Infomotions, Inc.Bricks Without Straw / ée, Albion Winegar, 1838-1905



Author: ée, Albion Winegar, 1838-1905
Title: Bricks Without Straw
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): hesden; nimbus; dat; moyne; desmit; eliab; jes; mollie; marse; marse hesden; eliab hill; dar; miss mollie; berry; miss ainslie; colonel desmit; marse desmit; red wing
Contributor(s): Bell, Clara, 1834-1927 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 157,464 words (average) Grade range: 9-11 (high school) Readability score: 65 (easy)
Identifier: etext6058
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Title: Bricks Without Straw

Author: Albion W. Tourgee

Release Date: July, 2004  [EBook #6058]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on November 6, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, BRICKS WITHOUT STRAW ***




Charles Aldarondo, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading
Team



BRICKS WITHOUT STRAW

_A Novel_

BY

ALBION W. TOURGEE, LL.D.,

LATE JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF NORTH CAROLINA






THIS VOLUME I GRATEFULLY DEDICATE TO

My Wife;

TO WHOSE UNFLINCHING COURAGE, UNFALTERING FAITH, UNFAILING CHEER,
AND STEADFAST LOVE, I OWE MORE THAN MANY VOLUMES MIGHT DECLARE.






TRANSLATION:



[_From an ancient Egyptian Papyrus-Roll, recently discovered._]

It came to pass that when Pharaoh had made an end of giving
commandment that the children of Israel should deliver the daily
tale of bricks, but should not be furnished with any straw wherewith
to make them, but should instead go into the fields and gather
such stubble as might be left therein, that Neoncapos, the king's
jester, laughed.

And when he was asked whereat he laughed, he answered, At the king's
order.

And thereupon he laughed the more.

Then was Pharaoh, the king, exceeding wroth, and he gave commandment
that an owl be given to Neoncapos, the king's jester, and that he
be set forth without the gate of the king's palace, and that he be
forbidden to return, or to speak to any in all the land, save only
unto the owl which had been given him, until such time as the bird
should answer and tell him what he should say.

Then they that stood about the king, and all who saw Neoncapos,
cried out, What a fool's errand is this! So that the saying remains
even unto this day.

Nevertheless, upon the next day came Neoncapos again into the
presence of Pharaoh, the king.

Then was Pharaoh greatly astonished, and he said, How is this? Hath
the bird spoken?

And Neoncapos, the king's jester, bowed himself  unto the earth,
and said, He hath, my lord.

Then was Pharaoh, the king, filled with amazement,  and said, Tell
me what he hath said unto thee.

And Neoncapos raised himself before the king, and answered him,
and said:

As I went out upon the errand whereunto thou hadst sent me forth,
I remembered thy commandment  to obey it. And I spake only unto
the bird which thou gavest me, and said unto him:

There was a certain great king which held a people in bondage, and
set over them task-masters,  and required of them all the bricks
that they could make, man for man, and day by day;

For the king was in great haste seeking to build a palace which
should be greater and nobler than any in the world, and should
remain to himself  and his children a testimony of his glory forever.

And it came to pass, at length, that the king gave commandment that
no more straw should be given unto them that made the bricks, but
that they should still deliver the tale which had been aforetime
required of them.

And thereupon the king's jester laughed.

Because he said to himself, If the laborers have not straw wherewith
to attemper the clay, but only stubble and chaff gathered from
the fields, will not the bricks be ill-made and lack strength and
symmetry of form, so that the wall made thereof will not be true
and strong, or fitly joined together?    For the lack of a little
straw it may be that the palace of the great king will fall upon
him and all his people that dwell therein. Thereupon the king was
wroth with his fool, and his countenance was changed, and he spake
harshly unto him, and--

It matters not what thou saidst unto the bird, said the king. What
did the bird say unto thee?

The bird, said Neoncapos, bowing himself low before the king, the
bird, my lord, looked at me in great amaze, and cried again and
again, in an exceeding loud voice: _Who! Who-o! Who-o-o!_

Then was Pharaoh exceeding wroth, and his anger burned within him,
and he commanded that the fool should be taken and bound with cords,
and cast into prison, while he should consider of a fit punishment
for his impudent words.

NOTE.-A script attached to this manuscript, evidently of later
date, informs us that the fool escaped the penalty of his folly by
the disaster at the Red Sea.





CONTENTS



      I. TRI-NOMINATE
     II. THE FONT
    III. THE JUNONIAN RITE
     IV. MARS MEDDLES
      V. NUNC PRO TUNC
     VI. THE TOGA VIRILIS
    VII. DAMON AND PYTHIAS
   VIII. A FRIENDLY PROLOGUE
     IX. A BRUISED REED
      X. AN EXPRESS TRUST
     XI. RED WING
    XII. ON THE WAY AY TO JERICHO
   XIII. NEGOTIATING A TREATY
    XIV. BORN OF THE STORM
     XV. TO HIM AND HIS HEIRS FOREVER
    XVI. A CHILD OF THE HILLS
   XVII. GOOD-MORROW AND FAREWELL
  XVIII. "PRIME WRAPPERS,"
    XIX. THE SHADOW OF THE FLAG,
     XX. PHANTASMAGORIA,
    XXI. A CHILD-MAN
   XXII. HOW THE FALLOW WAS SEEDED
  XXIII. AN OFFERING OF FIRST-FRUITS
   XXIV. A BLACK DBMOCRITUS
    XXV. A DOUBLE-HEADED ARGUMENT
   XXVI. TAKEN AT HIS WORD
  XXVII. MOSES IN THE SUNSHINE
 XXVIII. IN THE PATH OF THE STORM
   XXIX. LIKE AND UNLIKE
    XXX. AN UNBIDDEN GUEST
   XXXI. A LIFE FOR A LIFE
  XXXII. A VOICE FROM THE DARKNESS
 XXXIII. A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
  XXXIV. THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW
   XXXV. A PARTICULAR TENANCY LAPSES
  XXXVI. THE BEACON-LIGHT OF LOVE
 XXXVII. THE "BEST FRIENDS" REVEAL THEMSELVES
XXXVIII. "THE ROSE ABOVE THE MOULD,"
  XXXIX. WHAT THE MIST HID
     XL. DAWNING
    XLI. Q. E. D.
   XLII. THROUGH A CLOUD-RIFT
  XLIII. A GLAD GOOD-BY
   XLIV. PUTTING THIS AND THAT TOGETHER
    XLV. ANOTHER OX GORED
   XLVI. BACKWARD AND FORWARD
  XLVII. BREASTING THE TORRENT
 XLVIII. THE PRICE OF HONOR
   XLIX. HIGHLY RESOLVED
      L. FACE ANSWERETH UNTO FACE
     LI. HOW SLEEP THE BRAVE?
    LII. REDEEMED OUT OF THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE
   LIII. IN THE CYCLONE
    LIV. A BOLT OUT OF THE CLOUD
     LV. AN UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER
    LVI. SOME OLD LETTERS
   LVII. A SWEET AND BITTER FRUITAGE
  LVIII. COMING TO THE FRONT
    LIX. THE SHUTTLECOCK OF FATE
     LX. THE EXODIAN
    LXI. WHAT SHALL THE END BE?
   LXII. How?






BRICKS WITHOUT STRAW.



CHAPTER I.

TRI-NOMINATE.


"Wal, I 'clar, now, jes de quarest ting ob 'bout all dis matter
o' freedom is de way dat it sloshes roun' de names 'mong us cullud
folks. H'yer I lib ober on de Hyco twenty year er mo'--nobody but
ole Marse Potem an' de Lor', an' p'raps de Debble beside, know
'zackly how long it mout hev been--an' didn't hev but one name in
all dat yer time. An' I didn't hev no use for no mo' neither, kase
dat wuz de one ole Mahs'r gib me hisself, an' nobody on de libbin'
yairth nebber hed no sech name afo' an' nebber like to agin. Dat
wuz allers de way ub ole Mahs'r's names. Dey used ter say dat he
an' de Debble made 'em up togedder while he wuz dribin' roun' in dat
ole gig 'twixt de diff'ent plantations--on de Dan an' de Ro'noke,
an' all 'bout whar de ole cuss could fine a piece o' cheap lan",
dat would do ter raise niggers on an' pay for bringin' up, at de
same time. He was a powerful smart man in his day, wuz ole Kunnel
Potem Desmit; but he speshully did beat anythin' a findin' names
fer niggers. I reckon now, ef he'd 'a hed forty thousan' cullud
folks, men an' wimmen, dar wouldn't ha' been no two on 'em hevin'
de same name.  Dat's what folks used ter say 'bout him, ennyhow.
Dey sed he used ter say ez how he wasn't gwine ter hey his niggers
mixed up wid nobody else's namin', an' he wouldn't no mo' 'low ob
one black feller callin' ob anudder  by enny nickname ner nothin'
ub dat kine, on one o' his plantations, dan he would ob his takin'
a mule, nary bit. Dey du say dat when he used ter buy a boy er
gal de berry fust ting he wuz gwine ter du wuz jes ter hev 'em up
an' gib 'em a new name, out 'n out, an' a clean suit ob close ter
'member it by; an' den, jes by way ob a little 'freshment, he used
ter make de oberseer gib 'em ten er twenty good licks, jes ter make
sure ob der fergittin' de ole un dat dey'd hed afo'. Dat's what
my mammy sed, an' she allers 'clar'd dat tow'rd de las' she nebber
could 'member what she was at de fus' no more'n ef she hed'nt been
de same gal.

"All he wanted ter know 'bout a nigger wuz jes his name, an' dey
say he could tell straight away when an' whar he wuz born, whar
he'd done lived, an' all 'bout him.  He war a powerful man in der
way ob names, shore.  Some on 'em wuz right quare, but den agin
mos' all on 'em wuz right good, an' it war powerful handy hevin' no
two on 'em alike. I've heard tell dat a heap o' folks wuz a takin'
up wid his notion, an' I reckon dat ef de s'rrender hed only stood
off long 'nuff dar wouldn't 'a been nary two niggers in de whole
State hevin' de same names. Dat _would_ hev been handy, all
roun'!

"When dat come, though, old Mahs'r's plan warn't nowhar. Lor' bress
my soul, how de names did come a-brilin' roun'! I'd done got kinder
used ter mine, hevin' bed it so long an' nebber knowin' myself by
any udder, so't I didn't like ter change. 'Sides dat, I couldn't
see no use. I'd allers got 'long well 'nuff wid it--all on'y jes
once, an' dat ar wuz so long ago I'd nigh about  forgot it. Dat
showed what a debblish cute plan dat uv ole Mahs'r's was, though.

"Lemme see, dat er wuz de fus er secon' year atter I wuz a plow-boy.
Hit wuz right in de height ob de season, an' Marse War'--dat was de
oberseer--he sent me to der Cou't House ob an ebenin' to do some
sort ob arrant for him. When I was a comin' home, jes about an hour
ob sun, I rides up wid a sort o' hard-favored man in a gig, an' he
looks at me an' at de hoss, when I goes ter ride by, mighty sharp
like; an' fust I knows he axes me my name; an' I tole him. An' den
he axes whar I lib; an' I tole him, "On de Knapp-o'-Reeds plantation."
Den he say,

"'Who you b'long to, ennyhow, boy?'

"An' I tole him 'Ole Marse Potem Desmit, sah'--jes so like.

"Den he sez 'Who's a oberseein' dar now?'

"An' I sez, 'Marse Si War', sah?'

"Den he sez, 'An' how do all de ban's on Knapp-o Reeds git 'long
wid ole Marse Potem an' Marse Si War'?'

"An' I sez, 'Oh, we gits 'long tol'able well wid Marse War', sah.'

"An' he sez, 'How yer likes old Marse Potem?'

"An' I sez, jes fool like, 'We don't like him at all, sah.'

"An' he sez, 'Why?'

"An' I sez, 'Dunno sah.'

"An' he sez, 'Don't he feed?'

"An' I sez, 'Tol'able, I spose.'

"An' he sez, 'Whip much?'

"An' I sez, 'Mighty little, sah.'

"An' he sez, 'Work hard?'

"An' I sez, 'Yes, moderate, sah.'   "An' he sez, 'Eber seed him?'

"An' I sez, 'Not ez I knows on, sah.'

"An' he sez, 'What for don't yer like him, den?'

"An' I sez, 'Dunno, on'y jes' kase he's sech a gran' rascal.'

"Den he larf fit ter kill, an' say, 'Dat's so, dat's so, boy.' Den
he take out his pencil an' write a word er two on a slip o' paper
an' say,

"'H'yer, boy, yer gibs dat ter Marse Si War', soon ez yer gits
home. D'yer heah?'

"I tole him, 'Yes, sah,' an' comes on home an' gibs dat ter Marse
Si. Quick ez he look at it he say, 'Whar you git dat, boy? 'An' when
I tole him he sez, 'You know who dat is? Dat's old Potem Desmit!
What you say to him, you little fool?'

"Den I tell Marse War' all 'bout it, an' he lay down in de yard
an' larf fit ter kill. All de same he gib me twenty licks 'cordin'
ter de orders on dat little dam bit o' paper. An' I nebber tink o'
dat widout cussin', sence.

"Dat ar, now am de only time I ebber fault my name.  Now what I
want ter change it fer, er what I want ob enny mo'? I don't want
'em. An' I tell 'em so, ebbery time too, but dey 'jes fo'ce em on
me like, an' what'll I do'bout it, I dunno. H'yer I'se got--lemme
see--one--two--tree! Fo' God, I don' know how many names I hez got!
I'm dod-dinged now ef I know who I be ennyhow. Ef ennybody ax me
I'd jes hev ter go back ter ole Mahs'r's name an' stop, kase I swar
I wouldn't know which ob de udders ter pick an' chuse from.

"I specs its all 'long o' freedom, though I can't see why a free
nigger needs enny mo' name dan the same one hed in ole slave times.
Mus' be, though. I mind now dat all de pore white folks hez got
some two tree names, but I allus thought dat wuz 'coz dey hedn't
nuffin' else ter call dere can. Must be a free feller needs mo'
name, somehow. Ef I keep on I reckon I'll git enuff atter a while.
H'yer it's gwine on two year only sence de s'rrender, an' I'se got
tree ob 'em sartain!"

The speaker was a colored man, standing before his log-house in
the evening of a day in June. His wife was the only listener to
the monologue. He had been examining a paper which was sealed and
stamped with official formality, and which had started him upon
the train of thought he had pursued. The question he was trying in
vain to answer was only the simplest and easiest of the thousand
strange queries which freedom had so recently propounded to him
and his race.



CHAPTER II.

THE FONT.


Knapp-of-reeds was the name of a plantation which was one of the
numerous possessions of P. Desmit, Colonel and Esquire, of the
county of Horsford, in the northernmost of those States which good
Queen Caroline was fortunate enough to have designated as memorials
of her existence. The plantation was just upon that wavy line which
separates the cotton region of the east from the tobacco belt that
sweeps down the pleasant ranges of the Piedmont region, east of
the Blue Appalachians.  Or, to speak more correctly, the plantation
was in that indeterminate belt which neither of the great staples
could claim exclusively as its own--that delectable land where every
conceivable product of the temperate zone  grows, if not in its
rankest luxuriance, at least in perfection  and abundance. Tobacco
on the hillsides, corn upon the wide bottoms, cotton on the gray
uplands, and wheat, oats, fruits, and grasses everywhere. Five
hundred acres of hill and bottom, forest and field, with what was
termed the Island, consisting of a hundred more, which had never been
overflowed in the century of cultivation it had known, constituted
a snug and valuable plantation.  It had been the seat of an old
family once, but extravagant living and neglect of its resources
had compelled its sale, and it had passed into the hands of its
present owner, of whose vast possessions it formed an insignificant
part.

Colonel Desmit was one of the men who applied purely business
principles to the opportunities which the South afforded in the
olden time, following everything to its logical conclusion, and
measuring every opportunity by its money value. He was not of an
ancient family.  Indeed, the paternal line stopped short with his
own father, and the maternal one could only show one more link,
and then became lost in malodorous tradition which hung about an
old mud-daubed log-cabin on the most poverty-stricken portion of
Nubbin Ridge.

There was a rumor that the father had a left-handed kinship with
the Brutons, a family of great note in the public annals of the
State. He certainly showed qualities which tended to confirm this
tradition, and abilities which entitled him to be considered the
peer of the best of that family, whose later generations were by
no means the equals of former ones. Untiring and unscrupulous, Mr.
Peter Smith rose from the position of a nameless son of an unknown
father, to be as overseer for one of the wealthiest proprietors of
that region, and finally, by a not unusual turn of fortune's wheel,
became the owner of a large part of his employer's estates. Thrifty
in all things, he married in middle life, so well as nearly to
double the fortune then acquired, and before his death had become
one of the wealthiest men in his county. He was always hampered by
a lack of education. He could read little and write less. In his
later days he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and was chosen
one of the County Court, or "Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions,"
as it was technically called. These honors were so pleasant to
him that he determined to give his only son a name which should
commemorate this event. The boy was, therefore, christened after the
opening words of his commission of the peace, and grew to manhood
bearing the name Potestatem Dedimus [Footnote: Potestatem dedimus:
"We give thee power, etc." The initial words of the clause conferring
jurisdiction upon officers, in the old forms of judicial commissions.
This name is fact, not fancy.] Smith. This son was educated
with care--the shrewd father feeling his own need--but was  early
instilled with his father's greed for gain, and the necessity for
unusual exertion if he would achieve equal position with the old
families who were to be his rivals.

The young man proved a worthy disciple of his father.  He married,
it is true, without enhancing his fortune; but he secured what was
worth almost as much for the promotion of his purposes as if he
had doubled his belongings. Aware of the ill-effects of so recent a
bar sinister in his armorial bearings, he sought in marriage Miss
Bertha Bellamy, of Belleville, in the State of Virginia,  who
united in her azure veins at least a few drops of the blood of all
the first families of that fine-bred aristocracy, from Pocahontas's
days until her own. The _role_ of the gentleman had been
too much for the male line of the Bellamys to sustain. Horses and
hounds  and cards and high living had gradually eaten down their
once magnificent patrimony, until pride and good blood and poverty
were the only dowry that the females could command. Miss Bertha,
having already arrived at the age of discretion, found that to match
this against the wealth of young Potestatem Dedimus Smith was as
well as she could hope to do, and accepted him upon condition  that
the vulgar _Smith_ should be changed to some less democratic
name.

The one paternal and two maternal ancestors had not made the very
common surname peculiarly sacred to the young man, so the point was
yielded; and by considerable persistency on the part of the young
wife, "P. D.  SMITH" was transformed without much trouble into "P.
DESMIT," before the administrator had concluded the settlement of
his father's estate.

The vigor with which the young man devoted himself to affairs and
the remarkable success which soon began to attend his exertions
diverted attention from the name, and before he had reached middle
life he was known over almost half the State as "Colonel Desmit,"
"Old Desmit," or "Potem Desmit," according to the degree of familiarity
or respect desired to be displayed.  Hardly anybody remembered and
none alluded to the fact that the millionaire of Horsford was only
two removes  from old Sal Smith of Nubbin Ridge. On the other hand
the rumor that he was in some mysterious manner remotely akin to
the Brutons was industriously circulated by the younger members of
that high-bred house, and even "the Judge," who was of about the
same age as Colonel Desmit, had been heard more than once to call
him "Cousin." These things affected Colonel Desmit but little. He
had set himself to improve his father's teachings and grow rich. He
seemed to have the true Midas touch. He added acre to acre, slave
to slave, business to business, until his possessions were scattered
from the mountains to the sea, and especially extended on both sides
the border line in the Piedmont region where he had been bred. It
embraced every form of business known to the community of which
he was a part, from the cattle ranges of the extreme west to the
fisheries of the farthest east. He made his possessions a sort of
self-supporting commonwealth in themselves.  The cotton which he
grew on his eastern farms was manufactured at his own factory, and
distributed to his various plantations to be made into clothing
for his slaves.  Wheat and corn and meat, raised upon some of his
plantations, supplied others devoted to non-edible staples.  The
tobacco grown on the Hyco and other plantations in that belt was
manufactured at his own establishment, supplied his eastern laborers
and those which wrought in the pine woods to the southward at the
production of naval supplies. He had realized the dream of his own
life and the aspiration of his father, the overseer, and had become
one of the wealthiest men in the State. But he attended to all this
himself. Every overseer knew that he was liable any day or night
to receive a visit from the untiring owner of all this wealth, who
would require an instant accounting for every bit of the property
under his charge. Not only the presence and condition of every
slave, mule, horse or other piece of stock must be accounted for,
but the manner of its employment stated.  He was an inflexible
disciplinarian, who gave few orders, hated instructions, and only
asked results. It was his custom to place an agent in charge of a
business without directions, except to make it pay. His only care
was to see that his property did not depreciate, and that the course
adopted by the agent was one likely to produce good results. So
long as this was the case he was satisfied.  He never interfered,
made no suggestions, found no fault. As soon as he became dissatisfied
the agent was removed and another substituted. This was done without
words or controversy, and it was a well-known rule that a man once
discharged from such a trust could never enter his employ again.
For an overseer to be dismissed by Colonel Desmit was to forfeit
all chance for employment in that region, since it was looked upon
as a certificate either of incapacity or untrustworthiness.

Colonel Desmit was especially careful in regard to his slaves.
His father had early shown him that no branch of business was, or
could be, half so profitable as the rearing of slaves for market.

"A healthy slave woman," the thrifty father had been accustomed
to say, "will yield a thousand per cent upon her value, while
she needs less care and involves less risk than any other species
of property." The son, with a broader knowledge, had carried his
father's instructions to more accurate and scientific results. He
found that the segregation of large numbers of slaves upon a single
plantation was not favorable either to the most rapid multiplication
or economy of sustenance. He had carefully determined the fact
that plantations of moderate extent, upon the high, well-watered
uplands of the Piedmont belt, were the most advantageous locations
that could be found for the rearing of slaves. Such plantations,
largely worked by female slaves, could be made to return a small
profit on the entire investment, without at all taking into account
the increase of the human stock.  This was, therefore, so much
added profit. From careful study and observation he had deduced
a specific formulary by which he measured the rate of gain. With
a well-selected force, two thirds of which should be females, he
calculated that with proper care such plantations could be made to
pay, year by year, an interest of five per cent on the first cost,
and, in addition, double the value of the working force every eight
years. This conclusion he had arrived at from scientific study of
the rates of mortality and increase, and in settling upon it he
had cautiously left a large margin for contingencies. He was not
accustomed to talk about his business, but when questioned as to
his uniform success and remarkable prosperity, always attributed it
to a system which he had inexorably followed, and which had never
failed to return to him at least twenty per cent. per annum upon
every dollar he had invested.

So confident was he in regard to the success of this plan that he
became a large but systematic borrower of money at the legal rate
of six per cent, taking care that his maturing liabilities should,
at no time, exceed a certain proportion of his available estate.
By this means his wealth increased with marvelous rapidity.

The success of his system depended, however, entirely upon the care
bestowed upon his slaves. They were never neglected. Though he had
so many that of hundreds of them he did not know even the faces, he
gave the closest attention to their hygienic condition, especially
that of the women, who were encouraged by every means to bear children.
It was a sure passport to favor with the master and the overseer:
tasks were lightened; more abundant food provided; greater liberty
enjoyed; and on the birth of a child a present of some sort was
certain to be given the mother.

The one book which Colonel Desmit never permitted anybody else to
keep or see was the register of his slaves.  He had invented for
himself an elaborate system by which in a moment he could ascertain
every element of the value of each of his more than a thousand slaves
at the date of his last visitation or report. When an overseer was
put in charge of a plantation he was given a list of the slaves
assigned to it, by name and number, and was required to report
every month the condition of each slave during the month previous,
as to health and temper, and also the labor in which the same had
been employed each day. It was only as to the condition of the slaves
that the owner gave explicit directions to his head-men.  "Mighty
few people know how to take care of a nigger," he was wont to say;
and as he made the race a study and looked to them for his profits,
he was attentive to their condition.

Among the requirements of his system was one that each slave born
upon his plantations should be named only by himself; and this was
done only on personal inspection. Upon a visit to a plantation,
therefore, one of his special duties always was to inspect, name,
and register all slave children who had been born to his estate
since his previous visitation.

It was in the summer of 1840 that a traveler drove into the grove
in front of the house at Knapp-of-Reeds, in the middle of a June
afternoon, and uttered the usual halloo. He was answered after a
moment's delay by a colored woman, who came out from the kitchen
and exclaimed,

"Who's dah?"

It was evident at once that visitors were not frequent at
Knapp-of-Reeds.

"Where's Mr. Ware?" asked the stranger.

"He's done gone out in de new-ground terbacker, long wid de han's,"
answered the woman.

"Where is the new-ground this year?" repeated the questioner.
"Jes' down on the p'int 'twixt de branch an' de Hyco," she replied.

"Anybody you can send for him?"

"Wal, thar mout be some shaver dat's big enough to go, but Marse
War's dat keerful ter please Marse Desmit dat he takes 'em all
outen de field afore dey can well toddle," said the woman doubtfully.

"Well, come and take my horse," said he, as he began to descend
from his gig, "and send for Mr. Ware to come up at once."

The woman came forward doubtfully and took the horse by the bit,
while the traveler alighted. No sooner did he turn fully toward
her than her face lighted up with a smile, and she said,

"Wal, dar, ef dat a'n't Marse Desmit hisself, I do believe! How
d'ye do, Mahs'r?" and the woman dropped a courtesy.

"I'm very well, thank ye, Lorency, an' glad to see you looking so
peart," he responded pleasantly.  "How's Mr. Ware and the people?
All well, I hope."

"All tol'able, Mahs'r, thank ye."

"Well, tie the horse, and get me some dinner, gal. I haven't eaten
since I left home."

"La sakes!" said the woman in a tone of commiseration, though she
had no idea whether it was twenty or forty miles he had driven
since his breakfast.

The man who sat upon the porch and waited for the coming of
Mr. Silas Ware, his overseer, was in the prime of life, of florid
complexion, rugged habit, short stubbly hair--thick and bristling,
that stood close and even on his round, heavy head from a little
way above the beetling brows well down upon the bull-like neck which
joined but hardly separated the massive head and herculean trunk.
This hair, now almost white, had been a yellowish red, a hue which
still showed in the eyebrows and in the stiff beard which was allowed
to grow beneath the angle of his massive jaw, the rest of his face
being clean shaven. The eyes were deep-sunk and of a clear, cold
blue. His mouth broad, with firm, solid lips. Dogged resolution,
unconquerable will, cold-blooded selfishness, and a keen hog-cunning
showed in his face, while his short, stout form--massive but not
fleshy--betrayed a capacity to endure fatigue which few men could
rival.

"How d'ye, Mr. Ware?" he said as that worthy came striding in from
the new-ground nervously chewing a mouthful of home-made twist,
which he had replenished several times since leaving the field,
without taking the precaution to provide stowage for the quantity
he was taking aboard.

"How d'ye, Colonel?" said Ware uneasily.

"Reckon you hardly expected me to day?" continued Desmit, watching
him closely. "No, I dare say not. They hardly ever do. Fact is, I
rarely ever know myself long enough before to send word."

He laughed heartily, for his propensity for dropping in unawares
upon his agents was so well known that he enjoyed their confusion
almost as much as he valued the surprise as a means of ascertaining
their attention to his interests. Ware was one of his most trusted
lieutenants, however, and everything that he had ever seen or
heard satisfied him of the man's faithfulness. So he made haste to
relieve him from embarrassment, for the tall, awkward, shambling
fellow was perfectly overwhelmed.

"It's a long time since I've been to see you, Mr. Ware--almost
a year. There's mighty few men I'd let run a plantation that long
without looking after them. Your reports have been very correct,
and the returns of your work very satisfactory. I hope the stock
and hands are in good condition?"

"I must say, Colonel Desmit," responded Ware, gathering confidence,
"though perhaps I oughtn't ter say it myself, that I've never seen
'em lookin' better. 'Pears like everything hez been jest about ez
favorable fer hands an' stock ez one could wish. The spring's work
didn't seem ter worry the stock a mite, an' when the new feed come
on there was plenty on't, an' the very best quality.  So they shed
off ez fine ez ever you see ennything in yer life, an' hev jest
been a doin' the work in the crop without turnin' a hair."

"Glad to hear it, Mr. Ware," said Desmit encouragingly.

"And the hands," continued Ware, "have jest been in prime condition.
We lost Horion, as I reported to you in--lemme see, February, I
reckon--along o' rheumatism which he done cotch a runnin' away from
that Navigation Company that you told me to send him to work for."

"Yes, I know. You told him to come home if they took him into
Virginia, as I directed, I suppose."

"Certainly, sir," said Ware; "an' ez near ez I can learn they took
him off way down below Weldon somewheres, an' he lit out to come
home jest at the time of the February  'fresh.' He had to steal
his way afoot, and was might'ly used up when he got here, and died
some little time afterward."

"Yes. The company will have to pay a good price for him. Wasn't a
better nor sounder nigger on the river," said Desmit.

"That ther warn't," replied Ware. "The rest has all been well.
Lorency had a bad time over her baby, but she's 'round again as
peart as ever."   "So I see. And the crops?"

"The best I've ever seed sence I've been here, Colonel.  Never had
such a stand of terbacker, and the corn looks prime. Knapp-of-Reeds
has been doin' better 'n' better ever sence I've knowed it; but
she's jest outdoin' herself this year."

"Haven't you got anything to drink, Ware?"

"I beg your _parding_, Colonel; I was that flustered I done
forgot my manners altogether," said Ware apologetically.  "I hev
got a drap of apple that they say is right good for this region,
and a trifle of corn that ain't nothing to brag on, though it does
for the country right well."

Ware set out the liquor with a bowl of sugar from his sideboard as
he spoke, and called to the kitchen for a glass and water.

"That makes me think," said Desmit. "Here, you Lorency, bring me
that portmanty from the gig."

When it was brought he unlocked it and took out a bottle, which he
first held up to the light and gazed tenderly through, then drew
the cork and smelled of its contents, shook his head knowingly,
and then handed it to Ware, who went through the same performance
very solemnly.

"Here, gal," said Desmit sharply, "bring us another tumbler. Now,
Mr. Ware," said he unctuously when it had been brought, "allow me,
sir, to offer you some brandy which is thirty-five years old--pure
French brandy, sir. Put it in my portmanty specially for you, and
like to have forgot it at the last. Just try it, man."

Ware poured himself a dram, and swallowed it with a gravity which
would have done honor to a more solemn occasion, after bowing low
to his principal and saying earnestly,   "Colonel, your very good
health."

"And now," said Desmit, "have the hands and stock brought up while
I eat my dinner, if you please. I have a smart bit of travel before
me yet to-day."

The overseer's horn was at Ware's lips in a moment, and before the
master had finished his dinner every man, woman, and child on the
plantation was in the yard, and every mule and horse was in the
barn-lot ready to be brought out for his inspection.

The great man sat on the back porch, and, calling up the slaves one
by one, addressed some remark to each, gave every elder a quarter
and every youngster a dime, until he came to the women. The first
of these was Lorency, the strapping cook, who had improved the time
since her master's coming to make herself gay with her newest gown
and a flaming new turban. She came forward pertly, with a young
babe upon her arm.

"Well, Lorency, Mr. Ware says you have made me a present since I
was here?"

"Yah! yah! Marse Desmit, dat I hab! Jes' de finest little nigger
boy yer ebber sot eyes on. Jes' you look at him now," she continued,
holding up her brighteyed pickaninny. "Ebber you see de beat ub
dat?  Reg'lar ten pound, an' wuff two hundred dollars dis bressed
minnit."

"Is that it, Lorency?" said Desmit, pointing to the child. "Who
ever saw such a thunder-cloud?"

There was a boisterous laugh at the master's joke from the assembled
crowd. Nothing abashed, the good-natured mother replied, with ready
wit,

"Dat so, Marse Kunnel. He's _brack_, he is. None ob yer bleached
out yaller sort of coffee-cullud nigger 'bout _him_. De rale
ole giniwine kind, dat a coal make a white mark on. Yah I yah! what
yer gwine ter name him, Mahs'r? Gib him a good name, now, none o'
yer common mean ones, but jes' der bes' one yer got in yer book;"
for Colonel Desmit was writing in a heavy clasped book which rested
on a light stand beside him.

"What is it, Mahs'r?"

"Nimbus," replied the master.

"Wh--what?" asked the mother. "Say dat agin', won't yer, Mahs'r?"

"Nimbus--_Nimbus_," repeated Desmit.

"Wal, I swan ter gracious!" exclaimed the mother.  "Ef dat don't
beat! H'yer! little--what's yer name?  Jes' ax yer Mahs'r fer a
silver dollar ter pay yer fer hevin' ter tote dat er name 'roun'
ez long ez yer lives."

She held the child toward its godfather and owner as she spoke, amid
a roar of laughter from her fellow-servants.  Desmit good-naturedly
threw a dollar into the child's lap, for which Lorency courtesied,
and then held out her hand.

"What do you want now, gal?" asked Desmit.

"Yer a'n't a gwine ter take sech a present ez dis from a pore cullud
gal an' not so much ez giv' her someting ter remember hit by, is
yer?" she asked with arch persistency.

"There, there," said he laughing, as he gave her another dollar.
"Go on, or I shan't have a cent left."

"All right, Marse Kunnel. Thank ye, Mahs'r," she said, as she walked
off in triumph.

"Oh, hold on," said Desmit; "how old is it, Lorency?"

"Jes' sebben weeks ole dis bressed day, Mahs'r," said the proud
mother as she vanished into the kitchen to boast of her good-fortune
in getting two silver dollars out of Marse Desmit instead of the one
customarily given by him on such occasions.    And so the record
was made up in the brass-clasped book of Colonel Potestatem Desmit,
the only baptismal register of the colored man who twenty-six
years afterward  was wondering at the names which were seeking him
against his will.

_697--Nimbus--of Lorency--Male--April 24th, 1840--Sound--Knapp-of-Reeds._

It was a queer baptismal entry, but a slave needed no more--indeed
did not need that. It was not given for his sake, but only for the
convenience of his godfather should the chattel ever seek to run
away, or should it become desirable to exchange him for some other
form of value. There was nothing harsh or brutal or degraded about
it. Mr. Desmit was doing, in a business way, what the law not only
allowed but encouraged him to do, and doing it because it paid.



CHAPTER III.

THE JUNONIAN RITE.


"Marse Desmit?"

"Well?"

"Ef yer please, Mahs'r, I wants ter marry?"

"The devil you do!"

"Yes, sah, if you please, sah."

"What's your name?"

"Nimbus."

"So: you're the curer at Knapp-of-Reeds, I believe?"

"Yes, sah."   "That last crop was well done. Mr. Ware says you're
one of the best hands he has ever known."

"Thank ye, Mahs'r," with a bow and scrape.

"What's the gal's name?"

"Lugena, sah."

"Yes, Vicey's gal--smart gal, too. Well, as I've about concluded to
keep you both--if you behave yourselves, that is, as well as you've
been doing--I don't know as there's any reason why you shouldn't
take up with her."

"Thank ye, Mahs'r," very humbly, but very joyfully.

The speakers were the black baby whom Desmit had christened Nimbus,
grown straight and strong, and just turning his first score on the
scale of life, and Colonel Desmit, grown a little older, a little
grayer, a little fuller, and a great deal richer--if only the small
cloud of war just rising on the horizon would blow over and leave
his possessions intact. He believed it would, but he was a wise
man and a cautious one, and he did not mean to be caught napping
if it did not.

Nimbus had come from Knapp-of-Reeds to a plantation twenty miles
away, upon a pass from Mr. Ware, on the errand his conversation
disclosed. He was a fine figure of a man despite his ebon hue,
and the master, looking at him, very naturally noted his straight,
strong back, square shoulders, full, round neck, and shapely,
well-balanced head. His face was rather heavy--grave, it would
have been called if he had been white--and his whole figure and
appearance showed an earnest and thoughtful temperament. He was as
far from that volatile type which, through the mimicry of burnt-cork
minstrels and the exaggerations of caricaturists, as well as the
works of less disinterested portrayers of the race, have come to
represent the negro to the unfamiliar mind, as the typical Englishman
is from the Punch-and-Judy figures which amuse him. The slave Nimbus
in a white skin would have been considered a man of great physical
power and endurance, earnest purpose, and quiet, self-reliant
character. Such, in truth, he was. Except  the whipping he had
received when but a lad, by his master's orders, no blow had ever
been struck him. Indeed, blows were rarely stricken on the plantations
of Colonel Desmit; for while he required work, obedience, and
discipline, he also fed well and clothed warmly, and allowed no
overseer to use the lash for his own gratification, or except for
good cause. It was well known that nothing would more surely secure
dismissal from his service than the free use of the whip. Not that
he thought there was anything wrong or inhuman about the whipping-post,
but it was entirely contrary to his policy.  To keep a slave
comfortable, healthy, and good-natured, according to Colonel Desmit's
notion, was to increase his value, and thereby add to his owner's
wealth. He knew that Nimbus was a very valuable slave. He had
always been attentive to his tasks, was a prime favorite with his
overseer, and had already acquired the reputation of being one of the
most expert and trusty men that the whole region could furnish, for
a tobacco crop. Every step in the process of growing and curing--from
the preparation of the seed-bed to the burning of the coal-pit,
and gauging the heat required in the mud-daubed barn for different
kinds of leaf and in every stage of cure--was perfectly familiar
to him, and he could always be trusted to see that it was properly
and opportunely done. This fact, together with his quiet and contented
disposition, added very greatly to his value. The master regarded
him, therefore, with great satisfaction. He was willing to gratify
him in any reasonable way, and so, after some rough jokes at his
expense, wrote out his marriage-license in these words, in pencil,
on the blank leaf of a notebook:

MR. WARE: Nimbus and Lugena want to take up with each other. You
have a pretty full force now, but I have decided to keep them and
sell some of the old ones--say Vicey and Lorency. Neither have had
any children for several years, and are yet strong, healthy women,
who will bring nearly as much as the girl Lugena.  I shall make
up a gang to go South in charge of Winburn next week. You may send
them over to Louisburg  on Monday. You had better give Nimbus the
empty house near the tobacco-barn. We need a trusty man there.
Respectfully, P. DESMIT.

So Nimbus went home happy, and on the Saturday night following, in
accordance with this authority, with much mirth and clamor, and with
the half-barbarous and half-Christian ceremony--which the law did
not recognize; which bound neither parties, nor master nor stranger;
which gave Nimbus no rights and Lugena no privileges; which neither
sanctified the union nor protected  its offspring--the slave "boy"
and "gal" "took up with each other," and began that farce which
the victims  of slavery were allowed to call "marriage." The sole
purpose of permitting it was to raise children. The offspring were
sometimes called "families," even in grave legal works; but there
was no more of the family right of protection, duty of sustenance
and care, or any other of the sacred elements which make the family
a type of heaven, than attends the propagation of any other species
of animate property. When its purpose had been served, the voice
of the master effected instant divorce.  So, on the Monday morning
thereafter the mothers of  the so-called bride and groom, widowed
by the inexorable  demands of the master's interests, left husband
and children, and those fair fields which represented all that they
knew of the paradise which we call home, and with tears and groans
started for that living tomb, the ever-devouring and insatiable
"far South."



CHAPTER IV.

MARS MEDDLES.


LOUISBURG, January 10, 1864.

MR. SILAS WARE:

DEAR SIR: In ten days I have to furnish twenty hands to work on
fortifications for the Confederate Government.  I have tried every
plan I could devise to avoid doing so, but can put it off no longer.
I anticipated this long ago, and exchanged all the men I could
possibly spare for women, thinking that would relieve me, but it
makes no difference. They apportion the levy upon the number of
slaves. I shall have to furnish more pretty soon. The trouble is
to know who to send. I am afraid every devil of them will run away,
but have concluded that if I send Nimbus as a sort of headman of the
gang, he may be able to bring them through. He is a very faithful
fellow, with none of the fool-notions niggers sometimes get, I
think. In fact, he is too dull to have such notions. At the same
time he has a good deal of influence over the others. If you agree
with this idea, send him to me at once.  Respectfully, P. DESMIT.

In accordance with this order Nimbus was sent on to have another
interview with his master. The latter's wishes were explained,
and he was asked if he could fulfil them.    "Dunno," he answered
stolidly.

"Are you willing to try?"

"S'pect I hev ter, ennyhow, ef yer say so."

"Now, Nimbus, haven't I always been a good master to you?"
reproachfully.

No answer.

"Haven't I been kind to you always?"

"Yer made Marse War' gib me twenty licks once."

"Well, weren't you saucy, Nimbus? Wouldn't you have done that to
a nigger that called you a 'grand rascal' to your face?"

"S'pecs I would, Mahs'r."

"Of course you would. You know that very well.  You've too much
sense to remember that against me now.  Besides, if you are not
willing to do this I shall have to sell you South to keep you out
of the hands of the Yanks."

Mr, Desmit knew how to manage "niggers," and full well understood
the terrors of being "sold South." He saw his advantage in the
flush of apprehension which, before he had ceased speaking, made
the jetty face before  him absolutely ashen with terror.

"Don't do dat, Marse Desmit, ef _you_ please! Don't do dat er
wid Nimbus! Mind now, Mahs'r, I'se got a wife an' babies."

"So you have, and I know you don't want to leave them."

"No more I don't, Mahs'r," earnestly.

"And you need not if you'll do as I want you to. See here, Nimbus,
if you'll do this I will promise that you and your family never
shall be separated, and I'll give you fifty dollars now and a
hundred dollars when you come back, if you'll just keep those other
fool-niggers from trying--mind' I say _trying_--to run away and
so getting shot. There's no such thing as getting to the Yankees,
and it would be a heap worse for them if they did, but you know
they _are_ such fools they might try it and get killed--which
would serve them right, only I should have to bear the loss."

"All right, Mahs'r, I do the best I can," said Nimbus.

"That's right," said the master.

"Here are fifty dollars," and he handed him a Confederate  bill of
that denomination (gold value at that time, $3.21).

Mr. Desmit did not feel entirely satisfied when Nimbus and his
twenty fellow-servants went off upon the train to work for the
Confederacy. However, he had done all he could except to warn the
guards to be very careful, which he did not neglect to do.

Just forty days afterward a ragged, splashed and torn young ebony
Samson lifted the flap of a Federal officer's tent upon one of the
coast islands, stole silently in, and when he saw the officer's
eyes fixed upon him. asked,

"Want ary boy, Mahs'r?"

The tone, as well as the form of speech, showed a new-comer. The
officer knew that none of the colored men who had been upon the
island any length of time would have ventured into his presence
unannounced, or have made such an inquiry.

"Where did you come from?" he asked.

"Ober to der mainlan'," was the composed answer.

"How did you get here?"

"Come in a boat."

"Run away?"

"S'pose so."

"Where did you live?"

"Up de kentry--Horsford County."

"How did you come down here?"   "Ben wukkin' on de bres'wuks."

"The dickens you have!"

"Yes, sah."

"How did you get a boat, then?"

"Jes' tuk it--dry so."

"Anybody with you?"

"No, Mahs'r."

"And you came across the Sound alone in an open boat?"

"Yes, Mahs'r; an' fru' de swamp widout any boat."

"I should say so," laughed the officer, glancing at his clothes.
"What did you come here for?"

"Jes'--_kase_."

"Didn't they tell you you'd be worse off with the Yankees than you
were with them?"

"Yes, sah."

"Didn't you believe them?"

"Dunno, sah."

"What do you want to do?"

"Anything."

"Fight the rebs?"

"Wal, I kin du it."

"What's your name?"

"Nimbus."

"Nimbus? Good name--ha! ha: what else?"

"Nuffin' else."

"Nothing else? What was your old master's name?"

"Desmit--Potem Desmit."

"Well, then, that's yours, ain't it--your surname--Nimbus Desmit?"

"Reckon not, Mahs'r."

"No? Why not?"

"Same reason his name ain't Nimbus, I s'pose."

"Well," said the officer, laughing, "there may be  something in
that; but a soldier must have two names.  Suppose I call you George
Nimbus?"

"Yer kin call me jes' what yer choose, sah; but my name's Nimbus
all the same. No Gawge Nimbus, nor ennything Nimbus, nor Nimbus
ennything--jes' Nimbus; so. Nigger got no use fer two names, nohow."

The officer, perceiving that it was useless to argue the matter
further, added his name to the muster-roll of a regiment, and
he was duly sworn into the service of the United States as George
Nimbus, of Company C, of the---Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry,
and was counted one of the quota which the town of Great Barringham,
in the valley of the Housatuck, was required to furnish to complete
the pending call for troops to put down rebellion. By virtue of
this fact, the said George Nimbus  became entitled to the sum of
four hundred dollars bounty money offered by said town to such as
should give themselves to complete its quota of "the boys in blue,"
in addition to his pay and bounty from the Government.  So, if it
forced on him a new name, the service  of freedom was not altogether
without compensatory advantages.

Thus the slave Nimbus was transformed into the "contraband" George
Nimbus, and became not only a soldier of fortune, but also the
representative of a patriotic citizen of Great Barringham, who served
his country by proxy, in the person of said contraband, faithfully
and well until the end of the war, when the South fell--stricken
at last most fatally by the dark hands which she had manacled,
and overcome by their aid whose manhood she had refused to
acknowledge.



CHAPTER V.

NUNC PRO TUNC.


The first step in the progress from the prison-house of bondage
to the citadel of liberty was a strange one. The war was over. The
struggle for autonomy and the inviolability of slavery, on the part
of the South, was ended, and fate had decided against them. With
this arbitrament of war fell also the institution which had been
its cause. Slavery was abolished--by proclamation, by national
enactment, by constitutional amendment--ay, by the sterner logic
which forbade a nation to place shackles again upon hands which
had been raised in her defence, which had fought for her life and
at her request.  So the slave was a slave no more. No other man
could claim his service or restrain his volition. He might go or
come, work or play, so far as his late master was concerned.

But that was all. He could not contract, testify, marry or give
in marriage. He had neither property, knowledge, right, or power.
The whole four millions did not possess that number of dollars
or of dollars' worth.  Whatever they had acquired in slavery was
the master's, unless he had expressly made himself a trustee for
their benefit. Regarded from the legal standpoint it was, indeed,
a strange position in which they were. A race despised, degraded,
penniless, ignorant, houseless, homeless, fatherless, childless,
nameless. Husband or wife there was not one in four millions.
Not a child might call upon a father for aid, and no man of them
all might lift his hand in a daughter's defence. Uncle and aunt
and cousin, home, family--none of these words had any place in
the freedman's vocabulary. Right he had, in the abstract; in the
concrete, none. Justice would not hear his voice. The law was still
color-blinded by the past.

The fruit of slavery--its first ripe harvest, gathered with swords
and bloody bayonets, was before the nation which looked ignorantly
on the fruits of the deliverance it had wrought. The North did not
comprehend its work; the South could not comprehend its fate. The
unbound slave looked to the future in dull, wondering hope.

The first step in advance was taken neither by the nation nor by the
freedmen. It was prompted by the voice of conscience, long hushed
and hidden in the master's breast. It was the protest of Christianity
and morality against that which it had witnessed with complacency
for many a generation. All at once it was perceived to be a great
enormity that four millions of Christian people, in a Christian
land, should dwell together without marriage rite or family tie.
While they were slaves, the fact that they might be bought and sold
had hidden this evil from the eye of morality, which had looked
unabashed upon the unlicensed freedom of the quarters and the
enormities of the barracoon. Now all at once it was shocked beyond
expression at the domestic relations of the freedmen.

So they made haste in the first legislative assemblies that met in
the various States, after the turmoil of war had ceased, to provide
and enact:

I. That all those who had sustained to each other the relation of
husband and wife in the days of slavery, might, upon application
to an officer named in each county, be registered as such husband
and wife.

2. That all who did not so register within a certain time should
be liable to indictment, if the relation continued thereafter.

3. That the effect of such registration should be to constitute such
parties husband and wife, as of the date of their first assumption
of marital relations.

4. That for every such couple registered the officer should be
entitled to receive the sum of one half-dollar from the parties
registered.

There was a grim humor about this marriage of a race by wholesale,
millions at a time, and _nunc pro tunc;_ but especially quaint
was the idea of requiring each freed-man, who had just been torn,
as it were naked, from the master's arms, to pay a snug fee for
the simple privilege of entering upon that relation which the law
had rigorously withheld from him until that moment. It was a strange
remedy for a long-hidden and stubbornly denied disease, and many
strange scenes were enacted in accordance with the provisions of
this statute. Many an aged couple, whose children had been lost in
the obscure abysses of slavery, or had gone before them into the
spirit land, old and feeble and gray-haired, wrought with patience
day after day to earn at once their living and the money for this
fee, and when they had procured it walked a score of miles in order
that they might be "registered," and, for the brief period that
remained to them of life, know that the law had sanctioned the
relation which years of love and suffering had sanctified.  It was
the first act of freedom, the first step of legal recognition or
manly responsibility! It was a proud hour and a proud fact for the
race which had so long been bowed in thralldom and forbidden even
the most common though the holiest of God's ordinances. What the
law had taken little by little, as the science of Christian slavery
grew up under the brutality of our legal progress, the law returned
in bulk. It was the first seal which was put on the slave's
manhood--the first step upward from the brutishness of another's
possession to the glory of independence. The race felt its importance
as did no one else at that time. By hundreds and thousands they
crowded the places appointed, to accept the honor offered to their
posterity, and thereby unwittingly conferred undying honor upon
themselves. Few indeed were the unworthy ones who evaded the sacred
responsibility thus laid upon them, and left their offspring to
remain under the badge of shame. When carefully looked at it was
but a scant cure, and threw the responsibility of illegitimacy
where it did not belong, but it was a mighty step nevertheless.
The distance from zero to unity is always infinity.

The county clerk in and for the county of Horsford sat behind
the low wooden railing which he had been compelled to put across
his office to protect him from the too near approach of those who
crowded to this fountain of rehabilitating honor that had recently
been opened therein. Unused to anything beyond the plantation on
which they had been reared, the temple of justice was as strange
to their feet, and the ways and forms of ordinary business as
marvelous to their minds as the etiquette of the king's palace to
a peasant who has only looked from afar upon its pinnacled roof.
The recent statute had imposed upon the clerk a labor of no little
difficulty because of this very ignorance on the part of those whom
he was required to serve; but he was well rewarded. The clerk was
a man of portly presence, given to his ease, who smoked a long-stemmed
pipe as he sat beside a table which, in addition to his papers and
writing materials, held a bucket of water on which floated a clean
gourd, in easy reach of his hand.

"Be you the clerk, sail?" said a straight young colored man, whose
clothing had a hint of the soldier in it, as well as his respectful
but unusually collected bearing.

"Yes," said the clerk, just glancing up, but not intermitting  his
work; "what do you want?"

"If you please, sah, we wants to be married, Lugena and me."

"_Registered_, you mean, I suppose?"

"No, we don't, sah; we means _married_."

"I can't marry you. You'll have to get a license and be married by
a magistrate or a minister."

"But I heard der was a law---"

"Have you been living together as man and wife?"

"Oh, yes, sah; dat we hab, dis smart while."

"Then you want to be registered. This is the place.  Got a
half-dollar?"

"Yes, sah?"

"Let's have it."

The colored man took out some bills, and with much difficulty
endeavored to make a selection; finally, handing  one doubtfully
toward the clerk, he asked,

"Is dat a one-dollah, sah?"

"No, that is a five, but I can change it."

"No, I'se got it h'yer," said the other hastily, as he dove again
into his pockets, brought out some pieces of fractional currency and
handed them one by one to the officer until he said he had enough.

"Well," said the clerk as he took up his pen and prepared to fill
out the blank, "what is your name?"

"My name's Nimbus, sah."

"Nimbus what?"

"Nimbus nuffin', sah; jes' Nimbus."   "But you must have another
name?"

"No I hain't. Jes' wore dat fer twenty-odd years, an' nebber hed
no udder."

"Who do you work for?"

"Wuk for myself, sah."

"Well, on whose land do you work?"

"Wuks on my own, sah. Oh, I libs at home an' boa'ds at de same
place, I does. An' my name's Nimbus, jes' straight along, widout
any tail ner handle."

"What was your old master's name?"

"Desmit--Colonel Potem Desmit."

"I might have known that," said the clerk laughingly, "from the
durned outlandish name. Well, Desmit is your surname, then, ain't
it?"

"No'taint, Mister. What right I got ter his name?  He nebber gib
it ter me no more'n he did ter you er Lugena h'yer."

"Pshaw, I can't stop to argue with you. Here's your certificate."

"Will you please read it, sah? I hain't got no larnin'.  Ef you
please, sah."

The clerk, knowing it to be the quickest way to get rid of them,
read rapidly over the certificate that Nimbus and Lugena Desmit had
been duly registered as husband and wife, under the provisions of
an ordinance of the Convention ratified on the---day of---, 1865.

"So you's done put in dat name--Desmit?"

"Oh, I just had to, Nimbus. The fact is, a man can't be married
according to law without two names."

"So hit appears; but ain't it quare dat I should hev ole Mahs'r's
name widout his gibbin' it ter me, ner my axin' fer it, Mister?"

"It may be, but that's the way, you see."

"So hit seems. 'Pears like I'm boun' ter hev mo' names 'n I knows
what ter do wid, jes' kase I's free.  But de chillen--yer hain't
sed nary word about dem, Mister."

"Oh, I've nothing to do with them."

"But, see h'yer, Mister, ain't de law a doin dis ter make dem lawful
chillen?"

"Certainly."

"An' how's de law ter know which is de lawful chillen ef hit ain't
on dat ar paper?"

"Sure enough," said the clerk, with amusement.  "That would have
been a good idea, but, you see, Nimbus,  the law didn't go that
far."

"Wal, hit ought ter hev gone dat fur. Now, Mister Clerk, couldn't
you jes' put dat on dis yer paper, jes' ter "commodate me, yer
know."

"Perhaps so," good-naturedly, taking back the certificate;  "what
do you want me to write?"

"Wal, yer see, dese yer is our chillen. Dis yer boy Lone--Axylone,
Marse Desmit called him, but we calls him Lone for short--he's
gwine on fo'; dis yer gal Wicey, she's two past; and dis little
brack cuss Lugena's a-holdin' on, we call Cap'n, kase he bosses
all on us--he's nigh 'bout a year; an' dat's all."

The clerk entered the names and ages of the children on the back
of the paper, with a short certificate that they were present,
and were acknowledged as the children, and the only ones, of the
parties named in the instrument.

And so the slave Nimbus was transformed, first into the "contraband"
and mercenary soldier _George Nimbus_, and then by marriage
into _Nimbus Desmit_.



CHAPTER VI.

THE TOGA VIRILIS.


But the transformations of the slave were not yet ended. The time
came when he was permitted to become  a citizen. For two years he
had led an inchoate, nondescript sort of existence: free without
power or right; neither slave nor freeman; neither property nor
citizen. He had been, meanwhile, a bone of contention between the
Provisional Governments of the States and the military power which
controlled them. The so-called State Governments dragged him toward
the  whipping-post and the Black Codes and serfdom. They denied
him his oath, fastened him to the land, compelled him to hire by
the year, required the respectfulness of the old slave "Mahs'r"
and "Missus," made his employer  liable for his taxes, and allowed
recoupment therefor;  limited his avocations and restricted his
opportunities.  These would substitute serfdom for chattelism.

On the other hand the Freedman's Bureau acted as his guardian and
friend, looked after his interests in contracts, prohibited the
law's barbarity, and insisted stubbornly that the freedman was
a man, and must be treated as such. It needed only the robe of
citizenship, it was thought, to enable him safely to dispense with
the one of these agencies and defy the other. So the negro was
transformed into a citizen, a voter, a political factor, by act of
Congress, with the aid and assistance of the military power.

A great crowd had gathered at the little town of Melton, which was
one of the chief places of the county of Horsford,  for the people
had been duly notified by official advertisement that on this day
the board of registration appointed by the commander of the military
district in which Horsford County was situated would convene there,
to take and record the names, and pass upon the qualifications,
of all who desired to become voters of the new body politic which
was to be erected therein, or of the old one which was to be
reconstructed and rehabilitated  out of the ruins which war had
left.

The first provision of the law was that every member of such board
of registration should be able to take what was known in those
days as the "iron-clad oath," that is, an oath that he had never
engaged in, aided, or abetted  any rebellion against the Government
of the United States. Men who could do this were exceedingly
difficult  to find in some sections. Of course there were abundance
of colored men who could take this oath, but not one in a thousand
of them could read or write. The military commander determined,
however, to select in every registration district one of the most
intelligent of this class, in order that he might look after the
interests of his race, now for the first time to take part in any
public or political movement. This would greatly increase  the
labors of the other members of the board, yet was thought not only
just but necessary. As the labor of recording the voters of a county
was no light one, especially as the lists had to be made out in
triplicate, it was necessary to have some clerical ability on the
board.  These facts often made the composition of these boards
somewhat heterogeneous and peculiar. The one which was to register
the voters of Horsford consisted of a little old white man, who had
not enough of stamina or character  to have done or said anything
in aid of rebellion, and who, if he had done the very best he knew,
ought yet to have been held guiltless of evil accomplished. In his
younger days he had been an overseer, but in his later years had
risen to the dignity of a landowner and the possession of one or
two slaves. He wrestled with the mysteries of the printed page with
a sad seriousness which made one regret his inability to remember
what was at the top until he had arrived at the bottom. Writing
was a still more solemn business with him, but he was a brave man
and would cheerfully undertake to transcribe a list of names, which
he well knew that anything  less than eternity would be too short
to allow him  to complete. He was a small, thin-haired, squeaky-voiced
bachelor of fifty, and as full of good intentions as the road to
perdition. If Tommy Glass ever did any  evil it would not only be
without intent but from sheer  accident.

With Tommy was associated an old colored man, one of those known
in that region as "old-issue free-niggers." Old Pharaoh Ray was a
venerable man. He had learned to read before the Constitution of
1835 deprived the free-negro of his vote, and had read a little
since. He wore an amazing pair of brass-mounted spectacles.  His
head was surmounted by a mass of snowy hair, and he was of erect
and powerful figure despite the fact that he boasted a life of more
than eighty years. He read about as fast and committed to memory
more easily than his white associate, Glass. In writing they were
about a match; Pharaoh wrote his name much more  legibly than Glass
could, but Glass accomplished the  task in about three fourths of
the time required by  Pharaoh.

The third member of the board was Captain Theron Pardee, a young
man who had served in the Federal army and afterward settled
in an adjoining county. He was the chairman. He did the writing,
questioning, and deciding, and as each voter had to be sworn he
utilized his two associates by requiring them to administer the
oaths and--look wise. The colored man in about two weeks learned
these oaths so that he could repeat them.  The white man did not
commit the brief formulas in the four weeks they were on duty.

The good people of Melton were greatly outraged that this composite
board should presume to come and pass upon the qualifications of
its people as voters under the act of Congress, and indeed it was
a most ludicrous affair. The more they contemplated the outrage
that was being done to them, by decreeing that none should vote
who had once taken an oath to support the Government  of the United
States and afterward aided the rebellion,  the angrier they grew,
until finally they declared that the registration should not
be held. Then there were some sharp words between the ex-Federal
soldier and the objectors. As no house could be procured for the
purpose, he proposed to hold the registration on the porch of the
hotel where he stopped, but the landlord objected. Then he proposed to
hold it on the sidewalk under a big tree, but the town authorities
declared against it. However, he was proceeding there, when
an influential citizen kindly came forward and offered the use
of certain property under his control. There was some clamor, but
the gentleman did not flinch. Thither they adjourned, and the work
went busily on. Among others who came to be enrolled as citizens
was our old friend Nimbus.

"Where do you live?" asked the late Northern soldier sharply, as
Nimbus came up in. his turn in the long line of those waiting for
the same purpose.

"Down ter Red Wing, sah?"

"Where's that?"

"Oh, right down h'yer on Hyco, sah."

"In this county?"

"Oh, bless yer, yes, Mister, should tink hit was. Hit's not above
five or six miles out from h'yer."

"How old are you?"

"Wal, now, I don't know dat, not edzactly."

"How old do you think--twenty-one?"

"Oh, la, yes; more nor dat, Cap'."

"Born where?"

"Right h'yer in Horsford, sah."

"What is your name?"

"Nimbus."

"Nimbus what?" asked the officer, looking up.

"Nimbus nothin', sah; jes' straight along Nimbus."

"Well, but--" said the officer, looking puzzled, "you must have
some sort of surname."

"No, sah, jes' one; nigger no use for two names."

"Yah! yah! yah!" echoed the dusky crowd behind him. "You's jes'
right dah, you is! Niggah mighty little use fer heap o' names. Jes'
like a mule--one name does him, an' mighty well off ef he's 'lowed
ter keep dat."

"His name's Desmit," said a white man, the sheriff of the county,
who stood leaning over the railing; "used to belong to old Potem
Desmit, over to Louisburg.  Mighty good nigger, too. I s'pec' ole
man Desmit felt about as bad at losing him as ary one he had."

"Powerful good hand in terbacker," said Mr. Glass, who was himself an
expert in "yaller leaf." "Ther' wasn't no better ennywhar' round."

"I knows all about him," said another. "Seed a man offer old Desmit
eighteen hundred dollars for him afore the war--State money--but
he wouldn't tech it.  Reckon he wishes he had now."

"Yes," said the sheriff, "he's the best curer in the county. Commands
almost any price in the season, but is powerful independent, and
gittin' right sassy. Listen at him now?"

"They say your name is Desmit--Nimbus Desmit," said the officer;
"is that so?"

"No, tain't."

"Wasn't that your old master's name?" asked the sheriff roughly.

"Co'se it war," was the reply.

"Well, then, ain't it yours too?"

"No, it ain't."

"Well, you just ask the gentleman if that ain't so," said the
sheriff, motioning to the chairman of the board.

"Well," said that officer, with a peculiar smile, "I do not know
that there is any law compelling a freedman to adopt his former
master's name. He is without name in the law, a pure _nullius
filius_--nobody's son. As a slave he had but one name.
He _could_ have no surname,  because he had no family. He
was arraigned, tried, and executed as 'Jim' or 'Bill' or 'Tom.'
The volumes of the reports are full of such cases, as The State
_vs._ 'Dick' or 'Sam.' The Roman custom was for the freedman
to take the name of some friend, benefactor, or patron. I do not
see why the American freedman has not a right to choose his own
surname."

"That is not the custom here," said the sheriff, with some chagrin,
he having begun the controversy.

"Very true," replied the chairman; "the custom--and a very proper
and almost necessary one it seems--is to call the freedman by a
former master's name. This distinguishes individuals. But when the
freedman refuses  to acknowledge the master's name as his, who can
impose it on him? We are directed to register the names of parties,
and while we might have the right to refuse one whom we found
attempting to register under a false name, yet we have no power
to make names for those applying. Indeed, if this man insists that
he has but one name, we must, for what I can see, register him by
that alone."

His associates looked wise, and nodded acquiescence in the views
thus expressed.

"Den dat's what I chuse," said the would-be voter.  "My name's
Nimbus--noffin' mo'."

"But I should advise you to take another name to save trouble
when you come to vote," said the chairman.  His associates nodded
solemnly again.

"Wal, now, Marse Cap'n, you jes' see h'yer. I don't want ter carry
nobody's name widout his leave. S'pose I take ole Marse War's name
ober dar?"

"You can take any one you choose. I shall write down the one you
give me."

"Is you willin', Marse War'?"

"I've nothing to do with it, Nimbus," said Ware; "fix your own
name."

"Wal sah," said Nimbus, "I reckon I'll take dat ef I must hev enny
mo' name. Yer see he wuz my ole oberseer, Mahs'r, an' wuz powerful
good ter me, tu. I'd a heap ruther hev his name than Marse Desmit's;
but I don't _want_ no name but Nimbus, nohow.

"All right," said the chairman, as he made the entry.  "Ware it is
then."

As there might be a poll held at Red Wing, where Nimbus lived, he
was given a certificate showing that _Nimbus Ware_ had been
duly registered as an elector of the county of Horsford and for
the precinct of Red Wing.

Then the newly-named Nimbus was solemnly sworn by the patriarchal
Pharaoh to bear true faith and allegiance to the government of the
United States, and to uphold its constitution and the laws passed
in conformity  therewith; and thereby the recent slave became a
component factor of the national life, a full-fledged citizen of
the American Republic.

As he passed out, the sheriff said to those about him, in a low
tone,

"There'll be trouble with that nigger yet. He's too sassy. You'll
see."

"How so?" asked the chairman. "I thought you said he was industrious,
thrifty, and honest."

"Oh, yes," was the reply, "there ain't a nigger in the county got
a better character for honesty and hard work than he, but he's too
important--has got the big head, as we call it."

"I don't understand what you mean," said the chairman.

"Why he ain't respectful," said the other. "Talks as independent
as if he was a white man."

"Well, he has as much right to talk independently as a  white man.
He is just as free," said the chairman sharply.

"Yes; but he ain't white," said the sheriff doggedly, "and our
people won't stand a nigger's puttin' on such airs. Why, Captain,"
he continued in a tone which showed that he felt that the fact he
was about to announce must carry conviction even to the incredulous
heart of the Yankee officer. "You just ought to see his place down
at Red Wing. Damned if he ain't better fixed up than lots of white
men in the county. He's got a good house, and a terbacker-barn,
and a church, and a nigger school-house, and stock, and one of
the finest crops of terbacker in the county. Oh, I tell you, he's
cutting a wide swath, he is."   "You don't tell me," said the
chairman with interest.  "I am glad to hear it. There appears to
be good stuff in the fellow. He seems to have his own ideas about
things, too."

"Yes, that's the trouble," responded the sheriff.  "Our people
ain't used to that and won't stand it. He's putting on altogether
too much style for a nigger."

"Pshaw," said the chairman, "if there were more like him it would
be better for everybody. A man like him is worth something for
an example. If all the race were of his stamp there would be more
hope."

"The devil!" returned the sheriff, with a sneering laugh, "if they
were all like him, a white man couldn't live in the country. They'd
be so damned sassy and important that we'd have to kill the last
one of 'em to have any peace."

"Fie, sheriff," laughed the chairman good-naturedly; "you seem to
be vexed at the poor fellow for his thrift, and because he is doing
well."

"I am a white man, sir; and I don't like to see niggers  gittin'
above us. Them's my sentiments," was the reply. "And that's the
way our people feel."

There was a half-suppressed murmur of applause among the group of
white men at this. The chairman responded,

"No doubt, and yet I believe you are wrong. Now, I can't help
liking the fellow for his sturdy manhood.  He may be a trifle too
positive, but it is a good fault. I think he has the elements of
a good citizen, and I can't understand why you feel so toward him."

There were some appreciative and good-natured cries of "Dar now,"
"Listen at him," "Now you're talkin'," from the colored men at this
reply.

"Oh, that's because you're a Yankee," said the sheriff, with
commiserating scorn. "You don't think, now, that it's any harm to
talk that way before niggers and set them against the white people
either, I suppose?"

The chairman burst into a hearty laugh, as he replied,

"No, indeed, I don't. If you call that setting the blacks against
the whites, the sooner they are by the ears the better. If you
are so thin-skinned that you can't allow a colored man to think,
talk, act, and prosper like a man, the sooner you get over your
squeamishness the better. For me, I am interested in this Nimbus.
We have to go to Red Wing and report on it as a place for holding
a poll and I am bound to see more of him."

"Oh, you'll see enough of him if you go there, never fear," was
the reply.

There was a laugh from the white men about the sheriff, a sort
of cheer from the colored men in waiting, and the business of the
board went on without further reference to the new-made citizen.

The slave who had been transformed into a "contraband"  and
mustered as a soldier under one name, married under another, and
now enfranchised under a third, returned to his home to meditate
upon his transformations--as we found him doing in our first chapter.

The reason for these metamorphoses, and their consequences, might
well puzzle a wiser head than that of the many-named but unlettered
Nimbus.



CHAPTER VII.

DAMON AND PYTHIAS.


After his soliloquy in regard to his numerous names, as given in our
first chapter, Nimbus turned away from the gate near which he had
been standing, crossed the yard in front of his house, and entered
a small cabin which stood near it.

"Dar! 'Liab," he said, as he entered and handed the paper which he
had been examining to the person addressed,  "I reckon I'se free
now. I feel ez ef I wuz 'bout half free, ennyhow. I wuz a sojer,
an' fought fer freedom. I've got my house an' bit o' lan', wife,
chillen, crap, an' stock, an' it's all mine. An' now I'se done been
registered, an' when de 'lection comes off, kin vote jes' ez hard
an' ez well an' ez often ez ole Marse Desmit.  I hain't felt free
afore--leastways I hain't felt right  certain on't; but now I reckon
I'se all right, fact an' truth.  What you tinks on't, 'Liab?"

The person addressed was sitting on a low seat under the one window
which was cut into the west side of the snugly-built log cabin. The
heavy wooden shutter swung back over the bench. On the other side
of the room was a low cot, and a single splint-bottomed chair stood
against the open door. The house contained no other furniture.

The bench which he occupied was a queer compound of table, desk,
and work-bench. It had the leathern seat of a shoemaker's bench,
except that it was larger and wider. As the occupant sat with his
back to the window, on his left were the shallow boxes of a shoemaker's
bench, and along its edge the awls and other tools of that craft
were stuck in leather loops secured by tacks, as is the custom of
the crispin the world over. On the right was a table whose edge
was several inches above the seat, and on which were some books,
writing materials, a slate, a bundle of letters tied together with
a piece of shoe-thread, and some newspapers and pamphlets  scattered
about in a manner which showed at a glance that the owner was
unaccustomed to their care, but which is yet quite indescribable.
On the wall above this table, but within easy reach of the sitter's
hand, hung a couple of narrow hanging shelves, on which a few books
were neatly arranged. One lay open on the table, with a shoemaker's
last placed across it to prevent its closing.

Eliab was already busily engaged in reading the  certificate which
Nimbus had given him. The sun, now near its setting, shone in at
the open door and fell upon him as he read. He was a man apparently
about the age of Nimbus--younger rather than older--having a fine
countenance, almost white, but with just enough of brown in its
sallow paleness to suggest the idea of  colored blood, in a region
where all degrees of admixture were by no means rare. A splendid
head of black hair waved above his broad, full forehead, and an
intensely black silky beard and mustache framed the lower portion
of his face most fittingly. His eyes were soft and womanly, though
there was a patient boldness about their great brown pupils and a
directness of gaze which suited well the bearded face beneath. The
lines of  suffering were deeply cut upon the thoughtful brow and
around the liquid eyes, and showed in the mobile workings  of the
broad mouth, half shaded by the dark mustache. The  face was not
a handsome one, but there was a serious and earnest calmness about
it which gave it an unmistakable nobility of expression and prompted
one to look more closely at the man and his surroundings.

The shoulders were broad and square, the chest was full, the figure
erect, and the head finely poised. He was dressed with unusual
neatness for one of his race and surroundings, at the time of which
we write.  One comprehended at a glance that this worker and learner
was also deformed. There was that in his surroundings which showed
that he was not as other men.  The individuality of weakness and
suffering had left its indelible stamp upon the habitation which
he occupied.  Yet so erect and self-helping in appearance was the
figure on the cobbler's bench that one for a moment failed to note
in what the affliction consisted. Upon closer observation he saw
that the lower limbs were sharply flexed and drawn to the leftward,
so that the right foot rested on its side under the left thigh.
This inclined  the body somewhat to the right, so that the right
arm rested naturally upon the table for support when not employed.
These limbs, especially below the knees, were shrunken and distorted.
The shoe of the right foot whose upturned sole rested on the left
leg just above the ankle, was many sizes too small for a development
harmonious  with the trunk.

Nimbus sat down in the splint-bottomed chair by the door and fanned
himself with his dingy hat while the other read.

"How is dis, Nimbus? What does dis mean?  _Nimbus Ware?_
Where did you get dat name?" he asked at length, raising his eyes
and looking in pained surprise toward the new voter.

"Now, Bre'er 'Liab, don't talk dat 'ere way ter Nimbus,  ef
yo please. Don't do it now. Yer knows I can't help it. Ebberybody
want ter call me by ole Mahs'r's name, an' dat I can't abide nohow;
an' when I kicks 'bout it, dey jes gib me some odder one, Dey all
seems ter tink I'se boun' ter hev two names, though I hain't got
no manner o' right ter but one."

"But how did you come to have dis one--Ware?" persisted Eliab.

"Wal, you see, Bre'er 'Liab, de boss man at der registerin'  he
ax me fer my las' name, an' I tell him I hadn't got none, jes so.
Den Sheriff Gleason, he put in his oar, jes ez he allus does, an'
he say my name wuz _Desmit,_ atter ole Mahs'r. Dat made me
mad, an' I 'spute him, an' sez I, 'I won't hev no sech name'. Den
de boss man, he shet up Marse Gleason purty smart like, and _he_
sed I'd a right ter enny name I chose ter carry, kase nobody hadn't
enny sort o' right ter fasten enny name at all on ter me 'cept
myself. But he sed I'd better hev two, kase most other folks hed
'em. So I axed Marse Si War' ef he'd lend me his name jes fer de
'casion, yer know, an' he sed he hadn't no 'jection ter it. So I
tole der boss man ter put it down, an' I reckon dar 'tis."

"Yes, here it is, sure 'nough, Nimbus; but didn't you promise me
you wouldn't have so many names?"

"Co'se I did; an' I did try, but they all 'llowed I got ter have
two names whe'er er no."

"Then why didn't you take your old mahs'r's name, like de rest,
and not have all dis trouble?"

"Now, 'Liab, yer knows thet I won't nebber do dat."

"But why not, Nimbus?"

"Kase I ain't a-gwine ter brand my chillen wid no sech slave-mark!
Nebber! You hear dat, 'Liab? I hain't got no ill-will gin Marse
Desmit, not a mite--only 'bout dat ar lickin, an' dat ain't nuffin
now; but I ain't gwine ter war his name ner giv it ter my chillen
ter mind 'em dat der daddy wuz jes anudder man's critter one time.
I tell you I can't do hit, nohow; an' I _won't,_ Bre'er 'Liab.
I don't hate Marse Desmit, but I does hate slavery--dat what made
me his--worse'n a pilot hates a rattlesnake; an' I hate everyting
dat 'minds me on't, I  do!"

The black Samson had risen in his excitement and now sat down upon
the bench by the other.

"I don't blame you for dat, Nimbus, but--"

"I don't want to heah no 'buts' 'bout it, an' I  won't."

"But the chillen, Nimbus. You don't want dem to be different from
others and have no surname?"

"Dat's a fac', 'Liab," said Nimbus, springing to his feet. "I
nebber t'ought o' dat. Dey must hev a name, an' I mus' hev one ter
gib 'em, but how's I gwine ter git one? Dar's nobody's got enny right
ter gib me one, an' ef I choose one dis week what's ter hender my
takin' ob anudder nex week?"

"Perhaps nothing," answered 'Liab, "but yourself.  You must not do
it."

"Pshaw, now," said Nimbus, "' what sort o' way is dat ter hev
things? I tell ye what orter been done, 'Liab; when de law married
us all, jes out of han' like, it orter hev named us too. Hit mout
hev been done, jes ez well's not. Dar's old Mahs'r now, he'd hev
named all de niggas in de county in a week, easy. An' dey'd been
good names, too."

"But you'd have bucked at it ef he had," said 'Liab, good-naturedly.

"No I wouldn't, 'Liab. I hain't got nuffin 'gin ole Mahrs'r. He
war good enough ter me--good 'nuff. I only hate what _made_
him 'Old Mahs'r,' an' dat I does hate. Oh, my God, how I does hate
it, Liab! I hates de berry groun' dat a slave's wukked on! I do,
I swar!  When I wuz a-comin' home to-day an' seed de gullies 'long
der way, hit jes made me cuss, kase dey wuz dar a-testifyin' ob de
ole time when a man war a critter--a dog--a nuffin!"

"Now you oughtn't to say dat, Nimbus. Just think of me. Warn't you
better off as a slave than I am  free?"

"No, I warn't. I'd ruther be a hundred times wuss off ner you, an'
free, than ez strong as I am an' a slave."

"But think how much more freedom is worth to you.  Here you are a
voter, and I--"

"Bre'er 'Liab," exclaimed Nimbus, starting suddenly up, "what for
you no speak 'bout dat afore. Swar to God I nebber tink on't--not
a word, till dis bressed minit. Why didn't yer say nuffin' 'bout
bein' registered yo'self, eh? Yer knowed I'd a tuk yer ef I hed
ter tote ye on my back, which I wouldn't. I wouldn't gone a step
widout yer ef I'd only a t'ought. Yer knows I  wouldn't."

"Course I does, Nimbus, but I didn't want ter make ye no trouble,
nor take the mule out of the crap," answered  'Liab apologetically.

"Damn de crap!" said Nimbus impetuously.

"Don't; don't swear, Nimbus, if you please."

"Can't help it, 'Liab, when you turn fool an' treat me dat 'ere
way. I'd swar at ye ef yer wuz in de pulpit an' dat come ober me,
jes at de fust. Yer knows Nimbus better ner dat. Now see heah, 'Liab
Hill, yer's gwine ter go an' be registered termorrer, jes ez sure
ez termorrer  comes. Here we thick-headed dunces hez been up dar
to-day a-takin' de oath an' makin' bleve we's full grown men, an'
here's you, dat knows more nor a ten-acre  lot full on us, a lyin'
here an' habin' no chance at  all."

"But you want to get de barn full, and can't afford to spend any
more time," protested 'Liab.

"Nebber you min' 'bout de barn. Dat's Nimbus' business, an" he'll
take keer on't. Let him alone fer dat. Yis, honey, I'se comin'
d'reckly!" he shouted, as his wife called him from his own cabin.

"Now Bre'er 'Liab, yer comes ter supper wid us.  Lugena's jes' a
callin' on't."

"Oh, don't, Nimbus," said the other, shrinking away. "I can't! You
jes send one of the chillen in with it, as usual."

"No yer don't," said Nimbus; "yer's been a scoldin' an' abusin' me
all dis yer time, an' now I'se gwine ter hab my way fer a little
while."

He went to the door and called:

"Gena! _Oh,_ Gena!" and as his wife did not answer, he said to
one of his children, "_Oh,_ Axylone, jes run inter de kitchen,
son, an' tell yer ma ter put on anudder plate, fer Bre'er 'Liab's
comin' ober ter take a bite  wid us."

Eliab kept on protesting, but it was in vain. Nimbus bent over him
as tenderly as a mother over the cradle of her first-born, clasped
his arms about him, and lifting him from the bench bore him away
to his own house.

With an unconscious movement, which was evidently acquired by long
experience, the afflicted man cast one arm over Nimbus' shoulder,
put the other around him, and leaning across the stalwart breast
of his friend so evenly distributed his weight that the other bore
him with ease. Entering his own house, Nimbus placed his burden in
the chair at the head of the table, while he himself took his seat
on one of the wooden benches at the side.

"I jes brought Bre'er 'Liab in ter supper, honey," said he to
his wife; "kase I see'd he war gettin' inter de dumps like, an' I
'llowed yer'd chirk him up a bit ef yer jes hed him over h'yer a
while."

"Shan't do it," said the bright-eyed woman saucily.

"Kase why?" queried her husband.

"Kase Bre'er 'Liab don't come oftener. Dat's why."

"Dar, now, jes see what yer done git fer being so contrary-like,
will yer?" said the master to his guest.  H'yer, you Axylone,"
he continued to his eldest born, " fo'd up yer han's while Bre'er
'Liab ax de blessin'.  You, too, Capting," shaking his finger at
a roll of animated blackness on the end of the seat opposite.

"Now, Bre'er 'Liab."

The little black fingers were interlocked, the close-clipped,  kinky
heads were bowed upon them; the master of the house bent reverently
over his plate; the plump young wife crossed her hands demurely
on the bright handle of the big coffee-pot by which she stood, and
"Bre'er 'Liab," clasping his slender fingers, uplifted his eyes
and hands to heaven, and uttered a grace which grew into a prayer.
His voice was full of thankfulness, and tears crept from under his
trembling lids.

The setting sun, which looked in upon the peaceful scene, no doubt
flickered and giggled with laughter as he sank to his evening couch
with the thought, "How  quick these 'sassy' free-niggers do put on
airs like white  folks!"

In the tobacco-field on the hillside back of his house, Nimbus and
his wife, Lugena, wrought in the light of the full moon nearly all
the night which followed, and early on the morrow Nimbus harnessed
his mule into his canvas-covered wagon, in which, upon a bed
of straw,  reclined his friend Eliab Hill, and drove again to the
place of registration. On arriving there he took his friend in his
arms, carried him in and sat him on the railing before  the Board.
Clasping the blanket close about his deformed extremities the
cripple leaned upon his friend's shoulder and answered the necessary
questions with calmness and precision.

"There's a pair for you, captain," said Gleason, nodding  good-naturedly
toward Nimbus as he bore his helpless  charge again to the wagon.

"Is he white?" asked the officer, with a puzzled look.

"White?" exclaimed Sheriff Gleason, with a laugh.  "No, indeed! He's
a nigger preacher who lives with Nimbus down at Red Wing. They're
great cronies--always together. I expect he's at the bottom of all
the black nigger's perversity, though he always seems as smooth
and respectful as you please. He's a deep one.  I 'llow he does
all the scheming, and just makes Nimbus a cat's-paw to do his work.
I don't know much about him, though. He hardly ever talks with
anybody."

"He seems a very remarkable man," said the officer.

"Oh, he is," said the sheriff. "Even in slave times he was a very
influential man among the niggers, and since freedom he and Nimbus
together rule the whole settlement. I don't suppose there are ten
white men in the county who could control, square out and out, as
many votes as these two will have in hand when they once get to
voting."

"Was he a slave? What is his history?"

"I don't exactly know," answered the sheriff. "He is quite a young
man, and somehow I never happened to hear of him till some time
during the war. Then he was a sort of prophet among them, and while
he did a power of praying for you Yanks, he always counselled the
colored people to be civil and patient, and not try to run away or
go to cutting up, but just to wait till the end came. He was just
right, too, and his course quieted the white folks down here on the
river, where there was a big slave population, more than a little."

"I should like to know more of him," said the chairman.

"All right," said Gleason, looking around. "If Hesden  Le Moyne
is here, I'll get him to tell you all about him, at noon. If he is
not here then, he will come in before night, I'm certain."



CHAPTER VIII.

A FRIENDLY PROLOGUE.


As they went from the place of registration to their dinner at the
hotel, the sheriff, walking beside the chairman, said: "I spoke
to Le Moyne about that negro fellow,  Eliab Hill, and he says he's
very willing to tell you  all he knows about him; but, as there are
some private  matters connected with the story, he prefers to come
to  your room after dinner, rather than speak of it more  publicly."

"I am sure I shall be much obliged to him if he will do so," said
Pardee.

"You will find him one of the very finest men you ever met, I'm
thinking," continued Gleason. "His father, Casaubon Le Moyne, was
very much of a gentleman.  He came from Virginia, and was akin
to the Le Moynes of South Carolina, one of the best of those old
French families that brag so much of their Huguenot blood. I never
believed in it myself, but they are a mighty elegant family; no
doubt of that. I've got the notion that they were not as well off
as they might be.  Perhaps the family got too big for the estate.
That would happen with these old families, you know; but they were
as high-toned and honorable as if their fore-bears  had been kings.
Not proud, I don't mean--not a bit of that--but high-spirited and
hot-tempered.

"His mother was a Richards--Hester Richards--the daughter of old
man Jeems Richards. The family was a mighty rich one; used to own
all up and down the river on both sides, from Red Wing to Mulberry
Hill, where Hesden now lives. Richards had a big family of boys and
only one gal, who was the youngest. The boys was all rather tough
customers, I've heard say, taking after their father, who was about
as hard a man to get along with as was ever in this country. He
came from up North somewhere about 1790, when everybody thought this
pea-vine country was a sort of new Garden of Eden.  He was a well
educated and capable man, but had a terrible temper. He let the
boys go to the devil their own way, just selling off a plantation
now and then and paying their debts. He had so much land that
it was a good thing for him to get rid of it. But he doted on the
gal, and sent her off to school and travelled with her and give her
every sort of advantage. She was a beauty, and as sweet and good
as she was pretty. How she come to marry Casaubon Le Moyne nobody
ever knew; but it's just my opinion that it was because they loved
each other, and nothing else. They certainly were the best matched
couple that I ever saw. They had but one child--this young man
Hesden. His mother was always an invalid after his birth; in fact
hasn't walked a step since that time. She was a very remarkable
woman.  though, and in spite of her sickness took charge of her
son's education and fitted him for college all by herself.  The
boy grew up sorter quiet like, probably on account of being in his
mother's sick room so much; but there wasn't anything soft about
him, after all.

"The old man Casaubon was a Unioner--the strongest kind. Mighty few
of them in this county, which was one of the largest slave-holding
counties in the State. It never had anything but a big Democratic
majority in it, in the old times. I think the old man Le Moyne, run
for the Legislature here some seven times befo're he was  elected,
and then it was only on his personal popularity. That was the only
time the county ever had a Whig representative even. When the war
came on, the old man was right  down sick. I do believe he saw
the end from the beginning.  I've heard him tell things almost to
a fraction jest as they came out afterward. Well, the young man
Hesden, he had his father's notions, of course, but he was pluck.
He couldn't have been a Le Moyne, or a Richards either, without
that. I remember, not long after the war begun--perhaps in the
second year, before the conscription came on, anyhow--he came into
town riding of a black colt that he had raised. I don't think it
had been backed more than a few times, and it was just as fine as
a fiddle. I've had some fine horses myself,  and believe I know what
goes to make up a good nag, but I've never seen one that suited my
notion as well as that black. Le Moyne had taken a heap of pains
with him. A lot of folks gathered 'round and was admiring  the
beast, and asking questions about his pedigree and the like, when
all at once a big, lubberly fellow named Timlow--Jay Timlow--said
it was a great pity that such a fine nag should belong to a Union
man an' a traitor to his country. You know, captain, that's what
we called Union men in them days. He hadn't more'n got the words
out of his mouth afore Hesden hit him.  I'd no idea he could
strike such a blow. Timlow was forty pounds heavier than he, but
it staggered him back four or five steps, and Le Moyne follered
him up, hitting just about as fast as he could straighten his arm,
till he dropped. The queerest thing about it was that the horse
follered right along, and when Timlow come down with his face all
battered up, and Le Moyne wheeled about and started over to the
Court House, the horse kept on follerin' him up to the very steps.
Le Moyne went into the Court House and stayed about ten minutes.
Then he came out and walked straight across the square to where
the crowd was around Timlow, who had been washing the blood off
his face at the pump. Le Moyne was as white as a sheet, and Timlow
was jest a-cussing his level best about what he would do when he
sot eyes on him again. I thought there might be more trouble, and
I told Timlow to hush his mouth--I was a deputy then--and then I
told Le Moyne he mustn't come any nearer. He was only a few yards
away, with a paper in his hand, and that horse just behind him. He
stopped when I called him, and said:

"'You needn't fear my coming for any further difficulty, gentlemen.
I merely want to say'--and he held up the paper--' that I have
enlisted in the army of the Confederate States, and taken this horse
to ride--given him to the Government. And I want to say further,
that if Jay Timlow wants to do any fighting, and will go and enlist,
I'll furnish him a horse, too.'

"With that he jumped on his horse and rode away, followed  by a
big cheer, while Jay Timlow stood on the pump platform sopping his
head with his handkerchief, his eyes as big as saucers, as they say,
from surprise. We were all surprised, for that matter. As soon as
we got over that a little we began to rally Timlow over the outcome of
his little fracas. There wasn't no such timber in him as in young
Le Moyne, of course--a big beefy fellow--but he couldn't stand
that, and almost before we had got well started he put on his hat,
looked round at the crowd a minute, and said, 'Damned if I don't do
it!' He marched straight over to the Court House and did it, too.

"Le Moyne stood up to his bargain, and they both went out in the
same company a few days afterward.  They became great friends, and
they do say the Confederacy had mighty few better soldiers than
those two boys. Le Moyne was offered promotion time and again, but
he wouldn't take it. He said he didn't like war, didn't believe
in it, and didn't want no responsibility  only for himself. Just
about the last fighting they  had over about Appomattox--perhaps
the very day before  the Surrender--he lost that horse and his
left arm a-fighting over that same Jay Timlow, who had got a ball
in the leg, and Le Moyne was trying to keep him out of the hands
of you Yanks.

"He got back after a while, and has been living with his mother on
the old plantation ever since. He married a cousin just before he
went into the service--more to have somebody to leave with his ma
than because he wanted a wife, folks said. The old man, Colonel
Casaubon,  died during the war. He never seemed like himself  after
the boy went into the army. I saw him once or twice, and I never
did see such a change in any man.  Le Moyne's wife died, too. She
left a little boy, who with Le Moyne and his ma are all that's left
of the family.  I don't reckon there ever was a man thought more
of his mother, or had a mother more worth setting store by, than
Hesden Le Moyne."   They had reached the hotel when this account
was concluded, and after dinner the sheriff came to the captain's
room and introduced a slender young man in neatly fitting jeans,
with blue eyes, a dark brown beard, and an empty coat-sleeve, as
Mr. Hesden Le Moyne.

He put his felt hat under the stump of his left arm and extended
his right hand as he said simply:

"The sheriff said you wished to see me about Eliab  Hill."

"I did," was the response; "but after what he has told me, I desired
to see you much more for yourself."

The sheriff withdrew, leaving them alone together, and they fell
to talking of army life at once, as old soldiers always will, each
trying to locate the other in the strife which they had passed
through on opposite sides.



CHAPTER IX.

A BRUISED REED.


"Eliab Hill," said Le Moyne, when they came at length to the subject
in relation to which the interview had been solicited, "was born
the slave of Potem Desmit,  on his plantation Knapp-of-Reeds, in
the lower part of the county. His mother was a very likely woman,
considerable darker than he, but still not more than a quadroon, I
should say. She was brought from Colonel Desmit's home plantation
to Knapp-of-Reeds some little time before her child was born. It
was her first child, I believe, and her last one. She was a very
slender  woman, and though not especially unhealthy, yet never
strong, being inclined to consumption, of which she finally died.
Of course his paternity is unknown, though rumor has not been silent
in regard to it. It is said that a stubborn refusal on his mother's
part to reveal  it led Colonel Desmit, in one of his whimsical
moods, to give the boy the name he bears. However, he was as bright
a child as ever frolicked about a plantation till he was some
five or six years old. His mother had been a house-servant before
she was sent to Knapp-of-Reeds, and being really a supernumerary
there, my father hired her a year or two afterward as a nurse for
my mother, who has long been an invalid, as you may be aware."

His listener nodded assent, and he went on:

"Her child was left at Knapp-of-Reeds, but Saturday nights it
was brought over to stay the Sunday with her, usually by this boy
Nimbus, who was two or three years older than he. The first I remember
of his misfortune was one Saturday, when Nimbus brought him over
in a gunny-sack, on his back. It was not a great way, hardly half
a mile, but I remember thinking that it was a pretty smart tug for
the little black rascal. I was not more than a year or two older
than he, myself, and not nearly so strong.

"It seems that something had happened to the boy, I never knew
exactly what--seems to me it was a cold resulting from some exposure,
which settled in his legs, as they say, producing rheumatism or
something of that kind--so that he could not walk or hardly stand
up. The boy Nimbus had almost the sole charge of him during the
week, and of course he lacked for intelligent treatment.  In fact,
I doubt if Desmit's overseer knew anything  about it until it
was too late to do any good. He was a bright, cheerful child, and
Nimbus was the same dogged, quiet thing he is now. So it went on,
until his mother, Moniloe, found that he had lost all use of his
legs. They were curled up at one side, as you saw them, and while
his body has developed well they have grown but little in comparison.

"Moniloe made a great outcry over the child, to whom she was much
attached, and finally wrought upon my father and mother to buy
herself and her crippled boy.  Colonel Desmit, on whom the burden
of his maintenance would fall, and who saw no method of making him
self-supporting, was willing to sell the mother on very moderate
terms if my father would take the child and guarantee  his support.
This was done, and they both became my father's property. Neither
forgot to be grateful.  The woman was my mother's faithful nurse
until after the war, when she died, and I have never been able to
fill her place completely, since. I think Eliab learned his letters,
and perhaps to read a little, from me. He was almost always in my
mother's room, being brought in and set down upon a sheepskin on
one side the fireplace in the morning by his mammy. My mother had
great sympathy  with his misfortune, the more, I suppose, because
of her own very similar affliction. She used to teach him to sew
and knit, and finally, despite the law, began to encourage him to
read. The neighbors, coming in and finding him with a book in his
hands, began to complain of it, and my father, in order to silence
all such murmurs, manumitted him square out and gave bonds for his
support, as the law required.

"As he grew older he remained more and more in his mother's cabin,
in one corner of which she had a little elevated platform made for
him. He could crawl around the room by means of his hands, and had
great skill in clambering about by their aid. When he was about
fifteen  a shoemaker came to the house to do our plantation work.
Eliab watched him closely all the first day; on the second desired
to help, and before the month had passed was as good a shoemaker
as his teacher. From that time he worked steadily at the trade,
and managed very greatly to reduce the cost of his support.

"He was a strange boy, and he and this fellow Nimbus  were always
together except when prevented by the latter's tasks. A thousand
times I have known Nimbus  to come over long after dark and leave
before daylight,  in order to stay with his friend over night. Not
unfrequently he would carry him home upon his back and keep him for
several days at Knapp-of-Reeds, where both were prime favorites, as
they were with us also. As they grew older this attachment became
stronger. Many's the time I have passed there and seen Nimbus working
in the tobacco and Eliab with his hammers and lasts pounding away
under a tree near by. Having learned to read, the man was anxious
to know more. For a time he was indulged, but as the hot times just
preceding the war came on, it became indiscreet for him to be seen
with a book.

"While he was still very young he began to preach, and his
ministrations were peculiarly prudent and sensible.  His influence
with his people, even before emancipation,  was very great, and
has been increased by his correct and manly conduct since. I regard
him, sir, as one of the most useful men in the community.

"For some reason, I have never known exactly what, he became anxious
to leave my house soon after Nimbus' return from the army, although
I had offered him the free use of the little shop where he and his
mother had lived, as long as he desired. He and Nimbus, by some hook
or crook, managed to buy the place at Red Wing. It was a perfectly
barren piney old-field then, and not thought of any account except
for the timber there was on it. It happened to be at the crossing
of two roads, and upon a high sandy ridge, which was thought to be
too poor to raise peas on. The man who sold it to them--their old
master Potem Desmit--no doubt thought he was getting two or three
prices for it; but it has turned out one of the best tobacco
farms in the county. It is between two very rich sections, and in
a country having a very large colored population, perhaps the largest
in the county, working the river plantations on one side and the
creek bottoms on the other. I have heard that Nimbus  takes great
credit to himself for his sagacity in foreseeing  the capabilities
of Red Wing. If he really did detect its value at that time, it
shows a very fine judgment  and accounts for his prosperity since.
Eliab Hill affirms this to be true, but most people think he does
the planning for the whole settlement. Nimbus has done extremely
well, however. He has sold off, I should judge, nearly half his
land, in small parcels, has worked hard, and had excellent crops.
I should not wonder, if his present crop comes off well and the
market holds on, if before Christmas he were worth as many thousands
as he had hundreds the day he bought that piney old-field.  It
don't take much tobacco at a dollar a pound, which his last crop
brought, lugs and all, to make a man that does his own work and
works his own land right well off. He's had good luck, has worked
hard, and has either managed well or been well advised; it don't
matter  which.

"He has gathered a good crowd around him too, sober, hard-working
men; and most of them have done well too. So that it has become
quite a flourishing little settlement.  I suppose there are some
fifty or sixty families live there. They have a church, which
they use for a school-house, and it is by a great deal the best
school-house in the county too. Of course they got' outside help,
some from the Bureau, I reckon, and more perhaps from some charitable
association. I should think the church or school-house must have
cost fifteen hundred or two thousand dollars. They have a splendid
school.  Two ladies from the North are teaching there--real ladies,
I should judge, too."

The listener smiled at this indorsement.

"I see," said Le Moyne, "it amuses you that I should qualify my
words in that manner. It seems unneccessary to you."

"Entirely so."

"Well, it may be; but I assure you, sir, we find it hard to believe
that any one who will come down here and teach niggers is of very
much account at home."

"They are generally of the very cream of our Northern  life,"
said the other. "I know at this very time the daughters of several
prominent clergymen, of two college professors, of a wealthy merchant,
of a leading manufacturer, and of several wealthy farmers, who are
teaching  in these schools. It is missionary work, you see--just
as much as going to Siam or China. I have never known a more
accomplished, devoted, or thoroughly worthy class of ladies, and
do not doubt that these you speak of, well deserve your praise
without qualification."

"Well, it may be," said the other dubiously; "but it is hard for
us to understand, you know. Now, they live in a little old house,
which they have fixed up with flowers  and one thing and another
till it is very attractive--on the outside, at least. I know nothing
about the inside since their occupancy. It was a notable place in
the old time, but had quite run down before they came.  I don't
suppose they see a white person once a month to speak to them, unless
indeed some of the officers come over from the post at Boyleston,
now and then. I am sure that no lady would think of visiting them
or admitting  them to her house. I know a few gentlemen who have
visited the school just out of curiosity. Indeed, I have ridden
over once myself, and I must say it is well worth seeing. I should
say there were three or four hundred scholars, of all ages, sizes,
and colors--black, brown, white apparently, and all shades of what
we used to call 'ginger-cake.' These two ladies and the man Eliab
teach them. It is perfectly wonderful how they do get on. You ought
to see it."

"I certainly shall," said Pardee, "as a special duty calls me there.
How would it do for a polling-place?"

"There ought to be one there, but I should be afraid of trouble,"
answered Le Moyne seriously.

"Name me one or two good men for poll-holders, and I will risk any
disorder."

"Well, there is Eliab. He's a good man if there ever was one, and
capable too."

"How about Nimbus?"

"He's a good man too, honest as the day is long, hard-headed and
determined, but he can't read or write."

"That is strange."

"It _is_ strange, but one of the teachers was telling me so
when I was there. I think he has got so that he can sign his first
name--his only one, he insists--but that is all, and he cannot read
a word."

"I should have thought he would have been one of the first to learn
that much at least."

"So should I. He is the best man of affairs among them all--has
good judgment and sense, and is always trying to do something to
get on. He says he is 'too busy to get larnin', an' leaves that
and preachin' to Bre'er' 'Liab.'"   "Do they keep up their former
intimacy?"

"Keep it up? 'Liab lives in Nimbus' lot, has his meals from his
table, and is toted about by Nimbus just the same as if they were
still boys. Nimbus seems to think more of him than he would of a
brother--than he does of his brothers, for he has two whom he seems
to care nothing about. His wife and children are just as devoted
to the cripple as Nimbus, and 'Liab, on his part, seems to think as
much of them as if they were his own.  They get along first-rate,
and are prospering finely, but I am afraid they will have trouble
yet."

"Why so?"

"Oh, well, I don't know; they are niggers, you see, and our people
are not used to such things."

"I hope your apprehensions are groundless."

"Well, I hope so too."

The officer looked at his watch and remarked that he must return
to his duty, and after thanking his companion  for a pleasant hour,
and being invited to call at Mulberry  Hill whenever occasion might
serve, the two men  parted, each with pleasant impressions of the
other.



CHAPTER X.

AN EXPRESS TRUST.


Fortunately for Nimbus, he had received scarcely anything of his
pay while in the service, and none of the bounty-money due him,
until some months after the surrender,  when he was discharged at
a post near his old home. On the next day it happened that there
was a sale of some of the transportation at this post, and through
the co-operation of one of his officers he was enabled  to buy a
good mule with saddle and bridle for a song, and by means of these
reached home on the day after. He was so proud of his new acquisition
that he could not be induced to remain a single day with his former
comrades. He had hardly more than assured himself of the safety of
his wife and children before he went to visit his old friend and
playmate, Eliab Hill.  He found that worthy in a state of great
depression.

"You see," he explained to his friend, "Mister Le Moyne" (with a
slight emphasis on the title) "bery kindly offered me de use ob dis
cabin's long as I might want it, and has furnished me with nearly
all I have had since the S'rrender. While my mother lived and he
had her services and a well-stocked plantation and plenty ob hands,
I didn't hab no fear o' being a burden to him.  I knew he would get
good pay fer my support, fer I did de shoemakin' fer his people,
and made a good many clo'es fer dem too. Thanks to Miss Hester's
care, I had learned to use my needle, as you know, an' could do
common tailorin' as well as shoemakin'. I got very little fer my
wuk but Confederate money and provisions,  which my mother always
insisted that Mr. Le Moyne should have the benefit on, as he had
given me my freedom and was under bond for my support.

"Since de S'rrender, t'ough dere is plenty ob wuk nobody has any
money. Mr. Le Moyne is just as bad off as anybody, an' has', to go
in debt fer his supplies.  His slaves was freed, his wife is dead,
he has nobody to wait on Miss Hester, only as he hires a nuss; his
little boy is to take keer on, an' he with only one arm an' jest a
bare plantation with scarcely any stock left to him. It comes hard
fer me to eat his bread and owe him so much when I can't do nothin'
fer him in return. I know he don't mind it, an' b'lieve he would
feel hurt if he knew how I feel about it; but I can't help it,
Nimbus--I can't, no way."

"Oh, yer mustn't feel that 'ere way, Bre'er 'Liab," said his friend.
"Co'se it's hard fer you jes now, an' may be a little rough on Marse
Moyne. But yer mus' member  dat atter a little our folks 'll hev
money. White folks got ter have wuk done; nebber do it theirselves;
you know dat; an' ef we does it now we's boun' ter hev pay fer it.
An' when we gits money, you gits wuk.  Jes' let Marse Moyne wait
till de crap comes off, an' den yer'll make it all squar wid him.
I tell yer what, 'Liab, it's gwine ter be great times fer us niggers,
now we's free. Yer sees dat mule out dar?" he asked, pointing to
a sleek bay animal which he had tied to the rack in front of the
house when he rode up.

"Yes, o' course I do," said the other, with very little interest
in his voice.

"Likely critter, ain't it?" asked Nimbus, with a peculiar tone.

"Certain. Whose is it?"

"Wal, now, dat's jes edzackly de question I wuz gwine ter ax of
you. Whose yer spose 'tis?"

"I'm sure I don't know. One o' Mr. Ware's?"

"I should tink not, honey; not edzackly now. Dat ar mule b'longs
ter _me_--Nimbus! D'yer h'yer dat,  'Liab?"

"No! Yer don't tell me? Bless de Lord, Nimbus, yer's a fortunit
man. Yer fortin's made, Nimbus. All yer's got ter do is ter wuk fer
a livin' de rest of this year, an' then put in a crap of terbacker
next year, an' keep gwine on a wukkin' an' savin', an' yer fortin's
made. Ther ain't no reason why yer shouldn't be rich afore yer's
fifty. Bless the Lord, Nimbus, I'se that glad for you dat I can't
find no words fer it."

The cripple stretched out both hands to his stalwart friend, and
the tears which ran down his cheeks attested the sincerity of his
words. Nimbus took his outstretched hands, held them in his own a
moment, then went to the door, looked carefully about, came back
again, and with some embarrassment said,

"An' dat ain't all, Bre'er 'Liab. Jes' you look dar."

As he spoke Nimbus took an envelope from the inside pocket of his
soldier jacket and laid it on the bench where the other sat. 'Liab
looked up in surprise, but in obedience to a gesture from Nimbus
opened it and counted the contents.

"Mos' five hundred dollars!" he said at length, in amazement. "Dis
yours too, Bre'er Nimbus?"

"Co'se it is. Didn't I tell yer dar wuz a good time comin'?"

"Bre'er Nimbus," said Eliab solemnly, "you gib me your word you
git all dis money honestly?"

"Co'se I did. Yer don't s'pose Nimbus am a-gwine ter turn thief at
dis day, does yer?"

"How you get it?" asked Eliab sternly.

"How I git it?" answered the other indignantly.  "You see dem
clo'es? Hain't I been a-sojerin' nigh onter two year now? Hain't
I hed pay an' bounty, an' rations too? One time I wuz cut off from
de regiment, an' 'ported missin' nigh bout fo' months afo' I managed
ter git over ter Port R'yal an' 'port fer duty, an' dey gib me money
fer rations all dat time. Tell yer, 'Liab, it all counts up. I'se
spent a heap 'sides dat."

Still Eliab looked incredulous.

"You see dat _dis_charge?" said Nimbus, pulling the document
from his pocket. "You jes look at what de paymaster writ on dat,
ef yer don't b'lieve Nimbus hez hed any luck. 'Sides dat, I'se got
de dockyments h'yer ter show jes whar an' how I got dat mule."

The care which had been exercised by his officer in providing
Nimbus with the written evidence of his ownership  of the mule was
by no means needless. According to the common law, the possession
of personal property is _prima facie_ evidence of its ownership;
but in those early days, before the nation undertook to spread
the aegis of equality over him, such was not the rule in the case
of the freedman. Those first legislatures, elected only by the
high-minded land-owners of the South, who knew the African, his
needs and wants, as no one else could know them, and who have always
proclaimed themselves  his truest friends, enacted with especial
care that he should not "hold nor own nor have any rights of property
in any horse, mule, hog, cow, steer, or other stock," unless the
same was attested by a bill of sale or other instrument of writing
executed by the former owner. It was well for Nimbus that he was
armed with his "dockyments."

Eliab Hill took the papers handed him by Nimbus, and read, slowly
and with evident difficulty; but as he mastered  line after line
the look of incredulity vanished, and a glow of solemn joy spread
over his face. It was the first positive testimony of actual
freedom--the first fruits of self-seeking, self-helping manhood
on the part of his race which had come into the secluded country
region  and gladdened the heart of the stricken prophet and adviser.

With a sudden jerk he threw himself off his low bench, and burying
his head upon it poured forth a prayer of gratitude for this evidence
of prayer fulfilled. His voice was full of tears, and when he said
"Amen," and Nimbus  rose from his knees and put forth his hand to
help him as he scrambled upon his bench, the cripple caught the
hand and pressed it close, as he said:

"Bress God, Nimbus, I'se seen de time often an' often 'nough when
I'se hed ter ax de Lor' ter keep me from a-envyin' an' grudgin' de
white folks all de good chances dey hed in dis world; but now I'se
got ter fight agin' covetin' anudder nigga's luck. Bress de Lor',
Nimbus, I'se gladder, I do b'lieve, fer what's come ter you dan yer
be yerself. It'll do you a power of good--you an' yours--but what
good wud it do if a poor crippled  feller like me hed it? Not a
bit. Jes' git him bread an' meat, Nimbus, dat's all. Oh, de Lord
knows what he's 'bout, Nimbus. Mind you dat. He didn't give you
all dat money fer nothing, an' yer'll hev ter 'count fer it, dat
you will; mighty close too, 'kase he keeps his books right. Yer must
see ter dat, Bre'er Nimbus." The exhortation was earnestly given,
and was enforced with tears and soft strokings of the dark strong
hand which he still clasped in his soft and slender  ones.

"Now don't you go ter sayin' nuffin' o' dat kind, ole feller. I'se
been a-tinkin' ebber sence I got dat money dat it's jes ez much
'Liab's ez'tis mine. Ef it hadn't been fer you I'd nebber knowed
'nough ter go ober to de Yanks, when ole Mahs'r send me down ter
wuk on de fo'tifications, an' so I neber git it at all. So now,
yer see, Bre'er 'Liab, _you's_ gwine ter keep dat 'ere money.
I don't feel half safe wid it nohow, till we find out jes what
we wants ter do wid it. I 'lows dat we'd better buy a plantation
somewheres. Den I kin wuk it, yer know, an' you kin hev a shop,
an' so we kin go cahoots, an' git along right smart. Yer see, ef
we do dat, we allers hez a livin', anyhow, an' der ain't no such
thing ez spendin' an' losin' what we've got."

There was great demurrer on the part of the afflicted friend, but
he finally consented to become his old crony's banker. He insisted,
however, on giving him a very formal and peculiarly worded receipt
for the money and papers which he received from him. Considering
that they had to learn the very rudiments of business, Eliab Hill
was altogether right in insisting upon a scrupulous observance of
what he deemed "the form of sound words."

In speaking of the son of his former owner as "Mister,"  Eliab Hill
meant to display nothing of arrogance or disrespect. The titles
"Master" and "Missus," were the badges of slavery and inferiority.
Against their use the mind of the freedman rebelled as instinctively
as the dominant race insisted on its continuance.  The "Black
Codes" of 1865, the only legislative  acts of the South since the
war which were not affected in any way by national power or Northern
sentiment, made it incumbent on the freedman, whom it sought to
continue in serfdom, to use this form of address,  and denounced
its neglect as disrespectful to the "Master" or "Mistress." When
these laws ceased to be operative, the custom of the white race
generally was still to demand the observance of the form, and this
demand tended to embitter the dislike of the freedmen for it. At
first, almost the entire race refused. After a while the habit of
generations began to assert itself. While the more intelligent and
better educated of the original stock discarded its use entirely,
the others, and the children who had grown up since emancipation,
came to use it almost interchangeably with the ordinary form of
address. Thus Eliab Hill, always nervously alive to the fact of
freedom, never allowed the words to pass his lips after the Surrender,
except when talking with Mrs. Le Moyne, to whose kindness he owed
so much-in early years. On the other hand, Nimbus, with an equal
aversion to everything connected  with slavery, but without the
same mental activity, sometimes dropped into the old familiar habit.
He would have died rather than use the word at another's dictation
or as a badge of inferiority, but the habit was too strong for one
of his grade of intellect to break away from at once. Since the
success of the old slaveholding element of the South in subverting
the governments based on the equality of political right and power,
this form of address has become again almost universal except in
the cities and large towns.



CHAPTER XI.

RED WING.


Situated on the sandy, undulating chain of low,  wooded hills
which separated the waters of two tributaries  of the Roanoke, at
the point where the "big road" from the West crossed the country
road which ran northward  along the crest of the ridge, as if in
search of dry footing between the rich valleys on either hand, was
the place known as Red Wing. The "big road" had been a thoroughfare
from the West in the old days before steam diverted the ways of
traffic from the trails which the wild beasts had pursued. It led
through the mountain  gaps, by devious ways but by easy grades,
along the banks of the water-courses and across the shallowest
fords down to the rich lowlands of the East. It was said that the
buffalo, in forgotten ages, had marked out this way to the ever-verdant
reed-pastures of the then unwooded East; that afterward the Indians
had followed his lead, and, as the season served, had fished upon
the waters of Currituck or hunted amid the romantic ruggedness
of the Blue Appalachians. It was known that the earlier settlers
along the Smoky Range and on the Piedmont foot-hills  had used this
thoroughfare to take the stock and produce of their farms down to
the great plantations of the East, where cotton was king, and to
the turpentine orchards of the South Atlantic shore line.

At the crossing of these roads was situated a single house, which
had been known for generations, far and near, as the Red Wing
Ordinary. In the old colonial days it had no doubt been a house
of entertainment for man and beast. Tradition, very well based and
universally  accepted, declared that along these roads had marched
and countermarched the hostile forces of the Revolutionary period.
Greene and Cornwallis had dragged their weary columns over the
tenacious clay of this region, past the very door of the low-eaved
house, built up of heavy logs at first and covered afterward with
fat-pine siding, which had itself grown brown and dark with age.
It was said that the British regulars had stacked their arms around
the trunk of the monster white-oak that stretched its great arms
out over the low dark house, which seemed to be creeping nearer
and nearer to its mighty trunk for protection, until of late years
the spreading branches had dropped their store of glossy acorns and
embossed cups even on the farther slope of its mossy roof, a good
twenty yards away from the scarred and rugged bole. "Two decks
and a passage"--two moderate-sized rooms with a wide open pass-way
between, and a low dark porch running along the front--constituted
all that was left of a once well-known place of public refreshment.
At each end a stone chimney, yellowish gray and of a massiveness
now wonderful to behold, rose above the gable like a shattered tower
above the salient of some old fortress. The windows still retained
the little square panes and curious glazing of a century ago.  Below
it, fifty yards away to the eastward, a bold spring burst out of
the granite rock, spread deep and still and cool over its white
sandy bottom, in the stone-walled inclosure  where it was confined
(over half of which stood the ample milk-house), and then gurgling
along the stony outlet ran away over the ripple-marked sands of
its worn channel, to join the waters of the creek a mile away.

It was said that in the olden time there had been sheds and out-buildings,
and perhaps some tributary houses for the use of lodgers, all of
which belonged to and constituted a part of the Ordinary. Two things
had deprived it of its former glory. The mart-way had changed even
before the iron horse charged across the old routes, scorning their
pretty curves and dashing in an almost direct line from mountain
to sea. Increasing population had opened new routes, which diverted
the traffic and were preferred to the old way by travelers. Besides
this, there had been a feud between the owner of the Ordinary and
the rich proprietor whose outspread acres encircled on every side
the few thin roods which were attached to the hostel, and when the
owner thereof died and the property, in the course of administration,
was put upon the market, the rich neighbor bought it, despoiled
it of all its accessories, and left only the one building of two
rooms below and two above, a kitchen and a log stable, with crib
attached, upon the site of the Ordinary which had vexed him so
long. The others were all cleared away, and even the little opening
around the Ordinary was turned out to grow up in pines and black-jacks,
all but an acre or two of garden-plot behind the house.  The sign
was removed, and the overseer of Colonel Walter  Greer, the new
owner, was installed in the house, which thenceforth lost entirely
its character as an inn.

In the old days, before the use of artificial heat in the curing
of tobacco, the heavy, coarse fibre which grew upon rich, loamy
bottom lands or on dark clayey hillsides was chiefly prized by the
grower and purchaser of that staple.  The light sandy uplands, thin
and gray, bearing only stunted pines or a light growth of chestnut
and clustering  chinquapins, interspersed with sour-wood, while
here and there a dogwood or a white-coated, white-hearted hickory
grew, stubborn and lone, were not at all valued as tobacco lands.
The light silky variety of that staple was entirely unknown, and
even after its discovery was for a longtime unprized, and its habitat
and peculiar characteristics little understood. It is only since
the war of Rebellion that its excellence has been fully appreciated
and its superiority established. The timber on this land was of no
value except as wood and for house-logs.  Of the standard timber
tree of the region, the oak, there was barely enough to fence it,
should that ever be thought desirable. Corn, the great staple of
the region next to tobacco, could hardly be "hired" to grow upon
the "droughty" soil of the ridge, and its yield of the smaller
grains, though much better, was not sufficient to tempt the owner
of the rich lands adjacent to undertake its cultivation. This land
itself, he thought, was only good "to hold the world together" or
make a "wet-weather  road" between the rich tracts on either hand.
Indeed, it was a common saying in that region that it was "too poor
even to raise a disturbance upon."

To the westward of the road running north and south there had once
been an open field of some thirty or forty acres, where the wagoners
were wont to camp and the drovers to picket their stock in the
halcyon days of the old hostelry. It had been the muster-ground
of the militia too, and there were men yet alive, at the time of
which we write, whose fathers had mustered with the county forces
on that ground. When it was "turned out," however, and the Ordinary
ceased to be a place of entertainment, the pines shot up, almost
as thick as grass-blades in a meadow, over its whole expanse. It
is strange how they came there. Only black-jacks and the lighter
decidua which cover such sandy ridges had grown there before, but
after these were cleared away by the hand of man and the plow for
a few years had tickled the thin soil, when nature again resumed
her sway, she sent a countless army of evergreens, of mysterious
origin, to take and hold this desecrated portion of her domain.  They
sprang up between the corn-rows before the stalks had disappeared
from sight; they shot through the charred embers of the deserted
camp-fire; everywhere, under the shade of each deciduous bush,
protected by the shadow of the rank weeds which sprang up where
the stock had fed, the young pines grew, and protected others, and
shot slimly up, until their dense growth shut out the sunlight and
choked the lately protecting shrubbery.  Then they grew larger, and
the weaker ones were overtopped by the stronger and shut out from
the sunlight and starved to death, and their mouldering fragments
mingled with the carpet of cones and needles which became thicker
and thicker under their shade, until at the beginning of the war a
solid, dark mass of pines fit for house-logs, and many even larger,
stood upon the old muster-field, and constituted the chief value
of the tract of two hundred acres which lay along the west side
of the plantation of which it formed a part.    It was this tract
that Nimbus selected as the most advantageous location for himself
and his friend which he could find in that region. He rightly
judged that the general estimate of its poverty would incline the
owner to part with a considerable tract at a very moderate price,
especially if he were in need of ready money, as Colonel Desmit
was then reputed to be, on account of the losses he had sustained
by the results of the war. His own idea of its value differed
materially from this, and he was thoroughly convinced that, in the
near future, it would be justified. He was cautious about stating
the grounds of this belief even to Eliab, having the natural fear
of one unaccustomed to business that some other person would get
wind of his idea and step into his Bethesda while he, himself,
waited for the troubling of the waters.

He felt himself quite incompetent to conduct the purchase,  even
with Eliab's assistance, and in casting about for some white man
whom they could trust to act as their agent, they could think of
no one but Hesden Le Moyne.  It was agreed, therefore, that Eliab
should broach the matter to him, but he was expressly cautioned
by Nimbus  to give him no hint of the particular reasons which led
them to prefer this particular tract or of their means of payment,
until he had thoroughly sounded him in regard to the plan itself.
This Eliab did, and that gentleman, while approving the plan of
buying a plantation, if they were able, utterly condemned the idea
of purchasing a tract so notoriously worthless, and refused to have
anything to do with so wild a scheme. Eliab, greatly discouraged,
reported  this fact to his friend and urged the abandonment of the
plan. Nimbus, however, was stubborn and declared that "if Marse
Hesden would not act for him he would go to Louisburg and buy it
of Marse Desmit himself."

"Dar ain't no use o' talkin', 'Liab," said he. "You an' Marse
Hesden knows a heap more'n I does 'bout most things; dar ain't no
doubt 'bout dat 'an nobody knows it better'n I does. But what Nimbus
knows, he _knows_, an' dat's de eend on't. Nobody don't know
it any better. Now, I don't know nuffin' 'bout books an' de scripter
an' sech-like, only what I gits second-hand--no more'n you does
'bout sojerin', fer instance. But I tell ye what, 'Liab, I does
know 'bout terbacker, an' I knows _all_ about it, too. I kin
jes' gib you an' Marse Hesden, an' aheap mo' jes like you uns,
odds on dat, an' beat ye all holler ebbery time. What I don't know
'bout dat ar' crap dar ain't no sort ob use a tryin' to tell me.
I got what I knows de reg'lar ole-fashioned way, like small-pox,
jes by 'sposure, an' I tell yer 'Liab, hit beats any sort ob
'noculation all ter rags. Now, I tell _you_, 'Liab Hill, dat
ar' trac' ob lan' 'bout dat ole Or'nery is jes' de berry place we
wants, an' I'm boun' ter hev it, ef it takes a leg. Now you heah
dat, don't yer?"

Eliab saw that it was useless for him to combat this determination.
He knew the ruggedness of his friend's character and had long ago
learned, that he could only be turned from a course, once fixed
upon in his own mind, by presenting some view of the matter which
had not occurred to him before. He had great confidence in Mr.
Le Moyne's judgment--almost as much as in Nimbus', despite his
admiration for his herculean comrade--so he induced his friend to
promise that nothing more should be done about the matter until he
could have an opportunity  to examine the premises, with which he
was not as familiar as he would like to be, before it was altogether
decided. To this Nimbus readily consented, and soon afterwards
he borrowed a wagon and took Eliab, one pleasant day in the early
fall, to spy out their new Canaan.  When they had driven around
and seen as much of it as they could well examine from the vehicle,
Nimbus drove to a point on the east-and-west road just opposite
the western part of the pine growth, where a sandy hill sloped
gradually to the northward and a little spring burst out of it and
trickled across the road.

"Dar," he said, waving his hand toward the slope; "dar is whar
I wants my house, right 'longside ob dat ar spring, wid a good
terbacker barn up on de hill dar."

"Why, what do yer want ter lib dar fer?" asked the other in
surprise, as he peered over the side of the wagon, in which he sat
upon a thick bed of fodder which Nimbus had spread over the bottom
for his comfort.

"Kase dat ar side-hill am twenty-five acres ob de best terbacker
groun' in Ho'sford County."

"Yer don't say so, Nimbus?"

"Dat's jes what I do say, 'Liab, an' dat's de main reason  what's
made me so stubborn 'bout buyin' dis berry track of lan'. Pears ter
me it's jes made fer us. It's all good terbacker lan', most on't
de berry best. It's easy clar'd off an' easy wukked. De 'backer
growed on dis yer lan' an' cured wid coal made outen dem ar pines
will be jes es yaller ez gold an' as fine ez silk, 'Liab. I knows;
I'se been a watchin' right smart, an' long ago, when I used ter
pass by here, when dey fust begun ter vally de yaller terbacker, I
used ter wonder dat some pore white man like Marse War', dat knowed
how ter raise an' cure terbacker,  didn't buy de ole place an' wuk
for demselves, 'stead ob overseein' fer somebody else. It's quar
dey nebber t'ought on't. It allers seemed ter me dat I wouldn't ax
fer nothin' better."

"But what yer gwine ter do wid de ole house?" asked Eliab.

"Wal, Bre'er Liab," said Nimbus with a queer  grimace, "I kinder
'llowed dat I'd ler you hab dat ar ter do wid jes 'bout ez yer
like."

"Oh, Bre'er Nimbus, yer don't mean dat now?"

"Don't I? wal, you jes see ef I don't. I'se gwine ter lib right
h'yer, an' ef yer don't occupy dat ole Red Wing Or'nery I'm durned
ef it don't rot down. Yer heah dat man? Dar don't nobody else lib
in it, shuah."

Eliab was very thoughtful and silent, listening to Nimbus' comments
and plans until finally, as they sat on the porch of the old house
eating their "snack," he said,

"Nimbus, dar's a heap ob cullud folks libbin' jes one way an'
anudder from dis yer Red Wing cross-roads."

"Co'se dey is, an' dat's de berry reason I'se sot my heart on yer
habbin' a shop right h'yer. Yer shore ter git de wuk ob de whole
country roun', an' der's mo' cullud folks right up an' down de
creek an' de ribber h'yer dan ennywhar hereabouts dat I knows on."

"But, Nimbus--" said he, hesitatingly.

"Yis, 'Liab, I hears ye."

"Couldn't we hab a church here?"

"Now yer's _talkin'_," exclaimed Nimbus. "Swar ter God, it's
quare I nebber tink ob dat, now. An' you de minister? Now yer
_is_ talkin', shuah! Why de debble I nebber tink ob dat afo'?
Yer see dem big pines dar, straight ez a arrer an' nigh 'bout
de same size from top ter bottom? What yer s'pose dem fer, 'Liab?
Dunno?  I should tink not. House logs fer de church, 'Liab.  Make
it jes ez big ez yer wants. Dar 'tis. Only gib me some few shingles
an' a flo', an' dar yer hev jes ez good a church ez de 'postles
ebber hed ter preach in."

"An' de school, Nimbus?" timidly.

"Shuah 'nough. Why I nebber tink ob dat afo'? An' you de teacher!
Now you is talkin', 'Liab, _certain_ shuah! Dat's jes de
ting, jes what we wants an' hez got ter hev. Plenty o' scholars
h'yer-abouts, an' de church fer a school-house an' Bre'er 'Liab
fer de teacher! 'Clar fer it, Bre'er'Liab, you hez got ahead-piece,
dat's a fac'.  Now I nebber tink of all dat togedder. Mout hev
come bimeby, little to a time, but not all to wonst like, as 'tis
wid you. Lord, how plain I sees it all now! De church an' school-house
up dar on de knoll; Nimbus' house jes about a hundred yards furder
on, 'cross de road; an' on de side ob de hill de 'backer-barn; you
a teachin' an' a preachin' an' Nimbus makin' terbacker, an' Gena
a-takin' comfort on de porch, an' de young uns gittin' larnin'!
Wh-o-o-p! Bre'er 'Liab, yer's a great man, shuah!"

Nimbus caught him in his strong arms and whirled him about in a
frenzy of joy. When he sat him down Eliab said quietly:

"We must get somebody else to teach for a while.  'Liab don't know
'nough ter do dat ar. I'll go to school wid de chillen an' learn
'nough ter do it bimeby. P'raps dis what dey call de 'Bureau' mout
start a school here ef you should ax 'em, Nimbus. Yer know dey'd
be mighty willin' ter 'blige a soldier, who'd been a fightin' fer
'em, ez you hev."

"I don't a know about dat ar, Bre'er'Liab, but leastaways we can't
do no more'n make de trial, anyhow."

After this visit, Eliab withdrew all opposition, not without doubt,
but hoping for the best, and trusting, prayerfully, that his friend's
sanguine expectations might be justified by the result. So it was
determined that Nimbus should make the purchase, if possible, and
that the old Ordinary, which had been abandoned as a hostel on
the highway to the Eastern market, be made a New Inn upon the road
which the Freedman must now take, and which should lead to liberty
and light.



CHAPTER XII.

ON THE WAY TO JERICHO.


Colonel Desmit's devotion to the idea that slave property was more
profitable than any other, and the system by which he had counted
on almost limitless gain thereby, was not only overthrown by the
universal emancipation which attended the issue of the war, but
certain unlocked for contingencies placed him upon the very verge
of bankruptcy. The location of his interests in different places,
which he had been accustomed, during the struggle, to look upon
as a most fortunate prevision, resulted most disastrously. As the
war progressed, it came about that those regions which were at
first generally regarded as the most secure from hostile invasion
became the scene of the most devastating operations.

The military foresight of the Confederate leaders long before led
them to believe that the struggle would be concluded, or would
at least reach its climax, in the Piedmont region. From the coast
to the mountains the Confederacy spanned, at this point, only two
hundred miles.  The country was open, accessible from three points
upon the coast, at which lodgment was early made or might have been
obtained, and only one flank of the forces marching thence toward
the heart of the Confederacy could be assailed. It was early
apprehended by them that armies marching from the coast of North
Carolina, one column along the course of the Cape Fear and another
from Newberne, within fair supporting distance and converging
toward the center of the State, would constitute the most dangerous
movement that could be made against the Confederacy, since it would
cut it in twain if successful; and, in order to defeat it, the Army
of Virginia would have to be withdrawn from its field of operations
and a force advancing in its track from the James would be enabled
to co-operate with the columns previously mentioned.  It is
instructive to note that, upon the other side, the untrained instinct
of President Lincoln was always turning in the same direction.
In perusing the field of operations his finger would always stray
to the eastern coast of North Carolina as the vital point, and
no persuasions could induce him to give up the apparently useless
foothold which we kept there for more than three years without
material advantage. It was a matter of constant surprise to the
Confederate military authorities that this course was not adopted,
and the final result showed the wisdom of their premonition.

Among others, Colonel Desmit had obtained an inkling of this idea,
and instead of concentrating all his destructible property in
the region of his home, where, as it resulted, it would have been
comparatively secure, he pitched upon the "piney-woods" region to
the south-eastward,  as the place of greatest safety.

He had rightly estimated that cotton and naval stores would, on
account of the rigorous blockade and their limited production in
other countries, be the most valuable products to hold when the
period of war should end.  With these ideas he had invested largely
in both, and in and about a great factory at the falls of a chief
tributary of the Pedee, he had stored his cotton; and in the heart
of that sombre-shadowed stretch of soughing pines which lies between
the Cape Fear and the Yadkin he had hidden his vast accumulation
of pitch, turpentine, and resin.  Both were in the very track of
Sherman's ruthless legions. First the factory and the thousands of
bales carefully placed in store near by were given to the  flames.
Potestatem Desmit had heard of their danger, and had ridden post-haste
across the rugged region to the northward in the vain hope that
his presence might somehow avert disaster. From the top of a rocky
mountain twenty miles away he had witnessed the conflagration, and
needed not to be told of his loss. Turning his horse's head to the
eastward, at a country-crossing near at hand, he struck out with
unabated resolution to reach the depot of his naval stores before
the arrival of the troops, in order that he might interpose for their
preservation. He had quite determined to risk the consequences of
capture in their behalf, being now fully convinced of the downfall
of the Confederacy.

During the ensuing night he arrived at his destination, where he
found everything in confusion and affright. It was a vast collection
of most valuable stores. For two years they had been accumulating.
It was one of the sheet-anchors which the prudent and far-seeing
Potestatem Desmit had thrown out to windward in anticipation of a
coming storm. For half a mile along the bank of the little stream
which was just wide enough to float a loaded batteau, the barrels
of resin and pitch and turpentine were piled, tier upon tier,
hundreds and thousands upon thousands of them. Potestatem Desmit
looked at them and shuddered at the desolation which a single
torch would produce in an instant. He felt that the chances were
desperate, and he had half a mind to apply the torch himself and
at least deprive the approaching horde of the savage pleasure of
destroying his substance.  But he had great confidence in himself,
his own powers of persuasion and diplomacy. He would try them once
more, and would not fail to make them serve for all they might be
worth, to save this hoarded treasure.

It was barely daylight the next morning when he was awakened by the
cry, "The Yanks are coming!" He had but a moment to question the
frightened messenger, who pressed on, terror-stricken, in the very
road which he might have known would be the path of the advancing
enemy, instead of riding two miles into the heart of the boundless
pine forest which stretched on either hand, where he would have
been as safe from capture as if he had been in the center of the
pyramid of Cheops.

Potestatem Desmit had his carriage geared up, and went coolly forth
to meet the invaders. He had heard much of their savage ferocity,
and was by no means ignorant of the danger which he ran in thus going
voluntarily into their clutches. Nevertheless he did not falter.
He had great reliance in his personal presence. So he dressed with
care, and arrayed in clean linen and a suit of the finest broadcloth,
then exceedingly rare in the Confederacy, and with his snowy hair
and beard, his high hat, his hands crossed over a gold-headed
cane, and gold-mounted glasses upon his nose, he set out upon his
mission. The night before he had prudently removed from the place
every drop of spirits except a small demi-john  of old peach-brandy,
which he put under the seat of his carriage, intending therewith to
regale the highest official whom he should succeed in approaching,
even though it should be the dreaded Sherman himself.

He had proceeded perhaps half a mile, when his carriage was all at
once surrounded by a motley crew of curiously dressed but well-armed
ruffians, whose very appearance disgusted and alarmed him. With oaths
and threats the lumbering chariot, which represented in itself no
little of respectability, was stopped. The appearance of such a
vehicle upon the sandy road of the pine woods coming directly toward
the advancing column struck the "bummers" with surprise. They made
a thousand inquiries of the frightened driver, and were about to
remove and appropriate the sleek span of carriage-horses when the
occupant of the carriage, opening the window, thrust out his head,
and with a face flaming with indignation ordered them to desist,
bestowing upon them a volley of epithets, beginning with "rascals"
and running as far into the language of abuse as his somewhat heated
imagination could carry him.

"Hello, Bill," said the bummer who was unfastening the right-wheeler,
as he looked back and saw the red face framed in a circlet of
white hair and beard. "Just look at this old sunflower, will you?
I guess the old bird must think he commands this brigade. Ha! ha!
ha! I say, old fellow, when did you leave the ark?"

"And was Noah and his family well when you bid 'em good-by?" queried
another.

This levity and ridicule were too much for Colonel P. Desmit
to endure. He leaned out of the carriage window, and shaking his
gold-headed cane at the mirthful marauders denounced them in language
fearful in its impotent wrath.

"Take me to General Sherman, you rascals! I want to see the general!"
he yelled over and over again.

"The hell you do! Well, now, mister, don't you know that the General
is too nervous to see company to-day?  He's just sent us on ahead
a bit to say to strangers that he's compelled to refuse all visitors
to-day. He gits that way sometimes, does 'Old Bill,' so ye mustn't
think hard of him, at all."

"Take me to the general, you plundering pirates!" vociferated the
enraged Colonel. "I'll see if a country gentleman travelling in his
own carriage along the highway is to be robbed and abused in this
manner!"   "Robbed, did he say?" queried one, with the unmistakable
brogue of an Irishman. "Faith, it must be the gintleman has somethin'
very important along wid him in the carriage, that he's gittin' so
excited about; and its meself that'll not see the gintleman imposed
upon, sure." This with a wink at his comrades. Then to the occupant
of the carriage: "What did yer honor say might be yer name, now?
It's very partickler the General is about insthructin' us ter ax
the names of thim that's wantin' an' inthroduction to him, ye know?"

The solemnity of this address half deceived the irate Southron,
and he answered with dignity, "Desmit--Colonel Potestatem Desmit,
of Horsford County, sir."

"Ah, d'ye hear that, b'ys? Faith, it's a kurnel it is ye've been
a shtoppin' here upon the highway! Shure it may be he's a goin' to
the Gineral wid a flag of thruce, belike."

"I do wish to treat with the General," said Desmit, thinking he
saw a chance to put in a favorable word.

"An' d'ye hear that, b'ys? Shure the gintleman wants to thrate the
Gineral. Faith it'll be right glad the auld b'y'll be of a dhrap
of somethin' good down here in the pine woods."

"Can I see the General, gentlemen?" asked Desmit, with a growing
feeling that he had taken the wrong course to accomplish his end.
The crowd of "bummers" constantly grew larger. They were mounted
upon horses and mules, jacks and jennets, and one of them had put
a "McClellan saddle" and a gag-bit upon one of the black polled cattle
which abound in that region, and which ambled easily and briskly
along with his rider's feet just brushing the low "poverty-pines"
which grew by the roadside. They wore all sorts of clothing. The
blue and the gray were already peacefully intermixed in the garments
of most of them. The most grotesque variety prevailed especially
in their head-gear, which culminated in the case of one who wore a
long, barrel-shaped, slatted sun-bonnet made out of spotted calico.
They were boisterous and even amusing, had they not been well
armed and apparently without fear or reverence for any authority or
individual. For the present, the Irishman was evidently in command,
by virtue of his witty tongue.

"Can ye see the Gineral, Kurnel?" said he, with the utmost apparent
deference; "av coorse ye can, sir, only it'll be necessary for you
to lave your carriage an' the horses and the nagur here in the care
of these gintlemen, while I takes ye to the Gineral mesilf."

"Why can I not drive on?"

"Why can't ye dhrive? Is it a Kurnel ye is, an' don't know that?
Shure the cavalry an' the arthillery an' the caysons an' one thing
an' another of that kind would soon crush a chayriot like that to
flinders, ye know."

"I cannot leave my carriage," said Desmit.

"Mein Gott, shust hear him now I" said a voice on the other side,
which caused Desmit to turn with a start. A bearded German, with a
pair of myoptic glasses adding their glare to the peculiar intensity
of the short-sighted gaze, had climbed upon the opposite wheel
during his conversation with Pat, and leaning half through the
window was scanning carefully the inside of the carriage.  He had
already one hand on the demijohn of peach-brandy  upon which the
owner's hopes so much depended.  Potetsatem Desmit was no coward,
and his gold-headed cane made the acquaintance of the Dutchman's
poll before he had time to utter a word of protestation.

It was all over in a minute, then. There was a rush and a scramble.
The old man was dragged out of his carriage, fighting manfully
but vainly. Twenty hands laid hold upon him. The gold-headed cane
vanished; the gold-mounted glasses disappeared; his watch leaped
from his pocket, and the chain was soon dangling at the fob of one
of the still laughing marauders. Then one insisted that his hat
was unbecoming for a colonel, and a battered and dirty infantry
cap with a half-obliterated corps badge and regimental number was
jammed down on his gray hairs; he was required to remove his coat,
and then another took a fancy to his vest. The one who took his
coat gave him in exchange a very ragged, greasy, and altogether
disgusting cavalry jacket, much too short, and not large enough to
button. The carriage was almost torn in pieces in the search for
treasure. Swords and bayonets were thrust through the panelling; the
cushions were ripped open, the cover torn off, and every possible
hiding-place examined. Then thinking it must be about his person,
they compelled him to take off his boots and stockings. In their
stead a pair of almost soleless shoes were thrown him by one who
appropriated the boots.

Meantime the Irishman had distributed the contents of the demijohn,
after having filled his own canteen.  Then there was great hilarity.
The taste of the "colonel" was loudly applauded; his health was
drunk, and it was finally decided to move on with him in charge.
The "bummer" who rode the polled ox had, in the mean time, shifted
his saddle to one of the carriage-horses, and kindly offered the
steer to the "colonel." One who had come upon foot had already
mounted the other horse. The driver performed a last service for
his master, now pale, trembling, and tearful at the insults and
atrocities he was called on to undergo, by spreading one of the carriage
cushions over the animal's back and helping the queerly-habited
potentate to mount his insignificant steed. It was better than
marching through the hot sand on foot, however.

When they reached the little hamlet which had grown up around his
collection of turpentine distilleries they saw a strange sight.
The road which bore still further to the southward was full of
blue-coated soldiers, who marched along with the peculiar swinging
gait which marked the army that "went down to the sea." Beyond the
low bridge, under a clump of pines which had been spared for shade,
stood a group of horsemen, one of whom read a slip of paper, or
rather shouted its contents to the soldiery as they passed, while
he flourished the paper above his head.  Instantly the column was
in an uproar. Caps were thrown into the air, voices grew hoarse
with shouting; frantic gesticulation, tearful eyes and laughter,
yells, inane antics, queer combinations of sacrilegious oaths and
absurd embraces were everywhere to be seen and heard.

"Who is that?" asked Desmit of the Irishman, near whom he had kept,
pointing to the leading man of the group under the tree.

"Faith, Kurnel, that is Gineral-----. Would ye like an inthroduction,
Kurnel?"

"Yes, yes," said Desmit impatiently.

"Thin come wid me. Shure I'll give ye one, an' tell him ye sint
him a dhrink of auld pache to cilebrate the good news with. Come
along, thin!"

Just as they stepped upon the bridge Desmit heard a lank Hoosier
ask,

"What is in them bar'ls?"

And some one answered,

"Turpentine."

"Hooray!" said the first. "A bonfire!"   "Hurry! hurry!" Desmit
cried to his guide.

"Come on thin, auld gintleman. It's mesilf that'll not go back on
a man that furnishes a good dhram for so joyful an occasion."

They dismounted, and, pressing their way through the surging mass
on the bridge, approached the group under the pines.

"Gineral," said the Irishman, taking off the silk hat which Desmit
had worn and waving it in the air; "Gineral, I have the honor
to inthroduce to ye anl auld gintleman--one av the vera furst
families--that's come out to mate ye, an' begs that ye'll taste jest
a dhrap av the finest auld pache that ivver ran over yer tongue,
jist ter cilebrate this vera joyful occasion,"

He waved his hat toward Desmit, and handed up his canteen at once.
The act was full of the audacity of his race, but the news had
overthrown all sense of discipline.  The officer even lifted the
canteen to his lips, and no doubt finding Pat's assertion as to its
quality to be true allowed a reasonable quantity of its aromatic
contents to glide down his throat, and then handed it to one of
his companions.

"General! General!" shrieked Desmit in desperation, as he rushed
forward.

"What do you want, sir?" said the officer sternly.

There was a rush, a crackle, and a still louder shout.

Both turned and saw a tongue of red flame with a black, sooty tip
leap suddenly skyward. The great mass of naval stores was fired,
and no power on earth could save a barrel of them now. Desmit
staggered to the nearest tree, and faint and trembling watched the
flame.  How it raged! How the barrels burst and the liquid flame
poured over the ground and into the river! Still it burned! The whole
earth seemed aflame! How the black billows of heavy smoke poured
upward, hiding the day! The wind shifted and swept the smoke-wave
over above the crowding, hustling, shouting column. It began to rain,
but under the mass of heavy smoke the group at the pines stood dry.

And still, out of the two openings in the dark pines upon the
other side of the stream, poured the two blue-clad, steel-crowned
columns! Still the staff officer shouted the glad tidings,
"_Lee--surrendered--unconditionally_.'" Still waved aloft the
dispatch! Still the boundless forests rang with shouts! Still the
fierce flame raged, and from the column which had gone into the
forest beyond came back the solemn chant, which sounded at that
moment like the fateful voice of an avenging angel;

"John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave; His soul is
marching on!"

One who looked upon the scene thinks of it always when he reads of
the last great day--the boundless flame--the fervent heat--the
shouts--the thousands like the sands of the sea--all are not to be
forgotten until the likeness merges into the dread reality!

The Irishman touched Desmit as he leaned against the pine.

"War that yours, misther?" he asked, not unkindly.

Desmit nodded affirmatively.

"Here," said the other, extending his canteen.  "There's a drink
left. Take it."

Desmit took it with a trembling hand, and drained it to the last
drop.

"That's right," said the Irishman sympathetically.  "I'm right
sorry for ye, misther, that I am; but don't ye nivver give up heart.
There's more turpentine where that come from, and this thing's over
now. I couldn't find yer bull for ye, mister, but here's a mule.
Ye'd better jest take him and git away from here before this row's
over. Nobody'll miss ye now."

Two weeks afterward a queerly clad figure rode up to the elegant
mansion of Colonel Potestatem Desmit, overlooking the pleasant
town of Louisburg in the county of Horsford, and found a party of
Federal officers lounging upon his wide porches and making merry
after war's alarums!



CHAPTER XIII.

NEGOTIATING A TREATY.


Not only did Colonel Desmit lose his cotton and naval stores; but
the funds which he had invested, with cautious foresight, in the
bonds of the State and the issues of its banks, were also made
worthless by the result of the war. Contrary to the expectations
of the most prudent and far-seeing, the bonds issued by the States
in rebellion during the period of war, were declared to be attaint
with treason, and by the supreme power of the land were forbidden
to be paid. In addition to this he found himself what was properly
termed "land-poor." The numerous small plantations which he had
acquired in different parts of the country, in pursuance of his
original and inherited design of acquiring wealth by slave-culture,
though intrinsically very valuable, were just at this time
in the highest degree unavailable. All lands had depreciated to a
considerable extent, but the high price of cotton had tempted many
Northern settlers and capitalists into that belt of country where
this staple had been most successfully raised, and their purchases,
as well as the continued high price of the staple, had kept up the
prices of cotton-lands far beyond all others.

Then, too, the lack of ready money throughout the country and the
general indebtedness made an absolute dearth of buyers. In the four
years of war there had been no collections. The courts had been
debarred from judgment and execution. The sheriff had been without
process, the lawyer without fees, the creditor without his money.
Few indeed had taken advantage of this state of affairs to pay
debts. Money had been as plenty as the forest leaves in autumn,
and almost as valueless. The creditor had not desired to realize
on his securities, and few debtors had cared to relieve themselves.
There had come to be a sort of general belief that when the war
ended there would be a jubilee for all debtors--that each one would
hold what he had, and that a promise to pay would no more trouble
or make afraid even the most timid soul. So that when the courts
came to be unchained and the torrent of judgments and executions
poured forth under their seals, the whole country was flooded with
bankruptcy. Almost nobody could pay. A few, by deft use of present
advantages, gathered means to discharge their own liabilities and
take advantage of the failure of others to do so. Yet they were
few indeed. On every court-house the advertisements of sale covered
the panels of the door and overflowed upon the walls. Thousands
of homesteads, aye, hundreds of thousands of homes--millions of
acres--were sold almost for a song--frequently less than a shilling
an acre, generally less than a dollar.

Colonel Desmit had not been an exception to these rules. He had
not paid the obligations maturing during the war simply because he
knew he could not be compelled to do so. Instead of that, he had
invested his surplus in lands, cotton, and naval stores. Now the
evil day was not far off, as he knew, and he had little to meet it.
Nevertheless he made a brave effort. The ruggedness of the disowned
family of Smiths and the chicanery inherited from the gnarly-headed
and subtle-minded old judge came to his rescue, and he determined
not to fail without a fight. He shingled himself with deeds of
trust and sales under fraudulent judgments or friendly liens, to
delay if they did not avert calamity.  Then he set himself at work
to effect sales. He soon swallowed his wrath and appealed to the
North--the enemy to whom he owed all his calamities, as he thought.
He sent flaming circulars to bleak New England health-exhibits to
the smitten of consumption, painting the advantages of climate,
soil, and society--did all in his power to induce immigrants to
come and buy, in order that he might beat off poverty and failure
and open disgrace.  He made a brave fight, but it had never occurred
to him to sell an acre to a colored man when he was accosted by
Nimbus, who, still wearing some part of his uniform, came, over to
negotiate with him for the purchase of Red Wing.

All these untoward events had not made the master of Knapp-of-Reeds
peculiarly amiable, or kindly disposed toward any whom he deemed
in the remotest manner responsible for his loss. For two classes
he could not find words sufficient to express his loathing--namely,
Yankees and Secessionists. To the former directly and to the latter
indirectly he attributed all his ills. The colored man he hated as
a man, as bitterly as he had before highly prized him as a slave.
At the outset of the war he had been openly blamed for his coolness
toward the cause of the Confederacy. Then, for a time, he had
acquiesced in what was done--had "gone with his State," as it was
then expressed--and still later, when convinced of the hopelessness of
the struggle, he had advocated peace measures; to save his property
at all hazards, some said; because he was at heart a Unionist,
others declared So, he had come to regard himself as well disposed
toward the Union, and even had convinced himself that he had
suffered persecution for righteousness' sake, when, in truth, his
"Unionism" was only an investment made to avoid loss.

These things, however, tended to embitter him all the more against
all those persons and events in any manner connected with his
misfortunes. It was in such a mood and under such circumstances,
that word was brought to Mr. Desmit in his private library, that "a
nigger" wanted to see him. The servant did not know his name, what
he wanted, or where he came from.  She could only say that he had
ridden there on a "right peart mule" and was a "right smart-looking
boy." She was ordered to bring him in, and Nimbus stood before his
master for the first time since he had been sent down the country
to work on fortifications intended to prevent the realization of
his race's long-delayed vision of freedom.  He came with his hat
in his hand, saying respectfully,

"How d'ye, Marse Desmit?"

"Is that you, Nimbus? Get right out of here! I don't want any such
grand rascal nigger in my house."

"But, Marse Desrnit," began the colored man, greatly flurried by
this rude greeting.

"I don't want any 'buts.' Damn you, I've had enough of all such
cattle. What are you here for, anyhow?  Why don't you go back to
the Yankees that you ran away to? I suppose you want I should feed
you, clothe you, support you, as I've been doing for your lazy
wife and children ever since the surrender. I shan't do it a day
longer--not a day! D'ye hear? Get off from my land before the sun
goes down to-morrow or I'll have the overseer set his dogs on you."

"All right," said Nimbus coolly; "jes yer pay my wife what's due
her and we'll leave ez soon ez yer please."

"Due her? You damned black rascal, do you stand there and tell me
I owe her anything?"

Strangely enough, the colored man did not quail. His army life had
taught him to stand his ground, even against a white man, and he
had not yet learned how necessary it was to unlearn the lesson of
liberty and assume again the role of the slave. The white man was
astounded. Here was a "sassy nigger" indeed! This was what freedom
did for them!

"Her papers dat you gib her at de hirin', Marse Potem," said Nimbus,
"says dat yer shall pay her fo' dollars a month an' rations. She's
hed de rations all reg'lar, Marse Desrnit; dat's all right, but
not a dollar ob de money."

"You lie, you black rascal!" said Desmit excitedly; "she's drawn
every cent of it!"

"Wal," said Nimbus, "ef dat's what yer say, we'll hev ter let de
'Bureau' settle it."

"What, sir? You rascal, do you threaten me with the 'Bureau'?"
shouted Desmit, starting toward him in a rage, and aiming a blow
at him with the heavy walking-stick  he carried.

"Don't do dat, Marse Desmit," cried the colored man; "don't do
dat!"

There was a dangerous gleam in his eye, but the white man did not
heed the warning. His blow fell not on the colored man's head, but
on his upraised arm, and the next moment the cane was wrested from
his hands, and the recent slave stood over his former master as he
lay upon the floor, where he had fallen or been thrown, and said:

"Don't yer try dat, Marse Desmit; I won't bar it--dat I won't, from
no man, black ner white. I'se been a sojer sence I was a slave, an'
ther don't no man hit me a lick jes cos I'm black enny mo'. Yer's
an' ole man, Marse Desmit, an' yer wuz a good 'nough marster ter
me in the ole times, but yer mustn't try ter beat a free man. I
don't want ter hurt yer, but yer mustn't do dat!"

"Then get out of here instantly," said Desmit, rising and pointing
toward the door.

"All right, Marse," said Nimbus, stooping for his hat; "'tain't
no use fer ye to be so mad, though. I jes come fer to make a trade
wid ye."

"Get out of here, you damned, treacherous, ungrateful, black rascal.
I wish every one of your whole race had the small-pox! Get out!"

As Nimbus turned to go, he continued:

"And get your damned lazy tribe off from my plantation before
to-morrow night, if you don't want the dogs put on them, too!"

"I ain't afeard o' yer dogs," said Nimbus, as he went down the
hall, and, mounting his mule, rode away.

With every step his wrath increased. It was well for Potestatem
Desmit that he was not present to feel the anger of the black giant
whom he had enraged. Once or twice he turned back, gesticulating
fiercely and trembling with rage. Then he seemed to think better
of it, and, turning his mule into the town a mile off his road,
he lodged a complaint against his old master, with the officer of
the "Bureau," and then rode quietly home, satisfied to "let de law
take its course," as he said. He was glad that there was a law for
him--a law that put him on the level with his old master--and
meditated gratefully, as he rode home, on what the nation had
wrought in his behalf since the time when "Marse Desmit" had sent
him along that very road with an order to "Marse Ware" to give
him "twenty lashes well laid on." The silly fellow thought that
thenceforth he was going to have a "white man's chance in life."
He did not know that in our free American Government, while the
Federal power can lawfully and properly ordain and establish the
theoretical rights of its citizens, it has no legal power to support
and maintain those rights against the encroachment of any of the
States, since in those matters the State is sovereign, and the part
is greater than the whole.



CHAPTER XIV.

BORN OF THE STORM.


Perhaps there was never any more galling and hated badge of defeat
imposed upon a conquered people than the "Bureau of Freedmen,
Refugees, and Abandoned Lands," a branch of the Federal executive
power which grew out of the necessities of the struggle to put
down rebellion, and to which, little by little, came to be referred
very many of those matters which could by no means be neglected,
but which did not properly fall within the purview of any other
branch of military administration.    It is known, in these latter
days, simply as the Freedmen's Bureau, and thought to have been
a terrible engine of oppression and terror and infamy, because of
the denunciations which the former slave-owners heaped upon it,
and the usually accepted idea that the mismanaged and malodorous
Freedmen's Savings Bank was, somehow or other, an outgrowth and
exponent of this institution. The poor thing is dead now, and, like
dead humanity, the good it did has been interred with its bones.
It has been buried, with curses deep and bitter for its funeral
obsequies. Its officers have been loaded with infamy. Even its
wonderful results have been hidden from the sight of man, and its
history blackened with shame and hate. It is one of the curious
indices of public feeling that the North listened, at first, with
good-natured indifference to the virulent diatribes of the recently
conquered people in regard to this institution; after a time wonder
succeeded to indifference; until finally, while it was still an
active branch of the public service, wondering credulity succeeded,
and its name became synonymous with disgrace; so that now there
is hardly a corner of the land in which a man can be found brave
enough to confess that he wore the uniform and performed the duties
of an agent of the "Freedmen's Bureau." The thorough subserviency
of Northern sentiment to the domination of that masterly will
which characterized "the South" of the old regime was never better
illustrated. "Curse me this people!" said the Southern Balak--of
the Abolitionist first, of the Bureau-Officer next, and then of
the Carpet-Bagger.  The Northern Balaam hemmed and paltered, and
then--_cursed the children of his loins_!

Of the freedmen, our recent allies in war, the grateful and devoted
friends, of the nation which had opened for them the gateway of the
future, not one of the whole four millions had a word to utter in
reproach of this branch of the service, in which they were particularly
interested.  Strangely enough, too, none of those Union men of
the South, who had been refugees during the war or friends of that
Union after its close, joined in the complaints and denunciations
which were visited on this institution and its agents. Neither did
the teachers of colored schools, nor the officers and agents of
those charitable and missionary associations of the North, whose
especial work and purpose was the elevation and enlightenment of
the colored man, see fit to unite in that torrent of detraction
which swept over the country in regard to the "Bureau" and its
agents. But then, it may be that none of these classes were able
to judge truly and impartially of its character and works! They may
have been prepossessed in its favor to an extent which prevented
a fair and honest determination in regard to it.

Certain it is that those who stood upon the other side--those who
instituted and carried on rebellion, or the greater part of them,
and every one of those who opposed reconstruction, who fought to
the last moment the enfranchisement of the black; every one who
denied the right of the nation to emancipate the slave; every one
who clamored for the payment of the State debts contracted during
the war; all of those who proposed and imposed the famous "black
codes,"--every one of these classes and every man of each class avowed
himself unable to find words to express the infamy, corruption, and
oppression which characterized the administration of that climacteric
outrage upon a brave, generous, overwhelmed but unconquered
--forgiving but not to be forgiven, people.

They felt themselves to have been in all things utterly innocent
and guileless. The luck of war had been  terribly against them, they
considered, but the right remained with them. They were virtuous.
Their opponents had not only been the aggressors at the outset,
but had shown themselves little better than savages by the manner
in which they had conducted the war; and, to crown the infamy of
their character, had imposed upon "the South" at its close that
most nefarious of all detestable forms of oppressive degradation,
"the Bureau." Their orators grew magniloquent over its tyrannical
oppression; the Southern press overflowed with that marvellous
exuberance of diatribe of which they are the acknowledged masters--to
all of which the complaisant North gave a ready and subservient
concurrence, until the very name reeked in the public mind with
infamous associations and degrading ideas.

A few men tried to stem the torrent. Some who had been in its service
even dared to insist that they had not thereby rendered themselves
infamous and unworthy.  The nation listened for a time with kindly
pity to their indignant protests, and then buried the troublesome
and persistent clamorers in the silence of calm but considerate
disbelief. They were quietly allowed to sink into the charitable
grave of unquestioning oblivion. It was not any personal attaint
which befouled their names and blasted their public prospects, but
simply the fact that they had obeyed the nation's behest and done
a work assigned to them by the country's rulers. Thus it came to
pass that in one third of the country it was an ineffaceable brand
of shame to have been at any time an agent or officer of this
Bureau, and throughout the rest of the country it was accounted a
fair ground for suspicion.  In it all, the conquering element was
simply the obedient indicator which recorded and proclaimed the
sentiment and wish of the conquered. The words of the enemy were
always regarded as being stamped with the mint-mark of truth and
verity, while the declarations of our allies accounted so apparently
false and spurious as to be unworthy of consideration, even when
attested by svvorn witnesses and written in blood upon a page of
history tear blotted and stained with savage deeds. All this was
perfectly natural, however, and arose, almost unavoidably, from
the circumstances under which the institution was created and the
duties which it was called upon to discharge. It may not be amiss
to consider again the circumstances under which it came to exist.

This is how this institution had its origin: As the war to put down
rebellion progressed and our armies advanced farther and farther
into the heart of the Confederacy, the most devoted and malignant
adherents of the Confederate cause abandoned their homes and
all that they could not easily take with them, and fled within
the Confederate lines. Those white people who were adverse to the
Confederate cause, or at least lukewarm in its support, spurred
by the rigors of conscription and the dangers of proscription and
imprisonment, took their lives in their hands, left their homes,
and fled by every available road to the shelter of the Federal
forces. Those who had no homes--the slaves--either deserted by their
owners or fancying they saw in that direction a glimmer of possible
freedom, swarmed in flank and rear of every blue-clad column which
invaded the Confederacy, by thousands and tens of thousands.  They
fled as the Israelites did from the bondage of Egypt, with that
sort of instinctive terror which has in all ages led individuals,
peoples, and races to flee from the scene of oppression. The whites
who came to us were called "refugees," and the blacks at first
"contrabands," and after January 1, 1863, "freedmen." Of course
they had to be taken care of. The "refugee" brought nothing with
him; the freedrnan had nothing to bring.  The abandoned lands of
the Confederates were, in many cases, susceptible of being used
to employ and supply these needy classes who came to us for aid
and sustenance.  It was to do this that the Freedmen's Bureau was
created.

Its mission was twofold--to extend the helping hand to the needy
who without such aid must have perished by disease and want,
and to reduce the expenses of such charity by the cultivation and
utilization of abandoned lands. It was both a business and a missionary
enterprise. This was its work and mission until the war ended. Its
"agents" were chosen from among the wounded veteran officers of
our army, or were detached from active service by reason of their
supposed fitness on account of character or attainments. Almost
every one of them had won honor with the loss of limb or of health;
all had the indorsement and earnest approval of men high in command
of our armies, who had personal knowledge of their character and
believed in their fitness.  This renders it all the more remarkable
that these men should so soon and so universally, as was stoutly
alleged and weakly believed, have become thieves and vagabonds
--corrupters of the blacks and oppressors of the whites.  It only
shows how altogether impossible it is to foresee the consequences
of any important social or political movement upon the lives and
characters of those exposed to its influences.

When the war ended there were four millions of men, women, and
children without homes, houses, lands, money, food, knowledge, law,
right, family, friends, or possibility for self-support. All these
the Bureau adopted.  They constituted a vast family of foundlings,
whose care was a most difficult and delicate matter, but there was
not one among them all who complained of the treatment they received.

It is somewhat strange, too, that the officers of this Branch of
the service should have all misbehaved in exactly the same manner.
Their acts of oppression and outrage were always perpetrated
in defence of some supposed right of a defenceless and friendless
race, overwhelmed with poverty--the bondmen of ignorance--who had
no money with which to corrupt, no art with which to beguile, and
no power with which to overawe these representatives of authority.
For the first time in the history of mankind, the corrupt and
unprincipled agents of undefined power became the servants, friends,
protectors, agents, and promoters of the poor and weak and the
oppressors of the rich, the strong, the learned, and the astute.

It may be said that this view cannot be true; that thousands
of men selected from the officers of our citizen-soldiery by the
unanswerable certificate of disabling wounds and the added prestige
of their commander's recommendation, a class of men in physical,
intellectual and moral power and attainments far superior to the
average of the American people--it may be said that such could not
have become all at once infamously bad; and, if they did suffer such
transformation, would have oppressed the blacks at the instigation
of the whites, who were willing and able to pay well for such
subversion of authority, and not the reverse. This would seem to
be true, but we are not now dealing with speculations, but with
facts! We know that they did become such a pest because at the South
they were likened to the plagues of Egypt, and the North reiterated
and affirmed this cry and condoled with the victims of the oppression
with much show of penitence, and an unappeasable wrath toward the
instruments of the iniquity. Thus the voice of the people--that
voice which is but another form of the voice of God--proclaimed
these facts to the world, so that they must thenceforth be held
indisputable and true beyond the utmost temerity of scepticism.
The _facts_ remain. The puzzling _why_, let whosoever will endeavor
to elucidate.

Perhaps the most outrageous and debasing of all the acts of the
Bureau, in the eyes of those who love to term themselves "the South,"
was the fact that its officers and agents, first of all, allowed
the colored man to be sworn in opposition to and in contradiction
of the word of a white man.

That this should be exasperating and degrading to the Southern
white man was most natural and reasonable.  The very corner-stone
of Southern legislation and jurisprudence for more than a hundred
years was based upon this idea: the negro can have no rights, and
can testify as to no rights or wrongs, as against a white man. So
that the master might take his slave with him when he committed
murder or did any other act in contravention of law or right,
and that slave was like the mute eunuch of the seraglio, silent
and voiceless before the law. Indeed, the law had done for the
slave-owner, with infinitely more of mercy and kindness, what the
mutilators of the upper Nile were wont to do for the keepers of
the harems of Cairo and Constantinople--provided them with slaves
who should see and hear and serve, but should never testify of
what they saw and knew. To reverse this rule, grown ancient and
venerable by the practice of generations, to open the mouths which
had so long been sealed, was only less infamous and dangerous than
to accord credence to the words they might utter. To do both was
to "turn back the tide of time," indeed, and it passed the power
of language to portray the anger, disgust, and degradation which
it produced in the Southern mind. To be summoned before the officer
of the Bureau, confronted with a negro who denied his most solemn
averments, and was protected in doing so by the officer who,
perhaps, showed the bias of the oppressor by believing the negro
instead of the gentleman, was unquestionably, to the Southerner,
the most degrading ordeal he could by any possibility be called
upon to pass through.

From this it will be understood that Colonel Desmit passed a most
uneasy night after Nimbus had left his house. He had been summoned
before the Bureau!  He had expected it. Hardly had he given way
to his petulant anger when he recognized the folly of his course.
The demeanor of the colored man had been so "sassy" and aggravating,
however, that no one could have resisted his wrath, he was sure.
Indeed, now that he came to look back at it, he wondered that
he had been so considerate.  He was amazed that he had not shot
the impudent rascal on the spot instead of striking him with his
walking-stick, which he was very confident was the worst that could
be urged against him. However, that was enough, for he remembered
with horror that, not long before, this same Bureau officer had
actually imprisoned a most respectable and correct man for having
whipped a "nigger" at work in his crop, who had been "too sassy"
to be tolerated by any gentleman.

So it was with much trepidation that the old man went into the town
the next morning, secured the services of a lawyer, and prepared
for his trial before the "Bureau." Nimbus was intercepted as he
came into town with his wife, and an attempt made to induce him to
withdraw the prosecution, but that high-minded litigant would hear
nothing of the proposed compromise. He had put his hand to the plow
and would not look back. He had appealed to the law--"the Bureau"
and only "the Bureau" should decide it. So Colonel Desmit and his
lawyer asked a few hours' delay and prepared themselves to resist
and disprove the charge of assault upon Nimbus.  The lawyer once
proposed to examine the papers in the case, but Desmit said that
was useless--the boy was no liar, though they must make him out
one if they could.  So, at the time appointed, with his lawyer
and train of witnesses, he went before "the Bureau," and there met
Nimbus and his wife, Lugena.

"The Bureau" wore the uniform of a captain of United States infantry,
and was a man about forty-five years of age, grave and serious of
look, with an empty sleeve folded decorously over his breast. His
calm blue eyes, pale, refined face, and serious air gave him the
appearance of a minister rather than a ruthless oppressor, but his
reputation for cruelty among certain people was as well established
as that of Jeffreys. He greeted Mr. Desmit and his attorney with
somewhat constrained politeness, and when they were seated proceeded
to read the complaint, which simply recited that Colonel Desmit,
having employed Lugena, the wife of complainant, at a given rate
per month, had failed to make payment, and had finally, without
cause, ordered her off his premises.

"Is that all?" asked the lawyer.

"That is all," answered the officer.

"Has no other complaint been lodged against Colonel Desmit?"

"None."

"We cannot--that is--we did not expect this," said the attorney,
and then after a whispered consultation with his client, he added,
"We are quite willing to make this matter right. We had entirely
misunderstood the nature of the complaint."

"Have you any further complaint to make against Colonel Desmit?"
asked the officer, of Nimbus.

"No," said that worthy, doubtfully. "He was pretty brash wid me,
an' 'llowed ter hit me wid a stick; but he didn't--at least not ter
speak on--so I don't make no 'count ob dat. 'Twas jes dis matter
ob Lugeny's wuk dat made me bring him h'yer--nuffin' else."

"When did this matter of the stick occur?" asked the officer.

"On'y jes yeste'day, sah."

"Where was it?"

"Up ter Marse Potem's, sah. In his house."

"How did it happen?"

"Wal, you see, sah, I went up dar ter see ef I could buy a track
ob lan" from him, an'--"

"What!" exclaimed Desmit, in astonishment. "You didn't say a word
to me about land."

"No more I didn't," answered Nimbus, "kase yer didn't gib me no
chance ter say a word 'bout it. 'Peared like de fus sight on me
made yer mad, an' den yer jes feathered away on me, spite ob all I
could do er say.  Yer see, sah," to the officer, "I'd made a bit ob
money in de wah, an' wanted ter see ef I could buy a bit ob pore
lan' ob Marse Desmit--a track jes good fer nothin on'y fer a nigga
ter starve on--but afore I could git to dat Marse Desmit got so
uproarous-like dat I clean fergot what'twas I cum fer."

"There was evidently a misunderstanding," said the attorney.

"I should think so," said the officer, dryly. "You say you have no
complaint to make about that affair?" he added to Nimbus.    "No,"
said he; "'twan't a tingob any 'count, nohow.  I can't make out
what'twas made Marse Potem so fractious anyhow. I reckon, as he says,
dar must hev ben some mistake about it. Ef he'll fix up dis matter
wid Lugena, I hain't no mo' complaint, an' I'se mighty sorry 'bout
dat, kase Marse Desmit hab allus been mighty kin' ter me--all 'cept
dis time an' once afo'."

"There's the money for the woman," said the attorney, laying some
bills on the officer's table; "and I may say that my client greatly
regrets the unfortunate misunderstanding with one of the best of
his old slaves. He desires me to say that the woman's services have
been entirely satisfactory, and that she can keep right on under
the contract, if she desires."

So that was settled. The officer discharged Colonel Desmit, commended
Nimbus for the sensible view he had taken of the quarrel, and the
parties gave way for other matters which awaited the officer's
attention.

This would not seem to have been so very oppressive, but anything
growing out of the war which had resulted so disastrously for him
was hateful to Colonel Desmit, and we should not wonder if his
grandchildren told over, with burning cheeks, the story of the
affront which was offered to their ancestor in haling him before
that infamous tribunal, "the Bureau," to answer a charge preferred
by a "nigger."



CHAPTER XV.

TO HIM AND HIS HEIRS FOREVER.


After leaving the office of "the Bureau," the parties repaired
to that of the lawyer, and the trade for the land which had been
so inopportunely forestalled by Colonel Desmit's hasty temper was
entered upon in earnest.  That gentleman's financial condition was
such as to render the three or four hundred dollars of ready money
which Nimbus could pay by no means undesirable, while the property
itself seemed of so little value as to be regarded almost as an
incumbrance to the plantation of which it was a part. Such was its
well-established reputation for poverty of soil that Desmit had
no idea that the purchaser would ever be able to meet one of his
notes for the balance of the purchase money, and he looked forward
to resuming the control of the property at no distant day, somewhat
improved by the betterments which occupancy and attempted use would
compel the purchaser to make. He regarded the cash to be paid in
hand as just so much money accidentally found in his pathway, for
which, in no event, was he to render any _quid pro quo_. But
of this he said nothing. It was not his business to look after the
interests of a "sassy nigger." In fact, he felt that the money was
in a sense due to him on account of the scurvy trick that Nimbus
had played him, in deserting to the Yankees after agreeing to look
after his "niggers" on the breast-works, although, as the event
proved, his master would have gained nothing by his remaining. So
the former master and slave met on the level of barter and sale,
and gave and took in the conflict of trade.

Except the small tract just about the old hostel, which has
already been mentioned, the plantation, which included Red Wing,
was descended from an ancestor of the Richards family, who had come
from the North about the close of the Revolution and "entered" an
immense tract in this section. It had, however, passed out of the
family by purchase, and about the beginning of the war of Rebellion
a life estate therein was held by its occupant, while the reversion
belonged to certain parties in Indiana by virtue of the will of a
common ancestor. This life-tenant's necessities compelled him to
relinquish his estate, which was bought by Colonel Desmit, during
the second year of the war, together with the fee which he had
acquired in the tract belonging to the old Ordinary, not because he
wanted the land about Red Wing, but because the plantation to which
it was attached was a good one, and he could buy it on reasonable
terms for Confederate currency.  He expected to treat with the
Indiana heirs and obtain their respective interests in the fee,
which no doubt he would have been able to acquire very cheaply but
for the intevening accident of war, as the life-tenant was yet of
middle age and the succession consequently of little probable value
to living reversioners. This, however, he had not done; but as his
deed from the life-tenant was in form an exclusive and unlimited
conveyance, it had been quite forgotten that the will of his
grandfather limited it to a life estate. So when Nimbus and his
friend and counsellor, Eliab Hill, sought to negotiate the purchase
of Red Wing, no mention was made of that fact; neither was it
alluded to when they came again to conclude the purchase, nor when
instructions were given to Colonel Desmit's lawyer to prepare the
necessary papers.

The trade was soon brought to an apparently happy conclusion. Nimbus
bought two hundred acres at a price of eight hundred dollars, paying
one half the price agreed upon in cash, and for the balance gave
three notes of equal amounts, one maturing each year thereafter, and
received from Colonel Uesmit a bond for title to the whole tract,
with full covenants of warranty and seizin. Colonel Desmit accounted
the notes of little value; Nimbus prized the bond for title above
any patent of nobility. Before the first note fell due all had
been discharged, and the bond for title was exchanged for a deed
in fee, duly executed. So the recent slave, who had but lately been
the subject of barter and sale, was clothed with the rights of a
proprietor.

According to the former law, the slave was a sort of chattel-real.
Without being attached to the land, he was transferable from one
owner to another only by deed or will. In some States he descended
as realty, in others as personalty, while in others still, he
constituted a separate kind of heritable estate, which was especially
provided for in the canons of descent and statutes regulating
administration. There was even then of record in the county of
Horsford a deed of sale, bearing the hand and seal of P, Desmit,
and executed little more than a year previously, conveying to one
Peyton Winburn "all the right, title, and interest of said Desmit,
in and to a certain runaway negro boy named Nimbus." The said
Winburn was a speculator in slaves who had long been the agent of
Desmit in marketing his human crop, and who, in the very last hours
of the Confederacy, was willing to risk a few dollars on the result.
As he well stated it to himself, it was only staking one form
of loss against another. He paid Confederate money for a runaway
negro. If the Confederacy failed, the negro would be free; but then,
too, the money would be worthless. So with grim humor he said to
himself that he was only changing the form of his risk and could
not possibly lose by the result. Thus, by implication of law,
the recent _subject_ of transfer by deed was elevated to the
dignity of being a _party_ thereto. The very instrument of
his bondage became thereby the sceptre of his power. It was only an
incident of freedom, but the difference it measured was infinite.
No wonder the former slave tiembled with elation as he received
this emblem of autonomy, or that there was a look of gloom on the
face of the former master as he delivered the carefully-enrolled deed,
made complete by his hand and seal, and attested by his attorney.
It was the first time the one had felt the dignity of proprietorship,
or the other had known the shame of fraud. The one thought of the
bright future which lay before his children, to whom he dedicated
Red Wing at that moment in his heart, in terms more solemn than the
legal phrases in which Potestatem Desmit had guaranteed to them the
estate in fee therein. The other thought of the far-away Indiana
reversioners, of whose rights none knew aught save himself--himself
and Walter Greer, who had gone away to the wilds of Texas, and
might never be heard of any more. It was the first time he had
ever committed a deliberate fraud, and when he handed the freedman
the deed and said sadly, "I never expected to come down to this,"
those who heard him thought he meant his low estate, and pitied his
misfortunes.  He smiled meaningly and turned hastily away, when
Nimbus, forgetting his own elation, said, in tones of earnest
feeling:

"I declar, Marse Desmit, I'se sorry fer you--I is dat; an' I hopes
yer'll come outen dis yer trouble a heap better nor yer's lookin'
for."

Then they separated--the one to treasure his apples of Sodom, the
other to nourish the memory of his shame.



CHAPTER XVI.

A CHILD OF THE HILLS.


"Come at once; Oscar very low."

This was the dispatch which an awkward telegraph messenger handed
to the principal teacher of "No. 5," one soft September day of
1866. He waited upon the rough stone step, while she, standing in
the doorway, read it again and again, or seemed to do so, as if she
could not make out the import of the few simple words it contained.

'No 5' was a school-house in one of the townships of Bankshire
County, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  In it were taught
the children, within school age, of one of those little hamlets
which have crept up the valleys of the White Mountains, toled on
and on, year after year, farther and farther up the little rivulets
that dash down the mountain slopes, by the rumble and clatter of
newly-erected machinery.

These mountain streams are the magic handiwork of the nymphs and
fays who for ages have lain hidden in the springs that burst out
into little lakes upon the birch-crowned summits, and come rushing
and tumbling down the rocky defiles to join the waters of the
Housatuck.  School-house No. 5 was thriftily placed on a bit of
refractory land just opposite the junction of two streams which had
their rise in two lakelets miles away from each other--one lying
under the shadow of Pixey Mountain, and the other hidden among the
wooded hills of Birket. They were called "ponds," but are, in truth,
great springs, in whose icy coldness the mountain trout delight.
Back of the school-house, which, indeed, was half built into it,
was a sharp, rocky hillside; across the road which ran before it
was a placid pond, bordered on the farther side by a dark fringe of
evergreens that lay between it and the-wide expanse of white-armed
birches and flaming maples, now beginning to feel the autumn's
breath, on the rugged mountain-side above. A little to the left
was the narrow gorge through which one of the streams discharged,
its bottom studded with ponds and mills, and its sharp sides flecked
with the little white-painted homes of well-to-do operatives; to
the right and left along the other branch and the course of the
united streams, the rumble of water-wheels, the puff of laboring
engines, and the groan of tortured machinery never ceased.
Machine-shops and cotton-factories, bagging-mills  and box-mills,
and wrapping-mills, and print-mills, and fine-paper-mills, and
even mills for the making of those filmy creations of marvellous
texture and wonderful durability which become the representatives of
value in the form of bank-notes, were crowded into the narrow gorges.
The water was fouled with chemic combinations from source to mouth.
For miles up and down one hardly got a breath of air untainted with
the fumes of chemicals. Bales of rags, loads of straw, packages
of woody pulp, boxes of ultramarine dye, pipes leading from the
distant mountain springs, and, above all, the rumble and the groaning
of the beating-engines told to every sense that this was one of
the great hillside centres of paper-manufacture in New England.
The elegant residences of the owners were romantically situated
on some half-isolated promonotory around which the stream sweeps,
embowered with maples and begirt with willows at its base; or
nestled away in some nook, moss-lined and hemlock-shaded, which
marks where some spring brook bubbles down its brief career to the
larger stream; or in some plateau upon the other side, backed by a
scraggly old orchard, and hidden among great groves of rock-maples
which the careful husbandman spared a hundred years ago for a
"sugar-bush," little dreaming that the nabobs of the rushing streams
would build homesteads beneath their shade. And all along, here
and there, wherever a house could find a foothold or the native
ruggedness be forced to yield one lodgment, houses and shops
and crowded tenements stood thick. It was a busy and a populous
village, full of wealth and not barren of poverty, stretched along
the rushing tributary for more than a mile, and then branching with
its constituent forks up into the mountain gorges.

In the very centre of this busy whirl of life stood the little
white two-story school-house, flanked on one side by the dwelling
of a mill-owner, and on the other by a boarding-house; and just
below it, across the street, a machine-shop, and a little cottage
of cased logs, with minute-paned windows, and a stone chimney
which was built before the Revolution by the first inhabitant of
the little valley. A little to the left of the school-house was a
great granite boulder, rising almost to its eaves, which had been
loosened from the mountain-side two miles up the gorge when the
dam at the mouth of the pond gave way years before in a freshet,
and brought down and left, by the respectful torrent almost at the
threshold of the temple of knowledge.

Such was the scene the Indian summer sun looked down upon, while
the teacher stood gazing fixedly at the message which she held.
Curious faces peered out of the windows and through the door,
which she left ajar when she came into the hall. She took no note
of this infraction of discipline.    "Any answer, ma'arn?" The
messenger-boy shifts his weight awkwardly upon the other foot, as
he asks, but receives no reply.

For two years Mollie Ainslie, with her assistants, had dispensed
the sweets of knowledge at "No. 5," to the children of the little
hamlet. The hazy morning light revealed a small, lithe figure,
scarcely taller than the messenger-boy that stood before her;
a fair, white face; calm, gray eyes; hair with a glint of golden
brown, which waved and rippled about a low, broad brow, and was
gathered in a great shining coil behind; and a mouth clear-cut and
firm, but now drawn and quivering with deep emotion. The comely head
was finely poised upon the slender neck, and in the whole figure
there was an air of self-reliance and power that accorded well with
the position which she held.  A simple gray dress, with a bright
ribbon at the throat and a bunch of autumn flowers carelessly tucked
into the belt which circled the trim waist, completed the picture
framed in the doorway of the white school-house.  She stood, with
eyes fastened on the paper which she held in one hand, while the
other pressed a pencil-head against her cheek, unmindful of the
curious glances that were fixed upon her from within, until the
messenger-boy had twice repeated his customary question:

"Any answer, ma'am?"

She reached forth her hand, slowly and without reply.  The boy looked
up and saw that she was gazing far beyond him and had a strained,
fixed look in her eyes.

"Want a blank?" he asked, in a tone of unconscious sympathy.

She did not answer, but as he put his pad of blanks into her
outstretched hand she drew it back and wrote, in a slow and absent
manner, a message in these words:

"To CAPTAIN OSCAR AINSLIE, Boyleston, Va.

"Coming.

"MOLLIE."

"Collect?" asked the boy.

"No!"

She inquired, and paid the charges in the same unheeding way. The
messenger departed with a wistful glance at the dry, pained eyes
which heeded him not.  With a look of dumb entreaty at the overhanging
mountain and misty, Indian summer sky, and a half perceptible shiver
of dread, Mollie Ainslie turned and entered again the school-room.



CHAPTER XVII.

GOOD-MORROW AND FAREWELL.


A week afterward, Mollie Ainslie stood beside the bed of her only
brother and watched the sharp, short struggle which he made with
their hereditary enemy, consumption. Weakened by wounds and exposure,
he was but ill-prepared to resist the advances of the insidious
foe, and when she reached his side she saw that the hope, even of
delay, was gone. So she took her place, and with ready hand, brave
heart, and steady purpose, brightened his pathway to the tomb.

Oscar and Mollie Ainslie were the oniy children of a New England
clergyman whose life had lasted long enough, and whose means had
been sufficient, with the closest economy, to educate them both
according to the rigorous standards of the region in which they were
born.    Until the son entered college they had studied together,
and the sister was almost as well prepared for the university course
as the brother when they were separated.  Then she stepped out of
the race, and determined, though scarcely more than a child, to
become herself a bread-winner,  in order that her father's meager
salary might be able to meet the drain of her brother's college
expenses. She did this not only without murmuring, but with
actual pleasure. Her ambition, which was boundless, centered upon
her brother. She identified herself with him, and cheerfully gave
up every advantage, in order that his opportunities might be more
complete. To Oscar these sacrifices on his sister's part were
very galling. He felt the wisdom of the course pursued toward him
by his family, and was compelled to accede in silence to prevent
the disappointment which his refusal would bring. Yet it was the
keenest trial for him to think of accepting his sister's earnings,
and only the conviction that to do so was the quickest and surest
way to relieve her of the burden of self-support, induced him to
submit to such an arrangement.

Hardly had he entered upon his college course when the war of
Rebellion came on, and Oscar Ainslie saw in the patriotic excitement
and the promise of stirring events a way out of a situation whose
fetters were too heavy for him to bear by reason of their very
tenderness. He was among the first, therefore, to enlist, happy
thereby to forestall his sister's determination to engage in teaching,
for his sake. His father was grieved at the son's abandonment of
his projected career, but his heart was too patriotic to object.
So he gave the bright-eyed young soldier his blessing as he bade
him good-by, standing there before him, strong and trim, in his
close-fitting cavalry uniform. He knew that Oscar's heart beat high
with hope, and he would not check it, though he felt sure that they
looked into each other's eyes for the last time. When his own were
glazing over with the ghastly grave-light, more than two years
afterward, they were gladdened by the announcement which came
throbbing along the wires and made bright the whole printed page
from which he read: "Private Oscar Ainslie, promoted to a Captaincy
for gallant conduct on the field of Gettysburg." Upon this he rallied
his fading energies, and waited for a week upon the very brink of
the chill river, that he might hear, before he crossed over, from
the young soldier himself, how this honor was won. When he had
learned this he fell asleep, and not long after, the faithful wife
who had shared his toils and sacrifices heard the ceaseless cry
of his lonely spirit, and was gathered again to his arms upon the
shore where beauty fadeth not forever.

The little homestead upon the rocky hillside overlooking the village
was all that was left to the brother and sister; but it was more
than the latter could enjoy alone, so she fled away and entered
upon the vocation in which we found her engaged. Meantime her
brother had risen in.  rank, and at the close of the war had been
transferred to the regular army as a reward of distinguished merit.
Then his hereditary foe had laid siege to his weakened frame, and
a brother officer had telegraphed to the sister in the Bankshire
hills the first warning of the coming end.

It was a month after her arrival at Boyleston, when her brother,
overcoming the infatuation which usually attends that disease, saw
that the end was near and made provision respecting it.

"Sis," he said, calling her by the pet name of their childhood,
"what day of the month is it?"

"The thirteenth, Oscar--your birthday," she replied briskly. "Don't
you see that I have been out and gathered leaves and flowers to
decorate your room, in honor of the event?"

Her lap was full of autumn leaves-maple and gum, flaming and
variegated, brown oak of various shapes and shades, golden hickory,
the open burrs of the chintuapin, pine cones, and the dun scraggly
balls of the black-gum,  some glowing bunches of the flame-bush,
with their wealth of bursting red beries, and a full-laden branch
of the black-haw.

The bright October sun shone through the open window upon her as
she arranged them with deft fingers, contrasting the various hues
with loving skill, and weaving ornaments for different points in
the bare room of the little country hotel where her brother lay.
He watched her awhile in silence, and then said sadly,

"Yes, my last birthday."

Her lips trembled, and her head drooped lower over her lap, but
she would not let him see her agitation. So she simply said,

"Do not say that, Oscar."

"No," he replied, "I ought not to say so. I should have said, my
last earthly birthday. Sit closer, Sis, where I can see you better.
I want to talk to you."

"Do you know," he continued, as she came and sat upon his bedside,
spreading her many-hued treasures over the white coverlet, "that
I meant to have been at home to-day?"

"And are you not?" she asked cheerfully. "Am I not with you?"

"True, Sis, and you are my home now; but, after all, I did want to
see the old New England hills once more. One yearns for familiar
scenes after years of war. I meant to have gone back and brought
you here, away from the cold winters that sting, and bite, and
kill. I hoped that, after rest, I might recover strength, and that
you might, here escape the shadow which has fastened upon me."

"Have you seen my horse, Midnight?" he asked, after a fit of
coughing, followed by a dreamy silence.

"Yes."

"How do you like him?"

"He is a magnificent creature."

"Would he let you approach him?"

"I had no trouble in doing so."

None?" He's very vicious, too. Everybody has had trouble with him.
Do you think you could ride him?"

"I have ridden him every day for two weeks."

"Ah! that is how you have kept so fresh." Then, after a pause, "Do
you know how I got him?"

"I heard that he was captured."

"Yes, in the very last fight before the surrender at Appomattox.
I was with Sheridan, you know. We were pursuing the retreating
columns--had been pressing them hotly ever since the break at
Petersburg--on the rear and on both flanks, fighting, worrying,
and watching all the time. On the last day, when the retreat had
become a rout, as it seemed, a stand was made by a body of cavalry
just on the crest of a smoothly-sloping  hill. Not anticipating
serious resistance, we did not wait for the artillery to come up
and dislodge them, but deploying a brigade we rode on, jesting and
gay, expecting to see them disperse when we came within range and
join the rabble beyond. We were mistaken.  Just when we got within
easy charging distance, down they came, pell-mell, as dashing a
body of dirty veterans as I ever saw. The attack was so unexpected
that for a time we were swept off our feet and fairly carried
backward with surprise. Then we rallied, and there was a sharp,
short struggle. The enemy retreated, and we pressed after them. The
man that rode this horse seemed to have selected me as his mark.
He rode straight at me from the first. He was a fine, manly-looking
fellow, and our swords were about the last that were crossed in the
struggle. We had a sharp tussle for a while. I think he must have
been struck by a chance shot. At least he was unseated just about
the time my own horse was shot under me. Looking around amid the
confusion I saw this horse without a rider. I was in mortal terror
of being trampled by the shifting squadrons and did not delay, but
sprang into the saddle and gave him the spur. When the Confederate
bugles sounded the retreat I had a terrible struggle to keep him
from obeying orders and carrying me away into their lines. After
that, however, I had no trouble with him. But he is not kind to
strangers, as a rule. I meant to have taken him home to you," he
added, sadly. "You will have him now, and will prize him for my
sake, will you not, Sis?"

"You know, Oscar, that everything you have ever loved or used will
be held sacred," she answered tearfully.

"Yes, I know," he rejoined. "Sis, I wish you would make me a
promise."

"You know I will."

"Well, then, do not go back to our old home this winter, nor the
next, nor--but I will not impose terms upon you. Stay as long as
you can content yourself in this region. I am afraid for you. I
know you are stronger and have less of the consumptive taint about
you than I, but I am afraid. You would have worked for me when I
was in college, and I have worked only for you, since that time.
All that I have saved--and I have saved all I could, for I knew
that my time was not long--is yours. I have some money on deposit,
some bonds, and a few articles of personal property--among the
latter, Midnight. All these are yours. It will leave you comfortable
for a time at least. Now, dear, promise that I shall be buried and
remain in the cemetery the Government is making for the soldiers
who fell in those last battles. Somehow, I think it will keep
you here, in order that you may be near me, and save you from the
disease which is devouring my life."

A week afterward his companions followed, with rever  ed arms,
the funereally-caparisoned Midnight to the grounds of the National
Cemetery, and fired a salute over a new-made grave.

Nimbus, taking with him his helpless friend, had appealed, soon
after his purchase, to the officer of the Bureau for aid in erecting
a school-house at Red Wing.  By him he had been referred to one
of those charitable associations, through whose benign agency the
great-hearted North poured its free bounty into the South immediately
upon the cessation of strife.

Perhaps there has been no grander thing in our history than the eager
generosity with which the Christian men and women of the North gave
and wrought, to bring the boon of knowledge to the recently-enslaved.
As the North gave, willingly and freely, men and millions to save
the nation from disruption, so, when peace came, it gave other brave
men and braver women, and other unstinted millions to strengthen
the hands which generations of slavery had left feeble and inept.
Not only the colored, but the white also, were the recipients of
this bounty. The Queen City of the Confederacy, the proud capital
of the commonwealth of Virginia, saw the strange spectacle of her
own white children gathered, for the first time, into free public
schools which were supported by Northern charity, and taught
by noble women with whom her high-bred Christian dames and dainty
maidens would not deign to associate. The civilization of the
North in the very hour of victory threw aside the cartridge-box,
and appealed at once to the contribution-box to heal the ravages of
war. At the door of every church throughout the North, the appeal
was posted for aid to open the eyes of the blind whose limbs had
just been unshackled; and the worshipper, as he gave thanks for
his rescued land, brought also an offering to aid in curing the
ignorance which slavery had produced.

It was the noblest spectacle that Christian civilization has ever
witnessed--thousands of schools organized in the country of a
vanquished foe, almost before the smoke of battle had cleared away,
free to the poorest of her citizens, supported by the charity, and
taught by kindly-hearted daughters of a quick-forgiving enemy.  The
instinct of our liberty-loving people taught them that light must
go with liberty, knowledge with power, to give either permanence or
value. Thousands of white-souled angels of peace, the tenderly-reared
and highly-cultured daughters of many a Northern home, came into
the smitten land to do good to its poorest and weakest. Even to
this day, two score of schools and colleges remain, the glorious
mementoes of this enlightened bounty and Christian magnanimity.

And how did the white brothers and sisters of these messengers of
a matchless benevolence receive them? Ah, God! how sad that history
should be compelled to make up so dark a record--abuse, contumely,
violence! Christian tongues befouled with calumny!  Christian lips
blistered with falsehood! Christian hearts overflowing with hate!
Christian, pens reeking with ridicule because other Christians
sought to do their needy fellows good! No wonder that faith grew
weak and unbelief ran riot through all the land when men looked
upon the spectacle! The present may excuse, for charity is kind;
but the future is inexorable and writes its judgments with a pen
hard-nibbed! But let us not anticipate. In thousands of Northern
homes still live to testify these devoted sisters and daughters,
now grown matronly. They are scattered through every state, almost
in every hamlet of the North, while other thousands have gone,
with the sad truth carved deep upon their souls, to testify in that
court where "the action lies in its true nature."

Nimbus found men even more ready to assist than he and his fellows
were to be aided. He himself gave the land and the timbers; the
benevolent association to whom he had appealed furnished the other
materials required; the colored men gave the major part of the labor,
and, in less than a year from the time the purchase was made, the
house was ready for the school, and the old hostelry prepared for
the teachers that had been promised.

So it was that, when Nimbus came to the officer in charge at
Boyleston and begged that a teacher might be sent to Red Wing, and
met the reply that because of the great demand they had none to
send, Mollie Ainslie, hearing of the request, with her load of sorrow
yet heavy on her lonely heart, said, "Here am I; take me." She
thought it a holy work. It was, to her simple heart, a love-offering
to the memory of him who had given his life to secure the freedom
of the race she was asked to aid in lifting up. The gentle child
felt called of God to do missionary work for a weak and struggling
people. She thought she felt the divine commandment which rested
on the Nazarene. She did not stop to consider of the "impropriety"
of her course. She did not even know that there was any impropriety
in it. She thought her heart had heard the trumpet-call of duty,
and, like Joan of Arc, though it took her among camps and dangers,
she would not flinch. So Nimbus returned happy; an officer was sent
to examine the location and report. Mollie, mounted upon Midnight,
accompanied him. Of course, this fact and her unbounded delight
at the quaint beauty of Red Wing was no part of the reason why
Lieutenant Hamilton made a most glowing report on the location;
but it was owing to that report that the officer at the head of the
"Bureau" in that district, the department-commander, and finally
the head of the Bureau, General Howard himself, indorsed the scheme
most warmly and aided it most liberally. So that soon afterward
the building was furnished as a school-house, Mollie Ainslie, with
Lucy Ellison, an old schoolmate, as her assistant, was installed
at the old hostlery, and bore sway in the school of three hundred
dusky pupils which assembled daily at Red Wing. Midnight was given
royal quarters in the old log-stable, which had been re-covered
and almost rebuilt for his especial delectation, the great square
stall, with its bed of dry oak leaves, in which he stood knee-deep,
being sufficient to satisfy even Miss Mollie's fastidious demands
for the comfort of her petted steed After a time Eliab Hill, to
whose suggestion the whole plan was due, became also an assistant
instructor.

Mollie Ainslie did not at all realize the nature of the task she
had undertaken, or the burden of infamy and shame which a Christian
people would heap upon her because of this kindly-meant work done
in their midst!



CHAPTER XVIII.

"PRIME WRAPPERS."


It was more than a year afterward. Quite a little village had grown
up around the church and school-house  at Red Wing, inhabited by
colored men who had been attracted thither by the novelty of one
of their own members being a proprietor. Encouraged by his example,
one and another had bought parcels of his domain, until its size was
materially reduced though its value was proportionately enhanced.
Those who settled here were mostly mechanics--carpenters and
masons--who worked here and there as they could find employment,
a blacksmith who wrought for himself, and some farm laborers who
dreaded the yearly system of hire as too nearly allied to the slave
regime, and so worked by the day upon the neighboring plantations.
One or two bought somewhat larger tracts, intending to imitate the
course of Nimbus and raise the fine tobacco for which the locality
was already celebrated. All had built cheap log-houses, but their
lots were well fenced and their "truck-patches" clean and thrifty,
and the little hamlet was far from being unattractive, set as it
was in the midst of the green forests which belted it about. From
the plantations on either side, the children flocked to the school.
So that when the registering officer and the sheriff rode into
the settlement, a few days after the registration at Melton, it
presented a thriving and busy spectacle.

Upon the hillside, back of his house, Nimbus, his wife, and two
men whom he had employed were engaged in cutting the tobacco which
waved--crinkled and rank, with light ygjlowish spots showing here
and there upon the great leaves--a billow of green in the autumn
wind. The new-comers halted and watched the process for a moment
as they rode up to the barn, while the sheriff explained to the
unfamiliar Northman:

"This is the first cutting, as it is called. They only take out the
ripest this time, and leave the rest for another cutting, a week
or two later. You see, he goes through there," pointing to Nimbus,
"and picks out the ripe, yellow-looking  plants. Then he sets his
knife in at the top of the stalk where it has been broken off to
prevent its running up to seed, and splits it down almost to the
ground; then he cuts the stalk off below the split, and it is ready
to be hung on the thin narrow strips of oak, which you see stuck
up here and there, where the cutting has been done. They generally
put from seven to ten plants on a stick, according to the size
of the plants; so that the number of sticks makes a very accurate
measure of the size of the crop, and an experienced hand can tell
within a few pounds the weight of any bulk of tobacco by simply
counting the sticks."

They rode up to the barn and found it already half full of tobacco.
Nimbus came and showed the officer how the sticks were laid upon
beams placed at proper intervals, the split plants hanging tops
downward, close together, but not touching each other. The upper
portions  of the barn were first filled and then the lower tiers,
until the tobacco hung within two or three feet of the bottom. The
barn itself was made of logs, the interstices  closely chinked and
daubed with clay, so as to make it almost air-tight. Around the
building on the inside ran a large stone flue, like a chimney laid
on the ground. Outside was a huge pile of wood and a liberal supply
of charcoal. Nimbus thus described the process of curing:   "Yer
see, Capting, we fills de barn chock full, an' then shets it up fer
a day or two, 'cording ter de weather, sometimes wid a slow fire
an' sometimes wid none, till it begins ter sweat--git moist, yer
know. Den we knows it's in order ter begin de curin', an' we puts
on mo' fire, an' mo,' an' mo', till de whole house gits hot an' de
leaves begins ter hev a ha'sh, rough feel about de edges, an' now
an' den one begins ter yaller up. Den we raises de heat jes ze fast
ez we kin an' not fire de barn.  Some folks uses de flues alone
an' some de coal alone, but I mostly 'pends on de flues wid a few
heaps of coal jes here an' dar 'bout de flo', at sech a time, kase
eberyting  'pends on a even reg'lar heat dat you kin manage good.
Den you keeps watch on it mighty close an' don't let it git too hot
nor yet fail ter be hot 'nough, but jes so ez ter keep it yallerin'
up nicely. When de leaves is crisp an' light so dat dey rustles
roun' in de drafts like dead leaves in the fall, yer know, it's
cured; an' all yer's got ter du den is ter dry out de stems an'
stalks.  Dat's got ter be done, tho,' kase ef yer leaves enny bit
ob it green an' sappy-like, fust ting yer knows when it comes in
order--dat is, gits damp an' soft--de green runs outen de stems
down inter de leaves an' jes streaks 'em all ober, or p'raps it
turns de fine yaller leaf a dull greenish brown. So yer's got ter
keep up yer fire till every stalk an' stem'll crack like a pipe-stem
ez soon ez yer bends 'em up. Den yer lets de fire go down an' opens
der do' fer it ter come in order, so't yer kin bulk it down."

"What do you mean by 'bulking it down'?"

"Put it in bulk, like dis yer," said he, pointing to a pile of sticks
laid crosswise of each other with the plants still on them, and
carefully covered to keep out the weather. "Yer see," he continued,
"dis answers two pu'poses; fust yergits yer barn empty an' uses it
again.  Den de weather don't git in ter signify, yer know, an' so
it don't come inter order any more an' color up wid de wet; dat
is, 'less yer leaves it too long or de wedder is mighty damp."

"Oh, he knows," said the sheriff, with a ring of pride in his
voice. "Nimbus was raised in a tobacco-field,  and knows as much
as anybody about it. How did your first barn cure up, Nimbus?"

"Right bright and even, sah," answered the colored man, as he
thrust his hand under the boards spread over the bulk near which he
stood, and drew out a few leaves, which he smoothed out carefully
and handed to his visitors.  "I got it down in tol'able fa'r order,
too, alter de rain t'odder evenin'. Dunno ez I ebber handled a
barn thet, take it all round, 'haved better er come out fa'rer in
my life--mighty good color an' desp'ut few lugs. Yer see, I got it
cut jes de right time, an' de weather couldn't hev ben better ef
I'd hed it made ter order."

The sheriff stretched a leaf to its utmost width, held it up to
the sunshine, crumpled it between his great palms, held it to his
face and drew a long breath through it, rubbed the edges between thumb
and finger, pinched the stem with his thumb-nail till it broke in
half a dozen places, and remarked with enthusiasm, to the Northern
man, who stood rubbing and smelling of the sample he held, in
awkward imitation of one whom he recognized as a connoisseur:

"That's prime terbacker, Captain. If it runs like that through
the bulk and nothing happens to it before it gets to the warehouse,
it'll bring a dollar a pound, easy. You don't often see such
terbacker any year, much less such a one as this has been. Didn't
it ripen mighty uneven, Nimbus?"   "Jest about ez it oughter--a
little 'arlier on the hilltop  an' dry places 'long de sides, an'
den gradwally down ter de moister places. Dar wa'n't much ob dat
pesky spotted ripenin' up--jes a plant h'yer an' anodder dar, all
in 'mong de green, but jest about a good barnfull  in tollable
fa'r patches, an' den anodder comin' right on atter it. I'll hev
it full agin an' fire up by to-morrer evenin'."

"Do you hang it right up after cutting?" asked the officer.

"Wal, we mout do so. Tain't no hurt ter do it dat er way, only it
handles better ter let it hang on de sticks a while an' git sorter
wilted--don't break de leaves off ner mash 'em up so much loadin'
an" unloadin',  yer know," answered Nimbus.

"How much have you got here?" asked the sheriff, casting his eye
over the field; "forty thousand?"

"Wal," said Nimbus, "I made up sixty thousand hills, but I hed ter
re-set some on 'em. I s'pose it'll run somewhere between fifty an'
sixty thousand."

"A right good crop," said the sheriff. "I doubt if any man in the
county has got a better, take it all 'round."

"I don't reckon ther's one wukked enny harder fer what he's got,"
said the colored man quietly.

"No, I'll guarantee ther hain't," said the other, laughing.  "Nobody
ever accused you of being lazy, Nimbus.  They only fault you fer
being too peart."

"All 'cause I wants my own, an' wuks fer it, an' axes nobody enny
odds, but only a fa'r show--a white man's chance ter git along,"
responded Nimbus, with a touch of defiance in his tone.

"Well, well," said the sheriff good-naturedly, "I won't never fault
ye for that, but they do say you're the only man, white er black,
that ever got ahead of Potem Desmit in a trade yet. How's that,
Nimbus?"

"I paid him all he axed," said the colored man, evidently  flattered
by this tribute to his judgment as to the value of Red Wing. "Kase
white folks won't see good fine-terbacker lan' when dey walks ober
it, tain't my fault, is it?"

"No more tain't, Nimbus; but don't yer s'pose yer Marse Potem's
smartly worried over it?"

"La, no, I reckon not. He don't 'pear ter be, ennyhow.  He war by
here when I was curin' up dis barn, an' stopped in an' looked at
it, an' axed a power ob questions, an' got Lugena ter bring him out
some buttermilk  an' a corn pone. Den he went up an' sot an hour
in de school an' sed ez how he war mighty proud ter see one of his
ole nigga's gittin' on dat er way."

"Wal, now, that was kind of him, wasn't it?"

"Dat it war, sah, an' hit done us all a power ob good, too. Hev
you ebber ben ter de school, Mr. Sheriff?  No? wal, yer oughter;
an' you, too, Capting. Dar's a little Yankee woman, Miss Mollie
Ainslie, a runnin' ob it, dat do beat all curration fer managin'
tings. I'd nebber'd  got long so h'yer, not by no means, ez I hez,
but fer her advice--her'n an' 'Liab's, gentlemen. Dar she am now,"
he added, as a slight figure, mounted on a powerful black horse,
and dressed in a dark riding-habit, with a black plume hanging from
a low-crowned felt hat, came out of the woods below and cantered
easily along the road a hundred yards away, toward the school-house.
The visitors watched her curiously, and expressed a desire to visit
the school. Nimbus said that if they would walk on slowly he would
go by the house and get his coat and overtake them before they
reached the school-house.    As they walked along the sheriff said,

"Did you notice the horse that Yankee schoolmarm rode?"

"I noticed that it was a very fine one," was the reply.

"I should think it was. I haven't seen a horse in an age that
reminded me so much of the one I was telling you about that Hesden
Le Moyne used to have. He is fuller and heavier, but if I was not
afraid of making Hesden mad I would rig him about a nigger-teacher's
riding his horse around the country. Of course it's not the same,
but it would be a good joke, only Hesden Le Moyne is not exactly
the man one wants to start a joke on."

When they arrived at the school-house they found that Mollie
Ainslie had changed her habit and was now standing by the desk on
the platform in the main room, clad in a neat half-mourning dress,
well adapted to the work of the school-room, quiet and composed,
tapping her bell to reduce to order the many-hued crowd of scholars of
all ages and sizes who were settling into their places preparatory
to the morning roll-call. Nimbus took his visitors up the broad aisle,
through an avenue of staring eyes, and introduced them awkwardly,
but proudly, to the self-collected little figure on the platform.
She in turn presented to them her assistant, Miss Lucy Ellison,
a blushing, peach-cheeked little Northern beauty, and Eliab Hill,
now advanced to the dignity of an assistant also, who sat near her
on the platform. The sheriff nodded awkwardly to the ladies, as
if doubtful how much deference it would do to display,  said, "How
d'ye, 'Liab?" to the crippled colored man, laid his saddle-bags on
the floor, and took the chair assigned to him. The Northern man
greeted the young ladies with apparent pleasure and profound respect,
shook hands with the colored man, calling him "Mister" Hill, and
before sitting down looked out on the crowded school with evident
surprise.

Before proceeding with the roll-call Miss Ainslie took the large
Bible which lay upon her desk, and approaching the gentlemen said:

"It is our custom every morning to read a portion of the Scripture
and offer prayer. We should be glad if either of you would conduct
these exercises for us."

Both declined, the sheriff with some confusion, and the other
remarking that he desired to see the school going on as if he were
not present, in order that he might the better observe its exercises.

Miss Ainslie returned to her desk, called the roll of a portion
of the scholars, and then each of her assistants called the names
of those assigned to their charge. A selection from the Scripture
was next read by the preceptress, a hymn sung under her lead with
great spirit and correctness, and then Eliab Hill, clasping his
hands, said, "Let us pray." The whole school knelt, the ladies
bowed their heads upon the desk, and Eliab offered an appropriate
prayer, in which the strangers were not forgotten, but were each
kindly and fitly commended to the Divine care. Then there was an
impromptu examination of the school. Each of the teachers heard a
class recite, there was more singing, with other agreeable exercises,
and it was noon before the visitors thought of departing. Then they
were invited to dine with the lady teachers at the old Ordinary,
and would have declined, on the ground that they must go on to the
next precinct, but Nimbus, who had been absent for an hour, now
appeared and brought word that the table was spread on the porch
under the great oak, and their horses already cared for; so that
excuse would evidently be useless. The sheriff was very uneasy,
but the other seemed by no means displeased at the delay. However,
the former recovered when he saw the abundant repast, and told many
amusing stories of the old hostel. At length he said:

"That is a fine horse you rode this morning, Miss Ainslie. May I
ask to whom it belongs?"

"To me, of course," replied the lady, in some surprise.

"I did not know," replied the sheriff, slightly confused.  "Have
you owned him long?"

"Nearly two years, she answered."

"Indeed? Somehow I can't get it out of my head that I have seen him
before, while I am quite sure I never had the pleasure of meeting
you until to-day."

"Quite likely," she answered; "Nimbus sometimes rides him into
Melton for the mail."

"No," said he, shaking his head, "that is not it.  But, no matter,
he's a fine horse, and if you leave here or wish to sell him at
any time, I hope you will rememher and give me a first chance."

He was astonished at the result of his harmless proposal.

"Sir," said the little lady, her gray eyes filling and her voice
choking with emotion, "that was my only brother's favorite horse.
He rode him in the army, and gave him to me when he died. No money
could buy him under any circumstances."

"Beg pardon," said the sheriff; "I had no idea--I--ah--"

To relieve his embarrassment the officer brought forward the special
object of his visit by stating that it was thought desirable to
establish a voting precinct at Red Wing for the coming election,
if a suitable place to hold the election could be found, and asked
if the school-house could be obtained for that purpose. A lively
conversation ensued, in which both gentlemen set forth the advantages
of the location to the voters of that section.  Miss Ellison seemed
to favor it, but the little lady who was in charge only asked
questions and looked thoughtful. When at length her opinion was
directly asked, she said:

"I had heard of this proposal through both Mr. Hill and Nimbus, and
I must say I quite agree with the view taken by the former. If it
were necessary in order to secure the exercise of their rights by
the colored men I would not object; but I cannot see that it is.
It would, of course, direct even more attention to our school, and
I do not think the feeling toward us among our white neighbors is
any too kindly now. We have received no serious ill-treatment, it
is true, but this is the first time any white person has ventured
into our house. I don't think that anything should be done to excite
unnecessary antipathy which might interfere with what I must consider
the most important element of the colored man's development, the
opportunity for education."

"Why, they hold the League meetings there, don't they?" asked the
sheriff, with a twinkle which questioned  her sincerity.

"Certainly," she answered calmly. "At least I gave them leave to
do so, and have no doubt they do. I consider  that necessary. The
colored men should be encouraged  to consider and discuss political
affairs and decide  in regard to them from their own standpoint.
The League gives them this opportunity. It seems to be a quiet
and orderly gathering. They are all colored men of the same way of
thought, in the main, and it is carried  on entirely by them; at
least, such is the case here, and I consider the practice which it
gives in the discussion of public affairs and the conduct of public
assemblies  as a most valuable training for the adults who will
never have a chance to learn otherwise."

"I think Nimbus is in favor of having the election here," said
Captain Pardee.

"No doubt," she replied. "So are they all, and they have been very
pressing in their importunity--all except Mr. Hill. They are proud
of their school and the building, which is the joint product of
their own labor  and the helpfulness of Northern friends, and are
anxious for every opportunity to display their unexpected  prosperity.
It is very natural, but I think unwise."

"Nimbus owns the land, don't he?" asked the sheriff.

"No, He gave that for school and church purposes, and, except that
they have a right to use it on the Sabbath,  it is in my charge as
the principal teacher here," she replied, wilh dignity.

"And you do not desire the election held here?" asked Captain
Pardee.

"I am sorry to discommode the voters around here, white or black,
but I would not balance a day's time or a day's walk against the
more important interests of this school to the colored people. They
can walk ten miles to vote, if need be, but no exertion of theirs
could replace even the building and its furniture, let alone the
school which it shelters."

"That is very true," said the officer, thoughtfully.

So the project was abandoned, and Melton remained the nearest
polling-place to Red Wing.

As they rode away the two representatives of antipodal  thought
discussed the scenes they had witnessed that day, which were equally
new to them both, and  naturally enough drew from them entirely
different conclusions.  The Northern man enthusiastically prophesied
the rapid rise and miraculous development of the colored race
under the impetus of free schools and free thought.  The Southern
man only saw in it a prospect of more "sassy niggers," like Nimbus,
who was "a good enough nigger, but mighty aggravating to the white
folks."

With regard to the teachers, he ventured only this comment:

"Captain, it's a mighty pity them gals are teaching a nigger school.
They're too likely for such work--too likely by half."

The man whom he addressed only gave a low, quiet laugh at this
remark, which the other found it difficult to interpret.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE SHADOW OF THE FLAG.


As soon as it became known that the plan of having a polling-place
at Red Wing had been abandoned, there was an almost universal
expression of discontent among the colored people. Never before had
the authority or wisdom of the teachers been questioned. The purity
of their motives and the devotion they had displayed in advancing
every interest of those to whom they had come as the missionaries
of light and freedom, had hitherto protected them from all jealousy
or suspicion on the part of the beneficiaries of their devotion.
Mollie Ainslie had readily and naturally fallen into the habit
of controlling  and directing almost everything about her, simply
because she had been accustomed to self-control and self-direction,
and was by nature quick to decide and  resolute to act. Conscious
of her own rectitude, and fully realizing the dangers which might
result from the experiment  proposed, she had had no hesitation
about withholding  her consent, without which the school-house could
not be used, and had not deemed it necessary to consult the general
wish of the villagers in regard to it. Eliab Hill had approved her
action, and she had briefly spoken of it to Nimbus--that was all.

Now, the people of Red Wing, with Nimbus at their head, had set
their hearts upon having the election held there. The idea was
flattering to their importance, a recognition of their manhood
and political co-ordination which was naturally and peculiarly
gratifying. So they murmured and growled, and the discontent grew
louder and deeper until, on the second day thereafter, Nimbus, with
two or three other denizens of Red Wing, came, with gloomy, sullen
faces, to the school-house at the hour for dismissal, to hold an
interview with Miss Ainslie on the subject. She knew their errand,
and received them with that cool reserve which so well became her
determined  face and slight, erect figure. When they had stated
their desire, and more than half indicated their determination  to
have the election held there at all hazards, she said briefly,

"I have not the slightest objection."

"Dar now," said Nimbus exultingly; "I 'llowed dar mus' be somethin'
wrong 'bout it. They kep' tellin' me that you 'posed it, an' tole
de Capting dat it couldn't never be held here wid your consent
while you wuz in de school."

"So I did."

"You don't say? an' now yer's changed yer mind."

"I have not changed my mind at all."   "No? Den what made you say
yer hadn't no 'jections,  just now."

"Because I have not. It is a free country. You say you are determined
to have the election here, I am fully convinced that it would do
harm. Yet you have a right to provide a place, and hold it here,
if you desire. That I do not question, and shall not attempt
to prevent; only, the day that you determine to do so I shall
pack up my trunk, ride over to Boyleston, deliver the keys to the
superintendent, and let him do as he chooses about the matter."

"Yer don't mean ter say yer'd go an' leave us fer good, does yer,
Miss Mollie?" asked Nimbus in surprise.

"Certainly," was the reply; "when the people have once lost confidence
in me, and I am required to give up my own deliberate judgment to
a whimsical desire for parade, I can do no more good here, and will
leave at once."

"Sho, now, dat won't do at all--no more it won't," responded Nimbus.
"Ef yer feel's dat er way 'bout it, der ain't no mo' use a-talkin'.
Dere's gwine ter be nary 'lection h'yer ef it really troubles you
ladies dat 'er way."

So it was decided, and once again there was peace.

To compensate themselves for this forbearance, however,  it was
suggested that the colored voters of Red Wing and vicinity should
meet at the church on the morning of election and march in a body
to the polls with music and banners, in order most appropriately and
significantly to commemorate their first exercise of the electoral
privilege. To this Miss Ainslie saw no serious objection, and
in order fully to conciliate Nimbus, who might yet feel himself
aggrieved by her previous decision, she tendered him the loan of
her horse on the occasion,  he having been elected marshal.

From that time until the day of the election there was considerable
excitement. There were a number of political  harangues made in
the neighborhood; the League met several times; the colored men
appeared anxious and important about the new charge committed to
their care; the white people were angry, sullen, and depressed.
The school at Red Wing went peaceably on, interrupted only by the
excitement attendant upon the preparations making for the expected
parade.

Almost every night, after work was over, the colored people would
gather in the little hamlet and march to the music of a drum and
fife, and under the command of Nimbus, whose service in the army
had made him a tolerable  proficient in such tactical movements as
pertained to the "school of the company." Very often, until well
past midnight the fife and drum, the words of command, and the
rumble of marching feet could be heard in the little village. The
white people in the country around about began to talk about "the
niggers arming and drilling," saying that they intended to "seize
the polls on election day;" "rise up and murder the whites;" "burn
all the houses along the river;" and a thousand other absurd and
incredible things which seemed to fill the air, to grow and multiply
like baleful spores, without apparent cause. As a consequence
of this there grew up a feeling of apprehension among the colored
men also. They feared that these things were said simply to make a
ready and convenient excuse for violence which was to be perpetrated
upon them in order to prevent the exercise of their legal rights.

So there were whisperings and apprehension and high resolve  upon
both sides. The colored men, conscious of their own rectitude, were
either unaware of the real light in which their innocent parade was
regarded by their white neighbors, or else laughed at the feeling
as insincere  and groundless. The whites, having been for generations
firm believers in the imminency of servile insurrections;  devoutly
crediting the tradition that the last words of George Washington,
words of wisdom and warning, were, "Never trust a nigger with a gun;"
and accustomed to chafe each other into a fever heat of excitement
over any matter of public interest, were ready to give credence
to any report--all the more easily because  of its absurdity. On
the other hand, the colored people, hearing these rumors, said to
themselves that it was simply a device to prevent them from voting,
or to give color and excuse for a conflict at the polls.

There is no doubt that both were partly right and partly wrong.
While the parade was at first intended simply as a display, it came
to be the occasion of preparation  for an expected attack, and as
the rumors grew more wild and absurd, so did each side grow more
earnest and sincere. The colored men determined to exercise their
rights openly and boldly, and the white men were as fully determined
that at any exhibition of "impudence" on the part of the "niggers"
they would teach them a lesson they would not soon forget.

None of this came to the ears of Mollie Ainslie.  Nevertheless she
had a sort of indefinite foreboding of evil to come out of it, and
wished that she had exerted her influence to prevent the parade.

On the morning of the election day a motley crowd collected at an
early hour at Red Wing. It was noticeable  that every one carried
a heavy stick, though there was no other show of arms among them.
Some of them, no doubt, had pistols, but there were no guns in the
crowd. They seemed excited and alarmed. A few notes from the fife,
however, banished all irresolution, and before  eight o'clock two
hundred men gathered from the country round marched away toward
Melton, with a national flag heading the column, in front of which
rode Eliab Hill in the carryall belonging to Nimbus.  With them
went a crowd of women and children, numbering as many more, all
anxious to witness the first exercise of elective power by their
race, only just delivered from the bonds of slavery. The fife
screeched, the drum rattled; laughter and jests and high cheer
prevailed among them all. As they marched on, now and then a white
man rode past them, silent and sullen, evidently enraged at the
display which was being made by the new voters. As they drew nearer
to the town it became evident that the air was surcharged with
trouble.  Nimbus sent back Miss Ainslie's horse, saying that he was
afraid it might get hurt. The boy that took it innocently repeated
this remark to his teacher.

Within the town there was great excitement. A young man who had passed
Red Wing while the men were assembling had spurred into Melton and
reported with great excitement that the "niggers" were collecting
at the church and Nimbus was giving out arms and ammunition; that
they were boasting of what they would do if any of their votes were
refused; that they had all their plans laid to meet negroes from
other localities at Melton, get up a row, kill all the white men,
burn the town, and then ravish the white women. This formula of
horrors is one so familiar to the Southern tongue that it runs off
quite unconsciously whenever there is any excitement in the air
about the "sassy niggers." It is the "form of sound words," which
is never forgotten. Its effect upon the Southern white man is
magical. It moves him as the red rag does a mad bull. It takes away
all sense and leaves only an abiding desire to kill.

So this rumor awakened great excitement as it flew from lip to lip.
Few questioned its verity, and most of those who heard felt bound
in conscience to add somewhat  to it as they passed it on to the
next listener.  Each one that came in afterward was questioned
eagerly upon the hypothesis of a negro insurrection having already
taken shape. "How many are there?" "Who is at the head of it?"
"How are they armed?" "What did they say?" were some of the queries
which overwhelmed every new comer. It never seemed to strike any
one as strange that if the colored men had any hostile intent they
should let these solitary horsemen  pass them unmolested. The fever
spread. Revolvers  were flourished and shot-guns loaded; excited
crowds gathered here and there, and nearly everybody in the
town sauntered carelessly toward the bridge across which Nimbus'
gayly-decked column must enter the town. A few young men rode out
to reconnoitre, and every few minutes one would come dashing back
upon a reeking steed, revolver in hand, his mouth full of strange
oaths and his eyes flaming with excitement.

It was one of these that precipitated the result. The flag which
waved over the head of the advancing column had been visible from
the town for some time as now and then it passed over the successive
ridges to the eastward. The sound of fife and drum had become more
and more distinct,  and a great portion of the white male population,
together with those who had come in to the election from the
surrounding country, had gathered about the bridge spanning the swift
river which flowed between Melton and the hosts of the barbarous
and bloodthirsty "niggers"  of the Red Wing country. Several of
the young scouts had ridden close up to the column with tantalizing
shouts and insulting gestures and then dashed back to recount their
own audacity; until, just as the Stars and Stripes began to show
over the last gullied hill, one of them, desirous of outdoing his
comrades in bravado, drew his revolver, flourished it over his head,
and cast a shower of insulting epithets upon the colored pilgrims
to the shrine of ballatorial power. He was answered from the dusky
crowd with words as foul as his own. Such insult was not to be
endured. Instantly his pistol was raised, there was a flash, a puff
of fleecy smoke, a shriek from amid the crowd.

At once all was confusion. Oaths, cries, pistol-shots, and a shower
of rocks filled the air as the young man turned and spurred back
to the town. In a moment the long covered-bridge was manned by
a well-armed crowd, while others were seen running toward it. The
town was in an uproar.

The officers of election had left the polls, and in front of the
bridge could be seen Hesden Le Moyne and the burly sheriff striving
to keep back the angry crowd of white men. On the hill the colored
men, for a moment struck with amazement, were now arming with stones,
in dead earnest, uttering loud cries of vengeance for one of their
number who, wounded and affrighted, lay groaning and writhing by
the roadside. They outnumbered  the whites very greatly, but the
latter excelled them in arms, in training, and in position. Still,
such was their exasperation at what seemed to them a wanton and
unprovoked  attack, that they were preparing to charge upon the
bridge without delay. Nimbus especially was frantic  with rage.

"It's the flag!" he shouted; "the damned rebels are firing on the
flag!"   He strode back and forth, waving an old cavalry sabre
which he had brought to mark his importance as marshal of the day,
and calling on his followers to stand by him and they would "clean
out the murderous crowd." A few pistol shots which were fired from
about the bridge but fell far short, added to their excitement and
desperation.

Just as they were about to rush down the hillside, Mollie Ainslie,
with a white set face, mounted on her black horse, dashed in front
of them, and cried,

"Halt!"

Eliab Hill had long been imploring them with upraised hands to be
calm and listen to reason, but his voice was unheeded or unheard
in the wild uproar. The sight of the woman, however, whom all of
them regarded so highly, reining in her restive horse and commanding
silence, arrested the action of all. But Nimbus, now raging like a
mad lion, strode up to her, waving his sword and cursing fearfully
in his wild wrath, and said hoarsely:

"You git out o' de way, Miss Mollie! We all tinks a heap ob you,
but yer hain't got no place h'yer! De time's come for _men_
now, an' dis is men's wuk, an' we's gwine ter du it, too! D'yer
see dat man dar, a-bleedin' an' a-groanin'? Blood's been shed! We's
been fired into kase we wuz gwine ter exercise our rights like men
under de flag ob our kentry, peaceable, an' quiet, an' disturbin'
nobody! 'Fore God, Miss Mollie, ef we's men an' fit ter hev enny
rights, we won't stan' dat! We'll hev blood fer blood! Dat's what
we means! You jes git outen de way!" he added imperiously.  "We'll
settle dis yer matter ourselves!" He reached out his hand as he
spoke to take her horse by the bit.

"Stand back!" cried the brave girl. "Don't you touch him, sir!" She
urged her horse forward, and Nimbus, awed by her intensity, slowly
retreated before her, until she was but a pace or two in front of
the line which stretched across the road. Then leaning forward,
she said,

"Nimbus, give me your sword!"

"What you wants ob dat, Miss Mollie?" he asked in surprise.

"No matter; hand it to me!"

He took it by the blade, and held the heavy basket-hilt  toward her.
She clasped her small white fingers around the rough, shark-skin
handle and raised it over her head as naturally as a veteran leader
desiring to command attention, and said:

"Now, Nimbus, and the rest of you, you all know that I am your
friend. My brother was a soldier, and fought for your liberty on
this very horse. I have never advised you except for your good, and
you know I never will. If it is right and best for you to right now,
I will not hinder you. Nay, I will say God-speed, and for aught I
know fight with you. I am no coward, if I am a woman. You know what
I have risked already for your good. Now tell me what has happened,
and what this means."

There was a cheer at this, and fifty excited voices began  the
story.

"Stop! stop!'" she cried. "Keep silent, all of you, and let Mr.
Hill tell it alone. He was here in front and saw it all."

Thereupon she rode up beside the carry-all, which was now in the
middle of the throng, and listened gravely while Eliab told the
whole story of the march from Red Wing, There was a buzz when he
had ended, which she stilled by a word and a wave of the hand, and
then turning  to Nimbus she said:

"Nimbus, I appoint you to keep order in this crowd until my return.
Do not let any man, woman, or child move forward or back, whatever
may occur. Do you understand?"

"Yes, ma'am, I hears; but whar you gwine, Miss Mollie?"

"Into the town."

"No yer don't, Miss Mollie," said he, stepping before her. "Dey'll
kill you, shore."

"No matter. I am going. You provoked this affray by your foolish
love of display, and it must be settled now, or it will be a matter
of constant trouble hereafter."

"But, Miss Mollie--"

"Not a word! You have been a soldier and should obey orders. Here
is your sword. Take it, and keep order here. Examine that poor
fellow's wound, and I will go and get a doctor for him."

She handed Nimbus his sword and turned her horse toward the bridge.
Then a wail of distress arose from the crowd. The women begged her
not to go, with tears. She turned in her saddle, shook her head,
and raised her hand to show her displeasure at this. Then she took
a handkerchief from her pocket and half waving  it as she proceeded,
went toward the bridge.

"Well, I swear," said the sheriff; "if that are gal ain't coming
in with a flag of truce. She's pluck, anyhow.  You ought to give
her three cheers, boys."

The scene which had been enacted on the hill had been closely watched
from the bridge and the town, and Mollie's conduct had been pretty
well interpreted though her words could not be heard. The nerve which
she had exhibited had excited universal comment, and it needed no
second invitation to bring off every hat and send up, in her honor,
the shrill yell with which our soldiers became familiar during the
war.

Recognizing this, her pale face became suffused with blushes, and
she put her handkerchief to her lips to hide their tremulousness as
she came nearer. She ran her eyes quickly along the line of strange
faces, until they fell upon the sheriff, by whom stood Hesden Le
Moyne.  She rode straight to them and said,

"Oh, Mr. Sheriff--"

Then she broke down, and dropping the rein on her horse's neck,
she pressed her handkerchief to her face and wept. Her slight frame
shook with sobs. The men looked at her with surprise and pity.
There was even a huskiness in the sheriff's voice as he said,

"Miss Ainslie--I--I beg your pardon, ma'am-but--"

She removed the handkerchief, but the tears were still running down
her face as she said, glancing round the circle of sympathizing
faces:

"Do stop this, gentlemen. It's all a mistake. I know it must be a
mistake!"

"We couldn't help it, ma'am," said one impulsive youth, putting in
before the elders had time to speak; "the niggers was marching on
the town here. Did you suppose we was going to sit still and let
them burn and ravage without opposition? Oh, we haven't got so low
as that, if the Yankees did outnumber us. Not yet!"

There was a sneering tone in his voice which did more than sympathy
could, to restore her equanimity. So she said, with a hint of a
smile on her yet tearful face,

"The worst thing those poor fellows meant to do, gentlemen, was
to make a parade over their new-found privileges--march up to the
polls, vote, and march home again. They are just like a crowd of
boys over a drum and fife, as you know. They carefully excluded
from the line all who were not voters, and I had them arranged so
that their names would come alphabetically, thinking it might be
handier for the officers; though I don't know anything about how an
election is conducted," she added, with an ingenuous blush. "It's
all my fault, gentlemen! I did not think any trouble could come
of it, or I would not have allowed it for a moment.  I thought it
would be better for them to come in order, vote, and go home than
to have them scattered about the town and perhaps getting into
trouble."

"So 'twould," said the sheriff. "Been a first-rate thing if we'd
all understood it--first-rate."

"Oh, I'm so sorry, gentlemen--so sorry, and I'm afraid one man is
killed. Would one of you be kind enough to go for a doctor?"

"Here is one," said several voices, as a young man stepped forward
and raised his hat respectfully.

"I will go and see him," he said.

He walked on up the hill alone.

"Well, ma'am," said the sheriff, "what do you think should be done
now?"

"If you would only let these people come in and vote, gentlemen.
They will return at once, and I would answer  with my life for
their good behavior. I think it was all a misunderstanding."

"Certainly--certainly, ma'am," said the sheriff. "No doubt about
it."

She turned her horse and was about to ride back up the hill, but
Hesden Le Moyne, taking off his hat, said:

"Gentlemen, I think we owe a great deal to the bravery  of this
young lady. I have no doubt but all she says is literally true.
Yet we like to have got into trouble which might have been very
serious in its consequences, nay, perhaps has already resulted
seriously. But for her timely arrival, good sense, and courage there
would have been more bloodshed; our town would have been disgraced,
troops posted among us, and perhaps lives taken in retaliation.
Now, considering all this, I move a vote of thanks to the lady,
and that we all pledge ourselves to take no notice of these people,
but let them come in and vote and go out, without interruption.
All that are in favor of that say Aye!"

Every man waved his hat, there was a storm of "ayes," and then the
old rebel yell again, as, bowing and blushing with pleasure, Mollie
turned and rode up the hill.

There also matters had assumed a more cheerful aspect  by reason of
her cordial reception at the bridge, and the report of the surgeon
that the man's wound, though quite troublesome, was by no means
serious.  She told in a few words what had occurred, explained the
mistake, reminded them that such a display would naturally prove
very exasperating to persons situated as the others were, counselled
moderation and quietness of demeanor, and told them to re-form
their ranks and go forward, quietly vote, and return. A rousing
cheer greeted her words. Eliab Hill uttered a devout prayer
of thankfulness. Nimbus blunderingly said it was all his fault,
"though he didn't mean no harm," and then suggested that the flag
and music should be left there in charge of some of the boys,
which was approved. The wounded man was put into the carry-all by
the side of Eliab, and they started down the hill. The sheriff, who
was waiting at the bridge, called out for them to bring the flag
along and have the music strike up.

So, with flying colors and rattling drum-beat, the voters of Red
Wing marched to the polls; the people of Melton looked good-naturedly
on; the young hot-bloods joked the dusky citizen, and bestowed
extravagant encomiums  on the plucky girl who had saved them from
so much threatened trouble; and Mollie Ainslie rode home with a hot,
flushed face, and was put to bed by her co-laborer,  the victim of
a raging headache.

"I declare, Mollie Ainslie," said Lucy, "you are the queerest girl I
ever saw. I believe you would ride that horse into a den of lions,
and then faint because you were not eaten up. I could never do what
you have done--never in the world--but if did I wouldn't get sick
because it was all over."



CHAPTER XX.

PHANTASMAGORIA.


The day after the election a colored lad rode up to the school-house,
delivered a letter for Miss Ainslie to one of the scholars, and
rode away. The letter was written in an even, delicate hand, which
was yet full of feminine strength, and read as follows:

"MISS AINSLIE:

"My son Hesden has told me of your courage in preventing what must
otherwise have resulted in a most terrible conflict yesterday, and
I feel it to be my duty, in behalf of many ladies whose husbands and
sons were present on that occasion, to express to you our gratitude.
It is seldom that such opportunity presents itself to our sex, and
still more seldom that we are able to improve it when presented.
Your courage in exerting the power you have over the peculiar people
toward whom you hold such important relations, commands  my utmost
admiration. It is a matter of the utmost congratulation to the good
people of Horsford  that one of such courage and prudence occupies
the position which you hold. I am afraid that the people whom you
are teaching can never be made to understand and appreciate the
position into which they have been thrust by the terrible events
of the past few years. I am sure, however, that you will do all
in your power to secure that result, and most earnestly  pray for
your success. Could I leave my house I should do myself the pleasure
to visit your school and express my gratitude in person. As it is,
I can only send the good wishes of a weak old woman, who, though
once a slave-mistress, was most sincerely rejoiced at the down-fall
of a system she had always regarded with regret, despite the
humiliation it brought to her countrymen.

"HESTER LE MOYNE."

This was the first word of commendation which had been received
from any Southern white woman, and the two lonely teachers were
greatly cheered by it. When we come to analyze its sentences there
seems to be a sort of patronizing coolness in it, hardly calculated
to awaken enthusiasm. The young girls who had given themselves
to what they deemed a missionary work of peculiar urgency  and
sacredness, did not stop to read between the lines, however, but
perused with tears of joy this first epistle from one of their own
sex in that strange country where they had been treated as leprous
outcasts by all the families who belonged to the race of which
they were unconscious ornaments. They jumped to the conclusion that
a new day was dawning, and that henceforth they would have that
companionship and sympathy which they felt that they deserved from
the Christian women by whom they were surrounded.

"What a dear, good old lady she must be!" exclaimed  the pretty
and gushing Lucy Ellison. "I should like to kiss her for that sweet
letter."

So they took heart of grace, talked with the old "Mammy"  who had
charge of their household arrangements about the gentle invalid
woman, whom she had served as a slave, and pronounced "jes de
bestest woman in de worl', nex' to my young ladies," and then they
went on with their work with renewed zeal.

Two other results followed this affair, which tended greatly to
relieve the monotony of their lives. A good many gentlemen called
in to see the school, most of them young men who were anxious for
a sight of the brave lady who had it in charge, and others merely
desirous to see the pretty Yankee "nigger teachers." Many would, no
doubt, have become more intimate with them, but there was something
in the terms of respectful equality on which they associated with
their pupils, and especially with their co-worker, Eliab Hill, which
they could not abide or understand. The fame of the adventure had
extended even beyond the county, however, and raised them very
greatly in the esteem of all the people.

Miss Ainslie soon noticed that the gentlemen she met in her rides,
instead of passing her with a rude or impudent stare began to greet
her with polite respect. Besides  this, some of the officers of
the post at Boyleston,  hearing of the gallant conduct of their
country-woman,  rode over to pay their respects, and brought back
such glowing reports of the beauty and refinement of the teachers
at Red Wing that the distance could not prevent others of the garrison
from following their example;  and the old Ordinary thereafter
witnessed many a pleasant gathering under the grand old oak which
shaded it. Both of the teachers found admirers in the gallant
company, and it soon became known that Lucy Ellison would leave
her present situation erelong to brighten the life of a young
lieutenant. It was rumored, too, that another uniform covered the
sad heart of a cavalier  who asked an exchange into a regiment on
frontier duty, because Mollie Ainslie had failed to respond favorably
to his passionate addresses.

So they taught, read, sang, wandered along the wood-paths  in
search of new beauties to charm their Northern eyes; rode together
whenever Lucy could be persuaded to mount Nimbus' mule, which, despite
its hybrid nature,  was an excellent saddle-beast; entertained with
unaffected pleasure the officers who came to cheer their loneliness;
and under the care of their faithful old "Mammy"  and the oversight
of a kind-hearted, serious-faced Superintendent, who never missed
Red Wing in his monthly rounds, they kept their oddly transformed
home bright and cheerful, their hearts light and pure, and their
faith clear, daily thanking God that they were permitted to do what
they thought to be His will.

All of their experiences were not so pleasant. By their own sex
they were still regarded with that calm, unobserving indifference
with which the modern lady treats the sister who stands without
the pale of reputable society.  So far as the "ladies" of Horsford
were concerned, the "nigger teachers" at Red Wing stood on the plane
of the courtesan--they were _seen_ but not _known._ The
recognition which they received from the gentlemen of Southern
birth had in it not a little of the shame-faced curiosity which
characterizes the intercourse of men with women whose reputations
have been questioned but not entirely destroyed. They were treated
with apparent respect, in the school-room, upon the highway, or
at the market, by men who would not think of recognizing them when
in the company of their mothers, sisters, or wives. Such treatment
would have been too galling to be borne had it not been that the
spotless-minded girls were all too pure to realize its significance.



CHAPTER XXI.

A CHILD-MAN.


Eliab Hill had from the first greatly interested the teachers
at Red Wing. The necessities of the school and the desire of the
charitable Board having it in charge, to accustom the colored people
to see those of their own race trusted and advanced, had induced
them to employ him as an assistant teacher, even before he was
really competent for such service. It is true he was given charge
of only the most rudimentary work, but that fact, while it inspired
his ambition, showed him also the need of improvement and made him
a most diligent student.

Lucy Ellison, as being the most expert in housewifely accomplishments,
had naturally taken charge of the domestic arrangements at the
Ordinary, and as a consequence  had cast a larger share of the
school duties upon her "superior officer," as she delighted to call
Mollie Ainslie. This division of labor suited well the characteristics
of both. To plan, direct, and manage the school came as naturally
and easily to the stirring Yankee "school-marm" as did the ordering
of their little household to the New York farmer's daughter. Among
the extra duties  thus devolved upon the former was the supervision
and direction of the studies of Eliab Hill. As he could not
consistently with the requisite discipline be included in any of the
regular classes that had been formed, and his affliction prevented
him from coming to them in the evening for private instruction,
she arranged to teach him at the school-house after school hours.
So that every day she remained after the school was dismissed to
give him an hour's instruction. His careful attention and rapid
progress amply repaid her for this sacrifice, and she looked
forward with much pleasure to the time when, after her departure,
he should be able to conduct the school with credit to himself and
profit to his fellows.

Then, for the first time, she realized how great is the momentum
which centuries of intelligence and freedom give to the mind of
the learner--how unconscious is the acquisition of the great bulk
of that knowledge which goes to make up the Caucasian manhood of
the nineteenth  century.

Eliab's desire to acquire was insatiable, his application was
tireless, but what he achieved seemed always to lack a certain
flavor of completeness. It was without that substratum of general
intelligence which the free white student has partly inherited and
partly acquired by observation and experience, without the labor
or the  consciousness of study. The whole world of life, business,
society, was a sealed book to him, which no other hand might open
for him; while the field of literature was but a bright tangled
thicket before him.

That unconscious familiarity with the past which is as the
small-change of daily thought to us was a strange currency to his
mind. He had, indeed, the key to the value of each piece, and could,
with difficulty, determine its power when used by another, but he
did not give or receive the currency with instinctive readiness.
Two things had made him clearly the intellectual superior of his
fellows--the advantages of his early years by which he learned to
read, and the habit of meditation which the solitude of his stricken
life induced. This had made him a thinker, a philosopher far more
profound than his general attainments would naturally produce.  With
the super-sensitiveness which always characterizes the afflicted,
also, he had become a most acute and subtle observer of the human
countenance, and read its infinite  variety of expression with
ease and certainty. In two things he might be said to be profoundly
versed--the spirit of the Scriptures, and the workings of the
human  heart. With regard to these his powers of expression  were
commensurate with his knowledge. The Psalms of David were more
comprehensible to him than the simplest formulas of arithmetic.

Mollie Ainslie was not unfrequently amazed at this inequality  of
nature in her favorite pupil. On one side he seemed a full-grown
man of grand proportions; on the other, a pigmy-child. She had heard
him pour forth torrents of eloquence on the Sabbath, and felt the
force of a nature exceptionally rich and strong in its conception
of religious truths and human needs, only to find him on the
morrow floundering hopelessly in the mire of rudimentary science,
or getting, by repeated perusals, but an imperfect idea of some
author's words, which it seemed  to her he ought to have grasped
at a glance.

He had always been a man of thought, and now for two years he had
been studying after the manner of the schools, and his tasks were
yet but rudimentary. It is true, he had read much and had learned
not a little in a thousand directions which he did not appreciate,
but yet he was discouraged and despondent, and it is no wonder that
he was so. The mountain which stood in his pathway  could not be
climbed over nor passed by, but pebble by pebble and grain by grain
must be removed, until a broad, smooth highway showed instead. And
all this he must do before he could comprehend the works of those
writers whose pages glow with light to _our_ eyes from the
very first. He read and re-read these, and groped his way to their
meaning with doubt and difficulty.

Being a woman, Mollie Ainslie was not speculative.  She could not
solve this problem of strength and weakness.  In power of thought,
breadth of reasoning, and keenness of analysis she felt that
he was her master; in knowledge--the power of acquiring and using
scientific facts--she could but laugh at his weakness. It puzzled
her. She wondered at it; but she had never sought to assign a reason
for it. It remained for the learner himself  to do this. One day,
after weeks of despondency, he changed places with his teacher
during the hour devoted  to his lessons, and taught her why it was
that he, Eliab Hill, with all his desire to learn and his ceaseless
application to his tasks, yet made so little progress in the
acquisition of knowledge.

"It ain't so much the words, Miss Mollie," he said, as he threw
down a book in which he had asked her to explain some passage she
had never read before, but the meaning of which came to her at a
glance--"it ain't so much the words as it is the ideas that trouble
me. These men who write seem to think and feel differently from
those I have known. I can learn the words, but when I have them
all right I am by no means sure that I know just what they mean,"
"Why, you must," said the positive little Yankee woman; "when one
has the words and knows the meaning of all of them, he cannot help
knowing what the writer means."

"Perhaps I do not put it as I should," said he sadly. "What I want
to say is, that there are thoughts and bearings that I can never
gather from books alone.  They come to you, Miss Ainslie, and to
those like you, from those who were before you in the world, and
from things about you. It is the part of knowledge that can't be
put into books. Now I have none of that. My people  cannot give
it to me. I catch a sight of it here and there. Now and then,
a conversation I heard years ago between some white men will come
up and make plain something that I am puzzling over, but it is not
easy for me to learn."

"I do not think I understand you," she replied; "but if I do, I
am sure you are mistaken. How can you know the meanings of words,
and yet not apprehend the thought conveyed?"

"I do not know _how_," he replied. "I only know that while
thought seems to come from the printed page to your mind like
a flash of light, to mine it only comes with difficulty and after
many readings, though I may know every word. For instance," he
continued, taking up a voiume of Tennyson which lay upon her table,
"take any passage. Here is one: 'Tears, idle tears, I know not what
they mean!' I have no doubt that brings a distinct idea to your
mind."

"Yes," she replied, hesitatingly; "I never thought of it before,
but I think it does."

"Well, it does not to mine. I cannot make out what is meant by
'idle' tears, nor whether the author means to say that he does not
know what 'tears' mean, or only 'idle' tears, or whether he does
not understand such a display of grief because it _is_ idle."

"Might he not have meant any or all of these?" she asked.

"That is it," he replied. "I want to know what he _did_ mean.
Of course, if I knew all about his life and ways, and the like,
I could tell pretty fully his meaning.  You know them because his
thoughts are your thoughts, his life has been your life. You belong
to the same race and class. I am cut off from this, and can only
stumble slowly along the path of knowledge."

Thus the simple-minded colored man, taught to meditate  by the
solitude which his affliction enforced upon him, speculated in
regard to the _leges non scripta_ which control the action of
the human mind and condition its progress.

"What has put you in this strange mood, Eliab?" asked the teacher
wonderingly.

His face flushed, and the mobile mouth twitched with emotion as
he glanced earnestly toward her, and then, with an air of sudden
resolution, said:

"Well, you see, that matter of the election--you took it all in
in a minute, when the horse came back.  You knew the white folks
would feel aggravated by that procession, and there would be
trouble. Now, I never thought of that. I just thought it was nice
to be free, and have our own music and march under that dear old
flag to do the work of free men and citizens. That was all."

"But Nimbus thought of it, and that was why he sent back the horse,"
she answered.

"Not at all. He only thought they might pester the horse to plague
him, and the horse might get away and be hurt. We didn't, none of
us, think what the white folks would feel, because we didn't know.
You did."

"But why should this affect you?"

"Just because it shows that education is something more that I
had thought--something so large and difficult that one of my age,
raised as I have been, can only get a taste of it at the best."

"Well, what then? You are not discouraged?"

"Not for myself--no. The pleasure of learning is reward enough to
me. But my people, Miss Mollie, I must think of them. I am only
a poor withered branch.  They are the straight young tree. I must
think of them and not of Eliab. You have taught me--this affair,
everything, teaches me--that they can only be made free by knowledge.
I begin to see that the law can only give us an opportunity to make
ourselves freemen. Liberty must be earned; it cannot be given."

"That is very true," said the practical girl, whose mind recognized
at once the fact which she had never formulated to herself. But
as she looked into his face, working with intense feeling and so
lighted with the glory of a noble purpose as to make her forget
the stricken frame to which it was chained, she was puzzled at what
seemed inconsequence in his words. So she added, wonderingly, "But
I don't see why this should depress you. Only think how much you
have done toward the end you have in view. Just think what you have
accomplished--what strides you have made toward a full and complete
manhood. You ought to be proud rather than discouraged."

"Ah!" said he, "that has been for myself, Miss Mollie, not for my
people. What am I to my race?  Aye," he continued, with a glance
at his withered limbs, "to the least one of them not--not--"   He
covered his face with his hands and bowed his head in the self-abasement
which hopeless affliction so often brings.

"Eliab," said the teacher soothingly, as if her pupil were a child
instead of a man older than herself, "you should not give way to
such thoughts. You should rise above them, and by using the powers
you have, become an honor to your race."

"No, Miss Mollie," he replied, with a sigh, as he raised his head
and gazed into her face earnestly. "There ain't nothing in this
world for me to look forward to only to help my people. I am only
the dust on the Lord's chariot-wheels--only the dust, which must be
brushed out of the way in order that their glory may shine forth.
And that," he continued impetuously, paying no attention  to her
gesture of remonstrance, "is what I wanted to speak to you about
this evening. It is hard to say, but I must say it--must say it
now. I have been taking too much of your time and attention, Miss
Mollie."

"I am sure, Mr. Hill--" she began, in some confusion.

"Yes, I have," he went on impetuously, while his face flushed hotly.
"It is the young and strong only who can enter into the Canaan the
Lord has put before our people. I thought for a while that we were
just standing on the banks of Jordan--that the promised land was
right over yon, and the waters piled up like a wall, so that even
poor weak 'Liab might cross over.  But I see plainer now. We're
only just past the Red Sea, just coming into the wildnerness, and
if I can only get a glimpse from Horeb, wid my old eyes by and by,
'Liab 'll be satisfied. It'll be enough, an' more'n enough, for
him. He can only help the young ones--the lambs of the flock--a
little, mighty little, p'raps, but it's all there is for him to
do."   "Why, Eliab--" began the astonished teacher again.

"Don't! don't! Miss Mollie, if you please," he cried, with a look
of pain. "I'se done tried--I hez, Miss Mollie. God only knows how
I'se tried! But it ain't no use--no use," he continued, with a fierce
gesture, and relapsing unconsciously into the rougher dialect that
he had been training himself to avoid. "I can't do it, an' there's
no use a-tryin'. There ain't nothin' good for me in this worl'--not
in this worl'. It's hard to give it up, Miss Mollie--harder'n you'll
ever dream; but I hain't blind. I knows the brand is on me. It's
on my tongue now, that forgets all I've learned jes ez soon ez the
time of trial comes."

He seemed wild with excitement as he leaned forward  on the table
toward her, and accompanied his words with that eloquence of
gesticulation which only the hands that are tied to crippled forms
acquire. He paused suddenly, bowed his head upon his crossed arms,
and his frame shook with sobs. She rose, and would have come around
the table to him. Raising his head quickly, he cried almost fiercely:

"Don't! don't! don't come nigh me, Miss Mollie!  I'm going to do
a hard thing, almost too hard for me.  I'm going to get off the
chariot-wheel--out of the light of the glory--out of the way of the
young and the strong!  Them that's got to fight the Lord's battles
must have the training, and not them that's bound to fall in
the wilderness.  The time is precious--precious, and must not be
wasted. You can't afford to spend so much of it on me!  The Lord
can't afford ter hev ye, Miss Mollie! I must step aside, an' I'se
gwine ter do it now. If yer's enny time an' strength ter spar'
more'n yer givin' day by day in the school, I want yer should
give it to--to--Winnie an' 'Thusa--they're bright girls, that have
studied hard, and are young and strong. It is through such as them
that we must come up--our people, I mean. I want you to give them
my hour, Miss Mollie--_my_ hour! Don't say you won't do it!"
he cried, seeing a gesture of dissent.  "Don't say it! You must do
it! Promise me, Miss Mollie--for my sake! for--promise me--now--quick!
afore I gets too weak to ask it!"

"Why, certainly, Eliab," she said, in amazement, while she half
shrank from him as if in terror. "I will do it if you desire it so
much. But you should not get so excited.  Calm yourself! I am sure
I don't see why you should take such a course; but, as you say,
they are two bright girls and will make good teachers, which are
much needed."

"Thank God! thank God!" cried the cripple, as his head fell again
upon his arms. After a moment he half raised it and said, weakly,

"Will you please call Nimbus, Miss Mollie? I must go home now. And
please, Miss Mollie, don't think hard of 'Liab--don't, Miss Mollie,"
he said humbly.

"Why should I?" she asked in surprise. "You have acted nobly, though
I cannot think you have done wisely. You are nervous now. You may
think differently  hereafter. If you do, you have only to say so.
I will call Nimbus. Good-by!"

She took her hat and gloves and went down the aisle.  Happening
to turn near the door to replace a book her dress had brushed from
a desk, she saw him gazing after her with a look that haunted her
memory long afterward.

As the door closed behind her he slid from his chair and bowed his
head upon it, crying out in a voice of tearful agony, "Thank God!
thank God!" again and again, while his unfinished form shook with
hysteric sobs.    "And _she_ said I was not wise!" he half
laughed, as the tears ran down his face and he resumed his invocation
of thankfulness. Thus Nimbus found him and carried  him home with
his wonted tenderness, soothing him like a babe, and wondering what
had occurred to discompose his usually sedate and cheerful friend.

"I declare, Lucy," said Mollie Ainslie that evening, to her co-worker,
over their cosy tea, "I don't believe I shall ever get to understand
these people. There is that Eliab Hill, who was getting along
so nicely, has concluded  to give up his studies. I believe he is
half crazy anyhow. He raved about it, and glared at me so that I
was half frightened out of my wits. I wonder why it is that cripples
are always so queer, anyhow?"

She would have been still more amazed if she had known that from
that day Eliab Hill devoted himself to his studies with a redoubled
energy, which more than made up for the loss of his teacher's aid.
Had she herself  been less a child she would have seen that he whom
she had treated as such was, in truth, a man of rare strength.



CHAPTER XXII.

HOW THE FALLOW WAS SEEDED.


The time had come when the influences so long at work, the seed
which the past had sown in the minds and hearts of races, must at
length bear fruit. The period of actual reconstruction had passed,
and independent, self-regulating States had taken the place
of Military Districts  and Provisional Governments. The people of
the South began, little by little, to realize that they held their
future in their own hands--that the supervising and restraining
power of the General Government had been withdrawn. The colored
race, yet dazed with the new light of liberty, were divided between
exultation and fear. They were like a child taking his first
steps--full of joy at the last accomplished, full of terror at the
one which was before.

The state of mind of the Southern white man, with reference to the
freedman and his exaltation to the privilege  of citizenship is
one which cannot be too frequently  analyzed or too closely kept in
mind by one who desires fully to apprehend the events which have
since occurred, and the social and political structure of the South
at this time.

As a rule, the Southern man had been a kind master to his slaves.
Conscious cruelty was the exception.  The real evils of the system
were those which arose from its _un_-conscious barbarism--the
natural and inevitable results of holding human beings as chattels,
without right, the power of self-defence or protestation--dumb
driven brutes, deprived of all volition or hope, subservient to
another's will, and bereft of every motive for self-improvement
as well as every opportunity to rise. The effect of this upon the
dominant race was to fix in their minds, with the strength of an
absorbing passion, the idea of their own innate and unimpeachable
superiority, of the unalterable inferiority of the slave-race, of the
infinite distance between the two, and of the depth of  debasement
implied by placing the two races, in any respect,  on the same
level. The Southern mind had no antipathy  to the negro in a menial
or servile relation. On the contrary, it was generally kind and
considerate of him, as such. It regarded him almost precisely as
other people look upon other species of animate property,  except
that it conceded to him the possession of human passions, appetites,
and motives. As a farmer likes to turn a favorite horse into a
fine pasture, watch his antics, and see him roll and feed and run;
as he pats and caresses him when he takes him out, and delights
himself in the enjoyment of the faithful beast--just so the slave-owner
took pleasure in the slave's comfort, looked with approval upon his
enjoyment of the domestic relation, and desired to see him sleek
and hearty, and physically well content.

It was only _as a man_ that the white regarded the black with
aversion; and, in that point of view, the antipathy was all the
more intensely bitter since he considered the claim to manhood an
intrusion upon the sacred and exclusive  rights of his own race. This
feeling was greatly strengthened by the course of legislation and
legal construction, both national and State. Many of the subtlest
exertions of American intellect were those which traced and defined
the line of demarcation, until there was built up between the races,
_considered as men_, a wall of separation as high as heaven
and as deep as hell.

It may not be amiss to cite some few examples of this, which will
serve at once to illustrate the feeling itself, and to show the
steps in its progress.

1. It was held by our highest judicial tribunal that the phrase "we
the people," in the Declaration of Independence,  did not include
slaves, who were excluded from the inherent rights recited therein
and accounted divine and inalienable, embracing, of course, the
right of self-government, which rested on the others as substantial
premises.

2. The right or privilege, whichever it may be, of intermarriage
with the dominant race was prohibited to the African in all the
States, both free and slave, and, for all legal purposes, that man
was accounted "colored" who had one-sixteenth of African blood.

3. The common-law right of self-defence was gradually  reduced by
legal subtlety, in the slave States, until only the merest shred
remained to the African, while the lightest word of disobedience or
gesture of disrespect  from him, justified an assault on the part
of the white man.

4. Early in the present century it was made a crime in all the
States of the South to teach a slave to read, the free blacks were
disfranchised, and the most stringent restraining statutes extended
over them, including  the prohibition of public assembly, even for
divine worship, unless a white man were present.

5. Emancipation was not allowed except by decree of a court
of record after tedious formality and the assumption  of onerous
responsibilities on the part of the master;  and it was absolutely
forbidden to be done by testament.

6. As indicative of the fact that this antipathy was directed  against
the colored man as a free agent, a man, solely, may be cited the
well-known fact of the enormous  admixture of the races by illicit
commerce at the South, and the further fact that this was, in very
large measure, consequent upon the conduct of the most refined
and cultivated elements of Southern life. As a thing, an animal, a
mere existence, or as the servant of his desire and instrument of
his advancement, the Southern Caucasian had no antipathy to the
colored race. As one to serve, to nurse, to minister to his will
and pleasure, he appreciated and approved of the African to the
utmost extent.

7. Every exercise of manly right, sentiment, or inclination,  on the
part of the negro, was rigorously repressed.  To attempt to escape
was a capital crime if repeated once or twice; to urge others to
escape was also capitally  punishable; to learn to read, to claim
the rights of property, to speak insolently, to meet for prayer
without the sanction of the white man's presence, were all offences
against the law; and in this case, as in most others, the law was
an index as well as the source of a public sentiment, which grew
step by step with its progress in unconscious barbarity.

8. Perhaps the best possible indication of the force of this
sentiment, in its ripened and intensest state, is afforded by the
course of the Confederate Government in regard to the proposal that
it should arm the slaves.  In the very crisis of the struggle, when
the passions of the combatants were at fever heat, this proposition
was made. There was no serious question as to the efficiency  or
faithfulness of the slaves. The masters did not doubt that, if
armed, with the promise of freedom extended to them, they would
prove most effective allies, and would secure to the Confederacy
that autonomy  which few thoughtful men at that time believed it
possible to achieve by any other means. Such was the intensity of
this sentiment, however, that it was admitted to be impossible to
hold the Southern soldiery  in the field should this measure be
adopted.  So that the Confederacy, rather than surrender a tithe
of its prejudice against the negro _as a man_, rather than
owe its life to him, serving in the capacity of a soldier, chose
to suffer defeat and overthrow. The African might raise the food,
build the breastworks, and do aught of menial service or mere
manual labor required for the support of the Confederacy, without
objection or demurrer on the part of any; but they would rather
surrender all that they had fought so long and so bravely to secure,
rather than admit, even by inference,  his equal manhood or his
fitness for the duty and the danger of a soldier's life. It was a
grand stubborness, a magnificent adherence to an adopted and declared
principle, which loses nothing of its grandeur from the fact that
we may believe the principle  to have been erroneous.

9. Another very striking and peculiar illustration of this sentiment
is the fact that one of the most earnest advocates of the abolition of
slavery, and a type of its Southern opponents, the author of "The
Impending  Crisis"--a book which did more than any other to crystallize
and confirm the sentiment awakened at the North by "Uncle Tom's
Cabin"--was perhaps more bitterly averse to the freedom, citizenship,
and coexistence of the African with the Caucasian than any man that
has ever written on the subject. He differed from his slaveholding
neighbors only in this: _they_ approved the African as a menial,
but abominated him as a self-controlling man; _he_ abhorred
him in both relations. With _them,_ the prejudice of race
made the negro hateful only when he trenched on the sacred domain
of their superior and self-controlling manhood; with _him,_
hatred of the race overleaped the conventional relation and included
the African wherever found, however employed, or in whatsoever
relation considered. His horror of the black far overtopped his
ancient antipathy to the slave. The fact that he is an exception,
and that the extravagant rhodomontades of "Nojoque" are neither
indorsed nor believed  by any considerable number of the Southern
people, confirms most powerfully this analysis of their temper
toward the African.

10. Still another signal instance of its accuracy is the striking
fact that one of the hottest political struggles since the war
arose out of the proposition to give the colored man the right to
testify, in courts of justice, against a white man. The objection
was not bottomed on any desire to deprive the colored man of
his legal rights, but had its root in the idea that it would be a
degradation of the white man to allow the colored man to take the
witness-stand and traverse the oath of a Caucasian.

Now, as it relates to our story:--That this most intense and vital
sentiment should find expression whenever the repressive power of
the conquering people was removed was most natural; that it would
be fanned into a white heat by the freedman's enfranchisement was
beyond cavil; and that Red Wing should escape such manifestations
of the general abhorrence of the work of development there going
on was not to be expected, even by its most sanguine friend.

Although the conduct of the teachers at Red Wing had been such as
to awaken the respect of all, yet there were two things which made
the place peculiarly  odious. One was the influence of Eliab Hill
with his people in all parts of the county, which had very greatly
increased since he had ceased to be a pupil, in appearance, and
had betaken himself more than ever to solitude and study. The other
was the continued  prosperity and rugged independence of Nimbus,
who was regarded as a peculiarly "sassy nigger." To the malign
influence of these two was attributed every difference of opinion
between employer and employee, and every impropriety of conduct on
the part of the freedmen of Horsford. Eliab was regarded as a wicked
spirit who devised evil continually, and Nimbus as his willing
familiar, who executed his purpose with ceaseless diligence. So Red
Wing was looked upon with distrust, and its two leading characters,
unconsciously to themselves,  became marked men, upon whom rested
the suspicion  and aversion of a whole community.



CHAPTER XXIII.

AN OFFERING OF FIRST-FRUITS.


An election was impending for members of the Legislature,  and
there was great excitement in the county of Horsford. Of white
Republicans there were not above a half dozen who were openly known
as such. There were two or three others who were regarded with
some suspicion by their neighbors, among whom was Hesden Le Moyne.
Since he had acted as a judge of election at the time of the
adoption of the Constitution, he had never been heard to express
any opinion upon political matters. He was known to have voted for
that Constitution,  and when questioned as to his reasons for such
a course, had arrogantly answered,

"Simply because I saw fit to do so."

His interrogator had not seen fit to inquire further.  Hesden Le
Moyne was not a man with whom one wished to provoke a controversy.
His unwillingness to submit to be catechised was generally accepted
as a proof positive of his "Radical" views. He had been an adviser
of Nimbus, his colored playmate, in the purchase of the Red Wing
property, his interest in Eliab Hill had not slackened since that
worthy cast in his lot with Nimbus, and he did not hesitate to
commend the work of the school.    He had several times attended
the examinations there, had become known to the teachers, and took
an active interest in the movement there going on. What his personal
views were in regard to the very peculiar state of affairs by which
he was surrounded he had never found it necessary to declare. He
attended quietly to the work of his plantation, tenderly cared for
his invalid mother, and watched the growth of his little son with
the seemingly  settled conviction that his care was due to them
rather than to the public. His counsel and assistance were still
freely sought in private matters by the inhabitants  of the little
village of Red Wing, and neither was ever refused where he saw that
it might do good. He was accounted by them a friend, but not a
partisan, and none of them had ever discussed any political questions
with him, except Eliab Hill, who had more than once talked with
him upon the important problem of the future of that race to which
the unfortunate cripple was so slightly akin and yet so closely
allied.

There was a large majority of colored men in the county, and one
of the candidates for the Legislature was a colored man. While
elections were under the military control there had been no serious
attempt to overcome this majority, but now it was decided that the
county should be "redeemed," which is the favorite name in that
section of the country for an unlawful subversion  of a majority.
So the battle was joined, and the conflict waged hot and fierce.
That negroes--no matter how numerous they might be--should rule,
should bear sway and control in the county of Horsford,  was
a thought not by any means to be endured.  It was a blow on every
white cheek--an insult to every Caucasian heart. Men cursed wildly
when they thought of it. Women taunted them with cowardice for
permitting it. It was the one controlling and consuming thought of
the hour.

On the other hand, the colored people felt that it was necessary
for them to assert their newly-acquired rights if they expected to
retain them. So that both parties were influenced by the strongest
considerations which could possibly affect their action.

Red Wing was one of the points around which this contest raged the
hottest. Although it had never become a polling precinct, and was
a place of no mercantile importance, it was yet the center from
which radiated the spirit that animated the colored men of the most
populous  district in the county. It was their place of meeting  and
conference. Accustomed to regard their race as peculiarly dependent
upon the Divine aid because of the lowly position they had so long
occupied, they had become habituated to associate political and
religious interests. The helplessness of servitude left no room
for hope except through the trustfulness of faith. The generation
which saw slavery swept away, and they who have heard the tale of
deliverance from the lips of those who had been slaves, will never
cease to trace the hand of God visibly manifested in the events
culminating in liberty, or to regard the future of the freed race
as under the direct control of the Divine Being. For this reason
the political and religious interests and emotions of this people
are quite inseparable. Wherever they meet to worship,  there they
will meet to consult of their plans, hopes, and progress, as at once
a distinct race and a part of the American people. Their religion
is tinged with political thought, and their political thought shaped
by religious conviction.

In this respect the colored race in America are the true children
of the Covenanters and the Puritans. Their faith is of the same
unquestioning type, which no disappointment  or delay can daunt,
and their view of personal duty and obligation in regard to it is
not less intense than that which led men to sing psalms and utter
praises on board the storm-bound "Mayflower." The most English of
all English attributes has, by a strange transmutation, become the
leading element in the character of the Africo-American. The same
mixed motive of religious duty toward posterity and devotion to
political liberty which peopled the bleak hills of New England and
the fertile lands of Canaan with peoples fleeing from bondage and
oppression, may yet cover the North with dusky fugitives from the
spirit and the situs of slavery.

From time to time there had been political meetings held at the
church or school-house, composed mainly of colored men, though now
and then a little knot of white men would come in and watch their
proceedings, sometimes from curiosity, and sometimes from spleen.
Heretofore, however,  there had been no more serious interruption
than some sneering remarks and derisive laughter. The colored  men
felt that it was their own domain, and showed much more boldness than
they would ever manifest on other occasions. During this campaign,
however, it was determined to have a grand rally, speeches, and a
barbecue  at Red Wing. The colored inhabitants of that section were
put upon their mettle. Several sheep and pigs were roasted, rude
tables were spread under the trees, and all arrangements made for
a great occasion.

At an early hour of the day when it was announced  that the meeting
would be held, groups of colored people of all ages and both sexes
began to assemble. They were all talking earnestly as they came,
for some matter of unusual interest seemed to have usurped for
the moment  their accustomed lightness and jollity of demeanor.
Nimbus, as the most prosperous and substantial colored  man of
the region, had always maintained a decided leadership among them,
all the more from the fact that he had sought thereby to obtain
no advantage for himself. Though a most ardent supporter of that
party with which he deemed the interests of his race inseparably
allied, he had never taken a very active part in politics, and had
persistently refused to be put forward for any official position,
although frequently urged to allow himself to be named a candidate.

"No," he would always say; "I hain't got no larnin' an' not much
sense. Besides, I'se got all I kin manage, an' more too, a-takin'
keer o' dis yer farm. Dat's what I'm good fer. I kin manage terbacker,
an' I'd ruther hev a good plantation an' run it myself, than all
the offices in the worl'. I'se jes fit fer dat, an' I ain't fit
fer nuffin' else."

His success proved the justice of his estimate, and the more he
prospered the stronger was his hold upon his people. Of course,
there were some who envied him his good-fortune, but such was his
good-nature and readiness  to render all the assistance in his
power that this dangerous leaven did not spread. "Bre'er Nimbus" was
still the heart and life of the community which had its center at
Red Wing. His impetuosity was well tempered by the subtle caution
of Eliab Hill, without whose advice  he seldom acted in any important
matter.

The relations between these two men had continued singularly close,
although of late Eliab had been more independent of his friend's
assistance than formerly; for, at the suggestion of the teachers,
his parishioners  had contributed little sums--a dime, a quarter,
and a few a half-dollar apiece--to get him one of those wheeled
chairs which are worked by the hands, and by means of which the
infirm are frequently enabled to move about without other aid. It
was the first time they had ever given anything to a minister of
their own, and it was hard for those who had to support families
upon a pittance which in other parts of the country would mean
starvation; yet so many had hastened to give, that the "go-cart,"
as it was generally called, proved a vehicle of marvelous luxury
and finish to the unaccustomed eyes of these rude children of the
plantation.

In this chair Eliab was able to transport himself to and from the
school-room, and even considerable distances among his people.
This had brought him into nearer relations with them, and it was
largely owing to his influence that, after Northern benevolence
began to restrict its gifts and to condition its benevolence upon
the exercise of a self-help which should provide for a moiety of
the expense, the school still continued full and prosperous, and
the services of Miss Ainslie were retained  for another year--the
last she intended to give to the missionary work which accident
had thrust upon her young life. Already her heart was pining for
the brightness  and kindly cheer of the green-clad hills from which
she had been exiled so long, and the friends whose hearts and arms
would welcome her again to her childhood's home.

On the morning of the barbecue Nimbus and his household were astir
betimes. Upon him devolved the chief burden of the entertainment
which was to be spread before his neighbors. There was an abundance
of willing hands, but few who could do much toward providing
the requisite material. His premises had undergone little change
beyond the wide, cool, latticed walk which now led from his house
to the kitchen, and thence to "Uncle 'Liab's" house, over which
Virginia-creepers and honeysuckle were already clambering in the
furious haste which that quick-growing clime inspires in vegetation.
A porch had also been added to his own house, up the posts and
along the eaves of which the wisteria was clambering, while its
pendulous, lilac flower-stems hung thick below. A few fruit-trees
were planted here and there, and the oaks, which he had topped and
shortened back when he cut away the forest for his house-lot, had
put out new and dense heads of dark-green foliage that gave to the
humble home a look of dignity and repose hardly to be matched by
more ornate and costly structures.  Upon the north side the corn
grew rank and thick up to the very walls of the mud-daubed gable,
softening  its rudeness and giving a charm even to the bare logs
of which it was formed. Lugena had grown full and matronly, had
added two to her brood of lusty children, and showed what even a
brief period of happiness and prosperity would do for her race as
she bustled about in neat apparel with a look of supreme content
on her countenance.

Long before the first comers from the country around had made their
appearance, the preparations were completed,  the morning meal
cleared away, the table set in the latticed passage for the dinner
of the most honored guests, the children made tidy, and Nimbus,
magnificently  attired in clean shirt, white pants and vest, a
black alpaca coat and a new Panama hat, was ready to welcome the
expected arrivals.

Eliab, too, made tidy by the loving care of his friends, was early
mounted in his hand-carriage, and propelling himself here and there to
meet the first comers. The barbecue was roasting under the charge
of an experienced cook; the tables were arranged, and the speakers'
stand at the back of the school-house in the grove was in the hands
of the decorators. All was mirth and happiness.  The freedmen were
about to offer oblations to liberty--a sacrifice of the first-fruits
of freedom.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A BLACK DEMOCRITUS.


"_I say_, Bre'er Nimbus!" cried a voice from the midst of a
group of those first arriving, "how yer do dis mornin'? Hope yer's
well, Squar', you an' all de family."

The speaker was a slender, loose-jointed young man, somewhat shabbily
attired, with a shapeless narrow-brimmed  felt hat in his hand, who
was bowing and scraping with a mock solemnity to the dignitary of
Red Wing, while his eyes sparkled with fun and his comrades roared
at his comic gestures.

"Is dat you, Berry?" said Nimbus, turning, with a smile. "How yer
do, Berry? Glad ter see ye well," nodding familiarly to the others
and extending his hand.

"Thank ye, sah. You do me proud," said the jester, sidling towards
him and bowing to the crowd with serio-comic gravity. "Ladies an'
gemmen, yer jes takes notice, ef yer please, dat I ain't stuck
up--not a mite, I ain't, ef I _is_ pore. I'se not ashamed ter
shake hands wid Mr. Squar' Nimbus--Desmit--War'. I stan's by him
whatever his name, an' no matter how many he's got, ef it's more'n
he's got fingers an' toes." He bowed low with a solemn wave of his
grimy hat, as he shook the proffered hand, amid the laughter of
his audience, with whom he seemed to be a prime favorite.

"Glad ter know it, Berry," said Nimbus, shaking the other's hand
warmly, while his face glowed with evident pleasure. "How's all
gittin' on wid ye, ennyhow?"

"Gittin' on, Bre'er Nimbus?" replied Berry, striking  an attitude.
"Gittin' on, did yer say? Lor' bress yer soul, yer nebber seed
de beat--nebber. Ef yer ebber pegs out h'yer at Red Wing, Bre'er
Nimbus, all yer's got ter du is jes ter come up on de Kentry Line
whar folks _libs._ Jes you look o' dar, will yer?" he continued,
extending a slender arm ending in a skinny hand, the widely parted
fingers of which seemed like talons, while the upturned palm was
worn smooth and was of a yellowish,  pallid white about the fingers'
ends. "Jes see de 'fec's ob high libbin' on a nigger. Dar's muscle
fer ye. All you needs, Bre'er Nimbus, is jest a few weeks ob good
feed! Come up dar now an' wuk a farm on sheers, an' let Marse
Sykes 'llowance ye, an' yer'll come out like me an' git some good
clothes, too! Greatest place ter start up a run-down nigger yer
ever seed.  Jes' look at me, now. When I went dar I didn't hev a
rag ter my back--nary a rag, an' now jes see how I'se covered wid
'em!"

There was a laugh from the crowd in which Berry joined heartily,
rolling his eyes and contorting his limbs so as to show in the
completest manner the striking contrast  between his lank, stringy,
meanly-clad frame and the full, round, well-clothed form of Nimbus.

When the laughter had subsided he struck in again, with the art of
an accomplished tease, and sidling still closer to the magnate of
Red Wing, he said, with a queer assumption of familiarity:

"An' how is yer good lady, Missus Lugena, an' all de babies, Squar'?
They tell me you're gittin' on right smart an' think of settin' up
yer kerridge putty soon.  Jes' ez soon ez yer git it ready, Sally
an' me's a-comin' over ter christen it. We's cousins, yer know,
Squar', leastways, Sally an' Lugena's allus said ter be kin on the
father's side--the white side ob de family, yer know.  Yer wouldn't
go back on yer relations, would yer, Nimbus? We ain't proud, not a
bit proud, Bre'er Nimbus, an' yer ain't a gwine ter forgit us, is
yer?  Yah, yah, yah!"

There was a tinge of earnestness in this good-natured banter, but
it was instantly dissipated by Nimbus's reply:

"Not a bit of it, cousin Berry. Lugena charged me dis berry mornin',
jes ez soon ez I seed you an' Sally, ter invite ye ter help eat
her big dinner to-day. Whar' is Sally?"

"Dar now," said Berry, "dat's jes what I done tole Sally, now. She's
got a notion, kase you's rich yer's got stuck up, you an' Lugena.
But I tole her, sez I, 'Nimbus ain't dat ar sort of a chile, Nimbus
hain't.  He's been a heap luckier nor de rest of us, but he ain't
got de big-head, nary bit.' Dat's what I say, an' durn me ef I
don't b'lieve it too, I does. We's been hevin' purty hard times,
Sally an' me hez. Nebber did hev much luck, yer know--'cept for
chillen. Yah, yah!  An' jes' dar we's hed a trifle more'n we 'zackly
keered about. Might hev spared a few an' got along jest ez well,
'cordin' ter my notion. Den de ole woman's been kinder peaked this
summer, an' some two or free ob de babies hez been right poorly,
an' Sal--wal, she got a leettle fretted, kase yer know we both
wuks purty hard an' don't seem ter git ahead a morsel. So she got
her back up, an' sez she ter me dis mornin': 'Berry,' sez she, 'I
ain't a gwine ter go near cousin Nimbus', I ain't, kase I hain't
got no fine clo'es, ner no chicken-fixing ter take ter de barbecue
nuther.' So she's done stop up ter Bob Mosely's wid de baby, an' I
t'ought I'd jes come down an' spy out de lan' an' see which on us
wuz right.  Dat's de fac' truf, Bre'er Nimbus, an' no lyin". Yah,
yah!"

"Sho, sho, Berry," replied Nimbus, reproachfully; "what makes Sally
sech a big fool? She oughter be ashamed ter treat her ole fren's
dat ar way."

"Now yer talkin', Bre'er Nimbus, dat you is! But la sakes! Bre'er
Nimbus, dat ar gal hain't got no pride.  Why yer wouldn't b'lieve
hit, but she ain't even 'shamed of Berry--fac'! Yah, yah! What yer
tinks ob dat now?"

"Why, co'se she ain't," said Nimbus. "Don't see how she could be.
Yer always jes dat peart an' jolly dat nobody couldn't git put out
wid yer."

"Tink so, Bre'er Nimbus? Wal, now, I'shures ye dat yer couldn't
be wuss mistaken ef yer'd tried. On'y jes' dis mornin' Marse Sykes
got put out wid me jes de wus kind."

"How's dat, Berry?"

"Wal, yer see, I'se been a wukkin' fer him ebber sence de s'rrender
jes de same ez afore, only dat he pays me an' I owes him. He pays
me in sto' orders, an' it 'pears like I owes him mo' an' mo' ebbery
time we settles up. Didn't use ter be so when we lied de Bureau,
kase den Marse Sykes' 'count didn't use ter be so big; but dese
las' two year sence de Bureau done gone, bress God, I gits nex'
ter nuffin' ez we goes 'long, an' hez less 'n nuffin' atterwards."

"What wages d'ye git?" asked Nimbus.

"Marse Sykes, he sez I gits eight dollahs a month, myself, an'
Sally she gits fo'; an' den we hez tree pounds o' meat apiece an'
a peck o' meal, each on us, ebbery week.  We could git along right
peart on dat--we an' de chillens,  six on 'em--wid jes' a drop o'
coffee now an' agin, yer know; but yer see, Sally, she's a leetle
onsartin an' can't allus wuk, an' it 'pears like it takes all ob my
wuk ter pay fer her rations when she don't wuk. I dunno how 'tis,
but dat's de way Marse Sykes figgers it out,"

"Yer mus' buy a heap ob fine clo'es," said one of the bystanders.

"'Wall, ef I does, I leaves 'em ter home fer fear ob wearin' 'em
out, don't I?" said Berry, glancing at his dilapidated costume.
"Dat's what's de matter. I'se bad 'nough off, but yer jest orter
see dem chillen!  Dey war's brak ebbery day jes' like a minister,
yer knows--not sto' clo'es dough, oh, no! home-made all de time!
Mostly bar'-skins, yer know! Yah, yah!"

"An' yer don't drink, nuther," said one whose words and appearance
clearly showed that he regarded it as a matter of surprise that
any one should not.

"'Ceptin' only de Christmas an' when some feller treats," responded
Berry.

"P'raps he makes it outen de holidays," said a third.

"Dar's whar my boss sloshes it on ter me. Clar ef I don't hev more
holidays than dar is wuk-days, 'cordin 'ter his 'count."

"Holidays!" said Berry; "dat's what's de matter.  Hain't hed but
jes tree holidays 'cep' de Chris'mas weeks, in all dat time. So,
I 'llowed I'd take one an' come ter dis yer meetin'. Wal, 'long de
fust ob de week, I make bold ter tell him so, an' ebber sence dat
'pears like he's gwine ter hu't hisself, he's been so mad. I'se
done tried not ter notice it, kase I'se dat solemn-like myself, yer
knows, I couldn't 'ford ter take on no mo' ob dat kind; but every
day or two he's been a lettin' slip somethin' 'bout niggas gaddin'
roun', yer know."

"That was mean," said Nimbus, "kase ef yer is allus laughin' an'
hollerin' roun', I'm boun' ter say dar ain't no stiddier han' in
de county at enny sort ob wuk."

"Jes' so. Much obleeged ter ye, Squar', fer dat.  Same ter yeself
'tu. Howsomever, _he_ didn't make no sech remark, not ez
I heerd on, an' dis mornin' bright an' airly, he comed roun' an'
axes me didn't I want ter take de carry-all and go ter Lewyburg;
an' when I 'llowed dat I didn't keer tu, not jes to-day, yer know,
he axed me, was I comin' h'yer ter dis yer meetin', an' when I
'llowed I was, he jes' got up an' rar'd. Yah, yah! how he did make
de turf fly, all by hissef, kase I wur a whistlin' 'Ole Jim Crow'
an' some other nice psalm-tunes,  jes' ter keep myself from larfin'
in his face! Till finally he sez, sez he, 'Berry Lawson, ef yer
goes ter dat er Radikil meetin', yer needn't never come back ter
my plantation no mo'. Yer can't stay h'yer no longer--' jes so.
Den I made bold ter ax him how our little 'count stood, kase we's
been livin' mighty close fer a while, in hopes ter git a mite ahead
so's ter sen' de two oldes' chillen ter school h'yer, 'gin winter.
An' den sez he, 'Count be damned!'--jes so; 'don't yer know hit's
in de papers dat ef yer don't 'bey me an' wuk obedient  ter my
wishes, yer don't git nary cent, nohow at all?' I tole him I didn't
know dat ar, and didn't reckon he did. Den he out wid de paper an'
read it ober ter me, an' shure 'nough, dar 'tis, dough I'll swar
I nebber heerd nothin' on't afo'. Nebber hed no sech ting in de
papers when de Bureau man drawed 'em up, dat's shuah."

"How de debble yer come ter sign sech a paper, Berry?" said Nimbus.

"Dod burned ef I know, Cousin Nimbus. Jes kase I don' know no better,
I s'pose. How I gwine ter know what's in dat paper, hey? Does you
read all de papers yer signs, Squar' Nimbus? Not much, I reckons;
but den you keeps de minister right h'yer ter han' tu read 'em for
ye. Can't all ob us afford dat, Bre'er Nimbus."

"Yah, yah, dat's so!" "Good for _you,_ Berry!" from the crowd.

"Wal, yer orter hev a guardian--all on us ought, for dat matter,"
said Nimbus; "but I don't s'pose dere's ary man in de country dat
would sign sech a paper ef he know'd it, an' nobody but Granville
Sykes that would hev thought of sech a dodge."

"It's jes so in mine," said one of the bystanders.  "And in mine;"
"an' mine," added one and another.

"And has any one else offered to turn men off for comin' here?"
asked Nimbus.

To his surprise, he learned that two thirds the men in the crowd
had been thus threatened.

"Jes let 'em try it!" he exclaimed, angrily. "Dey dassent do it,
nohow. They'll find out dat a man can't be imposed on allus, ef he
_is_ pore an' black. Dat dey will! I'se only jes a pore man,
but I hain't enny sech mean cuss ez to stan' roun' an' see my race
an' kin put on in dat ar way, I hain't."

"All right, Cousin Nimbus, ef Marse Sykes turns me outen house an'
home, I knows right whar I comes ter, now."

"Co'se yer do," said Nimbus, proudly. "Yer jes comes ter me an' I
takes keer on ye. I needs anudder han' in de crap, ennyhow."

"Now, Cousin Nimbus, yer ain't in airnest, is yer?  Yer don't
mean dat, pop-suah, does yer now?" asked Berry anxiously.    "Dat
I does, Cousin Berry! dat I does!" was the hearty response.

"Whoop, hurrah!" cried Berry, throwing up his hat, turning
a hand-spring, and catching the hat as it came down. "Whar's dat
Sally Ann? H'yeah, you fellers, clar away dar an' let me come at
her. H'yer I goes now, I jes tole her dis yer bressed mornin' dat
it tuk a fool fer luck. Hi-yah!" he cried, executing a sommersault,
and diving through the crowd he ran away.  As he started off, he
saw his wife walking along the road toward Nimbus' house by the
side of Eliab Hill in his rolling-chair. Berry dashed back into
the circle where Nimbus was engaged in earnest conversation with
the crowd in relation to the threats which had been made to them
by their employers.

"H'yer, Cousin Nimbus," he cried, "I done fergot ter thank ye,
I was dat dar' flustered by good luck, yer know. I'se a t'ousan'
times obleeged ter ye, Bre'er Nimbus, jes' a t'ousan' times, an'
h'yer's Sally Ann, right outside on de road h'yer, she'll be powerful
glad ter hear on't. I'd jes ez lief wuk fer you as a white man,
Bre'er Nimbus. I ain't proud, I ain't! Yah!  yah!"

He dragged Nimbus through the crowd to intercept his wife, crying
out as soon as they came near:

"H'yer, you Sally Ann, what yer tinks now? H'yer's Bre'er Nimbus
sez dat ef dat ole cuss, Marse Sykes, should happen ter turn us off,
he's jest a gwine ter take us in bag an' baggage, traps, chillen
and calamities, an' gib us de bes' de house affo'ds, an' wuk in de
crap besides.  What yer say now, you Sally Ann, ain't yer 'shamed
fer what yer sed 'bout Bre'er Nimbus only dis yere mornin'?"

"Dat I be, Cousin Nimbus," said Sally, turning a comely but careworn
face toward Nimbus, and extending her hand with a smile. "Bre'er
'Liab was jest a-tellin' me what a fool I was ter ever feel so
toward jes de bes' man in de kentry, ez he sez."

"An' I be damned ef he ain't right, too," chimed in Berry.

"Sho, you Berry. Ain't yer'shamed now--usin' cuss-words afore de
minister!" said Sally.

"Beg yer parding, Bre'er Hill," said Berry, taking off his hat,
and bowing with mock solemnity to that worthy.  "Hit's been sech a
long time sence Sunday come ter our house dat I nigh 'bout forgot
my 'ligion."

"An' yer manners too," said Sally briskly, turning from her
conversation with Nimbus.

"Jes so, Bre'er Hill, but yer see I was dat ar flustered  by my
ole woman takin' on so 'bout dat ar sneakin' cuss ob a Marse Sykes
a turnin' on us off, dat I hardly knowed which from todder, an'
when Cousin Nimbus 'greed ter take me up jes de minnit he dropped
me down, hit kinder tuk me off my whoopendickilar, yer know."



CHAPTER XXV.

A DOUBLE-HEADED ARGUMENT.


The attempt to prevent the attendance of voters at the meeting,
showing as it did a preconcerted purpose and design on the part
of the employers to use their power as such, to overcome their
political opponents, was the cause of great indignation at the
meeting, and gave occasion for some flights of oratory which would
have fallen upon dull ears but for the potent truth on which they
were based. Even the cool and cautious Eliab Hill could not restrain
himself from an allusion to the sufferings of his people when he
was raised upon the platform, still sitting in his rolling-chair,
and with clasped hands and reverent face asked God's blessing upon
the meeting about to be held.

Especially angry was our friend Nimbus about this attempt  to
deprive his race of the reasonable privileges of a citizen. Perhaps
the fact that he was himself a proprietor  and employer rendered him
still more jealous of the rights of his less fortunate neighbors.
The very immunity which he had from any such danger no doubt
emboldened him to express his indignation more strongly, and after
the regular speeches had been made he mounted the platform and made
a vigorous harangue upon the necessity of maintaining the rights
which had been conferred upon them by the chances of war.

"We's got ter take keer ob ourselves," said he. "De guv'ment hez
been doin' a heap for us. It's gin us ourselves, our wives, our
chillen, an' a chance ter du fer ourselves an' fer dem; an' now
we's got ter du it. Ef we don't stan' togedder an' keep de white
folks from a-takin' away what we's got, we nebber gits no mo'.
In fac', we jes goes back'ards instead o' forrards till yer can't
tell de difference twixt a free nigger an' a rale ole time slave.
Dat's my 'pinion, an' I say now's de time ter begin--jes when dey
begins. Ef a man turns off ary single one fer comin' ter dis meetin'
evr'y han' dat is ter wuk for him oughter leave him to once an'
nary colored  man ought ter do a stroke ob wuk fer him till he
takes 'em back."

Loud cheers greeted this announcement, but one old white-headed man
arose and begged leave to ask him a question, which being granted,
he said:

"Now, feller citizens, I'se been a listenin' ter all dat's been
said here to-day, an' I'm jest ez good a 'Publikin ez enny ub de
speakers. Yer all knows dat.  But I can't fer de life ob me see how
we's gwine ter carry out sech advice. Ef we leave one man, how's
we gwine ter git wuk wid anodder? An' ef we does, ain't it jest a
shiftin' ub han's? Does it make ary difference--at least enough
ter speak on--whether a white man hez his wuk done by one nigger
er another?"

"But," said Nimbus, hotly, "we oughtn't ter _none_ on us wuk
fer him."

"Then," said the old man, "what's we ter do fer a libbin'? Here's
half er two thirds ob dis crowd likely ter be turned off afore
to-morrer night. Now what's yer gwine ter do 'bout it? We's got
ter lib an' so's our wives an' chillens? How's we gwine ter s'port
dem  widout home or wuk?"

"Let them git wuk wid somebody else, that's all," said Nimbus.

"Yes, Bre'er Nimbus, but who's a-gwine ter s'port 'em while we's
waitin' fer de white folks ter back down, I wants ter know?"

"I will," said Nimbus, proudly.

"I hain't no manner ob doubt," said the other, "dat Bre'er Nimbus'll
do de berry bes' dat he can in sech a case, but he must 'member
dat he's only one and we's a great many. He's been mighty fortinit
an' I'se mighty glad ter know it; but jes s'pose ebbery man in de
county dat hires a han' should turn him off kase he comes ter dis
meetin' an' goes ter 'lection, what could Bre'er Nimbus  du towards
a feedin' on us? Ob co'se, dey's got ter hev wuk in de crop, but
you mus' member dat when de 'lection comes off de crap's all laid
by, an' der ain't no mo' pressin' need fer wuk fer months ter come.
Now, how's we gwine ter lib during dat time? Whar's we gwine ter
lib? De white folks kin stan' it--dey's got all dey wants--but
we can't. Now, what's we gwine ter do? Jest ez long ez de guv'ment
stood by us an' seed dat we hed a fa'r show, we could stan' by de
guv'ment. I'se jest ez good a 'Publikin ez ennybody h'yer, yer all
knows dat; but I hain't a gwine ter buck agin impossibles, I ain't.
I'se got a sick wife an' five chillen. I ain't a gwine ter bring
'em nex' do' ter starvation 'less I sees some use in it. Now, I
don't see no use in dis h'yer notion, not a bit. Ef de white folks
hez made up der minds--an' hit seems ter me dey hez--dat cullu'd
folks shan't vote 'less dey votes wid dem, we mout jest ez well
gib up fust as las'!"

"Nebber! nebber, by God!" cried Nimbus, striding across the
platform, his hands clenched and the veins showing full and round
on neck and brow. The cry was echoed by nearly all present. Shouts,
and cheers, and groans, and hisses rose up in an indistinguishable
roar.

"Put him out! Down wid him!" with other and fiercer cries, greeted
the old man's ears.

Those around him began to jostle and crowd upon him. Already violent
hands were upon him, when Eliab Hill dashed up the inclined plane
which had been made for his convenience, and, whirling himself
to the side of Nimbus, said, as he pointed with flaming face and
imperious gesture to the hustling and boisterous crowd about the
old man,

"Stop that!"

In an instant Nimbus was in the midst of the swaying crowd, his
strong arms dashing right and left until he stood beside the now
terrified remonstrant.

"Dar, dar, boys, no mo' ob dat," he cried, as he pushed the howling
mass this way and that. "Jes you listen ter Bre'er 'Liab. Don't
yer see he's a talkin' to yer?" he said, pointing to the platform
where Eliab sat with upraised hand, demanding silence.

When silence was at last obtained he spoke with more earnestness and
power than was his wont, pleading for moderation and thoughtfulness
for each other, and a careful consideration of their surroundings.

"There is too much truth," he said, "in all that has been said
here to-day. Brother Nimbus is right in saying that we must guard
our rights and privileges most carefully,  if we would not lose
them. The other brother is right, too, in saying that but few of
us can exercise those privileges if the white men stand together
and refuse  employment to those who persist in voting against
them.  It is a terrible question, fellow-citizens, and one that it
is hard to deal with. Every man should do his duty and vote, and
act as a citizen whenever called upon to do so, for the sake of
his race in the future. We should not be weakly and easily driven
from what has been gained for us. We may have to suffer--perhaps
to fight and die; but our lives are nothing to the inheritance we
may leave our children.

"At the same time we should not grow impatient with our brethren
who cannot walk with us in this way. I believe that we shall win
from this contest the supreme seal of our race's freedom. It may
not come in our time, but it will be set on the foreheads of our
children.  At all events, we must work together, aid each other,
comfort each other, stand by each other. God has taught us patience
by generations of suffering and waiting,  and by the light which
came afterwards. We should not doubt Him now. Let us face our
danger like men; overcome it if we may, and if not, bow to the force
of the storm and gather strength, rooting ourselves deep and wide
while it blows, in order that we may rise erect and free when it
shall have passed.

"But above all things there must be no disagreement.  The colored
people must stand or fall together. Those who have been as fortunate
as our Brother Nimbus may breast the tempest, and we must all
struggle on and up to stand beside them. It will not do to weakly
yield or rashly fight. Remember that our people are on trial, and
more than mortal wisdom is required of us by those who have stood
our friends. Let us show them that we are men, not only in courage
to do and dare, but also to wait and suffer. Let the young and
strong, and those who have few children, who have their own homes
or a few months' provision, let them bid defiance to those who
would oppress us; but let us not require those to join us who are
not able or willing to take the worst that may come. Remember that
while others have given us freedom, we must work and struggle and
wait for liberty--that liberty which gives as well as receives,
self-supporting, self-protecting, holding the present and looking
to the future with confidence. We must be as free of the employer
as we are of the master--free of the white people as they are of
us. It will be a long, hard struggle, longer and harder than we
have known perhaps; but as God lives, we shall triumph if we do but
persevere with wisdom and patience, and trust in Him who brought us
up out of the Egypt of bondage and set before our eyes the Canaan
of liberty."

The effect of this address was the very opposite of what Eliab had
intended. His impassioned references to their imperilled liberty,
together with his evident  apprehension of even greater danger than
was then  apparent, accorded so poorly with his halting counsel
for  moderation that it had the effect to arouse the minds of his
hearers to resist such aggression even at every risk.  So decided
was this feeling that the man whom Nimbus had just rescued from
the rudeness of those about him and who had been forgotten during
the remarks of the minister, now broke forth and swinging his hat
about his head, shouted:

"Three cheers for 'Liab Hill! an' I tells yer what, brudderin',
dat ef dis yer is ter be a fight fer takin' keer ob de freedom we's
got, I'se in fer it as fur ez ennybody.  We must save the crap
that's been made, ef we don't pitch ary other one in our day at
all. Them's my notions,  an' I'll stan' by 'em--er die by 'em ef
wust comes ter wust."

Then there was a storm of applause, some ringing  resolutions were
adopted, and the meeting adjourned to discuss the barbecue and talk
patriotism with each other.

There was much clamor and boasting. The candidates, in accordance
with a time-honored custom in that region, had come prepared to
treat, and knowing that no liquor could be bought at Red Wing, had
brought a liberal  supply, which was freely distributed among the
voters.

On account of the large majority of colored voters in this country,
no attempt had previously been made to influence them in this
manner, so that they were greatly excited by this threat of coercion.
Of course, they talked very loud, and many boasts were made, as
to what they would do if the white people persisted in the course
indicated. There was not one, however, who in his drunkest moment
threatened aught against their white neighbors unless they were
unjustly debarred the rights which the law conferred upon them.
They wanted "a white man's chance." That was all.

There was no such resolution passed, but it was generally  noised
abroad that the meeting had resolved that any planter who discharged
a hand for attending that meeting would have the privilege of
cutting and curing his tobacco without help. As this was the chief
crop of the region, and one admitting of no delay in its harvesting
and curing, it was thought that this would prove a sufficient
guaranty of fair treatment. However, a committee  was appointed
to look after this matter, and the day which had seemed to dawn so
inauspiciously left the colored voters of that region more united
and  determined than they had ever been before.



CHAPTER XXVI.

TAKEN AT HIS WORD


It was past midnight of the day succeeding the meeting,  when
Nimbus was awakened by a call at his front gate. Opening the door
he called out:

"Who's dar?"

"Nobody but jes we uns, Bre'er Nimbus," replied the unmistakable
voice of Berry. "H'yer we is, bag an' baggage, traps an' calamities,
jest ez I tole yer. Call off yer dogs, ef yer please, an' come an'
'scort us in as yer promised. H'yer we is--Sally an' me an' Bob
an' Mariar an' Bill an' Jim an' Sally junior--an' fo' God I can't
get fru de roll-call alone. Sally, you jest interduce Cousin Nimbus
ter de rest ob dis family, will yer?"

Sure enough, on coming to the gate, Nimbus found Berry and Sally
there with their numerous progeny, several bundles of clothing and
a few household wares.

"Why, what does dis mean, Berry?" he asked.

"Mean? Yah, yah!" said the mercurial Berry.  "Wal now, ain't dat
cool? H'yer he axes me ter come ter his house jest ez soon ez ever
Marse Granville routs us offen his plantation, an' ez soon's ever
we comes he wants ter know what it means! How's dat fer cousinin',
eh? Now don't yer cry, Sally Ann. Jes yer wait till I tell Cousin
Nimbus de circumstanshuels an' see ef he don't ax us inside de
gate."

"Oh, Cousin Nimbus," said Sally, weeping piteously, "don't yer
go ter fault us now--don't please. Hit warn't our fault at all;
leastways we didn't mean it so.  I did tell Berry he'd better stay
an' du what Marse Sykes wanted him ter, 'stead of comin' tu der
meetin', an' my mind misgive me all day kase he didn't. But I didn't
look for no sech bad luck as we've hed."

"Come in, come in, gal," said Nimbus, soothingly, as he opened the
gate, "an' we'll talk it all ober in de mornin'."

"Oh, der ain't nuffin' mo' to be told, Squar'," said Berry, "on'y
when we done got home we foun' dis yer truck outdoors in the road,
an' dechillen at a neighbor's cryin' like de mischief. De house
was locked up an' nailed up besides. I went down ter Marse Sykes'
an' seed him, atter a gret while, but he jes sed he didn't know
nothin' 'bout it, only he wanted the house fer somebody ez 'ud wuk
when he tole 'em tu, instead ub gaddin' roun' ter p'litcal meetins;
an' ez my little traps happened ter be in de way he'd jes sot'em
inter de big-road, so dey'd be handy when I come ter load 'em on
ter take away. So we jes take de lightest on 'em an' de chillen an'
corned on ter take up quarters wid you cordin' ter de 'rangement
we made yesterday."

"Dat's all right; jes right," said Nimbus; "but I don't understand
it quite. Do yer mean ter say dat Marse Sykes turn you uns offen
his plantation while you'se all away, jes kase yer come ter de
meetin' yesterday?"

"Nuffin' else in de libbin yairth. Jes put us out an' lock de do'
an' nailed up de winders, an' lef de tings in de big-road."

"But didn't yer leave the house locked when you came here?"

"Nary bit. Nebber lock de do' at all. Got no lock, ner key, ner
nuffin' ter steal ub enny account ef enny body should want ter
break in. So what I lock de do' fer? Jes lef de chillen wid one ob
de neighbors, drawed do' tu, an' comes on. Dat's all."

"An' he goes in an' takes de tings out? We'll hab de law ob him;
dat we will, Berry. De law'll fotch him, pop sure. Dey can't treat
a free man dat 'ere way no mo', specially sence de constooshunel
'mendments.  Dat dey can't."

So Berry became an inmate of Castle Nimbus, and the next day that
worthy proprietor went over to Louisburg to lay the matter before
Captain Pardee, who was now a practising lawyer in that city. He
returned at night and found Berry outside the gate with a banjo
which he accounted among the most precious of his belongings,
entertaining a numerous auditory with choice selections from an
extensive repertory.

Berry was a consummate mimic as well as an excellent  singer, and
his fellows were never tired either of his drolleries or his songs.
Few escaped his mimicry, and nothing was too sacred for his wit.
When Nimbus first came in sight, he was convulsing his hearers by
imitating a well-known colored minister of the county, giving out
a hymn in the most pompous manner.

"De congregashun will now rise an' sing, ef yer please, the free
hundred an' ferty-ferd _hime._" Thereupon he began to sing:


   "Sinner-mans will yer go
     To de high lans' o' Hebben,
   Whar de sto'ms nebber blow
     An' de mild summer's gibben?
          Will yer go? will yer go?
          Will yer go, sinner-mans?
   Oh, say. sinner-mans, will yer go?"


Then, seeing Nimbus approach, he changed at once to a political
song.


   "De brack man's gittin' awful rich
     The people seems ter fear,
   Alt'ough he 'pears to git in debt
     A little ebbery year.
   Ob co'se he gits de biggest kind
     Ob wages ebbery day,
   But when he comes to settle up
     Dey dwindles all away.

       "Den jes fork up de little tax
         Dat's laid upon de poll.
       It's jes de tax de state exac's
         Fer habben ob a soul!"

   "Yer got no lan', yer got no cash,
     Yer only got some debts;
   Yer couldn't take de bankrupt law
     'Cos ye hain't got no 'assets.'
   De chillen dey mus' hev dere bread;
     De mudder's gettin' ole,
   So darkey, you mus' skirmish roun'
     An' pay up on yer poll."

       "Den jes fork up de little tax, etc.

   "Yer know's yer's wuked dis many a year.
     To buy de land for 'Marster,'
   An' now yer orter pay de tax
     So't he kin hold it faster.
   He wuks one acre 'n ebbery ten,
     De odders idle stan';
   So pay de tax upon _yo're_ poll
      An' take it off _his_ lan'.

       "Den jes fork up de little tax, etc.

   "Oh! dat's de song dat some folks sing!
       Say, how d'y'e like de soun'?
   Dey say de pore man orter pay
      For walkin' on de groun"!
   When cullud men was slaves, yer know',
      'Twas drefful hard to tax 'em;
   But jes de minnit dat dey's free,
      God save us! how dey wax 'em!

       "Den jes fork up de little tax, etc."

"What you know 'bout poll-tax, Berry?" asked Nimbus, good-naturedly,
when the song was ended.  "Yer hain't turned politician, hez yer?"

"What I know 'bout poll-tax, Squar' Nimbus? Dat what yer ax? Gad!
I knows all 'bout 'em, dat I do, from who tied de dog loose. Who'se
a better right, I'd like ter know? I'se paid it, an' ole Marse
Sykes hes paid it for me; an' den I'se hed ter pay him de tax an'
half a dollah for 'tendin' ter de biznis for me. An' den, one time
I'se been 'dicted for not payin' it, an' Marse Sykes tuk it up,
an' I hed ter wuk out de tax an' de costs besides. Den I'se hed ter
wuk de road ebbery yeah some eight er ten days, an' den wuk nigh
'bout ez many more fer my grub while I wuz at it. Oh, I knows 'bout
poll-tax, I does! Dar can't nobody tell a nigger wid five er six
chillen an' a sick wife, dat's a wukkin'  by de yeah an' a gettin'
his pay in ole clo'es an' orders--dar can't nobody teach _him_
nothin' 'bout poll-tax, honey!"   There was a laugh at this which
showed that his  listeners agreed fully with the views he had
expressed.

The efforts to so arrange taxation as to impose as large a burden
as possible upon the colored man, immediately  after his emancipation,
were very numerous and not unfrequently extremely subtle. The Black
Codes, which were adopted by the legislatures first convened under
what has gone into history as the "Johnsonian" plan of reconstruction,
were models of ingenious subterfuge.  Among those which survived
this period was the absurd notion of a somewhat onerous poll-tax.
That a man who had been deprived of every benefit of government
and of all means of self-support or acquisition, should at once be
made the subject of taxation, and that a failure to list and pay
such tax should be made an indictable offense, savored somewhat of
the ludicrous. It seemed like taxing the privilege of poverty.

Indeed, the poor men of the South, including the recent  slaves,
were in effect compelled to pay a double poll-tax. The roads
of that section are supported solely by the labor of those living
along their course. The land is not taxed, as in other parts of
the country, for the support of those highways the passability of
which gives it value; but the poor man who travels over it only on
foot must give as much of his labor as may be  requisite to maintain
it. This generally amounts to a period ranging from six to ten
days of work per annum. In addition to this, he is required to pay
a poll-tax,  generally about two dollars a year, which is equivalent
to at least one fourth of a month's pay. During both these periods
he must board himself.

So it may safely be estimated that the average taxes paid by a
colored man equals one half or two thirds of a month's wages, even
when he has not a cent of property, and only maintains his family
by a constant miracle of effort which would be impossible but
for the harsh training which slavery gave and which is one of the
beneficent results of that institution. If he refuses to work the
road, or to pay or list the poll-tax, he may be indicted, fined,
and his labor sold to the highest bidder, precisely as in the old
slave-times, to discharge the fine and pay the tax and costs of
prosecution. There is a grim humor about all this which did not fail
to strike the colored man and induce him to remark its absurdity,
even when he did not formulate its actual character.

A thousand things tend to enhance this absurdity and seeming
oppression which the imagination of the thoughtful reader will
readily supply. One is the self evident advantage which this state
of things gives to the landowners. By it they are enabled to hold
large tracts of land, only a small portion of which is cultivated
or used in any manner. By refusing to sell on reasonable terms and
in small parcels, they compel the freedmen to accept the alternative
of enormous rents and oppressive terms, since starvation is the
only other that remains to them.

The men who framed these laws were experts in legislation and adepts
in political economy. It would perhaps be well for countries which
are to-day wrestling with the question: "What shall we do with our
poor?" to consider what was the answer the South made to this same
inquiry. There were four millions of people who owned no property.
They were not worth a dollar apiece. Of lands, tenements and
hereditaments they had none.  Life, muscle, time, and the clothes
that conceal nakedness were their only estate. But they were rich
in "days' works." They had been raised to work and liked it. They
were accustomed to lose _all_ their earnings, and could be
relied on to endure being robbed of a part, and hardly know that
they were the subject of a new experiment in governmental ways
and means. So, the dominant class simply taxed the possibilities
of the freedman's future, and lest he should by any means fail to
recognize the soundness of this demand for tribute and neglect to
regard it as a righteous exemplification of the Word, which declares
that "from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which
he hath," they frugally provided:

1. That the ignorant or inept citizen neglecting to list his poll
for taxation should be liable to indictment and fine for such
refusal or neglect.

2. That if unable to pay such tax and fine and the costs of prosecution,
he should be imprisoned and his labor sold to the highest bidder
until this claim of the State upon his poverty should be fully
redeemed.

3. That the employer should be liable to pay the personal taxes of
his employees, and might recoup himself from any wages due to said
hirelings or to become due.

4. To add a further safeguard, in many instances they made the
exercise of the elective franchise dependent upon the payment of
such tax.

Should the effete monarchies of the Old World ever deign to glance
at our civil polity, they will learn that taxation is the only sure
and certain cure for pauperism, and we may soon look for their
political economists to render thanks to the "friends" of the
former slave for this discovery of a specific for the most ancient
of governmental ills!

The song that has been given shows one of the views which a race
having little knowledge of political economy took of this somewhat
peculiar but perhaps necessary measure of governmental finance.

The group broke up soon after Nimbus arrived, and Berry, following
him upon the porch said, as he laid his banjo in the window:

"Wal, an' what did de Cap'n say 'bout my case 'gin Marse Granville
Sykes?"

"He said you could indict him, an' hev him fined by de court ef he
turned yer off on 'count ob yer perlitical principles."

"Bully fer de Cap'n!" said Berry, "dat's what I'll do, straight
away. Yah, yah! won't dat er be fun, jes makin' ole Mahs'r trot up
ter de lick-log fer meanness ter a nigger? Whoop! h'yer she goes!"
and spreading his hands he made "a cart-wheel" and rolled on his
outstretched hands and feet half way to the gate, and then turned
a handspring back again, to show his approval of the advice given
by the attorney.

"An' he says," continued Nimbus, who had looked seriously on at
his kinsman's antics, "dat yer can sue him an' git yer wages fer de
whole year, ef yer kin show dat he put yer off widout good reason."

"Der ain't no mite ob trouble 'bout dat ar, nary mite," said Berry,
confidently. "You knows what sort uv a wuk-hand I is in de crap,
Bre'er Nimbus?"

"Yes, I knows dat," was the reply; "but de cap'n sez dat it mout
take two or tree year ter git dese cases fru de court, an' dar
must, of co'se, be a heap ob cost an' trouble 'bout 'em."

"An' he's right tu', Bre'er Nimbus," said Berry seriously.

"Dat's so, Berry," answered Nimbus, "an' on account ob dat, an' der
fac' dat yer hain't got no money an' can't afford ter resk de wages
dat yer family needs ter lib on, an' 'cause 'twould make smart ob
feelin' an' yer don't stan' well fer a fa'r show afore de court
an' jury, kase of yer color, _he_ sez yer'd better jes thank
de Lo'd fer gittin' off ez well ez yer hev, an' try ter look out
fer breakers in de futur. He sez ez how it's all wrong an' hard
an' mean an' all dat, but he sez, tu, dat yer ain't in no sort ob
fix ter make a fight on't wid Marse Sykes.  Now, what _you_
think, Berry?"

The person addressed twirled his narrow-brimmed felt hat upon his
finger for a time and then said, looking suddenly up at the other:

"Uncle Nimbus, Berry's right smart ob a fool, but damn me ef I
don't b'lieve de Cap'n's in de right on't.  What you say, now?"

Nimbus had seated himself and was looking toward the darkening west
with a gloomy brow. After a moment's silence he said:

"I'se mighty feared yer both right, Bre'er Berry.  But it certain
ar' a mighty easy way ter git wuk fer nothin', jes ter wait till
de crap's laid by an' den run a man off kase he happens ter go ter
a political meetin'!  'Pears like tain't _much_ more freedom
dan we hed in ole slave-times."

"Did it ebber'ccur ter you. Uncle Nimbus," said Berry, very
thoughtfully, "dat dis yer ting _freedom_ waz a durn curus
affair fer we cullud people, ennyhow?"

"Did it ever? Wal, now, I should tink it hed, an' hit 'ccurs ter
me now dat it's growin' quarer an' quarer ebbery day. Though I'se
had less on't ter bear an' puzzle over than a-most enny on ye,
dat I hez, I don't know whar it'll wuk out. 'Liab sez de Lord's a
doin' His own wuk in His own way, which I 'specs is true; but hit's
a big job, an' He's got a quare way ob gittin' at it, an' seems
ter be a-takin' His own time fer it, tu. Dat's my notion."

It was no doubt childish for these two simple-minded colored men
to take this gloomy view of their surroundings and their future.
They should have realized that the fact that their privileges were
insecure and their rights indefensible was their own misfortune,
perhaps even their fault. They should have remembered that the
susceptibilities of that race among whom their lot had been cast by
the compulsion of a strange providence, were such as to be greatly
irritated by anything like a manly and independent exercise of
rights by those who had been so long accounted merely a superior
sort of cattle. They should not have been at all surprised to find
their race helpless and hopeless before the trained and organized
power of the whites, controlled by the instinct of generations and
animated by the sting of defeat.

All this should have been clear and plain to them, and they should
have looked with philosophic calmness on the abstract rights which
the Nation had conferred and solemnly guaranteed to them, instead
of troubling themselves about the concrete wrongs they fancied
they endured. Why should Berry Lawson care enough about attending
a political meeting to risk provoking his employer's displeasure
by so doing; or why, after being discharged, should he feel angry
at the man who had merely enforced the words of his own contract?
He was a free man; he signed the contract, and the courts were open
to him as they were to others, if he was wronged. What reason was
there for complaint or apprehension, on his part?

Yet many a wiser head than that of Berry Lawson, or even that of
his more fortunate kinsman, the many-named Nimbus, has been sorely
puzzled to understand how ignorance and poverty and inexperience
should maintain the right, preserve and protect themselves against
opposing wisdom, wealth and malicious skill, according to the
spirit and tenor of the Reconstruction Acts. But it is a problem
which ought to trouble no one, since it has been enacted and provided
by the Nation that all such persons shall have all the rights and
privileges of citizens. That should suffice.

However, the master-key to the feeling which these colored men
noted and probed in their quiet evening talk was proclaimed aloud
by the county newspaper which, commenting on the meeting at Red Wing
and the dismissal of a large number of colored people who attended
it in opposition to the wish of their employers, said:

"Our people are willing that the colored man should have all his
rights of _person_ and of _property_; we desire to promote his
_material_ welfare; but when he urges his claim to political right,
he offers a flagrant insult to the white race.  We have no sympathy
to waste on negro-politicians or those who sympathize with and
encourage them." [Footnote: Taken from the Patriot-Democrat,
Clinton, La., Oct 1876.]

The people of Horsford county had borne a great deal from
negro-domination. New men had come into office by means of colored
votes, and the old set to whom office had become a sort of perquisite
were deprived thereby of this inherited right. The very presence
of Nimbus and a few more who like him were prosperous, though in a
less degree, had been a constant menace to the peace of a community
which looked with peculiar jealousy upon the colored man in his
new estate. This might have been endured with no evil results had
their prosperity been attended with that humility which should
characterize a race so lately lifted from servitude to liberty. It
was the "impudent" assertion of their "rights" that so aggravated
and enraged the people among whom they dwelt. It was not so much
the fact of their having valuable possessions, and being entitled
to pay for their labor, that was deemed such an outrage on the part
of the colored race, but that they should openly and offensively
use those possessions to assert those rights and continually hold
language which only "white men" had a right to use. This was more
than a community, educated as the Southerners had been, could be
expected peaceably to endure.

As a farmer, a champion tobacco-grower and curer, as the most
prosperous man of his race in that section, Horsford was not without
a certain pride in Nimbus; but when he asserted the right of his
people to attend a political meeting without let or hindrance,
losing only from their wages as hirelings the price of the time
thus absent, he was at once marked down as a "dangerous" man. And
when it was noised abroad that he had proposed that all the colored
men of the county should band together to protect themselves against
this evil, as he chose to regard it, he was at once branded not
only as "dangerous" but as a "desperate" and "pestiferous" nigger,
instead of being considered merely "sassy," as theretofore.

So this meeting and its results had the effect to make Nimbus far
more active in political matters than he had ever been before, since
he honestly believed that their rights could only be conserved by
their political co-operation.  To secure this he travelled about
the country all the time he could spare from his crop, visiting the
different plantations and urging his political friends to stand
firm and not be coaxed or driven away from the performance of
their political duty. By this means he became very "obnoxious" to
the "best people" of Horsford, and precipitated a catastrophe that
might easily have been avoided had he been willing to enjoy his own
good fortune, instead of clamoring about the collective rights of
his race.



CHAPTER XXVII.

MOTES IN THE SUNSHINE.


Mollie Ainslie's third year of teacher's life was drawing near its
close. She had promised her brother to remain at the South during
that time in order that she might escape the perils of their native
climate. She was of vigorous constitution but of slight build, and
he dreaded lest the inherited scourge should take an  ineradicable
hold upon her system. She had passed her school-girl life with safety;
but he rightly judged that a few years in the genial climate where
she then was would do very much toward enabling her to resist the
approaches of disease.

The work in which she had been engaged had demanded  all her energies
and commanded all her devotion.  Commencing with the simplest of
rudimentary training she had carried some of her pupils along until
a fair English education had been achieved. One of these pupils
had already taken the place vacated a few months before by Lucy
Ellison, since which time Mollie had occupied alone the north
rooms of the old hostelry--a colored family who occupied the other
portion serving as protectors, and bringing her meals to her own
apartments. A friend had spent a portion of this time with her, a
schoolmate whose failing health attested the  wisdom of the condition
her dying brother had imposed in regard to herself. As the warm
weather approached this friend had returned to her New England
home, and Mollie Ainslie found herself counting the days when she
might also take her flight.

Her work had not grown uninteresting, nor had she lost any of her
zeal for the unfortunate race she had striven to uplift; but her
heart was sick of the terrible isolation that her position forced
upon her. She had never once thought of making companions, in
the ordinary sense, of those for whom she labored. They had been
so entirely foreign to her early life that, while she labored
unremittingly  for their advancement and entertained for many of
them the most affectionate regard, there was never any inclination
to that friendly intimacy which would have been sure to arise if
her pupils had been of the same race as herself. She recognized
their right most fully to careful and polite consideration; she
had striven to cultivate among them gentility of deportment; but
she had longed with a hungry yearning for friendly white faces,
and the warm hands and hearts of friendly  associates.

Her chief recreation in this impalpable loneliness--this Chillon
of the heart in which she had been bound so long--was in daily
rides upon her horse, Midnight. Even in her New England home she
had been passionately fond of a horse, and while at school had been
carefully trained in horsemanship, being a prime favorite with the
old French riding-master who had charge of that branch of education
in the seminary of her native town.  Midnight, coming to her from
the dying hand of her only brother, had been to her a sacred trust
and a pet of priceless value. All her pride and care had centered
upon him, and never had horse received more devoted attention. As
a result, horse and rider had become very deeply attached to each
other. Each knew and appreciated  the other's good qualities and
varying moods.  For many months the petted animal had shown none
of that savageness with which his owner had before been compelled
occasionally to struggle. He had grown sleek and round, but had
lost his viciousness, so far as she was concerned, and obeyed her
lightest word and gesture with a readiness that had made him a subject
of comment in the country around, where the "Yankee school-marm"
and her black horse had become somewhat noted.

There was one road that had always been a favorite with the horse
from the very first. Whenever he struck that he pressed steadily
forward, turning neither to the right or left until he came to a
rocky ford five miles below, which his rider had never permitted
him to cross, but from which he was always turned back with
difficulty--at first with a troublesome display of temper, and at
the last, with evident reluctance.

It was in one of her most lonely moods, soon after the incidents
we have just narrated, that Mollie Ainslie set out on one of her
customary rides. In addition to the depression which was incident
to her own situation, she was also not a little disturbed by the
untoward occurrences affecting those for whom she had labored so
long. She had never speculated much in regard to the future of the
freedmen, because she had considered it as assured.  Growing to
womanhood in the glare of patriotic warfare, she had the utmost
faith in her country's honor and power. To her undiscriminating
mind the mere fact that this honor and power were pledged to the
protection and elevation of the negro had been an all-sufficient
guarantee  of the accomplishment of that pledge. In fact, to her
mind, it had taken on the reality and certainty of a fact already
accomplished. She had looked forward to their prosperity as an
event not to be doubted. In her view Nimbus and Eliab Hill were
but feeble types of what the race would "in a few brief years"
accomplish for itself.  She believed that the prejudice that prevailed
against the autonomy of the colored people would be suppressed,
or prevented from harmful action by the national power, until the
development of the blacks should have shown them to be of such
value in the community that the old-time antipathy would find itself
without food to exist upon longer.

She had looked always upon the rosy side, because to her the country
for which her brother and his fellows had fought and died was the
fairest and brightest thing upon earth. There might be spots upon
the sun's face, but none were possible upon her country's escutcheon.
So she had dreamed and had fondly pictured herself as doing both a
patriot's and a Christian's duty in the work in which she had been
engaged. She felt less of anger and apprehension with regard to
the bitter and scornful whites than of pity and contempt for them,
because they could not appreciate the beauty and grandeur of the
Nation of which they were an unwilling part, and of the future
that lay just before. She regarded all there had been of violence
and hate as the mere puerile spitefulness  of a subjugated people.
She had never analyzed their condition or dreamed that they would
ever be recognized as a power which might prove dangerous either
to the freedman's rights or to the Nation itself.

The recent events had opened her eyes. She found that, unknown to
herself, knowledge had forced itself upon her mind. As by a flash
the fact stood revealed to her consciousness that the colored man
stood alone. The Nation had withdrawn its arm. The flag still waved
over him, but it was only as a symbol of sovereignty  renounced--of
power discarded. Naked privileges had been conferred, but the right
to enforce their recognition had been abandoned. The weakness and
poverty of the recent slave was pitted alone and unaided against the
wealth and power and knowledge of the master. It was a revelation
of her own thought to herself, and she was stunned and crushed by
it.

She was no statesman, and did not comprehend anything  of those
grand policies whose requirements over-balance all considerations
of individual right--in  comparison with which races and nations
are but sands upon the shore of Time. She little realized how grand
a necessity lay at the back of that movement which seemed to her
so heartless and inexcusable. She knew, of course, vaguely and
weakly, that the Fathers made a Constitution on which our government
was based. She did not quite understand its nature, which was very
strange, since she had often heard it expounded, and as a matter
of duty had read with care several of those books which tell us
all about it.

She had heard it called by various names in her far New England
home by men whom she loved and venerated,  and whose wisdom and
patriotism she could not doubt. They had called it "a matchless
inspiration" and "a mass of compromises;" "the charter of liberty"
and "a league with Hell;" "the tocsin of liberty" and "the manacle
of the slave." She felt quite sure that nobler-minded, braver-hearted
men than those who used these words had never lived, yet she could
not understand  the thing of which they spoke so positively and so
passionately. She did not question the wisdom or the patriotism of
the Fathers who had propounded this enigma.  She thought they did
the best they knew, and knew the best that was at that time to be
known.

She had never _quite_ believed them to be inspired, and she
was sure they had no models to work after. Greece and Rome were
not republics in the sense of our day, and in their expanded growth
did not profess to be, at any time; Switzerland and San Marino
were too limited in extent to afford any valuable examples; Venice
while professedly a republic had been as unique and inimitable as
her own island home. Then there were a few experiments  here and
there, tentative movements barren of results,  and that was all that
the civilized world had to offer of practical knowledge of democracy
at that time.  Beyond this were the speculations of philosophers
and the dreams of poets. Or perhaps the terms should be reversed,
for the dreams were oft-times more real and  consistent than the
lucubrations. From these she did not doubt that our ancient sages
took all the wisdom they could gather and commingled it with the
riper knowledge of their own harsh experience.

But yet she could not worship the outcome. She knew that Franklin
was a great man and had studied electricity very profoundly, for
his day; but there are ten thousand unnoted operators to-day who
know more of its properties, power and management than he ever
dreamed of. She did not know but it might be so with regard to free
government. The silly creature did not know that while the world
moves in all things else, it stands still or goes backward  in
governmental affairs. She never once thought that while in science
and religion humanity is making stupendous strides, in government
as in art, it turns ever to the model of the antique and approves
the wisdom only of the ancient.

So it was that she understood nothing of the sacredness  of right
which attaches to that impalpable and  indestructible thing, a State
of the American Union--that immortal product of mortal wisdom, that
creature which is greater than its creator, that part which is more
than the whole, that servant which is lord and master also. If she
had been given to metaphysical researches, she would have found
much pleasure in tracing the queer involutions of that network of
wisdom that our forefathers devised,  which their sons have labored
to explain, and of which the sword had already cut some of the
more difficult knots. Not being a statesman or a philosopher, she
could only wonder and grow sad in contemplating the future that
she saw impending over those for whom she had labored so long.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

IN THE PATH OF THE STORM.


While Mollie Ainslie thought of these things with foreboding, her
steed had turned down his favorite road, and was pressing onward
with that persistency which characterizes an intelligent horse having
a definite aim in view. The clouds were gathering behind her, but
she did not notice them. The horse pressed on and on.  Closer and
closer came the storm. The road grew dark amid the clustering oaks
which overhung its course. The thunder rolled in the distance and
puffs of wind tossed the heavy-leafed branches as though the trees
begged for mercy from the relentless blast. A blinding flash, a
fierce, sharp peal, near at hand, awoke her from her reverie. The
horse broke into a quick gallop, and glancing  back she saw a wall
of black cloud, flame-lighted and reverberant, and felt the cold
breath of the summer storm come sweeping down upon her as she sped
away.

She saw that it would be useless to turn back. Long before she
could reach any shelter in that direction she would be drenched.
She knew she was approaching  the river, but remembering that she
had noticed some fine-looking houses just on the other side, she
decided that she would let the horse have his own way, and apply at
one of these for shelter. She was sure that no one would deny her
that in the face of such a tornado as was raging behind her. The
horse flew along as if a winged thing. The spirit of the storm seemed
to have entered into him, or else the thunder's voice awakened
memories of the field of battle, and for once his rider found
herself powerless to restrain his speed or direct his course. He
laid back his ears, and with a short, sharp neigh dashed onward
with a wild tremor of joy at the mad race with wind and storm.
The swaying tree-tops waved them on with wild gesticulations.  The
lightning and the thunder added wings to the flying steed.

Just before reaching the river bank they had to pass through
a stretch of tall pines, whose dark heads were swaying to and fro
until they almost met above the narrow road, making it so dark
below that the black horse grew dim in the shadow, while the gaunt
trunks creaked and groaned and the leaves hissed and sobbed as the
wind swept through them. The resinous fragrance mingled with the
clayey breath of the pursuing storm.  The ghost-like trunks stood
out against the lightning flashes like bars before the path of flame.
She no longer tried to control her horse. Between the flashes, his
iron feet filled the rocky road with sparks of fire.  He reached
the ford and dashed knee-deep into the dark, swift stream, casting
a cool spray around him before he checked his speed. Then he halted
for an instant, tossed his head as if to give the breeze a chance
to creep beneath his flowing mane, cast a quick glance back at
his rider, and throwing out his muzzle uttered a long, loud neigh
that seemed like a joyful hail, and pressed on with quick, careful
steps, picking his way along the ledge of out-cropping granite which
constituted the ford, as if traversing a well-remembered causeway.

The water grew deeper and darker; the rider reached down and
gathered up her dark habit and drew her feet up close beneath her.
The current grew swifter. The water climbed the horse's polished
limbs. It touched his flanks and foamed and dashed about his rugged
breast. Still he picked his way among the rocks with eager haste,
neighing again and again, the joy-ringing neighs of the home-coming
steed. The surging water rose about his massive shoulders and the
rider drew herself still closer up on the saddle, clinging to bow
and mane and giving him the rein, confident in his prowess and
intelligence, wondering at his eagerness, yet anxious for his footing
in the dashing current. The wind lifted the spray and dashed it
about her. The black cloud above was fringed with forked lightning
and resonant with swift-succeeding peals of thunder. The big drops
began to fall hissing into the gurgling waters. Now and then they
splashed on her hands and face and shot through her close-fitting
habit like icy bolts. The brim of the low felt hat she wore and
its dark plume were blown about her face. Casting a hurried glance
backward, she saw the grayish-white storm-sheet come rushing over
the sloping expanse of surging pines, and heard its dull heavy roar
over the rattle of the aerial artillery which echoed and re-echoed
above her.

And now the wind shifted, first to one point and then to another.
Now it swept down the narrow valley through which the stream ran;
now it dashed the water in her face, and anon it seemed about
to toss her from her seat and hurl her over her horse's head. She
knew that the fierce storm would strike her before she could reach
any place of shelter. The wild excitement of a struggle with the
elements flamed up in her face and lighted her eyes with joy. She
might have been a viking's daughter as her fair hair blew over her
flushed face, while she patted her good steed and laughed aloud
for very glee at the thought of conflict with the wild masterful
storm and the cool gurgling rapid which her horse breasted so
gallantly.

There was a touch of fun, too, in the laugh, and in the arch
gleaming of her eyes, as she thought of the odd figure which she
made, perched thus upon the saddle in mid-river, blown and tossed by
the wind, and fleeing from the storm. Her rides were the interludes
of her isolated life, and this storm was a part of the fun.
She enjoyed it as the vigorous pleasure-seeker always enjoys the
simulation of danger.

The water shoaled rapidly as they neared the farther shore. The
black horse mounted swiftly to the bank, still pressing on with
unabated eagerness. She leaned over and caught up the stirrup,
thrust her foot into it, regained her seat and seized the reins,
as with a shake and a neigh he struck into a long easy gallop.

"Go!" she said, as she shook the reins. The horse flew swiftly along
while she swayed lightly from side to side as he rose and fell with
great sinewy strides. She felt him bound and quiver beneath her,
but his steps were as though the black, corded limbs were springs
of steel.  Her pride in the noble animal she rode overcame her fear
of the storm, which followed swifter than they fled.  She looked
eagerly for a by-path leading to some farm-house, but the swift-settling
darkness of the summer night hid them from her eager glance, if
any there were. Half a mile from the ford, and the storm over-took
them--a wall of wind-driven rain, which dashed and roared about
them, drenching the rider to the skin in an instant. In a moment
the red-clay road became the bed of a murky torrent. The horse's
hoofs, which an instant before echoed on the hard-beaten track,
splashed now in the soft mud and threw the turbid drops over her
dripping habit and into her storm-washed face.  A quarter of a mile
more, and the cold streams poured down her back and chilled her
slight frame to the marrow.  Her hands were numb and could scarce
cling to the dripping reins. Tears came into her eyes despite
herself. Still the wild cloud-burst hurled its swift torrents of
icy rain upon them. She could scarcely see her horse's head, through
the gray, chilly storm-sheet.

"Whoa! whoa, Midnight!" she cried, in tremulous tones through her
chattering teeth and white, trembling lips. All her gay exultant
courage had been drenched and chilled out of her. She tried to
check his stride with a loose convulsive clutch at the reins as she
peered about with blinded eyes for a place of shelter. The horse
shook his head with angry impatience, neighed again, clasped the bit
in his strong teeth, stretched his neck still further and covered
the slippery ground with still swifter strides. A hundred yards
more and he turned into a narrow lane at the right, between two
swaying oaks, so quickly as almost to unseat his praticed rider,
and with neigh after neigh dashed down to a great, rambling, old
farm-house just visible under the trees at the foot of the lane,
two hundred yards away.  The way was rough and the descent sharp,
but the horse did not slacken his speed. She knew it was useless to
attempt to check him, and only clung to the saddle pale with fear
as he neared the high gate which closed its course. As he rose with
a grand lift to take the leap she closed her eyes in terror. Easy
and swift as a bird's flight was the leap with which the strong-limbed
horse cleared the high palings and lighted on the soft springy turf
within; another bound or two and she heard a sharp, strong voice
which rang above the storm with a tone of command that betrayed no
doubt of obedience:

"Whoa, Satan! Stand, sir!"

The fierce horse stopped instantly. Mollie Ainslie was thrown heavily
forward, clasped by a strong arm and borne upon the piazza. When
she opened her eyes she saw the torrents pouring from the eaves,
the rain beating itself into spray upon the ground without, the
black horse steaming and quivering at the steps of the porch, and
Hesden Le Moyne gazing anxiously down into her face. The water
dripped from her garments and ran across the porch. She shook as
if in an ague-fit. She could not answer the earnest inquiries that
fell from his lips. She felt him chafing her chill, numbed hands,
and then the world was dark, and she knew no more of the kindly
care which was bestowed upon her.



CHAPTER XXIX.

LIKE AND UNLIKE.


When she awoke to consciousness she was lying on a bed in an apartment
which was a strange compound of sitting- and sleeping-room. The
bed stood in a capacious  alcove which seemed to have been built
on as an afterthought. The three sides were windows, in the outer
of which were tastefully arranged numerous flowering plants, some
of which had clambered up to the ceiling and hung in graceful
festoons above the bed.  The window-shades were so arranged as to
be worked by cords, which hung within easy reach of one lying there.
The night had not fully come, but a lamp was burning at the side
of the bed yet beyond its head-board, so that its rays lit up the
windows and the green trailing vines, but did not fall upon the
bed. In an invalid's chair drawn near the bedside, a lady well past
the middle age but with a face of singular sweetness and refinement
was watching and directing the efforts which were being made for
the resuscitation of the fainting girl by two servant women, who
were busily engaged in chafing her hands and making warm applications
to her chilled limbs.

As she opened her eyes they took in all these things, but she could
not at once remember what had happened or where she was, This sweet
vision of a home interior was so different from the low, heavy-beamed
rooms and little diamond-paned windows of the Ordinary, even after
all her attempts to make it cosy, that she seemed to have awakened
in fairy land. She wondered dully why she had never trained ivies
and Madeira vines over those dark beams, and blushed at the thought
that so simple a device had never occurred to her. She lay motionless
until she had recalled  the incidents of the day. She had recognized
Mr. Le Moyne at once, and she knew by instinct that the graceful
lady who sat beside her was she who had written her the only word
of sympathy or appreciation she had ever received from one of her
own sex in the South. She was anxious for a better view and turned
toward her.

"Ah, here are you, my dear!" said a soft, low voice, as the light
fell upon her opened eyes. "Move me up a little, Maggie," to one
of the servants." We are glad to see you coming around again. Don't
move, dear," she continued, as she laid her thin soft hand upon the
plump one of the reclining girl." You are among friends. The storm
and the ride were too much for you, and you fainted for a little
while. That is all. There is no trouble now. You weren't hurt, were
you?" she asked anxiously.

"No," said the other, wonderingly.

"We are glad of that," was the reply. "You are exhausted, of course,
but if you do not get cold you will soon be all right. Maggie,"
she continued, to the servant, "tell Mr. Hesden to bring in that
hot toddy now.  He had better put the juice of a lemon it it, too.
Miss Ainslie may not be accustomed to taking it. I am Mrs.  Le Moyne,
I forgot to say," she added, turning to her unintended guest, "and
Hesden, that is my son, tells me that you are Miss Ainslie, the
brave young teacher at Red Wing whom I have long wished to see. I
am really glad that chance, or Hesden's old war horse Satan, brought
you here, or I am afraid I should never have had that pleasure.
This is Hesden," she continued, nodding toward him as he entered
with a small silver waiter on which was a steaming pitcher and
a delicate glass. "He has been my nurse so long that he thinks no
one can prepare a draught for a sick person so well as he, and I
assure you that I quite agree with his notion.  You have met before,
I believe. Just take a good dose of this toddy and you will be
better directly. You got a terrible drenching, and I was afraid
you would have a congestive chill when they brought you in here as
white as a sheet with your teeth chattering  like castanets."

Hesden Le Moyne filled the glass with the steaming decoction and
held the salver toward her. She took it and tried to drink.

"Hand me the waiter, Hesden," said his mother, reprovingly,  "and
raise her head. Don't you see that Miss Ainslie cannot drink lying
there. I never saw you so stupid, my son. I shall have to grow
worse again soon to keep you from getting out of practice entirely."

Thus reproached, Hesden Le Moyne put his arm hesitatingly beneath
the pillow, raised the flushed face upon it and supported the young
lady while she quaffed the hot drink. Then he laid her easily down,
smoothed the pillow with a soft instinctive movement, poured out
a glass of the toddy which he offered to his mother, and then,
handing the waiter to the servant, leaned over his mother with a
caressing movement and said:

"You must look out, little mother. Too much excitement  will not
do for you. You must not let Miss Ainslie's unexpected call disturb
you."

"No indeed, Hesden," she said, as she looked up at him gratefully,
"I feel really glad of any accident that could bring her under our
roof, now that I am satisfied that she is to experience no harm
from her stormy ride.  She will be all right presently, and we will
have supper served here as usual. You may tell Laura that she need
be in no haste."

Having thus dismissed her son she turned to her guest and said:

"I have been an invalid so long that our household is all ordered
with regard to that fact. I am seldom able to be taken out to dinner,
and we have got into the habit of having a late supper here, just
Hesden, his little boy, and I, and to-night we will have the table
set by the bedside and you will join us."

The sudden faint was over; the toddy had sent the blood tingling
through the young girl's veins. The _role_ of the invalid was
an unaccustomed one for her to play, and the thought of supping
in bed was peculiarly distasteful  to her self-helping Northern
training. It was not long before she began to manifest impatience.

"Are you in pain, dear?" asked the good lady, noticing with the
keen eye of the habitual invalid her restive movements.

"No, indeed," was the reply. "I am not at all sick.  It was only
a little faint. Really, Mrs. Le Moyne, I would rather get up than
lie here."

"Oh, lie still," said the elder lady, cheerfully. "The room hardly
looks natural unless the bed is occupied.  Besides," she added
with a light laugh, "you will afford me an excellent opportunity
to study effects. You seem to me very like what I must have been
when I was first compelled to abandon active life. You are very
nearly the same size and of much the same complexion and cast of
features. You will pardon an old lady for saying it, I am sure. Lest
you should not, I shall be compelled to add that I was considered
something of a beauty when I was young. Now, you shall give me
an idea of how I have looked in all the long years that couch has
been my home. I assure you I shall watch you very critically, for
it has been my pride to make my invalid life as pleasant  to myself
and as little disagreeable to others as I could. Knowing that I
could never be anything else, I devised every plan I could to make
myself contented and to become at least endurable to my family."

"Everyone knows how well you have succeeded, Mrs, Le Moyne," said
the young girl. "It must indeed have been a sad and burdened life,
and it seems to me that you have contrived to make your sick room
a perfect paradise."   "Yes, yes," said the other, sadly, "it is
beautiful.  Those who loved me have been very indulgent and very
considerate, too. Not only every idea of my own has been carried
into effect, but they have planned for me, too. That alcove was
an idea of my husband's. I think that the sunlight pouring in at
those windows has done more to prolong my life than anything else.
I did not think, when thirty years ago I took to my bed, that I
should have survived him so long--so long--almost eight years. He
was considerably older than I, but I never looked to outlive him,
never.

"That lamp-stand and little book-rack," she continued, with
the garrulity of the invalid when discoursing of his own affairs,
"were Hesden's notions, as were many other things in the room. The
flowers I had brought in, one by one, to satisfy my hunger for the
world without. In the winter I have many more. Hesden makes the
room a perfect conservatory, then. They have come to be very dear
to me, as you may well suppose. That ivy now, over the foot of the
bed, I have watched it from a little slip not a finger high. It is
twenty-seven years old."

So she would have run on, no one knows to what length, had not the
servant entered to set the table for supper. Under her mistress'
directions she was about to place it beside the bed, when the young
girl sprang into a sitting posture and with flaming cheeks cried
out:

"Please, Mrs. Le Moyne, I had rather not lie here. I am quite
well--just as well as ever, and I wish you would let me get up."

"But how can you, dear?" was the reply. "Your clothes are drying
in the kitchen. They were completely drenched."

"Sure enough," answered Miss Ainslie. "I had forgotten that."   She
laid herself down resignedly as the invalid said:

"If Hesden's presence would annoy you, he shall not come. I only
thought it might be pleasanter for you not to be confined to the
conversation of a crippled old woman. Besides, it is his habit, and
I hardly know what he would do if he had to eat his supper elsewhere."

"Oh, certainly, I would not wish to disturb your usual arrangement,"
answered Mollie, "but--" she began, and then stoppd with some signs
of confusion.

"But what, my dear?" asked the elder lady, briskly.  "Do you mean
that you are not accustomed as I am to invalidism, and hardly like
the notion of supping in bed as an introduction to strangers? Well,
I dare say it would be annoying, and if you think you are quite
well enough to sit up, I reckon something better may be arranged."

"I assure you, Mrs. Le Moyne," said the other, "that I am quite
well, but pray do not let me make you any trouble."

"Oh, no trouble at all, dear; only you will have to wear one of
my gowns now many years old. I thought they were very pretty then,
I assure you. I should be very glad to see them worn again. There
are few who could wear them at all; but I think they would both fit
and suit you. You are like enough to me to be my daughter. Here,
you Maggie!"

She called the servant, and gave some directions which resulted in
her bringing in several dresses of an ancient pattern but exquisite
texture, and laying them upon the bed.

"You will have to appear in full dress, my dear, for I have no
other gowns that would be at all becoming," said Mrs. Le Moyne.

"How very beautiful!" said the girl sitting up in the bed, gazing
at the dainty silks and examining their quaint patterns. "But
really, Mrs. Le Moyne--"

"Now, please oblige me by making no more objections," interrupted
that lady. "Indeed," she added, shaking her finger threateningly
at her guest, "I will not listen to any more. The fit has seized
me now to have you sit opposite me at the table. It will be like
facing.  my own youth; for now that I look at you more closely,
you seem wonderfully like me. Don't you think so, Maggie?"

"'Deed I do," said the servant, "an' dat's jes what Laura was a
sayin' ter me when we done fotch de young lady in here in a faint.
She sez ter me, sez she, 'Maggie, ebber you see anybody look so
much like de Mistis made young again?'"

"Hush, Maggie," said her mistress, gaily; "don't you see how the
young lady is blushing, while it is the poor, faded woman here in
the chair who ought to blush at such a compliment?"

And indeed the bright flushed face with its crown of soft golden
hair escaped from its customary bondage, tossing in sunny tendrils
about the delicate brow and rippling in waves of light over her
shoulders, was a picture  which any woman past the middle life might
well blush and sigh to recognize as the counterpart of her youth.
The two women looked at each other and both laughed at the admiration
each saw in the other's glance.

"Well," said Mollie, as she sank smilingly on her pillow, "I see
I must submit. You will have your own way."

She raised her arm above' her head and toyed with a leaf of the
ivy which hung in graceful festoons about the head-board. As she
did so the loose-sleeved wrapper which had been flung about her
when her own drenched clothing was removed, fell down almost to
her shoulder and revealed to the beauty-worshipping watcher by the
bedside an arm of faultless outline, slender, pink-tinged, plump
and soft. When she had toyed lazily for a moment with the ivy, she
dropped her arm listlessly down upon the bed. It fell upon one of
the dresses which lay beside her.

"Ah, thank you!" exclaimed Mrs. Le Moyne.

"You have relieved me greatly. I was trying to decide which
one I wanted you to wear, when your arm dropped across that pale,
straw-colored silk, with the vine border around the corsage and the
clambering roses running down the front. That is the one you must
wear. I never wore it but once, and the occasion is one I shall
always like to recall."

There was a gleeful time in the invalid's room while the fair girl
was being habited in the garments of a by-gone generation, and when
Hesden Le Moyne and his boy Hildreth were admitted to the hearty
evening meal, two women who seemed like counterparts sat opposite
each other at the sparkling board--the one habited in black silk
with short waist, a low, square bodice with a mass of tender lawn
showing about the fair slender neck, puffed at the shoulders with
straight, close sleeves reaching to the wrists, around which peeped
some rows of soft white lace; the white hair combed in puffs beside
the brow, clustering above its pinky softness and falling in a
silvery cataract upon the neck. The style of the other's dress was
the same, save that the shoulders were uncovered, and except for
the narrow puff which seemed but a continuation on either side, of
the daintily-edged bodice, the arm hung pink and fair over the amber
satin, uncovered and unadorned save at the wrist, where a narrow
circlet of gold clung light and close about it. Her hair was dressed
in the same manner as the elder lady's, and differed only in its
golden sheen. The customary lamp had been banished, and colored
wax-candles, brought from some forgotten receptacle, burned in the
quaint old candelabra with which the mantels of the house had long
been decorated.

The one-armed veteran of thirty gazed in wonder at this unaccustomed
brightness. If he needed to gaze long and earnestly at the
fair creature who sat over against his mother, to determine the
resemblances which had been noted between the permanent and the
temporary invalid, who shall blame him for so doing?

Little Hildreth in his six-year-old wonderment was less judicial,
or at least required less time and inquiry to decide, for he cried
out even before an introduction could be given,

"Oh, papa, see, I've got a new, young grandma."

It was a gay party at that country supper-table, and four happier
people could hardly have gone afterward into the parlor where the
invalid allowed herself to be wheeled by her son in special honor
of their unintended guest.

Miss Ainslie was soon seated at the piano which Hesden had kept in
tune more for the pleasure of occasional guests than his own. It
was three years since she had touched one, but the little organ,
which some Northern benefactor had given to the church and school
at Red Wing, had served to prevent her fingers from losing all
their skill, and in a few minutes their wonted cunning returned.
She had been carefully trained and had by nature rare musical gifts.
The circumstances of the day had given a wonderful exhilaration to
her mind and thought. She seemed to have taken a leaf out of Paradise
and bound it among the dingy pages of her dull and monotonous life.
Every thing about her was so quaint and rare, the clothes she wore
so rich and fantastic, that she could not control her fancy. Every
musical fantasy that had ever crept into her brain seemed to be
trooping along its galleries in a mad gallop as her fair fingers
flew over the time-stained keys. The little boy stood clinging to
her skirt in silent wonder, his fair, sensitive  face working, and
his eyes distended, with delighted amazement.

The evening came to an end at last, and when the servant went with
her in her quaint attire, lighting her up the winding stairway
from the broad hall to the great airy room above, with its yawning
fireplace cheery with the dying embers of a fire built hours ago
to drive out the dampness, and its two high-posted beds standing
there in lofty dignity, the little Yankee school marm could hardly
realize what madcap freaks she had perpetrated since she bounded
over the gate at the foot of the lane leading from the highway down
to Mulberry Hill, the ancestral home of the Richards family.

As she sat smiling and blushing over the memory of what she had
done and said in those delicious hours, a servant tapped at the
door and announced that Master Hildreth, whom she bore in her arms
and whose chubby fists were stuck into his eyes, was crying most
disconsolately lest he should lose his "new grandma" while he slept.
She had brought him, therefore, to inquire whether he might occupy
one of the beds in the young lady's room. Mollie had not seen for
so many years a child that she could fondle and caress, that it
was with unbounded delight that she took the little fellow from
his nurse's arms, laid him on the bed and coaxed his eyes to slumber.



CHAPTER XXX.

AN UNBIDDEN GUEST.


When the morning dawned the boy awoke with hot cheeks and bloodshot
eyes, moaning and restless, and would only be quiet when pillowed
in the arms of his new-found friend. A physician who was called
pronounced his ailment to be scarlet-fever. He soon became delirious,
and his fretful moans for his "new grandma" were so piteous that
Miss Ainslie could not make up her mind to leave him. She stayed
by his bed-side  all day, saying nothing of returning to Red Wing,
until late in the afternoon a messenger came from there to inquire
after her, having traced her by inquiry among several who had seen
her during the storm, as well as by the report that had gone out
from the servants of her presence at Mulberry Hill.

When Hesden Le Moyne came to inform her of the messenger's arrival,
he found her sitting by his son's bedside, fanning his fevered brow,
as she had done the entire day. He gazed at them both in silence
a moment before making known his errand. Then he took the fan from
her hand and informed her of the messenger's arrival. His voice
sounded strangely, and as she looked up at him she saw his face
working with emotion.  She cast down her eyes quickly. She could
not tell why.  All at once she felt that this quiet, maimed veteran
of a lost cause was not to her as other men. Perhaps her heart
was made soft by the strange occurrences of the few hours she had
passed beneath his mother's roof.  However that may be, she was
suddenly conscious of a feeling she had never known before. Her
cheeks burned as she listened to his low, quiet tones. The tears
seemed determined to force themselves beneath her downcast lids,
but her heart bounded with a strange undefined joy.

She rose to go and see the messenger. The sick boy moaned and
murmured her name. She stole a glance at the father, and saw his
eyes filled with a look of mingled tenderness and pain. She walked
to the door.  As she opened it the restless sufferer called for her
again. She went out and closed it quickly after her. At the head
of the stairs she paused, and pressed her hand to her heart while
she breathed quick and her face burned. She raised her other hand
and pushed back a stray lock or two as if to cool her forehead. She
stood a moment irresolute; glanced back at the door of the room she
had left, with a half frightened look; placed a foot on the first
stair, and paused again. Then she turned suddenly back with a
scared resolute look in her gray eyes, opened the door and glided
swiftly to the bedside. Hesden Le Moyne's face was buried in the
pillow.  She stood over him a moment, her bosom heaving with short,
quick sighs. She reached out her hand as if she would touch him,
but drew it quickly back. Then she spoke, quietly but with great
effort, looking only at the little sufferer.

"Mr. Le Moyne?" He raised his head quickly and a flush of joy swept
over his face. She did not see it, at least she was not looking at
him, but she knew it.  "Would you like me to--to stay--until--until
this is over?"

He started, and the look of joy deepened in his face.  He raised his
hand but let it fall again upon the pillow, as he answered humbly
and tenderly,

"If you please, Miss Ainslie."   She put her hand upon the bed, in
order to seem more at ease, as she replied, with a face which she
knew was all aflame,

"Very well. I will remain for--the present."

He bent his head and kissed her hand. She drew it quickly away and
added in a tone of explanation:

"It would hardly be right to go back among so many children after
such exposure." So quick is love to find excuse. She called it
duty, nor ever thought of giving it a tenderer name.

He made no answer. So easy is it for the fond heart to be jealous
of a new-found treasure.

She waited a moment, and then went out and wrote a note to Eliab
Hill. Then she went into the room of the invalid mother. How sweet
she looked, reclining on the bed in the pretty alcove, doing penance
for her unwonted pleasure of the night before! The excited girl
longed to throw her arms about her neck and weep.  It seemed to her
that she had never seen any one so lovely and loveable. She went
to the bedside and took the slender hand extended toward her,

"So," said Mrs. Le Moyne, "I hear they have sent for you to go back
to Red Wing. I am sorry, for you have given us great pleasure; but
I am afraid you will have only sad memories of Mulberry Hill. It
is too bad!  Poor Hildreth had taken such a liking to you, too. I
am sure I don't blame him, for I am as much in love with you as an
invalid can be with any one but herself. Hesden will have a hard
time alone in this great house with two sick people on his hands."

"I shall not go back to Red Wing to-day."

"Indeed?"

"No, I do not think it would be right to endanger so many by exposure
to the disease."   "Oh," carelessly; "but I am afraid yon may take
it yourself."

"I hope not. I am very well and strong. Besides, Hildreth calls
for me as soon as I leave him for a moment."

"Poor little fellow! It is pitiable to know that I can do nothing
for him."

"I will do what I can, Mrs. Le Moyne."

"But you must not expose yourself in caring for a strange child,
my dear. It will not do to be too unselfish."

"I cannot leave him, Mrs. Le Moyne."

She left the room quickly and returned to her place at the sufferer's
bedside. Hesden Le Moyne rose as she approached. She took the fan
from his hand and sat down in the chair he had occupied. He stood
silent a moment, looking down upon her as she fanned the uneasy
sleeper, and then quietly left the room.

"What a dear, tender-hearted thing she is!" said Mrs. Le Moyne to
herself after she had gone. "So lady-like  and refined too. How
can such a girl think of associating  with niggers and teaching a
nigger school? Such a pity she is not one of our people. She would
be just adorable then. Don't you think so, Hesden?" she said aloud
as her son entered. Having been informed of the subject of her
cogitations, Mr. Hesden Le Moyne replied, somewhat absently and
irrelevantly, as she thought, yet very warmly,

"Miss Ainslie is a very remarkable woman."

He passed into the hall, and his mother, looking after him, said,

"Poor fellow! he has a heap of trouble." And then it struck her
that her son's language was not only peculiar  but amusing. "A
remarkable woman!" She laughed to herself as she thought of it. A
little, brown-haired, bright-eyed, fair-skinned chit, pretty and
plucky, and accomplished no doubt, but not at all "remarkable."
She had no style nor pride. Yankee women never had. And no family
of course, or she would not teach a colored school. "Remarkable!"
It was about the only thing Miss Ainslie was not and could not
be. It was very kind of her to stay and nurse Hildreth, though she
only did that out of consideration for the colored brats under her
charge at Red Wing. Nevertheless she was glad and gratified that
she did so. She was a very capable girl, no doubt of that, and she
would feel much safer about Hildreth because of her care. It was
just in her line. She was like all Yankee women--just a better class
of housemaids. This one was very accomplished.  She had played
the piano exquisitely and had acted the lady to perfection in last
night's masquerade. But Hesden must be crazy to call her remarkable.
She chuckled lightly as she determined to rally him upon it, when
she saw him next. When that time came, the good lady had quite
forgotten her resolve.



CHAPTER XXXI.

A LIFE FOR A LIFE.


It was a time of struggle at Mulberry Hill. Love and death fought
for the life of little Hildreth Le Moyne.  The father and the "new
grandma" watched over him most assiduously; the servants were untiring
in their exertions; the physician's skill was not lacking, but
yet none could foresee the result. The invalid below sent frequent
inquiries. First one and then the other stole away to ask her some
question or bring her tidings in regard to the lad in whose life
was bound up the hope of two old families.

One morning, while the child was still very sick, when Miss
Ainslie awoke after the brief sleep which had been all the rest
she had allowed herself from her self-imposed task, her head seemed
strangely light. There was a roaring in her ears as if a cataract
were playing about them. Her limbs ached, and every movement seemed
unusually difficult--almost painful. She walked across the room
and looked dully into the mirror on her dressing-case, resting her
hands on the top of the high old-fashioned  furniture as she did
so. She was only able to note that her eyes looked heavy and her
face flushed and swollen, when a sharp pain shot through her frame,
her sight grew dim, the room spun round and round. She could only
crawl back and clamber with difficulty upon the high-posted bed,
where the servant found her fevered  and unconscious when she came
an hour later to awaken her for breakfast. The struggle that had
been waged around the bed of the young child was now renewed  by
that of his self-constituted nurse. Weeks passed away before it was
over, and ere that time the music of little feet had ceased about
the ancient mansion, and the stroke to pride and love had rendered
the invalid grand-mother still more an invalid.

The child had been her hope and pride as its mother had been her
favorite. By a strange contrariety the sunny-faced little mother
had set herself to accomplish her son's union with the tall, dark,
and haughty cousin, who had expired in giving birth to little
Hildreth. There was nothing of spontaneity and no display of
conjugal affection on the part of the young husband or his wife;
but during the absence of her son, the invalid was well cared for
and entertained by the wife, whom she came to love with an intensity
second only to that she lavished on her son. In the offspring of
these two her heart had been wrapped up from the hour of his birth.
She had dreamed out for him a life full of great actualities,
and had even reproached Hesden for his apathy in regard to public
affairs during the stirring scenes enacting around them, urging
him to take part in them for his son's sake.

She was a woman of great ambition. At first this had centered in her
son, and she had even rejoiced when he went into the army, though
he was earnestly opposed to the war, in the hope that it might
bring him rank and fame. When these did not come, and he returned
to her a simple private, with a bitterer hate for war and a sturdier
dislike for the causes which had culminated in the struggle than
he had when it began, she had despaired of her dream ever being
realized through him, but had fondly believed that the son of the
daughter-in-law she had so admired and loved would unite his father's
sterling qualities with his mother's pride and love of praise, and
so fulfill her desire that the family name should be made famous
by some one descended from herself. This hope was destroyed by the
death of the fair, bright child whom she loved so intensely, and
she felt a double grief in consequence. In her sorrow, she had
entirely secluded herself, seeing no one but her nurse and, once
or twice, her son. The sick girl in the room above was somehow
unpleasantly connected with her grief, and received no real sympathy
in her illness.  There was even something of jealousy in the mind
of the confirmed invalid, when she remembered the remarkable manner
in which the child had been attracted toward the new-comer, as well
as the fact that she had nursed him so faithfully that his last
words were a moan for his "new grandma," while his real grandmother
lay useless and forgotten in her dim-shadowed room below.

Besides, it was with a feeling of envy that she recognized the fact
that, for the first time in his life, her son was more absorbed
in another's welfare than in her own.  The chronic ailment of the
mother had no doubt become so much a thing of habit in his life that
it failed to impress  him as it should, while the illness of the
young girl, having, as he believed, been incurred by her voluntary
attendance upon his son inspired him with a feeling of responsibility
that would not otherwise have existed.  Something had occurred,
too, which had aroused a feeling upon his part which is often very
close akin to a tenderer one. As soon as he had learned of her
illness, he had endeavored to induce some of his female relatives
to come and attend her, but they had all flatly refused.  They
would come and care for the child, they said; they would even send
the "Yankee school-marm" flowers, and make delicacies to tempt her
appetite, but they would not demean themselves by waiting upon a
sick "nigger teacher." They did not fear the contagion; indeed they
would have come to take care of little Hildreth but that they did
not care to meet his Yankee nurse. They even blamed Hesden for
allowing her to come beneath his roof, and intimated that she had
brought contagion with her.

He was angry at their injustice and prejudice. He had known of its
existence, but it never before seemed so hateful. Somehow he could
not rid himself of two thoughts: one was of the fairy creature
whose song and laughter and bird-like grace and gaiety, as she
masqueraded in the quaint dress of olden time, had made the dull
old mansion bright as a dream of Paradise for a single night. It
had seemed to him, then, that nothing so bright and pure had ever
flitted through the somber apartments of the gray old mansion. He
remembered the delight of his boy--that boy whom he loved more than
he had ever loved any one, unless it were his invalid mother--and
he could not forget the same slight form, with serious shadowed face
and earnest eyes moving softly about the sick-room of the child,
her eyes full of sorrowful anxiety as if the life she sought to
save were part of her own being. He wondered that any one could
think of her as a stranger. It was true she had come from the North
and was engaged in a despised avocation, but even that she had
glorified and exalted by her purity and courage until his fastidious
lady mother herself had been compelled to utter words of praise.
So his heart grew sore and his face flushed hot with wrath when
his cousins sneered at this lily which had been blighted by the
fevered breath of his son.

They tauntingly advised him to send to Red Wing and get some of
her "nigger" pupils to attend upon her.  Much to their surprise he
did so, and two quiet, gentle, deft-handed watchers came, who by
day and by night sat by her bedside, gladly endeavoring to repay
the debt they owed to the faithful teacher. But this did not seem
to relieve Mr. Le Moyne of anxiety. He came often and watched the
flushed face, heard the labored breathing, and listened with pained
heart to the unmeaning murmurs which fell from her lips--the echoes
of that desert dreamland through which fever drags its unconscious
victims. He heard his own name and that of the fast-failing sufferer
in the adjoining room linked in sorrowful  phrase by the stammering
tongue. Even in the midst of his sorrow it brought him a thrill of
joy. And when his fear became fact, and he mourned the young life
no love could save, his visits to the sick-room of her who had
been his co-watcher by his child's bedside became more frequent.
He would not be denied the privilege until the crisis came, and
reason resumed her sway.  Then he came no more, but every day sent
some token of remembrance.

Mrs. Le Moyne had noted this solicitude, and with the jealousy of
the confirmed invalid grudged the sick girl the slightest of the
thoughtful attentions that she alone had been accustomed to receive.
She did not dream that her son, Hesden Le Moyne, cared anything for
the little Yankee chit except upon broadly humanitarian grounds,
or perhaps from gratitude for her kindly attention to his son; but
even this fretted her. As time went on, she came more and more to
dislike her and to wish that she had never come beneath their roof.
So the days flew by, grew into weeks, and Mollie Ainslie was still
at Mulberry Hill, while important events weve happening at Red
Wing.



CHAPTER XXXII.

A VOICE FROM THE DARKNESS.


It was two weeks after Miss Ainslie's involuntary flight from Red
Wing that Nimbus, when he arose one morning, found a large pine
board hung across his gateway. It was perhaps six feet long and
some eighteen or twenty inches wide in the widest part, smoothly
planed upon one side and shaped like a coffin lid. A hole had been
bored in either end, near the upper corner, and through each of
these a stout cord had been passed and tied into a loop, which,
being slipped over a paling, one on each side the gate, left the
board swinging before it so as effectually to bar its opening unless
the board were first removed.

The attention of Nimbus was first directed to it by a neighbor-woman
who, stopping in front of the gate, called out to him in great
excitement, as he sat with Berry Lawson on his porch waiting for
his breakfast:

"Oh, Bre'er Nimbus, what in de libbin' yairth is dis h'yer on your
gate? La sakes, but de Kluckers is after you now, shore 'nough!"

"Why, what's de matter wid yer, Cynthy?" said Nimbus, cheerfully.
"Yer hain't seen no ghosteses nor nuffin', bez ye?"

"Ghosteses, did yer say?" answered the excited woman. "Jes yer
come an' look, an' ef yer don't say hit wuss ner ghosteses, yer
may count Cynthy a fool.  Dat's all."

Berry started down to the gate, Nimbus following him, carelessly.

"Why, hello, Bre'er Nimbus! Yer shore hez got a signboard cross de
passway. Jes look a' dat now! What yer 'spect it mout be, cousin?"
said Berry, stopping short and pointing to the board hung on the
fence.

"'Clar, I dunno," said Nimbus, as he strode forward and leaned over
the fence to get a sight of the other side of the board. "'Spec'
it must be some of dem Ku Kluck's work, ez Cynthy says."

After examining it a moment, he directed Berry to lift up the
other end, and together they carried it to the house of Eliab Hill,
where its grotesque characters were interpreted, so far as he was
able to translate them, as well as the purport of a warning letter
fastened on the board by means of a large pocket-knife thrust
through it, and left sticking in the soft wood.

Upon the head of the coffin-shaped board was roughly drawn, in
black paint, a skull and cross-bones and,  underneath them, the
words "Eliab Hill and Nimbus Desmit," and below these still, the
mystic cabala, "K.K.K," a formulary at which, just at that time,
a great part of the nation was laughing as a capital illustration
of American humor. It was accounted simply a piece of grotesquerie
intended to frighten the ignorant and superstitious  negro.

The old claim of the South, that the colored man could be controlled
and induced to labor only by the lash or its equivalent, had many
believers still, even among the most earnest opponents of slavery,
and not a few of these even laughed good-naturedly at the grotesque
pictures  in illustrated journals of shadowy beings in horrible
masks and terrified negroes cowering in the darkness with eyes
distended, hair rising in kinky tufts upon their heads, and teeth
showing white from ear to ear, evidently clattering like castanets.
It was wonderfully funny to far-away readers, and it made uproarious
mirth in the aristocratic homes of the South. From the banks of
the Rio Grande to the waters of the Potomac, the lordly Southron
laughed over his glass, laughed on the train, laughed in the street,
and laughed under his black cowl of weirdly decorated muslin--not
so much at the victims of the terrible Klan, as at the silly North
which was shaking its sides at the mask he wore. It was an era of
fun.  Everybody laughed. The street gamins imitated the _Kluck,_
which gave name to the Klan. It was one of the funniest things the
world had ever known.

The Yankee--Brother Jonathan--had long been noted as a droll.
A grin was as much a part of his stock apparel as tow breeches
or a palm-leaf hat. The negro, too, had from time immemorial been
portrayed upon the stage and in fiction as an irrepressible and
inimitably farcical fellow. But the "Southern gentleman" was a
man of different kidney from either of these. A sardonic  dignity
hedged him about with peculiar sacredness.  He was chivalrous and
baronial in his instincts, surroundings, and characteristics. He
was nervous, excitable, and bloodthirsty. He would "pluck up drowned
honor by the locks" and make a target of everyone who laughed. He
hunted, fought, gambled, made much of his ancestors, hated niggers,
despised Yankees, and swore and swaggered on all occasions. That was
the way he was pictured in the ancient days. He laughed--sometimes--not
often, and then somewhat sarcastically--but he did not make
himself ridiculous. His _amour propre_ was most intense. He
appreciated fun, but did not care that it should be at his expense.
He was grave, irritable and splenetic; but never comical. A braggart,
a rough-rider, an aristocrat; but never a masquerader.  That was
the old-time idea.

Yet so had the war and the lapse of half a decade changed this
people that in one State forty thousand men, in another thirty, in
others more and in others less, banded together with solemn oaths
and bloody ceremonies, just to go up and down the earth in the
bright moonlight, and play upon the superstitious fears of the poor
ignorant and undeveloped people around them. They became a race
of jesters, moonlight masqueraders,  personators of the dead. They
instituted clubs and paraded by hundreds, the trained cavalry of
a ghostly army organized  into companies, battalions, divisions,
departments, having at their head the "Grand Wizard of the Empire."
It was all in sport--a great jest, or at the worst designed only
to induce the colored man to work somewhat more industriously from
apprehension of ghostly displeasure. It was a funny thing--the
gravest, most saturnine, and self-conscious people on the globe
making themselves ridiculous, ghostly masqueraders by the hundred
thousand! The world which had lately wept with sympathy for
the misfortunes of the "Lost Cause," was suddenly convulsed with
merriment at the midnight antics of its chivalric defenders. The
most vaunted race of warriors seized the cap and bells and stole
also the plaudits showered upon the fool. Grave statesmen, reverend
divines, legislators, judges, lawyers, generals, merchants, planters,
all who could muster a good horse, as it would seem, joined the
jolly cavalcade and rollicked through the moonlight nights, merely
to make fun for their conquerors by playing on the superstitious
fear of the sable allies of the Northmen.  Never before was such
good-natured complaisance, such untiring effort to please. So the
North laughed, the South chuckled, and the world wondered.

But the little knot of colored men and women who stood around Eliab
Hill while he drew out the knife which was thrust through the paper
into the coffin-shaped board laid across the front of his "go-cart,"
and with trembling lips read the message it contained--these silly
creatures did not laugh. They did not even smile, and a joke which
Berry attempted, fell flat as a jest made at a funeral.

There is something very aggravating about the tendency of this race
to laugh at the wrong time, and to persist in being disconsolate
when every one can see that they ought to dance. Generation after
generation of these perverse creatures in the good old days of
slavery would insist on going in search of the North Pole under the
most discouraging circumstances. On foot and alone, without money
or script or food or clothing; without guide or chart or compass;
without arms or friends; in the teeth of the law and of nature,
they gave themselves to the night, the frost, and all the dangers
that beset their path, only to seek what they did not want!

We know there was never a happier, more contented, light-hearted,
and exuberant people on the earth than the Africo-American slave! He
had all that man could reasonably desire--and more too! Well-fed,
well-clothed, luxuriously housed, protected from disease with watchful
care, sharing the delights of an unrivalled climate, relieved of
all anxiety as to the future of his off-spring, without fear of
want, defiant of poverty, undisturbed by the bickerings of society
or heartburnings of politics, regardless of rank or station, wealth,
kindred, or descent, it must be admitted that, from an earthly point
of view, his estate was as near Elysian as the mind can conceive.
Besides all this, he had the Gospel preached unto him--for nothing;
and the law kindly secured  him against being misled by false
doctrines, by providing  that the Bread of Life should never be
broken to him unless some reputable Caucasian were present to vouch
for its quality and assume all responsibility as to its genuineness!

That a race thus carefully nourished, protected, and guarded from
error as well as evil should be happy, was just as natural as that
the sun should shine. That they were happy only lunatics could doubt.
All their masters said so. They even raved when it was denied. The
ministers of the Gospel--those grave and reverend men who ministered
unto them in holy things, who led their careless souls, blindfolded
and trustful, along the straight and narrow way--all declared
before high Heaven that they were happy, almost too happy, for
their spiritual good. Politicians, and parties, and newspapers;
those who lived among them and those who went and learned all about
them from the most intelligent and high-toned of their Caucasian
fellow-beings--nigh about everybody, in fact--declared, affirmed,
and swore that they were at the very utmost verge of human happiness!
Yet even under these circumstances the perverse creatures _would_
run away. Indeed, to run away seemed to be a characteristic of
the race like their black skin and kinkling hair!  It would have
seemed, to an uninformed on-looker, that they actually desired to
escape from the paternal institution which had thrown around their
lives all these blissful and beatifying circumstances. But we know
it was not so. It was only the inherent perversity of the race!

Again, when the war was ended and they were thrown upon the cold
charity of an unfriendly world, naked, poor, nameless, and homeless,
without the sheltering and protecting care of that master who had
ever before been to them the incarnation of a kindly Providence
--at that moment when, by all the rules which govern Caucasian human
nature, their eyes should have been red with regretful tears, and
their hearts overburdened with sorrow, these addled-pated children
of Africa, moved and instigated by the perverse devil of inherent
contrariness, were grinning from ear to ear with exasperating
exultation, or bowed in still more exasperating devotion, were
rendering thanks to God for the calamity that had befallen them!

So, too, when the best people of the whole South masqueraded
for their special benefit, they stupidly or stubbornly failed and
refused to reward their "best friends" for the entertainment provided
for them, at infinite pains and regardless of expense, even with
the poor meed of approving cachinnation. They ought to have been
amused; they no doubt were amused; indeed, it is morally impossible
that they should not have been amused--but they would not laugh!
Well may the Caucasian of the South say of the ebony brother whom
he has so long befriended and striven to amuse: "I have piped unto
you, and you have not danced!"

So Eliab read, to a circle whose cheeks were gray with pallor, and
whose eyes glanced quickly at each other with affright, these words

"ELIAB HILL AND NIMBUS DESMIT: You've been warned twice, and it
hain't done no good. This is your last chance. If you don't git
up and git out of here inside of ten days, the buzzards will have
a bait that's been right scarce since the war. The white folks is
going to rule Horsford, and sassy niggers must look out.  We're not
going to have any such San Domingo hole as Red Wing in it, neither.
Now just sell off and pack up and git clear off and out of the
country before we come again, which will be just as soon as the
moon gits in the left quarter, and has three stars in her lower
horn. If you're here then you'll both need coffins, and that boy
Berry Lawson that you coaxed away from his employer will hang with
you.

"Remember! _Remember!_ REMEMBER!

"By order of the Grand Cyclops of the Den and his two Night Hawks,
and in the presence of all the Ghouls, on the fifth night of the
sixth Dark Moon!

"K.K.K."

Hardly had he finished reading this when a letter was brought to
him which had been found on the porch of the old Ordinary. It was
addressed to "MISS MOLLIE AINSLIE, Nigger Teacher at Red Wing," but
as it was indorsed "K.K.K." Eliab felt no compunctions in opening
it in her absence. It read:

"MISS AINSLIE: We hain't got no spite against you and don't mean
you no harm; but the white folks owns this country, and is going
to rule it, and we can't stand no such nigger-equality schools as
you are running at Red Wing. It's got to stop, and you'd better
pick up and go back North where you come from, and that quick, if
you want to keep out of trouble. Remember!

"By order of the Grand Cyclops of the Den and his Ghouls, K.K.K."

"P.S. We don't mean to hurt you. We don't make no war on women and
children as the Yankees did, but we mean what we say--git out! And
don't come back here any more neither!"

The rumor of the mysterious Klan and its terrible doings had
been in the air for many months. From other States, and even from
adjoining counties, had come to their ears the wail of its victims.
But so preponderating was the colored population of Horsford, and
so dependent upon their labor was its prosperity, that they had
entertained little fear of its coming among them.  Two or three
times before, Nimbus and Eliab had received warnings and had even
taken some precautions in regard to defense; but they did not
consider the matter of sufficient moment to require them to make
it public.  Indeed, they were inclined to think that as there had
been no acts of violence in the county, these warnings were merely
the acts of mischievous youngsters who desired to frighten them into
a display of fear. This seemed to be a more serious demonstration,
but they were not yet prepared to give full credence to the threat
conveyed in so fantastic a manner.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION.


"Wal, dey manage to fotch Berry inter it widout sending him a letter
all to hissef, alter all," said that worthy, when Eliab, with pale
lips, but a firm voice, had finished reading the paper. "Ben done
'spectin' dat, all de time sence I come h'yer, Cousin Nimbus. I'se
been a-hearin' 'bout dese Klu Kluckers dis smart while now, ober
yer in Pocatel and Hanson counties, an' I 'spected Marse Sykes'd
be a-puttin' 'em on ter me jest ez soon as dey got ober here. He
hed no idear, yer know, but what I'd hev ter go back an' wuk fer
jes what I could git; an sence I hain't he's mad about it, dat's
all.  What yer gwine ter do 'bout it, Nimbus?"

"I'se gwine ter stay right h'yer an' fight it out, I is," said
Nimbus, doggedly. 'I'se fout fer de right ter live in peace on
my own lan' once, an' I kin fight for it agin.  Ef de Ku Kluckers
wants ter try an' whip Nimbus, jes let 'em come on," he said,
bringing down his clenched right hand upon the board which was
upheld by his left, with such force that it was split from end to
end.

"Hi! you take keer dar, Cousin Nimbus," said Berry, hopping out
of the way of the falling board with an antic gesture. "Fust you
know, yer hurt yer han' actin' dat er way. What YOU gwine ter do
'bout dis yer matter, Uncle 'Liab?" he continued, turning to the
preacher.

The man addressed was still gazing on the threatening letter. His
left hand wandered over his dark beard, but his face was full of
an unwavering light as he replied:

"The Lord called me to my work; He has opened  many a door before
me and taken me through many trials. He has written, 'I will be
with thee alway, even unto the end.' Bless His holy Name! Hitherto,
when evil has come I have waited on Him. I may not do a man's part
like you, my brother," he continued,  laying his hand on Nimbus'
knotted arm and gazing admiringly upon his giant frame," but I can
stand and wait, right here, for the Lord's will to be done; and here
I will stay--here with my people. Thank the Lord, if I am unable to
fight I am also unable to fly.  He knew what a poor, weak creature
I was, and He has taken care of that. I shall stay, let others do
as they may. What are you going to do, Brother Berry? You are in
the same danger with Nimbus and me."

"Wal, Bre'er 'Liab," replied Berry," I hab jes 'bout made up MY min'
ter run fer it. Yer see, I'se jes a bit differently sarcumstanced
from what either o' you 'uns is. Dar's Nimbus now, he's been in de
wah an' knows all 'bout de fightin' business; an' you's a preacher
an' knows all der is ob de prayin' trade. But I never was wuth
nothin' ob any account at either. It's de feet ez hez allers stood
by me," he added, executing a double-shuffle on the plank walk
where he stood; "an' I 'llows ter stan' by dem, an' light outen
here, afore dem ar Kluckers comes roun' fer an answer ter dat ar
letter. Dat's my notion, Bre'er 'Liab."

"Yer don't mean yer gwine ter run away on de 'count ob dese yer Ku
Kluckers, does yer, Berry?" said Nimbus,  angrily.

"Dat's jes 'zackly what I do mean, Cousin Nimbus--no mistake 'bout
dat," answered Berry, bowing towards Nimbus with a great show of
mock politeness.  "What else did yer tink Berry mean, hey? Didn't
my words 'spress demselves cl'ar? Yer know, cousin, dat  I'se not
one ob de fightin' kine. Nebber hed but one fight in my life, an'
den dar wuz jes de wuss whipped nigger you ebber seed. Yer see dem
sinners, eh?" rolling up his sleeve and showing a round, close-corded
arm. "Oh, I'se some when I gits started, I is. All whip-cord
an' chain-lightnin', whoop! I'll bet a harf dollar now, an borrer
de money from Bre'er Nimbus h'yer ter pay it, dat I kin turn more
han'-springs an' offener an' longer nor ary man in dis crowd. Oh,
I'se some an' more too, I is, an' don't yer fergit it.  'Bout dat
fight?" he continued to a questioner, "oh, yes, dat was one ob de
mos' 'markable fights dar's ever been in Ho'sford county. Yer see
'twuz all along uv Ben Slade an' me. Lor' bress yer, how we did
fight!  'Pears ter me dat it must hev been nigh 'bout harf a day
we wuz at it."

"But you didn't lick Ben, did you, Berry?" asked one of the bystanders
in surprise.

"Lick him? Yer jes' orter see de corn I wollered down 'long wid
dat nigga'! Dar must hev been close on ter harf an acre on't."

"But he's a heap bigger'n you, Berry, ez stout ez a bull an' one ob
de bes' fighters ebber on de hill at Louisburg.  Yer jest romancin'
now, Berry," said Nimbus, incredulously.

"Oh, but yer don't understan' it, cousin," said Berry. "Yer see I
played fer de _under holt_--an' got it, dat I did. Lor'! how
dat ar Ben did thrash de groun' wid me! Ole Mahs'r lost a heap
ob corn on 'count dat ar fight! But I hung on ter him, an' nebber
would hev let him go till now, ef--ef somebody hedn't pulled me
out from under him!"

There was a roar of laughter at this, in which Berry joined heartily,
and as it began to die out he continued:   "Dat's de only fight
I ebber hed, an' I don't want no mo'. I'se a peaceable man, an'
don't want ter hurt nobody.  Ef de Kluckers wants ter come whar I
is, an' gibs me sech a perlite notice ez dat ter quit, I'se gwine
ter git out widout axin' no imper'ent questions 'bout who was
dar fust. An' I'se gwine ter keep gittin' tu--jest' ez fur an' ez
fast ez dey axes me ter move on, ez long ez de road's cut out an'
I don't come ter no jumpin'-off place. Ef dey don't approve of Berry
Lawson  a stayin' roun' h'yer, he's jes' a gwine West ter grow up
wid der kentry."

"I'd sooner be dead than be sech a limber-jinted coward!" said
Nimbus. "I'm sorry I ebber tuk ye in atter Marse Sykes hed put yer
out in de big road, dat I am." There was a murmur of approval, and
he added: "An' ef yer hed enny place ter go ter, yer shouldn't stay
in my house nary 'nother minit."

"Now, Cousin Nimbus," said Berry, soberly, "dar hain't nary bit
ob use ob enny sech talk ter me. Berry arns his libbin' ef he does
hab his joke now an' agin."

"Oh, no doubt o' dat," said Nimbus. "Ther ain't no better han' in
enny crop dan Berry Lawson. I've said dat often an' over."

"Den yer jes take back dem hard words yer spoke 'bout Berry, won't
yer now, Cousin Nimbus?" said Berry, sidling up to him and looking
very much as if he intended to give the lie to his own account of
his fighting proclivities.

"No, I won't," said Nimbus, positively. "I do say dat any man ez
runs away kase de Ku Kluck tries ter scar him off is a damn coward,
'n I don't care who he calls his name neither."

"Wal, now, Cousin Nimbus," said Berry, his eyes flashing and his
whole appearance falsifying his previous poltroonery, "dar's two
sides ter dat ar question. I hain't nebber been a sojer like you,
cousin, an' it's a fac' dat I don't keer ter be; but I du say ez
how I'd be ez willin' ter stan' up an' fight fer de rights we's got
ez enny man dat ebber's trod de sile ennywhere's 'bout Red Wing, ef
I thought ez how 'twould do de least bit ob good. But I tell yer,
gemmen, hit won't do enny good, not de least bit, an' I knows it.
I'se seen de Ku Kluckers, gemmen, an' I knows who some on 'em is,
an' I knows dat when sech men takes hold ob sech a matter wid only
pore niggers on de udder side, dar ain't no chance fer de niggers.
I'se seen 'em, an' I _knows_."

"When?" "Whar?" "Tell us 'bout it, Berry!" came up from all sides
in the crowd which had collected until now almost all the inhabitants
of Red Wing and its vicinity  were there.

"Oh, 'tain't nuffin'," said he, nonchalantly. "What Berry says,
ain't no 'count, nohow."

"Yes, tell us 'bout it," said Nimbus, in a conciliatory  tone.

"Wal, ef _you_ wants ter hear, I'll tell it," said Berry,
condescendingly. "Yer mind some tree er fo' weeks ago I went ter
Bre'er Rufe's, ober in Hanson county, on a Friday night, an' didn't
git back till a Monday mornin'?"

"Sartin," said Nimbus, gravely.

"Wal, 'twas along o' dis yer business dat I went thar. I know'd
yer'd got one er two warnin's sence I'd come yere wid yer, an' I
'llowed it were on account ob me, kase dem ar Sykeses is monstrous bad
folks when dey gits mad, an' ole Marse Granville, he war powerful
mad at me findin' a home here wid my own relations. So, I tole Sally
Ann all 'bout it, an' I sez to her, 'Sally,' sez I, 'I don't want
ter make Nimbus no sort o' trouble, I don't, kase he's stood up ter
us like a man. Now, ef dey should take a notion ter trouble Bre'er
Nimbus, hit mout do him a heap of harm, kase he's got so much truck
'round him here ter lose.' So we made it up dat I was ter go ter
Bre'er Rufe Paterson's, ober in Hanson county an' see ef we couldn't
find a place ter lib dar, so's not ter be baitin' de hawks on ter
you, Cousin Nimbus."

"Now you, Berry," said Nimbus, extending his hand heartily, "what
for yer no tell me dis afore?"

"Jes kase 'twas no use," answered Berry. "Wall, yer know, I left
h'yer 'bout two hours ob de sun, an' I pushes on right peart, kase
it's a smart step ober ter Rufe's, ennyhow, an' I wanted ter see
him an' git back ter help Nimbus in de crap ob a Monday. Sally hed
fixed me up a bite o' bread an' a piece o' meat, an' I 'llowed I'd
jes stop in some piney ole-field when I got tired, eat my snack,
go ter sleep, an' start fresh afo' daylight in de mornin' for de
rest ob de way. I'd been a wukkin' right peart in de new-ground dat
day, an' when I got ter dat pine thicket jes past de spring by de
Brook's place, 'twixt de Haw Ribber an' Stony Fork, 'long 'bout
nine o'clock I reckon, I wuz dat done out dat I jes takes a drink
at de spring, eats a bite o' bread an' meat, hunts a close place
under de pines, an' goes ter sleep right away.

"Yer knows dar's a smart open place dar, whar dey used ter hev de
ole muster-ground. 'Twas de time ob de full moon, an' when I woke
up a-hearin' somethin', an' kind o' peeped out under de pine bushes,
I t'ought at fust dat it was de ghostesses ob de ole chaps dat hed
come back ter muster dar, sure 'nough. Dey warn't more'n ten steps
away from me, an' de boss man, he sot wid his back to me in dat
rock place what dey calls de Lubber's Cheer. De hosses was tied all
round ter de bushes, an' one ob 'em warn't more'n tree steps from
me, nohow.  I heard 'em talk jest ez plain ez you can hear me, an'
I know'd right smart ob de voices, tu; but, la sakes! yer couldn't
make out which from t'odder wid dem tings dey hed on, all ober der
heads, an' way down to der feet."

"What did they say?" asked Eliab Hill.

"Wal, Bre'er 'Liab, dey sed a heap, but de upshot on't all was dat
de white folks hed jes made up dar min's ter run dis kentry, spite
ob ebbery ting. Dey sed dat dey wuz all fixed up in ebbery county
from ole Virginny  clean ter Texas, an' dey wuz gwine ter teach de
niggers dere place agin, ef dey hed ter kill a few in each county
an' hang 'em up fer scarecrows--jes dat 'ere way. Dey wa'n't no
spring chickens, nuther. Dar wur Sheriff Gleason. He sed he'd corned
over ter let 'em know how they was gittin' on in Ho'sford. He sed
dat ebbery white man in de county 'cept about ten or twelve was
inter it, an' dey wuz a gwine ter clean out nigger  rule h'yer,
_shore_. He sed de fust big thing they got on hand wuz ter
break up dis buzzard-roost h'yer at Red Wing, an' he 'llowed dat
wouldn't be no hard wuk kase dey'd got some pretty tough tings on
Nimbus an" 'Liab both.

"Dey wuz all good men, I seed de hosses, when dey mounted ter go
'way. I tell ye dey wuz good 'uns! No pore-white trash dar; no lame
hosses ner blind mules ner wukked down crap-critters, Jes sleek
gentlemen's hosses, all on 'em.

"Wal, dey went off atter an hour er two, an' I lay dar jes in a
puffick lather o' sweat. I was dat dar skeered, I couldn't sleep
no mo' dat ar night, an' I darsn't walk on afore day kase I wuz
afeared o' meetin' some on 'em. So I lay, an' t'ought dis ting all
ober, an' I tell ye, fellers, 'tain't no use. 'Spose all de white
men in Ho'sford is agin us, what's we gwine ter do?  We can't lib.
Lots o' niggers can't lib a week widout wuk from some white man.
'Sides dat, dey's got de bosses an' de guns, an' de 'sperience; an'
what we got?  Jes nuffin'. Der ain't no mo' use o' fightin' dan ob
tryin' ter butt down 'simmons off a foot-an'-a-half tree wid yer
head. It don't make no sort o' matter 'bout our rights. Co'se we'se
got a _right_ ter vote, an' hold meetin's,  an' be like white
folks; but we can't do it ef dey's a mind ter stop us. An' dey
_is_--dat berry ting!

"Nimbus sez he's gwine ter fight, an' 'Liab sez he's gwine ter
pray. Dat's all right, but it won't do nobody else enny good nor
them nuther. Dat's my notion.  What good did fightin' er prayin'
either used ter do in ole slave times? Nary bit. An' dey's got
us jest about ez close ez dey hed us den, only de halter-chain's
a leetle mite longer, dat's all. All dey's got ter do is jes ter
shorten up on de rope an' it brings us in, all de same ez ever.
Dat's my notion. So I'se gwine ter move on ebbery time dey axes me
tu; kase why, I can't help it.  Berry'll git enough ter eat most
ennywhar, an' dat's 'bout all he 'spects in dis worl'. It's a leetle
better dan de ole slave times, an' ef it keeps on a-growin' better
'n better,  gineration atter gineration, p'raps some of Berry's
kinfolks'll git ter hev a white man's chance some time."

Berry's experience was listened to with profound interest,  but
his conclusions were not received with favor.  There seemed to be
a general conviction that the colored race was to be put on trial,
and that it must show its manhood by defending itself and maintaining
its rights against all odds. His idea of running away was voted
a cowardly and unworthy one, and the plan advocated by Nimbus and
Eliab, to stay and fight it out or take whatever  consequences might
result, was accepted as the true one to be adopted by men having
such responsibility  as rested upon them, as the first generation
of free-men  in the American history of their race.

So, Nimbus and his friends made ready to fight by holding a meeting
in the church, agreeing upon signals, taking account of their
arms, and making provision to get ammunition. Berry prepared for
his exodus by going again to his brother Rufus' house and engaging
to work on a neighboring plantation, and some two weeks afterward
he borrowed Nimbus' mule and carry-all and removed his family also.
As a sort of safeguard on this last journey, he borrowed from Eliab
Hill a repeating Spencer carbine, which a Federal soldier had left
at the cabin of that worthy, soon after the downfall of the Confederacy.
He was probably one of those men who determined to return home as
soon as they were convinced that the fighting was over. Sherman's
army, where desertion had been unknown during the war, lost thousands
of men in this manner between the scene of Johnston's surrender and
the Grand Review at Washington, which ended the spectacular events
of the war.  Eliab had preserved this carbine very carefully, not
regarding  it as his own, but ready to surrender it to the owner or
to any proper authority when demanded. It was useless without the
proper ammunition, and as this seemed to be a peculiar emergency,
he allowed Berry to take it on condition that he should stop at
Boyleston and get a supply of cartridges. Eliab had never fired
a gun in his life, but he believed in defending his rights, and
thought it well to be ready to resist unlawful violence should it
be offered.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW.


A few days after the events narrated in the last two chapters, the
sheriff presented himself at Red Wing.  There was a keen, shrewd
look in the cold, gray eyes under the overhanging brows, as he tied
his horse to the rack near the church, and taking his saddle-bags
on his arm, crossed the road toward the residence of Nimbus and
Eliab Hill.

Red Wing had always been a remarkably peaceful and quiet settlement.
Acting under the advice of Miss Ainslie and Eliab, Nimbus had parted
with none of his possessions except upon terms which prevented the
sale of spirituous liquors there. This was not on account of any
"fanatical" prejudice in favor of temperance, since the Squire of
Red Wing was himself not exactly averse to an occasional dram; but
he readily perceived that if such sale could be prohibited in the
little village the chances for peace and order would be greatly
improved.  He recognized the fact that those characters that were
most likely to assemble around a bar-room were not the most likely
to be valuable residents of the settlement. Besides the condition
in his own deeds, therefore, he had secured through the members
of the Legislature from his county the passage of an act forever
prohibiting the sale of spirituous liquors within one mile of the
school-house at Red Wing. Just without this limit several little
shanties had been erected where chivalric white men doled out liquor
to the hard-working  colored men of Red Wing. It was an easy and an
honorable business and they did not feel degraded by contact with
the freedmen across the bar. The superior race did not feel itself
debased by selling bad whisky at an extravagant price to the poor,
thirsty Africans who went by the "shebangs" to and from their daily
toil.  But Nimbus and the law would not allow the nearer approach
of such influences.

By these means, with the active co-operation of the teachers, Red
Wing had been kept so peaceful, that the officers of the law rarely
had occasion to appear within its limits, save to collect the fiscal
dues from its citizens.

It was with not a little surprise, therefore, that Nimbus  saw the
stalwart sheriff coming towards him where he was at work upon the
hillside back of his house, "worming" and "topping" a field of
tobacco which gave promise of a magnificent yield.

"Mornin', Nimbus," said the officer, as he drew near, and turning
partially around glanced critically over the field and furtively
at the little group of buildings below.  "A fine stand of terbacker
you've got--mighty even, good growth. Don't think I've seen quite
as good-looking  a crap this year. There's old man George Price up
about Rouseville, he's got a mighty fine crap--always does have, you
know. I saw it yesterday and didn't think anything could be better,
but your's does beat it, that's sure. It's evener and brighter,
and a trifle heavier growth, too. I told him that if anybody in
the county could equal it you were the man; but I had no idea you
could beat it. This is powerful good land for terbacker, certain."

"'Tain't so much the land," said Nimbus, standing up to his arm-pits
in the rank-leaved crop above which his bare black arms glistened
in the hot summer sun, "as 'tis the keer on't. Powerful few folks
is willin' ter give the keer it takes ter grow an' cure a fine
crop o'  terbacker. Ther ain't a minit from the time yer plant the
seed-bed till ye sell the leaf, that ye kin take yer finger offen
it widout resk ob losin' all yer wuk."

"That's so," responded the sheriff, "but the land has a heap to do
with it, after all."

"Ob co'se," said Nimbus, as he broke a sucker into short pieces
between his thumb and finger, "yer's got ter hab de sile; but ther's
a heap mo' jes ez good terbacker  lan' ez dis, ef people only hed
the patience ter wuk it ez I do mine."

"Wal, now, there's not so much like this," said the sheriff,
sharply, "and you don't think so, neither. You wouldn't take a big
price for your two hundred acres here now." He watched the other's
countenance sharply  as he spoke, but the training of slavery made
the face of the black Ajax simply Sphinx-like in its inscrutability.

"Wal, I don't know," said Nimbus, slowly, "I mout and then again
I moutn't, yer know. Ther'd be a good many pints ter think over
besides the quality of the sile afore I'd want ter say 'yes' er
'no' to an offer ob dat kind."

"That's what I thought," said the sheriff. "You are nicely fixed
here, and I don't blame you. I had some little business with you,
and I'm glad I come to-day and caught ye in your terbacker. It's
powerful fine."

"Business wid me?" asked Nimbus in surprise.  "What is it?"

"Oh, I don't know," said the officer, lightly, as he put on his
spectacles, opened his saddle-bags and took out some papers. "Some
of these lawyers have got after you, I suppose, thinking you're
getting along too peart. Let me see," he continued, shuffling over
the papers in his hand. "Here's a summons in a civil  action--the
old man, Granville Sykes, against Nimbus Desmit and Eliab Hill.
Where is 'Liab? I must see him, too. Here's your copy," he continued,
handing Nimbus the paper and marking the date of service on the
original in pencil with the careless promptitude of the well-trained
official.

Nimbus looked at the paper which was handed him in undisguised
astonishment.

"What is dis ting, anyhow, Marse Sheriff?" he asked.

"That? Why, that is a summons. Can't you read it? Here, let me take
it."

He read over the legal formulary requiring Nimbus to be and appear
at the court house in Louisburg on the sixth Monday after the second
Monday in August, to answer the demand of the plaintiff against him,
and concluding with the threat that in default of such appearance
judgment  would be entered up against him.

"You see, you've got to come and answer old man Granville's
complaint, and after that you will have a trial.  You'll have to
get a lawyer, and I expect there'll be smart of fuss about it before
it's over. But you can afford it; a man as well fixed as you, that
makes such terbacker as this, can afford to pay a lawyer right
smart. I've no doubt the old man will get tired of it before you
do; but, after all, law is the most uncertain thing in the world."

"What does it mean? Has he sued me?" asked Nimbus.

"Sued you? I should rather think he had--for a thousand dollars
damages too. That is you and 'Liab, between you."

"But what for? I don't owe him anythin' an' never did."

"Oh, that's nothing. He says you've damaged him.  I've forgot what
it's about. Let me see. Oh, yes, I  remember now. He says you and
'Liab enticed away his servant--what's his name? that limber-jinted,
whistlin' feller you've had working for you for a spell."

"What, Berry?"

"That's it, Berry--Berry Lawson, That's the very chap. Well, old
Granville says you coaxed him to leave his employ, and he's after
you under the statute."

"But it's a lie--every word on't! I nebber axed Berry ter leave
him, an' hed no notion he was a gwine ter do it till Marse Sykes
throwed him out in de big road."

"Wal, wal, I don't know nothing about that, I'm sure. He says you
did, you say you didn't. I s'pose it'll take a court and jury to
decide betwixt ye. It's none of my concern. Oh, yes," he continued,
"I like to have forgot it, but here's a _capias_ for you,
too--you and 'Liab again. It seems there's a bill of indictment
against you. I presume it's the same matter. I must have a bond on
this for your appearance, so you'd better  come on down to 'Liab's
house with me. I'll take you for him, and him for you, as sureties.
I don't  suppose 'Liab'll be apt to run away, eh, and you're worth
enough for both."

"What's this all about?" asked Nimbus.

"Well, I suppose the old man Sykes got ye indicted under the statute
making it a misdemeanor, punishable with fine and imprisonment,
to coax, hire, or seduce away one's niggers after he's hired 'em.
Just the same question as the other, only this is an indictment
and that's a civil action--an action under the code, as they call
it, since you Radicals tinkered over the law. One is for the damage
to old man Sykes, and the other because it's a crime to coax off
or harbor any one's hirelings."

"Is dat de law, Mister Sheriff?"

"Oh, yes, that's the law, fast enough. No trouble about that. Didn't
know it, did you? Thought you could go and take a man's "hands"
right out from under his nose, and not get into trouble about it,
didn't ye?"

"I t'ought dat when a man was free anudder could hire him widout
axin' leave of his marster. Dat's what I t'ought freedom meant."

"Oh, not exactly; there's lots of freedom lyin' round loose, but
it don't allow a man to hire another man's hands, nor give them
aid and comfort by harboring and feeding them when they break their
contracts and run away. I reckon the old man's got you, Nimbus. If
one hook don't catch, the other will. You've been harborin'  the
cuss, if you didn't entice him away, and that's just the same."

"Ef you mean by harborin' that I tuk my wife's kinsman  in when
ole Marse Sykes turned his family out in de big road like a damned
ole rascal--"

"Hold on, Nimbus!" said the sheriff, with a dangerous  light in
his cold gray eyes; "you'd better not talk like that about a white
gentleman."

"Whose ter hender my talkin', I'd like ter know?  Hain't I jes' de
same right ter talk ez you er Marse Sykes, an' wouldn't you call
me a damn rascal ef I'd done ez he did? Ain't I ez free ez he is?"

"You ain't white!" hissed the sheriff.

"No, an' it seems I ain't free, nuther!" was the hot reply." H'yer
t'other night some damn scoundrels--I'specs they wuz white, too,
an' yer may tell 'em from me dat I called 'em jes what I did--come
an' hung a board 'fore my gate threatening ter kill me an' 'Liab
kase we's 'too sassy,' so they sed. Now, 'Liab Hill ner me nebber
disturb nobody, an' nebber do nothin' only jes stan' up for our
own rights, respectful and  peaceable-like; but we hain't ter be
run down in no sech way, I'se a free man, an' ef I think a man's
a gran' rascal I'se gwine ter _say_ so, whether he's black er
white; an' ef enny on 'em comes ter Ku Klux me I'll put a bullet
t'rough dem! I will, by God! Ef I breaks the law I'll take the
consequences like a man, but I'll be damned ef ennybody shall Ku
Kluck me without somebody's goin' 'long with me, when I drops outen
dis world! Dat much I'se sot on!"

The sheriff did not answer, only to say, "Careful, careful! There's
them that would give you a high limb if they heard you talk like
that."

They went together to the house. The required bonds were given,
and the sheriff started off with a chuckle. He had hardly passed
out of sight when he checked his horse, returned, and calling Nimbus
to the gate, said to him in a low tone:

"See here, Nimbus, if you should ever get in the notion  of selling
this place, remember and let me have the first chance."

"All right, Marse Gleason."

"And see here, these little papers I've served to-day--you needn't
have any trouble about them in that case.  You understand," with
a wink.

"Dunno ez I does, Marse Sheriff," stolidly.

"Oh, well, if you sell to me, I'll take care of them, that's all."

"An' ef I don't?"

"Oh, well, in that case, you must look out for yourself."

He wheeled his horse and rode off with a mocking laugh.

Nimbus returned to the porch of Eliab's house where the preacher
sat thoughtfully scanning the summons and _capias_.

"What you tink ob dis ting, 'Liab?"

"It is part of a plan to break you up, Nimbus," was the reply.

"Dar ain't no sort ob doubt 'bout that, 'Liab," answered  Nimbus,
doggedly, "an' dat ole Sheriff Gleason's jes' at de bottom ob it,
I do b'lieve. But I ain't ter be druv off wid law-suits ner Ku
Kluckers. I'se jest a gwine ter git a lawyer an' fight it out, dat
I am."



CHAPTER XXXV.

A PARTICULAR TENANCY LAPSES.


The second day after the visit of the sheriff, Nimbus was sitting
on his porch after his day's work when there was a call at his
gate.

"Who's dar?" he cried, starting up and gazing through an opening
in the honeysuckle which clambered up to the eaves and shut in
the porch with a wall of fragrant green. Seeing one of his white
neighbors, he went out to the gate, and after the usual salutations
was greeted with these words:

"I hear you's gwine to sell out an' leave, Nimbus?"

"How'd ye hear dat?"

"Wal, Sheriff Gleason's a' been tellin' of it 'round, and ther
ain't no other talk 'round the country only that."

"What 'ud I sell out an' leave for? Ain't I well 'nough off whar
I is?"

"The sheriff says you an' 'Liab Hill has been gittin' into some
trouble with the law, and that the Ku Klux has got after you too,
so that if you don't leave you're likely to go to States prison or
have a whippin' or hangin' bee at your house afore you know it."

"Jes let 'em come," said Nimbus, angrily--"Ku Kluckers or sheriffs,
it don't make no difference which.  I reckon it's all 'bout one
an' de same ennyhow. It's a damn shame too. Dar, when de 'lection
come las' time we put Marse Gleason in agin, kase we hadn't nary
white man in de county dat was fitten for it an' could give de
bond; an' of co'se dere couldn't no cullu'd man give it. An' jes
kase we let him hev it an' he's feared we mout change our minds
now, here he is a runnin' 'roun' ter Ku Klux meetin's an' a tryin'
ter stir up de bery ole debble, jes ter keep us cullu'd people from
hevin' our rights. He can't do it wid me, dat's shore. I hain't done
nuffin' an' I won't run. Ef I'd a-done ennythin'  I'd run, kase I
don't b'lieve more'n ennybody else in a, man's stayin' ter let de
law git a holt on him; but when I hain't done nary ting, ther ain't
nobody ez kin drive me outen my tracks."

"But the Ku Klux mout _lift_ ye outen 'em," said the other
with a weak attempt at wit.

"Jes let 'em try it once!" said Nimbus, excitedly.  "I'se purty
well prepared for 'em now, an' atter tomorrer  I'll be jes ready
for 'em. I'se gwine ter Louisburg  to-morrer, an' I 'llow that
atter I come back they won't keer ter meddle wid Nimbus. Tell yer
what, Mister  Dossey, I bought dis place from ole Marse Desmit,
an' paid for it, ebbery cent; an' I swar I ain't a gwine ter let
no man drive me offen it--nary foot. An' ef de Ku Klux comes, I's
jest a gwine ter kill de las' one I gits a chance at. Now, you min'
what I say, Mister Dossey, kase I means ebbery word on't."

The white man cowered before the other's energy.  He was of that
class who were once denominated "poor whites." The war taught him
that he was as good a man to stop bullets as one that was gentler
bred, and during that straggle which the non-slaveholders fought
at the beck and in the interest of the slaveholding  aristocracy,
he had learned more of manhood than he had ever known before. In the
old days his father had been an overseer on a plantation adjoining
Knapp-of-Reeds, and as a boy he had that acquaintance with Nimbus
which every white boy had with the neighboring colored lads--they
hunted and fished together and were as near cronies as their color
would allow. Since the war he had bought a place and by steady
work had accumulated some money. His plantation was on the river
and abutted on the eastern side with the property of Nimbus. After
a moment's silence he said:

"That reminds me of what I heard to-day. Your old Marse Potem is
dead."

"Yer don't say, now!"

"Yes--died yesterday and will be buried to-morrow."

"La, sakes! An' how's he lef ole Missus an' de gals, I wonder?"

"Mighty pore I'm afraid. They say he's been mighty bad off lately,
an' what he's got won't more'n half pay his debts. I reckon the
widder an' chillen'll hev ter 'homestead it' the rest of their
lives."

"Yer don't tink so? Wal, I do declar', hit's too bad. Ez rich ez he
was, an' now ter come down ter be ez pore ez Nimbus--p'raps poorer!"

"It's mighty hard, that's sure. It was all along of the wah that
left everybody pore in this country, just as it made all the Yankees
rich with bonds and sech-like."

"Sho'! what's de use ob bein' a fool? 'Twan't de wah dat made Marse
Desmit pore. 'Twuz dat ar damn fool business ob slavery afo' de
wah dat wound him up.  Ef he'd never been a 'speculator' an' hadn't
tried to grow rich a raisin' men an' wimmen for market he'd a been
richer'n ever he was, when he died."

"Oh, you're mistaken 'bout that, Nimbus. The wah ruined us all."

"Ha! ha! ha!" roared Nimbus, derisively. "What de wah ebber take
from you, Mister Dossey, only jes yer oberseer's whip? An' dat wur
de berry best ting ebber happen ter ye, kase it sot yer to wuk an'
put yer in de way ob makin' money for yerself. It was hard on sech
ez ole Mahs'r, dat's a fac, even ef 'twas mostly his own fault; but
it was worth a million ter sech ez you. You 'uns gained mo' by de
outcome ob de wah, right away, dan we cullu'd folks'll ebber git,
I'm afeared."

"Yer may be right," said Dawsey, laughing, and with a touch of
pride in his tone. "I've done pretty well since the wah. An' that
brings me back to what I come over for. I thought I'd ax, if ye
should git in a notion of selling, what yer'd take fer yer place
here?"

"I hain't no idea uv selling, Mister Dossey, an' hain't no notion
uv hevin' any 'nuther. You an' ebberybody  else mout jest ez well
larn, fust ez las', dat I shan't never sell only jes ter make money.
Ef I put a price on Red Wing it'll be a big one; kase it ain't done
growing yet, an' I might jest ez well stay h'yr an' grow ez ter go
West an' grow up wid de kentry, ez dat fool Berry Lawson's allers
tellin' about."

"Wal, that's all right, only ef you ever want ter sell, reasonable-like,
yer know who to come to for your money. Good-night!"

The man was gathering up his reins when Nimbus said:

"When did yer say ole Mahsr's funeral was gwine ter be?"

"To-morrow afternoon at four o'clock, I heerd."

"Thank ye. I'se 'bout made up my mind ter go ter Louisburg to-morrer,
stay ter dat funeral, an' come back nex' day. Seems ter me ole
Mahs'r'd be kind o' glad ter see Nimbus at his funeral, fer all I
wan't no gret fav'rite o' his'n. He wa'nt sich a bad marster, an'
atter I bought Red Wing he use ter come ober ebbery now an' agin,
an' gib me a heap ob advice 'bout fixin' on it up.  I allus listened
at him, tu, kase ef ennybody ever knowed nex' do' ter ebberyting,
dat ar man wuz ole Marse Potem. I'se sorry he's dead, I is; an'
I'se mighty sorry for ole Missus an' de gals. An' I'se a gwine ter
go ter dat er funeral an' see him laid away, ef it do take anudder
day outen de crap; dat I is, shore.

"An' that 'minds me," said the white man, "that I heard at the same
time, that Walter Greer, who used to own the plantation afore yer
Marse Desmit bought it, died sometime lately, 'way out in Texas.
It's quare, ain't it, that they should both go nigh about the same
time. Good-night."

The "poor-white" neighbor rode away, little dreaming  that the
colored man had estimated him aright, and accounted him only an
emissary of his foes, nor did he comprehend the importance of the
information he had given.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

THE BEACON-LIGHT OF LOVE.


Mollie Ainslie had been absent from Red Wing more than a month.
It was nearly midnight. The gibbous moon hung over the western
tree-tops. There was not a sound to be heard in the little hamlet,
but strangely  draped figures might have been seen moving about
in the open glades of the piney woods which skirted Red Wing upon
the west.

One after another they stole across the open space between  the
church and the pine grove, in its rear, until a half-dozen had
collected in its shadow. One mounted on another's shoulders and
tried one of the windows. It yielded to his touch and he raised
it without difficulty.  He entered and another after him. Then two
or three strange-looking packages were handed up to them from the
outside. There was a whispered discussion, and then the parties
within were heard moving cautiously about and a strong benzoic
odor came from the upraised window. Now and then a sharp metallic
clang was heard from within. At length the two that had entered
returned to the window. There was a whispered  consultation with
those upon the outside. One of these crept carefully to the corner
and gave a long low whistle.  It was answered after a moment's
interval, first from one direction and then from another, until
every part of the little hamlet resounded with short quick answers.
Then the man at the corner of the church crept back and whispered,

"All right!"

One of the parties inside came out upon the window-sill and dropped
lightly to the ground. The other mounted upon the window-sill, and
turned round upon his knees; there was a gleam of light within the
building, a flicker and a hiss, and then with a mighty roar the
flame swept through it as if following the trail of some combustible.
Here and there it surged, down the aisles and over the desks, white
and clear, showing in sharpest  silhouette every curve and angle
of building and furniture.

The group at the window stood gazing within for a moment, the light
playing on their faces and making them seem ghastly and pale by
the reflection; then they crept hastily back into the shadow of
the wood--all but one, who, clad in the horribly grotesque habit
of the Ku Klux Klan, stood at the detached bell-tower, and when
the flames burst forth from the windows solemnly tolled the bell
until driven from his post by the heat.

One had hardly time to think, before the massive structure of dried
pitch-pine which northern charity had erected in the foolish hope
of benefiting the freedmen, where the young teachers had labored
with such devotion, and where so many of the despised race had laid
the foundation of a knowledge that they vainly hoped might lift
them up into the perfect light of freedom, was a solid spire of
sheeted flame.

By its ghastly glare, in various parts of the village were to be
seen groups and single armed sentries, clad in black gowns which
fell to their very feet, spire-pointed caps, grotesquely marked and
reaching far above the head, while from the base a flowing masque
depended over the face and fell down upon the shoulders,  hiding
all the outlines of the figure.

The little village was taken completely by surprise. It had been
agreed that the ringing of the church bell should be the signal
for assembling at the church with such arms as they had to resist
the Ku Klux. It had not been thought that the danger would be imminent
until about the expiration of the time named in the  notice; so
that the watch which had been determined upon had not been strictly
kept, and on this night had been especially lax on one of the roads
leading into the little hamlet.

At the first stroke of the bell all the villagers were awake, and
from half-opened doors and windows they took in the scene which
the light of the moon and the glare of the crackling fire revealed.
Then dusky-skinned forms stole hastily away into the shadows of the
houses and fences, and through the rank-growing corn of the little
truck-patches, to the woods and fields in the rear. There were
some who since the warning  had not slept at home at all, but had
occupied little leafy shelters in the bush and half-hid burrows
on the hillside. On the eyes of all these gleamed the blaze of the
burning church, and each one felt, as he had never realized before,
the strength of that mysterious band which was just putting forth
its power to overturn and nullify a system of laws that sought to
clothe an inferior and servile race with the rights and privileges
theretofore  exercised solely by the dominant one.

Among those who looked upon this scene was Eliab Hill. Sitting upon
his bench he gazed through the low window of his little cottage, the
flame lighting up his pale face and his eyes distended with terror.
His clasped hands rested on the window-sill and his upturned eyes
evidently sought for strength from heaven to enable him manfully
to perform the part he had declared his  determination to enact.
What he saw was this:

A company of masked men seemed to spring out of the ground around
the house of Nimbus, and, at a whistle from one of their number,
began swiftly to close in upon it. There was a quick rush and the
door was burst open. There were screams and blows, angry words,
and protestations within. After a moment a light shot up and died
quickly out again--one of the party had struck a match. Eliab
heard the men cursing Lugena, and ordering her to make up a light
on the hearth. Then there were more blows, and the light shone upon
the window. There were rough inquiries for the owner, and Eliab
thanked God that his faithful friend was far away from the danger
and devastation of that night. He wondered, dully, what would
be his thought when he should return on the morrow, and mark the
destruction wrought in his absence, and tried to paint his rage.

While he thought of these things the neighboring house was ransacked
from top to bottom. He heard the men cursing because their search
was fruitless. They brought out the wife, Lugena, and two of her
children, and coaxed and threatened them without avail. A few blows
were struck, but the wife and children stoutly maintained that the
husband and father was absent, attending his old master's funeral,
at Louisburg. The yellow light of the blazing church shone on
the house, and made fantastic shadows all around. The lurid glare
lighted up their faces and pictured their terror. They were almost
without  clothing. Eliab noticed that the hand that clasped Lugena's
black arm below the band of the chemise was white and delicate.

The wife and children were crying and moaning in terror and pain.
Oaths and blows were intermingled with questions in disguised
voices, and gasping broken answers.  Blood was running down the
face of the wife.  The younger children were screaming in the house.
Children and women were shrieking in every direction as they fled
to the shelter of the surrounding woods. The flame roared and
crackled as it licked the resin from the pine logs of the church
and leaped aloft. It shone upon the glittering needles of the
surrounding pines, lighted up the ripening tobacco on the hillside,
sparkled in the dewy leaves of the honeysuckle which clambered over
the freedman's house and hid the staring moon with its columns of
black smoke.

The search for Nimbus proving unavailing--they scarcely seemed to
expect to find him--they began to  inquire of the terror-stricken
woman the whereabouts of his friend.

"Where is 'Liab Hill?" asked the man who held her arm.

"What have you done with that snivelling hop-toad minister?" queried
another.

"Speak, damn you! and see that you tell the truth," said a third,
as he struck her over the bare shoulders with a stick.

"Oh! don't! don't!" shrieked the poor woman as she writhed in agony.
"I'll tell! I will, gentlemens--I will--I will! Oh, my God! don't!
_don't!_" she cried, as she leaped wildly about, tearing
the one garment away in her efforts to avoid the blows which fell
thick and fast on every part of her person, now fully exposed in
the bright light.

"Speak, then!" said the man who held the goad.  "Out with it! Tell
where you've hid him!"

"He ain't--here, gentlemen! He--he--don't--stay here no mo'."

Again the blows came thick and fast. She fell upon the ground and
rolled in the dust to avoid them. Her round black limbs glistened
in the yellow light as she writhed from side to side.

"Here I am--here!" came a wild, shrill shriek from Eliab's cabin.

Casting a glance towards it, one of the men saw a blanched and
pallid face pressed against the window and lighted by the blazing
church--the face of him who was wont to minister there to the people
who did not know their own "best friends!"

"There he is!"--"Bring the damn rascal out!"--"He's the one we
want, anyhow!"

These and numerous other shouts of similar character,  beat upon
the ears of the terrified watcher, as the crowd of masked marauders
rushed towards the little cabin which had been his home ever since
Red Wing had passed into the possession of its present owner. It
was the first building erected under the new proprietorship, and
was substantially built of pine logs. The one low window and the
door in front were the only openings cut through the solidly-framed
logs. The door was fastened with a heavy wooden bar which reached
across the entire shutter and was held in place by strong iron
staples driven into the heavy door-posts. Above, it was strongly
ceiled, but under the eaves were large openings made by the thick
poles which had been used for rafters. If the owner had been capable
of defense he could hardly have had a castle better adapted for a
desperate and successful  struggle than this.

Eliab Hill knew this, and for a moment his face flushed as he saw
the crowd rush towards him, with the vain wish that he might fight
for his life and for his race.  He had fully made up his mind to
die at his post.  He was not a brave man in one sense of the word.
A cripple never is. Compelled to acknowledge the physical  superiority
of others, year after year, he comes at length to regard his own
inferiority as a matter of course, and never thinks of any movement
which partakes of the aggressive. Eliab Hill had procured the
strong bar and heavy staples for his door when first warned by the
Klan, but he had never concocted any scheme of defense. He thought
vaguely, as he saw them coming towards him in the bright moonlight
and in the brighter glow of the burning sanctuary, that with a
good repeating arm he might not only sell his life dearly, but even
repel the attack. It would be a proud thing if he might do so. He
was sorry he had not thought of it before. He remembered the Spencer
carbine which he had given a few days before to Berry Lawson to
clean and repair, and to obtain cartridges of the proper calibre,
in order that it might be used by some one in the defense of Red
Wing. Berry had not yet returned. He had never thought of using it
himself, until that moment when he saw his enemies advancing upon
him with wild cries, and heard the roar of the flaming church. He
was not a hero. On the contrary, he believed himself a coward.

He was brave enough in suffering, but his courage was like that
of a woman. He was able and willing to endure  the most terrible
evils, but he did not think of doing brave things or achieving great
acts. His courage was not aggressive. He could be killed, but did
not think of killing. Not that he was averse to taking life in
self-defense, but he had been so long the creature of another's
will in the matter of locomotion that it did not occur to him to
do otherwise than say: "Do with me as thou wilt. I am bound hand
and foot. I cannot fight, but I can die."

He shrank from acute pain with that peculiar terror which the
confirmed invalid always exhibits, perhaps because he realizes its
horror more than those who are usually exempt from its pangs.

As he pressed his face close to the flame-lighted pane, and watched
the group of grotesquely disguised men rushing toward his door,
his eyes were full of wild  terror and his face twitched, while
his lips trembled and grew pale under the dark mustache. There was
a rush against the door, but it did not yield. Another and another;
but the heavy bar and strong staples held it fast. Then his name
was called, but he did not answer.  Drawing his head quickly from
the window, he closed the heavy wooden shutter, which fitted closely
into the frame on the inside, and fastened it with a bar like that
upon the door. Hardly had he done so when a blow shattered the
window. Something was thrust in and passed around the opening,
trying here and there to force open the shutter, but in vain. Then
it was pressed against the bottom, just where the shutter rested
on the window-sill. There was an instant's silence save that Eliab
Hill heard a click which he thought was caused by the cocking of
a revolver, and threw himself quickly down upon his bench. There
was a sharp explosion, a jarring crash as the ball tore through
the woodwork, and hurtling across the room buried itself in the
opposite wall. Then there were several shots fired at the door. One
man found a little hole in the chinking, between two of the logs,
and putting his revolver through, fired again and again, sending
spits of hot flame and sharp spiteful reverberations through the
darkness of the cabin.

Eliab Hill watched all this with fixed, staring eyes and teeth set,
but did not move or speak. He scrambled off the bench, and crawled,
in his queer tri-pedal fashion, to the cot, crept into it, and with
hands clasped, sat bolt upright on the pillow. He set his back
against the wall, and, facing the door, waited for the end. He
wished that some of the bullets that were fired might pierce his
heart.  He even prayed that his doom might come sharp and swift--that
he might be saved from torture--might be spared the lash. He only
feared lest his manhood should fail him in the presence of impending
suffering.

There came a rush against the door with some heavy timber.
He guessed that it was the log from the hitching rack in front of
Nimbus' house. But the strong bar did not yield. They called out
his name again, and assured him that if he did not undo the door
they would fire the house. A strange look of relief, even of joy,
passed over his face as he heard this declaration. He clasped his
hands across his breast as he sat upon the bed, and his lips moved
in prayer. He was not afraid to die, but he was afraid that he might
not be strong enough to endure all the pain that might be caused by
torture, without betraying his suffering or debasing his manhood.
He felt very weak and was glad to know that fire and smoke would
hide his groans and tears.

While he waited for the hissing of the flame the blows of an axe
resounded on the door. It was wielded by stalwart hands, and ere
long the glare from without shone through the double planking.

"Hello, 'Liab--'Liab Hill!" cried a voice at the opening which
seemed to the quiet listener within strangely like that of Sheriff
Gleason. "Damn me, boys, if I don't believe you've killed the nigger,
shooting in there. Hadn't we better just set the cabin afire and
let it burn?"

"Put in your hand and see if you can't lift the bar," said another.
"I'd like to know whether the scoundrel is dead or alive. Besides
that, I don't fancy this burning houses. I don't object to hanging
a sassy nigger, or anything of that kind, but burning a house is
a different matter. That's almost too mean for a white man to do.
It's kind of a nigger business, to my notion."

"For instance!" said another, with a laugh, pointing to the blazing
church.

"Oh, damn it!" said the former, "that's another thing. A damn nigger
school-house ain't of no more account than a brush-pile, anyhow."

A hand was thrust through' the opening and the bar lifted from
one socket and drawn out of the other. Then the door flew open and
a half dozen men rushed into the room. The foremost fell over the
rolling chair which had been left near the door, and the others in
turn fell over him.

"What the hell!" cried one. "Here, bring the light here. What is
this thing anyhow?"

The light was brought, and the voice continued: "Damned if it ain't
the critter's go-cart. Here kick the damn thing out--smash it up!
Such things ain't made for niggers to ride on, anyhow. He won't
need it any more--not after we have got through with him."

"That he won't!" said another, as the invalid's chair which had
first given Eliab Hill power to move himself about was kicked out
of the door and broken into pieces with blows of the axe.

Eliab Hill felt as if a part of his life was already destroyed.
He groaned for the fate of this inseparable companion of all his
independent existence. It had grown dearer to him than he knew.
It hurt him, even then, to hear the coarse, grim jests which were
uttered as its finely-wrought frame cracked beneath the blows of the
axe, and its luxurious belongings were rent and torn by the hands
that would soon rend and tear its owner. He had come to look upon
the insensate machine with a passionate regard. While it seemed
like tearing away his limbs to take it from him, yet there was
a feeling of separate animate existence about it which one never
feels towards his own members. He had petted and polished and cared
for this strong, pretty, and easily worked combination of levers
and springs and wheels that had served him so faithfully, until it
seemed to his fancy like an old and valued friend.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE "BEST FRIENDS" REVEAL THEMSELVES.


"Bring alight!" shouted the leader. One of the men rushed into the
house of Nimbus, and snatched a flaming brand from the hearth. As
he ran with it out of the front door, he did not see a giant form
which leaped from the waving corn and sprang into the back door.
The black foot was bare and made no sound as it fell upon the
threshold. He did not see the black, furious face or the right
arm, bared above the elbow, which snatched a saber from the top of
a cupboard. He did not see the glaring, murderous eyes that peered
through the vine-leaves as he rushed, with his flaming brand aloft,
out of the house to the hut of Eliab. As he readied the door the
light fell upon the preacher, who sat upon the bed.  The fear of
death had passed away--even the fear of suffering was gone. His
lips moved in prayer, the forgiving words mingling with the curses
of his assailants: "O God, my help and my shield!" ("_Here
he is, God damn him._") "Forgive them, Father--" ("_I've got
him._") "They know not---a--h!"

A long, shrill shriek--the voice of a man overborne by mortal
agony--sounded above the clamor of curses, and above the roar
of the blazing church. There was a fall upon the cabin floor--the
grating sound of a body swiftly drawn along its surface--and one of
the masked marauders rushed out dragging by the foot the preacher
of the Gospel of Peace. The withered leg was straightened.  The
weakened sinews were torn asunder, and as his captor dragged him
out into the light and flung the burden away, the limb dropped,
lax and nerveless, to the ground.  Then there were blows and kicks
and curses from the crowd, which rushed upon him. In the midst,
one held aloft a blazing brand. Groans and fragments of prayer came
up through the din. [Footnote: Those who are interested in such
matters may find some curiously exact parallels of the characters
and incidents of this chapter testified to under oath in the "Report
of the Committee on Ku-Klux Outrages in the Southern States." The
facts are of no special interest, however, except as illustrations
of the underlying spirit and cause of this strange epidemic of
violence.]

All at once there was a roar as of a desert lion bursting from its
lair. They looked and saw a huge black form leap from the porch of
the other house and bound toward them. He was on them in a minute.
There was the swish of a saber swung by a practiced hand, and the
high-peaked mask of the leader bent over the hissing blade, and was
stripped away, leaving a pale, affrighted face glaring stupidly at
the ebon angel of wrath in the luried fire-light. A fearful oath
came through the white, strong teeth, which showed hard-set below the
moustache.  Again the saber whistled round the head of the avenger.
There was a shriek of mortal agony, and one of the masqueraders
fell. The others shrunk back. One fired a shot. The man with the
torch stood for the moment as though transfixed, with the glaring
light still held aloft. Then, with his revolver, he aimed a close,
sure shot at the dusky giant whom he watched.

Suddenly he saw a woman's naked figure, that seemed to rise from
the ground. There was a gleam of steel, and then down through mask
and flesh and bone crashed the axe which had fallen by the door
step, and the blood spurted upon Lugena's unclothed form and into
the face of the prostrate Eliab, as the holder of the torch fell
beside him. Then the others gave way, and the two black forms
pursued. There were some wild shots fired back, as they fled toward
the wood beyond the road.

Then from its depths came a flash and a roar. A ball went shrieking
by them and flew away into the darkness beyond. Another, and another
and another! It was not the sharp, short crack of the revolver, but
the fierce angry challenge of the rifle. They had heard it before
upon the battle-field, and terror lent them wings as they fled.
The hurtling missiles flew here and there, wherever a masked form
could be seen, and pursued their fleeing shadows into the wood,
glancing from tree to tree, cutting through spine and branch and
splintering bole, until the last echo of their footsteps had died
away.

Then all was still, except the roar of the burning church and the
solemn soughing of the pines, as the rising west wind rustled their
branches.

Nimbus and his wife stood listening in the shade of a low oak,
between the scene of conflict and the highway.  No sound of the
flying enemy could be heard.

"Nimbus! _Oh_, Nimbus!" the words came in a strained, low
whisper from the unclad figure at his side.

"Wal, 'Gena?"

"Is you hurt, honey?"

"Nary bit. How should I be? They run away ez quick ez I come. Did
they 'buse you, 'Gena?"

"None of enny 'count," she answered, cautiously, for fear of raising
his anger to a point beyond control--"only jest a tryin' ter make
me tell whar you was--you an' 'Liab."

"Whar's yer clo'es, honey?"

"In de house, dar, only what I tore, getting away from 'em."   "An'
de chillen?"

"Dey's run out an' hid somewheres. Dey scattered like young
pa'tridges."

"Dey's been hunted like 'em too, eh?"

He lays his hand in caution upon the bare shoulder next him, and
they both crouch closer in the shadow and listen. All is quiet,
except groans and stertorous breathing near the cabin.

"It's one of them damned villains. Let me settle him!" said Nimbus.

"Don't, don't!" cried Lugena, as she threw her arms about his neck.
"Please don't, honey!"

"P'raps it's Bre'er 'Liab! Let me go!" he said, hastily.

Cautiously they started back through the strip of yellow light which
lay between them and the cabin of Eliab.  They could not believe
that their persecutors were indeed gone. Nimbus's hand still clutched
the saber, and Lugena had picked up the axe which she had dropped.

The groaning came indeed from Eliab. He had partially recovered
from the unconsciousness which had come over him while undergoing
torture, and with returning animation had come the sense of acute
suffering from the injuries he had received.

"Bre'er 'Liab!" whispered Nimbus, bending over him.

"Is that you, Nimbus?" asked the stricken man in surprise. "How do
you come to be here?"

"Jes tuk it inter my head ter come home atter de funeril, an' done
got here jest in time ter take a han' in what was gwine on."

"Is the church all burned down, Nimbus?"

"De ruf hez all fell in. De sides 'll burn a long while yet. Dey'se
logs, yer know."

"Did 'Gena get away, Nimbus?"

"Here I is, Bre'er 'Liab."

"Is anybody hurt?"

"Not ez we knows on, 'cept two dat's lyin' on de groun' right h'yer
by ye," said Nimbus.

"Dead?" asked 'Liab, with a shudder. He tried to raise himself up
but sank back with a groan.

"Oh, Bre'er 'Liab! Bre'er 'Liab!" cried Nimbus, his distress
overcoming his fear, "is you hurt bad?  My God!" he continued, as
he raised his friend's head and saw that he had lapsed again into
insensibility, "my God! 'Gena, he's dead!"

He withdrew the hand he had placed under the shoulders of the
prostrate man. It was covered with blood.

"Sh--sh! You hear dat, Nimbus?" asked Lugena, in a choked whisper,
as she started up and peered toward the road. "Oh, Nimbus, run!
run! Do, honey, do!  Dar dey comes! Dey'll kill you, shore!"

She caught her husband by the arm, and endeavored to drag him into
the shadow of the cabin.

"I can't leave Bre'er 'Liab," said Nimbus, doggedly.

"Yer can't help him. Yer'll jes stay an' be killed ye'self! Dar
now, listen at dat!" cried the trembling woman.

The sound to which she referred was that of hurried footfalls in
the road beyond their house. Nimbus heard it, and stooping over
his insensible friend, raised him in his arms and dashed around
the cabin into the rank-growing corn beyond. His wife followed for
a few steps, still carrying the axe. Then she turned and peered
through the corn-rows, determined to cover her husband's retreat
should danger threaten him from that direction.  After waiting
awhile and hearing nothing more, she concluded to go to the house,
get some clothing, and endeavor  to rally her scattered brood.

Stealing softly up to the back door--the fire had died out upon
the hearth--she entered cautiously, and after glancing through the
shaded porch began to dress. She had donned her clothing and taken
up her shoes preparatory  to going back to the shelter of the
cornfield, when she thought she heard a stealthy footstep on the
porch. Her heart stood still with terror. She listened breathlessly.
It came again. There was no doubt of it now--a slow, stealthy step!
A board creaked, and then all was still.  Again! Thank God it was
a _bare_ foot! Her heart took hope. She stole to the open door
and peeped out. There, in the half shadow of the flame-lit porch,
she saw Berry Lawson stealing toward her. She almost screamed for
joy. Stepping into the doorway she whispered,

"Berry!"

"Is dat you, 'Gena?" whispered that worthy, tiptoeing  hastily
forward and stepping into the shadow within the room. "How'd yer
manage ter live t'rough dis yer night, 'Gena? An' whar's Nimbus
an' de chillen?"

These questions being hastily answered, Lugena began to inquire in
regard to his presence there.

"Whar I come from? Jes got back from Bre'er Rufe's house. Druv at
night jes ter save de mornin' ter walk back in. Lef' Sally an' de
chillen dar all right.  When I come putty nigh ter Red Wing I sees
de light o' de fire, an' presently I sez to myself, sez I, 'Berry,
dat ain't no common fire, now. Ain't many houses in the kentry
roun' make sech a fire ez dat. Dat mus' be de church, Berry.' Den
I members 'bout de Ku Kluckers, an' I sez ter myself agin, sez I,
'Berry, dem rascals hez come ter Red Wing an' is raisin' de debble
dar now, jes dere own way.' Den I runs de mule and de carryall
inter de woods, 'bout a mile down de road, an' I takes out Bre'er
'Liab's gun, dat I'd borrered fer company,  yer know, an' hed got
some cattridges fer, ober at Lewyburg, an' I comes on ter take a
han' in--ef dar wa'n't no danger, yer know, honey.

"When I gits ober in de woods, dar, I heah de wust sort ob hullabaloo
ober h'yer 'bout whar Bre'er 'Liab's house was--hollerin' an'
screamin' an' cussin' an' fightin'. I couldn't make it all out,
but I'llowed dat Nimbus wuz a-habbin' a hell ob a time, an' ef I
wuz gwine ter do anyting, dat wuz about de right time fer me ter
put in. So I rested dis yer ole gal," patting the carbine in his
hand, "agin a tree an' jes slung a bullet squar ober dere heads.
Ye see, I dassent shoot too low, fer fear ob hurtin' some of my
fren's. 'D'ye heah dat shot, 'Gena? Lord! how de ole gal did holler.
'Pears like I nebber hear a cannon sound so big.  De Ku Kluckers
'peared ter hear it too, fer dey comed squar outen h'yer inter
de big road. Den I opened up an' let her bark at 'em ez long ez I
could see a shadder ter pull trigger on. Wonder ef I hurt enny on
'em.  D'yer know, 'Gena, wuz enny on 'em killed?"

"Dar's two on 'em a layin' out dar by 'Liab's house," said the
woman.

"Yer don't say so!" said Berry with a start. "La, sakes! what's
dat?" he continued, breathlessly, as a strange sound was heard in
the direction indicated.  They stole out upon the porch, and as
they peered through the clustering wine-leaves a ghastly spectacle
presented itself to their eyes.

One of the prostrate forms had risen and was groping around on
its hands and knees, uttering a strange moaning sound. Presently
it staggered to its feet, and after some vain efforts seized the
mask, the long flowing cape attached to which fell down upon the
shoulders, and tore it away. The pale, distorted face with a bloody
channel down the middle was turned inquiringly this way and that.
The man put his hand to his forehead as if to collect his thoughts.
Then he tried to utter a cry; the jaw moved, but only unintelligible
sounds were heard.

Lugena heard the click of the gun-lock, and turning, laid her hand
on Berry, as she said,

"Don't shoot! 'Tain't no use!"

"Yer right, it ain't," said Berry with chattering teeth.  "Who
ebber seed a man walkin' 'roun' wid his head split wide open afo'?"

The figure staggered on, looked a moment at the house, turned toward
the burning church, and then, seeming to recall what had happened,
at once assumed a stealthy demeanor, and, still staggering as it
went, crept off toward the gate, out of which it passed and went
unsteadily  off down the road.

"Dar ain't no sort of use o' his dodgin' 'round," said Berry, as
the footsteps died away. "De berry debble'd gib him de road, enny
time."

As he spoke, a whistle sounded down the road.  Berry and Lugena
instantly sought shelter in the corn.  Crouching low between the
rows, they saw four men come cautiously into the yard, examine the
prostrate man that remained, and bear him off between them, using
for a stretcher the pieces of the coffin-shaped board which had
been hung upon the gate two weeks before.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

"THE ROSE ABOVE THE MOULD."


The convalescence of Mollie Ainslie was very rapid, and a few days
after the crisis of her disease her attendants were able to return
to their homes at Red Wing.  Great was the rejoicing there over
the recovery of their favorite teacher. The school had been greatly
crippled by her absence and showed, even in that brief period, how
much was due to her ability and skill. Everybody was clamorous for
her immediate return--everybody except Eliab Hill, who after an
almost sleepless night sent a letter begging her not to return for
a considerable time.

It was a strangely earnest letter for one of its apparent import.
The writer dwelt at considerable length upon the insidious and
treacherous character of the disease from which she was recovering.
He grew eloquent as he detailed  all that the people of Red Wing
owed to her exertions  in their behalf, and told how, year after
year, without any vacation, she had labored for them. He showed that
this must have been a strain upon her vital energies, and pointed
out the danger of relapse should she resume her duties before she
had fully recovered.  He begged her, therefore, to remain at Mulberry
Hill at least a month longer; and, to support his request, informed
her that with the advice and consent of the Superintendent  he had
dismissed the school until that time. He took especial pains, too,
to prevent the report of the threatened difficulty from coming
to her ears. This was the more easily accomplished from the fact
that those who had apprehended trouble were afraid of being deemed
cowardly if they acknowledged their belief. So, while the greater
number of the men in the little hamlet were accustomed to sleep in
the neighboring thickets, in order to be out of harm's way should
the Ku Klux come to make good their decree, very little was said,
even among themselves, about the threatened attack.

In utter unconsciousness, therefore, of the fate that brooded
over those in whom she took so deep an interest,  Mollie abandoned
herself to the restful delights of convalescence. She soon found
herself able to visit the room of the confirmed invalid below, and
though she seemed to detect a sort of coolness in her manner  she
did not dream of associating the change with herself. She attributed
it entirely to the sore affliction  which had fallen upon the
household since her arrival,  and which, she charitably reasoned,
her own recovery  must revive in their minds in full force. So she
pardoned  the fair, frail invalid who, reclining languidly upon
the couch, asked as to her health and congratulated  her in cool,
set phrases upon her recovery.

Such was not the case, however, with her host. There were tears in
his eyes when he met her on the landing for the first time after
she left her sick-bed. She knew they were for the little Hildreth
whom she had nursed and whom her presence recalled. And yet there
was a gleam in his eyes which was not altogether of sorrow.  She,
too, mourned for the sweet child whom she had learned to love, and
her eyes responded to the tender challenge with copious tears. Yet
her own feelings were not entirely sad. She did not know why. She
did not stop to analyze or reason. She only gave him her hand--how
thin and white it was compared with the first time he had seen her
and had noted its soft plumpness!

Their lips quivered so that they could not speak. He held her hand
and assisted the servant in leading her into the parlor. She was
still so weak that they had to lay her on the sofa. Hesden Le Moyne
bent over her for a little while, and then hurried away. He had not
said a word, and both had wept; yet, as she closed her eyes after
he had gone she was vaguely conscious that she had never been so
happy before in her life. So the days wore on, quietly and swiftly,
full of a tender sorrow tempered with an undefined joy. Day by
day she grew stronger and brighter, needing less of assistance but
receiving even more of attention from the stricken father of her
late charge.

"You have not asked about Satan," said Mr. Le Moyne suddenly one
day.

"Why should I?" she replied, with an arch look.  "If that personage
will be equally forgetful of me I am sure I shall be very glad."

"Oh, I mean your horse--Midnight, as you call him," laughed Hesden.

"So I supposed," she replied. "I have a dim notion  that you applied
that eipthet to him on the night of my arrival. Your mother, too,
said something about 'Satan,' that night, which I remember puzzled
me very greatly at the moment, but I was too much flustered to ask
about it just then. Thinking of it afterward, I concluded that she
intended to refer to my black-skinned pet. But why do you give him
that name?"

"Because that was the first name he ever knew," answered Hesden,
with an amused smile.

"The first name he ever knew? I don't understand you," she replied.
"My brother captured him at Appomattox,  or near there, and named
him Midnight, and Midnight he has been ever since."

"Very true," said Hesden, "but he was Satan before that, and very
well earned this name, in his young days."   "In his young days?"
she asked, turning towards him in surprise. "Did you know him then?"

"Very well, indeed," he replied, smiling at her eagerness.  "He was
raised on this plantation and never knew any other master than me
until that day at Rouse's Bridge."

"Why, that is the very place my brother captured him. I remember
the name now that you mention it!" she exclaimed.

"Is it anything surprising," said he, "that the day I lost him
should be the day he captured him?"

"No--not exactly--but then"--she paused in confusion  as she glanced
at the empty sleeve which was pinned across his breast.

"Yes," said he, noticing her look, "I lost that there," pointing
to the empty sleeve as he spoke; "and though it was a sore loss to
a young man who prided himself somewhat on his physical activity,
I believe I mourned the horse more than I did the arm."

"But my brother--" she began with a frightened look into his face.

"Well, he must have been in my immediate vicinity, for Satan was the
best-trained horse in the squadron.  Even after I was dismounted,
he would not have failed to keep his place in the ranks when the
retreat was sounded, unless an unusually good horseman were on his
back."

"My brother said he had as hard a struggle with him then as he had
with his rider before," she said, looking shyly up.

"Indeed! I am obliged to him," he responded with a smile. "The
commendation of an enemy is always pleasant to a soldier."

"Oh, he said you were terribly bloodthirsty and rode at him as
if nothing would satisfy you but his life," she said, with great
eagerness.

"Very likely," he answered, lightly. "I have some reputation for
directness of purpose, and that was a moment  of desperation. We
did not know whether we should come back or not, and did not care.
We knew that the end was very near, and few of us wished to outlive
it. Not that we cared so much--many of us at least--for the cause
we fought for; but we dreaded the humiliation of surrender and the
stigma of defeat.  We felt the disgrace to our people with a keenness
that no one can appreciate who has not been in like circumstances.
I was opposed to the war myself, but I would rather have died than
have lived to see the surrender."

"It must have been hard," she said, softly.

"Hard!" he exclaimed. "I should think it was!  But then," he
added, his brow suddenly clearing, "next to the fact of surrender
I dreaded the loss of my horse. I even contemplated shooting him
to prevent his falling into the hands of the enemy."

"My brother thought you were rather anxious to throw away your own
life," she said, musingly.

"No," he answered, "just indifferent. I wonder if I saw him at
all."

"Oh, you must, for you-" she began eagerly, but stopped in confusion.

"Well, what did I do? Nothing very bad, I hope?" he asked.

"Well, you left an ugly scar on a very smooth forehead,  if you
call that bad, sir," she said, archly.

"Indeed! Of course I do," was the reply, but his tone indicated
that he was thinking less of the atrocity which she had laid to
his charge than of the events of that last day of battle. "Let me
see," said he, musingly.  "I had a sharp turn with a fellow on a
gray horse.  He was a slender, fair-haired man"--looking down at
the figure on the sofa behind which he stood as if to note if there
were any resemblance. "He was tall, as tall as I am, I should say,
and I thought--I was of the impression--that he was of higher rank
than a captain. He was somewhat in advance of his line and right in
my path. I remember thinking, as I crossed swords with him that
if--if we were both killed, the odds would be in favor of our
side. He must have been a colonel at least, or I was mistaken in
his shoulder-straps."

"My brother was a colonel of volunteers," she said, quietly. "He was
only a captain, however, after his transfer to the regular army."

"Indeed!" said he with new interest. "What was he like?"

For answer Mollie put her hand to her throat, and opening a gold
locket which she wore, held up the case so far as the chain would
allow while Hesden bent over to look at it. His face was very near
her own, and she noted the eagerness with which he scanned the
picture.

"Yes, that is the man!" he said at length, with something  like a
sigh. "I hope I did not injure him seriously."

"Only his beauty," she replied, pleasantly.

"Of which, judging from what I see," he said saucily, letting his
eyes wander from the miniature to her face, "he could afford to
lose a good deal and yet not suffer by comparison with others."

It was a bold, blunt compliment, yet it was uttered with evident
sincerity; but she had turned the locket so that she could see the
likeness and did not catch the double meaning of his words. So she
only answered calmly and earnestly,   "He was a good brother."

A shadow passed over his face as he noticed her inattention  to
his compliment, but he added heartily,

"And a gallant one. I am glad that my horse fell into his hands."

She looked at him and said,

"You were very fond of your horse?"

"Yes, indeed!" he answered. "He was a great pet before we went into
the service, and my constant companion  for nearly three years of
that struggle. But come out on the porch, and let me show you some
of the tricks I taught him, and you will not only understand how I
prized him, but will appreciate his sagacity more than you do now."

He assisted her to a rocking-chair upon the porch, and, bidding a
servant to bring out the horse, said:

"You must remember that I have but one arm and have not seen him,
until lately, at least, for five years.

"Poor old fellow!" he added, as he went down the steps of the
porch, and told the servant to turn him loose. He called him up with
a snap of his thumb and finger  as he entered the yard and patted
his head which was stretched out to receive the caress. "Poor
fellow! he is not so young as he was then, though he has had good
care.  The gray hairs are beginning to show on his muzzle, and I can
detect, though no one else might notice them, the wrinkles coming
about his eyes. Let me see, you are only nine years old, though,--nine
past. But it's the war that tells--tells on horses just as well as
men. You ought to be credited with about five years for what you
went through then, old fellow. And a man--Do you know, Miss Mollie,"
he said, breaking suddenly off--"that a man who was in that war,
even if he did not get a shot, discounted his life about ten years?
It was the wear and tear of the struggle. We are different from
other nations. We have no professional soldiers--at least none to
speak of.  To such, war is merely a business and peace an interlude.
There is no mental strain in their case. But in our war we were
all volunteers. Every man, on both sides, went into the army with
the fate of a nation resting on his shoulders, and because he felt
the burden of responsibility.  It was that which killed--killed
and weakened--more than shot and shell and frost and heat together.
And then--what came afterward?"

He turned towards her as he spoke, his hand still resting  on
the neck of the horse which was rubbing against him and playfully
nipping at him with his teeth, in manifestation of his delight.

Her face had settled into firm, hard lines. She seemed  to be
looking beyond him, and the gray coldness which we saw about her
face when she read the telegram  in the far-away Bankshire hills,
settled on cheek and brow again, as she slowly repeated, as though
unconscious of their meaning, the lines:


"In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!"


Hesden Le Moyne gazed at her a moment in confused wonder. Then
he turned to the horse and made him perform various tricks at his
bidding. He made him back away from him as far as he chose by the
motion of his hand, and then, by reversing the gesture, brought him
bounding back again. The horse lifted either foot at his instance,
lay down, rolled over, stood upon his hind feet, and finally knelt
upon the edge of the porch in obeisance to his mistress, who sat
looking, although in a preoccupied manner, at all that was done.
Hesden Le Moyne was surprised and somewhat disappointed at her lack
of enthusiasm over what he thought would give her so much pleasure.
She thanked him absently when it was over, and retired to her own
room.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

WHAT THE MIST HID.


The darkness was already giving way to the gray light of a misty
morning following the attack on Red Wing.  The mocking birds, one
after another, were responding to each other's calls, at first
sleepily and unwillingly, as though the imprisoned melody compelled
expression, and then, thoroughly aroused and perched upon the
highest dew-laden branches swaying and tossing beneath them, they
poured forth their rival orisons. Other sounds of rising day were
coming through the mist that still hung over the land, shutting out
the brightness which was marching from the eastward. The crowing of
cocks, the neighing of horses, and the lowing of cattle resounded
from hill to hill across the wide bottom-lands and up and down the
river upon either hand. Nature was waking from slumber--not to the
full, boisterous wakefulness which greets the broad day, but the
half-consciousness with which the sluggard turns himself for the
light, sweet sleep of the summer morning.

There was a tap at the open window that stood at the head of Hesden
Le Moyne's bed. His room was across the hall from his mother's,
and upon the same floor. It had been his room from childhood. The
window opened upon the wide, low porch which ran along three sides
of  the great rambling house. Hesden heard the tap, but it only
served to send his half-awakened fancy on a fantastic  trip through
dreamland. Again came the low, inquiring  tap, this time upon the
headboard of the old mahogany bedstead. He thought it was one of
the servants coming for orders about the day's labors. He wondered,
vaguely and dully, what could be wanted. Perhaps they would go
away if he did not move. Again it came, cautious  and low, but firm
and imperative, made by the nail of one finger struck sharply and
regularly against the polished headboard. It was a summons and
a command for silence at once. Hesden raised himself quickly and
looked toward the window. The outline of a human figure showed
dimly against the gray darkness beyond.

"Who's there?"--in a low, quiet voice, as though caution had been
distinctly enjoined.

"Marse Hesden!"--a low whisper, full of suppressed excitement.

"You, Nimbus?" said Le Moyne, as he stepped quickly out of bed and
approached the window.  "What's the matter?"

"Marse Hesden," whispered the colored man, laying a hand trembling
with excitement on his shoulder as he came near, "is yer a friend
ter 'Liab Hill?"

"Of course I am; you know that"--in an impatient undertone.

"Sh--sh! Marse Hesden, don't make no noise, please," whispered
Nimbus. "I don't mean ter ax ef yer's jes got nothin' agin' him,
but is yer that kind ob a friend ez 'll stan' by him in trouble?"

"What do you mean, Nimbus?" asked Hesden in surprise.

"Will yer come wid me, Marse Hesden--slip on yer clo'es an' come
wid me, jist a minnit?"   Hesden did not think of denying this
request. It was evident that something of grave importance had
occurred.  Hardly a moment had elapsed before he stepped cautiously
out upon the porch and followed Nimbus.  The latter led the way
quickly toward a spring which burst out of the hillside fifty yards
away from the house, at the foot of a giant oak. Lying in the shadow
of this tree and reclining against its base, lay Eliab Hill, his
pallid face showing through the darkness like the face of the dead.

A few words served to tell Hesden Le Moyne what the reader already
knows.

"I brought him here, Marse Hesden, kase ther ain't no place else
dat he'd be safe whar he could be tuk keer on. Dem ar Kluckers is
bound ter kill him ef dey kin.  He's got ter be hid an' tuk keer
on till he's well--ef he ever gits well at all."

"Why, you don't think he's hurt--not seriously, do you?"

"Hurt, man!" said Nimbus, impatiently. "Dar ain't much difference
atwixt him an' a dead man, now.

"Good God! Nimbus, you don't mean that. He seems to sleep well,"
said Hesden, bending over the prostrate form.

"Sleep! Marse Hesden, I'se kerried him tree miles sence he's been
a-sleepin' like dat; an' de blood's been a runnin' down on my hans
an' a-breakin' my holt ebbery now an' den, tu!"

"Why, Nimbus, what is this you tell me? Was any one else hurt?"

"Wal, dar's a couple o' white men a-layin' mighty quiet dar, afo'
'Liab's house."

Hesden shuddered. The time he had dreaded had come! The smouldering
passion of the South had burst  forth at last! For years--ever since
the war-prejudice  and passion, the sense of insult and oppression
had been growing thicker and blacker all over the South.  Thunders
had rolled over the land. Lightnings had fringed its edges. The
country had heard, but had not heeded. The nation had looked on with
smiling face, and declared the sunshine undimmed. It had taken no
note of exasperation and prejudice. It had unconsciously trampled
under foot the passionate pride of a conquered people. It had scorned
and despised a sentiment more deeply inwrought than that of caste
in the Hindoo breast.

The South believed, honestly believed, in its innate superiority over
all other races and peoples. It did not doubt, has never doubted,
that, man for man, it was braver, stronger, better than the North.
Its men were "gentlemen"--grander, nobler beings than the North
ever knew. Their women were "ladies"--gentle, refined,  ethereal
beings, passion and devotion wrapped in forms of ethereal mould,
and surrounded by an impalpable effulgence which distinguished them
from all others of the sex throughout the world. Whatever was of
the South was superlative. To be Southern-born was to be _prima
facie_ better than other men. So the self-love of every man
was enlisted in this sentiment. To praise the South was to praise
himself; to boast of its valor was to advertise his own intrepidity;
to extol its women was to enhance the glory of his own achievements
in the lists of love; to vaunt its chivalry was to avouch his own
honor; to laud its greatness was to extol himself. He measured
himself with his Northern compeer, and decided  without hesitation
in his own favor.

The South, he felt, was unquestionably greater than the North in
all those things which were most excellent, and was only overtopped
by it in those things which were the mere result of numbers.
Outnumbered on the field of battle, the South had been degraded and
insulted by a sordid and low-minded conqueror, in the very hour of
victory. Outnumbered at the ballot-box, it had still dictated the
policy of the Nation. The Southern white man naturally compared
himself with his Northern brother.  For comparison between himself
and the African--the recent slave, the scarcely human anthropoid--he
found no ground. Only contrast was possible there. To have these
made co-equal rulers with him, seated beside him on the throne
of popular sovereignty, merely, as he honestly thought, for the
gratification of an unmanly spite against a fallen foe, aroused
every feeling of exasperation and revenge which a people always
restive of restraint could feel.

It was not from hatred to the negro, but to destroy his political
power and restore again their own insulted and debased supremacy
that such things were done as have been related. It was to show
the conqueror that the bonds in which the sleeping Samson had been
bound were green withes which he scornfully snapped asunder in his
first waking moment. Pride the most overweening, and a prejudice of
caste the most intense and ineradicable, stimulated by the chagrin
of defeat and inflamed by the sense of injustice and oppression--both
these lay at the bottom of the acts by which the rule of the majorities
established by reconstructionary legislation were overthrown. It
was these things that so blinded the eyes of a whole people that
they called this bloody masquerading, this midnight warfare upon
the weak, this era of unutterable horror, "redeeming the South!"

There was no good man, no honest man, no Christian man of the South
who for an instant claimed that it was right to kill, maim, beat,
wound and ill-treat the black man, either in his old or his new
estate. He did not regard these acts as done to another _man_,
a compeer, but only as acts of cruelty to an inferior so infinitely
removed from himself as to forbid any comparison of rights or
feelings. It was not right to do evil to a "nigger;" but it was
infinitely less wrong than to do it unto one of their own color.
These men did not consider such acts as right in themselves, but
only as right in view of their comparative importance and necessity,
and the unspeakable inferiority of their victims.

For generations the South had regarded the uprising of the black,
the assertion of his manhood and autonomy, as the _ultima thule_
of possible evil. San Domingo and hell were twin horrors in their
minds, with the odds, however, in favor of San Domingo. To prevent
negro domination anything was justifiable. It was a choice of evils,
where on one side was placed an evil which they had been taught
to believe, and did believe, infinitely outweighed and overmatched
all other evils in enormity.  Anything, said these men in their
hearts; anything, they said to each other; anything, they cried
aloud to the world, was better, is better, must be better, than
negro rule, than African domination.

Now, by negro rule _they_ meant the exercise of authority by
a majority of citizens of African descent, or a majority of which
they constituted any considerable factor.  The white man who acted
with the negro in any relation of political co-ordination was deemed
even worse than the African himself. If he became a leader, he was
anathematized for self-seeking. If he only co-operated with his
ballot, he was denounced as a coward. In any event he was certain
to be deemed a betrayer of his race, a renegade and an outcast.
Hesden Le Moyne was a Southern white man. All that has just been
written was essential truth to him. It was a part of his nature.
He was as proud as the proudest of his fellows. The sting of defeat
still rankled in his heart. The sense of infinite distance between
his race and that unfortunate race whom he pitied so sincerely, to
whose future he looked forward with so much apprehension, was as
distinct and palpable to him as to any one of his compeers. The
thousandth part of a drop of the blood of the despised race degraded,
in his mind, the unfortunate possessor.

He had inherited a dread of the ultimate results of slavery. He
wished--it had been accounted sensible in his family to wish--that
slavery had never existed. Having existed, they never thought of
favoring its extinction. They thought it corrupting and demoralizing
to the white race. They felt that it was separating them, year by
year, farther and farther from that independent self-relying manhood,
which had built up American institutions and American prosperity.
They feared the fruit of this demoralization. _For the sake of the
white man_, they wished that the black had never been enslaved.
As to the blacks--they did not question the righteousness of their
enslavement. They did not care whether it were right or wrong. They
simply did not consider them at all. When the war left them free,
they simply said, "Poor fellows!" as they would of a dog without a
master. When the blacks were entrusted with the ballot, they said
again, "Poor fellows!" regarding them as the blameless instrument
by which a bigoted and revengeful North sought to degrade and humiliate a
foe overwhelmed only by the accident of numbers; the colored race
being to these Northern people like the cat with whose paw the monkey
dragged his chestnuts from the fire. Hesden had only wondered what
the effect of these things would be upon "the South;" meaning by
"the South" that regnant class to which his family belonged--a
part of which, by a queer synecdoche, stood for the whole.

His love for his old battle-steed, and his curious interest in its
new possessor, had led him to consider the experiment at Red Wing
with some care. His pride and interest in Eliab as a former slave
of his family had still further fixed his attention and awakened
his thought.  And, finally, his acquaintance with Mollie Ainslie
had led him unconsciously to sympathize with the object of her
constant care and devotion.

So, while he stood there beside the stricken man, whose breath
came stertorous and slow, he was in that condition of mind of all
others most perilous to the Southern man--he had begun to _doubt_:
to doubt the infallibility of his hereditary notions; to doubt the
super-excellence of Southern manhood, and the infinite superiority
of Southern womanhood; to doubt the incapacity of the negro for
self-maintenance and civilization; to doubt, in short, all those
dogmas which constitute the differential characteristics of "the
Southern man." He had gone so far--a terrible distance to one
of his origin--as to admit the possibility of error. He had begun
to question--God forgive him, if it seemed like sacrilege--he had
begun to question whether the South might not have been wrong--might
not still be wrong--wrong in the principle and practice of slavery,
wrong in the theory and fact of secession and rebellion, wrong in
the hypothesis of hate on the part of the conquerors, wrong in the
assumption of exceptional and unapproachable excellence.

The future was as misty as the gray morning.



CHAPTER XL

DAWNING.


Hesden Le Moyne stood with Nimbus under the great low-branching
oak, in the chill morning, and listened to the labored breathing
of the man for the sake of whose humanity his father had braved
public opinion in the old slave-era, which already seemed centuries
away in the dim past. The training of his life, the conditions
of his growth, bore fruit in that moment. He pitied the outraged
victim, he was shocked at the barbarity of his fellows; but there
was no sense of injustice, no feeling of sacred rights trampled
on and ignored in the person of the sufferer. He remembered when
he had played with Eliab beside his mother's hearth; when he had
varied the monotony of study by teaching the crippled slave-boy
the tasks he himself was required to perform.  The tenderness of
old associations sprang up in his mind and he felt himself affronted
in the person of the protege of his family. He disliked cruelty;
he hated cowardice; and he felt that Eliab Hill had been the victim
of a cruel and cowardly assault. He remembered how faithfully
this man's mother had nursed his own.  Above all, the sentiment of
comradeship awoke. This man who had been his playfellow had been
brutally treated because of his weakness. He would not see him
bullied.  He would stand by him to the death.

"The cowards!" he hissed through his teeth. "Bring him in, Nimbus,
quick! They needn't expect me to countenance such brutality as
this!"

"Marse Hesden," said the black Samson who had stood, silently
watching the white playmate of his  boyhood, while the latter
recovered himself from the sort of stupor into which the revelation
he had heard had thrown him, "God bress yer fer dem words! I 'llowed
yer'd stan' by 'Liab. Dat's why I fotched him h'yer."

"Of course I would, and by you too, Nimbus."

"No, Marse Hesden, dat wouldn't do no sort o' good.  Nimbus hez jes
got ter cut an' run fer it. I 'specs them ar dat's a lyin' dar in
front ob 'Liab's do' ain't like ter do no mo' troublin'; an' yer
knows, Marse Hesden, 'twouldn't nebber be safe fer a cullu'd man
dat's done dat ar ter try an' lib h'yerabouts no mo'!"

"But you did it in defense of life. You had a right to do it,
Nimbus."

"Dar ain't no doubt o' dat, Marse Hesden, but I'se larned dat
de right ter du a ting an' de doin' on't is two mighty diff'rent
tings, when it's a cullu'd man ez does it.  I hed a right ter buy
a plantation an' raise terbacker; an' 'Liab hed a right ter teach
an' preach; an' we both hed a right ter vote for ennybody we had
a mind ter choose. An' so we did; an' dat's all we done, tu.  An'
now h'yer's what's come on't, Marse Hesden."

Nimbus pointed to the bruised creature before them as he spoke,
and his tones sounded like an arraignment.

"I am afraid you are right, Nimbus," said the white man, with a
sense of self-abasement he had never thought to feel before one of
the inferior race. "But bring him in, we must not waste time here."

"Dat's a fac'," said Nimbus, with a glance at the East. "'Tain't
more'n 'bout a hour till sun-up, an' I mustn't be seen hereabouts
atter dat. Dey'll be a lookin' atter me, an' 'twon't be safe fer
Nimbus ter be no whar 'cept in de mos' lonesome places. But whar's
ye gwine ter put 'Liab, Marse Hesden?"

"In the house--anywhere, only be quick about it.  Don't let him
die here!" said Hesden, bending over the prostrate man and passing
a hand over his forehead with a shudder.

"But whar'bouts in de house yer gwine ter put him, Marse Hesden?"

"Anywhere, man--in my room, if nowhere else.  Come, take hold
here!" was Hesden's impatient rejoinder as he put his one hand
under Eliab's head and strove to raise him up.

"Dat won't do, Marse Hesden," said Nimbus, solemnly. 'Liab had a
heap better go back ter de woods an' chance it wid Nimbus, dan be
in your room."

"Why so?"

"Why? Kase yer knows dat de men what done disting  ain't a-gwine ter
let him lib ef dey once knows whar he's ter be found. He's de one
dey wuz atter, jest ez much ez Nimbus, an' p'raps a leetle more,
dough yer knows ther ain't a mite o' harm in him, an' nebber
was, But dat don't matter. Deytinks dat he keeps de cullu'd folks
togedder, an' makes' em stan' up for dere rights, an' dat's why dey
went fer him. 'Sides dat, ef he didn't hurt none on 'em dey know
he seed an' heerd 'em, an' so'll be afeared ter let up on him on
dat account."

"I'd like to see the men that would take him out of my house!" said
Le Moyne, indignantly.

"Dar'd jes be two men killed instead ob one, ef yer should," said
the other, dryly.

"Perhaps you're right," said Le Moyne, thoughtfully.  "The men who
did this will do anything. But where _shall_ we put him? He
can't lie here."

"Marse Hesden, does yer mind de loft ober de ole dinin'-room, whar
we all used ter play ob a Sunday?"

"Of course, I've got my tobacco bulked down there now," was the
answer.    "Dat's de place, Marse Hesden!"

"But there's no way to get in there except by a ladder," said
Hesden.

"So much de better. You gits de ladder, an' I brings 'Liab."

In a few minutes Eliab was lying on some blankets, hastily thrown
over a bulk of leaf tobacco, in the loft over the old dining-room
at Mulberry Hill, and Hesden Le Moyne was busy bathing his face,
examining his wounds, and endeavoring to restore him to consciousness.

Nimbus waited only to hear his report that the wounds, though numerous
and severe, were not such as would be likely to prove fatal. There
were several cuts and bruises about the head; a shot had struck the
arm, which had caused the loss of blood; and the weakened tendons
of the cramped and unused legs had been torn asunder.  These were
all the injuries Le Moyne could find. Nimbus dropped upon his knees,
and threw his arms about the neck of his friend at this report,
and burst into tears.

"God bress yer, 'Liab! God bress yer!" he sobbed.

"Nimbus can't do no mo' fer ye, an' don't 'llow he'll nebber see
ye no mo'--no mo' in dis world! Good-by, 'Liab, good-by! Yer don't
know Nimbus's gwine away, does yer? God bress yer, p'raps it's
better so--better so!"

He kissed again and again the pale forehead, from which the dark
hair had been brushed back by repeated bathings. Then rising and
turning away his head, he extended his hand to Le Moyne and said:

"Good-bye, Marse Hesden! God bress yer! Take good keer o' 'Liab,
Mahs'r, an'--an'--ef he gits round agin, don't let him try ter
stay h'yrabouts--don't, please! 'Tain't no use! See ef yer can't
git him ter go ter de Norf, er somewhar. Oh, my God!" he  exclaimed,
suddenly, as the memory of his care of the stricken friend came
suddenly upon him, "my God!  what'll he ebber do widout Nimbus ter
keer fer him?"

His voice was drowned in sobs and his grip on the hand of the white
man was like the clasp of a vice.

"Don't go, Nimbus, don't!" pleaded Hesden.

"I must, Marse Hesden," said he, repressing his sobs. "l'se got
ter see what's come o' 'Gena an' de rest, an' it's best fer both.
Good-by! God bress yer!  Ef he comes tu, ax him sometimes ter pray
for Nimbus.  But'tain't no use--no use--fer he'll do it without
axin'.  Good-by!"

He opened the wooden shutter, ran down the ladder, and disappeared,
as the misty morning gave way to the full and perfect day.



CHAPTER XLI.

Q. E. D.


As Mollie Ainslie grew stronger day by day, her kind host had done
all in his power to aid her convalescence by offering pleasing
attentions and cheerful surroundings.  As soon as she was able to
ride, she had been lifted carefully into the saddle, and under his
watchful supervision had made, each day, longer and longer rides,
until, for some days preceding the events of the last few chapters,
her strength had so fully returned that they had ridden several
miles. The flush of health had returned to her cheeks, and the
sleep that followed her exercise was restful and refreshing.

Already she talked of returning to Red Wing, and, but for the
thoughtfulness of Eliab Hill in dismissing the school for a month
during her illness, would have been present at the terrible scenes
enacted there. She only lingered because she was not quite recovered,
and because there was a charm about the old plantation, which she
had never found elsewhere. A new light  had come into her life.
She loved Hesden Le Moyne, and Hesden Le Moyne loved the Yankee
school-marm.  No word of love had been spoken. No caress had been
offered. A pall hung over the household, in the gloom of which the
lips might not utter words of endearment. But the eyes spoke; and
they greeted each other with kisses of liquid light when their
glances met.  Flushed cheeks and tones spoke more than words. She
waited for his coming anxiously. He was restive and uneasy when
away. The peace which each one brought to the other's heart was
the sure witness of well-grounded love. She had never asked herself
where was the beginning or what would be the end. She had never
said to herself, "I love him;" but his presence brought peace, and
in her innocence she rested there as in an undisturbed haven.

As for him--he saw and trembled. He could not shut his eyes to
her love or his own. He did not wish to do so. And yet, brave man
as he was, he trembled at the thought. Hesden Le Moyne was proud.
He knew that Mollie Ainslie was as proud as himself. He had the
prejudices of his people and class, and he knew also that she had
the convictions of that part of the country where she had been
reared. He knew that she would never share his prejudices; he had
no idea that he would ever share her convictions. He wished that
she had never taught a "nigger school"--not for his own sake, he
said to himself, with a flush of shame, but for hers. How could she
face sneers? How could he endure insults upon his love? How could
he ask her to come where sneers and insults awaited her?    Love
had set himself a hard task. He had set before him this problem:
"New England Puritanism and Southern Prejudice; how shall they be
reconciled?" For the solution of this question, there were given on
one side a maiden who would have plucked out her heart and trampled
it under her feet, rather than surrender one tenet in her creed of
righteousness; and on the other side a man who had fought for a cause
he did not approve rather than be taunted with having espoused one
of the fundamental principles of her belief. To laugh at locksmiths
was an easy thing compared with the reading of this riddle!

On the morning when Eliab was brought to Mulberry Hill, Mrs.
Le Moyne and Mollie breakfasted together alone in the room of the
former. Both were troubled at the absence of the master of the
house.

"I cannot see why he does not come," said Mrs. Le Moyne. "He is
the soul of punctuality, and is never absent from a meal when about
home. He sent in word by Laura early this morning that he would not
be at breakfast, and that we should not wait for him, but gave no
sort of reason. I don't understand it."

"I hope he is not sick. You don't think he has the fever, do you?"
said Mollie, with evident anxiety.

The elder woman glanced keenly at her as she replied in a careless
tone:

"Oh, no indeed. You have no occasion for anxiety.  I told Laura to
take him a cup of coffee and a roll in his room, but she says he
is not there. I suppose something about the plantation requires his
attention. It is very kind of you, I am sure; but I have no doubt
he is quite well."

There was something in the tone as well as the words which cut
the young girl to the heart. She could not tell what it was. She
did not dream that it was aimed at herself. She only knew that
it sounded harsh and cold, and unkind. Her heart was very tender.
Sickness and love had thrown her off her guard against sneers
and hardness. It did not once occur to her that the keen-sighted
invalid, whose life was bound up in her son's life, had looked into
the heart which had never yet syllabled the love which filled it,
and hated what she saw.  She did not deem it possible that there
should be aught but kindly feeling for her in the household she
had all but died to serve. Moreover, she had loved the delicate
invalid ever since she had received a letter from her hand. She
had always been accustomed to that unconscious equality of common
right and mutual courtesy that prevails so widely at the North, and
had never thought of construing the letter as one of patronizing
approval.  She had counted it a friendly commendation, not only of
herself, but of her work. This woman she had long pictured to herself
as one that rose above the prejudice by which she was surrounded.
She who, in the old times, had bravely taught Eliab Hill to read
in defiance of the law, would surely approve of a work like hers.

So thought the silly girl, not knowing that the gentle invalid had
taught Eliab Hill the little that he knew before emancipation more
to show her defiance of meddling objectors, than for the good of
the boy. In fact, she had had no idea of benefiting him, other than
by furnishing him a means of amusement in the enforced solitude of
his affliction. Mollie did not consider that Hester Le Moyne was
a Southern woman, and as such, while she might admire courage and
accomplishments in a woman of Northern birth, always did so with
a mental reservation in favor of her own class. When, however, one
came from the North to teach the negroes, in order that they might
overpower and rule the whites, which she devoutly believed to be
the sole purpose of the colored educational movement, no matter
under what specious guise of charity it might be done, she could
not go even so far as that.

Yet, if such a one came to her, overwhelmed by stress of weather,
she would give her shelter; if she were ill she would minister
unto her; for these were Christian duties.  If she were fair and
bright, and brave, she would delight to entertain her; for that
was a part of the hospitality of which the South boasted. There was
something enjoyable, too, in parading the riches of a well-stocked
wardrobe and the lavish splendors of an old Southern home to one
who, she believed, had never seen such magnificence before; for
the belief that poverty and poor fare are the common lot of the
country folks at the North is one of the fallacies commonly held
by all classes at the South. As slavery, which was the universal
criterion of wealth and culture at the South, did not prevail at
all at the North, they unconsciously and naturally came to associate
self-help with degradation, and likened the Northern farmer to
the poor white "cropper." Where social rank was measured by the
length of the serving train, it was not strange that the Northern
self-helper should be despised and his complacent assumption of
equal gentility scorned.

So Mrs. Le Moyne had admired the courage of Mollie Ainslie before
she saw her; she had been charmed with her beauty and artless grace
on the first night of her stay at Mulberry Hill, and had felt obliged
to her for her care of the little Hildreth; but she had not once
thought of considering her the peer of the Richardses and the Le
Moynes, or as standing upon the same social plane as herself. She
was, no doubt, good and honest and brave, very well educated and
accomplished, but by no means a lady in _her_ sense of the
word. Mrs. Le Moyne's feeling toward the Northern school-teacher
was very like that which the English gentry express when they use
the word "person." There is no discredit in the term. The individual
referred to may be the incarnation of every grace and virtue, only
he is of a lower degree in the social scale. He is of another grade.

Entertaining such feelings toward Mollie, it was no wonder that
Mrs. Le Moyne was not pleased to see the anxious interest that
young lady freely exhibited in the health of her son.

On the other hand, the young New England girl never suspected the
existence of such sentiments. Conscious of intellectual and moral
equality with her hostess, she did not imagine that there could
be anything of patronage, or anything less than friendly sympathy
and approval, in the welcome she had received at Mulberry Hill.
This house had seemed to her like a new home.  The exile which she
had undergone at Red Wing had unfitted her for the close analysis
of such pleasing associations.  Therefore, the undertone in Mrs.
Le Moyne's remarks came upon her like a blow from an unseen hand.
She felt hurt and humbled, but she could not exactly tell why. Her
heart grew suddenly heavy. Her eyes filled with tears. She dallied
a little while with coffee and toast, declined the dainties pressed
upon her with scrupulous courtesy, and presently, excusing her lack
of appetite, fled away to her room and wept.

"I must be nervous this morning," she said to herself smilingly,
as she dried her eyes and prepared for her customary morning ride.
On going down stairs she found a servant in waiting with her horse
ready saddled, who said: "Mornin', Miss Mollie. Marse Hesden said
ez how I was ter tell yer dat he was dat busy dis mornin' dat he
couldn't go ter ride wid yer to-day, nohow. I wuz ter gib yer his
compliments, all de same, an' say he hopes yer'll hev a pleasant
ride, an' he wants ter see yer when yer gits back. He's powerful
sorry he can't go."

"Tell Mr. Le Moyne it is not a matter of any consequence at all,
Charley," she answered pleasantly.

"Yer couldn't never make Marse Hesden b'lieve dat ar, no way in de
world," said Charles, with deft flattery, as he lifted her into the
saddle. Then, glancing quickly around, he said in a low, earnest
voice: "Hez ye heerd from Red Wing lately, Miss Mollie?"

"Not for a day or two. Why?" she asked, glancing quickly down at
him.

"Oh, nuffin', only I wuz afeared dar'd been somethin' bad a gwine
on dar, right lately."

"What do you mean, Charles?" she asked, bending down and speaking
anxiously.

"Don't say nuffin' 'bout it, Miss Mollie--dey don't know nuffin'
'bout it in h'yer," nodding toward the house, "but de Ku Kluckers
was dar las' night."

"You don't mean it, Charles?"

"Dat's what I hear," he answered doggedly.

"Anybody hurt?" she asked anxiously.

"I don't know dat, Miss Mollie. Dat's all I hear--jes dat dey'd
been dar."



CHAPTER XLII.

THROUGH A CLOUD-RIFT.


It was with a heavy heart that Mollie Ainslie passed out of the
gate and rode along the lane toward the highway.  The autumn sun
shone bright, and the trees were just beginning to put on the gay
trappings in which they are wont to welcome wintry death. Yet,
somehow, everything seemed suddenly to have grown dark and dull.
Her poor weak brain was overwhelmed and dazed by the incongruity of
the life she was leaving with that to which she was going back--for
she had no hesitation in deciding as to the course she ought to
pursue.

She did not need to question as to what had been done or suffered.
If there was any trouble, actual or impending, affecting those she
had served, her place was with them. They would look to her for
guidance and counsel.  She would not fail them. She did not once
think of danger, nor did she dream that by doing as she proposed
she was severing herself entirely from the pleasant life at the
fine old country seat which had been so eventful.

She did, indeed, think of Hesden. She always thought of him of late.
Everything, whether of joy or of sorrow, seemed somehow connected
with him. She thought of him--not as going away from him, or as
putting him out of her life, but as deserving his approval by her
act. "He will miss me when he finds that I do not return.  Perhaps
he will be alarmed," she said to herself, as she cantered easily
toward the ford. "But then, if he hears what has happened, he will
know where I have gone and will approve my going. Perhaps he will
be afraid for me, and then he will--" Her heart seemed to stop
beating! All its bright current flew into her face.  The boundless
beatitude of love burst on her all at once. She had obeyed its
dictates and tasted its bliss for days and weeks, quite unconscious
of the rapture which filled her soul. Now, it came like a great
wave of light that overspread the earth and covered with a halo
all that was in it.    How bright upon the instant was everything!
The sunshine was a beating, pulsing ether animated with love! The
trees, the fields, the yellow-breasted lark, pouring forth his autumn
lay, the swallows, glancing in the golden sunshine and weaving in
and out on billowy wing the endless dance with which they hie them
southward ere the winter comes--everything she saw or heard was
eloquent with look and tones of love! The grand old horse that
carried her so easily, how strange and how delightful was this
double ownership, which yet was only one! Hers? Hesden's? Hesden's
because hers, for--ah, glowing cheek! ah, bounding heart! how sweet
the dear confession, breathed--nay told unspokenly--to autumn sky
and air, to field and wood and bird and beast, to nature's boundless
heart--_she_ was but Hesden's! The altar and the idol of his
love! Oh, how its incense thrilled her soul and intoxicated every
sense! There was no doubt, no fear, no breath of shame! He would
come and ask, and she--would give?  No! no! no! She could not give,
but she would tell, with word and look and swift embrace, how she
_had_ given--ah! given all--and knew it not! Oh, fairer than
the opened heaven is earth illumined with love!

As she dreamed, her horse's swift feet consumed the way. She reached
the river--a silver billow between emerald banks, to-day! Almost
unheedingly she crossed the ford, just smiling, rapt in her vision,
as memory brought back the darkness of her former crossing! Then
she swept on, through the dark, over-arching pines, their odor
mingling with the incense of love which filled her heart. She had
forgotten Red Wing and all that pertained to it. The new song her
lips had been taught to sing had made thin and weak every melody
of the past, Shall care cumber the heart of the bride? She knew
vaguely that she was going to Red Wing. She recognized the road,
but it seemed glorified since she travelled it before. Once, she
thought she heard her name called. The tone was full of beseeching.
She smiled, for she thought that love had cheated her, and syllabled
the cry of that heart which would not be still until she came again.
She did not see the dark, pleading face which gazed after her as
her horse bore her swiftly beyond his ken.

On and on, easily, softly! She knows she is approaching her journey's
end, but the glamour of love enthralls her senses yet. The last
valley is passed. She ascends the last hill. Before her is Red
Wing, bright and peaceful as Paradise before the spoiler came. She
has forgotten the story which the hostler told. The sight of the
little village but heightens her rapture. She almost greets it
with a shout, as she gives her horse the rein and dashes down the
little street. How her face glows! The wind toys with stray tresses
of her hair! How dull and amazed the people seem whom she greets
so gayly! Still on! Around the angle of the wood she turns--and
comes upon the smouldering church!

Ah, how the visions melt! What a cry of agony goes up from her
white lips! How pale her cheeks grow as she drops the rein from
her nerveless fingers! The observant horse needs no words to check
his swift career.  The scene of desolation stops him in an instant.
He stretches out his head and looks with staring eyes upon the
ruin. He snuffs with distended nostrils the smoke that rises from
the burning.

The villagers gather around. She answers every inquiry with low
moans. Gently they lead her horse under the shadow of the great
oak before the old Ordinary.  Very tenderly she is lifted down and
borne to the  large-armed rocker on the porch, which the weeping,
trembling old "mammy" has loaded with pillows to receive her.

All day long she heard the timid tread of dusky feet and listened
to the tale of woe and fear. Old and young, those whom she had
counselled, and those whom she had taught, alike sought her presence
and advice. Lugena came, and showed her scarred form; brought her
beaten children, and told her tale of sorrow. The past was black
enough, but the shadow of a greater fear hung over the little
hamlet. They feared for themselves and also for her. They begged
her to go back to Mr. Le Moyne's. She smiled and shook her head
with a soft light in her eyes. She would not go back until the king
came and entreated her. But she knew that would be very soon. So
she roused herself to comfort and advise, and when the sun went
down, she was once more the little Mollie Ainslie of the Bankshire
hills, only fairer and ruddier and sweeter than ever before, as she
sat upon the porch and watched with dewy, love-lit eyes the road
which led to Mulberry Hill.

The shadows came. The night fell; the stars came out; the moon
arose--he came not. Stealthy footsteps came and went. Faithful hearts
whispered words of warning with trembling lips. She did not fear.
Her heart was sick. She had not once dreamed that Hesden would
fail to seek her out, or that he would allow her to pass one hour
of darkness in this scene of horror. She almost began to wish the
night might be a counterpart of that which had gone before. She
took out her brother's heavy revolver, loaded every chamber, laid
it on the table beside her chair, and sat, sleepless but dry-eyed,
until the morning.

The days went by. Hesden did not come, and sent no word. He was
but five miles away; he knew how she loved him; yet the grave was
not more voiceless!  She hoped--a little--even after that first
night. She pictured possibilities which she hoped might be true.  Then
the tones of the mother's voice came back to her--the unexplained
absence--the unfulfilled engagement--and doubt was changed to
certainty! She did not weep or moan or pine. The Yankee girl had no
base metal in her make. She folded up her vision of love and laid
it away, embalmed in the fragrance of her own purity, in the inmost
recess of her heart of hearts. The rack could not have wrung from
her a whisper of her one day in Paradise. She was simply Mollie
Ainslie, the teacher of the colored school at Red Wing, once
more; quiet, cool, and practical, giving herself day by day, with
increased devotion, to the people whom she had served so faithfully
before her brief translation.



CHAPTER XLIII.

A GLAD GOOD-BY.


A few days after her departure from Mulberry Hill, Mollie Ainslie
wrote to Mrs. Le Moyne:

"MY DEAR MADAM: You have no doubt heard of the terrible events which
have occurred at Red Wing. I had an intimation of trouble just as
I set out on my ride, but had no idea of the horror which awaited
me upon my arrival here, made all the more fearful by contrast with
your pleasant home.

"I cannot at such a time leave the people with whom I have labored
so long, especially as their only other trusted adviser, the
preacher, Eliab Hill, is missing.  With the utmost exertion we have
been able to learn nothing of him or of Nimbus since the night of
the fire.  There is no doubt that they are dead. Of course, there
is great excitement, and I have had a very anxious time. I am glad
to say, however, that my health continues to improve. I left some
articles scattered about in the room I occupied, which I would be
pleased if you would have a servant collect and give to the bearer.

"With the best wishes for the happiness of yourself and Mr. Hesden,
and with pleasant memories of your delightful home, I remain,

"Yours very truly,

"MOLLIE AINSLIE."

To this she received the following reply:

"Miss MOLLIE AINSLIE: I very much regret the unfortunate events
which occasioned your hasty departure from Mulberry Hill. It is
greatly to be hoped that all occasion for such violence will soon
pass away. It is a great calamity that the colored people cannot be
made to see that their old masters and mistresses are their best
friends, and induced to follow their advice and leadership, instead
of going after strangers and ignorant persons of their own color,
or low-down white men, who only wish to use them for their own
advantage. I am very sorry for Eliab and the others, but I must say
I think they have brought it all on themselves. I am told they have
been mighty impudent and obstreperous, until really the people in
the neighborhood did not feel safe, expecting every day that their
houses or barns would be burned down, or their wives or daughters
insulted, or perhaps worse, by the lazy, saucy crowd they had
gathered about them.    "Eliab was a good boy, but I never did like
that fellow Nimbus. He was that stubborn and headstrong, even in
his young days, that I can believe anything of him. Then he was in
the Yankee army during the war, you know, and I have no doubt that
he is a desperate character. I learn he has been indicted once or
twice, and the general belief is that he set the church on fire,
and, with a crowd of his understrappers, fixed up to represent Ku
Klux, attacked his own house, abused his wife and took Eliab off
and killed him, in order to make the North believe that the people
of Horsford are only a set of savages, and so get the Government
to send soldiers here to carry the election, in order that a
filthy negro and a low-down, dirty, no-account poor-white man may
_mis_represent this grand old county in the Legislature again.

"I declare, Miss Ainslie, I don't see how you endure such things.
You seemed while here very much of a lady, for one in your sphere
of life, and I cannot understand how you can reconcile it with your
conscience to encourage and live with such a terrible gang.

"My son has been very busy since you left. He did not find time
to inquire for you yesterday, and seemed annoyed that you had not
apprised him of your intention to leave. I suppose he is afraid that
his old horse might be injured if there should be more trouble at
Red Wing.

"Yours truly,

"HESTER RICHARDS LE MOYNE."

"P.S.--I understand that they are going to hunt the fellow Nimbus
with dogs to-morrow. I hope they will catch him and hang him to
the nearest tree. I have no doubt he killed poor Eliab, and did all
the rest of the bad things laid to his charge. He is a desperate
negro, and I don't see how you can stand up for him. I hope you
will let the people of the North know the truth of this affair, and
make them understand that Southern gentlemen are not such savages
and brutes as they are represented."

The letter was full of arrows designed to pierce her breast;
but Mollie Ainslie did not feel one of them.  After what she had
suffered, no ungenerous flings from such a source could cause her
any pain. On the contrary, it was an object of interest to her,
in that it disclosed how deep down in the heart of the highest and
best, as well as the lowest and meanest, was that prejudice which
had originally instigated such acts as had been perpetrated at Red
Wing. The credulous animosity displayed by this woman to whom she
had looked for sympathy and encouragement in what she deemed a holy
work, revealed to her for the first time how deep and impassable
was the channel which time had cut between the people of the North
and those of the South.

She did not lose her respect or regard for Mrs. Le Moyne. She did
not even see that any word which had been written was intended
to stab her, as a woman. She only saw that the prejudice-blinded
eyes had led a good, kind heart to endorse and excuse cruelty and
outrage.  The letter saddened but did not enrage her. She saw and
pitied the pride of the sick lady whom she had learned to love in
fancy too well to regard with anger on account of what was but the
natural result of her life and training.



CHAPTER XLIV.

PUTTING THIS AND THAT TOGETHER.


After Mollie had read the letter of Mrs. Le Moyne, it struck her
as a curious thing that she should write to her of the hunt which
was to be made after Nimbus, and the great excitement which there
was in regard to him.  Knowing that Mrs. Le Moyne and Hesden were
both kindly disposed toward Eliab, and the latter, as she believed,
toward Nimbus also, it occurred to her that this might be intended
as a warning, given on the hypothesis that those parties were in
hiding and not dead.

At the same time, also, it flashed upon her mind that Lugena had
not seemed so utterly cast down as might naturally be expected of
a widow so suddenly and sadly bereaved. She knew something of the
secretive powers of the colored race. She knew that in the old slave
times one of the men now living in the little village had remained
a hidden runaway for months, within five miles of his master's house,
only his wife knowing his hiding-place.  She knew how thousands
of these people had been faithful to our soldiers escaping from
Confederate prisons during the war, and she felt that a secret
affecting their own liberty, or the liberty of one acting or
suffering in their behalf, might be given into the keeping of the
whole race without danger of revelation. She remembered that amid
all the clamorous grief of others, while Lugena had mourned and
wept over the burning of the church and the scenes of blood and
horror, she had exhibited little of that poignant and overwhelming
grief or unappeasable anger which she would have expected, under
the circumstances, from one of her  temperament. She concluded,
therefore, that the woman might have some knowledge in regard to the
fate of her husband, Eliab, and Berry, which she had not deemed it
prudent to reveal. With this thought in mind, she sent for Lugena
and asked if she had heard that they were going to hunt for her
husband with dogs.

"Yes, Miss Mollie, I'se heerd on't," was the reply, "but nebber you
mind. Ef Nimbus is alive, dey'll nebber git him in no sech way ez
dat, an' dey knows it.  'Sides dat, it's tree days ago, an' Nimbus
ain't no sech fool ez ter stay round dat long, jes ter be cotched
now.  I'se glad ter hear it, dough, kase it shows ter me dat
dey hain't killed him, but wants ter skeer him off, an' git him
outen de kentry. De sheriff--not de high-sheriff, but one ob his
understrappers--wuz up ter our house to-day, a-purtendin' ter hunt
atter Nimbus. I didn't put no reliance in dat, but somehow I can't
make out cla'r how dey could hev got away with him an' Berry an'
'Liab, all on 'em, atter de fight h'yer, an' not left no trace nor
sign on' em nowhar.

"Now, I tell yer what's my notion, Miss Mollie," she added,
approaching closer, and speaking in a whisper; "I'se done a heap
o' tinkin' on dis yer matter, an' dis is de way I'se done figgered
it out. I don't keer ter let on 'bout it, an' mebbe you kin see
furder inter it nor I kin, but I'se jes made up my min' dat Nimbus
is all right somewhars. I don't know whar, but it's somewhar not
fur from 'Liab--dat yer may be shore on, honey. Now, yer see, Miss
Mollie, dar's two or tree tings makes me tink so. In de fus' place,
yer know, I see dat feller, Berry, atter all dis ting wuz ober,
an' talked wid him an' told him dat Nimbus lef all right, an' dat
he tuk 'Liab wid him, an' dat Bre'er 'Liab wuz mighty bad hurt.
Wal, atter I told him dat, an' he'd helped me hunt up de chillens
dat wuz scattered in de co'n, an' 'bout one place an' anudder,
Berry he 'llows dat he'll go an' try ter fin' Nimbus an' 'Liab.
So he goes off fru de co'n wid dat ar won'ful gun dat jes keeps on
a-shootin' widout ary load.

"Atter a while I heahs him ober in de woods a-whistlin' an' a-carryin'
on like a mockin'-bird, ez you'se heerd de quar critter du many a
time." Mollie nodded affirmatively, and Lugena went on: "I couldn't
help but laugh den, dough I wuz nigh about skeered ter death, ter
tink what a mighty cute trick it wuz. I knowed he wuz a callin'
Nimbus an' dat Nimbus 'ud know it, tu, jest ez soon ez he heerd it;
but yer know ennybody dat hadn't heerd it over an offen, wouldn't
nebber tink dat it warn't a mocker waked up by de light, or jes
mockin' a cat-bird an' rain-crow, an' de like, in his dreams, ez
dey say dey does when de moon shines, yer know."

Mollie smiled at the quaint conceit, so well justified by the fact
she had herself often observed. Lugena continued:

"I tell yer, Miss Mollie, dat ar Berry's a right cute nigga, fer
all dey say 'bout him. He ain't stiddy, like Nimbus, yer know, ner
pious like 'Liab--dat is not ter hurt, yer know--but he sartin hab
got a heap ob sense, fer all dat."

"It was certainly a very shrewd thing, but I don't see what it has
to do with the fate of Nimbus," said Mollie.  "I don't wish to seem
to discourage you, but I am quite certain, myself, that we shall
never see Nimbus or Eliab again."

"Oh, yer can't discourage _me_, Miss Mollie," answered
the colored woman bravely. "I jes knows, er ez good ez knows, dat
Nimbus is all right yit awhile. Now I tells yer, honey, what dis
yer's got ter du wid it. Yer see, it must ha' been nigh about a
half-hour atter Nimbus left afore Berry went off; jes dat er way
I tole yer "bout."

"Well?" said Mollie, inquiringly.

"Wal," continued Lugena, "don't yer see? Dar hain't been nary word
heard from neither one o' dem boys sence."

"Well?" said Mollie, knitting her brows in perplexity.

"_Don't_ yer see, Miss Mollie," said the woman impatiently,
"dat dey couldn't hab got 'em bofe togedder, 'cept Berry had found
Nimbus fust?"

"Well?"

"_Wal!_ Don't yer see dar would hev been a--a--_terrible_
fight afore dem two niggas would hev gin up Bre'er 'Liab, let alone
derselves? Yer must 'member dat dey had dat ar gun. Sakes-a-massy!
Miss Mollie, yer orter hev hearn it dat night. 'Peared ter me yer
could hab heard it clar' roun' de yairth, ef it _is_ round,
ez yer say 'tis. Now, somebody--some cullu'd body--would have been
shore ter heah dat gun ef dar'd been a fight."

"I had not thought of that, Lugena," said Mollie.

"Co'se yer hadn't, honey; an' dere's sunthin' else yer didn't link
ob, nuther, kase yer didn't know it," said Lugena. "Yer min' dat
boy Berry, he'd done borrered our mule, jest afo' dat, ter take
Sally an' de chillen an' what few duds dey hez down inter Hanson
County, whar his brudder Rufe libs, an' whar dey's gwine ter libbin'
tu. Dar didn't nobody 'spect him ter git back till de nex' day,
any more'n Nimbus; an' it war jes kinder accidental-like dat either
on 'em got h'yer dat night. Now, Miss Mollie, what yer s'pose hez
come ob dat ar mule an' carryall? Dat's de question."

"I'm sure I don't know, 'Gena, said Mollie thoughtfully.    "Ner
I don't know, nuther," was the response; "but it's jes my notion
dat whar dey is, right dar yer'll fin' Nimbus an' Berry, an' not
fur off from dem yer'll find Bre'er 'Liab."

"You may be right," said her listener, musingly.

"I'se pretty shore on't, honey. Yer see when dat ar under-sheriff
come ter day an' had look all 'round fer Nimbus, he sed, finally,
sez he, 'I'se got a'tachment'--dat's what he call it, Miss
Mollie--a'tachment 'gin de property, or sunthin' o' dat kine. I
didn't know nary ting 'bout it, but I spunked up an' tole him ebbery
ting in de house dar was mine. He argyfied 'bout it a right smart
while, an' finally sed dar wan't nuffin' dar ob no 'count, ennyhow.
Den he inquired 'bout de mule an' de carryall, an' atter dat he
went out an' levelled on de crap."

"Did what?" asked Mollie.

"Levelled on de crap, Miss, dat's what he said, least-a-ways.  Den
he called fer de key ob de 'backer-barn, an' I tole him 'twan't
nowheres 'bout de house--good reason too, kase Nimbus allus do carry
dat key in his breeches pocket, 'long wid his money an' terbacker.
So he takes de axe an' goes up ter de barn, an' I goes 'long wid
him ter see what he's gwine ter du.  Den he breaks de staple an'
opens de do'. Now, Miss Mollie, 'twan't but a week er two ago, of
a Sunday atternoon, Nimbus an' I wuz in dar lookin' roun', an' dar
wuz a right smart bulk o' fine terbacker dar--some two er tree-hundred
poun's on't. Now when de sheriff went in, dar wa'n't more'n four
or five ban's ob 'backer scattered 'long 'twixt whar de pile had
been an' de do'.  Yah! yah! I couldn't help laughin' right out,
though I wuz dat mad dat I couldn't hardly see, kase I knowed ter
once how 'twas. D'yer see _now_, Miss Mollie?"   "I confess
I do not," answered the teacher.

"No? Wal, whar yer 'spose dat 'backer gone ter, hey?"

"I'm sure I don't know. Where do you think?"

"What I tink become ob dat 'backer? Wal, Miss Mollie, I tink Nimbus
an' Berry put dat 'backer in dat carryall, an' den put Bre'er 'Liab
in on dat 'backer, an' jes druv off somewhar--'Gena don't know
whar, but dat 'backer 'll take 'em a long way wid dat ar mule an'
carryall. It's all right, Miss Mollie, it's all right wid Nimbus.
'Gena ain't feared. She knows her ole man too well fer dat!

"Yer know he runned away once afo' in de ole slave times. He didn't
say nary word ter me 'bout gwine ober ter de Yanks, an' de folks
all tole me dat I nebber'd see him no mo'. But I knowed Nimbus,
an' shore 'nough, atter 'bout two year, back he come! An' dat's de
way it'll be dis time--atter de trouble's ober, he'll come back.
But dat ain't what worries me now, Miss Mollie," continued Lugena.
"Co'se I'd like ter know jes whar Nimbus is, but I know he's all
right. I'se a heap fearder 'bout Bre'er 'Liab, fer I 'llow it's jes
which an' t'other ef we ever sees him again. But what troubles me
now, Miss Mollie, is 'bout myseff."

"About yourself?" asked Mollie, in surprise.

"'Bout me an' my chillens, Miss Mollie," was the reply.

"Why, how is that, 'Gena?"

"Wal yer see, dar's dat ar 'tachment matter. I don't understan'
it, nohow."

"Nor I either," said Mollie.

"P'raps yer could make out sunthin' 'bout it from dese yer," said
the colored woman, drawing a mass of crumpled papers from her
pocket.

Mollie smoothed them out upon the table beside her, and began her
examination by reading the endorsements.  The first was entitled,
"_Peyton Winburn v. Nimbus Desmit_, et al. _Action for the
recovery of real estate. Summons._"  The next was endorsed,
"_Copy of Complaint_," and another, "_Affidavit and Order
of Attachment against Non-Resident or Absconding Debtor._"

"What's dat, Miss Mollie?" asked Lugena, eagerly, as the last title
was read. "Dat's what dat ar sheriff man said my Nimbus was--a
non--_non_--what, Miss Mollie? I tole him 'twan't no sech
ting; but la sakes!  I didn't know nothing in de worl' 'bout it.
I jes 'llowed dat 'twas sunthin' mighty mean, an' I knowed dat I
couldn't be very fur wrong nohow, ef I jes contraried ebbery word
what he said. What does it mean, Miss Mollie?"

"It just means," said Mollie, "that Nimbus owes somebody--this Mr.
Winburn, I judge, and--"

"It's a lie! A clar, straight-out lie!" interrupted Lugena. "Nimbus
don't owe nobody nary cent--not nary cent, Miss Mollie! Tole me
dat hisself jest a little time ago."

"Yes, but this man _claims_ he owes him--swears so, in fact;
and that he has run away or hidden to keep from paying it," said
Mollie. "He swears he is a non-resident--don't live here, you
know; lives out of the State somewhere."

"An' Peyton Winburn swars ter dat?" asked the woman, eagerly.

"Yes, certainly."

"Didn't I tell yer dat Nimbus was safe, Miss Mollie?" she cried,
springing from her chair. "Don't yer see how dey cotch derselves?
Ef der's ennybody on de green yairth dat knows all 'bout dis
Ku Kluckin' it's Peyton Winburn, and dat ar Sheriff Gleason. Now,
don't yer know dat ef he was dead dey wouldn't be a suin' on him
an' a swearin' he'd run away?"

"I'm sure I don't know, but it would seem so," responded  Mollie.

"Seem so! it's boun' ter be so, honey," said the colored  woman,
positively.

"I don't know, I'm sure," said Mollie. "It's a matter I don't
understand. I think I had better take these papers over to Captain
Pardee, and see what ought to be done about them. I am afraid there
is an attempt to rob you of all your husband has acquired, while
he is away."

"Dat's what I'se afeared on," said the other. "An' it wuz what Nimbus
'spected from de fust ob dis h'yer Ku Kluck matter. Dear me, what
ebber will I do, I dunno--I dunno!" The poor woman threw her apron
over her head and began to weep.

"Don't be discouraged, 'Gena," said Mollie, soothingly.  "I'll
stand by you and get Mr. Pardee to look after the matter for you."

"T'ank ye, Miss Mollie, t'ank ye. But I'se afeared it won't do
no good. Dey's boun' ter break us up, an' dey'll do it, sooner or
later! It's all of a piece--a Ku Kluckin' by night, and a-suin' by
day. 'Tain't no use, t'ain't no use! Dey'll hab dere will fust er
last, one way er anudder, shore!"

Without uncovering her head, the sobbing woman turned and walked
out of the room, across the porch and down the path to the gate.

"Not if I can help it!" said the little Yankee woman, as she
smoothed down her hair, shut her mouth close, and turned to make
a more thorough perusal of the papers Lugena had left with her.
Hardly had she finished when she was astonished by Lugena's rushing
into the room and exclaiming, as she threw herself on her knees:

"Oh, Miss Mollie, I done forgot--I was dat ar flustered 'bout de
'tachment an' de like, dat I done forgot what I want ter tell yer
most ob all. Yer know, Miss Mollie, dem men dat got hurt dat ar
night--de Ku Kluckers, two on 'em, one I 'llow, killed out-an'-out,
an' de todder dat bad cut--oh, my God!" she cried with a shudder,
"I nebber see de likes--no nebber, Miss Mollie.  All down his
face--from his forehead ter his chin, an' dat too--yes, an' his
breast-bone, too--looked like dat wuz all split open an' a-bleedin'!
Oh, it war horrible, horrible, Miss Mollie!"

The woman buried her face in the teacher's lap as if she would shut
out the fearful spectacle.

"There, there," said Mollie, soothingly, as she placed a hand upon
her head. "You must not think of it.  You must try and forget the
horrors of that night."

"Don't yer know, Miss Mollie, dat dem Ku Kluckers ain't a-gwine
ter let de one ez done dat lib roun' h'yer, ner ennywhar else dat
dey can come at 'em, world widout end?"

"Well, I thought you were sure that Nimbus was safe?"

"Nimbus?" said the woman in surprise, uncovering her face and looking
up. "Nimbus? 'Twan't him, Miss Mollie, 'twan't him. I 'llows it
mout hev been him dat hurt de one dat 'peared ter hev been killed
straight out; but it was _me_ dat cut de odder one, Miss
Mollie."

"You?" cried Mollie, in surprise, instinctively drawing  back.
"You?"

"Yes'm," said Lugena, humbly, recognizing the  repulse. "Me--wid
de axe! I hope yer don't fault me fer it, Miss Mollie."

"Blame you? no indeed, 'Gena!" was the reply.  "Only it startled
me to hear you say so. You did entirely right to defend yourself
and Nimbus. You should not let that trouble you for a moment."

"No, Miss Mollie, but don't yer know dat de Ku Kluckers ain't
a-gwine ter fergit it?"

"Heavens!" said the Yankee girl, springing up from her chair in
uncontrollable excitement. "You don't think they would hurt you--a
woman?"

"Dat didn't save me from bein' stripped an' beat, did it?"

"Too true, too true!" moaned the teacher, as she walked back and
forth wringing her hands. "Poor child! What can you do?--what can
you do?"

"Dat's what I want ter know, Miss Mollie," said the woman. "I dassent
sleep ter home at night, an' don't feel safe ary hour in de day.
Dem folks won't fergit, an' 'Gena won't nebber be safe ennywhar
dat dey kin come, night ner day. What will I do, Miss Mollie, what
will I do? Yer knows Nimbus 'll 'llow fer 'Gena ter take keer ob
herself an' de chillen an' de plantation, till he comes back, er
sends fer me, an' I dassent stay, not 'nudder day, Miss Mollie!
What'll I do? What'll I do?"

There was silence in the little room for a few moments, as
the young teacher walked back and forth across the floor, and the
colored woman sat and gazed in stupid hopelessness up into her
face. Presently she stopped, and, looking down upon Lugena, said
with impetuous fervor:

"You shall not stay, Lugena! You shall not stay!  Can you stand it
a few nights more?"

"Oh, yes, I kin stan' it, 'cause I'se got ter. I'se been sleepin'
in de woods ebber sence, an' kin keep on at it; but I knows whar
it'll end, an' so der you, Miss Mollie."

"No, it shall not, 'Gena. You are right. It is not safe for you to
stay. Just hide yourself a few nights more, till I can look after
things for you here, and I will take you away to the North, where
there are no Ku Klux!"

"Yer don't mean it, Miss Mollie!"

"Indeed I do."

"An' de chillen?"

"They shall go too."

"God bress yer, Miss Mollie! God bress yer!"

With moans and sobs, the torrent of her tears burst forth, as the
poor woman fell prone upon the floor, and catching the hem of the
teacher's robe, kissed it again and again, in a transport of joy.



CHAPTER XLV.

ANOTHER OX GORED.


There was a caller who begged to see Mr. Le Moyne for a few minutes.
Descending to the sitting-room, Hesden found there Mr. Jordan
Jackson, who was the white candidate for the Legislature upon the
same ticket with a colored man who had left the county in fright
immediately after the raid upon Red Wing. Hesden was somewhat
surprised at this call, for although he had known Mr. Jackson from
boyhood, yet there had never been more than a passing acquaintance
between them. It is true, Mr Jackson was a neighbor, living only
two or three miles from Mulberry Hill; but he belonged to such an
entirely different class of society that their knowledge of each
other had never ripened into anything like familiarity.

Mr. Jackson was what used to be termed a poor man.  He and his father
before him, as Hesden knew, had lived on a little, poor plantation,
surrounded by wealthy neighbors.  They owned no slaves, and lived,
scantily on the products of the farm worked by themselves. The
present occupant was about Hesden's own age. There being no free
schools in that county, and his father having been unable, perhaps
not even desiring, to educate him otherwise, he had grown up almost
entirely illiterate.  He had learned to sign his name, and only
by strenuous exertions, after his arrival at manhood, had become
able, with difficulty, to spell out words from the printed page
and to write an ordinary letter in strangely-tangled hieroglyphics,
in a spelling which would do credit to a phonetic reformer. He
had entered the army, probably because he could not do otherwise,
and being of stalwart build, and having great endurance and native
courage, before the struggle was over had risen, despite his
disadvantages of birth and education, to a lieutenancy.

This experience had been of advantage to him in more ways than one.
Chief among these had been the opening of his eyes to the fact that
he himself, although a poor man, and the scion of a poor family,
was, in all the manly requisites that go to make up a soldier,
always the equal, and very often the superior, of his aristocratic
neighbors. Little by little, the self-respect which had been
ground out of him and his family by generations of that condition
of inferiority which the common-liver, the self-helper of the South,
was forced to endure under the old slave _regime_, began to
grow up in his heart. He  began to feel himself a man, and prized
the rank-marks on his collar as the certificate and endorsement of
his manhood.  As this feeling developed, he began to consider the
relations between himself, his family, and others like them, and
the rich neighbors by whom they were surrounded and looked down
upon. And more and more, as he did so, the feeling grew upon him
that he and his class had been wronged, cheated--"put upon," he
phrased it--in all the past. They had been the "chinking" between
the "mud" of slavery and the "house-logs" of aristocracy in the
social structure of the South--a little better than the mud because
of the same grain and nature as the logs; but useless and nameless
except as in relation to both. He felt the bitter truth of that
stinging aphorism which was current among the privates of the
Confederate army, which characterized the war of Rebellion as "the
poor man's war and the rich man's fight."

So, when the war was over, Lieutenant Jordan Jackson did not return
easily and contentedly to the niche in the social life of his native
region to which he had been born and bred. He found the habit of
leadership and command very pleasant, and he determined that he
would rise in the scale of Horsford society as he had risen in the
army, simply because he was brave and strong. He knew that to do
this he must acquire wealth, and looking about, he saw opportunities
open before him which others had not noticed. Almost before the smoke
of battle had cleared away, Jordan Jackson had opened trade with
the invaders, and had made himself a prime favorite in the Federal
camps. He coined money in those days of transition. Fortunately,
he had been too poor to be in debt when the war broke out. He was
independently poor, because beyond the range of credit.

He had lost nothing, for he had nothing but the few poor acres of
his homestead to lose.

So he started fair, and before the period of reconstruction began
he had by thrifty management accumulated quite a competency. He
had bought several plantations whose aristocratic owners could no
longer keep their grip upon half-worked lands, had opened a little
store, and monopolized a considerable trade. Looking at affairs as
they stood at that time, Jordan Jackson said to himself that the
opportunity for him and his class had come.  He had a profound
respect for the power and authority of the Government of the United
States, _because_ it had put down the Rebellion. He had been
two or three times at the North, and was astounded at its collective
greatness. He said that the colored man and the poor-whites of
the South ought to put themselves on the side of this great, busy
North, which had opened the way of liberty and progress before them,
and establish free schools and free thought and free labor in the
fair, crippled, South-land. He thought he saw a great and fair future
looming up before his country. He freely gave expression to these
ideas, and, as he traded very largely with the colored people, soon
came to be regarded by them as a leader, and by "the good people
of Horsford" as a low-down white nigger, for whom no epithet was
too vile.

Nevertheless, he grew in wealth, for he attended to his business
himself, early and late. He answered raillery with raillery,
curses with cursing, and abuse with defiance.  He was elected to
conventions and Legislatures, where he did many foolish, some bad,
and a few wise things in the way of legislation. He knew what he
wanted--it was light, liberty, education, and a "fair hack" for
all men. How to get it he did not know.

He had been warned a thousand times that he must abandon this way
of life. The natural rulers of the county felt that if they could
neutralize his influence and that which went out from Red Wing, they
could prevent the exercise of ballatorial power by a considerable
portion of the majority, and by that means "redeem" the county.

They did not wish to hurt Jordan Jackson. He was a good enough man.
His father had been an honest man, and an old citizen. Nobody knew
a word against his wife or her family, except that they had been
poor.  The people who had given their hearts to the Confederate
cause, remembered too, at first, his gallant service; but that had
all been wiped out from their minds by his subsequent "treachery."
Even after the attack on Red Wing, he had been warned by his friends
to desist.

One morning, he had found on the door of his store a paper containing
the following words, written inside a little sketch of a coffin:

[Illustration: JORDAN JACKSON, If you don't get out of here in
three days, you will go to the bone yard. K.K.K.]

He had answered this by a defiant, ill-spelled notice, pasted just
beside it, in which he announced himself as always ready to meet any
crowd of "cowards and villains who were ashamed of their own faces,
at any time, night or day." His card was English prose of a most
vigorous type, interspersed with so much of illiterate profanity as
to satisfy any good citizen that the best people of Horsford were
quite right in regarding him as a most desperate and dangerous
man--one of those whose influence upon the colored people was to
array them against the whites, and unless promptly put down, bring
about a war of races--which the white people were determined never
to have in Horsford, if they had to kill every Radical in the county
in order to live in peace with their former slaves, whom they had
always nourished with paternal affection and still regarded with
a most tender care.

This man met Hesden as the latter came out upon the porch, and with
a flushed face and a peculiar twitching about his mouth, asked if
he could see him in private for a moment.

Hesden led the way to his own room. Jackson then, having first shut
the door, cautiously said:

"You know me, Mr. Le Moyne?"

"Certainly, Jackson."

"An' you knew my father before me?"

"Of course. I knew old man Billy Jackson very well in my young
days."

"Did you ever know anything mean or disreputable about him?"

"No, certainly not; he was a very correct man, so far as I ever
heard."

"Poor but honest?"--with a sneer.

"Well, yes; a poor man, but a very correct man."

"Well, did you ever know anything disreputable about _me?_"
keenly.

"Well--why--Mr. Jackson--you--" stammered Hesden, much confused.

"Out with it!" angrily. "I'm a Radical?"

"Yes--and--you know, your political course has rendered  you very
unpopular."

"Of course! A man has no right to his own political opinions."

"Well, but you know, Mr. Jackson, yours have been so peculiar
and so obnoxious to our best people. Besides,  you have expressed
them so boldly and defiantly.  I do not think our people have any
ill-feeling against you, personally; but you cannot wonder that
so great a change as we have had should excite many of them very
greatly. You should not be so violent, Mr. Jackson."

"Violent--Hell! You'd better go and preach peace to Eliab Hill.
Poor fellow! I don't reckon the man lives who ever heard him say
a harsh thing to any one. He was always that mild I used to wonder
the Lord didn't take him long ago. Nigger as he was, and cripple
as he was, I'd ruther had his religion than that of all the mean,
hypocritical, murdering aristocrats in Horsford."

"But, Mr. Jackson, you should not speak in that way of our best
citizens."

"Oh, the devil! I know--but that is no matter, Mr. Le Moyne. I
didn't come to argue with you. Did you ever hear anything agin' me
outside of my politics?"

"I don't know that I ever did."

"If you were in a tight place, would you have confidence  in Jordan
Jackson as a friend?"

"You know I have reason to remember that," said Hesden, with feeling.
"You helped me when I could not help myself. It's not every man
that would care about his horse carrying double when he was running
away from the Yanks."

"Ah! you remember that, then?" with a touch of pride in his voice.

"Yes, indeed! Jackson," said Hesden, warmly.

"Well, would you do me a good turn to pay for that?"

"Certainly--anything that--" hesitating.

"Oh, damn it, man, don't strain yourself! I didn't ask any questions
when I helped you!"

"Mr. Jackson," said Hesden, with dignity, "I merely wished to say
that I do not care at this time to embroil myself in politics. You
know I have an old mother who is very feeble. I have long regretted
that affairs are in the condition that they are in, and have wondered
if something could not be done. Theoretically, you are right and
those who are with you. Practically, the matter  is very embarrassing.
But I do not hesitate to say, Mr. Jackson, that those who commit
such outrages as that perpetrated at Red Wing disgrace the name
of gentleman,  the county, and State, the age we live in, and the
religion we profess. That I _will_ say."

"And that's quite enough, Mr. Le Moyne. All I wanted was to ask
you to act as my trustee."

"Your trustee in what?"

"There is a deed I have just executed conveying everything I have
to you, and I want you to sell it off and dispose of it the best
you can, and send me the money."

"_Send_ it to you?"

"Yes, I'm going away."

"Going away? Why? You are not in debt?"

"I don't owe a hundred dollars."

"Then why are you doing this? I don't understand."

"Mr. Le Moyne," said Jackson, coming close to him and speaking in
a low intense tone, "I was _whipped_ last night!"

"Whipped!"

"Yes."

"By whom?"

"By my own neighbors, in the sight of my wife and daughter!"

"By the Ku Klux?"

"That's what they call themselves."

"My God, it cannot be!"

"Cannot?" The man's face twitched nervously, as, dropping his hat,
he threw off his light coat and, opening  his shirt-collar and
turning away his head, showed his shoulder covered with wales,
still raw and bleeding.

"My God!" cried Hesden, as he put up his hand and started back in
horror. "And you a white man?"

"Yes, Mr. Le Moyne," said Jackson, turning his face, burning with
shame and indignation, toward his high-bred neighbor, "and the
only reason this was done--the only thing agin me--is that I was
honestly in favor of giving to the colored man the rights which
the law of the land says he shall have, like other men.  When the
war was over, Mr. Le Moyne, I didn't 'give up,' as all you rich
folks talked about doing, and try to put up with what was to come
afterward. I hadn't lost nothing by the war, but, on the contrary,
had gained what I had no chance to git in any other way. So I
jest looked things square in the face and made up my mind that it
was a good thing for me, and all such as me, that the damned old
Confederacy was dead. And the more I thought on't the more I couldn't
help seein' and believin'  that it was right and fair to free the
niggers and let them have a fair show and a white man's chance--votin'
and all. That's what I call a fair hack, and I swear, Mr. Le Moyne,
I don't know how it may seem to you, but to my mind any man that
ain't willing to let any other man have that, is a damn coward!
I'm as white as anybody, and hain't no more reason to stand up for
niggers than any of the rest of the white people--no, nor half as
much as most of 'em, for, as fur as I know, I hain't got no relations
among 'em. But I do say that if the white folks of the South can't
stand up to a fair fight with the niggers at the polls, without
cuttin', and murderin', and burnin', and shootin', and whippin',
and Ku Kluxin', and cheatin', and swindlin', they are a damned
no-'count people, and don't deserve no sort of show in the world--no
more than a mean, sneakin', venomous moccasin-snake--there!"

"But you don't think--" Hesden began.

"Think? Damn it, I _know_!" broke in Jackson.  "They said if
I would quit standin' up for the niggers,  they'd let me off, even
after they'd got me stripped and hung up. I wouldn't do it! I didn't
believe then they'd cut me up this way; but they did! An' now I'm
goin'. I'd stay an' fight, but 'tain't no use; an' I couldn't look
a man in the eye who I thought tuk a hand in that whippin' without
killin' him. I've got to go, Le Moyne," he said with clenched fists,
"or I shall commit murder before the sun goes down."

"Where are you going?"

"God knows! Somewhere where the world's free and the earth's fresh,
and where it's no crime to have been born poor or to uphold and
maintain the laws of the land."

"I'm sorry, Jackson, but I don't blame you. You can't live here in
peace, and you are wise to go," said Hesden, extending his hand.

"Will you be my trustee?"

"Yes."

"God bless you!"

The angry, crushed, and outraged man broke into tears as he shook
the hand he held.

There was an hour or two of close consultation, and then Hesden Le
Moyne looked thoughtfully after this earnest and well-meaning man,
who was compelled to flee from the land for which he had fought,
simply because  he had adopted the policy and principles which the
conquering power had thrust into the fundamental law, and endeavored
to carry them out in good faith.  Like the fugitive from slavery in
the olden time, he had started toward the North Pole on the quest
for liberty.



CHAPTER XLVI.

BACKWARD AND FORWARD.


The task which Hesden Le Moyne undertook when he assumed the care and
protection of Eliab Hill, was no trivial one, as he well understood.

He realized as fully as did Nimbus the necessity of absolute
concealment, for he was well aware that the blaze of excitement
which would sweep over Horsford, when the events that had occurred
at Red Wing should become known, would spare no one who should harbor
or conceal  any of the recognized leaders of the colored men.  He
knew that not only that organization which had just shown its
existence in the county, but the vast majority of all the white
inhabitants as well, would look upon this affair as indubitable
evidence of the irrepressible conflict of races, in which they all
believed most devoutly.

He had looked forward to this time with great apprehension.
Although he had scrupulously refrained from active participation
in political life, it was not from any lack of interest in the
political situation of the country.  He had not only the ordinary
instinct of the educated Southern man for political thought--an
instinct which makes every man in that section first of all things
a partisan, and constitutes politics the first and most important
business of life--but besides this general interest in public
affairs he had also an inherited bias of hostility  to the right
of secession, as well as to its policy. His father had been what
was termed a "Douglas Democrat," and the son had absorbed his views.
With that belief in a father's infallibility which is so general
in that part of the country, Hesden, despite his own part in the
war and the chagrin which defeat had brought, had looked only for
evil results to come out of the present struggle, which he believed
to have been uselessly precipitated.

It was in this state of mind that he had watched the new phase of
the "irrepressible conflict" which supervened  upon the downfall of
the Rebellion In so doing, he had arrived at the following conclusions:

1. That it was a most fortunate and providential thing that
the Confederacy had failed. He had begun to realize the wisdom
of Washington when he referred  to the dogma of "State rights" as
"that bantling--I like to have said _that monster._"

2. That the emancipation of the slaves would ultimately prove
advantageous to the white man,

3. That it was the part of honorable men fairly and honestly to carry
out and give effect to all the conditions, expressed and implied,
on which power, representation, and autonomy were restored to the
recently rebellious States. This he believed to be a personal duty,
and a failure so to do he regarded as a disgrace to every man in
any way contributing to it, especially if he had been a soldier
and had shared the defeat of which these conditions were a consequence.

4. He did not regard either the war or the legislation known as
reconstructionary as having in any manner  affected the natural
relation of the races. In the old times he had never felt or believed
that the slave was inherently endowed with the same rights as the
master; and he did not see how the results of war could enhance
his natural rights.  He did not believe that the colored man had an
inherent  right to freedom or to self-government.  Whatever right
of that kind he might now have was simply by the free grace of the
conqueror. He had a right to the fruit of his own labor, to the
care, protection, and service of his own children, to the society
and comfort of his wife, to the protection of his own person, to
marriage, the ballot, possessory  capacity, and all those things
which distinguish  the citizen from the chattel--not because of
his manhood, nor because of inherent co-equality  of right with the
white man; but simply because the national legislation gave it to
him as a condition precedent of statal rehabilitation.

These may seem to the Northern reader very narrow views; and so they
are, as compared with those that underlay  the spirit of resistance
to rebellion, and the fever heat for human rights, which was the
animating principle in the hearts of the people when they endorsed
and approved those amendments which were the basis of reconstructionary
legislation. It should be remembered, however, that even these views
were infinitely in advance of the ideas generally entertained by
his white fellow-citizens  of the South. Nearly all of them regarded
these matters in a very different light; and most naturally, too,
as any one may understand who will lemember what had gone before,
and will keep in mind that defeat does not mean a new birth, and
that warfare leaves _men_ unchanged by its results, whatever
may be its effects on nations  and societies.

They regretted the downfall of the Confederacy as the triumph of
a lower and baser civilization--the ascendency of a false idea and
an act of unrighteous and unjustifiable subversion. To their minds
it was a forcible denial of their rights, and, to a large portion
of them, a dishonorable violation of that contract or treaty upon
which the Federal Union was based, and by which the right for which
they fought had, according to their construction, been assured. As
viewed by them, the result of the war had not changed these facts,
nor justified the infraction of the rights of the South.

In the popular phrase of that day, they "accepted the situation"--which
to _their_ minds, simply meant that they would not fight any
more for independent existence.  The North understood it to mean
that they would accept cheerfully and in good faith any terms
and conditions which might be imposed upon them as a condition of
rehabilitation.

The masses of the Southern whites regarded the emancipation  of
the negro simply as an arbitrary exercise of power, intended as
a punishment for the act of attempted secession--which act, while
many believed it to have been impolitic, few believed to be in
conflict with the true theory of our government. They considered
the freeing of the slave merely a piece of wanton spite, inspired,
in great measure, by sheer envy of Southern superiority, in part
by angry hate because of the troubles, perils, and losses of the
war, and, in a very small degree, by honest though absurd fanaticism.
They did not believe that it was done for the sake of the slave,
to secure his liberty or to establish his rights; but they believed
most devoutly that it was done solely and purposely to injure
the master, to punish the rebel, and to still further cripple and
impoverish the South. It was, to them, an unwarrantable measure of
unrighteous retribution inspired by the lowest and basest motives.

But if, to the mass of Southern white men, emancipation was a
measure born of malicious spite in the breast of the North, what
should they say of that which followed--the _enfranchisement_
of the black? It was a gratuitous insult--a causeless infamy! It
was intended to humiliate, without even the mean motive of advantage
to be derived.  They did not for a moment believe--they do not
believe to-day--that the negro was enfranchised for his own sake,
or because the North believed that he was entitled to self-government,
or was fit for self-government; but simply and solely because it
was hoped thereby to degrade, overawe, and render powerless the
white element of the Southern populations. They thought it a fraud
in itself, by which the North pretended to give back to the South
her place in the nation; but instead, gave her only a debased and
degraded co-ordination with a race despised beyond the power of
words to express.

This anger seemed--and still seems to the Northern mind--useless,
absurd, and ridiculous. It appears to us as groundless and almost
as laughable as the frantic and impotent rage of the Chinaman who
has lost his sacred queue by the hand of the Christian spoiler.
To the Northern mind the cause is entirely incommensurate with the
anger displayed. One is inclined to ask, with a laugh, "Well, what
of it?" Perhaps there is not a single Northern resident of the
South who has not more than once offended some personal friend by
smiling in his face while he raged, with white lips and glaring
eyes, about this culminating ignominy. Yet it was sadly real to
them. In comparison with this, all other evils seemed light and
trivial, and whatever tended to prevent it, was deemed fair and
just. For this reason, the Southerners felt themselves not only
justified, but imperatively called upon, in every way and manner,
to resist and annul  all legislation having this end in view.
Regarding it as inherently fraudulent, malicious, and violent, they
felt no compunctions in defeating its operation by counter-fraud
and violence.

It was thus that the elements of reconstruction affected the hearts
and heads of most of the Southern whites. To admit that they were
honest in holding such views as they did is only to give them the
benefit of a presumption which, when applied to the acts and motives
of whole peoples, becomes irrefutable. A mob may be wrong-headed,
but it is always right-hearted. What it does may be infamous, but
underlying its acts is always the sting of a great evil or the hope
of a great good.

Thus it was, too, that to the subtler mind and less selfish heart
of Hesden Le Moyne, every attempt to nullify the effect or evade
the operation of the Reconstruction laws was tinged with the idea
of personal dishonor.  To his understanding, the terms of surrender
were, not merely that he would not again fight for a separate
governmental existence, but, also, that he would submit to such
changes in the national polity as the conquering majority might
deem necessary and desirable as conditions precedent to restored
power; and would honestly and fairly, as an honorable man and a
brave soldier, carry out those laws either to successful fruition
or to fair and legitimate repeal.

He was not animated by any thought of advantage to himself or to
his class to arise from such ideas. Unlike Jordan Jackson, and men
of his type, there was nothing which his class could gain thereby,
except a share in the ultimate glory and success of an enlarged and
solidified nation. The self-abnegation which he had learned from
three years of duty as a private soldier and almost  a lifetime
of patient attendance upon a loved but exacting invalid, inclined
to him to study the movements  of society and the world, without
especial reference  to himself, or the narrow circle of his family
or class. To his mind, _honor_--that honor which he accounted
the dearest birthright his native South had given--required that
from and after the day of his surrender he should seek and desire,
not the gratification of revenge  nor the display of prejudice,
but the success and glory of the great republic. He felt that the
American Nation had become greater and more glorious by the very
act of overcoming rebellion. He recognized that the initial right
or wrong of that struggle, whatever  it might have been, should be
subordinated in all minds to the result--an individual Nation. It
was a greater and a grander thing to be an American than to have
been a Confederate! It was more honorable and knightly to be true
in letter and in spirit to every law of his reunited land than to
make the woes of the past an excuse for the wrongs of the present.
He felt all the more scrupulous in regard to this, because those
measures were not altogether such as he would have adopted, nor
such as he could yet believe would prove immediately successful. He
thought that every Southern man should see to it especially that,
if any element of reconstruction failed, it should not be on account
of any lack of honest, sincere and hearty co-operation on his part.

It was for this reason that he had taken such interest in the
experiment that was going on at Red Wing in  educating the colored
people. He did not at first believe at all in the capacity of the
negro for culture, progress, self-support, or self-government; but
he believed that the experiment, having been determined on by the
nation, should be fairly and honestly carried out and its success
or failure completely demonstrated. He admitted frankly that, if
they had such capacity, they undoubtedly had the right to use it;
because he believed the right inherent and inalienable with any
race or people having the capacity.  He considered that it was only
the lack of co-ordinate capacity that made the Africans unfit to
exercise co-ordinate  power with individuals of the white race.

He thought they should be encouraged by every means to develop
what was in them, and readily admitted that, should the experiment
succeed and all distinction of civil right and political power be
successfully abolished, the strength and glory of the nation would
be wonderfully  enhanced. His partiality for the two chief promoters
of the experiment at Red Wing had greatly increased his interest in
the result, which had by no means been diminished by his acquaintance
with Mollie Ainslie.

It was not, however, until he bent over his unconscious  charge in
the stillness of the morning, made an examination of the wounds of
his old playmate by the flickering light of the lamp, and undertook
the process of resuscitation and cure, that he began to realize
how his ancient prejudice was giving way before the light of what
he could not but regard as truth. The application of some simple
remedies soon restored Eliab to consciousness, but he found that
the other injuries were so serious as to demand immediate surgical
attendance, and would require considerable time for their cure.

His first idea had been to keep Eliab's presence at his house
entirely concealed; but as soon as he realized the extent of his
injuries, he saw that this would be impossible, and concluded that
the safer way would be to entrust the secret to those servants
who were employed "about the lot," which includes, upon a Southern
plantation, all who are not regularly engaged in the crop. He felt
the more willing to do this because of the attachment felt for the
sweet-tempered but deformed minister at Red Wing by all of his
race in the county.  He carefully impressed upon the two women
and Charles, the stable-boy, the necessity of the utmost caution
in regard  to the matter, and arranged with them to care for his
patient by turns, so as never to leave him alone. He sent to the
post at Boyleston for a surgeon, whose coming chanced not to be
noticed by the neighbors, as he arrived just after dark and went
away before daylight to return to his duty. A comfortable cot was
arranged for the wounded man, and, to make the care of him less
onerous, as well as to avoid the remark which continual use of
the ladder would be sure to excite, Charles was directed to cut a
doorway through the other gable of the old house into one of the
rooms in a newer part. Charles was one of those men found on almost
every plantation, who can "turn a hand to almost anything." In
a short time he had arranged a door from the chamber above "Marse
Hesden's room," and the task of nursing the stricken man back to
life and such health as he might thereafter have, was carried on
by the faithful band of watchers in the dim light of the old attic
and amid the spicy odor of the "bulks" of tobacco, which was stored
there awaiting a favorable market.

Hesden was so occupied with fhis care that it was not until the
next day that he became aware of Mollie's  absence. As she had gone
without preparation or farewell, he rightly judged that it was her
intention to return.  At first, he thought he would go at once to
Red Wing and assure himself of her safety, but a moment's consideration
showed him not only that this was probably unnecessary, but also
that to do so would attract attention, and perhaps reveal the
hiding-place of Eliab.  Besides, he felt confident that she would
not be molested, and thought it quite as well that she should not
be at Mulberry Hill for a few days, until the excitement had somewhat
worn away.

On the next day, Eliab inquired so pitifully for both Miss Mollie
and Nimbus, that Hesden, although he knew it was a half-delirious
anxiety, had sent Charles on an errand to a plantation in that
vicinity, with directions to learn all he could of affairs there,
if possible without communicating directly with Miss Ainslie.

This he did, and reported everything quiet--Nimbus and Berry not
heard from; Eliab supposed to have been killed; the colored people
greatly alarmed; and "Miss Mollie a-comfortin' an encouragin' on
'em night an' day."

Together with this anxiety came the trust confided to Hesden by
Jordan Jackson, and the new, and at first somewhat arduous, duties
imposed thereby. In the discharge of these he was brought into
communication with a great many of the best people of the county,
and did not hesitate to express his opinion freely as to the outrage
at Red Wing. He was several times warned to be prudent, but he
answered all warnings so firmly, and yet with so much feeling, that
he was undisturbed. He stood so high, and had led so pure a life,
that he could even be allowed to entertain obnoxious sentiments
without personal danger, so long as he did not attempt to reduce
them to practice or attempt to secure for colored people the rights
to which he thought them entitled. However, a great deal of remark
was occasioned by the fact of his having become trustee for the
fugitive Radical, and he was freely charged with having disgraced
and degraded himself and his family by taking the part of a "renegade,
Radical white nigger," like Jackson. This duty took him from home
during the day in a direction away from Red Wing, and a part of each
night he sat by the bedside of Eliab. So that more than a week had
passed, during which he had found opportunity to take but three
meals with his mother, and had not yet been able to visit Red Wing.



CHAPTER XLVII.

BREASTING THE TORRENT.


To make up for the sudden loss of society occasioned by the
simultaneous departure of Mollie and the unusual engrossment of
Hesden in business matters of pressing moment, as he had informed
her, Mrs. Le Moyne had sent for one of the sisters of her son's
deceased wife, Miss Hetty Lomax, to come and visit her. It was to
this young lady that Hesden had appealed when the young teacher was
suddenly stricken down in his house, and who had so rudely refused.
Learning that the object of her antipathy was no longer there,
Miss Hetty came and made herself very entertaining to the invalid
by detailing to her all the horrors, real and imagined, of the
past few days. Day by day she was in the invalid's room, and it was
from her that Mrs. Le Moyne had learned all that was contained in
her letter to Mollie concerning the public feeling and excitement.
A week had elapsed, when Miss Hetty one day appeared with a most
interesting budget of news, the recital of which seemed greatly to
excite Mrs. Le Moyne. At first she listened with incredulity and
resentment; then conviction seemed to force itself upon her mind,
and anger succeeded to astonishment. Calling her serving woman,
she asked impetuously:

"Maggie, is your Master Hesden about the house?"

"Really now mistis," said the girl in some confusion, "I can't
edsackly tell. He war, de las' time I seed him; but then he mout
hev gone out sence dat, yer know."

"Where was he then?"

"He war in his room, ma'am, wid a strange gemmen."

"Yes," added the mistress, in a significant tone, "he seems to have
a great deal of strange company lately."

The girl glanced at her quickly as she arranged the bed-clothing,
and the young lady who sat in the easy chair chuckled knowingly.

So the woman answered artfully, but with seeming innocence:

"La, mistis, it certain am quare how you finds out t'ings. 'Pears
like a mouse can't stir 'bout de house, but you hears it quicker
nor de cat."

It was deft flattery, and the pleased mistress swallowed the bait
with a smile.

"I always try to know what is going on in my own house," she
responded, complacently.

"Should t'ink yer did," said the colored woman, gazing at her in
admiring wonder. "I don't 'llow dar's ennybody come inter dis yer
house in one while, dat yer didn't know all 'bout 'em widout settin'
eyes on 'em. I wouldn't be at all s'prised, dat I wouldn't," said
she to the young lady, "ter find dat she knows whose h'yer now,
an' whose been h'yer ebbery day sence Marse Hesden's been so busy.
La! she's a woman--she's got a headpiece,  she hab!"

"Yes," said the invalid; "I know that that odious scallawag, Jordan
Jackson, has been here and has been shut up with my son, consulting
and planning the Lord knows what, here in this very house of mine.
Pretty business for a Le Moyne and a Richards to be in! You all
thought you'd keep it from me; but you couldn't."

"La, sakes!" said the girl, with a look of relief, "yer mustn't say
_me_. _I_ didn't never try ter keep it. I know'd yer'd find it out."

"When do you say you saw him?"

"I jes disremembers now what time it war. Some time dis mornin'
though. It mout hev been some two--free hours ago."

"Who was the gentleman with him--I hope he was a _gentleman?_"

"Oh la, ma'am, dat he war--right smart ob one, I should jedge,
though I nebber seen his face afo' in my born days."

"And don't know his name?"

"Not de fust letter ob it, mistis."

Maggie might well say that, since none of the letters of the alphabet
were known to her; but when she conveyed the idea that she did not
know the name of the visitor, it was certainly a stretch of the
truth; but then she did not know as "Marse Hesden" would care about
his mother knowing the name of his visitor, and she had no idea of
betraying anything which concerned him against his wish. So in order
to be perfectly safe, she deemed it best to deceive her mistress.

"Tell your Master Hesden I wish to see him immediately, Maggie,"
said Mrs. Le Moyne, imperiously.

"Yes'm," said the girl, as she left the room to perform her errand.

There was a broad grin upon her face as she crossed the passage
and knocked at the door of Hesden's room, thinking how she had
flattered her mistress into a revelation of her own ignorance. She
was demure enough, however, when Hesden himself opened the door
and inquired what she wished.

"Please, sah, de mistis tole me ter ax yer ter come inter her room,
right away."

"Anything the matter, Maggie?"

"Nuffin', only jes she wants ter talk wid yer 'bout sunthin', I
reckon."

"Who is with her?"

"Miss Hetty."

"Yes"--musingly.

"An' de mistis 'pears powerfully put out 'bout sunthin' or udder,"
volunteered the girl.

"Yes," repeated Hesden, absently. "Well. Maggie, say to my mother
that I am very closely engaged, and I hope she will please excuse
me for a few hours."

The girl returned and delivered her message.

"What!" exclaimed the sick woman, in amazement.  "He must have turned
Radical sure enough, to send me such an answer as that! Maggie,"
she continued, with severe dignity, "you must be mistaken. Return
and tell my son that I am sure you are mistaken."

"Oh, dar ain't no mistake 'bout it, mistis. Dem's de berry words
Marse Hesden said, shore."

"Do as I bade you, Maggie," said the mistress, quietly.

"Oh, certain, mistis, certain--only dar ain't no mistake," said the
woman, as she returned with the message she was charged to deliver.

"Did you ever see such a change?" asked Mrs. Le Moyne of her
companion as soon as the door was closed upon the servant. "There
never was a time before when Hesden did not come the instant I
called, no matter upon what he might be engaged."

"Yes," said the other, laughingly, "I used to tell Julia that it
would make me awfully jealous to have a husband jump up and leave
me to go and pet his mother before the honeymoon was over."

"Poor Julia!" sighed the invalid. "Hesden never appreciated
her--never. He didn't feel her loss as I did."

"I should think not," replied the sister-in-law, sharply. "But he
might at least have had regard enough for her memory not to have
flirted so outrageously with that Yankee school-marm."

"What do you mean, Hetty!" said Mrs. Le Moyne, severely. "Please
remember that it is my son of whom you are speaking."

"Oh, yes," said Miss Hetty, sharply, "we have been speaking of him
all along, and--"

The door from the hall was opened quickly, and Hesden looking in,
said pleasantly,

"I hope you are not suffering, mother?"

"Not more than usual, Hesden," said Mrs. Le Moyne, "but I wish to
see you very particularly, my son."

"I am very busy, mother, on a most important matter; but you know
I will always make everything give way for you."

So saying, he stepped into the room and stood awaiting his mother's
pleasure, after bowing somewhat formally to the younger lady.

"What are these reports I hear about you, Hesden?" asked his mother,
with some show of anger.

"I beg your pardon, little mother," said Hesden smiling; "but was
it to make this inquiry you called me from my business?"

"Yes, indeed," was the reply; "I should like to know what there
could be of more importance to you than such slanderous reports as
Cousin Hetty tells me are being circulated about you."

"I have no doubt they are interesting if Cousin Hetty brings them,"
said Hesden; "but you will please excuse me now, as I have matters
of more importance to attend to."

He bowed, and would have passed out, but the good lady cried out
almost with a shriek,

"But Hesden! Hesden! Hetty says that--that--that they say--you--are
a--a Radical!"

She started from her pillows, and leaned forward with one white
hand uplifted, as she waited his reply.

He turned back instantly, stepped quickly to the bedside, and put
his one arm caressingly about her as he said earnestly, "I am afraid,
mother, if one speaks of things which have occurred in Horsford
during the past few days as a man of honor ought, he must expect
to be called bad names."

"But Hesden--you are not--do tell me, my son," said his mother, in
a tone of entreaty, "that you are _not_ one of those horrid
Radicals!"

"There, there; do not excite yourself, mother. I will explain
everything to you this evening," said he, soothingly.

"But you are not a Radical?" she cried, catching his hand.

"I am a man of honor, always," he replied, proudly.

"Then you cannot be a Radical," she said, with a happy smile.

"But he is--he is!" exclaimed the younger lady, starting forward
with flushed cheeks and pointing a trembling finger at his face,
as if she had detected a guilty culprit. "He is!" she repeated.
"Deny it if you dare, Hesden Le Moyne!"

"Indeed, Miss Hetty," said Hesden, turning upon her with dignified
severity. "May I inquire who constituted you either my judge or my
accuser."

"Oh fie! Hesden," said his mother. "Isn't Hetty one of the family?"

"And has every Richards and Le Moyne on the planet a right to
challenge my opinions?" asked Hesden.

"Certainly!" said his mother, with much energy, while her pale face
flushed, and her upraised hand trembled--"certainly they have, my
son, if they think you are about to disgrace those names. But do
deny it! Do tell me you are not a Radical!" she pleaded.

"But suppose I were?" he asked, thoughtfully.

"I would disown you! I would disinherit you!" shrieked the excited
woman, shrinking away from his arm as if there were contagion
in the touch. "Remember, sir," she continued threateningly, "that
Mulberry Hill is still mine, and it shall never go to a Radical--never!"

"There, there, mother; do not excite yourself unnecessarily," said
Hesden. "It is quite possible that both these matters are beyond
either your control or mine."

"Why, what do you mean?"

"I simply mean that circumstances over which we have no control
have formed my opinions, and others over which we have as little
control may affect the ownership of this plantation."

"Why--what in the world! Hesden, are you mad?  You know that it is
mine by the will of my father!  Who or what could interfere with
my right?"

"I sincerely hope that no one may," answered Hesden; "but I shall
be able to tell you more about these matters after dinner, when I
promise that you shall know all, without any reservation."

There had been a calm, almost sorrowful, demeanor about Hesden during
this conversation, which had held the excited women unconsciously
in check. They were so astonished at the coolness of his manner
and the matter-of-fact sincerity of his tones that they were quite
unable to express the indignation and abhorrence they both felt
that his language merited. Now, however, as he moved toward the
door, the younger lady was no longer able to restrain herself,

"I knew it was so!" she said. "That miserable nigger-teacher wasn't
here for nothing! The mean, low hussy! I should think he would
have been ashamed to bring her here anyhow--under his mother's very
nose!"

Hesden had almost reached the door of the room when these words
fell upon his ear. He turned and strode across the room until he
stood face to face with his mother once more. There was no lack
of excitement about him now. His face was pale as death, his eyes
blazed, and his voice trembled.

"Mother," said he, "I have often told you that I would never bring
to you a wife whom you did not approve.  I hope never to do so; but
I wish to say one thing: Miss Ainslie is a pure and lovely woman.
None of us have ever known her superior. She is worthy of any man's
devotion. I would not have said this but for what has been spoken
here. But now I say, that if I ever hear that anyone having a
single drop of our blood in her veins has spoken ill of her--ay,
or if her name is linked with mine in any slighting manner, even
by the breath of public rumor--I will make her my wife if she will
accept my hand, whatever your wishes. And further, if any one speaks
slightingly of her, I will resent it as if she were my wife, so
help me God!"

He turned upon his heel, and strode out of the room.

He had not once looked or spoken to the lady whose words had given
the offense. The mother and cousin were overwhelmed with astonishment
at the intensity of the usually quiet and complaisant Hesden. Miss
Hetty soon made excuses for returning to her home, and Mrs.  Le Moyne
waited in dull wonder for the revelation which the evening was to
bring. It seemed to her as if the world had lost its bearings and
everything must be afloat, now that Hesden had been so transformed
as to speak thus harshly to the mother for whom his devotion had
become proverbial all the country around.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

THE PRICE OF HONOR.


When Hesden came to his mother's room that night, his countenance
wore an unusually sad and thoughtful expression. His mother had
not yet recovered from the shock of the morning's interview. The
more she thought of it, the less she could understand either his
language or his manner. That he would once think of allying himself
in political thought with those who were trying to degrade and
humiliate their people by putting them upon a level with the negro,
she did not for a moment believe, despite what he had said. Neither
did she  imagine, even then, that he had any feeling for Mollie
Ainslie other than mere gratitude for the service she had rendered,
but supposed that his outburst was owing merely to anger at the
slighting language used toward her by Cousin Hetty. Yet she felt
a dim premonition of something dreadful about to happen, and was
ill at ease during the evening meal. When it was over, the table
cleared, and the servant had retired, Hesden sat quiet for a long
time, and then said, slowly and tenderly:

"Mother, I am very sorry that all these sad things should come up
at this time--so soon after our loss. I know your heart, as well
as mine, is sore, and I wish you to be sure that I have not, and
cannot have, one unkind  thought of you. Do not cry," he added,
as he saw the tears pouring down her face, which was turned to him
with a look of helpless woe upon it--"do not cry, little mother,
for we shall both of us have need of all our strength."

"Oh, Hesden," she moaned, "if you only would not--"

"Please do not interrupt me," he said, checking her with a motion
of his hand; "I have a long story to tell, and after that we will
speak of what now troubles you. But first, I wish to ask you some
questions. Did you ever hear of such a person as Edna Richards?"

"Edna Richards--Edna Richards?" said Mrs. Le Moyne, wiping away
her tears and speaking between her sobs. "It seems as if I had,
but--I--I can't remember, my son. I am so weak and nervous."

"Calm yourself, little mother; perhaps it will come to your mind
if I ask you some other questions. Our grandfather, James Richards,
came here from Pennsylvania,  did he not?"

"Certainly, from about Lancaster. He always promised to take me
to see our relatives there, but he never did. You know, son, I was
his youngest child, and he was well past fifty when I was born. So
he was an old man when I was grown up, and could not travel very
much. He took me to the North twice, but each time, before we got
around to our Pennsylvania friends, he was so tired out that he
had to come straight home."

"Did you ever know anything about his family there?"

"Not much--nothing except what he told me in his last days. He used
to talk about them a great deal then, but there was something that
seemed to grieve and trouble him so much that I always did all I
could to draw his mind away from the subject. Especially was this
the case after the boys, your uncles, died. They led rough lives,
and it hurt him terribly."

"Do you know whether he ever corresponded with any of our relatives
at the North?"

"I think not. I am sure he did not after I was grown.  He often
spoke of it, but I am afraid there was some family trouble or
disagreement which kept him from doing so. I remember in his last
years he used frequently to speak of a cousin to whom he seemed to
have been very much attached. He had the same name as father, who
used to call him 'Red Jim.'"

"Was he then alive?"

"I suppose so--at least when father last heard from him. I think
he lived in Massachusetts. Let me see, what was the name of the
town. I don't remember," after a pause.

"Was it Marblehead?" asked the son, with some eagerness.

"That's it, dear--Marblehead. How funny that you should strike upon
the very name?"

"You think he never wrote?"

"Oh, I am sure not. He mourned about it, every now and then, to
the very last."

"Was my grandfather a bachelor when he came here?"

"Of course, and quite an old bachelor, too. I think he was about
thirty when he married your grandmother in 1794."

"She was a Lomax--Margaret Lomax, I believe?'

"Yes; that's how we come to be akin to all the Lomax connection."

"Just so. You are sure he had never married before?"

"Sure? Why, yes, certainly. How could he? Why, Hesden, what _do_
you mean? Why do you ask all these questions? You do not--you
cannot--Oh, Hesden!" she exclaimed, leaning forward and trembling
with apprehension.

"Be calm, mother. I am not asking these questions without good
cause," he answered, very gravely.

After a moment, when she had recovered herself a little, he continued,
holding toward her a slip of paper, as he asked:

"Did you ever see that signature before?"

His mother took the paper, and, having wiped her glasses, adjusted
them carefully and glanced at the paper.  As she did so a cry burst
from her lips, and she said,

"Oh, Hesden, Hesden, where did you get it? Oh, dear! oh, dear!"

"Why, mother, what is it?" cried Hesden in alarm, springing up and
going quickly to her side.

"That--that horrid thing, Hesden! Where _did_ you get it? Do
you know it was that which made that terrible quarrel between your
grandfather and Uncle John, when he struck him that--that last
night, before John's body was found in the river. He was drowned
crossing the ford, you know. I don't know what it was all about;
but there was a terrible quarrel, and John wrote that on a sheet of
paper and held it before your grandfather's face and said something
to him--I don't know what. I was only a little girl then, but, ah
me! I remember it as if it was but yesterday. And then father struck
him with his cane. John fell as if he were dead. I was looking in
at the window, not thinking any harm, and saw it all. I thought
he had killed John, and ran away, determined not to tell. I never
breathed a lisp of it before, son, and nobody ever knew of that
quarrel, only your grandfather and me. I know it troubled him
greatly after John died. Oh, I can see that awful paper, as John
held it up to the light, as plain as this one in my hand now."

The slip of paper which she held contained only the following
apparently unintelligible scrawl:

"And you never saw it but once?" asked Hesden, thoughtfully.

"Never but once before to-night, dear."

"It was not Uncle John's usual signature, then?"

"No, indeed. Is it a signature? She glanced curiously at the paper
while Hesden pointed out the letters,

"That is what I take it to be, at least," he said.  "Sure enough,"
said Mrs. Le Moyne, "and that might stand for John Richards or
James Richards. It might be Uncle John or your grandfather, either,
child."   "True, but grandfather always wrote his name plainly,
J. RICHARDS. I have seen a thousand of his signatures, I reckon.
Besides, Uncle John was not alive in 1790."

"Of course not. But what has that to do with the matter? What does
it all mean anyhow? There must be some horrid secret about it, I
am sure."

"I do not know what it means, mother, but I am determined to find
out. That is what I have been at all day, and I will not stop until
I know all about it."

"But how did you come to find it? What makes you think there is
anything to be known about it?"

"This is the way it occurred, mother. The other day it became necessary
to cut a door from the chamber over my room into the attic of the
old kitchen, where I have been storing the tobacco. You know the
part containing the dining-room was the original house, and was
at first built of hewed logs. It was, in fact, two houses, with a
double chimney in the middle. Afterward, the two parts were made
into one, the rude stairs torn away, and the whole thing ceiled
within and covered with thick pine siding without. In cutting
through this, Charles found between two of the old logs and next
to the chinking put in on each side to keep the wall flush and
smooth, a pocketbook, carefully tied up in a piece of coarse linen,
and containing a yellow, dingy paper, which, although creased and
soiled, was still clearly legible. The writing was of that heavy
round character which marked the legal hand of the old time, and
the ink, though its color had somewhat changed by time, seemed to
show by contrast with the dull hue of the page even more clearly
than it could have done when first written. The paper proved to be a
will, drawn up in legal form and signed with the peculiar scrawl
of which you hold a tracing. It purported to have been made
and published in December, 1789, at Lancaster, in the State of
Pennsylvania, and to have been witnessed by James Adiger and Johan
Welliker of that town."

"How very strange!" exclaimed Mrs. Le Moyne.  "I suppose it must
have been the will of your grandfather's father."

"That was what first occurred to me," answered Hesden, "but on
closer inspection it proved to be the will of James Richards, as
stated in the caption, of Marblehead, in the State of Massachusetts,
giving and bequeathing all of his estate, both real and personal,
after some slight bequests, to his beloved wife Edna, except--"

"Stop, my son," said Mrs. Le Moyne, quickly, "I remember now. Edna
was the name of the wife of father's cousin James--"Red Jim," he
called him. It was about writing to _her_ he was always talking
toward the last. So I suppose he must have been dead."

"I had come to much the same conclusion," said Hesden, "though I
never heard that grandfather had a cousin James until to-night. I
should never have thought any more of the document, however, except
as an old relic, if it had not gone on to bequeath particularly
'my estate in Carolina to my beloved daughter, Alice E., when she
shall arrive at the age of eighteen years,' and to provide for the
succession in case of her death prior to that time."

"That is strange," said Mrs. Le Moyne. "I never knew that we had
any relatives in the State upon that side."

"That is what I thought," said the son. "I wondered where the estate
was which had belonged to this James Richards, who was not our
ancestor, and, looking further, I found it described with considerable
particlarity. It was called Stillwater, and was said to be located
on the waters of the Hyco, in Williams County."

"But the Hyco is not in Williams County," said his listener.

"No, mother, but it was then," he replied. "You know that county
has been many times subdivided."

"Yes, I had forgotten that," she said. "But what then?"

"It went on," contined Hesden, "to say that he held this land by
virtue of a grant from the State which was recorded in Registry of
Deeds in Williams County, in Book A, page 391."

"It is an easy matter to find where it was, then, I suppose,"  said
the mother.

"I have already done that," he replied, "and that is the strange
and unpleasant part of what I had to tell you."

"I do hope," she said, smiling, "that you have not made us out
cousins of any low-down family."

"As to that I cannot tell, mother; but I am afraid I have found
something discreditable in our own family history."

"Oh, I hope not, Hesden," she said, plaintively.  "It is
so unpleasant to look back upon one's ancestors and not feel that
they were strictly honorable. Don't tell me, please. I had rather
not hear it."

"I wish you might not," said he; "but the fact which you referred
to to-day--that you are, under the will of my grandfather, the
owner of Mulberry Hill, makes it necessary that you should."

"Please, Hesden, don't mention that. I was angry then. Please forget
it. What can that have to do with this horrid matter?"

"It has this to do with it, mother," he replied. "The boundaries of
that grant, as shown by the record, are identical with the record
of the grant under which our grandfather claimed the estate of
which this is a part, and which is one of the first entered upon
the records of Horsford County."

"What do you say, Hesden? I don't understand you," said his mother,
anxiously.

"Simply that the land bequeathed in this will of J.  Richards,
is the same as that afterward claimed and held by my grandfather,
James Richards, and in part now belonging to you."

"It cannot be, Hesden, it cannot be! There must be some mistake!"
she exclaimed, impatiently.

"I wish there were," he answered, "but I fear there is not. The
will names as executor, 'my beloved cousin James Richards, of the
borough of Lancaster, in the State of Pennsylvania.' I presume
this to have been my grandfather. I have had the records of both
counties searched and find no record of any administration upon
this will."

"You do not think a Richards could have been so dishonorable as to
rob his cousin's orphans?"

"Alas! mother, I only know that we have always claimed title under
that very grant. The grant itself is among your papers in my desk,
and is dated in 1789. I have always understood that grandfather
married soon after coming here."

"Oh, yes, dear," was the reply, "I have heard mother tell of it a
hundred times."

"And that was in 1794?"

"Yes, yes; but he might have been here before, child."

"That is true, and I hope it may all turn out to have been only a
strange mistake."

"But if it does not, Hesden?" said his mother, after a moment's
thought. "What do you mean to do?"

"I mean first to go to the bottom of this matter and discover the
truth."

"And then--if--if there was--anything wrong?"

"Then the wrong must be righted."

"But that--why, Hesden, it might turn us out of doors! It might
make us beggars!"

"We should at least be honest ones."

"But Hesden, think of me--think--" she began.

"So I will, little mother, of you and for you till the last hour of
your life or of mine. But mother, I would rather you should leave
all and suffer all, and that we should both die of starvation, than
that we should live bounteously on the fruit of another's wrong."
He bent over her and kissed her tenderly again and again. "Never
fear, mother," he said, "we may lose all else by the acts of others,
but we can only lose honor by our own. I would give my life for
you or to save your honor."

She looked proudly upon him, and reached up her thin white hand to
caress his face, as she said with overflowing eyes:

"You are right, my son! If others of our name have done wrong, there
is all the more need that we should do right and atone for it."



CHAPTER XLIX.

HIGHLY RESOLVED.


Mollie Ainslie had made all her preparations to leave Red Wing.
She had investigated the grounds of the suit brought by Winburn
against Nimbus and others.  Indeed, she found herself named among
the "others," as well as all those who had purchased from Nimbus
or were living on the tract by virtue of license from him.  Captain
Pardee had soon informed her that the title of Nimbus was, in fact,
only a life-estate, which had fallen in by the death of the life
tenant, while Winburn claimed to have bought up the interests of
the reversioners. He intimated that it was possible that Winburn
had done this while acting as the agent of Colonel Desmit, but this
was probably not susceptible of proof, on account of the death of
Desmit. He only stated it as a conjecture at best.

At the same time, he informed her that the small tract about the
old ordinary, which had come to Nimbus by purchase, and which was
all that she occupied, was not included in the life-estate, but
was held in fee by Walter Greer. She had therefore instructed him
to defend for her upon Nimbus's title, more for the sake of asserting
his right than on account of the value of the premises.  The suit
was for possession and damages for detention and injury of the
property, and an attachment had been taken out against Nimbus's
property, on the claim for damages, as a non-resident debtor. As
there seemed to be no good ground for defense on the part of those
who had purchased under Nimbus, the attorney advised that resistance
to the suit would be useless. Thus they lost at once the labor of
their whole life of freedom, and were compelled to begin again where
slavery had left them. This, taken in connection with the burning
of the church, the breaking up of the school, and the absence of
Eliab and Nimbus, had made the once happy and busy little village
most desolate and forlorn.

The days which Mollie Ainslie had passed in the old hostel since
she left Mulberry Hill had been days of sorrow.  Tears and moans
and tales of anxious fear had been in her ears continually. All
over the county, the process of "redemption" was being carried on.
The very air was full of horrors. Men with bleeding backs, women
with scarred and mutilated forms, came to her to seek advice and
consolation. Night after night, devoted men, who did not dare to
sleep in their own homes, kept watch around her, in order that her
slumbers might be undisturbed. It seemed as if all law had been
forgotten, and only a secret Klan had power in the land. She did
not dare, brave as she was, to ride alone outside of the little
village. She did not really think she would be harmed, yet she
trembled when the night came, and every crackling twig sent her
heart into her mouth in fear lest the chivalric masqueraders should
come to fulfil their vague threats against herself. But her heart
bled for the people she had served, and whom she saw bowed down
under the burden of a terrible, haunting fear.

If she failed to make due allowance for that savageness of nature
which generations of slavery are sure to beget in the master, let us
not blame her. She was only a woman, and saw only what was before
her. She did not see how the past injected itself into the present, and
gave it tone and color. She reasoned only from what met her sight.
It is not strange that she felt bitterly toward those who had
committed such seemingly vandal acts. No wonder she spoke bitterly,
wrote hard things to her Northern friends, and denied the civilization
and Christianity of those who could harry, oppress, and destroy
the poor, the ignorant, and the weak. It is not surprising that
she sneered at the "Southern Gentleman," or that she wrote him down
in very black characters in the book and volume of her memory. She
was not a philosopher nor a politician, and she had never speculated
on the question as to how near of kin virtue and vice may be.
She had never considered how narrow a space it is that very often
divides the hero from the criminal, the patriot from the assassin,
the gentleman from the ruffian, the Christian saint from the
red-handed savage.  Her heart was hot with wrath and her tongue
was tipped with bitterness.

For the first time she blushed at the thought of her native land.
That the great, free, unmatched Republic should permit these things,
should shut its eyes and turn its back upon its helpless allies in
their hour of peril, was a most astounding and benumbing fact to
her mind.  What she had loved with all that tenacity of devotion
which every Northern heart has for the flag and the country, was
covered with ignominy by these late events.  She blushed with shame
as she thought of the weak, vacillating nation which had given the
promise of freedom to the ears of four millions of weak but trustful
allies, and broken it to their hearts. She knew that the country
had appealed to them in its hour of mortal agony, and they had
answered with their blood. She knew that again it had appealed to
them for aid to write the golden words of Freedom in its Constitution,
words before unwritten, in order that they might not be continued
in slavery, and they had heard and answered by their votes; and then,
while the world still echoed with boastings of these achievements,
it had taken away the protecting hand and said to those whose hearts
were full of hate, "Stay not thine hand."

She thought, too, that the men who did these things--the midnight
masqueraders--were rebels still in their hearts. She called them
so in hers at least--enemies of the country, striving dishonorably
to subvert its laws.  She did not keep in mind that to every Southern
man and woman, save those whom the national act brought forth to
civil life, the Nation is a thing remote and secondary.  To them
the State is first, and always so far first as to make the country
a dim, distant cloud, to be watched with suspicion or aversion as
a something hostile to their State or section. The Northern mind
thinks of the Nation first. The love of country centers there.
His pride in his native State is as a part of the whole.  As
a _Northerner_, he has no feeling at all. He never speaks
of his section except awkwardly, and when reference to it is made
absolutely necessary by circumstances.  He may be from the East or
the West or the Middle, from Maine or Minnesota, but he is first
of all things an American. Mollie thought that the result of the
war--defeat and destruction--ought to have made the white people
of the South just such Americans. In fact it never occurred to her
simple heart but that they had always been such. In truth, she did
not conceive that they could have been otherwise. She had never
dreamed that there were any Americans with whom it was not the
first and ever-present thought that they _were_ Americans.

She might have known, if she had thought so far, that in that
mystically-bounded region known as "the South," the people were
first of all "Southerners;" next "Georgians," or "Virginians," or
whatever it might be; and last and lowest in the scale of political
being, "Americans." She might have known this had she but noted
how the word "Southern" leaps into prominence as soon as the old
"Mason and Dixon's line" is crossed.  There are "Southern" hotels
and "Southern" railroads, "Southern" steamboats, "Southern"
stage-coaches, "Southern" express companies, "Southern" books,
"Southern" newspapers, "Southern" patent-medicines, "Southern"
churches, "Southern" manners, "Southern" gentlemen, "Southern"
ladies, "Southern"  restaurants, "Southern" bar-rooms, "Southern"
whisky, "Southern" gambling-hells, "Southern" principles, "Southern"
_everything!_ Big or little, good or bad, everything that courts
popularity, patronage or applause, makes haste to brand itself as
distinctively and especially "Southern."

Then she might have remembered that in all the North--the great,
busy, bustling, over-confident, giantly Great-heart  of the
continent--there is not to be found a single "Northern" hotel,
steamer, railway, stage-coach, bar-room, restaurant, school,
university, school-book, or any other "Northern" institution. The
word "Northern" is no master-key to patronage or approval. There is
no "Northern" clannishness, and no distinctive "Northern" sentiment
that prides itself on being such. The "Northern" man may be "Eastern"
or "Western." He may be "Knickerbocker," "Pennamite," "Buckeye,"
or "Hoosier;" but above all things, and first of all things in his
allegiance and his citizenship, he is an American. The "Southern"
man is proud of the Nation chiefly because it contains his section
and State; the "Northern" man is proud of his section and State
chiefly because it is a part of the Nation.

But Mollie Ainslie did not stop to think of these differences, or
of the bias which habit gives to the noblest mind; and so her heart
was full of wrath and much bitterness. She had forgiven coldness,
neglect, and aspersion of herself, but she could not forgive
brutality and violence toward the weak and helpless. She saw the
futility of hope of aid from the Nation that had deserted its allies.
She felt, on the other hand, the folly of expecting any change in a
people steeped in intolerance and gloating in the triumph of lawless
violence over obnoxious law. She thought she saw that there was but
little hope for that people for whom she had toiled so faithfully
to grow to the full stature of the free man in the region where
they had been slaves. She was short-sighted and impatient, but she
was earnest and intense. She had done much thinking in the sorrowful
days just past, and had made up her mind that whatsoever others
might do, she, Mollie Ainslie, would do her duty.

The path seemed plain to her. She had been, as it seemed to her,
mysteriously led, step by step, along the way of life, always with
blindfolded eyes and feet that sought not to go in the way they
were constrained to take. Her father and mother dead, her brother's
illness brought her to the South; there his wish detained her;
a seeming chance brought her to Red Wing; duties and cares had
multiplied with her capacity; the cup of love, after one sweet
draught, had been dashed from her lips; desolation and destruction
had come upon the scene of her labors, impoverishment and woe upon
those with whom she had been associated, and a hopeless fate upon
all the race to which they belonged in the land wherein they were
born.

She did not propose to change these things. She did not aspire to
set on foot any great movement or do any great deed, but she felt
that she was able to succor a few of the oppressed race. Those who
most needed help and best deserved it, among the denizens of Red
Wing, she determined to aid in going to a region where thought at
least was free. It seemed to her altogether providential that at
this time she had still, altogether untouched, the few thousands
which Oscar had given her of his army earnings, and also the little
homestead on the Massachusetts hills, toward which a little town
had been rapidly growing during the years of unwonted prosperity
succeeding the war, until now its value was greatly increased from
what it was but a few years before. She found she was quite an
heiress when she came to take an inventory of her estate, and made
up her mind that she would use this estate to carry out her new
idea. She did not yet know the how or the where, but she had got it
into her simple brain that somewhere and somehow this money might
be invested so as to afford a harbor of refuge for these poor
colored people, and still not leave herself unprovided for. She
had not arranged the method, but she had fully determined on the
undertaking.

This was the thought of Mollie Ainslie as she sat in her room at the
old ordinary, one afternoon, nearly two weeks after her departure
from the Le Moyne mansion.  She had quite given up all thought of
seeing Hesden again. She did not rave or moan over her disappointment.
It had been a sharp and bitter experience when she waked out of
the one sweet dream of her life. She saw that it _was_ but a
dream, foolish and wild; but she had no idea of dying of a broken
heart. Indeed, she did not know that her heart _was_ broken.
She had loved a man whom she had fancied as brave and gentle as
she could desire her other self to be. She had neither proffered
her love to him nor concealed it. She was not ashamed that she
loved nor ashamed that he should know it, as she believed he did.
She thought he must have known it, even though she did not herself
realize it at the time. If he had been that ideal man whom she
loved, he would have come before, claimed her love, and declared
his own. That man could never have let her go alone into desolation
and danger without following at once to inquire after her. It
was not that she needed his protection, but she had desired--nay,
expected as a certainty--that he would come and proffer it. The
ideal of her love would have done so. If Hesden Le Moyne had come
then, she would have given her life into his keeping forever after,
without the reservation of a thought. That he did not come only
showed that he was not her ideal, not the one she had loved, but
only the dim likeness of that one. It was so much the worse for Mr.
Hesden Le Moyne, but none the worse for Mollie Ainslie. She still
loved her ideal, but knew now that it was only an ideal.

Thus she mused, although less explicitly, as the autumn afternoon
drew to its close. She watched the sun sinking to his rest, and
reflected that she would see him set but once more over the pines
that skirted Red Wing. There was but little more to be done--a
few things to pack up, a few sad farewells to be said, and then
she would turn her face towards the new life she had set her heart
upon.

There was a step upon the path. She heard her own name spoken and
heard the reply of the colored woman, who was sitting on the porch.
Her heart stopped beating as the footsteps approached her door. She
thought her face flushed burning red, but in reality it was of a
hard, pallid gray as she looked up and saw Hesden Le Moyne standing
in the doorway.



CHAPTER L.

FACE ANSWERETH TO FACE.


"How do you do, Miss Mollie?"

She caught her breath as she heard his ringing, tone and noted his
expectant air. Oh, if he had only come before!  If he had not left
her to face alone--he knew not what peril! But he had done so, and
she could not forget it. So she went forward, and, extending her
hand, took his without a throb as she said, demurely,

"I am very well, Mr. Le Moyne. How are you, and how have you left
all at home?"

She led the way back to the table and pointed to a chair opposite
her own as she spoke.

Hesden Le Moyne had grown to love Mollie Ainslie almost as
unconsciously as she had given her heart to him. The loss of his
son had been a sore affliction.  While he had known no passionate
love for his cousin-wife, he yet had had the utmost respect for her,
and had never dreamed that there were in his heart deeper depths
of love still unexplored. After her death, his mother and his child
seemed easily and naturally to fill his heart. He had admired Mollie
Ainslie from the first. His attention had been first particularly
directed to her accomplishments and attractions by the casual
conversation with Pardee in reference to her, and by the fact that
the horse she rode was his old favorite.  He had watched her at
first critically, then admiringly, and finally with an unconscious
yearning which he did not define.

The incident of the storm and the bright picture she made in his
somewhat somber home had opened his eyes as to his real feelings.
At the same time had come the knowledge that there was a wide gulf
between them, but he would have bridged it long before now had it
not been for his affliction, which, while it drew him nearer to the
object of his devotion than he had ever been before, also raised an
imperative barrier against words of love.  Then the time of trial
came. He found himself likely to be stripped of all hope of wealth,
and he had been goaded into declaring to others his love for Mollie,
although he had never whispered a word of it to her.

Since that time, however, despite his somewhat dismal prospects,
he had allowed his fancy greater play. He had permitted himself
to dream that some time and somehow he might be permitted to call
Mollie Ainslie his wife. She seemed so near to him! There was such
a calm in her presence!

He had never doubted that his passion was reciprocated.  He thought
that he had looked down into her heart through the soft, gray eyes,
and seen himself.  She had never manifested any consciousness of
love, but in those dear days at the Hill she had seemed to come
so close to him that he thought of her love as a matter of course,
as much so as if it had been already plighted. He felt too that
her instinct had been as keen as his own, and that she must have
discovered the love he had taken no pains to conceal. But the
events which had occurred since she went to Red Wing had to his
mind forbidden any further expression of this feeling.  For her
sake as well as for his own honor it must be put aside. He had no
wish to conceal or deny it. The fact that he must give her up was
the hardest element of the sacrifice which the newly discovered
will might require at his hands.

So he had come to tell her all, and he hoped that she would see
where honor led him, and would hold him excused from saying, "I
love you. Will you be my wife?" He believed that she would, and
that they would part without distrust and with unabated esteem for
each other. Never, until this moment, had he thought otherwise.
Perhaps he was not without hope still, but it was not such as could
be allowed to control his action. He could not say now why it was;
he could not tell what was lacking, but somehow there seemed to
have been a change. She was so far away--so intangible. It was the
same lithe form, the same bright face, the same pleasant voice; but
the life, the soul, seemed to have gone out of the familiar presence.

He sat and watched her keenly, wonderingly, as they chatted for a
moment of his mother. Then he said:

"We have had strange happenings at Mulberry Hill since you left
us, Miss Mollie."

"You don't tell me!" she said laughingly. "I cannot conceive such
a thing possible. Dear me! How strange to think of anything out of
the common happening there!"

The tone and the laugh hurt him.

"Indeed," said he, gravely, "except for that I should have made my
appearance here long ago."

"You are very kind. And I assure you, I am grateful that you did
not entirely forget me." Her tone was mocking, but her look was so
guileless as almost to make him disbelieve his ears.

"I assure you, Miss Mollie," said he, earnestly, "you do me
injustice. I was so closely engaged that I was not even aware of
your departure until the second day afterward."

He meant this to show how serious were the matters which claimed
his attention. To him it was the strongest possible proof of their
urgency. But she remembered her exultant ride to Red Wing, and said
to-herself,  "And he did not think of me for two whole days!" As
she listened to his voice, her heart had been growing soft despite
her; but it was hard enough now.  So she smiled artlessly, and
said:

"Only two days? Why, Mr. Le Moyne, I thought it was two weeks. That
was how I excused you. Charles said you were too busy to ride with
me; your mother wrote that you were too busy to ask after me; and
I supposed  you had been too busy to think of me, ever since."

"Now, Miss Mollie," said he, in a tone of earnest remonstrance,
"please do not speak in that way.  Things of the utmost importance
have occurred, and I came over this evening to tell you of them.
You, perhaps, think that I have been neglectful."

"I had no right to demand anything from Mr. Le Moyne."

"Yes, you had, Miss Ainslie," said he, rising and going around the
table until he stood close beside her.  "You know that only the
most pressing necessity could excuse me for allowing you to leave
my house unattended."

"That is the way I went there," she interrupted, as she looked up
at him, laughing saucily.

"But that was before you had, at my request, risked your life
in behalf of my child. Let us not hide the truth, Miss Ainslie.
We can never go back to the relation of mere acquaintanceship we
held before that night.  If you had gone away the next morning it
might have been different, but every hour afterward increased my
obligations to you. I came here to tell you why I had seemed to
neglect them. Will you allow me to do so?"

"It is quite needless, because there is no obligation--none in the
least--unless it be to you for generous hospitality and care and
a pleasant respite from tedious duty."

"Why do you say that? You cannot think it is so," he said,
impetuously. "You know it was my duty to have attended you hither,
to have offered my services in that trying time, and by my presence
and counsel saved you such annoyance as I might. You know that I
could not have been unaware of this duty, and you dare not deny that
you expected me to follow you very speedily after your departure."

"Mr. Le Moyne," she said, rising, with flushed cheeks and flashing
eyes, "you have no right to address such language to me! It was
bad enough to leave me to face danger and trouble and horror alone;
but not so bad as to come here and say such things. But I am not
ashamed to let you know that you are right. I _did_ expect
you, Hesden Le Moyne. As I came along the road and thought of the
terrors which the night might bring, I said to myself that before
the sun went down you would be here, and would counsel and protect
the girl who had not shrunk from danger when you asked her to face
it, and who had come to look upon you as the type of chivalry.
Because I thought you better and braver and nobler than you are, I
am not ashamed to confess what I expected. I know it was foolish.
I might have known better. I might have known that the man who
would fight for a cause he hated rather than be sneered at by his
neighbors, would not care to face public scorn for the sake of a
'nigger-teacher'--no matter what his obligations to her."

She stood before him with quivering nostrils and flashing eyes. He
staggered back, raising his hand to check the torrent of her wrath.

"Don't, Miss Ainslie, don't!" he said, in confused surprise.

"Oh, yes!" she continued bitterly, "you no doubt feel very much
surprised that a 'Yankee nigger-teacher' should dare to resent such
conduct. You thought you could come to me, now that the danger and
excitement have subsided, and resume the relations we held before.
I know you and despise you, Hesden Le Moyne!  I have more respect
for one of those who made Red Wing a scene of horror and destruction
than for you.  Is that enough, sir? Do you understand me now?"
"Oh, entirely, Miss Ainslie," said Hesden, in a quick, husky tone,
taking his hat from the table as he spoke.  "But in justice to
myself I must be allowed to state some facts which, though perhaps
not sufficient, in your opinion, to justify my conduct, will I hope
show you that you have misjudged me in part. Will you hear me?"

"Oh, yes, I will hear anything," she said, as she sat down. "Though
nothing can be said that will restore the past."

"Unfortunately, I am aware of that. There is one thing, however,
that I prize even more than that, and that is my honor. Do not
take the trouble to sneer.  Say, what I _call_ my honor, if
it pleases you better, and I will not leave a stain upon that, even
in your mind, if I can help it."

"Yes, I hear," she said, as he paused a moment.  "Your _honor_,
I believe you said."

"Yes, Miss Ainslie," he replied with dignity; "my honor requires
that I should say to you now what I had felt forbidden to say
before--that, however exalted the opinion you may have formed of
me, it could not have equalled that which I cherished for you--not
for what you did, but for what you were--and this feeling, whatever
you may think, is still unchanged."

Mollie started with amazement. Her face, which had been pale, was
all aflame as she glanced up at Hesden with a frightened look,
while he went on.

"I do not believe that you would intentionally be unjust.  So, if
you will permit me, I will ask you one question.  If you knew that
on the day of your departure, and for several succeeding days, a
human life was absolutely dependent upon my care and watchfulness,
would you consider me excusable for failure to learn of your
unannounced departure, or for not immediately following you hither
on learning that fact?" He paused, evidently expecting a reply.

"Surely, Mr. Le Moyne," she said, looking up at him in wide-eyed
wonder, "you know I would."

"And would you believe my word if I assured you that this was the
fact?"

"Of course I would."

"I am very glad. Such was the case; and that alone prevented my
following you and insisting on your immediate return."

"I did not know your mother had been so ill," she said, with some
contrition in her voice.

"It was not my mother. I am sorry, but I cannot tell you now who
it was. You will know all about it some time. And more than that,"
he continued, "on the fourth day after you had gone, one who had
saved my life in battle came and asked me to acknowledge my debt by
performing an important service for him, which has required nearly
all my time since that."

"Oh, Mr. Le Moyne!" she said, as the tears came into her eyes,
"please forgive my anger and injustice."

"I have nothing to forgive," he said. "You were not unjust--only
ignorant of the facts, and your anger was but natural."

"Yet I should have known better. I should have trusted you more,"
said she, sobbing.

"Well, do not mind it," he said, soothingly. "But if my explanation
is thus far sufficient, will you allow me to sit down while I tell
you the rest? The story is a somewhat long one."

"Oh, pray do, Mr. Le Moyne. Excuse my rudeness as well as my anger.
Please be seated and let me take your hat."

She took the hat and laid it on a table at the side of the room,
and then returned and listened to his story.  He told her all that
he had told his mother the night before, explaining such things as
he thought she might not fully understand. Then he showed her the
pocket-book and the will, which he had brought with him for that
purpose.

At first she listened to what he said with a constrained and
embarrassed air. He had not proceeded far, however, before she began
to manifest a lively interest in his words. She leaned forward and
gazed into his face with an absorbed earnestness that awakened his
surprise.  Two or three times she reached out her hand, and her
lips moved, as though she would interrupt him. He stopped; but,
without speaking, she nodded for him to go on. When he handed her
the pocket-book and the will, she took them with a trembling hand
and examined them with the utmost care. The student-lamp had been
lighted before his story was ended. Her face was in the soft light
which came through the porcelain shade, but her hands were in the
circle of bright light that escaped beneath it. He noticed that
they trembled so that they could scarcely hold the paper she was
trying to read. He asked if he should not read it for her. She
handed him the will, but kept the pocketbook tightly clasped in
both hands, with the rude scrawl,

MARBLEHEAD, MASS.,

in full view. She listened nervously to the reading, never once
looking up. When he had finished, she said,

"And you say the land mentioned there is the plantation you now
occupy?"

"It embraces my mother's plantation and much more.  Indeed, this
very plantation of Red Wing, except the little tract around the
house here, is a part of it. The Red Wing Ordinary tract is mentioned
as one of those which adjoins it upon the west. This is the west
line, and the house at Mulberry Hill is very near the eastern edge.
It is a narrow tract, running down on this side the river until it
comes to the big bend near the ford, which it crosses, and keeps
on to the eastward.

"It is a large belt, though I do not suppose it was then of any
great value--perhaps not worth more than a shilling an acre. It is
almost impossible to realize how cheap land was in this region at
that time. A man of moderate wealth might have secured almost a
county.  Especially was that the case with men who bought up what
was termed "Land Scrip" at depreciated rates, and then entered
lands and paid for them with it at par."

"Was that the way this was bought?" she asked.

"I cannot tell," he replied. "I immediately employed Mr. Pardee
to look the matter up, and it seems from the records that an entry
had been made some time before, by one Paul Cresson, which was by
him assigned to James Richards. I am inclined to think that it was
a part of the Crown grant to Lord Granville, which had not been
alienated before the Revolution, and of which the State claimed the
fee afterward by reason of his adhesion to the Crown. The question
of the right of such alien enemies to hold under Crown grants was
not then determined, and I suppose the lands were rated very low
by reason of this uncertainty in the title."

"Do you think--that--that this will is genuine?" she asked, with
her white fingers knotted about the brown old pocket-book.

"I have no doubt about its proving to be genuine.  That is evident
upon its face. I hope there may be something to show that my
grandfather did not act dishonorably," he replied.

"But suppose--suppose there should not be; what would be the effect?"

"Legally, Mr. Pardee says, there is little chance that any valid
claim can be set up under it. The probabilities are, he says, that
the lapse of time will bar any such claim. He also says that it
is quite possible that the devisee may have died before coming of
age to take under the will, and the widow, also, before that time;
in which case, under the terms of the will, it would have fallen
to my grandfather."

"You are not likely to lose by it then, in any event?"

"If it should prove that there are living heirs whose claims are
not barred by time, then, of course, they will hold, not only our
plantation, but also the whole tract.  In that case, I shall make
it the business of my life to acquire enough to reimburse those
who have purchased of my grandfather, and who will lose by this
discovery."

"But you are not bound to do that?" she asked, in surprise.

"Not legally. Neither are we bound to give up the plantation if the
heir is legally estopped. But I think, and my mother agrees with
me, that if heirs are found who cannot recover the land by reason
of the lapse of time, even then, honor requires the surrender of
what we hold."

"And you would give up your home?"

"I should gladly do so, if I might thereby right a wrong committed
by an ancestor."

"But your mother, Hesden, what of her?"

"She would rather die than do a dishonorable thing."

"Yes--yes; but--you know--"

"Yes, I know that she is old and an invalid, and that I am young
and--and unfortunate; but I will find a way to maintain her without
keeping what we had never any right to hold."

"You have never known the hardship of self-support!" she said.

"I shall soon learn," he answered, with a shrug.

She sprang up and walked quickly across the room.  Her hands were
clasped in front of her, the backs upward and the nails digging
into the white flesh. Hesden wondered a little at her excitement.

"Thank God! thank God!" she exclaimed at last, as she sank again
into her chair, and pressed her clasped hands over her eyes.

"Why do you say that?" he asked, curiously.

"Because you--because I--I hardly know," she stammered.

She looked at him a moment, her face flushing and paling by turns,
and stretching out her hand to him suddenly across the table, she
said, looking him squarely in the face:

"Hesden Le Moyne, you are a brave man!"

He took the hand in his own and pressed it to his lips, which
trembled as they touched it.

"Miss Mollie," he said, tenderly, "will you forgive my not coming
before?"

"If you will pardon my lack of faith in you."

"You see," he said, "that my duty for the present is to my mother
and the name I bear.

"And mine," she answered, "is to the poor people whose wrongs I
have witnessed."

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"I mean that I will give myself to the task of finding a refuge for
those who have suffered such terrible evils as we have witnessed
here at Red Wing."

"You will leave here, then?"

"In a day or two."

"To return--when?"

"Never."

Their hands were still clasped across the narrow table.  He looked
into her eyes, and saw only calm, unflinching resolution. It piqued
his self-love that she should be so unmoved. Warmly as he really
loved her, self-sacrificing  as he felt himself to be in giving
her up, he could not yet rid himself of the thought of her Northern
birth, and felt annoyed that she should excel him in the gentle
quality of self control. He had no idea that he would ever meet
her again. He had made up his mind to leave her out of his life
forever, though he could not cast her out of his heart. And yet,
although he had no right to expect it, he somehow felt disappointed
that she showed no more regret. He had not quite looked for her to
be so calm, and he was almost annoyed by it; so dropping her hand,
he said, weakly,

"Shall I never see you again?"

"Perhaps"--quietly.

"When?"

"When you are willing to acknowledge yourself proud of me because
of the work in which I have been engaged!  Hesden Le Moyne,"
she continued, rising, and standing before him, "you are a brave
man and a proud one. You are so brave that you would not hesitate
to acknowledge your regard for me, despite the fact that I am a
'nigger-teacher.' It is a noble act, and I honor you for it. But
I am as proud as you, and have good reason to be, as you will know
some day; and I say to you that I would not prize any man's esteem
which coupled itself with an apology for the work in which I have
been engaged. I count that work my highest honor, and am more
jealous of its renown than of even my own good name. When you can
say to me, 'I am as proud of your work as of my own honor--so proud
that I wish it to be known of all men, and that all men should know
that I approve,' then you may come to me. Till then, farewell!"

She held out her hand. He pressed it an instant, took his hat from
the table, and went out into the night, dazed and blinded by the
brightness he had left behind.



CHAPTER LI.

HOW SLEEP THE BRAVE?


Two days afterward, Mollie Ainslie took the train for the North,
accompanied by Lugena and her children.  At the same time went
Captain Pardee, under instructions  from Hesden Le Moyne to verify
the will, discover who the testator really was, and then ascertain
whether he had any living heirs.

To Mollie Ainslie the departure was a sad farewell to a life which
she had entered upon so full of abounding hope and charity, so
full of love for God and man, that she could not believe that all
her bright hopes had withered and only ashes remained. The way was
dark. The path was hedged up. The South was "redeemed."

The poor, ignorant white man had been unable to perceive  that
liberty for the slave meant elevation to him also. The poor,
ignorant colored man had shown himself,  as might well have been
anticipated, unable to cope with intelligence, wealth, and the subtle
power of the best trained political intellects of the nation; and
it was not strange. They were all alone, and their allies were
either as poor and weak as themselves, or were handicapped with the
brand of Northern birth. These were their allies--not from choice,
but from necessity. Few, indeed, were there of the highest and the
best of those who had fought the nation in war as they had fought
against the tide of liberty before the war began--who would accept
the terms on which the nation gave re-established and greatly-increased
power to the States of the South.

So there were ignorance and poverty and a hated race upon one side,
and, upon the other, intelligence, wealth, and pride. The former
_outnumbered_ the latter; but the latter, as compared with the
former, were a Grecian  phalanx matched against a scattered horde
of  Scythian bowmen. The Nation gave the jewel of liberty  into the
hands of the former, armed them with the weapons  of self-government,
and said: "Ye are many; protect  what ye have received." Then it
took away its  hand, turned away its eyes, closed its ears to every
cry of protest or of agony, and said: "We will not aid you  nor
protect you. Though you are ignorant, from you  will we demand
the works of wisdom. Though you are  weak, great things shall be
required at your hands."  Like the ancient taskmaster, the Nation
said: "_There shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver
the tale of  bricks._"

But, alas! they were weak and inept. The weapon  they had received
was two-edged. Sometimes they cut themselves; again they caught it
by the blade, and those  with whom they fought seized the hilt and
made terrible slaughter. Then, too, they were not always wise--which
was a sore fault, but not their own. Nor were they  always brave,
or true--which was another grievous fault;  but was it to be believed
that one hour of liberty would efface the scars of generations of
slavery? Ah! well might they cry unto the Nation, as did Israel
unto Pharaoh: "Theree is no straw given unto thy servants, and they
say to us, 'Make brick': and behold thy servants  are beaten; but
the fault is in thine own people." They had simply demonstrated
that in the years of Grace of the nineteenth century liberty could
not be maintained nor prosperity achieved by ignorance and poverty,
any more than in the days of Moses adobe bricks could be made without
straw. The Nation gave the power of the South into the hands of
ignorance and poverty and inexperience,  and then demanded of them
the fruit of intelligence,  the strength of riches, and the skill of
experience.  It put before a keen-eyed and unscrupulous  minority--a
minority proud, aggressive, turbulent, arrogant,  and scornful
of all things save their own will and pleasure--the temptation to
enhance their power by seizing  that held by the trembling hands
of simple-minded  and unskilled guardians. What wonder that it was
ravished  from their care?

Mollie Ainslie thought of these things with some bitterness.  She
did not doubt the outcome. Her faith in  truth and liberty, and
her proud confidence in the ultimate  destiny of the grand Nation
whose past she had  worshiped from childhood, were too strong to
permit  that. She believed that some time in the future light  would
come out of the darkness; but between then and  the present was a
great gulf, whose depth of horror no  man knew, in which the people
to serve whom she had  given herself must sink and suffer--she
could not tell  how long. For them there was no hope.

She did not, indeed, look for a continuance of the  horrors which
then prevailed. She knew that when the incentive was removed the
acts would cease. There would be peace, because there would no
longer be any need for violence. But she was sure there would be
no real freedom, no equality of right, no certainty of justice.
She did not care who ruled, but she knew that this people--she
felt almost like calling them her people--needed the incentive of
liberty, the inspiriting rivalry of open and fair competition, to
enable them to rise. Ay, to prevent  them from sinking lower and
lower. She greatly feared that  the words of a journal which gloried
in all  that had been done toward abbreviating and annulling  the
powers, rights, and opportunities of the recent slaves  might yet
become verities if these people were deprived  of such incentives.
She remembered how deeply-rooted  in the Southern mind was the idea
that slavery was a  social necessity. She did not believe, as so
many had insisted, that it was founded merely in greed. She believed
that it was with sincere conviction that a leading  journal had
declared: "The evils of free society are insufferable. Free society
must fail and give way to a  _class society_--a social system
old as the world, universal as man."

She knew that the leader of a would-be nation had declared:  "A
thousand must die as slaves or paupers in  order that one gentleman
may live. Yet they are cheap  to any nation, even at that price."

So she feared that the victors in the _post-bellum_ strife
which was raging around her would succeed, for a time at least, in
establishing this ideal "class society." While the Nation slumbered
in indifference, she feared that these men, still full of the spirit
of slavery, in the very name of law and order, under the pretense
of decency and justice, would re-bind those whose feet had just
begun to tread the path of liberty with shackles only less onerous
than those which had been dashed from their limbs by red-handed
war. As she thought of these things she read the following words
from the pen of one who had carefully watched the process of
"redemption," and had noted its results and tendency--not bitterly
and angrily, as she had done, but coolly and approvingly:

"We would like to engrave a prophecy on stone, to be read of generations
in the future. The Negro, in these [the Southern] States, will be
slave again or cease to be.  His sole refuge from extinction will
be in slavery to the white man." [Footnote: Out of the numerous
declarations of this conviction which have been made by the
Southern press every year since the war, I have selected one from
the _Meridian (Miss.) Mercury_ of July 31st, 1880. I have done
this simply to show that the sentiment is not yet dead.]

She remembered to have heard a great man say, on a memorable
occasion, that "the forms of law have always been the graves of buried
liberties." She feared that, under the "forms" of _subverted_
laws, the liberties of a helpless people would indeed be buried.
She had little care for the Nation. It was of those she had served
and whose future she regarded with such engrossing interest that she
thought. She did not dream of remedying the evil. That was beyond
her power. She only thought she might save some from its scath. To
that she devoted herself.

The day before, she had visited the cemetery where her brother's
ashes reposed. She had long ago put a neat monument over his grave,
and had herself supplemented the national appropriation for its
care. It was a beautiful inclosure, walled with stone, verdant
with soft turf, and ornamented with rare shrubbery. Across it ran
a little stream, with green banks sloping either way. A single great
elm drooped over its bubbling waters. A pleasant drive ran with
easy grade and graceful curves down one low hill and up another.
The iron gate opened upon a dusty highway. Beside it stood the
keeper's neat brick lodge. In front, and a little to the right,
lay a sleepy Southern town half hidden in embowering trees.  Across
the little ravine within the cemetery, upon the level plateau, were
the graves, marked, in some cases, by little square white monuments
of polished marble, on which was but the single word, "Unknown." A
few bore the names of those who slept below. But on one side there
were five long mounds, stretching away, side by side, as wide as
the graves were long, and as long as four score graves.  Smoothly
rounded from end to end, without a break or a sign, they seemed a
fit emblem of silence. Where they began, a granite pillar rose high,
decked with symbols of glory interspersed with emblems of mourning.
Cannon, battered and grim, the worn-out dogs of war, gaped with
silent jaws up at the silent sky. No name was carved on base or
capital, nor on the marble shield upon the shaft. Only, "Sacred to
the memory of the unknown heroes who died--."

How quick the memory fills out the rest! There had been a military
prison of the Confederacy just over the hill yonder, where the
corn now grew so rank and thick.  Twelve thousand men died there
and were thrown into those long trenches where are now heaped-up
mounds that look like giants' graves--not buried one by one, with
coffin, shroud, and funeral rite, but one upon another heaped and
piled, until the yawning pit would hold no more. No name was kept,
no grave was marked, but in each trench was heaped one undistinguishable
mass of dead humanity!

Mollie Ainslie, when she had bidden farewell to her brother's grave,
looked on these piled-up trenches, scanned the silent shaft, and
going into the keeper's office just at hand, read for herself the
mournful record:


    Known                94
    Unknown          12,032
                     ------
    Total            12,126
    Died in Prison   11,700


As she wandered back to the town, she gleaned from what she had
seen a lesson of charity for the people toward whom her heart had
been full of hardness.

"It was thus," she said to herself, "that they treated brave foemen
of their own race and people, who died, not on the battle-field,
but of lingering disease in crowded prison pens, in the midst of
pleasant homes and within hearing of the Sabbath chimes. None cared
enough to give to each a grave, put up a simple board to mark the
spot where love might come and weep--nay, not enough even to make
entry of the name of the dead some heart must mourn. And if they
did this to their dead foemen and kinsmen, their equals, why should
we wonder that they manifest equal barbarity toward the living
freedman--their recent slave, now suddenly exalted. _It is the
lesson and the fruitage of slavery!"_

And so she made excuse both for the barbarity of war and the
savagery which followed it by tracing both to their origin. She
did not believe that human nature changed in an hour, but that
centuries past bore fruit in centuries to come. She thought that
the former master must be healed by the slow medicament of time
before he could be able to recognize in all men the sanctity of
manhood; as well as that the freedman must be taught to know and
to defend his rights.

When she left the cemetery, she mounted Midnight for a farewell
ride. The next morning, before he arose, Hesden Le Moyne heard the
neigh of his old war-horse, and, springing from his bed, he ran
out and found him hitched at his gate. A note was tied with a blue
ribbon to his jetty forelock. He removed it, and read:

"I return your noble horse with many thanks for the long loan. May
I hope that he will be known henceforth only as Midnight?

"MOLLIE."

He thought he recognized the ribbon as one which he had often seen
encircling the neck of the writer, and foolishly treasured it upon
his heart as a keepsake.

The train bore away the teacher, and with her the wife and children
who fled, not knowing their father's fate, and the lawyer who
sought an owner for an estate whose heir was too honorable to hold
it wrongfully.



CHAPTER LII.

REDEEMED OUT OF THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE.


Three months passed peacefully away in Horsford.  In the "redeemed"
county its "natural rulers" bore sway once more. The crops which
Nimbus had cultivated were harvested by a Receiver of the Court.
The families that dwelt at Red Wing awaited in sullen silence the
outcome of the suits which had been instituted.  Of Nimbus and Eliab
not a word had been heard. Some thought they had been killed; others
that they had fled.  The family of Berry Lawson had disappeared from
the new home which he had made near "Bre'er Rufe Patterson's," in
Hanson County. Some said that they had gone South; others that they
had gone East. "Bre'er Rufe" declared that he did not know where
they had gone. All he knew was that he was "ober dar ob a Saturday
night, an' dar dey was, Sally an' de chillen; an' den he went dar
agin ob a Monday mornin' arly, an' dar dey wasn't, nary one ob'
em."

The excitement with regard to the will, and her fear that Hesden
was infected with the horrible virus of "Radicalism," had most
alarmingly prostrated the invalid of Mulberry Hill. For a long time
it was feared that her life of sufferirig was near its end. Hesden
did not leave home at all, except once or twice to attend to some
business as the trustee for the fugitive Jackson. Cousin Hetty had
become a regular inmate of the house. All the invalid's affection
for her dead daughter-in-law seemed to have been transferred to
Hetty Lomax. No one could serve her so well. Even Hesden's attentions
were less grateful. She spoke freely of the time when she should
see Hetty in her sister's place, the mistress of Mulberry Hill.
She had given up all fear of the property being claimed by others,
since she had heard how small were the chances of discovering an
heir whose claims were not barred; and though she had consented
to forego her legal rights, she trusted that a way would be found
to satisfy any who might be discovered. At any rate, she was sure
that her promise would not bind her successor, and, with the usual
stubbornness of the chronic invalid, she determined that the estate
should not pass out of the family. In any event, she did not expect
to live until the finding of an heir, should there chance to be
one.

One of the good citizens of the county began to show himself in
public for the first time since the raid on Red Wing. An ugly scar
stretched from his forehead down along his nose and across his
lips and chin.  At the least excitement it became red and angry,
and gave him at all times a ghastly and malevolent appearance.  He
was a great hero with the best citizens; was _feted_, admired,
and praised; and was at once made a deputy sheriff under the new
_regime_. Another most worthy citizen, the superintendent of
a Sabbath-school, and altogether one of the most estimable citizens
of the county, had been so seriously affected with a malignant
brain-fever since that bloody night that he had not yet left his
bed.

The colored men, most of whom from a foolish apprehension had
slept in the woods until the election, now began to perceive that
the nights were wholesome, and remained in their cabins. They seemed
sullen and discontented, and sometimes whispered among themselves
of ill-usage and unfair treatment; but they were not noisy
and clamorous, as they had been before the work of "redemption."
It was especially noted that they were much more respectful and
complaisant to their superiors than they had been at any time since
the Surrender. The old time "Marse" was now almost universally used,
and few "niggers" presumed to speak to a white man in the country
districts without removing their hats. In the towns the improvement
was not so perceptible. The "sassy" ones seemed to take courage
from their numbers, and there they were still sometimes "boisterous"
and "obstreperous." On the whole, however, the result seemed eminently
satisfactory, with a prospect of growing better every day. Labor
was more manageable, and there were much fewer appeals to the law
by lazy, impudent, and dissatisfied laborers. The master's word was
rarely disputed upon the day of settlement, and there was every
prospect of reviving hope and continued prosperity on the part of men
who worked their plantations by proxy, and who had been previously
very greatly annoyed and discouraged by the persistent clamor of
their "hands" for payment.

There had been some ill-natured criticism of the course of Hesden
Le Moyne. It was said that he had made some very imprudent remarks,
both in regard to the treatment of Jordan Jackson and the affair
at Red Wing. There were some, indeed, who openly declared that he
had upheld and encouraged the niggers at Red Wing in their insolent
and outrageous course, and had used language unworthy of a "Southern
gentleman" concerning those patriotic men who had felt called upon,
for the protection of their homes and property, to administer the
somewhat severe lesson which had no doubt nipped disorder in the
bud, saved them from the war of races which had imminently impended,
and brought "redemption" to the county. Several of Hesden's personal
friends called upon him and remonstrated with him upon his course.
Many thought he should be "visited," and "Radicalism in the county
stamped out" at once, root and branch. He received warning from the
Klan to the effect that he was considered a dangerous character, and
must change his tone and take heed to his footsteps. As, however,
his inclination to the dangerous doctrines was generally attributed
in a great measure to his unfortunate infatuation for the little
"nigger-teacher," it was hoped that her absence would effect a
cure. Especially was this opinion entertained when it became known
that his mother was bitterly opposed to his course, and was fully
determined to root the seeds of "Radicalism" from his mind. His
attachment for her was well known, and it was generally believed
that she might be trusted to turn him from the error of his ways,
particularly as she was the owner of Red Wing, and had freely
declared her intention not to leave him a foot of it unless he
abandoned his absurd and vicious notions. Hesden himself, though
he went abroad but little, saw that his friends had grown cool and
that his enemies had greatly multiplied.

This was the situation of affairs in the good County of Horsford
when, one bright morning in December--the morning of "that day
whereon our Saviour's birth is celebrate"--Hesden Le Moyne rode to
the depot nearest to his home, purchased two tickets to a Northern
city, and, when the morning train came in, assisted his "boy"
Charles to lift from a covered wagon which stood near by, the weak
and pallid form of the long-lost "nigger preacher," Eliab Hill,
and place him upon the train. It was noticed by the loungers about
the depot that Hesden carried but half concealed a navy revolver
which seemed to have seen service. There was some excitement in
the little crowd over the reappearance of Eliab Hill, but he was
not interfered with. In fact, the cars moved off so quickly after
he was first seen that there was no time to recover from the surprise
produced by the unexpected apparition. It was not until the smoke
of the engine had disappeared in the distance that the wrath of
the bystanders clothed itself in words.

Then the air reeked with expletives. What ought to have been done
was discussed with great freedom.  An excited crowd gathered around
Charles as he was preparing to return home, and plied him with
questions. His ignorance was phenomenal, but the look of stupefied
wonder with which he regarded his questioners confirmed his words.
It was not until he had proceeded a mile on his homeward way, with
Midnight in leading behind the tail-board, that, having satisfied
himself that there was no one within hearing, by peeping from
beneath the canvas covering of the wagon, both before and behind,
he tied the reins to one of the bows which upheld the cover,
abandoned the mule to his own guidance, and throwing himself upon
the mattress on which Eliab had lain, gave vent to roars of laughter.

"Yah, yah, yah!" he cried, as the tears rolled down his black face.
"It du take Marse Hesden to wax dem fellers! Dar he war, jest ez
cool an' keerless ez yer please, a'standin' roun' an' waitin' fer
de train an' payin' no 'tention at all ter me an' de wagon by de
platform, dar. Swar, but I war skeered nigh 'bout ter death, till
I got dar an' seed him so quiet and keerless; an' Bre'er 'Liab, he
war jest a-prayin' all de time--but dat's no wonder. Den, when de
train whistle, Marse Hesden turn quick an' sharp an' I seed him gib
dat ole pistol a jerk roun' in front, an' he come back an' sed,
jest ez cool an' quiet, 'Now, Charles!' I declar' it stiddied me up
jes ter hear him, an' den up comes Bre'er 'Liab in my arms. Marse
Hesden helps a bit an' goes fru de crowd wid his mouf shet like a
steel trap. We takes him on de cars. All aboard! _Whoo-oop--puff,
puff!_ Off she goes! an' dat crowd stan's dar a-cussin' all
curration an' demselves to boot! Yah, yah, yah! 'Rah for Marse
Hesden!"



CHAPTER LIII.

IN THE CYCLONE.


Then the storm burst. Every possible story was set afloat. The more
absurd it seemed the more generally was it credited. Men talked
and women chattered of nothing but Hesden Le Moyne, his infamous
"negro-loving Radicalism," his infatuation with the "Yankee
school-marm," the anger of his mother, his ill-treatment of his
cousin, Hetty Lomax; his hiding of the "nigger preacher" in the loft
of the dining-room, his alliance with the Red Wing desperadoes to
"burn every white house on that side of the river"--in short, his
treachery, his hypocrisy, his infamy.

On the street, in the stores, at the churches--wherever men met--this
was the one unfailing theme of conversation. None but those who have
seen a Southern community excited over one subject or one man can
imagine how much can be said about a little matter. The newspapers
of that and the adjoining counties were full of it. Colored men
were catechized in regard to it. His friends vied with his enemies
in vituperation, lest they should be suspected of a like offense.
He was accounted a monster by many, and an enemy by all who had been
his former associates, and, strangely enough, was at once looked
upon as a friend and ally by every colored man, and by the few
white men of the county who secretly or silently held with the
"Radicals." It was the baptism of fire which every Southern man
must face who presumes to differ from his fellows upon political
questions.

Nothing that he had previously done or said or been could excuse or
palliate his conduct. The fact that he was of a good family only
rendered his alliance with "niggers" against his own race and
class the more infamous.  The fact that he was a man of substantial
means, and had sought no office or aggrandizement by the votes of
colored men, made his offence the more heinous, because he could
not even plead the poor excuse of self-interest.  The fact that he
had served the Confederacy well, and bore on his person the indubitable
proof of gallant conduct on the field of battle, was a still further
aggravation of his act, because it marked him as a renegade and
a traitor to the cause for which he had fought.  Compared with a
Northern Republican he was accounted far more infamous, because of
his desertion of his family, friends, comrades, and "the cause of
the South"--a vague something which no man can define, but which
"fires the Southern heart" with wonderful facility.  Comparison
with the negro was still more to his disadvantage, since he had
"sinned against light and knowledge," while they did not even know
their own "best friends." And so the tide of detraction ebbed and
flowed while Hesden was absent, his destination unknown, his return
a matter of conjecture, and his purpose a mystery.

The most generally-accepted theory was that he had gone to Washington
for the purpose of maliciously misrepresenting and maligning the good
people of Horsford, in order to secure the stationing of soldiers
in that vicinity, and their aid in arresting and bringing to trial,
for various offences against the peace and persons of the colored
people, some of the leading citizens of the county. In support of
this they cited his intimate relations with Jordan Jackson, as well
as with Nimbus and Eliab. It was soon reported that Jackson had
met him at Washington; that Nimbus Desmit had also arrived there;
that the whole party had been closeted with this and that leading
"Radical"; and that the poor, stricken, down-trodden South--the
land fairest and richest and poorest and most peaceful and most
chivalric, the most submissive and the most defiant; in short, the
most contradictory in its self-conferred superlatives--that this
land of antipodal excellences must now look for new forms of tyranny
and new measures of oppression.

The secrecy which had been preserved for three months in regard to
Eliab's place of concealment made a most profound impression upon
Hesden's neighbors of the County of Horsford. They spoke of it in
low, horrified tones, which showed that they felt deeply in regard
to it. It was ascertained that no one in his family knew of the
presence of Eliab until the morning of his removal.  Miss Hetty
made haste to declare that in her two months and more of attendance
upon the invalid she had never dreamed of such a thing. The servants
stoutly denied all knowledge of it, except Charles, who could not
get out of having cut the door through into the other room. It was
believed that Hesden had himself taken all the care of the injured
man, whose condition was not at all understood. How badly he had
been hurt, or in what manner, none could tell. Many visited the
house to view the place of concealment. Only the closed doors could
be seen, for Hesden had taken the key with him.  Some suggested
that Nimbus was still concealed there, and several advised Mrs.
Le Moyne to get some one to go into the room. However, as no one
volunteered to go, nothing came of this advice. It was rumored,
too, that Hesden had brought into the county several detectives, who
had stolen into the hearts of the unsuspecting people of Horsford,
and had gone Northward loaded down with information that would make
trouble for some of the "best men."

It was generally believed that the old attic over the dining-room
had long been a place where "Radicals" had been wont to meet in
solemn conclave to "plot against the whites." A thousand things
were remembered which confirmed this view. It was here that Hesden
had harbored the detectives, as Rahab had hidden the spies. It was
quite evident that he had for a long time been an emissary of the
Government at Washington, and no one could guess what tales of
outrage he might not fabricate in order to glut his appetite for
inhuman revenge. The Southern man is always self-conscious.  He
thinks the world has him in its eye, and that he about fills the
eye. This does not result from comparative depreciation of others
so much as from a habit of magnifying his own image. He always poses
for effect. He walks, talks, and acts "as if he felt the eyes of
Europe on his tail," almost as much as the peacock.

There are times, however, when even he does not care to be seen, and
it was observed that about this time there were a goodly number of
the citizens of Horsford who modestly retired from the public gaze,
some of them even going into remote States with some precipitation
and an apparent desire to remain for a time unknown. It was even
rumored that Hesden was with Nimbus, disguised as a negro, in the
attack made on the Klan during the raid on Red Wing, and that, by
means of the detectives, he had discovered every man engaged in
that patriotic affair, as well as those concerned in others of like
character.  The disappearance of these men was, of course, in no
way connected with this rumor. Since the "Southern people" have
become the great jesters of the world, their conduct is not at all
to be judged by the ordinary rules of cause and effect as applied
to human action. It might have been mere buffoonery, quite as well
as modesty, that possessed some of the "best citizens of Horsford"
with an irrepressible desire to view the Falls of Niagara from the
Canadian side in mid-winter. There is no accounting for the acts
of a nation of masqueraders!

But perhaps the most generally-accepted version of Hesden's journey
was that he had run away to espouse Mollie Ainslie. To her was
traced his whole bias toward the colored population and "Radical"
principles.  Nothing evil was said of her character. She was admitted to
be as good as anybody of her class could be--intelligent, bigoted,
plucky, pretty, and malicious. It was a great pity that a man
belonging to a good family should become infatuated by one in her
station. He could never bring her home, and she would never give
up her "nigger-equality notions." She had already dragged him down
to what he was. Such a man as he, it was strenuously asserted, would
not degrade himself to stand up for such a man as Jordan Jackson
or to associate with "niggers," without some powerful extraneous
influence.  That influence was Mollie Ainslie, who, having inveigled
him into "Radicalism," had now drawn him after her into the North
and matrimony.

But nowhere did the conduct of Hesden cause more intense or
conflicting feelings than at Mulberry Hill.  His achievement in
succoring, hiding, and finally rescuing Eliab Hill was a source of
never-ending wonder, applause, and mirth in the kitchen. But Miss
Hetty could not find words to express her anger and chagrin. Without
being at all forward or immodest, she had desired to succeed her
dead sister in the good graces of Hesden Le Moyne, as well as in
the position of mistress of the Hill.  It was a very natural and
proper feeling. They were cousins, had always been neighbors, and
Hesden's mother had encouraged the idea, almost from the time of
his first wife's death. It was no wonder that she was jealous of
the Yankee school-marm. Love is keen-eyed, and she really loved
her cousin. She had become satisfied, during her stay at the Hill,
that he was deeply attached to Mollie Ainslie, and knew him too well
to hope that he would change; and such a conviction was, of course,
not pleasant to her vanity. But when she was convinced that he had
degraded himself and her by espousing "Radicalism" and associating
with "niggers," her wrath knew no bounds. It seemed an especial
insult to her that the man whom she had honored with her affection
should have so demeaned himself.

Mrs. Le Moyne was at first astonished, then grieved, and finally
angry. She especially sympathized with Hetty, the wreck of whose
hope she saw in this revelation.  If Mollie Ainslie had been "one
of our people," instead of "a Northern nigger school-teacher,"
there would have been nothing so very bad about it. He had never
professed any especial regard or tenderness for Miss Hetty, and
had never given her any reason to expect a nearer relation than she
had always sustained toward him. Mollie was good enough in her way,
bright and pretty and--but faugh! the idea! She would not believe
it! Hesden was not and could not be a "Radical." He might have
sheltered Eliab--ought to have done so; that she _would_ say.
He had been a slave of the family, and had a right to look to her
son for protection.  But to be a "Radical!" She would not believe
it.  There was no use in talking to her. She remained stubbornly
silent after she had gotten to the conclusive denial: "He could
not do it!"

Nevertheless, she thought it well to use her power while she had any.
If he was indeed a "Radical," she would never forgive him--never!
So she determined to make her will. A man learned in the law was
brought to the Hill, and Hester Le Moyne, in due form, by her last
will and testament devised the plantation to her beloved son Hesden
Le Moyne, and her affectionate cousin Hetty Lomax, jointly, and
to their heirs forever, on condition that the said devisees should
intermarry with each other within one year from the death of the
devisor; and in case either of the said devisees should refuse to
intermarry with the other, then the part of such devisee was to
go to the other, who should thereafter hold the fee in severalty,
free of all claim from the other.

The New York and Boston papers contained, day after day, this
"personal:"

"The heirs of James Richards, deceased, formerly of Marblehead,
Massachusetts, will learn something to their advantage by addressing
Theron Pardee, care of James & Jones, Attorneys, at No. -- Broadway,
N. Y."

Mrs. Le Moyne was well aware of this, and also remembered her
promise to surrender the estate, should an heir be found. But that
promise had been made under the influence of Hesden's ardent zeal
for the right, and she found by indirection many excuses for avoiding
its performance. "Of course," she said to herself, "if heirs should
be found in my lifetime, I would revoke this testament; but it is
not right that I should bind those who come after me for all time
to yield to his Quixotic notions. Besides, why should I be juster
than the law? This property has been in the family for a long time,
and ought to remain there."

Her anger at Hesden burned very fiercely, and she even talked of
refusing to see him, should he return, as she had no real doubt he
would. The excitement, however, prostrated her as usual, and her
anger turned into querulous complainings as she grew weaker.

The return of Hesden, hardly a week after his departure, brought
him to face this tide of vituperation at its flood. All that had
been said and written and done in regard to himself came forthwith
to his knowledge. He was amazed, astounded for a time, at the
revelation. He had not expected it. He had expected anger, and was
prepared to meet it with forbearance and gentleness; but he was not
prepared for detraction and calumny and insult. He had not been so
very much surprised at the odium which had been heaped upon Jordan
Jackson.  He belonged to that class of white people at the South
to whom the better class owed little duty or regard. It was not so
strange that they should slander that man.  He could understand,
too, how it was that they attributed to the colored people such
incredible depravity, such capacity for evil, such impossible
designs, as well as the reason why they invented for every Northern
man that came among them with ideas different from their own a
fictitious past, reeking with infamy.

He could sympathize in some degree with all of this.  He had not
thought, himself, that it was altogether the proper thing for the
illiterate "poor-white" man, Jordan Jackson, to lead the negroes
of the county in political hostility to the whites. He had felt
naturally the distrust of the man of Northern birth which a century
of hostility and suspicion had bred in the air of the South. He had
grown up in it. He had been taught to regard the "Yankees" (which
meant all Northerners) as a distinct people--sometimes generous
and brave, but normally envious, mean, low-spirited, treacherous,
and malignant. He admitted the exceptions, but they only proved the
rule.  As a class he considered them cold, calculating, selfish,
greedy of power and wealth, and regardless of the means by which
these were acquired. Above all things, he had been taught to regard
them as animated by hatred of the South. Knowing that this had been
his own bias, he could readily excuse his neighbors for the same.

But in his own case it was different. _He_ was one of
themselves. They knew him to be brave, honorable, of good family,
of conservative instincts, fond of justice and fair play, and governed
in his actions only by the sincerest conviction. That they should
accuse him of every mean and low impossibility of act and motive,
and befoul his holiest purposes and thoughts, was to him a most
horrible thing. His anger grew hotter and hotter, as he listened
to each new tale of infamy which a week had sufficed to set afloat.
Then he heard his mother's reproaches, and saw that even her love
was not proof against a mere change of political sentiment on his
part.  These things set him to thinking as he had never thought
before. The scales fell from his eyes, and from the kindly gentle
Southern man of knightly instincts and gallant achievements was
born--the "pestiferous Radical." He did not hesitate to avow his
conviction, and from that moment there was around him a wall of
fire.  He had lost his rank, degraded his caste, and fallen from
his high estate. From and after that moment he was held unworthy
to wear the proud appellation, "A Southern Gentleman."

However, as he took no active part in political life, and depended
in no degree upon the patronage or good will of his neighbors for
a livelihood, he felt the force of this feeling only in his social
relations. Unaware, as yet, of the disherison which his mother
had visited upon him in his absence, he continued to manage the
plantation and conduct all the business pertaining to it in his own
name, as he had done ever since the close of the war. At first he
entertained a hope that the feeling against him would die out. But
as time rolled on, and it continued still potent and virulent, he
came to analyze it more closely, judging his fellows by himself,
and saw that it was the natural fruit of that intolerance which
slavery made necessary--which was essential to its existence.  Then
he no longer wondered at them, but at himself. It did not seem
strange that they should feel as they did, but rather that he should
so soon have escaped from the tyrannical bias of mental habit. He
saw that the struggle against it must be long and bitter, and he
determined not to yield his convictions to the prejudices of others.

It was a strange thing. In one part of the country--and that the
greater in numbers, in wealth, in enterprise and vigor, in average
intelligence and intellectual achievements--the sentiments he had
espoused were professed and believed by a great party which prided
itself upon its intelligence, purity, respectability, and devotion
to principle. In two thirds of the country his sentiments were held
to be honorable, wise, and patriotic. Every act he had performed,
every principle he had reluctantly avowed, would there have
been applauded of all men. Nay, the people of that portion of the
country were unable to believe that any one could seriously deny
those principles.  Yet in the other portion, where he lived, they
were esteemed an ineffaceable brand of shame, which no merit of a
spotless life could hide.

The _Southern Clarion_, a newspaper of the County of Horsford,
in referring to his conduct, said:

"Of all such an example should be made. Inaugurate social ostracism
against every white man who gives any support to the Radical Party.
Every true Southern man or woman should refuse to recognize as a
gentleman any man belonging to that party, or having any dealings
with it. Hesden Le Moyne has chosen to degrade an honored name.
He has elected to go with niggers, nigger teachers, and nigger
preachers; but let him forever be an outcast among the respectable
and high minded white people of Horsford, whom he has betrayed and
disgraced!"

A week later, it contained another paragraph:

"We understand that the purpose of Hesden Le Moyne in going to the
North was not entirely to stir up Northern prejudice and hostility
against our people. At least, that is what he claims.  He only went,
we are informed he says, to take the half-monkey negro preacher
who calls himself Eliab Hill to a so-called college in the North to
complete his education. We shall no doubt soon have this misshapen,
malicious hypocrite paraded through the North as an evidence of
Southern barbarity.

"The truth is, as we are credibly informed, that what injuries
he received on the night of the raid upon Red Wing were purely
accidental. There were some in the company, it seems, who were
disappointed at not finding the black desperado, Nimbus Desmit, who
was organizing his depraved followers to burn, kill, and ravish,
and proposed to administer a moderate whipping to the fellow Eliab,
who was really supposed to be at the bottom of all the other's
rascality. These few hot-heads burst in the door of his cabin, but
one of the oldest and coolest of the crowd rushed in and, at the
imminent risk of his own life, rescued him from them.  In order to
bring him out into the light where he could be protected, he caught
the baboon-like creature by his foot, and he was somewhat injured
thereby. He is said to have been shot also, but we are assured
that not a shot was fired, except by some person with a repeating
rifle, who fired upon the company of white men from the woods beyond
the school-house. It is probable that some of these shots struck
the preacher, and it is generally believed that they were fired by
Hesden Le Moyne. Several who were there have expressed the opinion
that, from the manner in which the shooting was done, it must have
been by a man with one arm. However, Eliab will make a good Radical
show, and we shall have another dose of Puritanical, hypocritical
cant about Southern barbarity. Well, we can bear it. We have
got the power in Horsford, and we mean to hold it. Niggers and
nigger-worshippers must take care of themselves. This is a white
man's country, and white men are going to rule it, no matter whether
the North whines or not."

The report given in this account of the purpose of Hesden's journey
to the North was the correct one. In the three months in which the
deformed man had been under his care, he had learned that a noble
soul and a rare mind were shut up in that crippled form, and had
determined to atone for his former coolness and doubt, as well as
mark his approval of the course of this hunted victim, by giving
him an opportunity to develop his powers. He accordingly placed him
in a Northern college, and became responsible for the expenses of
his education.



CHAPTER LIV.

A BOLT OUT OF THE CLOUD.


A year had passed, and there had been no important change in the
relations of the personages of our story.  The teacher and her
"obstreperous" pupils had disappeared from Horsford and had been
almost forgotten.  Hesden, his mother, and Cousin Hetty still led
their accustomed  life at Red Wing. Detraction had worn itself
out upon the former, for want of a new occasion. He was still made
to feel, in the little society which he saw, that he was a black
sheep in an otherwise spotless fold.  He did not complain. He did
not account himself "ostracized," nor wonder at this treatment.
He saw how natural it was, how consistent with the training and
development his neighbors had received. He simply said to himself,
and to the few friends who still met him kindly, "I can do without
the society of others as long as they can do without mine. I can
wait. This thing must end some time--if not in my day, then afterward.
Our people must come out of it and rise above it. They must learn
that to be Americans is better than to be 'Southern.' Then they
will see that the interests and safety of the whole nation demand
the freedom and political co-equality of all."

These same friends comforted him much as did those who argued with
the man of Uz.

Mrs. Le Moyne's life had gone back to its old channel.  Shut out
from the world, she saw only the fringes of the feeling that had
set so strongly against her son. Indeed, she received perhaps more
attention than usual in the way of calls and short visits, since
she was understood to have manifested a proper spirit of resentment
at his conduct. Hesden himself was almost the only one who did not
know of her will. It was thought, of course, that she was holding
it over him _in terrorem_.

Yet he was just as tender and considerate of her as formerly, and
she was apparently just as fond of him.  She had not yet given up
her plan of a matrimonial alliance for him with Cousin Hetty, but
that young lady herself had quite abandoned the notion. In the year
she had been at Mulberry Hill she had come to know Hesden better,
and to esteem him more highly than ever before. She knew that he
regarded her with none of the feeling his mother desired to see
between them, but they had become good friends, and after a short time
she was almost the only one of his relatives that had not allowed
his political views to sunder their social relations. Living in
the same house, it was of course impossible to maintain a constant
state of siege; but she had gone farther, and had held out a flag
of truce, and declared her conviction of the honesty of his views
and the honorableness of his _intention_. She did not think
as he did, but she had finally become willing to let him think for
himself.  People said she was in love with Hesden, and that with
his mother's aid she would yet conquer his indifference.  She did
not think so. She sighed when she confessed the fact to herself.
She did indeed hope that he had forgotten Mollie Ainslie. She could
never live to see her mistress at the dear old Hill!

The term of the court was coming on at which the suits that had
been brought by Winburn against the occupants of Red Wing must be
tried. Many had left the place, and it was noticed that from all who
desired to leave, Theron Pardee had purchased, at the full value,
the titles which they held under Nimbus, and that they had all gone
off somewhere out West. Others had elected to remain, with a sort
of blind faith that all would come out right after a while, or from
mere disinclination to leave familiar scenes--that feeling which
is always so strong in the African race.

It was at this time that Pardee came one day to Mulberry Hill and
announced his readiness to make report in the matter intrusted to
his charge concerning the will of J. Richards.

"Well," said Hesden, "have you found the heirs?"

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Le Moyne," said Pardee; "I have assumed
a somewhat complicated relation to this matter, acting under the
spirit of my instructions, which makes it desirable, perhaps almost
necessary, that I should confer directly with the present owner of
this plantation, and that is--?"

"My mother," said Hesden, as he paused. "I suppose it will be mine
some time," he continued laughing, "but I have no present interest
in it."

"Yes," said the lawyer. "And is Mrs. Le Moyne's health such as to
permit her considering this matter now?"

"Oh, I think so," said Hesden. "I will see her and ascertain."

In a short time the attorney was ushered into the invalid's room,
where Mrs. Le Moyne, reclining on her beautifully decorated couch,
received him pleasantly, exclaiming,

"You will see how badly off I am for company, Captain Pardee, when I
assure you that I am glad to see even a lawyer with such a bundle
of papers as you have brought. I have literally nobody but these two
children," glancing at Hesden and Hetty, "and I declare I believe
I am younger and more cheerful than either of them."

"Your cheerfulness, madam," replied Pardee, "is an object of universal
remark and wonder. I sincerely trust that nothing in these papers
will at all affect your equanimity."

"But what have you in that bundle, Captain?" she asked. "I assure
you that I am dying to know why you should insist on assailing a
sick woman with such a formidable array of documents."

"Before proceeding to satisfy your very natural curiosity, madam,"
answered Pardee, with a glance at Miss Hetty, "permit me to say
that my communication is of great moment to you as the owner of
this plantation, and to your son as your heir, and is of such a
character that you might desire to consider it carefully before it
should come to the knowledge of other parties."

"Oh, never mind Cousin Hetty," said Mrs. Le Moyne quickly. "She
has just as much interest in the matter as any one."

The lawyer glanced at Hesden, who hastened to say, "I am sure there
can be nothing of interest to me which I would not be willing that
my cousin should know."

The young lady rose to go, but both Hesden and Mrs.  Le Moyne
insisted on her remaining.

"Certainly," said Pardee, "there can be no objection on my part.
I merely called your attention to the fact as a part of my duty as
your legal adviser."

So Miss Hetty remained sitting upon the side of the bed, holding
one of the invalid's hands. Pardee seated himself at a small table
near the bed, and, having arranged his papers so that they would
be convenient for reference, began:

"You will recollect, madam, that the task intrusted to me was
twofold: first, to verify this will found by your son and ascertain
whose testament it was, its validity or invalidity; and, in case It
was valid, its effect and force. Secondly, I was directed to make
all reasonable effort, in case of its validity being established,
to ascertain the existence of any one entitled to take under its
provisions. In this book," said he, holding up a small volume, "I
have kept a diary of all that I have done in regard to the matter,
with dates and places. It will give you in detail what I shall now
state briefly.

"I went to Lancaster, where the will purports to have been executed,
and ascertained its genuineness by proving the signatures of the
attesting witnesses, and established also the fact of their death.
These affidavits'--holding up a bundle of papers--"show that I also
inquired as to the testator's identity; but I could learn nothing
except that the descendants of one of the witnesses who had bought
your ancestor's farm, upon his removal to the South, still had
his deed in  possession. I copied it, and took a tracing of the
signature, which is identical with that which he subsequently used
--James Richards, written in a heavy and somewhat sloping hand,
for that time. I could learn nothing more in regard to him or his
family.

"Proceeding then to Marblehead, I learned these facts. There were
two parties named James Richards.  They were cousins; and in order
to distinguish them from each other they were called by the family
and neighbors, 'Red Jim' and 'Black Jim' respectively--the one
having red hair and blue eyes, and the other dark hair and black
eyes."

"Yes," interrupted Mrs. Le Moyne, "I was the only blonde in my
family, and I have often heard my father say that I got it from some
ancestral strain,  perhaps the Whidbys, and resembled his cousins."

"Yes," answered Pardee, "a Whidby was a common ancestress of your
father and his cousin, 'Red Jim.' It is strange how family traits
reproduce themselves in widely-separated strains of blood."

"Well," said Hesden, "did you connect him with this will?"

"Most conclusively," was the reply. "In the first place, his wife's
name was Edna--Edna Goddard--before marriage, and he left an only
daughter, Alice. He was older than his cousin, 'Black Jim,' to
whom he was greatly attached. The latter removed to Lancaster, when
about twenty-five years of age, having inherited a considerable
estate in that vicinity. I had not thought of examining the record
of wills while in Lancaster, but on my return I went to the
Prothonotary's office, and verified this also. So there is no doubt
about the 'Black Jim' of the Marblehead family being your ancestor."

"Stop! stop! Captain Pardee!" interrupted Mrs. Le Moyne quickly.
"Isn't Marblehead near Cape Cod?"

"Yes, madam."

"And Buzzard's Bay?"

"Certainly."

"No wonder," said she, laughing, "that you wanted Hetty to leave
before you opened your budget. Do pray run away, child, before
you hear any more to our discredit. Hesden, do please escort your
cousin out of the room," she added, in assumed distress.

"No indeed," laughed Miss Hetty; "I am getting interested, and as
you would not let me go when I wished to, I have now determined to
stay till the last horror is revealed."

"It is too late, mother," said Hesden ruefully; "fortunately, Cousin
Hetty is not attainted, except collaterally, thus far."

"Well, go on, Captain," said Mrs. Le Moyne gayly.  "What else?
Pray what was the family occupation--'calling' I believe they say
in New England. I suppose they had some calling, as they never have
any 'gentlemen' in that country."

Pardee's face flushed hotly. He was born among the New Hampshire
hills himself. However, he answered calmly, but with a slight
emphasis,

"They were seafaring men, madam."

"Oh, my!" cried the invalid, clapping her hands.  "Codfish! codfish!
I knew it, Hetty! I knew it!  Why didn't you go out of the room
when I begged you to? Do you hear it, Hesden? That is where you get
your Radicalism from. My! my!" she laughed, almost hysterically,
"what a family! Codfish at one end and Radical at the other! 'And
the last state of that man was worse than the first!' What would
not the newspapers give to know that of you, Hesden?"

She laughed until the tears came, and her auditors laughed with
her. Yet, despite her mirth, it was easy to detect the evidence of
strong feeling in her manner.  She carried it off bravely, however,
and said,

"But, perhaps, Captain Pardee, you can relieve us a little. Perhaps
they were not cod-fishers but mackerelers.  I remember a song I
have heard my father sing, beginning,

"When Jake came home from mack'reling, He sought his Sary Ann, And
found that she, the heartless thing, Had found another man!"

"Do please say that they were mackerelers!"

"I am sorry I cannot relieve your anxiety on that point," said
Pardee, but I can assure you they were a very respectable family."

"No doubt, as families _go_ 'there," she answered, with some
bitterness. "They doubtless sold good fish, and gave a hundred
pounds for a quintal, or whatever it is they sell the filthy truck
by."

"They were very successful and somewhat noted privateers during
the Revolution," said Pardee.

"Worse and worse!" said Mrs. Le Moyne. Better they were fishermen
than pirates! I wonder if they didn't bring over niggers too?"

"I should not be at all surprised," answered Pardee coolly. "This
'Red Jim' was master and owner of a vessel of some kind, and was
on his way back from Charleston, where it seems he had sold both
his vessel and cargo, when he executed this will."

"But how do you know that it _is_ his will?" asked Hesden.

"Oh, there is no doubt," said Pardee. "Being a shipmaster, his
signature was necessarily affixed to many papers. I have found not
less than twenty of these, all identical with the signature of the
will."

"That would certainly seem to be conclusive," said Hesden.

"Taken with other things, it is," answered Pardee.  "Among other
things is a letter from your grandfather, which was found pasted
inside the cover of a Bible that belonged to Mrs. Edna Richards, in
regard to the death of her husband. In it he says that his cousin
visited him on his way home; went from there to Philadelphia, and
was taken sick; your grandfather was notified and went on, but death
had taken place before he arrived. The letter states that he had
but little money and no valuable papers except such as he sent.
Out of the money he had paid the funeral expenses, and would remit
the balance as soon as he could make an opportunity.  The tradition
in 'Red Jim's' family is that he died of yellow fever in Philadelphia,
on his way home with the proceeds of his sale, and was robbed of
his money before the arrival of his cousin. No suspicion seems ever
to have fallen on "Black Jim."

"Thank God for that!" ejaculated Hesden fervently.

"I suppose you took care to awaken none," said Mrs.  Le Moyne.

"I spoke of it to but one person, to whom it became absolutely
necessary to reveal it. However, it is perfectly safe, and will go
no farther."

"Well, did you find any descendants of this 'Red Jim' living?"
asked Mrs. Le Moyne.

"One," answered Pardee.

"Only one?" said she. "I declare. Hesden, the Richards family is
not numerous if it is strong."

"Why do you say 'strong,' mother?"

"Oh, codfish and Radicals, you know!"

"Now, mother--"

"Oh, if you hate to hear about it, why don't you quit the dirty
crowd and be a gentleman again. Or is it your new-found cousin you
feel so bad for? By the way, Captain, is it a boy or girl, and is
it old or young?"

"It is a lady, madam, some twenty years of age or thereabout."

"A lady? Well, I suppose that is what they call them there. Married
or single?"

"Single."

"What a pity you are getting so old, Hesden! You might make a match
and settle her claim in that way.  Though I don't suppose she has
any in law."

"On the contrary, madam," said Pardee, "her title is perfect. She
can recover not only this plantation but every rood of the original
tract."

"You don't say!" exclaimed the invalid. "It would make her one of
the richest women in the State!"

"Undoubtedly."

"Oh, it cannot be, Captain Pardee!" exclaimed Miss Hetty. "It cannot
be!"

"There can be no doubt about it," said Pardee. "She is the
great-grand-daughter of 'Red Jim,' and his only lineal descendant.
His daughter Alice, to whom this is bequeathed, married before
arriving at the age of eighteen, and died in wedlock, leaving an
only daughter, who also married before she became of age, and also
died in wedlock, leaving a son and daughter surviving. The son died
without heirs of his body, and only the daughter is left. There has
never been an hour when the action of the statute was not barred."

"Have you seen her?" asked Mrs. Le Moyne.

"Yes."

"Does she know her good luck?"

"She is fully informed of her rights."

"Indeed? You told her, I suppose?"

"I found her already aware of them."

"Why, how could that be?"

"I am sure I do not know," said Pardee, glancing sharply at Hesden.

"What," said Hesden, with a start; "what did you say is the name
of the heir?"

"I did not say," said Pardee coolly. Hesden sprang to his feet,
and going across the room stood gazing out of the window.

"Why don't you tell us the name of the heir, Captain?  You must
know we are dying to hear all about our new cousin," said Mrs. Le
Moyne bitterly. "Is she long or short, fat or lean, dark or fair?
Do tell us all about her?"

"In appearance, madam," said Pardee carelessly, "I should say she
much resembled yourself at her age."

"Oh, Captain, you flatter me, I'm sure," she answered, with just
a hint of a sneer. "Well, what is her name, and when does she wish
to take possession?"

"Her name, madam, you must excuse me if I withhold for the present.
I am the bearer of a proposition of compromise from her, which,
if accepted, will, I hope, avoid all trouble. If not accepted, I
shall find myself under the necessity of asking to be relieved from
further responsibility in this matter."

"Come here, Hesden," said his mother, "and hear what terms your
new cousin wants for Mulberry Hill.  I hope we won't have to move
out till spring. It would be mighty bad to be out of doors all
winter. Go on, Captain Pardee, Hesden is ready now. This is what
comes of your silly idea about doing justice to some low-down Yankee.
It's a pity you hadn't sense enough to burn the will up. It would
have been better all round.  The wealth will turn the girl's head,
and the loss of my home will kill me," she continued fiercely to
her son.

"As to the young lady, you need have no fear," said Pardee. "She
is not one of the kind that lose their heads.

"Ah, you seem to be quite an admirer of her?"

"I am, madam."

"If we do not accept her proposal, you will no doubt become her
attorney?"

"I am such already."

"You don't say so? Well, you are making good speed. I should think
you might have waited till you had dropped us before picking her
up. But then, it will be a good thing to be the attorney of such
an heiress, and we shall be poor indeed after she gets her own--as
you say it is."

"Madam," said Pardee seriously, "I shall expect you to apologize
both to me and to my client when you have heard her proposition."

"I shall be very likely to, Mr. Pardee," she said, with a dry
laugh. "I come of an apologetic race. Old Jim Richards was full
of apologies. He liked to have died of them, numberless times. But
what is your proposal?"

"As I said," remarked Pardee, "my client--I beg pardon--the
great-grand-daughter of 'Red Jim' Richards, instructs me to say that
she does not desire to stain her family name or injure your feelings
by exposing the fraud of your ancestor, 'Black Jim' Richards.

"What, sir!" said Mrs. Le Moyne sharply. "Fraud!  You had better
measure your words, sir, when you speak of my father. Do you hear
that, Hesden? Have you lost all spirit since you became a Radical?"
she continued, while her eyes flashed angrily.

"I am sorry to say that I do not see what milder term could be
used," said Hesden calmly. "Go on with your proposition, sir."

"Well, as I said," continued the lawyer, "this young lady, desiring
to save the family name and your feelings from the shock of exposure,
has instructed me to say: First, that she does not wish to disturb
any of those rights which have been obtained by purchase from your
ancestor; and second, that she understands that there is a dispute
in regard to the title of a portion of it--the tract generally
known as Red Wing--neither of the parties claiming which have any
title as against her. She understands that the title held by Winburn
is technically good against that of the colored man, Nimbus Desmit,
providing hers is not set up.

"Now she proposes that if you will satisfy Winburn and obtain a
quit-claim from him to Desmit, she will make a deed in fee to Mrs.
Le Moyne of the whole tract; and as you hold by inheritance from
one who purported to convey the fee, the title will thereafter be
estopped, and all rights held under the deeds of 'Black Jim' Richards
will be confirmed."

"Well, what else?" asked Mrs. Le Moyne breathlessly, as he paused.

"There is nothing more."

"Nothing more! Why, does the girl propose to give away all this
magnificent property for nothing?" she asked in astonishment.

"Absolutely nothing to her own comfort or advantage," answered the
attorney.

"Well, now, that is kind--that is kind!" said the invalid.  "I am
sorry for what I have said of her, Captain  Pardee."

"I thought you would be, madam," he replied.

"You must attend to that Red Wing matter immediately, Hesden," she
said, thoughtfully.

"You accept the proposal then?" asked Pardee.

"Accept, man? Of course we do!" said Mrs. Le  Moyne.

"Stop, mother!" said Hesden. "You may accept for yourself, but not
for me. Is this woman able to give away such a fortune?" he asked
of Pardee.

"She is not rich. She has been a teacher, and has some property--enough,
she insists, for comfort," was the answer.

"If she had offered to sell, I would have bought at any possible
price, but I cannot take such a gift!"

"Do you accept the terms?" asked Pardee of Mrs.  Le Moyne.

"I do," she answered doggedly, but with a face flushing with shame.

"Then, madam, let me say that I have already shown the proofs in
confidence to Winburn's attorney. He agrees that they have no chance,
and is willing to sell the interest he represents for five hundred
dollars. That I have already paid, and have taken a quit-claim
to Desmit.  Upon the payment of that, and my bill for services, I
stand ready to deliver to you the title."

The whole amount was soon ascertained and a check given to Pardee
for the sum. Thereupon he handed over to Mrs. Le Moyne a deed in
fee-simple, duly executed, covering the entire tract, except that
about Red  Wing, which was conveyed to Nimbus in a deed directly
to him. Mrs. Le Moyne unfolded the deed, and turning quickly to
the last page read the name of the donor:

"MOLLIE AINSLIE!"

"What!" she exclaimed, "not the little nigger teacher at Red Wing?"

"The same, madam," said Pardee, with a smile and a bow.

The announcement was too much for the long-excited invalid. She
fell back fainting upon her pillow, and while Cousin Hetty devoted
herself to restoring her relative to consciousness, Pardee gathered
up his papers and withdrew. Hesden followed him, presently, and
asked where Miss Ainslie was.

"I am directed," said Pardee, "not to disclose her residence, but
will at any time forward any communication you may desire to make."



CHAPTER LV.

AN UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER.


The next day Mr. Pardee received a note from Mrs.  Le Moyne,
requesting him to come to Mulberry Hill at his earliest convenience.
Being at the time disengaged, he returned with the messenger. Upon
being ushered again into the invalid's room, he found Miss Hetty
Lomax with a flushed face standing by the bedside.  Both the ladies
greeted him with some appearance of embarrassment.

"Cousin Hetty," said the invalid, "will you ask Hesden to come here
for a moment?"

Miss Hetty left the room, and returned a moment afterward in company
with Hesden.

"Hesden," said Mrs. Le Moyne, "were you in earnest in what you said
yesterday in regard to receiving any benefits under this deed?"

"Certainly, mother," replied Hesden; "I could never consent to do
so."

"Very well, my son," said the invalid; "you are perhaps right; but
I wish you to know that I had heretofore made my will, giving to
you and Cousin Hetty a joint interest in my estate. You know the
feeling which induced me to do so. I am in the confessional to-day,
and may as well admit that I was hasty and perhaps unjust in so
doing. In justice to Cousin Hetty I wish also to say--"

"Oh, please, Mrs. Le Moyne," interrupted Hetty, blushing deeply.

"Hush, my child," said the invalid tenderly; "I must be just to
you as well as to others. Hetty," she continued, turning her eyes
upon Hesden, who stood looking in wonder from one to the other,
"has long tried to persuade me to revoke that instrument. I have
at length determined to cancel and destroy it, and shall proceed
to make a new one, which I desire that both of you shall witness
when it has been drawn."

Being thus dismissed, Hesden and his cousin withdrew, while
Pardee seated himself at the little table by the bedside, on which
writing materials had already been placed, and proceeded to receive
instructions and prepare the will as she directed. When it had been
completed and read over to her, she said, wearily,

"That is right."

The attorney called Hesden and his cousin, who, having witnessed
the will by her request, again withdrew.

"Now Mr. Pardee," said Mrs. Le Moyne sadly, "I believe that I have
done my duty as well as Hesden has done his. It is hard, very hard,
for me to give up projects which I have cherished so long. As I
have constituted you my executor, I desire that you will keep this
will, and allow no person to know its contents unless directed by
me to do so, until my death."

"Your wishes shall be strictly complied with, madam," said Pardee,
as he folded the instrument and placed it in his pocket.

"I have still another favor to request of you, Mr.  Pardee," she
said. "I have written this note to Miss Ainslie, which I wish you
to read and then transmit to her.  No, no," she continued, as she
saw him about to seal the letter which she had given him, without
reading it; "you must read it. You know something of what it has
cost me to write it, and will be a better judge than I as to whether
it contains all that I should say."

Thus adjured, Pardee opened the letter and read:

"MULBERRY HILL Saturday, Oct. 8, 1871.

"MY DEAR MISS AINSLIE:

"Captain Pardee informed us yesterday of your nobly disinterested
action in regard to the estate rightfully belonging to you. Words
cannot express my gratitude for the consideration you have shown to
our feelings in thus shielding the memory of the dead. Mr. Pardee
will transmit to you with this the papers, showing that we have
complied with your request. Pardon me if I do not write as warmly
as I ought. One as old and proud as I cannot easily adapt herself
to so new and strange a role. I hope that time will enable me to
think more calmly and speak more freely of this matter.

"Hoping you will forgive my constraint, and believe that it arises
from no lack of appreciation of your magnanimity, but only springs
from my own weakness; and asking your pardon for all unkindness of
thought, word, or act in the past, I remain,

"Yours gratefully,

"HESTER RICHARDS LE MOYNE."

"My dear Mrs. Le Moyne," said Pardee, as he extended his hand and
grasped that of the suffering woman, "I am sure Miss Ainslie would
never require any such painful acknowledgment at your hands."

"I know she would not," was the reply; "it is not she that requires it,
but myself--my honor, Mr. Pardee.  You must not suppose, nor must
she believe, that the wife of a Le Moyne can forget the obligations
of justice, though her father may have unfortunately done so."

"But I am sure it will cause her pain," said Pardee.

"Would it cause her less were I to refuse what she has so delicately
given?"

"No, indeed," said the attorney.

"Then I see no other way."

"Perhaps there is none," said Pardee thoughtfully.

"You think I have said enough?" she asked.

"You could not say more," was the reply. After a moment's pause
he continued, "Are you willing that I should give Miss Ainslie any
statement I may choose of this matter?"

"I should prefer," she answered, "that nothing more be said; unless,"
she added, with a smile, "you conceive that your duty imperatively
demands it."

"And Hesden?" he began.

"Pardon me, sir," she said, with dignity; "I will not conceal from
you that my son's course has given me great pain; indeed, you are
already aware of that fact.  Since yesterday, I have for the first
time admitted to myself that in abandoning the cause of the Southern
people he has acted from a sense of duty. My own inclination, after
sober second thought," she added, as a slight flush overspread her
pale face, "would have been to refuse, as he has done, this bounty
from the hands of a stranger; more particularly from one in the
position which Miss Ainslie has occupied; but I feel also that her
unexpected delicacy demands the fullest recognition at our hands.
Hesden will take such course as his own sense of honor may dictate."

"Am I at liberty to inform him of the nature of the testament which
you have made?"

"I prefer not."

"Well," said Pardee, "if there is nothing more to be done I will
bid you good-evening, hoping that time may yet bring a pleasant
result out of these painful circumstances."

After the lawyer had retired, Mrs. Le Moyne summoned her son to
her bedside and said,

"I hope you will forgive me, Hesden, for all--"

"Stop, mother," said he, playfully laying his hand over her mouth;
"I can listen to no such language from you. When I was a boy you
used to stop my confessions of wrong-doing with a kiss; how much
more ought silence to be sufficient between us now."

He knelt by her side and pressed his lips to hers.

"Oh, my son, my son!" said the weeping woman, as she pushed back
the hair above his forehead and looked into his eyes; "only give
your mother time--you know it is so hard--so hard. I am trying,
Hesden; and you must be very kind to me, very gentle. It will not
be for long, but we must be alone--all alone--as we were before all
these things came about. Only," she added sobbingly, "only little
Hildreth is not here now."

"Believe me, mother," said he, and the tears fell upon the gentle
face over which he bent, "I will do nothing to cause you pain. My
opinions I cannot renounce, because I believe them right."

"I know, I know, my son," she said; "but it is so hard--so hard--to
think that we must lose the place which we have always held in the
esteem of--all those about us."

There was silence for a time, and then she continued, "Hetty thinks
it is best--that--that she--should--not remain here longer at this
time. She is perhaps right, my son. You must not blame her for
anything that has occurred; indeed--indeed she is not at fault.  In
fact," she added, "she has done much toward showing me my duty. Of
course it is hard for her, as it is for me, to be under obligations
to--to--such a one as Miss Ainslie. It is very hard to believe that
she could have done as she has without some--some unworthy motive."

"Mother!" said Hesden earnestly, raising his head and gazing
reproachfully at her.

"Don't--don't, my son! I am trying--believe me, I am trying; but
it is so hard. Why should she give up all this for our sakes?"

"Not for ours mother--not for ours alone; for her own as well."

"Oh, my son, what does she know of family pride?"

"Mother," said he gravely, "she is prouder than we ever were.
Oh, I _know_ it,"--seeing the look of incredulity upon her
face;--"prouder than any Richards or Le Moyne that ever lived; only
it is a different kind of pride. She would _starve_, mother,"
he continued impetuously; "she would work her fingers to the bone
rather than touch one penny of that estate."

"Oh, why--why, Hesden, should she do that? Just to shield my father's
name?"

"Not alone for that," said Hesden. "Partly to show that she can
give you pride for pride, mother."

"Do you think so, Hesden?"

"I am sure of it."

"Will you promise me one thing?"

"Whatever you shall ask."

"Do not write to her, nor in any way communicate with her, except
at my request."

"As you wish."



CHAPTER LVI.

SOME OLD LETTERS.


I.

"RED WING, Saturday, Feb. 15, 1873.

"MISS MOLLIE AINSLIE:

"I avail myself of your kind permission to address you a letter
through Captain Pardee, to whom I will forward this to-morrow. I
would have written to you before, because I knew you must be anxious
to learn how things are at this place, where you labored so long;
but I was very busy--and, to tell you the truth, I felt somewhat hurt
that you should withhold from me for so long a time the knowledge
even of where you were. It is true, I have known that you were
somewhere in Kansas; but I could see no reason why you should not
wish it to be known exactly where; nor can I now. I was so foolish
as to think, at first, that it was because you did not wish the
people where you now live to know that you had ever been a teacher
in a colored school.

"When I returned here, however, and learned something of your
kindness to our people--how you had saved the property of my dear
lost brother Nimbus, and provided for his wife and children, and
the wife and children of poor Berry, and so many others of those
who once lived at Red Wing; and when I heard Captain Pardee read
one of your letters to our people, saying that you had not forgotten
us, I was ashamed that I had ever had such a thought. I know that
you must have some good reason, and will never seek to know more
than you may choose to tell me in regard to it. You may think it
strange that I should have had this feeling at all; but you must
remember that people afflicted as I am become very sensitive--morbid,
perhaps--and are very apt to be influenced by mere imagination
rather than by reason.

"After completing my course at the college, for which I can never
be sufficiently grateful to Mr. Hesden, I thought at first that I
would write to you and see if I could not obtain work among some
of my people in the West. Before I concluded to do so, however, the
President of the college showed me a letter asking him to recommend
some one for a colored school in one of the Northern States. He said
he would be willing to recommend me for that position. Of course
I felt very grateful to him, and very proud of the confidence
he showed in my poor ability. Before I had accepted, however, I
received a letter from Mr. Hesden, saying that he had rebuilt the
school-house at Red Wing, that the same kind people who furnished
it before had furnished it again, and that he wished the school
to be re-opened, and desired me to come back and teach here. At
first I thought I could not come; for the memory of that terrible
night--the last night that I was here--came before me whenever I
thought of it; and I was so weak as to think I could not ever come
here again. Then I thought of Mr. Hesden, and all that he had done
for me, and felt that I would be making a very bad return for his
kindness should I refuse any request he might make.  So I came,
and am very glad that I did.

"It does not seem like the old Red Wing, Miss Mollie.  There are
not near so many people here, and the school is small in comparison
with what it used to be. Somehow the life and hope seem to have
gone out of our people, and they do not look forward to the future
with that confident expectation which they used to have. It reminds
me very much of the dull, plodding hopelessness of the old slave
time. It is true, they are no longer subject to the terrible
cruelties which were for a while visited upon them; but they feel,
as they did in the old time, that their rights are withheld from
them, and they see no hope of regaining them. With their own poverty
and ignorance and the prejudices of the white people to contend
with, it does indeed seem a hopeless task for them to attempt to
be anything more, or anything better, than they are now. I am even
surprised that they do not go backward instead of forward under
the difficulties they have to encounter.

"I am learning to be more charitable than I used to be, Miss Mollie,
or ever would have been had I not returned here. It seems to me
now that the white people are not so much to be blamed for what has
been done and suffered since the war, as pitied for that prejudice
which has made them unconsciously almost as much _slaves_ as
my people were before the war. I see, too, that these things cannot
be remedied at once. It will be a long, sad time of waiting, which
I fear our people will not endure as well as they did the tiresome
waiting for freedom. I used to think that the law could give us our
rights and make us free. I now see, more clearly than ever before,
that we must not only make _ourselves_ free, but must overcome
all that prejudice which slavery created against our race in the
hearts of the white people.  It is a long way to look ahead, and I
don't wonder that so many despair of its ever being accomplished.
I know it can only be done through the attainment of knowledge and
the power which that gives.

"I do not blame for giving way to despair those who are laboring
for a mere pittance, and perhaps not receiving that; who have wives
and children to support, and see their children growing up as poor
and ignorant as themselves. If I were one of those, Miss Mollie,
and whole and sound, I wouldn't stay in this country another day.
I would go somewhere where my children would have a chance to learn
what it is to be free, whatever hardship I might have to face in
doing so, for their sake. But I know that they cannot go--at least
not all of them, nor many of them; and I think the Lord has dealt
with me as he has in order that I might be willing to stay here
and help them, and share with them the blessed knowledge which kind
friends have given to me.

"Mr. Hesden comes over to see the school very often, and is very
much interested in it. I have been over to Mulberry Hill once,
and saw the dear old 'Mistress.' She has failed a great deal, Miss
Mollie, and it does seem as if her life of pain was drawing to an
end. She was very kind to me, asked all about my studies, how I was
getting on, and inquired very kindly of you. She seemed very much
surprised when I told her that I did not know where you were, only
that you were in the West. It is no wonder that she looks worn and
troubled, for Mr. Hesden has certainly had a hard time.  I do not
think it is as bad now as it has been, and some of the white people,
even, say that he has been badly treated. But, Miss Mollie, you
can't imagine the abuse he has had to suffer because he befriended
me, and is what they call a 'Radical.'

"There is one thing that I cannot understand. I can see why the
white people of the South should be so angry about colored people
being allowed to vote. I can understand, too, why they should abuse
Mr. Hesden, and the few like him, because they wish to see the
colored people have their rights and become capable of exercising
them. It is because they have always believed that we are an inferior
race, and think that the attempt to elevate us is intended to drag
them down. But I cannot see why the people of the _North_ should
think so ill of such men as Mr. Hesden. It would be a disgrace for
any man there to say that he was opposed to the colored man having
the rights of a citizen, or having a fair show in any manner. But
they seem to think that if a man living at the South advocates
those rights, or says a word in our favor, he is a low-down, mean
man. If we had a few men like Mr, Hesden in every county, I think
it would soon be better; but if it takes as long to get each one
as it has to get him, I am afraid a good many generations will live
and die before that good time will come.

"I meant to have said more about the school, Miss Mollie; but I
have written so much that I will wait until the next time for that.
Hoping that you will have time to write to me, I remain

"Your very grateful pupil,

"ELIAB HILL."


II.

"MULBERRY HILL, Wednesday, March 5, 1873.

"Miss MOLLIE AINSLIE:

"Through the kindness of our good friend, Captain Pardee, I send
you this letter, together with an instrument, the date of which
you will observe is the same as that of my former letter. You will
see that I have regarded myself only as a trustee and a beneficiary,
during life, of your self-denying generosity.  The day after I
received your gift, I gave the plantation back to you, reserving
only the pleasing privilege of holding it as my own while I lived.
The opportunity which I then hoped might some time come has now
arrived. I can write to you now without constraint or bitterness.
My pride has not gone; but I am proud of you, as a relative proud
as myself, and far braver and more resolute than I have ever been.

"My end is near, and I am anxious to see you once more. The dear
old plantation is just putting on its spring garment of beauty.
Will you not come and look upon your gift in its glory, and gladden
the heart of an old woman whose eyes long to look upon your face
before they see the brightness of the upper world?

"Come, and let me say to the people of Horsford that you are one
of us--a Richards worthier than the worthiest they have known!

"Yours, with sincerest love,

"HESTER RICHARDS LE MOYNE.

"P. S.--I ought to say that, although Hesden is one of the witnesses
to my will, he knows nothing of its contents.  He does not know
that I have written to you, but I am sure he will be glad to see
you.

"H. R. LE M."


III.

Mrs. Le Moyne received the following letter in reply:   "March 15,
1873.

"MY DEAR MRS. LE MOYNB:

"Your letter gave me far greater pleasure than you can imagine.
But you give me much more credit for doing what I did than I have
any right to receive.  While I know that I would do the same now,
to give you pleasure and save you pain, as readily as I did it then
from a worse motive, I must confess to you that I did it, almost
solely I fear, to show you that a Yankee girl, even though a teacher
of a colored school, could be as proud as a Southern lady. I did it
to humiliate _you._ Please forgive me; but it is true, and I
cannot bear to receive your praise for what really deserves censure.
I have been ashamed of myself very many times for this unworthy
motive for an act which was in itself a good one, but which I am
glad to have done, even so unworthily.

"I thank you for your love, which I hope I may better deserve
hereafter. I inclose the paper which you sent me, and hope you
will destroy it at once. I could not take the property you have so
kindly devised to me, and you can readily see what trouble I should
have in bestowing it where it should descend as an inheritance.

"Do not think that I need it at all. I had a few thousands which
I invested in the great West when I left the South, three years
ago, in order to aid those poor colored people at Red Wing, whose
sufferings appealed so strongly to my sympathies. By good fortune
a railroad has come near me, a town has been built up near by and
grown into a city, as in a moment, so that my venture has been
blessed; and though I have given away some, the remainder has
increased in value until I feel myself almost rich. My life has
been very pleasant, and I hope not altogether useless to others.
"I am sorry that I cannot do as you wish. I know that you will
believe that I do not now act from any  un-worthy motive, of from
any lack of appreciation of your kindness, or doubt of your sincerity.
Thanking you again for your kind words and hearty though undeserved
praises, I remain,

"Yours very truly,

"MOLLIE AINSLIE."

"Hesden," said Mrs. Le Moyne to her son, as he sat by her bedside
while she read this letter, "will you not write to Miss Ainslie?"

"What!" said he, looking up from his book in surprise. "Do you mean
it?"

"Indeed I do, my son," she answered, with a glance of tenderness.
"I tried to prepare you a surprise, and wrote for her to come and
visit us; but she will not come at my request. I am afraid you are
the only one who can overcome her stubbornness.

"I fear that I should have no better success," he answered.

Nevertheless, he went to his desk, and, laying out some paper, he
placed upon it, to hold it in place while he wrote, a great black
hoof with a silver shoe, bearing on the band about its crown the
word "Midnight." After many attempts he wrote as follows:

"Miss MOLLIE AINSLIE:

"Will you permit me to come and see you, upon the conditions imposed
when I saw you last?

"HESDEN LE MOYNE."


IV.

While Hesden waited for an answer to this letter, which had been
forwarded through Captain Pardee, he received one from Jordan
Jackson. It was somewhat badly spelled, but he made it out to be
as follows:

"EUPOLIA, KANSAS, Sunday, March 23, 1873.

"MY DEAR LE MOYNE:

"I have been intending to write to you for a long time, but have
been too busy. You never saw such a busy country as this. It just
took me off my legs when I first came out here. I thought I knew
what it meant to 'git up and git.' Nobody ever counted me hard to
start or slow to move, down in that country; but here--God bless
you, Le Moyne, I found I wasn't half awake! Work? Lord! Lord! how
these folks do work and tear around! It don't seem so very hard
either, because when they have anything to do they don't do nothing
else, and when have nothing to do they make a business of that,
too.

"Then, they use all sorts of machinery, and never do anything by
hand-power that a horse can be made to do, in any possible way.
The horses do all the ploughing, sowing, hoeing, harvesting, and,
in fact, pretty much all the farm-work; while the man sits up on a
sulky-seat and fans himself with a palm-leaf hat. So that, according
to my reckoning, one man here counts for about as much as four in
our country.

"I have moved from where I first settled, which was in a county
adjoining this. I found that my notion of just getting a plantation
to settle down on, where I could make a living and be out of harm's
way, wasn't the thing for this country, nohow. A man who comes
here must pitch in and count for all he's worth. It's a regular
ground-scuffle, open to all, and everybody choosing his own hold.
Morning, noon, and night the world is awake and alive; and if a
man isn't awake too, it tramps on right over him and wipes him out,
just as a stampeded buffalo herd goes over a hunter's camp.

"Everybody is good-natured and in dead earnest.  Every one that
comes is welcome, and no questions asked. Kin and kin-in-law don't
count worth a cuss.  Nobody stops to ask where you come from, what's
your politics, or whether you've got any religion. They don't care,
if you only mean 'business.' They don't make no fuss over nobody.
There ain't much of what we call 'hospitality' at the South, making a
grand flourish and a big lay-out over anybody; but they just take
it, as a matter of course, that you are all right and square and
honest, and as good as anybody till you show up diferent.  There
ain't any big folks nor any little ones. Of course, there are rich
folks and poor ones, but the poor are just as respectable as the
rich, feel just as big, and take up just as much of the road. There
ain't any crawling nor cringing here. Everybody stands up straight,
and don't give nor take any sass from anybody else.  The West takes
right hold of every one that comes into it and makes him a part of
itself, instead of keeping him outside in the cold to all eternity,
as the South does the strangers who go there.

"I don't know as you'd like it; but if any one who has been kept
down and put on, as poor men are at the South, can muster pluck
enough to get away and come here, he'll think he's been born over
again, or I'm mistaken. Nobody asks your politics. I don't reckon
anybody knew mine for a year. The fact is, we're all too busy to
fuss with our neighbors or cuss them about their opinions. I've
heard more politics in a country store in Horsford in a day than
I've heard here in Eupolia in a year--and we've got ten thousand
people here, too. I moved here last year, and am doing well. I
wouldn't go back and live in that d--d hornet's nest that I felt
so bad about leaving--not for the whole State, with a slice of the
next one throwed in.

"I've meant to tell you, a half dozen times, about that little
Yankee gal that used to be at Red Wing; but I've been half afraid
to, for fear you would get mad about it. My wife said that when she
came away there was a heap of talk about you being sorter 'sweet'
on the 'nigger-school-marm.' I knew that she was sick at your house
when I was there, and so, putting the two together, I 'llowed that
for once there might be some truth in a Horsford rumor. I reckon it
must have been a lie, though; or else she 'kicked' you, which she
wouldn't stand a speck about doing, even if you were the President,
if you didn't come up to her notion. It's a mighty high notion, too,
let me tell you; and the man that gits up to it'll have to climb.
Bet your life on that!

"But that's all no matter. I reckon you'll be glad to know how
she's gettin' on out here, anyhow. She come here not a great while
after I did; but, bless your stars, she wasn't as green as I, not
by any manner of means.  She didn't want to hide out in a quiet
part of the country, where the world didn't turn around but once
in two days. No, sir! She was keen--just as keen as a razor-blade.
She run her eye over the map and got inside the railroad projects
somehow, blessed if I know how; and then she just went off fifty
miles out of the track others was taking, and bought up all the
land she could pay for, and got trusted for all the credit that
that brought her; and here she is now, with Eupolia building right
up on her land, and just a-busting up her quarter-sections into
city lots, day after day, till you can't rest.

"Just think on't, Moyne! It's only three years ago and she was
teaching a nigger school, there in Red Wing; and now, God bless
you, here she is, just a queen in a city that wasn't nowhere then.
I tell you, she's a team! Just as proud as Lucifer, and as wide-awake
as a hornet in July. She beats anything I ever did see. She's given
away enough to make two or three, and I'll be hanged if it don't
seem to me that every cent she gives just brings her in a dollar.
The people here just worship her, as they have a good right to; but
she ain't a bit stuck up. She's got a whole lot of them Red Wing
niggers here, and has settled them down and put them to work,
and made them get on past all expectation. She just tells right
out about her having taught a nigger school down in Horsford, and
nobody seems to think a word on't. In fact, I b'lieve they rather
like her better for it.

"I heard about her soon after she came here, but, to tell the truth,
I thought I was a little better than a 'nigger-teacher,' if I was
in Kansas. So I didn't mind anything about her till Eupolia began
to grow, and I came to think about going into trading again. Then
I came over, just to look around, you know. I went to see the little
lady, feeling mighty 'shamed, you may bet, and more than half of
the notion that she wouldn't care about owning that she'd ever seen
me before. But, Lord love you! I needn't have had any fear about
that. Nobody ever had a heartier welcome than she gave me, until
she found that I had been living only fifty miles away for a year
and hadn't let her know.  Then she come down on me--Whew! I thought
there was going to be a blizzard, sure enough.

"'Jordan Jackson,' said she, 'you just go home and bring that wife
and them children here, where they can see something and have a
rest.'

"I had to do it, and they just took to staying in Eupolia here
nigh about all the time. So I thought I might as well come too;
and here I am, doing right well, and would be mighty glad to see
an old friend if you could make up your mind to come this way. We
are all well, and remember you as the kindest of all old friends
in our time of need.

"I never wrote as long a letter as this before, and never 'llow to
do it again.

"Your true friend,

"JORDAN JACKSON."


V.

In due time there came to Hesden Le Moyne an envelope, containing
only a quaintly-shaped card, which looked as if it had been cut
from the bark of a brown-birch tree. On one side was printed, in
delicate script characters,


"Miss Mollie Ainslie,
Eupolia,
Kansas."


On the other was written one word: "Come."

A bride came to Mulberry Hill with the May roses, and when Mrs.
Le Moyne had kissed her who knelt beside her chair for a maternal
benison, she placed a hand on either burning cheek, and, holding the
face at arm's length, said, with that archness which never forsook
her, "What am I to do about the old plantation? Hesden refuses to
be my heir, and you refuse to be my devisee; must I give it to the
poor?"

The summer bloomed and fruited; the autumn glowed and faded; and
peace and happiness dwelt at Red Wing.  But when the Christmas
came, wreaths of _immortelles_ lay upon a coffin in "Mother's
Room," and Hesden and Mollie dropped their tears upon the sweet,
pale face within.

So Hesden and Mollie dwelt at Red Wing. The heirs of "Red Jim" had
their own, and the children of "Black Jim" were not dispossessed.



CHAPTER LVII.

A SWEET AND BITTER FRUITAGE.


The charms of the soft, luxurious climate were peculiarly grateful
to Mollie after the harshness of the Kansas winter and the sultry
summer winds that swept over the heated plains. There was something,
too, very pleasant in renewing her associations with that region
in a relation so different from that under which she had formerly
known it. As the teacher at Red Wing, her life had not been wholly
unpleasant; but that which had made it pleasant had proceeded
from herself and not from others. The associations which she then
formed had been those of kindly charity--the affection which one
has for the objects of sympathetic care. So far as the world in
which she now lived was concerned--the white world and white people
of Horsford--she had known nothing of them, nor they of her, but
as each had regarded the other as a curious study. Their life had
been shut out from her, and her life had been a matter that did not
interest them. She had wondered that they did not think and feel
as she did with regard to the colored people; and they, that any
one having a white skin and the form of woman should come a thousand
miles to become a servant of servants. The most charitable among
them had deemed her a fool; the less charitable, a monster.

In the few points of contact which she had with them personally,
she had found them pleasant. In the few relations which they held
toward the colored people, and toward her as their friend, she had
found them brutal and hateful beyond her power to conceive. Then,
her life had been with those for whom she labored, so far as it
was in or of the South at all. They had been the objects of her
thought, her interest, and her care. Their wrongs had entered into
her life, and had been the motive of her removal to the West. Out
of these conditions, by a curious evolution, had grown a new life,
which she vainly tried to graft upon the old without apparent
disjointure.

Now, by kinship and by marriage, she belonged to one of the most
respectable families of the region. It was true that Hesden. had
sullied his family name by becoming a Radical; but as he had never
sought official position, nor taken any active part in enforcing or
promulgating the opinions which he held; had, in fact, identified
himself with the party of odious principles only for the protection
of the victims of persecution or the assertion of the rights of
the weak--he was regarded with much more toleration and forbearance
than would otherwise have been displayed toward him.

In addition to this, extravagant rumors came into the good county
of Horsford respecting the wealth which Mollie Ainslie had acquired,
and of the pluck and enterprise which she had displayed in the far
West. It was thought very characteristic of the brave young teacher
of Red Wing, only her courage was displayed there in a different
manner. So they took a sort of pride in her, as if she had been
one of themselves; and as they told to each other the story of her
success, they said, "Ah, I knew she would make her mark! Any girl
that had her pluck was too good to remain a nigger-teacher long.
It was lucky for Hesden, though. By George!  he made his Radicalism
pay, didn't he? Well, well; as long as he don't trouble anybody,
I don't see why we should not be friends with him--if he _is_
a Radical." So they determined that they would patronize and
encourage Hesden Le Moyne and his wife, in the hope that he might
be won back to his original excellence, and that she might be
charmed with the attractions of Southern society and forget the
bias of her Yankee origin.

The occupants of Mulberry Hill, therefore, received much attention,
and before the death of Hesden's mother had become prime favorites
in the society of Horsford.  It is true that now and then they met
with some exhibition of the spirit which had existed before, but
in the main their social life was pleasant; and, for a considerable
time, Hesden felt that he had quite regained his original status as
a "Southern gentleman," while Mollie wondered if it were possible
that the people whom she now met upon such pleasant terms were
those who had, by their acts of violence, painted upon her memory
such horrible and vivid pictures. She began to feel as if she had
done them wrong, and sought by every means in her power to identify
herself with their pleasures and their interests.

At the same time, she did not forget those for whom she had before
labored, and who had shown for her such true and devoted friendship.
The school at Red Wing was an especial object of her care and
attention. Rarely did a week pass that her carriage did not show
itself in the little hamlet, and her bright face and cheerful tones
brought encouragement and hope to all that dwelt there. Having learned
from Hesden and Eliab the facts with regard to the disappearance of
Nimbus, she for a long time shared Lugena's faith in regard to her
husband, and had not yet given up hope that he was alive. Indeed,
she had taken measures to discover his whereabouts; but all these
had failed. Still, she would not abandon the hope that he would some
time reappear, knowing how difficult it was to trace one altogether
unnoted by any except his own race, who were not accustomed to be
careful or inquisitive with regard to the previous life of their
fellows.

Acting as his trustee, not by any specific authority, but through
mere good-will, Hesden had managed the property, since the conclusion
of the Winburn suit, so as to yield a revenue, which Lugena had
carefully applied to secure a home in the West, in anticipation of
her husband's return. This had necessarily brought him into close
relations with the people of Red Wing, who had welcomed Mollie
with an interest half proprietary in its character. Was she not
_their_ Miss Mollie? Had she not lived in the old "Or'nary,"
taught in their school, advised, encouraged, and helped them? They
flocked around her, each reminding her of his identity by recalling
some scene or incident of her past life, or saying, with evident
pride, "Miss Mollie, I was one of your scholars--I was."

She did not repel their approaches, nor deny their claim to her
attention. She recognized it as a duty that she should still minister
to their wants, and do what she could for their elevation. And,
strangely enough, the good people of Horsford did not rebel nor cast
her off for so doing. The rich wife of Hesden Le Moyne, the queen
of the growing Kansas town, driving in her carriage to the colored
school-house, and sitting as lady patroness upon the platform, was
an entirely different personage, in their eyes, from the Yankee girl
who rode Midnight up and down the narrow streets, and who wielded
the pedagogic sceptre in the log school-house that Nimbus had built.
She could be allowed to patronize the colored school; indeed, they
rather admired her for doing so, and a few of them now and then went
with her, especially on occasions of public interest, and wondered
at the progress that had been made by that race whose capacity they
had always denied.

Every autumn Hesden and Mollie went to visit her Kansas home, to
look after her interests there, help and advise her colored proteges,
breathe the free air, and gather into their lives something of the
busy, bustling spirit of the great North. The contrast did them
good.  Hesden's ideas were made broader and fuller; her heart was
reinvigorated; and both returned to their Southern home full of
hope and aspiration for its future.

So time wore on, and they almost forgot that they held their places
in the life which was about them by sufferance and not of right;
that they were allowed the privilege of associating with the "best
people of Horsford," not because they were of them, or entitled to
such privilege, but solely upon condition that they should submit
themselves willingly to its views, and do nothing or attempt nothing
to subvert its prejudices.

Since the county had been "redeemed" it had been at peace. The vast
colored majority, once overcome, had been easily held in subjection.
There was no longer any violence, and little show of coercion,
so far as their political rights were concerned. At first it was
thought necessary to discourage the eagerness with which they sought
to exercise the elective franchise, by frequent reference to the
evils which had already resulted therefrom.  Now and then, when
some ambitious colored man had endeavored to organize his people
and to secure  political advancement through their suffrages, he
had been politely cautioned in regard to the danger, and the fate
which had overwhelmed others was gently recalled to his memory.
For a while, too, employers thought it necessary to exercise the
power which their relations with dependent laborers gave them, to
prevent the neglect of agricultural interests for the pursuit of
political knowledge, and especially to prevent absence from the
plantation upon the day of election. After a time, however, it
was found that such care was unnecessary. The laws of the State,
carefully revised by legislators wisely chosen for that purpose,
had taken the power from the irresponsible hands of the masses, and
placed it in the hands of the few, who had been wont to exercise
it in the olden time.

That vicious idea which had first grown up on the inclement shores
of Massachusetts Bay, and had been nourished and protected and
spread abroad throughout the North and West as the richest heritage
which sterile New England could give to the states her sons had
planted; that outgrowth of absurd and fanatical ideas which had made
the North free, and whose absence had enabled the South to remain
"slave"--the township system, with its free discussion of all matters,
even of the most trivial interest to the inhabitants; that nursery
of political virtue and individual independence of character,
comporting, as it did, very badly with the social and political
ideas of the South--this system was swept away, or, if retained in
name, was deprived of all its characteristic elements.

In the foolish fever of the reconstruction era this system had
been spread over the South as the safeguard of the new ideas and
new institutions then introduced. It was foolishly believed that
it would produce upon the soil of the South the same beneficent
results as had crowned its career at the North. So the counties were
subdivided into small self-governing communities, every resident
in which was entitled to a voice in the management of its domestic
interests. Trustees and school commissioners and justices of the
peace and constables were elected in these townships by the vote of
the inhabitants.  The roads and bridges and other matters of municipal
finance were put directly under the control of the inhabitants of
these miniature boroughs. Massachusetts was superimposed upon South
Carolina. That system which had contributed more than all else to
the prosperity, freedom, and intelligence of the Northern community
was invoked by the political theorists of the reconstruction era
as a means of like improvement there.  It did not seem a dangerous
experiment. One would naturally expect similar results from the
same system in different sections, even though it had not been
specifically calculated for both latitudes. Especially did this
view seem natural, when it was remembered that wherever the township
system had existed in any fullness or perfection, there slavery
had withered and died without the scath of war; that wherever in
all our bright land the township system had obtained a foothold
and reached mature development, there intelligence and prosperity
grew side by side; and that wherever this system had not prevailed,
slavery had grown rank and luxuriant, ignorance had settled upon
the people, and poverty had brought its gaunt hand to crush the
spirit of free men and establish the dominion of class.

The astute politicians of the South saw at once the insane folly
of this project. They knew that the system adapted to New England,
the mainspring of Western prosperity, the safeguard of intelligence
and freedom at the North, could not be adapted to the social and
political elements of the South. They knew that the South had grown
up a peculiar people; that for its government, in the changed state
of affairs, must be devised a new and untried system of political
organization, assimilated in every possible respect to the institutions
which had formerly existed. It is true, those institutions and
that form of government had been designed especially to promote and
protect the interests of slavery and the power of caste. But they
believed that the mere fact of emancipation did not at all change
the necessary and essential relations between the various classes
of her population, so far as her future development and prosperity
were concerned.

Therefore, immediately upon the "redemption" of these states from
the enforced and sporadic political ideas of the reconstruction
era, they set themselves earnestly at work to root out and destroy
all the pernicious elements of the township system, and to restore
that organization by which the South had formerly achieved power
and control in the national councils, had suppressed free thought
and free speech, had degraded labor, encouraged ignorance,
and established aristocracy.  The first step in this measure of
counter-revolution and reform was to take from the inhabitants of
the township the power of electing the officers, and to greatly
curtail, where they did not destroy, the power of such officers.
It had been observed by these sagacious statesmen that in not a few
instances incapable men had been chosen to administer the laws, as
justices of the peace and as trustees of the various townships. Very
often, no doubt, it happened that there was no one of sufficient
capacity who would consent to act in such positions as the
representatives of the majority. Sometimes, perhaps, incompetent
and corrupt men had sought these places for their own advantage.
School commissioners may have been chosen who were themselves
unable to read. There may have been township trustees who had
never yet shown sufficient enterprise to become the owners of land,
and legislators whose knowledge of law had been chiefly gained by
frequent occupancy of the prisoner's dock.

Such evils were not to be endured by a proud people, accustomed
not only to self-control, but to the control of others. They did
not stop to inquire whether there was more than one remedy for these
evils. The system itself was attainted with the odor of Puritanism.
It was communistic in its character, and struck at the very deepest
roots of the social and political organization which had previously
prevailed at the South.

So it was changed. From and after that date it was solemnly enacted
that either the Governor of the State or the prevailing party in
the Legislature should appoint all the justices of the peace in
and for the various counties; that these in turn should appoint in
each of the subdivisions which had once been denominated townships,
or which had been clothed with the power of townships, school
commissioners and trustees, judges of election and registrars
of voters; and that in the various counties these chosen few, or
the State Executive in their stead, should appoint the boards of
commissioners, who were to control the county finances and have
direction of all municipal affairs.

Of course, in this counter-revolution there was not any idea of
propagating or confirming the power of the political party instituting
it! It was done simply to protect the State against incompetent
officials! The people were not wise enough to govern themselves,
and could only become so by being wisely and beneficently governed
by others, as in the ante-bellum era. From it, however, by a _curious
accident_, resulted that complete control of the ballot and the
ballot-box by a dominant minority so frequently observed in those
states. Observe that the Legislature or the Executive appointed
the justices of the peace; they in turn met in solemn conclave, a
body of electors, taken wholly or in a great majority from the same
party, and chose the commissioners of the county. These, again, a
still more select body of electors, chose with the utmost care the
trustees of the townships, the judges of election, and the registrars
of voters.  So that the utmost care was taken to secure entire
harmony throughout the state. It mattered not how great the majority
of the opposition in this county or in that; its governing officers
were invariably chosen from the body of the minority.

By these means a _peculiar safeguard_ was also extended to
the ballot. All the inspectors throughout the state being appointed
by the same political power, were carefully chosen to secure the
results of good government.  Either all or a majority of every
board were of the same political complexion, and, if need be,
the remaining members, placed there in order that there should be
no just ground of complaint upon the part of the opposition, were
unfitted by nature or education for the performance of their duty.
If not blind, they were usually profound strangers to the Cadmean
mystery. Thus the registration of voters and the elections were
carefully devised to secure for all time the beneficent results
of "redemption." It was found to be a very easy matter to allow
the freedman to indulge, without let or hindrance, his wonderful
eagerness for the exercise of ballotorial power, without injury to
the public good.

From and after that time elections became simply a harmless amusement.
There was no longer any need of violence.  The peaceful paths of
legislation were found much more pleasant and agreeable, as well
as less obnoxious to the moral feelings of that portion of mankind
who were so unfortunate as to dwell without the boundaries of these
states.

In order, however, to secure entire immunity from trouble or
complaint, it was in many instances provided that the ballots should
be destroyed as soon as counted, and the inspectors were sworn to
execute this law. In other instances, it was provided, with tender
care for the rights of the citizen, that if by any chance there
should be found within the ballot-box at the close of an election
any excess of votes over and above the number the tally-sheet should
show to have exercised that privilege at that precinct, instead
of the whole result being corrupted, and the voice of the people
thereby stifled, one member of the board of inspectors should
be blindfolded, and in that condition should draw from the box so
many ballots as were in excess of the number of voters, and that
the result, whatever it might be, should be regarded and held as
the voice of the people. By this means formal fraud was avoided,
and the voice of the people declared free from all legal objection.
It is true that when the ticket was printed upon very thin paper,
in very small characters, and was very closely folded and the box
duly shaken, the smaller ballots found their way to the bottom,
while the larger ones remained upon the top; so that the blindfolded
inspector very naturally removed these and allowed the tissue ballots
to remain and be counted. It is true, also, that the actual will of
the majority thus voting was thus not unfrequently overwhelmingly
negatived. Yet this was the course prescribed by the law, and the
inspectors of elections were necessarily guiltless of fraud.

So it had been in Horsford. The colored majority had voted when
they chose. The ballots had been carefully counted and the result
scrupulously ascertained and declared. Strangely enough, it was
found that, whatever the number of votes cast, the majorities were
quite different from those which the same voters had given in the
days before the "redemption," while there did not seem to have
been any great change in political sentiment. Perhaps half a dozen
colored voters in the county professed allegiance to the party
which they had formerly opposed; but in the main the same line still
separated the races. It was all, without question, the result of
wise and patriotic legislatioa!



CHAPTER LVIII.

COMING TO THE FRONT.


In an evil hour Hesden Le Moyne yielded to the solicitations of
those whom he had befriended, and whose rights he honestly believed
had been unlawfully subverted, and became a candidate in his county.
It had been so long since he had experienced the bitterness of
persecution on account of his political proclivities, and the social
relations of his family had been so pleasant, that he had almost
forgotten what he had once passed through; or rather, he had come
to believe that the time had gone by when such weapons would be
employed against one of his social grade.

The years of silence which had been imposed on him by a desire
to avoid unnecessarily distressing his mother, had been years of
thought, perhaps the richer and riper from the fact that he had
refrained from active participation in political life. Like all
his class at the South, he was, if not a politician by instinct,
at least familiar from early boyhood with the subtle discussion of
political subjects which is ever heard at the table and the fireside
of the Southern gentleman.  He had regarded the experiment of
reconstruction, as he believed, with calm, unprejudiced sincerity;
he had buried the past, and looked only to the future. It was not
for his own sake or interest that he became a candidate; he was
content always to be what he was--a quiet country gentleman. He
loved his home and his plantation; he thoroughly enjoyed the pursuits
of agriculture, and had no desire to be or do any great thing. His
mother's long illness had given him a love for a quiet life, his
books and his fireside; and it was only because he thought that
he could do something to reconcile the jarring factions and bring
harmony out of discord, and lead his people to see that The Nation
was greater and better than The South; that its interests and
prosperity were also their interest, their prosperity, and their
hope--that Hesden Le Moyne consented to forego the pleasant life
which he was leading and undertake a brief voyage upon the stormy
sea of politics.

He did not expect that all would agree with him, but he believed
that they would listen to him without prejudice and without anger.
And he so fully believed in the conclusions he had arrived at that
he thought no reasonable man could resist their force or avoid
reaching a like result. His platform, as he called it, when he
came to announce himself as a candidate at the Court House on the
second day of the term of court, in accordance with immemorial
custom in that county, was simply one of plain common-sense. He
was not an office-holder or a politician. He did not come of an
office-holding family, nor did he seek position or emolument. He
offered himself for the suffrages of his fellow-citizens simply
because no other man among them seemed willing to stand forth and
advocate those principles which he believed to be right, expedient,
and patriotic.

He was a white man, he said, and had the prejudices and feelings that
were common to the white people of the South. He had not believed
in the right or the policy of secession, in which he differed from
some of his neighbors; but when it came to the decision of that
question by force of arms he had yielded his conviction and stood
side by side upon the field of battle with the fiercest fire-eaters of
the land. No man could accuse him of being remiss in any duty which
he owed his State or section. But all that he insisted was past.
There was no longer any distinct sectional interest or principle to
be maintained. The sword had decided that, whether right or wrong
as an abstraction, the doctrine of secession should never be
practically asserted in the government.  The result of the struggle
had been to establish, beyond a peradventure, what had before been
an unsettled question: that the Nation had the power and the will
to protect itself against any disintegrating movement. It might not
have decided what was the meaning of the Constitution, and so not
determined upon which side of this question lay the better reasoning;
but it had settled the practical fact. This decision he accepted;
he believed that they all accepted it--with only this difference,
perhaps, that he believed it rendered necessary a change in many
of the previous convictions of the Southern people.  They had been
accustomed to call themselves Southern men; after that, Americans.
Hereafter it became their duty and their interest to be no longer
Southern men, but Americans only.

"Having these views," he continued, "it is my sincere conviction
that we ought to accept, in spirit as well as in form, the results
of this struggle; not in part, but fully." The first result had
been the freeing in the slave.  In the main he believed that had
been accepted, if not cheerfully, at least finally. The next had
been the enfranchisement of the colored man. This he insisted had
not been honestly accepted by the mass of the white people of the
South. Every means, lawful and unlawful, had been resorted to to
prevent the due operation of these laws. He did not speak of this
in anger or to blame. Knowing their prejudices and feelings, he
could well excuse what had been done; but he insisted that it was
not, and could not be, the part of an honest, brave and intelligent
people to nullify or evade any portion of the law of the land.
He did not mean that it was the duty of any man to submit without
opposition to a law which he believed to be wrong; but that opposition
should never be manifested by unlawful violence, unmanly evasion,
or cowardly fraud.

He realized that, at first, anger might over-bear both patriotism
and honor, under the sting of what was regarded as unparalleled
wrong, insult, and outrage; but there had been time enough for anger
to cool, and for his people to look with calmness to the future
that lay before, and let its hopes and duties overbalance the
disappointments of the past. He freely admitted that had the question
of reconstruction been submitted to him for determination, he would
not have adopted the plan which had prevailed; but since it had
been adopted and become an integral part of the law of the land,
he believed that whoever sought to evade its fair and unhindered
operation placed himself in the position of a law-breaker.  They
had the right, undoubtedly, by fair and open opposition to defeat
any party, and to secure the amendment or repeal of any law or
system of laws. But they had no right to resist law with violence,
or to evade law by fraud.

The right of the colored man to exercise freely and openly his
elective franchise, without threat, intimidation, or fear, was the
same as that of the whitest man he addressed; and the violation of
that right, or the deprivation of that privilege, was, really an
assault upon the right and liberty of the white voter also.  No
rights were safe unless the people had that regard for law which
would secure to the weakest and the humblest citizen the free and
untrammeled enjoyment and exercise of every privilege which the
law conferred.  He characterized the laws that had been enacted
in regard to the conduct of elections and the selection of local
officers as unmanly and shuffling--an assertion of the right to
nullify national law by fraud, which the South had failed to maintain
by the sword, and had by her surrender virtually acknowledged
herself in honor bound to abandon.

He did not believe, he would not believe, that his countrymen
of the South, his white fellow-citizens of the good old county of
Horsford, had fairly and honestly considered the position in which
recent events and legislation had placed them, not only before the
eyes of the country, but of the civilized world. It had always been
claimed, he said, that a white man is by nature, and not merely by
the adventitious circumstances of the past, innately and inherently,
and he would almost add infinitely, the superior of the colored
man. In intellectual culture, experience, habits of self-government
and command, this was unquestionably true. Whether it were true
as a natural and scientific fact was, perhaps, yet to be decided.
But could it be possible that a people, a race priding itself upon
its superiority, should be unwilling or afraid to see the experiment
fairly tried?  "Have we," he asked, "so little confidence in
our moral and intellectual superiority that we dare not give the
colored man an equal right with us to exercise the privilege which
the Nation has conferred upon him? Are the white people of the
South so poor in intellectual resources that they must resort to
fraud or open violence to defeat the ignorant and weak colored man
of even the least of his law-given rights?

"We claim," he continued, "that he is ignorant. It is true. Are we
afraid that he will grow wiser than we?  We claim that he has not
the capacity to acquire or receive a like intellectual development
with ourselves.  Are we afraid to give him a chance to do so?
Could not intelligence cope with ignorance without fraud? Boasting
that we could outrun our adversary, would we hamstring him at the
starting-post? It was accounted by all men, in all ages, an unmanly
thing to steal, and a yet more unmanly thing to steal from the weak;
so that it has passed into a proverb, 'Only a dog would steal the
blind man's dinner.' And yet," he said, "we are willing to steal
the vote of the ignorant, the blind, the helpless colored man!"

It was not for the sake of the colored man, he said in conclusion,
that he appealed to them to pause and think.  It was because the
honor, the nobility, the intelligence of the white man was being
degraded by the course which passion and resentment, and not reason
or patriotism, had dictated. He appealed to his hearers as _white
men_, not so much to give to the colored man the right to
express his sentiments at the ballot-box, as to regard that right
as sacred because it rested upon the law, which constituted the
foundation and safeguard of their own rights. He would not appeal
to them as Southern men, for he hoped the day was at hand when there
would no more be any such distinction. But he would appeal to them
as men--honest men, honorable men--and as American citizens, to
honor the law and thereby honor themselves.

It had been said that the best and surest way to secure the repeal
of a bad law was first to secure its unhindered operation. Especially
was this true of a people who had boasted of unparalleled devotion
to principle, of unbounded honor, and of the highest chivalry. How
one of them, or all of them, could claim any of these attributes
of which they had so long boasted, and yet be privy to depriving
even a single colored man of the right which the Nation had given
him, or to making the exercise of that right a mockery, he could
not conceive; and he would not believe that they would do it when
once the scales of prejudice and resentment had fallen from their
eyes. If they had been wronged and outraged as a people, their
only fit revenge was to display a manhood and a magnanimity which
should attest the superiority upon which they prided themselves.

This address was received by his white hearers with surprised silence;
by the colored men with half-appreciative cheers. They recognized
that the speaker was their friend, and in favor of their being
allowed the free exercise of the rights of citizenship. His white
auditors saw that he was assailing with some bitterness and earnest
indignation both their conduct and what they had been accustomed to
term their principles. There was no immediate display of hostility
or anger; and Hesden Le Moyne returned to his home full of hope
that the time was at hand for which he had so long yearned, when the
people of his native South should abandon the career of prejudice
and violence into which they had been betrayed by resentment and
passion.

Early the next morning some of his friends waited upon him and adjured
him, for his own sake, for the sake of his family and friends, to
withdraw from the canvass.  This he refused to do. He said that what
he advocated was the result of earnest conviction, and he should
always despise himself should he abandon the course he had calmly
decided to take. Whatever the result, he would continue to the end.
Then they cautiously intimated to him that his course was fraught
with personal danger. "What!" he cried, "do you expect me to flinch
at the thought of danger? I offered my life and gave an arm for a
cause in which I did not believe; shall I not brave as much in the
endeavor to serve my country in a manner which my mind and conscience
approve? I seek for difficulty with no one; but it may as well be
understood that Hesden Le Moyne does not turn in his tracks because
of any man's anger. I say to you plainly that I shall neither offer
personal insult nor submit to it in this canvass."

His friends left him with heavy hearts, for they foreboded ill.
It was not many days before he found that the storm of detraction
and contumely through which he had once passed was but a gentle
shower compared with the tornado which now came down upon his head.
The newspapers overflowed with threat, denunciation, and abuse.
One of them declared:

"The man who thinks that he can lead an opposition against the
organized Democracy of Horsford County is not only very  presumptuous,
but extremely bold. Such a man will require a bodyguard of Democrats in
his canvass and a Gibraltar in his rear on the day of the election."

Another said:

"The Radical candidate would do well to take advice. The white men
of the State desire a peaceful summer and autumn.  They are wearied
of heated political strife. If they are forced to vigorous action
it will be exceedingly vigorous, perhaps unpleasantly so. Those
who cause the trouble will suffer most from it.  Bear that in mind,
persons colored and white-skinned. We reiterate our advice to the
reflective and argumentative Radical leader, to be careful how he
goes, and not stir up the animals too freely; they have teeth and
claws."

Still another said:

"Will our people suffer a covert danger to rankle in their midst
until it gains strength to burst into an open enemy? Will they
tamely submit while Hesden Le Moyne rallies the colored men to
his standard and hands over Horsford to the enemy? Will they stand
idly and supinely, and witness the consummation of such an infamous
conspiracy? No! a thousand times, No! Awake!  stir up your clubs;
let the shout go up; put on your red shirts and let the ride begin.
Let the young men take the van, or we shall be sold into political
slavery."

Another sounded the key-note of hostility in these words:

"Every white man who dares to avow himself a Radical should be
promptly branded as the bitter and malignant enemy of the South;
every man who presumes to aspire to office through Republican votes
should be saturated with stench. As for the negroes, let them amuse
themselves, if they will, by voting the Radical ticket. We have
the count. We have a thousand good and true men in Horsford whose
brave ballots will be found equal to those of five thousand vile
Radicals."

One of his opponents, in a most virulent speech, called attention
to the example of a celebrated Confederate general.  "He, too,"
said the impassioned orator, "served the Confederacy as bravely as
Hesden Le Moyne, and far more ably. But he became impregnated with
the virus of Radicalism; he abandoned and betrayed the cause for
which he fought; he deserted the Southern people in the hour of
need and joined their enemies. He was begged and implored not to
persevere in his course, but he drifted on and on, and floundered
deeper and deeper into the mire, until he landed fast in the slough
where he sticks to-day. And what has he gained? Scorn, ostracism,
odiurn, ill-will--worse than all, the contempt of the men who stood
by him in the shower of death and destruction. Let Hesden Le Moyne
take warning by his example."

And so it went on, day after day. Personal affront was studiously
avoided, but in general terms he was held up to the scorn and
contempt of all honest men as a renegade and a traitor. Those who
had seemed his friends fell away from him; the home which had been
crowded with pleasant associates was desolate, or frequented only
by those who came to remonstrate or to threaten. He saw his mistake,
but he knew that anger was worse than useless. He did not seek to
enrage, but to convince. Failing in this, he simply performed the
duty which he had undertaken, as he said he would do it--fearlessly,
openly, and faithfully.

The election came, and the result--was what he should have been
wise enough to foresee. Nevertheless, it was a great and grievous
disappointment to Hesden Le Moyne. Not that he cared about a seat
in the Legislature; but it was a demonstration to him that in his
estimate of the people of whom he had been so proud he had erred
upon the side of charity. He had believed them better than they had
shown themselves. The fair future which he had hoped was so near
at hand seemed more remote than ever. His hope for his people and
his State was crushed, and apprehension of unspeakable evil in the
future forced itself upon his heart.



CHAPTER LIX.

THE SHUTTLECOCK OF FATE.


"Marse Hesden, Marse Hesden!" There was a timorous rap upon the
window of Hesden Le Moyne's sleeping-room in the middle of the night,
and, waking, he heard his name called in a low, cautious voice.

"Who is there?" he asked.

"Sh--sh! Don't talk so loud, Marse Hesden.  Please come out h'yer
a minnit, won't yer?"

The voice was evidently that of a colored man, and Hesden had no
apprehension or hesitancy in complying with the request. In fact,
his position as a recognized friend of the colored race had made
such appeals to his kindness and protection by no means unusual.
He rose at once, and stepped out upon the porch. He was absent for
a little while, and when he returned his voice was full of emotion
as he said to his wife,

"Mollie, there is a man here who is hungry and weary.  I do not wish
the servants to know of his presence. Can you get him something to
eat without making any stir?"

"Why, what--" began Mollie.

"It will be best not to stop for any questions," said Hesden
hurriedly, as he lighted a lamp and, pouring some liquor into a
glass, started to return. "Get whatever you can at once, and bring
it to the room above. I will go and make up a fire."

Mollie rose, and, throwing on a wrapper, proceeded to comply with
her husband's request. But a few moments had elapsed when she went
up the stairs bearing a well-laden tray. Her slippered feet made
no noise, and when she reached the chamber-door she saw her husband
kneeling before the fire, which was just beginning to burn brightly.
The light shone also upon a colored man of powerful frame who sat
upon a chair a little way back, his hat upon the floor beside him,
his gray head inclined upon his breast, and his whole attitude
indicating exhaustion.

"Here it is, Hesden," she said quietly, as she stepped into the
room.

The colored man raised his head wearily as she spoke, and turned
toward her a gaunt face half hidden by a gray, scraggly beard. No
sooner did his eyes rest upon her than they opened wide in amazement.
He sprang from his chair, put his hand to his head, as if to assure
himself that he was not dreaming, and said,

"What!--yer ain't--'fore God it must be--Miss Mollie!"

"Oh, Nimbus!" cried Mollie, with a shriek. Her face was pale as
ashes, and she would have fallen had not Hesden sprang to her side
and supported her with his arm, while he said,

"Hush! hush! You must not speak so loud. I did not expect you so
soon or I would have told you."

The colored man fell upon his knees, and gazed in wonder on the
scene.

"Oh, Marse Hesden!" he cried, "is it--can it be our Miss Mollie,
or has Nimbus gone clean crazy wid de rest ob his misfortins?"

"No, indeed!" said Hesden. "It is really Miss Mollie, only I have
stolen her away from her old friends and made her mine."

"There is no mistake about it, Nimbus," said Mollie, as she extended
her hand, which the colored man clasped in both his own and covered
with tears and kisses, while he said, between his sobs,

"Tank God! T'ank God! Nimbus don't keer now! He ain't afeared ob
nuffin' no mo', now he's seen de little angel dat use ter watch
ober him, an' dat he's been a-dreamin' on all dese yeahs! Bress
God, she's alive! Dar ain't no need ter ax fer 'Gena ner de little
ones now; I knows dey's all right! Miss Mollie's done tuk keer o'
dem, else she wouldn't be h'yer now. Bress de Lord, I sees de deah
little lamb once mo'."

"There, there!" said Mollie gently. "You must not talk any more
now. I have brought you something to eat. You are tired and hungry.
You must eat now.  Everything is all right. 'Gena and the children
are well, and have been looking for you every day since you went
away."

"Bress God! Bress God! I don't want nuffin' mo' !" said Nimbus. He
would have gone on, in a wild rhapsody of delight, but both Hesden
and Mollie interposed and compelled him to desist and eat. Ah!
it was a royal meal that the poor fugitive had spread before him.
Mollie brought some milk. A coffee-pot was placed upon the fire,
and while he ate they told him of some of the changes that had taken
place. When at length Hesden took him into the room where Eliab
had remained concealed so long, and closed the door and locked it
upon him, they could still hear the low tones of thankful prayer
coming from within. Hesden knocked upon the door to enjoin silence,
and they returned to their room, wondering at the Providence which
had justified the faith of the long-widowed colored wife.

The next day Hesden went to the Court House to ascertain what
charges there were against Nimbus. He found there were none. The
old prosecution for seducing the laborers of Mr. Sykes had long ago
been discontinued.  Strangely enough, no others had been instituted
against him. For some reason the law had not been appealed to to
avenge the injuries of the marauders who had devastated Red Wing.
On his return, Hesden came by way of Red Wing and brought Eliab
home with him.

The meeting between the two old friends was very affecting. Since
the disappearance of Nimbus, Eliab had grown more self-reliant. His
two years and more of attendance at a Northern school had widened
and deepened his manhood as well as increased his knowledge, and
the charge of the school at Red Wing had completed the work there
begun. His self-consciousness had diminished, and it no longer
required the spur of intense excitement to make him forget his
affliction. His last injuries had made him even more helpless, when
separated from his rolling-chair, but his life had been too full
to enable him to dwell upon his weakness so constantly as formerly.

In Nimbus there was a change even more apparent.  Gray hairs,
a bowed form, a furrowed face, and that sort of furtive wildness
which characterizes the man long hunted by his enemies, had taken
the place of his former unfearing, bull-fronted ruggedness. His
spirit was broken. He no longer looked to the future with abounding
hope, careless of its dangers.

"Yer's growed away from me, Bre'er 'Liab," he said at length, when
they had held each other's hands and looked into each other's faces
for a long time. "Yer wouldn't know how ter take a holt o' Nimbus
ter hev him tote yer roun', now. Yer's growed away from him--clean
away," he added sadly.

"You, too, have changed, Brother Nimbus," said Eliab soothingly.

"Yes, I'se changed, ob co'se; but not as you hez, Bre'er 'Liab. Dis
h'yer ole shell hez changed. Nimbus couldn't tote yer roun' like
he used. I'se hed a hard time--a hard time, 'Liab, an' I ain't
nuffin' like de man, I used ter be; but I hain't changed inside
like you hez.  I'se jes de same ole Nimbus dat I allus wuz--jes
de same, only kinder broke down in sperrit, Bre'er 'Liab. I hain't
growed ez you hev. I hain't no mo' man dan I was den--not so much,
in fac'. I don't keer now no mo' 'bout what's a-gwine ter be. I'se
an' ole man, 'Liab--an' ole man, of I is young."

That night he told his story to a breathless auditory.

"Yes, Bre'er 'Liab, dar's a heap o' t'ings happened sence dat ar
mornin' I lef' you h'yer wid Marse Hesden.  Yer see, I went back
fust whar I'd lef Berry, an' we tuk an' druv de mule an' carry-all
inter a big pine thicket, down by de ribber, an' dar we stays all
day mighty close; only once, when I went out by de road an' sees
Miss Mollie ridin' by. I calls out to her jest ez loudez I dared
to; but, la sakes! she didn't h'year me."

"Was that you, Nimbus?" asked Mollie, turning from a bright-eyed
successor to little Hildreth, whom she had been proudly caressing.
"I thought I heard some one call me, but did not think of its being
you. I am so sorry! I stopped and looked, but could see nothing."

"No, you didn't see me, Miss Mollie, but it done me a power o'
good ter see _you_. I knowed yer was gwine ter Red Wing, an'
yer'd take keer on an' advise dem ez wuz left dar. Wal, dat night
we went back an' got the 'backer out o' de barn. I tuk a look
roun' de house, an' went ter de smoke-house, an' got a ham of meat
an' some other t'ings. I 'llowed dat 'Gena'd know I'd been dar,
but didn't dare ter say nuffin' ter nobody, fer fear de sheriff's
folks mout be a watchin' roun'. I 'llowed dey'd hev out a warrant
for me, an' p'raps fer Berry too, on account o' what we'd done de
night afo'."

"They never did," said Hesden.

"Yer don't tell me!" exclaimed Nimbus, in surprise.

"No. There has never been any criminal process against you, except
for enticing Berry away from old Granville Sykes," said Hesden.

"Wal," responded Nimbus, "t'was all de same. I t'ought dey would.
De udder wuz 'nough, dough. Ef dey could once cotch me on dat, I
reckon dey could hev hung me fer nuffin', fer dat matter."

"It was a very wise thing in you to leave the country," said Hesden.
"There is no doubt of that."

"T'ank ye, Marse Hesden, t'ank ye," said Nimbus.  "I'se glad ter
know I hain't been a fool allus, ef I is now. But now I t'inks on't,
Marse Hesden, I'd like ter know what come of dem men dat 'Gena an'
me put our marks on dat night."

"One of them died a year or two afterward--was never well after
that night--and the other is here, alive and well, with a queer
seam down the middle of his face," said Hesden.

"Died, yer say?" said Nimbus. "Wal, I'se right sorry, but he lived
a heap longer nor Bre'er 'Liab would, ef I hadn't come in jest
about dat time."

"Yes, indeed," said Eliab, as he extended his hand to his old
friend.

"Wal," continued Nimbus, "we went on ter Wellsboro, an' dar we
sold de 'backer. Den we kinder divided up. I tuk most o' de money
an' went on South, an' Berry tuk de mule an' carry-all an' started
fer his home in Hanson County. I tuk de cars an' went on, a-stoppin'
at one place an' anodder, an' a wukkin' a little h'yer an' dar,
but jest a-'spectin' ebbery minnit ter be gobbled up by a officer
an' brought back h'yer. I'd heard dat Texas wuz a good place fer
dem ter go ter dat didn't want nobody ter find 'em; so I sot out
ter go dar. When I got ez fur ez Fairfax, in Louisiana, I was tuk
down wid de fever, an' fer nigh 'bout six month I wa'ant ob no account
whatebber. An' who yer tink tuk keer ob me den, Marse Hesden?"

"I am sure I don't know," was the reply.

"No, yer wouldn't nebber guess," said Nimbus; "but twa'n't nobody
else but my old mammy, Lorency."

"You don't say! Well, that was strange," said Hesden.

"It was quare, Marse Hesden. She was gittin' on to be a old woman
den. She's dead sence. Yer see, she knowed me by my name, an' she
tuk keer on me, else I'd nebber been here ter tell on't. Atter I got
better like, she sorter persuaded me ter stay dar. I wuz powerful
homesick, an' wanted ter h'year from 'Gena an' de chillen, an'
ef I'd hed money 'nough left, I'd a come straight back h'yer; but
what with travellin' an' doctors' bills, an' de like, I hadn't nary
cent. Den I couldn't leave my ole mammy, nuther. She'd hed a hard
time sence de wah, a-wukkin' fer herself all alone, an' I wuz boun'
ter help her all I could. I got a man to write ter Miss Mollie;
but de letter come back sayin' she wa'n't h'yer no mo'. Den I got
him to write ter whar she'd been afo' she come South; but that come
back too."

"Why did you not write to me?" said Hesden.

"Wal," said Nimbus, with some confusion, "I wuz afeared ter do it,
Marse Hesden. I wuz afeared yer mout hev turned agin me. I dunno
why 'twuz, but I wuz mighty skeered ob enny white folks, 'ceptin'
Miss Mollie h'yer. So I made it up wid mammy, dat we should wuk
on till we'd got 'nough ter come back; an' den we'd come, an' I'd
stop at some place whar I wa'n't knowed, an' let her come h'yer
an' see how t'ings wuz.

"I'd jest about got ter dat pint, when I hed anodder pull-back. Yer
see, dar wuz two men, both claimed ter be sheriff o' dat parish.
Dat was--let me see, dat was jes de tenth yeah atter de S'render,
fo' years alter I left h'yer. One on 'em, ez near ez I could make
out, was app'inted by de Guv'ner, an' t'odder by a man dat claimed
ter be Guv'ner. De fust one called on de cullu'd men ter help him
hold de Court House an' keep t'ings a-gwine on right; an' de t'odder,
he raised a little army an' come agin' us. I'd been a sojer, yer
know, an' I t'ought I wuz bound ter stan' up fer de guv'ment. So
I went in ter fight wid de rest. We t'rew up some bres'wuks, an'
when dey druv us outen dem we fell back inter de Court House. Den
dar come a boat load o' white folks down from Sweevepo't, an' we
hed a hard time a-fightin' on 'em. Lots ob us got killed, an' some
o' dem.  We hadn't many guns ner much ammunition. It war powerful
hot, an' water wuz skeerce.

"So, atter a while, we sent a flag o' truce, an' 'greed ter s'render
ebberyting, on condition dat dey wouldn't hurt us no mo'. Jest ez
quick ez we gib up dey tuk us all pris'ners. Dar was twenty-sebben
in de squad I wuz wid. 'Long a while atter dark, dey tuk us out
an' marched us off, wid a guard on each side. We hadn't gone more'n
two or t'ree hundred yards afo' de guard begun ter shoot at us. Dey
hit me in t'ree places, an' I fell down an' rolled inter a ditch
by de roadside, kinder under de weeds like. Atter a while I sorter
come ter myself an' crawled off fru de weeds ter de bushes. Nex'
day I got a chance ter send word ter mammy, an' she come an' nussed
me till we managed ter slip away from dar."

"Poor Nimbus!" said Mollie, weeping. "You have had a hard time
indeed!"

"Not so bad as de odders," was the reply. "Dar wuz only two on us
dat got away at all. The rest wuz all killed."

"Yes," said Hesden, "I remember that affair. It was a horrible
thing. When will our Southern people learn wisdom!"

"I dunno dat, Marse Hesden," said Nimbus, "but I do know dat de
cullu'd folks is larnin' enough ter git outen dat. You jes mark my
words, ef dese t'ings keep a-gwine on, niggers'll be skeerce in
dis kentry purty soon. We can't be worse off, go whar we will, an'
I jes count a cullu'd man a fool dat don't pole out an' git away
jest ez soon ez he finds a road cut out dat he kin trabbel on."

"But that was three years ago, Nimbus," said Hesden.  "Where have
you been since?"

"Wal, yer see, atter dat," said Nimbus, "we wuz afeared ter stay
dar any mo'. So we went ober inter Miss'ippi, mammy an' me, an'
went ter wuk agin. I wasn't berry strong, but we wukked hard an'
libbed hard ter git money ter come back wid. Mammy wuz powerful
anxious ter git back h'yer afo' she died. We got along tollable-like,
till de cotting wuz about all picked, an' hadn't drawed no wages
at all, to speak on. Den, one day, de boss man on de plantation,
he picked a quarrel wid mammy 'bout de wuk, an' presently hit her
ober her ole gray head wid his cane. I couldn't stan' dat, nohow,
so I struck him, an' we hed a fight. I warn't nuffin' ter what I
war once, but dar war a power o' strength in me yet, ez he found
out.

"Dey tuk me up an' carried me ter jail, an' when de court come on,
my ole mammy wuz dead; so I couldn't prove she war my mammy, an'
I don't 'llow 'twould hev made enny difference ef I had. The jury
said I war guilty, an' de judge fined me a hundred dollars an' de
costs, an' sed I wuz ter be hired out at auction ter pay de fine,
an' costs, an' sech like. So I wuz auctioned off, an' brought
twenty-five cents a day. 'Cordin' ter de law, I hed ter wuk two
days ter make up my keep fer ebbery one I lost. I war sick an'
low-sperrited, an' hadn't no heart ter wuk, so I lost a heap o'
days. Den I run away once or twice, but dey cotch me, an' brought
me back. So I kep' losin' time, an' didn't git clean away till 'bout
four months ago. Sence den I'se been wukkin' my way back, jes dat
skeery dat I dassent hardly walk de roads fer fear I'd be tuk up
agin. But I felt jes like my ole mammy dat wanted ter come back
h'yer ter die."

"But you are not going to die," said Mollie, smiling through her
tears. "Your plantation is all right. We will send for 'Gena and
the children, and you and Eliab can live again at Red Wing and be
happy."

"I don't want ter lib dar, Miss Mollie," said Nimbus.  "I ain't
a-gwine ter die, ez you say; but I don't want ter lib h'yer, ner
don't want my chillen ter. I want 'em ter lib whar dey kin be free,
an' hev 'bout half a white man's chance, ennyhow."

"But what about Red Wing?" asked Hesden.

"I'd like ter see it once mo'," said the broken-hearted man, while
the tears ran down his face. "I 'llowed once that I'd hab a heap
o' comfort dar in my ole days. But dat's all passed an' gone,
now--passed an' gone! I'll tell yer what, Marse Hesden, I allus
'llowed fer Bre'er 'Liab ter hev half o' dat plantation.  Now yer
jes makes out de papers an' let him hev de whole on't, an' I goes
ter Kansas wid 'Gena."

"No, no, Nimbus," said Eliab; "I could not consent--"

"Yes yer kin, 'Liab," said Nimbus quickly, with some of his old-time
arrogance. "Yer kin an' yer will.  You kin use dat er trac' o'
lan' an' make it wuth sunthin' ter our people, an' I can't. So, yer
sees, I'll jes be a-doin' my sheer, an' I'll allus t'ink, when I
hears how yer's gittin' along an' a-doin' good, dat I'se a pardner
wid ye in de wuk o' gibbin' light ter our people, so dat dey'll
know how ter be free an' keep free forebber an' ebber. Amen!"

The listeners echoed his "amen," and Eliab, flinging himself into
the arms of Nimbus, by whom he had been sitting, and whose hand
he had held during the entire narrative, buried his face upon his
breast and wept.



CHAPTER LX.

THE EXODIAN.


Hesden and Mollie were on their way homeward from Eupolia, where
they had inspected their property and had seen Nimbus united with
his family and settled for a new and more hopeful start in life.
They had reached that wonderful young city of seventy-seven hills
which faces toward free Kansas and reluctantly bears the ban which
slavery put upon Missouri. While they waited for their train in
the crowded depot in which the great ever-welcoming far West meets
and first shakes hands with ever-swarming East, they strolled about
among the shifting crowd.

Soon they came upon a dusky group whose bags and bundles, variegated
attire, and unmistakable speech showed that they were a party of
those misguided creatures who were abandoning the delights of the
South for the untried horrors of a life upon the plains of Kansas.
These were of all ages, from the infant in arms to the decrepit
patriarch, and of every shade of color, from Saxon fairness with
blue eyes and brown hair to ebon blackness. They were telling
their stories to a circle of curious listeners. There was no lack
of variety of incident, but a wonderful similarity of motive assigned
for the exodus they had undertaken.

There were ninety-four of them, and they came from five different
States--Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. They
had started without preconcert, and were unacquainted with each
other until they had collected into one body as the lines of travel
converged on the route to Kansas. A few of the younger ones said
that they had come because they had heard that Kansas was a country
where there was plenty of work and good wages, and where a colored
man could get pay for what he did. Others told strange tales
of injustice and privation. Some, in explanation of their evident
poverty, showed the contracts under which they had labored. Some
told of personal outrage, of rights withheld, and of law curiously
diverted from the ends of justice to the promotion of wrong. By far
the greater number of them, however, declared their purpose to be
to find a place where their children could grow up free, receive
education, and have "a white man's chance" in the struggle of life.
They did not expect ease or affluence themselves, but for their
offspring they craved liberty, knowledge, and a fair start.

While Hesden and Mollie stood watching this group, with the interest
one always feels in that which reminds him of home, seeing in
these people the forerunners of a movement which promised to assume
astounding proportions in the near future, they were startled by
an exclamation from one of the party:

"Wall, I declar'! Ef dar ain't Miss Mollie--an' 'fore God, Marse
Hesden, too!" Stumbling over the scattered bundles in his way, and
pushing aside those who stood around, Berry Lawson scrambled into
the presence of the travelers, bowing and scraping, and chuckling
with delight; a battered wool hat in one hand, a shocking assortment
of dilapidated clothing upon his person, but his face glowing with
honest good-nature, and his tones resonant of fun, as if care and
he had always been strangers.

"How d'ye, Miss Mollie--sah'vent, Marse Hesden. I 'llow I must be
gittin' putty nigh ter de promised lan' when I sees you once mo'.
Yah, yah! Yer hain't done forgot Berry, I s'pose? Kase ef yer hez,
I'll jes hev ter whistle a chune ter call myself ter mind. Jes,
fer instance now, like dis h'yer."

Then raising his hands and swaying his body in easy accompaniment,
he began to imitate the mocking-bird in his mimicry of his feathered
companions. He was very proud of this accomplishment, and his
performance soon drew attention from all parts of the crowded depot.
Noticing this, Hesden said,

"There, there, Berry; that will do. There is no doubt as to your
identity. We both believe that nobody but Berry Lawson could do
that, and are very glad to see you." Mollie smiled assent.

"T'ank ye, sah. Much obleeged fer de compliment.  Hope I see yer
well, an' Miss Mollie de same. Yer do me proud, both on yer," said
Berry, bowing and scraping again, making a ball of his old hat,
sidling restlessly back and forth, and displaying all the limpsy
litheness of his figure, in his embarrassed attempts to show his
enjoyment. "'Pears like yer's trabblin' in company," he added, with
a glance at Mollie's hand resting on Hesden's arm.

"Yes," said Hesden good-naturedly; "Miss Mollie is Mrs. Le Moyne
now."

"Yer don't say!" said Berry, in surprise. "Der Lo'd an' der nation,
what will happen next? Miss Mollie an' Marse Hesden done married
an' a-meetin' up wid Berry out h'yer on de berry edge o' de kingdom!
Jest ez soon hab expected to a' seen de vanguard o' de resurrection.
Yer orter be mighty proud, Marse Hesden.  We used ter t'ink, 'bout
Red Wing, dat dar wa'n't nary man dat ebber cast a shadder good
'nough fer Miss Mollie."

"And so there isn't," said Hesden, laughing, "But we can't stand
here and talk all day. Where are you from?"

"Whar's I frum? Ebbery place on de green yairth, Marse Hesden,
'ceptin' dis one, whar dey hez ter shoe de goats fer ter help 'em
climb de bluffs; an' please de Lo'd I'll be from h'yer jest es soon
ez de train come's 'long dat's 'boun' fer de happy land of Canaan.'"

"We shall have to stop over, dear," said Hesden to his wife.
"There's no doing anything with Berry in the time we have between
the trains. Have you any baggage?" he asked of Berry,

"Baggage? Dat I hab--a whole handkercher full o' clean clo'es--jest
ez soon ez dey's been washed, yer know.  Yah, yah!"

"Where are you going?"

"Whar's I gwine? Gwine West, ter grow up wid de kentry, Marse
Hesden."   "There, there, take your bundle and come along."

"All right, Marse Hesden. Jest ez soon wuk fer you ez ennybody.
Good-by, folkses," said he, waving his hat to his late traveling
companions. "I'se mighty sorry to leave yer, but biz is biz, yer
know, an' I'se got a job. Wish yer good luck, all on yer. Jes let
'em know I'm on der way, will yer?

    Ef yo' gits dar afo' I do,
    Jes tell 'em I'se a-comin' too,"

he sang, as he followed Hesden and Mollie out of the depot, amid
the laughter of the crowd which had gathered about them. Their
baggage was soon removed from the platform, and, with Berry on the
seat with the driver, they went to the hotel. Then, taking him down
the busy street that winds around between the sharp hills as though
it had crawled up, inch by inch, from the river-bottom below, Hesden
procured him some new clothes and a valise, which Berry persisted
in calling a "have'em-bag," and took him back to the hotel as his
servant.  As Hesden started to his room, the rejuvenated fugitive
inquired,

"Please, Marse Hesden, does yer know ennyt'ing what's a come ob--ob
my Sally an' de chillen. It's been a powerful time sence I seed
'em, Marse Hesden.  I 'llow ter send fer 'em jest ez quick ez I
find whar dey is, an' gits de money, yer know."

"They are all right, Berry. You may come to my room in half an
hour, and we will tell you all about them," answered Hesden.

Hardly had he reached his room when he heard the footsteps of Berry
without. Going to the door he was met by Berry with the explanation,

"Beg parding, Marse Hesden. I knowed 'twa'n't de time fer me ter
come yit, but somehow I'llowed it would git on pearter ef I wuz
somewhar nigh you an' Miss Mollie. I'se half afeared I'se ies been
dreamin' ennyhow."

"Well, come in," said Hesden. Berry entered the room, and sat in
unwonted silence while Mollie and her husband told him what the
reader already knows about his family and friends. The poor fellow's
tears flowed freely, but he did not interrupt, save to ask now and
then a question. When they had concluded, he sat a while in silence,
and then said,

"Bress de Lo'd! Berry won't nebber hab no mo' doubt 'bout de Lo'd
takin' keer ob ebberybody--speshully niggas an' fools. H'yer I'se
been a-feelin' mighty hard kase de Ole Marster 'llowed Berry ter
be boxed roun', h'yer an' dar, fus' dis way an' now dat, an' let
him be run off from his wife an' chillen dat he t'ought der couldn't
nobody take keer on but hissef; an' h'yer all de time de good Lo'd
hez been a-lookin' atter 'em an' a-nussin' 'em like little lambs,
widout my knowin' ennyt'ing about it, er even axin' fer him ter do
it. Berry!" he continued, speaking to himself, "yer's jest a gran'
rascal, an' desarve ter be whacked roun' an' go hungry fer--"

"Berry," interrupted Mollie, "have you had your breakfast?"

"Brekfas', Miss Mollie?" said Berry, "what Berry want ob any brekfas'?
Ain't what yer's been a-tellin' on him brekfas' an' dinner an'
supper ter him? Brekfas' don't matter ter him now. He's jes dat
full o' good t'ings dat he won't need no mo' for a week at de berry
least."

"Tell the truth, Berry; when did you eat last?"

"Wal, I 'clar, Miss Mollie, ef Berry don't make no mistake, he bed
a squar meal night afo' las', afo' we leave Saint Lewy. De yemergrant
train runs mighty slow, an' Berry wa'n't patronizin' none o' dem
cheap shops 'long de way--not much; yah, yah!"

Hesden soon arranged to relieve his discomfort, and that night he
told them where he had been and what had befallen him in the mean
time.

BERRY'S STORY.

"Yer see, atter I lef Bre'er Nimbus, I went back down inter Hanson
County; but I wuz jes dat bad skeered dat I darn't show myse'f
in de daytime at all.  So I jes' tuk Sally an' de chillen in de
carry-all dat Nimbus  lent me wid de mule, an' started on furder down
east. 'Clar, I jes hev ter pay Nimbus fer dat mule an' carry-all,
de berry fus' money I gits out h'yer in Kansas.  It certain war a
gret help ter Berry. Jest as long ez I hed dat tertrabbel wid, I
knowed I war safe; kase nobody wouldn't nebber'spect I was runnin'
away in dat sort ob style. Wal, I went way down east, an' denex'
spring went ter crappin' on sheers on a cotting plantation. Sally
'n' me we jes made up ourminds dat we wouldn't draw no rations
from de boss man. ner ax him fer ary cent ob money de whole yeah,
an' den, yer know, dar wouldn't be nary 'count agin us when de year
wuz ober. So Sally, she 'llowed dat she'd wuk fer de bread an' meat
an' take keer ob de chillen, wid de few days' help I might spar'
outen de crap. De boss man, he war boun' by de writin's ter feed
de mule. Dat's de way we sot in.

"We got 'long mighty peart like till some time atter de crap wuz
laid by, 'long bout roastin'-ear-time. Den Sally tuk sick, an' de
fus' dat I knowed we wuz out o' meat. Sally wuz powerful sot agin
my goih' ter de boss man fer enny orders on destore, kase we knowed
how dat wukked afo'. Den I sez, 'See h'yer, Sally, I'se done got
it. Dar's dat piece ob corn dar, below de house, is jest a-gittin'
good fer roastin-yeahs, Now, we'll jes pick offen de outside rows,
an' I'll be dod-dinged ef we can't git 'long wid dat till de crap
comes off; an' I'll jes tell Maise Hooper--dat wuz de name o' de man
what owned de plantation--dat I'll take dem rows inter my sheer.'
So it went on fer a week er two, an' I t'ought I wuz jes gittin' on
like a quarter hoss. Sally wuz nigh 'bout well, an' 'llowed she'd
be ready ter go ter wuk de nex' week; when one mo'nin' I tuk the
basket an' went down ter pick some corn. Jest ez I'd got de basket
nigh 'bout full, who should start up dar, outen de bushes, on'y
jes Marse Hooper; an' he sez, mighty brisk-like, 'So? I 'llowed
I'd cotch yer 'fore I got fru! Stealin' corn, is yer?'

"Den I jes larfed right out, an' sez I, 'Dat's de fus' time I ebber
heerd ob ennybody a-stealin' corn out ob his own field! Yah! yah!'
Jes so-like. 'Ain't dis yer my crap, Marse Hooper? Didn't I make
it, jest a-payin' ter you one third on't for de rent?' T'ought I
hed him, yer know. But, law sakes, he didn't hev no sech notion,
not much. So he sez, sez he:

"'No yer don't! Dat mout a' done once, when de Radikils wuz in
power, but de legislatur las' winter dey made a diff'rent sort ob
a law, slightually. Dey sed dat ef a renter tuk away enny o' de
crap afo' it wuz all harvested an' diwided, widout de leave o' de
owner, got afo' hand, he was guilty o' stealin' '--larsininy, he
called it, but its all de same. An' he sed, sez he, 'Dar ain't no
use now, Berry Lawson. Yer's jes got yer choice. Yer kin jes git
up an' git, er else I hez yer 'dicted an' sent ter State prison
fer not less ner one year nor more'n twenty--dat's 'cordin' ter de
law.'   "Den I begun ter be skeered-like, an' I sez, sez I, 'Arn't
yer gwine ter let me stay an' gether my crap?'

"'Damn de crap,' sez he (axin' yer parding, Miss Mollie, fer usin'
cuss-words), 'I'll take keer o' de crap; don't yer be afeared o'
dat. Yer t'ought yer was damn smart, didn't yer, not takin' enny
store orders, an' a-tryin' to fo'ce me ter pay yer cash in de lump?
But now I'se got yer. Dis Lan'lo'd an' Tenant Act war made fer jes
sech cussed smart niggers ez you is.'

"'Marse Hooper,' sez I, 'is dat de law?'

"'Sartin,' sez he, 'jes you come long wid me ober ter Squar Tice's,
an' ef he don't say so I'll quit--dat's all.'

"So we went ober ter Squar Tice's, an' he sed Marse Hooper war
right--dat it war stealin' all de same, even ef it war my own crap.
Den I seed dat Marse Hooper hed me close, an' I begun ter beg off,
kase I knowed it war a heap easier ter feed him soft corn dan ter
fight him in de law, when I wuz boun' ter git whipped. De Squar war
a good sort ob man, an' he kinder 'suaded Marse Hooper ter 'comp'
de matter wid me; an' dat's what we did finally. He gin me twenty
dollahs an' I signed away all my right ter de crap. Den he turned
in an' wanted ter hire me fer de nex yeah; but de Squar, he tuk
me out an' sed I'd better git away from dar, kase ennybody could
bring de matter up agin me an' git me put in de penitentiary fer
it, atter all dat hed been sed an' done. So we geared up, an' moved
on. Sally felt mighty bad, an' it did seem hard; but I tried ter
chirk her up, yer know, an' tole her dat, rough ez it war, it war
better nor we'd ebber done afo', kase we hed twenty dollahs an'
didn't owe nuffin'.

"I 'llowed we'd git clean away dat time, an' we didn't stop till
we'd got inter anodder State."

"Wal, dar I sot in ter wuk a cotting crap agin. Dis time I 'llowed
I'd jes take de odder way; an' so I tuk up all de orders on de
sto' dat de boss man would let me hev, kase I 'llowed ter git what
I could ez I went 'long, yer know. So, atter de cotting wuz all
picked, an' de 'counts all settled up, dar warn't only jest one
little bag ob lint a comin' ter Berry. I tuk dat inter de town one
Saturday in de ebenin', an' went roun' h'yer an' dar, a-tryin' ter
git de biggest price 'mong de buyers dat I could.

"It happened dat I done forgot al 'bout it's comin' on late, an'
jest a little atter sun-down, I struck on a man dat offered me
'bout a cent a poun' more'n ennybody  else hed done, an' I traded
wid him. Den I druv de mule roun', an' hed jes got de cotting out
ob de carry-all an' inter de sto', when, fust I knowed, 'long come
a p'liceman an' tuk me up for selling cotting  atter sun-down. I
tole him dat it was my own cotting,  what I'd done raised myself,
but he sed ez how it didn't make no sort of diff'rence at all. He
'clared dat de law sed ez how ennybody ez sold er offered fer sale
any cotting atter sundown an' afore sun-up, should be sent ter jail
jes de same ez ef he'd done stole it. Den I axed de man dat bought
de cotting ter gib it back ter me, but he wouldn't do dat, nohow,
nor de money for it nuther. So dey jes' toted me off ter jail.

"I knowed der warn't no use in savin' nuffin' den. So when Sally
come in I tole her ter jes take dat ar mule an' carry-all an' sell
'em off jest ez quick ez she could, so dat nobody wouldn't git hold
ob dem. But when she tried ter do it, de boss man stopped her from
it, kase he hed a mortgage on 'em fer de contract; an' he sed ez
how I hedn't kep' my bargain kase I'd gone an' got put in jail afo'
de yeah was out. So she couldn't git no money ter pay a lawyer,
an' I don't s'pose 'twould hev done enny good ef she hed. I tole
her not ter mind no mo' 'bout me, but jes ter come back ter Red
Wing an' see ef Miss Mollie couldn't help her out enny, Yer see I
was jes shore dey'd put me in de chain-gang, an' I didn't want her
ner de chillen ter be whar dey'd see me a totin' 'roun' a ball an'
chain.

"Shore 'nough, when de court come on, dey tried me an' fotch me in
guilty o' sellin' cotting alter sundown.  De jedge, he lectured me
powerful fer a while, an' den he ax me what I'd got ter say 'bout
it. Dat's de way I understood him ter say, ennyhow. So, ez he wuz
dat kind ez ter ax me ter speak in meetin', I 'llowed twa'n't no
mo' dan polite fer me ter say a few words, yer know. I told him
squar out dat I t'ought 'twas a mighty quare law an' a mighty mean
one, too, dat put a man in de chain-gang jes kase he sold his own
cotting atter sundown, when dey let ennybody buy it an' not pay
fer it at all. I tole him dat dey let 'em sell whisky an' terbacker
an' calico and sto' clo'es an' ebbery t'ing dat a nigger hed ter buy,
jest all times o' day an' night; an' I jest bleeved dat de whole
t'ing war jest a white man's trick ter git niggas in de chain-gang.
Den de jedge he tried ter set down on me an' tole me ter stop, but
I wuz dat mad dat when I got a-gwine dar warn't no stoppin' me till
de sheriff he jes grabbed me by de scruff o' de neck, an' sot me
down jest ennyway--all in a heap, yer know. Den de jedge passed
sentence, yer know, an' he sed dat he gib me one year fer de stealin'
an' one year fer sassin' de Court.

"So dey tuk me back ter jail, but, Lor' bress ye, dey didn't git
me inter de chain-gang, nohow. 'Fore de mo'nin' come I'd jes bid
good-by ter dat jail an' was a pintin' outen dat kentry, in my
weak way, ez de ministers say, jest ez fast ez I could git ober de
groun'.

"Den I jes clean gib up. I couldn't take my back trac nowhar, fer
fear I'd be tuk up. I t'ought it all ober while I wuz a trabblin'
'long; an' I swar ter God, Marse Hesden, I jes did peg out ob all
hope. I couldn't go back ter Sallie an' de chillen, ner couldn't
do 'em enny good ef I did; ner I couldn't send fer dem ter come
ter me, kase I hedn't nuffin' ter fotch 'em wid.  So I jes kinder
gin out, an' went a-sloshin' roun', not a-keerin' what I done er what
was ter come on me. I kep' a'sendin' letters ter Sally h'yer an'
dar, but, bress yer soul, I nebber heard nuffin' on 'em atterwards.
Den I t'ought I'd try an' git money ter go an' hunt 'em up, but it
was jes' ez it was afo'. I dunno how, but de harder I wuk de porer
I got, till finally I jes started off afoot an' alone ter go ter
Kansas; an' h'yer I is, ready ter grow up wid de kentry, Marse
Hesden, jest ez soon ez I gits ter Sally an' de chillen."

"I'm glad you have not had any political trouble," said Hesden.

"P'litical trouble?" said Berry. "Wal, Marse Hesden,  yer knows dat
Berry is jes too good-natered ter do ennyt'ing but wuk an' larf,
an' do a little whistlin' an banjo-pickin' by way ob a change; but
I be dinged ef it don't 'pear ter me dat it's all p'litical trouble.
Who's Berry ebber hurt? What's he ebber done, I'd like ter know,
ter be debbled roun' dis yer way? I use ter vote, ob co'se. T'ought
I hed a right ter, an' dat it war my duty ter de kentry dat hed
gib me so much. But I don't do dat no mo'. Two year ago I quit dat
sort o' foolishness. What's de use? I see'd 'em count de votes,
Marse Hesden, an' den I knowed dar warn't no mo' use ob votin' gin
dat. Yer know, dey 'pints all de jedges ob de 'lection derselves,
an' so count de votes jest ez dey wants 'em. Dar in our precinct
war two right good white men, but dey 'pinted nary one o' dem
ter count de votes. Oh no, not ter speak on! Dey puts on de Board
a good-'nough old cullu'd man dat didn't know 'B' from a bull's
foot. Wal, our white men 'ranges de t'ing so dat dey counts our men
ez dey goes up ter de box an' dey gibs out de tickets dereselves.
Now, dar wuz six hundred an' odd ob our tickets went inter dat box.
Dat's shore. But dar wa'n't t'ree hundred come out.  I pertended
ter be drunk, an' laid down by de chimbly whar dar was a peep-hole
inter dat room, an' seed dat countin' done. When dey fust opened
de box one on 'em sez, sez he,

"'Lord God! what a lot o' votes!' Den dey all look an' 'llowed dar
war a heap mo' votes than dey'd got names. So they all turned in
ter count de votes. Dar wuz two kinds on 'em. One wuz little bits
ob slick, shiny fellers, and de odders jes common big ones.  When
dey'd got 'em all counted they done some figurin,' an' sed dey'd
hev ter draw out 'bout t'ree hundred an' fifty votes. So dey put
'em all back in de box, all folded up jest ez dey wuz at de start,
an' den dey shuck it an' shuck it an' shuck it, till it seemed ter
me 'em little fellers  wuz boun' ter slip fru de bottom. Den one
on 'em wuz blindfolded, an' he drew outen de box till he got out
de right number--mostly all on 'em de big tickets, mind ye, kase
dey wuz on top, yer know. Den dey count de rest an' make up de
papers, an' burns all de tickets.

"Now what's de use o' votin' agin dat? I can't see what fer dey
put de tickets in de box at all. 'Tain't half ez fa'r ez a lottery
I seed one time in Melton; kase dar dey kep turnin' ober de wheel,
an' all de tickets hed a fa'r show. No, Marse Hesden, I nebber
does no mo' votin' till I t'inks dar's a leetle chance o' habbin'
my vote counted jest ez I drops it inter de box, 'long wid de rest.
I don't see no use in it."

"You are quite right, Berry," said Hesden; "but what do _you_
say is the reason you have come away from the South?"

"Jest kase a poor man dat hain't got no larnin' is wuss off dar
dan a cat in hell widout claws; he can't fight ner he can't climb.
I'se wukked hard an' been honest ebber sence de S'render an' I hed
ter walk an' beg my rations ter git h'yer. [Footnote: The actual
words used by a colored man well-known to the writer in giving his
reason for joining the "exodus," in a conversation  in the depot
at Kansas City, in February last.]  Dat's de reason!" said Berry,
springing to his feet and speaking excitedly.

"Yes, Berry, you have been unfortunate, but I know all are not so
badly off."

"T'ank God fer dat!" said Berry. "Yer see I'd a' got' long well
'nough ef I'd hed a fa'r shake an' hed knowd' all 'bout de law,
er ef de law hadn't been made ter cotch jes sech ez me. I didn't
ebber 'spect nuffin' but jest a tollable libbin', only a bit ob
larnin, fer my chillen. I tried mighty hard, an' dis is jes what's
come on't. I don't pertend ter say what's de matter, but sunthin'
is wrong, or else sunthin' hez been wrong, an' dis that we hez
now is jest de fruits on't--I dunno which. I can't understand it,
nohow. I don't hate nobody,  an' I don't know ez dar's enny way
out, but only jes ter wait an' wait ez we did in slave times fer
de good time ter come. I wuz jes dat tuckered out a-tryin,' dat I
t'ought I'd come out h'yer an' wait an' see ef I couldn't grow up
wid de kentry, yer know. Yah, yah!"

The next morning the light-hearted exodian departed, with a ticket
for Eupolia and a note to his white fellow-fugitive from the evils
which a dark past has bequeathed to the South--Jordan Jackson, now
the agent of Hesden and Mollie in the management of their interests
at that place. Hesden and Mollie continued their homeward journey,
stopping for a few days in Washington on their way.



CHAPTER LXI.

WHAT SHALL THE END BE?


Two men sat upon one of the benches in the shade of a spreading elm
in the shadow of the National Capitol, as the sun declined toward
his setting. They had been walking and talking as only earnest,
thoughtful men are wont to talk. They had forgotten each other and
themselves  in the endeavor to forecast the future of the country
after a consideration of its past.

One was tall, broad, and of full habit, with a clear blue eye,
high, noble forehead, and brown beard and hair just beginning
to be flecked with gray, and of a light complexion inclining to
floridness. He was a magnificent type of the Northern man. He had
been the shaper of his own destiny, and had risen to high position,
with the aid only of that self-reliant manhood which constitutes
the life and glory of the great free North. He was the child of
the North-west, but his ancestral roots struck deep into the rugged
hills of New England. The West had made him broader and fuller and
freer than the stock from which he sprang, without impairing his
earnestness of purpose or intensity of conviction.

The other, more slender, dark, with something of sallowness  in his
sedate features, with hair and beard of dark brown clinging close
to the finely-chiseled head and face, with an empty sleeve pinned
across his breast, showed more of litheness and subtlety, and
scarcely less of strength, than the one on whom he gazed, and was
an equally perfect type of the Southern-born American.  The one was
the Honorable Washington Goodspeed, M.C., and the other was Hesden
Le Moyne.

"Well, Mr. Le Moyne," said the former, after a long and thoughtful
pause, "is there any remedy for these things? Can the South and the
North ever be made one people in thought, spirit, and purpose? It
is evident that they have not been in the past; can they become
so in the future? Wisdom and patriotism have thus far developed no
cure for this evil; they seem, indeed, to have proved inadequate
to the elucidation of the problem.  Have you any solution to offer?"

"I think," replied Le Moyne, speaking slowly and thoughtfully, "that
there is a solution lying just at our hand, the very simplicity of
which, perhaps, has hitherto prevented us from fully appreciating
its effectiveness."

"Ah!" said Goodspeed, with some eagerness, "and what may that be?"

"Education!" was the reply.

"Oh, yes," said the other, with a smile. "You have adopted, then,
the Fourth of July remedy for all national  ills?"

"If you mean by 'Fourth of July remedy,'" replied Hesdeu with some
tartness, "that it is an idea born of patriotic feeling alone, I
can most sincerely answer, Yes. You will please to recollect that
every bias of my mind and life has been toward the Southern view
of all things. I doubt if any man of the North can appreciate the
full force and effect of that bias upon the minds and hearts of
those exposed to its operation. When the war ended I had no reason
or motive for considering the question of rebuilding the national
prosperity and power upon a firmer and broader basis than before.
That was left entirely to you gentlemen of the North. It was not
until you, the representatives of the national power, had acted--ay,
it was not until your action had resulted in apparent failure--that
I began to consider this question at all. I did so without any
selfish bias or hope, beyond that which every man ought to have in
behalf of the Nation which he is a part, and in which he expects
his children to remain. So that I think I may safely say that my
idea of the remedy does spring from a patriotism as deep and earnest
as ever finds expression upon the national holiday."

"Oh, I did not mean that," was the half-apologetic rejoinder; "I
did not mean to question your sincerity at all; but the truth is,
there has been so much impracticable theorizing upon this subject
that one who looks for results can scarcely restrain an expression
of impatience  when that answer is dogmatically given to such an
inquiry."

"Without entirely indorsing your view as to the impracticality
of what has been said and written upon this subject," answered Le
Moyne, "I must confess that I have never yet seen it formulated
in a manner entirely satisfactory to myself. For my part, I am
thoroughly  satisfied that it is not only practicable, but is also
the sole practicable method of curing the ills of which we have
been speaking. It seems to me also perfectly apparent why the remedy
has not previously been applied--why the patriotism and wisdom of
the past has failed to hit upon this simple remedy."

"Well, why was it?"

"The difference between the North and the South before the war,"
said Le Moyne, "was twofold; both the political and the social
organizations of the South were utterly different from those of the
North, and could not be harmonized with them. The characteristics
of the _social_ organization you, in common with the intelligent
masses of the North, no doubt comprehend as fully and clearly as is
possible for one who has not personally investigated its phenomena.
Your Northern social system was builded upon the idea of inherent
equality--that is, of equality and opportunity; so that the only
inequality which could exist was that which resulted from the
accident of wealth or difference  of capacity in the individual.

"The social system of the South was opposed to this in its very
elements. At the very outset it was based upon a wide distinction,
never overlooked or forgotten for a single moment. Under no
circumstances could a colored man, of whatever rank or grade of
intellectual power, in any respect, for a single instant overstep
the gulf which separated him from the Caucasian, however humble,
impoverished, or degraded the latter might be.  This rendered easy
and natural the establishment of other social grades and ideas,
which tended to separate still farther the Northern from the Southern
social system.  The very fact of the African being thus degraded
led, by natural association, to the degradation of those forms of
labor most frequently delegated to the slave. By this means free
labor became gradually to be considered more and more disreputable,
and self-support to be considered  less and less honorable. The
necessities of slavery, as well as the constantly growing pride of
class, tended very rapidly toward the subversion of free thought
and free speech; so that, even with the white man of any and every
class, the right to hold and express opinions different from those
entertained by the bulk of the master-class with reference to all
those subjects related to the social system of the South soon came
to be questioned, and eventually utterly denied. All these facts the
North--that is, the Northern people, Northern statesmen, Northern
thinkers--have comprehended _as_ facts. Their influence and
bearings, I may be allowed to say, they have little understood,
because they have not sufficiently realized their influence upon
the minds of those subjected, generation after generation, to their
sway.

"On the other hand, the wide difference between the _political_
systems of the North and the South seems never to have affected the
Northern mind at all. The Northern statesmen and political writers
seem always to have proceeded  upon the assumption that the removal
of slavery, the changing of the legal status of the African,
resulting in the withdrawal of one of the props which supported
the _social_ system of the South, would of itself overthrow
not only that system, but the political system which had grown up
along with it, and which was skillfully designed for its maintenance
and support. Of the absolute difference between  the political
systems of the South and the North, and of the fact that the social
and political systems stood to each other in the mutual relation
of cause and effect, the North seems ever to have been profoundly
ignorant."

"Well," said Mr. Goodspeed, "I must confess that I cannot understand
what difference there is, except what arose out of slavery."

"The questien is not," said Le Moyne, "whether it _arose_
out of slavery, but whether it would of necessity fall with the
extinction of slavery _as a legal status_. It is, perhaps,
impossible for any one to say exactly how much of the political
system of the South grew out of slavery, and how much of slavery
and its consequences were due to the Southern political system."

"I do not catch your meaning," said Goodspeed.  "Except for the
system of slavery and the exclusion of the blacks from the exercise
and enjoyment of poitical rights and privileges, I cannot see that
the political system of the South differed materially from that of
the North."

"Precisely so," said Le Moyne. "Your inability to perceive my meaning
very clearly illustrates to my mind the fact which I am endeavoring
to impress upon you.  If you will consider for a moment the history
of the country, you will observe that a system prevailed in the
nou-slaveholding States which was unknown, either in name or essential
attributes, throughout the slaveholding part of the country."

"Yes?" said the other inquiringly. "What may that have been?"

"In one word," said Le Moyne--"the 'township' system."

"Oh, yes," laughed the Congressman lightly; "the Yankee town-meeting."

"Exactly," responded Le Moyne; "yet I venture to say that the
presence and absence of the town-meeting--the township system or its
equivalent--in the North and in the South, constituted a difference
not less vital and important than that of slavery itself. In fact,
sir, I sincerely believe that it is to the township system that the
North owes the fact that it is not to-day as much slave territory
as the South was before the war."

"What!" said the Northerner, with surprise, "you do not mean
to say that the North owes its freedom, its prosperity,  and its
intelligence--the three things in which it differs from the South
most materially--entirely to the Yankee town-meeting?"

"Perhaps not entirely," said Le Moyne; "but in the main I think
it does. And there are certain facts  connected with our history
which I think, when you consider them carefully, will incline you
to the same belief."

"Indeed; I should be glad to know them."

"The first of these," continued Le Moyne, "is the fact that in
every state in which the township system really prevailed, slavery
was abolished without recourse to arms, without civil discord or
perceptible evil results.  The next is that in the states in which
the township system  did not prevail in fact as well as name, the
public school system did not exist, or had only a nominal existence;
and the proportion of illiteracy in those states as a consequence
was, _among the whites alone_, something like four times as
great as in those states in which the township system flourished.
And this, too, notwithstanding  almost the entire bulk of the ignorant
immigration from the old world entered into the composition of
the Northern populations. And, thirdly, there resulted a difference
which I admit to be composite in its causes--that is, the difference
in average wealth. Leaving out of consideration the capital invested
in slaves, the _per capita_ valuation of the states having the
township system was something more than three times the average in
those where it was unknown."

"But what reason can you give for this belief?" said Goodspeed.
"How do you connect with the consequences,  which cannot be doubted,
the cause you assign?  The differences between the South and the
North have hitherto been attributed entirely to slavery; why do
you say that they are in so great a measure due to differences of
political organization?"

"I can very well see," was the reply, "that one reared as you were
should fail to understand at once the potency of the system which
has always been to you as much a matter of course as the atmosphere
by which you are surrounded. It was not until Harvey's time--indeed,
it was not until a much later period--that we knew in what way and
manner animal life was maintained  by the inhalation of atmospheric
air. The fact of its necessity was apparent to every child, but how
it operated was unknown. I do not now profess to be able to give
all of those particulars which have made the township system, or
its equivalent, an essential concomitant  of political equality,
and, as I think, the vital element of American liberty. But I can
illustrate it so that you will get the drift of my thought."

"I should be glad if you would," said Goodspeed.

"The township system," continued Le Moyne, "may, for the present
purpose, be denned to be the division of the entire territory of
the state into small municipalises, the inhabitants of which control
and manage for themselves,  directly and immediately, their own
local affairs.  Each township is in itself a miniature republic,
every citizen of which exercises in its affairs equal power with
every other citizen. Each of these miniature republics becomes a
constituent element of the higher representative  republic--namely,
a county, which is itself a component  of the still larger representative
republic, the State. It is patterned upon and no doubt grew out of
the less perfect borough systems of Europe, and those inchoate communes
of our Saxon forefathers which were denominated '_Hundreds_.'
It is the slow growth of centuries  of political experience; the
ripe fruit of ages of liberty-seeking thought.

"The township is the shield and nursery of individual freedom of
thought and action. The young citizen who has never dreamed of a
political career becomes interested  in some local question affecting
his individual interests. A bridge is out of repair; a roadmaster
has failed to perform his duty; a constable has been remiss in his
office; a justice of the peace has failed to hold the scales with
even balance between rich and poor; a school has not been properly
cared for; the funds of the township have been squandered; or the
assumption of a liability is proposed by the township trustees, the
policy of which he doubts. He has the remedy in his own hands. He
goes to the township meeting, or he appears at the town-house upon
election day, and appeals to his own neighbors--those having like
interests with himself.  He engages in the struggle, hand to hand
and foot to foot with his equals; he learns confidence in himself;
he begins to measure his own power, and fits himself for the higher
duties and responsibilities of statesmanship."

"Well, well," laughed Goodspeed, "there is something  in that. I
remember that iny first political experience  was in trying to defeat
a supervisor who did not properly work the roads of his district;
but I had never thought that in so doing I was illustrating such
a doctrine  as you have put forth."

"No; the doctrine is not mine," said Le Moyne.  "Others, and
especially that noted French political philosopher who so calmly
and faithfully investigated our political system--the author of
'Democracy in America'--clearly pointed out, many years ago, the
exceptional  value of this institution, and attributed to it the
superior intelligence and prosperity of the North."

"Then," was the good-natured reply, "your prescription  for the
political regeneration of the South is the same as that which we
all laughed at as coming from Horace Greeley immediately upon the
downfall of the Confederacy--that the Government should send an
army of surveyors to the South to lay off the land in sections and
quarter-sections, establish parallel roads, and enforce  topographic
uniformity upon the nation?

"Not at all," said Le Moyne. "I think that the use of the
term 'township' in a _double_ sense has misled our political
thinkers in estimating its value. It is by no means necessary that
the township of the United States survey should be arbitrarily
established in every state.  In fact, the township system really
finds its fullest development  where such a land division does not
prevail, as in New England, Pennsylvania, and other states.  It is
the _people_ that require to be laid off in townships,  not
the land. Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, all have their lands laid
off in the parallelograms prescribed by the laws regulating United
States surveys; but their _people_ are not organized into
self-governing communes."

"But was there no equivalent system of local self-government in
those states?"

"No; and there is not to-day. In some cases there are lame
approaches to it; but in none of the former slave States were the
counties made up of self-governing subdivisions. The South is to-day
and always has been a stranger to local self-government. In many of
those states every justice of the peace, every school committeeman,
every inspector of elections is appointed by some central power in
the county, which is in turn itself appointed  either by the Chief
Executive of the State or by the dominant party in the Legislature.
There may be the form of townships, but the differential characteristic
is lacking--the self-governing element of the township."

"I don't know that I fully comprehend you," said Goodspeed. "Please
illustrate."

"Well, take one state for an example, where the constitution
adopted during the reconstruction period introduced  the township
system, and authorized the electors of each township to choose
their justices of the peace, constables, school-cominitteemen, and
other local officials.  It permitted the people of the county to
choose a board of commissioners, who should administer the financial
matters of the county, and, in some instances, exeicise a limited
judicial authority. But now they have, in effect, returned to the
old system. The dominant party in the Legislature appoints every
justice of the peace in the state. The justices of the peace of
each county elect from their number the county commissioners; the
county commissioners appoint the school-committeemen, the roadmasters,
the registrars of election and the judges of election; so that
every local interest throughout the entire  state is placed under
the immediate power and control of the dominant party, although
not a tenth part of the voters of any particular township or county
may belong to that party. In another state all this power, and even
more, is exercised by the Chief Executive; and in all of them you
will find that the county--or its equivalent,  the parish--is the
smallest political unit having a municipal character."



CHAPTER LXII.

HOW?


There was a moment of silence, after which the Northern  man said
thoughtfully.

"I think I understand your views, Mr. Le Moyne, and must admit that
both the facts and the deductions which you make from them are very
interesting, full of food for earnest reflection, and, for aught I
know, may fully bear out your view of their effects. Still, I cannot
see that your remedy for this state of affairs differs materially
in its practicability from that of the departed philosopher
of Chappaqua. He prescribed a division  of the lands, while, if I
understand you, you would have the Government in some way prescribe
and control  the municipal organisations of the people of the
various states. I cannot see what power the National Government
has, or any branch of it, which could effectuate  that result."

"It can only be done as it was done at the North," said Le Moyne
quietly.

"Well, I declare!" said Goodspeed, with an outburst  of laughter,
"your riddle grows worse and worse--more and more insoluble to
my mind. How, pray, was it done at the North? I always thought we
got it from colonial times. I am sure the New England town-meeting
came over in the Mayflower."

"So it did!" responded Hesden, springing to his feet; "so it did;
it came over in the hearts of men who demanded, and were willing to
give up everything else to secure the right of local self-government.
The little colony upon the Mayflower was a township, and every man
of its passengers carried the seed of the ideal township  system
in his heart."

"Admitted, admitted, Mr. Le Moyne," said the other, smiling at his
earnestness. "But how shall we repeat the experiment? Would you
import men into every township of the South, in order that they
might carry the seeds of civil liberty with them, and build up the
township system there?"

"By no means. I would make the men on the spot.  I would so mold
the minds of every class of the Southern people that all should be
indoctrinated with the spirit of local self-government."

"But how would you do it?"

"With spelling-books!" answered Hesden sententiously.

"There we are," laughed the other, "at the very point we started
from. Like the poet of the Western  bar-room, you may well say, my
friend, 'And so I end as I did begin.'"

"Yes," said Le Moyne, "we have considered the _desirability_
of education, and you have continually cried, with good-natured
incredulity, 'How shall it be done?' Are you not making that inquiry
too soon?"

"Not at all," said the Congressman earnestly; "I see how desirable
is the result, and I am willing to do anything  in my power to
attain it, if there is any means by which it can be accomplished."

"That is it," said Le Moyne; "you are _willing_; you recognize
that it would be a good thing; you wish it might be done; you have
no desire to stand in the way of its accomplishment. That is not
the spirit which achieves results. Nothing is accomplished by mere
assent.  The American people must first be thoroughly satisfied
that it is a necessity. The French may shout over a red cap, and
overturn existing systems for a vague idea; but American conservatism
consists in doing nothing  until it is absolutely necessary. We
never move until the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour.

"Only think of it! You fought a rebellion, based professedly upon
slavery as a corner-stone, for almost two years before you could
bring yourselves to disturb that corner-stone. You knew the structure
would fall if that were done; but the American people waited and
waited until every man was fully satisfied that there was no other
possible road to success. It is just so in this matter. I feel its
necessity. You do not.'

"There I think you do me injustice," said Goodspeed,  "I feel the
necessity of educating every citizen of the Republic, as well as
you."

"No doubt, in a certain vague way," was the reply; "but you do not
feel it as the only safety to the Republic  to-day; and I do."

"I confess I do not see, as you seem to, the immediate  advantage,
or the immediate danger, more than that which has always threatened
us," answered the Congressman.

"This, after all, is the real danger, I think," said Le Moyne.
"The states containing only one third of the population of this
Union contain also more than two thirds of its entire illiteracy.
Twenty-five out of every hundred--one out of every four--of the
_white voters_ of the former slave states cannot read the
ballots which they cast; forty-five per cent of the entire voting
strength of those sixteen states are unable to read or write."

"Well?" said the other calmly, seeing Le Moyne look at him as though
expecting him to show surprise.

"_Well!_" said Le Moyne. "I declare your Northern phlegm is
past my comprehension.--'Well,' indeed! it seems to me as bad as
bad can be. Only think of it--only six per cent of intelligence
united with this illiterate vote makes a majority!"

"Well?" was the response again, still inquiringly.

"And that majority," continued Le Moyne, "would choose seventy-two
per cent of the electoral votes necessary  to name a President of
the United States!"

"Well," said the other, with grim humor, "they are not very likely
to do it at present, anyhow."

"That is true," replied Le Moyne. "But there is still the other
danger, and the greater evil. That same forty-five per cent are of
course easily made the subjects of fraud or violence, and we face
this dilemma: they may either use their power wrongfully, or be
wrongfully deprived  of the exercise of their ballotorial rights.
Either alternative is alike dangerous. If we suppose the illiterate
voter to be either misled or intimidated, or prevented from exercising
his judgment and his equality of right with others in the control
of our government, then we have the voice of this forty-five per
cent silenced--whether by intimidation or by fraud matters not.
Then a majority  of the remaining fifty-four per cent, or, say,
twenty-eight per cent of one third of the population of the Nation
in a little more than one third of the States, might exercise
seventy-two per cent of the electoral power necessary to choose a
President, and a like proportion of the legislative  power necessary
to enact laws. Will the time ever come, my friend, when it will
be safe to put in the way of any party such a temptation as is
presented by this opportunity to acquire power?"

"No, no, no," said the Northern man, with impatience.  "But what
can you do? Education will not make men honest, or patriotic, or
moral."

"True enough," was the reply. "Nor will the knowledge of toxicology
prevent the physician from being  a poisoner, or skill in handwriting
keep a man from becoming a forger. But the study of toxicology will
enable the physician to save life, and the study of handwriting is
a valuable means of preventing the results of wrongful acts. So,
while education does not make the voter honest, it enables him to
protect himself against the frauds of others, and not only increases
his power but inspires him to resist violence. So that, in the
aggregate, you Northerners are right in the boast which you make
that intelligence makes a people stronger and braver and freer."

"So your remedy is--" began the other.

"Not _my_ remedy, but the _only_ remedy, is to educate
the people until they shall be wise enough to know what they ought
to do, and brave enough and strong enough to do it."

"Oh, that is all well enough, if it could be done," said Goodspeed.

"Therefore it is," returned Hesden, "that it _must_ be done."

"But _how?_" said the other querulously. "You  know that the
Constitution gives the control of such matters  entirely to the
States. The Nation cannot interfere with it. It is the duty of the
States to educate their citizens--a clear and imperative duty;
but if they will not do it the Nation cannot compel them."

"Yes," said Hesden, "I know. For almost a century you said that
about slavery; and you have been trying to hunt a way of escape
from your enforced denial of it ever since. But as a matter of
fact, when you came to the last ditch and found no bridge across,
you simply made one. When it became an unavoidable question whether
the Union or slavery should live, you chose the Union. The choice
may come between the Union and ignorance; and if it does, I have
no fear as to which the people will choose. The doctrine of State
Rights is a beautiful thing to expatiate upon, but it has been the
root of nearly all the evil the country has suffered.  However,
I believe that this remedy can at once be applied without serious
inconvenience from that source."

"How?" asked the other; "that is what I want to know."

"Understand me," said Le Moyne; "I do not consider the means
so important as the end. When the necessity is fully realized the
means will be discovered; but I believe that we hold the clue even
now in our hands."

"Well, what is it?" was the impatient inquiry.

"A fund of about a million dollars," said Le Moyne, "has already
been distributed to free public schools in the South, upon a system
which does not seriously interfere  with the jealously-guarded
rights of those states."

"You mean the Peabody Fund?"

"Yes; I do refer to that act of unparalleled beneficence  and
wisdom."

"But that was not the act of the Nation."

"Very true; but why should not the Nation distribute a like bounty
upon the same system? It is admitted, beyond serious controversy,
that the Nation may raise and appropriate funds for such purposes
among the different states, provided it be not for the exclusive
benefit of any in particular. It is perhaps past controversy that
the Government might distribute a fund to the different states
_in the proportion of illiteracy_. This, it is true, would
give greater amounts to certain states than to others, but only
greater in proportion to the evil to be remedied."

"Yes," said the other; "but the experience of the Nation in
distributing lands and funds for educational purposes has not been
encouraging. The results have hardly been commensurate with the
investment."

"That is true," said Hesden, "and this is why I instance  the
Peabody Fund. That is not given into the hands of the officers of
the various states, but when a school is organized and fulfills
the requirements laid down for the distribution of that fund, in
regard to numbers and average attendance--in other words, is shown
to be an efficient institution of learning--then the managers of
the fund give to it a sum sufficient to defray a certain proportion
of its expenses."

"And you think such a system might be applied to a Government
appropriation?"

"Certainly. The amount to which the county, township,  or school
district would be entitled might be easily ascertained, and
upon the organization and maintenance of a school complying with
the reasonable requirements of a well-drawn statute in regard to
attendance and instruction,  such amount might be paid over."

"Yes," was the reply, after a thoughtful pause; "but would not that
necessitate a National supervision of State schools?"

"To a certain extent, yes. Yet there would be nothing  compulsory
about it. It would only be such inspection  as would be necessary
to determine whether the applicant  had entitled himself to share
the Nation's bounty.  Surely the Nation may condition its own
bounty."

"But suppose these states should refuse to submit to such inspection,
or accept such appropriation?"

"That is the point, exactly, to which I desire to bring your
attention," said Le Moyne. "Ignorance, unless biased by religious
bigotry, always clamors for knowledge.  You could well count upon
the forty-five per cent of ignorant voters insisting upon the
reception of that bounty. The number of those that recognize the
necessity  of instructing the ignorant voter, even in those states,
is hourly increasing, and but a brief time would elapse until
no party would dare to risk opposition to such a course. I doubt
whether any party would venture upon it, even now."

"But are not its results too remote, Mr. Le Moyne, to make such a
measure of present interest in the cure of present evils?"

"Not at all," answered Hesden. "By such a measure  you bring the
purest men of the South into close and intimate relations with
the Government. You cut off the sap which nourishes the yet living
root of the State Rights dogma. You bring every man to feel as you
feel, that there is something greater and grander than his State
and section. Besides that, you draw the poison from the sting which
rankles deeper than you think. The Southern white man feels, and
justly feels, that the burden  of educating the colored man ought
not to be laid upon the South alone. He says truly, 'The Nation
fostered and encouraged slavery; it gave it greater protection and
threw greater safeguards around it than any other kind of property;
it encouraged my ancestors and myself to invest the proceeds of
generations of care and skill and growth in slaves. When the war
ended it not only at one stroke dissipated all these accumulations,
but it also gave to these men the ballot, and would now drive me,
for my own protection, to provide for their education.  This is
unjust and oppressive. I will not do it, nor consent that it shall
be done by my people or by our section alone.' To such a man--and
there are many thousands of them--such a measure would come as an
act of justice. It would be a grateful balm to his outraged feelings,
and would incline him to forget, much more readily than he otherwise
would, what he regards to be the injustice of emancipation. It will
lead him to consider  whether he has not been wrong in supposing
that the emancipation and enfranchisement of the blacks proceeded
from a feeling of resentment, and was intended as a punishment
merely. It will incline him to consider whether the people of the
North, the controlling power of the Government at that time, did
not act from a better motive than he has given them credit for.
But even if this plan should meet with disapproval, instead of
approval,  from the white voters of the South, it would still be
the true and wise policy for the Nation to pursue."

"So you really think," said the Northerner dubiously, "that such
a measure would produce good results even in the present generation?"

"Unquestionably," was the reply. "Perhaps the chief incentive to
the acts which have disgraced our civilization--which have made
the white people of the South almost a unit in opposing by every
means, lawful and unlawful,  the course of the Government in
reconstruction, has been a deep and bitter conviction that hatred,
envy, and resentment against them on the part of the North, were
the motives which prompted those acts. Such a measure, planned upon
a liberal scale, would be a vindication  of the manhood of the North;
an assertion of its sense of right as well as its determination to
develop at the South the same intelligence, the same freedom of
thought and action, the same equality of individual right, that
have made the North prosperous and free and strong, while the lack
of them has made the South poor and ignorant and weak."

"Well, well," said the Congressman seriously, "you may be right.
I had never thought of it _quite_ in that light before. It is
worth thinking about, my friend; it is worth thinking about."

"That it is!" said Le Moyne, joyfully extending his hand. "Think!
If you will only _think_--if the free people of the North will
only think of this matter, I have no fears but a solution will be
found. Mine may not be the right one. That is no matter. As I said,
the question  of method is entirely subordinate to the result. But
let the people think, and they will think rightly. Don't think of
it as a politician in the little sense of that word, but in the great
one. Don't try to compel the Nation  to accept your view or mine;
but spur the national thought by every possible means to consider
the evil, to demand its cure, and to devise a remedy."

So, day by day, the "irrepressible conflict" is renewed.  The Past
bequeaths to the Present its wondrous legacy of good and ill. Names
are changed, but truths remain.  The soil which slavery claimed,
baptized with blood becomes the Promised Land of the freedman and
poor white. The late master wonders at the mockery of Fate. Ignorance
marvels at the power of Knowledge.  Love overleaps the barriers of
prejudice, and Faith laughs at the Impossible.


"The world goes up and the world goes down,
The sunshine follows the rain;
And yesterday's sneer and yesterday's frown
Can never come over again."


On the trestle-board of the Present, Liberty forever sets before
the Future some new query. The Wise-man sweats drops of blood.
The Greatheart abides in his strength. The King makes commandment.
The Fool laughs.




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