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Title: J. Poindexter, Colored
Author: Cobb, Irvin S. (Irvin Shrewsbury), 1876-1944
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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                         _J. Poindexter, Colored_



    _By Irvin S. Cobb_


    _Fiction_

    J. POINDEXTER, COLORED
    SUNDRY ACCOUNTS
    FROM PLACE TO PLACE
    THOSE TIMES AND THESE
    LOCAL COLOR
    OLD JUDGE PRIEST
    BACK HOME
    THE ESCAPE OF MR. TRIMM


    _Wit and Humor_

    ONE THIRD OFF
    A PLEA FOR OLD CAP COLLIER
    THE ABANDONED FARMERS
    THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
    EATING IN TWO OR THREE LANGUAGES
    "OH, WELL, YOU KNOW HOW WOMEN ARE!"
    FIBBLE D.D.
    "SPEAKING OF OPERATIONS--"
    EUROPE REVISED
    ROUGHING IT DE LUXE
    COBB'S BILL OF FARE
    COBB'S ANATOMY


    _Miscellany_

    THE THUNDERS OF SILENCE
    THE GLORY OF THE COMING
    PATHS OF GLORY
    "SPEAKING OF PRUSSIANS--"


    _New York_

    _George H. Doran Company_



_J. Poindexter, Colored_

_By_

_Irvin S. Cobb_

_Author of_



"_Old Judge Priest_,"

"_Speaking of Operations--_," _Etc._

_New York_

_George H. Doran Company_


_Copyright, 1922_,

_By George H. Doran Company_

[Illustration: Company Logo]

_Copyright, 1922_,

_By The Curtis Publishing Company_

_Printed in the United States of America_


_J. Poindexter, Colored_

TO
MARGARET ILLINGTON BOWES


[Illustration: Cover]



_CONTENTS_


CHAPTER                           PAGE

ONE:         _Down Yonder_          11

TWO:         _North-Bound_          27

THREE:       _Manhattan Isle_       41

FOUR:        _Harlem Heights_       61

FIVE:        _Local Colored_        88

SIX:         _Gold Coast_           94

SEVEN:       _Country Side_        103

EIGHT:       _Dark Secrets_        114

NINE:        _Movie-Land_          120

TEN:         _Black Belt_          140

ELEVEN:      _Afric Shores_        151

TWELVE:      _Business Deals_      162

THIRTEEN:    _Private Life_        167

FOURTEEN:    _Oiled Skids_         173

FIFTEEN:     _Vet to Zym_          193

SIXTEEN:     _Lady-Like!_          201

SEVENTEEN:   _Sable Plots_         210

EIGHTEEN:    _White Hopes_         224

NINETEEN:    _Pistol Plays_        235

TWENTY:      _Piebald Joys_        247

TWENTY-ONE:  _Headed Home_         252

TWENTY-TWO:  _Last Words_          264



_J. Poindexter, Colored_



CHAPTER I

_Down Yonder_


My name is J. Poindexter. But the full name is Jefferson Exodus
Poindexter, Colored. But most always in general I has been known as
Jeff, for short. The Jefferson part is for a white family which my folks
worked for them one time before I was born, and the Exodus is because my
mammy craved I should be named after somebody out of the Bible. How I
comes to write this is this way:

It seems like my experiences here in New York is liable to be such that
one of my white gentleman friends he says to me I should take pen in
hand and write them out just the way they happen and at the time they is
happening, or right soon afterwards, whilst the memory of them is clear
in my brain; and then he'll see if he can't get them printed somewheres,
which on top of the other things which I now is, will make me an author
with money coming in steady. He says to me he will fix up the spelling
wherever needed and attend to the punctuating; but all the rest of it
will be my own just like I puts it down. I reads and writes very well
but someway I never learned to puncture. So the places where it is
necessary to be punctual in order to make good sense and keep everything
regulation and make the talk sound natural is his doings and also some
of the spelling. But everything else is mine and I asks credit.

My coming to New York, in the first place, is sort of a sudden thing
which starts here about a month before the present time. I has been
working for Judge Priest for going on sixteen years and is expecting to
go on working for him as long as we can get along together all right,
which it seems like from appearances that ought to be always. But after
he gives up being circuit judge on account of him getting along so in
age he gets sort of fretful by reasons of him not having much to do any
more and most of his own friends having died off on him. When the state
begins going Republican about once in so often, he says to me, kind of
half joking, he's a great mind to pull up stakes and move off and go
live somewheres else. But pretty soon after that the whole country goes
dry and then he says to me there just naturally ain't no fitten place
left for him to go to without he leaves the United States.

The old boss-man he broods a right smart over this going-dry business.
Being a judge and all, he's always been a great hand for upholding the
law. But this here is one law which he cannot uphold and yet go on
taking of his sweetening drams steady the same as he's been used to
doing all his life. And from the statements which he lets fall from time
to time I gleans that he can't hardly make up his mind which one of the
two of them--law or liquor--he's going to favor the most when the pinch
comes and the supply in the dineroom cupboard begins running low. Every
time he starts off for a little trip somewheres and has to tote a bottle
along in his hip pocket instead of being able to walk into a grocery and
refresh himself over the bar like he's been doing for mighty nigh sixty
years, I hears him speaking mumbling[1] words to himself. I hears him
saying it's come to a pretty pass when a Kentucky gentleman has either
got to compromise with his conscience or play a low-down trick on his
appetite. Off and on it certainly does pester him mightily.

But just about the middle of the present summer he gets a letter from
his married niece, her which used to be Miss Sally Fanny Priest but is
now married to a Yankee gentleman named Fairchild and living in Denver,
Colorado. Miss Sally Fanny is the closest kin-folks the old judge has
got left in the world; and she ups and writes to him and invites him to
come on out there where she lives and stay a spell with them and then
toward winter go along with her to a place called Bermuda which it seems
like from what she says in the letter, Bermuda is one of these here
localities where you can still keep on having a toddy when you feels
like it without breaking the law.

So he studies about it awhile and then he says to me one night he
believes he'll go, which he does along about four weeks ago, leaving me
behind to sort of look out for the home place out on Clay Street. My
wages goes on the same as if he was there, and I has but little to do,
but the place seems mighty lonesome to me without the old boss-man
pottering 'round doing this and that and the other thing. I certainly
does miss seeing the sight of him. Every time I walks through the front
part of the house, and it all empty and closed up and smelling kind of
musted, and sees his old umbrella hanging on the front hall hat-rack
where he forgot and left it there the day he went away, I gets a sort of
a low feeling in my mind. It's like having the toothache in a place
where there ain't no tooth to have it in.

And I keeps on thinking about the old days when he'd be setting out on
the front porch as night-time come on, with some of them old-time
friends of his dropping in on him, and me bringing them drinks from the
sideboard, and them laughing and smoking and joking and carrying on; or
else maybe talking about the Confederate War and the Battle of Shiloh
and all. But most of them is now dead and gone and the old judge is away
out yonder in Denver, Colorado, a-many and a-many a mile from me; and
all I can hear as I comes up the walk from the front gate after dark is
the katy-dids calling in the silver-leaf trees and all I can hear when I
unlocks the door and goes inside is one of them old chimney swifts up
the chimney, going: "_Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!_" I've took notice before
now that an empty house which it has always been empty ain't half so
lonesome for you to be in it as one which has been lived in by people
you knowed but they have now gone entirely away.

So, after about two weeks of being alone, I gets so restless I feels
like I can't stand it very much longer without breaking loose someway.
So one Sunday about half past two o'clock in the evening, I'm going on
past a young white gentleman by the name of Mr. Dallas Pulliam's house
and he comes out on his front porch and calls over to me and tells me to
come on in there 'cause he wants to talk to me about something. So I
crosses over from the other side of the street and walks up to the porch
steps and takes off my hat and asks him how he is getting along and he
says he ain't got no complaint and he asks me how is I getting along my
own self and I tells him just sort of toler'ble so-and-so, and then he
says to me how would I like to take a trip to New York City? I thinks he
must be funning. But I says to him, I says:

"How come New York City, Mr. Dallas?"

So he tells me that here lately he's been studying a right smart about
going to New York and staying there a spell on a sort of a vacationlike,
and if he likes it maybe he'll settle there and go into business. He
says he's about made up his mind to take some likely black boy along
with him for to be his body-servant and look after his clothes and
things and everything and he's thinking that maybe I might be the one to
fill the bill; and then he says to me:

"How about it, Jeff--want to go along and give the big town the
once-over or not?"

I then sees he is not funning but is making me a straight business
proposition. I thanks him and says to him that I has ever had the crave
to travel far and wide and that I likewise has often heard New York
spoke of as a very pleasant place to go to, by them which has done so,
and also a place where something or other is going on most of the time.
But I says to him I'm afraid I can't go on account I'm under obligations
to Judge Priest by reasons of us having been together so long and him
having left me in complete utter charge of our house. He says, though,
he thinks maybe he can attend to that part of it all right; he says
he'll write a letter to the Judge specifying about what's come up and
he's pretty sure it can be fixed up so's I can go. He says if I don't
like the job after I gets there, he'll pay my way back home again any
time I wants to come, or when the old judge needs me, either one. He
says he ain't adopting me, he's just borrowing me.

I always has liked Mr. Dallas Pulliam, him being one of the most
freehanded young white gentlemen in town. Of course, off and on, I've
heard the rest of the white folks hurrahing him behind his back about
the way he's handled all that there money which was left to him here a
few years back when his paw died. There was that time when he bought a
sugar plantation down in Louisiana, sight onseen, and when he went down
to see it, couldn't do so without he'd a-done a whole heap of
bailing-out first, by reason of its being under three feet of standing
water. Anyway, that's what I heard tell; thought I reckon it wasn't
noways as bad as what some of the white folks let on. And there was that
other time only a few months back when he decided to start up a
buggy-factory. I overhears Judge Priest speaking about that one day to
Dr. Lake.

"That young man, Dallas Pulliam, certainly is a sagacious and a
farseein' person," he says. "Jest when automobiles has got so cheap that
every hill-billy in the county kin afford to own at least one, he's
fixin' to go into the buggy-factory business on an extensive scale. Next
time I run into him I'm goin' to suggest to him that when the buggy
trade seems to sort of slack up, ez possibly it may, that instid of
layin' off his hands he might start in to turnin' out flint-lock muskets
fur the U. S. Army."

I suspicions that Judge Priest or somebody else must have spoke to Mr.
Dallas along those lines because he didn't go into the buggy business
after all. For the past several months he ain't been doing much of
anything, so far as I knows of, except pranking 'round and courting Miss
Henrietta Farrell.

Well, white folks may poke their fun at him unbeknownst, but he's got
manners suitable to make him popular with me. He's the kind of a white
gentleman that's this here way: He'll wear a new necktie or a fancy vest
about three or four times and then he'll get tired of it and pass it on
to the first one which comes along. Moreover, him and me is mighty near
the same size and I knows full well in advance, just from looking at him
that Sunday evening standing there on his porch, that the very same suit
of clothes which he's got on then will fit me without practically no
alterations. It's a checked suit, too, and mighty catchy to the eye. So
right off I tells him if Judge Priest gives his free will and consent
I'll certainly be down at the depot when that there old engine whistle
blows for to get aboard for New York City. Which he then asks me for
Miss Sally Fanny's address and promises he'll write out there that very
night to find out can I go.

It's curious how news does travel 'round in a place that's the right
size for everybody in it to know everybody else's business. Before night
it has done leaked out somehow that I is seriously considering accepting
going to New York with young Mr. Dallas Pulliam; and by next morning, lo
and behold, if it ain't all over town! Wherever I goes, pretty near
everybody I meets, whites and blacks alike, asks me how about it and
allows I'm powerful lucky to get such a chance. Mostly, in times gone
by, when my race goes North they heads for Chicago, Illinois, or maybe
Detroit, Michigan, or Indianapolis, Indiana. No sooner do they get
there than they begins writing back saying that up North is the only
fitten place for colored folks to be at; wages high, times easy, and
white folks calling you "Mister" and everything pleasant like that. They
writes that there is not no Jim Crow cars nor separate seats for colored
at the moving-pictures nor nothing like that. But I has taken notice
that after awhile most of 'em quits writing back and starts coming back.
Some stays but more returns--and is verging on shouting-happy when they
crosses the Ohio River coming in. From what I hears some of 'em say
after they gets home and has got a full meal of vittles inside of them,
and so is got more time to talk, I has made up my mind that so far as my
own color is concerned, the main difference from the South is this: Up
North they calls you "Mister" but they don't feed you!

Still, New York City ain't Chicago, Illinois, nor yet it ain't Detroit,
Michigan; and besides, working for Mr. Dallas Pulliam, I won't have to
be worrying about when does I eat next. Still, even so, I says to
myself that it won't be no harm to inquire round now that the word is
done leaked out anyhow, and learn something more than what little I
knows about New York City. But it seems like, outside of some few white
folks, there is not nobody I knows who's ever been there, excusing a few
head of draft-boys which went there enduring of the early part of the
war; and they wouldn't scarcely count neither on account of them just
passing through and not staying over only just a short time whilst
waiting for the boat to start. Howsomever, they tells me, one and all,
that from what they did see of it they is willing to recommend it very
highly.

One or two of the white gentlemen which I is well acquainted with, they
tells me the same, too. Mr. Jere Fairleigh he takes me into his law
office when I meets him on the street and speaks to him about it; and he
gets a book all about New York down off of one of his shelves and he
reads to me where the book says that in New York there is more of these
here Germans than there is in any German city except one, and more
Russians than there is in any Russia city except none, and more Italians
than there is in any Italy city except one, and more Hungarians than
there is in any Hungry city at all, and so on and so forth. I says to
him, I says:

"Mr. Jere, it seems lak they is mo' of ever' nation in Noo Yawk 'en whut
they is anywhars else. But they does not 'pear to be nothin' said 'bout
'Merikins. How come, suh?"

He says he reckons there's so few of them there that the man which wrote
the book didn't figure it was worth while putting them in. Still, he
says I'll probably run into somebody once in awhile which speaks the
United States language.

"'Most every policeman does," he says, "I understand it's the law that
they have to be able to speak it before they'll let 'em go on the force,
so as they can understand the foreigners that come over from the
mainland of North America to visit in New York."

The way he looks--so sort of serious--when he says that, I can't tell if
he's in earnest or not. I judges, though, that he's just having his
fumdiddles with me. And then he goes on and tells me that the biggest of
everything and the tallest and the richest and the grandest is found
there and if I don't believe it is, I can just ask any New Yorker after
I gets there and he'll tell me the same.

So, taking one thing with another, I'm mighty much pleased when the word
comes along in about a week from then that the old judge says I can go
and sends me his best wishes and a twenty-dollar bill as a parting gift
and friendship offering. He says in the letter, which Mr. Dallas reads
to me, to tell me to be sort of careful about sampling the stock of
liquor and cigars on the sideboard of any New York family when I'm in
their house, and also not to start in wearing a strange Yankee
gentleman's clothes without telling him about it first. He says people
up there probably don't understand local customs as they have ever
prevailed down our way, and if I ain't careful, first thing I know
there'll be a skinny black nigger named Jeff locked up in the county
jail hollowing for help and not no help handy.

But that's just the old boss-man's joke. He always is been the beatenest
one for twitting me about little things around the house! Mr. Dallas he
knows how to take what the Judge says and so does I and we has quite a
laugh together over the letter.

And lessen twenty-four hours from that time we is both all packed up and
on our way, New York bound, me wearing one of Mr. Dallas' suits of
clothes which I figures he ain't had it on his back more than five or
six times before altogether. It's a suit of a most pleasing pattern,
too. And cut very stylish, with a belt in the back.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] Note by Jeff's amanuensis.--In the part of the Union from which Jeff
hails and among his race the word _mumbling_ denotes complaint,
peevishness, a querulous utterance.



CHAPTER II

_North Bound_


Next morning after we gets across into Ohio, Mr. Dallas he fetches me
into the Pullman car where he's riding. I finds myself more comfortable
there than I has been riding up front in the colored compartment, but
lesser easy in my mind. I enjoys the feel of them soft seats and yet I
gets sort of uneasy setting amongst so many strange white folks. Still,
there ain't nobody telling me to roust myself out from there and after a
while I gets more used to being where I now is. Also I gets acquainted
with two of the porters, the one on our car and the one on the car which
is hitched on next to us. When they ain't busy, we all three gets out in
the little porches betwixt the cars and confabs together. 'Course I
don't let on to them, but all the time I studies them two boys.

The one on our car, which his given name is Roscoe, is short and chunky
and kind of fatted out; he's black as the pots and powerful nappy-headed
besides. His head looks like somebody has done dipped it in a kettle of
grease and then throwed a handful of buckshot at it and they all stuck.
But he's smart; he knows what's service. I sees that plain.

With Roscoe it's this way: A lady gets on board the car. No sooner does
she sit down and begin to fumble with the hat-pins than there's old
Roscoe standing right alongside of her holding a big paper bag in his
hands all opened out for her to put her hat in it and keep it out of the
dust. A gentleman setting in the smoking-room reaches in his pocket and
gets a cigar out. Before he rightly can bite the end of it off, here is
this here same Roscoe at his elbow with a match ready. Roscoe he ain't
hanging back waiting for folks to ask him for something and then have
them getting all fretful whilst he's running to find whatever 'tis they
wants. No sir, not him. He's there with the materials almost before
they is made up their minds what it is they craves next. He just
naturally beats 'em to it; which I'll tell the world that's service.

He's powerful crafty about his tips, too. When he does something for a
passenger and the passenger reaches in his pocket to get a little piece
of chicken-feed out to hand over to Roscoe, he smiles and holds up his
hand.

"No, suh," he says to him, "keep yore funds whar they now is, please,
suh. There ain't no hurry--we're goin' travel quite a piece together.
W'en we gits to whar you gits off, ef you is puffec'ly satisfied wid all
whut has been done in yore behalf then you kin slip me a lil' reward, ef
you's a-mind to."

He tells me in confidences that working it that-a-way he gets dollars
where he would a-got dimes. He calls it his deferred payment plan. He
says some months his tips run three times what his wages is. I'll say
that old tar-baby certainly is got something in his head besides sockets
for his teeth to set in.

The other porter, the one which is on the car next behind, is as
different from Roscoe as day is from night. He calls himself Harold.
But I knows just from looking at him that he's too old for such a fancy
entitlement as that. 'Cause Harold is a new-issue name amongst us
colored, and this here boy must be rising of forty years old, if he's a
day. This Harold is yellow-complected and yet he ain't the pure high
yellow, neither; he's more the shade of a slice of scorched sponge cake.
He's plenty uppidity. And I takes notice that the further North the
train goes the more uppidity he gets. He quits saying "No, ma'am," and
"Yas, suh," almost before we leaves Cincinnati. He quits saying "Thanky,
_suh_," and he starts saying "_I_ thank you," in such a way it sounds
like he was actually doing you a favor to accept your two bits. He
starts talking back to passengers which complains about something. He
acts more and more begrudgeful until it looks like it must actually hurt
him to step along and do something which somebody on the train wants
done. Along about Pittsburgh he's got so brash that I keeps watching for
some white man to rise up and knock that boy's mouth so far round from
the middle of his face it'll look like his side-entrance. But nothing
like that don't happen and I is most deeply surprised and marvels
greatly. I says to myself, I says:

"Harold," I says, "I aims to git yore likeness well fixed in my mind
'cause I got a presentermint 'at you ain't goin' be 'round yere so very
much longer an' I wants to be able to remember how you looked, after you
is gone frum us. Some these times you is goin' git yore system mixed an'
start bein' biggotty on yore way South an' 'en you is due to wake up at
the end of yore run all organized to attend yore own fune'l. Yas, suh,
man, w'en you comes to in Newerleans you'll a-been daid fully twelve
hours. I kin jest shut my eyes right now an' see the cemetery sexton
pattin' you in the face wid a spade."

I talks to him about the way he acts. Course I does not come right out
and ask him about it; but I leads him up to it gentle and roundabout. He
tells me he don't aim to let nobody run over him. He tells me he
considers himself just as good as they is, if not better. He says he
lives in a place called Jersey City where the colored race gets their
bounden rights and if they don't get 'em they up and contends for 'em
until they do. I says to him, I says:

"Harold," I says, "I ain't never been about nowhars much till this
present trip an' I ain't never seen much, so you must excuse of my
ign'ence but the way it looks to me, I'd ruther be happy amongst niggers
then miser'ble amongst w'ite folks."

He says to me ain't I got no respect for my color? I says to him I's got
so much respect for it that I ain't aiming to jam myself into places
where I ain't desired. He says that ain't the point; he says the point
is that I is got to stand up for the entitled rights and privileges of
the colored race. I says where I comes from I also has got to think
about keeping from getting my head all peeled. He says to me I'll find
out before I has been long up North that there is a sight of difference
betwixt Kentucky and New Jersey. I says to him that most doubtless he is
right. And then he says I should also be careful about speaking the
word "nigger." He says the word ain't never used no more amongst
colored folks which respects themselves. I says to him, I says:

"Huh!" I says. "Well, then, whut does you call a boy w'en you's blabbin'
'long wid him friendly-lak?"

He says it is different when I is strictly amongst my own color, but
that I mustn't never speak the word "nigger" in front of white folks nor
never allow no white man to call me that and get away with it.

I says:

"Not even ef you is wu'kin' fur him an' he don't call it to you to hurt
yore feelin's nor to demean you but jest sez it sociable an' so-an'-so?"

He says:

"Not under no circumstances whutsomever."

I says:

"How is I goin' stop him?"

He says:

"Wid yore fists. Or half of a loose brick. Or somethin'."

I says to Harold:

"Harold," I says, "you shore wuz right jest now w'en you norrated 'at
they wuz a diff'ience betwixt Kintucky an' up-North. Well, live an'
learn," I says, "live an' learn. Only, ef I aims to learn frum you I has
doubts whether I'll live so ver' much longer."

We talks some more about making money, too. It seems like the closer you
gets to New York City the more you thinks about money. I noticed it then
and I notices it since, frequent. He says to me that some of the boys in
the sleeping-car portering business don't depend just on their wages and
their tips alone. He says they has another way for to pick up loose
change. He says he don't follow after it himself; he says he has got one
or two other boys in mind which he has talked with 'em and knows how
they does it.

I says to him, I says:

"Specify?"

He says:

"The way these yere boys gits they money is 'at they gits it late at
night after ever'body has done went to baid. Most gin'elly a man 'at's
travelin' he don't keep track of his loose change. Anyhow, he don't
keep near ez close track of it ez he do w'en he's home. He's buyin'
hisse'f a cigar yere an' a paper-back book there an' a apple in this
place an' a sandwitch in 'at place, an' he jest stick the change in his
pants pocket an' goes on 'bout his bus'ness. Well, come baid-time, he
turns in. We'll say you is the porter on his car. You goes th'ough the
car till you comes to his berth. You parts the curtains jest ez easy ez
you kin an' you peeps in th'ough the crack an' see ef he's sleepin'
good. Ef his pants is all folded up smooth you better ramble along an'
leave 'at man be. Folded pants is most gine'lly a sign of a careful man
w'ich the chances is he knows how much he's got to a cent. But ef his
pants is kind of wadded-up in the lil' hammock or flung to one side sort
of keerless-lak, you reaches in an' you lifts 'em out. But fust you
wants to be shore he's sleepin' sound. Them w'ich sleeps on the back wid
the mouth open is the safetest."

I says to him, I says:

"Yes, but s'posen' he do wake up an' ketch you fumblin' 'round insides
of his berth. Whut then?"

"Oh," he says, "tha's all purvided fur in the ritual. You sez to him:
''Scuse me, mister, I med a mistake. I thought you wuz the gen'lman 'at
lef' a early call fur to git off at Harrisburg.' But most in gine'l he
don't wake up. So you gits his pants out into the aisle an' goes th'ough
'em. Ef he's got somewhars 'round five dollars in loose change in his
pockets, you teks fifty cents, no mo' an' no less, an' 'en you slips his
pants back whar you found 'em an' go 'long. Ef he's got somewhars 'round
ten dollars in chicken-feed an' in ones an' twos, you assesses him dues
of jest one dollar even. Ef you plays yore system right an' don't git
greedy they ain't one chanc't in a thousand 'at he'll miss the money
w'en he wakes up. But," he says, "they's one fatal exception to the
rule. W'en you come to him, don't touch a cent of his money no matter
how much he's carryin' on him. 'Cause ef you do he's shore to mek a
hollow the very fust thing in the mornin' an' next thing you know you's
in trouble an' they's beckonin' you up on the cyarpet."

I says to him, I says:

"Wait a minute," I says. "Lemme see ef I can't name you the exception my
own se'f. The exception," I says, "is the w'ite man w'ich he carries all
his small change in one of these yere lil' screwed-up leather purses.
Ain't it?"

And he says yes, for a fact, that's so. But he says how come I is
knowing so much when I ain't never done no portering my own self. And I
says to him, a man don't need to be wearing railroading clothes to know
that any white man which totes around one of them little tight patent
purses knows at all times, sleeping or waking, just exactly how much
money he's got.

Well, when we gets to New York City it's morning again. When we comes
out of the depot onto the street I takes one look round and I allows to
myself that these here New York folks certainly is got powerfully behind
someway with their hauling. Excusing the time we had the cyclone down
home, I ain't never in my whole life seen so much truck and stuff and
things moving in all different directions at the same time. And
people--_who-ee_! Every which-a-way I looks all I can see is a multitude
of strangers. And I says to myself there certainly must be a big
convention going on in this town for the streets to be so full of
visiting delegates and it's a mighty good thing for us Mr. Dallas is
done sent a telegram on ahead for rooms at the hotel, else we'd have to
camp out with some private family same as they does down home in
county-fair week or when the district Methodist conference meets.

The white gentleman that's going to fix up what I writes, he told me
that I should set down my first impressions of New York before I begins
to forget 'em. He says they'll make good local color, whatever that is.
Which I will now do so:

The thing which impresses me first and foremost is a steamboat I sees on
the river which runs alongside New York City on the side nearest to
Paducah. She is not no side-wheeler nor yet she ain't no stern-wheeler,
which all the steamboats I has ever seen before is naturally bound to
be one or the other. As near as I can tell, she has not got no wheel at
all, side- or stern-. It would seem that what runs her is a kind of a
big hump-back timber which sticks up out of the middle of her hurricane
deck and works up and down, and which Mr. Dallas tells me is known as a
walking-beam. But it seems like to me that's certainly a most curiousome
way to run a steamboat and I says to myself that wonders will never
cease!

And the thing which impresses me next most is a snack-stand on a
sidewalk where they is selling watermelons by the slice--and it the
middle of August!

And next to that the most impressiveness is when I sees a gang of black
fellows working on a levee down by this same river, only it's mighty
flat-looking for a levee. These boys is working there roustabouting
freight, and there ain't a single one of 'em which is singing as he goes
back and forth. When a river-nigger down our way don't sing whilst he's
loading, it's a sign something is wrong with him and next thing he knows
he don't know nothing by reason of the mate having lammed him across
the head with a hickory gad. But this here gang is going along just as
dumb as if they was white. I wonders to myself if thereby they is hoping
to fool somebody into believing they is white?

I will therefore state that these three things is the things which
impresses me the most highly on my first arrival in New York. I also
takes notice of the high buildings. They strikes me as being quite high;
but of course when you starts in to build a high building, highness is
naturally what you aims for, ain't it?



Chapter III

_Manhattan Isle_


The day we gets to New York is the day before yesterday and we has been
on the go so constant ever since and I has seen so much it seems like my
ideas is all mixed up together same as a mess of scrambled eggs. The way
it looks to me, the mainest difficulty with an author, especially if
he's kind of new at the authorizing business, is not so much to find
something to write up as 'tis to pick out the special things which
should be wrote up and just leave the rest be. So it is now my aim to
set forth the main points which sticks out in my mind.

Well, first off, soon as we gets in, we goes to the hotel. Beforehand,
Mr. Dallas he says to me it's a quiet hotel up-town; but when we arrives
at it I takes a look around and I says to myself that if this here is a
quiet hotel they shore must have to wear ear-mufflers at one of the
noisy ones if they hopes to hear themselves think. To begin with, she
don't look like no hotel I've ever been used to. She rears herself away
up in the air, same as a church steeple, only with windows all the way
up, and although the weather is pleasant there is not no white folks
setting in chairs under the front gallery. In the first place, there is
not nothing which looks like a gallery, excusing it's a little glass
to-do which sticks out over the pavement at the main entrance, and if
anybody was to try setting there the only way he could save his feet
from being mashed off by people trampling on 'em would be for him to
have both legs sawed off at the ankles. You'd think that, being up-town,
the neighborhood would be kind of quiet, with shade trees and maybe some
vacant lots here and there, but, no, sir; it's all built up solid and
the crowds is mighty near as thick as what they was down around the
depot and in just as much of a hurry to get to wherever it is they is
bound for.

Even with all the jamming and all the excitement going on they must
a-been expecting us. The way they fusses over Mr. Dallas is proof to my
mind that somebody must a-told 'em in advance that he belongs to the
real quality down where we comes from, and I certainly is puffed up with
pride to be along with him. Because if he had been the King of Europe
they could not have showed him no higher honors than what they does.

No sooner does we pull up at the curb-stone in front than a huge big
tall white man dressed up something like a Knights of Templar is opening
the taxihack door for us to get out; and two or three white boys in
militia suits comes a-running at his call and snatches the baggage away
from me; and another member of the Grand Lodge, in full uniform, is
standing just inside the front door to give us the low bow of welcome as
we walks into a place which it is all done up with marble posts and with
red wallpaper on the walls and gold chicken-coops on every side until it
puts me in mind of a country nigger's notion of Heaven. Over at the
clerk's enclosure three white men is waiting very eager to receive us,
which each and every one of 'em is wearing his dress-up clothes with a
standing collar and long-tailed coat the same as though he was fixing to
be best man at a wedding or pall-bearer at a funeral or something else
extra special and fancy. For all it's summer-time there is not nobody
loafing round there in his shirt sleeves--I bet you there ain't!

One of the pall-bearing gentlemen shoves the book round for Mr. Dallas
to write his name in it and the second one he reaches for the keys and
the third one he looks to see if there is not some mail or telegrams for
him. It takes no lessen a number than three of them white boys in the
soldier clothes to escort Mr. Dallas upstairs and a fourth one he grabs
up my valise and takes me on an elevator to the servants' annex. He
don't have to run the elevator himself, neither. There's another hand
just to do that alone and all my white boy is got to do is wrestle my
baggage. It's the first time in my life ever I has had a white person
toting my belongings for me and it makes me feel kind of abovish and
important. Also, I takes notice that when he gets to my room he keeps
hanging round fussing with the window shade and first one thing and then
another, same as if he was one of the bell-boys at the hotel down home
waiting on a traveling man. Course he's lingering round till he gets his
tip. For quite a spell I lets him linger on and suffer. I lets on like I
don't suspicion what he's hanging about that-a-way for. Then I slips him
two-bits and I don't begrudge it to him, neither, account of it giving
me such a satisfactory feeling to be high-toning a white boy.

I says to myself that if this here is the annex where they boards the
transom[2] help, what must the main part of the hotel where the regular
guests stays at be like? Because my room certainly is mighty
stylish-looking and full of general grandeur. But I ain't got no time to
be staying there and enjoying the furniture, because I knows Mr. Dallas
will be needing me for to come and wait on him. So I starts right out to
find him and it seems like I travels half a mile through
them hallways before I does so. He's got a big setting-room all to
himself and a fashionable bedroom and a special bath and a little
special hall and all.

I says to him, I says:

"Mr. Dallas, they shore must be monstrous set-up over havin' you pick
out they hotel fur us to stop at. Look how the reception committee
turned out fur you downstairs in full regalia? Look how they mouty nigh
broke they necks fur to usher you in in due state? And now ef they ain't
done gone an' 'sign you to the bridal chamber an' give you the upstairs
parlor fur yore own use, mo' over! It p'intedly indicates to me 'at they
sets a heap of store by you."

He sort of laughs at that.

"Why, Jeff," he says, "if you think this is a fine lay-out you should
see some of the other _suites_ they have here."

I says:

"I ain't cravin' to see 'em. I done seen sweetness 'nuff ez 'tis. They
su'ttinly is usin' us noble."

He says they should ought to use us noble seeing what the price is they
charges us. He says:

"Do you know what I'm paying here for the accommodations for the two of
us? I'm paying twenty-seven dollars and a half."

I says to him if that's the case he better let me clear out of there
right brisk and skirmish round and find me a respectable colored
boarding house somewheres handy by, so's to cut down the expenses,
because, I don't care what anybody says, twenty-seven dollars and a half
is a sight of money to be paying out every week.

He says:

"Twenty-seven and a half a week--huh! Remember, Jeff, we are in New York
now where everything runs high. This stands me twenty-seven and a half a
day."

I says to him, I says:

"_Who-ee!_" I says. "No wonder they kin purvide fancy garments fur all
the hands an' buy solid gold bars fur the cage whar they keeps them
clerks penned up. Mr. Dallas," I says, "it shore is behoovin' on us to
eat hearty th'ee times a day in awder fur to git our money's worth
whilst we's boardin' yere."

He says, though, for me not to overtax my appetite just on that account
because the eating is besides; he says we pays twenty-seven dollars and
a half a day just for our rooms.

I says to him, I says:

"Mr. Dallas, let's git out of yere befo' they begins chargin' us up fur
the air we breathes!"

He says:

"You're too late with your suggestion; they do charge us for that. The
air is all cleaned and cooled before it comes into these rooms."

Then I knows for sure he is burlesqueing me. Who's going to hold the air
whilst they cleans it? And the Good Lord Himself can't chill air to
order in the middle of a August hot spell, let alone a lot of folks
running a hotel--can He? I asks Mr. Dallas them questions.

But he just laughs and say to me that there's not no need to worry,
because he won't be staying there only just a day or so. He says Mr. H.
C. Raynor, which is his principalest friend in New York and the one
which he's thinking about maybe going into business with, has done
devised for us to hire some ready-furnished quarters still higher
up-town. He says something about 'em being Sublette quarters in a
department-house; leastwise that's what I makes out of what he says.
That's news to me in more ways than one because, in the first place, I
didn't know any of the Sublettes, which is a very plentiful white
connection in our county, had done moved up here to live, and in the
second place it seemed like to me there just naturally couldn't be no
more up-town to New York City than what I already had done observed
coming from the train.

He goes on to say he is expecting to hear from the gentleman almost any
minute now and then he'll know better what the program is. Almost before
he gets the words out of his mouth the telephone bell rings and sure
enough, it is this here Mr. Raynor which is on the wire, and it turns
out that the place where we're going is ready for us now on account of
the folks which owns it having gone away sooner than what they expected,
and the further tidings is that we can move up there that same day,
which we does--along about an hour before supper-time. I notices they
don't make near as much fuss over us going thence from there as they did
whilst ushering of us in. I judges the man what owns the hotel must be
feeling kind of put-out about losing of all that there money which we'd
be paying him had we a-stayed on.

We gets into a taxihack and we rides for what seems like to me it's
several miles and still are not nowheres near the outskirts as far as I
can judge, and when finally we gets to the new location I has another
astonishment. For here all day I've been expecting we'd land at a
private residence but this place to which we've come at don't look like
no private residence to me. It's more like the hotel we just left only
more bigger and mighty near as tall. In all other respects additional it
certainly is a grand establishment.

It's got a kind of a private road so's carriages can drive in under
shelter off the sidewalk and 'way back inside is a round piece of ground
all fixed up with solid marble benches and little cedar trees and
flowerbeds, like a cemetery. I thinks to myself that maybe this here is
the private burying-plot for the owner's family; but still there ain't
no tombstones in sight excepting one over the front door with words cut
on it, and since I figures I has done showed ignorance enough for one
day, I don't ask no fool questions about it. The help here also wears
fancy clothes, but is my own color. I'm glad of that because I counts
now on having some black folks to get acquainted with and to talk to;
but just as soon as one of 'em opens his mouth and speaks I knows they
is not my kind even if they is my complexion. Because he don't talk like
no white folks ever I knowed and yet he don't talk like none of the
black folks does at home. Still, just from his conversation I can place
him. There was two just like him which was brought along once by a
Northern family staying in our town but they didn't linger long amongst
us. They didn't like the place and no more the place didn't like them.
They claimed they was genuine West Indians, whatever that is, and they
made their brags constant that they also was British subjects. But Aunt
Dilsey Turner she always said they looked more like objects to her. Aunt
Dilsey, which she was Judge Priest's cook for going on twenty years, is
mighty plain-spoken about folks and things which she don't fancy. And
she did not fancy these two none whatsomever.

When we gets upstairs to our section I'm sort of disappointed in it. The
furniture ain't new and shiny like what I naturally expected 'twould be.
Most of it is kind of old and dingy and hacked-up-looking. The curtains
at the setting-room windows is all frayed-like and mighty near wore
through in spots. And the Sublette family must a-run out of money before
they got round to buying the carpets because they is not no carpets at
all but only a passel of old faded rugs scattered about the floor here
and there. Some of the chairs--the best company chairs, too--is so old
they is actually decrepit. I'd say that by rights they belonged in a
second-hand store, or leastways up in the attic. Moreover, they ain't no
upstairs to our department nor yet there is not no downstairs nor no
cellar, but instead, everything, kitchen, pantry, and the rooms for the
help and all, runs on one floor. But Mr. Dallas he deports himself like
he is satisfied and it ain't for me to be finding fault if he sees
fitten not to find any.

Anyway, I is so busy for a little while flying round and getting things
unpacked that I has no time to utter complaints. Pretty soon, though, I
has to knock off hanging up Mr. Dallas' suits to mix a batch of
cocktails from the private stock he has brought along with him in one of
his trunks, because this here Mr. Raynor he telephones he's bringing
some of his friends for a round of drinks with Mr. Dallas and then Mr.
Raynor says they'll ride out in his motor-car to a road-house to get 'em
some dinner. I takes his message off the telephone and I knows that's
what he says, surprising though it do sound.

That's a couple of new ones on me--eating dinner when it's already
mighty near past supper-time and eating it at a road-house, too! I says
to myself that New York City is getting to act more curiouser to me
every minute I stays in it. Because the only road-house ever I knowed of
by that name used to stand alongside the toll-gate just outside the
corporation limits on the Mayfield road and the old white man which
collected the tolls lived in it, his name being Mr. Gip Bayless. But the
gate is done torn down since the public government taken over the gravel
roads, and anyhow, even in its most palmiest days, none of the quality
wouldn't never think of stopping there at that little old rusty house
for their vittles. They'd mighty near as soon think of having a picnic
at the pest-house.

Still and notwithstanding, Mr. Dallas ain't indicating no surprise when
I conveys to him what Mr. Raynor says, so I reflects to myself that if
toll-gate houses up here is in proportion to everything else this one
which they're aiming to go to, must probably be about the size of a
county courthouse, with a slate roof on it and doubtless a cupola. So I
just gets busy and mingles up a batch of powerful tasty cocktails in
the shaker. I knows they is tasty from a couple of private samples which
I pours off for myself out in the pantry. My experience has been that
the only way you can tell is a cocktail just right is to taste it from
time to time as you goes along.

Immediately soon here comes Mr. Raynor with his friends which there is
four of them, besides himself--one other gentleman named Bellows and
three ladies. One of the ladies is older than the other two, but
decorated more younger, if anything, than what they is. Introducing her
to Mr. Dallas, Mr. Raynor says her name is Mrs. Gaylord but they all
calls her Jerry. She's pretty near entirely out of eyebrows, but she has
got more than a bushel of hair which is all kind of frozen-looking and
curled up tight on her head. It don't look natural to me and I knows it
ain't natural a little bit later when Mr. Raynor sets down on the arm of
her chair and throws his arm around her sort of offhand and
sociable-like, and she up and tells him for Heaven's sake to be careful
and not muss her up because she says she's only just that day spent
forty dollars and four hours getting a permanent wave put in.

At that I says to myself, I says:

"Well, betwixt w'ites an' blacks we su'ttinly is mekin' the world safe
fur them beauty doctors. Niggers down South spendin' all the money they
kin rake an' scrape togither gittin' the kinkiness tuck out of they
haids an' fashionable ladies up yere spendin' their'n gittin' it put in!
It's a compliment to one race or the other, but jest w'ich I ain't
purpared to say."

The other ladies is named Miss O'Brien and Miss DeWitt but it's kind of
hard for me at first to remember which from which seeing that the rest
of the party scarcely ever calls 'em anything except Pat and Bill-Lee.
They is both mighty nice and friendly but they is exclusively different
one from the other. Miss Pat she's got her hair chopped off short like a
little boy's and she acts kind of like a boy does, too--free and easy
and laughing a lot and smoking a cigarette so natural that it's like as
if she must a-been born with one in her mouth and it lighted. And yet
for all that, I seems to get the impression that way down underneath
she's kind of tired of herself and everything around her.

But this here Miss DeWitt she is tall and slender and kind of quiet. She
must a-been feeling poorly lately because her face is just dead-white
and her lips is still bright red from the fever and when she sets down
in a chair she just seems to kind of fall back into it, all limp-like.
She ain't saying much with her mouth but she does a sight of talking
with her eyes which is big and black and sort of lazy-like most of the
time. She sure is decked up with jewelry like the Queen of Sheba, too.
She's got big heavy necklaces round her neck and great long ear-rings in
her ears and many bracelets on both her arms. She's even got two big
bracelets clamped round one of her ankles, which I judges she didn't
have room for 'em nowheres else and so put 'em there to keep from losing
'em; and when she moves the jewelry all jingles freely and advertises
her. She walks with a kind of a limber swimming gait, soft and glideful;
of course it ain't exactly like swimming and yet that's the only way I
can designate what her walking puts me in mind of. She wears dead black
clothes and that makes her paleness seem all the more so.

Right from the first jump I can see that Mr. Dallas is drawed to her
powerful, and I thinks to myself that if he's fixing to favor this here
languid lady with his attentions it proves he's got a changeable taste
because she ain't nothing at all similar to Miss Henrietta Farrell,
which she is the one that he's been courting these past few months down
in Kentucky. In fact, she's most teetotally unsimilar.

This Mr. Bellows which came with Mr. Raynor he don't detain my attention
much. If he wasn't there you wouldn't scarcely miss him; and when he is
there you don't scarcely observe him. He makes me think of a neat
haircut and nothing else. You just appreciate him being present and
that's all. But I studies Mr. Raynor every chance I gets, the more
especially because he's the one which is more or less responsible for us
having come North. He's very cheering in his ways; laughing and
whooping out loud at everything and poking fun and telling Mr. Dallas
that he must be good friends with Mr. Bellows and the three ladies
because they is all four of 'em his friends. But I takes note that when
he laughs he don't laugh with his eyes but only with his mouth, and when
he sort of smiles to himself, quiet-like, it puts me in mind of a man
drawing a knife. I can't keep from having a kind of a feeling when I
looks at him!

Well, they imbibes up all the cocktails that I has waiting for them and
a batch more which I makes by request and then they packs up a couple of
bottles--one Scotch and one Bourbon--to take along with 'em for to
refresh themselves with at the road-house and off they puts. And the
last thing I hears as they goes down the hall is Mr. Raynor still
laughing from off the top of his palates and the sickly one, Miss
DeWitt's necklaces and things all jingling like a road-gang. Mr. Dallas
he calls back to me from the elevator that I needn't wait up for him
because it is liable to be pretty late when he gets in. But it's a good
thing I does wait up, dozing off and on between times, because when he
arrives back, along about half past three in the morning, he certainly
does need my assistance getting his clothes off of him. Not since Dryness
come in has I seen a young white gentleman more thoroughly overtaken than
what he is. And we got a-plenty vigorous drinkers down our way, too! And
always did have!

So then I goes to bed myself and that's the end of our first day. And
the following day, which it was yesterday, is the day I gets lost.

Which I will tell about that, next.

FOOTNOTE:

[2] Note.--It is believed that Jeff meant "transient."



Chapter IV

_Harlem Heights_


Well, in the morning I arranges a snack of nuturious breakfast on a tray
and takes it in to Mr. Dallas. But he ain't craving nothing solid to
eat. He's just craving to lay still and favor his headache. Soon as he
opens his eyes he starts in groaning like he's done got far behind with
his groaning and is striving for to catch up. And I knows he must a-felt
powerful good last night to be feeling so bad this morning. Misery may
love company, as some say it do, but I takes notice that very often she
don't arrive till after the company is gone.

He tells me to take them vittles out of his sight and fix him up about a
gallon of good cold ice-water and set it alongside his bed in easy reach
and then I can leave him be where he is and go on out for awhile and
seek amusement looking at the sights and scenes of New York City. But
when I gets to the door he calls out to me I better make it two gallons.
Which I knows by that he ain't so far gone but what he still can joke.

So I goes on out, just strolling along in a general direction, a-looking
at this and admiring of that; and there certainly is a heap for to see
and for to admire. The houses is so tall it seems like the sky is
resting almost on the tops of 'em and it's mighty near the bluest sky
and the clearest ever I seen. It makes you want to get up there and fly
round in it. But down below in the street there ain't so very much
brightness by reasons of the buildings being so high they cuts off the
daylight somewhat. It's like walking through a hollow betwixt steep
hills.

People is stirring around every which-a-way, both on foot and in
automobiles; and most of the automobiles is all shined up nice and clean
like as if the owners was going to take part in an automobile parade in
connection with the convention. Everybody is extensively well-dressed,
too, but most all is wearing a kind of a brooding look like they had
family troubles at home or something else to pester 'em. And they ain't
stopping one another when they meets and saying ain't it a lovely
morning and passing the time of day, like we does down home. Even some
of them which comes out of the same house together just goes bulging on
without a word to nobody, and I remarks to myself that a lot of the
neighbors in this district must a-had a falling-out amongst themselves
and quit speaking. The children on the sidewalk ain't playing much
together, neither. Either they plays off by themselves or they just
walks along with their keepers.

And there is almost as many dogs as there is children, mostly small,
fool-looking dogs; and the dogs is all got keepers, too, dragging 'em on
chains and jerking 'em up sharp when they tries to linger and smell
round for strange smells and confab with passing dogs. Near as I can
make out, the dogs here ain't allowed to behave like regulation dogs,
and the children mainly tries to act like as if they was already
growed-up, and the growed-up ones has caught the prevailing glumness
disease and I is approximately almost the only person in sight that's
getting much enjoyment out of being in New York.

All of a sudden I hears the dad-blamedest _blim-blamming_ behind me. I
turns round quick and here comes the New York City paid fire department
going to a fire. The biggest fire-engine ever I sees goes scooting by,
tearing the road wide open and making a most awful racket. Right behind
comes the hook-and-ladder wagon with the firemen hanging onto both sides
of it, trying to stick fast and put their rubber coats on at the same
time; and right behind it comes a big red automobile, _licketty-split_.
Setting up alongside the driver of it is a gentleman in blue clothes and
brass buttons, which he's got a big cigar clamped betwixt his teeth and
looks highly important. But he ain't wearing a flannel shirt open at the
throat, but has got his coat on and it buttoned up, so I assumes it
can't be the chief of the department but probably must be the mayor. And
in lessen no time they all has swung off into a side street, two
squares away, with me taking out after 'em down the middle of the street
fast as I can travel.

Now, every town where I've been at heretofore to this, when the
fire-bell rings everybody drops whatever they is doing and goes to the
fire. Elsewhere from New York, enjoying fires is one of the main
pleasures of people; but soon I is surprised to see that I'm pretty near
the only person which is trailing along after the department. Whilst I'm
still wondering over this circumstance, but still running also, a police
grabs me by the arm and asks me where is I going in such a big hurry?

I tells him I is going to the fire. And he says to me that I might as
well slow up and save my breath because it's liable to be quite a long
trip for me. I asks him how come, and he says the fire is probably three
or four miles from here and maybe even considerable further than that.
And I says to him, that must make it mighty inconvenient for all
concerned, having the fires so far away from the engine-house. At that
he sort of chuckles and tells me to be on my way, but to keep my eyes
open and not let the cows nibble me. Well, as I says to myself going
away from him, I may be green, but I is getting some enjoyment out of
being here which is more'n I can say for some folks round these parts,
judging by what I has seen up to this here present moment.

So I meanders along, looking at this and that, and turning corners every
once in awhile; and after a spell it comes to me that I has meandered
myself into an exceedingly different neighborhood from the one I started
out from. The houses is not so tall and is more or less rusty-looking;
and there's a set of railroad tracks running through, built up on a high
trestle; and whilst there has been a falling-off in dogs there has been
an ample increase in children; the place just swarms with 'em. These
here children is running loose all over the sidewalks and out in the
streets, too, but it seems like to me they spends more time quarreling
than what they does playing. Or maybe it sounds like quarreling because
they has to hollow so loud on account of all the noises occurring round
'em.

I decides to go back, but the trouble is I don't rightly know which is
the right way to turn. I've been sashaying about so, first to the right
and then to the left, that I ain't got no more sense of direction than
one of these here patent egg-beaters. So I rambles on, getting more and
more bewilded-like all the time, till I comes to another police and I
walks up to him and states my perdicterment to him very polite and tells
him I needs help getting back to where I belongs at.

He looks at me very strict, like he can't make up his mind whether he'd
better run me in for vagromcy or let me go, and then he says, kind of
short:

"Make it snappy, then. Where d'ye live?"

I tells him I has done forgot the name of the street, if indeed I ever
heard it, but from the looks of it I judges it must be the chief
resident street where the best families resides. I tells him we has just
moved in there, Mr. Dallas Pulliam and me, and has started up
housekeeping in the department-house which stands on the principal
corner. I tells him it's the department-house where the inmates all
lives in layers, one upon top of the other, like martins in a martin
box.

"You mean apartment-house," he says; "department store, but
apartment-house. Well, what's the name of this apartment-house, then, if
you can't remember the street?"

That makes me scratch under my hat, too. 'Cause I pointedly doesn't know
that neither.

"Nummine the name, boss," I says, "jest you, please suh, tell me
whar'bouts is the leadin' apartment-house of this yere city of Noo Yawk;
that'll be it--the leadin'est one. 'Cause Mr. Dallas Pulliam he is
accustom' to the best whar'ever he go."

But he only acts like he's getting more and more impatient with me.

"Describe it," he says, "describe it! There's one chance in a thousand
that might help. What does it look like?"

So I tells him what it looks like--how a little private road winds in
and circles round a little place which is like a family-burying-ground,
and about the hands downstairs at the front door all being from West
Indiana, and about there being two elevators for the residenters and one
more for the help, and about us having took over the Sublette family's
outfit and all.

"No use," he says, when I gets through, "that sounds just like most of
the expensive ones." He starts walking off like he has done lost all
interest in my case. Then he calls back to me over his shoulder:

"I'll tell you what's the matter with you," he says; "you're lost."

"Yas, suh," I says; "thanky, suh--tha's whut I been suspicionin' my own
se'f," I says, "but I'm much oblige' you agrees wid me."

Still, that ain't helping much, to find out this here police thinks the
same way I does about it. Whilst I is lingering there wondering what I
better do next, if anything, I sees a street-car go scooting by up at
the next crossing, and I gets an idea. If street cars in New York is
anything like they is at home, sooner or later they all turns into the
main street and runs either past the City Hall or to the Union Depot. So
I allows to myself that go on up yonder and climb aboard the next car
which comes along and stay on her, no matter how far she goes, till she
swings back off the branch onto the trunk-line, and watch out then, and
when she goes past our corner drop off. Doing it that-a-way I figures
that sooner or later I'm bound to fetch up back home again.

Anyhow, the scheme is worth trying, 'specially as I can't seem to think
of no better one. So I accordingly does so.

But I ain't staying on that car so very long; not more than a mile at
the most. The reason I gets off her so soon is this: All at once I
observes that I is skirting through a district which is practically
exclusively all colored. On every side I sees nothing but colored folks,
both big and little. Seemingly, everything in sight is organized by and
for my race--colored barber-shops, colored undertaking parlors, colored
dentists' offices, colored doctors' offices. On one corner there is
even a colored vaudeville theatre. And out in the middle of the streets
stands a colored police. Excusing that the houses is different and the
streets is wider, it's mighty near the same as being on Plunkett's Hill
of a Saturday evening. I almost expects to see that there Aesop Loving
loafing along all dressed up fit to kill; or maybe Red Hoss Shackleford
setting in a door-way following after his regular business of resting,
or old Pappy Exall, the pastor of Zion Chapel, rambling by, with that
big stomach of his'n sticking out in front of him like two gallons of
chitterlings wrapped up in a black gunny-sack. It certainly does fill me
with the homesickness longings!

And then a big black man on the pavement opens his mouth wide,
nigger-like, and laughs at something till you can hear him half-a-mile,
pretty near it; which it is the first sure-enough laugh I has heard
since I hit New York. And right on top of that I catches the smell of
fat meat frying somewheres.

I just naturally can't stand it no longer. Anyhow, if I'm predestinated
to be lost in New York City it's better I should be lost amongst my own
kind, which talks my native language, rather than amongst plumb
strangers. I give the conductor the high sign and I says to him, I says:

"Cap'n, lemme off, befo' I jumps off!"

So he rings the signalling bell and she stops and lets me off. And
verily, before I has went hardly any distance at all, somebody hails me.
I is wandering along, sort of miscellaneous, looking in the store
windows and up at the tops of the buildings, when a brown-complected man
steps up to me and sticks out his hand and he says:

"Hello thar', Alfred Ricketts!--whut you doin' so fur 'way frum ole
Lynchburg?"

I says to him he must a-made a mistake. And he says:

"Go on 'way, boy, an' quit yore foolin'! This is bound to be Alfred
Ricketts 'at I uster know down in Lynchburg, Furginia. Leas'wise, ef
'tain't him it's his duplicate twin brother."

I tells him no, my name ain't Alfred Ricketts--it's Jeff Poindexter from
Paducah, and I ain't never been in no place called Lynchburg in my whole
life as I knows of.

He looks at me a minute in a kind of an onbelieving way and then he says
he begs my pardon, but his excuse is that I'm the exact spit-and-image
of this here Alfred Ricketts, which he says he's done played with him
many's the time, when they was both boys together. He says he ain't
never in all his born days seen two fellows which they wasn't no kin to
each other and yet looked so much similar as him and me does. He says
the way we favors each other is absolutely unanimous. He asks me to tell
him again what my name is and I does so, and then he says to me:

"Whar'bouts you say you hails frum?"

I says:

"Paducah--tha's whar."

He shakes his head kind of puzzled.

"Paducah?" he says. "I ain't never heared tell of it. Whar is
it--Tennessee or Arkansaw?"

I pities his ignorance, but I tells him where Paducah is located at. It
seems like the very sound of the name detains his curiosity. He just
shoots the inquiring questions at me. He wants to know how big is
Paducah and what is its main business, and what river is it on or close
to, and what railroads run in there, and a lot more things. So, seeing
he's a seeker after truth, I pumps him full. I tells him we not only is
got one river at Paducah, we is got two; and I tells him about what
railroads we've got running in; and about the big high water of 1913,
and about the night-rider troubles some years before that. I tells him a
heap else besides; mainly recent doings, such as Judge Priest having
retired, and the Illinois Central having built up their shops to double
size. Then he excuses himself some more and steps away pretty brisk, and
goes into a colored billiard parlor, and I continues on my lonesome way.

But inside of five minutes another fellow speaks to me, and by my own
entitled name, too. Only, this one is a kind of a pale tallow-color with
a lot of gold teeth showing and very sporty dressed. He comes busting up
to me like he's overjoyed to see me, and says:

"Hello, Jeff Poindexter--w'en did you git yere? You shore is a sight fur
the sore eyes! How you leave ever'body down in ole Paduke? An' how does
yore own copperosity seem to sagashuate?"

All the time he's saying this he's clamping my hand very affectionate,
like I was his long-lost brother or something. I tells him his manner is
familiar, but that I can't place him. He acts surprised at
that--surprised and sort of hurt-like. He asks me don't I remember
George Harris from down home? I tells him the onlyest George Harris of
color I remembers is an old man which he does janiting for the First
National Bank. And he speaks up very prompt and says that's his uncle
which he is named for him and used to live with him out by the Illinois
Central shops. He says he really don't blame me so much for not placing
him, because he left there it's going on eight or nine years ago just
before the big high water; but he claims he used to meet me frequent,
and says I ain't changed much from the time when I used to be working
for Judge Priest. He says he's sure he'd a-recognized me if he'd a-met
up with me in China, let alone it's New York. He says he's been living
up North for quite a spell now, and is chief owner of a pants-pressing
emporium down the street a piece, and has a fine trade and is doing
well. And then, before I can get a stray word in edgeways, he goes on to
speak of several important things which has happened down home of late.
I breaks in and asks him how come he keeps such close track of events
'way down there seeing he's been away so long; and he says he's just
naturally so dog-gone fond of that town he subscribes regular for one of
the local papers and reads it faithful and hence that's how come he
keeps up so well with what's going on.

"W'ich, speakin' of papers, 'minds me of somethin'," he says; "it 'minds
me 'at on 'count of readin' the papers so stiddy I has a sweet streak
of luck comin' to me this ver' day. I'd lak to tell you 'bout it,
Poindexter?"

"Perceed," I says, "perceed."

"I'm goin' to," he says, "but s'posen' fust we gits in off this yere
street an' sets down somewhars whar we kin be comfor'able an' not be
interrupted. Trouble wid me is," he says, "I knows so dad-blame many
people round yere, bein' prominent in business the way I is, 'at ef I
stands still more'n a minute somebody is shore to be comin' up an'
slappin' me on the back. Does you feel lak a light snack, Poindexter?"

Well, it's getting to be close onto eleven o'clock now and I has not et
nothing since breakfast except fifteen cents' worth of peanut candy, so
I tells him I is agreeable. We goes into a restaurant run by, for and
with colored, and we sets down by ourselves off at a little table and he
insists that he's doing the paying-for on account of my being a boy from
his old home-town, and he says for me to go the limit, ordering. So I
calls for a bone sirloin and some fried potatoes and coffee and a mess
of hot biscuits and a piece of mushmelon and one thing and another. It
seems like, though, he ain't got much appetite himself. He takes just a
cup of coffee, and whilst I is eating all of that provender of his
generous providing, he tells me about this here streak of luck which has
come his way.

First off, he begins by asking me has I heard tell about the Colored
Arabian Prince, which he is now staying in New York? I says no. He says
then I will be hearing about him if I sojourns long, because the Colored
Arabian Prince is the talk of one and all. He's stopping at the Palace
Afro-American Hotel, and he's got more money than what he can spend, and
he's going round the world studying how black folks lives in every
clime, and he's got thousands and thousands of dollars worth of jewelry
which he wears constant. But the piece of jewelry which he prizes as the
most precious of all, he lost it only yesterday; which it is a solid
gold pin shaped like a four-leaf clover with a genuine real Arabian ruby
set in the middle of it. This here gold-tooth boy he tells me this
while I is sauntering through the steak. And I can tell from the way he
says it that he's leading up to something.

"Yas-suh," he says, "yistiddy is w'en he lose it. An' this mornin' he's
got a advertisement notice inserted in the cullid newspapers sayin' ez
how he stan' ready an' willin' to pay fifty dollars fur its return to
the hotel whar he is stoppin' at, an' no questions asted. An' yere 'bout
half-an-hour befo' I runs into you, I'm walkin' 'long the street right
up yere a lil' ways, an' I sees somethin' shiny layin' in the gutter an'
I stoops down an' picks it up, an' ef it ain't the Cullid Arabian
Prince's four-leaf clover pin, dog-gone me! An' yere it is, safe an'
sound."

And with that he reach in his pocket and pull it out and let me look at
it a brief second. And I says to him that I don't begrudge him his good
luck none, only I wishes it might a-been me which had found it, because
fifty dollars would come in mighty handy. Then I says to him, I says:

"I s'pose you is now on yore way to hand him back his belongin' an'
claim the reward?"

But he shakes his head kind of dubiousome.

"I tell you how 'tis, Poindexter," he says. "To begin wid, an' speakin'
in confidences ez one ole-time frien' to 'nother, I prob'ly is the
onlyest pusson in this yere city of Noo Yawk w'ich the Cullid Arabian
Prince might mek trouble fur me ef I wuz the one w'ich come bringin' him
back his lost pin. Ever since he's been yere he's been sendin' his
clothes over to my 'stablishment, w'ich it is right round the corner
frum the Palace Afro-American Hotel, to be pressed. An' ef I should turn
up now wid this yere pin he'd most likely ez not claim 'at I found it
stuck in one of his coat lapels an' taken it out an' kep' it. An' the
chances is he'd not only refuse fur to pay over the reward, but
furthermo' might raise a rookus an' cast a shadder on my good name w'ich
it su'ttinly would hurt my perfessional reppitation fur a Cullid Arabian
Prince to be low-ratin' me at-a-way. He's lak so many wealthy pussons
is--he's suspicious in his mind. So I don't keer to take no chances,
much ez I craves to feel them fifty dollars warmin' in the pa'm of my
hand. But ef a pusson w'ich wuz a puffec' stranger to him wuz to fetch
the pin in an' say he wuz walkin' 'long an' seen it shinin' an' picked
it up, he'd jes' hand the reward right over widout a mumblin' word."

"Yas," I says, "tha's so, I reckin."

"'Tain't no manner of doubt but whut hit's so," he says. "Poindexter,"
he says, brisker-like, "I got an idee--it jest this yere secont come to
me: Whut's the reason w'y you can't be the ordained stranger w'ich teks
the pin back to him? You does so an' I'll low you ten dollars out of the
fifty fur yore time an' trouble. Whut say?"

I studies a minute and then I says I is sociable to the notion. He says
he'll go along with me and point out to me the hotel where the Colored
Arabian Prince is stopping at and then tarry outside until I gets back
to him with the money. I says I'll go just as soon as I has et another
piece of mushmelon, which the first piece certainly was very tasty. So
he waits until I has done so and then he pays the check, which comes to
one-eighty for me and ten cents for him, and we gets up to start forth.
But just as we gets to the door, going out, he takes a look at a clock
on the wall and he says:

"I can't go 'long wid you--you'll have to go by yo'se'f."

I says:

"Whyfore you can't go?"

He says:

"I jes' this minute remembers 'at I got to ketch the 'leven-forty-two
fur Hartford, Connecticut, whar I is gittin' ready to open up a branch
'stablishment--tha's whyfore. I been enjoyin' talkin' wid somebody frum
my own dear state so much 'at I lets the time slip by unbeknownst an'
now I jes' about kin git abo'de the train at the up-town station ef I
hurries." He scratches his head. "Lemme see," he says, "whut-all is we
goin' do 'bout 'at now?" Then it seems like he scratches an idea loose.
"I got it," he says. "Mainly on 'count of my bein' in sech a rush, an'
you bein' frum my home-town, I'm goin' mek you a heap sweeter
proposition 'en de one w'ich I already has made. I'm goin' halfen this
yere reward wid you; 'at's whut I'm goin' do. Yere's the plan: You jes'
hands me over twenty-five dollars now fur my sheer an' 'en you keeps the
ontire fifty w'ich he'll pay you. See? I knows I is a fool to be doin'
it, but gittin' to Hartford on time today 'll mean a heap mo' to me in
the long run 'en whut de diff'unce in the money would. How 'bout it, ole
boy?"

I says to him that it listens all right to me, and I'd give him the
twenty-five in a minute, only I ain't got it with me. When I says that
his face falls so far his under-jaw mighty near grazes the ground, and
then he says:

"Well, how much is you got? Is you got twenty--or even fifteen?"

I says I ain't got nothing on me in the way of ready cash, only carfare.
But I says I is got something on me that's worth a heap more than
twenty-five dollars.

And he says:

"Whut is it?"

I says:

"It's this yere solid gold watch," I says. And I hauls it out and waves
it before his eyes. "It's wuth fully forty dollars," I says, "but I
ain't needin' it on 'count of havin' a still mo' handsomer one in my
trunk, w'ich it wuz give to me by a committee of the w'ite folks two
yeahs ago fur savin' a lil' w'ite boy from drowndin' off the upper
wharf-boat. You tek the watch an' give me, say ten dollars boot," I
says, "an' I'll collect the reward an' thar'by both of us 'll be mekin'
money," I says; "'cause you kin sell the watch anywhars fur not lessen
forty dollars. I done been offered 'at fur it befo' now."

He studies a minute and then he says that whilst he ain't doubting my
word about the watch being worth that much money, still, business is
business, and before he consents we'll have to take it to a
jewelry-store half-a-square down the street and have it valued.

I says to him, I says:

"Tha's suitable to me, but," I says, "I thought you wuz in a sweat to
ketch a train?"

"I'll tek the time," he says. "I kin hurry an' mek it. Come to think of
it," he says, "'at train don't leave the up-town station 'twell
'leven-fifty-fo'. 'Leven-forty-two is w'en she leaves frum down-town."

"I'm glad to hear it," I says, "'cause w'en the jewelry-store man has
got th'ough 'zaminin' my watch we kin ast him to look at the pin, too,
an' tell us ef it's the genuwine article. It mout possibly be," I says,
"'at they wuz two of these yere clover-leaf pins floatin' round loose
an' one of 'em a imitation. By havin' it 'zamined 'long wid my watch, we
both plays safe."

He stops right dead in his tracks.

"Look yere, Poindexter," he says, "whut's the use of all 'is yere
projectin' round an' wastin' of time? You trusts me," he says, "an' I
trusts you--tha's fair. Yere, boy, you teks the pin an' collects the
reward. I teks the watch an' sells it fur whut I kin git fur it. Le's
close the deal 'cause I p'intedly is got to hurry frum yere."

"Hole on!" I says. "How 'bout my ten dollars boot?"

"I'll mek it five," he says.

"Gimme the five," I says.

So he counts out five ones and yells something to me about the Palace
Afro-American Hotel being straight down the street about half-a-mile, on
the left-hand side, and in another second he's gone from view round the
nearest corner.

But I does not go to look for no Afro-American Hotel, nor yet for no
Colored Arabian Prince, neither. Something seems to warn me 'twould only
be a waste of time, so instead of which, as I steps along, I figures out
where I stands in the swap. And it comes to this: I is in to the extent
of five dollars in cash, also one dollar and eighty cents' worth of
nourishing vittles, and a clover-leaf pin, which it must be worth all of
seventy-five cents unless the price of brass has took a big fall.

I is out to the extent of telling one lie about saving a little boy from
drowning and also one old imitation-gold watchcase without any
mechanical works in it. Likewise and furthermore, I can imagine the look
on that gold-tooth nigger's face when he gets time to take a good look
at what he's traded for, and that alone I values at fully two dollars
more in private satisfaction to J. Poindexter. So, taking one thing and
another, getting lost has been worth pretty close on to ten dollars,
besides which it has taught me the lesson that when a trusting stranger
goes forth in the Great City he's liable to fall amongst thieves, but if
only he stays honest himself and keeps his eye skinned, he cannot
possibly suffer no harm at the hands of the wicked deceiver.



CHAPTER V

_Local Colored_


It seems like having dealings with designing persons of my own color
must've made my mind act more keen. All at once I remembers that I seen
the name of our apartment-house carved on a big square tombstone over
the front door, and it comes to me that the same's name has got
something to do with grist-mills and something to do with lawsuits. I
studies and studies and then, like a flash, I gets it:

Wheatley Court.

With this much to work on, the rest is plenty easy. A man in a drugstore
consults in a telephone book and gives me the full specifications for
getting back to where I has strayed from, which it turns out it is fully
three miles away from there in a southeast direction. But I buys an
ice-cream soda and a pack of chewing-gum before I asks the drugstore
man for his friendly aid. Already I has took note of the fact that most
of the folks in New York acts like they hates to answer your questions
without you has done 'em some kind of a favor first. So I places this
man under obligations to me by trading with him and then he's willing to
help me. That is, he's willing, but he ain't right crazy with joy over
the idea of it. If I'd a-bought two ice-cream sodas I think probably
he's a-moved more brisk-like. Still, he does it. So, inside of an hour
more, what with riding part of the ways on street-cars and walking the
rest, I is home again and glad to be there.

Even so, my being gone so long ain't put nobody out, because Mr. Dallas
is yet in bed, but is now thinking seriously about getting up. He
complains of feeling slightly better than what he did awhile back.
Still, he ain't got so very much appetite. Orange juice and black coffee
seems ample to satisfy his desires; he also continues to remain very
partial to the ice-water. He says he must hurry up and dress and get
outdoors because he's got an engagement to go with one of the ladies
which he met the night before and look at a little car which she's
thinking about buying it, but wants to get his expert opinion on it
first. He don't specify her name, but I guesses it's the puny one of the
two--this here Miss Bill-Lee DeWitt.

Whilst I is laying out his clothes for him to put on he calls out to me
from the bathroom that I will doubtless be interested to know that we'll
be staying on in New York permanent. I asks him how come, and he says
he's passed his word to go in partners with this here Mr. H. C. Raynor
selling oil-properties.

I says to him, I says:

"'Scuse me, Mr. Dallas, but it sho' does look lak to me we is movin'
powerful fast. Only yistiddy we gits yere, an' today we is fixin' to
bust into bus'ness. Tha's travelin'!"

He says you have to move fast in New York if you don't want to get run
over and trompled on and I says that certainly is the Gospel truth. And
he says when you meets up with an attractive proposition up here in
this country you is just naturally obliged to grab holt of it quick or
else somebody else 'll be beating you to it. I feels myself bound to
agree with that, too; and then he goes on shaving himself and abusing of
his skin for being so tender.

I ponders a spell and then I asks him, sort of casual and
accidental-like, when was it that Mr. Raynor displayed this here
desirable business notion to him and he give his promise for to enter
into it?

"Oh," he says, "it was late last night--after we started back from the
road-house. He's going to let me have a full half interest," he says.

I don't say nothing out loud to that. But I casts my rolling eyes up to
the ceiling and I says in low tones to myself, I says: "_Uh_ huh, uh
_huh_!" just like that.

That's all I says. And I makes sure he ain't overhearing me, but all the
time I'm doing considerable thinking. I'm thinking that, excusing one of
'em is white folks and the other is mulatto-complected and excusing that
one has got decorated teeth and the other one just plain teeth, there's
something mighty similar someway betwixt this here Mr. Raynor and that
there colored imposer, which he called himself George Harris. I can't
make up my mind whether it's their expressions or the way they looks at
you out of their eyes, or the engaging way they both has of being so
generous-like on short notice. But it pointedly must be something or
other, because when I broods about one I can't keep from brooding about
the other.

But, naturally, I keeps all that to myself. After Mr. Dallas has done
gone out I fixes myself up something solid to eat and then, along about
three o'clock I drifts downstairs and engages in friendly conversation
with two of them West Indian boys. Before very long the subject of the
educated bones gets introduced into the talk someway, and it so happens
I has a set in my pocket and I gets 'em out and sort of cuddles 'em in
my hand and rattles 'em gentle; and one of the two boys feels persuaded
to suggest that, seeing as the work ain't pressing, us three might
ramble on back into a little kind of a store-room back of the main hall
downstairs and make a few passes just to keep the time from hanging
heavy on our hands.

Now, privately I has always contended that craps-dice is meant for home
folks only. These here foreigners should not never toy with 'em if they
expects to get ahead in the world. So the entertainment turns out just
like I expected 'twould. When fifteen minutes, or maybe twenty, has gone
by very pleasantly there is not no reason why I should linger with 'em,
and I piroots back on upstairs taking along with me twenty-two dollars
and fifty cents of strange money to get acquainted with the spare change
in my pants pocket and leaving them two West Indian delegates holding a
grand lodge of sorrow betwixt themselves.

So that is all of undue importance which happens on our second day.



CHAPTER VI

_Gold Coast_


Time certainly does flitter by here in little old New York, as I has now
taken to calling it. Here it has been nearly six weeks since last I done
any authorizing, and a whole heap of things has come to pass since then;
yet, when I looks back at it, it seems like 'twas only yesterday when
last I held my pen in hand.

Also in that time I has learned much. When I reflects back on how
sorghum-green I was when we landed here off the steam-cars, I actually
feels right sorry for myself--not knowing what a road-house was, and
figuring that when somebody mentioned sub-let apartments they was
describing the name of a family, and getting lost in Harlem the first
time I went forth rambling, and all them other fool things which I done
and said at the outsetting of our experiences! No longer ago than last
evening I was saying to some of the fellow-members up at the Pastime
Colored Pleasure and Recreation Club, on One-Hundred and Thirty-fifth
street, that it's a born wonder they didn't throw a loop over me and
cart me off to the idiotic asylum for safety keeping till the newness
had done wore off.

I must also say for Mr. Dallas that he's progressed very rapid, too. And
likewise the new business must be paying him powerful well right from
the go-off, because we certainly is rolled up in the lap-robes of luxury
and living off the top skimmings of the cream.

Before we has been here a week I notices there's a change taking place
in Mr. Dallas. He's beginning to get dissatisfied with things as they is
and craving after things as they ain't. Near as I can figure it out,
he's caught a kind of restlessness disease which it appears to afflict
everybody up in these parts, one way or another. It seems like to me,
though, he must a-taken it early and in a violent form.

The first symptoms is when he fetches in one of these here little
slick-headed Japanee boys to do the cooking and et cetera, so's I can
wait on him more exclusively. Anyway, that's the reason which he assigns
to me, but all the same I retains my own personal views on the matter.
We don't need no extra hands to help run our establishment no more'n we
needs water in our shoes, and my onspoken opinion is that Mr. Dallas
thinks maybe the place look more high-tonish by having an imported
strange foreigner fussing round. Privately, I don't lose no time
designating to this here Koga, which is the slick-headed boy's name,
where he gets off so far as I is concerned. No sooner does he arrive in
amongst our midst than I tolls him back into the far end of the butler's
pantry and I says to him, I says:

"Yaller kid, lis'sen: I ain't 'sponsible fur yore comin' yere, but jest
so shorely ez you starts messin' in my bus'ness I'm goin' be 'sponsible
fur yore everlastin' departure. You 'tends to yore wu'k an' I 'tends to
mine an' tharby we gits along harmonious. But one sign of meddlin' frum
you an' I'll jest reach back yere to my flank pocket whar I totes me a
hosstile razor an' 'en you better pick out w'ich one of these yere
winders you perfurs to jump out of."

He just sort of grins at that and sucks some loose air in betwixt his
front teeth.

"Tha's right," I says, "save up yore breathin', 'cause ef I teks after
you you'll shore require to have plenty of it on hand fur pu'pposes of
fast travelin'. Chile," I says, "you's had yore warnin'--so harken an'
give heed or else you'll find yo'se'f carved up so fine they'll have to
fune'lize you on the 'stallment plan. Mr. Dallas he may be the big
boss," I says, "but you lakwise better pay a heap of 'tention to the
fust assistant deputy sub-boss w'ich I'm," I says, "him."

Saying thus I gives him a savigrous look backward over my shoulder and
walks away stepping kind of light on my feet like a cat fixing for to
pounce. He ain't saying a word; he's just standing there reserving some
more breath.

Of course I ain't really aiming to start no race war. Always it has been
my constant aim to keep out of rough jams with one and all but, even
so, I figures that it's just as well to get the jump on that there
Japanee human-siphon and render him tame and docile from the beginning.

Next thing is that Mr. Dallas begins faulting the clothes he brought
along with him from home. He says to me they appeared all right when he
was having 'em made to order for him by M. Marcus & Son, corner of Third
and Kentucky Avenue, which that is our leading merchant-tailor, but he
can see now that they ain't got the real New York snap to 'em. And the
ensuing word is that one of them swell Fifth Avenue shops is making him
a full new outfit. Well, I must admit that suits me from the ground up;
it's a sign to me I'm about to inherit.

And the next thing is that he invests in several cases of fancy
drinkings which a bootlegging white man fetches it up to us under cover
of the darkness. I sees Mr. Dallas counting out the money for to pay
him, and it certainly amounts to an important sum. I ain't questioning
the wisdom of this step neither, seeking that the stock we fetched
along with us from the South is vanishing very brisk, and the new supply
ought to last me and him for no telling how long, if we both is careful.

The trouble with Mr. Dallas, though, is he ain't careful. Scarcely a day
passes without some of his new-made Northern friends dropping in on him
and sopping up highballs and cocktails and this and that. That there Mr.
Bellows is one of our most earnest customers. He'll set down empty
alongside a full bottle and stay right there till the emptiness and the
fullness has done changed places. Also, when it comes to liberal
consuming of somebody else's liquor, Mr. H. C. Raynor has his ondoubted
merits. And when Mr. Dallas gives a party, which he does frequent and
often, the wines and such just flows like manna from the rod of Jonah.
Still, that ain't pestering me much. When white folks lives high in the
front parlor niggers gets fat back in the kitchen.

Then on top of all this he buys himself an automobile and hires a white
chauffeur for to run her. She's one of these here low-cut,
high-powerful cars which when you wants to go somewheres in a hurry you
just steps on her and--_b-z-z-z_--you is done arrived! But she's plenty
costive to run. Every time she takes a deep breath there's another
half-gallon of gasoline gone. If the truth must be known, Mr. Dallas has
not only bought one car; he's bought two. But we don't see the second
one, which is a dark blue runabout, only when Miss Bill-Lee comes round,
because it seems Mr. Dallas has loaned it out to her for her own use,
him paying the garage bills. Betwixt themselves they speaks of it as a
loan, but I thinks to myself that this probably is predestinated to be
one of the most permanent loans in the history of the entire loaning
business.

So it goes. Every day, pretty near it, delivery boys comes knocking at
the service door bringing this and that for Mr. Dallas. If it ain't half
a dozen fresh pairs of shoes it's a sack-full of these here golf
utensils or some new silk pyjamas; and if it ain't another motoring coat
or an elaborous smoking jacket, it's a set of silver-topped brushes and
combs and bottles and things for his toilet table, with his initials cut
on 'em. It seems like he must stop in somewheres every morning on his
way down-town to business and buy himself something. So I judges the
money must be coming in mighty brisk at the bung-hole, because it
certainly is pouring out mighty steady from the spigots.

It also must be a powerful handy and convenient business to be in, for
not only does it appear to pay so well, but it practically almost runs
itself. Often Mr. Dallas ain't starting down-town till the morning is
'most gone, and sometimes he gets back home as early as four o'clock in
the evening. Come Saturday, he don't go near the headquarters at all.
That astonishes me deeply, because down home on a Saturday the stores
all stays open till late at night on account of the country people
coming into town and the hands at the tobacco warehouses and the
factories and all being paid off, and the niggers being out doing their
trading. Especially the niggers. You take the average one of 'em, and
if he can't spend all he's got on Saturday night, it practically spoils
his Sunday for him. He ain't aiming to waste none of his money, saving
it. So, with us, Saturday is the busiest day in the week. But seemingly
not so in this locality.

In fact, so far as I observes to date, the folks up here has got a
special separate system of their own for doing pretty near everything.
More times than one enduring this past month I has said to myself that
there certainly is a big difference betwixt Paducah and New York City.
You don't notice it so much in Paducah, but, lawsy, how it does prone
into you when you gets to New York!



CHAPTER VII

_Country Side_


For instances, now, take this here Saturday last past. Down home Mr.
Dallas would a-been down to that there oil-office of his bright and
early shaking hands with the paying customers and helping boss the
clerks whilst they drawed off the oil, and all. But nothing like that
don't happen here with us--no sir, not none whatsomever. He lays in bed
until it's going on pretty near ten o'clock and then he gets up and I
packs him, and along about dinner-time, which they calls it lunch-time
round this town, we puts out in the car to the country for a week-end.
Only, for the amount of baggage we totes with us you'd a-thought it was
going to be a month-end. I'm tooken along to look after his clothes and
to do general valetting for him.

We takes Mr. Raynor and Mr. Bellows and the permanent-wavy lady, Mrs.
Gaylord, along with us. Miss DeWitt and Miss O'Brien is also headed for
the same place we is, but they comes in the blue runabout traveling
close behind us. By now, I has done learned not to expect Mrs. Gaylord
to bring a husband with her. It seems like she can get 'em, but she
can't keep 'em. She's been married three times in all; but from what I
can hear, her first husband hauled off and died on her and the second
one kind of strayed off and never come back. I ain't heard 'em say what
happened to the present incumbent but since he ain't never been
produced, I judge he must've got mislaid someway, so now she's
practically all out of husbands again. Still, she seems to be bearing up
very serene at all times. If she misses 'em she don't let on.

Well, we loads up the car with the white folks, and with valises and
golf-sacks and one thing and another and starts for the country. But I
must say for it that it's totally unsimilar to any country like what I
has been used to heretofore. The front yards which we passes all looks
like the owners must take 'em in at nights and in the mornings brush
'em off good and put 'em back outdoors again; and most of the residences
is a suitable size to make good high-school buildings or else
feeble-mind institutes, and even the woodlots has a slicked-up
appearance like as if they'd just come back that same day from the
dry-cleaner's. In more'n an hour's steady travel I don't see a single
rail fence nor a regulation weed-patch nor a lye kettle nor an
ash-hopper nor a corn-crib nor a martin-box nor a hound-dog nor a
smoke-house nor scarcely anything which would signify it to be
sure-enough country. I thinks to myself that if a cotton-tail rabbit was
aiming to camp out here he'd naturally be obliged to pack his bedding
along with him.

When we arrives where we is headed for I is still further surprised
because, beforehand, Mr. Dallas tells me we is going to stop at a
country-place, but it looks to me more like a city-hall which has done
strayed far off from its functions and took root in a big clump of trees
alongside the river. Why, it's got more rooms in it than our new county
infirmary's got and grounds around it all beautiful like a cemetery. It
belongs to a very spry-acting lady named Mrs. Banister, which she is a
friend of Mrs. Gaylord's. There's a Mr. Banister, too, but as far as I
can judge, the lady is the sole proprietor and his job is just being
Mrs. Banister's Mr. and helping with the drinks when the butler is busy
doing something else. I hears the cook saying out in the kitchen that he
can also mix a very tasty salad-dressing. Well, that's what he looks
like to me, just a natural-born salad-dressing mixer.

But we don't arrive there until it's getting towards four o'clock by
reason of us stopping for quite a sojourn at a tea-house along the road.
Leastwise, they calls it a tea-house, but its principalest functions, so
far as I can note, is to provide accommodations for folks to dance and
to drink up the refreshments which they've fetched along with 'em in
pocket flasks; and you might call that tea if you prefers to, but it's
the kind of tea which now sells by the case for cash down and is
delivered at your house after dark.

That's mainly what our outfit does there--dance and refresh themselves
with what the gentlemen brought along on their hips. From where I'm
setting in the car outside I can see 'em weaving in and out amongst the
tables whilst a string-band plays jazzing tunes for 'em to dance by. But
Mr. Dallas don't appear to be getting the hang of it so very well and
the chauffeur, who's setting there with me, he allows probably the boss
ain't caught on to these here new dances yet.

I says to him, I says:

"Huh! Does you call 'at a new dance?"

He says:

"Sure--the newest one of 'em all. That's the Reitzenburger Grapple--it's
just hit town."

And I says:

"Then it shore must a-been a long time on the road, gittin' yere; 'cause
niggers down my way," I says, "wuz dancin' 'at air dance fully ten yeahs
ago--only they done so behind closed doors," I says, "bein' 'feared the
police mout claim disawd'ly conduct an' stop 'em frum it."

He says:

"Did you ever dance it?"

I says to him:

"Who, me? Many's a time. But not lately," I says.

"What made you stop?" he says.

"I got religion," I says.

There was also considerable careless dancing done at the Banister place
that night and early the following morning. In fact, there was
considerable of a good many things done there that Saturday and
Sunday--tennis and golf and horseback-riding and billiards and pool and
going in swimming in a private lake on the premises and playing a card
game which they calls it auction-bridge, and eating and drinking and
smoking. Everybody is so busy all day changing clothes for the next
event they ain't got very much time for the thing that's on at the time
being. But when the night-time comes the ladies strips down to
full-dress and all hands just settles in for the three favorite sports,
which is dancing and cards and drinks, both long and short. I has seen
thirsty gentlemen before in my day but to the best of my recollection I
ain't never encountered no ladies that seemed so parched-like as one or
two of these here ladies was. I'm thinking in particular of Mrs.
Gaylord. She certainly is suffering from a severe attack of the genuine
parchments. But I'll say this much for her--she's doing her level best
to get shut of it by taking the ordained treatment. That Saturday
evening whilst I is upstairs in Mr. Dallas' room laying out his
dress-clothes, the guests, about a dozen of 'em is out in the front yard
setting round little tables where I can see 'em from the window, and
every time I passes the window and looks out it seems like she's being
served with a little bit more. She carries it just beautiful, though;
she certainly has my deep personal admirations for her capacity. But
next day when she comes down stairs she acts dauncy and low-spirited for
awhile. She's got on a fresh complexion, to be sure, but even so she
looks sort of weather-beaten 'round the eyes. You take 'em when they is
either prematurely old or else permanently young and the morning is
always the most tellingest time on 'em. Well, several of those present
ain't feeling the best in the world, seemingly, that Sunday when they
strolls forth for late breakfast 'long about half past eleven. It was
after three o'clock before they dispersed and some of 'em ain't entirely
got over it yet--they is still kind of dispersed-looking, if you gets my
meaning.

Well, all day Sunday is just like Saturday evening was, only if
anything, more so; and late Sunday night the party busts up and scatters
and we starts back to town. Mr. Dallas he elects for to ride back in the
runabout with Miss Bill-Lee so that throws Miss O'Brien, the one which
they calls Pat for short, into the big car with the rest of our crowd.
Starting off she quarrels right peart with Mrs. Gaylord. I gathers that
they was partners at the bridging game part of the time and they can't
get reconciled with one another over the way each one of 'em handled her
cards. The more they scandalizes about it the more onreconciled they
gets, too. It seems like each one thinks the other don't scarcely know
how to deal, let alone play the hands after she gets 'em. Setting there
listening to 'em carrying on I thinks to myself these here Northern
white folks must hate to lose even a little bit of money. I knows these
two ladies couldn't a-lost much neither--I heard Mr. Raynor saying
beforehand they was going to play five cents a point. But to overhear
'em debating now, you'd a-thought it had been a real stiff game, like
dollar-limit poker, say, or set-back at six bits a corner.

After awhile Miss Pat she quits argufying and drops off to sleep and Mr.
Bellows he likewise drifts off into a doze and that leaves Mrs. Gaylord
and Mr. Raynor talking together in the back seat kind of confidential.
But the hood of the car being over 'em it seems like it throws their
voices forward, and setting up with the chauffeur I can't keep from
eavesdropping on part of what they is confabbing about.

Presently I hears Mr. Raynor saying:

"Well, you never can guess in advance what a sap will like, can you? You
would have thought he'd fall for a kiddo with a good, strong up-to-date
tomboy line, like little Patsy here. But no--not at all! He takes one
look into those languishing eyes of our other friend and goes down and
out for the count. Funny--eh, what? Well, it only goes to show that
while the vamp stuff is getting a trifle old-fashioned it still pays
dividends--if only you pick the right customer."

Then I hears Mrs. Gaylord saying:

"Her system may be a bit _passé_ but you can't say she doesn't work fast
once she gets under way. Clever, I call it."

"Clever?" he says, "you bet! She works fast and she works clean, tidying
up as she goes along and burying her own dead. I always did say for her
that when it came to being a gold-digger she had the original
Forty-niners looking like inmates of the Bide-a-Wee Home. Fast? I'll say
so!"

"She has need to be fast, working opposition to you, Herby, dear," says
Mrs. Gaylord. "Speaking of expert blood-suckers, I shouldn't exactly
call you a vegetarian."

"Hush, honey," he says, "let's not talk shop out of business hours. And
anyhow," he says, "I don't mind a little healthy competition on the
side. It stimulates trade under the main tent--if it's done in
moderation."

"You should know, Herby," she says sort of laughing; "with your
experience you should know if anybody does."

Then he laughs, too, a kind of a low and meaning chuckle, and they goes
to talking about something else.

But I has done heard enough to set me to studying mighty earnest.
Neither one of 'em ain't specifying who they means by "he" and "she" but
I can guess. Once more I says to myself, I says:

"_Uh huh, uh huh!_"



CHAPTER VIII

_Dark Secrets_


Some of the folks which has been following our experiences, as I has
wrote them down, might think it was my bounden duty to go straight-away
to Mr. Dallas and promulgate to him these here remarks which I hears
pass betwixt Mr. H. C. Raynor and the permanent-wavy lady on that Sunday
night six weeks ago, coming back from our week-end in the country. But I
does not by no means see my way clear to doing so. In the first place, I
ain't never been what you might call a professional promulgator. In the
second place, I figures the time ain't ripe to start in telling what I
believes and what I suspicions. In the third place, I don't know yet if
it ever will be ripe.

Some white folks, seems like, is just naturally beset with a craving to
bust into colored folkses' business and try for to run their personal
affairs for 'em. Mr. Dallas, he is not gaited that way in no particular
whatsoever; him having been born and raised South and naturally knowing
better anyhow; but some I might mention is. Still, and even so, most
white folks don't care deeply for anybody at all, much less it's
somebody which is colored, to be telling 'em onpleasant and onwelcome
tidings. And he is white and I is black--and there you is!

Another way I looks at it is this way: There's a whole heap of white
folks, mainly Northerners, which thinks that because us black folks
talks loud and laughs a-plenty in public that we ain't got no secret
feelings of our own; they thinks we is ready and willing at all times to
just blab all we knows into the first white ear that passes by. Which I
reckon that is one of the most monstrous mistakes in natural history
that ever was. You take a black boy which he working for a white family.
Being on close relations that-a-way with 'em he's bound to know
everything they does--what they is thinking about, what-all they hopes
and what-all they fears. But does they, for their part, know anything
about how he acts amongst his own race? I'll say contrary! They maybe
might think they knows but you take it from J. Poindexter they
positively does not do nothing of the kind. All what they gleans about
him--his real inside emotions, I means--is exactly what he's willing for
'em to glean; that and no more. And usually that ain't so much.

Yes sir, the run of colored folks is much more secretious than what the
run of the white folks give 'em credit for. I reckon they has been made
so. In times past they has met up with so many white folks which taken
the view that everything black men and black women done in their lodges
or their churches or amongst their own color was something to joke about
and poke fun at. Now, you take me. I is perfectly willing to laugh with
the white folks and I can laugh to order for 'em, if the occasion
appears suitable, but I is not filled up with no deep yearnings to have
'em laughing at me and my private doings. 'Specially if it's strange
white folks.

Furthermore there's this about it: I've taken due notice that, whites
and blacks alike, pretty near anybody will resent your coming to 'em on
your own say-so and telling 'em right out of a clear sky that they is
making a grievous big mistake in doing this or that. If they themselves
takes the lead--if they seeks you out of their own accord and says to
you, confidential-like, they is in a peck of trouble and craves to know
how they is going to get out from under the load--why, that's different.
Then you can step in, in friendship's name, and do your best to help 'em
unravel the tangle which they has got themselves snarled up in it. If
you asks me, I would say that advice gets a heap warmer welcome where
you goes hunting for it than where it comes hunting for you. And,
likewise, sympathy is something which you appreciates all the more if
you went out shopping for it yourself. You don't want it to come
knocking at the door like one of these here old peddlers taking orders
for enlarging crayon portraits and forcing its way right into your
fireside circle whether or no, and camping there in your lap.

Moreover, speaking in particular of our own case, what right has I got
to be intimating to Mr. Dallas my private beliefs about the private
characters of this here brisk crowd which he has gone and got so thick
with since we arrived here on the scene? Right from the first I has had
my own personal convictions about the set he's in with. I has made up my
mind that they ain't the genuine real quality; that they is just a
slicked-up, highly-polished imitation of the real quality; that they
ain't doing things so much as they is overdoing 'em. The way I looks at
it, they bears the same relation to regulation high-toney folks which a
tin minnow does to sure-enough live bait. You maybe might fool a fish
with it but you couldn't fool the world at large for so very long. And
as for me, I ain't been fooled at all, not at no time. But I naturally
can't go stating my presenterments to Mr. Dallas without he the same as
practically invites me first for to do so. Now, can I? But if he finds
it out for himself and approaches me, that's a roan horse of another
color.

So the above reasons is why I is at present keeping my mouth shut in
front of him about what concerns him solely. Besides, so many things
continues to happen from day to day here in New York it keeps me right
busy just staying up with the procession and not overlooking the stray
bets. For instances, now, there's my moving-picture scheme which I
thinks up out of my own head and which promises to turn out mighty
profitable if everything goes well.



CHAPTER IX

_Movie-Land_


Having so much else to keep track of I has plumb forgot up till now to
set forth how comes it we gets ourselves interested in the movies. You
see, both Miss Pat and Miss Bill-Lee is in that line, although not
working at it very steady. In fact, practically all our crowd lets on to
be doing something or other for to earn a living when they can't think
of nothing else to do. It seems like Mr. Bellows sets himself up to be
one of these here interior decorators, which I don't know exactly what
that is, though I has my notions for I has seen him decorating.

Let somebody else provide the materials and he's right there with the
interior. Mrs. Gaylord she's an alimony-collector by profession and
doing right well at her trade, too, from all I can gather. And Mr.
Raynor he calls himself a broker. I hears Mrs. Gaylord saying once,
sort of joking, that being a broker is the present tense of being broke,
which I reckon that is not only grammar but facts, except when somebody
like Mr. Dallas comes along with ready cash on hand. But the two young
ladies has both been in theatricals for going on several years now,
first on the old-fashioned talking stage and more lately with the films;
so naturally there's a right smart talk about films and screens and all,
going on from time to time.

It seems like all hands amongst 'em agrees there's a heap of money in
the film business if only the right folks was to take hold of it and get
it away from the parties which is now trying to run it. It also seems
that if only Miss Bill-Lee could get the proper sort of a chance, which
she can't on account of jealousy and one thing and another, she'd be a
brightly shining star in no time. All she needs is for somebody to put
her out in a piece which'll suit her and then she'll be a sensational
success and all concerned will make more money than they'll know what to
do with. I hears her saying so more than once to Mr. Dallas, all the
time looking at him with them yearning big black eyes of hers. It seems
like that is the one thing which she requires for to make her perfectly
happy. And seeing as how that appears to be Mr. Dallas' chief aim in
life these times--making Miss Bill-Lee more happy--I says to myself that
first thing we know we'll be investing in a new line on the side. Mr.
Raynor, though, he ain't so favorable to the notion. I can tell that he
don't want Mr. Dallas to be spreading his play 'round so promiscuous. It
ain't so much what he says; it's by the way he looks when the subject
comes up that I can figure out what his private emotions is.

Anyhow, the upshot is that Mr. Dallas takes to spending considerable of
his spare time at a studio up-town where the two young ladies works,
getting pointers and so on. One evening--I should say, one afternoon--he
telephones down to the apartment for me to bring one of his heavy
overcoats up there to him because, what with late fall-time being here
now, the weather has turned off sort of cold; and that's how befalls
that I gets my look at the insides of one of these here studio places,
which I must say, alongside of the one I seen, a crazy-house is plumb
rational and abounding in restfulness.

From the outsides it looks to be like something suitable for a tobacco
stemmery or maybe a skating-rink, but once I gets past the watchman on
the outer door--_Who-ee!_ That's all--_Who-ee!_ I stops close by the
door and for a spell I watches what's going on and I thinks to myself
that whilst there may be a-plenty of money in the moving-picture
business, and doubtless is, the bulk of it is liable to stay in it
permanent. Never before in my whole life has I seen so many folks
letting on like they was fixing for to transact something important and
then not doing it. If they was all on piece-work they couldn't earn
enough to pay for half-soling the shoes which they wears out running
about getting in one another's way. But as I understands it, they mainly
is hired by the day and not by the job, and my heart certainly goes out
in sympathetical feelings for the man, whoever he may be, that's
footing the bills at the end of the week. If I was him I'd charge
general admittance for the public to come in and witness these here
carryings-on, and thereby get some part of my wastage back.

Almost the first thing which distracts my attention is a
pestered-looking man with a pair of these here high leather leggings on,
like he was fixing to go horse-back riding but in his frenzy has mislaid
the horse; which he is full of authority and dashing to and fro with a
big megaphone in one hand and in the other a bunch of wadded-up paper
with writing on it. He appears to be in sole charge; and if hollowing
loud was worth fifty cents a hollow he'd be a millionaire inside of a
month if his voice didn't give out on him. I finds out a little later
that he's what they calls the director. Well, he certainly does
directicate.

One minute he's yelling at a couple of the hands up in the loft
overhead, which their job is to handle some of the lights and then he's
yelling at the little fellow which is running the picture-taking
machinery, and then he's yelling at a bunch of men which has charge of
the scenery, only this crowd don't pay no attention to him but just goes
on doing their work very languid-like; so I judges they must belong
to a union and therefore can afford to be independent. But most in
general he devotes his yelling to a whole multitude of folks all dressed
up in acting clothes with their faces painted the curiousest ever I
seen. And, at that, I seen a sight of face-painting since I come to New
York! Under them funny lights their skins is an awful corpsy
greenish-yellowish-whitish and their lips is purple, like as if they has
been drownded nine days and has just now come to the top.

He herds all these people together and gets 'em set to act a piece. And
then something goes wrong. Either he ain't satisfied with the lights or
with their actions or else he remembers something important which has
been forgotten and he yells for somebody to fetch it, and six or eight
runs to get it and brings the wrong thing back, and he raves and cusses
under his breath and tells everybody to go back to their marks and start
in all over again.

And the next try is just the same as the first. And the third try is not
no more successful than the other two was. So then the director he
shooes the whole crowd back out of the way and walks up and down and
waves his arms and wildly states that he hopes he may be hanged if he's
going to go on until they learns how to rehearse. And I remarks to
myself that if I was them white folks I certainly would give him his
wish and hang him!

So then everybody loafs round a spell, whilst the director confabs with
a little thin nervoused-looking man called Mr. Simons, with glasses on.
And then the director announces that they won't try to shoot the mob
scene today and all the extras can go till nine o'clock tomorrow
morning, and in the meantime he trusts and prays that they may get a
little sense or something in their heads. So, accordingly, most of the
multitude departs leaving only about a dozen or more actor ladies and
gentlemen setting round on odds and ends and seemingly very grateful for
the peaceful lull.

By this time I has done localized Mr. Pulliam where he's standing over
in a corner talking with Miss Bill-Lee and a couple more ladies, and I
makes my way to him. Doing so, I has to pass behind some of the scenery.
On the other side it's just like a row of houses with roofs and porches
and all, but here on the behind-side of it there ain't nothing only
plastering laths and raggedy ends of burlaps and chicken-coop wire and
naked joists. It puts me right sharply in mind of some of these folks we
has been associating with up here--everything in stock devoted to making
a show for the front and nothing except the rubbish left over for the
backing. Well, I reckons it's always like that when you is
making-believe to be something you truly ain't, whether it's in a
moving-picture studio or out in the great world at large.

After I gives Mr. Dallas his coat he tells me to hang round if I wishes
to do so and watch 'em working. So I hangs round. But there ain't much
working done for quite a spell but, instead, a lot of general
speechifying and explaining betwixt this one and that one. Finally
though, the pestered man he yells out something about being ready to
shoot an interior. All hands rambles over to another part of the
building where there is more scenery which is fixed up to look like the
insides of a short-order restaurant. One of the young ladies and one of
the young gentlemen sets down at a table in front of the camera and lets
on to be eating a quick snack whilst a white man, which is dressed up
like a waiter and blacked up to look like he's colored, waits on 'em.
The two at the table appears to be giving satisfaction but the ruler of
the roost ain't pleased with the way the waiter acts out his part.

I ain't blaming him for not being pleased, neither. To start with, the
waiter is blacked up too much. He don't look like he's genuine colored;
he looks more like he's been shining up a cook stove and got most of the
polish rubbed off onto his face and hands. He don't act like he's
genuine colored, neither. I judges he must have studied the business of
acting like colored folks from watching nigger minstrel shows. He keeps
rolling his eyes up in his head and smacking his lips, the same as an
end-man does, which is all right, I reckon, when you is an end-man but
which does not fill the bill when you is letting on to be a sure-enough
black person; because for years past I ain't never seen scarsely no
minstrel man which really deported himself as though he had colored
feelings inside of him.

Still, I must say for him that he's doing his level best to oblige. But
what with him trying to remember to keep the eyes rolling and the lips
smacking, and the director yelling at him through that megaphome to do
the next step this-a-way or that-a-way, he's presently so muddled up in
his mind that it seems like he can't get nothing at all accomplished. It
makes me feel actually sorry for him; but I ain't sorry for the
director. One of 'em is ignorant and willing to admit it; the other one
is ignorant but is trying to cover it up by behaving bossified and
making loud sounds and laying the blame on somebody else. Leastwise,
that's how I figures it out. I says to myself, I says:

"It's all wrong frum who laid the rail. Yas suh, I'll tell the waitin'
world they don't neither one of 'em onderstan' the leas' particle 'bout
nigger actions an' nigger depotemint."

I must've said it out loud without thinking, because right alongside me
somebody speaks up and says:

"What do you know about this business?"

I turns my head and looks, and it's that there quiet little man with the
big glasses on, name of Mr. Simons.

I says to him, I says:

"I don't know nothin' 'bout this yere bus'ness, but I does know
somethin' 'bout bein' cullid, seein' ez I is one myse'f."

He sort of squints up his eyes like he's got an idea. He says:

"Could you take the director's place there and show that man how to get
through with his scene?"

"Who, boss, me?" I says. "No suit! I mebbe mout could tek his place
pervidin' w'ite folkses didn't mind havin' me th'owin' awders at 'em,
but even so, I couldn't never plant the right idees in 'at other
gen'elman's mind."

"Why not?" he says.

"'Cause it's plain to me," I says, "'at in the fust place he ain't got
no notion ez to how a black boy would carry hisse'f whilst waitin' on a
table. 'Scuse me fur sayin' so ef he's a friend of yours, but tha's the
facts of the case, boss--the feelin's ain't thar."

"All right," he says, "then could you play the waiter's part yourself?"

"Well suh," I says, "mebbe I could ef they wouldn't 'spect me to act lak
a actor but just 'lowed me to act lak a human bein'. I ain't never done
no actin'," I says, "but I been a human bein' fur ez fur back ez I kin
remember."

"You've got it!" he says. "What this business needs in it is fewer
people trying to act and more people willing to behave like human
beings. How would you like to put on the jacket and the apron that man
is wearing and see if you could get away with the job he's trying to
do?"

"Ef 'twould be a favor to you--yas, suh," I says. "But I'm' skeered the
directin' gen'elman mout object."

"I think possibly I could fix that," he says. "I happen to be the owner
of this plant. I'll go speak to him."

"Hole on," I says, "ef you please, suh. The onliest way I could do it,"
I says, "would be fur you to tell me jest whut you wanted done an' 'en
you'd have to mek all hands stand back an' keep quiet whilst I wuz
tryin' to do it. It sho'," I says, "would git me all razzle-dazzled to
have some gen'elman yellin' at me th'ough 'at megaphome ever' half
secont or so."

"There's another idea that's worth experimenting with," he says. "I've
thought the same thing myself before now. You stay right here a minute."

Well, to make a long story no longer, he goes over and whispers
something to the director and first-off the director he shakes his head
like he's dead set against the proposition but Mr. Simons keeps on
arguing with him and after a little bit the director flings up both
hands sort of despairful and goes over and sets down at a little table,
looking very sulky. Then, Mr. Simons he tells the blacked-up man to take
off his apron and his jacket and tells me to put 'em on me and then he
tells me very slow just what he wants me to do, but he says I'm to do it
my own way and if, as I goes along, I thinks of anything else which a
real colored waiter would do under such-like circumstances, why, I'm to
stick that in, too.

"Try to forget that it's all pretending," he says, "and try to forget
that there's a camera grinding in front of you. Just remember that
you're a waiter in a cheap dump serving a couple of young people that
have run away from home to be married and are in a hurry to get
something to eat. Try to register your expectations of getting a nice
big tip from the young fellow. And when you slip the girl the note
that'll tip her off to the fact that her old sweetheart is waiting
outside and wants to see her, you want to make sure that the man at the
table with her can't see you, but that people sitting out in the
audience watching the show will see the note pass. Get me? We won't have
any rehearsals--too much preliminary stuff might make you
self-conscious. I'll have 'em start shooting just as soon as you come
on. Now go to it!"

Which I does it all according to orders. I must've gave utter
satisfaction, too, because when we gets through, everybody setting round
claps their hands and applauses me same as if they was at a regular
show--that is, everybody does so except the director; which he continues
to act peevish. This here Mr. Simons he goes yet farther than
applausing; he comes over to me and he says I has put him under
obligations to me by helping him out and if ever I feels like doing some
more moving-picture work just to call on him either down at his office
or up here at the studios, because he says there ain't no telling when
he may have another show with a part in it for a smart spry colored
person. And with that he slips his card into my hand and along with it a
ten dollar bill, which that is more money than ever I has earned before
in my whole life for a light job, let alone just acting natural for
about five or six minutes.

He starts on away then but suddenly he turns round like a notion had
just hit him between the eyes and he comes back to me and says he wants
to speak to me a minute and I follows him back around a corner where
nobody won't be liable to hear us.

"I want to ask you about something," he says, when we arrives there.
"You seem to be a person who keeps his eyes and his ears open; besides,
you're colored yourself and what I need here, I think, is somebody who
can look at a proposition from a colored man's slant rather than from a
white man's. And finally, my guess is that you haven't been away from
your own part of the country very long and that probably means you
haven't lost your perspective. Do you get my drift?"

I wouldn't know a perspective if I met up with one in the big road but I
ain't aiming to expose my ignorance before this strange gentleman. I
tries to look like I'm mighty glad that I've been so careful as not to
lose it and I tells him yes, sir, I gets his drift.

"Good," he says. "Well, making it snappy, the idea is just this: New
York City is full of colored actors--not merely singers and dancers but
real artists, some of 'em, who can act and are especially strong in
comedy. That's point number one. In nearly every good-sized town in this
country, North and South, there's at least one moving-picture house
catering to your people. That's point number two. But day after day and
night after night those patrons see nothing but pictures written by
white people, directed by white men, and acted by white people. That's
point number three. Now, I've been carrying round a scheme in my head
for quite awhile--a scheme to try the experiment of turning out a line
of two-reelers, say, done by colored casts, and selling them, if I can,
to these three or four thousand houses run by colored people and playing
to colored people. I've got the studio right here--I've got the
organization and the equipment. And at any time I need it I can put my
hand on plenty of acting material--colored people, I mean--who'll only
need a little training to make 'em fit for my purposes. Some of 'em have
already had some training--as extras around the local plants. As I dope
it out, if I can produce pictures which will appeal particularly to your
people I'll have a steady market through the big exchanges; because, if
I know anything about the tastes of the general public, white people
will enjoy all-colored comedies--if they're done right--almost as much
as colored people will. And that's point number four. Now then, give me
your idea of the value of the notion?"

"Mister," I says, "I kin only tell you how one cullid pusson feels,
w'ich 'at one is me: The way I looks at it, you ain't needin' to bother
much 'bout fancy scenery an' special fixin's--wid a crowd of niggers the
mainest p'int will be the actin'. The actin' part is whar you can't fool
'em. An'," I says, "ef you kin git holt of a crowd of cullid actors
w'ich is willin' to ack lak the sho'-nuff ole-time cullid an' not lak
onbleached imitations of w'ite folks, it seems lak to me the rest of it
oughter be plum' easy. Mostly I'd mek the pitchers comical, ef I wuz
you. You kin do 'at an' still not hurt nobody's feelin's, w'ite nur
black. Ef you wants to perduce a piece showin' a lot of niggers gittin'
skinned, let it be another nigger w'ich skins 'em. Then," I says, "w'en,
at the last, they gits even wid him it'll still be nigger ag'inst
nigger. An' ef, once't in awhile, you meks a kind of a serious-lak
pitcher, showin', mebbe, how the race is a-strivin' to git ahaid in the
world, 'at ought to fetch these yere new-issue cullid folks w'ich," I
says, "is seemin'ly become so plentiful up Nawth. But mainly I'd stick
to the laffin' line ef I wuz you--niggers is one kind of folks in 'is
country w'ich they ain't afeard to laff. An' whutever else you does," I
says, "don't mess wid no race problem. We gits mouty tired, sometimes,
of bein' treated the way we of'en is. Tek my own case," I says. "I ain't
no problem, I's a pusson. I craves to be so reguarded. An' tha's the way
I alluz is been reguarded by my own kind of w'ite folks down whar I
comes frum," I says.

"Say," he says, when I gets through saying this, "I think you've earned
another ten-spot." And with that he shoves one more of them desirable
bills at me; which he don't have no real struggle inducing me to take
it. Because I'm a powerful easy person to control in such matters. And
always has been, from a child up.

"I was practically convinced all along that the proposition was worth
trying," he says. "What you say helps to confirm a judgment I already
had. Well, don't forget about coming to see me if you want work in my
line--there may be plenty of it if this thing pans out." And he shakes
hands with me again and walks off.

Right after that a young white gentleman he comes looking for me to take
down my full entitlements and he says I will be honorably mentioned by
name on the program of the picture which they now is making, when it's
done. And Mr. Dallas he tells me I can take the rest of the day off for
to celebrate having broke into the movies.



CHAPTER X

_Black Belt_


But I figures I has got something better to do than just to be
gallivanting to and fro on a frolic. A notion has busted out insides of
my brains. So right off I puts off across town for West One-Hundred and
Thirty-fifth Street hoping for to find one U. S. G. Petty, Colored.

Some time back, as I remembers, I made brief mention about having
affiliated myself into the Pastime Colored Pleasure and Recreation Club,
Inc. Only, the last word--_Inc._--is not usually spoke when you is
naming the club, by reason of its sounding so much like a personal
reflection upon the prevailing complexion of some of the members. Still,
that is the way it is wrote out on the letter-heads and the initiation
blanks.

I has belonged for going on more than a month now and I spends much of
my spare time in the club-rooms. I feels more comfortable among my
fellow-affiliators than I does any place else in this town. Looking back
on it I'm convinced 'twas up there I first began to get shut of the
grievous homestick pangs which afflicted me so sorefully following after
our advent into these parts. Up to now I has not spoke of my being
homesick because it seemed like to me the mainest job was to set down
what come to pass without paying much heed to private sensations upon
the part of the scribe thereof, but, if the truth must now be confessed,
I oftentimes was mighty nigh completely overcome by my sufferings from
the same during them opening weeks of the present sojourn.

At the beginning I used to get so tired, night-times, tramping about
streets which was full of utter strangers and not never speaking a word
to nobody nor seeing a friendly face, that I liked to died, dad-blame if
I didn't! If I stood still they'd run right on over me and if I walked
on I didn't have nowheres to go and I'd be so exhaustified from looking
at sights all by myself that I'd get to wishing I'd never see another
sight again as long as I lived, without I had somebody I knowed along
with me to help me look at it. And then I'd come morosing on back to the
apartment and probably Mr. Dallas he'd be out and nobody there but that
there slick-headed Japanee boy. I tried sociable talk with him once or
twice but you really don't derive no great amount of nourishment from
talking with somebody which thinks language is sucking your breath in
through your front teeth and once in awhile grinning like one of these
here pumpkin Jack-mer-lanterns. So I soon learned the lesson of just
letting him be.

I'd go on back to my room and take off my shoes for to ease my aching
feet; but whilst taking off your shoes is good for your feet it don't
help the ache in your soul none. I'd set at the window and look out on
them millions and millions of lights, all winking and blinking at me
like hostile bright eyes, and away down below me in the street I could
hear old automobile horns blatting like lost ghosts, and every now and
then there'd rise up to my ears a sort of a rumble and a roar, like as
if New York City was having indigestion pains; and I'll say it
positively was lonesome. I could shut my eyes and see my own home-town
with the shade trees leaning down towards the sidewalks like they was
interested in what went on underneath them, and I could hear the voices
of the neighbors, both white and black, calling back and forth to one
another and I could seem to smell frying cat-fish spitting in the
skillet at old Uncle Isom Woolfolk's hot snack-stand down back of the
Market House, and I also could smell that damp, soothing kind of a smell
which it rolls in off the river on a warm night and then--oh, my Blessed
Maker!--something would hurt me like having the misery in your side.

That's the way it was very frequent at the outsetting. But pretty soon I
gets acquainted with a couple of colored boys which works in the
apartment house next door to ours--not West Indians but regulation
colored boys, one being from Macon, Georgia, and one from Memphis,
Tennessee--and they takes to escorting me round with 'em at night,
mainly in what the white folks calls the Harlem Black Belt. Fussing back
and forth, thuslike, I makes yet more acquaintances and
then--_bam_!--all at once there's a quick change in me and I ain't so
choked up with lonesomeness like I was. All of a sudden my having lived
heretofore always down in Kentucky has become to me just a kind of a
far-off dream and it's almost like as if I had been a New York
residenter for years past. 'Specially does I feel so when I goes up to
the Pastime Club; which I joins it by invitation about a month ago and
is now already being talked of for one of the honory offices at the next
annual election which will come along in about five or six weeks from
now.

I finds that the most of my race up here aims to copy their actions
after white folks when they is showing themselves off in public. They is
forever trying to talk like whites and trying to appear deeply
oninterested in passing things, the same as some white folks does, and
even trying to think like whites, I expect. But when they gets off
amongst themselves their natural feelings comes out on 'em and the true
coloredism breaks forth and they cuts loose and enjoys themselves
regardless. That's the way it is behind the closed doors of our
club-rooms. Also, there's suitable games and indoor sports such as
coon-can and two-bit-limit poker with the joker running wild and a round
of rumdoodlums after every face-full; and when hunger gnaws at you
there's a Chinee restaurant right handy by, which it caters 'specially
to the colored trade. Here is where I first meets a crock of this here
chop suey face to face; which it may be a Chinee dish but certainly is
got a kind of an African flavor to it. If you can't get a mess of
cow-peas and some real corn-pones and maybe half a fried young spring
chicken with an abundance of gravy, I don't know of nothing which makes
a more desirable light snack between meals than about fifty cents worth
of chop suey with a double order of boiled rice on the side and some of
that there greasy black Chinee sauce to sop it in.

It's one time in the front room of the club that I first takes special
notice of this here U. S. G. Petty, which he is the same person I goes
a-seeking upon leaving the studios on this day in question. The way he
comes to bring himself to my attention is this way: One night five or
six of us Pastimers in good standing is setting round not doing nothing
in particular, but just setting, when talk arises concerning of Gabriel,
the Black Prophet of Abyssinia, which his name is now on everybody's
tongue, more or less.

It seems that the Black Prophet come a-projecting himself onto the local
scene last spring, him claiming to hail from a far-off latitude called
Abyssinia, and immediately he creates a big to-do, which is only to be
expected considering of his general aspect. In the first place, he's a
powerful orator and just overflowing with noble large words. In the
second place, he's a great big over-bearing-looking man and wearing at
all times a flowing garment of purple like the night-shirt of a king,
and instead of having a hat on he's got his head all bandaged up in many
silken folds like he's got scalp-trouble. Naturally, folks turns out to
look at him; but language and curious clothes is not the sole things by
which he recommends himself. He's got something even more compelling to
the colored mind than what these two is--he's had a glorious vision, so
he states, and he craves for to tell about it on all occasions where
folks'll give heed; which they freely does, because he certainly can
explain the whyfores and 'numerate the whereases and show the whereins.
But showing wherein is his main hold.

From the way he tells it, he laid down one night in his native country
for to sleep and whilst he slept an angel appeared before him in a dream
bearing a flaming scroll and a golden sword, and the angel anointed his
brows with the oils of understanding and wiped the scales of blindness
from off his eyes and smeared his lips with the salves of
eloquence--altogether, it seem like the angel must a-been working on him
half the night getting him greased-up to suit. And along towards morning
the command is laid on him to go forth into the world and deliver his
race from bondage in every hemisphere there is. So it transpires that
he takes his foot in his hand and he comes on across the seas over to
these here United States of North America and starts in his
ministrations in New York. Leastwise, that is the account as he lays it
down; which he calls it an inspired prophecy from On High but it sounds
more to me like an inspired real-estate scheme, because the plan as he
preaches it is that all us black folks everywhere must straight-away
rise ourselves up and follow after him, which he will then lead us back
to our original own country of Affika where he will cause all the white
folks which has settled there to pull out and leave us in sole charge
for to rule the state and run our own government and be a free and
independent people from thenceforth on forever. So you pays down so much
for to join and so much every month in dues and soon then--to hear him
tell it--you will be happy on your way across the ocean to find your
haven in the Promised Land.

But not me! I ain't lost no haven. Moreover, if ever anybody does
promise me one-such I ain't aiming to go seeking after it under the
guidnance of a dark stranger which he ain't no credentials for to
endorse him in my eyes, excusing it's a purple silk night-shirt and a
tale about him having been lubricated all over with a lot of different
kinds of fancy ointments by an Abyssinian angel. No sir, if I has to do
traveling in extreme foreign-off parts I'll go along with some of my own
white folks which I can put trust in their words and dependence on their
acts. And, finally, the idea of my returning to Affika does not seem to
appeal to me in no way nor at no time whatsomever. What's the use of
returning to a place where you ain't never been? As I says to myself the
first time the notion is expounded to me, I says:

"I ain't frum Affika, I is frum Paducah, Kintucky. Some of my former
folks may a-hailed frum there--leas'wise, tha's the common rumor--but
the Poindexter fambly is been away so long it seems lak I ain't
inherited the taste to 'go traipsin' back. Mo'over, ef whut I heahs
'bout it is correc', Affika is full of alligators an' lions an'
onreconciled Bengal tigers an' man-eatin' cannibals, w'ich I wouldn't
be surprised but whut they all of 'em 'specially favors the dark meat.
An' yere I is, a pernounced brunette! So, w'en they starts makin' up the
excursion list they kin kin'ly leave my name off, 'cause I 'spects to be
very busily engaged stayin' right whar I dog-goned is!"



CHAPTER XI

_Afric Shores_


Thus is what I says to myself, very first crack out of the box and I
subsequent sees no reason for to change my views. But this night at the
Pastime when the subject is brung forward for discussion, I just lurks
in a corner, not saying nothing myself but doing some very vigorous
listening. Being a new member, the way I is, I prefers not to declare
myself in at the go-off but just to sort of hang back and catch the
general drift of the old heads before I commits myself.

Regardless of your private convictions it don't hurt you none,
sometimes, to throw in with the majority. Traveling with the current
instead of against it, you maybe is not so prominent but you gets fewer
bumps across your head. A minnow sliding downstream with a passel of
other minnows stands a heap better chance of leading a pleasant life
than if he strives for to conspicious himself by swimming upstream all
by himself. Old Brother Channel Cat is liable to come sauntering down
past the towhead and see him going along there all alone, and open wide
that there big mouth of his and then, little Mr. Minnow, I asks you,
where is you?

So I sets and hearkens to the pow-wowing. It seems that two or three
present has been swept right off their feet by the masterful preachments
of this here Gabriel the Black Prophet. They is all organized up for to
accept him as the chosen apostle of the colored race. It looks like they
can't hardly wait for the blessed day to come when they'll pull out with
him. They 'lows a lot of these here overbearing white folks is going to
feel mighty funny the morning they wakes up and finds that all the black
folks is done up and gone from 'em and there ain't nobody left for to
pack their heavy burdens for 'em and wait on 'em, without they turns in
and does it themselves. They says a lot more like that. And pretty soon
the old camp-meeting tone comes creeping into their voices and their
eyes starts shining like they was repentant sinners gathered at the
mourners' bench and they begins to sort of sing their words and
generally work themselves up into a state of grace.

Right about then this here U. S. G. Petty, which they calls him 'Lisses
for short, speaks up. Until now he has been reared back in his chair
listening, the same as I is. But now he opens up and his words hits them
onthusiastic ones like a dipperful of ice-water throwed in their faces.

He says to 'em, he says:

"W'en does all you niggers 'at's so homesick fur the sight of the dear
Affikin shore aims to start on yore jubilatin' way? I is heared a lot
tonight an' other times, too, 'bout this yere journey. I is heared it
called a crusade an' a pilgrimage an' a whole passel of other fancy
names. But so fur, nobody ain't confided to me the details of the
departure."

"The fust batch goes ez soon ez the fust boat is ready," says one of the
true believers, name of Oscar Jordan. "An' the rest will follow wid
rejoicin' on the other boats of the fleet, ez they is made ready."

"Well, me, I ain't seen hair nur hide of one boat yit," says 'Lisses,
"let alone it's a whole fleet."

"But ain't you seen the pitcher of her in the litrychure w'ich the Black
Prophet give out?" says Oscar.

"I has, Brother," says 'Lisses; "I suttinly has. I also has seen
pitchers of the late Kaiser Ex-Wilhellum of Germany, but that ain't no
sign I 'spects to meet him strollin' up Lenox Avenue some pleasant
mawnin' this comin' week."

"Yas, but the bindin' paymints is done been made on the fust ship," says
Oscar. "The Grand Treasurer, w'ich he is the Black Prophet's
brother-in-law by marriage, he announce' the full perticulars at the
las' monster mass meetin'. He specify she is to have a cullid brass-band
on bode an' a cullid string-band an' a cullid crew an' a cullid cap'n
an'----"

"Uh huh!" says 'Lisses, "A cullid cap'n, huh? All right, boy, you kin
give yore confidences to a cullid cap'n ef you's a-mind to. But,
speakin' ez yore friend an' well-wisher I should advise you at the same
time w'en you is pickin' out your fav'rit' cullid cap'n 'at you lakwise
also picks out yore fav'rit' flower fur display at the memorial services
in case of a storm comin' up on the way acrost the high seas. 'Cause,"
he says, "it stands to reason the higher them seas is the deeper they
is; an' ef you gits yo'se'f drownded out yonder it'll be a tho'ough job.
Mind you," he says, "I ain't sayin' nothin' agin my own race so long ez
they remains whar they natchelly belongs, w'ich is on the solid ground.
But ef I'm goin' journey acros't the broad Newlantic Ocean I craves me a
w'ite cap'n--yas, an' a w'ite crew, too."

One or two, including this here Oscar, tries to break in on him but he
keeps right on. He says to 'em, he says:

"I wonder is you Ole Home-Weekers been figgerin' out how you is goin'
git control of yore beloved native Affika w'en you arrives safely
tharin? Seems lak to me tha's a p'int w'ich you better be payin' a
right smart attention to it befo'hand. 'Cause, frum whut I kin gather,
w'ite folks is done already laid claim to the most part of Affika w'ich
is fit fur a Christian to live in. I bet you wharever they is a
diamond-mine or a gold diggin's or an ivory-mine or anythin' wuth
havin', you'll find a bunch of w'ite men roostin' close't by, wid
'Posted' signs up on every hand. Whut does you aim to do 'en?"

"They ain't got no right fur to be thar in the fust place," says Oscar.
"The Prophet done oratate fully 'bout that. Didn't Affika belong to us
black folkses to begin wid? Has we ever deeded it away? No, that we
ain't! Then it's still our'n, ain't it? So, therefo', we goes back in
force an' th'ough our chosen leaders we demands 'at these yere
trespassers re-hands it back over to its rightful owners, w'ich," he
says, "tha's us."

"Even so," says 'Lisses, "even so. You lands an' you demands--an' 'en
whut? This yere country belonged once't upon a time to the Injuns. An'
w'ite folks come along an' chiseled 'em out of it, didn't they? They
shore did so! But I ain't heared 'bout no gin'el movemint in favor of
turnin' it back over ag'in to the Injuns. The Injuns mout feel
that-a-way but I ain't 'spectin' to see many w'ite folkses votin' in
favor of it.

"Lis'sen: Once't you let w'ite folks git they feets rooted in the ground
an' they stays fast, reguardless of whut the former perprietors may
think 'bout it. W'ite folks in gin'el is very funny that way an' more
'specially ef they is Angler-Saxons. I don't know, myse'f, whar this
yere Angler-Saxony is. I done look fur it on the map an' 'tain't thar. I
reckin so many Angler-Saxons must a-moved off to other parts of the
world seekin' whut they could confisticate unto theyselves 'at the
'riginal country they hailed frum has done vanish'. Jedgin' by they
names, some of 'em must a-been Scotch an' some of 'em must a-been Irish
and plenty more of 'em must a-been English; but no matter whut they
names is, they is all alak in one respec': an' tha's clingin' fast to
all the onimproved real-estate w'ich they gits they hands on. I knows,
'cause I wuz born and brung up 'mongst 'em down in No'th Ca'lina. An'
they is still a right smart sprinklin' of 'em lef' 'round these yere
No'the'n parts, too. You jest try to mek 'em give up somethin' w'ich
they desires fur to keep on keepin' it, an' you'll find 'em a powerful
onhealthy crowd to prank wid. They's a heap of talk," he says, "'bout
the other races, w'ich is pourin' in yere, crowdin' 'em plum out of Noo
Yawk City in time, notwithstandin' of 'em havin' been amongst the fust
settlers yere. But lemme tell you somethin': Ef they wuzn' but two of
them Angler-Saxons lef' in this whole town I bet you one of 'em would be
the mayor an' the other'd be the chief of police. Next to holdin' on to
the land, runnin' the gov'mint is the most fav'rit' sport they follows
after.

"An'," he says, "ef 'at is true of this yere country, you tek it frum me
it's true of Affika. Me, I looks fur a lot of cullid fun'els to tek
place befo' you has yore wish 'bout regainin' yore former homestids over
thar," he says. Then his tone sort of changes. "But," he says, "I has
jest been statin' the argumints on the No side. I wants to be fair, so I
will lakwise 'low there's somethin' to be said on yore side, too. In
fact," he says, "ef only the suitable 'rangemints kin be made
befo'hand, I aims to onlist myse'f in wid the movemint an' give to it,"
he says, "my most hearties' suppo't."

That seems to sort of take 'em by surprise. This here Oscar Jordan,
being the most gabby one, is the first to get over his surprisement.

"How come you kin feel that way, 'Lisses," he says, "w'en fur the pas'
ten minutes you been preachifyin' agin the whole notion? How come you
willin' fur to remove yo'se'f off to the perposed All-Affikin Republic
ef you holds them views w'ich you jest expound?"

"Who, me?" says 'Lisses. "You got me wrong! I ain't aimin' to remove
myse'f nowhars. I is mos' comfor'ble whar I is at. No suh, what I aims
to do is to 'tach myse'f to the collector's office yere at home an'
handle the money-dues ez they comes a-rollin' in frum the rest of you
niggers. That's goin' be me an' my job--collectin' an' also
disbursin'--'specially the las'-named."

I rises from where I is setting and I crosses to him and I extends to
him the right hand of fellowship and I says to him, I says:

"You," I says, "an' me both! I nominates myse'f to he'p you wid them
duties. Brother Petty," I says, "you speaks words of wisdom w'ich they
sounds lak my own. Le's us two promenade fo'th into the fresh air of the
evenin'," I says, "an' exchange mo' views on the subjec's of the day. I
feels," I says, "'at we is goin' be agreeable companions one to the
other an' vice or versa."

So from that hour we becomes good friends and sees quite much of one
another. And the more I sees of him the better the cut of his jib seems
to suit me. He follows after cornet-playing for a living. He plays in
the orchestra at the Colored Crescent Vaudeville Theatre on the corner
below where the Pastime Club is, so, what with him being in the
profession and us friends and all, I thinks of him the next minute after
this big idea comes to me up at the studio and that's why I goes seeking
for him in West One-Hundred and Thirty-fifth Street; which without much
trouble I finds him. I takes him aside and I starts telling him what I
has in my mind. Before I has been speechifying to him more than a minute
I can tell he's getting interested and he begs me for to continue. And
when I gets through he's just acclamatious over the notion of going in
partners with me on the proposition. So we spends the rest of the day
and until far into the night discussing the thing from every angle.



CHAPTER XII

_Business Deals_



Bright and early next morning, along about half past ten o'clock, which
is bright and early for New York, I is at Mr. Simons' offices down on
Broadway. I sends my name in to him by a white boy which is on guard in
an outside room amongst a lot of gold railings. In lessen no time at all
the word comes back that I is to walk right in. I walks in and I finds
Mr. Simons setting behind the largest desk that ever I seen, in a room
mighty near big enough for a church. He acts like he's glad to see me
again and he invites me for to have a seat and tell him what's on my
mind because, he says, he found my conversation the day previous to be
most edifying and helpful.

So I says to him, I says:

"Boss, I wants to ast you a question an' 'pun yore answer depends
whither or no I'm goin' ast you a favor lakwise?"

"Shoot," he says.

I says:

"The question comes fust, w'ich it is ez follows: Ef you is earnest
'bout goin' into the mekin' of cullid pitchers fur cullid audiences, lak
you told me yistiddy, I desires please, suh, to know w'en you aims to
give out yore plans to the public at large th'ough the newspapers?"

He says:

"Pretty soon, I guess--just as soon as I get the scheme sort of shaped
up. Why--did you want a job when we open up?"

"Naw suh, not 'at so much," I says. "I got a stiddy job now, valettin'
fur Mr. Dallas Pulliam. But I has a right smart extra time on my hands
an' I is been kind of figgerin' on mebbe doin' a little somethin' on the
side in my sparin' hours. An' so, whut I 'specially craves to know frum
you is whether, w'en you gits ready, you intends fur to 'nounce yore
plans in the cullid papers yere in this town?"

"Well," he says, "I hadn't thought of it before. But if it would mean
anything to you I'd see to it, personally, that it was done and also
that in the press notices your name was mentioned in a complimentary way
as having given us valuable aid and advice--something of that sort. I
suppose you'd like to be put in a favorable light among your friends.
Well, I don't blame you. I'm somewhat addicted to printers' ink myself.
Was that the favor you wanted to ask of me?"

"Yas suh," I says, "in a way it 'tis an' then again, in a way, it
'tain't. Yere's the idee, boss: I wants to know frum you befo'hand, ef
you please, w'en you perposes to mek the 'nouncemint 'cause on 'at
se'f-same day they'll be 'nother 'nouncemint in the cullid papers
settin' fo'th 'at the new firm of Poindexter & Petty 'spectfully desires
to state 'at they is openin' a bookin'-agency fur cullid movin'-pitcher
actors in the neighborhood an' 'at lakwise also, in connection wid it, a
school fur trainin' cullid folks how to ack fur the screen will later on
be added on."

He rears back in his chair and sort of smiles to himself, quiet-like.

"Oh, I see," he says. "I congratulate you on being wide-awake, anyhow.
But," he says, "what do you know about training people to act for the
screen?"

"Well, suh," I says, "I wuz aimin' to pick up a few p'inters yere an'
thar fur future use. An' ef the wust comes to the wust," I says, "I kin
get me a pair of these yere tall yaller leather leggin's an' a megaphome
an' ack influential an' mebbe I could thar'by git by," I says.

"Some of the white directors are getting by with about that much
equipment," he says. "Perhaps you could, too. Well, anyhow, the venture
has my best wishes for its success. I can promise you a little more than
that: It's probable that later on I can throw some business in your
way."

"Thanky, suh, mos' kindly," I says. "'At wuz mainly whut I wuz hopin'
fur."

"Do you need any funds to help you out in financing your undertaking?"
he says.

"Naw suh, I thinks not," I says. "I got some ready cash on hand an' my
partner he's goin' put in a amount ekel to whut I risks. Ef I needs any
more on top of 'at, I aims to ast Mr. Dallas Pulliam fur a small loan."

Then I tells him we lives at the Wheatley Court so he can write to me
there as soon as he is ready to proceed ahead, and I bids him good-bye
and goes back on up-town with hope singing inside of me like one of
these here yellow-breast field-larks down home.

It turns out though it's a good thing we don't need no borrowed capital
from Mr. Dallas' pocketbook at the outsetting because in lessen two
months from that time Old Miss Bad Luck starts shooting at him with the
scatter-gun of trouble, both barrels at once.

Which I will go into full details about all that mess the next time I
takes my pen in hand.



CHAPTER XIII

_Private Life_


It seems to me it's highly suitable that I should get to the edge of
telling about Mr. Dallas' misfortunate visitations just as Chapter the
Thirteenth is starting, which, as everybody knows full well already,
thirteen is the unluckiest number there is in the whole alphabet.

When you projects with old Lady Thirteen you flirts with sudden
disaster. With Mr. Dallas, though, his troubles don't come on all at
once, like a stroke; they comes on sort of gradual, one behind the
other, like the symptoms of a lingering complaint.

Up to a certain point everything with us has gone along very lovely, the
same as usual, with parties occurring regular at the apartment and the
Japanee boy cooking up fancy mixtures, and me serving drinks by the
drove. Thanksgiving time we has a special blow-out with twelve setting
down to the table at once.

But Christmas is when we cuts loose and just naturally out-todos all
previous todos. All day long folks is dropping in to sample the
available refreshments and most of 'em likes the sample so well they
camps right there till far into the night. I mingles up a big glass
reservoir full of egg-nog, which it seems to give 'special satisfaction
to one and all. The way these here guests of ours bails it up you'd
think they was in a sinking skiff half a mile from shore. As he ladles
out the first batch Mr. Dallas states that this here egg-nog is made
according to a recipe which has been handed down in his family since
right after the Revolutionizing War. But when she's took the second
helping, Miss O'Brien, who's got a mighty peart way about her of saying
things, allows that it shore must be older even than that--she says
she's willing to bet it had a good deal to do with bringing on the
revolution.

Of all the crowd that Mr. Dallas is in with, I likes her the best. She's
got a powerful high temper and is prone to flare up when matters don't
go to suit her; but it seems like to me she ain't devoting so much of
her time as some of the others is to seeing what she can get for
nothing. Sometimes I catches her looking at Mr. Dallas like as if she's
sort of sorry for him on account of some reason or other. But to look at
him on this Christmas Day, doing his entertainingest best, you'd think
nothing had ever bothered him and that nothing ever would. As long as
that egg-nog holds out he's bound and determined the party shall be a
success. Which it is!

But Mr. Bellows he ain't got no storage room for egg-nogs. Seemingly he
figures that all them eggs and that rich cream and sugar and stuff will
take up space which is needed for chambering the hard liquor. He just
sets off in a corner with a bottle of Scotch and a bottle of squirtwater
handy by, curing his drought, or striving to. He may not be such very
good company but one thing they've got to say for him--he's a man of
regular habits. You may not like the habits, but they certainly is
regular. I hears Mrs. Gaylord saying once that Mr. Bellows can hold any
given number of drinks, sort of pressing her voice down on the word
"given." She don't need to say it twice, neither, so far as I personally
is concerned.

I got her the first time.

It's maybe two or three days after Christmas--anyhow it's somewheres
around the middle of Christmas week--that I first takes notice of a sort
of a change coming over Mr. Dallas' feelings. When there's nobody else
round but just me and him he acts plumb bothered. His appetite is more
picky-and-choosy than it used to be; and by these signs I can tell
something is on his mind a-preying. On New Year's Eve he goes forth with
his friends for a party but first they all stops by our place for what
they calls appetizers and whilst they is gathered together it comes out
that him and Miss Bill-Lee is now engaged. Not no regular announcement
is made but all of a sudden, seems like, everybody present appears to
know how things stand with him and her. Also, Miss Bill-Lee starts in
treating him more or less like he belonged to her. I don't scarcely
know how to state it in words, but it's like as if up until now she's
been holding a piece of property under mortgage but has finally decided
for to foreclose on it and is eager for the papers to be fixed up in
order for to begin making improvements and alterations. She's what you
might call proprietary.

Well, I can't say the news is much of a shock to me, seeing what has
been the general drift of events since last August when we first got
here. But, on the other hand, neither I can't say that, considering
everything, I'm actually overcome with joyfulness on Mr. Dallas'
personal account.

I can't keep from thinking to myself that he's fixing to marry himself
off into a mighty different set of folks from the kind he was born and
brung up amongst. And I can't keep from thinking what a sight of
difference there is betwixt this here Miss DeWitt and Miss Henrietta
Farrell, which, as I said before, he was courting her before we moved to
New York. One of 'em sort of puts me in mind of a rosebud picked out of
the garden in the dew of the morning and the other, which I means by
that, Miss De Witt, reminds me of one of these here big pale magnolia
blooms which has growed on the edge of a swamp. I ain't meaning no
disrespect by having these thoughts; only I can't keep from having 'em.

I reckon it's having them ideas floating round in my head which makes me
study Mr. Dallas 'specially close that New Year's Eve. For all that he's
laughing and joking and carrying on, I figures that way down deep
insides of him he ain't entirely happy over what's come out. By my
calculations, he ain't got the true feelings which a forthcoming
bridegroom should have. As near as I can judge, he ain't hopeful so much
as he's sort of resignated. Also and furthermore, likewise, he's got a
kind of a puzzled-up beflusterated look on his face as if he'd been took
up short by something he wasn't exactly expecting to happen so soon, if
at all. It ain't exactly bewildedment and it ain't exactly
distressfulness; but it's something that's distant kinsfolks to both of
'em.



CHAPTER XIV

_Oiled Skids_


Anyway, that's that, as we says up here. I will now pass along to what
comes to pass about two weeks later on. All along through them two weeks
Mr. Dallas don't impress me like a young man should which he is starting
out in the New Year full of good cheer and bright prospects. As the
catch-word goes, he ain't at himself. At the breakfast table when I'm
passing things to him he's often looking hard at nothing at all. It's
plain his thoughts is far away and not so very happy in the place where
they've strayed off to, neither.

Well, on this particular day, which it is along toward the middle of the
present month of January, he don't get home from down-town until long
after dinner-time and when he does get in he don't scarcely touch a
morsel to eat; he just pecks at the vittles. After dinner is over and
the dishes washed up I passes through the hall on the way out, being
bound for the Pastime Club to consultate with 'Lisses Petty touching on
our own private affairs. Mr. Dallas had told me at dinner that I could
have the evening off and there was not no reason why I should linger on.
But as I passes the setting-room door I looks in and he's setting there,
sort of haunched down in his chair, with his elbows resting on a little
table and his face in his hands, seemingly mighty lonesome. Something
seems to come over me and I steps in and I says to him, I says:

"'Scuse me, Mr. Dallas, fur interruptin' yore ponderin's, but is they
anythin' I kin do fur you befo' I goes on out?"

He sort of starts and looks up at me, and if ever I sees miserableness
staring forth from a person's eyes I sees it now. He speaks to me then
and what he says hits me with a jolt. Because this is what he says:

"Jeff, why is it that white people are forever committing suicide on
account of their private worries but you never hear of a darky killing
himself for the same reason?"

I studies for a minute and then I says:

"Well, Mr. Dallas, I reckin it's 'is yere way: A w'ite man gits hisse'f
in trouble an' he can't seem to see no way to git shet of it. An' so he
sets down an' he thinks an' he thinks an' he thinks, and after 'w'ile he
shoots hisse'f. A nigger-man gits in trouble an' he sets down an' he
thinks an' he thinks an' he thinks--an' after 'w'ile he goes to sleep!"

He smiles the least little bit at that. But it is not no regulation
smile--it's more like the ha'nting ghost of one.

"But suppose you're brooding so hard you can't sleep?" he says.

"I ain't never seen no nigger yit," I says, "but whut he could sleep ef
the baid wuz soft 'nuff. They may not be many 'vantages in bein' black,
the way the country is organized," I says, "but this is shore one place
whar my culler has it the best."

He don't say anything back at me. So after lingering a little bit I
starts to move on out. And then another one of them inmost promptings
leads me to speak again:

"Mr. Dallas," I says, "sometimes we kin lif' the load of our pestermints
ef only we talks 'bout 'em to somebody else. Sometimes," I says, "it's
keepin' 'em all corked up tight on the insides of us w'ich meks the
burden bear down so heavy.... Wuz they anything else, suh, 'at you
wished fur to ast me?"

It seems like my words must have put a fresh notion in his head.

"Jeff," he says, "you're right. I've got to confide in somebody--or else
explode. Besides," he says, "I figure that if there is one person in all
the five or six million people in this town who's likely to be a real
friend to me, it's you. And while my talking to you probably can't do
any good, it certainly can't do any harm."

"Mr. Dallas," I says, "I is yore frien' an' yore desperit well-wisher,
besides. Sence I been wukkin' fur you you shore is used me mouty kind. I
ain't never had nary speck nur grain of complaint to find wid yore way
of treatin' me. You's w'ite an' I is black," I says, "an' sometimes,
seems lak to me, the two races is driftin' fu'ther apart day by day;
but all that ain't henderin' me frum havin' yore bes' intrusts at heart.

"An' so, suh, ef you feels lak givin' me yore confidences I'm yere to
heed an' to hearken an' do my humble but level bes' fur to aid you, ef
so be ez I kin."

"I believe you," he says, "and I'm grateful to you.... Well, Jeff, to
put it plainly, I've gone and got myself tangled up in a bad mess."

"Whut way, suh?" I says.

"In two ways," he says; "in business--and in another way. I've been an
ass, Jeff--a blind, witless ass. This life here was so different from
any I'd ever known--so different and so fascinating--that it just swept
me off my feet. I've been drifting along with my eyes shut, having my
fling, letting today take care of itself and with no thought of
tomorrow. As I look back on it, it strikes me I always have been more or
less of a drifter. Down yonder, among our own people, there always was
somebody who'd step in once in awhile and check me up. But up here in
this big selfish greedy town, among strangers, I've had nobody to
advise me or to show me where I was making a fool of myself. And,
believe me, I have made a fool of myself. I guess what I need is a
guardian--only I doubt whether I'd find the money eventually to pay for
his services.... Jeff, if I was free of these--these--well, these
entanglements--I tell you right now I'd be willing to quit New York
tomorrow and take the next train back home where I belong."

He studies a minute and then he continues to resume:

"Yes," he says, "I'd head for home in the morning--if I could. It has
taken a hard jolt to open my eyes but, believe me, they're opened now.
The chief trouble is, though, that even with them opened I can't see any
way out of the tangle I'm in. Jeff, the big mistake I made at the start
was that I tied up with the wrong outfit. I thought I was joining in
with a group of typical successful live New Yorkers; I know now how
wrong I was. There must be plenty of real people here--people who take
life in moderation; people who are fair and kindly and reasonable;
people who can find pleasure in simple things and who don't pretend to
know all there is to know, or to be what they're not. But I haven't met
them; I've been too busy running with the other kind."

Down in my soul I says to myself there's a chance for him to pull out
yet if he's beginning to see the brass-work shining through the gold
plating which has so dazzled him up heretofores. Yes sir, if he's found
out all by himself that New York City ain't exclusively and utterly
composed of the Mr. H. C. Raynorses and the Mr. Hilary Bellowses and
such, there certainly is hope for him still. All along, up to now, I've
been saying to myself that it looks like the only future Mr. Dallas has
to look forward to, is his past; but now I rejoices that he's done woke
up from his happy trance. But of course I don't let on to him that such
is my feelings. I merely says to him, I says:

"I ain't the one to 'spute wid you on 'at p'int, suh. Naw suh, not me!
But whut's the reason you can't pull out frum yere, ef you's a-mind
to?"

At that he lights in and the language just pours out from him like a
flood. There's a lot of rigmarole about business, and some parts of this
I cannot seem to rightly get the straight of it into my head, but I'm
pretty sure I gets the hang of all the main points clear enough. To
begin with, I learns now for the first time that him and Mr. Raynor
ain't actually been selling oil down-town; they've been selling
oil-stocks, which as near as I can figure it out, an oil-stock is the
same kin to oil that a milk-ticket is to milk, only it's like as if the
man which sells you the milk-tickets ain't really got no cows rounded up
yet but trusts in due time he'll be able to do so. Still, if there is
folks scattered about who's willing to take the risk that the milkman
will amass some cows somewhere and that the cows won't go dry or die on
him or be grabbed by the sheriff and thereby leave the customers with a
lot of nice new onusable milk-tickets on their hands why, the way I
looks at it, there ain't no reason why their craving for to invest
should not be gratified.

It seems, furthermore, that Mr. Raynor ain't actually been selling as
many oil stocks in the general market as he has let on. Leastwise, that
is what Mr. Dallas suspicions, even if he can't prove it. When first
they went into partners together last August, Mr. Dallas tells me he put
up a large jag of money for his half-interest. He was content to let Mr.
Raynor manage the business and keep the run of the books and all that,
seeing as how Mr. Raynor had the experience in such matters and he
didn't. Anyhow, he felt most amply satisfied with the gratifying amounts
which Mr. Raynor kept handing over to him, saying it all was from the
profits. But this very day there's been a show-down at the office
growing out of Mr. Raynor having called on him to put up another big
chunk of cash for running expenses, and whilst all the figures and all
the details ain't been made manifest to Mr. Dallas yet, he's got mighty
strong reasons to believe there really wasn't no profits to speak of and
that the money he's been drawing out all along was just his own money,
which Mr. Raynor let him have it in order to keep him happy and
contented whilst he was being sucked in deeper and deeper.

And so now, Mr. Dallas says, that's how it stands. If he goes on and on
along the way he seems to be headed it's only a question of time till
all his money will be plumb drained from him. He tells me that he'd be
willing to pull out now and take his losses and charge 'em up to the
expenses of getting a Wall Street education only, he says, he can't. I
asks him then what's the reason he can't? He says because when the
papers was drawed up--by Mr. Raynor--he obligated himself in such a
twistified way that it seems he's bound hard and fast to stick to the
bitter end. Of course, he says, he might start a lawsuit and throw the
whole thing into the courthouse, but, even so, he's afraid he wouldn't
have a leg left to stand on by reason of his having tied himself up so
tight in writing; and anyway, he says, before he got through with a
lawsuit most doubtless the lawyers would have all the leavings.

To myself I says there is still another reason. I knows how much it
would hurt Mr. Dallas' pride to have all the folks down home finding out
that he's made another disasterful move in business. By roundabout ways
it has come to my ears that he's been writing letters back telling about
how well he's doing up here in New York and now, if it should come out
in the papers that he's made one more bad bustup on top of all them
finance mistakes he committed before he come North, and he should have
to go South again, broke and shamed at being broke, I reckons it would
just about kill him. Besides which I knows full well from hearing Judge
Priest talking in the past, that even in medium-sized towns lawyers is
plenty costive persons to hire for an important lawsuit, and in the
biggest town of all, where the lawyers naturally run bigger, they'd cost
a mighty heap more.

When he gets through specifying the situation I gets another notion:

"I wonder," I says, sort of casual-like, "I wonder, Mr. Dallas, w'y it
wuz 'at Mr. H. C. Raynor should a-picked this pertic'lar moment fur
callin' on you fur a big bunch of cash, 'specially w'en ef he'd a-kept
silence you'd a-prob'ly gone on wid him, never 'spicionin' anything wuz
wrong?"

"Oh, I'm not so stupid but what I can figure that out," he says. "He's
afraid so much of my money will be spent soon in another direction that
he'll be deprived of the lion's share of what is left. He wants to strip
me down close while the stripping is good."

"In 'nother direction?" I says, kind of musing. "I wonder whut 'at other
direction kin be?"

"Can't you guess?" he says.

"Yas suh," I says, "I kin; but I didn' think 'twould be seemly fur me to
start guessin' along 'at line widout you opened up the way fust."

"Jeff," he says, "I feel like a low-down dog to be dragging in a woman's
name, even indirectly; and so I guess the best thing I can do in that
direction is to keep my mouth shut and take my medicine. It appears
that here lately I've acquired the habit of committing myself to serious
obligations at times when I'm not exactly aware of what I'm doing. At
the moment, I don't seem to remember how it all comes about; then I wake
up and I find I'm signed, sealed and delivered. I may be the damndest
fool alive, but at least I'm an honorable fool. I was raised that way.
Where my sense of personal honor is concerned I'm going to stick, no
matter what the costs may be. I've been fed fat on flattery; now it's
time for me to sup on sorrow awhile. Do you get my drift?"

"Yas suh, I think I does," I says. "Mr. Dallas," I says, "'scuse me fur
persumin' to keep on 'long 'is yere track, but is you right downright
shore 'at you solemnly engaged yo'se'f in the holy bonds of wedlock to
the lady in question?"

"I suppose I did," he says. "I must have. She assumes to think
so--everybody else assumes to think so. And yet, as Heaven is my judge,
I never intended to lead anybody to believe that I wanted to make a
marriage up here. It--it just happened, Jeff--that's all. I can see now
how a lot of things have been happening and why. But what can I do to
clear myself from either one of these two tangles? I've asked myself the
question a hundred times since noon today and there's no answer. I can't
lick Raynor at his own game; he's too wise; he's covered his prints too
well. When I hinted at a lawsuit this afternoon he laughed in my face
and told me to go ahead and sue. And, as for the other thing--well,
unless I go through with it, against my will and my better judgment, it
means a breach of promise suit, or I miss my guess. Besides, I still
have some shreds of self-respect left. I can't deliberately try to break
an engagement which, I suppose, I must have made in good faith."

"S'posen' the lady herse'f wuz to up an' brek it on her own
'sponsibility?" I says. He laughed kind of scornful.

"No chance," he says; "no such luck for me! I've walked blindfolded into
every trap that was set for me and now it's up to me to play the string
out till the last penny is gone. At the present rate that shouldn't
take long. But see here, Jeff, I wonder why I sit here unburdening my
woes on you? I know you would help me if you could, but what can you do?
What can anybody do?"

"Mr. Dallas," I says, "you can't never tell. Sometimes the humblest
he'ps out the greates'. Seems lak I heared tell 'at once't 'pon a time
'twuz the gabblin's of a flock of geese w'ich saved one of these yere
up-state towns--Utica, or maybe 'twas Rome. I don't rightly remember now
whut 'twas ailed 'at town; mebbe 'twuz fixin' to go fur William Jinnin's
Bryant?--somethin' lak 'at! Anyway, the geese gits the credit in the
records fur the savin' of it. An' ain't you never read whur a mouse
comes moseyin' 'long one time an' gnawed a lion loose frum the bindin'
snares w'ich helt him? So, ez I says, you can't never tell. But I wonder
would you do me a small favor? I wonder would you read a piece out of a
su'ttin book ef I wuz to bring it to you out of the liberary, an' w'en
you'd done 'at ef you would go on to baid an' try to compose yore min'
an' git some needful sleep?"

"What's the idea?" he says.

"Nummine," I says. "Wait 'twell I fetches you the book."

So I goes and gets it down from the shelf where it belongs. It's the
furtherest one of a long row of big shiny black books, which all of them
has got different names. But the name of this one is: _Vet to Zym_.

He takes a look at it when I lays it before him, and he says:

"Why, this is a volume of the Encyclopedia! What bearing can this
possibly have on what we've just been talking about?"

"Mr. Dallas," I says, "you's no doubt of'en seen ole Pappy Exall, w'ich
he is the pastor of Zion Chapel, struttin' round the streets at home in
times gone by? Well, the Rev'n. Exall may look lak one-half of a
baby-elephant runnin' loose, but lemme tell you, suh, he ain't nobody's
bawn fool. One time yere some yeahs back he got hisse'f into a kind of a
jam wid his flock 'count of some of 'em bein' mos' onhighly dissatisfied
wid the way he wuz handlin' the funds fur to buy a new organ fur the
church. Nigh ez they could figger it out, he'd done confisticated the
organ money to his own pussonal an' private pu'pposes. Try ez they mout,
they couldn't nobody in the congregation git no satisfaction out of him
reguardin' of it. So one evenin', unbeknownst to him, a investigatin'
committee formed itse'f, an' whilst he was settin' at the supper-table
they come bustin' in on him an' demanded then an' thar how 'bout it? Wid
one voice they called on him to perduce an' perduce fast, else they
gwine start yellin' fur the police. Wid that he jest rise up frum his
cheer an' he look 'em right in the eye an' he say to 'em, very ca'mlak:
'My pore bernighted brethren, in response to yore questions I directs
yore prayerful considerations to Acts twenty-eighth an' seventeenth,
also Timothy fust an' fifth, lakwise Kings sixth an' fust. Return to
yore homes in peace an' read the messages w'ich is set fo'th in the
'foresaid Scriptures an' return to me yere on the morrow fur fu'ther
guidance.' Well, they all dashes off fur to dig up they Bibles an' see
whut the answer is. Bright an' early next mawnin' they comes back to say
'at w'ile them is mighty fine-soundin' verses w'ich he bade 'em to read,
still they ain't nary one of 'em w'ich seems to relate in any way
whutsomever to a missin' organ fund. Then he smiles sort of pitiful-lak
an' he reaches his fat hand down in his britches pocket an' he hauls out
the money to the las' cent. The trick w'ich he had done played on 'em
had give him a chanc't to slip out an' borrow 'nuff frum a couple of
w'ite gen'elmen frien's of his'n fur to mek up the shortage. Whut he
needed wuz time an' time wuz whut he got.

"Now, Mr. Dallas, I aims to borrow a lesson frum the example of ole
Pappy Exall. I asts you to set yere an' read a chapter out of 'is yere
book. It don't mek no diff'ence to me w'ich chapter 'tis you reads, jes'
so it's a good long one. I done looked th'ough 'at book the other day
an' most of the chapters in it is long an' all of 'em is tiresome. You
jes' read 'twell you gits good an' sleepy an' 'en you go on to baid an'
refresh yo'se'f in slumber. An' in the meanwhile I aims to steddy right
hard over these yere pressin' matters of your'n an' see ef I can't see
the daylight breakin' th'ough somewhars."

I can tell by his looks that he ain't got no hope of success on my part,
but he's so plumb wore out from worrying that he ain't got the spirit
for to resist me. He says to me he won't promise to read the book, but
he will promise to try to lay aside his botherments and go to bed early,
which that is sufficient for me.

I leaves him there and I goes back to my room, after telephoning to
'Lisses Petty that something important has come up at our place which
will detain me away from him for the time being. And then, when I gets
to my room, I sets down and takes off my shoes. It seems like I always
could think better when my feet was freed from them binding shoes.

When a nigger boy is fixing to run his fastest he's got to snatch his
hat off and sail bareheaded; and I'm much the same way about my feet
when I craves to think. So, my shoes being off, I just rears back and
sets in for to give the problems before me the fullest considerations.



CHAPTER XV

_Vet to Zym_


The way it looks to me, here is Mr. Dallas Pulliam, one of the most
free-hearted, good-willingest young white gentlemen that ever lived,
about to be throwed to the raveling wolves. He's elected to be the live
meat, with a two-sided race on to see which one of the contesters can
pick and clean him the quickest. And so, if he's going to be saved for
future references, something is got to be done and done mighty speedy,
too, else there won't be nothing left but the polished bones.

I therefore splits up my thinking into two parts; first I studies a
spell about the one proposition and then I studies a spell about the
other. To tell the truth, though, I don't need to have so very many
concernings over the case of Mr. H. C. Raynor. I did not let on to Mr.
Dallas what was passing through my mind, but at the very same instant
when he turned to me for help after telling about the row down-town at
the oil offices with Mr. Raynor, I hit spang on what might turn out to
be proper medicine for what ails the gentleman. It ain't so very long,
setting there in my room by myself, before the scheme begins to sort of
routine itself out and look like something.

With regards to him I'm going mainly on the facts that he's like a lot
of these here Northerners which ain't never been down South to speak of,
and is therefore got curious ideas about the South in general. Long time
before this I has took note that he thinks a colored person naturally
enjoys being called "a dam black rabbit" or "a worthless black
scoundrel" whilst he's waiting on white folks. Also, he can't seem to
get over my failing to say "Yas, Massa" and "No, Massa" when Mr. Dallas
asks me a question; and I can tell he's kind of put out because I don't
go round speaking of myself as "dis nigga" this and "dis nigga" that and
"dis nigga" the other thing. In other words, I ain't living up to the
character of the imaginary kind of a Southern-raised black man, which
he's been led to expect I'd be from reading some of these here foolish
writings which they gets out up here from time to time.

I knows full well what his sensations is in these matters, not only from
the look on his face, but from one or two things which I has overheard
him saying in times past. So now I just puts two and two together, and I
says to myself that if he's entertaining them misled ideas about my
race, he doubtless is also got the notion in his head that every quality
white gentleman from down South, and more especially them which hails
from Kentucky, totes a pistol on the flank and is forever looking for a
chance to massacrete somebody against which he's took a disfancy. I
remembers now that he asked me once how many feuds there was going on in
our part of the state at the present time. Rather than disappoint him, I
tells him several small ones and one large one. And another time he
wants to know from me whether they ever tried anybody in earnest for
shooting somebody down our way. Secretively, at the time, I pities his
ignorance, but I ain't undertaking to wean him from his delusions,
because if that's his way of thinking it ain't beholden on me to try to
educate him different. Looking back on it now, I'm mighty glad I didn't
try neither, because in the arose situation I figures that his
prevailing beliefs is going to fall right in with my plans.

Inside of half an hour I is through with him and ready to tackle the
other matter, which is a harder one, any way you look at it. I takes my
head in both my hands and I says to myself: What kind of a lady is this
here one we got to deal with? With her raisings, what does she probably
like the best in the world? What does she probably hate the most in the
world? What would scare her off and what would make her mad, and what is
it would probably only just egg her on? What would she shy from, and
what would she jump at? Where would she be reckless, and where would she
be careful? And so on and so forth.

All of a sudden--_bam_!--a notion busts right in my face. Casting round
this way and that for a starter to go by, I recalls to mind what I heard
Judge Priest norrating years ago touching on a funny will which a rich
man in an adjoining county to ours drawed up on his death-bed, and how
the row over it was fit out in the courts, and with that I says to
myself, I says:

"Hallelujah to my soul, ole problem, I shore does believe I's got you
whar the wool is short--dog-gone me ef I don't!"

It's getting on towards eleven o'clock when I puts my shoes back on and
slips in to see what Mr. Dallas is doing. He's still setting right where
I left him, with the book in front of him. But his eyes, seems to me, is
beginning to droop a little. Well, there ain't nobody living could
linger two hours over that there old _Vet to Zym_ without getting all
drowsied up.

"Mr. Dallas," I says, "I thinks the daylight is startin' to sift in
th'ough the cloakin' clouds. I seems to see a bright streak, in fact a
couple of streaks. But, even so, I is got to be lef' free to wu'k things
out my own way. Is you agreeable, suh?"

"Jeff," he says, "I'm in your hands. There's no one else into whose
hands I can put myself. What do you want me to do?"

"Well suh," I says, "first I wants you fur to go tek off yore things an'
git yo'se'f settled in baid fur the night. Tha's the starter."

"Agreed," he says--"and then, what?"

"Well, next," I says, "I don't want you to go down-town a-tall tomorrow.
I want you fur to stay right whar you now is. In the mawnin' keep 'way
frum the telephone. Ef I ain't yere to answer it jes' you an' Koga let
it ring its haid off an' don't pay it no mind. In the afternoon you may
have a 'portant visitor answerin' to the entitlemints of Mr. H. C.
Raynor, Esquire. Befo' he gits yere tell you whut's to come off betwixt
you two, purvided the perliminary 'rangemints, ez conducted by me, has
wukked out all right. But I ain't aimin' to tell you the full plans
yit--too much is got to happen in the meantime. Tomorrow is plenty
time."

"Just as you say," he says. "I'm going to my room now."

"Wait jes' one minute, please suh," I says, as he gets up. "Mr. Dallas,
you ain't ownin' no pistol, is you?"

"What would I be doing with a pistol?" he says, sort of puzzled. "I
never owned one in my life--I don't believe I ever shot one off in my
life." Then a kind of a shamed smile comes onto his face. "Why Jeff," he
says, "you aren't taking seriously what I said early tonight about
suicides, are you? You needn't worry--I'm not thinking of shooting
myself yet awhile."

"I ain't worryin' 'bout 'at," I says; "I ain't figgerin' on you shootin'
yo'se'f, neither I ain't figgerin' on yore havin' to shoot nobody else.
Never'less, though," I says, "an' to the contrary notwidstandin', sence
you ain't got no pistol, you's goin' to have one befo' you is many hours
older--a great big shiny fretful-lookin' one."

"What am I to do with it after I get it?" he says.

"Mr Dallas," I says, "please, suh, go on to bed lak you promised me. I
got a haidache now, clear down to the quick, jes' frum answerin' my own
questions."

I speaks this to him just like he is a little boy and I is his nurse.
And off he goes, just like a wore-out, desponded, onhappy little boy.



CHAPTER XVI

_Lady-Like!_


As I looks back on it now, after the passing of two weeks or so, it
seems to me I never traveled so fast and covered so much ground in all
my born days as I did on the next day following immediately along after
this here night before. For awhile you just naturally couldn't see me
for the dust.

In the first place, right after breakfast-time, I glides out and I
scoots up-town and I puts up ten dollars for security and thereby I
borrows the loan of one of his extra spare revolvers off of a
yellow-complected person named Snake-Eye Jamison, which it is his habit
to go round the colored districts recommending himself as the coroner's
friend and acting very gunnery towards parties that he gets dissatisfied
with. I don't know how many folkses he's killed in his life, but he
must bury his dead where they falls, because I ain't never had none of
the gravestones pointed out to me. But, anyway, he goes heeled on both
hips at all times. But I makes him onload her before he turns her over
to me, because I is not taking no chances on having that thing going off
accidental and maybe crippling somebody. I totes this here large and
poisonous-looking chunk of dark-blue hardware back to the apartment and
stores it in a safe place where I can put my hand upon it on short
notices.

Then I waits till Mr. Dallas is in the bathroom with the water running
so as to hide the sound of my voice, and I goes to the telephone and I
calls up Miss Bill-Lee's[3] number over on Riverside Drive.

She must've rose early so as to have her complexion laid on so it'll get
set good before she goes out for the day; because it's her which answers
my call instead of the maid.

I tells her it's me on the wire and I asks her, as a special favor, can
I run over to her flat as soon as it's agreeable, to speak to her on a
very important matter? She says yes, so eager-like it must be she's
expecting I'm fetching a present from Mr. Dallas same as I has done
quite often before this. She says I can come at ten o'clock.

Ten o'clock and I'm at the door. She's in her sitting-room waiting for
me. She looks sort of disappointed when she sees I ain't brought along
no flowers nor no candy nor no jewelry-box nor nothing with me; but she
welcomes me very kindly. I don't lose no time getting going.

"Miss DeWitt," I says, making my voice as winning as I can, "now 'at you
an' Mr. Dallas is fixin' to git married to one 'nother I been wonderin'
'bout what's goin' become of me in the shuffle. I 'preciates 'at he laks
me fuss-rate; but he idolizes you so deeply 'at I knows he wouldn't keep
on keepin' me nur nobody else round him widout he wuz shore 'at you
laked 'em, too. Tha's what's been worryin' me--the question whether you
felt disposed agreeable to me? An' so, after broodin' over the matter
fur goin' on it's nearly a week, I finally has tuck the liberty of
comin' to speak to you 'bout it. Yassum!"

"Jefferson," she says kind of indifferent and yet not hostile, "I have
nothing against you--in fact I rather like you. If your services are
satisfactory to Dallas I shall have not the slightest objection to his
keeping you on as his servant."

"Thanky, ma'am," I says, "hearin' you say 'at frum yore own lips
su'ttinly teks a big load offen my mind. I strives ever to please.
'Sides, I got a mighty winnin' way wid chillen. I'll come in handy w'en
it comes to he'pin' out wid the nursin' an' all lak 'at."

She sets up straight from where she's been kind of half-laying down and
some of that chain-gang jewelry of hers gives a brisk rattle.

"Children!" she says, plenty startled. "What in the world are you
talking about?"

I answers back like I'm expecting of course she'll understand.

"W'y," I says, "the chillen w'ich enshores 'at Mr. Dallas don't lose out
none in the final cuttin' up of the estate," I says.

By now she's rose bolt upright on her feet. All that languidsome manner
is fled from her, and her voice is sharper than what I ever has heard it
before.

"What's that?" she says, quite snappy. "What's that you are saying? Do
you mean to tell me that Dallas has been married before--that he has a
child, or more than one child, hidden away somewhere?"

"Oh, nome," I says, very soothing, "nuthin' lak 'at. 'Course Mr. Dallas
ain't never been married--up 'twell now he's practically been
heart-whole an' fancy-free. Yassum! I wuz merely speakin'--ef you'll
please, ma'am, 'scuse me--of the chillen, w'ich natchelly 'll be comin'
long ez purvided fur onder the terms of the ole gen'elman's will, you
know. Tha's all I meant."

"Will!" she says. "What will? Whose will? Here, you, give me the
straight of this thing! I haven't the faintest idea what it's all
about."

"Now!" I says, acting like I'm overcome with a sudden great regret.
"Ain't that jes' lak me, puttin' my big foot in it, gabblin' 'bout
somethin' w'ich it ain't none of my affairs? Most doubtless, Mr. Dallas,
he's been savin' it all up ez a happy surprise fur you. An' now, in my
innocence an' my ign'ence, I starts blabbin' it fo'th unbeknowst. Lemme
git out of yere, please ma'am, 'fore I gits myse'f in any deeper 'en
whut already I is in!"

She comes sailing across the floor right at me. Them big floating black
eyes of hers seems to get smaller and sharper until they bores into me
the same as a pair of sharp gimblets.

"You stay right where you are," she says, commanding as a
major's-general. "You don't leave this room until I get this mystery
straightened out."

"Please, ma'am, I'd a heap ruther you spoke to Mr. Dallas 'bout it," I
says, pretending to be pleading hard. "No doubt in due time he'll
confide to you all 'bout the way the property is tied up an' 'bout his
paw's views ez 'spressed in the will, an' also 'bout the way the matter
stands betwixt him an' his twin brother, Mr. Clarence, an' all the rest
of it."

"Twin brother!" she says, and by now she's been jolted so hard she's
mighty near to the screeching point. "Where is this twin brother? I
never heard of him--never dreamed there was such a person. Say, are you
crazy or am I?"

"W'ich 'at do settle it!" I says, very lamentful. "Ef Mr. Dallas ain't
told you 'bout his twin brother neither, it suttinly is a shore sign to
me 'at he wuz aimin' to purserve ever'thing ez a precious secret frum
you fur the time bein'. I 'spects he'll jest more'n snatch me
ball-haided fur this, Miss DeWitt. Please, ma'am, don't say nothin' to
him 'bout my havin' give you the tip, will you?"

"I don't want tips," she says, "I want facts. And I'm going to have them
here and now--and from you! If you want to get out of here with a whole
skin you'll quit your vague mumblings about wills and children and
estates and twin brothers that I never heard of before, and you'll tell
me in plain words the entire story, whatever it is, that has been held
back from me so carefully. You tell it beginning to end!"

"Yassum," I says, "jest ez you wishes, ma'am." I tries to make my voice
sound like I'm scared half to death, which it don't call for no great
amount of putting-on on my part neither, because she has done shed all
her laziness and all her silkiness and all her smoothness same as a
blue-racer sheds his skin in the spring of the year, and she's done
bared her real het-up dangersome self before me. "Jest ez you wishes," I
says, "only I do trus' an' pray at you'll purtec' me frum Mr. Dallases'
wrath w'en he finds out I done spilt ever'thin' so premanture-lak."

"Forget it!" she says. "It strikes me I'm the one who needs protection
if anybody does. Now, without any more dodging or ducking you give me
the truth, understand? No original embroidery of your own, either--the
cold truth, all of it! And if I find out afterwards that you've been
holding back a single detail from me----!"

With that she stops short and pins me with them eyes of hers. I can't
hardly keep from flinching back from before her. If she was a hornet
it'd be high time to start one of the hands off to the nearest drugstore
after the soothing ointments, because somebody certainly would be due to
get all stung up. Rejoiceful though I is inside of me to see how nice
she's grabbed at all the hints which I has flung out to her like
fishing-baits, one after another, I'd be almost as glad if I was outside
that room talking to her through the keyhole. But it's shore dependent
on me to set easy and keep on play-acting and not make no slips. Things
is going well, but they has got to go still better yet if she's to
swallow down the main dose.

FOOTNOTE:

[3] Note.--It has just dawned upon Jeff's volunteer amanuensis that
throughout the preceding pages of this narrative, Jeff's more or less
phonetic rendering of this word was an effort on his part to deal with
the Gallicized pronunciation of an English diminutive for a common
proper name, to wit: _Billy_.



CHAPTER XVII

_Sable Plots_


So I spreads out both my hands like as if I'm plumb cowed down and
licked, and then I starts in handing out to her the yarn which I'd spent
half the night before piecing it together in my mind. It's a mighty nice
kind of romancing, if I do say so, and full of plausibleness, 'specially
that part of it which is built up on what I remembers the old judge
having told me about the curious case which come up that time in one of
the adjoining counties. But the rest of it, including the most fanciest
touches, such as Mr. Clarence and the old maiden-lady aunt and the two
sets of triplets and all, has been made up to order right out of my own
head, and I asks credit.

And now, whilst I'm setting there telling it to her and watching her
close to see how she's taking it, I'm praying to the Good Lord, asking
Him will He please, Master, forgive me for onloading such a monstrous
pack of what-ain't-so on an onsuspecting and worked-up lady. And at the
same time I'm hoping the spirit of Mr. Dallases' dear departed father,
which he was one of the nicest, quietest old gentlemen that ever
breathed, won't come ha'nting me for low-rating his memory so
scandalous. I knows full well he must be turning over in the grave
faster and faster every minute which passes. I only can trust he don't
see fit to rise from it.

"Miss DeWitt," I says, "lissen, please, an' you shell know all: You see,
ma'am, ever'thin' in this connection dates back to the time w'en Mr.
Dallases' paw made his dyin' will some six or seven yeahs ago. 'Course,
as you doubtless has learned befo' now, he lef' the bigges' part of the
estate tied up."

"I don't know any such thing," she says, breaking in again and even more
savage-like than before. "Do you mean to tell me Dallas is not the sole
master of his own property?"

I sort of stammers and hesitates like I'm astonished that she don't know
that part of it, neither. My hanging back only makes her yet more fierce
to hear the rest.

"Wellum," I goes on to say when finally I sees she's liable to blow
clean up if I delays further, "the real facts of the case is 'at he
ain't actually got no property a-tall, ez you mout say. He only draws
down one-ha'f the intrust frum it. He don't get nigh ez much income,
neither, ez whut folkses mout think frum his free way of spendin' his
money right an' lef'. Ez a matter of fact, an' in the strictes'
confidences, Miss DeWitt," I says, "he is mos' gin'elly alluz in debt to
the trustees by reason of him bein' overdrawed. But, course," I says,
"'at part of it ain't neither yere nor thar, is it? Ef Mr. Dallas wants
to slather his money 'bout so fast that ever' dollar he spends looks to
outsiders lak it's ten or twelve, tha's his bus'ness. Lemme git back on
the main track. Le's see, now? I wuz specifyin' to you 'bout the will,
wuzn' I?

"Well, it's lak this: W'en folkses down our way heared the terms of the
will they wuz a heap of 'em said the old gen'elman's mind must a-went
back on him in his last sickness fur him to be layin' down any sech
curious 'quiremints ez them wuz. Yassum, some even went fu'ther 'en 'at.
Some went so fur ez to say it wuz the streak of onsanity w'ich runs in
the Pulliam fambly croppin' out ag'in in a fresh place."

"Oh, so it's insanity now!" she says. "The longer you talk the more
interesting things I learn. Go on--go on!"

"Yassum," I says, "I'm goin'. Yassum, they wuz quite a host of folkses
w'ich come right out an' said Mr. Dallas an' Mr. Clarence, ary one or
both of 'em, would be amply justified in contestin' the will on the
grounds 'at the late lamentable wuz out of his haid at the time he
drawed it up. But no, ma'am, not them two! I figgers they knowed they
own dear paw well 'nuff to know the idee w'ich he toted in his mind.
'Sides w'ich, all the members of that fambly is sort of techy on the
subjec' of the lil' trickle of onsanity 'at flows in the blood, w'ich, I
reckin, they natchelly is to be 'scused fur that. An' ef one or the
other of 'em went to the big cotehouse tryin' to bust up the will on
the claim 'at the ole gen'elman didn't rightly know whut he wuz doin'
to'des the last, it'd only quicken up the talk 'bout the craziness
strain. An' so, on 'count of the Pulliam pride an' all, they jes' lef'
it stand lak it wuz. An' 'en, on top of 'at, Mr. Clarence he turned sort
of onsatisfactory in the haid an' he strayed off an' wuzn' heared of
ag'in till yere recently. An' 'en, soon ez Mr. Clarence wuz found, Mr.
Dallas he come on up yere an' you an' him met an'----"

"In Heaven's name, quit drooling and get somewhere," she says, making
her words pop like one of these here whip-lashes. "What did the will
say?"

"Yassum," I says, "yassum, I jest is reached 'at p'int, now. The will
say 'at the estate is to be helt in trust fur the time bein' an' 'en
w'en the two sons comes of age they is free to marry, only they is both
bound to marry somebody or other befo' they reaches they twenty-fif'
birthday. An' the one w'ich has the most chillen to his credit at the
end of five yeahs frum his weddin' day, he gits the main chunk of the
prop'ty, whilst the other is cut down to jest----"

"The most children?" she says; only by now she's saying it so savigrous
that she practically is yelling it. "The most----?"

"Yassum," I says, "tha's it--the most chillen. You see, ma'am, they
seems to run to chillen, someway, the Pulliamses does. When a Pulliam
gits married, look out fur baby-carriages, tha's all. They don't seem to
have chillen by driblets, neither, lak some people does. They is more
apt to have 'em by triplets. They is two complete sets of triplets on
record in times gone past, an' ever' generation kin be depended on to
perduce at leas' one set of twins.

"Or even more! Now, f'rinstances, you tek Mr. Dallas an' Mr.
Clarence--both twins. Tek they father befo' 'em an' they maiden aunt,
Miss Sarah Pulliam, deceasted--twins some mo'. Only, you never heared
much 'bout Miss Sarah in her lifetime owin' to her bein' kep' onder
lock an' key fur spasms of a kind of wildness comin' over her now an'
then. Then ag'in, amongst Mr. Dallases' own brothers an' sisters, tek
his two lil' twin sisters, not to mention the four or five singles w'ich
come 'long right stiddy an' reg'lar. Yassum, it's been 'at way in the
famby fur ez fur back ez the oldest inhabitant kin remember.

"But the gineration w'ich Mr. Dallas belongs to, it turned out sickly
fur the most part, an' so, by the time the ole gen'elman come to die,
all his chillen had died off on him, 'scusin' Mr. Dallas an' Mr.
Clarence, w'ich them two wuz all they wuz left out of a big swarm. Oh, I
jedges the paw knowed whut he wuz 'bout! I reckin he craved 'at his
breed should once more multiply freely an' replenish the earth wid a
whole multitude of lil' Pulliamses. An' so he purvided fur a healthy
competition betwixt his two sons to see----"

"Wait!" she says. "Let me see if I understand you? You say that by the
terms of that old maniac's will the bulk of his estate was tied up so to
go eventually to the son who had the most children five years after
marriage. Well, then, what does the remaining son--the loser--get?"

"He gits a hund'ed an' fifty dollars a month fur life--I think tha's
whut it come to," I says. "Mebbe it mout be a hund'ed an' sebenty-five,
I won't be shore. An' he also draws down fifty dollars a month extry fur
each chile he's got livin'. But tha's all. The home place an' the
tobacco bus'ness an' the money in the bank an' all else, they goes to
the winner, onlessen each one, at the end of them five yeahs is got a
ek'el number of chillen in w'ich case the estate is divided even-stephen
betwixt 'em. Yassum!"

"Then why didn't both brothers marry as soon as they came of age?" she
asks me, sort of suspicious. But I was expecting that very question to
come forth sooner or later, and I was prepared beforehand for it.

"Wellum," I says, "you see, I reckin Mr. Dallas figgered they wuzn' no
need to be in a rush seein' 'at Mr. Clarence wuz so kind of
ondependable. Ef the truth must be knowed, Mr. Clarence wuz downright
flighty. He had spells w'en he'd furgit his own name an' go wanderin'.
Yassum! An' right after he come of age he took a 'specially severe spell
an' he sauntered so fur away they plum' lost track of him. It wasn't
'twell last July 'at he wuz located ag'in. It seems lak he'd been
detained somewhars out West in a sort of a home whar they keeps folks
w'ich is liable to fits of chronic oneasiness in the haid. But now,
suddenly, his refreshed memory had come back to him an' the doctors
pernounced him cured an' turned him loose ag'in; an' the latest word wuz
'at he wuz thinkin' 'bout gittin married down in Texas or one of 'em
other distant places, out yonderways. So Mr. Dallas must a-realized 'at
'twuz up to him to stir his stumps an' git hisse'f married off, too;
'specially ez he had done passed his twenty-fo'th birthday the month
befo'. Well, seemed lak, he couldn't find no young lady down home w'ich
wuz suitable to his fancies, although some folks did say, quiet-lak, 'at
they wuz a local prejudice springin' up on the part of parents ag'inst
havin' they daughters marryin' him. But betwixt you an' me, ma'am, I
never tuk no stock in 'at, 'cause most of the time Mr. Dallas is jest ez
rationable ez whut you an' me is. It's only w'en he gits excited 'at he
behaves a lil' peculiar-lak. Well, anyways, Mr. Dallas he come on up
yere an' he met you. So now it looks lak ever'thing is goin' turn out
all right, an' mebbe we'll beat out Mr. Clarence after all, in w'ich
case Mr. Dallas won't have to be worryin' at the end of five yeahs 'bout
whar he's gain' to rake up the cash to pay back the money w'ich he's
overdrawed out of the estate, nur nuthin'. So that's how come me to
mention chillen w'en I fust come in, ma'am. An' I trusts you
understan's?"

And with that I smiles at her like I'm expecting that now, seeing she
knows all the tidings, she'll be jubilated over the prospects, too.

But she ain't smiling--I lay she ain't got a smile left in her entire
system. She's mighty nigh choking, but it ain't no happy emotion that
she's choked up with; if you was a blind man you could a-told that much
from the sounds she's making. She's saying things fast and furious.
Remarks is just foaming from her; but the trouble is she keeps on
getting her statements all jumbled up together so they don't make good
sense. And yet, notwithstanding, I still can follow her thoughts. I
catches the words: "_most_ children"--she duplicates that several
times--and "twins" and "triplets" and "insanity" and "one hundred and
fifty dollars a month." And all mixed in with this is loose odds and
ends of language which seems to indicate she thinks somebody has been
withholding something back on her or trying to take an unfair advantage
of her, or something. She certainly is in a swivit. A little more and
she'd be delirious--she would so!

All of a sudden she flings herself out of the room, with her necklaces
and things clashing till she sounds like a runaway milk-wagon, and she
makes for the telephone in the hall, and I can hear her trying very
frantic to get our number rung up. For a minute my heart swarms up in
my throat; anyhow, some of my organs swarms up there where I can taste
'em. I'm so afraid Mr. Dallas may forget his promise to me and come to
the 'phone! If he does, the whole transaction is liable to be busted up
just when I've strove so hard to fix everything nice and lovely. That's
why my heart climbs up in my windpipes. But after a little bit I can
breathe easy some more because it's plain, from what I overhears, that
Central tells her she can't get no responsives from the other end of the
wire. So then, after one or two more tries, she gives up trying and she
comes back into the setting-room, still spilling mumbling words, but
"children" continues to be the one she seems to favor the most, and she
says to me that she has a message to send to Mr. Dallas, which she wants
me for to take it to him.

Still playing my part, I says to her I truly hopes there ain't going to
be nothing in the message which will put Mr. Dallas in a bad humor with
me. But she don't appear to hear my pleading voice. She's already set
down over at a little writing-desk in the corner, and she's got a pen
in her hand and she's writing away like a house on fire. The pen is
squeaking the same as if it was in torment, and them five or six
bracelets on her arm is clinking sweet music to my ear. I ain't no
seventh son of a seventh gun, which they tells me they has the gift of
prophecy laid upon them at birth, nor yet I ain't no mind-reader, but,
even so, I says to myself that I don't need but one guess at the true
nature of what 'tis she's writing.

She gets through quite soon--there's only just one single sheet of
paper, and she folds it up and creases it hard like she's trying to mash
it in two, and she jams it in an enveloper and seals the enveloper and
shoves it into my waiting hand, and she says to me:

"There! Now you take this note to the man you work for, immediately!"

"Yassum," I says; "is they any answer to come back?"

"Answer?" she says, "No--no--_no_--NO!"

So I goes right out, leaving her still saying it at the top of her
voice. It seems to me it's high time to go, if not higher. Besides,
it's mighty hard trying to carry on a conversation with an
overwrought-up lady which she has only got one word left in stock, which
that one is a little short word like "No."

So I takes my foot in my hand and I marvils thence from there fast as
ever my willing legs can take me. And as I goes along on my way,
speeding 'cross-town bound for our quarters, I'm trying to think of a
stylish word which in times gone by I has heard some of the white folks
use as a pet name for a note from one loving soul to another. Pretty
soon it comes to me--_billet doux_!

I stops right still where I is at:

"Bill-Lee do, huh?" I says to myself. "Yas, sometimes Bill-Lee do. But
this time--glory, hallelujah, amen!--Bill-Lee do not!"



CHAPTER XVIII

_White Hopes_


When you is engaged in going to and fro in the world doing good deeds
you certainly can cover a surpassing lot of ground in a short time. It's
striking ten when I knocks at the lady's door; it ain't eleven yet, by
the lacking of a few minutes, when I is home again and has handed over
the note to Mr. Dallas and is watching his face whilst he reads it. He's
got one of these here open faces, and I can tell, easy enough, exactly
what thoughts goes through his mind. Mostly he's full of a great
relief--that's plain to see--but mixed in with it is a faint kind of a
lurking regretfulness that she should a-broke loose from him so abrupt
this-a-way. If folks has got the least crumb of vanity in 'em it shows
forth when a love affair is going to pieces on 'em. And Mr. Dallas is
not no mite different in this matter from the run of creation. Even so,
he's displayed more joysomeness than anything else when it comes to the
end of what she's wrote him. He reaches out after my hand for to shake
it good and hard and hearty.

"Jeff," he says, "my hat's off to you--you're the outstanding wonder of
the century. I judge it's hardly necessary for me to tell you what's in
this note?"

"I been able," I says, "to mek my own calculations, suh. I reckins ef I
wuz put to it, I could guess."

"How did you ever succeed in doing it?" he says.

"Mr. Dallas," I says, "the main p'int is 'at it's done--ain't 'at so,
suh?"

"Agreed," he says; "but there are hints here--hints is a mild word--at
things I don't in the least understand. Now, for example----"

"Mr. Dallas," I says, "ast me no questions, please suh, an' I'll tell
you no lies. Lyin' don't come natchel to me, ez you knows--I has to
strain fur it."

"Very well," he says, "have it your own way; I won't press you. The
proof is in my hand that you accomplished what you set out to do; and
seeing that I had no part or parcel in it I figure it's up to me to show
less curiosity and more gratitude."

"Nummine the gratitudes part yit aw'ile," I says. "Us is got a heap more
to 'complish 'fore the sun goes down tonight. It's only jest a part of
the load w'ich is been lifted--bear 'at in mind, suh. The case of Mr. H.
C. Raynor is yit remainin' to be 'tended to."

"You've already shown me what you can do, even though I'm left in the
dark, as to the exact methods you use in these big emergencies," he
says. "I'm still following your lead. What comes next?"

All through this he's been walking up and down the floor like he was
drilling for the militia. So I induces him for to set down and be still,
and I proceeds to specify further.

I says to him, I says:

"Mr. Dallas," I says, "these here chronic Noo Yawkers is funny
people--some of 'em. 'Cause they knows they own game they thinks they
ain't no other games wu'th knowin'. 'Cause they thinks the Noo Yawk way
of doin' things must be the only suitable way, they don't concern
theyselves 'bout the way an outsider mout tackle the same proposition.
To be so bright ez they is in some reguards, they is the most ign'ent in
others ever I seen. Now, 'cordin' to my notions, w'en you gits 'em on
strange ground, w'en you flings a novelty slam-bang in they faces, they
ain't got no ways an' means figgered out fur meetin' it an' they's
liable to git all mommuxed up an' swep' right off they feet."

"Jeff," he says, "you have gifts which I never fully appreciated before.
You are not only a philosopher but a psychologist as well."

"Boss," I says, "you does me too much honor. So fur ez I knows, I ain't
nary one of them two things w'ich you jest called me. I only merely
strives fur to use the few grains of common-sense w'ich the Good Lawd
give me, tha's all 'tis. Tubby shore, I got one 'vantage on my side: I
kin look at w'ite folkses' affairs frum a cullid stan'p'int whar'as
they kin only look at 'em frum they own. Ef the shoe wuz on t'other foot
you doubtless could he'p me; but in the present case it's possible I kin
he'p you. I's on the outside lookin' in, whilst you is on the inside
lookin' out, ez you mout say; so mebbe I kin 'scover things w'ich you'd
utterly overlook. The fly be-holes whut 'scapes the elephant's eye an'
the minner gives counsel to the whale. Mebbe I ain't gittin' the words
routined right fur to 'spress my meanin's, but, even so, I reckin you
gits my drift, don't you, suh?"

"I follow you perfectly, with an ever-increasing admiration," he says.
"Go ahead. This look like our lucky day anyhow--let's press the luck!"

"Yas suh," I says. "Now, f'rinstances," I says, "you tek the 'foresaid
Mr. H. C. Raynor. Wen you spoke to him of lawsuits yistiddy he mouty
nigh laffed in yore face, didn't he? Well, 'at shows he ain't got no
dread of lawsuits. Prob'ly he's been mixed up in 'em befo'; most
doubtless he knows the science of lawsuitin' frum the startin'-tape to
the home-stretch. An' lakwise he'd have the bulge on you w'en it come to
makin' figgers wu'k out lak he wanted 'em to, so he'd 'pear to be inside
his rights an' you'd 'pear to be on the wrong side of the docket. I
persume he's had a 'bundance of 'sperience in sech matters, w'ich you
ain't. He knows his own system an' he knows you don't know it, w'ich
fortifies him yit fu'ther. All right, suh, so much fur that. But
s'posen, now, on the other hand, we wuz to layway him an' jump out of
ambushmint at him wid a brand-new notion? I jedges he ain't got no
rippertation to speak of, so losin' whut lil' scraps of it he mout have
left wouldn't keep him 'wake nights worryin', 'specially effen he'd
already salted away the cash w'ich he craved. But he do own somethin'
w'ich he prizes most highly or elsewise I misses my guess--he's got a
skin w'ich he's managed some way, by hook, or crook, to keep it whole up
to now. An' ef right out of a clear sky he suddenly wuz faced wid
prospect of havin' it all punctured up in mebbe fo', five, or six
places, I figgers he mout start singin' a diff'unt song frum the one
w'ich at the present 'pears to be his fav'rit' selection.

"There's just one thing more," I says, "Prob'ly it's 'scaped yore
'tention, Mr. Dallas, but I's been steddyin' Mr. H. C. Raynor off an' on
an' I has took note 'at he's got some very curiousome idees in his haid
'bout the kind of folkses you an' me is. Didn't it never occur to you,
suh, 'at he thinks practically all Southern w'ite gen'elmen is a heap
more hot-haided an' fiery-blooded 'en whut the run of 'em really is?
Didn't it never occur to you frum his talk, 'at he figgers 'at most
ev'ry thorough-bred Kintuckian is prone to settle his argumints wid
fo'ty-fo' calliber ca'tridges? Well, I's read his thoughts 'long them
lines, even ef you ain't, an' I'm shore I got him placed right. Tha's
whut I'm countin' on now, suh," I says; "tha's whar'in lays our maindest
dependince. Does you see whut I'm aimin' at, suh? Or does you don't?"

He ain't needing to answer. His face is beginning to light up and his
eyeballs is starting to dance in his head. So I knows the time is come
for me to cease from preambling and get right down to cases. Which I
accordingly does so.

I tells him the greatest part of what I aims to do. I tells him what-all
he's to do. I tells him what 'll be the signal for him to bust into the
picture. I tells him how he should deport hisself after he's done so. I
can tell him what should be done up to a certain point, but, past that,
as I says to him, he'll just have to let Nature take its coarseness.

I labors over him until I can tell he's getting his mad up--his hands
begins to twitch a little and his jaw sort of locks and there's a kind
of a reckless spunky look stealing onto his expression. That suits me. I
wants him to be even more nervous than what he is now when the
performance starts--the nervouser he is the better for our purposes.

When his dander is worked up to suit and getting more worked-up and more
danderish every minute, I leaves him there and I goes out into the hall
and I rings up the oil office. One of the help answers to my call and I
tells him to please get Mr. Raynor on the line right speedy. In about a
minute his voice comes to me over the wire.

"Hello!" he says, very sharp-like, "hello!--who is it?"

"Mr Raynor," I says, "this yere is Jeff Poindexter, speakin' fur Mr.
Dallas. He desires 'at you will please run on up yere to our place soon
ez you kin git yere. He ain't seemin' to be hisse'f today an' so he
ain't aimin' to come down-town. In fac', right now he's layin' down, but
he p'intedly insists on seein' you 'mediately. He says it's most highly
important. 'At's the message he tells me fur to convey, suh."

"Well," he says, sort of grumbling, "it's getting on toward my
lunch-time; but I suppose I could come. Tell him I'll be there in
half-an-hour from now."

"Yas suh," I says, "thanky suh.... Hole on, Mr. Raynor; they's jest one
thing else." And now I lets my voice slink down, sort of cautious-like.
"Mr. Raynor," I says, "I done deliver Mr. Dallases' word to you--now I
wishes fur to say a lil somethin' on my own 'count. W'en you gits yere,
please suh, come straight on up to the 'partmint widout bein' 'nounced
frum downstairs an' walk right on in widout knockin' or ringin' the
bell--the do' 'll be onlatched. I'll be waitin' fur you in the privit
hall to 'scort you into the front room. I craves to speak wid you a
minute, jest by ourselves."

"What's the big idea?" he says.

"I can't 'splain over the 'phone by reason 'at I mout be over-heared," I
says; "but I allus has lakked you, suh, frum the fust--an' mebbe I mout
give you a few p'inters 'at you sh'd oughter know befo'hand."

"Oh, I see," he said. "There's been some loose talking going on up there
and you've heard something you think might interest me, eh? Fine and
dandy! Well, Jeff, you're wise to line up with me--it shows you've got
sense. You won't lose by it, either. I'm always willing to pay the top
market-price for valuable inside information."

"Yas, suh," I says, "thanky, suh--'at's partially whut I wuz figgerin'
on. I'll be hoverin' 'bout on the look-out fur you, suh, 'cause it
shorely is mouty essential----"

Right here I breaks off sudden, like as if I'd suddenly got scared that
I might be eavesdropped on or interrupted or something.

Well, the fruitful seed has done been planted. Almost before I has time
to hang up and get up from that there telephone it seems like to me I
can feel 'em organizing to sprout under my feet.



CHAPTER XIX

_Pistol Plays_


I has fully half an hour to wait and I puts it in going over the
program, as it has already done been mapped out, just to make absolute
sure nothing ain't been left out. There's one switch in the plans, which
I decides to make it right at the last minute, mighty near it. This here
decision is that I'll shove things along powerful brisk once we gets
going good and under way; which naturally this means I've got to change
my Riverside Drive system. But circumstances alters cases and what's
side-meat for one is cold poison for another. The way I looks at it, it
all depends on the anigosity[4] of the occasion.

Now, with the lady, the best scheme, seemed like to me, was not to crowd
the mourners, as the saying is, but just to lazy along in a weaving way,
letting the specifications sink into her one by one and thereby thus
giving her time to brood over each separate point as it come forth. But
with him I figures the best plan is the quick-rushing plan. I figures
I've got to take him short from the go-off and keep on shocking him so
fast and so hard with promises of devastations that he won't have time
to catch up with his thinking, and then at the proper time dash the
mainest jolt of all right _bang_ in his face.

But before that proper minute comes he's got to be rightly prepared in
his mind for it. He's got to be hearing mournful music and muffled drums
beating in his ears. He's got to feel an icy cold breath blowing on his
overhet temples. He's got to have a raging fever in his forehead, but a
heavy frost congealing his feet. And most of all he's got to have a sad
picture dancing before his eyes of from six to twelve of his most
intimate friends getting measured for white gloves. Just let them things
come to pass, sort of simultaneous, and it's sure going to be a case of
Sukey, bar the door, with our gentleman friend!

Leastwise, that is the way I organizes it in my head whilst I'm setting
in that there little hall of ours waiting watchfully. Before a great
while I hears one of the elevators stopping at our floor and I hears
slinky kitty-cat steps coming along towards our door. So I knows that
must be him and I gets back and sort of squats in the side passage
leading off into the service wing, so I can come slipping out like as if
I was in a hurry to meet him as he come in, but had been detained.

The door opens right easy and in slides Mr. Raynor, same as a mouse into
a trap. I can almost see his nose wrinkling up like he's smelling of the
cheese and craving to start nibbling at it. He looks round him and sees
me and he gives me a meaning wink. I makes motions to him to be quiet,
which that ain't necessary but it helps the play along for me to be
plenty warnful in my manners; and then I tiptoes on up the hall towards
the setting-room, leading the way for him; and he takes the hint and
tiptoes along behind me. But at the setting-room door I slows up and
steps to one side to let him pass on in first and that gives me a chance
to spring the catch-bolt on the door behind us, unbeknownst to him. I
takes his hat and coat, all the time rolling my eyes round on every side
like I'm apprehentious somebody else might be breaking in on us from the
back part of the apartment, and then I says to him in a kind of a
significating whisper, I says:

"Oh, Mr. Raynor, I been truly oneasy in my mind 'bout you--I'm mouty
sorry 'at you come!"

"Sorry?" he says, sort of startled. "Why, you telephoned me yourself."

"Yas, suh, I knows I did," I says; "but I wuz only obeyin' awders--an'
anyways 'at wuz befo' things begun to tek the more serious turn w'ich
they has took. I'd a-halted you at the front do' yonder an' turned you
back ef I could've, but I wuz delayed back in the boss' baid-room tryin'
to argue him out of his notion an' tha's how come I didn't git thar to
give you the warnin' word. Or," I says, "ef they'd a-been time an' I'd
a-got the chance--both of w'ich I had neither--I'd a-ketched you on the
telephone an' stopped you befo' ever you started up-town frum the
office. So this move--tollin' you in yere an' fortifyin' you up,
suh,--is the onliest other one I could think of," I says; "an' so, no
matter how it may turn out," I says, "I want you to carry wid you the
'membrunces 'at I done the level best I could fur you."

"Say," he says, "what's all this palaver about?" He's speaking quite
bluffy, but even so I can tell that the uneasiness is beginning to seep
into his ankles. "Why shouldn't I come here? I was sent for, wasn't I?
For that matter, why shouldn't I come without being sent for? I'm not
worried about my position in this row--I'm safe."

"_Sh-h-h!_" I says, "please, suh, _sh-h-h!_ Keep yore voice down," I
says, "whutever else you may do. This ain't no time to be talkin' loud,"
I says.

"I'll swear I don't get you," he says. But he's took heed and now his
notes is low and more worried-like. "I'm asked to come up here on a
matter of business, as I suppose. I gather from your hints over the
telephone you think you've found out something which I might be willing
to give money for, as an exclusive advance tip. So far, so good; I'm
always open to reason. Then I get here and you behave as mysteriously as
a ghost and go _sh-h-hing_ about as though somebody was dead on the
premises. What's the----"

"Oh, Mr. Raynor," I says, "don't speak of nobody bein' daid on these
premises. It sounds too much lak a dreadin' perdiction. Mr. Raynor," I
says, "fur the sakes of all, please lis'sen an' lemme say my say whilst
they's yit time!"

"All right," he says; "go ahead. I won't interrupt again, although I
still don't see why you should take the matter so seriously." But in
spite of the fact that when he says this he's grinning at me I judges
that by now the uneasiness has started crawling up his legs. It's one of
them sickly, pestered grins.

"Well, suh," I says, "all last night an' th'ough the early parts of this
mawnin' Mr. Dallas is been carryin' on lak he was mouty nigh
distracted. Frum words w'ich he lets fall, partly to me an' partly w'en
he's tawkin' to hisse'f, I meks out 'at the trouble is on 'count of
bus'ness dealin's 'twixt you an' him, an' also 'at he's harborin' a
'special pet gredge ag'in you on 'count of somethin' or other. Fur a
spell he tawked right smart 'bout a compermise settlemint an' 'at wuz
whut I wanted to tell you pussonally in privit--'at the idee of a
compermise settlemint wuz floatin' in his mind. He didn't sleep none
las' night but he walked the floor stiddy till pas' daylight; an' all
th'ough these mawnin' hours, seemed lak to me, he's been gittin' mo' an'
mo' antagonized ez the time went by. Frum the symptoms I should a-knowed
whut wuz brewin'. But I reckin I must a-been blinded, whut wid things
bein' so out of kelter round the 'partmint. W'en he bidden me fur to
call you up an' invite yore presence yere right away I still didn't
'spicion the true facts. But right after I'd got th'ough telephonin'
down to the office I went back to his room to say you'd be cumin'
shortly an' ez I stepped in the do' an' seen him fumblin' in 'at
dressin'-table drawer an' seen the rampagious look w'ich wuz on his
face--oh, Mr. Raynor, suh, right 'en wuz w'en my heart upset itse'f
insides my chist!

"'Cause I done seen 'at look on his face befo' now; I seen it fo' yeahs
ago, the time w'en 'at electioneerin' fuss of his wid the late Mr. Dave
Townsend come up. At leas' once't I seen it on his paw's face an' I seen
it mo' times 'en once't on the face of his uncle, Mr. Z. T. Pulliam,
w'ich they called him Hell-Roarin' Zack fur short. It runs in the blood
an' it ripens in the breedin'--'at look do. You don't never want to
tamper wid a Pulliam--they comes untamped too easy! They goes 'long jest
ez peaceable an' quiet ez a onborn lamb up to a suttin p'int an' 'en 'at
look comes over 'em an' the by-standers starts removin' theyselves to a
place of safety. They calls it the deadly sign of the Pulliam fambly
down our way 'cause they knows whut it means--they's seen it loomin'
th'ough the pistol-smoke too of'en. An' so----"

"What sort of a bluff is this you're trying to hand me?" he says. But
his face all of a sudden has turned just the color of chalk and his
voice is quivering so the words comes forth from between his lips all
sort of broken up. The man's looks don't match his language. "Are you
trying to tell me there's gun-play threatening around here? Well, that's
not done any more!"

"You's right!" I says. "Wid the Pulliamses, after the fust shot, it
ain't necessary fur it to be done any mo'--jest once't is ample! They
lets go frum the hip an' they don't rarely nor never miss--I reckin it
comes natchel to 'em. Oh, Mr. Raynor, I knows whut the danger is
better'n you possibly kin! An' oh, Mr. Raynor, I's so skeered on yore
'count--you havin' been alluz mouty friendly to me an' you still so
young, too! An' I's skeered on Mr. Dallases' 'count lakwise, 'cause
these cotehouse folks up yere they prob'ly won't 'preciate whut is the
custom of our locality fur the settlin' of privit misunderstandin's
betwixt gen'elmen. I'm most crazy in my mind, ez you kin see! Ef only I
could a-got him cooled off an' ca'mmed down befo' you got yere! I tried
an' I tried but 'twuzn't no use--it never is no use tryin', wid a
Pulliam. An' even now ef only we could onduce him to hole off an'
lis'sen to reasonable argumints frum you befo' he cuts loose! Oh, Mr.
Raynor, I do hope an' pray he see fit to give you a chanc't to 'splain
'way the diffe'nces! But, oh, I dreads the wust! 'Cause he's crouchin'
back yonder waitin', wid his trigger-finger twitchin', an' w'en he sees
you----"

"Let me out of here!" he says. And though he says it kind of
half-whispering yet he says it kind of half-screeching, too.

And with that he makes a break for the door behind him, aiming to bust
out down the hall. But it's locked.

And with that, likewise I turns over a little centre-table and it goes
down on its side with a bang, which that is the ordained signal agreed
on previous, and I lets a yell out of me.

"Oh, Lawsy," I yells, "it's too late--yere he is now!"

And then Mr. Raynor ceases from pawing at the latch and spins round and
plasters himself flat against the door-panels like he was pinned there,
with his arms stretched wide and his fingers clawing at the wood-work.
And here, in through the curtains of the library door comes Mr. Dallas,
that's all, stepping light on the balls of his feet, with his eyes
blazing and his hair all mussed-up, and down at his right side, it
swinging loose and free, he's carrying that three-pound chunk of
Snake-Eye Jamison's shootlery. I don't know whether it's the excitement,
or the spell of the play-acting on him, or the righteous mad which is in
him, but he looks so perilous I'm mighty near scared of him my own self.
And even though he ain't never toted no pistol before in his life he's
handling this here big blue borrowed smoke-wagon like he'd cut his
milk-teeth on one. And I'm mighty glad she ain't loaded, neither; else
he might start living up to the reputation I've done endowed him with.

That's all, but that's plenty! As Mr. H. C. Raynor's knees begins giving
way under him he starts in to pleading at the top of his voice. You
could a-heard him plumb down in the street I reckon.

"For God's sake," he begs, "don't shoot! For God's sake, don't shoot
yet! Give me a minute--give me time to explain! I'll do anything you
say, Pulliam--we can square this thing! Only, for God's sake, don't
shoot!"

By the time he's got this much out of him he's setting down flat against
the door, with his legs stretched out straight in front of him and his
feet kind of dancing on the floor so that his heels makes little
knocking sounds. He looks like he's fixing to faint away. Maybe he did
faint, but if he did, I know the faintfulness didn't get no higher up
than his throat, because the last thing I heard as I went on out from
there through the library, was him still babbling away.

Up till the time I left, Mr. Dallas hadn't spoke nary word--just stood
there wagging that there chunk of hardware in the general direction of
Mr. Raynor and licking at his lips with his tongue, sort of eager-like.
Well, thus far, it hadn't been necessary for him to say nothing--Mr.
Raynor was doing enough talking for any number you might care to name,
up to half a dozen.

FOOTNOTE:

[4] Note.--The word is believed to be one of Jeff's own coinage. It is
left as written. Its meaning may be doubtful but who will deny that it
is a good word?



CHAPTER XX

_Piebald Joys_


It's maybe twenty minutes later on when Mr. Dallas calls to me to come
to him and bring Koga with me, him saying the both of us is required for
to witness an agreement which has been drawed up. Right then and there
for the first and last time in my life, that there Japanee boy wins my
admirations. He don't bat a single eye-lash as he follows me in where
they is. He acts like all his life he'd been used to walking into a
setting-room and finding two gentlemen there, one of 'em with a pistol
and the other with a hard chill. He just sucks his breath in once or
twice and starts smiling very pleasant upon one and all. I judges he
must a-been brought up in a kind of a rough neighborhood over in his own
country.

Mr. Raynor has done rose up from the floor by this time, and is setting
in a chair where he can be more comfortable; at that, he ain't seeming
totally comfortable. His teeth and his hands and his feet keeps on
misbehaving, and he looks to me like he's been losing considerable flesh
even in that short time since I left him. His complexion also remains
very bad. You'd say, offhand, here was a gentleman fixing to be taken
down with a severe spell of illness, or else just getting over one and
still far from well.

He puts his name to a piece of writing which is spread out on the table,
Mr. Dallas standing over him and sort of indicating the place to him
with the nozzle of that there trusty old forty-four. He has some
difficulty in getting his name set down by reason of him keeping
flinching away from the gun and also on account of his fingers being so
out of control. Then me and Koga likewise signs and whilst I is so doing
I rejoices to note that the document is all done in Mr. Dallases'
handwriting.

When this has been attended to there does not seem to be no reason why
Mr. Raynor should linger longer amongst us. He indicates that he craves
to go but still don't actually go till Mr. Dallas gives him the word.
For such a previously brash white man he certainly has been rendered
very docile. And dumb--huh! Alongside of him guinea-pigs is plumb
rambunctuous.

I helps him on with his overcoat, which he has trouble getting into it
by reason of not seeming to be able to stick his arms into the sleeves
until after several tries; and such is his agitated feelings that he
starts off forgetting his hat. I puts it on his head for him, him not
saying a word but just staring about him kind of null and void, and now
and then shivering slightly; and as he goes down the hall towards the
elevator he's got one hand sort of pressed up against the wall for to
support him on his way. If I'd been him I should a-went right straight
on home and laid down for a spell. Probably that's what he did do. I
know I ain't seen hair nor hide of him since and I ain't expecting to do
so, neither, without we should run into one another by accident on the
street sometime.

As I comes back from the front door after seeing him safely off, Mr.
Dallas is waiting for me in the middle of the floor with a grin on his
face, which it mighty near splits his face in half across the middle. He
lays down the agreement paper and the artillery so he can shake hands
with me with both hands.

"Jeff," he says, "for the second time in less than two hours let me
tender you my earnest congratulations and my everlasting gratitude.
Thanks to you," he says, "and you alone, I'm getting out of the
double-barreled hole I was in, reasonably intact. What's gone I'll
gladly charge up to profit and loss and valuable experience. What's left
is a whole lot more than I had dared to hope it would be before you took
a hand. When I look back on my feelings last night and contrast them
with my feelings today--say, by Jupiter!" he says, "come to think of it,
it's all happened between late dinner-time of one day and late
lunch-time of the next! It doesn't seem possible! What can I do to
square myself with you for the debt I owe you?"

"Well, suh," I says, "you mout start in to please me by eatin' a lil'
somethin'. Yore speakin' of lunch-time 'minds me 'at you ain't been
right constant at yore meals lately. Whut you needs," I says, "is to git
yore appetite back an' stow a smidgin' of warm vittles down yore
insides."

"Jeff," he says, still hanging onto my hands and pumping 'em so fervent
it makes me feel right diffident for him to be doing so, "you're the
doctor and your prescriptions suit me. Bring on the grub! Say it with
chowders! We'll celebrate," he says, "over the festal hot biscuits!
What, ho, for the wassail waffles!"

And with that he goes prancing about over the room dragging me along
with him, like he was, say, about nine years old, going on ten.



CHAPTER XXI

_Headed Home_


For a fact, that meal which he eats is more like a celebration than a
regulation meal, but considering of everything, I reckon that's no more
than what is to be expected.

He's half way through with his second helpings of the lamb chops when he
looks up at me where I'm standing back of his chair and he says to me
with one of them old-time little-boy twinkles in his eye, like he used
to have:

"Jeff," he says, "you certainly can paint a fanciful picture when you
set yourself to it. When I think of the blood-thirsty characteristics
which you bestowed upon those devout and peace-loving ancestors of mine
I have to stop eating and laugh again."

"You must a-been lis'senin' 'en," I says.

"I overheard part of the tale from behind the portieres," he says. "Oh,
but it was great stuff, and highly convincing! Even in that crucial
moment I could appreciate your deft touches."

"You ain't knowin' the ha'f of it yit, suh," I says. "Wait till you
hears tell 'bout them fictionary kinsfolks I's conferred 'pon you in
'nother quarter an' how I endowed the whole passil of 'em wid the
chronic failin' of bein' onreliable in the haid. I 'spects you'll want
to use 'at pistol shore-'nuff in earnest 'en."

"Not me," he says; "not me. I'll give three ringing cheers for your
superior inventive qualities. If I had your power of imagination I'd
charge admission," he says.

"I'm glad you feels 'at way, suh," I says, "but I shore does aim to walk
wide of the deceasted members of the Pulliam fambly w'en I crosses over
to the fur side of the deep River of Jordan," I says. "I ain't cravin'
to git in no jam wid any ole residenter angels till I's used to bein'
one myse'f. I wonder," I says, "whut Mr. H. C. Raynor'd think ef he
knowed 'at yore Uncle Zachary wuz a Persistin' Elder of the Southe'n
Meth'dis' Church fur goin' on twenty yeahs?"

"Never mind what he thinks now or hereafter," he says. "It's what my
late partner did that counts. Anyhow, you didn't deceive him when you
told him Uncle Zach's nickname."

"'At did fit in nice," I says; "me rememb'rin', jest in the nick of
time, 'at they called the ole gen'elman Hell Roarin' Zach by reason of
his exhortin' powers w'en 'scribin' them brimstones an' them hot fires
bein' so potent 'at the sinners could smell 'em an' shiver. Well, suh,
tha's all part of my system: Stir a slight seasonin' of truthfulness
into the mixture frum time to time an' it meks the batter stand up
stiffer. An' also don't never waste a good lie widout you has to--save
'em till you needs 'em. Tha's my motto, suh."

"And I subscribe to it," he says, and he chuckles some more. In fact
he's chuckling right straight along till he gets up from the table. Then
he rears back in a chair and sets a cigar going. He makes me take a
cigar, too, which it is the first time I has ever smoked in a white
gentleman's presence whilst serving him. But this is a special occasion
and more like a jollification than anything else. So I starts puffing on
her when my Young Cap'n insists upon it; and then, at his command, I
just lit in and told him all what had happened at Miss DeWitt's flat
that morning and about a lot of other things--things I'd overheard and
things I'd suspicioned--which it had not seemed fitten to tell 'em to
him before this, but now both time and place appears suitable.

Talking about one thing leads to talking about another, as it will, and
presently I finds myself confiding to him the expective undertakings of
the firm of Poindexter & Petty, which that is all news out of a clear
sky to him, seeing as I'd kept this to myself as a private matter in the
early stages. He says he'd sort of figured, though, I had something up
my sleeves, by reason of my having seemed so interested in the
moving-picture business and all. And though he don't say so, I judges he
figures out, too, that here lately I maybe has refrained from speaking
to him about my own affairs when he was so pesticated about his
own--which also, more or less, is the truth of it.

But now he's deeply interested and 'lows he wants to hear more. He
states that while he's sorry on his own account that I is not going back
home with him when he goes, which that will be just as soon as he can
clean up things here and sell off the lease on the apartment and so
forth, still, he says, he's glad for my sake that I'm going to stay on
since I've got bright prospects ahead of me for to break into the
business life of the Great City. Him saying this so kindly inspires me
to go on and tell him all about our plans and purposes. I says that the
outlook is that me and 'Lisses Petty will be ready to open up pretty
soon, seeing as I has had word just two days before from Mr. Simons that
he's almost ready to cut loose with his announcements in the papers. I'm
going on further along this line when all of a sudden he busts in to ask
me what about the old judge coming home in the spring-time from
foreign-off parts and not finding me there to meet him?

Well, sirs, that do fetch me up short with a jar! Because, if it must be
confessed, I've got to admit I has been so carried away with my own pet
schemes that the thought of my obligations to Judge Priest is done
entirely escaped out of my foolish mind. I hates to draw back from them
new ambitions of mine and yet, seems like, I can't hardly bear the
notion of breaking my bounden promises to my old boss-man after the way
we'd been associated together under the same roof for going on it's
sixteen years. What with the one thing pulling me this here way and the
other thing pulling me that there way, all of a sudden I now gets a kind
of a choked-up feeling in my breast. I don't know whether it's the
wrench at my heart or the strain on my wishbone. But it's there! So I
ups and puts the proposition before the Young Cap'n and I asks what he
thinks I should do?

He studies a minute and then he says to me, he says:

"Jeff," he says, "I'll tell you how I feel about it and if, in view of
the lack of judgment I've shown recently in certain other matters, you
still regard my advice as being worth anything, you're welcome to it.
You believe you've got a chance to make good up here, don't you? Well,
then, I believe it's your duty to yourself, regardless of almost every
other consideration, to take advantage of that chance. And I'm positive
Judge Priest will feel the same way about it when he learns the
situation. I believe he'll gladly release you from any obligations you
may owe him. In fact, knowing him so well, I'll bank on it. With your
consent I'll write him tonight, a long letter, setting forth the exact
conditions. How does that strike you."

I tells him I is agreeable to that. But I says to him, I says:

"Mr. Dallas, one thing more, please, suh? In yore letter tell the Jedge
'at w'en he gits back, ef he finds the home-place ain't runnin' to suit
him widout me on hand to he'p look after his comfort, w'y all he's got
do is jest lemme know an' I'll ketch the next train fur home. Ef the
bus'ness yere can't run herse'f aw'ile wid 'Lisses Petty alone on the
job by hisse'f, then let the whole she-bang go busted--tha's all.

"Lis'sen, Mr. Dallas," I says, "I got yit 'nother idee in my haid--I
craves to demerstrate one thing! They's some w'ite folkses w'ich claims
the run of black folks nowadays ain't got no proper sense of gratitudes
nor faithfulness, neither. They claims 'at the new-issue cullid ain't
lak the ole-timers of the race wuz--'at they furgits favors an' bre'ks
pledges an' sometimes turns an' bites the hand w'ich has fed an' fondled
'em. Mebbe they is right--I ain't 'sputin' they ain't, in some cases.
But I is sayin' they is one shiny black nigger jest rearin' to prove the
contrarywise so fur ez he pussonally is concern', w'ich I'm," I says,
"him!

"An' in fu'ther proof whar'of," I says, "I begs you to mek me a solemn
promise, yere an' now. I asts you, please, suh, to keep yo eye on the
ole boss-man an' ef he sh'd show the onfailin' signs of feeblin'-up an'
bre'kin' down--w'ich is only to be 'spected, seein' ez he is gittin'
'long so in yeahs--I don't want you to wait 'twell he notifies me
hisse'f 'at he's needin' me. 'Cause the chances is he wouldn't do it,
noways, effen he feared it mout mean a sacrifice on my part fur me to
come to him. I wants you to send me the word on yore own 'sponsibility
an' I'll git to his side jest ez fast ez them steam-cyars kin tote me."

He says he is glad I feels thus-and-so about it and he gladly passes his
word to do like I asked him, if the situation arises. With this here
point settled he guides me back to tell him yet more about the prospects
of Poindexter & Petty. Which I ain't needing much prompting there,
seeing as the said projects lays close to my heart and my mind. I tells
him we has reached the point where we is about to close the deal for the
office. In fact, I says, I has been calculating some on running up-town
to see 'Lisses about that very detail this same afternoon providing he
don't need me round the apartment to do something or other for him.
Whereupon he up and says an astonishing thing:

"I'll go along with you if you don't mind," he says. "I want to have a
look at this associate of yours and get his views. I'd like to do more
than that if it can be arranged; I'd like to lend my aid in helping to
put this enterprise on its feet--to feel that, in one way or another, I
had a friendly hand in it. I'm your eternal debtor, you know, Jeff."

"Go 'way frum yere, Mr. Dallas," I says, "an' quit yore foolin'. Whut
bus'ness has you got gittin' yo'se'f mixed in wid a pack of
nigger-rubbage? Whut would the rest of the high-toned folks down home
say ef they heared of any sech goings-on 'pon yore part? Tell me 'at,
suh?"

"Never mind what they'd think or what they'd say," he says; "that's my
look-out. Tell me the truth now, Jeff,--have you two boys got all the
money you need to start you up and to keep you going until your agency
begins to pay?"

At that I has to admit to him that the prior expenses has been right
smart heavier than what us two had figured on at the start-off.

"That's what I rather suspected," he says. "Now then, I've got out of my
own complications in much better shape than I'd ever dreamed I could. I
still have a sizeable stake left. In fact I figure I've got just about a
thousand dollars to spare. If you don't feel like taking a thousand
dollars from me as a gift, or in part payment for your services to me
during the past twenty-odd hours, why not take it as a loan without
interest until you get on your feet, or until you've had ample
opportunity to try this new venture out thoroughly--No, by Jove, I've
got a better plan than that! I want to stick that thousand in as an
investment along with you two boys. If I never get it back, or any part
of it, count it money well-spent. I've made a number of other
investments in my bright young life that didn't pay either, and I'll be
drawing regular dividends on this one, even though they may not be in
terms of dollars and cents. Come on--let's go see this friend, Petty, of
yours. You can't keep me out of the deal on anything short of an
injunction."

What is you going to do with a hard-headed white man when he gets his
neck bowed that-a-way? You is going to do just what we done, that's
what you going do! So that's how come Poindexter & Petty is now got for
their silent partner a member of one of the oldest families in West
Kentucky and pure quality from the feet up.

I has come mighty close to forgetting one other thing which happens
before we leaves the place to go on up to Harlem. I is helping him on
with his coat when he says:

"Wait a minute! I want to write out some telegrams first. I want to send
one to my lawyer, Mr. Jere Fairleigh, stating that the Prodigal will
shortly be on his way back, and one to my cousin to have the home-place
opened up for me--and one other. I've gotten rather behind with my
correspondence lately; I'll do some letter-writing tonight. But I'll
wire on ahead first. You call a messenger-boy, Jeff."

I trusts I is not no spy but I just can't keep from peeping over his
shoulder whilst he's writing out that there third telegram--which it is
pretty near long enough to be a letter itself--and I is rejoiced in my
soul to note that it's being sent to the one I hoped 'twas--and that's
Miss Henrietta Farrell.



CHAPTER XXII

_Last Words_


Well, I got my Young Cap'n off this morning. I has to admit that I begun
contracting a kind of a let-down feeling in my mind as the time drawed
near for us to say our farewells to one another. You couldn't exactly
call it homesickness nor yet downright sorrowfulness; it was kind of a
mixed sensation, with regretitude and lonesomeness and gladsomeness all
scrambled up together, and running through it, a knowledge that I'm
going to miss him mighty much for awhile, anyhow. I certainly has grown
powerful devoted to him since last summer and I knows full well that,
from his standpoint, he must have similar regards towards me. I reckon
our own kind of folks can appreciate how this attachment could a-sprung
up betwixt us, even if most of these here Northerners can't.

It must be that my looks more or less betrays my emotions as the parting
time draws closer, because he keeps on speaking cheering utterances to
me about other matters, without mentioning the nearby separation; which
I appreciates the spirit behind his words as much as I does the words
themselves. If I told it to him once at that depot I suppose I must
a-told it to him a dozen times, to give my most respectful regards to
the old boss-man when next he sees him. And he keeps saying to me I must
write regular and keep him posted on everything in general.

"I's shore countin' on seein' you down home next summer wen I comes down
on a visit," I says; "I's already mekin' my plans 'cordin'ly. Mebbe," I
says, "you mout ketch me sneakin' in even sooner 'en 'at, ef so be this
yere bookin' agency bus'ness teks a notion to blow up on us."

"I've got a conviction you'll make good," he says. "If the first venture
doesn't pan out I'll trust in you to light on your feet somewhere
else--I've seen you in operation, you know." Then he goes on, speaking
now a little bit wistful-like: "You seem able to figure out a way to
beat this New York game, by playing it according to your own set of
rules. But I couldn't do it--I had it proven to me and the proof cost me
money. I'm through--and ought to be glad of it. You're just starting."

"Well, suh," I says, "I does my best. The way I looks at this town," I
says, "is this yere way: Jest ez soon ez you gits over bein' daunted-up
by the size of her, the best scheme is to start in lettin' on lak you
knows mo' 'bout 'most ever'thin' 'en whut the folkses does w'ich has
been livin' yere all along. That'll fetch 'em ef anything will, or else
I misses my guess. This is the onliest place I knows of," I says, "whar
a shined-up counterfeit passes muster jest ez well ez the pyure gold, ef
not better, 'specially ef the gold happens to be sort of dulled-down an'
tarnished-lookin'. The very way the town is laid out he'ps to clarify my
p'int, suh," I says. "She's fenced in betwixt a bluff on one side an' a
Sound on the other, an' she's sufferin' frum the effects of her own
joggraphy. Jest combine in yore daily actions the biggest of bluffs an'
the most roarin' of sounds an' she's liable to lay down at yore feet an'
roll over at yore command. Leas'wise," I says, "them's my beliefs."

"Probably you are right," he says. "Well, Jeff, try not to let these
people up here spoil you and make you fresh and impudent. I don't
believe they will, though."

"Oh, but you is wrong thar, suh," I says. "I kin tek spilin' ez well ez
the nex' one. Ef they aims to come edgin' 'crost the culler-line in my
direction, I ain't the one to hender 'em. Whut they gives, I'll tek an'
a bit mo'. Ef they ain't had the 'vantage of bein' raised the way you
an' me is, an' wants fur to pamper me all up, I'm goin' to let 'em do
so. Fact is, Mr. Dallas," I says, "I's gittin' pampered already. Lemme
show you somethin', suh, in strictes' confidences--yere's a perfessional
callin'-cyard, w'ich I had a lot of em struck off yistiddy at a
printin'-shop over on Columbus Avenue." And I deals the top one off of
the pack in my vest pocket and hands it over to him. "See whut it sez,"
I says. "It sez, 'Col. J. Exeter Poindexter, Esq.'"

"How did you work that arrangement out?" he says, smiling.

"Mouty easy-lak," I says. "'Col.' is short for 'cullid', ain't it? So I
jest shortens up 'cullid' into 'Col.' an' switches it frum the caboose
end to the front end. An' I changes my middle name to 'Exeter' w'ich it
has a mo' stylish sound to it 'en whut 'Exodus' had. An' I tacks on the
'Esq.' at the fur endin' to mek it still mo' bindin', lak the button on
a rattle-snake's tail. An' thar you is, suh!"

"But you are not a colonel--yet," he says.

"Whut's the diff'unce," I says, "so long ez these yere folkses don't
know no better. They fattens on bein' deceived. An', anyway," I says, "I
aims fur to cultivate the military manner. Mr. Dallas," I says, "don't
mek no mistek 'bout it--I's gittin' fresh already, w'ich it is the
customary custom yere, an' the chances is I'll git still fresher yit.
But it'll be fur Noo Yawk pu'pposes 'sclusively. W'en I meets up wid one
of my own kind of w'ite folks in these parts or w'en I goes back ag'in
amongst my own folks down below the Line, I'll know my place an' my
station an' I'll respec' 'em both; an' I'll be jest the same plain
reg'lar ole J. Poindexter, Cullid, w'ich you alluz has knowed. Please,
suh, tell Jedge Priest 'at fur me, too!" I says.

The time comes for him to get aboard without he wants to miss his train.
So we says our parting words. I reckons some of them white foreigners
standing there gaping at us can't understand why it is that Mr. Dallas,
and him a Southern-born white gentleman, should throw his arm around my
shoulder at the farewell moment and pat me on the back. But then, of
course, that's due to the ignorance of their raisings and probably they
is not to blame so much after all.

I will now draw to a close with the above accounts. Writing is a sight
harder work than I thought it would be when I set in to do this
authorizing, and I is not sorry to be shut of the job. Anyway, from now
on, I'm a New York business man, which I counts on it paying better
than writing for a living, if only I've got the right salt for
sprinkling on the Luck-Bird's tail.

I think I has.



THE END



       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

No changes have been made to the original document. The following are
documented to clarify the instances where the original book used
variations of words or words spelled in a way to convey the speech
pattern.

1. Hungry city - possible typo for Hungary City

2. homestick - possible typo for homesick (used in other places)

3. Look how they mouty nigh broke they necks fur to usher you in in due
state? - in in - possible typo





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