and Peevy sits at the fireside saying
nothing, Abe Hightower will raise a paralytic hand, and cry out as loud
as he can that it's almost time for Babe to quit playing 'possum. At
such times we may be sure that, so far as Peevy is concerned, there is
still trouble on Lost Mountain.



AZALIA


I

MISS HELEN OSBORNE EUSTIS of Boston was very much astonished one day in
the early fall of 1873 to receive a professional visit from Dr. Ephraim
Buxton, who for many years had been her father's family physician. The
astonishment was mutual; for Dr. Buxton had expected to find Miss Eustis
in bed, or at least in the attitude of a patient, whereas she was seated
in an easy chair, before a glowing grate--which the peculiarities of the
Boston climate sometimes render necessary, even in the early fall--and
appeared to be about as comfortable as a human being could well be.
Perhaps the appearance of comfort was heightened by the general air of
subdued luxury that pervaded the apartment into which Dr. Buxton had
been ushered. The draperies, the arrangement of the little affairs that
answer to the name of bric-à-brac, the adjustment of the
furniture--everything--conveyed the impression of peace and repose; and
the chief element of this perfect harmony was Miss Eustis herself, who
rose to greet the doctor as he entered. She regarded the physician with
eyes that somehow seemed to be wise and kind, and with a smile that was
at once sincere and humorous.

"Why, how is this, Helen?" Dr. Buxton exclaimed, taking off his
spectacles, and staring at the young lady. "I fully expected to find you
in bed. I hope you are not imprudent."

"Why should I be ill, Dr. Buxton? You know what Mr. Tom Appleton says:
'In Boston, those who are sick do injustice to the air they breathe and
to their cooks.' I think that is a patriotic sentiment, and I try to
live up to it. My health is no worse than usual, and usually it is very
good," said Miss Eustis.

"You certainly seem to be well," said Dr. Buxton, regarding the young
lady with a professional frown; "but appearances are sometimes
deceitful. I met Harriet yesterday--"

"Ah, my aunt!" exclaimed Helen, in a tone calculated to imply that this
explained everything.

"I met Harriet yesterday, and she insisted on my coming to see you at
once, certainly not later than to-day."

Miss Eustis shrugged her shoulders, and laughed, but her face showed
that she appreciated this manifestation of solicitude.

"Let me see," she said reflectively; "what was my complaint yesterday?
We must do justice to Aunt Harriet's discrimination. She would never
forgive you if you went away without leaving a prescription. My health
is so good that I think you may leave me a mild one."

Unconsciously the young lady made a charming picture as she sat with her
head drooping a little to one side in a half-serious, half-smiling
effort to recall to mind some of the symptoms that had excited her
aunt's alarm. Dr. Buxton, prescription book in hand, gazed at her
quizzically over his old-fashioned spectacles; seeing which, Helen
laughed heartily. At that moment her aunt entered the room--a
pleasant-faced but rather prim old lady, of whom it had been said by
some one competent to judge, that her inquisitiveness was so
overwhelming and so important that it took the shape of pity in one
direction, patriotism in another, and benevolence in another, giving to
her life not the semblance but the very essence of usefulness and
activity.

"Do you hear that, Dr. Buxton?" cried the pleasant-faced old lady
somewhat sharply. "Do you hear her wheeze when she laughs? Do you
remember that she was threatened with pneumonia last winter? and now she
is wheezing before the winter begins!"

"This is the trouble I was trying to think of," exclaimed Helen, sinking
back in her chair with a gesture of mock despair.

"Don't make yourself ridiculous, dear," said the aunt, giving the little
clusters of gray curls that hung about her ears an emphatic shake.
"Serious matters should be taken seriously." Whereat Helen pressed her
cheek gently against the thin white hand that had been laid caressingly
on her shoulder.

"Aunt Harriet has probably heard me say that there is still some hope
for the country, even though it is governed entirely by men," said
Helen, with an air of apology. "The men can not deprive us of the winter
climate of Boston, and I enjoy that above all things."

Aunt Harriet smiled reproachfully at her niece, and pulled her ear
gently.

"But indeed, Dr. Buxton," Helen went on more seriously, "the winter
climate of Boston, fine as it is, is beginning to pinch us harder than
it used to do. The air is thinner, and the cold is keener. When I was
younger--very much younger--than I am now, I remember that I used to run
in and out, and fall and roll in the snow with perfect impunity. But now
I try to profit by Aunt Harriet's example. When I go out, I go bundled
up to the point of suffocation; and if the wind is from the east, as it
usually is, I wear wraps and shawls indoors."

Helen smiled brightly at her aunt and at Dr. Buxton; but her aunt seemed
to be distressed, and the physician shook his head dubiously.

"You will have to take great care of yourself," said Dr. Buxton. "You
must be prudent. The slightest change in the temperature may send you
to bed for the rest of the winter."

"Dr. Buxton is complimenting you, Aunt Harriet," said Helen. "You should
drop him a courtesy."

Whereupon the amiable physician, seeing that there was no remedy for the
humorous view which Miss Eustis took of her condition, went further, and
informed her that there was every reason why she should be serious. He
told her, with some degree of bluntness, that her symptoms, while not
alarming, were not at all reassuring.

"It is always the way, Dr. Buxton," said Helen, smiling tenderly at her
aunt; "I believe you would confess to serious symptoms yourself if Aunt
Harriet insisted on it. What an extraordinary politician she would make!
My sympathy with the woman-suffrage movement is in the nature of an
investment. When we women succeed to the control of affairs, I count on
achieving distinction as Aunt Harriet's niece."

Laughing, she seized her aunt's hand. Dr. Buxton, watching her, laughed
too, and then proceeded to write out a prescription. He seemed to
hesitate a little over this; seeing which, Helen remonstrated:

"Pray, Dr. Buxton, don't humor Aunt Harriet too much in this. Save your
physic for those who are strong in body and mind. A dozen of your
pellets ought to be a year's supply." The physician wrote out his
prescription, and took his leave, laughing heartily at the amiable
confusion in which Helen's drollery had left her aunt.

It is not to be supposed, however, that Miss Eustis was simply droll.
She was unconventional at all times, and sometimes wilful--inheriting
that native strength of mind and mother wit which are generally admitted
to be a part of the equipment of the typical American woman. If she was
not the ideal young woman, at least she possessed some of the attractive
qualities that one tries--sometimes unsuccessfully--to discover in one's
dearest friends. From her infancy, until near the close of the war, she
had had the advantage of her father's companionship, so that her ideas
were womanly rather than merely feminine. She had never been permitted
to regard the world from the dormer-windows of a young ladies' seminary,
in consequence of which her views of life in general, and of mankind in
particular, were orderly and rational. Such indulgence as her father had
given her had served to strengthen her individuality rather than to
confirm her temper; and, though she had a strong and stubborn will of
her own, her tact was such that her wilfulness appeared to be the most
natural as well as the most charming thing in the world. Moreover, she
possessed in a remarkable degree that buoyancy of mind that is more
engaging than mere geniality.

Her father was no less a person than Charles Osborne Eustis, the noted
philanthropist and abolitionist, whose death in 1867 was the occasion of
quite a controversy in New England--a controversy based on the fact that
he had opposed some of the most virulent schemes of his coworkers at a
time when abolitionism had not yet gathered its full strength. Mr.
Eustis, in his day, was in the habit of boasting that his daughter had a
great deal of genuine American spirit--the spirit that one set of
circumstances drives to provinciality, another to patriotism, and
another to originality.

Helen had spent two long winters in Europe without parting with the fine
flavor of her originality. She was exceedingly modest in her designs,
too, for she went neither as a missionary nor as a repentant. She found
no foreign social shrines that she thought worthy of worshiping at. She
admired what was genuine, and tolerated such shams as obtruded
themselves on her attention. Her father's connections had enabled her to
see something of the real home-life of England; and she was delighted,
but not greatly surprised, to find that at its best it was not greatly
different from the home life to which she had been accustomed.

The discovery delighted her because it confirmed her own broad views;
but she no more thought it necessary to set about aping the social
peculiarities to be found in London drawing-rooms than she thought of
denying her name or her nativity. She made many interesting studies and
comparisons, but she was not disposed to be critical. She admired many
things in Europe which she would not have considered admirable in
America, and whatever she found displeasing she tolerated as the natural
outcome of social or climatic conditions. Certainly the idea never
occurred to her that her own country was a barren waste because time had
not set the seal of antiquity on its institutions. On the other hand,
this admirable young woman was quick to perceive that much information
as well as satisfaction was to be obtained by regarding various European
peculiarities from a strictly European point of view.

But Miss Eustis's reminiscences of the Old World were sad as well as
pleasant. Her journey thither had been undertaken in the hope of
restoring her father's failing health, and her stay there had been
prolonged for the same purpose. For a time he grew stronger and better,
but the improvement was only temporary. He came home to die, and to
Helen this result seemed to be the end of all things. She had devoted
herself to looking after his comfort with a zeal and an intelligence
that left nothing undone. This had been her mission in life. Her mother
had died when Helen was a little child, leaving herself and her brother,
who was some years older, to the care of the father. Helen remembered
her mother only as a pale, beautiful lady in a trailing robe, who fell
asleep one day, and was mysteriously carried away--the lady of a dream.

The boy--the brother--rode forth to the war in 1862, and never rode back
any more. To the father and sister waiting at home, it seemed as if he
had been seized and swept from the earth on the bosom of the storm that
broke over the country in that period of dire confusion. Even Rumor,
with her thousand tongues, had little to say of the fate of this poor
youth. It was known that he led a squad of troopers detailed for special
service, and that his command, with small knowledge of the country, fell
into an ambush from which not more than two or three extricated
themselves. Beyond this all was mystery, for those who survived that
desperate skirmish could say nothing of the fate of their companions.
The loss of his son gave Mr. Eustis additional interest in his daughter,
if that were possible; and the common sorrow of the two so strengthened
and sweetened their lives that their affection for each other was in the
nature of a perpetual memorial of the pale lady who had passed away, and
of the boy who had perished in Virginia.

When Helen's father died, in 1867, her mother's sister, Miss Harriet
Tewksbury, a spinster of fifty or thereabouts, who, for the lack of
something substantial to interest her, had been halting between woman's
rights and Spiritualism, suddenly discovered that Helen's cause was the
real woman's cause; whereupon she went to the lonely and grief-stricken
girl, and with that fine efficiency which the New England woman acquires
from the air, and inherits from history, proceeded to minister to her
comfort. Miss Tewksbury was not at all vexed to find her niece capable
of taking care of herself. She did not allow that fact to prevent her
from assuming a motherly control that was most gracious in its
manifestations, and peculiarly gratifying to Helen, who found great
consolation in the all but masculine energy of her aunt.

A day or two after Dr. Buxton's visit, the result of which has already
been chronicled, Miss Tewksbury's keen eye detected an increase of the
symptoms that had given her anxiety, and their development was of such a
character that Helen made no objection when her aunt proposed to call in
the physician again. Dr. Buxton came, and agreed with Miss Tewksbury as
to the gravity of the symptoms; but his prescription was oral.

"You must keep Helen indoors until she is a little stronger," he said to
Miss Tewksbury, "and then take her to a milder climate."

"Oh, not to Florida!" exclaimed Helen promptly.

"Not necessarily," said the doctor.

"Please don't twist your language, Dr. Buxton. You should say
necessarily not."

"And why not to Florida, young lady?" the doctor inquired.

"Ah, I have seen people that came from there," said Helen: "they were
too tired to talk much about the country, but something in their
attitude and appearance seemed to suggest that they had seen the
sea-serpent. Dear doctor, I have no desire to see the sea-serpent."

"Well, then, my dear child," said Dr. Buxton soothingly, "not to
Florida, but to nature's own sanitarium, the pine woods of Georgia.
Yes," the doctor went on, smiling as he rubbed the glasses of his
spectacles with his silk handkerchief, "nature's own sanitarium. I
tested the piny woods of Georgia thoroughly years ago. I drifted there
in my young days. I lived there, and taught school there. I grew strong
there, and I have always wanted to go back there."

"And now," said Helen, with a charmingly demure glance at the
enthusiastic physician, "you want to send Aunt Harriet and poor Me
forward as a skirmish-line. There is no antidote in your books for the
Ku-Klux."

"You will see new scenes and new people," said Dr. Buxton, laughing.
"You will get new ideas; above all, you will breathe the fresh air of
heaven spiced with the odor of pines. It will be the making of you, my
dear child."

Helen made various protests, some of them serious and some droll, but
the matter was practically settled when it became evident that Dr.
Buxton was not only earnestly but enthusiastically in favor of the
journey; and Helen's aunt at once began to make preparations. To some of
their friends it seemed a serious undertaking indeed. The newspapers of
that day were full of accounts of Ku-Klux outrages, and of equally
terrible reports of the social disorganization of the South. It seemed
at that time as though the politicians and the editors, both great and
small, and of every shade of belief, had determined to fight the war
over again--instituting a conflict which, though bloodless enough so far
as the disputants were concerned, was not without its unhappy results.

Moreover, Helen's father had been noted among those who had early
engaged in the crusade against slavery; and it was freely predicted by
her friends that the lawlessness which was supposed to exist in every
part of the collapsed Confederacy would be prompt to select the
representatives of Charles Osborne Eustis as its victims.

Miss Tewksbury affected to smile at the apprehensions of her friends,
but her preparations were not undertaken without a secret dread of the
responsibilities she was assuming. Helen, however, was disposed to treat
the matter humorously. "Dr. Buxton is a lifelong Democrat," she said;
"consequently he must know all about it. Father used to tell him he
liked his medicine better than his politics, bitter as some of it was;
but in a case of this kind, Dr. Buxton's politics have a distinct value.
He will give us the grips, the signs, and the pass-words, dear aunt, and
I dare say we shall get along comfortably."


II

THEY did get along comfortably. Peace seemed to spread her meshes before
them. They journeyed by easy stages, stopping a while in Philadelphia,
in Baltimore, and in Washington. They stayed a week in Richmond. From
Richmond they were to go to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to Azalia, the
little piny woods village which Dr. Buxton had recommended as a
sanitarium. At a point south of Richmond, where they stopped for
breakfast, Miss Eustis and her aunt witnessed a little scene that
seemed to them to be very interesting. A gentleman wrapped in a long
linen traveling-coat was pacing restlessly up and down the platform of
the little station. He was tall, and his bearing was distinctly
military. The neighborhood people who were lounging around the station
watched him with interest. After a while a negro boy came running up
with a valise which he had evidently brought some distance. He placed it
in front of the tall gentleman, crying out in a loud voice: "Here she
is, Marse Peyton," then stepped to one side, and began to fan himself
vigorously with the fragment of a wool hat. He grinned broadly in
response to something the tall gentleman said; but, before he could make
a suitable reply, a negro woman, fat and motherly-looking, made her
appearance, puffing and blowing and talking.

"I declar' ter gracious, Marse Peyton! seem like I wa'n't never gwine
ter git yer. I helt up my head, I did, fer ter keep my eye on de kyars,
en it look like I run inter all de gullies en on top er all de stumps
'twix' dis en Marse Tip's. I des tuk'n drapt eve'ything, I did, en tole
um dey'd batter keep one eye on de dinner-pot, kaze I 'blige ter run en
see Marse Peyton off."

The gentleman laughed as the motherly-looking old negro wiped her face
with her apron. Her sleeves were rolled up, and her fat arms glistened
in the sun.

"I boun' you some er deze yer folks'll go off en say I'm 'stracted," she
cried, "but I can't he'p dat; I bleeze ter run down yer ter tell Marse
Peyton good-by. Tell um all howdy fer me, Marse Peyton," she cried, "all
un um. No diffunce ef I ain't know um all--'tain't gwine ter do no harm
fer ter tell um dat ole Jincy say howdy. Hit make me feel right foolish
in de head w'en it comes 'cross me dat I use ter tote Miss Hallie 'roun'
w'en she wuz a little bit er baby, en now she way down dar out'n de
worl' mos'. I wish ter de Lord I uz gwine 'long wid you, Marse Peyton!
Yit I 'speck, time I got dar, I'd whirl in en wish myse'f back home."

The negro boy carried the gentleman's valise into the sleeping-coach,
and placed it opposite the seats occupied by Helen and her aunt. Across
the end was stenciled in white the name "Peyton Garwood." When the train
was ready to start, the gentleman shook hands with the negro woman and
with the boy. The woman seemed to be very much affected.

"God A'mighty bless you, Marse Peyton, honey!" she exclaimed as the
train moved off; and as long as Helen could see her, she was waving her
hands in farewell. Both Helen and her aunt had watched this scene with
considerable interest, and now, when the gentleman had been escorted to
his seat by the obsequious porter, they regarded him with some
curiosity. He appeared to be about thirty-five years old. His face would
have been called exceedingly handsome but for a scar on his right cheek;
and yet, on closer inspection, the scar seemed somehow to fit the firm
outlines of his features. His brown beard emphasized the strength of his
chin. His nose was slightly aquiline, his eyebrows were a trifle rugged,
and his hair was brushed straight back from a high forehead. His face
was that of a man who had seen rough service and enjoyed it keenly--a
face full of fire and resolution with some subtle suggestion of
tenderness.

"She called him 'Master,' Helen," said Miss Tewksbury after a while,
referring to the scene at the station; "did you hear her?" Miss
Tewksbury's tone implied wrathfulness that was too sure of its own
justification to assert itself noisily.

"I heard her," Helen replied. "She called him Master, and he called her
Mammy. It was a very pleasing exchange of compliments."

Such further comment as the ladies may have felt called on to make--for
it was a matter in which both were very much interested--was postponed
for the time being. A passenger occupying a seat in the farther end of
the coach had recognized the gentleman whose valise was labeled "Peyton
Garwood," and now pressed forward to greet him. This passenger was a
very aggressive-looking person. He was short and stout, but there was no
suggestion of jollity or even of good-humor in his rotundity. No one
would have made the mistake of alluding to him as a fat man. He would
have been characterized as the pudgy man; and even his pudginess was
aggressive. He had evidently determined to be dignified at any cost,
but his seriousness seemed to be perfectly gratuitous.

"Gener'l Garwood?" he said in an impressive tone, as he leaned over the
tall gentleman's seat.

"Ah! Goolsby!" exclaimed the other, extending his hand. "Why, how do you
do? Sit down."

Goolsby's pudginess became more apparent and apparently more aggressive
than ever when he seated himself near General Garwood.

"Well, sir, I can't say my health's any too good. You look mighty well
yourse'f, gener'l. How are things?" said Goolsby, pushing his
traveling-cap over his eyes, and frowning as if in pain.

"Oh, affairs seem to be improving," General Garwood replied.

"Well, now, I ain't so up and down certain about that, gener'l," said
Goolsby, settling himself back, and frowning until his little eyes
disappeared. "Looks like to me that things git wuss and wuss. I ain't no
big man, and I'm ruther disj'inted when it comes right down to politics;
but blame me if it don't look to me mighty like the whole of creation is
driftin' 'round loose."

"Ah, well," said the general soothingly, "a great many things are
uncomfortable; there is a good deal of unnecessary irritation growing
out of new and unexpected conditions. But we are getting along better
than we are willing to admit. We are all fond of grumbling."

"That's so," said Goolsby, with the air of a man who is willing to make
any sacrifice for the sake of a discussion; "that's so. But I tell you
we're havin' mighty tough times, gener'l--mighty tough times. Yonder's
the Yankees on one side, and here's the blamed niggers on t'other, and
betwixt and betweenst 'em a white man's got mighty little chance. And
then, right on top of the whole caboodle, here comes the panic in the
banks, and the epizooty 'mongst the cattle. I tell you, gener'l, it's
tough times, and it's in-about as much as an honest man can do to pay
hotel bills and have a ticket ready to show up when the conductor comes
along."

General Garwood smiled sympathetically, and Goolsby went on: "Here I've
been runnin' up and down the country tryin' to sell a book, and I ain't
sold a hunderd copies sence I started--no, sir, not a hunderd copies.
Maybe you'd like to look at it, gener'l," continued Goolsby, stiffening
up a little. "If I do say it myself, it's in-about the best book that a
man'll git a chance to thumb in many a long day."

"What book is it, Goolsby?" the general inquired.

Goolsby sprang up, waddled rapidly to where he had left his satchel, and
returned, bringing a large and substantial-looking volume.

"It's a book that speaks for itself any day in the week," he said,
running the pages rapidly between his fingers; "it's a history of our
own great conflict--'The Rise and Fall of the Rebellion,' by Schuyler
Paddleford. I don't know what the blamed publishers wanted to put in
'Rebellion' for. I told 'em, says I: 'Gentlemen, it'll be up-hill work
with this in the Sunny South. Call it "The Conflict,"' says I. But they
wouldn't listen, and now I have to work like a blind nigger splittin'
rails. But she's a daisy, gener'l, as shore as you're born. She jess
reads right straight along from cover to cover without a bobble. Why,
sir, I never know'd what war was till I meandered through the sample
pages of this book. And they've got your picture in here, gener'l, jest
as natural as life--all for five dollars in cloth, eight in liberry
style, and ten in morocker."

General Garwood glanced over the specimen pages with some degree of
interest, while Goolsby continued to talk.

"Now, betwixt you and me, gener'l," he went on confidentially, "I don't
nigh like the style of that book, particular where it rattles up our
side. I wa'n't in the war myself, but blame me if it don't rile me when
I hear outsiders a-cussin' them that was. I come mighty nigh not takin'
holt of it on that account; but 'twouldn't have done no good, not a bit.
If sech a book is got to be circulated around here, it better be
circulated by some good Southron--a man that's a kind of antidote to the
pizen, as it were. If I don't sell it, some blamed Yankee'll jump in and
gallop around with it. And I tell you what, gener'l, betwixt you and me
and the gate-post, it's done come to that pass where a man can't afford
to be too plegged particular; if he stops for to scratch his head and
consider whether he's a gentleman, some other feller'll jump in and
snatch the rations right out of his mouth. That's why I'm a-paradin'
around tryin' to sell this book."

"Well," said General Garwood in an encouraging tone, "I have no doubt it
is a very interesting book. I have heard of it before. Fetch me a copy
when you come to Azalia again."

Goolsby smiled an unctuous and knowing smile. "Maybe you think I ain't
a-comin'," he exclaimed, with the air of a man who has invented a joke
that he relishes. "Well, sir, you're getting the wrong measure. I was
down in 'Zalia Monday was a week, and I'm a-goin' down week after next.
Fact is," continued Goolsby, rather sheepishly, "'Zalia is a mighty nice
place. Gener'l, do you happen to know Miss Louisa Hornsby? Of course you
do! Well, sir, you might go a week's journey in the wildwood, as the
poet says, and not find a handsomer gal then that. She's got style from
away back."

"Why, yes!" exclaimed the general in a tone of hearty congratulation,
"of course I know Miss Lou. She is a most excellent young lady. And so
the wind sits in that quarter? Your blushes, Goolsby, are a happy
confirmation of many sweet and piquant rumors."

Goolsby appeared to be very much embarrassed. He moved about uneasily in
his seat, searched in all his pockets for something or other that wasn't
there, and made a vain effort to protest. He grew violently red in the
face, and the color gleamed through his closely cropped hair.

"Oh, come now, gener'l!" he exclaimed. "Oh, pshaw! Why--oh, go 'way!"

His embarrassment was so great, and seemed to border so closely on
epilepsy, that the general was induced to offer him a cigar and invite
him into the smoking apartment. As General Garwood and Goolsby passed
out, Helen Eustis drew a long breath.

"It is worth the trouble of a long journey to behold such a spectacle,"
she declared. Her aunt regarded her curiously. "Who would have thought
it?" she went on--"a Southern secessionist charged with affability, and
a book-agent radiant with embarrassment!"

"He is a coarse, ridiculous creature," said Miss Tewksbury sharply.

"The affable general, Aunt Harriet?"

"No, child; the other."

"Dear aunt, we are in the enemy's country, and we must ground our
prejudices. The book-agent is pert and crude, but he is not coarse. A
coarse man may be in love, but he would never blush over it. And as for
the affable general--you saw the negro woman cry over him."

"Poor thing!" said Miss Tewksbury, with a sigh. "She sadly needs
Instruction."

"Ah, yes! that is a theory we should stand to, but how shall we instruct
her to run and cry after us?"

"My dear child, we want no such disgusting exhibitions. It is enough if
we do our duty by these unfortunates."

"But I do want just such an exhibition, Aunt Harriet," said Helen
seriously. "I should be glad to have some fortunate or unfortunate
creature run and cry after me."

"Well," said Miss Tewksbury placidly, "we are about to ignore the most
impressive fact, after all."

"What is that, Aunt Harriet?"

"Why, child, these people are from Azalia, and for us Azalia is the
centre of the universe."

"Ah, don't pretend that you are not charmed, dear aunt. We shall have
the pleasure of meeting the handsome Miss Hornsby, and probably Mr.
Goolsby himself--and certainly the distinguished general."

"I only hope Ephraim Buxton has a clear conscience to-day," remarked
Miss Tewksbury with unction.

"Did you observe the attitude of the general toward Mr. Goolsby, and
that of Mr. Goolsby toward the general?" asked Helen, ignoring the
allusion to Dr. Buxton. "The line that the general drew was visible to
the naked eye. But Mr. Goolsby drew no line. He is friendly and familiar
on principle. I was reminded of the 'Brookline Reporter,' which alluded
the other day to the London 'Times' as its esteemed contemporary. The
affable general is Mr. Goolsby's esteemed contemporary."

"My dear child," said Miss Tewksbury, somewhat anxiously, "I hope your
queer conceits are not the result of your illness."

"No, they are the result of my surroundings. I have been trying to
pretend to myself, ever since we left Washington, that we are traveling
through a strange country; but it is a mere pretense. I have been trying
to verify some previous impressions of barbarism and shiftlessness."

"Well, upon my word, my dear," exclaimed Miss Tewksbury, "I should think
you had had ample opportunity."

"I have been trying to take the newspaper view," Helen went on with some
degree of earnestness, "but it is impossible. We must correct the
newspapers, Aunt Harriet, and make ourselves famous. Everything I have
seen that is not to be traced to the result of the war belongs to a
state of arrested development."

Miss Tewksbury was uncertain whether her niece was giving a new turn to
her drollery, so she merely stared at her; but the young lady seemed to
be serious enough.

"Don't interrupt me, Aunt Harriet. Give me the opportunity you would
give to Dr. Barlow Blade, the trance medium. Everything I see in this
country belongs to a state of arrested development, and it has been
arrested at a most interesting point. It is picturesque. It is colonial.
I am amazed that this fact has not been dwelt on by people who write
about the South."

"The conservatism that prevents progress, or stands in the way of it, is
a crime," said Miss Tewksbury, pressing her thin lips together firmly.
She had once been on the platform in some of the little country towns of
New England, and had made quite a reputation for pith and fluency.

"Ah, dear aunt, that sounds like an extract from a lecture. We can have
progress in some things, but not in others. We have progressed in the
matter of conveniences, comforts, and luxuries, but in what other
directions? Are we any better than the people who lived in the days of
Washington, Jefferson, and Madison? Is the standard of morality any
higher now than it was in the days of the apostles?"

"Don't talk nonsense, Helen," said Miss Tewksbury. "We have a higher
civilization than the apostles witnessed. Morality is progressive."

"Well," said Helen, with a sigh, "it is a pity these people have
discarded shoe-buckles and knee-breeches."

"Your queer notions make me thirsty, child," said Miss Tewksbury,
producing a silver cup from her satchel. "I must get a drink of water."

"Permit me, madam," said a sonorous voice behind them; and a tall
gentleman seized the cup, and bore it away.

"It is the distinguished general!" exclaimed Helen in a tragic whisper,
"and he must have heard our speeches."

"I hope he took them down," said Miss Tewksbury snappishly. "He will
esteem you as a sympathizer."

"Did I say anything ridiculous, Aunt Harriet?"

"Dear me! you must ask your distinguished general," replied Miss
Tewksbury triumphantly.

General Garwood returned with the water, and insisted on fetching more.
Helen observed that he held his hat in his hand, and that his attitude
was one of unstudied deference.

"The conductor tells me, madam," he said, addressing himself to Miss
Tewksbury, "that you have tickets for Azalia. I am going in that
direction myself, and I should be glad to be of any service to you.
Azalia is a poor little place, but I like it well enough to live there.
I suppose that is the reason the conductor told me of your tickets. He
knew the information would be interesting."

"Thank you," said Miss Tewksbury with dignity.

"You are very kind," said Miss Eustis with a smile.

General Garwood made himself exceedingly agreeable. He pointed out the
interesting places along the road, gave the ladies little bits of local
history that were at least entertaining. In Atlanta, where there was a
delay of a few hours, he drove them over the battle-fields, and by his
graphic descriptions gave them a new idea of the heat and fury of war.
In short, he made himself so agreeable in every way that Miss Tewksbury
felt at liberty to challenge his opinions on various subjects. They had
numberless little controversies about the rights and wrongs of the war,
and the perplexing problems that grew out of its results. So far as Miss
Tewksbury was concerned, she found General Garwood's large tolerance
somewhat irritating, for it left her no excuse for the employment of her
most effective arguments.

"Did you surrender your prejudices at Appomattox?" Miss Tewksbury asked
him on one occasion.

"Oh, by no means; you remember we were allowed to retain our side-arms
and our saddle-horses," he replied, laughing. "I still have my
prejudices, but I trust they are more important than those I entertained
in my youth. Certainly they are less uncomfortable."

"Well," said Miss Tewksbury, "you are still unrepentant, and that is
more serious than any number of prejudices."

"There is nothing to repent of," said the general, smiling, a little
sadly as Helen thought. "It has all passed away utterly. The best we
can do is that which seems right and just and necessary. My duty was as
plain to me in 1861, when I was a boy of twenty, as it is to-day. It
seemed to be my duty then to serve my State and section; my duty now
seems to be to help good people everywhere to restore the Union, and to
heal the wounds of the war."

"I'm _very_ glad to hear you say so," exclaimed Miss Tewksbury in a tone
that made Helen shiver. "I was afraid it was quite otherwise. It seems
to me, that, if I lived here, I should either hate the people who
conquered me, or else the sin of slavery would weigh heavily on my
conscience."

"I can appreciate that feeling, I think," said General Garwood, "but the
American conscience is a very healthy one--not likely to succumb to
influences that are mainly malarial in their nature; and even from your
point of view some good can be found in American slavery."

"I have never found it," said Miss Tewksbury.

"You must admit that but for slavery the negroes who are here would be
savages in Africa. As it is, they have had the benefit of more than two
hundred years' contact with the white race. If they are at all fitted
for citizenship, the result is due to the civilizing influence of
slavery. It seems to me that they are vastly better off as American
citizens, even though they have endured the discipline of slavery, than
they would be as savages in Africa."

Miss Tewksbury's eyes snapped. "Did this make slavery right?" she asked.

"Not at all," said the general, smiling at the lady's earnestness. "But,
at least, it is something of an excuse for American slavery. It seems to
be an evidence that Providence had a hand in the whole unfortunate
business."

But in spite of these discussions and controversies, the general made
himself so thoroughly agreeable in every way, and was so thoughtful in
his attentions, that by the time Helen and her aunt arrived at Azalia
they were disposed to believe that he had placed them under many
obligations, and they said so; but the general insisted that it was he
who had been placed under obligations, and he declared it to be his
intention to discharge a few of them as soon as the ladies found
themselves comfortably settled in the little town to which Dr. Buxton
had banished them.


III

AZALIA was a small town, but it was a comparatively comfortable one. For
years and years before the war it had been noted as the meeting-place of
the wagon-trains by means of which the planters transported their
produce to market. It was on the highway that led from the
cotton-plantations of Middle Georgia to the city of Augusta. It was also
a stopping-place for the stage-coaches that carried the mails. Azalia
was not a large town, even before the war, when, according to the
testimony of the entire community, it was at its best; and it certainly
had not improved any since the war. There was room for improvement, but
no room for progress, because there was no necessity for progress. The
people were contented. They were satisfied with things as they existed,
though they had an honest, provincial faith in the good old times that
were gone. They had but one regret--that the railroad station, four
miles away, had been named Azalia. It is true, the station consisted of
a water-tank and a little pigeon-house where tickets were sold; but the
people of Azalia proper felt that it was in the nature of an outrage to
give so fine a name to so poor a place. They derived some satisfaction,
however, from the fact that the world at large found it necessary to
make a distinction between the two places. Azalia was called "Big
Azalia," and the railroad station was known as "Little Azalia."

Away back in the forties, or perhaps even earlier, when there was some
excitement in all parts of the country in regard to railroad building,
one of Georgia's most famous orators had alluded in the legislature to
Azalia as "the natural gateway of the commerce of the Empire State of
the South." This fine phrase stuck in the memories of the people of
Azalia and their posterity; and the passing traveler, since that day and
time, has heard a good deal of it. There is no doubt that the figure was
fairly applicable before the railways were built; for, as has been
explained, Azalia was the meeting-place of the wagon-trains from all
parts of the State in going to market. When the cotton-laden wagons met
at Azalia, they parted company no more until they had reached August.
The natural result of this was that Azalia, in one way and another, saw
a good deal of life--much that was entertaining, and a good deal that
was exciting. Another result was that the people had considerable
practise in the art of hospitality; for it frequently happened that the
comfortable tavern, which Azalia's commercial importance had made
necessary at a very early period of the town's history, was full to
overflowing with planters accompanying their wagons, and lawyers
traveling from court to court. At such times the worthy townspeople
would come to the rescue, and offer the shelter of their homes to the
belated wayfarer.

There was another feature of Azalia worthy of attention. It was in a
measure the site and centre of a mission--the headquarters, so to speak,
of a very earnest and patient effort to infuse energy and ambition into
that indescribable class of people known in that region as the
piny-woods "Tackies." Within a stone's throw of Azalia there was a
scattering settlement of these Tackies. They had settled there before
the Revolution, and had remained there ever since, unchanged and
unchangeable, steeped in poverty of the most desolate description, and
living the narrowest lives possible in this great Republic. They had
attracted the attention of the Rev. Arthur Hill, an Episcopalian
minister, who conceived an idea that the squalid settlement near Azalia
afforded a fine field for missionary labor. Mr. Hill established himself
in Azalia, built and furnished a little church in the settlement, and
entered on a career of the most earnest and persevering charity. To all
appearances his labor was thrown away; but he was possessed by both
faith and hope, and never allowed himself to be disheartened. All his
time, as well as the modest fortune left him by his wife who was dead,
was devoted to the work of improving and elevating the Tackies; and he
never permitted himself to doubt for an instant that reasonable success
was crowning his efforts. He was gentle, patient, and somewhat finical.

This was the neighborhood toward which Miss Eustis and her aunt had
journeyed. Fortunately for these ladies, Major Haley, the genial
tavern-keeper, had a habit of sending a hack to meet every train that
stopped at Little Azalia. It was not a profitable habit in the long run;
but Major Haley thought little of the profits, so long as he was
conscious that the casual traveler had abundant reason to be grateful to
him. Major Haley himself was a native of Kentucky; but his wife was a
Georgian, inheriting her thrift and her economy from a generation that
knew more about the hand-loom, the spinning-wheel, and the cotton-cards,
than it did about the piano. She admired her husband, who was a large,
fine-looking man, with jocular tendencies; but she disposed of his
opinions without ceremony when they came in conflict with her own. Under
these circumstances it was natural that she should have charge of the
tavern and all that appertained thereto.

General Garwood, riding by from Little Azalia, whither his saddle-horse
had been sent to meet him, had informed the major that two ladies from
the North were coming in the hack, and begged him to make them as
comfortable as possible. This information Major Haley dutifully carried
to his wife.

"Good Lord!" exclaimed Mrs. Haley, "what do you reckon they want here?"

"I've been a-studyin'," said her husband thoughtfully. "The gener'l says
they're comin' fer their health."

"Well, it's a mighty fur cry for health," said Mrs. Haley emphatically.
"I've seen some monst'ous sick people around here; and if anybody'll
look at them Tackies out on the Ridge yonder, and then tell me there's
any health in this neighborhood, then I'll give up. I don't know how in
the wide world we'll fix up for 'em. That everlastin' nigger went and
made too much fire in the stove, and tee-totally ruint my light-bread; I
could 'a' cried, I was so mad; and then on top er that the whole
dinin'-room is tore up from top to bottom."

"Well," said the major, "we'll try and make 'em comfortable, and if they
ain't comfortable it won't be our fault. Jest you whirl in, and put on
some of your Greene County style, Maria. That'll fetch 'em."

"It may fetch 'em, but it won't feed 'em," said the practical Maria.

The result was, that when Helen Eustis and her aunt became the guests of
this poor little country tavern, they were not only agreeably
disappointed as to their surroundings, but they were better pleased than
they would have been at one of the most pretentious caravansaries. Hotel
luxury is comfortable enough to those who make it a point to appreciate
what they pay for; but the appointments of luxury can neither impart,
nor compensate for the lack of, the atmosphere that mysteriously conveys
some impression or reminiscence of home. In the case of Helen and her
aunt, this impression was conveyed and confirmed by a quilt of curious
pattern on one of the beds in their rooms.

"My dear," said Miss Tewksbury, after making a critical examination,
"your grandmother had just such a quilt as this. Yes, she had two. I
remember the first one was quite a bone of contention between your
mother and me, and so your grandmother made two. I declare," Miss
Tewksbury continued, with a sigh, "it quite carries me back to old
times."

"It is well made," said Helen, giving the stitches a critical
examination, "and the colors are perfectly matched. Really, this is
something to think about, for it fits none of our theories. Perhaps,
Aunt Harriet, we have accidentally discovered some of our long-lost
relatives. It would be nice and original to substitute a beautiful quilt
for the ordinary strawberry-mark."

"Well, the sight of it is comforting, anyhow," said Miss Tewksbury,
responding to the half-serious humor of her niece by pressing her thin
lips together, and tossing her gray ringlets.

As she spoke, a negro boy, apparently about ten years old, stalked
unceremoniously into the room, balancing a large stone pitcher on his
head. His hands were tucked beneath his white apron, and the pitcher
seemed to be in imminent danger of falling; but he smiled and showed his
white teeth.

"I come fer ter fetch dish yer pitcher er water, ma'm. Miss 'Ria say
she speck you lak fer have 'im right fresh from de well."

"Aren't you afraid you'll drop it?" said Miss Eustis.

"Lor', no'm!" exclaimed the boy, emphasizing his words by increasing his
grin. "I been ca'um dis away sence I ain't no bigger dan my li'l' buddy.
Miss 'Ria, she say dat w'at make I so bow-legged."

"What is your name?" inquired Miss Tewksbury, with some degree of
solemnity, as the boy deposited the pitcher on the wash-stand.

"Mammy she say I un name Willum, but Mars Maje en de turrer folks dey
des calls me Bill. I run'd off en sot in de school-'ouse all day one
day, but dat mus' 'a' been a mighty bad day, kaze I ain't never year um
say wherrer I wuz name Willum, er wherrer I wuz des name Bill. Miss
'Ria, she say dat 'taint make no diffunce w'at folks' name is, long ez
dey come w'en dey year turred folks holl'in' at um."

"Don't you go to school, child?" Miss Tewksbury inquired, with dignified
sympathy.

"I start in once," said William, laughing, "but mos' time I git dar de
nigger man w'at do de teachin' tuck'n snatch de book out'n my han' en
say I got 'im upper-side down. I tole 'im dat de onliest way w'at I kin
git my lesson, en den dat nigger man tuck'n lam me side de head. Den
atter school bin turn out, I is hide myse'f side de road, en w'en dat
nigger man come 'long, I up wid a rock en I fetched 'im a clip dat
mighty nigh double 'im up. You ain't never is year no nigger man holler
lak dat nigger man. He run't en tole Mars Peyt dat de Kukluckers wuz
atter 'im. Mars Peyt he try ter quiet 'em, but dat nigger man done
gone!"

"Don't you think you did wrong to hit him?" Miss Tewksbury asked.

"Dat w'at Miss 'Ria say. She say I oughter be shame er myse'f by good
rights; but w'at dat nigger man wanter come hurtin' my feelin' fer w'en
I settin' dar studyin' my lesson des hard ez I kin, right spank out'n de
book? en spozen she wuz upper-side down, wa'n't de lesson in dar all de
time, kaze how she gwine spill out?"

William was very serious--indeed, he was indignant--when he closed his
argument. He turned to go out, but paused at the door, and said:

"Miss 'Ria say supper be ready 'mos' 'fo' you kin turn 'roun', but she
say ef you too tired out she'll have it sont up." William paused, rolled
his eyes toward the ceiling, smacked his mouth, and added: "I gwine
fetch in de batter-cakes myse'f."

Miss Tewksbury felt in her soul that she ought to be horrified at this
recital; but she was grateful that she was not amused.

"Aunt Harriet," cried Helen, when William had disappeared, "this is
better than the seashore. I am stronger already. My only regret is that
Henry P. Bassett, the novelist, is not here. The last time I saw him, he
was moping and complaining that his occupation was almost gone, because
he had exhausted all the types--that's what he calls them. He declared
he would be compelled to take his old characters, and give them a new
outfit of emotions. Oh, if he were only here!"

"I hope you feel that you are, in some sense, responsible for all this,
Helen," said Miss Tewksbury solemnly.

"Do you mean the journey, Aunt Harriet, or the little negro?"

"My dear child, don't pretend to misunderstand me. I can not help
feeling that if we had done and were doing our whole duty, this--this
poor negro-- Ah, well! it is useless to speak of it. We are on
missionary ground, but our hands are tied. Oh, I wish Elizabeth Mappis
were here! She would teach us our duty."

"She wouldn't teach me mine, Aunt Harriet," said Helen seriously. "I
wouldn't give one grain of your common sense for all that Elizabeth
Mappis has written and spoken. What have her wild theories to do with
these people? She acts like a man in disguise. When I see her striding
about, delivering her harangues, I always imagine she is wearing a pair
of cowhide boots as a sort of stimulus to her masculinity. Ugh! I'm glad
she isn't here."

Ordinarily, Miss Tewksbury would have defended Mrs. Elizabeth Mappis;
but she remembered that a defense of that remarkable woman--as
remarkable for her intellect as for her courage--was unnecessary at all
times, and, in this instance, absolutely uncalled for. Moreover, the
clangor of the supper-bell, which rang out at that moment, would have
effectually drowned out whatever Miss Tewksbury might have chosen to say
in behalf of Mrs. Mappis.

The bellringer was William, the genial little negro whose acquaintance
the ladies had made, and he performed his duty with an unction that left
nothing to be desired. The bell was so large that William was compelled
to use both hands in swinging it. He bore it from the dining-room to the
hall, and thence from one veranda to the other, making fuss enough to
convince everybody that those who ate at the tavern were on the point of
enjoying another of the famous meals prepared under the supervision of
Mrs. Haley.

There was nothing in the dining-room to invite the criticism of Helen
and her aunt, even though they had been disposed to be critical; there
was no evidence of slatternly management. Everything was plain, but
neat. The ceiling was high and wide; and the walls were of dainty
whiteness, relieved here and there by bracket-shelves containing shiny
crockery and glassware. The oil-lamps gave a mellow light through the
simple but unique paper shades with which they had been fitted. Above
the table, which extended the length of the room, was suspended a series
of large fans. These fans were connected by a cord, so that when it
became necessary to cool the room, or to drive away the flies, one small
negro, by pulling a string, could set them all in motion.

Over this dining-room Mrs. Haley presided. She sat at the head of the
table, serene, cheerful, and watchful, anticipating the wants of each
and every one who ate at the board. She invited Helen and her aunt to
seats near her own, and somehow managed to convince them, veteran
travelers though they were, that hospitality such as hers was richly
worth paying for.

"I do hope you'll make out to be comfortable in this poor little
neighborhood," she said as the ladies lingered over their tea, after the
other boarders--the clerks and the shopkeepers--had bolted their food
and fare. "I have my hopes, and I have my doubts. Gener'l Garwood says
you're come to mend your health," she continued, regarding the ladies
with the critical eye of one who has had something to do with herbs and
simples; "and I've been tryin' my best to pick out which is the sick
one, but it's a mighty hard matter. Yet I won't go by looks, because if
folks looked bad every time they felt bad, they'd be some mighty peaked
people in this world off and on--William, run and fetch in some hot
batter-cakes."

"I am the alleged invalid," said Helen. "I am the victim of a conspiracy
between my aunt here and our family physician.--Aunt Harriet, what do
you suppose Dr. Buxton would say if he knew how comfortable we are at
this moment? I dare say he would write a letter, and order us off to
some other point."

"My niece," said Miss Tewksbury, by way of explanation, "has weak lungs,
but she has never permitted herself to acknowledge the fact."

"Well, my goodness!" exclaimed Mrs. Haley, "if that's all, we'll have
her sound and well in a little or no time. Why, when I was her age I
had a hackin' cough and a rackin' pain in my breast night and day, and I
fell off till my own blood kin didn't know me. Everybody give me up; but
old Miss Polly Flanders in Hancock, right j'inin' county from Greene,
she sent me word to make me some mullein tea, and drink sweet milk right
fresh from the cow; and from that day to this I've never know'd what
weak lungs was. I reckon you'll be mighty lonesome here," said Mrs.
Haley after William had returned with a fresh supply of batter-cakes,
"but you'll find folks mighty neighborly, once you come to know 'em.
And, bless goodness, here's one of 'em now!--Howdy, Emma Jane?"

A tall, ungainly-looking woman stood in the door of the dining-room
leading to the kitchen. Her appearance showed the most abject poverty.
Her dirty sunbonnet had fallen back from her head, and hung on her
shoulders. Her hair was of a reddish-gray color, and its frazzled and
tangled condition suggested that the woman had recently passed through a
period of extreme excitement; but this suggestion was promptly
corrected by the wonderful serenity of her face--a pale,
unhealthy-looking face, with sunken eyes, high cheek-bones, and thin
lips that seemed never to have troubled themselves to smile: a burnt-out
face that had apparently surrendered to the past, and had no hope for
the future. The Puritan simplicity of the woman's dress made her seem
taller than she really was, but this was the only illusion about her.
Though her appearance was uncouth and ungainly, her manner was
unembarrassed. She looked at Helen with some degree of interest; and to
the latter it seemed that Misery, hopeless but unabashed, gazed at her
with a significance at once pathetic and appalling. In response to Mrs.
Haley's salutation, the woman seated herself in the doorway, and sighed.

"You must be tired, Emma Jane, not to say howdy," said Mrs. Haley, with
a smile. The woman raised her right hand above her head, and allowed it
to drop helplessly into her lap.

"Ti-ud! Lordy, Lordy! how kin a pore creetur' like me be ti-ud? Hain't I
thes natally made out'n i'on?"

"Well, I won't go so fur as to say that, Emma Jane," said Mrs. Haley,
"but you're mighty tough. Now, you know that yourself."

"Yes'n--yes'n. I'm made out'n i'on. Lordy, Lordy! I thes natally hone
fer some un ter come along an' tell me what makes me h'ist up an' walk
away over yan'ter the railroad track, an' set thar tell the ingine
shoves by. I wisht some un ud up an' tell me what makes me so restless
an' oneasy, ef it hain't 'cause I'm hongry. I thes wisht they would.
Passin' on by, I sez ter myself, s' I: 'Emma Jane Stucky,' s' I, 'ef you
know what's good fer your wholesome,' s' I, 'you'll sneak in on Miss
Haley, 'cause you'll feel better,' s' I, 'ef you don't no more'n tell
'er howdy,' s' I. Lordy, Lordy! I dunner what ud 'come er me ef I hadn't
a bin made out'n i'on."

"Emma Jane," said Mrs. Haley, in the tone of one who is humoring a
child, "these ladies are from the North."

"Yes'n," said the woman, glancing at Helen and her aunt with the
faintest expression of pity; "yes'n, I hearn tell you had comp'ny. Hit's
a mighty long ways fum this, the North, hain't it, Miss Haley--a long
ways fuder'n Tennissy? Well, the Lord knows I pity um fum the bottom of
my heart, that I do--a-bein' such a long ways fum home."

"The North is ever so much farther than Tennessee," said Helen
pleasantly, almost unconsciously assuming the tone employed by Mrs.
Haley; "but the weather is so very cold there that we have to run away
sometimes."

"You're right, honey," said Mrs. Stucky, hugging herself with her long
arms. "I wisht I could run away fum it myself. Ef I wa'n't made out'n
i'on, I dunner how I'd stan' it. Lordy! when the win' sets in from the
east, hit in-about runs me plum destracted. Hit kills lots an' lots er
folks, but they hain't made out'n i'on like me."

While Mrs. Stucky was describing the vigorous constitution that had
enabled her to survive in the face of various difficulties, and in spite
of many mishaps, Mrs. Haley was engaged in making up a little parcel of
victuals. This she handed to the woman.

"Thanky-do! thanky-do, ma'am! Me an' my son'll set down an' wallop this
up, an' say thanky-do all the time, an' atter we're done we'll wipe our
mouves, an' say thanky-do."

"I reckon you ladies'll think we're mighty queer folks down here," said
Mrs. Haley, with an air of apology, after Mrs. Stucky had retired; "but
I declare I can't find it in my heart to treat that poor creetur' out of
the way. I set and look at her sometimes, and I wish I may never budge
if I don't come mighty nigh cryin'. She ain't hardly fittin' to live,
and if she's fittin' to die, she's lots better off than the common run
of folks. But she's mighty worrysome. She pesters me lots mor'n I ever
let on."

"The poor creature!" exclaimed Miss Tewksbury. "I am truly sorry for
her--truly sorry."

"Ah! so am I," said Helen. "I propose to see more of her. I am
interested in just such people."

"Well, ma'am," said Mrs. Haley dryly, "if you like sech folks it's a
thousand pities you've come here, for you'll git a doste of 'em. Yes'm,
that you will; a doste of 'em that'll last you as long as you live, if
you live to be one of the patrioks. And you nee'nter be sorry for Emma
Jane Stucky neither. Jest as you see her now, jesso she's been a-goin'
on fer twenty year, an' jest as you see her now, jesso she's been
a-lookin' ev'ry sence anybody around here has been a-knowin' her."

"Her history must be a pathetic one," said Miss Tewksbury with a sigh.

"Her what, ma'am?" asked Mrs. Haley.

"Her history, the story of her life," responded Miss Tewksbury. "I dare
say it is very touching."

"Well, ma'am," said Mrs. Haley, "Emma Jane Stucky is like one of them
there dead pines out there in the clearin'. If you had a stack of
almanacs as high as a hoss-rack, you couldn't pick out the year she was
young and sappy. She must 'a' started out as a light'd knot, an' she's
been a-gittin' tougher year in an' year out, till now she's tougher'n
the toughest. No'm," continued Mrs. Haley, replying to an imaginary
argument, "I ain't predijiced ag'in' the poor creetur'--the Lord knows I
ain't. If I was, no vittels would she git from me--not a scrimption."

"I never saw such an expression on a human countenance," said Helen.
"Her eyes will haunt me as long as I live."

"Bless your soul and body, child!" exclaimed Mrs. Haley; "if you're
going to let that poor creetur's looks pester you, you'll be worried to
death, as certain as the world. There's a hunderd in this settlement
jest like her, and ther' must be more'n that, old an' young, 'cause the
children look to be as old as the'r grannies. I reckon maybe you ain't
used to seein' piny-woods Tackies. Well, ma'am, you wait till you come
to know 'em, and if you are in the habits of bein' ha'nted by looks,
you'll be the wuss ha'nted mortal in this land, 'less'n it's them that's
got the sperrit-rappin's after 'em."


IV

MRS. STUCKY, making her way homeward through the gathering dusk, moved
as noiselessly and as swiftly as a ghost. The soft white sand beneath
her feet gave forth no sound, and she seemed to be gliding forward,
rather than walking; though there was a certain awkward emphasis and
decision in her movements altogether human in their suggestions. The way
was lonely. There was no companionship for her in the whispering sighs
of the tall pines that stood by the roadside, no friendliness in the
constellations that burned and sparkled overhead, no hospitable
suggestion in the lights that gleamed faintly here and there from the
windows of the houses in the little settlement. To Mrs. Stucky all was
commonplace. There was nothing in her surroundings as she went toward
her home, to lend wings even to her superstition, which was eager to
assert itself on all occasions.

It was not much of a home to which she was making her way--a little
log-cabin in a pine thicket, surrounded by a little clearing that served
to show how aimlessly and how hopelessly the lack of thrift and energy
could assert itself. The surroundings were mean enough and squalid
enough at their best, but the oppressive shadows of night made them
meaner and more squalid than they really were. The sun, which shines so
lavishly in that region, appeared to glorify the squalor, showing wild
passion-flowers clambering along the broken-down fence of pine poles,
and a wistaria vine running helter-skelter across the roof of the little
cabin. But the night hid all this completely.

A dim, vague blaze, springing from a few charred pine-knots, made the
darkness visible in the one room of the cabin; and before it, with his
elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands, sat what appeared to be a
man. He wore neither coat nor shoes, and his hair was long and shaggy.

"Is that you, Bud?" said Mrs. Stucky.

"Why, who'd you reckon it wuz, maw?" replied Bud, looking up with a
broad grin that was not at all concealed by his thin, sandy beard. "A
body'd sorter think, ef they 'uz ter ketch you gwine on that away, that
you 'spected ter find some great somebody er nuther a-roostin' in here."

Mrs. Stucky, by way of responding, stirred the pine-knots until they
gave forth a more satisfactory light, hung her bonnet on the bedpost,
and seated herself wearily in a rickety chair, the loose planks of the
floor rattling and shaking as she moved about.

"Now, who in the nation did you reckon it wuz, maw?" persisted Bud,
still grinning placidly.

"Some great somebody," replied Mrs. Stucky, brushing her gray hair out
of her eyes and looking at her son. At this Bud could contain himself no
longer. He laughed almost uproariously.

"Well, the great Jemimy!" he exclaimed, and then laughed louder than
ever.

"Wher've you been?" Mrs. Stucky asked, when Bud's mirth had subsided.

"Away over yander at the depot," said Bud, indicating Little Azalia.
"An' I fotch you some May-pops too. I did that! I seed 'em while I wuz
a-gwine 'long, an' I sez ter myself, sezee, 'You jess wait thar tell I
come 'long back, an' I'll take an' take you ter maw,' sezee."

Although this fruit of the passion-flowers was growing in profusion
right at the door, Mrs. Stucky gave this grown man, her son, to
understand that May-pops such as he brought were very desirable indeed.

"I wonder you didn't fergit 'em," she said.

"Who? me!" exclaimed Bud. "I jess like fer ter see anybody ketch me
fergittin' 'em. Now I jess would. I never eat a one, nuther--not a one."

Mrs. Stucky made no response to this, and none seemed to be necessary.
Bud sat and pulled his thin beard, and gazed in the fire. Presently he
laughed and said:

"I jess bet a hoss you couldn't guess who I seed; now I jess bet that."

Mrs. Stucky rubbed the side of her face thoughtfully, and seemed to be
making a tremendous effort to imagine whom Bud had seen.

"'Twer'n't no man, en 'twer'n't no Azalia folks. 'Twuz a gal."

"A gal!" exclaimed Mrs. Stucky.

"Yes'n, a gal, an' _ef_ she wa'n't a zooner you may jess take an' knock
my chunk out."

Mrs. Stucky looked at her son curiously. Her cold gray eyes glittered in
the firelight as she held them steadily on his face. Bud, conscious of
this inspection, moved about in his chair uneasily, shifting his feet
from one side to the other.

"'Twer'n't no Sal Badger," he said, after a while, laughing sheepishly;
"'twer'n't no Maria Matthews, 'twer'n't no Lou Hornsby, an' 'twer'n't no
Martha Jane Williams, nuther. She wuz a bran'-new gal, an' she went ter
the tavern, _she_ did."

"I've done saw 'er," said Mrs. Stucky placidly.

"You done saw 'er, maw!" exclaimed Bud. "Well, the great Jemimy! What's
her name, maw?"

"They didn't call no names," said Mrs. Stucky. "They jess sot thar, an'
gormandized on waffles an' batter-cakes, an' didn't call no names. Hit
made me dribble at the mouf, the way they went on."

"Wuz she purty, maw?"

"I sot an' looked at um," Mrs. Stucky went on, "an' I 'lowed maybe the
war moughter come betwixt the old un an' her good looks. The t'other one
looks mighty slick, but, Lordy! She hain't nigh ez slick ez that ar Lou
Hornsby; yit she's got lots purtier motions."

"Well, I seed 'er, maw," said Bud, gazing into the depths of the
fireplace. "Atter the ingine come a-snortin' by, I jumped up behind the
hack whar they puts the trunks, an' I got a right good glimp' un 'er;
an' ef she hain't purty, then I dunner what purty is. What'd you say her
name wuz, maw?"

"Lordy, jess hark ter the creetur! Hain't I jess this minute hollered,
an' tole you that they hain't called no names?"

"I 'lowed maybe you moughter hearn the name named, an' then drapt it,"
said Bud, still gazing into the fire. "I tell you what, she made that
ole hack look big, _she_ did!"

"You talk like you er start crazy, Bud!" exclaimed Mrs. Stucky, leaning
over, and fixing her glittering eyes on his face. "Lordy! what's she by
the side er me? Is she made out'n i'on?"

Bud's enthusiasm immediately vanished, and a weak, flickering smile took
possession of his face.

"No'm--no'm; that she hain't made out'n i'on! She's lots littler'n you
is--lots littler. She looks like she's sorry."

"Sorry! What fer?"

"Sorry fer we-all."

Mrs. Stucky looked at her son with amazement, not unmixed with
indignation. Then she seemed to remember something she had forgotten.

"Sorry fer we-all, honey, when we er got this great big pile er tavern
vittles?" she asked with a smile; and then the two fell to, and made the
most of Mrs. Haley's charity.

At the tavern Helen and her aunt sat long at their tea, listening to the
quaint gossip of Mrs. Haley, which not only took a wide and entertaining
range, but entered into details that her guests found extremely
interesting. Miss Tewksbury's name reminded Mrs. Haley of a Miss
Kingsbury, a Northern lady, who had taught school in Middle Georgia, and
who had "writ a sure-enough book," as the genial landlady expressed it.
She went to the trouble of hunting up this "sure-enough" book--a small
school dictionary--and gave many reminiscences of her acquaintance with
the author.

In the small parlor, too, the ladies found General Garwood awaiting
them; and they held quite a little reception, forming the acquaintance,
among others, of Miss Lou Hornsby, a fresh-looking young woman, who had
an exclamation of surprise or a grimace of wonder for every statement
she heard and for every remark that was made. Miss Hornsby also went to
the piano, and played and sang "Nelly Gray" and "Lily Dale" with a
dramatic fervor that could only have been acquired in a boarding school.
The Rev. Arthur Hill was also there, a little gentleman, whose
side-whiskers and modest deportment betokened both refinement and
sensibility. He was very cordial to the two ladies from the North, and
strove to demonstrate the liberality of his cloth by a certain gaiety of
manner that was by no means displeasing. He seemed to consider himself
one of the links of sociability, as well as master of ceremonies; and he
had a way of speaking for others that suggested considerable social tact
and versatility. Thus, when there was a lull in the conversation, he
started it again, and imparted to it a vivacity that was certainly
remarkable, as Helen thought. At precisely the proper moment, he seized
Miss Hornsby, and bore her off home, tittering sweetly as only a young
girl can; and the others, following the example thus happily set, left
Helen and her aunt to themselves, and to the repose that tired travelers
are supposed to be in need of. They were not long in seeking it.

"I wonder," said Helen, after she and her aunt had gone to bed, "if
these people really regard us as enemies?"

This question caused Miss Tewksbury to sniff the air angrily.

"Pray, what difference does it make?" she replied.

"Oh, none at all!" said Helen. "I was just thinking. The little preacher
was tremendously gay. His mind seemed to be on skates. He touched on
every subject but the war, and that he glided around gracefully. No
doubt they have had enough of war down here."

"I should hope so," said Miss Tewksbury. "Go to sleep, child: you need
rest."

Helen did not follow this timely advice at once. From her window she
could see the constellations dragging their glittering procession
westward; and she knew that the spirit of the night was whispering
gently in the tall pines, but her thoughts were in a whirl. The scenes
through which she had passed, and the people she had met, were new to
her; and she lay awake and thought of them until at last the slow-moving
stars left her wrapped in sleep--a sleep from which she was not aroused
until William shook the foundations of the tavern with his melodious
bell, informing everybody that the hour for breakfast had arrived.

Shortly afterward, William made his appearance in person, bringing an
abundance of fresh, clear water. He appeared to be in excellent humor.

"What did you say your name is?" Helen asked. William chuckled, as if he
thought the question was in the nature of a joke.

"I'm name' Willum, ma'am, en my mammy she name' Sa'er Jane, en de baby
she name' Phillypeener. Miss 'Ria she say dat baby is de likelies'
nigger baby w'at she y'ever been see sence de war en I speck she is,
kaze Miss 'Ria ain't been talk dat away 'bout eve'y nigger baby w'at
come 'long."

"How old are you?" Miss Tewksbury inquired.

"I dunno'm," said William placidly. "Miss 'Ria she says I'm lots older
dan w'at I looks ter be, en I speck dat's so, kaze mammy sey dey got ter
be a runt 'mongst all folks's famblies."

Helen laughed, and William went on:

"Mammy say ole Miss gwine come see you all. Mars Peyt gwine bring er."

"Who is old Miss?" Helen asked.

William gazed at her with unfeigned amusement.

"Dunner who ole Miss is? Lordy! you de fus' folks w'at ain't know ole
Miss. She Mars Peyt's own mammy, dat's who she is, en ef she come lak
dey say she comin', hit'll be de fus' time she y'ever sot foot in dish
yer tavern less'n 'twuz indurance er de war. Miss 'Ria say she wish ter
goodness ole Miss 'ud sen' word ef she gwine stay ter dinner so she kin
fix up somepin n'er nice. I dunno whe'er Miss Hallie comin' er no, but
ole Miss comin', sho, kaze I done been year um sesso."

"And who is Miss Hallie?" Helen inquired, as William still lingered.

"Miss Hallie--she--dunno'm, ceppin' she des stays dar 'long wid um. Miss
'Ria say she mighty quare, but I wish turrer folks wuz quare lak Miss
Hallie."

William stayed until he was called away, and at breakfast Mrs. Haley
imparted the information which, in William's lingo, had sounded somewhat
scrappy. It was to the effect that General Garwood's mother would call
on the ladies during their stay. Mrs. Haley laid great stress on the
statement.

"Such an event seems to be very interesting," Helen said rather dryly.

"Yes'm," said Mrs. Haley, with her peculiar emphasis, "it ruther took me
back when I heard the niggers takin' about it this mornin'. If that old
lady has ever darkened my door, I've done forgot it. She's mighty nice
and neighborly," Mrs. Haley went on, in response to a smile which Helen
gave her aunt, "but she don't go out much. Oh, she's nice and proud;
Lord, if pride 'ud kill a body, that old 'oman would 'a' been dead too
long ago to talk about. They're all proud--the whole kit and b'ilin'.
She mayn't be too proud to come to this here tavern, but I know she
ain't never been here. The preacher used to say that pride drives out
grace, but I don't believe it, because that 'ud strip the Garwoods of
all they've got in this world; and I know they're just as good as they
can be."

"I heard the little negro boy talking of Miss Hallie," said Helen.
"Pray, who is she?"

Mrs. Haley closed her eyes, threw her head back, and laughed softly.

"The poor child!" she exclaimed. "I declare, I feel like cryin' every
time I think about her. She's the forlornest poor creetur the Lord ever
let live, and one of the best. Sometimes, when I git tore up in my mind,
and begin to think that everything's wrong-end foremost, I jess think
of Hallie Garwood, and then I don't have no more trouble."

Both Helen and her aunt appeared to be interested, and Mrs. Haley went
on:

"The poor child was a Herndon; I reckon you've heard tell of the
Virginia Herndons. At the beginning of the war, she was married to Ethel
Garwood; and, bless your life, she hadn't been married more'n a week
before Ethel was killed. 'Twa'n't in no battle, but jess in a kind of
skirmish. They fotch him home, and Hallie come along with him, and right
here she's been ev'ry sence. She does mighty quare. She don't wear
nothin' but black, and she don't go nowhere less'n it's somewheres where
there's sickness. It makes my blood run cold to think about that poor
creetur. Trouble hits some folks and glances off, and it hits some and
thar it sticks. I tell you what, them that it gives the go-by ought to
be monst'ous proud."

This was the beginning of many interesting experiences for Helen and her
aunt. They managed to find considerable comfort in Mrs. Haley's genial
gossip. It amused and instructed them, and, at the same time, gave them
a standard, half-serious, half-comical, by which to measure their own
experiences in what seemed to them a very quaint neighborhood. They
managed, in the course of a very few days, to make themselves thoroughly
at home in their new surroundings; and, while they missed much that
tradition and literature had told them they would find, they found much
to excite their curiosity and attract their interest.

One morning, an old-fashioned carriage, drawn by a pair of heavy-limbed
horses, lumbered up to the tavern door. Helen watched it with some
degree of expectancy. The curtains and upholstering were faded and worn,
and the panels were dingy with age. The negro driver was old and
obsequious. He jumped from his high seat, opened the door, let down a
flight of steps, and then stood with his hat off, the November sun
glistening on his bald head. Two ladies alighted. One was old, and one
was young, but both were arrayed in deep mourning. The old lady had an
abundance of gray hair that was combed straight back from her forehead,
and her features, gave evidence of great decision of character. The
young lady had large, lustrous eyes, and the pallor of her face was in
strange contrast with her sombre drapery. These were the ladies from
Waverly, as the Garwood place was called; and Helen and her aunt met
them a few moments later.

"I am so pleased to meet you," said the old lady, with a smile that made
her face beautiful. "And this is Miss Tewksbury. Really, I have heard my
son speak of you so often that I seem to know you. This is my daughter
Hallie. She doesn't go out often, but she insisted on coming with me
to-day."

"I'm very glad you came," said Helen, sitting by the pale young woman
after the greetings were over.

"I think you are lovely," said Hallie, with the tone of one who is
settling a question that had previously been debated. Her clear eyes
from which innocence, unconquered and undimmed by trouble, shone forth,
fastened themselves on Helen's face. The admiration they expressed was
unqualified and unadulterated. It was the admiration of a child. But
the eyes were not those of a child: they were such as Helen had seen in
old paintings, and the pathos that seemed part of their beauty belonged
definitely to the past.

"I lovely?" exclaimed Helen in astonishment, blushing a little. "I have
never been accused of such a thing before."

"You have such a beautiful complexion," Hallie went on placidly, her
eyes still fixed on Helen's face. "I had heard--some one had told
me--that you were an invalid. I was so sorry." The beautiful eyes
drooped, and Hallie sighed gently.

"My invalidism is a myth," Helen replied, somewhat puzzled to account
for the impression the pale young woman made on her. "It is the
invention of my aunt and our family physician. They have a theory that
my lungs are affected, and that the air of the pine-woods will do me
good."

"Oh, I hope and trust it will," exclaimed Hallie, with an earnestness
that Helen could trace to no reasonable basis but affectation. "Oh, I
do hope it will! You are so young--so full of life."

"My dear child," said Helen, with mock gravity, "I am older than you
are--ever so much older."

The lustrous eyes closed, and for a moment the long silken lashes rested
against the pale cheek. Then the eyes opened, and gazed at Helen
appealingly.

"Oh, impossible! How could that be? I was sixteen in 1862."

"Then," said Helen, "you are twenty-seven, and I am twenty-five."

"I knew it--I felt it!" exclaimed Hallie, with pensive animation.

Helen was amused and somewhat interested. She admired the peculiar
beauty of Hallie; but the efforts of the latter to repress her feelings,
to reach, as it were, the results of self-effacement, were not at all
pleasing to the Boston girl.

Mrs. Garwood and Miss Tewksbury found themselves on good terms at once.
A course of novel reading, seasoned with reflection, had led Miss
Tewksbury to believe that Southern ladies of the first families
possessed in a large degree the Oriental faculty of laziness. She had
pictured them in her mind as languid creatures, with a retinue of
servants to carry their smelling-salts, and to stir the tropical air
with palm-leaf fans. Miss Tewksbury was pleased rather than disappointed
to find that Mrs. Garwood did not realize her idea of a Southern woman.
The large, lumbering carriage was something, and the antiquated driver
threatened to lead the mind in a somewhat romantic direction; but both
were shabby enough to be regarded as relics and reminders rather than as
active possibilities.

Mrs. Garwood was bright and cordial, and the air of refinement about her
was pronounced and unmistakable. Miss Tewksbury told her that Dr. Buxton
had recommended Azalia as a sanitarium.

"Ephraim Buxton!" exclaimed Mrs. Garwood. "Why, you don't tell me that
Ephraim Buxton is practising medicine in Boston? And do you really know
him? Why, Ephraim Buxton was my first sweetheart!"

Mrs. Garwood's laugh was pleasant to hear, and her blushes were worth
looking at as she referred to Dr. Buxton. Miss Tewksbury laughed
sympathetically but primly.

"It was quite romantic," Mrs. Garwood went on, an a half-humorous,
half-confidential tone. "Ephraim was the school teacher here, and I was
his eldest scholar. He was young, green, and awkward, but the
best-hearted, most generous mortal I ever saw. I made quite a hero of
him."

"Well," said Miss Tewksbury, in her matter-of-fact way, "I have never
seen anything very heroic about Dr. Buxton. He comes and goes, and
prescribes his pills, like all other doctors."

"Ah, that was forty years ago," said Mrs. Garwood, laughing. "A hero can
become very commonplace in forty years. Dr. Buxton must be a dear, good
man. Is he married?"

"No," said Miss Tewksbury. "He has been wise in his day and generation."

"What a pity!" exclaimed the other. "He would have made some woman
happy."

Mrs. Garwood asked many questions concerning the physician who had once
taught school at Azalia; and the conversation of the two ladies finally
took a range that covered all New England, and, finally, the South. Each
was surprised at the remarkable ignorance of the other; but their
ignorance covered different fields, so that they had merely to exchange
facts and information and experiences in order to entertain each other.
They touched on the war delicately, though Miss Tewksbury had never
cultivated the art of reserve to any great extent. At the same time
there was no lack of frankness on either side.

"My son has been telling me of the little controversies he had with
you," said Mrs. Garwood. "He says you fairly bristle with arguments."

"The general never heard half my arguments," replied Miss Tewksbury. "He
never gave me an opportunity to use them."

"My son is very conservative," said Mrs. Garwood, with a smile in which
could be detected a mother's fond pride. "After the war he felt the
responsibility of his position. A great many people looked up to him.
For a long time after the surrender we had no law and no courts, and
there was a great deal of confusion. Oh, you can't imagine! Every man
was his own judge and jury."

"So I've been told," said Miss Tewksbury.

"Of course you know something about it, but you can have no conception
of the real condition of things. It was a tremendous upheaval coming
after a terrible struggle, and my son felt that some one should set an
example of prudence. His theory was, and is, that everything was for the
best, and that our people should make the best of it. I think he was
right," Mrs. Garwood added with a sigh, "but I don't know."

"Why, unquestionably!" exclaimed Miss Tewksbury. She was going on to say
more; she felt that here was an opening for some of her arguments: but
her eyes fell on Hallie, whose pale face and sombre garb formed a
curious contrast to the fresh-looking young woman who sat beside her.
Miss Tewksbury paused.

"Did you lose any one in the war?" Hallie was asking softly.

"I lost a darling brother," Helen replied.

Hallie laid her hand on Helen's arm, a beautiful white hand. The
movement was at once a gesture and a caress.

"Dear heart!" she said, "you must come and see me. We will talk
together. I love those who are sorrowful."

Miss Tewksbury postponed her arguments, and after some conversation they
took their leave.

"Aunt Harriet," said Helen, when they were alone, "what do you make of
these people? Did you see that poor girl, and hear her talk? She chilled
me and entranced me."

"Don't talk so, child," said Miss Tewksbury; "they are very good people,
much better people than I thought we should find in this wilderness. It
is a comfort to talk to them."

"But that poor girl," said Helen. "She is a mystery to me. She reminds
me of a figure I have seen on the stage, or read of in some old book."

When Azalia heard that the Northern ladies had been called on by the
mistress of Waverly, that portion of its inhabitants which was in the
habit of keeping up the forms of sociability made haste to follow her
example, so that Helen and her aunt were made to feel at home in spite
of themselves. General Garwood was a frequent caller, ostensibly to
engage in sectional controversies with Miss Tewksbury, which he seemed
to enjoy keenly; but Mrs. Haley observed that when Helen was not visible
the general rarely prolonged his discussions with her aunt.

The Rev. Arthur Hill also called with some degree of regularity; and it
was finally understood that Helen would, at least temporarily, take the
place of Miss Lou Hornsby as organist of the little Episcopal church in
the Tacky settlement, as soon as Mr. Goolsby, the fat and enterprising
book-agent, had led the fair Louisa to the altar. This wedding occurred
in due time, and was quite an event in Azalia's social history. Goolsby
was stout, but gallant; and Miss Hornsby made a tolerably handsome
bride, notwithstanding a tendency to giggle when her deportment should
have been dignified. Helen furnished the music, General Garwood gave the
bride away, and the little preacher read the ceremony quite
impressively; so that with the flowers and other favors, and the
subsequent dinner--which Mrs. Haley called an "infair"--the occasion was
a very happy and successful one.

Among those who were present, not as invited guests, but by virtue of
their unimportance, were Mrs. Stucky and her son Bud. They were
followed and flanked by quite a number of their neighbors, who gazed on
the festal scene with an impressive curiosity that can not be described.
Pale-faced, wide-eyed, statuesque, their presence, interpreted by a
vivid imagination, might have been regarded as an omen of impending
misfortune. They stood on the outskirts of the wedding company, gazing
on the scene apparently without an emotion of sympathy or interest. They
were there, it seemed, to see what new caper the townspeople had
concluded to cut, to regard it solemnly, and to regret it with grave
faces when the lights were out and the fantastic procession had drifted
away to the village.

The organ in the little church was a fine instrument, though a small
one. It had belonged to the little preacher's wife, and he had given it
to the church. To his mind, the fact that she had used it sanctified it,
and he had placed it in the church as a part of the sacrifice he felt
called on to make in behalf of his religion. Helen played it with
uncommon skill--a skill born of a passionate appreciation of music in
its highest forms. The Rev. Mr. Hill listened like one entranced, but
Helen played unconscious of his admiration. On the outskirts of the
congregation she observed Mrs. Stucky, and by her side a young man with
long, sandy hair, evidently uncombed, and a thin stubble of beard. Helen
saw this young man pull Mrs. Stucky by the sleeve, and direct her
attention to the organ. Instead of looking in Helen's direction, Mrs.
Stucky fixed her eyes on the face of the young man and held them there;
but he continued to stare at the organist. It was a gaze at once
mournful and appealing--not different in that respect from the gaze of
any of the queer people around him, but it affected Miss Eustis
strangely. To her quick imagination, it suggested loneliness, despair,
that was the more tragic because of its isolation. It seemed to embody
the mute, pent-up distress of whole generations. Somehow Helen felt
herself to be playing for the benefit of this poor creature. The echoes
of the wedding-march sounded grandly in the little church, then came a
softly played interlude, and finally a solemn benediction, in which
solicitude seemed to be giving happiness a sweet warning. As the
congregation filed out of the church, the organ sent its sonorous echoes
after the departing crowd--echoes that were taken up by the whispering
and sighing pines, and borne far into the night. Mrs. Stucky did not go
until after the lights were out; and then she took her son by the hand,
and the two went to their lonely cabin not far away. They went in, and
soon had a fire kindled on the hearth. No word had passed between them;
but after a while, when Mrs. Stucky had taken a seat in the corner, and
lit her pipe, she exclaimed:

"Lordy! what a great big gob of a man! I dunner what on the face er the
yeth Lou Hornsby could 'a' been a-dreamin' about. From the way she's
been a-gigglin' aroun' I'd 'a' thought she'd 'a' sot her cap fer the
giner'l."

"I say it!" said Bud, laughing loudly. "Whatter you reckon the giner'l
'ud 'a' been a-doin' all that time? I see 'er now, a-gigglin' an'
a-settin' 'er cap fer the giner'l. Lordy, yes!"

"What's the matter betwixt you an' Lou?" asked Mrs. Stucky grimly.
"'Taint been no time senst you wuz a-totin' water fer her ma, an'
a-hangin' aroun' whilst she played the music in the church thar." Bud
continued to laugh. "But, Lordy!" his mother went on, "I reckon you'll
be a-totin' water an' a-runnin' er'n's fer thish yer Yankee gal what
played on the orgin up thar jess now."

"Well, they hain't no tellin'," said Bud, rubbing his thin beard
reflectively. "She's mighty spry 'long er that orgin, an' she's got
mighty purty han's an' nimble fingers, an' ef she 'uz ter let down her
ha'r, she'd be plum ready ter fly."

"She walked home wi' the giner'l," said Mrs. Stucky.

"I seed 'er," said Bud. "He sent some yuther gals home in the carriage,
an' him an' the Yankee gal went a-walkin' down the road. He humped up
his arm this away, an' the gal tuck it, an' off they put." Bud seemed to
enjoy the recollection of the scene; for he repeated, after waiting a
while to see what his mother would have to say: "Yes, siree! she tuck
it, an' off they put."

Mrs. Stucky looked at this grown man, her son, for a long time without
saying anything, and finally remarked with something very like a sigh:
"Well, honey, you neenter begrudge 'em the'r walk. Hit's a long ways
through the san'."

"Lordy, yes'n!" exclaimed Bud with something like a smile; "it's a
mighty long ways, but the giner'l had the gal wi' 'im. He jess humped up
his arm, an' she tuck it, an' off they put."

It was even so. General Garwood and Helen walked home from the little
church. The road was a long but a shining one. In the moonlight the sand
shone white, save where little drifts and eddies of pine-needles had
gathered. But these were no obstruction to the perspective, for the road
was an avenue, broad and level, that lost itself in the distance only
because the companionable pines, interlacing their boughs, contrived to
present a background both vague and sombre--a background that receded on
approach, and finally developed into the village of Azalia and its
suburbs. Along this level and shining highway Helen and General Garwood
went. The carriages that preceded them, and the people who walked with
them or followed, gave a sort of processional pomp and movement to the
gallant Goolsby's wedding--so much so that if he could have witnessed
it, his manly bosom would have swelled with genuine pride.

"The music you gave us was indeed a treat," said the general.

"It was perhaps more than you bargained for," Helen replied. "I suppose
everybody thought I was trying to make a display, but I quite forgot
myself. I was watching its effect on one of the poor creatures near the
door--do you call them Tackies?"

"Yes, Tackies. Well, we are all obliged to the poor creature--man or
woman. No doubt the fortunate person was Bud Stucky. I saw him standing
near his mother. Bud is famous for his love of music. When the organ is
to be played, Bud is always at the church; and sometimes he goes to
Waverly, and makes Hallie play the piano for him while he sits on the
floor of the veranda near the window. Bud is quite a character."

"I am so sorry for him," said Helen gently.

"I doubt if he is to be greatly pitied," said the general. "Indeed, as
the music was for him, and not for us, I think he is to be greatly
envied."

"I see now," said Helen laughing, "that I should have restrained
myself."

"The suggestion is almost selfish," said the general gallantly.

"Well, your nights here are finer than music," Helen remarked, fleeing
to an impersonal theme. "To walk in the moonlight, without wraps and
with no sense of discomfort, in the middle of December, is a wonderful
experience to me. Last night I heard a mocking-bird singing; and my aunt
has been asking Mrs. Haley if watermelons are ripe."

"The mocking-birds at Waverly," said the general, "have become something
of a nuisance under Hallie's management. There is a great flock of them
on the place, and in the summer they sing all night. It is not a very
pleasant experience to have one whistling at your window the whole night
through."

"Mrs. Haley," remarked Helen, "says that there are more mocking-birds
now than there were before the war, and that they sing louder and more
frequently."

"I shouldn't wonder," the general assented. "Mrs. Haley is quite an
authority on such matters. Everybody quotes her opinions."

"I took the liberty the other day," Helen went on, "of asking her about
the Ku Klux."

"And, pray, what did she say?" the general asked with some degree of
curiosity.

"Why, she said they were like the shower of stars--she had 'heard tell'
of them, but she had never seen them. 'But,' said I, 'you have no doubt
that the shower really occurred!'"

"Her illustration was somewhat unfortunate," the general remarked.

"Oh, by no means," Helen replied. "She looked at me with a twinkle in
her eyes, and said she had heard that it wasn't the stars that fell,
after all."

Talking thus, with long intervals of silence, the two walked along the
gleaming road until they reached the tavern, where Miss Eustis found her
aunt and Mrs. Haley waiting on the broad veranda.

"I don't think he is very polite," said Helen, after her escort had bade
them good night, and was out of hearing. "He offered me his arm, and
then, after we had walked a little way, suggested that we could get
along more comfortably by marching Indian file."

Mrs. Haley laughed loudly. "Why, bless your innocent heart, honey! that
ain't nothin'. The sand's too deep in the road, and the path's too
narrer for folks to be a-gwine along yarm-in-arm. Lord! don't talk about
perliteness. That man's manners is somethin' better'n perliteness."

"Well," said Helen's aunt, "I can't imagine why he should want to make
you trudge through the sand in that style."

"It is probably an output of the climate," said Helen.

"Well, now, honey," remarked Mrs. Haley, "if he ast you to walk wi' 'im,
he had his reasons. I've got my own idee," she added with a chuckle. "I
know one thing--I know he's monstrous fond of some of the Northron
folks. Ain't you never hearn, how, endurin' of the war, they fotch home
a Yankee soldier along wi' Hallie's husband, an' buried 'em side by
side? They tell me that Hallie's husband an' the Yankee was mighty nigh
the same age, an' had a sorter favor. If that's so," said Mrs. Haley,
with emphasis, "then two mighty likely chaps was knocked over on account
of the everlastin' nigger."

All this was very interesting to Helen and her aunt, and they were
anxious to learn all the particulars in regard to the young Federal
soldier who had found burial at Waverly.

"What his name was," said Mrs. Haley, "I'll never tell you. Old Prince,
the carriage-driver, can tell you lots more'n I can. He foun' 'em on the
groun', an' he fotch 'em home. Prince use to be a mighty good nigger
before freedom come out, but now he ain't much better'n the balance of
'em. You all 'ill see him when you go over thar, bekaze he's in an' out
of the house constant. He'll tell you all about it if you're mighty
perlite. Folks is got so they has to be mighty perlite to niggers sence
the war. Yit I'll not deny that it's easy to be perlite to old Uncle
Prince, bekaze he's mighty perlite hisself. He's what I call a high-bred
nigger." Mrs. Haley said this with an air of pride, as if she were in
some measure responsible for Uncle Prince's good breeding.


V

IT came to pass that Helen Eustis and her aunt lost the sense of
loneliness which they had found so oppressive during the first weeks of
their visit. In the people about them they found a never-failing fund of
entertainment. They found in the climate, too, a source of health and
strength. The resinous odor of the pines was always in their nostrils;
the far, faint undertones of music the winds made in the trees were
always in their ears. The provinciality of the people, which some of the
political correspondents describe as distressing, was so genuinely
American in all its forms and manifestations that these Boston women
were enabled to draw from it, now and then, a whiff of New England air.
They recognized characteristics that made them feel thoroughly at home.
Perhaps, so far as Helen was concerned, there were other reasons that
reconciled her to her surroundings. At any rate, she was reconciled.
More than this, she was happy. Her eyes sparkled, and the roses of
health bloomed on her cheeks. All her movements were tributes to the
buoyancy and energy of her nature. The little rector found out what this
energy amounted to, when, on one occasion, he proposed to accompany her
on one of her walks. It was a five-mile excursion; and he returned, as
Mrs. Haley expressed it, "a used-up man."

One morning, just before Christmas, the Waverly carriage, driven in
great state by Uncle Prince, drew up in front of the tavern; and in a
few moments Helen and her aunt were given to understand that they had
been sent for, in furtherance of an invitation they had accepted, to
spend the holidays at Waverly.

"Ole Miss would 'a' come," said Uncle Prince, with a hospitable chuckle,
"but she sorter ailin'; en Miss Hallie, she dat busy dat she ain't
skacely got time fer ter tu'n 'roun'; so dey tuck'n sort atter you,
ma'am, des like you wuz home folks."

The preparations of the ladies had already been made, and it was not
long before they were swinging along under the green pines in the
old-fashioned vehicle. Nor was it long before they passed from the pine
forests, and entered the grove of live-oaks that shaded the walks and
drives of Waverly. The house itself was a somewhat imposing structure,
with a double veranda in front, supported by immense pillars, and
surrounded on all sides by magnificent trees. Here, as Helen and her
aunt had heard on all sides, a princely establishment had existed in the
old time before the war--an establishment noted for its lavish
hospitality. Here visitors used to come in their carriages from all
parts of Georgia, from South Carolina, and even from Virginia--some of
them remaining for weeks at a time, and giving to the otherwise dull
neighborhood long seasons of riotous festivity, which were at once
characteristic and picturesque. The old days had gone to come no more,
but there was something in the atmosphere that seemed to recall them.
The stately yet simple architecture of the house, the trees with their
rugged and enormous trunks, the vast extent of the grounds--everything,
indeed, that came under the eye--seemed to suggest the past. A
blackened and broken statue lay prone upon the ground hard by the
weather-beaten basin of a fountain long since dry. Two tall granite
columns, that once guarded an immense gateway, supported the fragmentary
skeletons of two colossal lamps. There was a suggestion not only of the
old days before the war, but of antiquity--a suggestion that was
intensified by the great hall, the high ceilings, the wide fireplaces,
and the high mantels of the house itself. These things somehow gave a
weird aspect to Waverly in the eyes of the visitors; but this feeling
was largely atoned for by the air of tranquillity that brooded over the
place, and it was utterly dispersed by the heartiness with which they
were welcomed.

"Here we is at home, ma'am," exclaimed Uncle Prince, opening the
carriage-door, and bowing low; "en yon' come ole Miss en Miss Hallie."

The impression which Helen and her aunt received, and one which they
never succeeded in shaking off during their visit, was that they were
regarded as members of the family who had been away for a period, but
who had now come home to stay. Just how these gentle hosts managed to
impart this impression, Helen and Miss Tewksbury would have found it
hard to explain; but they discovered that the art of entertaining was
not a lost art even in the piny woods. Every incident, and even
accidents, contributed to the enjoyment of the guests. Even the weather
appeared to exert itself to please. Christmas morning was ushered in
with a sharp little flurry of snow. The scene was a very pretty one, as
the soft white flakes, some of them as large as a canary's wing, fell
athwart the green foliage of the live-oaks and the magnolias.

"This is my hour!" exclaimed Helen enthusiastically.

"We enjoy it with you," said Hallie simply.

During the afternoon the clouds melted away, the sun came out, and the
purple haze of Indian summer took possession of air and sky. In an hour
the weather passed from the crisp and sparkling freshness of winter, to
the wistful melancholy beauty of autumn.

"This," said Hallie gently, "is _my_ hour." She was standing on the
broad veranda with Helen. For reply, the latter placed her arm around
the Southern girl; and they stood thus for a long time, their thoughts
riming to the plaintive air of a negro melody that found its way across
the fields and through the woods.

Christmas at Waverly, notwithstanding the fact that the negroes were
free, was not greatly different from Christmas on the Southern
plantations before the war. Few of the negroes who had been slaves had
left the place, and those that remained knew how a Christmas ought to be
celebrated. They sang the old-time songs, danced the old-time dances,
and played the old-time plays.

All this was deeply interesting to the gentlewomen from Boston; but
there was one incident that left a lasting impression on both, and
probably had its effect in changing the future of one of them. It
occurred one evening when they were all grouped around the fire in the
drawing-room. The weather had grown somewhat colder than usual, and big
hickory logs were piled in the wide fireplace. At the suggestion of
Hallie the lights had been put out, and they sat in the ruddy glow of
the firelight. The effect was picturesque indeed. The furniture and the
polished wainscoting glinted and shone, and the shadows of the big brass
andirons were thrown upon the ceiling, where they performed a witch's
dance, the intricacy of which was amazing to behold.

It was an interesting group, representing the types of much that is best
in the civilization of the two regions. Their talk covered a great
variety of subjects, but finally drifted into reminiscences of the
war--reminiscences of its incidents rather than its passions.

"I have been told," said Miss Eustis, "that a dead Union soldier was
brought here during the war, and buried. Was his name ever known?"

There was a long pause. General Garwood gazed steadily into the fire.
His mother sighed gently. Hallie, who had been resting her head against
Helen's shoulder, rose from her chair, and glided from the room as
swiftly as a ghost.

"Perhaps I have made a mistake," said Helen in dismay. "The incident was
so strange--"

"No, Miss Eustis, you have made no mistake," said General Garwood,
smiling a little sadly. "One moment--" He paused as if listening for
something. Presently the faint sound of music was heard. It stole softly
from the dark parlor into the warm firelight as if it came from far
away.

"One moment," said General Garwood. "It is Hallie at the piano."

The music, without increasing in volume, suddenly gathered coherency,
and there fell on the ears of the listening group the notes of an air so
plaintive that it seemed like the breaking of a heart. It was as soft as
an echo, and as tender as the memories of love and youth.

"We have to be very particular with Hallie," said the general, by way of
explanation. "The Union soldier in our burying-ground is intimately
connected with her bereavement and ours. Hers is the one poor heart that
keeps the fires of grief always burning. I think she is willing the
story should be told."

"Yes," said his mother, "else she would never go to the piano."

"I feel like a criminal," said Helen. "How can I apologize?"

"It is we who ought to apologize and explain," replied General Garwood.
"You shall hear the story, and then neither explanation nor apology will
be necessary."


VI

A SUMMONS was sent for Uncle Prince, and the old man soon made his
appearance. He stood in a seriously expectant attitude.

"Prince," said General Garwood, "these ladies are from the North. They
have asked me about the dead Union soldier you brought home during the
war. I want you to tell the whole story."

"Tell 'bout de what, Marse Peyton?" Both astonishment and distress were
depicted on the old negro's face as he asked the question. He seemed to
be sure that he had not heard aright.

"About the Union soldier you brought home with your young master from
Virginia."

"Whar Miss Hallie, Marse Peyton? Dat her in dar wid de peanner?"

"Yes, she's in there."

"I 'lowed she uz some'r's, kaze I know 'tain't gwine never do fer ter
git dat chile riled up 'bout dem ole times; en it'll be a mighty wonder
ef she don't ketch col' in dar whar she is."

"No," said General Garwood; "the room is warm. There has been a fire in
there all day."

"Yasser, I know I builted one in dar dis mornin', but I take notice dat
de drafts dese times look like dey come bofe ways."

The old man stood near the tall mantel, facing the group. There was
nothing servile in his attitude: on the contrary, his manner, when
addressing the gentleman who had once been his master, suggested easy,
not to say affectionate, familiarity. The firelight, shining on his
face, revealed a countenance at once rugged and friendly. It was a face
in which humor had many a tough struggle with dignity. In looks and
tone, in word and gesture, there was unmistakable evidence of that
peculiar form of urbanity that can not be dissociated from gentility.
These things were more apparent, perhaps, to Helen and her aunt than to
those who, from long association, had become accustomed to Uncle
Prince's peculiarities.

"Dem times ain't never got clean out'n my min'," said the old negro,
"but it bin so long sence I runn'd over um, dat I dunner wharbouts ter
begin skacely."

"You can tell it all in your own way," said General Garwood.

"Yasser, dat's so, but I fear'd it's a mighty po' way. Bless yo' soul,
honey," Uncle Prince went on, "dey was rough times, en it look like ter
me dat ef dey wuz ter come 'roun' ag'in hit 'u'd take a mighty rank
runner fer ter ketch one nigger man w'at I'm got some 'quaintance wid.
Dey wuz rough times, but dey wa'n't rough 'long at fust. Shoo! no! dey
wuz dat slick dat dey ease we-all right down 'mongs' de wuss kind er
tribbylation, en we ain't none un us know it twel we er done dar.

"I know dis," the old man continued, addressing himself exclusively to
Miss Eustis and her aunt; "I knows dat we-all wuz a-gittin' 'long
mighty well, w'en one day Marse Peyton dar, he tuck 'n' jinded wid de
army; en den 'twa'n't long 'fo' word come dat my young marster w'at
gwine ter college in Ferginny, done gone en jinded wid um. I ax myse'f,
I say, w'at de name er goodness does dey want wid boy like dat? Hit's de
Lord's trufe, ma'am, dat ar chile wa'n't mo' dan gwine on sixteen, ef he
wuz dat, en I up'n' ax myse'f, I did, w'at does de war want wid baby
like dat? Min' you, ma'am, I ain't fin' out den w'at war wuz--I ain't
know w'at a great big maw she got."

"My son Ethel," said Mrs. Garwood, the soft tone of her voice chiming
with the notes of the piano, "was attending the University of Virginia
at Charlottesville. He was just sixteen."

"Yassum," said Uncle Prince, rubbing his hands together gently, and
gazing into the glowing embers, as if searching there for some clue that
would aid him in recalling the past. "Yassum, my young marster wuz des
gone by sixteen year, kaze 'twa'n't so mighty long 'fo' dat, dat we-all
sont 'im a great big box er fixin's en doin's fer ter git dar on he's
birfday; en I sot up mighty nigh twel day tryin' ter make some 'lasses
candy fer ter put in dar wid de yuther doin's."

Here Uncle Prince smiled broadly at the fire.

"Ef dey wuz sumpin' w'at dat chile like, hit wuz 'lasses candy; en I say
ter my ole 'oman, I did: ''Mandy Jane, I'll make de candy, en den w'en
she good en done, I'll up en holler fer you, en den you kin pull it.'
Yassum, I said dem ve'y words. So de ole 'oman, she lay down 'cross de
baid, en I sot up dar en b'iled de 'lasses. De 'lasses 'u'd blubber en
I'd nod, en I'd nod en de 'lasses 'u'd blubber, en fus news I know de
'lasses 'u'd done be scorched. Well, ma'am, I tuck 'n' burnt up mighty
nigh fo' gallons er 'lasses on de account er my noddin', en bimeby w'en
de ole 'oman wake up, she 'low dey wa'n't no excusion fer it; en sho
nuff dey wa'n't, kaze w'at make I nod dat away?

"But dat candy wuz candy, mon, w'en she did come, en den de ole 'oman
she tuck 'n' pull it twel it git 'mos' right white; en my young marster,
he tuck 'n' writ back, he did, dat ef dey wuz anythin' in dat box w'at
make 'im git puny wid de homesickness, hit uz dat ar 'lasses candy.
Yassum, he cert'n'y did, kaze dey tuck 'n' read it right out'n de letter
whar he writ it.

"'Twa'n't long atter dat 'fo' we-all got de word dat my young marster
done jinded inter de war wid some yuther boys w'at been at de same
school'ouse wid 'im. Den, on top er dat, yer come news dat he gwine git
married. Bless yo' soul, honey, dat sorter rilded me up, en I march
inter de big 'ouse, I did, en I up 'n' tell mistis dat she better lemme
go up dar en fetch dat chile home; en den mistis say she gwine sen' me
on dar fer ter be wid 'im in de war, en take keer un 'im. Dis holp me up
might'ly, kaze I wuz a mighty biggity nigger in dem days. De white folks
done raise me up right 'long wid um, en way down in my min' I des laid
off fer ter go up dar in Ferginny, en take my young marster by he's
collar en fetch 'im home, des like I done w'en he use ter git in de
hin'ouse en bodder 'long wid de chickens.

"Dat wuz way down in my min', des like I tell you, but bless yo' soul,
chile, hit done drap out 'mos' 'fo' I git ter 'Gusty, in de Nunited
State er Georgy. Time I struck de railroad I kin see de troops
a-troopin', en year de drums a-drummin'. De trains wuz des loaded down
wid um. Let 'lone de passenger kyars, dey wuz in de freight-boxes yit,
en dey wuz de sassiest white mens dat yever walk 'pon topside de groun'.
Mon, dey wuz a caution. Dey had niggers wid um, en de niggers wuz sassy,
en ef I hadn't a-frailed one un um out, I dunner w'at would er 'come un
me.

"Hit cert'n'y wuz a mighty long ways fum dese parts. I come down yer fum
Ferginny in a waggin w'en I wuz des 'bout big nuff fer ter hol' a plow
straight in de' furrer, but 'tain't look like ter me dat 'twuz sech a
fur ways. All day en all night long fer mighty nigh a week I year dem
kyar-wheels go clickity-clock, clickity-clock, en dem ingines go
choo-choo-choo, choo-choo-choo, en it look like we ain't never gwine git
dar. Yit, git dar we did, en 'tain't take me long fer ter fin' de place
whar my young marster is. I laid off ter fetch 'im home; well, ma'am,
w'en I look at 'im he skeer'd me. Yassum, you may b'lieve me er not
b'lieve me, but he skeer'd me. Stiddier de boy w'at I wuz a-huntin'
fer, dar he wuz, a great big grow'd-up man, en bless yo' soul, he wuz
a-trompin' roun' dar wid great big boots on, en, mon, dey had spurrers
on um.

"Ef I hadn't er year 'im laugh, I nev'd a-know'd 'im in de roun' worl'.
I say ter myse'f, s' I, I'll des wait en see ef he know who I is. But
shoo! my young marster know me time he lays eyes on me, en no sooner is
he see me dan he fetched a whoop en rushed at me. He 'low: 'Hello,
Daddy! whar de name er goodness you rise fum?' He allers call me Daddy
sence he been a baby. De minute he say dat, it come over me 'bout how
lonesome de folks wuz at home, en I des grabbed 'im, en 'low: 'Honey,
you better come go back wid Daddy.'

"He sorter hug me back, he did, en den he laugh, but I tell you dey
wa'n't no laugh in me, kaze I done see w'iles I gwine long w'at kinder
'sturbance de white folks wuz a-gettin' up, en I know'd dey wuz a-gwine
ter be trouble pile 'pon trouble. Yit dar he wuz a-laughin' en
a-projickin', en 'mongs' all dem yuther mens dey wa'n't none un um
good-lookin' like my young marster. I don't keer w'at kinder cloze he
put on, dey fit 'im, en I don't keer w'at crowd he git in, dey ain't
none un um look like 'im. En 'tain't on'y me say dat; I done year lots
er yuther folks say dem ve'y words.

"I ups en sez, s'I: 'Honey, you go 'long en git yo' things, en come go
home 'long wid Daddy. Dey er waitin' fer you down dar'--des so! Den he
look at me cute like he us'ter w'en he wuz a baby, en he 'low, he did:

"'I'm mighty glad you come, Daddy, en I hope you brung yo' good cloze,
kaze you des come in time fer ter go in 'ten'ance on my weddin'.' Den I
'low: 'You oughtn' be a-talkin' dat away, honey. W'at in de name er
goodness is chilluns like you got ter do wid marryin'?' Wid dat, he up
'n' laugh, but 'twa'n't no laughin' matter wid me. Yit 'twuz des like he
tell me, en 'twa'n't many hours 'fo' we wuz gallopin' cross de country
to'ds Marse Randolph Herndon' place; en dar whar he married. En you may
b'lieve me er not, ma'am, des ez you please, but dat couple wuz two er
de purtiest chilluns you ever laid eyes on, en dar Miss Hallie in dar
now fer ter show you I'm a-tellin' de true word. 'Mos' 'fo' de weddin'
wuz over, news com dat my young marster en de folks wid 'im mus' go back
ter camps, en back we went.

"Well, ma'am, dar we wuz--a mighty far ways fum home, Miss Hallie
a-cryin', en de war gwine on des same ez ef 'twuz right out dar in de
yard. My young marster 'low dat I des come in time, kaze he mighty nigh
pe'sh'd fer sumpin' 'n'er good ter eat. I whirled in, I did, en I cook
'im some er de right kinder vittles; but all de time I cookin', I say
ter myse'f, I did, dat I mought er come too soon, er I mought er come
too late, but I be bless' ef I come des in time.

"Hit went on dis away scan'lous. We marched en we stopped, en we stopped
en we marched, en 'twuz de Lord's blessin' dat we rid hosses, kaze ef my
young marster had 'a' bin 'blige' ter tromp thoo de mud like some er dem
white mens, I speck I'd 'a' had ter tote 'im, dough he uz mighty spry en
tough. Sometimes dem ar bung-shells 'u'd drap right in 'mongs' whar
we-all wuz, en dem wuz de times w'en I feel like I better go off
some'r's en hide, not dat I wuz anyways skeery, kaze I wa'n't; but ef
one er dem ur bung-shells had er strucken me, I dunner who my young
marster would 'a' got ter do he's cookin' en he's washin'.

"Hit went on dis away, twel bimeby one night, way in de night, my young
marster come whar I wuz layin', en shuck me by de shoulder. I wuz des
wide 'wake ez w'at he wuz, yit I ain't make no motion. He shuck me
ag'in, en 'low: 'Daddy! Oh, Daddy! I'm gwine on de skirmish line. I
speck we gwine ter have some fun out dar.'

"I 'low, I did: 'Honey, you make 'aste back ter break'us, kaze I got
some sossige meat en some gennywine coffee.'

"He ain't say nothin', but w'en he git little ways off, he tu'n 'roun'
en come back, he did, en 'low: 'Good night, Daddy.' I lay dar, en I year
un w'en dey start off. I year der hosses a-snort-in', en der spurrers
a-jinglin'. Ef dey yever wuz a restless creetur hit uz me dat night. I
des lay dar wid my eyes right wide open, en dey stayed open, kaze, atter
w'ile, yer come daylight, en den I rousted out, I did, en built me a
fire, en 'twa'n't long 'fo' I had break'us a-fryin' en de coffee
a'b'ilin', kaze I spected my young marster eve'y minute; en he uz one er
dese yer kinder folks w'at want he's coffee hot, en all de yuther
vittles on de jump.

"I wait en I wait, en still he ain't come. Hit cert'n'y look like a
mighty long time w'at he stay 'way; en bimeby I tuck myse'f off ter make
some inquirements, kaze mighty nigh all he's comp'ny done gone wid 'im.
I notice dat de white mens look at me mighty kuse w'en I ax um 'bout my
young marster; en bimeby one un um up en 'low: 'Ole man, whar yo' hat?'
des dat away. I feel on my haid, en, bless goodness! my hat done gone;
but I 'spon' back, I did: ''Tain't no time fer no nigger man fer ter be
bodder'n' 'bout he's hat,' des so. Well, ma'am, bimeby I struck up wid
some er my young marster' comp'ny, en dey up 'n' tell me dat dey had a
racket out dar en de skirmish line, en dey hatter run in, en dey speck
my young marster be 'long terreckerly. Den I year some un say dat day
speck de Yankees tuck some pris'ners out dar, en den I know dat ain't
gwine do fer me. I des runn'd back ter whar we been campin', en I mount
de hoss w'at my young marster gun me, en I rid right straight out ter
whar dey been fightin'. My min' tol' me dey wuz sumpin' 'n'er wrong out
dar, en I let you know, ma'am, I rid mighty fas'; I sholy made dat ole
hoss git up fum dar. De white mens dey holler at me w'en I pass, but
eve'y time dey holler I make dat creetur men' he's gait. Some un um call
me a country-ban', en say I runnin' 'way, en ef de pickets hadn't all
been runnin' in, I speck dey'd 'a' fetched de ole nigger up wid de guns.
But dat never cross my min' dat day.

"Well, ma'am, I haid my hoss de way de pickets comin' fum; en ef dey
hadn't er been so much underbresh en so many sassyfac saplin's, I speck
I'd 'a' run dat creetur ter def: but I got ter whar I hatter go slow, en
I des pick my way right straight forrerd de bes' I kin. I ain't hatter
go so mighty fur, nudder, 'fo' I come 'cross de place whar dey had de
skirmish; en fum dat day ter dis I ain't never see no lonesome place
like dat. Dey wuz a cap yer, a hat yander, en de groun' look like it
wuz des strowed wid um. I stop en listen. Den I rid on a little ways, en
den I stop en listen. Bimeby I year hoss whicker, en den de creetur w'at
I'm a-ridin', he whicker back, en do des like he wanter go whar de t'er
hoss is. I des gin 'im de rein; en de fus news I know, he trot right up
ter de big black hoss w'at my young marster rid.

"I look little furder, I did, en I see folks lyin' on de groun'. Some
wuz double' up, en some wuz layin' out straight. De win' blow de grass
back'ards en forrerds, but dem sojer-men dey never move; en den I know
dey wuz dead. I look closer; en dar 'pon de groun', 'mos' right at me,
wuz my young marster layin' right by de side er one er dem Yankee mens.
I jumped down, I did, en run ter whar he wuz; but he wuz done gone. My
heart jump, my knees shuck, en my han' trimble; but I know I got ter git
away fum dar. Hit look like at fus' dat him en dat Yankee man been
fightin'; but bimeby I see whar my young marster bin crawl thoo de weeds
en grass ter whar de Yankee man wuz layin'; en he had one arm un' de
man' haid, en de ter han' wuz gripped on he's canteen. I fix it in my
min', ma'am, dat my young marster year dat Yankee man holler fer water;
en he des make out fer ter crawl whar he is, en dar I foun' um bofe.

"Dey wuz layin' close by a little farm road, en not so mighty fur off I
year a chicken crowin'. I say ter myse'f dat sholy folks must be livin'
whar dey chickens crowin'; en I tuck'n' mount my young marster's hoss,
en right 'roun' de side er de hill I come 'cross a house. De folks wuz
all gone; but dey wuz a two-hoss waggin in de lot en some gear in de
barn, en I des loped back atter de yuther hoss, en 'mos' 'fo' you know
it, I had dem creeturs hitch up: en I went en got my young marster en de
Yankee man w'at wuz wid 'im, en I kyard um back ter de camps. I got um
des in time, too, kase I ain't mo'n fairly start 'fo' I year big gun,
_be-bang!_ en den I know'd de Yankees mus' be a-comin' back. Den de
bung-shells 'gun ter bus'; en I ax myse'f w'at dey shootin' at me fer,
en I ain't never fin' out w'at make dey do it.

"Well, ma'am, w'en I git back ter camps, dar wuz Cunnel Tip Herndon,
w'ich he wuz own br'er ter Miss Hallie. Maybe you been year tell er
Marse Tip, ma'am; he cert'ny wuz a mighty fine man. Marse Tip, he 'uz
dar, en 'twa'n't long 'fo' Miss Hallie wuz dar, kaze she ain't live so
mighty fur; en Miss Hallie say dat my young marster en de Yankee man
mus' be brung home terge'er. So dey brung um."

Uncle Prince paused. His story was at an end. He stooped to stir the
fire; and when he rose, his eyes were full of tears. Humble as he was,
he could pay this tribute to the memory of the boy soldier whom he had
nursed in sickness and in health. It was a stirring recital. Perhaps it
is not so stirring when transferred to paper. The earnestness, the
simplicity, the awkward fervor, the dramatic gestures, the unique
individuality of Uncle Prince, can not be reproduced; but these things
had a profound effect on Miss Eustis and her aunt.


VII

THROUGHOUT the narrative the piano had been going, keeping, as it
seemed, a weird accompaniment to a tragic story. This also had its
effect; for, so perfectly did the rhythm and sweep of the music accord
with the heart-rending conclusion, that Helen, if her mind had been less
preoccupied with sympathy, would probably have traced the effect of it
all to a long series of rehearsals: in fact, such a suggestion did occur
to her, but the thought perished instantly in the presence of the
unaffected simplicity and the childlike earnestness which animated the
words of the old negro.

The long silence which ensued--for the piano ceased, and Hallie nestled
at Helen's side once more--was broken by General Garwood.

"We were never able to identify the Union soldier. He had in his
possession a part of a letter, and a photograph of himself. These were
in an inner pocket. I judge that he knew he was to be sent on a
dangerous mission, and had left his papers and whatever valuables he
may have possessed behind him. The little skirmish in which he fell was
a surprise to both sides. A scouting party of perhaps a dozen Federal
cavalrymen rode suddenly upon as many Confederate cavalrymen who had
been detailed for special picket duty. There was a short, sharp fight,
and then both sides scampered away. The next day the Federal army
occupied the ground."

"It is a pity," said Helen, "that his identity should be so utterly
lost."

"Hallie, my dear," said Mrs. Garwood, "would it trouble you too much to
get the photograph of the Union soldier? If it is any trouble, my
child--"

Hallie went swiftly out of the room, and returned almost immediately
with the photograph, and handed it to Helen, who examined it as well as
she could by the dim firelight.

"The face is an interesting one, as well as I can make out," said Helen,
"and it has a strangely familiar look. He was very young."

She handed the picture to her aunt. Her face was very pale.

"I can't see by this light," said Miss Tewksbury. But Uncle Prince had
already brought a lamp which he had been lighting. "Why, my dear," said
Miss Tewksbury, in a tone of voice that suggested both awe and
consternation--"why, my dear, this is your brother Wendell!"

"Oh, Aunt Harriet! I thought so--I was afraid so--but are you sure?"

"As sure as that I am sitting here."

Helen burst into tears. "Oh, why didn't I recognize him? How could I
fail to know my darling brother?" she cried.

Hallie rose from her low stool, and stood gazing at Helen. Her face was
pale as death, but in her eyes gleamed the fire of long-suppressed grief
and passion. She seemed like one transformed. She flung her white arms
above her head, and exclaimed:

"I knew it! I knew it! I knew that some poor heart would find its
long-lost treasure here. I have felt it--I have dreamed it! Oh, I am so
glad you have found your brother!"

"Oh, but I should have known his picture," said Helen.

"But, my dear child," said Miss Tewksbury, in a matter-of-fact way,
"there is every reason why you should not have known it. This picture
was taken in Washington, and he never sent a copy of it home. If he did,
your father put it away among his papers. You were not more than twelve
years old when Wendell went away."

"Perhaps if Hallie will get the fragment of letter," said General
Garwood to Miss Tewksbury, "it will confirm your impression."

"Oh, it is no impression," replied Miss Tewksbury. "I could not possibly
be mistaken."

The fragment of letter, when produced, proved to be in the handwriting
of Charles Osborne Eustis; and there was one sentence in it that was
peculiarly characteristic. "Remember, dear Wendell," it said, "that the
war is not urged against men; it is against an institution which the
whole country, both North and South, will be glad to rid itself of."

It would be difficult, under all the circumstances, to describe Helen's
thoughts. She was gratified--she was more than gratified--at the
unexpected discovery, and she was grateful to those who had cared for
her brother's grave with such scrupulous care. She felt more at home
than ever. The last barrier of sectional reserve (if it may be so
termed) was broken down, so far as she was concerned; and during the
remainder of her stay, her true character--her womanliness, her
tenderness, her humor--revealed itself to these watchful and sensitive
Southerners. Even Miss Tewksbury, who had the excuse of age and long
habit for her prejudices, showed the qualities that made her friends
love her. In the language of the little rector, who made a sermon out of
the matter, "all things became homogeneous through the medium of
sympathy and the knowledge of mutual suffering."

In fact, everything was so agreeable during the visit of Helen and her
aunt to Waverly--a visit that was prolonged many days beyond the limit
they had set--that Uncle Prince remarked on it one night to his wife.

"I'm a nigger man, 'Mandy Jane," said he, "but I got two eyes, en dey er
good ones. W'at I sees I knows, en I tell you right now, Marse Peyton
is done got strucken."

"Done got strucken 'bout what?" inquired 'Mandy Jane.

"'Bout dat young lady w'at stayin' yer. Oh, you neenter holler," said
Uncle Prince in response to a contemptuous laugh from 'Mandy Jane. "I
ain't nothin' but a nigger man, but I knows w'at I sees."

"Yes, you is a nigger man," said 'Mandy Jane triumphantly. "Ef you wuz a
nigger 'oman you'd have lots mo' sense dan w'at you got. W'y, dat lady
up dar ain't our folks. She mighty nice, I speck, but she ain't our
folks. She ain't talk like our folks yit."

"No matter 'bout dat," said Uncle Prince. "I ain't seed no nicer 'oman
dan w'at she is, en I boun' you she kin talk mighty sweet w'en she take
a notion. W'en my two eyes tell me de news I knows it, en Marse Peyton
done got strucken long wid dat white 'oman."

"En now you gwine tell me," said 'Mandy Jane with a fine assumption of
scorn, "dat Marse Peyton gwine marry wid dat w'ite 'oman en trapse off
dar ter der Norf? _Shoo!_ Nigger man, you go ter bed 'fo' you run
yo'se'f 'stracted."

"I dunno whar Marse Peyton gwine, 'Mandy Jane, but I done see 'im
talkin' 'long wid dat white lady, en lookin' at her wid he's eyes. Huh!
don' tell me! En dat ain't all, 'Mandy Jane," Uncle Prince went on: "dat
Bud Stucky, he's f'rever'n etarnally sneakin' 'roun' de house up dar.
One day he want sumpin' ter eat, en nex' day he want Miss Hallie fer ter
play en de peanner, but all de time I see 'im a-watchin' dat ar white
lady fum de Norf."

"Hush!" exclaimed 'Mandy Jane.

"Des like I tell you!" said Uncle Prince.

"Well, de nasty, stinkin', oudacious villyun!" commented 'Mandy Jane. "I
lay ef I go up dar en set de dogs on 'im, he'll stop sneakin' 'roun' dis
place."

"Let 'im 'lone, 'Mandy Jane, let 'im 'lone," said Uncle Prince solemnly.
"Dat ar Bud Stucky, he got a mammy, en my min' tell me dat he's mammy
kin run de kyards en trick you. Now you watch out, 'Mandy Jane. You go
on en do de washin', like you bin doin', en den ole Miss Stucky won't
git atter you wid de kyards en cunjur you. Dat ole 'oman got er mighty
bad eye, mon."


VIII

UNCLE PRINCE, it appears, was a keen observer, especially where General
Garwood was concerned. He had discovered a fact in regard to "Marse
Peyton," as he called him, that had only barely suggested itself to that
gentleman's own mind--the fact that his interest in Miss Eustis had
assumed a phase altogether new and unexpected. Its manifestations were
pronounced enough to pester Miss Tewksbury, but, strange to say, neither
General Garwood nor Miss Eustis appeared to be troubled by them. As a
matter of fact, these two were merely new characters in a very old
story, the details of which need not be described or dwelt on in this
hasty chronicle. It was not by any means a case of love at first sight.
It was better than that: it was a case of love based on a firmer
foundation than whim, or passion, or sentimentality. At any rate, Helen
and her stalwart lover were as happy, apparently, as if they had just
begun to enjoy life and the delights thereof. There was no love-making,
so far as Miss Tewksbury could see; but there was no attempt on the part
of either to conceal the fact that they heartily enjoyed each other's
companionship.

Bud Stucky continued his daily visits for several weeks; but one day he
failed to make his appearance, and after a while news came that he was
ill of a fever. The ladies at Waverly sent his mother a plentiful supply
of provisions, together with such delicacies as seemed to them
necessary; but Bud Stucky continued to waste away. One day Helen, in
spite of the protests of her aunt, set out to visit the sick man,
carrying a small basket in which Hallie had placed some broiled chicken
and a small bottle of homemade wine. Approaching the Stucky cabin, she
was alarmed at the silence that reigned within. She knocked, but there
was no response; whereupon she pushed the door open and entered. The
sight that met her eyes, and the scene that followed, are still fresh in
her memory.

Poor Bud Stucky, the shadow of his former self, was lying on the bed.
His thin hands were crossed on his breast, and the pallor of death was
on his emaciated face. His mother sat by the bed with her eyes fixed on
his. She made no sign when Helen entered, but continued to gaze on her
son.

The young woman, bent on a mission of mercy, paused on the threshold,
and regarded the two unfortunates with a sympathy akin to awe. Bud
Stucky moved his head uneasily, and essayed to speak, but the sound died
away in his throat. He made another effort. His lips moved feebly; his
voice had an unearthly, a far-away sound.

"Miss," he said, regarding her with a piteous expression in his sunken
eyes, "I wish you'd please, ma'am, make maw let me go." He seemed to
gather strength as he went on. "I'm all ready, an' a-waitin'; I wish
you'd please, ma'am, make 'er let me go."

"Oh, what can I do?" cried Helen, seized with a new sense of the pathos
that is a part of the humblest human life.

"Please, ma'am, make 'er let me go. I been a-layin' here ready two whole
days an' three long nights, but maw keeps on a-watchin' of me; she won't
let me go. She's got 'er eyes nailed on me constant."

Helen looked at the mother. Her form was wasted by long vigils, but she
sat bolt upright in her chair, and in her eyes burned the fires of an
indomitable will. She kept them fixed on her son.

"Won't you please, ma'am, tell maw to let me go? I'm so tired er
waitin'."

The plaintive voice seemed to be an echo from the valley of the shadow
of death. Helen, watching narrowly and with agonized curiosity, thought
she saw the mother's lips move; but no sound issued therefrom. The dying
man made another appeal:

"Oh, I'm so tired! I'm all ready, an' she won't let me go. A long time
ago when I us' ter ax 'er, she'd let me do 'most anything, an' now she
won't let me go. Oh, Lordy! I'm so tired er waitin'! Please, ma'am, ax
'er to let me go."

Mrs. Stucky rose from her chair, raised her clasped hands above her
head, and turned her face away. As she did so, something like a sigh of
relief escaped from her son. He closed his eyes, and over his wan face
spread the repose and perfect peace of death.

Turning again toward the bed, Mrs. Stucky saw Helen weeping gently. She
gazed at her a moment. "Whatter you cryin' fer now?" she asked with
unmistakable bitterness. "You wouldn't a-wiped your feet on 'im. Ef you
wuz gwine ter cry, whyn't you let 'im see you do it 'fore he died? What
good do it do 'im now? He wa'n't made out'n i'on like me."

Helen made no reply.

She placed her basket on the floor, went out into the sunlight, and made
her way swiftly back to Waverly. Her day's experience made a profound
impression on her, so much so that when the time came for her to go
home, she insisted on going alone to bid Mrs. Stucky good-by.

She found the lonely old woman sitting on her door-sill. She appeared to
be gazing on the ground, but her sun-bonnet hid her face. Helen
approached, and spoke to her. She gave a quick upward glance, and fell
to trembling. She was no longer made of iron. Sorrow had dimmed the fire
of her eyes. Helen explained her visit, shook hands with her, and was
going away, when the old woman, in a broken voice, called her to stop.
Near the pine-pole gate was a little contrivance of boards that looked
like a bird-trap. Mrs. Stucky went to this, and lifted it.

"Come yer, honey," she cried, "yer's somepin' I wanter show you."
Looking closely, Helen saw molded in the soil the semblance of a
footprint. "Look at it, honey, look at it," said Mrs. Stucky; "that's
his darlin' precious track."

Helen turned, and went away weeping. The sight of that strange memorial,
which the poor mother had made her shrine, leavened the girl's whole
after-life.

When Helen and her aunt came to take their leave of Azalia, their going
away was not by any means in the nature of a merry-making. They went
away sorrowfully, and left many sorrowful friends behind them. Even
William, the bell-ringer and purveyor of hot batter-cakes at Mrs.
Haley's hotel, walked to the railroad station to see them safely off.
General Garwood accompanied them to Atlanta; and though the passenger
depot in that pushing city is perhaps the most unromantic spot to be
found in the wide world--it is known as the "Car-shed" in Atlantese--it
was there that he found courage to inform Miss Eustis that he purposed
to visit Boston during the summer in search not only of health, but of
happiness; and Miss Eustis admitted, with a reserve both natural and
proper, that she would be very happy to see him.

It is not the purpose of this chronicle to follow General Garwood to
Boston. The files of the Boston papers will show that he went there, and
that, in a quiet way, he was the object of considerable social
attention. But it is in the files of the "Brookline Reporter" that the
longest and most graphic account of the marriage of Miss Eustis to
General Garwood is to be found. It is an open secret in the literary
circles of Boston that the notice in the "Reporter" was from the pen of
Henry P. Bassett, the novelist. It was headed "Practical
Reconstruction"; and it was conceded on all sides that, even if the
article had gone no farther than the head-line, it would have been a
very happy description of the happiest of events.


THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Page 1, Table of Contents, "137" changed to "133"

Page 65, "read" changed to "red" (red face with)

Page 111, opening quotation mark added (exclaimed Aunt Fountain, "ain')

Page 127, apostrophe changed to a comma. (man, you)

Page 129, apostrophe removed from before "agreeable" (say she agreeable)

Page 156, opening quotation mark added (continued. "I'll bet)

Page 179, opening quotation mark added (heavenward, "than to see)

Page 205, "it" changed to "in" (wanted to put in)

Page 216, closing quotation mark added (my conscience.")

Page 223, "libery" changed to "liberty" (felt at liberty to)

Page 224, "thay" changed to "they" (appreciate what they pay)

Page 273, "Hayley" changed to "Haley" (so," said Mrs. Haley, with)

Page 301, "Remembe" changed to "Remember" (characteristic. "Remember,)





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