SWEET OLD DAYS IN DIXIE
RALEIGH, N. C.:
Edwards & Broughton Printing Company
The Sweet Old Days in Dixie.CHAPTER I. Scotland Hall and Uncle Eben.
As years go by and we move down the river of time, nearing the bar over which our little barks must ride before entering the Great Beyond, the heart is often cheered and the spirit refreshed by memory recalling the sweet sports of innocent childhood's days. Life's journey is toilsome and often weary, interspersed with storm and tempest, sunshine and cloud. We love to go back and linger upon the threshold, when all was bright and beautiful, and no cloud dimmed our future hopes.
We have an indistinct recollection of some incidents of plantation life when consciousness first dawned upon us. We remember being carried as a helpless child on the shoulders of old nurse Dinah, as she strode the long lane that ran through broad and fertile acres, lying between the mansion and the banks of a historic river. On one side of this lane were fields of the fleecy staple, while on the opposite
side were stacks of fodder and stalks bending under the weight of golden ears of corn. Here and there baskets were distributed in the cotton rows, while laborers were seen with long sacks louped around their necks, from which, when filled, the cotton was transferred to the baskets. From the groups of laborers arose the plaintive plantation airs and jolly songs, as they raced for the prizes awarded to those who picked the largest quantity.
Scotland Hall was a splendid estate. The mansion had a spacious veranda clad with jessamine and honeysuckle. It was situated in an enclosure of several acres, studded with fruit trees, flowers and vineyards.
On the hills west of the mansion were seen comfortable cabins, to which were attached gardens and other conveniences. On the north were other cabins. Each laborer had as many acres allotted to him as he chose to cultivate for his own use, with horse and plow furnished.
At night the notes of the violin and banjo were heard, while thumping feet kept time to the music of the Virginia Reel. On Sabbath nights the colored exhorter was in evidence. Prayers and songs of praise were heard ascending to heaven from the humble
cabin, and these assemblies were often refreshed with showers of Divine grace.
If this seems strange to the native-born of the present generation, who are ignorant of the plantation life of ante-bellum days, is it any wonder our Northern friends should remain incredulous, after having for more than two generations imbibed erroneous teachings? Under the new order of things, the friendly feelings which were once so strong between the races in the South are rapidly disappearing. And when the last old master and servant have crossed the dark waters, the last vestige of sympathy will have become extinct.
The proprietor of Scotland Hall was of Scottish blood. He was the grandson of one who fell on the bloody field of Cullden in 1745, fighting in the ranks of the Duke of Cumberland, when that brave nobleman defeated and scattered the forces of Prince Frederick Charles Stuart. Mr. Edward McLean was a typical Southern gentleman. Though stern, he was humane, and while he was passionate he was also just; a wealthy, cultured, generous and hospitable man. His wife, his peer in all respects, was a direct descendant of the leading spirit of the Revolution, who by his courage and resolution prepared the people of
North Carolina to resist the tyranny of George the Third.
Mrs. McLean was handsome, dignified and refined. Combined with these attractions were true Christian graces. She was the model wife of a noble husband, and was well fitted for the position she so truly adorned. Zealously did she vie with her husband in the entertainment of their numerous guests and in dispensing charity to the destitute in the vicinity of the Hall. The ear of compassion was ever open to the cry of the needy, and none were turned away from their door. The offspring of this noble couple were reared in love; and it was beautiful to behold the undiminished affection entertained by each for the other after they themselves became heads of families. Connected with the old plantation life were numerous incidents of lasting interest; sad, some of them, and others ludicrous and amusing. From these Scotland Hall was not exempt. The anecdotes herein related are all founded on facts, and some are literally true. The language, however, has in some respects been changed; and in some cases the names also; while in others they have been retained.CHAPTER II. Auld Uncle Eben.
One of his sons, just from the post-office, handed Mr. McLean a letter while he was sitting at tea, the post-mark of which was Richmond, Va. This letter informed him of the critical illness of his old Scotch uncle, Eben. On the next day Mr. McLean took his departure and in due time arrived in the city. He sought the sick chamber of his Uncle Eben, and entering the room took the old man by the hand and inquired as to his condition. The old man was very weak from long illness, and when the greeting was over he said, “Well, Eddie, my lad, I am glad to see you. How are your gude wife and the wee bairns?” His nephew replied, “Very well, Uncle, and I hope you will be stronger in a short time.” “Nay, my laddie, I am very near to the end of my long journey. I hae thought muckle about you and yours, and thinking I could last but a short time, I wanted you wi’ me. During my illness, Eddie, the past has been present wi’ me, and in one of my visions I distinctly saw my father as I remember him on that sad, fatal morning, when he took your father,—the baby
Johnny,—and myself in his strong arms, and drawing us to his bosom imprinted kisses upon our cheeks. Then turning from us, he put his arms about my mother and passionately kissing her, put a ring upon her finger. Brushing away the tears that filled his eyes he tore himself from her embrace and, rushing to his steed, he rode off at a rapid pace to join his command. Our puir mother stood gazing at the figure of her noble husband till he disappeared from sight. Then she called her mother and the three little children into the house and, kneeling, we committed the dear ones to the keeping of God. In a few days the news reached Glasgow that the victory was ours, but the bloody conflict of Culloden made our mother a widow and robbed us children of a father. Glasgow to us was not Glasgow of old. All was become a dreary waste, and in a few short years our mother followed her husband to the grave with a broken heart. As I draw near to the grave, Eddie my laddie, old Scotland with its green pastures, its towering mountains, its hills and dales and lovely valleys, and the old kirk in which we worshipped, grows nearer and dearer to me. I often read Burns, and then I forget and think I am again on my native heath. I love all things pertaining to dear auld Scotland, the home of
Bruce, Wallace and Knox. Eddie, my lad, when you rear your children, teach them to love the Fatherland. Impress upon their minds that they are of Scottish blood, and that their ancestors were true and loyal Scotchmen, who never betrayed a trust. Rather than violate his oath your father sacrificed his possessions. Nor did he or myself take the oath of allegiance to the American Government until articles of peace were signed between the two governments. I am proud of our records and have nothing to be ashamed of. There is no taint of dishonor resting upon the name of our family. Now, my laddie, I commit my soul to the keeping of Him who alone is worthy of all praise, glory and power. Amen.”
Thus in faith died the noble old Scotchman, who now sleeps by the side of his brother in the old St. John Cemetery, in Richmond, Va.CHAPTER III. The Wedding Night.
Among the colored people of the Hall considerable excitement was aroused by the announcement of the approaching nuptials of two favorite servants of a prominent family in the vicinity. In ante-bellum days it was the custom of master and mistress to give the servants fitting entertainments on such occasions. In some instances the repast was spread in the mansion itself, the marriages of servants being also at times solemnized in the dwellings of their owners.
In this instance great preparations were made to give this particular housemaid a good send off. The marriage occurred on a Saturday night a few weeks before Christmas, in the forties.
Some days prior to the occasion Mr. Henry Bentley, a planter and the owner of the groom-elect, while giving his man Adam directions regarding some farm work, noticed a troubled expression on his face, and upon inquiry he learned that there was some disagreement concerning the selection of the minister to perform the ceremony. Adam said he was an Ironside Baptist and wanted Uncle Primus Cotton to marry
them. Viney belonged to the “Silk-stocking Church” and moved only in first-class society. Adam said he believed in a change of heart by grace. Viney averred that the Church would work that change. Besides, she was High-Church, and it was always customary for members of her church to be married by ministers who officiated in white robes.
“So there it is, Marse Henry. But if Primus Cotton don't marry us, I have made up my mind to call it off. I wish, Marse Henry, you would write me a note, so as Viney can get it to-night.”
The contents were as follows:
“Miss Viney Larnce—
“There seems to be a misunderstanding as to the selection of the minister to marry us next Saturday night. If Mr. Primus Cotton can not perform the ceremony, I have concluded to let the marriage go by default.
“Resp., Adam Bentley.”
The next morning Adam handed Mr. Bentley a reply, which ran thus:
“Mr. Adam Bentley—
“My Dear Sir:—Your note has been received, and I was surprised at its contents. Be assured that
I shall be more than delighted to have the Rev. Primus Cotton perform the ceremony next Saturday night.
“Your devoted, Viney Larnce.”
This settled the question, and the marriage occurred on the night appointed. On the succeeding Sunday morning while Mr. Hill, the manager at Scotland Hall, was in the office, he heard the following colloquy between two young negro bucks, who were not aware of his presence:
“Say, Gum, did you go ter de weddin’ las’ night?” “You bet, an’ I lafe an’ lafe tell my sides busted.” “How did Miss Viney look?” “She look outer sight, nigger. Her dress was white an’ kivered wid all kinds of frills an’ furbelows, an’ she had six waiters to hole candles fer Uncle Primus ter read de Bible.” “What Uncle Primus say?”
“‘Well, I ’spose you wants ter git married. Ef so, I stans’ heah ter tie de knot. Marige am a mighty ticklish thing, an’ dey dat enters de spider's web had better be jubious. Ef you does right yo’ life will be full ob joy; ef wrong, you will be beat wid many stripes an’ hab many spats. Now Viney, I axes you
ef you will take dis man fer yo lubbin’ husban’, an’ do what he axes you, an’ forsake him fer all udders?’
Viney say, ‘I will.’
‘Now Adam, yo’ namesake, libed in a gyarden whar dey was plenty ter eat an’ make him happy, but he want mo’ an’ he lose all. Eve was a mighty purty ’ooman an’ he lub her. She hab a powful slick tongue, jes lak de mos’ ob our ’oomans has to-day, an’ she git him inter trouble. Now, Adam Bentley, will you take dis ’ooman fer yo’ lawful wife, ter pervide fo’ her in sickness an’ in helf, treat her well an’ not beat her ’ceppin’ she gib you too much jaw?’
Adam say, ‘I will.’
Den Uncle Primus say, ‘I renounce you man and wife.’
Supper was denounced, an’ ob all de good eatin’, it am de bes’. Pres'nly Uncle Gill and Bob Hany gins ter tune dar fiddles. Gill say, ‘Git yer pardners!’ an’ de flo’ is kivered! Gill say, ‘Balance all,’ the dance begins. Turn pardners’, an’ swing corners all.’ Sich dancin’ I nebber seed. De house shuck. ’Bout dis time, somebody hollers out, ‘Here comes Uncle Sam Larnce, de king of dancers.’ De ole man comes hobblin’ on krutches’ and stans nigh de dancin’ ring. As he looks at ’em dancin,’ I see him run his han’ in his
pocket an’ takes his hankchiv out, den wipes his eyes; de ole man is cryin’. Aunt Dilsey, she comes an’ say, ‘Cousin Sam, what ails you?’ He say, ‘Cousin Dilsey, ebber sence I bin’ growd I'se bin called de king ob dancers, but sence rumatix has tuck me I can't take a step. Cousin Sam, sez Dilsey, you bar de cross. I has bin’ a member ob de church morn’ forty odd years an’ bleeves in wisions, resolutions an’ dreams. I wus tole las’ nite in a wision ter cum ober here an’ bress my son Adam an’ his bride. I weighs ober two hundred an’ forty pounds an’ walks fru’ mud an’ water ter do my duty, an’ I has done it; I tells you ter do de same. I is now so cole I'se almos’ frez. Cousin Dilsey, you says you'se cole. Yes, I feels like a ‘ice berg.’ Well, de doctors gin me some draps fer my rumatix, what will warm you up; here dey is, ef you ’cept ’em. Dat I will, Cousin Sam, an’ fank you too. De ole folks gits up in a corner an’ keeps knockin’ de tickler till its empty. Presently Sam say, ‘Cousin Dilsey, I feels like I used ter, when I was de king ob dancers.’ Dill say, ‘Cousin Sam, I feels jes like I did fo’ I jined de church.’ By dis time a new set begins. Ole man Gill hollers out, ‘Git yer partners.’ De music strikes up ‘Ole Gray Eagle,’ an’ de house fairly shakes. Ole
man Sam can't stan’ it no longer; he lays ’side his krutches, his lims gins ter trimble and feet gins ter shake; fuss thing I knows, dem ole niggers jine hans’ an’ riz on de flo’ an’ flew down de room like shot in a shovel. De dancin’ niggers gin way fer ’em, an’ dar eyes farly pops. De ole folks dances up an’ down, roun’ an’ roun’, cuttin’ de pigin wing an’ double shuffle. Eberyting wus lubly till dey tries ter convert de backstep inter de squeezin’ bisness de white folks calls ‘German.’ De faster de music, faster dey dance, an’ tighter dey squeezes. De ole ’oman gits so ’toxicated wid de squeezin’ bisness, she lifs ole man Sam squar off de flo’ an’ whirls him roun’ so fas’ his feet flies in de air. She squez Sam so hard he say, ‘Dilsey, lemme go.’ No, Cousin Sam, can't let you go; you ’ticed me ter dance, an’ while I is at it I wants de bes’ in de shop.’ ‘But Dilsey, I tells you, lemme go, you huts my rumatix.’ ‘Cousin Sam, dars no rose widout a thorn an’ no pleasure widout some pain; ’sides I is teachin’ you de dance de white folks lubs so well; de faster its danced de tighter dey squeezes; it puts Chrismas in de bones an’ joy in de heart. Cousin Sam, I is a widder an’ is ready. De white fokes say, Is Barkis willin’? Dod drot Barkis, I dunno ’nuffin ’bout de nigger; who is he an’ whar
he cum from? But Dilsey, I tells you agin, lemme go. I'se gittin’ weak, my bref is gittin’ short, I'se almos’ gone. Gwine ter kill me?’ ‘No, dear, sweet cousin, nebber will I kill you; I'se only tryin’ ter perserve yer preshus life, so you kin west in my lubbin’ arms.’ ‘Dang yer lubbin’ arms. I stans no mo’ sho’ den a fly in a spider's web, an’ I pities de nigger dat ebber falls in yer grip, fer he'll be squez ter deaf. I tells yer once mo’ ter lemme go.’ De ole man wiggles an’ twists ter git away, but de ole ’oman holds her grip. By dis time she's ’zorsted, an makes a stagger an’ falls agin’ de table, turning it over, spillin’ de things an’ breakin’ all de plates an’ dishes; bofe de ole niggers cums sprawlin’ ter de flo’, Sam at de bottom. He hollers out, ‘I'se kilt; pull dis ’oman off'n me; she is smoverin’ me ter deaf.’ De dancin’ folks runs ter help ’em up, an’ when on dar feet, Dilsey she hauls off an’ lams Sam a sabinding lick side ob his head, an’ he falls sprawlin’. Sez Dilsey, ‘Take dat, you black rascal, fer dancin’ me outen de church.’ Den steps back, jes’ as ole Primus was passin’ her wid a plate piled up wid possum meat an’ taters, an’ fell agin’ him, knockin’ him down. De ole man squeals like a pig an’ hollers out, ‘Fer de Lord's sake, fokesies, pull dis ’oman off'n me; she's mashin’ me ter
Take dat, you black rascal, fer dancin’ me outen de church.
deaf, an’ I feels like a bale ob cotton under de press.’ Eberybody runs ter git de ole peeple on der feet. (Ole man Sam all dis time lays under de table an’ say nuffin.) He slips up ’hind Dilsey an’ breaks a big dish all in pieces over her head an’ say, ‘Now, dang you, I'll sho dance you outer de church.’ Dilsey falls like a beef shot. Ob all de cafusim I nebber see. Some runs dis way, some runs dat way, some rubs her hans’, some rubs her head, some pours water in her face an’ whiskey down her froat. Slick, lemme tell you de ’Lawd's trufe, a nigger is a nigger, I don't kear whar you puts him. You kin edicate him, dress him in store clothes, but he is a nigger still. You mout es well try ter dam up de ole Ribber Jurdan es ter try ter change de natur’ ob de nigger; it can't be done. Ole Minger, what blongs ter Doctor Bell, (de niggers calls him Dock), is mity biggaty; he comes runnin’ up an’ takes hold ob Dilsey's hans, like his marster, feels her pulse, an’ sez she's mity weak. De lick she gits side ob her head may envelope an’ perduce de discussion of de brain an’ end in def. What you gin her? De ’omans say, we baved her head in water an’ gin her a big dose of whiskey. ‘Ah me!’ sez ole Minger, ‘whiskey dese days is nuffin.
Dey pours water in her face an whiskey down her frote.
What she needs is a big dose of apple-jack, which would revive her at once.’ De fuss busted up de dance. Gill he puts his fiddle in a bag, swings it on his shoulder an’ starts fer home. When he comes ter whar Dilsey lay, Gill say, ‘Dock, here's de stuff what shoots close an’ hits de mark pine blank,’ an’ hans him de brandy. When Gill's back is turned, Minger takes two good swipes, but Gill ketches him an’ looks at him mity hard, and said, Dock, gwine ter drink all my licker’? I pays fer it, but you does like it blongs ter you.’ ‘Mr. Griggs, sez Dock, ‘does you grudge a little sperrits when dis poor lady's life hangs on a fread! She needs two, sted ob one glass.’ Well, sez Gill, she could have had two ef you hadn't drunk my brandy; you ole dead beat, blather blower, whiskey sucker, now dang you, gib me my tickler’; wid dis Gill grabs his tickler an’ lef’. ’Bout dis time ole Dilsey comes ’round’ an’ makes a mity grunt, den sets up an’ looks ’round an’ sez, ‘O, whar is my dear Barkis?’ Uncle Primus leans ober her an’ sez, ‘Sister Dilsey, who am dat strange nigger you talks so much about?’ Dis made de ole ’oman fightin’ mad; she doubled up her fists an’ makes a lick at Primus’ head, but de ole man dodged an’ saves hisef. De niggers gits alfired mad; dey hustles Dilsey in a kyart an’
sens her home. You ought jes’ seed ole Sam; he gedders up de krutches he used two years, puts dem under his arm, an’ does tall walkin’. When Dilsey seed him, she say, ‘Cousin Sam, I fergibs you, but can't fergit yer. Now, I'se got to go fru’ dat same ole long ’sperience I goes fru forty years ago, kase you tuk an’ dances me outen de church.
De white fokes hears de racket, an’ cums down ter de quarter ter see what was de rumpus. When dey gits dar, de lights is out, niggers scattered an’ eberyting is silent as de grabe.
“Before the wedding party dispersed the Rev. Primus Cotton gave notice to the members of his errant flock that he would preach the next night, and earnestly requested those present to inform the other members of his intention. Sunday night the church was crowded to its fullest capacity, many members of other churches being present. The old man seemed much depressed, and earnestly prayed that he might be so directed in all he said as to be instrumental in turning the footsteps of the wayward. When he arose to address his people he spoke as follows: ‘Bredren, cordin ter promise, I has called my chilluns togedder ter have a little fireside talk. Now I'se growin’ ole, an’ can't be wid you long, an’ when I
leabes you, whose gwine ter take kear ob you? Ef you chuses ter go in ferbidden paves while I'se wid yer, what you gwine ter do when I'se gone? I'se knowed you, an’ lead you, an’ fed you sence you was little chillens, an’ I is now trubble in sperret when I considers de futer’ years, when ole Primus won't be here ter advise an’ zort an’ spound de word ob trufe ter yer deaf ears no mo’. De subject I has in view ter night am Adam an’ Ebe. In dar innocense an’ hapness, dey persented a butiful pictur; in dat happy home, all wuz joy an’ peace. When Ebe eat dat apple, den gib Adam a bite, de law am vilated, an’ bofe dem niggers habs ter leabe dat butiful an’ happy home. When dis happens Adam an’ Ebe gits so skeard dey turns white, an’ my bredren, dat's why de white man am among us dis wery day. Now, bredrin, wan't it mean in dem niggers ter fro’ away dat butiful garden, wid all its hapness, jes’ fer one lone apple? Ef it had bin a big fat chicken or watermillion, or big horse cake dar wus some sense in it, but jes fer one apple, dey makes a big slip up. Den comes on de fall ob de year, an’ it am a mighty cole day, Adam an’ Ebe had ter put on close, an’ eber sence den you niggers has bin puttin’ on close. You ’omans dresses like peacocks ebery Sunday, gaddin
an’ flouncin’ about, leabin’ yer chillun home by darsef, ter grow up like weeds, an’ acs like de worl blongs ter yer, an’ didn't hab ter go ter de cotton patch ter pick cotton Monday mornin’. From las’ nite's dissepation I wishes ter deliber a discose on de ebil ob drinkin’ whiskey. Now I'se ole an’ feeble an’ takes my dram when natur calls fer it, but I keeps it es my sarvant an’ not es my marster, an’ I says ter you now, my bredren, wid tears in my eyes, yea, wid a heart full ob sorrow, an’ eben weepin’, dat you is lef’ de paves ob righteousness. Chrismas am nigh an’ should be sacred ter ebery heart, but de chilluns ob de worl’ uses dese sacred times fer dessepation an’ drunkenness. Ole Ball Face am a mity man, an’ a power in de lan’, an’ bears a bad name, an’ has plenty ob debil in him, but ef you lets him lone, Ole Red Eye am peaceful. Ef you tech him de debil gits rite inter you, like he gits inter Dilsey las’ nite when she kicks up so much debil, an’ brings disgrace on hersef an’ reporch on de church. No sooner does she tech him den she fights everyting what cumes in her way an’ dances like a worling, an’ de wus’ ob it, when she dances she crosses her foots; ef she hadn't done dis she mout git back inter de church rite easy, but now she'll hab a hard road to trabel fo she gits back inter
de fold. Jes lemme tell you young niggers one fing. Ef you ebber dances don't you nebber cross yer foots; ef you does, witches is sho ter gin dar work, an’ do dar debiltry. I knows we's got some powerful warm members in dis congregation, but dey ain't hot enoff ter keep de church warm. You young niggers thinks we ole folkses got no sense, but we knows you is a big set ob fools, kase we has sized you up an’ whittled you down ter a pint. You tries ter himitate de young sprigs ob de ole marsters; wid a bottle ob whiskey in yer pocket, one cent segar in yer mouf, hat on one side ob yer head, an’ red crebat ’round yer necks, you thinks de worl am yourn. I wishes ter my heart de ole marsters would keep dar boys at de ‘great house’ and not let dem sociate wid you, fer bad company crupts good manners an’ moralizes de nigger gineration, dis time present. Ef you young niggers keeps walkin’ in dar footsteps you all will sho go to —. Dar now, drot if I didn't cum mity nigh lettin’ de cat outer de bag, but you wexes me so I gits dignant when I sees you traipsin arter dim young sports. Keep on, fus’ thing you know yer heads will be in de halter, an’ I tells you now, rite ter yer face, ef you don't pent an’ alter your cose, you'll nebber git ter heaben. Now, in de clusion ob my sermon,
I will say (about this time one of the members, a strapping young buck, occupying a seat on one of the front benches nearest the stand, while asleep, gave a mighty snort, which created such a sensation in the congregation and so ruffled the speaker, he exclaimed with great indignation, Brudder Dick Gaskill, do, fer de Lawd's sake, wake up dem perlite niggers on de moners’ bench what has bin noddin’ ter me fru de whole ob my discose. I ’specs dey habn't got ober de defecs ob ‘Ole Ball Face’ dey tuck at de weddin’ las’ nite, when he kicks up so much debil). Brudder Jim Dugger, lock dat do’ an’ put de key in yer pocket an’ take up de collection, while de quire sings dat butiful refrain, ‘I'se er Cumin.’ Bredren, I hopes you all will stribute ter de bes’ of your debility, fer we needs all de cash we kin git dese Chrismas’ times, ter plenish de inner man, so we kin have grace an’ strength ter go forth an’ work in de winyard an’ warfare agin’ sin an’ moralization, an’ upliftin’ our fallen race.” After the collection had been taken and the money counted, from the many smiles upon the countenance of Uncle Primus, it was apparent the amount collected was satisfactory. He at once requested Brother Dugger to unlock de do’, then proceeded to say: “I knows amongst de members ob dis church dar is some
hard nuts, an’ dey needs crackin’, but its weakness ob de flesh, an’ I hopes yet dey will git in de kingdom; but take you all in all, I bleeves you is good chilluns, kase you looks arter de needs ob yer poor ole Farder. Now rise, my chilluns, an’ weceive my thanks an’ benediction.”CHAPTER IV. Trapped.
After giving his companion full details of the weddin’ the night previous, Gum informed him that “while the white folks was in at supper las’ night, I slips to ole Mis’ basket, gits de key tuh de hen house, unlocks de do’ an’ puts de key back. Now tomorrer night, Slick, we's gwine possum huntin’, and when we comes fum de woods we tens to bizness.”
Mr. Hill, manager of Scotland Farm, heard the conspiracy and took measures to circumvent their plans. On the night appointed these young hopefuls were promptly on hand. Equipped with axes and lightwood torches, and accompanied by old Blanche, they sallied forth, ostensibly in quest of game. As they left the premises Gum was so elated at the prospects that he started up an old plantation song as follows:
- “Mammy and Daddy, look at Sam,
- Eatin’ all de meat up and soppin’ out de pan.”
“Shut up yo’ mouf, you black fool. You wants to wake up the whole plantation fo’ you gits one chicken?” Gum obeyed and off to the woods they
went. About ten o'clock they abandoned that field of sport, and soon arrived at their destination. Gum at once mounted the roost and said,
“Now, Slick, I means bizness. But, Slick, ole Miss is mighty good to us, for ebry Sunday she calls us to de ‘great house’ an’ gibs us cakes an’ pies en things, en makes us say de Creed, de Lord's Prayer an’ de Ten Commandments. An’ here I is now stealin’ her chickens. But, Slick, Christmas is mighty nigh an’ I is short ub cash. I wants boodle an’ mus’ hab it or no sport. What's I gwine to do?”
“Look here, Gum, stop yo’ foolishness. Bible is Bible, biz is biz. Dey don't go togedder. Ef you takes biz, Bible go,—ef you takes Bible, biz go. So you kin take yer choice. But we can ’cuss dis question some udder time. Han’ down dem chickens, Gumbo.” “Well, here goes. Golly, Slick, de fus’ one am ole Peg. Dad drat it, she's a layin’ hen an's wurf fifty cents. Choke her good, fo’ she hollers, an’ put her in de bag. Bully, Slick, here comes ole Tab. She's fatter'n ole Peg an’ is good fer anudder fifty cents; dat's a dollar, ain't it, Slick? Well, here comes too mo, an’ dey is fat an’ sassy, an’ don't you fergit it. Choke ’em good; don't let ’em holler; ef you does you spiles de puddin’ an’ de pie. Ganny, Slick,
here comes two mo’; dey's so fat dey makes a nigger's mouf water. Choke ’em tight an’ put ’em in de bag. Dats six, ain't it, Slick? Ain't we in luck; won't ole Miss kick an’ squeal when she fines her chickens gone? But she'll nebber think her Sunday school niggers tuck ’em, fer she swars by us, don't she Slick? But one thing ole Miss does I don't like, she's always hamrin’ on dat demand in de Bible ’bout stealin’; I wishes de thing had nebber bin put in de Book; I likes ole Miss, but I likes boodle bes’. She's got keen, hawk eyes when you gits on her wrong side. She lubs boodle too, n’ don't want ter lose nuffin. Ole Miss knows de natur’ ob de nigger, dat he can't change it no mo’ den de leopard kin his spots, an’ dats de Bible trufe, ain't it, Slick? De diffence twixt a nigger an’ white folks is, dat de nigger pinhooks an’ de white man steals by de wholesale. De nigger is satisfied wid a watermillion, fat chicken or horsecake; but de white man ’spises dis little truck, an’ ain't satisfied less he gits a big pile ob cash. So a nigger is a nigger, I don't kear whar you puts him.
Slick, a nigger is sho’ ter do two things: He will lie and steal. Its his natur’ and he can't help it; but I'll be dag if de white man ain't mighty clost to him. Now, Slick, lemme ax you: ain't de white man
what rob de bank a bigger rogue dan de nigger dat rob de roost? An’ ain't de man what steals de bigges’ pile mos’ ’spected an’ hab de bes’ show befo’ de law? Kase he hols’ udder people's money dat go to de lawyer to git him outen trouble. An’ de lawyers sho’ do stick to him till dey sucks his blood like a leech. When his money is gone, den ole Boozler go ter de wall an’ he fall inter de pen. Now dars Mr. Cashaw, what runs de bank. He lib in a fine brick house, an’ when he walk de streets his close an’ beaver shine like he in de middle of de sun. He blong to de church an’ lib in elewated siety. He lead de choir an’ sing to de bass. He pay his preacher jam up an’ sens money ter de hedens. Fus ting you know, de bank bustes. Mr. Cashaw is ’victed an’ sent ter de pen. ’Tain't long fo’ his healf gib out. Den de Gubner set down an’ write a gret long mess ’scusin’ hissef fer lettin’ him out. But de po’ pinhooker stay in dar tell he do his time, an’ he pay well fur de chicken he eat.
Slick, ef dar's one ting de niggers skeered ob its de lash. You jes’ let a nigger er white man hug de ole pos’ once wid thirty-nine lashes on de middle uv his back, drot ef dey will ebber fergit it. Fur dey will tink de fountins ob de deep is busted, an’ cuss de day
dey ebber seed a bank er a chicken roos’. Dey twis’ an’ wiggle like er wurm in de fire, an’ dey members de ’mandments nex’ time. Slick, lemme tell you one fing. Ef mo’ rogues had ter hug dat ole machine, dag ef dey wouldn't be mo’ money lef’ in de bank an’ mo’ chickens on de roos’. An, Slick, ef I wan't so hard up, drot ef I'd tech a chicken wid er forty-foot pole. Kase Jedge Jesse Massey skeered me outen er year's grofe las’ cote when he say ter dat yaller free nigger, Tim Skillett, ‘De prisner will stan’ an hear de sentence pronounced agin’ him. ‘Tim Skillett,’ de Jedge say, ‘youse no slave but free bawn. Yo’ chance uv makin’ a libin’ am as good as a white man's, but youse gone wrong. Youse bin cornwicted ub one ub de wuss crimes on the statute books, de same as safecrackin’, burglery er murder in de fird degree. Dar is nuffin whar puts a community ter so much trubble as robbin’ de roos’. It ’stroys de machine whar produces valable fruit, an’ ef dis high-handed bisnes ain't stopped de whole breed ub chickens will be stirmanated an’ loss ter de worl’. Now, ef de cote knows itself, I must say, dar is no members ob any perfession (de preachers always ’cepted) whar is mo’ ’voted ter chicken meat dan de lawyers. Now, Tim Skillett, fer dis infernious crime de cote will be
compelled ter gib you de full ’stent ub de law. You is ter be confined ter de State's Prison fer fibe yeahs, an’ not be lowed to tas’ chicken meat while sarvin’ yo’ term.’
When de sentence is pass’ Tim say, ‘Boss Jedge, ef you lows me, kin I say er few words fo’ I goes ter de pen?’
De Jedge say, ‘De ques’ ub de prisner am granted.’ Tim gits up an’ say, ‘Boss, I fesses I tuck dem chickens, but I didn't steal ’em. Kase why? Kat cockeyed free nigger, Bill Wilkins, what sets fo’ you on dat bench come ter my house in de dead hours ub de night, goes ter my pen an’ steals de fattes’ pig whar I's got. He barbecues hit, teck hit ter town an’ sells hit on de street, an’ didn't so much es gib me er sop ub my own meat, much less pay fur hit. Now Boss, ter git eben, I goes ter his house in de broad day an’ cleans de roos’. Now, Boss, hits dis way: Ef I takes his chickens, he take my pig. My pig wus wurf mo’ dan all de chickens I gits; so dar hit resses. But, Boss, lemme tell you, ef you wants ter sabe de hog breed an’ hab er big crop er meat, I ’vises you ter put dat nigger in de pen fer life. Fer ef he's ’lowed ter traipise de kentry, he'll clean up de las’ razorback, long-nose, piney-wood rooter in de lan’.’ Dang him,
when Tim say dis, he jes’ put he foot in de fiah. De Jedge git cussin’ mad an’ turn all colors; he say, ‘Sherf, take de prisner ter jail, an’ feed him on bread an’ water, an’ not too much ob dat, tell he go ter de pen.’
On the way ter jail Tim say, ‘Sherf, dat Jedge shoot off er heap ob lip,’ says he. ‘He's a regler blather-blower,’ Tim say, ‘Dey call him Jedge Jesse Massey, but I be dag ef he show me eny jestice or mercy neider, dod drot him.’
So, Slick, dis is de las’ time dis nigger gwine ter pin-hook. I takes my stan’ nigh de bank, so when I makes a haul I rakes de cash.’
‘Look here, Gum, yer talks too much. Ef you don't mine you'll lose chickens, bag an’ all. Well, Slick, here comes old lady Cochin and Mister Cock-a-doodle-do. Deys so fat, deyed make a dinner fit fer a king. Dey's wuf er dollar, sho’. Slick, is eberything still and quiet; is a light burning in Mr. Hill's room? If it is, de sooner we gits away from here de better for us.’ ‘Gum, I tells yer ter cum down and get de bag, I hears ole Tiger barkin’, an’ cumin’ dis way.’ ‘Well, jes’ lemme take one more pull fer good measure, an’ I am done.’ About this time a pistol fired and the door closed. Gum fell from the top of the roost on
Slick's head, knocking him down. Slick cried out, ‘I'se shot.’ It was Mr. Hill and young Mr. McLean, who, upon entering the building, found them on their knees. ‘What are you two gentlemen doing here this time of night?’ Slick answered, ‘I dunno, sir.’ ‘Yes you does, Slick; why don't you tell de trufe? You fool niggers does jes’ like you wus arter Missus’ chickens.’ ‘I'll tell you, Marse Henry: When we comes from huntin’ we seed de do’ ob de hen-house open, an’ fines dis bag on de flo’, we jes’ knows some nigger was at stealin’ ole Missus’ chickens, an’ we was jes’ settin’ in here ter watch fer de thief. Dis am de trufe an’ nuffin’ but de trufe. Ax ole Missus ef I eber tells her a lie; an’ she'll say dat Gum am a good sarvant; he's my Sunday school boy an’ a stric member ob de church, an’ Gum mines me ob dat good ole man, Gineral George, what neber tells a lie, an’ Gum is de walkin’ trufe.”
Gun falls on Slick's head. He cries out, Ise kilt.
CHAPTER V. The Old Stage-coach and Circus.
Long years ago, in the palmy days of Scotland Hall, before the Iron Horse had traversed the land from sea to sea, the old stage-coach was an institution not to be despised. In cold and heat, through calm and storm, the old coach forged its way with snail-like speed, over mountain tops, through valleys and across swampy plains, bearing missives which brought joy and sorrow to many hearts.
The tramping feet and rumbling wheels broke the stillness of the night, while the sweet notes of the bugle, echoing through hills and dales, aroused the sleepers of the hamlet. The days of the stage-coach have ended, its mission is served, and the institution has passed into history. But memory recalls the long, weary, jolting journeys, with their setting of romance and chivalry, and their ever present tragedy and comedy. The casual associations of such journeys often ripened into pleasant friendships that lasted through life. The old stage-coach was a theater within whose narrow walls was enacted many touching and pathetic scenes.
Take dis oman offen me, Ise kilt! I feels like a bale ob cotton in de press.
On a stormy and blustering night, as the stage-coach wended its tedious way through a sparsely settled country, it contained among its passengers a young man and woman, just married, who were on their wedding journey. The bride was a beautiful, blushing girl of seventeen summers, whose mobile and expressive features now beamed with joy, now saddened till her soft brown eyes were diffused with tears. With tender caresses her husband endeavored to soothe her heart, torn at the thought of leaving home, and gradually she slipped into a troubled slumber with her head upon his shoulder. The wind whistled and howled without, and torrents of rain dashed against the windows, as the stage-coach plowed its steady way through mud and water. The young couple awoke at dawn, to find the clouds scattered and a glorious sun shining from the clear sky. All was calm. Nothing was heard but the slow creak of the heavy wheels, straining through the mud, and the panting of the laboring steeds. With the coming of the light the attention of the couple was drawn to another occupant of the stage. It was a young man about twenty-five years of age, clad in a soldier's garb and a canteen slung round his neck. As he lay asleep with his head resting upon an improvised pillow
made of an army blanket, they perceived that his handsome and prepossessing face was pale and his frame wasted. He slept uneasily as though suffering pain from the rough jolting of the lumbering vehicle. He was aroused by the blowing of the guard's bugle, and it was not long before the three, attracted to each other by their common youth, were engaged in frank and easy conversation. They dined in company at the hostelry, and the conversation was continued when they left the wayside inn to resume their journey.
It appeared that the young soldier was just from the City of Mexico, belonging to the volunteer arm of the service under General Scott. At the siege of that city he was severely wounded and was carried to a hospital on the outskirts, where he remained until discharged. Upon his arrival at New Orleans he stopped in the hospital there for ten days to recruit his strength after the tedious and exhausting journey by wagon and stage.
“In a few more days,” he said, “I shall be clasped in my mother's arms, whose prayers saved my life.”
In the afternoon they arrived at a point where their paths diverged, and the separation caused sincere and mutual regret. But the friendship, cemented by the day's travel together in the old stage-coach, after the
awful night of rain and storm, lasted through life, and resulted in long years of correspondence and frequent exchanges of visits.
As he was passing from the dining-hall to the library, a letter was handed to Mr. McLean by a servant just from the village. The letter was from a friend living in an adjoining town, and informed him that he desired to visit him and would be his guest for several days.
On the day appointed, Mr. McLean, in company with his two little sons, drove to the village to meet this welcome guest. Soon the sound of the horn was heard and presently four iron grays, attached to a large and newly painted coach filled with passengers and luggage, came dashing down the village street, and with a flourish drew up at the inn. As usual, a large crowd had assembled, some through curiosity, others to welcome the arrival of expected friends. The court yard of the inn was immediately a scene of bustle and confusion. Here were busy servants handling luggage and dusting garments, while the others were conducting the travelers to private rooms, the dining-hall or to the bar for something to wash down the dust of travel. Nimble hostlers quickly unhitched and led away the horses, to be replaced by
a fresh relay, while everywhere was seen the smiling and courteous host, looking to the comfort of his many guests.
Life, panorama-like, is continually changing and shifting its scenes. “Here,” says an eminent writer, “heart and flesh do faint and fail. Often our cisterns fill when they are broken at the fountain; our suns scarcely climb to the meridian when they set in weeping clouds; our fondest schemes are scattered and our most cherished gourds wither. We seat ourselves in our homes, but blanks are there. The vacant seats tell too well of early graves, severed links, crushed hearts and blighted hopes. As age creeps on, we look around us, but the companions of early life are gone; the noblest forest trees, one by one, have bowed to the axe-man, and the places which knew them once shall know them no more forever. When we realize the changes in this transitory life, the heart sickens with sadness and sorrow. Yet these are but links in the golden chain that reaches from earth to heaven.”
There is One surviving the wreck and ruin of all sublunary things; the King of Kings, whose days have no end, and whose providence is over all His works. He is the High Priest of fallen man, who
with outstretched hands ever intercedes for us at the right-hand of God, and who with open arms invites us to the shelter of His protecting and eternal love. His all-seeing eye constantly rests on the frail little barks, struggling, tossed and buffeted by the relentless billows of this storm-swept life. If faithful to the end, we shall behold the New Jerusalem with all its hallowed associations and transcendant glories; its heaven-built walls and pearly gates, its crystal fountains and golden streets. Then shall the redeemed join the mighty choir in songs of praise, rolling on as the sound of many waters; the strains of whose music are wafted on waves of glory that fill the soul with rapturous joy. As eternal ages roll by, the redeemed, going from glory to glory, shall forever praise Him, who alone is worthy of all adoration, glory, dominion and power.
Long years have elapsed since the bustling scene at the old inn was witnessed. Time has wrought many changes. A new generation has arisen, strangers to the institution of the stage-coach. The ancient hostelry has long ago been reduced to ashes; the polite host, along with his family, his guests and servants, and the curious throng of spectators, all have disappeared from the scene of action; and of all that
assembly only one little boy remains. He has grown old now, and weary of life's troubles and sorrows. But he is buoyed by the hope of being clasped in the arms of loved ones, over whom he has wept and mourned; and of striking hands once again with friends and kindred, in the “sweet by and by,”—in the infinite, beautiful, all-glorious Beyond.CHAPTER VI. Circus.
While masters Charlie and Eddie were romping in the hall one day in the early spring, Mr. McLean called the boys in the library and read to them the account of the doings of a bad elephant belonging to a circus. As this circus was entering the city of New Orleans, the elephant suddenly became enraged and unmanageable, and killed his keeper. Then in his fury he ran down one of the principal streets of the city, playing havoc with whatever came in his way. The account stated that more than forty rifle balls were fired at the animal, but he escaped apparently uninjured, and took refuge in a morass near the city. There he was surrounded by the show-men, who finally succeeded in subduing him and bound him fast with ropes and chains.
The boys were deeply interested in the narrative of this event, and their lively imaginations were much inflamed by the furious conduct of this mammoth animal, a species which they had never seen.
Later on in the spring Mr. McLean, upon his return from the village one day, announced to the boys the coming of a circus.
Upon the day on which the circus arrived the village of Glasgow was filled with whites and blacks from the neighboring plantations; and when the hour came for the parade the streets were crowded with a large throng of men, women and children. When the procession reached the big tent, the doors were flung open, and among those who went in were Mr. McLean and his two eager boys. First they inspected the animals. Then their father carried them to the confectionery stand, where they were liberally supplied with cakes, candy and lemonade. While sipping the beverage they overheard their father ask the name of the elephant. “Columbus,” the man replied. The boys looked at each other but said nothing.
Before the performance commenced the two boys were placed by their father on top of one of the cages, in order that they might be out of harm's way, and also as a better vantage ground for seeing. Now about this time a heavy wind began to blow, amounting almost to a gale, and the animals confined in their cages became considerably excited. Indeed, the lion and the tiger, who were confined in the same cage, began to fight. In their scrimmage they fell heavily against the sides of the cage and threatened to break
through the iron bars. The parrots were cursing, screaming and laughing, while Columbus, the elephant, became much excited and began trumpeting and throwing dirt upon his back with his trunk. The boys were very much frightened, and Eddie said, “Charlie, I'm so scared I'm about to jump out of my skin.” Charlie replied, “I am scared too, but if things don't get better, instead of jumping out of my skin, I shall jump out of this tent.”
About this time a big crash was heard and some one said, “If those animals keep on fighting, they will be breaking out of their cages pretty soon.”
That was enough for the boys. They determined to get down from their perch at once and leave the tent. They scrambled down upon the front wheel and were just ready to jump to the ground, when, to their terror, they saw an immense yellow dog chained to the very wheel upon which they stood. They climbed up to the driver's seat, only to get into new trouble, for a big, rough boy shouted at them in angry tones, “Here, if you can't be still you'd better get out; and the sooner the better for your skins.”
This put the final touch to the fright of the two little fellows, who had never been in such a situation before. They were overcome with terror, and Charlie
said, “Buddie, let's pray.” They plumped down on their knees on the driver's seat and fervently repeated the old nursery prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep.”
Again the noises from the lion and tiger's cage swelled up, and Eddie whispered, “Buddie, let's say the Lord's Prayer.” They had not proceeded far when a mighty crash was heard against the bars of the cage, accompanied by a terrific roar that sent a panic to the hearts of the little suppliants. Eddie sprang to his feet and shouted, “Buddie, darned if they ain't out, and they will eat us up.”
But Charlie remained on his knees and said in tones of deepest rebuke, “Boy, what do you mean by using such blasphemy when our lives are in the greatest danger, and we are liable at any moment to be converted into sausage meat?” With trembling frame and quivering lip he continued, “Now you get right down to business. Come to your knitting, and pray your best. If you don't pray, by ganny, I'll knock the stuffin’ out of you pret—pretty quick, you leather-headed infidel.”
After the prayer was ended they arose and quietly took their seats near the big boy who had threatened them. In front of a cage not far from where they
sat a crowd was gathered, examining what appeared to be a very large and ferocious beast. By his antics he attracted much attention. His unearthly yells excited the other animals, while the stentorian shouts of his keeper could be heard throughout the tent. The big boy asked in a surly and disdainful tone, “What is that wide-mouthed, slick-tongued, blather-skite talking about?” A bystander replied, “If you would keep quiet you might find out for yourself.”
According to the usual custom, the keeper harangued his auditors in language most graphic, speaking as follows:
“Ladies and gentlemen: This hanimal is a nondescript of the most hextraordinary character, one of the most unique and stupendous curiosities ever on hexibition. Narthing in natural history, so far as has been ascertained, has ever approached it in similarity. It is the only beast of its kind that has ever been captured from its native jungle, and when this was accomplished, not less than ten natives fell victims to its ferocity, while several Hinglishmen were severely injured.
No name has yet been given to this wonderful quadruped, and it has puzzled the most heminent naturalists to classify it. Some give it the name of “Gorilla,
Wild Man of the Woods,” others “Gyamskutis.” As for myself, I do not possess the faculty of discrimination. The memory of this brute is remarkable and beyond conception. It seems also to possess reasoning powers that are hastonishing. The small, piercing eye denotes perception; the large nostrils, acute sense of smell; the bristles surrounding the enormous mouth, intense ferocity; the terminal organ of the body or extension of the spinal column, vulgarly called in Hinglish tongue the tail, is covered with down of the richest and most delicate texture, being ring-streaked and striped. It is wonderfully fascinating. Its powers of vacillation, pendulum-like, oscillating from right to left, vice-versa, boxing the compass at all the cardinal points, is marvelous and enchanting in the extreme.
This hanimal somewhat resembles in its nature the chimpanzee that inhabits the west coast of Africa, though in several respects there is the widest difference. The chimpanzee attains the height of four feet, while this hanimal measures something over five. The former's body is covered with long, coarse, black hair, while the hair of this wonder is a fine, silky brown, equal to eiderdown. But like the chimpanzee, his face and ears are devoid of hair, and the
forehead is flattened and retreating. Like the chimpanzee when standing erect, the forefingers do not quite reach the knee. It is said the chimpanzee has traits of hamiability, but from my observation this hanimal has never hexibited hanything but ferocity.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, the delicate rims of golden hue encircling the tail of this hanimal hindicates its age, which shows it has existed on terra-firma sixteen and one-half years. The enormous paw hindicates the greatness of its strength.”
As these last words were spoken, the animal sprang forward and seized the bars of its cage with its mouth and paws and shook it with such ferocity that the strong structure trembled. At this display of violence many of the spectators retreated. There were three young men, however, who stood their ground and even approached nearer in order to get a better view of the beast. The keeper, perceiving their rigid scrutiny, assumed an air of terror and, laying his hands upon their shoulders with an affectation of kindly remonstrance, said, “Gentlemen, I beg you to remove to a safe distance from the cage. Two of the bars have been weakened by the violence of the brute, and have only been strengthened with small wire. It greatly excites him for strangers to come too near. If he should get out, trouble would surely begin.”
The young men complied with his request and were soon lost in the crowd. At the conclusion of his harangue the keeper said: “Furthermore, ladies and gentlemen, I will say that the statements I have made regarding this remarkable brute may be verified by letters in my trunk at the hotel from my most intimate friend, the Viceroy of India, with whom I have often hunted in the jungles. And, I may add, our experiences were most thrilling and dangerous, and our escapes most marvelous.”
A gentleman standing by remarked, “When I was in India about three years ago, I saw much of the gentleman of whom you have been speaking. Can you recall his name?”
“I can not at this time, as my memory has been impaired by an attack of brain fever,” said the man.
“As you have his letters at the hotel, I will call and verify your statements. I will come at 6 p. m., and if you can not show me the letters I will brand you as a humbug.”
While the three young men were walking around, seeing the sights, Buck observed, “Boys, that animal whose cage we just now observed is a first-class fraud, and before we leave here I intend to prove it. At the
end of the den I discovered that the entrance was covered by a piece of canvas instead of the door, which was swung back on its hinges; and don't you know that if the animal were not a fraud the door would be well secured? Now, when the crowd leaves, I intend going right in the cage and meeting the animal face to face.”
“Buck,” said Jim, “don't you do it. If he is not a fraud you will forfeit your life. If he is a fraud, a row will be kicked up between you and the keeper. But if you want to try, I'll stand to you.”
“Go ahead, Buck,” said Fred, “I am with you through thick and thin.”
Soon the keeper and crowd moved on to the other cages. The three young adventurers, taking advantage of their absence, approached the door of the cage. Suddenly throwing back the canvas, Buck sprang into the cage with a cocked pistol in hand, while the others stood at the entrance, also heavily armed. No sooner did the animal perceive the pistol pointed at his head than he made a spring in the opposite direction and cried out, “Boss, boss, fo’ de Lawd's sake, don't shoot. I'se nuffin’ but er fool nigger playin’ de fool foh er doller er day, en I'se mighty durn tired ob de job. Dis nigger rudder be hoein’ cawn or sidin’ cotton den playin’ scutis.”
“Why, blame my buttons, boys, who do you reckon I've got here? Its old Si Higgs.”
“Boss,” implored Si, “please git outen heah fo dem show folks come back en fin’ out youse deskivered de trick, fo’ dey sho’ will be er row kicked up, en dis ole nigger ’ll git kilt suttin, en he'll lose de doller whah he dun work foh so hard.”
The young men, not wishing to have trouble, left the cage, while Gyascutis rearranged the canvas.
About this time, the wind having ceased, the doors of the cages were hung and the animals became quiet. The band burst forth in stirring strains, horses and riders, arrayed in glittering costumes, made their grand entree into the ring, and in the exhilaration of the strange and delightful scene the boys speedily forgot their recent troubles, and were soon lost in the entrancement of the performance.
When all was over they were driven back home with their father, to whom they never mentioned the fiery trials through which they had passed, nor the fervent prayers uttered from the driver's seat of the van.
The clouds were all swallowed up in the glorious sunshine of that first grand experience of the circus, and in the nourishment of that experience they went for many days.CHAPTER VII. The Parting of the Ways.
By the disobedience of man sin entered into the world, and trouble and death followed. From these none has escaped, nor did the family at Scotland Hall.
Among the children in this happy home was a daughter, the idol and pride of her father's heart. Exquisitely beautiful, tall and graceful, her refinement and manifold accomplishments were combined with an affectionate and deeply pious disposition. Her hand was sought by many suitors and there were numerous proposals of marriage, but all were declined.
Finally a young man of wealth and the highest social position was introduced to her. Cultured and of most attractive personality, he was just back from college, where he had made a splendid record as a student. He soon fell a victim to her rare charms and became one of her most ardent suitors. His affection was returned, and the two became engaged. When the young man deferentially approached her father, with the request for his daughter's hand, he received a positive refusal, though nothing could be
alleged against him save a slight tendency to wildness. The refusal culminated in an elopement. From this unfortunate issue of the affair there arose a storm of indignation in the father's breast that never abated. His humiliation and resentment were complete, and lasted through life. And so a dark shadow fell upon the erstwhile happy family, which for years shrouded it in gloom and sorrow. Yet wherever the family resided, whether at the Hall or in the hill country, as a guardian angel this fond daughter would ensconce herself in some neighboring home, so as to be near those she loved so well. No sooner would her arrival in the vicinity be announced than the mother, with her smaller children, would seek the presence of her discarded daughter. Mrs. McLean did all in her power to comfort and heal the wounded heart of her suffering child. Upon such visits, when the hour for her departure arrived, the sweet young wife and devoted daughter would accompany her mother and the little ones on their return. When they reached a certain point in sight of the old home, mother and daughter were clasped in each other's arms, while silent tears told the grief they both endured. Then the sweet and gentle girl would give one longing look at the dear old home, and turn to
retrace her steps with a heart overflowing with sadness. During one of these visits the daughter chanced to meet her offended parent. Then, unable to restrain her affection and longing, she threw her arms around his neck and covered his face with kisses, saying, “O father, can you not forgive your erring daughter and take her back to your bosom?”
“On one condition, Ione,” he replied, “if you will leave that man whom you have married, I will receive you and your child.”
But the faithful young wife could only reply, with flowing tears, “My father, while my heart is breaking for reconciliation, I dare not entertain the thought; I can never prove false to one whom I devotedly love, and who would sacrifice life itself for me. Though I die I can never desert one who has proven himself faithful, devoted and loving to me in all my sorrows.”
The painful interview thus ended was never renewed. Both hearts were bleeding as they bade each other adieu; one to pursue his inexorable course, the other, like a poor, stricken fawn, to find consolation in Him whose great heart is ever touched by human sorrow, and whose ear is at all times open to the cries of His afflicted children.
But the strain was too great on the beautiful young
wife. The bloom on her fair face began to fade, the lustre of her dark brown eyes grew dim, the graceful form began to droop and the elastic step became weary. With the passage of another year a second sudden and destructive storm broke on the family at Scotland Hall, now already torn with conflicts and distress, and deepened its gloom and sadness.
While the children were playing on the lawn, sudden screams rent the air, and there were signs of the greatest confusion at the house. They ran to an aged servant in alarm and learned that their brother James in hunting had shot himself. The servants were rushing frantically in all directions, some weeping, others screaming, while confusion and horror reigned. Messengers were hastened for medical assistance and to summons Mr. McLean, who had gone to the village. The latter arrived with physicians just as stalwart men-servants were carrying the unfortunate youth into the mansion. After a hasty examination the physicians pronounced the wounds fatal. It was then that the broken-hearted mother was seen in the full heights of her noble character. Restraining her own anguish, she knelt by the bed of her dying son, comforting, instructing and pointing to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world; praying for
that comfort for herself, which she labored to give to others.
All that human skill and affection could do was without avail. Death had marked his spoil. They laid the lad away to rest in the cemetery, near the river, along whose banks he had loved to loiter. There the music of the rippling waters sing his requiem, while he gently sleeps, awaiting the dawn of the resurrection morn.
During the sad and painful vigils at the bedside of the suffering boy, there unexpectedly appeared one day in their midst a tall and fragile figure, whose countenance of so spiritual cast showed the abiding faith and perfect resignation of one who has suffered and conquered.
Braving all obstacles the daughter who had been exiled from the home had entered the forbidden precincts. And as an angel of mercy she was there to minister consolation to the torn and bleeding hearts, she who had been equipped as a comforter by her own double portion of sorrow. When the time of her departure came and she had embraced her mother and brothers and sisters with tears, she entered her carriage, looking back for the last time upon the old home in which she was born and had spent so many
happy years, but was destined never to enter again. The shock of her brother's tragic death upon her already impaired health caused a more rapid decline, and her sweet young life rapidly ebbed away.Triumph.
From the time of Ione's departure from the Hall a little more than twelve months had elapsed, when on a cool October day about dusk a colored horseman was seen to ride to the gate of Scotland Hall and deliver a letter to the mistress of the mansion. It was from the husband of Ione, announcing her critical illness and begging for her immediate presence. At an early hour on the ensuing day the mother was on her way to the home of the invalid, not with the hope of her restoration, but to comfort her last hours. On the departure of Mrs. McLean, the heart of the stern father relented. He at once forwarded a letter of reconciliation, but by the time of its arrival the sweet spirit of Ione had departed. Sweet indeed was the holy communion between these saintly women during the short period intervening before death.
To the pure and good, death is but an open door from earth to heaven, exchanging afflictions for the
joy and bliss of paradise, a crown of thorns for that of glory. To the sincere child of God, doubtless the glories of the heavenly world are revealed before launching into the mysteries of the Great Beyond. As in the case of the Proto-martyr, Stephen, before whose dying vision the heavens were opened that he should see the Son of Man standing on the right-hand of the Majesty on High; so with Ione, as the beautiful invalid stood on the verge of the spirit world. As they watched by her, the mother and husband were greatly astonished to hear her sing in a clear, and for one in her weakened condition, strong voice, a sweet and familiar hymn. Then, exhausted, her head fell back on the pillow, and her face was as the face of an angel. The illumined countenance glowed with the joy that thrilled in her heart. The clouds had all dispersed at last. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” All felt the mighty power of God. The sick chamber became as it were the house of God and the gate of heaven. “Mother, husband,” she said, “is this death I feel stealing over my frame? Is this the King of Terrors I have been taught to dread? If death reveals such joys and bliss, such glories as I now behold, I would welcome it in its most cruel form. It is but
a happy translation from earth to heaven. My mother, my husband, do you not see bright angels about my bedside? Do you not see the glory of the heavenly world?”
Through their tears they replied, “No, Ione, we see them not.”
Then with a smile of joy she said, “Kiss me in last farewell,” and with the kisses of those she loved upon her brow, she sweetly fell asleep,—to awake in the home where storm and tempest may not enter, where “there is no more death, neither sorrow and crying, for the former things are passed away.”
Happy is that one who places his soul in God's keeping, and who in the time of storm takes refuge under the shadow of His wings! And miserable the one who clings only to the perishing things of this world, which are like the flower of the field that springeth up, and when the wind passeth over it, it is gone.
He who fails to make God his friend in this probationary state loses all, and enters the mysterious Beyond without hope, without joy, without God.
CHAPTER VIII. Dreams and Storm.
- “Thou art gone to the grave, but ’t were wrong to deplore thee,
- When God was thy ransom, thy guardian, thy guide;
- He gave thee and took thee, and soon will restore thee,
- Where death hath no sting, since the Saviour has died.”
Impressions made upon the mind in early life are rarely, if ever, erased, but will influence human action as long as life lasts. Happy indeed is the child whose parents are God-fearing people. He in turn is more susceptible to that Divine grace, which is as essential to spiritual progress as the compass to the mariner in the trackless deep.
Whatever may be said of dreams, they are a phenomenon too little studied to speak with certainty regarding them. Some ascribe them to supernatural agencies, others to the condition of the physical system. Whichever may be true, sometimes they certainly seem to be of supernatural origin. We give an illustration coming under our own observation, which, if not supernatural, was at least a strange coincidence:
In the large family of Mr. McLean there was a little boy of peculiar temperament. His reverence for God and Divine things was boundless. He loved to be alone and often strolled in unfrequented paths. He would frequently kneel and worship God when he
supposed himself to be alone out in the fields, with no company but the reverent wild-flowers and grasses. It was evident that his guiding-star was that spiritual influence which had ever blessed and illumined his pathway. It seems that Divine grace touches the hearts of some at a very tender age.
Mr. McLean was awakened by this child one night, to find him bitterly weeping. On being questioned as to his tears he could give no answer, and after awhile went off to sleep again. The next day while the lad was playing in his mother's room, by adroit questions she led him to speak of his experience the night before.
“Mamma, what made me cry last night was, I saw in my dream Christ the Lord. I dreampt I was playing out in the pasture, and I saw in the road a great white throne, which looked just like snow when the sun shines on it. I said, ‘Whose throne is this?’ Someone answered, ‘It is God's.’
I said, ‘Why did God come into the world?’
‘To give your parents new souls.’
In one of the pastures I saw a tall being dressed in long, white robes. You and father were near Him with your heads bowed down. Then I looked again and each of you was holding a green vine in your
hands, which had been given you by the Being in white. They were your new souls. Then my dream ended.”
The next night the mother related the child's dream to his father, who only said, “The child was feverish.”
In three weeks from that time Mr. McLean was taken sick, and in three more weeks he died.
On the morning preceding his death, his wife entered the sick chamber and, approaching the bedside, imprinted a kiss upon the forehead of her husband. She was greatly amazed at the change in his countenance, which was so calm and resigned. After some conversation between them he said, “Wife, God for Christ's sake, has pardoned my sins. If it be consistent with the Divine will I desire to show to the world that I am a changed man; but if it be His will to take me hence, He will lead me to the pure fountains of living waters.”
On that December night he breathed his last. Scotland Hall was again stricken with grief and bathed in tears.
On the succeeding morning, as the sun cast its rays upon the mansion, emblems of mourning draped the doors and all was hushed in sorrowing silence. Farm work was suspended, and groups of servants were seen
standing before the cabins and in corners of the lanes, earnestly discussing the master's death; while on each face were visible signs of anxiety, lest the changes wrought by this death might sever family ties and old and cherished associations.
The child whose dream has been related was inconsolable. He wandered back and forth in the grove, disconsolate, lamenting the death of his father with a depth of grief unusual in a child. Finally he knelt in prayer under a great tree. Returning to the house he met an old family servant who was employed in the neighboring village but who, having heard of the master's death, had hastened back to the plantation. Seeing the child in his deep grief the old negro took him up in his arms, and thus the slave and his young master mingled their tears and comforted one another. This is a true incident, and is related to show the deep affection that in ante-bellum days so often bound the two races together; and which since the emancipation of the slaves has almost totally disappeared. There was no reason then for racial strife. But since the status of the negro has changed and he has become a citizen, rivalry and prejudice have sprung up. As time passes it is more and more evident that race prejudice is making rapid strides in all sections, and
especially in those communities where the two races are equally divided.
On the day after Mr. McLean's death, the hearse stood before Scotland Hall, where a large assemblage of friends and neighbors had gathered to pay their last tribute of respect and affection. Many servants, old and young, followed in the long procession to the cemetery, and stood with bared heads around the grave, while the solemn words of the burial service were being read; mingling their tears with those of the family, as the casket was lowered to its last resting-place.
More than half a century has elapsed since that day when they were assembled about “old marster's” grave. The elderly among them and nearly all who were then grown have passed away. Only the younger members of that mournful cortege now remain, waiting and watching with the “boy-dreamer, whose strange dream had proved so fateful, for their own summons to that land where master and servant join in common praise of “Him who sitteth upon the throne.”CHAPTER IX. The Storm.
A few days after the services at the cemetery, the family at Scotland Hall prepared to move to the village of Glasgow.
The walls of the dear old homestead, that had witnessed so many joys and sorrows, were being dismantled; household goods were packed and conveyed to the new home; and when the last load was placed in the wagon, the bereaved widow bade farewell forever to the dear old Hall, and she and her children were driven to their new quarters.
To the McLeans in their new home, Christmas was the saddest in all their history. But the mother meekly bore the cross, looking to Him who had promised that strength shall be equal to the day.
With the coming of the New Year, it was decided to place the little ones under the instruction of Miss Tabitha La Cross, principal of the Female High School. Although her school was for girls she would receive boys also under twelve years of age. Miss La Cross had taught one generation, and was beginning on the second. She was a lady of marked ability
and high culture, and while not handsome was of distinguished appearance and possessed of great dignity of manner. She was a maiden lady of about fifty, and commanded the entire respect of the community. Whether her single state was the result of disappointed love in early life or proceeded from an aversion to matrimony, this deponent saith not. Certainly no one in the community would dare aver that this unique lady ever made overtures to any of the bachelors of the town, and it was equally evident that no gentleman in Glasgow was contemplating proposals of marriage to her. However, it would seem that the ladies of the La Cross stock had little faith in the opposite sex, as she had four sisters who also preferred to live in single blessedness. Miss Tabitha was very precise in manner and of a dictatorial and somewhat tyrannical disposition. While possessed of considerable tact and affability when she chose to exercise the same, she was unfortunately given to “spells,” which oftentimes resulted in cyclones.
A few days before the New Year, Master Charlie asked his mother if Miss Tabitha ever whipped her scholars. “Yes,” was the reply, “if they are disobedient or neglect their studies.”
“Well,” said the boy, “I allow no woman to whip me except yourself.”
“Why, Charlie, what do you mean?” said Mrs. McLean. “Would you dare resist Miss La Cross! Say no more about it. Were you guilty of such conduct, I would punish you severely.”
The conversation here ended, and the mother thought no more about it, but the boy pondered the matter in his heart.
With the New Year the little girl and her brothers entered the school. Bare walls sometimes reveal secrets, but we do not know whether Miss Tabitha ever heard of the conversation between Charlie and his mother. At any rate, everything went on smoothly in the school for the first month and nothing unpleasant occurred to mar the happiness of the children or interfere with the progress of their studies.
On a cold morning in February, as the little ones were romping in the school room, several young ladies who boarded in the La Cross home entered the building. One of them said, “Look out, girls. The old lady is on the rampage this morning. She's in one of her bad spells. All morning the storm has raged; the lightnings have flashed and the thunders roared, and we are glad to have escaped with our lives.”
At this the little ones ceased their play and went quietly to their seats, apprehension clearly depicted on their faces.
In a few minutes Miss Tabitha entered the room, with compressed lips and clouded brow. With the dignity of an offended queen she marched to her seat, and then scanned each face with sharp and penetrating eyes. Among the other smaller children sitting on the floor about the large, blazing fire was Master Charlie, affecting with rather indifferent success to be studying his book. Miss La Cross, observing his inattention, addressed him as follows: “Young gentleman, I have been noting your idleness since I came into the room. Now just let me say that if you miss one word in your spelling this morning I shall punish you severely.” After several classes had recited, it came time for Masters Charlie and Eddie to undergo the fiery ordeal. The storm which had raged at the La Cross mansion now moved across in ominous clouds and burst upon the school building. With trembling knees the two little fellows took their usual stand before the teacher's desk, and for awhile all went well. Each word as it was given out was correctly spelled, and fortune seemed to smile upon them. Only a few more words and victory would perch on their banners.
Alas! it was not to be. A hard word was given out. In his excitement and trepidation Master Charlie hesitated, blundered, and was lost. Eddie overcome by the discomfiture of his usually cool and fearless brother, would not even venture, but dumbly shook his head. At this double failure the bottled rage of Miss Tabitha blazed out.
Trembling with the anger that had been seeking a vent, she cried in ominous tones, “You both come up here! you especially, Master Charlie. I intend keeping my promise to the letter.”
The two victims moved forward like lambs to the slaughter.
Meek little Eddie offered his hand without waiting to be told, and suffered his chastisement with but a few cries of fright and pain.
“And now, Master Charlie,” said the grim executioner, “I told you what you might expect if you missed your lesson.”
With triumph in her eyes she reached for his hand. But the boy, anticipating the movement, quickly threw his hand behind him and said,
“No, ma'am, I allow no woman to whip me but my mother.”
“What was that, you impertinent fellow!” cried
Miss Tabitha, white with rage. “I'll teach you to be a gentleman!”
“You can't teach me,” replied the boy, “I'm one already.”
With this the old lady arose from her seat, and as she did so they clinched. It was a battle royal. The school looked on in amazement. It was the first time in the history of the school that any one had defied or even questioned Miss Tabitha's authority, and Charlie's temerity was awe-inspiring. Up and down the large room they fought; round and round they whirled, she plying the ruler upon the boy's knuckles at every opportunity, and he fighting and scratching like a cat. At length Miss Tabitha began to show signs of exhaustion and called Charlie's little sister to her assistance. The latter came forward crying, and begged Charlie to desist. But Master Charles would not hear to an armistice and had no time to parley. With a mighty effort he freed himself from his weakening antagonist, and in doing so came near precipitating the old lady into the large fire-place. The latter recovered herself and with as much of her dignity as remained, said to the little girl in haughty tones, “Estelle, you may retire to your seat. I have conquered your brother.” But Charlie, still rebellious,
mumbled back at her, “No you haven't. I allow no one to whip me but my mother.”
“What was that you said, sir?” cried Miss Tabitha.
Charlie, having all he wanted and feeling that he had come off not altogether without honor, did not care to renew the fight, and quickly disclaimed having said anything, notwithstanding there were sixty witnesses to the contrary. The pupils were amazed at the awful pluck and audacity of the ten-year-old boy. Some condemned, others applauded, but all kept a discreet silence.
Just before the dinner hour, Charlie, who had been thinking of what might happen when he returned home, determined to take time by the forelock. So, in a manly but submissive and respectful manner, he went up to Miss La Cross and said, “Miss Tabitha, I am very sorry I behaved so ugly and was such a bad boy this morning, and I beg your pardon. I will try to do better.”
“I grant it,” she replied, “but I want you to understand that I can manage any little boy of your age in town.” Charlie made no audible reply, but whispered under his breath, “No you can't.”
During the remainder of the term the children remained
under the instruction of Miss La Cross, but she was never satisfied. She had a grudge against Charlie and wished to be revenged. Her authority had been questioned and her dignity terribly ruffled. At times when she looked at him anger would leap from her eyes, and she was sorely tempted to try her hand on him again. But she refrained, for the undertaking was undoubtedly hazardous, and discretion was the better part of valor. Often she kept him in after school and would threaten him, but made no attempt to further punish him.
The next year Miss La Cross removed to Washington, and there married, in a few years being left a widow. Some thirty years elapsed before she revisited the scenes of her early life. She chanced to meet Charlie, who was then a man of family, and the meeting was entirely pleasant. He mentioned the incident of “their fight,” but she could not recall it, and the next moment the poor old lady had fallen asleep in her chair.
In a few months more she too had passed over the river and joined the mighty throng which no man can number.CHAPTER X. The Fourth of July Celebration—Paul—Silas—Apollos.
The Fourth of July was a great event and a gala day in Dixie. The slave of the plantation looked forward to it with as much pleasure as the master, as it was a universal holiday. This was especially true in 1845, when the streets of the village near Scotland Hall were thronged with whites and blacks. Long tables were being constructed near the old spring for a public dinner, and pits were being prepared for the inevitable barbecue. Boxes were taken from wagons and deposited near the tables, ready to be placed in proper position as soon as the time should come; while on the streets women venders of the celebrated “Jumbo molasses cake” were in evidence.
Later in the day the tap of the drum was heard, and officers of the military companies were seen hastening to their respective commands. The shrill note of the fife, the roll of the drum, the flying colors and glittering bayonets of the military, headed the grand procession to the old church, where the orator, with a few friends, awaited the arrival of his audience.
When all the seats and even the aisles were occupied, a breathless silence prevailed, as the orator of the day was seen to arise and advance upon the platform. He proceeded to address the audience as follows:
“I can not find appropriate words in the English language to express my appreciation of the distinguished honor you have conferred upon your humble servant in having selected him to perform such an arduous task, when there are others worthier and by far more competent to do the subject justice.”
An old man sitting in the corner of the building clapped his hands and said, “You said something then, Bill.”
The speaker, much chagrined at the interruption and with a contemptuous look upon his face, replied, “Mr. Brass, your name is analogous to your character, and if you just had a few more coats placed on your cadaverous face it would be fire-proof.”
“Hie,” said a little, squint-eyed man sitting near Brass, “Bill has tuck a big dose of razor-soup this here morning and is trying to show off. Bill, I sticks to what Brass has said. You speaks a parable.”
“Mr. Parrott,” said the indignant speaker, “you partake of the nature of the bird whose name, to its discredit, you bear. You have no sentiments of your own, but repeat the words of others.”
“Well, Bill, you has spoke the Bible trufe when you says there is a mighty heap more people in the worl’ who is better fit to do bigger jestice to the subjec’ than you is, an’ I believes you.”
About this time several gentlemen interfered. The confusion created by the episode was allayed, and the speaker was allowed to proceed without further interruption. In a most masterly and graphic manner did our young orator handle the subject, to his own credit and to the great gratification of his friends. Overflowing with spread eagle patriotism, he rose to flights of eloquence which so swayed and enchanted his audience that thunders of applause, such as were never heard before, rolled through the building. He descanted eloquently upon the virtues of the American people, and portrayed in beautiful colors the grand and noble institutions of our glorious Republic,—the asylums of the oppressed, the home of the brave, the land of liberty and equal rights to all.
When he finally concluded, the clapping of hands and stamping of feet shook the old building, while a round volley was fired from the cannon on the green outside.
The band played “Hail! Columbia” and “The Star-spangled Banner,” which so thrilled the already
wrought up people that they became almost frantic, and patriotism oozed from every pore. The procession was then reformed and marched to the spring, where it was disbanded. Many complimentary comments were passed on the oration. Bill was called a Demosthenes, a Cicero, “the equal of Webster, Clay and Calhoun.” They were proud of their young fellow townsman, “raised among us, who can chop cotton and hill corn and carry his row with the best of them.” They wanted to run him for Governor.
In all communities are to be found unique characters, and the village of Glasgow was not an exception. There was one famous in local history, who lived near the town and was a frequent visitor. He was never absent on festive or public occasions. Red-headed, blue-eyed, with a hawk-bill nose, he was kindhearted and full of frolic, with a considerable dash of deviltry. In fact, Jesse Sterlings was somewhat of a blusterer and bully unless his antagonist showed fight. Then the issue was apt to be an apology or a graceful retreat on his part. At an early hour on this particular Fourth, our hero made his appearance on the streets, and was seen to enter a store and purchase several yards of green ribbon. This he coiled about his beaver, allowing the ends to dangle down his back.
Then, all cocked and primed, he sallied forth, in Quixotic style, to seek adventure. Assuming the superintendency of the celebration, he visited the spring and inspected the tables and cooking departments. Nothing escaped his scrutiny. When the column moved to the church he was in the van, center and rear. During the exercises at the church he paid strict attention to every word, and was a Chesterfield in deportment. After the exercises were over he again identified himself with the procession, and continued with it till it was disbanded. After all the assemblage had partaken of an excellent repast, the drum of old Uncle Ricky was heard and an immense crowd took refuge from the heat under the large shade trees in front of a grocery, where lemonade and whiskey were freely dispensed.
During the interval our friend Jesse was not idle, but constantly bobbed in and out among the crowd. From his actions it was evident that mischief was hatching and something of a momentous character might soon be expected to happen. Every one was in the best of humor, as the crowd in lazy content sipped their drinks and listened to the music of the band. Suddenly the calm was broken by a tremendous explosion right in the midst of the crowd. Some one
had thrown a dozen lighted packages of fire-crackers among the people, a few of the crowd being severely burned by the fragments. Loud were the oaths, curses and denunciations of the miscreant. Had he been found it would have gone hard with him. But no one could point him out. After a little, however, an old man, full of “corn-juice” and carrying a long staff, pushed forward and said, “It were Sterlings, fer I see ’im do it.”
There was in the crowd a well-dressed man, sober and of quiet demeanor who, upon hearing this accusation, walked into an open place in the crowd and said, “Gentlemen, my name is Sterling, but I am not the man who threw the explosives, and if any man on this ground accuses me of the outrage he is a liar, and I'll back up what I say.”
Old man Johnson bristled up and said, “You can't deny hit. I seed you when you throwed ’em.”
This renewed accusation caused Sterling to run out of his coat and make for Johnson, who was equally ready for the fray. But Johnson's son, a man nearer the age and strength of Sterling, pushed his father aside and went in for his antagonist. A general free fight was now imminent, as the friends of the two combatants began to draw up on all sides, ready for
the fray. Some cried out, “Let ’em fight”; others said, “Separate ’em.” Some were stout in the opinion that Sterling threw the fire-crackers, while others denied most strenuously that he was the guilty party. Confusion reigned and feeling waxed hotter and hotter. At this juncture a new comer appeared on the scene, a man of such immense build that he seemed a veritable Goliath. This huge fellow stepped upon a box and, with good humored air and twinkling eye, addressed the crowd:
“Ladies and gentlemen: Oh, I beg the ladies’ pardon, for I see there are none of them in such company! So I say, fellow citizens, I am not here to condemn or censure, but to appeal to you as good citizens and lovers of law and order. In the interest of the peace and welfare of the commonwealth, let this tumult cease. I will tell you where the trouble lies: you have got the wrong sow by the ear and are making a grievous mistake. You have accused Mr. Gray Sterling of committing an infamous act, of which he is guiltless. He is innocent, while the guilty party, Jesse Sterling, has skipped, leaving others to hold the bag. He is the culprit who did the mischief, and, like a coward, he has fled. This gentleman should be exonerated, and I stand before you now to tell you
the truth. And if any man on the ground doubts the veracity of old J. T., I'll bresh him in every hole and corner and sweep him in the middle.
“Now, my friends, all I have to say is this: Let us drive away the forked lightnings of wrath and invite to our bosoms the gentle, white-winged dove of peace.”
At the close of old J. T.’s speech many crowded around to shake his hand for bringing about peace and reconciliation among friends and neighbors.
“But whar's Jess?” cried a fellow, with a big piece of barbecue and a chunk of cornbread in his hands. A tallow-faced, squint-eyed youth, three sheets in the wind, replied, “When them “sizzles ’sploded what made such a allfired mess, I seen Jess jump on his ole Robert-tail Spot, en strike a bee-line fur home. The ducks will stop eatin’ mud a long time fore you sees Jess agin.”
Old J. T. then said, “Friends and neighbors, the sun is sinking behind the western hills. It is time for us to return to our peaceful homes. The storm which raged with such fury has now abated and none have been injured. Now let us pour oil on the troubled waters, and erect a monument to reconciliation, and we will cap it with love and friendship by taking a drink of best old apple-jack, in memory of this great and patriotic day, July 4th, 1845,—and old J. T. foots the bill.”CHAPTER XI. Paul and Silas.
Soon after emancipation most of the colored members withdrew from their former churches and organized churches of their own. There was one exception, however. Those belonging to one particular denomination could not be induced to leave the old mother church, but clung to it as a vine to the oak. It is true that politics was a great temptation to the new generation, but these soldiers of the Cross were faithful to their religious creed, though doubtless their sympathies were with the great majority of their race. They made but little demonstration in political matters, however, but rather inclined to walk in conservative paths.
Among the servants in the McLean family were Paul and Silas.
The former was a man of good, natural sense, a practical farmer, and a man of excellent character and undoubted piety. He could read fairly well, and by reason of his early associations used very good language, but with occasional grammatical errors. He also had considerable knowledge of the Scriptures.
Silas was equally as strong a churchman, but did not measure with his companion in character or ability. He was totally ignorant and knew not a letter in the book, but possessed a remarkable memory. The manner in which he acquired a knowledge of the Scriptures was novel and ingenious. While preparing for the ministry he would secure the services of a fluent reader, and would store away in his mind what was read to him, book, chapter and verse, and his quotations were generally correct.
These two old servants worked harmoniously in gospel harness, and were always on the highways and hedges, endeavoring to uplift their race and improve its moral conditions. Of a Sunday morning they were often seen at an early hour leaving for their respective appointments in the piney-woods back-country.
One beautiful Sunday morning they filled an appointment at a colored school-house in the backwoods. The members of their race, saint and sinner, came from miles around to hear the two noted preachers. The little building was packed to its utmost capacity, while many stood at the doors and windows. Silas, being the small gun, opened the service, and preached for half an hour. Upon the conclusion of his discourse,
Brother Paul arose with much dignity and said: “Brethren, I ask, what have you this day seen? It is said that the days of miracles have passed, but I am convinced from what I have witnessed this day that it is not true. The same power that worked miracles in olden times is with us to-day. Here is Brother Silas, who possesses a fumous name, that of the companion of St. Paul in his imprisonment in the jail at Philippi. You know, they never ceased to pray and sing praises until there was a great earthquake and the prison doors were opened, and the jailer and his household were converted. While our Silas may not have the power of Paul's friend and companion, yet he is a marvel. Why do I say so? Because, although he is an unlettered man, with no knowledge of the books of men, yet he stands before you to-day and gives you gospel truths. Is this not marvelous? Is it short of a miracle? Brethren, I have traveled much in my time. I have tramped the lowlands of Beaufort, and climbed the hilltops of Orange, and ascended the mountains of Asia, Spasia and way up about Hillsboro, but never yet have I seen the equal of Brother Silas. I myself am not to be compared with him. He is as the giant oak; he is as the sun that shineth in his strength, while I am
one that is declining beyond the hills. He is a marvel, a giant of strength, who receives revelations. He is high on the mountain peak, while I am down in the lowly valley. As for me, brethren, I am no marvel. It is nothing for me to preach the gospel truths as revealed in the sacred pages; from the fact that I have sat at the feet of Gamaliel, I am educated, I am a philosopher and acquainted with sciences. In other words, my brethren, I am a man of letters and a man of learning.”
At the conclusion of Brother Paul's discourse, old Uncle Jonas took him by the hands and said, “Like your namesake, Brudder Paul, you is aspired, en gibs de bread of trufe.”
Old Aunt Keziah walked up to him and said, “Brudder Paul, you speaks like de ’postles ob ole, en I bleebs you is ’lected.”CHAPTER XII. Apollos.
There was a fellow servant of Paul and Silas, but of a different type. A full-blooded African was Apollos, but a man of strong mental powers and deep piety. While a slave he was allowed to preach to his own color and hold religious meetings. After emancipation he became a regularly ordained minister, and was appointed Presiding Elder in the colored M. E. Church. From his childhood to the death of this faithful old servant there existed the strongest feelings of friendship between Apollos and one of his young masters. He was fairly educated for one of his position, and his inordinate thirst for knowledge impelled him to put forth all his efforts in preparing himself for his ministerial work. He was often found in the apartments of the young man, with whom he discussed Bible questions, and was furnished by him with all the books he required. Being an expert carpenter he was employed by contractors, whose work called them to the different plantations. This well suited the evangelist, as it furnished new fields for his ministerial work. While engaged on a plantation he could hold protracted services, which often lasted
for weeks. On one occasion there were present scores of negroes, besides several white gentlemen from neighboring farms, who held Apollos in high esteem by reason of his good character and respectful demeanor. Apollos preached one of his best sermons, a discourse that was creditable to himself, and was well received by his audience. It seemed, however, to have had but little effect. At the conclusion he called upon one of the lay members to lead in prayer, who responded with alacrity. In the beginning of his petition he asked for the divine blessing to rest upon each individual in the assembly; to which Apollos responded with a fervent “amen.” He prayed that each heart might be touched by Divine grace. “Amen,” said the good old servant. But the spiritual atmosphere seemed to be cold, and there was an indifference among the people, which condition so vexed the soul of the brother that he exclaimed with indignation: “Master, if these hardhearted, stiff-neck, rebellious sinners do not yield to your goodness and accept the offer of salvation, let fire come down from heaven and consume them.” To this prayer Apollos objected, and cried out, “Don't, don't, Lord; but spare, oh spare the barren fig tree. Cut it not down. Spare the poor sinner, bear with him a little longer.
Touch his heart with Divine grace and give him salvation.”
Apollos was fond of relating anecdotes, some of which were quite amusing. On one occasion Mr. Warren, his employer, had erected a house of worship for some religious sect, but after its completion the money was not forthcoming. He waited patiently for his money a long time, but still it did not come. Then he resorted to strategy. He posted notices at different cross-roads and in public places announcing that on a certain Sabbath dedicatory services would be held in the new church. On a beautiful Sabbath in May, carriages, buggies and all kinds of vehicles might have been seen gathering at the new church. Soon the house was packed. Not a seat remained unoccupied. After the congregation had been seated for some time and no minister appeared, they began to grow restless. Apollos was standing near the front door, awaiting the arrival of the minister. Mr. Warren walked up to him and said, “Apollos, there is no preacher to conduct the meeting to-day, and you must occupy the stand.”
“What you say, Mr. Warren! You are joking. You don't mean for a nigger to preach to white folks?”
“Apollos, I mean what I say, so follow me at once.”
Apollos relates the sequel to his young master as follows:
“I obeyed, and when we got to the pulpit he motioned me to enter. I did so, but, child, I trembled like a leaf and wished I could drop through the floor. However, I endeavored to compose myself and ascended the stand. I then gave out a familiar hymn, and after the singing had closed I kneeled and prayed for strength in my time of need, after which I took my text, and the Spirit gave me utterance. During all the years of my ministry I have never had such liberty. I addressed the congregation in these words: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen: It is not my desire nor was it with my consent that I now stand before a white audience. But by law I am compelled to obey Mr. Warren, whose servant I am at this time. You are aware that I am but an humble colored man, the slave and property of the white man, and I know my position as such. Therefore I have endeavored all my life to maintain a good character and so to comport myself as always to command the respect of the white people. And I hope that because I have obeyed my employer I shall not forfeit your respect, nor that you will think it presumptuous on my part to stand
before you to declare the glorious message of Him who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Child, my soul was filled with divine fire. I flew on the wings of the wind and revelled in God's blessed love. Refreshing showers of grace came from the presence of the Lord, and all felt the quickening power of the Holy Spirit. My child, it is distressing to know that there are many professing Christians who lay too much stress on the observance of the ordinances of the church. To do so with an eye single to God's glory is right and proper, but to hope to win salvation by such a means is a fatal mistake, because salvation is not won by works but by faith in the blood of Christ, which alone can fit us to stand before God. It is only grace that can sustain us in a dying hour, all else avails nothing. All forms and ceremonies are as naught, compared with the precious love that fits us for the enjoyment of the associations of the pure and blest in heaven. I am old, my days on earth are but few. Take away everything, but leave to me that blessed grace that alone can give eternal life.’
After my explanation to the white audience, I gave out my text, Psalms 23: 4, and said:
‘Of all the writings in God's blessed Word there is none that afford more consolation and comfort to our fallen race than the sweet Psalms of David. While he refers to death and the grave, yet by divine inspiration he gives hope and comfort to all who are seeking eternal life. ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.’ When we were children, as soon as our minds became sufficiently matured to discern good from evil, we found ourselves in this dark valley, surrounded by trials and afflictions, sin and death. We realized that our lives ran all along by the side of this valley, and at its end life ceased to exist.
The first question to ask is this, What is life? I answer, it is the breath of God, the germ of existence, implanted in these earthen vessels. And after it has served its mission, God reaches forth His hand and touches the frames. The machinery becomes impaired, the vessel breaks, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, to be disposed of according to His sovereign will. Life is but a vapor, a dream, a mist, a bubble on the waters, a lightning flash from a distant cloud, to linger for a moment, then be extinguished forever.
Secondly: What is death?
I answer, it is but a separation of the soul from the body, the material from the spiritual. It is but a door through which the soul of the just escapes the sorrows and afflictions of this present life to enter the joys and bliss of heaven.
The third question: What is time?
It is a fragment of eternity. Like a tiny island in the midst of a boundless ocean, whose waves for ages have dashed against its shores until the foundations have become undermined, it sinks and disappears from sight,—and all is one ocean. So time will be swallowed up of eternity, and all will be one vast eternal, unchangeable existence.
The next and last question is: What is eternity?
Could we but realize the meaning of this term, its awful import, there is not one of us who would not fall prostrate and cry out for God's mercy. Can we count the sands of the seashore? Can we count the drops of the ocean? The stars that flicker in the firmament? The worlds and systems of worlds that revolve through space? Add all these together until the mind is lost, yea overwhelmed, in the contemplation of the vastness of God's creation. Yet with this vast and infinite enumeration, eternity has but begun.
In time we have measures and boundaries. In time we have length, breadth, height and depth. We have east, west, north and south; changes of seasons, night and day. But eternity is one boundless existence. Age after age runs its onward course. Years glide on. A thousand suns will rise and set. Kingdoms and empires will be born and die. Still eternity has no boundaries, no changes, no north, no south, no east, no west, no beginning, no end. My friends, eternity is all around us. One step and we enter its realms. No mortal mind can fathom its mysteries, yet we must all, sooner or later, make the awful change.
In view of these undisputed facts, in view of our impending doom, what are we doing? What preparation are we making to stand before the living God, who knows every secret of our hearts, every thought of our minds, every emotion of our souls? While the Psalmist presents these awful truths, he also presents the sweet promises of God. He maketh me to lie down in the green pastures of His grace and leadeth me by the still waters of His love. He will guide me through the pitiless storm of life and afterwards receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and I desire none on earth beside Thee. When my
heart and my flesh faileth, the Lord is my strength and my portion forever.
It will not be long before some of us will reach the end of the valley. The sands of time are wasting. The storms will soon be o'er and the journey ended. Here we have experienced sorrow, affliction and bereavement. Those we have loved most have been snatched from our embrace one by one. The grave is ever open to cover us with its cold mantle. But, blessed be God, in the place to which we are tending, no graves are ever seen, and no tears are ever shed. If only faithful yet a little longer, our spirits shall be released from these prison-houses and convoyed by angels to scenes of undying glory, where we shall praise God, singing, ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah.”’
After the exercises were over and the people were leaving the church, Apollos saw his chance and, quietly leaving the stand, slipped through a side door near the pulpit and made for his quarters.
As he passed a group of gentlemen, preparing to return home, he heard one of them say, “Apollos is a preaching nigger.”
“Yes,” replied another, “I was much interested in his sermon, and I must say that I have heard many poorer discourses from men of much greater intelligence.
I have known him many years, and he is a man of character. He has good sense and, I believe, is deeply pious.”
One of the group remarked, “Warren is a sharp fellow, and I venture to say that he will get his money for the building before Saturday night, and no other nigger will ever preach in it again.”
The prediction was verified. The money was paid over and the key of the building surrendered.
Many years after the old servant had fallen asleep, an elderly gentleman might have been seen strolling one day in the colored cemetery. As he stood near the old servant's resting-place, the words of Pollock came to his mind:
CHAPTER XIII. Uncle Abe's Plea.
- “Hail, brother! Hail, thou blessed son of God!
- Thy day of trial is passed, thy fear to fall;
- Enter thou into the joys of thy eternal Lord.”
Looking over his books a few days before Christmas, good old Uncle Primus Cotton found the names of several members of his charge who had not paid their assessments. One of them was Brother Abe Smith, one of the pillars of the church, but of unsavory reputation with the brethren. “He's a slick un,” said Uncle Primus, “en he thinks heself mighty sharp. He kin fool some people but not de ole preacher. I'll git arter him wid a sharp stick en mek him come ter de rack, fodder er no fodder.”
While on the street the next day the old man accosted the delinquent member and requested the payment of his dues. Smith was taken by surprise, but told him he would be absent from home the next day; but if Uncle Primus would be at home at sunrise the following day, he would appear with the money. As Abe was returning home he was much perplexed to know how to raise the required sum. After much cogitation he said aloud, “I'se got hit.” About the break of day the next morning he woke his wife and sed, “Kizzie, somebody is at the henhouse, en I'm
gwine ter see.” Aunt Kizzie replied, “Abe, don't you git hurt. Tek de axe wid you, en ef de wus come ter de wus, let de chickens go, but sabe de tukkey.” Abe not only took the axe but hid a bag under his arm, and to the poultry house he went. Arriving there he did some loud talking, and pretended to chase the robbers off the roost. In a few minutes he was back in the house, apparently greatly excited, and informed his wife that the chickens were all right, but that they had made off with the turkey.
“So I'll push right on tuh town tuh head ’em off fo’ dey sells him.”
At sunrise, according to agreement, Abe stood at his pastor's door with a fine gobbler, which he placed in his hands. The preacher was greatly pleased and thanked him for his promptness. The debt was settled.
Two days before Christmas Aunt Kizzie was sorely lamenting the loss of her turkey, when Abe said, “Ole woman, don't you fret. You sholy will eat dat tukkey Christmas. I knows whar he am, en I'll sho git ’im.”
That night Abe was missing, but was seen at an early hour next morning, making rapid strides for home, with a bundle on his shoulder. At a certain
point on the road, whom should he see coming down the road but Uncle Primus, with his Bible under his arm. Smith was much agitated and immediately shifted the bundle from his shoulder to a position behind him. When the two had met and politely saluted, Uncle Primus said, “Brudder Smif, Ise powful ’sturbed dis mawnin’. Somebody done tuck de fine gobbler you sell me, en I'll hab no tukkey fuh Christmas.”
About this time there was a mighty flutter in the bag Abe was carrying, and Uncle Primus said, “What dat, Brudder Smif?”
Abe replied that it was only a turkey he was taking to Mr. Johnson.
“Look heah, brudder, you lemme hab ’im en I'll gib you a dollah fuh ’im. He'll tek de place ub de one I los’ las’ night, en I'll hab tukkey fuh Christmas yet.”
Abe pocketed the money, and taking the fowl from the bag handed him to Uncle Primus. The preacher remarked, “Why, brudder, dis gobbler looks zactly lak de one you sells me.”
“In cose it do when de three come outen de same aig.”
“What you mean, man? Outen one aig?”
“Well, ef dey ain't come outen one aig, dey comed outen de same nes’. You see, brudder, I has three gobblers: dis un, de one I sells you, en de one at home.”
That night Abe was again missing, and just before day he returned and said to Aunt Kizzie, “De ded am come to life ergin, de los’ am foun’! I'se paid my preacher, I has er silvuh dollah, en heahs yo Christmas turkey. The morning after the second purchase Uncle Primus went to his poultry yard to feed his chickens, but soon returned greatly chopfallen, and said, “Lector, what you tink! de tukkey am gone ergin. Ef er man libs er tousan’ yeahs, he ain’ too ole tuh larn. Enny man whah kin steal er fowl three times en sell ’im twice in twenty-fo’ hours am er slick rogue, en deserve not only tuh hug de pos’ but tuh go tuh de pen fo’ life. Dis mattuh don’ en’ heah. Hit am my dooty tuh persent de case tuh de Gran’ Joory en hab hit pussecuted in de co'ts.”
The Spring Term of the Superior Court convened, Judge James Smith presiding. The most important case on the docket was the State against Abram Smith, colored; charged with having stolen one or more turkeys from the premises of Primus Cotton, on the nights of the 22d and 23d of December, 18—.
Witnesses were sworn and examined, the evidence being so strong against Abe that the jury could not fail to convict.
The Judge, in his charge, said: “Gentlemen of the jury: The case is now before you. If in your opinion, according to the evidence presented, there is sufficient ground to warrant a conviction, you must bring in a verdict of guilty. But if you entertain a reasonable doubt as to the facts, you must bring in a verdict of not guilty.”
During the charge to the jury Abe was very restless and said to himself, “Marse Jimmy sho’ can't go ergin his ole nigger dat foller him froo de war, en tuk him off de fiel’ wen he was shot en gin up fuh daid. No, sho’ he ain't agin me.” Then he changed his mind and said to himself, “He sholy am agin’ me.”
The case was given to the jury, which soon returned and rendered a vedict of guilty. The Judge, according to the custom, said, “If the prisoner has anything to say, why sentence should not be pronounced against him, he has now the opportunity of doing so.” To the amazement of all present in the court room, the tall, bony figure of Abe was seen to rise. Looking straight in the face of the Judge he said: “Marse Jimmie, you knows me all yer life; we wus raised togedder, we plays togedder, we drives de cows ter
pasturs, we feeds de hogs, mines de gaps, an’ ’possum hunts. Don't you ’member dat hot September night fo’ de war down in de ribber bottoms when ole Bose gin one bark, an’ I tells you, we's got him, fer ole Bose nebber lies. We strikes rite out fer de tree, an’ sho’ nuff dar sets a big, fat ’possum on a lim, lookin’ down on ole Bose. We soon has de axes flyin’, de tree falls, de ’possum's bagged. By dis time we's mity hot, de ticks er crawlin’ an skeeter's bitin’; we makes a bee-line fer ole man Ball's melon patch, cools off in moonlite, rises, slays an’ eats tell de brake ob day. An’, Marse Jimmie, don't you ’member, on our way ter de patch, you say, ‘Abe, which does the bes’ stealin’ de white man or nigger?’ an’ I sez, ‘Marse Jimmie, de nigger steals leetle de bes’, but dang ef you don't do it more like a nigger den eny white man I ebber tackles.’ At these words of Abe a mighty titter ran through the court room. The Judge, who seemed much ruffled, said with considerable asperity, ‘Mr. Sheriff, if better order does not prevail, you must clear the room.’ Sheriff Powell, in a loud, sharp voice commanded silence, and when quiet was restored, Abe was allowed to proceed. “Marse Jimmie, said Abe, don't you ’member dat dark, rainy night on Mission Ridge, in ole Georgy, when you
comes ’ter me an’ sez, ‘Abe, de waggins ain't come up, de boys is tired an’ hongry. Can't you hep ’em?’ I takes de hint; it means forage; I'se off, an’ taint long, Marse Jimmie, fo’ I'se back ter camp wid a big fat pig, five fat hens, an’ a hat full ob aigs. One lick sabes de pig, five licks sabes de hens, an’ I cleans de woost. I retched out my han’ fer a big, fat cock; he jumps, kicks up sich a racket de dogs gins ter bark, I fears de shot gun an’ lef’. I dun some tall walkin’, nebber stops tell I'se safe in de Feddick camp. Soon de fryin’ pans gits ter singin’, an’ de boys gits ter whistlin’, all gits good suppers an’ goes ter sleep. But ole Abe does de work. Fo’ day nex’ mornin’ de drum beats, men falls in ranks, de army moves. Soon I hears de cannon roar, de muskets rattle; soon I see horsemen ridin’ ebery whah. I gits so trouble ’bout you, Marse Jimmie, I runs under a big ’simmon tree, draps on my knees an’ prays God ter perserve yer precious life. News comes ter camp our fokes wins de day, de Yankees ’treatin’ an’ de Freddick army followin’. De wounded is comin’ in, de doctors ’gins ter work. I thinks you need me; I jumps fer my canteen, fills it wid water an’ swings it roun’ my neck, an’ is off fer de field ter hunt you up. In my hurry ter git off, I stumbles ober a big bottle ob
whiskey, swings it ’round my neck. (Don't ax me how I fines it, dat's my bisness), an’ makes straight fer de battle-groun’. I fines you nigh a ditch bank, yer eyes closed, cold, pale, wounded an’ bloody. When you opens yer eyes, you says, ‘Abe, is dat you? Gib me water.’ I gibs you a big drink ob whiskey, den water. I takes you, Marse Jimmie, in dese same ole lubbin’ arms ter de fuss’ house I sees, an’ lays yer on de bed, an’ runs fer de doctors. I stays wid yer, nusses yer, nebber leabes yer, only when I ransacks de country ter buy chickens an’ aigs fer you ter eat, (don't ax me how I gits de money to pay for dem; I tends ter my own bisness). You eats dem all de same, an’ glad ter git ’em. When dey takes you home, I follows; nebber leabes yer side tell you gits well.
Marse Jimmie, when I goes ter de army I is innocent an’ honest; dar is whar I was teached ter forage, an’ larnes it too well, an’ has foraged ebber sence. Now I has four hundred pounds ob seed cotton, ten barl's ob corn, one stack ob fodder, two tater hills, one kyart, one ole steer buck. Ef de Cote is easy on me, tell de Sher'ff ter sell all I has, pay de good ole man I'se robbed, an’ all de costs, an’, by God's hep, Marse Jimmie, I'll try ter be a better man, an’ lead a hones’ life. Marse Jimmie, ob all de big family we comes
from, on de ole plantation, none is lef’ but me an’ you. Ole Marser gone, ole Missus gone, all de little brudders an’ sissies gone, all my fokes gone; an’ here we is. You hol's high places in de Cotes, lubbed, ’on'erd an’ ’spected, while I, yer poor ole servant an, playmate, has gone from bad ter wuss. Here I is, a poor sinner, a convicted thief, an’ condemned man, waitin’ punishment fer his ebel deeds. Here I is, full ob sin, widout karacter, widout on'er, widout wespect, wid no lubbed ones, an’ no friens’. Marse Jimmie, some day we mus’ all stan’ fo’ de righteous Judge ob all de earth, who sees de sins an’ knows de secrets ob our lives an’ hearts; who ob us den will be able ter stan’ in dat great day, an’ meet Him face ter face? We is condemned already widout God's mercy. I stans now befo de Cote conwicted ob crime. I pleads nuffin’ good ob mysef, fer I has nuffin’ but sin, but I pleads Him, who dies fer sinners, an’ I is de chief. Fer His sake, not fer mine, I ax de Cote ter sho’ mercy on a poor ole man, wicked an’ ruin, widout hope in de worl’. I throws mysef on de mercy ob de Cote; dis is all I kin do.” The old culprit then straightened himself, stretching out his long, boney arms, and with bitterness in his voice, cried, “Marster, Marster, sabe, O sabe your poor ole sarvant, fer de
sake ob ole Marster an’ Missus; cast him not away, but pardon him fer his many crimes.” Then the trembling figure of the old man sank into his seat, covering his face with his shriveled hands, and wept.
The appeal was not only pathetic, it was accompanied with a certain dignity which produced silence a few moments in the court-room. There were but few in the room who had witnessed the scene whose eyes were dry. The Judge did not at once speak, but in a voice that was husky in spite of his efforts to control his feelings, said, “Mr. Clerk, enter judgment suspended in the case of State against Abram Smith, convicted of larceny, and place him under bond of fifty dollars on his good behavior and for his appearance at the next term of Superior Court. The bond was given.
At the next term of court the name of Abram Smith was called, but there was no response.
The pathetic appeal was no more heard, the agonized features of the old culprit were absent, but nearby, in a section of the colored cemetery, a fresh mound was raised, under which rested the remains of one who was striving to lead a better life when the Master called him, and told why his bond had been forfeited.
A nigger steals leetle de bes, but you does it more like a nigger den eny white man I eber tackles.
CHAPTER XIV. Cyclone.
There lived at one time in a sparsely settled pineywoods country a thrifty farmer of middle age, stout, hale and hearty, and of ruddy complexion; a man of strong convictions and good common sense.
Mr. Jerry Simpson was noted for deep piety and sterling integrity. He was genial in disposition and loved a good joke, but anything savoring of profanity or indecency he severely rebuked. Being a local preacher he went about doing good, and was very faithful in filling his appointments.
After the crops had been laid by, the neighbors got together and determined to repair old Salem Church. After this had been done they met to clean up the grounds and remove the rubbish, so they would present a decent appearance on the coming Sabbath, the next regular appointment. Among those who aided in the work were two boys, Phil Harris and Tommy Skinner. While not malicious, these boys were full of mischief, and never failed to play pranks on anyone when the opportunity presented itself. Some weeks previous to the present occasion, the boys
chanced one Saturday to meet in the village a worthy and enterprising man, who supplied the people of the village with fresh meats, poultry and eggs. They told him that Mr. William Green, a well-known and wealthy bachelor of the community, was sick with nervous prostration, and that though he was improving, yet his recovery had been retarded by the large number of rats that infested his place. So his physician had recommended that he secure a number of cats and so drive the pests away. According to the boys, Mr. Green had advertised for a hundred cats and kittens, offering fifty cents for the cats and twenty-five cents for kittens. Bassett, being a sharp trader, at once saw his opportunity and determined to profit by it. He engaged the boys to assist him in collecting the cats and making boxes to hold them. By the following Monday the requisite number of felines had been procured and were safely housed in boxes. So Mr. Bassett and the boys loaded them on his wagon and proceeded to the home of Mr. Green. Leaving the wagon at the gate in charge of the boys, Mr. Bassett went to the door and knocked. He was answered by Mr. Green in person, who said, “Bassett, you are the very man I've been wanting to see. I've a party of friends expected next week from Norfolk to spend
several days with me, hunting and fishing, and I want you to furnish me with necessary supplies while they are here.”
“I am at your service, sir,” replied Mr. Bassett, delighted at the prospect of such good business, “but I have brought you to-day the other things you wanted.”
“What other things, Bassett.” “Why, the hundred cats you advertised for.” At this information Mr. Green turned white and then red, and fairly seemed to choke with rage. “Cats, man! Why, if there is anything in creation that I do NOT want, that I hate and loathe with all my heart, it is cats. Look here, Bassett, are you joking with me? It will not be a pleasant thing if you are. I have a double-barreled gun in here that I have loaded and put in the hands of my man Jim, with instructions to kill every cat that comes on this place. Cats! Dag the cats! Are you crazy? Going to the asylum? Do you have the cheek to bring me a wagon load of cats! But, Bassett, who told you I wanted cats?”
Before the poor Bassett could reply, his horse began to rear and plunge, frightened by an awful scrimmage in the wagon. While Bassett's back was turned the boys had opened the box and then fled. The cats,
unable to all crawl through at once through the narrow opening, had begun to fight, and pandemonium was turned loose. Bassett seized his axe and began to slash and cut right and left, while Jim appeared on the scene with his gun. Between them the cats were soon exterminated.
Jim approached his master and Mr. Bassett with a basketful of cats on his arm.
“Well, Jim, what about the cat war?” asked Mr. Green.
“Marster,” replied Jim, “you won’ be bovered wid cats no mo’, kase I done wid my own debility destructed de las’ dag ole cat dat jump outen de box.”
After the work of cleaning up the grounds of old Salem Church was completed, the company dispersed to their respective homes, leaving Phil and Tommy to concoct new schemes of mischief.
They determined to give Uncle Jerry a surprise the next day that he would remember all his life. Having found a hornet's nest in the neighboring woods, they sealed up the opening, imprisoning the inmates. This nest they carired to the church. In the pulpit they constructed a false floor, under which they placed the nest.
Then they left for their homes.
On the next day people began to arrive at Salem Church at an early hour, and it was not long before punctual “Uncle Jerry” was seen to ride up and tie his horse to the limb of a tree. When he came to the church door, he was heartily greeted by the assembled worshippers, who stood about waiting for the services to begin. It was a sweltering day in August. The sun shone with a burning heat, and not a leaf moved in the hot, still air, that did not seem to be stirred by the slightest puff of wind. In the building fans and kandkerchiefs were much in evidence.
The minister ascended the pulpit and gave out a stirring hymn that was zealously sung by the perspiring congregation. Then the minister followed with one of the sweet and earnest supplications for which he was noted. Opening the Bible, he selected his text, Proverbs 5:22, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
After some preliminary remarks the preacher said:
“Brethren: We have fallen on evil times. Sentimentalism has impaired discipline. It has disorganized society, and resulted in a harvest of crime. In the former generation, if a boy were disobedient or neglected his studies, the rod was used and the parents
approved. But nowadays, if a boy is corrected by his teacher, a great hubbub is kicked up. At the demand of the parents the trustees meet, and the teacher is summoned before that august body. The latter is required to apologize to the incorrigible, and if he refuses, his walking-papers are handed him. Now, when a boy sees that he is upheld by his parents in his disobedience, against all rules of decency, I ask you, where is the hope of the country?
This wholesale destruction of discipline has in recent years produced the germ of the crime that has tarnished the good name of North Carolina. For the disobedience of children the parents alone are to blame. If they do not restrain them when young, but allow them to grow up like weeds, they may expect trouble. When boys of tender age are allowed to roam the streets at night, visiting doubtful resorts, remaining from home till late hours, there can be only one result. There is not much variation in the programme. Soon they begin on cigarettes, then cards, the pool table; and from there it is but a short step to whiskey. By the time he is grown, he is a dissipated man or a first-class criminal. One of the most uncanny sights I ever witnessed was the spectacle
of a boy, scarcely out of his swaddling clothes, smoking a cigarette. It so disgusted me that I wished he was my child for only ten minutes (but no longer); for during the time of my ownership I would have given him such a basting as he would never forget the longest day he lived.
It would be well for every State to enact a law making it a misdemeanor for any person under the age of fifteen years to smoke cigarettes, and then to visit the penalty rigorously upon all offenders. The want of discipline has resulted in an abundant harvest. Years ago the old Tar Heel State was noted for meting out justice to all grades of criminals. There stood on every court-house green a grim, silent monster, a menace to evil-doers. But Carpet-bag Sentimentalism abolished the whipping-post, for no other reason than to catch the “nigger” vote. Since then justice has fled the country. Instead of the old, very effective preventive of crime, a gorgeous institution, costing vast sums of money, has been erected, whose inmates fare better than hundreds of honest men who live outside and toil to support it. The petty thief, the robber of widows and orphans, wreckers of financial institutions, all take refuge in this palatial residence.
Some weeks ago I saw an account of a young man, an officer in a bank, occupying the best social position, who left home to spend a vacation at a summer resort. During his absence it was ascertained that there was a shortage of $100,000 in his accounts. He was arrested and confessed that he had lost the money in “bucket-shop” operations. Had he been a poor, half-starved wretch, living from hand to mouth, and had stolen a loaf of bread to satisfy his hunger, some excuse might be offered for the theft. But no, this man had enjoyed every advantage and privilege in life, and in the face of all this he went wrong. And why? Not to satisfy any legitimate desire or meet any real need in his life; but simply to indulge his appetites and passions with the follies of the world. It is true, he is to be pitied, but he nonetheless stands before his fellowmen a convicted thief, and education and social position and influence do not render him less guilty (but rather more culpable) than the humblest culprit. Let the law be applied impartially to all; to high and low born, rich and poor; to all, without discrimination, who violate the law. When an offender was sentenced to the whipping-post and received his thirty-nine lashes on the bare back, seldom did that same individual embrace it the second time. If the old institution
still existed, how many blasted careers and bitter tears would be saved! The evil inclined would think twice before taking the fatal step. If the people of North Carolina would but consider the matter, they would restore the whipping-post on the score of economy, if nothing else. It would stop wholesale stealing and prevent many another crime, and it would save the lives of many bright and promising young men, who have been tempted into careers of crime.
Some years ago in one of our eastern counties a promising young fellow was arrested, tried and convicted of horse-stealing. The Judge asked him if he had anything to say, why sentence should not be passed upon him. He arose and thus addressed the Court:
“Please your Honor, I would only say that I acknowledge my sins and confess my transgressions. I deserve the penalty you are about to impose upon me. I will go to prison with resignation, and after I have served my term and paid the penalty of my crime I expect to pursue an honest career. When I am dead and laid beneath the cold sod, the passerby may point to my grave and say, ‘There lies one who, though having sinned, died an honest man.”’
The heart of the humane Judge was touched by the apparent repentance of the prisoner, and he imposed the minimum sentence of only two years in the Penitentiary upon him. As the sheriff was taking the young scamp back to jail, the latter said to him, ‘I be dad if I didn't euchre the old man out of three years!’
Could the young sprig have hugged the post after sentence was pronounced, as was the old custom, he would not have been in a frame of mind for jesting over his hypocrisy.
The same sentimentalism is responsible for the coldblooded murders which of recent years have been committed in the State, to its shame and disgrace. Why, under the present law, it is almost impossible to convict any man of murder in the first degree, especially if he is possessed of wealth and social position. However good and efficient the laws may be on the statute book, if not executed they become a nullity. The tardiness with which criminals are brought to trial, the frequency and success with which technicalities are pleaded to evade justice; these things impress the public mind with a possibility of escape. The natural result is another violation of the law in the frequent and demoralizing lynchings. Even when
a conviction is secured and the death penalty imposed, how often it is commuted to life imprisonment, perhaps to be followed by a pardon. When law and justice are not applied impartially to all, revolution and anarchy are invited.
From what source do all the troubles proceed; murders, assaults, burglaries, embezzlements, separations, divorces? In the last analysis you will find that the fountain-head of this flood of iniquity is nothing else than lax domestic training and discipline. The prosperity and happiness of a people depend on the condition of the home. There the seeds of good and evil are first sown. If the child is properly trained at home he learns obedience, and will become a good and useful citizen. Lacking this, he grows up and goes out into the world with an excellent chance of becoming a criminal. Too much sparing of the rod, too much sparing of the rod! Is it any wonder that the devil has broken loose in Georgia and everywhere else? Then train up your child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. He will be a comfort to you in your declining years; God will guide him through the stormy journey of life, and at last pilot him into the haven of eternal salvation.
Again, sentimentalism is responsible for all the excesses that have occurred in the country since emancipation. I am a law-abiding citizen, and pray God that I may never be otherwise. There is a great hue and cry against lynching. I deplore the cause and its consequences, but there are always two sides to a question. Here is a father peacefully pursuing his daily avocations. Here is his lovely and innocent daughter, who is his pride and the ornament of his home. Suddenly and without warning the ruthless hand of a savage brute is laid upon her throat, and her life is ruined forever.
Now, don't you know that that father is wrought up to the pitch of desperation, and is temporarily insane, and that the insanity is communicated to his friends and neighbors? Where is there a man, be he a private citizen or holding public position, who would not under such circumstances protect and avenge the honor of the idol of his heart and home!
What right has such a brute to invoke the protection of the law? For the sake of good order and to protect the majesty of the law, I will contend with any other man that the law be allowed to take its course. But let justice be done and let it be done quickly! and let there be no quibbling or delays or sentimental
appeals in behalf of a monster who pollutes the earth. And if not, then for the rope and the nearest tree!
Who, after all, is responsible for this state of affairs but the blind fanaticism that, purporting to uplift the negro, has resulted in degrading him?
While on this line of thought, I wish to discuss that most delicate, and at the same time pressing question in the South. Assaults on white women are growing more frequent, and patience is well nigh exhausted. If a remedy is not soon found, a general conflagration may be the result. The innocent among the negroes will suffer inevitably with the guilty. This is rendered all the more certain by that most foolish and culpable tendency on the part of the negro race to aid the guilty negro and screen him from the law. It behooves all law-abiding citizens, white and black, to unite with the law in the apprehension and punishment of the criminal.
There is not an instance on record of two races of different blood and disposition and standards dwelling together with equal political rights, in peace and harmony. Prejudice is sure to arise, to be followed by internecine strife and conflict; and Nature's law of the survival of the fittest will inevitably apply.
The weaker must succumb to the stronger, stronger in intellect, resolution and enterprise. One will be the master, and the other must acknowledge the supremacy and bow to the yoke or be exterminated. And the wider this natural gulf between the two, the more certain and speedy will be the result. How then can we expect the Anglo-Saxon, representing the highest civilization and the dominant race of the world, to long affiliate with the negro, who stands lowest in the scale of humanity? The white man will surely dominate this country, which is his by right of conquest and possession. The negro must submit or . . . . .
I see but two ways of settling this vexing question: Either repeal the Fifteenth Amendment, or set apart a certain territory for the separate occupancy of the colored race.
The Fifteenth Amendment was ratified by bogus assemblies in the South, whose members were alien adventurers, elected to the office at a time when the real voice of the people was hushed by military despotism. The wisest and ablest statesmen of the North now recognize the injustice of that Amendment, while they have come to concede its probable unwisdom. It would be no crime to repeal it.
Or the alternative policy will be to set apart a sufficient
territory in the great West for the exclusive occupancy of the negroes. Competent appropriations can be made by the Government, and all needful supervision and control be maintained until such a time as he can prove his ability to govern himself. He will receive thus no less justice and consideration than his brothers in Porto Rico and the Philippines, and meanwhile the awful burden and menace will be lifted from the South.
If there be one sin registered on the great, black catalogue that is unpardonable, a disgrace to society and a foul blot on civilization, it is the betrayal of innocence.
How often is it the case, especially in our towns and cities, that young and inexperienced women, many of whom are only in their teens, but from necessity are bravely fighting the battles of life, are approached under the guise of disinterested friendship and lured to gilded lairs of infamy by lynx-eyed, licentious brutes, possessed of wealth and high social position,—there to be despoiled of their honor! I ask, have these young victims no redress in earthly courts? Is not the mantle of justice sufficiently broad to protect these weaklings? Do not their pitiful cries ascend to heaven and enter the ears of the supreme
Judge? Do not their wails of agony and despair make angels weep? Is it not incumbent on the laws of the land to avenge the wrongs of these young women?
If judgment be not speedily executed on the authors of their ruin by the laws of the country, then the higher law should be invoked, and the world be rid of these monsters in human shape, who pollute the earth by their poisonous breath and drag their slimy trail across our homes. He who executes judgment upon such demons is a safeguard to society and should be applauded by all self-respecting citizens. The despoiler of girlhood's innocence is a moral leper and a social outlaw, and as such is beyond the pale of mercy.
Brethren, I wish now for a little while to lay aside Madame Sentimentalism and discuss other practical questions of the day.
The majority of votes for members of the Legislature are cast by farmers, and yet they receive less consideration than any other class. The prosperity of the country mainly depends on the success of the agriculturist. Just travel through the Southern States, and in the towns and cities you will see hundreds and thousands of vagrants and tramps, ablebodied
men and boys, loafing on the streets. They secure a precarious living by doing odd jobs and by gambling and stealing. This trash will not do an honest day's work for love or money, while the farmer's crops are suffering from the want of work. Though he is willing and anxious to pay remunerative wages, they turn a deaf ear to his offers. By reason of this disorganized condition of labor, thousands of bales of cotton are annually left in the fields unpicked.
Now, there is a vagrant law on the statute books of the State. Why is it not enforced? Since 1868 no Legislature that has met in Raleigh has had the courage to take the bull by the horns and pass an efficient vagrant law. No, the honorable Solons have failed to do their duty, and through fear of the gentlemen vagrants and tramps. If the law can not be enforced it ought to be repealed. It is also true that our Circuit Judges in their appeals to the Grand Juries touch on every subject but the vagrant law. Were the law enforced and the vicious idlers put to work, there would be less crime in the State, for idleness is the devil's workshop. It is sincerely to be hoped that the next General Assembly will put up the gap that was let down for the idlers to enter the
green fields of indolence, and will enact a law by which all loafers, white and black, shall be made self-supporting; and that will call on officers of the law to arrest suspicious characters, who shall be sent to the roads, if guilty of violating the vagrant law.
Now, if the next Legislature is not an improvement on the last, it had better go into retirement. For on this question it was nothing more than a firstclass tumble-bug failure, and the vagrant is still at large, stealing and lounging on the streets.
Brethren, I am a Southern man. As such I have no apology to make. As such I have the right to speak, and shall do so without fear or favor. There are none more gallant and brave than the Southern people, and I must say with regret that there are none more easily duped.
We have had a mighty hard time, and are not out of the woods yet, but this has been due in large measure to our own improvidence and lack of foresight. In the first place, we have left the old landmarks and have failed to walk in the footsteps of our fathers who raised hog and hominy. Had we adhered to the simple mode of life and exercised the same economy, instead of being now in the ashes of poverty, we would be the richest people on the globe. But no,
poor as we are, we must follow the fashions and follies of the world. The man with a few thousand dollars must ape the millionaire; and he that has nothing but the clothes on his back, and perhaps they are unpaid for, tries to rival the man with the few thousand dollars,—and so we go!
The farmer fails to raise his own supplies. He falls into a hole and is forced to put a mortgage on his crop before he can move a plow. Many break their necks to trade out the little credit they have before a seed has been dropped in the ground for the next crop.
The credit system would impoverish the New Jerusalem. The merchants would soon hold a mortgage on the golden streets and the pearly gates. The trouble is not primarily with the merchant. He takes great risks and is often swindled. It lies with the extravagant and improvident farmer, who by his own folly thrusts his head in the noose.
Now, if you prefer to wear the yoke of bondage and keep your noses to the grindstone all your life, all I have to say is, its none of my funeral; go ahead, and joy go with you.
By pursuing this insane course, you grow poorer every day; and finally you resort to bucket-shop gambling,
and that is the last nail in your coffin. The Southern people have lost almost enough money to found an empire by gambling in futures.
Among the traps set to catch the unwary are the “Mutual Benefit Associations” on the assessment plan, some of which claim to be the “soul of honor.” Understand me. I do not mean to say that all such associations are frauds, but from my own experience I assert that some are tainted with rascality of the deepest dye. The enchanting words concerning ‘Our Beloved Order’ are the baited hooks to catch the unsuspecting. We walk right into the spider's web and are never released till the last drop of blood is sucked.
In 1879 one of these sweet-scented, delectable smelling orders was introduced in the town where I then resided. It started with an enrollment of fifteen charter members, all of whom joined in good faith, and paid five dollars initiation fee. At first the assessments were moderate, but as time passed and the members grew older, they gradually increased. In 1896 or 1897 the Supreme Lodge passed a rule increasing the assessments of the old members, who had borne the heat and burden of the day, until they became exorbitant, and these old members were driven from the order. Then young men
were solicited to join at ridiculously low rates. Consequently the lodge became extinct. The aggregate loss was about $15,000.00, less $4,000.00 paid to the families of deceased members. So much for ‘Our Beloved Order,’ one of the greatest swindles ever perpetrated on an honest set of men. How true it is I do not pretend to say, but it was alleged that some of the officers high in authority got a good slice of the pie. I know that my loss was over $1,000.00.
Now, brethren, let me advise you to raise your own supplies. By so doing you will gain a good credit and become independent. Then you will be under obligations to no one. Shun the bucket-shop as a serpent; but above all things, beware of the swindling assessment orders, that only wait to extract the last cent from your already depleted purses. Improve your lands. Let your barns and smoke-houses be filled with your own products. Then all will be well, and when you retire at night you can lift up your hearts in gratitude to God for having given you level heads and common sense.
No section of the country has retained so many of the characteristics of the first settlers of America as the Southern people. Here you will find most of the customs, traditions and standards of the original colonists.
And for this reason we have a smaller admixture of foreign elements in our population than any other section. How long the old customs and traditions of the fathers will endure, none can say. The Southern people will make a great mistake, however, if they try to get rid of the ‘nigger’ as a field hand, and substitute in his place the trash that is being dumped on our shores from Europe and Asia, with their heathenish superstitions and revolutionary ideas. They are the enemies of all stable government. Socialism is their creed and anarchy their platform. They have no idea of self-government and are incapable of appreciating the blessings of liberty.
We know the ‘nigger,’ and he knows us. He also knows that the white people are his best friends, and if we are let alone we can manage him. With all his faults and shortcomings, he is far more reliable than this refuse of other lands that is being poured like so much sewage upon us. Those farmers who are breaking their necks to stock their farms with this sort of labor will soon find themselves in the same mess as the mine-owners North and West. England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and some other countries furnish desirable immigrants, but the Lord deliver
us from the stuff now coming to this land. Give me ‘Cuffey’ as a field laborer every time.
No moral or physical law can be violated with impunity. The penalty attached must sooner or later be paid. ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ God instituted it as a day of rest, and set it apart as sacred. It was His will, and we have no right to question it. The great systems of transportation of the present day are guilty of gross violations of the command. They make no distinctions, nor do corporations recognize the day set apart by God as sacred. The holy day, with all its hallowed associations, must be subordinated to business. Business is the supreme interest and God's command is as naught. Hence retribution follows. The poor operators, being overworked, are really incompetent to perform their duties. The result is the numerous wrecks on railroads and the fearful accidents in various mills and factories.
While on this line of thought, I wish to state that I am no railroad man and never expect to be, but at all times I desire to be resigned to the will of Divine Providence, yet I do say, I deprecate being caught in a head-on collision, mining blast or powder mill explosion.
For centuries science has labored to protect and preserve human life, and has rendered noble and heroic service to the race. But the peculiar conditions that obtain to-day have gone far toward nullifying its splendid benefactions to human welfare and comfort. The numerous inventions and expedients of various kinds that have been introduced for the purpose of saving time and labor have greatly impaired the safety of human life. Under the present conditions the popular idea would seem to be that life is too long and its value too great, and that, therefore, its duration should be shortened and its value decreased.
Among the modern inventions that have been furnished for the greater convenience of man, none can surpass in beauty, comfort and efficiency the palatial ‘railway flier.’ Yet none is a greater menace to human life.
With all the ingenuity of man, it is impossible to provide safe transportation at a speed of sixty or seventy miles an hour. Years ago, when railroading was in its infancy, transportation was comparatively safe and disasters were of rare occurrence. It is true the rails then used were of lighter weight, but they were subjected to less strain by reason of lighter
traffic and more moderate speed. But the smaller systems having been combined into gigantic interstate lines of transportation, passenger and freight traffic has more than doubled in volume, and the speed has been highly accelerated.
The question may be asked: Do the iron or steel rails used at the present time possess sufficient weight and elasticity to effectively resist the constant and tremendous strain of this heavy traffic and immense speed? When an edifice is to be erected the builder is careful first of all to secure a good foundation. When this is done, he proceeds with the work. When two bodies, the one stationery and the other moving, are brought into contact with each other, does not the former require a greater power to repel or resist the impetus of the latter, in order to equalize the two forces?
At this point a problem may be presented which would open up a wide field for discussion and investigation. When orders are issued from the headquarters of an institution or corporation, regarding policies to be pursued for the good of the service, obedience is demanded and their execution required. The law is irrevocable and is so recognized by the world. Were it otherwise, the wheels of commercial progress would cease to move and chaos would ensue.
A terrible railway wreck is announced. Engine and coaches are demolished. Many passengers are killed and maimed. The official cry is, ‘Disobedience of orders,—obstructions,—open switch,—spreading rails.” A scape-goat must be found. As a rule he is selected from the subordinate ranks. The coroner holds an inquest. The investigation proceeds. The engineer, if he escapes with his life, is placed under arrest. It is all rot.
But there are always two sides to a question.
Was not the engineer obeying orders when he took his life in his hands and heroically stood at his post, as he drove his engine with cyclonic speed to death and destruction? Did he not value that life when he knew that on it depended the support of his wife and little ones? The engineer was not to blame for the disaster. He was but obeying orders.
From a business standpoint and for the good of the service, would it not be economy on the part of the management to replace the rails at present in use on the roadbeds with those of greater weight and better quality? This would both ensure durability and result in less danger of accident from injury or breakage of the rails. Or if this is not done, then let the railroads reduce their speed.
Were this policy inaugurated, transportation would be safer, the death rate reduced, law suits avoided and destruction of property decreased. The people's interests should be protected from reckless railroad management. One way of doing this would be to multiply accident insurance companies over the country. Whenever a passenger boards a train, let him furnish his family with a policy on his life, for in the present state of things he assuredly stands a fair chance of losing it, whether he travels a long or a short distance.
From our earliest history we have been favored by Divine Providence, as no other nation on the globe, and history records no other instance of such marvelous progress as we have made. But do we lift up our hearts in gratitude to Him who alone is the source of national strength and prosperity. His compassionate eye was upon us in mercy in our infancy, and His strong arm was made bare for us in the overwhelming of our enemies. Brethren, let us be warned by the fate of the Jews, who were God's chosen people, but who by transgression lost their nationality and were scattered like chaff before the wind.
In olden times many members of all parties in the National Assembly were God-fearing men, and worshipped
their Master in spirit and in truth. How different in this day and generation! Some of the modern statesmen have left the paths of the fathers, abandoned their Maker, and chosen for their god the Golden Calf. Hence so many have fallen into shame and disgrace. Numbers of men in the most exalted positions in the commercial and political worlds have been convicted of gross crimes, embezzlement, bribery, perjury and fraud. Such a thing as ‘graft’ was unheard of in olden times. Now there is scarcely a great business corporation or a legislative body or a department of the Government against which the charge is not freely made, or that can claim to be entirely free from taint. In the great political campaigns, the leaders on both sides are villified and denounced as among the lowest of the low. You would think there was not an honest man among them or a shred of principle left in the land, to hear them accuse one another. Yet when the storm is past, and they meet again in Washington, they are as peaceful and fraternal as a nest of cooing doves.
We hear of holdups and train robberies and burglaries and bank robberies throughout the land galore. But these, my brethren, are only petty robbers, who prey upon the individual, and that to a limited extent.
I tell you whom ye shall fear. It is the gigantic trusts and combinations of capital, that wring from the millions of the middle classes their hard-earned wages and salaries. They slay their tens of thousands. You talk of suppressing the trusts. I tell you, it can not be done, so long as the law makers and the courts are under their control. What redress is there so long as the lawyers, the judges, the newspapers, the legislatures, all are worshipping the Golden Calf, and acknowledge his dominion? Nothing but the power of God operating on the hearts of men will ever remedy this evil or solve the problem.
This sentimentalism has invaded every avenue of the social, religious and even the old hypocritical political worlds. In ante-bellum days there was tolerated in society what was then termed the ‘flirt,’ otherwise “coquet.” This feminine monstrosity was, however, in those days a power in the land, and swayed her sceptre without fear or favor. All bowed with menial submission to her whims and caprices; but as time passed, reverses came, wealth took wings and fled, parents disappeared, her wings being severely clipped, in agony she cried, ‘Anybody, good Lawd.’ With all its failures and short-comings, the present generation has made one good score, viz, in relegating
to the shade of retirement this hollow-hearted nuisance. I will just say here, that any man or woman who trifles with the sacred affections of the opposite sex deserves the condemnation of all self-respecting people, and should be ostracised by society. Let me tell you, in ante-bellum days, when a young fellow made up his mind to address the lady of his choice, he went to her place of residence, with fear and trembling, but in these days the boot is on the other foot.
I once knew a young man who was every inch a gentleman, honest and sincere, who chanced to meet a young lady and afterwards addressed her, but, true to her colors, she rejected him; as he arose to leave the room, this ‘professional’ presented him with a magnificent bouquet. This so inspired him with renewed hope, the poor fellow took the well-baited ‘hook’; the second time she laid him cold. The lady in question afterwards married, but her life was not one of roses—she suffered as she made others suffer. This was retribution. Is not the average student of the present day as much, if not more, intent on sports and games than in acquiring an education? Pap sent brother Bob to college; he was not long there before he wrote the old man for money to purchase a suit of
‘store clothes,’ as homespun was not fashionable. The money was sent. In a few more weeks here comes another letter, marked ‘Important’ on the outside, requesting more money to equip himself to join some sort of ‘team.’ This letter so angered the old man, in reply, he said, ‘No, not one red cent will I send you for such ‘tomfoolery’ to traipos all over the country. Now, sir; if you are not content with what I have done for you, just come home and graduate between the plow handles. I didn't have to mortgage my property, as some fathers have done, to send you to college. And if you are dying for sports you can take up the old games of ‘Cat and shinny’; the balls, bats, paddles and sticks are stored in the gin-house and are at your service. This letter made Bob a man; he applied himself diligently to his studies and graduated with distinction. This old hypocritical sentimentalism is not only responsible for the war between the States, but a thousand other crimes; not only this, but at times it places persons of the family circle in awkward and embarrassing positions, especially if they talk too much. Soon after the Pullman service was introduced, a wealthy young bridal couple boarded the train at an obscure station in South Georgia. The bride, in beauty, surpassed the
fragrant lily of the valley, while the groom was a fine specimen of young manhood; indeed they were a splendid looking couple. They chanced to secure booths adjoining one occupied by an ill-tempered, cross-grained old batchelor, who was aroused from sleep by the incessant laughing and chatting of the young, happy couple. The old gentleman, becoming restless at the interruption, impatiently tossed from one side of the berth to the other, until he became nearly exhausted, when, almost in despair, he heard the bride exclaim, ‘Zeb, I tell you, don't attempt that again; if you do, immediately on my return home I shall tell mamma.’ But Zeb was not that sort of a man to be deterred by trifles; he at once imprinted a sabinding kiss upon her fair brow. Old batch heard it all, and was listening out for a storm, but in this he was disappointed. On the contrary, he heard her, in a sweet, gentle voice, say, ‘Dearest Zeb, I didn't mean what I said; I was merely jesting. Come, dearest ‘Sugar Plumb,’ kiss me again. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. The old man sat erect in his berth thoroughly vexed, when he heard the rain of kisses, and in a loud, angry voice exclaimed, ‘Dag it, Kipsey; do give Zeb, your sweet Sugar Plumb, just one more good smack, and for the
Lawd's sake let me go to sleep.’ Had a dynamite explosion occurred on the train, carrying with it death and destruction, silence could not have reigned more supremely. Soon nothing was heard but the rattling train, the engine whistle, and snorting of old Bill Gudger, a stranger to all joy and felicity. May the pathway in life of this young couple be strewn with flowers of joy and bliss, especially the young fellow who bears the honored name of one whose memory all North Carolinians delight to honor, as one among the greatest and grandest men this country has ever produced.
In the first portion of my discourse I have directed most of my remarks to the male members of the church. I will now address myself to the sisters of the congregation. I believe I speak the truth when I say that there is no country on the globe that can boast of more beautiful, refined and better women, whose influence for the betterment and uplifting of society is more universally exercised than those of this fair land. It is true that tares may spring up and grow among the wheat, but the true woman pursues the even tenor of her ways and walks the paths of righteousness. However, woman is mortal and has her frailties and imperfections, especially in the
present fast age, and often her virtues are counter-balanced by her love of dress and worldly display; this leads to extravagance, and in many instances the husband becomes embarrassed and is tempted to go wrong to meet his bills.
Why, bless your hearts, my sisters, some of you would prefer having your bodies drenched in torrents of rain rather than have one drop of water fall upon your head wear. Though some of you are members of the church and profess Christ, yet your lives do not accord with his teachings. How sad the spectacle to see men and women go to the holy communion table and commemorate the death and suffering of our Lord, and the next day are to be found at resorts savoring of sin, where the Spirit abideth not. Some of you professed Christians are so devoted to sports you belong to whist clubs. Are you not aware that many young men have become dissipated and noted gamblers whose first instructions were received at fashionable card parties? Who is responsible for the many dissipated husbands, unhappy homes and broken hearts? The quaffing of the punch bowl, the sporting game of the social circle, of which some of you are members, have done their work, and you are not guiltless in the sight of God. For what purpose do
you attend divine service? Is it to be spiritually benefited, or is it to display your fashionable costumes? When at service, are you interested in the discourse of the minister, or are you scanning this and that wealthy lady's fine dress and jewels? Were Christ on earth and in your community, do you honestly believe he would approve of your conduct! Do you believe He would be present with you at the card table, theatre or dance hall, or any other resort savoring of sin? Nay, my sisters, but rather would His great heart throb with compassion for His erring children, and if you would but yield to His benign influence He would draw you from the haunts of sin and save your souls. You may have the form of godliness, but without the Spirit it availeth you nothing. You can not serve God and mammon, nor can you carry in your hearts at the same time Christ and the world. Which shall it be? God is not mocked. In that great and notable day when the assembled world shall stand before His bar, many will say, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? Then will I profess I never knew you; depart from Me ye workers of iniquity.’ Heaven, eternal joys and bliss, all
lost forever, for only a few fleeting pleasures of a poor, sin-stricken world. Awake, awake to righteousness and sin not, for some of you have not the knowledge of God; I speak this to your shame. My sisters, I want more religion, pure and undefiled, which alone comes from the grace of God, that will lead His helpless children o'er the perilous journey of life, stand by them in the dark hour of death, and, blessed be God, will safely house them in the glorious mansions above. Then away with your sentimental religion, which panders to the hollow fashions of the world, but is rotten to the core. No creeds, forms or ceremonies can prepare the soul for heaven, but only by repentance and faith in the blood and merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of our worthy, wealthy women of the present generation, dissatisfied with our plain American customs, have made alliances with the so-called European titled nobility, which, in some instances, have proven unhappy. For these coveted prizes they paid fabulous prices, and when acquired they brought with them a harvest of troubles. Some of those high priced titles are spurious, mere myths, and have no existence, nor are they recognized by their own governments. Those spendthrift, titled gentlemen are as insatiate as the thirsty earth, not
content with spending the enormous incomes furnished by their good and indulgent wives, they kick if they are not allowed to handle the principal. Then comes alienation, succeeded by separation or, possibly, divorces. The mistake these good, confiding women made was in not securing titles to homes in the spiritual kingdom, the New Jerusalem, the immediate dwelling place of the Most High, whose beauties and splendors far transcend the most vivid conceptions of the mortal mind. The sun, moon and stars are impure in His sight, and are but sickly glimmerings when compared to the glories and grandeur which encompass the throne of God and the Celestial City; through which ever flows the river of waters of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb. In the midst of it, and on either side of the river, towers the tree of life, spreading its lofty branches o'er the verdant valleys and fertile plains. In that blessed abode are the redeemed out of every nation, kingdom, tongue and people; that great multitude, which no man can number, whose songs of praise are as the sound of many waters, praising Him who liveth for ever and ever.
To this blessed abode, as an ambassador of Christ, I now invite you; but no title can be given without
faith and repentance and a determination on your part to reconsecrate yourselves to God, by taking up your cross and following the meek and lowly Jesus. God is love, He wills not the loss of one soul, nor does He delight in the affliction of His creatures. Yet if we are obdurate, in order to save our souls, that which is dearest to our hearts may be touched. The tender parents, the loving son or daughter or the innocent, prattling babe, may be removed from the hearthstone; then, through these sore afflictions, our eyes open, as prodigals with crushed, broken, bleeding hearts, we arise and come to our Father's house, confessing our sins and laying our weary heads upon His bosom. He tenderly takes us in His strong arms and presses us to His loving heart, and whispers into our ears sweet words of comfort and consolation.
Ah! my friends, none but they who have had the cup pressed to their lips can realize its bitterness, none but those who have passed through the turbid waters of bereavement know of its poignant sorrow. But why lament and weep over the departure of our loved ones? It is God's will; the separation is brief, a few more storms and wintry blasts and life's journey will have ended. Brother, sister, oh if faithful
yet a little longer, our frail, struggling little barks, though tossed and buffeted by wind and wave on life's tempestuous sea, will safely arrive in port of that bright and beautiful city in the great beyond, the sweet by and by.
Now, brethren, if you will just bear with me a little longer I will toot out Madame Sentimentalism and ventilate her character to the finish. (About this time one of the boys whispered to his companion, ‘Phil, de ole man is cavortin’ dis morning.’ ‘Yes,’ replied Phil, but he'll cavort tother side of the mouth before long.’ Said Tommy, ‘He sticks to the wrong side of the stand; I wishes he'd git ter the ’tother side, next ter the ’simmon tree.’ The words were scarcely spoken when the speaker changed position and stepped upon the board under which the boys had placed the nest; then the speaker was seen to gather up his pants. Phil whispered, ‘He's got it; look out for a storm.’
The old man had reached his peroration, and began to warm up, in order to finish his address with the usual flourish. So he began to work himself up to a pitch. He cleared his throat, adjusted his collar and proceeded to let himself go, meantime swaying back and forth and tapping on the floor with his feet. “And,
my brethren, I tell you, that this sentimentalism which is abroad in the land is a curse and a nuisance to the country; ah! it permeates all departments of government; ah! and has leavened all the ranks of human society; ah! (slap), impairs the jury system, enters the chambers of justice; ah! (slap), and has now the boldness of face to enter the sacred precincts of privacy (slap), and even now, while I am addressing you, I feel the baleful influence of this cursed sentimentalism, (slap). I am not superstitious, it may be the intense heat has somewhat rendered me nervous and imagination is running riot; but it seems that there is a peculiar sensation creeping over me, ah! (slap) that I do not comprehend. I do not attribute it to witches, phantoms or hobgoblins, for no such things exist, ah! but if I mistake not, from the severe scratching I am now experiencing, yellow-jackets, imps of Satan, hornets or the devil are in my breeches, ah!” (slap), (slap)—then with flying hands and stamping feet he made one spring and landed in the middle of the floor and bolted for the door, his foot slipped on the smooth uncarpeted floor, he fell sprawling, full length on the floor. The fall, however, helped him, but brought woe to the congregation.
Many of the hornets, in full pursuit of the old man swept over his head as he fell, and scattered through the thickly seated people, creating a panic, but enough were left on his person to keep him busy. Scorched and peppered by the venomous insects as he was, he called vigorously upon brothers Larkins and Puckett to come to his rescue. However willing those good old brothers were to render him assistance, they had troubles of their own about this time. He again lifted his voice above the din and confusion, and said, “Again I appeal to you, brother Puckett, to come to my rescue.” But brother Puckett replied in a trembling voice, “Business pressure is heavy on this side of the house just now, my brother, and I can't help you worth a cent, for I am bombarded on every side, from stem to stern, by the darndest, maddest, fightingest, stingingest hornets that ever flew from a crushed nest.” Being sorely pressed, the old brothers made a rush for the door, but, unfortunately, brother Larkins stumbled over the prostrate body of Uncle Jerry, while the head of brother Puckett came in contact with one of the flying feet of Uncle Jerry and was felled to the floor. But the combination did not long remain in that position; in a moment more the three brethren were out of the building. In the
meantime the battle raged furiously within the church. The women and children shrieked and screamed; excited men, with bobbing heads from right to left, attempted to shield their wives and little ones from the enraged insects, while others dived beneath the seats upon which the women stood. The latter, mistaking the divers for dogs, raised the cry of “mad dogs,” adding greatly to the confusion. The men, forgetting the hornets in the face of graver danger, secured the most convenient weapons and so pounded the imaginary canines with such vigor they hastily left their places of refuge and rushed to the door, followed by the entire congregation.
While the excitement among the whites was at its height, the storm cloud did not remain long in one locality, but moved with velocity and fell in full force upon the colored worshippers, occupying the rear seats of the church, producing a pandemonium. All made a dash for the door and windows, some leaping, crawling, others throwing themselves headlong to the ground, yelling, shouting, falling over seats and knocking each other down. Finally the church was vacant. The swarms of insects, having flown to the nearby woods, order was gradually restored. Much indignation was manifested at the outrage, and could
the guilty parties have been identified they would have been roughly handled. Even lynching was suggested, but the good minister put his foot firmly down on such a proposition and replied, “I am law-abiding, as all good citizens should be, and I am opposed to all excesses; however, I will say this much: If I can ascertain the names of the miscreants who perpetrated this outrage by breaking up a religious assembly and desecrating the Sabbath, I shall present them to the Grand Jury at the next term of Superior Court; and I will say, furthermore, if I could lay my hands upon the rascals, I would give them a severe thrashing before they would be allowed to leave these grounds, and rub my fists so deeply into their ribs they would wish they had never have seen a hornet nest.” On hearing this threat, the boys quietly but hastily left the church. On reaching home, Tommy said, “Phil, that was a storm right in church ter day.” “No it wasn't,” replied Phil, “’twas a regular hurrykin’. But lemme tell you, Tommy, dis is de las’ time I ever ’specs ter mix up in sich business, fer I be drot ef I hadn't rather be struck by a dozen cyclones den fall one time inter de hands of ole Fuss and Feaders.” Gum and Slick, being in the storm center, suffered severely. Besides being stung on their hands and
faces, many of the injured insects took refuge within their collars; after their exit from the building, they rushed for the woods, where, after a hard struggle, succeeded in ridding themselves of their tormentors.
“Golly, Slick,” said Gum, “ef dar is one fing in de worl’ a nigger lubs, its eatin’; ef dar be annudder he ’spises, it is a hoop'n, but jes lem me tell you, I is a stric’ member ob de church an’ a Christen, an’ I speaks de trufe when I says, I had radder hug dat cussed ole hoop'n pos’ what stans on de cote-house yard one hundred times, fo I'd be sting'd agin by dem dang'd ole or'nits.”CHAPTER XV. Uncle Wash.
Among the visitors at Scotland Hall during its occupancy by the McLean family, was a bright and intelligent young man, a son of an old friend of Mr. McLean, who resided in New York.
The father, becoming apprehensive as to his son's health, sent him South, and thus he became the guest of the Hall. In a few weeks after his arrival, there was a perceptible change for the better in his condition. With the elder sons of the family he hunted from morning till night, and the exercise in the open air gave him strength each day. He spent several winters thus at the Hall, till, at the death of his father, the visits ceased. But the friendship held firm, and a regular correspondence was kept up for a time.
More than thirty years had elapsed from the close of the unfortunate civil strife, when a gray-haired, dignified old gentleman arrived one day at the hotel in Glasgow and inquired for the McLean family. He learned that all the members of that once large family were dead, except two of the youngest sons,
Charlie and Eddy, both of whom were but small children when he last visited the Hall. Hearing of his arrival, Charlie called and insisted on the old friend of his father's family becoming his guest. With horse and buggy they visited many of the familiar places over which Mr. Haynes had rambled in early life.
While on their way one day to the Hall, Charlie said, “Mr. Haynes, do you see that old man with his axe on his shoulder, standing in front of the cabin yonder? That is Jake, who has often told me of the rambles he used to take with my brothers and yourself years ago.”
“Why, Charlie, you don't tell me that old man is Jake, the little game-keeper who used to accompany us on our hunting trips?”
“The same individual,” answered Charlie, “and so far he has maintained an excellent reputation. He is a good-natured darkey, and is fond of relating anecdotes of the old times and singing the plantation songs.”
“Charlie,” said Mr. Haynes, “do call the old fellow to the road. I wish to see him.”
The buggy halted at the gate and Jake was called. He saluted Charlie and lifted his hat very respectfully to the stranger.
“Jake,” said Mr. Haynes, “you don't recognize your old acquaintance, do you?”
“Bos,” said Jake, I can't ’zactly call you ter membrance dis present time, but sholy I is seed dat face some whar befo’.”
“Don't you remember Mr. Robert Haynes, that you used to hunt with when you were a boy?”
“Lawdy, Marse Bob, is dat you? Bress de Lawd. I nebber ’spected ter see you agin’, Marse Bob. When did you git here? Well, I suttinly is glad ter see you once mo’ in dis life—”
“And I am glad to see you again, Jake. How have you been these long years? Marse Bob, I'se bin fru’ many trubles sense I leabes de ole home place, but de news I gits las’ night has distrested me mo’ ’en all udders.”
“Why, Jake, I am sorry to hear it. What is the trouble?” asked Mr. Haynes.
“Ain't you heer'd it, Marse Bob? Wy, de Gubnor ob Norf Caliny an’ Gubnor ob Souf Caliny puts dar heads togedder an’ passes a law makin’ it a long time twix drinks. Now, Marse Bob, I'se gittin’ ole an’ feeble, an’ I is bound ter hab my dram. I don't tech it, only when I git sick, an’ dat is mity off'n. Dat's what I says ’bout dem pollytickers, dey wants
all de good things fer demself, an’ ’prives udders ob ’em. Dey carries two faces, an’ promises you eberyting. When ’lection year is on, you can't walk widout stumblin’ ober dese two-face fellows. Dey bows an’ scrapes befo’ you, an’ calls you Mister dis an’ Mister dat, puts dar arms ’roun you, an’ can't do nuff fer you; all fer de nigger wote. De fool nigger goes agin his own white fokes he's raised wid, an’ ’lects strangers we knows nuffin’ ’bout, ter put in offis, an’ dey libs on de fat ob de lan’. We wotes fer dem kase we's tole ter do it, an’ dunno what we's wotin’ fer. After de ’lection is ober, what den? No lan’, no mule, no money. Dey don't see you, much less knows you, but we puts dem in payin’ places all de same. Marse Bob, eber sence I'se bin free I has woted de straight ticket, but dag my buttons ef I eber agin’ wotes wid Publicans an’ sinners.”
“Well, Jake, that is bad,” said Mr. Haynes, who knew the old darkey's weaknesses and understood the hint, “maybe we can fix that for you. But, Jake, you used to give me much pleasure years ago when you were a boy, relating stories and singing the old plantation songs. Do you sing now?”
“Jes’ listen at him, Marse Charlie. Ain't dat Marse Bob ober agin, jes’ lak he useter wus, foolin’
wid de ole nigger. Marse Bob, I lose my woice, an’ can't sing no mo’, but kin ’peat de words ob some ob de songs dat used ter be sung on de ole plantation, when you wus wid us long years ago. Sence de war ends, Marse Bob, dey tells some curious things dat happens; I dunno whedder dey be trufe or not; I tells ’em as I hears it. Soon arter de war ends de Norf peeple comes down Souf an’ buys many ob de ole plantations. Cotton is bringin’ big money, an’ a gole mine is in sight; sides dis, de Norf men thinks cotton is sowed down like wheat, but when de year ends de price ob cotton draps, an’ eberyting is busted. But dar wus one man dat wus game an’ not whooped. He hears de pop corn crap in de Norf is short, an’ don't plant a seed ob cotton nor a grain ob oats or corn, but puts eberyting in de poppin stuff. When he comes ter house de crop he fines de barns don't hold it, so he fixes up stalls in de stables an’ puts in dem what de barns don't hold. In October dar comes a mighty dry, hot spell of wedder, hot as August—de wells is gettin’ dry and creeks is gettin’ low. One day ’bout 3 o'clock de corn gins ter pop; it pops inside an’ outside; it keeps popin’ tell de flo’ is kivered, an’ pops all ober de lot. De horses an’ de mules, de cattle an’ de sheeps, de hogs an’ de pigs, de ducks an’ de geese
gits so skeered dey makes one break fer de do’, knocks down fences an’ wallins an’ flies down ter de creek, an’ plunges inter what water is lef’. Dars one mule tied in de stall next ter whar de corn gins ter pop dat's hard to kech, a regular kicker, an’ her name is Maud. She sees de corn, an’ thinks its snow an’ gins ter freeze.”
“Well, Jake,” said Mr. Haynes, “what became of the man?”
“When he hears de rumpas, he runs right inter de stables, an’ fines all de mules an’ horses gone ’cept ole Maud, but she sabes his life. While he's trying ter git her loose, like some fokes in de worl’ (dar rulin’ passion is strong in def) she makes her las’, long, hard kick an drops ded. When de man fines hisef he's outside de stables feelin’ mity bad, but is cussin’ mad. When he riz he is doin’ some hard swarin’, an’ sez, ‘Everybody dat wants ter plant de cussed poppin’ stuff kin do so, but for mysef I swars an’ bedang ’ef anudder grain shall ebber go inter my lan’ as long as life lasses.”
“Jake,” said Mr. Haynes, “that was a marvelous story; do you believe it?”
“Marse Bob, I tells it as I hears it; it may be trufe or it may not.”
“Jake, I wish you to repeat the words of the songs you used to sing when you were a boy.”
“Marse Bob, I'll gib you one dat's dear ter my heart, which we young uns used ter sing when we wus pullin’ fodder an’ pickin’ cotton. Ob all dem twenty young fokes, so happy an’ full ob joy, all is scatter'd; dar ain't but free ob us lef’ in dis whole country. Some is ded, some gone Norf, an’ some in de Pen. Marse Bob, ter my mine, as things has turned out, I thinks ef we had bin ’lowed ter stay on de ole plantations we'd bin better off in gineral. Whar one has prosper'd hundreds gits behind’, an’ is wuss off. In ole Marser's life he perwided well fer us, we had plenty ter eat, an’ plenty ter war; but don't you cross him, ef you does you sho’ will ’pent it. But we misses him now in our ole age, an’ when we gits sick an’ ain't able ter work, we can't git de good food we had when on de ole plantation.
An’ dars ole Missus, God bress her in her grabe. How many times has I seed her in de cabins, nursin’ de sick. How many times has I seed waiters piled up wid good things from old Missus’ table, sent ter de sick, an’ I has seed her gib dem medicines wid her own hans, an’ baved dar heads, ter ease dar pains; not only dis, but I has seed her kneel at de bedsides ob de
sick, an’ pray fer dar helf an’ salvation, an’ pint dem ter heaben. You talks ’bout saints on de earth, she wus one of dem. What I tells you, Marse Bob, is no lie, but de Lawd's trufe. When ole Missus die, all is clare, dar wus no cloud, but all wus joy an’ peace; she falls ter sleep in de arms ob her Sabiour. When I thinks ob de happy pass, ob ole Marster an’ Missus, an’ my own fokes, I thanks God He gibs me de blessed hope ob once mo’ meetin’ dem in dat butiful lan’.
Marse Bob, I'se got no edication an’ knows nuffin’, but lemme tell you, who ebber made de fuss ’twix Norf an’ Souf ’sartinly brought a heap ob trouble ’pon de country, but none has suffered mo’ dan de nigger.
Now I'll gib you de words ob de song we lubs so well:
- “Now a story I will tell you
- Ob plantation southern scenes,
- Which fill my hyart wid sadness,
- En gib me lots ob pain.
- I sees ole marster en de darkies
- Plowin’ in de cotton rows,
- I sees de grass er growin’,
- Chop down wid weedin’ hoes.
- I sees de sheeps er grazin’,
- I heahs de cattle low,
- I heahs de hens er cacklin’,
- En de ole rooster crow.
- Wen I trabbels fru de lowgrouns
- Whah I useter hunt de coon,
- I heahs ole Growler barkin’,
- En I knows I'll hab ’im soon.
- I has my axe er flyin’,
- Cuttin’ down de wood;
- Sez I tuh dat varmint,
- ‘Yo’ flesh am mighty good!
- Ole Marse he wuz a gentleman
- Ob de true Southern type,
- He house wuh filled wid comp'ny
- Er mawnin’, noon en night.
- Ole Marster lub tuh dance en sing,
- En cut de pidgeon wing;
- He tuck he drink free times a day
- En nebber made er swing.
- Now ole Marster dead en gone,
- I'll nebber see him mo’,
- I'll ne'er fergit dat good ole man,
- His like I'll nebber see.”
“Jake, that is pretty good. I like those old plantation songs that used to be sung when I was with you
all in those happy old days, when everybody was so happy and contended. Can't you sing another for me?”
“Marse Bob, does you ’member Uncle Wash, whah useter saddle yo’ hoss en go tuh de office fuh you?”
“Why certainly I do. He lost his wife during a freshet when I was here. It happened one April morning, and it was a very sad occurrence. Her body was never recovered.”
“De same man, Marse Bob. De po’ ole fellow nebber gits ober it, an’ nebber married no mo’. Soon arter de niggers wuz freed he went West an’ libed among strangers more'n thirty years. Las’ year he comes back, an’ fus’ ting I knows he's at my house. He say, Jake, I wants ter stay at your house ter night, an’ tomorrow walk wid me to de Hall. Next mornin’ arter breakfas’ we goes ter de ole home place. When we gits ter de ribber banks, he say, ‘Jake, whar did de ole cabin stan’? ‘Right here,’ Uncle Wash; here's de bricks ob de ole chimney.’ ‘Well, Jake, when I wuz at work on de streets ob de town I libed in, in de West, one mornin’ I got ter thinkin’ ob my ole home, friends an’ my young wife I lose—when someting whispered in my ear an’ said, Wash, you is
growin’ ole. Your journey is nearly at an end; leabe here dis day, an’ go ter your ole home. I jes’ lay my tools right down in de streets, goes ter de bank, draws my money, packs up my things, an’ here I is in my ole home once mo’. Now, what I wants ter say, Jake, is dis, you is my sister's son. I has some money on han’; I is near de end ob life. You promise me when I die ter bury me right on dis spot whar de ole cabin stood. Arter de ’spenses is paid, what's lef’ is yourn.’ So we leave de ole Hall, goes ter town, gits de Clerk ob de Cote ter fix up de writins, an’ Uncle Wash places de money he has in his hans. In a few weeks an awful snow storm comes, an’ de winds blow, an’ is mity cole, an’ de ole man tuck cole; de nex’ day is in de bed. We sends fer de doctor; he comes, an’ sez he is gittin’ weaker an’ weaker; is gwine fas’; can't las’ long; jes’ give dese draps ter keep him easy. De day he die I is in de nex’ room. I hears him talkin’ ter hisef, an’ I creeps ter de do’ an’ lissens. He's tryin’ ter sing, but he's too weak; den he kinder whispers, but I could kech what he said. He says:
- “Way down de ole Tar Ribber,
- Fur, fur away,
- Thinkin’ ob de sorrers ob dis ole nigger
- An’ mah lubly May.
- On de banks ob dat ole ribber
- May en I did roam,
- Talkin’ ob de little log cabin,
- Shawtly tuh be ouah home.
- An’ now de clouds grows heaby,
- An’ lets down floods ob rain;
- De ribber rise in fury,
- An’ covers roads en lanes.
- I heahs de rushin’ ob de watuhs,
- I sees de cabin go,
- I heahs de screams ob May,
- An’ nebber sees her mo’.
- Oh how I lubs dat deah ole ribber,
- De scenes ob chile-hood days;
- But all mah frens is gone en lef me,
- An’ I alone remain.
- Now I'm ole en feeble,
- Ise totterin’ tuh de grabe,
- But eber lookin’ tuh dat Sabior,
- Who died mah soul tuh sabe.”
De ole man is mighty weak ’en falls ter sleep. When he wake up I hear him sayin’ kinder low ’en ter hissef:
- “All mah trus’ on Dee am staid,
- All mah help fum Dee I brings,
- Kiver my defenseless head
- Wid de shadow ob dy wing.”
He fall ter sleep agin’, den wake an’ say, like he talkin’ ter somebody: ‘Long years has pas'd sence we parted, Mary; long years does I weep an’ mourn, an’ carried wid me a broken heart. But now, Mary, I'se comin’, crossin’ in de ferry. I sees you on de udder side, Mary, beckonin’ me wid yo’ lubbin’ arms. I'se wanted you, Mary, dese long, weary years in my loneliness an’ sorrow. But its ober now, we'll be parted no mo’ in dat blessed lan’ whar God wipes all tears from our eyes an’ lead us ter fountains ob waters. Yes, Mary, I is comin’, I is—is—com—.’ Den he breave a long bref like he's mighty tired an’ satisfied too. Den all is still I opens de do’, goes ter de bedside—de ole man is dead.
De nex’ day de funeral is at my house. It wus mighty cole, but de house is packed wid ole frens’ dat comes ter pay de las’ ’specs ter de good ole man. Uncle Noe Worsely preaches de sermon, an’ say:
‘Frens’: We meets here on dis sad ’casion to make only a few remarks on de def ob dis good ole man, who lef’ us so sudden. Uncle Wash was born on Scotland Hall farm many years ago, an’ was gittin’ ter be a mighty ole man. He wuz a good man an’ leads a life ob sorrer, kase he lose his wife in de freshet of 1842. You nebber see him smile, but wuz bowed
down wid grief. Arter de colored peeple wus freed, he went Wes’ an’ libed among strangers, but, like de prodigal son, he comes ter his own fo’ he die. Right here I wants ter say ter you young uns, de bes’ place fer you am among yer own white fokes, kase you is bin raised wid dem; you understans each udder. You falls out once in a while, but you makes up agin’. De white man am de same all de time, but you niggers knows he won't stan’ posin’, fer it ain't his natur’. He may cuss you an’ git mad ’nuff ter put a bullet in you, but ef you is hongry an’ suffring or wants work ter git grub fer yer little uns his heart sof'ns, an’ dey gits it. De Norf peeple thinks dey knows mo’ ’bout de nigger den dem whar's bin raised wid ’em; de nigger fools dem ter def’. Dey an’ some ob our own white fokes thinks all de nigger needs is edication. I thinks edication is right, but I tells de trufe when I says dat dars many ob de young niggers, no sooner den dey gits it, turns fools, shuns hones’ work, beats dar way fru’ life, gits in trouble; fus’ thing dey knows deys in de Pen. Now, some ob you is breakin’ yer necks ter go Norf. Don't you know ef you goes you's got ter work. Ef you works you gits pay, ef you don't you git nuffin’, an’ dat's right. Nobody ain't gwine ter sport you in idleness; den you mus’
work, starve or steal, dat's sartin’. Dat's what's de matter now. You won't work. Many ob you ter day would be better off ef you had a marster who would keep you home an’ out ob bad company, an’ make you ter be sef-supportin’. Bad company leads ter trouble; often ter de gallus, an’ ter de debil. But, no, you must traipise de country, playin’ craps an’ drinkin’ whiskey; fus’ thing you know you is locked up in jail. Many dat goes Norf and Wes’ gits in trouble an’ suffers not only demselves, but brings it on de whole nigger population; dar houses is burned by de mob an’ dey is driv’ from dar homes. It ain't so in de Souf. Ef you vilates de law, you mus’ suffer for your meanness, but de udders is safe. De Norf people is ’ginning ter git tired ob so many niggers gwine dar ebery year, an’ it won't be long fo’ dey squeals. But de nigger ain't so much ter blame arter all. Fo’ de war dar wus nebber happier peeple den marster an’ de slabes on de ole plantations; dey lubbed each udder; all wus peace; no hangins nor lynchins; but sence den de debil is ter pay. Now I ’vises you ter stay at home, go ter work, lib ’onest, bild up karacter, den you'll be ’spected, an’ always hab frens. Ef you don't keep good company, you sho’ will git in trouble, an’, more den likely, your life will end on de
gallows, an’ you go straight to de debil. De mistake our dear ole brudder makes wus leabin’ home. Ef brudder Wash had struck as many hard licks in de Souf as he did in de Wes’, he'd sabed mo’ money an’ had his frens ter comfort him in his ’flictions, an’ wouldn't died ob consumshun.’ Arter de preachin’ is ober we takes de ole man ter whar de ole cabin stood on de banks ob de ribber, an’ lays him ter rest.
Well, Marse Bob, Judy is callin’ me ter feed de pigs. Objects mus’ trabel, so I bids you good-bye.” Jake shook hands with Mr. Haynes. When he opened his hand he found a dollar therein, and thanked him with a broad grin and numerous protestations of gratitude.CONCLUSION.
After leaving the old negro's cabin Charlie and Mr. Haynes continued their journey and soon drew up at the point where the front gate of the mansion had stood. In viewing the premises, Mr. Haynes said:
“Charlie, is this old Scotland Hall?”
“Yes,” replied Charlie, “what is left of it.”
“How sad are the changes of life! The old dwelling and office both demolished, the beautiful grounds, with their flowers, shrubs, fruit-trees and vineyards, have all disappeared under the ruthless hand of avarice. My heart sickens at the scene of desolation; let us be going.”
They resumed their journey, visiting many places over which Mr. Haynes had rambled in early life. During their excursions they often adverted in their conversations to the sufferings of the people of both sections while the civil war was in progress, and especially of the Southern people, who were maltreated and so deeply humiliated during the dark days of Reconstruction. In one of these conversations Mr. Haynes said:
“It is useless to argue now as to who was responsible
for the introduction of African slavery into the colonies. Long years before we were born the institution of slavery existed. The Federal Government recognized and the Constitution protected it. One section of the Thirteen original colonies was no more to blame than another, for all were slave-holding communities. But none were more responsible for it than the people of New England. They were an adventurous, seagoing people, and were well equipped for such enterprises. They plied the trade for all it was worth, thereby accumulating vast fortunes. Had climatic conditions favored the North as they favored the South( and had slavery proven profitable, as it afterwards did in the South, no sentiment would have been created against the institution, nor would abolition societies ever have been organized. Slavery, having proved unprofitable in the North, a great hue and cry was raised by fanatics for its extinction, as a sin in the sight of God. Provisions had been made, however, by the various Assemblies for the extension of the system to a given date. This enabled the slave owner to transport his slaves and sell them in a milder climate, where the labor was profitable. Hence, when the time of emancipation arrived, the bulk of the slaves were sold in the South and but very few were
freed, and they mostly the aged and infirm, so that their owners were benefited by their liberation.
While on this subject, I will say right here that the Virginia Assembly once passed an act against the importation of slaves from Africa, and the act was vetoed by the King of England at the instance of the Massachusetts slave-dealers. Moreover, when, in the Constitutional Convention, a Virginian put into the Constitution a clause abolishing the trade, the Massachusetts delegates succeeded in extending the time for several years. Are you aware that the first abolition societies were formed in the South? In 1820 Congress passed an act making slave-trade piracy, but the law was poorly executed. Only one man suffered death for the violation of the law, Nathaniel Gordon, Master of the Erie, who was executed in New York in 1860, though he was no more guilty than many others engaged in the nefarious traffic. Slavery proving profitable in the South became a permanent fixture. Millions of dollars were involved, and it became the financial basis of the South; as such giving unlimited credit. This being so, is it any wonder that the Southern people flew to arms and put forth all their energies in maintaining their rights under the law and the Constitution; or that they should
have fought to protect their property acquired under that law and Constitution? Investments in slave property in the South were as legitimate as those made by the North in enterprises of navigation and manufacturing. As an illustration, suppose every manufacturing enterprise in New England and other Northern States was forever obliterated. Would not the loss be incalculable? Would it not result in the financial ruin of that section of the country? The losses incurred by the Southern people were untold millions in slave property, to say nothing of the injustice and humiliation to which they were subjected, robbed by brutal and rapacious Satraps as they lay helpless and bleeding under the iron heel of a consolidated despotism.
Yet, with all her misfortunes, the South is making rapid progress, and will in the future become far more prosperous than ever. As good citizens let us endeavor to abide by the Constitution as we now have it, and all will be well.”
In reply, Charlie said, “Mr. Haynes, I admit all that you say to be true. But as the years sweep by and a whole generation is passing, it is sad to realize that the links of friendship that once bound master and slave together are broken, and the kindly feeling
that once existed between the races is fast being obliterated. The new relations, springing from the changed conditions since the Civil War, have placed the present generation of whites and blacks in an entirely different attitude towards each other.
The elevation of the ex-slave to the rights and privileges enjoyed by his former master necessarily created two political factors, and the consequent jealousy and mutual distrust have caused a racial friction that has well nigh destroyed the mutual attachments formerly so strong. The present generation in the South is in the main as ignorant of that deep-rooted mutual affection which prevailed in olden times as the ante-bellum residents of New England, who knew nothing of the domestic life of the Southern planter. The racial changes, political and personal, brought about by the mighty upheaval of the war, the heat and passion engendered by the crimes and follies of reconstruction days, together with the subsequent friction caused by prejudice, misunderstanding and the intermeddling of injudicious parties, all these things have combined to create a distrust and jealousy between the races, which grows more acute and irritating every year. Hence, a mighty problem confronts the American people, and
one which for its solution will heavily tax the powers of the most astute statesmanship. But the question arises, Are the colored people as a race happier and better contented under the new conditions than under the old? Has the negro's moral and physical condition improved since he became a freedman? From the statistics at hand we find the percentage of mortality among the negroes considerably larger than it was in slavery. We find also that the offsprings of the race have decreased in number, while the rate of increase remains the same among the whites. With the death rate greater than the birthrate, from what source has the negro to draw to replenish his depleted ranks? To the white race there is being added millions each decade by immigration, to say nothing of the natural increase through offspring. From the facts as presented, it is seen to be only a question of time when the fate of the negro race in North America will be that of the Indian. Under the old conditions the negro was well disciplined. He was required to remain at home and to keep good hours. The amount of labor demanded was not excessive. He was well clothed and housed and fed; was attended in sickness and cared for in old age. After emancipation all discipline was removed. The young
of the race were allowed to roam the country at will. By reason of dissipation and exposure, with insufficient food and clothing, consumption has made terrible ravages among them as a race, a rare disease in slavery days. As to their morals, little can be said, the less the better. I am sorry to have to say that I do not believe they are as truly religious now as when slaves. If you will examine the court records throughout the South, you will find but few ex-slaves charged with crimes, while very few indeed of the old servants have suffered the death penalty. But the dockets of all the courts are crowded with the names of the younger generation, those who have had the so-called superior advantages in education and training. What crimes are alleged against the young freedmen? Larceny, burglary, arson, gambling, carrying concealed weapons, besides the assaults on white women. The latter crime is confined to no section, but is to be found in all, and the inevitable end is death.
During the Civil War, while fathers and sons were at the front, hundreds of white families were left under the protection of the old servants on the plantations; and well did these faithful slaves perform their duty! Throughout the South not one single
case of assault occurred, as I ever knew. All this came from the superb discipline under which they were reared. The respectable element among the freedmen of this generation are opposed to the crimes committed by the dissolute of their race. They are law-abiding people, owing to the conservatism transmitted from their fathers. From long custom the negro in the South knows his place and keeps it. But when he goes North he imagines, from impressions he has previously received, that he will stand on a plane of equality with the whites, and he aspires to positions to which he can never attain. Then trouble usually begins. To live on friendly terms with the freedmen, treat him courteously and kindly, and deal with him frankly and justly, but keep him on his own side of the line. Then there will be no trouble. While the Southern people, as a whole, entertain kindly feelings toward the ex-slave and will accord him justice and the protection of the law, there are two things to which they will not submit, viz., Negro domination and social equality. To be just to the thinking and the better class of the colored people, they do not expect or want to mingle socially with the whites. For there is an unfathomable gulf fixed between the two races by the hand of the
Almighty, a gulf over which there is no passing. Were it bridged, the Anglo-Saxon race would be menaced, its very existence jeopardized. It is not the desire of the Southern people to thrust their opinions on this subject upon others who do not agree with them. And in return they will not allow others to change or influence their policy in the management of their domestic affairs. I may be mistaken, but in my opinion history does not afford an instance of another highly civilized peoples having suffered so severely from mere sentiment as the Americans. The greatest calamity, I think, that ever befell the American people was the introduction of African slavery. But this was no worse than the sudden emancipation of millions of ignorant beings, and the thrusting of the ballot in the hands of those who possessed no homes, resources or experience.
At the period of emancipation the negro was a valuable laborer, quiet, inoffensive, contented and happy. But the restraint and discipline to which he had been accustomed were removed; and he fell into the hands of political vampires, who converted his Eden into a pandemonium, and turned the negro himself into a vicious fiend, whose villiany has been witnessed in all sections, and whose crimes have been
sealed with his blood by an outraged and indignant people.
Mr. Charles Francis Adams gives the results of his observations made on a recent trip to Central Africa. He says, “I found myself most impressed with the realizing sense of the appalling amount of error and cant we of the United States have indulged in on this topic. The familiar statement that all the negro needs is a chance, is the sheerest of delusions, due to pure ignorance of rudimentary facts. Yet we built upon it in reconstruction as upon a foundation of stone, a self-evident truth.”
Mr. Adams had met the negro in his own home, and he says, “If Africa is now to be opened up by the white man, one thing is clear; without being reduced to servitude the inferior race must be recognized as such, and in some way must be so dealt with. Facts are facts.”
Mr. Adams, pondering further in the light of these new facts, upon the problem here in America, reverts to the point that evidently impressed him most: the race's disqualification for any real development.
“Meanwhile,” Mr. Adams continues, “one thing is clear. The work done by those who were in political
control at the end of our Civil War was work done in utter ignorance. Starting the movement wrong will work incalculable injury to us.” Mr. Adams was born and reared in New England, and was saturated with the traditions and sentiments of abolition days, but he has come to see at last that the Southern view of the negro was, after all, the true one.
It was this misplaced sentiment that destroyed and disorganized the splendid labor system of the South, which had brought prosperity to the people of both sections. It was this mistaken sentiment (under the guise of religion) that is responsible for the excesses which have occurred in the South, for the assaults on white women, resulting in mob violence and death. It was this same sentiment prompted by malice (unintentional, however), that was the means of inaugurating one of the most gigantic systems of textile manufacturing enterprises the world has ever witnessed.
Though now in its infancy, its development is beyond the most sanguine expectations of the projectors, and is being felt throughout the world. In a few more decades the Southern mills will consume every bale of cotton produced in the South. If this be so, to
what source will the textile manufacturers of the rest of the world look for the supply of raw material to keep their mills in operation? Owing to their defective labor conditions, it will evidently be years before India, Egypt and other cotton growing countries can supply the demand. The Southern mills, being located in close proximity to the cotton fields, the saving in cost of handling and transportation are factors greatly in the favor of the Southern manufacturer. This will enable him to place his fabrics on the markets of the world at a price that will defy competition. In ante-bellum days the planter was content to furnish the manufacturer with the raw material, but this fanatical sentiment spoken of changed conditions in the South and forced the planter to embark upon the industrial sea, to engage in enterprises that made him independent of the uncontrollable negro labor, upon which he had before relied. Hence, sentiment, so long cherished, killed the goose that laid the golden egg, besides leaving a tangle of vexatious questions to be solved.
But after all that has occurred, there is no nation whose people have been more fortunate in the selection of rulers to administer the affairs of state than our great Republic. It is true that some have been
strong partisans, and have used their official positions to strengthen the organizations to which they belonged. But all are imbued with the spirit of patriotism, and their actions have in large measure been characterized by a conservatism that has redounded to the good of the whole country. Among those who have occupied the chair of the Chief Executive, none has surpassed the noble Christian patriot, William McKinley, the purest and the best. Broadminded and possessing a heart that was overflowing with kindness for his fellow citizens of all sections, it was his mission to break down the walls of sectionalism and restore fraternal feelings. No people in all this broad land lamented his untimely end more than those of the South, where generations yet unborn will rise up and call him blessed.
Though the Southern people have suffered untold miseries, they want peace and are willing to forgive. For the Day-star of Hope sheds its luster upon our beautiful Southland, filling the hearts of her people with encouragement, joy and gratitude, as she enters upon a career of commercial and industrial prosperity whose gigantic strides astound the world.