Infomotions, Inc.Mingo And Other Sketches in Black and White / Harris, Joel Chandler, 1848-1908



Author: Harris, Joel Chandler, 1848-1908
Title: Mingo And Other Sketches in Black and White
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): teague; poteet; woodward; sis; bradley gaither; gaither; gullettsville; teague poteet; blue dave; mingo; kendrick; dave; thes; denham; brother roach; kitty; dat; roach; george denham; sis poteet; uncle jake; bradley; hog mountain; carew; gwine; jake; miss
Contributor(s): Enlund, J., 1836-1914 [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 47,454 words (really short) Grade range: 8-11 (high school) Readability score: 66 (easy)
Identifier: etext19648
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Title: Mingo
       And Other Sketches in Black and White

Author: Joel Chandler Harris

Release Date: October 28, 2006 [EBook #19648]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MINGO ***




Produced by Michael Gray




MINGO
AND OTHER SKETCHES IN BLACK AND WHITE

BY
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
"UNCLE REMUS"


_Author's Edition_

EDINBURGH
DAVID DOUGLAS, CASTLE STREET
1899

EDINBURGH: PRINTED BY T. AND A. CONSTABLE FOR DAVID DOUGLAS
LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL AND CO.



CONTENTS.

MINGO: A SKETCH OF LIFE IN MIDDLE GEORGIA
AT TEAGUE POTEET'S: A SKETCH OF THE HOG MOUNTAIN RANGE
A PIECE OF LAND
BLUE DAVE


MINGO: A SKETCH OF LIFE IN MIDDLE GEORGIA

I.

IN 1876, circumstances, partly accidental and partly sentimental, led
me to revisit Crooked Creek Church, near the little village of
Rockville, in Middle Georgia. I was amazed at the changes which a few
brief years had wrought. The ancient oaks ranged roundabout remained
the same, but upon everything else time had laid its hand right
heavily. Even the building seemed to have shrunk: the pulpit was less
massive and imposing, the darkness beyond the rafters less mysterious.
The preacher had grown grey, and feebleness had taken the place of that
physical vigour which was the distinguishing feature of his
interpretations of the larger problems of theology. People I had never
seen sat in the places of those I had known so well. There were only
traces here and there of the old congregation, whose austere simplicity
had made so deep an impression upon my youthful mind The blooming girls
of 1860 had grown into careworn matrons, and the young men had
developed in their features the strenuous uncertainty and misery of the
period of desolation and disaster through which they had passed.
Anxiety had so ground itself into their lives that a stranger to the
manner might well have been pardoned for giving a sinister
interpretation to these pitiable manifestations of hopelessness and
unsuccess.

I had known the venerable preacher intimately in the past; but his
eyes, wandering vaguely over the congregation, and resting curiously
upon me, betrayed no recognition. Age, which had whitened his hair and
enfeebled his voice, seemed also to have given him the privilege of
ignoring everything but the grave and the mysteries beyond.

These swift processes of change and decay were calculated to make a
profound impression, but my attention was called away from all such
reflections. Upon a bench near the pulpit, in the section reserved for
the coloured members, sat an old negro man whose face was perfectly
familiar. I had known him in my boyhood as Mingo, the carriage-driver
and body-servant of Judge Junius Wornum. He had changed but little. His
head was whiter than when I saw him last, but his attitude was as firm
and as erect, and the evidences of his wonderful physical strength as
apparent, as ever. He sat with his right hand to his chin, his strong
serious face turned contemplatively toward the rafters. When his eye
chanced to meet mine, a smile of recognition lit up his features, his
head and body drooped forward, and his hand fell away from his face,
completing a salutation at once graceful, picturesque, and imposing.

I have said that few evidences of change manifested themselves in
Mingo; and so it seemed at first, but a closer inspection showed one
remarkable change. I had known him when his chief purpose in life
seemed to be to enjoy himself. He was a slave, to be sure, but his
condition was no restraint upon his spirits. He was known far and wide
as "Laughing Mingo," and upon hundreds of occasions he was the boon
companion of the young men about Rockville in their wild escapades.
Many who read this will remember the "'possum suppers" which it was
Mingo's delight to prepare for these young men, and he counted among
his friends and patrons many who afterward became distinguished both in
war and in the civil professions. At these gatherings, Mingo, bustling
around and serving his guests, would keep the table in a roar with his
quaint sayings, and his local satires in the shape of impromptu
doggerel; and he would also repeat snatches of orations which he had
heard in Washington when Judge Wornum was a member of Congress. But his
chief accomplishments lay in the wonderful ease and fluency with which
he imitated the eloquent appeals of certain ambitious members of the
Kockville bar, and in his travesties of the bombastic flights of the
stump-speakers of that day.

It appeared, however, as he sat in the church, gazing thoughtfully and
earnestly at the preacher, that the old-time spirit of fun and humour
had been utterly washed out of his face. There was no sign of grief, no
mark of distress, but he had the air of settled anxiety belonging to
those who are tortured by an overpowering responsibility. Apparently
here was an interesting study. If the responsibilities of life are
problems to those who have been trained to solve them, how much more
formidable must they be to this poor negro but lately lifted to his
feet! Thus my reflections took note of the pathetic associations and
suggestions clustering around this dignified representative of an
unfortunate race.

Upon this particular occasion church services were to extend into the
afternoon, and there was an interval of rest after the morning sermon,
covering the hour of noon. This interval was devoted by both old and
young to the discussion of matters seriously practical. The members of
the congregation had brought their dinner baskets, and the contents
thereof were spread around under the trees in true pastoral style.
Those who came unprovided were, in pursuance of an immemorial custom of
the section and the occasion, taken in charge by the simple and hearty
hospitality of the members.

Somehow I was interested in watching Mingo. As he passed from the
church with the congregation, and moved slowly along under the trees,
he presented quite a contrast to the other negroes who were present.
These, with the results of their rural surroundings superadded to the
natural shyness of their race, hung upon the outskirts of the assembly,
as though their presence was merely casual, while Mingo passed along
from group to group of his white friends and acquaintances with that
familiar and confident air of meritorious humility and unpretentious
dignity which is associated with good-breeding and gentility the world
over. When he lifted his hat in salutation, there was no servility in
the gesture; when he bent his head, and dropped his eyes upon the
ground, his dignity was strengthened and fortified rather than
compromised. Both his manners and his dress retained the flavour of a
social system the exceptional features of which were too often by both
friend and foe made to stand for the system itself. His tall beaver,
with its curled brim, and his blue broadcloth dress-coat, faded and
frayed, with its brass buttons, bore unmistakable evidence of their age
and origin, but they seemed to be a reasonable and necessary
contribution to his individuality.

Passing slowly through the crowd, Mingo made his way to a double-seated
buggy shielded from all contingencies of sun and rain by an immense
umbrella. Prom beneath the seat he drew forth a large hamper, and
proceeded to arrange its contents upon a wide bench which stood near.

While this was going on I observed a tall angular woman, accompanied by
a bright-looking little girl, making her way toward Mingo's buggy. The
woman was plainly, oven shabbily, dressed, so that the gay ribbons and
flowers worn by the child were gaudy by contrast. The woman pressed
forward with decision, her movements betraying a total absence of that
undulatory grace characteristic of the gentler sex, while the little
girl dancing about her showed not only the grace and beauty of youth,
but a certain refinement of pose and gesture calculated to attract
attention.

Mingo made way for these with ready deference, and after a little I saw
him coming toward me. He came forward, shook hands, and remarked that
he had brought me an invitation to dine with Mrs. Feratia Bivins.

"Miss F'raishy 'members you, boss," he said, bowing and smiling, "en
she up'n say she be mighty glad er yo' comp'ny ef you kin put up wid
cole vittles an' po' far'; en ef you come," he added on his own
account, "we like it mighty well."


II.

ACCEPTING the invitation, I presently found myself dining with Mrs.
Bivins, and listening to her remarkable flow of small-talk, while Mingo
hovered around, the embodiment of active hospitality.

"Mingo 'lowed he'd ast you up," said Mrs. Bivins, "an' I says, says I,
'Don't you be a-pesterin' the gentulmun, when you know thar's plenty er
the new-issue quality ready an' a-waitin' to pull an' haul at 'im,'
says I. Not that I begrudge the vittles--not by no means; I hope I
hain't got to that yit. But somehow er 'nother folks what hain't got no
great shakes to brag 'bout gener'ly feels sorter skittish when strange
folks draps in on 'em. Goodness knows I hain't come to that pass wher'
I begrudges the vittles that folks eats, bekaze anybody betweenst this
an' Clinton, Jones County, Georgy, 'll tell you the Sanderses wa'n't
the set to stint the'r stomachs. I was a Sanders 'fore I married, an'
when I come 'way frum pa's house hit was thes like turnin' my back on a
barbecue. Not by no means was I begrudgin' of the vittles. Says I,
'Mingo,' says I, 'ef the gentulmun is a teetotal stranger, an' nobody
else hain't got the common perliteness to ast 'im, shorely you mus' ast
'im,' says I; 'but don't go an' make no great to-do,' says I; 'bekaze
the little we got mightent be satisfactual to the gentulmun,' says I.
What we got may be little enough, an' it may be too much, but hit's
welcome."

It would be impossible to convey an idea of the emphasis which Mrs.
Bivins imposed upon her conversation. She talked rapidly, but with a
certain deliberation of manner which gave a quaint interest to
everything she said. She had thin grey hair, a prominent nose, firm
thin lips, and eyes that gave a keen and sparkling individuality to
sharp and homely features. She had evidently seen sorrow and defied it.
There was no suggestion of compromise in manner or expression. Even her
hospitality was uncompromising. I endeavoured to murmur my thanks to
Mrs. Bivins for Mingo's thoughtfulness, but her persistent conversation
drowned out such poor phrases as I could hastily frame.

"Come 'ere, Pud Hon," continued Mrs. Bivins, calling the child, and
trimming the demonstrative terms of "Pudding" and "Honey" to suit all
exigencies of affection--"come 'ere, Pud Hon, an' tell the gentulmun
howdy. Gracious me! don't be so _countrified_. He ain't a-gwine to
_bite_ you. No, sir, you won't fine no begrudgers mixed up with the
_Sanderses_. Hit useter be a _common_ sayin' in Jones, an' cle'r 'cross
into Jasper, that pa would 'a bin a rich man an' 'a owned _niggers_ if
it hadn't but 'a bin bekase he sot his head agin stintin' of his
stomach. That's what they useter say--usen't they, Mingo?"

"Dat w'at I year tell, Miss F'raishy--sho'," Mingo assented, with great
heartiness. But Mrs. Bivins's volubility would hardly wait for this
perfunctory indorsement. She talked as she arranged the dishes, and
occasionally she would hold a piece of crockery suspended in the air as
she emphasised her words. She dropped into a mortuary strain--"Poor
pa! I don't never have nuthin' extry an' I don't never see a dish er
fried chicken but what pa pops in my mind. A better man hain't never
draw'd the breath of life--that they hain't. An' he was thes as gayly
as a kitten. When we gals'd have comp'ny to dinner, pore pa he'd cut
his eye at me, an' up an' say, says he, 'Gals, this 'ere turkey's
mighty nice, yit I'm reely afeared you put too much inguns in the
stuffin. Maybe the young men don't like 'em as good as you all does;'
an' then pore pa'd drap his knife an' fork, an' laugh tell the tears
come in his eyes. Sister Prue she useter run off an' have a cry, but I
was one er the kind what wa'n't easy sot back.

"I'd 'a bin mighty glad if Pud yer had er took airter pa's famerly, but
frum the tip eend er her toe nails to the toppermust ha'r of her head
she's a Wornum. Hit ain't on'y thes a streak yer an' a stripe thar--
hit's the whole bolt. I reckon maybe you know'd ole Jedge June Wornum;
well, Jedge June he was Pud's gran'pa, an' Deely Wornum was her ma.
Maybe you might 'a seed Deely when she was a school-gal."

Cordelia Wornum! No doubt my astonishment made itself apparent, for
Mrs. Bivins bridled up promptly, and there was a clearly perceptible
note of defiance in her tone as she proceeded.

"Yes, sir-ree! _An' make no mistake!_ Deely Wornum married my son, an'
Henry Clay Bivina made 'er a good husbun', if I do have to give it out
myse'f. Yes, 'ndeed! An' yit if you'd 'a heern the rippit them Wornums
kicked up, you'd 'a thought the pore chile'd done took'n run off 'long
of a whole passel er high pirates frum somewheres er 'nother. In about
that time the ole Jedge he got sorter fibbled up, some say in his feet,
an' some say in his head; but his wife, that Em'ly Wornum, she taken on
awful. I never seen her a-gwine on myse'f; not that they was any hidin'
out 'mongst the Bivinses er the Sanderses--bless you, no! bekaze here's
what wa'n't afeared er all the Wornums in the continental State er
Georgy, not if they'd 'a mustered out under the lead er ole Nick
hisse'f, which I have my doubta if he wa'n't somewheres aroun'. I never
seen 'er, but I heern tell er how she was a-cuttin' up. You mayn't
think it, but that 'oman taken it on herse'f to call up all the niggers
on the place an' give 'em her forbiddance to go an' see the'r young
mistiss."

"Yit I lay dey tuck 'n sneak 'roun' en come anyhow, ain't dey, Miss
F'raishy?" inquired Mingo, rubbing his hands together and smiling
blandly.

"_That_ they did--_that_ they did!" was Mrs. Bivins's emphatic
response. "Niggers is niggers, but them Wornum niggers was a cut er two
'bove the common run. I'll say that, an' I'll say it on the witness
stan'. Freedom might a turned the'r heads when it come to t'other
folks, but hit didn't never turn the'r heads 'bout the'r young mistiss.
An' if Mingo here hain't done his juty 'cordin' to his lights, then I
dunner what juty is. I'll say that open an' above-board, high an' low."

The curious air of condescension which Mrs. Bivins assumed as she said
this, the tone of apology which she employed in paying this tribute to
Mingo and the Wornum negroes, formed a remarkable study. Evidently she
desired me distinctly to understand that in applauding these worthy
coloured people she was in no wise compromising her own dignity.

Thus Mrs. Bivins rattled away, pausing only long enough now and then to
deplore my lack of appetite. Meanwhile Mingo officiated around the
improvised board with gentle affability; and the little girl, bearing
strong traces of her lineage in her features--a resemblance which was
confirmed by a pretty little petulance of temper--made it convenient
now and again to convey a number of tea cakes into Mingo's hat, which
happened to be sitting near, the conveyance taking place in spite of
laughable pantomimic protests on the part of the old man, ranging from
appealing nods and grimaces to indignant frowns and gestures.

"When Deely died," Mrs. Bivins went on, waving a towel over a tempting
jar of preserves, "they wa'n't nobody but what was afeared to break it
to Emily Wornum, an' the pore chile'd done been buried too long to talk
about before her ma heern tell of it, an' then she drapped like a clap
er thunder had hit 'er. Airter so long a time, Mingo thar he taken it
'pun hisse'f to tell 'er, an' she flopped right down in 'er tracks, an'
Mingo he holp 'er into the house, an', bless your life, when he come to
he'p 'er out'n it, she was a changed 'oman. 'Twa'n't long 'fore she
taken a notion to come to my house, an' one mornin' when I was
a-washin' up dishes, I heern some un holler at the gate, an' thar sot
Mingo peerched up on the Wornum carry-all, an' of all livin' flesh, who
should be in thar but ole Emily Wornum!

"Hit's a sin to say it," continued Mrs. Bivins, smiling a dubious
little smile that was not without its serious suggestions, "but I
tightened up my apern strings, an' flung my glance aroun' tell hit
drapped on the battlin'-stick, bekaze I flared up the minnit I seen
'er, an' I says to myse'f, says I: 'If hit's a fracas youer huntin', my
lady, I lay you won't hafter put on your specs to fine it.' An' then I
says to Pud, says I--

"'Pud Hon, go in the shed-room thar, chile, an' if you hear anybody
a-hollerin' an' a-squallin', thes shet your eyeleds an' grit your teeth,
bekaze hit'll be your pore ole granny a-tryin' to git even with some er
your kin.'

"An' then I taken a cheer an' sot down by the winder. D'reckly in come
Emily Wornum, an' I wish I may die if I'd 'a know'd 'er if I'd saw 'er
anywheres else on the face er the yeth. She had this 'ere kinder
dazzled look what wimmen has airter they bin baptized in the water. I
helt my head high, but I kep' my eye on the battlin'-stick, an' if
she'd 'a made fight, I'll be boun' they'd 'a bin some ole sco'es
settled then an' thar if ole sco'es ken be settled by a frailin'. But,
bless your heart, they wa'n't never no cammer 'oman than what Emily
Wornum was; an' if you'd 'a know'd 'er, an' Mingo wa'n't here to b'ar
me out, I wish I may die if I wouldn't be afeared to tell you how ca'm
an' supjued that 'oman was, which in her young days she was a
tarrifier. She up an' says, says she--

"'Is Mizzers Bivins in?'

"'Yessum,' says I, 'she is that-away. An more 'n that, nobody don't
hafter come on this hill an' holler more 'n twicet 'thout gittin'some
kinder answer back. _Yessum!_ An' what's more, Mizzers Bivins is come
to that time er life when she's mighty proud to git calls from the
big-bugs. If I had as much perliteness, ma'am, as I is cheers, I'd ast you
to set down,' says I.

"She stood thar, she did, thes as cool as a cowcumber; but d'reckly she
ups an' says, says she--

"'Might I see my little gran'chile?' says she.

"'Oho, ma'am!' says I; 'things is come to a mighty purty pass when
quality folks has to go frum house to house a-huntin' up pore white
trash, an' a-astin' airter the'r kin. Tooby shore! tooby shore! Yessum,
a mighty purty pass,' says I."

I cannot hope to give even a faint intimation of the remarkable
dramatic fervour and earnestness of this recital, nor shall I attempt
to describe the rude eloquence of attitude and expression; but they
seemed to represent the real or fancied wrongs of a class, and to
spring from the pent-up rage of a century.

"I wa'n't lookin' fer no compermise, nuther," Mrs. Bivins continued. "I
fully spected 'er to flar' up an' fly at me; but 'stedder that, she
kep' a-stan'in' thar lookin' thes like folks does when theyer runnin'
over sump'n in the'r min'. Then her eye lit on some 'er the pictur's
what Deely had hung up on the side er the house, an' in pertic'lar one
what some 'er the Woruum niggers had fetched 'er, whar a great big dog
was a-watehin' by a little bit er baby. When she seen that, bless your
soul, she thes sunk right down on the floor, an' clincht 'er han's, an'
brung a gasp what looked like it might er bin the last, an' d'reckly
she ast, in a whisper, says she--

"'Was this my dear daughter's room?'

"Maybe you think," said Mrs. Bivins, regarding me coldly and
critically, and pressing her thin lips more firmly together, if that
could be--"maybe you think I oughter wrung my han's, an' pitied that
'oman kneelin' thar in that room whar all my trouble was born an' bred.
Some folks would 'a flopped down by 'er, an' I won't deny but what hit
come over me; but the nex' minnit hit flashed acrost me as quick an'
hot as powder how she'd 'a bin a-houndin' airter me an' my son, an'
a-treatin' us like as we'd 'a bin the offscourin's er creation, an' how
she cast off her own daughter, which Deely was as good a gal as ever
draw'd the breath er life--when all this come over me, hit seem like to
me that I couldn't keep my paws off'n 'er. I hope the Lord'll forgive
me--that I do--but if hit hadn't but 'a bin for my raisin', I'd 'a
jumped at Emily Wornum an' 'a spit in 'er face an' 'a clawed 'er eyes
out'n 'er. An' yit, with ole Nick a-tuggin' at me, I was a Christun
'nuff to thank the Lord that they was a tender place in that pore
miserbul creetur's soul-case.

"When I seen her a-kneelin' thar, with 'er year-rings a-danglin' an'
'er fine feathers a-tossin' an' a-trimblin', leetle more an' my
thoughts would 'a sot me afire. I riz an' I stood over her, an' I says,
says I--

"'Emily Wornum, whar you er huntin' the dead you oughter hunted the
livin'. What's betwix' you an' your Maker _I_ can't tell,' says I, 'but
if you git down on your face an' lick the dirt what Deely Bivins walked
on, still you won't be humble enough for to go whar _she's_ gone, nor
good enough nuther. She died right yer while you was a-traipsin' an'
a-trollopin' roun' frum pos' to pillar a-upholdin' your quality idees.
These arms helt 'er,' says I, 'an' ef hit hadn't but 'a bin for _her_,
Emily Wornum,' says I, 'I'd 'a strangled the life out'n you time your
shadder darkened my door. An' what's more,' says I, 'ef youer come to
bother airter Pud, _the make the trail of it. Thes so much as lay the
weight er your little finger on 'er,_' says I, '_an' I'll grab you by
the goozle an' t'ar your haslet out_,' says I."

O mystery of humanity! It was merely Mrs. Feratia Bivins who had been
speaking, but the voice was the voice of Tragedy. Its eyes shone; its
fangs glistened and gleamed; its hands clutched the air; its tone was
husky with suppressed fury; its rage would have stormed the barriers of
the grave. In another moment Mrs. Bivins was brushing the crumbs from
her lap, and exchanging salutations with her neighbours and
acquaintances; and a little later, leading her grandchild by the hand,
she was making her way back to the church, where the congregation had
begun to gather.


III.

FOR my own part, I preferred to remain under the trees, and I soon
found that this was the preference of Mingo. The old man had finished
his dinner, and sat at the foot of a gigantic oak, gazing dreamily at
the fleecy clouds that sailed across the sky. His hands were clasped
above his head, and his attitude was one of reflection. The hymn with
which the afternoon services were opened came through the woods with a
distinctness that was not without a remote and curious suggestion of
pathos. As it died away, Mingo raised himself slightly, and said, in a
tone that was intended to be explanatory, if not apologetic--

"Miss F'raishy, ef she ain't one sight, den I ain't never seed none. I
s'pec' it seem sorter funny ter you, boss, but dat w'ite 'oman done had
lots er trouble; she done had bunnunce er trouble--she sholy is! Look
mighty cu'us dat some folks can't git useter yuther folks w'at got
Fergiuny ways, but dat's Miss F'raishy up en down. Dat's her, sho! Ole
Miss en ole Marster dey had Ferginny ways, en Miss F'raishy she
wouldn't 'a staid in a ten-acre fiel' wid urn--dat she wouldn't. Folks
wa't got Ferginny ways, Miss F'raishy she call um big-bugs, en she git
hos_tile_ w'en she year der name call. Hit's de same way wid niggers.
Miss F'raishy she hate de common run er niggers like dey wuz pizen. Yit
I ain't makin' no complaints, kaze she mighty good ter me. I goes en I
suns myse'f in Miss F'raishy back peazzer all day Sundays, w'en dey
ain't no meetin's gwine on, en all endurin' er de week I hangs 'roun'
en ploughs a little yer, en hoes a little dar, en scratches a little
yander, en looks arter ole Miss' gran'chile. But des let 'n'er nigger
so much ez stick der chin 'cross de yard palin's, en, bless yo' soul,
you'll year Miss F'raishy blaze out like de woods done cotch afire."

Mingo paused here to chuckle over the discomfiture and alarm of the
imaginary negro who had had the temerity to stick his supposititious
chin over the fence. Then he went on--

"I dunner whar Miss F'raishy git do notion 'bout dat chile a-faverin'
er de Wornums, kaze she de ve'y spit en image er ole Miss, en ole Miss
wuz a full-blood Bushrod. De Bushrods is de fambly what I cum fum
myse'f, kaze w'en ole Miss marry Marster, my mammy fell ter her, en
w'en I got big 'nuff, dey tuck me in de house fer ter wait on de table
en do er'n's, en dar I bin twel freedom come out. She 'uz mighty
high-strung, ole Miss wuz, yit I sees folks dese days put on mo' a'rs dan
w'at ole Miss ever is. I ain't 'sputin' but w'at she hilt 'er head
high, en I year my mammy say dat all the Bushrods in Ferginny done
zactly dat a way.

"High-strung yer, headstrong yander," continued Mingo, closing one eye,
and gazing at the sun with a confidential air. "Ef it hadn't er bin fer
de high-strungity-head-strongityness er de Bushrod blood, Miss Deely
wouldn't 'a never runn'd off wid Clay Bivins in de roun' worril, dough
he 'uz des one er de nicest w'ite mens w'at you 'mos' ever laid yo'
eyes on. Soon ez she done dat, wud went 'roun' fum de big house dat de
nigger w'at call Miss Deely name on dat plantation would be clap on de
cote-house block, en ole Miss she shot 'erse'f up, she did, en arter
dat mighty few folks got a glimpse un 'er, 'ceppin' hit 'uz some er de
kin, en bless yo' soul, _dey_ hatter look mighty prim w'en dey come
whar she wuz. Ole Marster he ain't say nothin', but he tuck a fresh
grip on de jimmy-john, en it got so dat, go whar you would, dey want no
mo' lonesomer place on de face er de yeth dan dat Wornum plantation, en
hit look like ruination done sot in. En den, on top er dat, yer come de
war, en Clay Bivins he went off en got kilt, en den freedom come out,
en des 'bout dat time Miss Deely she tuck 'n' die.

"I 'clar' ter gracious," exclaimed Mingo, closing his eyes and frowning
heavily, "w'en I looks back over my shoulder at dem times, hit seem
like it mighty funny dat any un us pull thoo. Some did en some didn't,
en dem w'at did, dey look like deyer mighty fergitful. W'en de smash
come, ole Marster he call us niggers up, he did, en 'low dat we 'uz all
free. Some er de boys 'low dat dey wuz a-gwineter see ef dey wuz free
sho 'nuff, en wid dat dey put out fer town, en some say ef dey wuz free
dey wuz free ter stay. Some talk one way en some talk 'n'er. I let you
know I kep' my mouf shot, yit my min' 'uz brimful er trouble.

"Bimeby soon one mornin' I make a break. I wrop up my little han'ful er
duds in a hankcher, en I tie de hankcher on my walkin'-cane, en I put
out arter de army. I walk en I walk, en 'bout nine dat night I come ter
Ingram Ferry. De flat wuz on t'er side er de river, en de man w'at run
it look like he gone off some'rs. I holler en I whoop, en I whoop en I
holler, but ef dey wuz any man 'roun', he wuz hidin' out fum me. Arter
so long I got tired er whoopin' en hollerin', en I went ter de nighest
house en borrer'd a chunk, en built me a fier by de side er de road, en
I set dar en nod twel I git sleepy, en den I pull my blanket 'cross my
head en quile up--en w'en I do dat, hit's good-bye, Mingo!

"Boss," said Mingo, after a little pause, "you don't b'leeve in no
ghos'es en sperrits, does you?"

An apparently irrelevant inquiry, suddenly put, is sometimes confusing,
and I fear I did not succeed in convincing Mingo of my unbelief.

"Some does en some don't," he continued, "but ez fer me, you kin des
put me sorter 'twix' en between. Dey mout be ghos'es en den ag'in dey
moutent. Ole nigger like me ain't got no bizness takin' sides, en dat
w'at make I say w'at I does. I ain't mo'n kivver my head wid dat
blanket en shot my eyes, 'fo' I year somebody a-callin' un me. Fus' hit
soun' way off yander.

"'_Mingo!--oh, Mingo!_' en den hit got nigher--'_Mingo!--oh, Mingo!_'

"I ain't 'spon' ter dat, but I lay dar, I did, en I say ter myse'f--

"'Bless gracious! de man on t'er side done come, but how in de name er
goodness is he know Mingo?'

"I lay dar, en I study en I lissen, en I lissen en I study; en den I
doze off like, en fus' news I know yer come de call--

"'_Mingo!--oh, Mingo!_'

"Hit soun' nigher, yit hit seem like it come fum a mighty fur ways, en
den wiles I wundin' en studyin', yer she come mo' plainer dan befo'--

"'OH, MINGO!'

"I snatch de blanket offn my head, en sot up en lissen, I did, en den I
make answer--

"'Who dat callin' Mingo way out yer?'

"I lissen en I lissen, but nobody ain't callin'. I year de water
sneakin' 'long under de bank, en I year de win' squeezin' en shufflin'
'long thoo de trees, en I year de squinch-owl shiver'n' like he cole,
but I ain't year no callin'. Dis make me feel sorter jubous like, but I
lay down en wrop up my head.

"I ain't bin dar long 'fo' bimeby yer come de call, en it soun' right
at me. Hit rise en it fall, en de wud wuz--

"'_Mingo!--oh, Mingo! Whar my little baby? My little baby, Mingo! Whar
my little, baby?_'

"En den, boss, hit seem like I year sump'n like a 'oman cryin' in de
dark like 'er heart gwineter break. You kin laff ef you mineter, but I
ain't dast ter take dat blanket offn my head, kaze I know my young
mistiss done come back, en mo'n dat, I know sho 'uz stannin" dar right
over me.

"Tooby sho I wuz skeer'd, but I wa'n't so skeer'd dat I dunner w'at she
mean, en I des broke inter de bigges' kinder boo-hoo, en I say, sez I--

"'Make yo' peace, Miss Deely! make yo' peace, honey! kaze I gwine right
back ter dat baby ef de Lord spar' me. I gwine back, Miss Deely! I
gwine back!'

"Bless yo' soul, boss, right den en dar I know'd w'at bin a-pester'n'
un me, kaze des time I make up my min' fer ter come back ter dat baby,
hit look like I see my way mo' cle'r dan w'at it bin befo'. Arter dat I
lay dar, I did, en I lissen en I lissen, but I ain't year no mo'
callin' en no mo' cryin'; en bimeby I tuck de blanket fum off'n my
head, en lo en beholes, de stars done fade out, en day done come, en
dey wa'n't no fuss nowhars. De squinch-owl done hush, en de win' done
gone, en it look like de water done stop sneakin' en crawlin' und' de
bank.

"I riz up, I did, en shuck de stift'nes out'n my bones, en I look 'way
'cross de river ter de top er de hill whar de road lead. I look en I
say, sez I--

"'Maybe you leads ter freedom, but, bless God! I gwine back.'

"Des 'bout dat time I see de fe'ymun come down ter de flat en onloose
de chain, en make ez he wuz comin' 'cross arter me. Wid dat I raise up
my hat en tip 'im a bow, en dat's de las' I seed un 'im.

"I come back, I did," continued Mingo, reflectively, "en yer I is, en
yer I bin; en I ain't come none too soon, en I ain't stay none too
close, n'er, kaze I dunuer w'at mout er happin. Miss F'raishy been
mighty good, too, sho. She ain't useter niggers like some w'ite folks,
en she can't git 'long wid um, but she puts up wid me mighty well. I
tuck holt er de little piece er groun' w'at she had, en by de he'p er
de Lord we bin gittin on better dan lots er folks. It bin nip en tuck,
but ole tuck come out ahead, en it done got so now dat Miss P'raishy
kin put by some er de cotton money fer ter give de little gal a chance
w'en she git bigger. 'Twon't b'ar tellin' how smart dat chile is. She
got Miss Deely peanner, en, little ez she is, she kin pick mos' all de
chunes w'at her mammy useter pick. She sets at de peanner by de hour,
en whar she larnt it I be bless ef _I_ kin tell you--dat I can't!"

The little girl had grown tired of the services in the church, and ran
out just as the old man had put my horse to the buggy. Mingo knew a
shorter road to Rockville than that by which I had come, and taking the
child by the hand, he walked on ahead to show me the way. In a little
while we came to the brow of a hill, and here I bade the old man and
his charge good-bye, and the two stood watching me as I drove away.
Presently a cloud of dust rose between us, and I saw them no more, but
I brought away a very pretty picture in my mind--Mingo with his hat
raised in farewell, the sunshine falling gently upon his grey hairs,
and the little girl clinging to his hand and daintily throwing kisses
after me.



AT TEAGUE POTEET'S.

A SKETCH OF THE HOG MOUNTAIN RANGE


EMMIGRATION is a much more serious matter than revolution. Virtually,
it is obliteration. Thus, Gerard Petit, landing upon the coast of South
Carolina in the days of French confusion--a period covering too many
dates for a romancer to be at all choice in the matter--gave his wife
and children over to the oblivion of a fatal fever. Turning his face
westward, he pushed his way to the mountains. He had begun his journey
fired with the despair of an exile, and he ended it with something of
the energy and enterprise of a pioneer. In the foot-hills of the
mountains he came to the small stream of English colonists that was
then trickling slowly southward through the wonderful valleys that
stretch from Pennsylvania to Georgia, between the foot-hills of the
Blue Ridge and the great Cumberland Range. Here, perhaps for the first
time, the _je, vous, nous_ of France met in conflict the "ah yi," the
"we uns" and the "you uns" of the English-Pennsylvania-Georgians. The
conflict was brief. There was but one Gerard Petit, and, although he
might multiply the _je, vous, nous_ by the thousands and hundreds of
thousands, as he undoubtedly did, yet, in the very nature of things,
the perpetual volley of "you uns" and "we uns" must carry the day. They
belonged to the time, and the climate suited them. By degrees they
fitted themselves to Gerard Petit; they carried him from the mountains
of South Carolina to the mountains of North Georgia, and there they
helped him to build a mill and found a family. But their hospitality
did not end there. With the new mill and the new family, they gave him
a new name. Gerard Petit, presumably with his hand upon his heart, as
became his race, made one last low bow to genealogy. In his place stood
Jerd Poteet, "you uns" to the left of him, "we uns" to the right of
him. He made such protest as he might. He brought his patriotism to
bear upon the emergency, and named his eldest son Huguenin Petit. How
long this contest between hospitality on the one hand and family pride
and patriotism on the other was kept up it is unnecessary to inquire.
It is enough to say that the Huguenin of one generation, left Hugue
Poteet as his son and heir; Hugue left Hague, and this Hague, or a
succeeding one, by some mysterious development of fate, left Teague
Poteet.

Meanwhile the restless stream of English-Pennsylvania-Georgians, with
its "you uns" and its "we uns," trickled over into Alabama, where some
of the Petits who were carried with it became Pettys and Pettises. The
Georgia settlements, however, had been reinforced by Virginians, South
Carolinians, and Georgians. The gold excitement brought some; while
others, set adrift by the exigencies of the plantation system, found it
easier and cheaper to get to North Georgia than to reach Louisiana or
Mississippi. Thus, in 1859, Teague Poteet, a young man of thirty or
thereabouts, was tilling, in a half-serious, half-jocular way, a small
farm on Hog Mountain, in full view of Gullettsville. That is to say,
Poteet could see the whole of Gullettsville, but Gullettsville could
not, by any means, see the whole, nor even the half, of Poteet's
fifty-acre farm. Gullettsville could see what appeared to be a grey notch
on the side of the mountain, from which a thin stream of blue smoke flowed
upward and melted into the blue of the sky, and this was about all that
could be seen. Gullettsville had the advantage in this, that it was the
county-seat. A country-road, straggling in from the woods, straggled
around a barn-like structure called the court-house, and then straggled
off to some other remote and lonely settlement.

Upon rare occasions Teague made his appearance on this straggling
street, and bought his dram and paid his thrip for it; but, in a
general way, if Gullettsville wanted to see him, it had to search
elsewhere than on the straggling street. By knocking the sheriff of the
county over the head with a chair, and putting a bullet through a
saloon-keeper who bullied everybody, Poteet won the reputation of being
a man of marked shrewdness and common sense, and Gullettsville was
proud of him, in a measure. But he never liked Gullettsville. He wore a
wool hat, a homespun shirt, jeans pantaloons, and cotton suspenders,
and he never could bring himself into thorough harmony with the young
men who wore ready-made clothes, starched shirts, and beaver hats; nor
was his ideal of feminine beauty reached by the village belles, with
their roach-combs, their red and yellow ribbons, and their enormous
flounces. In the mountains, he was to the manner born; in the village,
he was keenly alive to the presence and pressure of the exclusiveness
that is the basis of all society, good, bad, or indifferent; and it
stirred his venom. His revolt was less pronounced and less important
than that of his ancestors; but it was a revolt. Gerard Petit left
France, and Teague Poteet remained away from Gullettsville. Otherwise
there was scarcely a trace of his lineage about him, and it is a
question whether he inherited this trait from France or from the
Euphrates--from Gerard or from Adam.

But he did not become a hermit by any means. The young men of
Gullettsville made Sunday excursions to his farm, and he was pleased to
treat them with great deference. Moreover, he began to go upon little
journeys of his own across Sugar Valley. He made no mystery of his
intentions; but one day there was considerable astonishment when he
rode into Gullettsville on horseback, with Puss Pringle behind him, and
informed the proper authorities of his desire to make her Mrs. Puss
Poteet. Miss Pringle was not a handsome woman, but she was a fair
representative of that portion of the race that has poisoned whole
generations by improving the frying-pan and perpetuating "fatty bread."
The impression she made upon those who saw her for the first time was
one of lank flatness--to convey a vivid idea rather clumsily. But she
was neither lank nor flat. The total absence of all attempts at
artificial ornamentation gave the future Mrs. Poteet an appearance of
forlorn shiftlessness that was not even slightly justified by the
facts. She was a woman past the heyday of youth, but of considerable
energy, and possessed of keen powers of observation. Whatever was
feminine about her was of that plaintive variety which may be depended
upon to tell the story of whole generations of narrow, toilsome, and
unprofitable lives.

There was one incident connected with Miss Pringle's antenuptial ride
that rather intensified the contempt which the Mountain entertained for
the Valley. As she jogged down the street, clinging confidently, if not
comfortably, to Teague Poteet's suspenders, two young ladies of
Gullettsville chanced to be passing along. They walked slowly, their
arms twined about each other's waists. They wore white muslin dresses,
and straw hats with wide and jaunty brims, and the loose ends of gay
ribbons fluttered about them. These young ladies, fresh from school,
and no doubt full of vainglory, greeted the bridal procession with a
little explosion of giggles, and when Puss Pringle pushed back her
gingham sun-bonnet and innocently gazed upon them, they turned up their
noses, sniffed the air scornfully, and made such demonstrations as no
feminine mind, however ignorant in other directions, could fail to
interpret.

Miss Pringle had not learned the art of tossing her head and sniffing
the air, but she half closed her eyes and gave the young ladies a look
that meant something more than scorn. She said nothing to Teague, for
she was in hopes he had not observed the tantrums of the school-girls.

As for Teague, he saw the whole affair, and was out to the quick. In
addition to the latent pride of his class, he inherited the
sensitiveness of his ancestors, but, turning his eyes neither to the
right nor to the left, he jogged along to the wedding. He carried his
wife home, and thereafter avoided Gullettsville. When he was compelled
to buy coffee and sugar, or other necessary luxuries, he rode forty
miles across the mountain to Villa Bay.

He had been married a year or more when, one afternoon, he was
compelled to ride down to Gullettsville under whip and spur for a
doctor. There was a good deal of confused activity in the town. Old men
and young boys were stirring around with blue cockades in their hats,
and the women wore blue rosettes on their bosoms. Three negroes in
uniform--a contribution from the nearest railroad town--were parading
up and down the straggling street with fife and drums, and a number of
men were planting a flag-pole in front of the court-house.

No conscientious historian can afford to ignore a coincidence, and it
so happened that upon the very day that league Poteet's wife presented
him with the puzzle of a daughter, Fate presented his countrymen with
the problem of war. That night, sitting in the door of his house and
smoking his pipe, Teague witnessed other developments of the
coincidence. In the next room the baby-girl squalled most persistently;
down in the valley the premonitions of war made themselves heard
through the narrow throat of a small cannon which, until then, had been
used only to celebrate the Fourth of July.

The noise of a horse's hoofs roused Teague's hounds, and some one
called out from the road--

"Hello, Poteet!"

"Ah-yi!"

"You hearn the racket?"

"My gal-baby keeps up sich a hollerin' I can't hear my own years."

"_Oh!_"

"You better b'lieve! Nine hours ole, an' mighty peart. What's them
Restercrats in the valley cuttin' up the'r scollops fer?"

"Whoopin' up se_say_sion. Sou' Ca'liny done plum gone out, an' Georgy
a-gwine."

Teague Poteet blew a long, thin cloud of home-made tobacco-smoke
heavenward, leaned back heavily in his chair, and replied--

"Them air Restercrats kin go wher' they dang please; I'm a-gwine to
stay right slambang in the United States."

There was a little pause, as if the man on horseback was considering
the matter. Then the response came--

"Here's at you!"

"Can't you 'light?" asked Poteet.

"Not now," said the other; "I'll git on furder."

The man on horseback rode on across the mountain to his home. Another
mountaineer, seeing the rockets and hearing the sound of the cannon,
came down to Poteet's for information. He leaned over the brush-fence.

"What's up, Teague?"

"Gal-baby; reg'lar surbinder."
"_Shoo!_ won't my ole 'oman holler! What's up down yan?"

"Them dad-blasted Restercrats a secedin' out'n the United States."

"They say theyer airter savin' of the'r niggers," said the man at the
fence.

"Well, I hain't got none, and I hain't a wantin' none; an' it hain't
been ten minnits sence I ups an' says to Dave Hightower, s' I, 'The
United States is big enough for me.'"

"Now you er makin' the bark fly," said the man at the fence.

During the night other men came down the mountain as far as Poteet's,
and always with the same result.

The night broadened into day, and other days and nights followed. In
the valley the people had their problem of war, and on the mountain
Teague Poteet had the puzzle of his daughter. One was full of doubt and
terror, and death, and the other full of the pleasures of peace. As the
tide of war surged nearer and nearer, and the demand for recruits
became clamorous, the people of the valley bethought them of the gaunt
but sturdy men who lived on the mountain. A conscript officer,
representing the necessities of a new government, made a journey
thither--a little excursion full of authority and consequence. As he
failed to return, another officer, similarly equipped and commissioned,
rode forth and disappeared, and then another and another; and it was
not until a little search expedition had been fitted out that the
Confederates discovered that the fastnesses of Hog Mountain concealed a
strong and dangerous organisation of Union men. There was a good deal
of indignation in the valley when this state of affairs became known,
and there was some talk of organising a force for the purpose of
driving the mountaineers away from their homes. But somehow the Valley
never made up its mind to attack the Mountain, and, upon such
comfortable terms as these, the Mountain was very glad to let the
Valley alone.

After a while the Valley had larger troubles to contend with.
Gullettsville became in some measure a strategic point, and the left
wing of one army and the right wing of the other manoeuvred for
possession. The left wing finally gave way, and the right wing marched
in and camped round about, introducing to the distracted inhabitants
General Tecumseh Sherman and some of his lieutenants. The right wing
had learned that a number of Union men were concealed on the mountain,
and one or two little excursion parties were made up for the purpose of
forming their acquaintance. These excursions were successful to this
extent, that some of the members thereof returned to the friendly
shelter of the right wing with bullet-holes in them, justly feeling
that they had been outraged. The truth is, the Poteets, and the
Pringles, and the Hightowers of Hog Mountain had their own notions of
what constituted Union men. They desired to stay in the United States
on their own terms. If nobody pestered them, they pestered nobody.

Meanwhile league Poteet's baby had grown to be a thumping girl, and
hardly a day passed that she did not accompany her father in his
excursions. When the contending armies came in sight, Teague and his
comrades spent a good deal of their time in watching them. Each force
passed around an elbow of the mountain, covering a distance of nearly
sixty miles, and thus for days and weeks this portentous panorama was
spread out before these silent watchers. Surely never before did a
little girl have two armies for her playthings. The child saw the
movements of the soldiers, the glitter of the array, and the waving of
the banners; she heard the dull thunder of the cannon, and the sharp
rattle of the musketry. When the sun went down, and the camp-fire shone
out, it seemed that ten thousand stars had fallen at her feet, and
sometimes sweet strains of music stole upward on the wings of the
night, and slipped heavenward through the sighing pines.

The grey columns swung right and left, and slowly fell back; the blue
columns swayed right and left, and slowly pressed forward--sometimes
beneath clouds of sulphurous smoke, sometimes beneath heavy mists of
rain, sometimes in the bright sunshine. They swung and swayed slowly
out of sight, and Hog Mountain and Gullettsville were left at peace.

The child grew and thrived. In the midst of a gaunt and sallow
generation she shone radiantly beautiful. In some mysterious way she
inherited the beauty, and grace, and refinement of a Frenchwoman.
Merely as a phenomenon, she ought to have reminded league of his name
and lineage; but Teague had other matters to think of. "Sis ain't no
dirt-eater," he used to say, and to this extent only would he commit
himself, his surroundings having developed in him that curious excess
of caution and reserve which characterises his class.

As for Puss Poteet, she sat and rocked herself and rubbed snuff, and
regarded her daughter as one of the profound mysteries. She was in a
state of perpetual bewilderment and surprise, equalled only by her
apparent indifference. She allowed herself to be hustled around by Sis
without serious protest, and submitted, as Teague did, to the new order
of things as quietly as possible.

Meanwhile the people in the valley were engaged in adjusting themselves
to the changed condition of affairs. The war was over, but it had left
some deep scars here and there, and those who had engaged in it gave
their attention to healing these--a troublesome and interminable task,
be it said, which by no means kept pace with the impatience of the
victors, whipped into fury by the subtle but ignoble art of the
politician. There was no lack of despair in the valley, but out of it
all prosperity grew, and the promise of a most remarkable future.
Behind the confusion of politics, of one sort and another, the spirit
of Progress rose and shook her ambitious wings.

Something of all this must have made itself felt on the mountain, for
one day Teague Poteet pushed his wide-brimmed wool hat from over his
eyes, with an air of astonishment. Puss had just touched upon a very
important matter.

"I reckon in reason," she said, "we oughter pack Sis off to school
some'rs. She'll thes nat'ally spile here."

"Hain't you larnt her how to read an' write an' cipher?" asked Teague.

"I started in," said Mrs. Poteet, "but, Lord! I hain't more'n opened a
book tell she know'd mor'n I dast to know ef I wuz gwine to die fer it.
Hit'll take somebody lots smarter'n' stronger'n me."

Teague laughed, and then relapsed into seriousness. After a while he
called Sis. The girl came running in, her dark eyes flashing, her black
hair bewitchingly tangled, and her cheeks flushing with a colour
hitherto unknown to the mountain.

"What now, pap?"

"I wuz thes a-thinkin' ef maybe you oughtn't to bresh up an' start to
school down in Gullettsville."

"O pap!" the girl exclaimed, clapping her hands with delight. She was
about to spring upon Teague and give him a severe hugging, when
suddenly her arms dropped to her side, the flush died out of her face,
and she flopped herself down upon a chair. Teague paid no attention to
this.

"Yes, siree," he continued, as if pursuing a well-developed line of
argument; "when a gal gits ez big ez you is, she hain't got no business
to be a-gwine a-whoopin' an' a-hollerin' an' a-rantin' an' a-rompin'
acrost the face er the yeth. The time's done come when they oughter be
tuck up an' made a lady out'n; an' the nighest way is to sen' 'em to
school. That's whar you a-gwine--down to Gullettsville to school."

"I shan't, an' I won't--I won't, I won't, I _won't!_" exclaimed Sis,
clenching her hands and stamping her feet. "I'll die first."

Teague had never seen her so excited,

"Why, what's the matter, Sis?" he asked with unfeigned concern.

Sis gave him a withering look.

"Pap, do you reckon I'm fool enough to traipse down to Gullettsville
an' mix with them people, wearin' cloze like these? Do you reckon I'm
fool enough to make myself the laughin'-stock for them folks?"

Teague Poteet was not a learned man, but he was shrewd enough to see
that the Mountain had a new problem to solve. He took down his rifle,
whistled up his dogs, and tramped skyward. As he passed out through his
horse-lot, a cap and worm of a whisky-still lying in the corner of the
fence attracted his attention. He paused, and turned the apparatus over
with his foot. It was old and somewhat battered.

"I'll thes about take you," said Teague, with a chuckle, "an' set up a
calico-factory. I'll heat you up an' make you spin silk an' split it
into ribbens."

It was a case of civilisation or no civilisation, and there is nothing
more notorious in history--nothing more mysterious--than the fact that
civilisation is not over-nice in the choice of her handmaidens. One day
it is war, another it is slavery. Every step in the advancement of the
human race has a paradox of some kind as a basis. In the case of Sis
Poteet, it was whisky.

Teague got his still together and planted it in a nice cool place,
where it could be reached only by a narrow footpath. He had set up a
still immediately after the war, but it had been promptly broken up by
the revenue officers. Upon this occasion, therefore, he made elaborate
preparations to guard against surprise and detection, and these
preparations bore considerable fruit in the way of illicit whisky; the
ultimate result of which was that Sis went to school in Gullettsville,
and became the belle of the town.

The breath of the mountain was heavily charged with whisky, and the
Government got a whiff of it. Word went to Washington, and there was
much writing and consulting by mail, and some telegraphing. The
officials--marshal, deputy-marshals, and collector--were mostly men
from a distance, brought hither on the tide of war, who had no personal
interest in judging the situation. Naturally enough, the power with
which they were invested was neither discreetly nor sympathetically
exercised. They represented the Government, which, they were taught to
believe by the small men above them, was still at war with every
condition and belief in Georgia.

Down in the valley they domineered with impunity, and one fine morning
a posse, armed with carbines, rode up the mountain, laughing, talking,
and rattling their gear as gaily as a detachment of cuirassiers
parading under the protection of friendly guns. The mountain was
inhospitable, for when they rode down again, a few hours afterward,
three saddles were empty, and the survivors had a terrible story to
tell of an attack from an unseen foe.

By the time the story of this fight with the illicit distillers reached
Washington, the details were considerably enlarged. The commissioner
was informed by the marshal that a detail of deputy-marshals had
attempted to seize a still, and were driven back by an overpowering
force. The correspondents at the Capital still further enlarged the
details, and the affair finally went into history as "A New Phase of
the Rebellion." This was the natural outgrowth of the confusion of that
period; for how should the careless deputy-marshals, thinking only of
the sectionalism that lit up the smouldering ruins of war, know that
the Moonshiners were Union men and Republicans?

While the Government was endeavouring to invent some plan for the
capture of the Moonshiners, Sis Poteet was growing lovelier every day.
She was a great favourite with the teachers of the academy and with
everybody. As a general thing, she avoided the public square when
riding to and from the school, but it was hats off with all the men
when she did go clattering down the street, and some of the romantic
dry-goods clerks sent their sighs after her. Sighs are frequently very
effective with school-girls, but those that followed Sis Poteet fell
short and were wasted on the air; and she continued to ride from the
mountain to the valley and from the valley to the mountain in profound
ignorance of the daily sensation she created among the young men of
Gullettsville, to whom her fine figure, her graceful ways, and her
thrillingly beautiful face were the various manifestations of a
wonderful revelation.

Naturally enough, the Government took no account of Sis Poteet. The
commissioner at Washington conferred with the marshal for Georgia by
mail, and begged him to exert himself to the utmost to break up the
business of illicit distilling in the Hog Mountain Range. In view of an
important election about to be held in some doubtful State in the North
or West, the worthy commissioner at Washington even suggested the
propriety of another armed raid, to be made up of deputy-marshals and a
detachment of men from the Atlanta garrison. But the marshal for
Georgia did not fall in with this suggestion. He was of the opinion
that if a raid was to be made at all it should not be made blindly, and
he fortified his opinion with such an array of facts and arguments that
the Bureau finally left the whole matter to his discretion.

Early one morning, in the summer of 1879, a stranger on horseback rode
up the straggling red road that formed the principal business
thoroughfare of Gullettsville, and made his way toward the
establishment known as the Gullettsville Hotel. The chief advertisement
of the hotel was the lack of one. A tall worm-eaten post stood in front
of the building, but the frame in which the sign had swung was empty.
This post, with its empty frame, was as significant as the art of
blazonry could have made it. At any rate, the stranger on horseback--a
young man--pressed forward without hesitation. The proprietor himself,
Squire Lemuel Pleasants, was standing upon the low piazza as the young
man rode up. The squire wore neither coat nor hat. His thumbs were
caught behind his suspenders, giving him an air of ease or of defiance,
as one might choose to interpret, and his jaws were engaged in mashing
into shape the first quid of the morning.

As the young man reined up his horse at the door, Squire Pleasants
stepped briskly inside and pulled a string which communicated with a
bell somewhere in the backyard.

"This is the Gullettsville Hotel, is it not?" the young man asked.

"Well, sir," responded the squire, rubbing his hands together, "sence
you push me so clos't, I'll not deny that this here's the tavern. Some
calls it the hotel, some calls it the Pleasants House, some one thing,
an' some another, but as for me, I says to all, says I, 'Boys, it's a
plain tavern.' In Fergeenia, sir, in my young days, they wa'n't nothin'
better than a tavern. 'Light, sir, 'light," continued the hospitable
squire, as a tow-headed stable-boy tumbled out at the door in response
to the bell; "drap right down an' come in."

The young man followed the landlord into a bare little office, where he
was given to understand in plain terms that people who stopped with
Squire Pleasants were expected to make themselves completely at home.
With a pen upon which the ink had been dry for many a day the young man
inscribed his name on a thin and dirty register--"Philip Woodward,
Clinton, Georgia;" whereupon the squire, with unnecessary and laborious
formality, assigned Mr. Woodward to a room.

Judging from appearance, the United States Marshal for Georgia had not
gone astray in selecting Woodward to carry out the delicate mission of
arranging for a successful raid upon Hog Mountain. Lacking any
distinguishing trait of refinement or culture, his composure suggested
the possession of that necessary information which is the result of
contact with the world and its inhabitants. He had that large air of
ease and tranquillity which is born of association, and which
represents one of the prime elements of the curious quality we call
personal magnetism. He was ready-witted, and full of the spirit of
adventure. He was the owner of the title to a land-lot somewhere in the
neighbourhood of Hog Mountain, and this land-lot was all that remained
of an inheritance that had been swept away by the war. There was a
tradition--perhaps only a rumour--among the Woodwards that the Hog
Mountain land-lot covered a vein of gold, and to investigate this was a
part of the young man's business in Gullettsville; entirely
subordinate, however, to his desire to earn the salary attached to his
position.

The presence of a stranger at the hospitable tavern of Squire Pleasants
attracted the attention of the old and young men of leisure, and the
most of them gathered upon the long narrow piazza to discuss the
matter. Uncle Jimmy Wright, the sage of the village, had inspected the
name in the register and approved of it. He had heard of it before, and
he proceeded to give a long and rambling account of whole generations
of Woodwards. Jake Cohen, a pedlar, who with marevelous tact had fitted
himself to the conditions of life and society in the moutains, and who
was supposed to have some sort of connection with the traffice in
"blockade" whisky, gravely inquired of Squire Pleasants if the
new-comer had left any message for him.

Doubtless the squire, or some one else, would have attempted a
facetious reply to Mr. Watson; but just then a tall, gaunt,
grey-haired, grizzly-bearded man stepped upon the piazza, and saluted the
little gathering with an awkward wave of the hand. The not unkindly
expression of his face was curiously heightened (or deepened) by the
alertness of his eyes, which had the quizzical restlessness we
sometimes see in the eyes of birds or animals. It was Teague Poteet,
and the greetings he received were of the most effusive character.

"Howdy, boys, howdy!" he said in response to the chorus. "They hain't
airy one er you gents kin split up a twenty-dollar chunk er greenbacks,
is they?"

Tip Watson made a pretence of falling in a chair and fainting, but he
immediately recovered, and said in a sepulchral whisper--

"Ef you find anybody dead, an' they ain't got no twenty-dollar bill on
their person, don't come a-knockin' at my door. Lord!" he continued,
"look at Cohen's upper lip a-trimblin'. He wants to take that bill out
somewheres an' hang it on a clothesline."

"Ow!" exclaimed Cohen, "yoost lizzen at date man! Date Teep Vatsen, he
so foony as allt tern utter peoples put tergetter. Vait, Teague, vait!
I chanche date pill right avay, terreckerly."

But Teague was absorbed in some information which Squire Pleasants was
giving him.

"He don't favour the gang," the squire was saying with emphasis, "an'
I'll be boun' he ain't much mixed up wi' 'em. He's another cut. Oh,
they ain't a-foolin' me this season of the year," he continued, as
Teague Poteet shook his head doubtfully; "he ain't mustered out'n my
mind yit, not by a dad-blamed sight. I'm jest a-tellin' of you; he
looks spry, an' he ain't no sneak--I'll swar to that on the stan'."

"Well, I tell you, square," responded Teague, dryly, "I hain't never
seed people too flirty to pester yuther folks; an' I reckon you ain't
nuther, is you?"

"No," said Squire Pleasants, his experience appealed to instead of his
judgment; "no, I ain't, that's a fact; but some folks youer bleege to
take on trus'."

Further comment on the part of Poteet and the others was arrested by
the appearance of Woodward, who came out of his room, walked rapidly
down the narrow hallway, and out upon the piazza. He was bare-headed,
his bands were full of papers, and he had the air of a man of business.
The younger men who had gathered around Squire Pleasants and Teague
Poteet fell back loungingly as Woodward came forward with just the
faintest perplexed smile.

"Judge Pleasants," he said, "I'm terribly mixed up, and I'll have to
ask you to unmix me."

The squire cleared his throat, adjusted his spectacles, and
straightened himself in his chair. The title of Judge, and the easy air
of deference with which it was bestowed, gave him an entirely new idea
of his own importance. He frowned judicially as he laid his hand upon
the papers.

"Well, sir," said he, "I'm gittin' ole, an' I reckon I ain't much
nohow; I'm sorter like the grey colt that tried to climb in the
shuck-pen--I'm weak, but willin'. Ef you'll jest whirl in an' make
indication whar'in I can he'p, I'll do the best I kin."

"I've come up here to look after a lot of land," said Woodward. "It is
described here as lot No. 18, 376th district, Georgia Militia, part of
land lot No. 11, in Tugaloo, formerly Towaliga County. Here is a plat
of Hog Mountain, but somehow I can't locate the lot."

The squire took the papers and began to examine them with painful
particularity.

"That 'ar lot," said Teague Poteet, after a while, "is the ole Mathis
lot. The line runs right acrost my simblin' patch, an' backs up ag'in'
my hoss-stable."

"Tooby shore--tooby shore!" exclaimed the squire. "Tut-tut! What am I
doin'? My mind is drappin' loose like seed-ticks from a shumake bush.
Tooby shore, it's the Mathis lot. Mr. Wooderd, Mr. Poteet--Mr. Poteet,
Mr. Wooderd; lem me make you interduced, gents."

Mr. Woodward shook hands gracefully and cordially--Poteet awkwardly and
a trifle suspiciously.

"It seems to me, Mr. Poteet," said Woodward, "that I have teen your
name in the papers somewhere."

"Likely," replied Poteet; "they uv bin a mighty sight er printin' gwino
on sence the war, so I've heern tell. Ef you'd a drappod in at Atlanty,
you mought er seed my name mixt up in a warrant."

"How is that?" Woodward asked.

"Bekaze I bin a-bossin' my own affa'rs."

Poteet had straightened himself up, and he looked at Woodward with a
steadiness which the other did not misunderstand. It was a look which
said, "If you've got that warrant in your pocket, it won't be safe to
pull it out in these diggm's."

Squire Pleasants recognised the challenge that made itself heard in
Teague Poteet's voice.

"Yes, yes," he said, in a cheerful tone, "our folks is seen some mighty
quare doin's sence the war; but times is a-gittin' a long ways better
now."

"Better, hell!" exclaimed Sid Parmalee.

What he would have said further no one can know, for the voluminous
voice of Cohen broke in--

"Tlook ow-ut, t'ere, Sid! tlook ow-ut! t'at pad man kedge you!"

This remarkable admonition was received with a shout of laughter.
Good-humour was restored, and it was increased when Woodward, shortly
afterward, drinking with the boys at Nix's saloon, called for three
fingers of Mountain Dew, and washed it down with the statement that it
tasted just as nice as liquor that had been stamped by the Government.
In short, Woodward displayed such tact, and entered with such
heartiness into the spirit of the people around him, that he disarmed
the trained suspicions of a naturally suspicious community. Perhaps
this statement should be qualified. Undoubtedly the marshal, could he
have made a personal inspection of Woodward and his surroundings, would
have praised his subordinate's tact. The truth is, while he had
disarmed their suspicions, he had failed utterly to gain their
confidence.

With a general as well as a particular interest in the direction of Hog
Mountain, it was natural that Deputy-Marshal Woodward should meet or
overtake Miss Poteet as she rode back and forth between Gullettsville
and the grey notch in the mountain known as Poteet's. It was natural,
too, that he should take advantage of the social informalities of the
section and make her acquaintance. It was an acquaintance in which
Woodward, and, presumably, the young lady herself, became very much
interested; so that the spectacle of this attractive couple galloping
along together over the red road that connected the valley with the
mountain came to be a familiar one. And its effect upon those who
paused to take note of it was not greatly different from the effect of
such spectacles in other sections. Some looked wise and shook their
heads sorrowfully; some smiled and looked kindly, and sent all manner
of good wishes after the young people. But whether they galloped down
the mountain in the fresh hours of the morning, or rambled up its dark
slope in the dusk of the evening, neither Woodward nor Sis Poteet gave
a thought to the predictions of spite, or to the prophecies of
friendliness.

The mountain girl was a surprise to Woodward. She had improved her few
opportunities to the utmost. Such information as the Gullettsville
Academy afforded she relished and absorbed, so that her education was
thorough as far as it went. Neither her conversation nor her manners
would have attracted special attention in a company of fairly bright
young girls, but she formed a refreshing contrast to the social
destitution of the mountain region.

Beyond this, her personality was certainly more attractive than that of
most women, being based upon an independence which knew absolutely
nothing of the thousand and one vexatious little aspirations that are
essential to what is called social success. Unlike the typical American
girl, whose sweetly severe portraits smile serenely at us from the
canvas of contemporary fiction, Miss Poteet would have been far from
equal to the task of meeting all the requirements of perfectly
organised society; but she could scarcely have been placed in a
position in which her natural brightness and vivacity would not have
attracted attention.

At any rate, the indefinable charm of her presence, her piquancy, and
her beauty, was a perpetual challenge to the admiration of
Deputy-Marshal Woodward. It pursued him in his dreams, and made him
uncomfortable in his waking hours, so much so, indeed, that his duties
as a revenue officer, perplexing at best, became a burden to him.

In point of fact, this lively young lady was the unforeseen quantity in
the problem which Woodward had been employed to solve; and, between his
relations to the Government and his interest in Sis Poteet, he found
himself involved in an awkward predicament. Perhaps the main features
of this predicament, baldly presented, would have been more puzzling to
the authorities at Washington than they were to Woodward; but it is
fair to the young man to say that he did not mistake the fact that the
Moonshiner had a daughter for an argument in favour of illicit
distilling, albeit the temptation to do so gave him considerable
anxiety.

In the midst of his perplexity, Deputy-Marshal Woodward concluded that
it would be better for the Government, and better for his own peace of
mind, if he allowed Sis Poteet to ride home without an escort; and for
several days he left her severely alone, while he attended to his
duties, as became a young fellow of fair business habits.

But one afternoon, as he sat on the piazza of the hotel nursing his
confusion and discontent, Sis Poteet rode by. It was a tantalising
vision, though a fleeting one. It seemed to be merely the flash of a
red feather, the wave of a white hand, to which Woodward lifted his
hat; but these were sufficient. The red feather nodded gaily to him,
the white hand invited. His horse stood near, and in a few moments he
was galloping toward the mountain with the Moonshiner's daughter.

When the night fell at Teague Poteet's on this particular evening, it
found a fiddle going. The boys and girls of the mountain, to the number
of a dozen or more, had gathered for a frolic--a frolic that shook the
foundations of Poteet's castle, and aroused echoes familiar enough to
the good souls who are fond of the cotillon in its primitive shape. The
old folks who had accompanied the youngsters sat in the kitchen with
Teague and his wife, and here Woodward also sat, listening with
interest to the gossip of what seemed to be a remote era--the war and
the period preceding it.

The activity of Sis Poteet found ample scope, and, whether lingering
for a moment at her father's side like a bird poised in flight, or
moving lightly through the figures of the cotillon, she never appeared
to better advantage.

Toward midnight, when the frolic was at its height, an unexpected
visitor announced himself. It was Uncle Jake Norris, who lived on the
far side of the mountain. The fiddler waved his bow at Uncle Jake, and
the boys and girls cried "Howdy," as the visitor stood beaming and
smiling in the doorway. To these demonstrations Uncle Jake, "a chunk
of a white man with a whole heart," as he described himself, made
cordial response, and passed on into the kitchen. The good-humour of
Mr. Norris was as prominent as his rotundity. When he was not laughing,
he was ready to laugh. He seated himself, looked around at the company,
and smiled.

"It's a long pull betwixt this an' Atlanty," he said after a while; "it
is that, certain an' shore, an' I hain't smelt of the jug sence I lef
ther'. Pull 'er out, Teague, pull 'er out."

The jug was forthcoming.

"Now, then," continued Uncle Jake, removing the corn-cob stopper, "this
looks like home, sweet home, ez I may say. It does, certain an' shore.
None to jine me? Well, well! Times change an' change, but the jug is
company for one. So be it. Ez St. Paul says, cleave nigh unto that
which is good. I'm foreswore not to feel lonesome tell I go to the
gallows. Friends! you uv got my good wishes, one an' all!"

"What's a-gwine on?" asked Poteet.

"The same," responded Uncle Jake, after swallowing his dram. "Allers
the same. Wickedness pervails wellnigh unto hit's own jestiflcation. I
uv seed sights! You all know the divers besettings wher'by Jackson
Ricks wuz took off this season gone--murdered I may say, in the teeth
of the law an' good govunment. Sirs! I sot by an' seed his besetters go
scotch-free."

"Ah!"

The exclamation came from Teague Poteet.

"Yes, sirs! yes, friends!" continued Uncle Jake, closing his eyes and
tilting his chair back. "Even so. Nuther does I boast ez becometh the
fibble-minded. They hurried an' skurried me forth an' hence, to mount
upon the witness stan' an' relate the deed. No deniance did I make. Ez
St. Paul says, sin, takin' occasion by the commandment, worked in me
all manner of conspicuessence. I told 'em what these here eyes had
seed.

"They errayed me before jedge an' jury," Uncle Jake went on, patting
the jug affectionately, "an' I bowed my howdies. 'Gen-termun friends,'
s' I, 'foller me close't, bekaze I'm a-givin' you but the truth,
stupendous though it be. Ef you thes but name the word,' s' I, 'I'll
take an' lay my han' upon the men that done this unrighteousness, for
they stan' no furder than yon piller,' s' I. 'Them men,' s' I,
'surroundered the house of Jackson Ricks, gentermun friends, he bein' a
member of Friendship Church, an' called 'im forth wi' the ashoreance of
Satan an' the intents of evil,' s' I; 'an' ole en decrippled ez he wuz,
they shot 'im down--them men at yon piller,' s' I, 'ere he could but
raise his trimblin' han' in supplication; an' the boldest of 'em dast
not to face me here an' say nay,' s' I."

"An' they uv cler'd the men what kilt pore Jackson Ricks!" said Teague,
rubbing his grizzled chin.

"Ez clean an' ez cle'r ez the pa'm er my han'," replied Uncle Jake,
with emphasis.

The fiddle in the next room screamed forth a jig, and the tireless feet
of the dancers kept time, but there was profound silence among those in
the kitchen. Uncle Jake took advantage of this pause to renew his
acquaintance with the jug.

Deputy-Marshal Woodward knew of the killing of Jackson Ricks; that is
to say, he was familiar with the version of the affair which had been
depended upon to relieve the revenue officers of the responsibility of
downright murder; but he was convinced that the story told by Uncle
Jake Norris was nearer the truth.

As the young man rode down the mountain, leaving the fiddle and the
dancers to carry the frolic into the grey dawn, he pictured to himself
the results of the raid that he would be expected to lead against Hog
Mountain--the rush upon Poteet's, the shooting of the old Moonshiner,
and the spectacle of the daughter wringing her hands and weeping
wildly. He rode down the mountain, and, before the sun rose, he had
written and mailed his resignation. In a private note to the marshal,
enclosed with this document, he briefly but clearly set forth the fact
that, while illicit distilling was as unlawful as ever, the man who
loved a Moonshiner's daughter was not a proper instrument to aid in its
suppression.

But his letter failed to have the effect he desired, and in a few weeks
he received a communication from Atlanta setting forth the fact that a
raid had been determined upon.

Meantime, while events were developing, some of the old women of the
Hog Mountain Range had begun to manifest a sort of motherly interest in
the affairs of Woodward and Sis Poteet. These women, living miles apart
on the mountain and its spurs, had a habit of "picking up their work"
and spending the day with each other. Upon one occasion it chanced that
Mrs. Sue Parmalee and Mrs. Puritha Hightower rode ten miles to visit
Mrs. Puss Poteet.

"Don't lay the blame of it onter me, Puss," exclaimed Mrs.
Hightower,--her shrill, thin voice in queer contrast with her fat and
jovial appearance; "don't you lay the blame onter me. Dave, he's been
a-complainin' bekaze they wa'n't no salsody in the house, an' I rid over
to Sue's to borry some. Airter I got ther', Sue sez, se' she; 'Yess us
pick up an' go an' light in on Puss,' se' she, 'an' fine out sump'n'
nuther that's a-gwine on 'mongst folks,' se' she."

"Yes, lay it all onter me," said Mrs. Parmalee, looking over her
spectacles at Mrs. Poteet; "I sez to Purithy, s' I, 'Purithy, yess go
down an' see Puss,' s' I; 'maybe we'll git a glimpse er that air new
chap with the slick ha'r. Sid'll be a-peggin' out airter a while,' s'
I, 'an' ef the new chap's ez purty ez I hear tell, maybe I'll set my
cap fer 'im,' s' I."

At this fat Mrs. Puritha Hightower was compelled to lean on frail Mrs.
Puss Poteet, so heartily did she laugh.

"I declar'," she exclaimed, "ef Sue hain't a sight! I'm mighty nigh
outdone. She's thes bin a-gwine on that a-way all the time, an' I bin
that tickled tell a little more an' I'd a drapped on the groun'. How's
all?"

"My goodness!" exclaimed Mrs. Poteet, "I hope you all know _me_ too
well to be a-stan'in' out there makin' excuse. Come right along in, an'
take off your things, an' ketch your win'. Sis is home to-day."

"Well, I'm monstus glad," said Mrs. Hightower. "Sis use to think the
world an' all er me when she was a slip of a gal, but I reckon she's
took on town ways, hain't she? Hit ain't nothin' but natchul."

"Sis is proud enough for to hoi' 'er head high," Mrs. Parmalee
explained, "but she hain't a bit stuck up."

"Well, I let you know," exclaimed Mrs. Hightower, untying her bonnet
and taking off her shawl, "I let you know, here's what wouldn't be sot
back by nothin' ef she had Sis's chances. In about the las' word pore
maw spoke on 'er dying bed, she call me to 'er an' sez, se' she,
'Purithy Emma,' se' she, 'you hol' your head high; don't you bat your
eyes for to please none of 'em,' se' she."

"I reckon in reason I oughter be thankful that Sis ain't no wuss," said
Mrs. Poteet, walking around with aimless hospitality; "yit that chile's
temper is powerful tryin', an' Teague ackshully an' candidly b'leeves
she's made out'n pyo'gol'. [Footnote: Pure gold] I wish I may die ef he
don't."

After a while Sis made her appearance, buoyant and blooming. Her eyes
sparkled, her cheeks glowed, and her smiles showed beautiful teeth--a
most uncommon sight in the mountains, where the girls were in the habit
of rubbing snuff or smoking. The visitors greeted her with the effusive
constraint and awkwardness that made so large a part of their lives,
but after a while Mrs. Hightower laid her fat motherly hand on the
girl's shoulder, and looked kindly but keenly into her eyes.

"Ah, honey!" she said, "you hain't sp'ilt yit, but you wa'n't made to
fit thish here hill--_that_ you wa'n't, _that_ you wa'n't!"

Women are not hypocrites. Their little thrills arid nerve-convulsions
are genuine while they last. Fortunately for the women themselves, they
do not last, but are succeeded by others of various moods, tenses, and
genders. These nerve-convulsions are so genuine and so apt that they
are known as intuitions, and under this name they have achieved
importance. Mrs. Hightower, with all her lack of experience, was
capable of feeling that Sis Poteet needed the by no means unsubstantial
encouragement that lies in one little note of sympathy, and she was not
at all astonished when Sis responded to her intention by giving her a
smart little hug.

Presently Mrs. Parmalee, who had stationed herself near the door,
lifted her thin right arm and let it fall upon her lap.

"Well, sir!" she exclaimed, "ef yander ain't Sis's bo!"

Sis ran to the door, saw Woodward coming up the road, and blushed
furiously--a feat which Mrs. Hightower and Mrs. Parmalee, with all
their experience, had rarely seen performed in that region.

Woodward greeted Mrs. Poteet's visitors with a gentle deference and an
easy courtesy that attracted their favour in spite of themselves.
Classing him with the "Restercrats," these women took keen and
suspicious note of every word he uttered, and every movement he made,
holding themselves in readiness to become mortally offended at a curl
of the lip or the lifting of an eyebrow; but he was equal to the
occasion. He humoured their whims and eccentricities to the utmost, and
he was so thoroughly sympathetic, so genial, so sunny, and so handsome
withal, that he stirred most powerfully the maternal instincts of those
weather-beaten bosoms, and made them his friends and defenders. He told
them wonderful stories of life in the great world that lay far beyond
Hog Mountain, its spurs and its foot-hills. He lighted their pipes, and
even filled them out of his own tobacco-pouch, a proceeding which
caused Mrs. Parmalee to remark that she "would like mannyfac'
[Footnote: "Manufactured" tobacco, in contradistinction to the natural
leaf.] mighty well ef 'twer'n't so powerful weak."

Mrs. Hightower found early opportunity to deliver her verdict in Sis's
ear, whereupon the latter gave her a little hug, and whispered: "Oh, I
just think he's adorable!" It was very queer, however, that as soon as
Sis was left to entertain Mr. Woodward (the women making an excuse of
helping Puss about dinner), she lost her blushing enthusiasm, and
became quite cold and reserved. The truth is, Sis had convinced herself
some days before that she had the right to be very angry with this
young man, and she began her quarrel, as lovely woman generally does,
by assuming an air of tremendous unconcern. Her disinterestedness was
really provoking.

"How did you like Sue Fraley's new bonnet last Sunday?" she asked, with
an innocent smile.

"Sue Fraley's new bonnet!" exclaimed Woodward, surprised in the midst
of some serious reflections; "why, I didn't know she had a new bonnet."

"Oh! you _didn't_? You were right _opposite_. I should think _anybody_
could see she had a new bonnet by the way she tossed her head."

"Well, I didn't notice it, for one. Was it one of these sky-scrapers? I
was looking at something else."

"_Oh!_"

Woodward had intended to convey a very delicately veiled compliment,
but this young woman's tone rather embarrassed him. He saw in a moment
that she was beyond the reach of the playful and ingenious banter which
he had contrived to make the basis of their relations.

"Yes," he said, "I was looking at something else. I had other things to
think about."

"Well, she _did_ have a new bonnet, with yellow ribbons. She looked
handsome. I hear she's going to get married soon."

"I'm glad to hear it. She's none too young," said Woodward.

At another time Sis would have laughed at the suggestion implied in
this remark, but now she only tapped the floor gently with her foot,
and looked serious.

"I hope you answered her note," she said presently.

"What note?" he asked, with some astonishment,

Sis was the picture of innocence.

"Oh, I didn't think!" she exclaimed. "I reckon it's a great _secret_. I
mean the note she handed you when she came out of church. It's none of
_my_ business."

"Nor of mine either," said Woodward, with a relieved air. "The note was
for Tip Watson."

This statement, which was not only plausible but true, gave a new
direction to Sis's anger.

"Well, I don't see how anybody that thinks anything of himself could be
a mail-carrier for _Sue Fraley!_" she exclaimed scornfully; whereupon
she flounced out, leaving Woodward in a state of bewilderment.

He had not made love to the girl, principally because her moods were
elusive and her methods unique. She was dangerously like other women of
his acquaintance, and dangerously unlike them. The principal of the
academy in Gullettsville--a scholarly old gentleman from Middle
Georgia, who had been driven to teaching by dire necessity--had once
loftily informed Woodward that Miss Poteet was superior to her books,
and the young man had verified the statement to his own discomfiture.
She possessed that feminine gift which is of more importance to a woman
in this world than scholarly acquirements--aptitude. Even her
frankness--perfectly discreet--charmed and puzzled Woodward; but the
most attractive of her traits were such as mark the difference between
the bird that sings in the tree and the bird that sings in the
cage--delightful, but indescribable.

When Sis Poteet began to question him about Sue Fraley, the thought
that she was moved by jealousy gave him a thrill that was new to his
experience; but when she flounced angrily out of the room because he
had confessed to carrying a note from Miss Fraley to Tip Watson, it
occurred to him that he might be mistaken. Indeed, so cunning does
masculine stupidity become when it is played upon by a woman, that he
frightened himself with the suggestion that perhaps, after all, this
perfectly original young lady was in love with Tip Watson.

During the rest of the day Woodward had ample time to nurse and develop
his new theory, and the more he thought it over the more plausible it
seemed to be. It was a great blow to his vanity; but the more
uncomfortable it made him the more earnestly he clung to it.

Without appearing to avoid him, Sis managed to make the presence of
Mrs. Parmalee and Mrs. Hightower an excuse for neglecting him. She
entertained these worthy ladies with such eager hospitality that when
they aroused themselves to the necessity of going home, they found to
their dismay that it would be impossible, in the language of Mrs.
Poteet, to "git half way acrost Pullium's Summit 'fore night 'ud ketch
'em." Sis was so delighted, apparently, that she became almost
hilarious; and her gaiety affected all around her except Woodward, who
barely managed to conceal his disgust.

After supper, however, Mrs. Poteet and her two guests betook themselves
to the kitchen, where they rubbed snuff and smoked their pipes, and
gossiped, and related reminiscences of that good time which, with old
people, is always in the past. Thus Woodward had ample opportunity to
talk with Sis. He endeavoured, by the exercise of every art of manner
and conversation of which he was master, to place their relations upon
the old familiar footing, but he failed most signally. He found it
impossible to fathom the gentle dignity with which he was constantly
repulsed. In the midst of his perplexity, which would have been either
pathetic or ridiculous if it had not been so artfully concealed, he
managed for the first time to measure the depth of his love for this
exasperating but charming creature whom he had been patronising. She
was no longer amusing; and Woodward, with the savage inconsistency of a
man moved by a genuine passion, felt a tragic desire to humble himself
before her.

"I'm going home to-morrow, Miss Sis," he said finally, in sheer
desperation.

"Well, you've had a heap of fun--I mean," she added, "that you have had
a nice time."

"I have been a fool!" he exclaimed bitterly. Seeing that she made no
response, he continued: "I've been a terrible fool all through. I came
here to hunt up blockade whisky----"

"_What!_"

Sis's voice was sharp and eager, full of doubt, surprise, and
consternation.

"I came to Gullettsville," he went on, "to hunt up blockade whisky, and
failed, and three weeks ago I sent in my resignation. I thought I might
find a gold mine on my land-lot, but I have failed, and now I am going
to sell it. I have failed in everything."

Gloating over his alleged misfortunes, Woodward, without looking at Sis
Poteet, drew from his pocket a formidable-looking envelope, unfolded
its contents leisurely, and continued--

"Even my resignation was a failure. Hog Mountain will be raided
to-morrow or next day."

Sis rose from her chair, pale and furious, and advanced toward him as
if to annihilate him with her blazing eyes. Such rage, such contempt,
he had never before beheld in a woman's face. He sat transfixed. With a
gesture almost tragic in its vehemence, the girl struck the papers from
his hands.

"O you mean, sneaking wretch! You----"

And then, as if realising the weakness of mere words, she turned and
passed swiftly from the room. Woodward was thoroughly aroused. He was
not used to the spectacle of a woman controlled by violent emotions,
and he recognised, with a mixture of surprise and alarm, the great gulf
that lay between the rage of Sis Poteet and the little platitudes and
pretences of anger which he had seen the other women of his
acquaintance manage with such pretty daintiness.

As the girl passed through the kitchen, she seized a horn that hung
upon the wall, and went out into the darkness. The old women continued
their smoking, their snuff-rubbing, and their gossiping. Mrs.
High-tower was giving the details of a local legend showing how and why
Edny Favers had "conjured" Tabithy Cozby, when suddenly Mrs. Poteet raised
her hands--

"_Sh-h-h!_"

The notes of a horn--short, sharp, and strenuous--broke in upon the
stillness of the night. Once, twice, thrice! once, twice, thrice! once,
twice, thrice! It was an alarm that did not need to be interpreted to
the sensitive ear of Hog Mountain. The faces of the old women became
curiously impassive. The firelight carried their shadows from the floor
to the rafters, where they seemed to engage in a wild dance,--whirling,
bowing, jumping, quivering; but the women themselves sat as still as
statues. They were evidently waiting for something. They did not wait
long. In a little while the sharp notes of the horn made themselves
heard again--once, twice, thrice! once, twice, thrice! once, twice,
thrice!

Then the old women arose from their low chairs, shook out their frocks,
and filed into the room where Mr. Philip Woodward, late of the revenue
service, was sitting. There would have been a good deal of constraint
on both sides, but before there could be any manifestation of this
sort, Sis came in. She seemed to be crushed and helpless, nay, even
humiliated.

"Why, my goodness, Sis!" exclaimed Mrs. Hightower, "you look natchully
fagged out. A body 'ud think you'd bin an' taken a run up the mountain.
We all 'lowed you wuz in here lookin' airter your comp'ny. Wher'd you
git the news?"

"From this gentleman here," Sis replied, indicating Woodward without
looking at him. She was pale as death, and her voice was low and
gentle.

Woodward would have explained, but the apparent unconcern of the women
gave him no opportunity.

"I declare, Sis," exclaimed her mother, with a fond, apologetic little
laugh; "ef you hain't a plum sight, I hain't never seed none."

"She's thes es much like her Gran'pap Poteet," said Mrs. Hightower, "ez
ef he'd 'a' spit'er right out'n his mouth--that she is."

This led to a series of reminiscences more or less entertaining, until
after a while, Sis, who had been growing more and more restless, rose
and said--

"Good night, folks; I'm tired and sleepy. The clock has struck
eleven."

"Yes," said Mrs. Poteet, "an' the clock's too fast, bekaze it hain't
skacely bin more'u a minnit sence the chickens crowed for ten."

This remark contained the essence of hospitality, for it was intended
to convey to Mrs. Poteet's guests the information that if they were not
ready to retire, she was prepared to discredit her clock in their
interests. But there was not much delay on the part of the guests. The
women were dying to question Sis, and Woodward was anxious to be alone;
and so they said "Good night," the earnestness and quaint simplicity of
the old women carrying Woodward back to the days of his childhood, when
his grandmother leaned tenderly over his little bed, and whispered:
"Good night, dear heart, and pleasant dreams."

Shortly afterward the lights were put out, and, presumably, those under
Teague Poteet's roof addressed themselves to slumber. But what of the
news that Sis had given to the winds? There was no slumber for it until
it had fulfilled its mission. Where did it go, and what was its burden?
Three sharp blasts upon a horn, thrice repeated; then an interval; then
three more thrice repeated. Up, up the mountain the signal climbed; now
faltering, now falling, but always climbing; sending echoes before it,
and leaving echoes behind it, but climbing, climbing; now fainting and
dying away, but climbing, climbing, until it reached Pullium's Summit,
the smallest thread of sound. Two men were sitting talking in front of
a cabin. The eldest placed one hand upon the shoulder of his companion,
and flung the other to his ear. Faint and far, but clear and strenuous,
came the signal. The men listened even after it had died away. The
leaves of the tall chestnuts whipped each other gently, and the breeze
that had borne the signal seemed to stay in the tops of the mountain
pines as if awaiting further orders; and it had not long to wait.

The man who had held his hand to his ear slapped his companion on the
back, and cried, "Poteet's!" and that was news enough for the other,
who rose, stretched himself lazily, and passed into the cabin. He came
out with a horn--an exaggerated trumpet made of tin,--and with this to
his lips he repeated to the waiting breeze, and to the echoes that were
glad to be aroused, the news that had come from Poteet's. Across the
broad plateau of Pullium's Summit the wild tidings flew, until,
reaching the western verge of the mountain, they dived down into
Prather's Mill Road--a vast gorge which takes its name from the freak
of a drunken mountaineer, who declared he would follow the stream that
rushed through it until he found a mill, and was never heard of again.

The news from Poteet's was not so easily lost. It dropped over the
sheer walls of the chasm, three hundred feet down, and refused to be
drowned out by the rush and roar of the waters, as they leaped over the
boulders, until it had accomplished its mission. For here in Prather's
Mill Road burned the slow fires that kept the Government officials in
Atlanta at a white heat. They were burning now. If one of the officials
could have crawled to the edge of the gorge, where everything seemed
dwarfed by the towering walls of rook and the black abyss from which
they sprang, he would have seen small fitful sparks of flame glowing at
intervals upon the bosom of the deeper and blacker night below. These
were the fires that all the power and ingenuity of the Government
failed to smother, but they were now blown out one after another by the
blasts from Sis Poteet's horn.

The news that was wafted down into the depths of Prather's Mill Road
upon the wings of the wind was not at all alarming. On the contrary, it
was received by the grimy watchers at the stills with considerable
hilarity. To the most of them it merely furnished an excuse for a
week's holiday, including trips to both Gullettsville and Villa Ray.
Freely interpreted, it ran thus: "Friends and fellow-citizens: this is
to inform you that Hog Mountain is to be raided by the revenue men by
way of Teague Poteet's. Let us hear from you at once." There was
neither alarm nor hurry, but the fires were put out quickly, because
that was the first thing to be done.

Teague Poteet owned and managed two stills. He was looking after some
"doublings" when the notes of the horn dropped down into the gorge. He
paused, and listened, and smiled. Uncle Jake Norris, who had come to
have his jug filled, was in the act of taking a dram, but he waited,
balancing the tin cup in the palm of his hand. Tip Watson was telling
one of his stories to the two little boys who accompanied Uncle Jake,
but he never ended it.

"Sis talks right out in meetin'," said Teague, after waiting to be sure
there was no postscript to the message.

"What's the row, Teague?" asked Uncle Jake, swallowing his dram.

"'Nother raid comin' right in front er my door," Teague explained, "an'
I reckon in reason I oughter be home when they go past. They use to be
a kinder coolness betweenst me an' them revenue fellers, but we went to
work an' patched it up."

Tip Watson appeared to be so overjoyed that he went through all the
forms of a cotillon dance, imitating a fiddle, calling the figures, and
giving his hand to imaginary partners. The boys fairly screamed with
laughter at this exhibition, and Uncle Jake was so overcome that he
felt called upon to take another dram--a contingency that was renewed
when Tip swung from the measure of a cotillon to that of a breakdown,
singing--

"I hain't bin a-wantin' no mo' wines--mo' wines--
Sence daddy got drunk on low wines--low wines."

"Come, Tip," said Teague, "yess shet up shop. Ef Sis ain't a caution,"
he said, after a while, as he moved around putting things to rights.
"Ef Sis ain't a caution, you kin shoot me. They hain't no mo' tellin'
wher' Sis picked up 'bout thish 'ere raid than nothin' in the worl'.
Dang me ef I don't b'lieve the gal's glad when a raid's a-comin'. Wi'
Sis, hit's move_ment_, move_ment_, day in an' day out. They hain't
nobody knows that gal less'n it's me. She knows how to keep things
a-gwine. Sometimes she runs an' meets me, an' says, se' she: 'Pap,
mammy's in the dumps; yess you an' me make out we er quollin'. Hit'll
sorter stir 'er up;' an' then Sis, she'll light in, an' by the time we
git in the house, she's a-scoldin' an' a-sassin' an' I'm a-cussin', en'
airter a while hit gits so hot an' natchul-like that I thes has ter
drag Sis out behin' the chimbly and buss 'er for to make certain an'
shore that she ain't accidentally flew off the han'le. Bliss your soul
an' body! she's a caution!"

"An' what's 'er maw a-doin' all that time?" inquired Uncle Jake, as he
took another dram with an indifferent air.

Teague laughed aloud as he packed the fresh earth over his fire.

"Oh, Puss! Puss, she thes sets thar a-chawin' away at 'er snuff, an'
a-knittin' away at 'er socks tell she thinks I'm a-pushin' Sis too
clost, an' then she blazes out an' blows me up. Airter that," Teague
continued, "things gits more homelike. Ef 'twan't fer me an' Sis, I
reckon Puss 'nd teetotally fret 'erself away."

"St. Paul," said Uncle Jake, looking confidentially at another dram
which he had poured into the tin cup,--"St. Paul says ther' er divers
an' many wimmin, an' I reckon he know'd. Ther' er some you kin fret an
some you can't. Ther's my ole 'oman: the livin' human bein' that stirs
_her_ up'll have ter frail 'er out, er she'll frail _him_."

"Well," said Teague, by way of condolence, "the man what's stabbed by a
pitchfork hain't much better off 'n the man that walks bar'footed in a
treadsaft patch."

The suggestion in regard to Mistress Norris seemed to remind Uncle Jake
of something important. He called to his boys, took another modest
dram, and disappeared in the undergrowth. Teague Poteet and his friends
were soon ready to follow this worthy example, so that in another hour
Prather's Mill Road was a very dull and uninteresting place from a
revenue point of view.


Woodward was aroused during the night by the loud barking of dogs, the
tramp of horses, and the confused murmur of suppressed conversation.
Looking from the window, he judged by the position of the stars that it
was three or four o'clock in the morning. He sat upon the side of the
bed, and sought, by listening intently, to penetrate the mystery of
this untimely commotion. He thought he recognised the voice of Tip
Watson, and he was sure he heard Sid Parmalee's peculiar cough and
chuckle. The conversation soon lifted itself out of the apparent
confusion, and became comparatively distinct. The voices were those of
Teague and Sis.

"Come now, pap, you must promise."

"Why, Sis, how _kin_ I?"

"You shall, you shall, you _shall!_"

"Why, Sis, hon, he mought be a spy. Sid Pannalee he 'lows that the
whole dad-blamed business is a put-up job. He wants to bet right now
that we'll all be in jail in Atlanty 'fore the moon changes. I lay they
don't none of 'em fool Sid."

"You don't love me any more," said Sis, taking a new tack.

"Good Lord, Sis! Why, honey, what put that idee in your head?"

"I know you don't--I know it! Its always Dave Hightower this, and Sid
Par-malee that, and old drunken Jake Norris the other. I just _know_
you don't love me."

Teague also took a new tack, but there was a quiver in his voice born
of deadly earnestness.

"I tell you, Sis, they er houndin' airter us; they er runnin' us down;
they er closin' in on us; they er hemmin' us up. Airter they git your
pore ole pappy an' slam 'im in jail, an' chain 'im down, who's
a-gwineter promise to take keer er _him?_ Hain't ole man Joshway
Blasingame bin sent away off to Al_benny?_ Hain't ole man Cajy Shannon
a-sarvin' out his time, humpback an' cripple ez he is? Who took keer
_them_? Who ast anybody to let up on 'em? But don't you fret, honey; ef
they hain't no trap sot, nobody ain't a-gwineter pester _him_."

"I wouldn't trust that Sid Parmalee out of my sight!" exclaimed Sis,
beginning to cry. "I know him, and I know all of you."

"But ef they is a trap sot," continued Teague, ignoring Sis's tears,
"_ef_ they is, I tell you, honey, a thousau' folks like me can't hol'
the boys down. The time 'a done come when they er teetotally wore out
with thish 'ere sneakin' aroun' an' hidin'-out bizness."

This appeared to end the conversation, but it left Woodward
considerably puzzled. Shortly afterward he heard a rap at his door, and
before he could respond to the summons by inquiry or invitation, Teague
Poteet entered with a lighted candle in his hand.

"I 'lowed the stirrin' 'roun' mought 'a' sorter rousted you," said
Teague, by way of apology, as he placed the light on a small table and
seated himself on a wooden chest.

"Yes. What's up?" Woodward inquired.

"Oh, the boys--thes the boys," Teague replied, chuckling and rubbing
his chin with an embarrassed air; "hit's thes the boys cuttin' up some
er ther capers. They er mighty quare, the boys is," he continued, his
embarrassment evidently increasing, "mighty quare. They uv up'd an' tuk
a notion for to go on a little frolic, an' they uv come by airter me,
an' nothin' won't do 'em but I mus' fetch you. S' I, 'Genter_men_, they
hain't no manners in astin' a man on a marchin' frolic this time er
night,' s' I; but Sid Parmalee, he chipped in an' 'lowed that you wuz
ez high up for fun ez the next man."

Woodward thought he understood the drift of things, but he was
desperately uncertain. He reflected a moment, and then faced the
situation squarely.

"If you were in my place, Mr. Poteet, what would you do?" he asked.

This seemed to relieve Teague, His embarrassment disappeared. His eyes,
which had been wandering uneasily around the room, sought Woodward's
face and rested there. He took off his wide-brimmed wool hat, placed it
carefully upon the floor, and ran his fingers through his iron-grey
hair.

"I don't mind sayin'," he remarked grimly, "that I uv seed the time
when I'd uv ast you to drap out'n that winder an' make for the bushes,
knowin' that you'd tote a han'ful er bullets in thar wi' you. But on
account er me an' Sis, I'm willin' to extracise my bes' judg_ment_. It
mayn't be satisfactual, but me an' Sis is mighty long-headed when we
pulls tergether. Ef I was you, I'd thes slip on my duds, an' I'd go out
thar whar the boys is, an' I'd be high up for the'r frolic, an' I'd
jine in wi' 'em, an' I'd raise any chune they give out."

With this Poteet gravely bowed himself out, and in a very few minutes
Woodward was dressed and ready for adventure. He was young and bold,
but he felt strangely ill at ease. He realised that, with all his
address, he had never been able to gain the confidence of these
mountaineers, and he felt sure they connected him with the revenue raid
that was about to be made, and of which they had received information.
He appreciated to the fullest extent the fact that the situation called
for the display of all the courage and coolness and nerve he could
command; but, in the midst of it all, he longed for an opportunity to
show Sis Poteet the difference between a real man and a feebleminded,
jocular rascal like Tip Watson.

His spirits rose as he stepped from the low piazza into the darkness
and made his way to where he heard the rattle of stirrups and spurs.
Some one hailed him--

"Hello, Cap!"

"Ah-yi!" he responded. "It's here we go, gals, to the wedding."

"I knowed we could count on 'im," said the voice of Tip Watson.

"Yes," said Sid Parmalee, "I knowed it so well that I fotch a extry
hoss."

"Where are we going?" Woodward asked.

"Well," said Parmalee, "the boys laid off for to have some fun, an'
it's done got so these times that when a feller wants fun he's got to
git furder up the mounting."

If the words were evasive, the tone was far more so, but Woodward paid
little attention to either. He had the air of a man accustomed to being
called up in the early hours of the morning to go forth on mysterious
expeditions.

A bright fire was blazing in Poteet's kitchen, and the light, streaming
through the wide doorway, illuminated the tops of the trees on the edge
of the clearing. Upon this background the shadows of the women, black
and vast--Titanic indeed,--were projected as they passed to and fro.
From within there came a sound as of the escape of steam from some huge
engine; but the men waiting on the outside knew that the frying-pan was
doing its perfect work.

The meat sizzled and fried; the shadows in the tops of the trees kept
up what seemed to be a perpetual promenade, and the men outside waited
patiently and silently. This silence oppressed Woodward. He knew that
but for his presence the mountaineers would be consulting together and
cracking their dry jokes. In spite of the fact that he recognised in
the curious impassiveness of these people the fundamental qualities of
courage and endurance, he resented it as a barrier which he had never
been able to break down. He would have preferred violence of some sort.
He could meet rage with rage, and give blow for blow, but how was he to
deal with the reserve by which he was surrounded? He was not physically
helpless, by any means, but the fact that he had no remedy against the
attitude of the men of Hog Mountain chafed him almost beyond endurance.
He was emphatically a man of action--full of the enterprises usually
set in motion by a bright mind, a quick temper, and ready courage; but,
measured by the impassiveness which these men had apparently borrowed
from the vast aggressive silences that give strength and grandeur to
their mountains, how trivial, how contemptible all his activities
seemed to be!

But the frying was over after a while. The Titanic shadows went to
roost in the tops of the trees, and Teague Poteet and his friends,
including ex-Deputy Woodward, took themselves and their fried meat off
up the mountain, and the raid followed shortly after. It was a
carefully-planned raid, and deserved to be called a formidable one.
Like many another similar enterprise it was a failure, so far as the
purposes of the Government were concerned, but fate or circumstance
made it famous in the political annals of that period. Fifteen men,
armed with carbines, rode up the mountain. They were full of the spirit
of adventure. They felt the strong arm of the law behind them. They
knew they were depended upon to make some sort of demonstration, and
this, together with a dram too much here and there, made them a trifle
reckless and noisy. They had been taught to believe that they were in
search of outlaws. They caught from the officers who organised them
something of the irritation which was the natural result of so many
fruitless attempts to bring Hog Mountain to terms. They betrayed a sad
lack of discretion. They brandished their weapons in the frightened
faces of women and children, and made many foolish mistakes which need
not be detailed here.

They rode noisily over the mountain, making a circle of Pullium's
Summit, and found nothing. They peered over the precipitous verge of
Prather's Mill Road, and saw nothing. They paused occasionally to
listen, and heard nothing. They pounced upon a lonely pedlar who was
toiling across the mountain with his pack upon his back, and plied him
with questions concerning the Moonshiners. This pedlar appeared to be a
very ignorant fellow indeed. He knew his name was Jake Cohen, and that
was about all. He had never crossed Hog Mountain before, and, so help
his gracious, he would never cross it again. The roads were all rough
and the ladies were all queer. As for the latter--well, great Jingo!
they would scarcely look at his most beautiful collection of shawls and
ribbons and laces, let alone buy them. In Villa Bay (or, as Cohen
called it, "Feel Hooray") he had heard that Teague Poteet had been
arrested and carried to Atlanta by a man named Woodward. No one had
told him this, but he heard people talking about it wherever he went in
Villa Ray, and there seemed to be a good deal of excitement in the
settlement.

Cohen was a droll customer, the revenue officers thought, and the
longer they chatted with him the droller he became. First and last they
drew from him what they considered to be some very important
information. But most important of all was the report of the arrest of
Teague Poteet. The deputies congratulated themselves. They understood
the situation thoroughly, and their course was perfectly plain. Poteet,
in endeavouring to escape from them, had fallen into the clutches of
Woodward, and their best plan was to overtake the latter before he
reached Atlanta with his prize, and thus share in the honour of the
capture. With this purpose in view, they took a dram all round and
turned their horses' heads down the mountain.

Cohen certainly was a droll fellow. He stood in the road until the
revenue men had disappeared. Then he unbuckled the straps of his pack,
dropped it upon the ground, and sat down upon a boulder. With his head
between his hands, he appeared to be lost in thought, but he was only
listening. He remained listening until after the sounds of the horses'
feet had died away.

Then he carried his precious pack a little distance from the roadside,
covered it with leaves, listened a moment to be sure that the deputies
were not returning, and then proceeded to a. little ravine in the side
of the mountain where the Moonshiners lay. He had been waiting nearly
two days where the revenue men found him, and his story of the capture
of Teague Poteet was concocted for the purpose of sending the posse
back down the mountain the way they came. If they had gone on a mile
further they would have discovered signs of the Moonshiners, and this
discovery would have led to a bloody encounter, if not to the capture
of the leaders.

The deputies rode down the mountain in the best of spirits. They had
accomplished more than any other posse; they had frightened the
Moonshiners of Hog Mountain to their hiding-places, and not a deputy
had been killed, or even wounded. The clatter they made as they
journeyed along attracted the attention of Ab Bonder, a boy about
fifteen, who happened to be squirrel-hunting, and he stepped into the
road to get a good view of them. He was well grown for his age, and his
single-barrelled shot-gun looked like a rifle. The revenue men halted
at once. They suspected an ambuscade. Experience had taught them that
the Moonshiners would fight when the necessity arose, and they held a
council of war. The great gawky boy, with the curiosity of youth and
ignorance combined, stood in the road and watched them. When they
proceeded toward him in a compact body, he passed on across the road.
Hearing a command to halt, he broke into a run, and endeavoured to make
his way across a small clearing that bordered the road. Several of the
deputies fired their guns in the air, but one, more reckless than the
rest, aimed directly at the fugitive, and Ab Bonner fell, shot through
and through.

Viewed in its relations to all the unfortunate events that have marked
the efforts of the Government officials to deal with the violators of
the revenue laws from a political point of view, the shooting of this
ignorant boy was insignificant enough. But it was important to Hog
Mountain. For a moment the deputy-marshals were stunned and horrified
at the result of their thoughtlessness. Then they dismounted and bore
the boy to the roadside again and placed him under the shade of a tree.
His blood shone upon the leaves, and his sallow, shrunken face told a
pitiful tale of terror, pain, and death.

The deputy-marshals mounted their horses and rode steadily and swiftly
down the mountain, and by nightfall they were far away. But there was
no need of any special haste. The winds that stirred the trees could
carry no messages. The crows flying over, though they made a great
outcry, could tell no tales. Once the boy raised his hand and cried
"Mammy!" but there was no one to hear him. And though ten thousand ears
should listen, the keenest could hear him no more He became a part of
the silence--the awful, mysterious silence--that sits upon the hills
and shrouds the mountains.

This incident in the tumultuous experience of Hog Mountain--the killing
of Ab Bonner was merely an incident--had a decisive effect upon the
movements of ex-Deputy Woodward. When Jake Cohen succeeded in turning
the revenue officials back, the mountaineers made themselves easy for
the day and night, and next morning prepared to go to their homes. Some
of them lived on one side of Hog Mountain, and some on the other. They
called themselves neighbours, and yet they lived miles apart, and it so
happened that, with few exceptions, each went in a different direction.
Teague Poteet gave the signal--

"Come, Cap," he said to Woodward, "yess be a-traipsiu'. Puss'll be
a-puttin' on biskits for supper before we git thar if we don't push on.
Be good to yourse'f, boys, an' don't raise no fracas."

Poteet and Woodward rode off together. That afternoon, half a mile from
Poteet's, they met a woman running in the road, crying and wringing her
hands wildly. She moved like one distracted. She rushed past them,
crying--

"They uv killed little Ab! They uv killed him. Oh, Lordy! they uv
killed little Ab!"

She ran up the road a little distance and then came running back; she
had evidently recognised Poteet. As she paused in the road near them,
her faded calico sun-bonnet hanging upon her shoulders, her grey hair
falling about her face, her wrinkled arms writhing in response to a
grief too terrible to contemplate, she seemed related in some vague way
to the prophets of old who were assailed by fierce sorrows. Here was
something more real and more awful than death itself. Woodward felt in
his soul that the figure, the attitude, the misery of this poor old
woman were all Biblical.

"Oh, Teague," she cried, "they uv killed him! They uv done killed my
little Ab! Oh, Lordy! that mortal hain't a-livin' that he ever done any
harm. What did they kill him for?" Then she turned to Woodward: "Oh,
Mister, Mister! _please_ tell me what he done. _I'm_ the one that made
the liquor, _I'm_ the one. Oh, Lordy! what did they kill little Ab
for?"

Teague Poteet dismounted from his horse, took the woman firmly but
gently by the arm, and made her sit down by the side of the road. Then,
when she was more composed, she told the story of finding her son's
body. It was a terrible story to hear from the lips of the mother, but
she grew quieter after telling it, and presently went on her way. The
two men watched her out of sight.

"I'll tell you what, Cap," said Teague, as he flung himself into the
saddle, "they er houndin' airter us. They er 'buzin' the wimmin an'
killin' the childern; stidder carryin' out the law, they er gwine about
a-shootin' an' a-murderin'. So _fur, so good_. Well, now, lemme tell
you: the hawk 'a done lit once too much in the chicken-lot. This is a
free country. I hain't a-layin' no blame on you. Me an' Sis stood by
you when the boys s'ore they wuz a-gwine to rattle you up. We made 'em
behave the'rse'ves, an' I hain't a-blamin' you, but they er houndin'
airter us, an' ef I wuz you I wouldn't stay on this hill nary 'nuther
minnit longer than it 'ud take me to git offn it. When the boys git
wind er this ongodly bizness, they ull be mighty hard to hol'. I reckon
maybe you'll be a-gwine down about Atlanty. Well, you thes watch an'
see what stan' the Govern_ment's_ gwineter take 'bout Ab Bonner, an' ef
hit don't take no stan', you thes drap in thar an' tell 'em how you
seed er ole man name Teague Poteet, an' _he_ 'lowed that the revenue
fellers better not git too clost ter Hog Mountain, bekaze the
hidin'-out bizness is done played. The law what's good enough fer pore
little Ab Bonner is good enough fer the men what shot 'im."

They rode on until they came to Poteet's house.

"We'll thes go in an' git a snack," said Teague, "an' airter that your
best gait is a gallop."

But Woodward declined. He was dazed as well as humiliated, and he had
no desire to face Sis Poteet. He pictured to himself the scorn and
bitterness with which she would connect his presence on the Mountain
with the murder of Ab Bonner, and he concluded to ride on to
Gullettsville. He took Teague Poteet by the hand.

"Good-bye, old man," he said; "I shall remember you. Tell Miss
Sis--well, tell Miss Sis good-bye." With that he wheeled his horse and rode
rapidly toward Gullettsville.

It was a fortunate ride for him, perhaps. The wrath of Hog Mountain was
mightily stirred when it heard of the killing of Ab Bonner, and
Woodward would have fared badly at its hands. The wrath of others was
stirred also. The unfortunate affair took the shape of a political
issue, and thus the hands of justice were tied. But all this is a
matter of history, and need not be dwelt upon.

In the meantime, as the days passed, Teague Poteet became dimly and
uncomfortably conscious that a great change had come over Sis. One day
she would be as bright and as gay as the birds in the trees; the next,
she would be quiet, taciturn, and apparently depressed. As Teague
expressed, "One minnit hit's Sis, an' the nex' hit's some un else."
Gradually the fits of depression grew more and more frequent and lasted
longer. She was abstracted and thoughtful, and her petulance
disappeared altogether. The contrast resulting from this change was so
marked that it would have attracted the attention of a person of far
less intelligence than Teague Poteet. He endeavoured to discuss the
matter with his wife, but Puss Poteet was not the woman to commit
herself. She was a Mountain Sphinx.

"I'm afeard Sis is ailin'," said Teague, upon one occasion.

"Well," replied Puss, "she ain't complainin'."

"That's hit," Teague persisted; "she hain't complainin'. That's what
pesters me. She looks lonesome, an' she's got one er them kinder
fur-away looks in her eyes that gives me the all-overs." The Sphinx rubbed
its snuff and swung in its rocking-chair. "Some days she looks holp up,
an' then ag'in she looks cas' down. I 'low'd maybe you mought know what
ailed her."

"Men folks," said Puss, manipulating her snuff-swab slowly and
deliberately, "won't never have no sense while the worl' stan's. Ef a
'oman ain't gwine hether an' yan', rippity-clippity, day in an' day
out, an' half the night, they er on the'r heads. Wimmen hain't men."

"That's so," replied league gravely, "they hain't. Ef they wuz, the men
'ud be in a mighty nice fix."

"They'd have some sense," said Puss.

"Likely so. Yit 'oman er man kin sliet one eye an' tell that Sis looks
droopy, an' when Sis looks droopy, I know in reason sump'n' nuther ails
her."

"Well, goodness knows; I wish in my soul somebody'd shet one eye an'
look at me," exclaimed Puss, with a touch of jealousy in her tone. "I
traipse 'roun' this hill ontell I'm that wore out I kin skacely drag
one foot alrter t'other, an' I don't never hear nobody up an' ast what
ails me. It's Sis, Sis, Sis, all the time, an' eternally. Ef the calf's
fat, the ole cow ain't got much choice betwixt the quogmire an' the
tan-vat."

"Lord, how you do run on," said the iron-grey giant, rubbing his
knuckles together sheepishly. "You don't know Sis ef you go on that
away. Many's the time that chile 'ud foller me up an' say, 'Pap, ef you
see my shawl a-haugin' out on the fence, Puss'll be asleep, an' don't
you come a-lumberin' in an' wake her up, nuther.' An' many's the time
she'd come out an' meet me, an' up an' say, 'Pap, Puss has takin' an'
bin a-mopin' all day long; yess you an' me go in an' fetch her up.' An'
bless your life," Teague continued, addressing some imaginary person on
the other side of the fireplace, "when me an' Sis sets our heads for to
fetch anybody up, they er thes natchully erbleeged ter come."

Puss rubbed her snuff and swayed to and fro in her rocking-chair,
disdaining to make any reply to this array of facts and arguments; and
Teague was as ignorant as ever of the cause of the queer change in his
daughter. Perhaps, as becomes a dutiful husband, he should have
retorted upon his complaining wife with complaints of his own; but his
interests and his isolation had made him thoughtful and forbearing. He
had the trait of gentleness which frequently sweetens and equalises
large natures. He remembered that behind whatever complaints--
reasonable or unreasonable--Puss might make, there existed a stronghold
of affection and tenderness; he remembered that her whole life had been
made up of a series of small sacrifices; he knew that she was ready,
whenever occasion made it necessary, to cast aside her snuff-swab and
her complaints, and go to the rack without a murmur.

But Teague was by no means satisfied with the condition of affairs, so
far as Sis was concerned. He said no more to his wife, but he kept his
eyes open. The situation was baffling to the point of irritation, but
Teague betrayed neither uneasiness nor restlessness. He hung about the
house more, and he would frequently walk in quietly when the women
thought he was miles away.

There were times when Sis ignored his presence altogether, but as a
general thing she appeared to relish his companionship. Sometimes at
night, after her mother had gone to bed, she would bring her chair
close to Teague's, and rest her head upon his shoulder, while he smoked
his pipe and gazed in the fire. Teague enjoyed these occasions to the
utmost, and humoured his daughter's slightest wish, responding to her
every mood and fancy. If she talked, he talked; if she was silent, he
said nothing. Once she dropped asleep with her head on his arm, and
Teague sat holding her thus half the night. When she did awake she
upbraided herself so earnestly for imposing on her old pappy (as she
called him) that Teague yawned, and stretched himself, and rubbed his
eyes, and pretended that he, too, had been asleep.

"Lordy, honey! I wuz that gone tell I didn't know whe'er I 'uz rolled
up in a haystack er stretched out in a feather-bed. I reckon ef you'd
'a' listened right clost you'd 'a' heern me sno'. I thes laid back an'
howled at the rafters, an' once-t er twice-t I wuz afeard I mought
waken up Puss."

Sis's response to this transparent fib was an infectious peal of
laughter, and a kiss which amply repaid Teague for any discomfort to
which he may have been subjected.

Once, after Sis had nestled up against Teague, she asked somewhat
irrelevantly--

"Pap, do you reckon Mr. Woodward was a revenue spy after all?"

"Well, not to'rds the last. He drapped that business airter he once
seed its which-aways. What makes you ast?"

"Because I hate and despise revenue spies."

"Well, they hain't been a-botherin' roun lately, an' we hain't got no
call to hate 'em tell they gits in sight. Hatin' is a mighty ha'sh
disease. When Puss's preacher comes along, he talks ag'in it over the
Bible, an' when you call 'im in to dinner, he talks ag'in it over the
chicken-bones. I reckon hit's mighty bad--mighty bad."

"Did you like him?"

"Who? Puss's preacher?"

"Now, you know I don't mean _him_, pap."

"_Oh!_ Cap'n Woodward. Well, I tell you what, he had mighty takin'
ways. Look in his eye, an' you wouldn't see no muddy water; an' he had
grit. They hain't no two ways about that. When I ast 'im out with us
that night, he went like a man that had a stool to a quiltin'-bee; an'
when Duke Dawson an' Sid Parmalee flung out some er the'r slurs, he
thes snapt his fingers in the'r face, an' ups an' says, says he,
'Gents, ef youer up for a frolic, I'm your man, an' ef youer in for a
fight, thes count me in,' says he. The boys wuz a little drinky," said
Teague, apologetically.

Sis squeezed up a little closer against her father's shoulder.

"Did they fight, pap?"

"Lord bless you, no. I thes taken am' flung my han' in Duke's collar
an' fetched 'im a shake er two, an put 'im in a good humour thereckly;
an' then airterwerds Tip Watson sot 'em all right when he read out the
letter you foun' on the floor."

"Oh, pap!" Sis exclaimed in a horrified tone, "I _slapped_ that letter
out of Mr. Woodward's _hand!_"

Teague laughed exultantly.

"What'd he say?"

"He didn't say _anything_. He looked like he expected the floor to open
and swallow him. I never was so ashamed in my life. I've cried about it
a thousand times."

"Why, honey, I wouldn't take an' _cry_ 'bout it ef I wuz you."

"Yes you would, pap, if--if--you were me. I don't know what came over
me; I don't know how I could be so hateful. No _lady_ would ever do
such a thing as that."

Sis gave her opinion with great emphasis. Teague took his pipe out of
his mouth.

"Well, I tell you what, honey, they mought er done wuss. I let you
know, when folks is got to be a-runnin' here an' a-hidin' yander, hit's
thes about time for the gals for to lose the'r manners. Nobody wouldn't
a-blamed you much ef you'd a-fetched the Cap'n a clip stidder the
letter; leastways, I wouldn't."

The girl shivered and caught her breath.

"If I had hit _him_," she exclaimed vehemently, "I should have gone off
and killed myself."

"_Shoo!_" said Teague in a tone intended to be at once contemptuous and
reassuring, but it was neither the one nor the other.

This conversation gave Teague fresh cause for anxiety. From his point
of view, Sis's newly-developed humility was absolutely alarming, and it
added to his uneasiness. He recognised in her tone a certain shyness
which seemed to appeal to him for protection, and he was profoundly
stirred by it without at all understanding it. With a tact that might
be traced to either instinct or accident, he refrained from questioning
her as to her troubles. He was confused, but watchful. He kept his own
counsel, and had no more conferences with Puss. Perhaps Puss was also
something of a mystery; if so, she was old enough to take care of her
own affairs.

Teague had other talks with Sis--some general, some
half-confidential,--and he finally became aware of the fact that every
subject led to Woodward. He humoured this, awkwardly but earnestly, and
thought he had a clew, but it was a clew that pestered him more than ever.

He turned it round in his mind and brooded over it. Woodward was a man
of fine appearance and winning manners, and Sis, with all the
advantages--comparative advantages merely--that the Gullettsville
Academy had given her, was only a country girl after all. What if----?
Teague turned away from the suspicion in terror. It was a horrible one;
but as often as he put it aside, so often he returned to it. It haunted
him. Turn where he might, go where he would, it pursued him night and
day.


One mild afternoon in the early spring, Mr. Philip Woodward, ex-deputy
marshal, leaned against the railing of Broad Street bridge in the city
of Atlanta, and looked northward to where Kennesaw Mountain rises like
a huge blue billow out of the horizon and lends picturesqueness to the
view. Mr. Woodward was in excellent humour. He had just made up his
mind in regard to a matter that had given him no little trouble. A
wandering prospector, the agent of a company of Boston capitalists, had
told him a few hours before that he would be offered twenty thousand
dollars for his land-lot on Hog Mountain. This was very important, but
it was not of the highest importance. He nodded familiarly to Kennesaw,
and thought: "I'll slip by you to-morrow and make another raid on Hog
Mountain, and compel that high-tempered girl to tell me what she means
by troubling me so."

A train of cars ran puffing and roaring under the bridge, and as
Woodward turned to follow it with his eye he saw standing upon the
other side a tall, gaunt, powerful-looking man, whom he instantly
recognised as Teague Poteet. Teague wore the air of awkward,
recklessly-helpless independence which so often deceives those who
strike the mountain men for a trade. Swiftly crossing the bridge,
Woodward seized Teague and greeted him with a cordiality that amounted
to enthusiasm.

"Well, of all the world, old man, you are the one I most wanted to
see." Teague's thoughts ran with grim directness to a reward that had
been offered for a certain grey old Moonshiner who had made his
headquarters on Hog Mountain. "How are all at home?" Woodward went on,
"and what is the news?"

"The folks is porely and puny," Teague replied, "an' the news won't
skacely b'ar relatin'. I hain't a-denyin'," he continued, rubbing his
chin and looking keenly at the other, "I hain't a-denyin' but what I'm
a-huntin' airter you, an' the business I come on hain't got much
howdyin' in it. Ef you uv got some place er nuther wher' ever'body
hain't a-cockin' up the'r years at us, I'd like to pass some words wi'
you."

"Why, of course," exclaimed Woodward, hooking his arm in Teague's.
"We'll go to my room. Come! And after we get through, if you don't say
that my business with you is more important than your business with me,
then I'll agree to carry you to Hog Mountain on my back. Now that's a
fair and reasonable proposition. What do you say?"

Woodward spoke with unusual warmth, and there was a glow of boyish
frankness in his tone and manners that Teague found it hard to resist.

"Well, they's thes this much about it," he said; "my business is mighty
troublesome, an' yit hit's got to be settled up."

He had put a revolver in his pocket on account of this troublesome
business.

"So is mine troublesome," responded Woodward, laughing, and then
growing serious. "It has nearly worried me to death."

Presently they reached Woodward's room, which was up a flight of stairs
near the corner of Broad and Alabama Streets. It was a very plain
apartment, but comfortably furnished, and kept with scrupulous
neatness.

"Now, then," said Woodward, when Teague had seated himself, "I'll
settle my business, and then you can settle yours." He had seated
himself in a chair, but he got up, shook himself, and walked around the
room nervously. The lithograph of a popular burlesque actress stared
brazenly at him from the mantelpiece. He took this remarkable work of
art, folded it across the middle, and threw it into the grate. "I've
had more trouble than enough," he went on, "and if I hadn't met you
to-day I intended to hunt you up to-morrow."

"In Atlanty?"

"No; on Hog Mountain. Oh, I know the risk," Woodward exclaimed,
misinterpreting Teague's look of surprise. "I know all about that, but
I was going just the same. Has Miss Sis ever married?" he asked,
stopping before Teague and blushing like a girl. "Not less'n it
happened sence last We'n'sday, an' that hain't noways likely," replied
the other, with more interest than he had yet shown. Woodward's
embarrassment was more impressive than his words.

"I hardly know how to say it," he continued, "but what I wanted to ask
you was this: Suppose I should go up to Hog Mountain some fine morning,
and call on you, and say, as the fellow did in the song, 'Old man, old
man, give me your daughter,' and you should reply, 'Go upstairs and
take her if you want to,' what do you suppose the daughter would say?"

Woodward tried in vain to give an air of banter to his words. Teague
leaned forward with his hands upon his knees.

"Do you mean, would Sis marry you?" he asked.

"That is just exactly what I mean," Woodward replied.

The old mountaineer rose and stretched himself, and drew a deep sigh of
relief. His horrible suspicion had no foundation. He need not fly to
the mountains with Woodward's blood upon his hands.

"Lemme tell you the honest truth, Cap," he said, placing his hand
kindly on the young man's shoulder. "I might 'low she would, an' I
might 'low she wouldn't; but I'm erbleege to tell you that I dunno
nothin' 'bout that chil' no more'n ef I hadn't a-never seed 'er. Wimmin
is mighty kuse."

"Yes," said Woodward, "they are curious."

"Some days they er gwine rippitin' aroun' like the woods wuz afire, an'
then ag'in they er mopin' an' a-moonin' like ever' minnit wuz a-gwine
to be the nex'. I bin a-studyin' Sis sence she wan't no bigger'n a
skinned rabbit, an' yit I hain't got to A, B, C, let alone _a_-b ab,
_u_-b ub. When a man lays off for to keep up wi' the wimmiu folks, he
kin thes make up his min' that he'll have to git in a dark corner an'
scratch his head many a time when he oughter be a-diggin' for his
livin'. They'll addle 'im thereckly."

"Well," said Woodward, with an air of determination, "I'm going back
with you and hear what Miss Sis has to say. Sit down. Didn't you say
you wanted to see me on business?"

"I did start out wi' that idee," said Teague, slipping into a chair and
smiling curiously, "but I disremember mostly what 'twuz about.
Ever'thing is been a-pesterin' me lately, an' a man that's hard-headed
an' long-legged picks up all sorts er foolish notions. I wish you'd
take keer this pickle-bottle, Cap," he continued, drawing a revolver
from his coat-tail pocket and placing it on the table. "I uv bin afeard
ever sence I started out that the blamed thing 'ud go off an' far my
jacket wrong-sud-outerds. Gimme a gun, an' you'll gener'lly fin' me
somewheres aroun'; but them ar cliokety-cluckers is got mos' too many
holes in 'em for to suit my eyesight."

Usually, it is a far cry from Atlanta to Hog Mountain, but Teague
Poteet and Woodward lacked the disposition of loiterers. They shortened
the distance considerably by striking through the country, the old
mountaineer remarking that if the big road would take care of itself he
would try and take care of himself.

They reached Poteet's one afternoon, creating a great stir among the
dogs and geese that were sunning themselves outside the yard. Sis had
evidently seen them coming, and was in a measure prepared; but she
blushed painfully when Woodward took her hand, and she ran into her
father's arms with a little hysterical sob.

"Sis didn't know a blessed word 'bout my gwine off to Atlanty," said
Teague awkwardly but gleefully. "Did you, honey?"

Sis looked from one to the other for an explanation. Woodward was
smiling the broad, unembarrassed smile of the typical American lover,
and Teague was laughing. Suddenly it occurred to her that her father,
divining her secret--her sweet, her bitter, her well-guarded secret--
had sought Woodward out and begged him to return. The thought filled
her with such shame and indignation as only a woman can experience. She
seized Teague by the arm--

"Pap, have you been to Atlanta?"

"Yes, honey, an' I made 'as'e to come back."

"Oh, how could you? How _dare_ you do such a thing!" she exclaimed
passionately. "I will never forgive you as long as I live--never!"

"Why, honey----"

But she was gone, and neither Teague nor her mother could get a word of
explanation from her. Teague coaxed, and wheedled, and threatened, and
Puss cried and quarrelled; but Sis was obdurate. She shut herself in
her room and remained there. Woodward was thoroughly miserable. He felt
that he was an interloper in some measure, and yet he was convinced
that he was the victim of a combination of circumstances for which he
was in nowise responsible. He had never made any special study of the
female mind, because, like most young men of sanguine temperament, he
was convinced that he thoroughly understood it; but he had not the
remotest conception of the tragic element which, in spite of social
training or the lack of it, controls and gives strength and potency to
feminine emotions. Knowing nothing of this, Woodward knew nothing of
women.

The next morning he was stirring early, but he saw nothing of Sis. He
saw nothing of her during the morning, and at last, in the bitterness
of his disappointment, he saddled his horse, and made preparations to
go down the mountain.

"I reckon it hain't no use to ast you to make out your visit," said
Teague gloomily. "That's what I says to Puss. I'm a free nigger ef Sis
don't beat my time. You'll be erbleege to stop in Gullettsville
to-night, an' in case er accidents you thes better tie this on your
coat."

The old mountaineer produced a small piece of red woollen string, and
looped it in Woodward's button-hole.

"Ef any er the boys run up wi' you an' begin to git limber-jawed,"
league continued, "thes hang your thum' in that kinder keerless like,
an' they'll sw'ar by you thereekly. Ef any of 'em asts the news, thes
say they's a leak in Sugar Creek. Well, well, well!" he exclaimed,
after a little pause; "hit's thes like I tell you. Wimmin folks is
mighty kuse."

When Woodward bade Puss good-bye, she looked at him sympathetically and
said--

"Sometime when youer passin' by, I'd be mighty thankful ef you 'ud
fetch me some maccaboy snuff."

The young man, unhappy as he was, was almost ready to accuse Mrs.
Poteet of humour, and he rode off with a sort of grim desire to laugh
at himself and the rest of the world. The repose of the mountain
fretted him; the vague blue mists that seemed to lift the valleys into
prominence and carry the hills further away, tantalised him; and the
spirit of spring, just touching the great woods with a faint suggestion
of green, was a mockery. There was a purpose--a decisiveness--in the
stride of his horse that he envied, and yet he was inclined to resent
the swift amiability with which the animal moved away.

But it was a wise steed, for when it came upon Sis Poteet standing by
the side of the road, it threw up its head and stopped. Woodward lifted
his hat, and held it in his hand. She gave him one little glance, and
then her eyes drooped.

"I wanted to ask you something," she said, pulling a dead leaf to
pieces. Her air of humility was charming. She hesitated a moment, but
Woodward was too much astonished to make any reply. "Are you very mad?"
she asked with bewitching inconsequence.

"Why should _I_ be mad, Miss Sis? I am glad you have given me the
opportunity to ask your pardon for coming up here to worry you."

"I wanted to ask you if pap--I mean, if father went to Atlanta to see
you," she said, her eyes still bent upon the ground.

"He said he wanted to see me on business," Woodward replied.

"Did he say anything about me?"

"Not that I remember. He never said anything about his business even,"
Woodward went on. "I told him about some of my little troubles, and
when he found I was coming back here, he seemed to forget all about his
own business. I suppose he saw that I wouldn't be much interested in
anybody else's business but my own just then." Sis lifted her head and
looked steadily at Woodward. A little flush appeared in her cheeks, and
mounted to her forehead, and then died away.

"Pap doesn't understand--I mean he doesn't understand everything, and I
was afraid he had----Why do you look at me so?" she exclaimed, stopping
short, and blushing furiously.

"I ask your pardon," said the young man; "I was trying to catch your
meaning. You say you were afraid your father----"

"Oh, I am not afraid now. Don't you think the weather is nice?"

Woodward was a little puzzled, but he was not embarrassed. He swung
himself off his horse and stood beside her.

"I told your father," he said, drawing very near to the puzzling
creature that had so wilfully eluded him--"I told your father that I
was coming up here to ask his daughter to marry me. What does the
daughter say?"

She looked up in his face. The earnestness she saw there dazzled and
conquered her. Her head drooped lower, and she clasped her hands
together. He changed his tactics.

"Is it really true, then, that you hate me?"

"Oh! if you only knew!" she cried, and with that Woodward caught her in
his arms.

An hour afterwards, Teague Poteet, sitting in his low piazza, cleaning
and oiling his rifle, heard the sound of voices coming from the
direction of the Gullettsville road. Presently Sis and Woodward came in
sight. They walked slowly along in the warm sunshine, wholly absorbed
in each other. Woodward was leading his horse, and that intelligent
animal improved the opportunity to nip the fragrant sassafras buds just
appearing on the bushes. Teague looked at the two young people from
under the brim of his hat and chuckled, but when Sis caught sight of
him, a little while after, he was rubbing his rifle vigorously, and
seemed to be oblivious to the fact that two young people were making
love to each other in full view. But Sis blushed all the same, and the
blushes increased as she approached the house, until Woodward thought
in his soul that her rosy shyness was the rarest manifestation of
loveliness to be seen in all the wide world. As she hovered a moment at
the gate, blushing and smiling, the old mountaineer turned the brim of
his hat back from his eyes and called out with a great pretence of
formal hospitality--

"Walk in an' rest yourselves; thes walk right in! Hit's lots too soon
in the season for the dogs to bite. Looks to me, Cap, like you hain't
so mighty tender wi' that 'ar hoss er your'n. Ef you uv rid 'im down to
Gullettsville an' back sence a while ago, he'll be a-needin' feed
thereckly. Thes come right in an' make yourselves at home."

Woodward laughed sheepishly, but Sis rushed across the yard, flung her
arms around Teague's neck, and fell to crying with a vehemence that
would have done credit to the most broken-hearted of damsels. The
grizzled old mountaineer gathered the girl to his bosom and stroked her
hair gently, as he had done a thousand times before. He looked at
Woodward with glistening eyes.

"Don't min' Sis, Cap. Sis hain't nothin' but a little bit of a slip of
a gal, an' sence the day she could toddle 'roun' an' holler--good news
or bad, mad er glad--she's bin a-runnin' an' havin' it out wi' her ole
pappy. Wimmen an' gals hain't like we all, Cap; they er mighty kuse.
She never pestered wi' Puss much," continued league, as his wife came
upon the scene, armed with the plaintive air of slouchiness, which is
at once the weapon and shield of women who believe that they are
martyrs--"she never pestered wi' Puss much, but, cry or laugh, fight or
frolic, she allers tuck it out on her ole pappy."

Puss asked no questions. She went and stood by Teague, and toyed gently
with one of Sis's curls.

"Sis don't take airter none er the Pringles," she said after a while,
by way of explanation. "They hain't never bin a day when I couldn't
look at Teague 'thout battin' my eyes, an' ma use to say she 'uz thes
that away 'bout pap. I never know'd what the all-overs wuz tell thes
about a hour before me an' Teague wuz married. We 'uz thes about ready
for to go an' face the preacher, when ma comes a-rushin' in--an' she
won't never be no paler when she's laid out than she wuz right that
minnit. 'In the name er the Lord, ma, is you seed a ghost?' s' I.
'Puss!' se' she, 'the cake hain't riz!' I thes tell you what, folks, I
like to a-went through the floor--that I did!"

At this Sis looked up and laughed, and they all laughed except Puss,
who eyed Woodward with an air of faint curiosity, and dryly remarked--

"I reckon you hain't brung me my maccaboy snuff. I lay me an' my snuff
wan't in your min'. 'Let the old hen cluck,' ez the sparrer-hawk said
when he courted the pullet. Well," she continued, smiling with genuine
satisfaction as she saw that Woodward no more than half-relished the
comparison, "I better be seein' about dinner. Ol' folks like me can't
live on love."

The days that followed were very happy ones for the two young people--
and for the two old people for that matter. Teague enjoyed the
situation immensely. He would watch the young lovers from afar, and
then go off by himself and laugh heartily at his own conceits. He was
very proud that Sis was going to marry Somebody--a very broad term, as
the old mountaineer employed it. At night when they all sat around the
fire (spring on Hog Mountain bore no resemblance to summer) Teague gave
eager attention to Woodward's stories, and laughed delightedly at his
silliest jokes.

If Teague was delighted with Woodward, he was astounded at Sis. She was
no longer the girl that her surroundings seemed to call for. She was a
woman, and a very delightful one. From the old scholar, whom fate or
circumstance had sent to preside over the Gullettsville Academy, she
had caught something of the flavour and grace of cultivation--a gentle
dignity, leaning always to artlessness, and a quick appreciation, which
was in itself a rare accomplishment.

The day for the wedding was set, and Woodward went his way to Atlanta.
He had urged that the ceremony be a very quiet one, but Teague had
different views, and he beat down all opposition.

"Why, good Lord, Cap'." he exclaimed, "what 'ud the boys say?--Poteet's
gal married an' no stools [Footnote: Invitations] give out! No, siree!
Not much. We hain't that stripe up here, Cap. We hain't got no quality
ways, but we allers puts on the pot when comp'ny comes. Me an' Sis an'
Puss hain't had many weddin's 'mongst us, an' we're thes a-gwine to
try an' put the bes' foot foremos'. Oh no, Cap! You fetch your frien's
an' we'll fetch our'n, an' ef the house hain't roomy enough, bless you,
the woods is."

When Hog Mountain heard the news, which it did by special messenger,
sent from house to house with little pink missives written by Sis, it
was as proud as Teague himself. Fat Mrs. Hightower laid aside her
spectacles when the invitation was translated to her, and remarked--

"They hain't nobody on the face er the yeth good enough fer Sis, but
that air feller's got the looks an' the spunk. I'll set in this very
day an' hour, an' I'll bake Sis a cake that'll make the'r eyes water."
And so it went. Everybody on Hog Mountain had some small contributions
to make.

The wedding, however, was not as boisterous as the boys proposed to
make it. They had their frolic, to be sure, as Sid Parmalee or Tip
Watson will tell you, but an incident occurred which took the edge off
their enjoyment, and gave them the cue of soberness.

Two of Woodward's friends--young men from Atlanta--bore him company to
Hog Mountain. At Gullettsville they fell in with Uncle Jake Norris, at
all times a jovial and companionable figure.

"Roundabout man, roundabout way," remarked Uncle Jake, by way of
explaining his presence in Gullettsville. "My house is away an' beyan'
frum Poteet's, but I says to myself, s' I, in obejunce to the naked
demands of the law I'll go this day an' git me a jug er licker that's
bin stomped by the Govunment, an' hide it an' my wickedness, ez you may
say, in league's hoss-stable. Yes, frien's, them wuz the words. 'Let
the licker be stomped by the Govunment for the sakes of the young
chap,' s' I, 'an' I'll hide the jug along er my wickedness in Teague's
hoss-stable.' So then, frien's, yess be a sojourneyin', an' ef you feel
the needance er somethin' quick an' strong for to brace you for
endurance, make your way to the lot, an' feel behin' the stable-door--
an' watch out for the kickin' mule! I give you my intentionals cle'r
an' clean. What does St. Paul say?--'Ef you can't do good by slippance,
do it by stealth.'"

They journeyed along as rapidly as the nature of the mountain road
would permit, but before they reached Poteet's the shadows of twilight
began to deepen. The road, like most mountain roads, wound itself
painfully about. At one point they were within a short half-mile of
Poteet's, but a towering wall of rock barred their approach. The road,
accommodating itself to circumstances, allowed the towering wall to
drive it three miles out of the way. Uncle Jake Norris, turning readily
to reminiscences, connected the precipitous shelf with many of the
mysterious disappearances that had at various times occurred in army
and revenue circles.

"Natur' built it," he said lightly, "an' a jaybird showed it to the
boys. Teague, up thar, he 'lowed that a man wi' grey eyes an' a nimble
han' could git on that rock an' lay flat of his belly an' disembowel a
whole army. Them wuz his words--disembowel a whole army."

While Uncle Jake was speaking, the travellers had passed beyond the
wall, but the declivity on their left was still too steep to
accommodate the highway, and so they rode along with the shadows of
night on one side of them and pale symptoms of the day on the other.

Suddenly a thin stream of fire, accompanied by the sharp crack of a
rifle, shot out of the side of the mountain straight at Woodward, and
seemed, as one of his companions said afterwards, to pass through him.
His horse shied with a tremendous lurch, and Woodward fell to the
ground.

"He is shot!" cried one of the young men.

"What devil's work is this?" exclaimed Uucle Jake. "Cap, you ain't
hurt, is you?"

Receiving no reply, for Woodward was stunned into semi-unconsciousness,
Uncle Jake addressed himself to the bushes--

"Come forth," he cried. "Jestify this deed!"

There was a moment's silence, but not a moment's inaction. Uncle Jake
leaped from his horse, and, telling the frightened yoxing men to look
after Woodward, ran up the mountain-side a quarter of a mile, placed
his hands to his mouth, and hallooed three times in rapid succession.
Then he heard Poteet's dogs bark, and he hallooed again. This time he
was answered from above, and he turned and ran back to where he left
Woodward.

When he got there he beheld a sight and heard words that made his blood
run cold. Woodward was still lying upon the ground, but by his side was
kneeling a gaunt and hollow-eyed woman. Her thin grey hair hung loose
upon her shoulders and about her eyes, and the ragged sleeves of her
gown fluttered wildly as she flung her bony arms in the air. She was
uttering loud cries.

"Oh, Lordy! it's little Ab! I uv done killed little Ab over ag'in! Oh,
my little Ab! It's your pore ole mammy, honey! Oh, Mister! make little
Ab wake up an' look at his pore ole mammy!"

The two young men from Atlanta were paralysed with horror. When Uncle
Jake Norris ran up the mountain to alarm Poteet, the witch-like figure
of the woman sprang from the bushes and fell upon Woodward with a loud
outcry. The whole occurrence, so strange, so unnatural, and so
unexpected, stripped the young men of their power of reasoning; and if
the rocks had opened and fiery flames issued forth, their astonishment
and perplexity and terror could have been no greater.

But if they had been acquainted with the history of this wild-eyed
woman,--if they had known that for weeks she had been wandering over
the mountain bereft of reason, and seeking an opportunity to avenge
with her own hands the murder of Ab Bonner, her son,--they would have
been overcome by pity. Uncle Jake Norris understood at once that Ab
Bonner's mother had shot Woodward, and he forgot to be merciful.

"Woe unto you, woman, ef you have done this deed! Woe unto you an'
your'n, Rachel Bonner, ef you have murdered this innocent!"

"That he wuz innocent!" exclaimed the woman, swaying back and forth and
waving her hands wildly. "The unborn babe wan't no innocenter than
little Ab!"

"Woe unto you, Sister Bonner!" Uncle Jake went on, examining Woodward
and speaking more calmly when he found him breathing regularly. "Woe
unto you, and shame upon you, Sister Bonner, to do this deed of
onjestifiable homicide, ez I may say. Let flesh an' min' rankle, but
shed no blood."

"Oh, my little Ab! I uv kilt 'im ag'in!"

"You may well sesso, Sister Rachel Bonner," said Uncle Jake, turning
Woodward over and examining him with the crude skill of an old soldier;
"you may well sesso. Drap down where you is, an' call on the Lord not
to give you over to a reprobate min' for to do the things that were
unconvenient, ez St. Paul says. Let tribulation work patience, lest you
git forsook of hope, Sister Jane Bonner. Come, Cap," he went on,
addressing himself to Woodward, "Teague'll be a drappin' on us,
thereckly, an' it twon't never do in the roun' worl' for to be a-makin'
faces at 'im frum the groun'. Roust up, roust up."

Woodward did rouse up. In fact his unconsciousness was only momentary,
but he had been making a vain effort to trace his surroundings,
disordered as they were by the wild cribs of the woman, to a reasonable
basis.

By the time he had been helped to his feet, and had discovered that the
bullet from Mrs. Bonner's rifle had merely grazed the fleshy part of
his shoulder, Teague and a number of his friends had arrived upon the
scene. There was nothing to be said, nothing to be done, except to move
up the mountain to Poteet's.

"Ah, pore woman!" exclaimed Uncle Jake. "Pore mizerbul creetur! Come
wi' us, Sister Jane Bonner, come wi' us. Ther's a warm place at
Teague's h'a'th fer sech ez you."

The woman followed readily, keeping close to Woodward. To her
distracted eyes he took the shape of her murdered son. Poteet was
strangely reticent. His tremendous stride carried him ahead of the
horses, and he walked with his head held down, as if reflecting. Once
he turned and spoke to Parmalee--

"Oh, Sid!"

"Ah-yi?"

'S'posen it had thes a bin a man?'

"Good-bye, Mr. Man!"

It is not necessary to describe the marriage of Sis and Woodward, or to
recite here the beautiful folk-songs that served for the wedding music.
As Mrs. Poteet remarked after it was all over, "They wer'n't a bobble
frum beginnin' to en';" and when the wedding party started down the
mountain in the early hours of the morning to take conveyances at
Gullettsville for the railroad station, thirty miles away, Uncle Jake
Norris was sober enough to stand squarely on his feet as he held Sis's
hand.

"Ez St. Paul says, I prophesy in perportion to my faith. You all is
obleege to be happy. Take keer of thish 'ere gal, Cap!"

Teague Poteet went down the mountain a little way, and returned after a
while like a man in a dream. He paused at a point that overlooked the
valley and took off his hat. The morning breeze, roused from its sleep,
stirred his hair. The world, plunging swiftly and steadily through its
shadow, could not rid itself of a star that burned and quivered in the
east. It seemed to be another world toward which Sis was going.


An old woman, grey-haired, haggard, and sallow, who had been drawn from
the neighbourhood of Hog Mountain by the managers of the Atlanta Cotton
Exposition to aid in illustrating the startling contrasts that the
energy and progress of man have produced, had but one vivid remembrance
of that remarkable display. She had but one story to tell, and, after
the Exposition was over, she rode forty miles on horseback, in the mud
and rain, to tell it at Teague Poteet's.

"I wish I may die," she exclaimed, flinging the corners of her shawl
back over her shoulders and dipping her clay pipe in the glowing
embers--"I wish I may die ef I ever see sech gangs, an' gangs, an'
_gangs_ of folks, an' ef I git the racket out'n my head by next
Chris'mas, I'll be _mighty_ lucky. They sot me over ag'in the biggest
fuss they could pick out, an' gimme a pa'r er cotton kyards. Here's
what kin kyard when she gits her han' in, an' I b'leeve'n my soul I
kyarded 'nuff bats to thicken all the quilts betwix' this an'
Californy. The folks, they 'ud come an' stan', an' star', an' then they
'ud go some'rs else; an' then new folks 'ud come an' stan', an' star',
an' go some'rs else. They wuz jewlarkers thar frum ever'wheres, an'
they lookt like they wuz too brazen to live skacely. Not that _I_
keer'd. No, bless you! Not when folks is a plumpin' down the cash
money. Not me! No, siree! I wuz a-settin' thar one day a-kyardin' away,
a-kyardin' away, when all of a sudden some un retched down' an' grabbed
me 'roun' the neck, an' bussed me right here on the jaw. Now, I hain't
a-tellin' you no lie, I like to 'a' fainted. I lookt up, an' who do you
reckon it wuz?"

"I bet a hoss," said Teague dryly, "that Sis wa'n't fur from thar when
that bussin' wuz a-gwine on."

"Who should it be _but_ Sis!" exclaimed the old woman, leaning forward
eagerly as she spoke. "Who else but Sis wuz a-gwine to grab me an'
gimme a buss right here on the jaw, a-frontin' of all them jewlarkers?
When I lookt up an' seen it twuz Sis, I thought in my soul she 'uz the
purtiest creetur I ever laid eyes on. 'Well, the Lord love you, Sis,'
s' I; 'whar on the face er the yeth did you drap frum?' s' I. I ketched
'er by the arm an' belt 'er off, an' s' I, 'Ef I don't have a tale to
tell when I git home, no 'oman never had none,' s' I. She took an'
buss'd me right frontin' of all them jewlarkers, an' airter she 'uz
gone I sot down an' had a good cry. That I did. I sot right whar I wuz,
an' had a good cry."

And then the old woman fell to crying softly at the remembrance of it,
and those who had listened to her story cried with her. And narrow as
their lives were, the memory of the girl seemed to sweeten and inspire
all who sat around the wide hearth that night at Teague Poteet's.



A PIECE OF LAND.

THE history of Pinetucky District in Putnam County is preserved in
tradition only, but its records are not less savoury on that account.
The settlement has dispersed and disappeared, and the site of it is
owned and occupied by a busy little man, who wears eye-glasses and a
bob-tailed coat, and who is breeding Jersey cattle and experimenting
with ensilage. It is well for this little man's peace of mind that the
dispersion was an accomplished fact before he made his appearance. The
Jersey cattle would have been winked at, and the silo regarded as an
object of curiosity; but the eye-glasses and the bob-tailed coat would
not have been tolerated. But if Pinetucky had its peculiarities, it
also had its advantages. It was pleased with its situation and
surroundings, and was not puzzled, as a great many people have since
been, as to the origin of its name. In brief, Pinetucky was satisfied
with itself. It was a sparsely settled neighbourhood, to be sure, but
the people were sociable and comparatively comfortable. They could
remain at home, so to speak, and attend the militia musteri, and they
were in easy reach of a church-building which was not only used by all
denominations--Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians--as a house of
worship, but was made to serve as a schoolhouse. So far as petty
litigation was concerned, Squire Ichabod Inchly, the wheel-wright, was
prepared to hold justice-court in the open air in front of his shop
when the weather wag fine, and in any convenient place when the weather
was foul. "Gentlemen," he would say, when a case came before him, "I'd
a heap ruther shoe a horse or shrink a tire; yit if you _will_ have the
law, I'll try and temper it wi' jestice." This was the genuine
Pinetucky spirit, and all true Pinetuckians tried to live up to it.
When occasion warranted, they followed the example of larger
communities, and gossiped about each other; but rural gossip is oftener
harmless than not; besides, it is a question whether gossip does not
serve a definite moral purpose. If our actions are to be taken note of
by people whose good opinion is worth striving for, the fact serves as
a motive and a cue for orderly behaviour.

Yet it should be said that the man least respected by the Pinetuckians
was the man least gossiped about. This was Bradley Gaither, the richest
man in the neighbourhood. With few exceptions, all the Pinetuckians
owned land and negroes; but Bradley Gaither owned more land and more
negroes than the most of them put together. No man, to all appearances,
led a more correct life than Bradley Gaither. He was first at church,
and the last to leave; he even affected a sort of personal interest in
politics; but the knack of addressing himself to the respect and esteem
of his neighbours he lacked altogether. He was not parsimonious, but,
as Squire Inchly expressed it, "narrer-minded in money matters." He had
the air of a man who is satisfied with himself rather than with the
world, and the continual exhibition of this species of selfishness is
apt to irritate the most simple-minded spectator. Lacking the sense of
humour necessary to give him a knowledge of his own relations to his
neighbours, he lived under the impression that he was not only one of
the most generous of men, but the most popular. He insisted upon his
rights. If people made bad bargains when they traded with him--and he
allowed them to make no other kind,--they must stand or fall by them.
Where his lands joined those of his neighbours, there was always "a
lane for the rabbits," as the saying is. He would join fences with none
of them. Indeed, he was a surly neighbour, though he did not even
suspect the fact.

He had one weakness,--a greed for land. If he drove hard bargains, it
was for the purpose of adding to his landed possessions. He overworked
and underfed his negroes in order that he might buy more land. Day and
night he toiled, and planned, and pinched himself and the people around
him to gratify his land-hunger.

Bradley Gaither had one redeeming feature,--his daughter Rose. For the
sake of this daughter Pinetueky was willing to forgive him a great many
things. To say that Rose Gaither was charming or lovely, and leave the
matter there, would ill become even the casual historian of Pinetucky.
She was lovely, but her loveliness was of the rare kind that shows
itself in strength of character as well as in beauty of form and
feature. In the appreciative eyes of the Pinetuckians she seemed to
invest womanhood with a new nobility. She possessed dignity without
vanity, and her candour was tempered by a rare sweetness that won all
hearts. She carried with her that mysterious flavour of romance that
belongs to the perfection of youth and beauty; and there are old men in
Rockville to-day, sitting in the sunshine on the street corners and
dreaming of the past, whose eyes will kindle with enthusiasm at mention
of Rose Gaither's name.

But in 1840 Bradley Gaither's beautiful daughter was not by any means
the only representative of womankind in Pinetucky. There was Miss Jane
Inchly, to go no further. Miss Jane was Squire Inchly's maiden sister;
and though she was neither fat nor fair, she was forty. Perhaps she was
more than forty; but if she was fifty she was not ashamed of it. She
had a keen eye and a sharp tongue, and used both with a freedom
befitting her sex and her experience.

Squire Inchly's house was convenient to his shop; and just opposite
lived the Carews, father and son, once the most prosperous and
prominent family in the neighbourhood. It was the custom of Pinetucky
to take a half-holiday on Saturdays, and on one of these occasions
Squire Inchly, instead of going to his shop or to the store, sat in his
porch and smoked his pipe. After a while Miss Jane brought out her
sewing and sat with him. Across the way Uncle Billy Carew sat in his
easy-chair under the shade of a tree, and made queer gestures in the
air with his hands and cane, while his son, a young man of twenty-five
or thereabouts, paced moodily up and down the veranda. The birds
fluttered in and out of the hedges of Cherokee rose that ran along both
sides of the road, and over all the sun shone brightly.

"Billy is cuttin' up his antics ag'in," said the Squire, finally.
"First the limbs give way, and then the mind. It's Providence, I
reckon. We're all a-gittin' old."

"Why, you talk, Ichabod, as if Providence went around with a drink of
dram in one hand and a stroke of palsy in t'other one," said Miss Jane.
"It's the Old Boy that totes the dram. And don't you pester yourself on
account of old Billy Oarew's palsy. A man's nimble enough in the legs
when he can git to the dimmy-john."

"Well, I'm sorry for Jack, Sister Jane," exclaimed the Squire,
heartily. "I am, from the bottom of my heart. The boy is too lonesome
in his ways. He needs comp'ny; he needs to be holp up, Sister Jane. He
does, certain and shore."

"Well, we're all near-sighted; but when Im in trouble, I'm like a hen
a-layin'; I don't want nobody to stand around and watch me. Not even
them that feeds me. The Lord knows what he keeps old Billy Carew here
to fret poor Jack for, but I don't," continued Miss Jane, with a sigh.
"I'm much mistaken if that old creetur hain't got years before him to
drink and dribble in."

"It passes me, Sister Jane," said Squire Inchly, moving uneasily in his
chair. "It passes me, certain and shore. Here was Billy, rich and
healthy, Jack at college, and ever'thing a-runnin' slick and smooth,
when nothin' must do but the old creetur must take to the jug, and it's
gone on and gone on, till old Bradley Gaither owns in-about all the
Carew plantation that's wuth ownin'. Maybe it was Billy's wife druv him
to it, Sister Jane."

"I say the word!" exclaimed Miss Jane, scornfully,--"I say the word!
How could a little bit of a dried-up 'oman drive a grown man to drink?"

"They are a heap livelier than they look to be, Sister Jane," said the
Squire reassuringly. "Little as she was, I lay Billy Carew's wife had
her say."

"Well," said Miss Jane, "a mouse'll squeal if you tromple on it."
Squire Inchly had a jovial appearance ordinarily; but when he found it
necessary to wrestle with the moral problems that the sharp tongue of
his sister presented to his mind, he was in the habit of putting on his
spectacles, as if by that means to examine them more impartially. He
put his spectacles on now, and with them a severe judicial frown.

"That's the trouble, Sister Jane,--that's the trouble," he said after a
while. "The mouse'll squeal and squeal, but where's the man that ever
got use to sech squealin'?"

"Don't pester the mouse then," said Miss Jane, sententiously.

"Old Bradley Gaither," remarked the Squire, showing a disposition to
wander away from a dangerous discussion,--"Old Bradley Gaither ain't
only got mighty nigh all the Carew plantation, but he's hot arter the
balance of it. Last sale-day he took me off behind the Court-house,
and, says he--

"'Square,' says he, 'I'd like mighty well for to git that Carew place,'
says he.

"'Why, Mr. Gaither,' says I, 'you've in-about got it all now,' says I.

"'Square Ichabod," says he, 'it's only a matter of two hundred acres or
thereabouts, and it cuts right spang into my plantation,' says he.

"'Well,' says I, 'two hundred acres ain't much, yit arter all it's a
piece of land,' says I.

"'That's so,' says he, 'but I want that land, and I'm willin' for to
pay reasonable. I want you to buy it for me, Square,' says he.

"Right across from where we sot," the Squire continued, taking off his
spectacles, "old Billy Carew was a cuttin' up and singin' his
worldly-reminded gongs, and Jack was a-tryin' for to git him off home.

"'Mr. Gaither,' says I, 'do you want to crowd that poor old creetur out
'n the county?' says I. 'And look at Jack; you won't find a
better-favoured youngster,' says I.

"I disremember what he said," the Squire went on; "but when I named
Jack he puckered up them thin lips of his'n like he was fortifyin' his
mind ag'in anger. I didn't let on about Rose and Jack, Sister Jane, but
I reckon Mr. Gaither has got his suspicions. No doubt he has got his
suspicions, Sister Jane."

"Ichabod," said Miss Jane, scratching her head with the long teeth of
her tucking-comb, "you're too old to be made a tool of. Let old Bradley
Gaither do his own buyin' and sellin'. That old scamp is deep as a
well. Them that didn't know him'd think he was sanctified; yit he's got
devilment enough in him to break the winders out 'n the meetin'-house.
Well, he needn't pester wi' Jack and Rose," Miss Jane went on; "Jack'll
never marry Rose whilst old Billy Carew is hoppin' along betwixt the
grocery and the graveyard. Lord, Lord! to think that sech a no-'count
old ereetur as that should be a-ha'ntin' the face of the earth!"

"He took to fiddlin' and drinkin' arter he was fifty year old,"
remarked the Squire.

"Yes, and the property he hain't drunk up he's fiddled away, till now
he hain't got nothin' but a passel of half-free niggers and a little
piece of land, and old Bradley Gaither is hungry for that. And that
ain't all," exclaimed Miss Jane, solemnly; "Jack is ruined, and Rose is
distracted."

"Ah!" said the Squire.

"Yes," said Miss Jane. "Trouble is always double and thribble. Rose was
here last Tuesday, and she sot by the winder there and watched Jack all
the time she stayed.

"'That's what I call courtship at long taw,' s' I.

"'Yes, Miss Jane,' se' she, 'it is, and I'm in a great deal of trouble
about Jack. I understand him, but he don't understand me,' se' she.
'He's mad because father loaned his father money and then took land to
pay for it. But I'd marry Jack,' se' she, 'if only to give him his land
back.'

"I declare!" Miss Jane continued, "'twould 'a' melted airy heart in the
universe to see that child blushin' and cryin', I went and stood by her
and put my arms round her, and I says to her, s' I--

"'Don't you fret, honey, don't you fret. Old Billy Carew is full of
capers and vain babblin's,' s' I, 'and your pappy is puffed up by his
fleshly mind; but the Almighty, he's a-watching' 'em. He'll fetch 'em
up wi' a round turn,' s' I; 'He knows how to deal wi' unreasonable and
wicked men.' I said them very words."

"Saint Paul said 'em before you, Sister Jane, but you said 'em right,--
you said 'em right," exclaimed Squire Inchly, heartily.

"Well, I don't set up to judge nobody, but I don't need no spyglass to
see what's right in front of my face," said Miss Jane.

Thus these two old people sat and talked about the affairs of their
friends and neighbours,--affairs in which they might be said to have
almost a personal interest. The conversation turned to other matters;
but across the way they saw enacted some of the preliminaries and
accompaniments of a mysterious complication that finally became as
distressing and as disastrous as a tragedy.

Old Billy Carew continued to gesticulate with his cane and to talk to
himself. He desired no other audience. One moment he would be convulsed
with laughter; then he would draw himself up proudly, wave his hand
imperiously, and seem to be laying down a proposition that demanded
great deliberation of thought and accuracy of expression. After a while
his son, apparently growing tired of the humiliating spectacle, left
his father to himself, and went over to Squire Inchly's.

Jack Carew was a great favourite with the Squire and his sister. Miss
Jane had petted him as a boy; indeed, after the death of his own
mother, she had maintained towards him the relations of a
foster-mother. His instinct had told him, even when a child, that the
asperity of Miss Inehly was merely the humorous mask of a gentle and
sensitive heart.

As he flung himself wearily in the chair which Miss Jane had been quick
to provide, he seemed, notwithstanding his dejection, to be a very
handsome specimen of manhood. His hair was dark, his eyes large and
lustrous, his nose straight and firm, and his chin square and
energetic. His face was smooth-shaven, and but for the glow of health
in his cheeks, his complexion would have been sallow.

"Father has gone to the legislature again," he said with a faint
apologetic smile and a motion of the hand toward the scene of the poor
old man's alcoholic eloquence.

"Well," said Miss Jane, soothingly, "he hain't the first poor creetur
that's flung his welfare to the winds. The Old Boy's mighty busy in
these days, but the Almighty hain't dead yit, I reckon, and he'll come
along thereckly and set things to rights."

The young man's face grew gloomy as he looked across the way at his
homestead. The house was showing signs of neglect, and the fences were
falling away here and there, The jagged splinters of a tall oak, whose
top had been wrenched off by a storm, were outlined against the sky,
and an old man babbled and dribbled near by. On the hither side the
Cherokee roses bloomed and the birds sang. It seemed as if some
horrible nightmare had thrust itself between Jack Carew and the sweet
dreams of his youth.

"I trust you are right, Miss Jane," said Jack, after a long pause; "but
He will have to come soon if lie sets my affairs to rights."

"Don't git down-hearted, Jack," exclaimed Miss Jane, laying her hand
upon the young man's arm with a motherly touch. "Them that's
big-hearted and broad-shouldered hain't got much to be afear'd of in
this world. Have you forgot Rose Gaither, Jack?"

"I haven't forgotten Bradley Gaither," said Jack, frowning darkly, "and
I won't forget him in a day, you may depend. Bradley Gaither is at the
bottom of all the misery you see there." The young man made a gesture
that included the whole horizon.

"Ah, Jack!" exclaimed Miss Jane, solemnly, "I won't deny but what old
Bradley Gaither is been mighty busy runnin' arter the rudiments of the
world, but the time was when you'd kindle up barely at the mention of
Rose Gaither's name."

"Shall I tell you the truth, Miss Jane?" asked Jack Carew, turning to
Miss Inchly with a frank but bashful smile.

"You've never failed to do that, Jack, when the pinch come."

"Well, this is the pinch, then. But for Rose Gaither I should have sold
out here when I first found how matters stood. I could easily sell out
now--to Bradley Gaither."

"That's so, Jack, you could," said Squire Inchly, who had been a
sympathetic listener. "Yes, sir, you could; there ain't no two ways
about that."

"But I wouldn't, and I won't," continued Jack. "Everybody around here
knows my troubles, and I propose, to stay here. I haven't forgotten
Rose Gaither, Miss Jane, but I'm afraid she has forgotten me. She has
changed greatly."

"You look in the glass," said Miss Jane, with a knowing toss of the
head, "and you'll see where the change is. Rose was here t'other day,
and she stood right in that room there, behind them identical curtains.
I wish--but I sha'n't tell the poor child's secrets. I'll say this: the
next time you see Rose Gaither a-passin' by, you raise your hat and
tell her howdy, and you'll git the sweetest smile that ever man got."

"Miss Jane!" exclaimed Jack Carew, "you are the best woman in the
world."

"Except one, I reckon," said Miss Jane, dryly.

Jack Carew rose from his chair, and straightened himself to his full
height. He was a new man. Youth and hope rekindled their fires in his
eyes. The flush of enthusiasm revisited his face.

"I feel like a new man; I am a new man!" he exclaimed. Then he glanced
at the pitiful figure, maundering and sputtering across the way. "I am
going home," he went on, "and will put father to bed and nurse him and
take care of him just as if--well, just as if I was his mother."

"The Lord'll love you for it, Jack," said Miss Jane, "and so'll Rose
Gaither. When ever'thing else happens," she continued, solemnly, "put
your trust in the Lord, and don't have no misdoubts of Rose."

The superstition that recognises omens and portents we are apt to laugh
at as vulgar, but it has an enduring basis in the fact that no
circumstance can be regarded as absolutely trivial. Events apparently
the most trifling lead' to the most tremendous results. The wisest of
us know not by what process the casual is transformed into the
dreadful, nor how accident is twisted into fate.

Jack Carew visited the Inchlys almost daily; yet if he had postponed
the visit, the purport of which has been given above, the probability
is that he would have been spared much suffering; on the other hand, he
would have missed much happiness that came to him at a time of life
when he was best prepared to appreciate it. He had determined in his
own mind to sell the little land and the few negroes he had saved from
the wreck his father's extravagance had made; he had determined to sell
these, and slip away with his father to a new life in the West; but his
conversation with Miss Jane gave him new hope and courage, so that when
Bradley Gaither, a few weeks afterwards, offered to buy the Carew place
for two or three times its value, he received a curt and contemptuous
message of refusal.

Young Carew was high-strung and sensitive, even as a boy, and events
had only served to develop these traits. When he was compelled to leave
college to take charge of his father's' affairs, he felt that his name
was disgraced for ever. He found, however, that all who had known him
were anxious to hold up his hands, and to give him such support as one
friend is prepared to give another. If the Pinetuckians were
simple-minded, they were also sympathetic, There was something gracious
as well as wholesome in their attitude. The men somehow succeeded in
impressing him with a vague idea that they had passed through just such
troubles in their youth. The idea was encouraging, and Jack Carew made
the most of it.

But he never thought of Rose Gaither without a sense of deepest
humiliation. He had loved Rose when they were schoolchildren together,
but his passion had now reached such proportions that he deeply
resented the fact that his school-hoy love had been so careless and
shallow a feeling. Now that circumstances had placed her beyond his
reach, he regretted that his youthful love experience was not worthier
of the place it held in his remembrance. He could forget that Rose
Gaither was the daughter of the man to whom he attributed his troubles,
but he could never forget that he himself was the son of a man whose
weakness had found him out at an age when manhood ought to have made
him strong.

Still, Jack Carew made the most of a bad situation. He had the courage,
the endurance, and the hopefulness of youth. He faced his perplexities
with at least the appearance of good-humour; and if he had his moments
of despair, when the skeleton in the jug in the closet paraded in
public, Pinetucky never suspected it. The truth is, while Pinetucky was
sympathetic and neighbourly, it was not inclined to make a great fuss
over those who took a dram too much now and then. Intemperance was an
evil, to be sure; but even intemperance had its humorous side in those
days, and Pinetucky was apt to look at the humorous side.

One fine morning, however, Pinetuoky awoke to the fact that it was the
centre and scene of a decided sensation. Rumour pulled on her bonnet
and boots, and went gadding about like mad. Pinetucky was astonished,
then perplexed, then distressed, and finally indignant, as became a
conservative and moral community. A little after sunrise, Bradley
Gaither had galloped up to Squire Inchly's door with the information
that two bales of cotton had been stolen from hie place the night
before.

The facts, as sot forth by Bradley Gaither, were that he had twelve
bales of cotton ready for market. The twelve balei had been loaded upon
three, wagons, and the wagons were to start for Augusta at daybreak. At
the last moment, when everything was ready, the teams harnessed, and
the drivers in their seats, it was discovered that two bales of the
cotton were missing. Fortunately, it had rained during the night, and
Bradley Gaither had waited until it was light enough to make an
investigation. He found that a wagon bad been driven to his
packing-screw. He saw, moreover, that but one wagon had passed along the
road after the rain, and it was an easy matter to follow the tracks.

The fact of the theft had surprised Squire Inchly, but the details
created consternation in his mind. The tracks of the wagon led to the
Carew place! Squire Inchly was prompt with a rebuke.

"Why, you've woke up wi' a joke in your mouth, Mr. Gaither. Now that
you've spit it out, less start fresh. A spiteful joke before breakfus'
'll make your flesh crawl arter supper, Mr. Gaither."

Squire Inchly spoke seriously, as became a magistrate. Bradley
Gaither's thin lips grew thinner as he smiled.

"I'm as serious as the thieves that stole my cotton, Squire Inchly,"
said Bradley Gaither.

"Two whole bales of cotton in these days is a heavy loss," said the
Squire, reflectively. "I hope you'll ketch the inconsiderate parties to
the larceny."

"If you will go with me, Squire, we'll call by for Brother Gossett and
Colonel Hightower, and if I'm not mistaken we'll find the cotton not
far from here."

"Well, sir," said the Squire, indignantly, "you won't find it on the
Carew place. I'll go wi' you and welcome. We don't need no search
warrant."

The long and the short of it was that the cotton was found concealed in
Jack Carew's rickety barn under a pile of fodder. Of those who joined
Bradley Gaither in the search, not one believed that the cottor would
be found on the Carew place; and some of them had even gone so far as
to suggest to Mr. Gaither that his suspicions had been fathered by his
prejudices; but that injured individual merely smiled his cold little
smile, and declared that there could be no harm in following the wagon
tracks. This was reasonable enough; and the result was that not only
was the cotton found, but the wagon standing under the shelter, and two
mules at the trough in the lot showed signs of having been used.

These things so shocked those who had gone with Bradley Gaither that
they had little to say. They stood confounded. They could not
successfully dispute the evidence of their eyes.

They were simple-minded men, and therefore sympathetic. Each one felt
ashamed. They did not look into each other's eyes and give utterance to
expressions of astonishment. They said nothing; but each one, with the
exception of Bradley Gaither, fell into a state of mental confusion
akin to awe.

When Bradley Gaither, with cm. air of triumph, asked them if they were
satisfied, they said nothing, but turned and walked away one after the
other.

They turned and walked away, and went to their homes; and somehow after
that, though the sun shone as brightly and the birds fluttered and sang
as joyously, a silence fell upon Pinetucky,--a silence full of
austerity. The men talked in subdued tones when they met, as though
they expected justice to discharge one of her thunderbolts at their
feet; and the women went about their duties with a degree of
nervousness that was aptly described by Miss Jane Inchly long
afterwards, when reciting the experiences of that most memorable day in
the history of Pinetucky. "I let a sifter drop out 'n my hand," said
she, "and I declare to gracious if it didn't sound like a cannon had
went off."

In all that neighbourhood the Carews, father and son, had but one
accuser, and not one apologist. Pinetucky existed in a primitive
period, as we are in the habit of believing now, and its people were
simple-minded people. In this age of progress and culture, morality and
justice are arrayed in many refinements of speech and thought. They
have been readjusted, so to speak, by science; but in Pinetucky in the
forties, morality and justice were as robust and as severe as they are
in the Bible.

It was not until after the machinery of justice had been set in motion
that Pinetucky allowed itself to comment on the case; but the comment
was justified by the peculiar conduct of the Carews, When they were
confronted with the facts--the cotton concealed in the barn and the
warrant in the hands of the sheriff,--old Billy Carew fell to trembling
as though he had the palsy. Jack had turned pale as death, and had made
a movement toward Bradley Gaither as though to offer violence; but when
he saw his father shaking so, the colour returned to his face, and he
exclaimed quickly--

"The warrant is for me alone, Mr. Sheriff. Pay no attention to father.
He is old, and his mind is weak."

"He's a liar!" the old man screamed, when he found his voice. "He's a
miserable liar! He never stole that cotton. Don't tetch him! don't you
dast to tetch him! He'll lie to you, but he won't steal your cotton!
Put my name in that warrant. Bradley Gaither stole my money and land; I
reckon I've got the rights to steal his cotton."

"He's drunk again," said Jack. "We'll carry him in the house, and then
I'll be ready to go with you."

But the old man was not carried to the house without a scene. He raved,
and screamed, and swore, and finally fell to the ground in a fit of
impotent rage, protesting to the last that Jack was a liar. When those
who were present had been worked up to the highest pitch of excitement,
Bradley Gaither spoke--

"Don't criminate yourself, Jack. I am willing to drop this matter." He
appeared to be greatly agitated.

"Drop what matter?" exclaimed young Carew in a passion. "I have a
matter with you, sir, that won't be dropped."

"Go your ways, then," said Bradley Gaither; "I've done my duty." With
that he mounted his horse, and Jack Carew was left in the hands of the
sheriff.

The machinery of the law was not as difficult to set in motion in those
days as it is now. There was no delay. Pinetuoky was greatly interested
in the trial, and during the two days of its continuance delegations of
Pinetuckians were present as spectators. Some of these were summoned to
testify to the good character of young Carew, and this they did with a
simplicity that was impressive; but neither their testimony nor the
efforts of the distinguished counsel for the defence, Colonel Peyton
Poindexter, had any effect. The facts and the tacit admissions of Jack
were against him. Colonel Poindexter's closing speech was long
remembered, and indeed is alluded to even now, as the most eloquent and
impressive ever delivered in the court-house in Rockville; but it
failed to convince the jury. A verdict in accordance with the facts and
testimony was brought in, and Jack Carew was sentenced to serve a term
in the penitentiary at Milledgeville.

The first to bring this information to Pinetucky was Bradley Gaither
himself. He stopped at Squire Inehly's for his daughter, and went in.

"What's the news?" asked Miss Jane.

"Bad, very bad news," said Bradley Gaither.

"Jack ain't hung, I reckon," said Miss Jane. "My mind tells me, day and
night, that the poor boy in innocent as the child that's unborn."

"Innocent or guilty," said Bradley Gaither, "he has been sent to the
penitentiary."

Miss Jane gave a quick glance at Rose, and was just in time to catch
her as she fell from her chair.

"Ah, poor child!" cried Miss Jane, "her heart is broke!"

"Rose!--Daughter!--Darling!" exclaimed Bradley Gaither, dropping on his
knees beside her. "Oh, what is this? What have I done? Speak to her,
Miss Inchly! What shall I do?" He was pale as death, and his features
worked convulsively.

"Do nothin', Mr. Gaither. You've done more 'n you can undo a'ready.
You've took and give that poor boy over for to be persecuted, Mr.
Gaither, and now the innocent suffers and the wicked goes scotch-free."

Bradley Gaither covered his face with his hands and groaned aloud.

"What have I done? What have I done?" he cried.

Miss Jane supported the girl in her strong arms with a grim display of
affection, but her attitude towards Bradley Gaither was uncompromising.

"Don't alarm yourself, Mr. Gaither," she said; "this poor child'll come
too, quick enough. Folks don't fling off the'r misery this easy!"

Rose revived after a while, but she seemed to have no desire to talk to
her father. After a copious use of camphor, Miss Jane fixed Rose
comfortably on the lounge, and the girl lay there and gazed at the
ceiling, the picture of wide-eyed despair. Bradley Gaither paced the
room like one distracted. His sighs were heart-rending. When Miss Jane
succeeded in getting him out of the room, he paced up and down the
entry, moving his lips and groaning as though in great mental agony.
Failing to understand what emotions he was at the mercy of, Miss Jane
failed to sympathise with him. To her mind his display of grief bore no
sort of proportion to the cause, and she had a woman's contempt for any
manifestation of weakness in man, even the weakness of grief.

"I'll pray to the Lord to forgive me!" he cried out piteously.

"That's right," exclaimed Miss Jane, in her decisive way. "But if the
grace of pra'r was in the hinges of the knee, I know a heap of folks
that'd be easy in the mind."

Every word she spoke cut like a knife, but not until long after did
Miss Inchly realise the fact. When she did realise it, it is to be
feared she hugged the remembrance of it to her bosom with a sort of
grim thankfulness that Providence had so happily fashioned her words
and directed her tongue.

As time passed on, the Pinetuckians became aware that a great change
had come over both Bradley Gaither and his daughter. The father grew
old before his time, and fell into a decline, as his neighbours
expressed it. The daughter grew more beautiful, but it was beauty of a
kind that belonged to devoutness; so that in contemplating it the minds
of men were led in the direction of mercy and charity and all manner of
good deeds.

One night, a year or more after the trial and sentence of Jack Carew, a
negro on horseback rode to Squire Inchly's door, and said that his
master, Bradley Gaither, desired the Squire to come to him at once. The
worthy magistrate was prompt to obey the summons; and when he arrived
at the Gaither place, he found that the preacher and other neighbours
had also been summoned. Bradley Gaither lay upon his bed, surrounded by
these, and it was plain to see that his sands of life had about run
out. He presented a spectacle of dissolution calculated to arouse the
sympathies of those who stood around his bed.

When Squire Inchly had arrived, Bradley Gaither lay a little while with
his eyes closed as in a dream. Then he motioned to his daughter, who
drew from beneath his pillow a few sheets of letter-paper stained and
blotted with ink. This she handed to the minister.

"Read it aloud," said Bradley Gaither. The minister, with some degree
of embarrassment, adjusted his spectacles and read:--

"With this paper will be found my last will and testament. I am
unhappy, but I should be less miserable if I knew I could put such
meaning in these lines as no man could misunderstand. I have sinned
against an innocent man, I have sinned against my dear daughter, I have
sinned against myself, I have sinned against God. I have been guilty of
a great wrong, and though I cannot forgive myself, yet I hope to be
forgiven. John Carew, who is now in prison, is an innocent man. I
coveted his land. In my worldly-mindedness I set my heart upon his
possessions. I offered him double their value. I thought he treated me
with contempt, and then I hit upon a plan to drive him out. I carried
the cotton to his barn and hid it. He knew no more about it than any
honest man. But as God is my judge, I did not foresee the end. I
thought he would compromise and sell the land and go away. At the last
the law took the matter out of my hands. John Carew believes that he is
suffering punishment in place of his father; but William Carew is as
honest as his son, and no man could be honester than that. I, Bradley
Gaither, being in my right mind and of sound memory, do hereby charge
myself with the crime for which John Carew has been adjudged guilty.
Let the disgrace of it be attached to me alone. The sin of it I hope a
merciful God will forgive."

This document was duly signed and witnessed. When the preacher reached
the end, he said, "Let us pray;" and while that prayer, as fervent as
simplicity could make it, was ascending heavenward, the soul of Bradley
Gaither took its flight.

"I glanced at him arter the breath left him," said Squire Inchly,
relating the facts to his sister, "and he looked like a man that had
shook hisself free from a heap of worriment. I hope he's at peace. I
do, from the bottom of my heart."

The confession was received with great wonder in Pinetucky; but there
was not one among the Pinetuckians who did not believe that Bradley
Gaither was a better man at bottom than his life had shown him to be,
not one, indeed, who did not believe that his grievous errors were
among the dispensations which an all-wise Providence employs to chasten
the proud and humble the vainglorious.

When Jack Carew returned to his friends, he made his way straight to
Squire Inchly's. He was not much changed, but the sight of him gave
Miss Jane the cue for tears. These, however, she dried immediately,
and, with a smile that Jack remembered long, motioned towards the
little sitting-room.

"Go in there, Jack. A man oughtn't to grumble at waitin' for his
dinner, if he knows he'll git pie."

In the little sitting-room Rose Gaither was waiting for him.



BLUE DAVE

I.

THE atmosphere of mystery that surrounds the Kendrick Place in Putnam
County is illusive, of course; but the illusion is perfect. The old
house, standing a dozen yards from the roadside, is picturesque with
the contrivances of neglect and decay. Through a door hanging loose
upon its hinges the passer-by may behold the evidences of loneliness
and gloom,--the very embodiment of desolation,--a void, a silence, that
is almost portentous. The roof, with its crop of quaint gables, in
which proportion has been sacrificed to an effort to attain
architectural liveliness, is covered with a greenish-grey moss on the
north side, and has long been given over to decay on all sides. The
cat-squirrels that occasionally scamper across the crumbling shingles
have as much as they can do, with all their nimbleness, to find a
secure foot-hold. The huge wooden columns that support the double
veranda display jagged edges at top and bottom, and no longer make even
a pretence of hiding their grim hollowness. The well, hospitably placed
within arm's reach of the highway, for the benefit of the dead and
buried congregation that long ago met and worshipped at Bethesda
meeting-house, is stripped of windlass, chain, and bucket. All the
outhouses have disappeared, if they ever had an existence; and nothing
remains to tell the story of a flourishing era, save a fig-tree, which
is graciously green and fruitful in season. This fig-tree has grown to
an extraordinary height, and covers a large area with its canopy of
limbs and leaves, giving a sort of Oriental flavour to the illusion of
mystery and antiquity. It is said of this fig-tree that sermons have
been preached and marriages solemnised under its wide-spreading
branches; and there is a vague tradition to the effect that a duel was
once fought in its shadow by some of the hot-bloods. But no harm will
come of respectfully but firmly doubting this tradition; for it is a
fact, common to both memory and observation, that duels, even in the
old days, when each and every one of us was the pink of chivalry and
the soul of honour, were much rarer than the talk of them.
Nevertheless, the confession may be made that without such a tradition
a fig-tree surrounded by so many evidences of neglect and decay would
be a tame affair indeed.

The house, with its double veranda, its tall chimneys, and its curious
collection of gables, was built as late as 1836 by young Felix
Kendrick, in order, as Grandsir Kendrick declared, to show that "some
folks was as good as other folks." Whether Felix succeeded in this or
not, it is impossible to gather from either local history or tradition;
but there is no doubt that the house attracted attention, for its
architectural liveliness has never to this day been duplicated in that
region. In those days the Kendrick family was a new one, so to speak,
but ambitious. Grandsir Kendrick--a fatal title in itself--was a hatter
by trade, who had come to Georgia in search of a precarious livelihood.
He obtained permission to build him a little log hut by the side of a
running stream; and, for a year or two, people going along the road
could hear the snap and twang of his bowstring as he whipped wool or
rabbit fur into shape. Some said he was from North Carolina; others
said he was from Connecticut; but whether from one State or the other,
what should a hatter do away off in the woods in Putnam County?
Grandsir Kendrick, who was shrewd, close-fisted, and industrious, did
what any sensible man would have done: he became an overseer. In this
business, which required no capital, he developed considerable
executive ability. The plantations he had charge of paid large profits
to their owners, and he found his good management in demand. He
commanded a large salary, and saved money. This money he invested in
negroes, buying one at a time and hiring them out. He finally came to
be the owner of seven or eight stout field hands; whereupon he bought
two hundred acres of choice land, and set himself up as a patriarch.

Grandsir Kendrick kept to his sober ways, continued his good
management, and, in the midst of much shabbiness, continued to put
aside money in the shape of negroes. He also reared a son, who
contrived somehow to have higher notions than his father. These notions
of young Felix Kendrick were confirmed and enlarged by his marriage to
the daughter of a Methodist circuit-rider. This young lady had been
pinched by poverty often enough to know the value of economy, while the
position of her father had given her advantages which the most
fortunate young ladies of that day might have envied. In short, Mrs.
Felix turned out to be a very superior woman in all respects. She was
proud as well as pretty, and managed to hold her own with the element
which Grandsir Kendrick sometimes dubiously referred to as "the
quality." The fact that Mrs. Felix's mother was a Barksdale probably
had something to do with her energy and tact; but whatever the cause of
her popularity may have been, Grandsir Kendrick was very proud of his
son's wife. He had no sympathy with, and no part in, her high notions;
but their manifestation afforded him the spectacle of an experience
entirely foreign to his own. Here was his son's wife stepping high, and
compelling his son to step high. So far as Grandsir Kendrick was
concerned, however, it was merely a spectacle. To the day of his death,
he never ceased to higgle over a thrip, and it was his constant boast
that in his own experience it had always been convenient to give
prudence the upper hand of pride.

In 1850 the house was not showing many signs of decay, but young Mrs.
Felix had become the widow Kendrick, her daughter Kitty bad grown to be
a beautiful young woman, and her son Felix was a lad of remarkable
promise. The loss of her husband was a great blow to Mrs. Kendrick.
With all her business qualities, her affection for her family and her
home was strongly marked, and her husband stood first as the head and
centre of each. Felix Kendrick died in the latter part of November
1849, and his widow made him a grave under the shadow of a tree he had
planted when a boy, and in full view of her window. The obsequies were
very simple. A prayer was said, and a song was sung; that was all. But
it was understood that the funeral sermon would be preached at the
house by Mrs. Kendrick's brother, who was on his way home from China,
where he had been engaged in converting (to use a neighbourhood phrase)
the "squinch-eyed heathen."

The weeks went by, and the missionary brother returned; and one Sunday
morning in February it was given out at Bethesda that "on the first
Sabbath after the second Tuesday in March, the funeral sermon of
Brother Felix Kendrick will be preached at the house by Brother
Garwood." On the morning of this particular Sunday, which was selected
because it did not conflict with the services of the Bethesda
congregation, two neighbours met in the forks of the public road that
leads to Rockville. Each had come from a different direction. One was
riding and one was walking; and both were past the middle time of life.

"Well met, Brother Roach!" exclaimed the man on horseback.

"You've took the words from my mouth, Brother Brannum. I hope you are
well. I'm peart myself, but not as peart as I thought I was, bekaze I
find that the two or three miles to come is sticking in my craw."

"Ah, when it comes to that, Brother Roach," said the man on horseback,
"you and me can be one another's looking-glass. Look on me, and you'll
see what time has done for you."

"Not so, Brother Brannum! Not so!" exclaimed the other. "There's some
furrows on your forrud, and a handful of bird-tracks below your eyes
that would ill become me; and I'm plumper in the make-up, you'll
allow."

"Yes, yes, Brother Johnny Roach," said Brother Brannum, frowning a
little; "but what of that? Death takes no time to feel for wrinkles and
furrows, and nuther does plumpness stand in the way. Look at Brother
Felix Kendrick,--took off in the very pulse and power of his prime, you
may say. Yet, Providence permitting, I am to hark to his funeral
to-day."

"Why, so am I,--so am I," exclaimed Brother Roach. "We seem to agree,
Brother Brannum, like the jay-bird and the joree,--one in the tree and
t'other on the ground."

Brother Brannum's grim sense of superiority showed itself in his calm
smile.

"Yet I'll not deny," continued Brother Roach, flinging his coat, which
he had been carrying on his arm, across his shoulder, "that sech
discourses go ag'in the grain It frets me in the mind for to hear what
thundering great men folks git to be arter they are dead, though I hope
we may both follow suit, Brother Brannum."

"But how, Brother Johnny Roach?"

"Why, by the grace of big discourses, Brother Brannum. There 'a many a
preacher could close down the Bible on his hankcher and make our very
misdeeds smell sweet as innocence. It's all in the lift of the eyebrow,
and the gesticures of the hand. So old Neighbour Harper says, and he's
been a lawyer and a schoolmaster in his day and time.".

"Still," said Brother Brannum, as if acknowledging the arguments, "I
think Sister Kendrick is jestified in her desires."

"Oh, yes,--oh, yes!" replied Brother Roach, heartily; "none more so.
Felix Kendrick's ways is in good shape for some preacher wi' a glib
tongue. Felix was a good man; he wanted his just dues, but not if to
take them would hurt a man. He was neighbourly; who more so? And, sir,
when you got to rastlin' wi' trouble, he'd find you and fetch you out.
I only hope the Chinee preacher'll be jedgmatical enough for to let us
off wi' the simple truth."

"They say," said Brother Brannum, "that he's a man full of grace and
fire."

"Well, sir," said Johnny Roach, "if he but makes me disremember that I
left the bay mar' at home, I'll thank him kindly."

"Mercy, Brother Roach," exclaimed Brother Brannum, taking this as a
neighbourly hint, "mount up here and rest yourself, whilst I stretch my
legs along this level piece of ground."

"I'd thank you kindly, Brother Branuum, if you wouldn't so misjudge me!
It's my will to walk; but if I git my limbs sot to the saddle here and
now, they'd ache and crack might'ly when next I called upon 'em. I'll
take the will for the deed, Brother Brannum."

Thus these neighbours jogged along to Felix Kendrick's funeral. They
found a great crowd ahead of them when they got there, though they were
not too late for the services; but the house was filled with
sympathetic men and women, and those who came late were compelled to
find such accommodations as the yard afforded; and these accommodations
were excellent in their way, for there was the cool green grass under
the trees, and there were the rustic seats in the shadow of the
fig-tree of which mention has been made.

Coming together, Brother Brannum and Brother Roach stayed together; and
they soon found themselves comfortably seated under the fig-tree,--a
point of view from which they could observe everything that was going
on. Brother Brannum, who was a pillar of Bethesda church, and extremely
officious withal, seemed to regret that he had not arrived soon enough
to find a place in the house near the preacher, but Brother Roach
appeared to congratulate himself that he had been crowded out of
ear-shot.

"We can set here," he declared in great good-humour, "and hear the
singing, and then whirl in and preach each man his own sermon. I know
better than the furrin preacher what'd be satisfactual to Felix
Kendrick. I see George Denham sailing in and out and flying around; and
if the pinch comes, as come it must, Brother Brannum, we can up and ast
George for to fetch us sech reports as a hongry man can stomach."

Brother Brannum frowned heavily, but made no response. Presently
Brother Roach beckoned to the young man whom he had called George
Denham. "Howdy, George! How is Kitty Kendrick? Solemn as the season is,
George, I lay 'twould be wrong for to let Beauty pine."

The young man suppressed a smile, and raised his hands in protest.

"Uncle Johnny! to joke me at such a time! I shall go to-morrow and cut
your mill-race, and you will never know who did it."

"Ah, George! if death changes a man no more'n they say it does, little
does Felix Kendrick need to be holp by these dismal takings-on. From
first to last, he begrudged no man his banter. But here we are, and
yan's the preacher. The p'int wi' me, George, is, how kin we-all
setting on the back seats know when the preacher gits to his 'amen,'
onless his expoundance is too loud to be becoming?"

"Come, now, Uncle Johnny," said young Denham, "no winking, and I'll
tell you. I was talking to Miss Kitty just now, and all of a sudden she
cried out, 'Why, yonder's Uncle Johnny Roach, and he's walking, too.
Uncle Johnny must stay to dinner;' and Mrs. Kendrick says, 'Yes, and
Brother Branmim too.' And so there you are."

"Well, sir," exclaimed Brother Roach, "Kitty always had a piece of my
heart, and now she has it all."

"A likely young man, that George Denham," said Brother Brannum, as
Denham moved towards the house.

"You never spoke a truer word, Brother Brannum," said Brother Roach,
enthusiastically. "Look at his limbs, look at his gait, look at his
eye. If the world, the flesh, and the devil don't freeze out his
intents, you'll hear from that chap. He's a-gitting high up in the law,
and where'll you find a better managed plantation than his'n?"

What else Brother Roach said or might have said must be left to
conjecture. In the midst of his eulogy on the living, the preacher in
the house began his eulogy of the dead. Those who heard what he said
were much edified, and those who failed to hear made a decorous
pretence of listening intently. In the midst of the sermon Brother
Roach felt himself touched on the arm. Looking up, he saw that Brother
Brannum was gazing intently at one of the gables on the roof. Following
the direction of Brother Brannum's eyes, Brother Roach beheld, with
astonishment not unmixed with awe, the head and shoulders of a
powerfully built negro. The attitude of the negro was one of attention.
He was evidently trying to hear the sermon. His head was bent, and the
expression of his face was indicative of great good-humour. His shirt
was ragged and dirty, and had fallen completely away from one arm and
shoulder, and the billowy muscles glistened in the sun. While Brother
Brannum and Brother Roach were gazing at him with some degree of
amazement, an acorn dropped upon the roof from one of the tall oaks.
Startled by the sudden noise, the negro glanced hurriedly around, and
dropped quickly below the line of vision.

"Well, well, well!" exclaimed Brother Roach, after exchanging a look of
amazement with Brother Brannum. "Well, well, well! Who'd 'a' thought
it? Once 'twas the nigger in the wood-pile; now it's the nigger in the
steeple, and arter a while they'll be a-flying in the air,--mark my
words. I call that the impidence of the Old Boy. Maybe you don't know
that nigger, Brother Brannum?"

"I disremember if I do, Brother Roach."

"Well, sir, when one of 'em passes in front of your Uncle Johnny, you
may up and sw'ar his dagarrytype is took. That nigger, roosting up
there so slick and cool, is Bledser's Blue Dave. Nuther more, nuther
less."

"Bledser's Blue Dave!" exclaimed Brother Brannum in a voice made
sepulchral by amazement.

"The identical nigger! I'd know him if I met him arm-in-arm with the
King and Queen of France."

"Why, I thought Blue Dave had made his disappearance five year ago,"
said Brother Brannum.

"Well, sir, my two eyes tells me different. Time and time ag'in I've
been told he's a quare creetur. Some say he's strong as a horse and
venomous as a snake. Some say he's swifter than the wind and slicker
than a red fox. And many's the time by my own h'a'th-stone I've had to
pooh-pooh these relations; yet there's no denying that for mighty nigh
seven year that nigger's been trolloping round through the woods
foot-loose and scotch-free, bidding defiance to the law of the State
and Bill Brand's track dogs."

"Well, sir," said Brother Brannum, fetching his hand down on his knee
with a thwack, "we ought to alarm the assemblage."

"Jes so," replied Brother Roach, with something like a chuckle; "but
you forgit the time and the occasion, Brother Brannum. I'm a worldly
man myself, as you may say, but 'twill be long arter I'm more
worldlier than what I am before you can ketch me cuttin' sech a scollop
as to wind up a funeral sermon wi' a race arter a runaway nigger."

Brother Brannum agreed with this view, but it was with a poor grace. He
had a vague remembrance of certain rewards that had from time to time
been offered for the capture of Blue Dave, and he was anxious to have a
hand in securing at least a part of these. But he refrained from
sounding the alarm. With Brother Roach, he remained at the Kendrick
Place after the sermon was over, and took dinner. He rode off shortly
afterwards, and the next day Bill Brand and his track dogs put in an
appearance; but Blue Dave was gone.

It was a common thing to hear of fugitive negroes; but Blue Dave (so
called because of the inky blackness of his skin) had a name and a fame
that made him the terror of the women and children, both white and
black; and Kitty Kendrick and her mother were not a little disturbed
when they learned that he had been in hiding among the gables of their
house. The negro's success in eluding pursuit caused the
ignorant-minded of both races to attribute to him the possession of some
mysterious power. He grew into a legend; he became a part of the
folk-lore of the section. According to popular belief, he possessed strange
powers and great courage; he became a giant, a spirit of evil. Women
frightened their children into silence by calling his name, and many a
youngster crept to bed in mortal fear that Blue Dave would come in the
night and whisk him away into the depths of the dark woods. Whatever
mischief was done was credited to Blue Dave. If a horse was found in
the lot spattered with mud, Blue Dave had ridden it; if a cow was
crippled, a hog missing, or a smoke-house robbed, Blue Dave was sure to
be at the bottom of it all, so far as popular belief was concerned. The
negroes had many stories to tell of him. One had seen him standing by a
tall poplar-tree. He was about to speak to him when there came a flash
of lightning and a crash of thunder, and Blue Dave disappeared, leaving
a sulphurous smell behind him. He had been seen by another negro. He
was standing in the middle of the Armour's Ferry road. He was armed
with a gleaming reaphook, and accompanied by a big black dog. As soon
as the dog saw the new-comer, it bristled up from head to foot, its
eyes shone like two coals of fire, and every hair on its back emitted a
fiery spark.

Very little was known of the history of Blue Dave. He was brought to
the little village of Rockville in chains in a speculator's train,--the
train consisting of two Conestoga wagons and thirty or forty
forlorn-looking negroes. The speculator explained that he had manacled Blue
Dave because he was unmanageable; and he put him on the block to sell
him after making it perfectly clear to everybody that whoever bought
the negro would get a bad bargain. Nevertheless Blue Dave was a
magnificent specimen of manhood, straight as an arrow, as muscular as
Hercules, and with a countenance as open and as pleasant as one would
wish to see. He was bought by General Alfred Bledser, and put on his
River Place. He worked well for a few weeks, but got into trouble with
the overseer, and finally compromised matters by taking to the woods.
He seemed born for this particular business; for the track dogs failed
to find him, and all the arts and artifices employed for capturing and
reclaiming runaways failed in his case. It was a desperate sort of
freedom he enjoyed; but he seemed suited to it, and he made the most of
it.

As might be supposed, there was great commotion in the settlement, and
particularly at the Kendrick homestead, when it was known that Blue
Dave had been hiding among the gables of the Kendrick house. Mrs.
Kendrick and her daughter Kitty possessed their full share of what
Brother Roach would have called "spunk;" but there is a large and very
important corner of the human mind--particularly if it happens to be a
feminine mind--which devotes itself to superstition; and these gentle
ladies, while they stood in no terror of Blue Dave as a runaway negro
simply, were certainly awed by the spectral figure which had grown up
out of common report. The house negroes stood in mortal dread of Blue
Dave, and their dismay was not without its effect upon Mrs. Kendrick
and her daughter. Jenny, the house-girl, refused to sleep at the
quarters; and when Aunt Tabby, the cook, started for her cabin after
dark, she was accompanied by a number of little negroes bearing
lightwood torches. All the stories and legends that clustered around
Blue Dave's career were brought to the surface again; and, as we have
seen, the great majority of them were anything but reassuring.

II.

WHILE the commotion in the settlement and on the Kendrick Place was at
its height, an incident occurred that had a tendency to relieve Kitty
Kendrick's mind. Shortly after the funeral the spring rains had set in,
and for several days great floods came down from the skies. One evening
shortly after dark, Kitty Kendrick stepped out upon the veranda, in an
aimless sort of way, to look at the clouds. The rain had ceased, but
the warm earth was reeking with moisture. The trees and the ground were
smoking with fog, and great banks of vapour were whirling across the
sky from the south-west. Kitty sighed. After a while George Denham
would go rattling by in his buggy from his law office in Rockyille to
his plantation, and it was too dark to catch a glimpse of him. At any
rate, she would do the best she could. She would put the curtains of
the sitting-room back, so the light could shine out, and perhaps George
would stop to warm his hands and say a word to her mother. Kitty turned
to go in when she heard her name called--

"Miss Kitty!"

"Well, what is it?" Kitty was startled a little in spite of herself.

"Please, ma'am, don't be skeer'd."

"Why should I be frightened? What do you want?"

"Miss Kitty, I des come by fer ter tell you dat Murder Creek done come
way out er its banks, en ef Mars. George Denham come by w'en he gwine
on home, I wish you please, ma'am, be so good ez ter tell 'im dat dey
ain't no fordin'-place fer ter be foun' dar dis night."

The voice was that of a negro, and there was something in the tone of
it that arrested Kitty Kendrick's attention.

"Who sent you?" she asked.

"Nobody ain't sont me; I des come by myse'f. I laid off fer ter tell
Mars. George, but I year talk he mighty headstrong, en I speck he des
laugh at me."

"Are you one of our hands?"

"No, 'm; I don't b'long on de Kendrick Place."

"Come out of the shadow there where I can see you."

"I mos' fear'd, Miss Kitty."

"What is your name?"

"Dey calls me Blue Dave, ma'am."

The tone of the voice was something more than humble. There was an
appeal in it for mercy. Kitty Kendrick recognised this; but in spite of
it she could scarcely resist an impulse to rush into the house, lock
the door, and take steps to rouse the whole plantation. By a great
effort she did resist it, and the negro went on:--

"Please, ma'am, don't be skeer'd er me, Miss Kitty. De Lord years me
w'en I say it, dey ain't a ha'r er yo' head dat I'd hurt, dat dey
ain't. I ain't bad like dey make out I is, Miss Kitty. Dey tells some
mighty big tales, but dey makes um up dey se'f. Manys en manys de time
is I seed you w'en you gwine atter sweet-gum en w'en you huntin'
flowers, en I allers say ter myse'f, I did, 'Nobody better not pester
Miss Kitty w'iles Blue Dave anywhars 'roun'.' Miss Kitty, I 'clar' 'fo'
de Lord I ain't no bad nigger," Blue Dave continued in a tone of the
most emphatic entreaty. "You des ax yo' little br'er. Little Mars.
Felix, he knows I ain't no bad nigger."

"Why don't you go home, instead of hiding out in the woods?" said
Kitty, striving to speak in a properly indignant tone.

"Bless yo' soul, Miss Kitty, hit ain't no home fer me," said Blue Dave,
sadly. "Hit mought be a home fer some niggers, but hit ain't no home
fer me. I year somebody comin'. Good-bye, Miss Kitty; don't fergit
'bout Mars. George."

As noiselessly as the wind that faintly stirs the grass, Blue Dave
glided away in the darkness, leaving Kitty Kendrick standing upon the
veranda half frightened and wholly puzzled. Her little brother Felix
came out to see where she had gone. Felix was eight years old, and had
views of his own.

"Sister Kit, what are you doing? Watching for Mr. George to go by?"

"Don't speak to me, you naughty boy!" exclaimed Kitty. "You've
disgraced us all. You knew Blue Dave was hiding on top of the house all
the while. What would be done with us if people found out we had been
harbouring a runaway negro?" Kitty pretended to be terribly shocked.
Felix gave a long whistle, indicative of astonishment.

"You are awful smart," he said. "How did you find that out? Yes, I did
know it," he went on, desperately, "and I don't care if I did. If you
tell anybody, I'll never run up the road to see if Mr. George is coming
as long as I live; I won't never do anything for you."

Kitty's inference was based on what Blue Dave had said; but it filled
her with dismay to find it true. She caught the child by the shoulder
and gave him a little shake. "Brother Felix, how dare you do such a
thing? If mother knew of it, it would break her heart."

"Well, go and tell her and break her heart," said the boy, sullenly.
"It wasn't my fault that Blue Dave was up there. I didn't tote him up,
I reckon."

"Oh, how could you do such a thing?" reiterated Kitty, putting her
handkerchief to her eyes, as if by this means to expiate her brother's
folly.

"Well," said the child, still speaking sullenly, "I heard something
moving on top of the house one day when I was in the garret, and I kept
on hearing it until I opened the window and went out on the roof. Then,
when I got out there, I saw a great big nigger man."

"Weren't you frightened?" exclaimed Kitty, catching her breath. "What
did you say?"

"I said 'Hello!' and then he jumped like he was shot. I asked him his
name, and he said he was named Blue Dave, and he begged me so hard I
promised not to tell he was up there. And then, after that, he used to
come in the garret and tell me no end of tales, and I've got a trunk
full of chestnuts that he brought me. He 'a the best nigger man I ever
saw, less'n it's old Uncle Manuel, and he'll be as good as Uncle Manuel
when he gets that old, 'cause Uncle Manuel said so. And I know it ain't
my fault; and if you want to tell mother you can come and tell her
right now, and then you won't never be my sister any more, never,
never!"

"I think you have acted shamefully," said Kitty. "Suppose he had come
in the garret, and made his way down-stairs, and murdered us all while
we were asleep."

"Well," said Felix, "he could have come any time. I wouldn't be afraid
to go out in the woods and stay with Blue Dave this very night, and if
I had my way he wouldn't be running from old Bill Brand and his dogs.
When I get a man I'm going to save up money and buy Blue Dave: I
thought at first I wanted a pony, but I wouldn't have a pony now."

While they were talking, Kitty heard the rattle of buggy wheels. The
sound came nearer and nearer. Whoever was driving was singing, to pass
the time away, and the quick ear of Kitty recognised the voice of
George Denham. He went dashing by; but he must have seen the girl
standing on the veranda, for he cried out, "Good night, Miss Kitty!"
and then caught up the burden of his song again as he went whirling
down the road. Kitty wrung her hands. She went in to her mother with
tears in her eyes.

"O mother! George has gone by without stopping. What shall we do?"

Mrs. Kendrick was a very practical woman. Knowing nothing of the
freshet in Murder Creek, she was amazed as well as amused at Kitty's
tragic attitude.

"Well, it's most too soon for George to begin to take his meals here, I
reckon," she said dryly. "You'd better make you a cup of ginger-tea and
go to bed."

"But, mother, there's a freshet in Murder Creek. Oh, why didn't he
stop?"

Mrs. Kendrick was kneeling on the floor cutting out clothes for the
plough-hands,--"slaving for her niggers," as she called it. She paused
in her work and looked at Kitty, as if to see whether she had heard her
aright.

"Well, upon my word!" she exclaimed, after critically surveying her
daughter, "I don't see how girls can be so weak-minded. Many a man as
good as George Denham has crossed Murder Creek in a freshet. I don't
see but what he's big enough and ugly enough to take care of himself."

"Oh," exclaimed Kitty, going from window to window, and vainly
endeavouring to peer out into the darkness, "why didn't he stop?"

"Well," said Mrs. Kendrick, resuming the use of her shears, "if you'll
try to worry along and stand it this time, I'll send out and have a
fence built across the big road, and get the niggers to light a
bonfire; and we'll stop him the next time he comes along. I'll have to
do my duty by my own children, I reckon. But don't be alarmed," she
continued, perceiving that Kitty's distress was genuine. "You may have
to fly around here and get George some supper, after all. I've been
waiting on niggers all day; and even if I hadn't, I'm too old and
fagged out to be rushing in amongst the pots and kettles to please
George Denham."

George Denham rattled down the road, singing of "Barbara Allen," but
thinking of Kitty Kendrick. Suddenly his horse shied, and then he heard
somebody call him.

"Mars. George! Is dat you, Mars. George?"

"Unless you want to make a ghost of me by frightening my horse,"
exclaimed the young man, checking the animal with some difficulty.
"What do you want?"

"Mars. George, is you see Miss Kitty w'en you come by des now?"

"No, I didn't stop. Is anything the matter?"

"No, sir, nothin' in 'tickler ain't de matter, 'ceppin' dat Miss Kitty
had sump'n' ter tell you."

"Are you one of the Kendrick negroes?"

"No, sir; I don't b'long dar."

"Who are you?"

"I 'clar' ter goodness, I skeer'd ter tell you, Mars. George; kaze you
mought fly up en git mad."

The young man laughed with such genuine heartiness that it did the
negro good to hear it.

"Well, I know who you are," he said; "you are Blue Dave, and you've
come to tell me that you want me to carry you to jail, where Bill Brand
can get his hands on you."

The negro was thunderstruck. "To' de Lord, Mars. George! how you know
who I is?"

"Why, I know by your looks. You've got horns and a club foot. That's
the way the Old Boy fixes himself."

"Now, Mars. George," said the negro in a grieved tone, "ef you could
see me good you wouldn't set dar en say I'm a bad-lookin' nigger."

"Are you really Blue Dave?" the young man asked, dropping his bantering
tone and speaking seriously.

"Yasser, Mars. George; I'm dat ve'y nigger."

"What do you want with me?"

"I des wanter tell you, Mars. George, dat dey's a freshet come fum
'bove, en Murder Creek is 'way out'n hits banks. You can't cross dar
wid no hoss en buggy dis night."

The young man reflected a moment. He was more interested in the
attitude of the negro than he was in the extent of the freshet or the
danger of an attempt to cross the creek.

"I've a knack of crossing Murder Creek in a freshet," he said. "But why
should you want to keep me out of it?"

"Well, sir, fer one thing," said Blue Dave, shifting about on his feet
uneasily, "you look so much like my young marster w'at died in
Perginny. En den dat day w'en de speckerlater put me up on de block,
you 'uz settin' dar straddle er yo' pony, en you 'lowed dat he oughter
be 'shame er hisse'f fer ter chain me up dat a-way."

"Oh, I remember. I made quite a fool of myself that day."

"Yasser; en den w'en de man say sump'n' sassy back, little ez you wuz,
you spurred de pony at 'im en tole 'im you'd slap 'im in de jaw. He 'uz
de skeer'dest w'ite man I ever see. I say ter myse'f den dat I hope de
day'd come w'en dat little boy'd grow up en buy me; en dat make I say
w'at I does. I want you to keep out 'n dat creek dis night, en den I
want you ter buy me. Please, sir, buy me, Mars. George; I make you de
bes' nigger you ever had."

"Why, great Jerusalem! you wouldn't be on my place a week before you'd
get your feelings hurt and rush off to the woods, and I'd never see you
any more."

"Des try me, Mars. George! des try me. I'll work my arms off ter de
elbows, en den I'll work wid de stumps. Des try me, Mars. George!"

"I expect you would be a right good hand if you hadn't been free so
long. Go home and let me see how you can work for your master, and then
maybe I'll think about buying you."

"Eh-eh, Mars. George! I better go jump in a burnin' bresh-pile. Ain't
you gwine ter tu'n back, Mars. George?"

"Not to-night. Go home and behave yourself."

With that George Denham clucked to his restive horse, and went
clattering down the road in the direction of Murder Creek, which
crossed the highway a mile further on. Blue Dave stood still a moment,
scratching his head and looking after the buggy.

"Is anybody ever see de beat er dat?" he exclaimed. "Ef Mars. George
gits in dat creek, dey's got ter be a merakel come 'bout ef he gits
out." He stood in the road a moment longer, still scratching his head
as if puzzled. Then he addressed himself indignantly. "Looky yer,
nigger, w'at you stan'in' yer fer? Whar yo' manners, whar yo'
perliteness?"

Thus, half--humorously, half--seriously, talking to himself, Blue Dave
went trotting along in the direction taken by George Denham. He moved
without apparent exertion, but with amazing swiftness. But the young
man in the buggy had also moved swiftly; and, go as fast as he might,
Blue Dave could not hope to overtake him before he reached the creek.

For George Denham was impatient to get home,--as impatient as his
horse, which did not need even the lightest touch of the whip to urge
it forward. He paid no attention to the familiar road. He was thinking
of pretty Kitty Kendrick, and of the day, not very far in the future,
he hoped, when, in going home, he should be driving towards her instead
of away from her. He paid no attention to the fact that, as he neared
the creek, his horse subsided from a swinging trot to a mincing gait
that betrayed indecision; nor did it strike him as anything unusual
that the horse should begin to splash water with his feet long before
he had reached the banks of the creek; no doubt it was a pool left
standing in the road after the heavy rains. But the pool steadily grew
deeper; and while George Denham was picturing Kitty Kendrick sitting on
one side of his fireplace and his old mother on the other,--his old
mother, with her proud face and her stately ways,--his horse stopped
and looked around. Young Denham slapped the animal with the reins,
without taking note of his surroundings. Thus reassured, the horse went
on; but the water grew deeper and deeper, and presently the creature
stopped again. This time it smelt of the water and emitted the low,
deeply-drawn snort by which horses betray their uneasiness; and when
George Denham would have urged it forward, it struck the water
impatiently with its forefoot. Aroused by this, the young man looked
around; but there was nothing to warn him of his danger. The fence that
would otherwise have been a landmark was gone. There was no loud and
angry roaring of the floods. Behind him the shifting clouds, the
shining stars, and the blue patches of sky mirrored themselves duskily
and vaguely in the slow creeping waters; before him the shadows of the
trees that clustered somewhere near the banks of the creek were so deep
and heavy that they seemed to merge the dark waters of the flood into
the gloom of the night. When the horse was quiet, peering ahead, with
its sharp little ears pointed forward, there was no sound save the
vague sighing of the wind through the tops of the scrub pines and the
gentle ripple of the waters.

As George Denham urged his horse forward, confident of his familiarity
with the surroundings, Blue Dave ran up on the little ridge to the left
through which the road had been cut or worn.

"Mars. George!" he shouted, "don't you see wharbouts you is? Wait,
Mars. George! Pull dat hoss up!"

But Blue Dave was too late. As he spoke, the horse and buggy plunged
into the flood, and for a moment they were lost to view. Then the
struggling animal seemed to strike rising ground; but the buggy was
caught in the resistless current, and, with George Denham clinging to
it, it dragged the horse down, and the swirling waters seemed to sweep
over and beyond them. Blue Dave lost not a moment. Flinging himself
into the flood from the vantage-ground on which he stood, a few strokes
of his sinewy arms carried him to where he saw George Denham disappear.
That young man was an expert swimmer; and though the sudden immersion
had taken him at a disadvantage, he would have made his way out with
little difficulty but for the fact that a heavy piece of driftwood had
been hurled against his head. Stunned, but still conscious, he was
making an ineffectual attempt to reach the shore, when he was caught by
Blue Dave and borne safely back to land. The horse, in its struggles,
had succeeded in tearing itself loose from the buggy, and they heard it
crawl up the bank on the other side and shake itself. Blue Dave carried
George Denham out of the water as one would carry a child. When he had
set the young man down in a comparatively dry place, he exclaimed with
a grin--

"Dar now, Mars. George! w'at I tell you? Little mo' en de tarrypins
would 'a' bin a-nibblin' atter you."

George Denham was dazed as well as weak. He put his hand to his head
and tried to laugh.

"You were just in time, old fellow," he said.

Then he got on his feet, and tried to walk, but he would have sunk down
again but for Blue Dave's arm.

"Why, I'm as weak as a stray cat," he exclaimed, feebly. "Let me lie
down here a moment."

"Dat I won't, Mars. George! dat I won't! I tuck 'n' brung you out, en
now I'm a-gwineter take 'n' ca'er you back dar whar Miss Kitty
waitin'."

"Well, you'll have to wait until I can walk."

"No, sir; I'll des squat down, en you kin crawl up on my back des like
you useter play hoss."

"Why, you can't carry me, old fellow; I'm too heavy for that."

"Shoo! don't you b'leeve de half er dat, Mars. George. I toted bigger
turns dan w'at you is long 'fo' I had de strenk w'at I got now. Grab me
'roun' de neck, Mars. George; git up little higher. Now, den, don't you
be fear'd er fallin'."

Blue Dave rose from his stooping posture, steadied himself a moment,
and then moved on with his living burden. He moved slowly and
cautiously at first, but gradually increased his pace to a swinging
walk that carried him forward with surprising swiftness.

To George Denham it all seemed like a dream. He suffered no pain, and
it was with a sort of queer elation of mind that he felt the huge
muscles of the negro swell and subside under him with the regularity of
machinery, and knew that every movement carried him toward Kitty
Kendrick and rest. He was strangely tired, but not otherwise
uncomfortable. He felt abundantly grateful to this poor runaway negro,
and thought that if he could overcome his mother's prejudices (she had
a horror of runaway negroes) he would buy Blue Dave and make him
comfortable. Thus they swung along until the negro's swift stride
brought them to Mrs. Kendrick's gate. There Blue Dave deposited George
Denham, and exclaimed with a laugh as he leaned against the fence--

"You'er right smart chunk er meat, Mars. George, ez sho ez de worl'!"

George Denham also leaned against the fence, but he didn't laugh. He
was thinking of what seemed to him a very serious matter.

"Mother will be frightened to death when that horse gets home," he
said.

"You go in dar en get worn, Mars. George," said Blue Dave. "I'm gwine
'roun' by de High Bridge en tell um whar you is."

"Why, you'll break yourself down," said George Deuham.

"Ah, Lord, Mars. George!" said the negro, laughing, "time you bin in de
woods long ez I is de four mile 'twix' yer en yo' house'll look mighty
short. Go in dar, Mars. George, 'fo' you git col'!"

Shortly after this, George Denham was in bed and fast asleep. He had
been met at the door by Kitty Kendrick, in whose telltale face the
blushes of that heartiest of all welcomes had chased away the pallor of
dread and anxiety. Mrs. Kendrick was less sympathetic in word than in
deed. She had known George Denham since he was a little boy in short
clothes; and while she approved of him, and had a sort of motherly
affection for him, she was disposed to be critical, as are most women
who have the knack of management.

"And so you've come back dripping, have you? Well, you ain't the first
head-strong, high-strung chap that's found out water is wet when the
creek blots out the big road, I reckon. I'm no duck myself. When I see
water, I'm like the old cat in the corner; I always feel like shaking
my foot. Kitty, call Bob and tell him to make a fire in the big room.
He's asleep, I reckon, and you'll have to holler. Set a nigger down and
he's snoring directly. You look pale," Mrs. Kendrick continued, turning
to George. "You must have gone in over your ears. I should think a
drenching like that would take all the conceit out of a man."

"Well, it has taken it all out of me, ma'am," said George, laughing.
Then the young man told Mrs. Kendrick of his misadventure, and of the
part Blue Dave had borne in it.

"He's the nigger that roosted on top of my house," said Mrs. Felix,
bustling around and putting a kettle of water on the fire. "Well, it's
a roundabout way to pay for his lodging, but it's the best he could do,
I reckon. Now, don't you worry yourself, George; in ten minutes you'll
be snug in bed, and then you'll drink a cup of composition tea, and
to-morrow morning you'll have forgotten all about trying to make a spring
branch out of Murder Creek."

As the successful mistress of a household, Mrs. Kendrick knew precisely
what was necessary to be done. There was no hitch in her system, no
delay in her methods, and no disputing her remedies. George Denham was
ordered to bed as if he had been a child; and though the "composition"
tea was hot in the month and bitter to the palate, it was useless to
protest against it. As a consequence of all this, the young man was
soon in the land of dreams.

When everything was quiet, Kitty prepared a very substantial lunch.
Then, calling her little brother Felix, she went across the yard to the
quarters, and stopped at Uncle Manuel's cabin. The door was ajar, and
Kitty could see the venerable old negro nodding before the flickering
embers. She went in and called his name--

"Uncle Manuel!"

"Eh! Who dat?" Then, looking around and perceiving Kitty, the old
negro's weather-beaten face shone with a broad smile of surprise and
welcome. "Why, honey! Why, little Mistiss! How come dis? You makes de
ole nigger feel proud; dat you does. I fear'd ter ax you ter set down,
honey, de cheer so rickety."

"Uncle Manuel," said Kitty, "do you know Blue Dave?"

Uncle Manuel was old, and wise, and cunning. He hesitated a moment
before replying, and even then his caution would not allow him to
commit himself.

"Blue Dave, he's dat ar runaway nigger, ain't he, honey? I done year
talk un 'im lots er times."

"Well," said Kitty, placing her basket upon Uncle Manuel's tool-chest,
"here is something for Blue Dave to eat. If you don't see him yourself,
perhaps you can send it to him by some one."

Uncle Manuel picked up the basket, weighed it in his hand, and then
placed it on the chest again. Then he looked curiously at Kitty, and
said--

"Honey, how come you gwine do dis? Ain't you year tell hit's ag'in de
law fer ter feed a runaway nigger?"

Kitty blushed as she thought of George Denham. "I send Blue Dave the
victuals because I choose to, Uncle Manuel," she said. "The law has
nothing to do with that little basket."

She started to go, but Uncle Manuel raised both hands heavenwards.

"Wait, little Mistiss," he cried, the tears running down his furrowed
face; "des wait, little Mistiss. 'Twou't hurt you, honey. De ole nigger
wuz des gwine ter git down ter his pra'rs 'fo' you come in. Dey ain't
no riper time dan dis."

Uncle Manuel's voice was husky with suppressed emotion. With his hands
still stretched toward the skies, and the tears still running down his
face, he fell upon his knees and exclaimed--

"Saviour en Marster er de worl'! draw nigh dis night en look down into
dis ole nigger's heart; lissen ter de humblest er de humble. Blessed
Marster! some run wild eh some go stray, some go hether en some go
yan'; but all un um mus' go befo' dy mercy-seat in de een'. Some'll
fetch big works, en some'll fetch great deeds, but po' ole Manuel won't
fetch nothiu' but one weak, sinful heart. Dear, blessed Marster! look
in dat heart en see w'at in dar. De sin dat's dar, Lord, blot it out
wid dy wounded han'. Dear Marster, bless my little Mistiss. Her comin's
en her gwines is des like one er dy angels er mercy; she scatters bread
en meat 'mongs' dem w'at's lonesome in der ways, en dem w'at runs up en
down in de middle er big tribalation. Saviour! Marster! look down 'pon
my little Mistiss; gedder her 'nead dy hev'mly wings. Ef trouble mus'
come, let it come 'pon me. I'm ole, but I'm tough; I'm ole, but I got
de strenk. Lord! let de troubles en de trials come 'pon de ole nigger
w'at kin stan' um, en save my little Mistiss fum sheddin' one tear. En
den, at de las' fetch us all home ter hev'm, whar dey's res' fer de
w'ary. Amen."

Never in her life before had Kitty felt so thrilling a sense of
nearness to her Creator as when Uncle Manuel was offering up his simple
prayer; and she went out of the humble cabin weeping gently.

III.

THE four-mile run to the Denham Plantation was fun for Blue Dave. He
was wet and cold, and the exercise acted as a lively invigorant. Once,
as he sped along, he was challenged by the patrol; but he disappeared
like a shadow, and came into the road again a mile away, singing to
himself--

Run, nigger, run! patter-roller ketch you;
Run, nigger, run! hit's almos' day!

He was well acquainted with the surroundings at the Denham Plantation,
having been fed many a time by the well-cared-for negroes; and he had
no hesitation in approaching the premises. The clouds had whirled
themselves away, and the stars told him it was ten o'clock. There was a
light in the sitting-room, and Blue Dave judged it best to go to the
back door. He rapped gently, and then a little louder. Ordinarily the
door would have been opened by the trim black housemaid; but to-night
it was opened by George Denham's mother, a prim old lady of whom
everybody stood greatly in awe without precisely knowing why. She
looked out, and saw the gigantic negro looming up on the doorsteps.

"Do you bring news of my son?" she asked. The voice was low, but
penetrating; and the calm, even tones told the story of a will too
strong to tolerate opposition, or even contradiction.

Blue Dave hesitated out of sheer embarrassment at finding such cool
serenity where he had probably expected to find grief or some such
excitement.

"Did you hear me speak?" the prim old lady asked, before the negro had
time to gather his wits. "Do you bring me news of my son?"

"Yessum," said Blue Dave, scratching his head; "dat w'at I come fer.
Mars. George gwine ter stay at de Kendrick Place ter-night. I speck he
in bed by dis time," he added, reassuringly.

"His horse has come home without buggy or harness. Is my son hurt?
Don't be afraid to tell me the truth. What has happened to him?"

How could the poor negro--how could anybody--know what a whirlwind of
yearning affection, dread, and anxiety was raging behind these cool,
level tones?

"Mistiss, I tell you de trufe: Mars. George is sorter hurted, but he
ain't hurted much. I met 'im in de road, en I tuck 'n' tole 'im dey wuz
a freshet in Murder Creek; but he des laugh at me, en he driv' in des
like dey wa'n't no water dar; en den w'en he make his disappearance, I
tuck 'n' splunge in atter 'im, en none too soon, n'er, kaze he got
strucken on de head wid a log, an w'en I fotch 'im out, he 'uz all
dazzle up like. Yit he ain't hurted much, Mistiss."

"What is your name?" the prim old lady asked.

"Blue Dave, ma'am."

"The runaway?"
The negro hesitated, looked around, and then hung down his head. He
knew the calm, fearless eyes of this gentlewoman were upon him; he felt
the influence of her firm tones. She repeated her question--

"Are you Blue Dave, the runaway?"

"Yessum."

The answer seemed to satisfy the lady. She turned and called Eliza, the
housemaid.

"Eliza, your master's supper is in the dining-room by the fire. Here
are the keys. Take it into the kitchen." Then she turned to Blue Dave.
"David," she said, "go into the kitchen and eat your supper."

Then Eliza was sent after Ellick, the negro foreman; and Ellick was not
long in finding Blue Dave a suit of linsey-woolsey clothes, a little
warmer and a little drier than those the runaway was in the habit of
wearing. Then the big greys were put to the Denham carriage, shawls and
blankets were thrown in, and Blue Dave was called.

"Have you had your supper, David?" said Mrs. Denham, looking grimmer
than ever as she stood on her veranda arrayed in bonnet and wraps.

"Thanky, Mistiss! thanky, ma'am. I ain't had no meal's vittles like
dat, not gence I lef Ferginny."

"Can you drive a carriage, David?" the old lady asked.

"Dat I kin, Mistiss." Whereupon he seized the reins and let down the
carriage steps. Mrs. Denham and her maid got in; but when everything
was ready, Blue Dave hesitated.

"Mistiss," he said, rather sheepishly, "w'en I come 'long des now, de
patter-rollers holler'd atter me."

"No matter, David," the grim old lady replied; "your own master
wouldn't order you off of my carriage."

"Keep yo' eye on dat off boss!" exclaimed Ellick, as the carriage moved
off.

"Hush, honey," Blue Dave cried, as exultantly as a child; "'fo' dey
gits ter de big gate, I'll know deze yer bosses better dan ef dey wuz
my br'er."

After that, nothing more was said. The road had been made firm and
smooth by the heavy beating rain, and the carriage swung along easily
and rapidly. The negro housemaid fell back against the cushions, and
was soon sound asleep; but Mrs. Denham sat bolt upright. Hers was an
uncompromising nature, it had been said, and certainly it seemed so;
but as the carriage rolled along, there grew before her mind's eye the
vague, dim outlines of a vision,--a vision of a human creature hiding
in the dark swamps, fleeing through the deep woods, and creeping
swiftly through the pine thickets. It was a pathetic figure, this
fleeing human creature, whether chased by dogs and men or pursued only
by the terrors that hide themselves behind the vast shadows of the
night; and the figure grew more pathetic when, as it seemed, it sprang
out of the very elements themselves to snatch her son from the floods.
The old lady sighed and pressed her thin lips together. She had made up
her mind.

Presently the carriage drew up at the Kendrick Place; and in a little
while, after effusive greetings all around, Mrs. Denham was sitting at
Mrs. Kendrick's hearth listening to the story of her son's rescue. She
wanted to go in and see George at once, but Mrs. Kendrick would consent
only on condition that he was not to be aroused.

"It is foolish to say it," said the old lady, smiling at Kitty as she
came out of the room in which her son was sleeping; "but my son seems
to look to-night just as he did when a baby."

Kitty smiled such a responsive smile, and looked so young and
beautiful, that the proud old lady stooped and kissed her.

"I think I shall love you, my dear."

"I reckon I'll have to get even with you," said Mrs. Kendrick, who had
a knack of hiding her own emotion, "by telling George that I've fallen
in love with him."

This gave a light and half-humorous turn to affairs, and in a moment
Mrs. Denham was as prim and as uncompromising in appearance as ever.

"Well!" exclaimed Mrs. Kendrick, after she and Kitty had retired for
the night, "the day's worth living if only to find out that Rebecca
Denham has got a heart in her insides. I believe actually she'd 'a'
cried for a little."

"She did cry, mother," said Kitty, solemnly. "There were tears in her
eyes when she leaned over me."

"Well, well, well!" said Mrs. Kendrick, "she always put me in mind of a
ghost that can't be laid on account of its pride. But we're what the
Lord made us, I reckon, and people deceive their looks. My old turkey
gobbler is harmless as a hound puppy; but I reckon he'd bust if he
didn't up and strut when strangers are in the front porch."

With that Mrs. Kendrick addressed herself to her prayers and to
slumber; but Kitty lay awake a long time, thinking and thinking, until
finally her thoughts became the substance of youth's sweetest dreams.

IV.

BUT why should the tender dreams of this pure heart be transcribed
here? Indeed, why should these vague outlines be spun out to the
vanishing-point, like the gossamer threads that float and glance and
disappear in the September skies? Some of the grandchildren of George
Denham and Kitty Kendrick will read these pages, and wonder, romantic
youngsters that they are, why all the love passages have been
suppressed; other readers, more practical, and perhaps severer, will
ask themselves what possible interest there can be in the narrative of
a simple episode in the life of a humble fugitive. What reply can be
made, what explanation can be offered? Fortunately, what remains to be
told may mostly be put in the sententious language of Brother Johnny
Roach.

One day, shortly after the events which have been described, Brother
Branuum rode up to Brother Roach's mill, dismounted, and hitched his
horse to the rack.

"You're mighty welcome, Brother Brannum," said Brother Roach from the
door, as cheerful under his covering of meal dust as the clown in the
pantomime; "you're mighty welcome. I had as lief talk to my hopper as
to most folks; but the hopper knows me by heart, and I dassent take too
many liberties wi' it. Come in, Brother Brannum; there's no great head
of water on, and the gear is running soberly. Sat'days, when all the
rocks are moving, my mill is a female woman; the clatter is turrible.
I'll not deny it. I hope you're well, Brother Brannum. And Sister
Brannum. I'll never forgit the savour of her Sunday dumplings, not if I
live a thousand year."

"We're well as common, Brother Roach, well as common. Yit a twitch here
and a twinge there tells us we're moving along to'rds eternity. It's
age that's a-feeling of us, Brother Roach; and when we're ripe it'll
pluck us."

"It's age rutherthan the dumplings, that I'll take the stand on,"
exclaimed Brother Roach. "Yit, when it comes to that, look at Mizzers
Denham; that woman kin look age out of countenance any day. Then
there's Giner'l Bledser; who more nimble at a muster than the Giner'l?
I see 'era both this last gone Sat'day, and though I was in-about up to
my eyes in the toll-bin, I relished the seeing and the hearing of 'em.
But I reckon you've heard the news, Brother Brannum," said Brother
Roach, modestly deprecating his own sources of information.

"Bless you! Not me, Brother Roach," said Brother Brannum; "I've heard
no news. Down in my settlement I'm cut off from the world. Let them
caper as they may, we're not pestered wi' misinformation."

"No, nor me nuther, Brother Brannum," said Brother Roach, "bekaze it's
as much as I can do for to listen at the racket of my mill. Yit there
are some sights meal dust won't begin to hide, and some talk the
clatter of the hopper won't nigh drown."

"What might they be, Brother Roach?" Brother Brannum brushed the dust
off a box with his coat-tails, and sat down.

"Well, sir," said Brother Roach, pushing his hat back, and placing his
thumbs behind his suspenders, "last Sat'day gone I was a-hurrying to
and fro, when who should pop in at the door but Giner'l Bledser?

"'Hello, Johnny!' says he, free and familiar.

"'Howdy, Giner'l,' says I. 'You look holp up, speaking off-hand,' says
I.

"'That I am, Johnny, that I am,' says he; 'I've made a trade that makes
me particular proud,' says he.

"'How's that, Giner'l?' says I.

"'Why, I've sold Blue Dave,' says he; 'eight year ago, I bought him for
five hundred dollars, and now I've sold him to Mizzerg Denham for a
thousand,' says he. 'I've got the cold cash in my pocket, and now let
'em ketch the nigger,' says he.

"'Well, Giner'l,' says I, 'it'll be time for to marvel arter you
seethe outcome, bekaze,' says I, 'when there's business in the wind,
Mizzers Denham is as long-headed and as cle'r-sighted as a Philedelphia
lawyer,' says I.

"And (would you believe it, Brother Brannum?) the outcome happened then
and there right before our very face and eyes."

"In what regards, Brother Roach?" said Brother Brannum, rubbing his
bony hands together.

"Well, sir, I glanced my eye out of the door, and I see the Denham
carriage coming down yan hill. I p'inted it out to the Giner'l, and he
ups and says, says he--

"'Davy, though she may be a-going to town for to sue me for damages,
yit, if Mizzers Denham's in that carriage, I'll salute her now,' says
he; and then he took his stand in the door, as frisky as a colt and as
smiling as a basket of chips. As they come up, I tetch'd the Giner'l on
the shoulder.

"'Giner'l,' says I, 'look clost at that nigger on the carriage,--look
clost at him,' says I.

"'Why, what the thunderation!' says he.

"'To be certain!' says I; 'that's your Blue Dave, and he looks mighty
slick,' says I.

"The Giner'l forgot for to say howdy," continued Brother Roach,
laughing until he began to wheeze; "but Mizaers Denham, she leant out
of the carriage window, and said, says she--

"'Good morning, Giner'l, good morning I David is a most excellent
driver,' says she.

"The Giner'l managed for to take off his hat, but he was in-about the
worst-whipped-out white man I ever see. And arter the carriage got out
of hearing, sir, he stood in that there door there and cussed plump
tell he couldn't cuss. When a man's been to Congress and back, he's
liable for to know how to take the name of the Lord in vain. But don't
tell me about the wimmen, Brother Brannum. Don't!"


Blue Dave was happy at last. He became a great favourite with
everybody. His voice was the loudest at the corn-shucking, his foot was
the nimblest at the plantation frolics, his row was the straightest and
the cleanest in the cotton-patch, his hand was the firmest on the
carriage-seat, his arm was the strongest at the log-rolling. When his
old mistress came to die, her wandering mind dwelt upon the negro who
had served her so faithfully. She fancied she was making a journey.

"The carriage goes smoothly along here," she said. Then, after a little
pause, she asked, "Is David driving?" and the weeping negro cried out
from a corner of the room--

"'Tain't po' Dave, Mistiss! De good Lord done tuck holt er de lines."

And so, dreaming as a little child would dream, the old lady slipped
from life into the beatitudes, if the smiles of the dead mean anything.

THE END







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