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Among the Pines - or, South in Secession Time
by James R. Gilmore
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We passed great numbers of swine, feeding on these burrs, and now and then a horned animal browsing on the cypress-moss where it hung low on the trees. I observed that nearly all the swine were marked, though they seemed too wild to have ever seen an owner, or a human habitation. They were a long, lean, slab-sided race, with legs and shoulders like deer, and bearing no sort of resemblance to the ordinary hog, except in the snout, and that feature was so much longer and sharper than the nose of the Northern swine, that I doubt if Agassiz would class the two as one species. However, they have their uses—they make excellent bacon, and are "death on snakes." Ireland itself is not more free from the serpentine race than are the districts frequented by these long-nosed quadrupeds.

"We call them Carolina race-horses," said the Colonel, as he finished an account of their peculiarities.

"Race-horses! Why, are they fleet of foot?"

"Fleet as deer. I'd match one against an ordinary horse at any time."

"Come, my friend, you're practising on my ignorance of natural history."

"Not a bit of it. See! there's a good specimen yonder. If we can get him into the road, and fairly started, I'll bet you a dollar he'll beat Sandy's mare on a half-mile stretch—Sandy to hold the stakes and have the winnings."

"Well, agreed," I said, laughing, "and I'll give the pig ten rods the start."

"No," replied the Colonel, "you can't afford it. He'll have to start ahead, but you'll need that in the count. Come, Sandy, will you go in for the pile?"

I'm not sure that the native would not have run a race with Old Nicholas himself, for the sake of so much money. To him it was a vast sum; and as he thought of it, his eyes struck small sparks, and his enormous beard and mustachio vibrated with something that faintly resembled a laugh. Replying to the question, he said:

"Kinder reckon I wull, Cunnel; howsomdever, I keeps the stakes, ony how?"

"Of course," said the planter, "but be honest—win if you can."

Sandy halted his horse in the road, while the planter and I took to the woods on either side of the way. The Colonel soon manoeuvred to separate the selected animal from the rest of the herd, and, without much difficulty, got him into the road, where, by closing down on each flank, we kept him till he and Sandy were fairly under way.

"He'll keep to the road when once started," said the Colonel, laughing: "and he'll show you some of the tallest running you ever saw in your life."

Away they went. At first the pig, seeming not exactly to comprehend the programme, cantered off at a leisurely pace, though he held his own. Soon, however, he cast an eye behind him—halted a moment to collect his thoughts and reconnoitre—and then, lowering his head and elevating his tail, put forth all his speed. And such speed! Talk of a deer, the wind, or a steam-engine—they are not to be compared with it. Nothing in nature I ever saw run—except, it may be, a Southern tornado, or a Sixth Ward politician—could hope to distance that pig. He gained on the horse at every step, and it was soon evident that my dollar was gone!

"'In for a shilling, in for a pound,' is the adage, so, turning to the Colonel, I said, as intelligibly as my horse's rapid pace and my excited risibilities would allow:

"I see I've lost, but I'll go you another dollar that you can't beat the pig!"

"No—sir!" the Colonel got out in the breaks of his laughing explosions; "you can't hedge on me in that manner. I'll go a dollar that you can't do it, and your mare is the fastest on the road. She won me a thousand not a month ago."

"Well, I'll do it—Sandy to have the stakes."

"Agreed," said the Colonel, and away we went.

The swinish racer was about a hundred yards ahead when I gave the mare the reins, and told her to go. And she did go. She flew against the wind with a motion so rapid that my face, as it clove the air, felt as if cutting its way through a solid body, and the trees, as we passed, seemed struck with panic, and running for dear life in the opposite direction.

For a few moments I thought the mare was gaining, and I turned to the Colonel with an exultant look.

"Don't shout till you win, my boy," he called out from the distance where I was fast leaving him and Sandy.

I did not shout, for spite of all my efforts the space between me and the pig seemed to widen. Yet I kept on, determined to win, till, at the end of a short half-mile, we reached the Waccamaw—the swine still a hundred yards ahead! There his pigship halted, turned coolly around, eyed me for a moment, then with a quiet, deliberate trot, turned off into the woods.

A bend in the road kept my companions out of sight for a few moments, and when they came up I had somewhat recovered my breath, though the mare was blowing hard, and reeking with foam.

"Well," said the Colonel, "what do you think of our bacon 'as it runs?'"

"I think the Southern article can't be beat, whether raw or cooked, standing or running."

At this moment the hound, who had been leisurely jogging along in the rear, disdaining to join in the race in which his dog of a master and I had engaged, came up, and dashing quickly on to the river's edge, set up a most dismal howling. The Colonel dismounted, and clambering down the bank, which was there twenty feet high, and very steep, shouted:

"The d——d Yankee has swum the stream!"

"Why so?" I asked.

"To cover his tracks and delay pursuit; but he has overshot the mark. There is no other road within ten miles, and he must have taken to this one again beyond here. He's lost twenty minutes by this manoeuvre. Come, Sandy, call in the dog, we'll push on a little faster."

"But he tuk to t'other bank, Cunnel. Shan't we trail him thar?" asked Sandy.

"And suppose he found a boat here," I suggested, "and made the shore some ways down?"

"He couldn't get Firefly into a flat—we should only waste time in scouring the other bank. The swamp this side the next run has forced him into the road within five miles. The trick is transparent. He took me for a fool," replied the Colonel, answering both questions at once.

I had reined my horse out of the road, and when my companions turned to go, was standing at the edge of the bank, overlooking the river. Suddenly I saw, on one of the abutments of the bridge, what seemed a long, black log—strange to say, in motion!

"Colonel," I shouted, "see there! a live log as I'm a white man!"

"Lord bless you," cried the planter, taking an observation, "it's an alligator!"

I said no more, but pressing on after the hound, soon left my companions out of sight. For long afterward, the Colonel, in a doleful way, would allude to my lamentable deficiency in natural history—particularly in such branches as bacon and "live logs."

I had ridden about five miles, keeping well up with the hound, and had reached the edge of the swamp, when suddenly the dog darted to the side of the road, and began to yelp in the most frantic manner. Dismounting, and leading my horse to the spot, I made out plainly the print of Firefly's feet in the sand. There was no mistaking it—that round shoe on the off forefoot. (The horse had, when a colt, a cracked hoof, and though the wound was outgrown, the foot was still tender.) These prints were dry, while the tracks we had seen at the river were filled with water, thus proving that the rain had ceased while the overseer was passing between the two places. He was therefore not far off.

The Colonel and Sandy soon rode up.

"Caught a live log! eh, my good fellow?" asked my host, with a laugh.

"No; but here's the overseer as plain as daylight; and his tracks not wet!"

Quickly dismounting, he examined the ground, and then exclaimed:

"The d—l——it's a fact—here not four hours ago! He has doubled on his tracks since, I'll wager, and not made twenty miles—we'll have him before night, sure! Come, mount—quick."

We sprang into our saddles, and again pressed rapidly on after the dog, who followed the scent at the top of his speed.

Some three miles more of wet, miry road took us to the run of which the Colonel had spoken. Arrived there, we found the hound standing on the bank, wet to the skin, and looking decidedly chop-fallen.

"Death and d——n!" shouted the Colonel; "the dog has swum the run, and lost the trail on the other side! The d—d scoundrel has taken to the water, and balked us after all! Take up the dog, Sandy, and try him again over there."

The native spoke to Caesar, who bounded on to the horse's back in front of his master. They then crossed the stream, which there was about fifty yards wide, and so shallow that in the deepest part the water merely touched the horse's breast; but it was so roiled by the recent rain that we could not distinguish the foot-prints of the horse beneath the surface.

The dog ranged up and down the opposite bank, but all to no purpose: the overseer had not been there. He had gone either up or down the stream—in which direction, was now the question. Calling Sandy back to our side of the run, the Colonel proceeded to hold a 'council of war.' Each one gave his opinion, which was canvassed by the others, with as much solemnity as if the fate of the Union hung on the decision.

The native proposed we should separate—one go up, another down the stream, and the third, with the dog, follow the road; to which he thought Moye had finally returned. Those who should explore the run would easily detect the horse's tracks where he had left it, and then taking a straight course to the road, all might meet some five miles further on, at a place indicated.

I gave my adhesion to Sandy's plan, but the Colonel overruled it on the ground of the waste of time that would be incurred in thus recovering the overseer's trail.

"Why not," he said, "strike at once for the end of his route? Why follow the slow steps he took in order to throw us off the track? He has not come back to this road. Ten miles below there is another one leading also to the railway. He has taken that. We might as well send Sandy and the dog back and go on by ourselves."

"But if bound for the Station, why should he wade through the creek here, ten miles out of his way? Why not go straight on by the road?" I asked.

"Because he knew the dog would track him, and he hoped by taking to the run to make me think he had crossed the country instead of striking for the railroad."

I felt sure the Colonel was wrong, but knowing him to be tenacious of his own opinions, I made no further objection.

Directing Sandy to call on Madam P—— and acquaint her with our progress, he then dismissed the negro-hunter, and once more led the way up the road.

The next twenty miles, like our previous route, lay through an unbroken forest. As we left the watercourses, we saw only the gloomy pines, which there—the region being remote from the means of transportation—were seldom tapped, and presented few of the openings that invite the weary traveller to the dwelling of the hospitable planter.

After a time the sky, which had been bright and cloudless all the morning, grew overcast, and gave out tokens of a coming storm. A black cloud gathered in the west, and random flashes darted from it far off in the distance; then gradually it neared us; low mutterings sounded in the air, and the tops of the tall pines a few miles away, were lit up now and then with a fitful blaze, all the brighter for the deeper gloom that succeeded. Then a terrific flash and peal broke directly over us, and a great tree, struck by a red-hot bolt, fell with a deafening crash, half way across our path. Peal after peal followed, and then the rain—not filtered into drops as it falls from our colder sky, but in broad, blinding sheets—poured full and heavy on our shelterless heads.

"Ah! there it comes!" shouted the Colonel. "God have mercy upon us!"

As he spoke, a crashing, crackling, thundering roar rose above the storm, filling the air, and shaking the solid earth till it trembled beneath our horses' feet, as if upheaved by a volcano. Nearer and nearer the sound came, till it seemed that all the legions of darkness were unloosed in the forest, and were mowing down the great pines as the mower mows the grass with his scythe. Then an awful, sweeping crash thundered directly at our backs, and turning round, as if to face a foe, my horse, who had borne the roar and the blinding flash till then unmoved, paralyzed with dread, and panting for breath, sunk to the ground; while close at my side the Colonel, standing erect in his stirrups, his head uncovered to the pouring sky, cried out:

"THANK GOD, WE ARE SAVED!"

There—not three hundred yards in our rear, had passed the TORNADO—uprooting trees, prostrating dwellings, and sending many a soul to its last account, but sparing us for another day! For thirty miles through the forest it had mowed a swath of two hundred feet, and then moved on to stir the ocean to its briny depths.

With a full heart, I remounted, and turning my horse, pressed on in the rain. We said not a word till a friendly opening pointed the way to a planter's dwelling. Then calling to me to follow, the Colonel dashed up the by-path which led to the mansion, and in five minutes we were warming our chilled limbs before the cheerful fire that roared and crackled on its broad hearth-stone.



CHAPTER XII.

THE YANKEE-SCHOOL-MISTRESS.

The house was a large, old-fashioned frame building, square as a packing-box, and surrounded, as all country dwellings at the South are, by a broad, open piazza. Our summons was answered by its owner, a well-to-do, substantial, middle-aged planter, wearing the ordinary homespun of the district, but evidently of a station in life much above the common "corn-crackers" I had seen at the country meeting-house. The Colonel was an acquaintance, and greeting us with great cordiality, our host led the way directly to the sitting-room. There we found a bright, blazing fire, and a pair of bright sparkling eyes, the latter belonging to a blithesome young woman of about twenty, with a cheery face, and a half-rustic, half-cultivated air, whom our new friend introduced to us as his wife.

"I regret not having had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. S—— before, but am very happy to meet her now," said the Colonel, with all the well-bred, gentlemanly ease that distinguished him.

"The pleasure is mutual, Colonel J——," replied the lady, "but thirty miles in this wild country, should not have made a neighbor so distant as you have been."

"Business, madam, is at fault, as your husband knows. I have much to do; and besides, all my connections are in the other direction—with Charleston."

"It's a fact, Sally, the Colonel is the d—— busy man in these parts. Not content with a big plantation and three hundred niggers, he looks after all South Carolina, and the rest of creation to boot," said our host.

"Tom will have his joke, Madam, but he's not far from the truth."

Seeing we were dripping wet, the lady offered us a change of clothing, and retiring to a chamber, we each appropriated a suit belonging to our host, giving our own to a servant, to be dried.

Arrayed in our fresh apparel, we soon rejoined our friends in the sitting-room. The new garments fitted the Colonel tolerably well, but, though none too long, they were a world too wide for me, and as my wet hair hung in smooth flat folds down my cheeks, and my limp shirt-collar fell over my linsey coat, I looked for all the world like a cross between a theatrical Aminodab Sleek and Sir John Falstaff, with the stuffing omitted. When our hostess caught sight of me in this new garb, she rubbed her hands together in great glee, and, springing to her feet, gave vent to a perfect storm of laughter—jerking out between the explosions:

"Why—you—you—look jest like—a scare-crow."

There was no mistaking that hearty, hoydenish manner; and seizing both of her hands in mine, I shouted: "I've found you out—you're a "country-woman" of mine—a clear-blooded Yankee!"

"What! you a Yankee!" she exclaimed, still laughing, "and here with this horrid 'secesherner,' as they call him."

"True as preachin', Ma'am," I replied, adopting the drawl—"all the way from Down East, and Union, tu, stiff as buckram."

"Du tell!" she exclaimed, swinging my hands together as she held them in hers. "If I warn't hitched to this 'ere feller, I'd give ye a smack right on the spot. I'm so glad to see ye."

"Do it, Sally—never mind me," cried her husband, joining heartily in the merriment.

Seizing the collar of my coat with both hands, she drew my face down till my lips almost touched hers (I was preparing to blush, and the Colonel shouted, "Come, come, I shall tell his wife"): but then turning quickly on her heel, she threw herself into a chair, exclaiming, "I wouldn't mind, but the old man would be jealous." Addressing the Colonel, she added, "You needn't be troubled, sir, no Yankee girl will kiss you till you change your politics."

"Give me that inducement, and I'll change them on the spot," said the Colonel.

"No, no, Dave, 'twouldn't do," replied the planter; "the conversion wouldn't be genuwine—besides such things arn't proper, except 'mong blood-relations—and all the Yankees, you know are first-cousins."

The conversation then subsided into a more placid mood, but lost none of its genial, good humor. Refreshments were soon set before us, and while partaking of them I gathered from our hostess that she was a Vermont country-girl, who, some three years before, had been induced by liberal pay to come South as a teacher. A sister accompanied her, and about a year after their arrival, she married a neighboring planter. Wishing to be near her sister, our hostess had also married and settled down for life in that wild region. "I like the country very well," she added; "it's a great sight easier living here than in Vermont; but I do hate these lazy, shiftless, good-for-nothing niggers; they are so slow, and so careless, and so dirty, that I sometimes think they will worry the very life out of me. I do believe I'm the hardest mistress in all the district."

I learned from her that a majority of the teachers at the South are from the North, and principally, too, from New England. Teaching is a very laborious employment there, far more so than with us, for the Southerners have no methods like ours, and the same teacher usually has to hear lessons in branches all the way from Greek and Latin to the simple A B C. The South has no system of public instruction; no common schools; no means of placing within the reach of the sons and daughters of the poor even the elements of knowledge. While the children of the wealthy are most carefully educated, it is the policy of the ruling class to keep the great mass of the people in ignorance; and so long as this policy continues, so long will that section be as far behind the North as it now is, in all that constitutes true prosperity and greatness.

The afternoon wore rapidly and pleasantly away in the genial society of our wayside-friends. Politics were discussed (our host was a Union man), the prospects of the turpentine crop talked over, the recent news canvassed, the usual neighborly topics touched upon, and—I hesitate to confess it—a considerable quantity of corn whiskey disposed of, before the Colonel discovered, all at once, that it was six o'clock, and we were still seventeen miles from the railway station. Arraying ourselves again in our dried garments, we bade a hasty but regretful "good-bye" to our hospitable entertainers, and once more took to the road.

The storm had cleared away, but the ground was heavy with the recent rain, and our horses were sadly jaded with the ride of the morning. We gave them the reins, and, jogging on at their leisure, it was ten o'clock at night before they landed us at the little hamlet of W—— Station, in the state of North Carolina.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE RAILWAY STATION.

A large hotel, or station-house, and about a dozen log shanties made up the village. Two of these structures were negro-cabins; two were small groceries, in which the vilest alcoholic compounds were sold at a bit (ten cents) a glass; one was a lawyer's office, in which was the post-office, and a justice's court, where, once a month, the small offenders of the vicinity "settled up their accounts;" one was a tailoring and clothing establishment, where breeches were patched at a dime a stitch, and payment taken in tar and turpentine; and the rest were private dwellings of one apartment, occupied by the grocers, the tailor, the switch-tenders, the postmaster, and the negro attaches of the railroad. The church and the school-house—the first buildings to go up in a Northern village—I have omitted to enumerate, because—they were not there.

One of the natives told me that the lawyer was a "stuck-up critter;" "he don't live; he don't—he puts-up at th' hotel." And the hotel! Would Shakspeare, had he have known it, have written of taking one's ease at his inn? It was a long, framed building, two stories high, with a piazza extending across the side and a front door crowded as closely into one corner as the width of the joist would permit. Under the piazza, ranged along the wall, was a low bench, occupied by about forty tin wash-basins and water-pails, and with coarse, dirty crash towels suspended on rollers above it. By the side of each of these towels hung a comb and a brush, to which a lock of everybody's hair was clinging, forming in the total a stock sufficient to establish any barber in the wig business.

It was, as I have said, ten o'clock when we reached the Station. Throwing the bridles of our horses over the hitching-posts at the door, we at once made our way to the bar-room. That apartment, which was in the rear of the building, and communicated with by a long, narrow passage, was filled almost to suffocation, when we entered, by a cloud of tobacco smoke, the fumes of bad whiskey, and a crowd of drunken chivalry, through whom the Colonel with great difficulty elbowed his way to the counter, where "mine host" and two assistants were dispensing "liquid death," at the rate of ten cents a glass, and of ten glasses a minute.

"Hello, Cunnel, how ar' ye," cried the red-faced liquor-vender, as he caught sight of my companion, and, relinquishing his lucrative employment for a moment, took the Colonel's hand, "how ar' ye?"

"Quite well, thank you, Miles," said the Colonel, with a certain patronizing air, "have you seen my man, Moye?"

"Moye, no! What's up with him?"

"He's run away with my horse, Firefly—I thought he would have made for this station. At what time does the next train go up?"

"Wal, it's due half arter 'leven, but 'taint gin'rally 'long till nigh one."

The Colonel was turning to join me at the door, when a well-dressed young man of very unsteady movements, who was filling a glass at the counter, and staring at him with a sort of dreamy amazement, stammered out, "Moye—run—run a—way, zir! that—k—kant be—by G—. I know—him, zir—he's a—a friend of mine, and—I'm—I'm d——d if he ain't hon—honest."

"About as honest as the Yankees run," replied the Colonel, "he's a d——d thief, sir!"

"Look here—here, zir—don't—don't you—you zay any—thing 'gainst—the Yankees. D——d if—if I aint—one of 'em mezelf—zir," said the fellow staggering toward the Colonel.

"I don't care what you are; you're drunk."

"You lie—you—you d——d 'ris—'ristocrat," was the reply, as the inebriated gentleman aimed a blow, with all his unsteady might, at the Colonel's face.

The South Carolinian stepped quickly aside, and dexterously threw his foot before the other, who—his blow not meeting the expected resistance—was unable to recover himself, and fell headlong to the floor. The planter turned on his heel, and was walking quietly away, when the sharp report of a pistol sounded through the apartment, and a ball tore through the top of his boot, and lodged in the wall within two feet of where I was standing. With a spring, quick and sure as the tiger's, the Colonel was on the drunken man. Wrenching away the weapon, he seized the fellow by the neck-tie, and drawing him up to nearly his full height, dashed him at one throw to the other end of the room. Then raising the revolver he coolly levelled it to fire!

But a dozen strong men were on him. The pistol was out of his hand, and his arms were pinioned in an instant; while cries of "Fair play, sir!" "He's drunk!" "Don't hit a man when he's down," and other like exclamations, came from all sides.

"Give me fair play, you d——d North Carolina hounds," cried the Colonel, struggling violently to get away, "and I'll fight the whole posse of you."

"One's 'nuff for you, ye d——d fire-eatin' 'ristocrat;" said a long, lean, bushy-haired, be-whiskered individual, who was standing near the counter: "ef ye want to fight, I'll 'tend to yer case to onst. Let him go, boys," he continued as he stepped toward the Colonel, and parted the crowd that had gathered around him: "give him the shootin'-iron, and let's see ef he'll take a man thet's sober."

I saw serious trouble was impending, and stepping forward, I said to the last speaker, "My friend, you have no quarrel with this gentleman. He has treated that man only as you would have done."

"P'raps thet's so; but he's a d——d hound of a Secesherner thet's draggin' us all to h—ll; it'll du the country good to git quit of one on 'em."

"Whatever his politics are, he's a gentleman, sir, and has done you no harm—let me beg of you to let him alone."

"Don't beg any thing for me, Mr. K——," growled the Colonel through his barred teeth, "I'll fight the d——d corn-cracker, and his whole race, at once."

"No you won't, my friend. For the sake of those at home you won't;" I said, taking him by the arm, and partly leading, partly forcing him, toward the door.

"And who in h—ll ar you?" asked the corn-cracker, planting himself squarely in my way.

"I'm on the same side of politics with you, Union to the core!" I replied.

"Ye ar! Union! Then give us yer fist," said he, grasping me by the hand; "by —— it does a feller good to see a man dressed in yer cloes thet haint 'fraid to say he's Union, so close to South Car'lina, tu, as this ar! Come, hev a drink: come boys—all round—let's liquor!"

"Excuse me now, my dear fellow—some other time I'll be glad to join you."

"Jest as ye say, but thar's my fist, enyhow."

He gave me another hearty shake of the hand, and the crowd parting, I made my way with the Colonel out of the room. We were followed by Miles, the landlord, who, when we had reached the front of the entrance-way, said, "I'm right sorry for this row, gentlemen; the boys will hev a time when they gets together."

"Oh, never mind;" said the Colonel, who had recovered his coolness; "but why are all these people here?"

"Thar's a barbacue cumin' off to-morrer on the camp-ground, and the house is cram full."

"Is that so?" said the Colonel, then turning to me he added, "Moye has taken the railroad somewhere else; I must get to a telegraph office at once, to head him off. The nearest one is Wilmington. With all these rowdies here, it will not do to leave the horses alone—will you stay and keep an eye on them over to-morrow?"

"Yes, I will, cheerfully."

"Thar's a mighty hard set, round har now, Cunnel," said the landlord; "and the most peaceable get enter scrapes ef they hain't no friends. Hadn't ye better show the gentleman some of your'n, 'fore you go?"

"Yes, yes, I didn't think of that. Who is here?"

"Wal, thar's Cunnel Taylor, Bill Barnes, Sam Heddleson, Jo Shackelford, Andy Jones, Rob Brown, and lots of others."

"Where's Andy Jones?"

"Reckon he's turned in; I'll see."

As the landlord opened a door which led from the hall, the Colonel said to me, "Andy is a Union man; but he'd fight to the death for me."

"Sal!" called out the hotel keeper.

"Yas, massa, I'se har," was the answer from a slatternly woman, awfully black in the face, who soon thrust her head from the door-way.

"Is Andy Jones har?" asked Miles.

"Yas, massa, he'm turned in up thar on de table."

We followed the landlord into the apartment. It was the dining-room of the hotel, and by the dim light which came from a smoky fire on the hearth, I saw it contained about a hundred people, who, wrapped in blankets, bed-quilts and travelling-shawls, were disposed in all conceivable attitudes, and scattered about on the hard floor and tables, sleeping soundly. The room was a long, low apartment—extending across the entire front of the house—and had a wretched, squalid look. The fire, which was tended by the negro-woman—(she had spread a blanket on the floor, and was keeping a drowsy watch over it for the night)—had been recently replenished with green wood, and was throwing out thick volumes of black smoke, which, mixing with the effluvia from the lungs of a hundred sleepers, made up an atmosphere next to impossible to breathe. Not a window was open, and not an aperture for ventilation could be seen!

Carefully avoiding the arms and legs of the recumbent chivalry, we picked our way, guided by the negro-girl, to the corner of the room where the Unionist was sleeping. Shaking him briskly by the shoulder, the Colonel called out: "Andy! Andy! wake up!"

"What—what the d——l is the matter?" stammered the sleeper, gradually opening his eyes, and raising himself on one elbow, "Lord bless you, Cunnel, is that you? what in —— brought you har?"

"Business, Andy. Come, get up, I want to see you, and I can't talk here."

The North Carolinian slowly rose, and throwing his blanket over his shoulders, followed us from the room. When we had reached the open air the Colonel introduced me to his friend, who expressed surprise, and a great deal of pleasure, at meeting a Northern Union man in the Colonel's company.

"Look after our horses, now, Miles; Andy and I want to talk," said the planter to the landlord, with about as little ceremony as he would have shown to a negro.

I thought the white man did not exactly relish the Colonel's manner, but saying, "All right, all right, sir," he took himself away.

The night was raw and cold, but as all the rooms of the hotel were occupied, either by sleepers or carousers, we had no other alternative than to hold our conference in the open air. Near the railway-track a light-wood fire was blazing, and, obeying the promptings of the frosty atmosphere, we made our way to it. Lying on the ground around it, divested of all clothing except a pair of linsey trousers and a flannel shirt, and with their naked feet close to its blaze—roasting at one extremity, and freezing at the other—were several blacks, the switch-tenders and woodmen of the Station—fast asleep. How human beings could sleep in such circumstances seemed a marvel, but further observation convinced me that the Southern negro has a natural aptitude for that exercise, and will, indeed, bear more exposure than any other living thing. Nature in giving him such powers of endurance, appears to have specially fitted him for the life of hardship and privation to which he is born.

The fire-light enabled me to scan the appearance of my new acquaintance. He was rather above the medium height, squarely and somewhat stoutly built, and had an easy and self-possessed, though rough and unpolished manner. His face, or so much of it as was visible from underneath a thick mass of reddish gray hair, denoted a firm, decided character; but there was a manly, open, honest expression about it that gained one's confidence in a moment. He wore a slouched hat and a suit of the ordinary "sheep's-grey," cut in the "sack" fashion, and hanging loosely about him. He seemed a man who had made his own way in the world, and I subsequently learned that appearances did not belie him. The son of a "poor white" man, with scarcely the first rudiments of book-education, he had, by sterling worth, natural ability, and great force of character, accumulated a handsome property, and acquired a leading position in his district. Though on "the wrong side of politics," his personal popularity was so great that for several successive years he had been elected to represent the county in the state legislature. The Colonel, though opposed to him in politics—and party feeling at the South runs so high that political opponents are seldom personal friends—had, in the early part of his career, aided him by his endorsements; and Andy had not forgotten the service. It was easy to see that while two men could not be more unlike in character and appearance than my host and the North Carolinian, they were warm and intimate friends.

"So, Moye has been raising h—ll gin'rally, Colonel," said my new acquaintance after a time. "I'm not surprised. I never did b'lieve in Yankee nigger-drivers—sumhow it's agin natur' for a Northern man to go Southern principles quite so strong as Moye did."

"Which route do you think he has taken?" asked the Colonel.

"Wal, I reckon arter he tuk to the run, he made fur the mountings. He know'd you'd head him on the travelled routes; so he's put, I think, fur the Missussippe, where he'll sell the horse and make North."

"I'll follow him," said the Colonel, "to the ends of the earth. If it costs me five thousand dollars, I'll see him hung."

"Wal," replied Andy, laughing, "if he's gone North you'll need a extradition treaty to kotch him. South Car'lina, I b'lieve, has set up fur a furrin country."

"That's true," said the Colonel, also laughing, "she's "furrin" to the Yankees, but not to the old North State."

"D——d if she haint," replied the North Carolinian, "and now she's got out on our company, I swear she must keep out. We'd as soon think of goin' to h——ll in summer time, as of jining partnership with her. Cunnel, you'r the only decent man in the State—d——d if you haint—and your politics are a'most bad 'nuff to spile a township. It allers seemed sort o'queer to me, that a man with such a mighty good heart as your'n, could be so short in the way of brains."

"Well, you're complimentary," replied the Colonel, with the utmost good-nature, "but let's drop politics; we never could agree, you know. What shall I do about Moye?"

"Go to Wilmington and telegraph all creation: wait a day to har, then if you don't har, go home, hire a native overseer, and let Moye go to the d——l. Ef it'll do you any good I'll go to Wilmington with you, though I did mean to give you Secesherners a little h—har to-morrer."

"No, Andy, I'll go alone. 'Twouldn't be patriotic to take you away from the barbacue. You'd 'spile' if you couldn't let off some gas soon."

"I do b'lieve I shud. Howsumdever, thar's nary a thing I wouldn't do for you—you knows that."

"Yes, I do, and I wish you'd keep an eye on my Yankee friend here, and see he don't get into trouble with any of the boys—there'll be a hard set 'round, I reckon."

"Wal, I will," said Andy, "but all he's to do is to keep his mouth shet."

"That seems easy enough," I replied, laughing.

A desultory conversation followed for about an hour, when the steam-whistle sounded, and the up-train arrived. The Colonel got on board and bidding us "good-night," went on to Wilmington. Andy then proposed we should look up sleeping accommodations. It was useless to seek quarters at the hotel, but an empty car was on the turn-out, and bribing one of the negroes we got access to it, and were soon stretched at full length on two of its hard-bottomed seats.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE BARBACUE.

The camp-ground was about a mile from the station, and pleasantly situated in a grove, near a stream of water. It was in frequent use by the camp-meetings of the Methodist denomination—which sect at the South is partial to these rural religious gatherings. Scattered over it, with an effort at regularity, were about forty small but neat log cottages, thatched with the long leaves of the turpentine pine, and chinked with branches of the same tree. Each of these houses was floored with leaves or straw, and large enough to afford sleeping accommodations for about ten persons, provided they spread their bedding on the ground, and lay tolerably close together. Interspersed among the cabins were about a dozen canvas tents which had been erected for this especial occasion.

Nearly in the centre of the group of huts a rude sort of scaffold, four or five feet high, and surrounded by a rustic railing, served for the speaker's stand. It would seat about a dozen persons, and was protected by a roof of pine-boughs, interlaced together so as to keep off the sun, without affording protection from the rain. In the rear of this stand were two long tables, made of rough boards, and supported on stout joists, crossed on each other in the form of the letter X. A canopy of green leaves shaded the grounds, and the whole grove, which was perfectly free from underbrush, was carpeted with the soft, brown tassels of the pine.

Being fatigued with the ride of the previous day, I did not awake till the morning was far advanced, and it was nearly ten o'clock when Andy and I took our way to the camp-ground. Avoiding the usual route, we walked on through the forest. It was mid-winter, and vegetation lay dead all around us, awaiting the time when spring should breathe into it the breath of life, and make it a living thing. There was silence and rest in the deep woods. The birds were away on their winter wanderings; the leaves hung motionless on the tall trees, and nature seemed resting from her ceaseless labors, and listening to the soft music of the little stream which sung a cheerful song as it rambled on over the roots and fallen branches that blocked its way. Soon a distant murmur arose, and we had not proceeded far before as many sounds as were heard at Babel made a strange concert about our ears. The lowing of the ox, the neighing of the horse, and the deep braying of another animal, mingled with a thousand human voices, came through the woods. But above and over all rose the stentorian tones of the stump speaker,

"As he trod the shaky platform, With the sweat upon his brow."

About a thousand persons were already assembled on the ground, and a more motley gathering I never witnessed. All sorts of costumes and all classes of people were there; but the genuine back-woods corn-crackers composed the majority of the assemblage. As might be expected much the larger portion of the audience were men, still I saw some women and not a few children; many of the country people having taken advantage of the occasion to give their families a holiday. Some occupied benches in front of the stand, though a larger number were seated around in groups, within hearing of the speaker, but paying very little attention to what he was saying. A few were whittling—a few pitching quoits, or playing leap-frog, and quite a number were having a quiet game of whist, euchre or "seven-up."

The speaker was a well-dressed, gentlemanly-looking man and a tolerably good orator. He seemed accustomed to addressing a jury, for he displayed all the adroitness in handling his subject, and in appealing to the prejudices of his hearers, that we see in successful special pleaders. But he overshot his mark. To nine out of ten of his audience, his words and similes, though correct, and sometimes beautiful, were as unintelligible as the dead languages. He advocated immediate, unconditional secession; and I thought from the applause which met his remarks, whenever he seemed to make himself understood, that the large majority of those present were of the same way of thinking.

He was succeeded by a heavy-browed, middle-aged man, slightly bent, and with hair a little turned to gray, but still hale, athletic, and in the prime and vigor of manhood. His pantaloons and waistcoat were of the common homespun, and he used, now and then, a word of the country dialect, but as a stump-speaker he was infinitely superior to the more polished orator who had preceded him.

He, too, advocated secession, as a right and a duty—separation, now and forever, from the dirt-eating, money-loving Yankees, who, he was ashamed to say, had the same ancestry, and worshipped the same God, as himself. He took the bold ground that slavery is a curse to both the black and the white, but that it was forced upon this generation before its birth, by these same greedy, grasping Yankees, who would sell not only the bones and sinews of their fellow men, but—worse than that—their own souls, for gold. It was forced upon them without their consent, and now that it had become interwoven with all their social life, and was a necessity of their very existence, the hypocritical Yankees would take it from them, because, forsooth, it is a sin and a wrong—as if they had to bear its responsibility, or the South could not settle its own affairs with its MAKER!

"Slavery is now," he continued, "indispensable to us. Without it, cotton, rice, and sugar will cease to grow, and the South will starve. What if it works abuses? What if the black, at times, is overburdened, and his wife and daughters debauched? Man is not perfect anywhere—there are wrongs in every society. It is for each one to give his account, in such matters, to his God. But in this are we worse than they? Are there not abuses in society at the North? Are not their laborers overworked? While sin here hides itself under cover of the night, does it not there stalk abroad at noon-day? If the wives and daughters of blacks are debauched here, are not the wives and daughters of whites debauched there? and will not a Yankee barter away the chastity of his own mother for a dirty dollar? Who fill our brothels? Yankee women! Who load our penitentiaries, crowd our whipping-posts, debauch our slaves, and cheat and defraud us all? Yankee men! And I say unto you, fellow-citizens," and here the speaker's form seemed to dilate with the wild enthusiasm which possessed him, "'come out from among them; be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing,' and thus saith the Lord God of Hosts, who will guide you, and lead you, if need be, to battle and to victory!"

A perfect storm of applause followed. The assemblage rose, and one long, wild shout rent the old woods, and made the tall trees tremble. It was some minutes before the uproar subsided; when it did, a voice near the speaker's stand called out, "Andy Jones!" The call was at once echoed by another voice, and soon a general shout for "Andy!" "Union Andy!" "Bully Andy!" went up from the same crowd which a moment before had so wildly applauded the secession speaker.

Andy rose from where he was seated beside me, and quietly ascended the steps of the platform. Removing his hat, and passing to his mouth a huge quid of tobacco from a tin box in his pantaloons-pocket, he made several rapid strides up and down the speaker's stand, and then turned squarely to the audience.

The reader has noticed a tiger pacing up and down in his cage, with his eyes riveted on the human faces before him. He has observed how he will single out some individual, and finally stopping short in his rounds, turn on him with a look of such intense ferocity as makes a man's blood stand still, and his very breath come thick and hard, as he momentarily expects the beast will tear away the bars of the cage and leap forth on the obnoxious person. Now, Andy's fine, open, manly face had nothing of the tiger in it, but, for a moment, I could not divest myself of the impression, as he halted in his walk up and down the stage, and turned full and square on the previous speaker—who had taken a seat among the audience near me—that he was about to spring upon him. Riveting his eye on the man's face, he at last slowly said:

"A man stands har and quotes Scriptur agin his feller man, and forgets that 'God made of one blood all nations that dwell on the face of the 'arth.' A man stands har and calls his brother a thief, and his mother a harlot, and axes us to go his doctrin's! I don't mean his brother in the Scriptur sense, nor his mother in a fig'rative sense, but I mean the brother of his own blood, and the mother that bore him; for HE, gentlemen (and he pointed his finger directly at the recent speaker, while his words came slow and heavy with intense scorn), HE is a Yankee! And now, I say, gentlemen, d—n sech doctrin's; d——n sech principles, and d——n the man that's got a soul so black as to utter 'em!"

A breathless silence fell on the assemblage, while the person alluded to sprang to his feet, his face on fire, and his voice thick and broken with intense rage, as he yelled out: "Andy Jones, by——, you shall answer for this!"

"Sartin," said Andy, coolly inserting his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat; "enywhar you likes—har—now—ef 'greeable to you."

"I've no weapon here, sir, but I'll give you a chance mighty sudden," was the fierce reply.

"Suit yourself," said Andy, with perfect imperturbability; "but as you haint jest ready, s'pose you set down, and har me tell 'bout your relations: they're a right decent set—them as I knows—and I'll swar they're 'shamed of you."

A buzz went through the crowd, and a dozen voices called out: "Be civil, Andy"—"Let him blow"—"Shut up"—"Go in, Jones"—with other like elegant exclamations.

A few of his friends took the aggrieved gentleman aside, and, soon quieting him, restored order.

"Wal, gentlemen," resumed Andy, "all on you know whar I was raised—over thar in South Car'lina. I'm sorry to say it, but it's true. And you all know my father was a pore man, who couldn't give his boys no chance—and ef he could, thar warn't no schules in the district—so we couldn't hev got no book-larning ef we'd been a minded to. Wal, the next plantation to whar we lived was old Cunnel J——'s, the father of this cunnel. He was a d——d old nullifier, jest like his son—but not half so decent a man. Wal, on his plantation was an old nigger called Uncle Pomp, who'd sumhow larned to read. He was a mighty good nigger, and he'd hev been in heaven long afore now ef the Lord hadn't a had sum good use for him down har—but he'll be thar yet a d——d sight sooner than sum on us white folks—that's sartin. Wal, as I was saying, Pomp could read, and when I was 'bout sixteen, and had never seen the inside of a book, the old darky said to me one day—he was old then, and that was thirty years ago—wal, he said to me, 'Andy, chile, ye orter larn to read, 'twill be ob use to ye when you'se grow'd up, and it moight make you a good and 'spected man—now, come to ole Pomp's cabin, and he'll larn you, Andy, chile.' Wal, I reckon I went. He'd nothin' but a Bible and Watts' Hymns; but we used to stay thar all the long winter evenin's, and by the light o' the fire—we war both so darned pore we couldn't raise a candle atween us—wal, by the light o' the fire he larned me, and fore long I could spell right smart.

"Now, jest think on that, gentlemen. I, a white boy, and, 'cordin' to the Declaration of Independence, with jest as good blood in me as the old Cunnel had in him, bein' larned to read by an old slave, and that old slave a'most worked to death, and takin' his nights, when he orter hev been a restin' his old bones, to larn me! I'm d——d if he don't get to heaven for that one thing, if for nothin' else.

"Wal, you all know the rest—how, when I'd grow'd up, I settled har, in the old North State, and how the young Cunnel backed my paper, and set me a runnin' at turpentining. P'raps you don't think this has much to do with the Yankees, but it has a durned sight, as ye'll see rather sudden. Wal, arter a while, when I'd got a little forehanded, I begun shipping my truck to York and Bostin'; and at last my Yankee factor, he come out har, inter the back woods, to see me, and says he, 'Jones, come North and take a look at us.' I'd sort o' took to him. I'd lots o' dealin's with him afore ever I seed him, and I allers found him straight as a shingle. Wal, I went North, and he took me round, and showed me how the Yankees does things. Afore I know'd him, I allers thought—as p'raps most on you do—that the Yankees war a sort o' cross atween the devil and a Jew; but how do you s'pose I found 'em? I found that they sent the pore man's children to schule, FREE—and that the schule-houses war a d——d sight thicker than the bugs in Miles Privett's beds! and that's sayin' a heap, for ef eny on you kin sleep in his house, excep' he takes to the soft side of the floor, I'm d——d. Yas, the pore man's children are larned thar, FREE!—all on 'em—and they've jest so good a chance as the sons of the rich man! Now, arter that, do you think that I—as got all my schulein, from an old slave, by the light of a borrored pine-knot—der you think that I kin say any thing agin the Yankees? P'r'aps they do steal—though I doant know it—p'r'aps they do debauch thar wives and darters, and sell thar mothers' vartue for dollars—but, ef they do, I'm d——d if they doant send pore children to schule—and that's more'n we do—and let me tell you, until we do thet, we must expec' they'll be cuter and smarter nor we are.

"This gentleman, too, my friends, who's been a givin' sech a hard settin' down ter his own relation, arter they've broughten him up, and given him sech a schulein for nuthin', he says the Yankees want to interfere with our niggers. Now, thet haint so, and they couldn't ef they would, 'case it's agin the Constertution. And they stand on the Constertution a durned sight solider nor we do. Didn't thar big gun—Daniel Webster—didn't he make mince-meat of South Car'lina Hayne on thet ar' subjec'? But I tell you they haint a mind ter meddle with the niggers; they're a goin' to let us go ter h—l our own way, and we're goin' thar mighty fast, or I haint read the last census."

"P'r'aps you haint heerd on the ab'lsh'ners, Andy?" cried a voice from among the audience.

"Wal, I reckon I hev," responded the orator, "I've heerd on 'em, and seed 'em, too. When I was North I went to one on thar conventions, and I'll tell you how they look. They've all long, wimmin's har, and thin, shet lips, with big, bawlin' mouths, and long, lean, tommerhawk faces, as white as vargin dip—and they all talk through the nose (giving a specimen), and they all look for all the world jest like the South Car'lina fire-eaters—and they are as near like 'em as two peas, excep' they don't swar quite so bad, but they make up for thet in prayin'—and prayin' too much, I reckon, when a man's a d——d hippercrit, is 'bout as bad as swearin'. But, I tell you, the decent folks up North haint ablisheners. They look on 'em jest as we do on mad dogs, the itch, or the nigger traders.

"Now, 'bout this secession bis'ness—though 'taint no use to talk on that subjec', 'case this state never'll secede—South Car'lina has done it, and I'm raather glad she has, for though I was born thar—and say it as hadn't orter say it—she orter hev gone to h—l long ago, and now she's got thar, why—let her stay! But, 'bout thet bis'ness, I'll tell you a story.

"I know'd an old gentleman once by the name of Uncle Sam, and he'd a heap of sons. They war all likely boys—but strange ter tell, though they'd all the same mother, and she was a white woman, 'bout half on 'em war colored—not black, but sorter half-and-half. Now, the white sons war well-behaved, industrious, hard-workin' boys, who got 'long well, edicated thar children, and allers treated the old man decently; but the mulatter fellers war a pesky set—though some on 'em war better nor others. They wouldn't work, but set up for airystocracy—rode in kerriges, kept fast horses, bet high, and chawed tobaccer like the devil. Wal, the result was, they got out at the elbows, and 'case they warn't gettin' 'long quite so fast as the white 'uns—though that war all thar own fault—they got jealous, and one on 'em who was blacker nor all the rest—a little feller, but terrible big on braggin'—he packed up his truck one night, and left the old man's house, and swore he'd never come back. He tried to make the other mulatters go with him, but they put thar fingers to thar nose, and says they, 'No you doant.' I was in favor of lettin' on him stay out in the cold, but the old man was a bernevolent old critter, and so he says: 'Now, sonny, you jest come back and behave yourself, and I'll forgive you all your old pranks, and treat you jest as I allers used ter; but, ef you wont, why—I'll make you, thet's all!'

"Now, gentlemen, thet quarrelsome, oneasy, ongrateful, tobaccer-chawin', hoss-racin', high-bettin', big-braggin', nigger-stealin', wimmin-whippin', yaller son of the devil, is South Car'lina, and ef she doant come back and behave herself in futur', I'm d——d ef she wont be ploughed with fire, and sowed with salt, and Andy Jones will help ter do it."

The speaker was frequently interrupted in the course of his remarks by uproarious applause—but as he closed and descended from the platform, the crowd sent up cheer after cheer, and a dozen strong men, making a seat of their arms, lifted him from the ground and bore him off to the head of the table, where dinner was in waiting.

The whole of the large assemblage then fell to eating. The dinner was made up of the barbacued beef and the usual mixture of viands found on a planter's table, with water from the little brook hard by, and a plentiful supply of corn-whiskey. (The latter beverage had, I thought, been subjected to the rite of immersion, for it tasted wonderfully of water.)

Songs and speeches were intermingled with the masticating exercises, and the whole company was soon in the best of humor.

During the meal I was introduced by Andy to a large number of the "natives," he taking special pains to tell each one that I was a Yankee, and a Union man, but always adding, as if to conciliate all parties, that I also was a guest and a friend of his very particular friend, "thet d——d seceshener, Cunnel J——."

Before we left the table, the secession orator happening near where we were seated, Andy rose from his seat, and, extending his hand to him, said: "Tom, you think I 'sulted you; p'r'aps I did, but you 'sulted my Yankee friend har, and your own relation, and I hed to take it up, jest for the looks o' the thing. Come, there's my hand; I'll fight you ef you want ter, or we'll say no more 'bout it—jest as you like."

"Say no more about it, Andy," said the gentleman, very cordially; "let's drink and be friends."

They drank a glass of whiskey together, and then leaving the table, proceeded to where the ox had been barbacued, to show me how cooking on a large scale is done at the South.

In a pit about eight feet deep, twenty feet long, and ten feet wide, laid up on the sides with stones, a fire of hickory had been made, over which, after the wood had burned down to coals, a whole ox, divested of its hide and entrails, had been suspended on an enormous spit. Being turned often in the process of cooking, the beef had finally been "done brown." It was then cut up and served on the table, and I must say, for the credit of Southern cookery, that it made as delicious eating as any meat I ever tasted.

I had then been away from my charge—the Colonel's horses—as long as seemed to be prudent. I said as much to Andy, when he proposed to return with me, and, turning good-humoredly to his reconciled friend, he said: "Now, Tom, no secession talk while I'm off."

"Nary a word," said "Tom," and we left.

The horses had been well fed by the negro whom I had left in charge of them, but had not been groomed. Seeing that, Andy stripped off his coat, and setting the black at work on one, with a handful of straw and pine leaves, commenced operations on the other, whose hair was soon as smooth and glossy as if it had been rubbed by an English groom.

The remainder of the day passed without incident till eleven at night, when the Colonel returned from Wilmington.



CHAPTER XV.

THE RETURN.

Moye had not been seen or heard of, and the Colonel's trip was fruitless. While at Wilmington he sent telegrams, directing the overseer's arrest, to the various large cities of the South, and then decided to return home, make arrangements preliminary to a protracted absence from the plantation, and proceed at once to Charleston, where he would await replies to his dispatches. Andy agreed with him in the opinion that Moye, in his weak state of health, would not take an overland route to the free states, but would endeavor to reach some town on the Mississippi, where he might dispose of the horse, and secure a passage up the river.

As no time was to be lost, we decided to return to the plantation on the following morning. Accordingly, with the first streak of day we bade "good-bye" to our Union friend, and started homeward.

No incident worthy of mention occurred on the way, till about ten o'clock, when we arrived at the house of the Yankee schoolmistress, where we had been so hospitably entertained two days before. The lady received us with great cordiality, forced upon us a lunch to serve our hunger on the road, and when we parted, enjoined on me to leave the South at the earliest possible moment. She was satisfied it would not for a much longer time be safe quarters for a man professing Union sentiments. Notwithstanding the strong manifestations of loyalty I had observed among the people, I was convinced the advice of my pretty "countrywoman" was judicious, and I determined to be governed by it.

Our horses, unaccustomed to lengthy journeys, had not entirely recovered from the fatigues of their previous travel, and we did not reach our destination till an hour after dark. We were most cordially welcomed by Madam P——, who soon set before us a hot supper, which, as we were jaded by the long ride, and had fasted for twelve hours, on bacon-sandwiches and cold hoe-cake, was the one thing needful to us.

While seated at the table the Colonel asked:

"Has every thing gone right, Alice, since we left home?"

"Every thing," replied the lady, "except"—and she hesitated, as if she dreaded the effect of the news; "except that Jule and her child have gone."

"Gone!" exclaimed my host; "gone where?"

"I don't know. We have searched everywhere, but have found no clue to them. The morning you left Sam set Jule at work among the pines; she tried hard, but could not do a full task, and at night was taken to the cabin to be whipped. I heard of it, and forbade it. It did not seem to me that she ought to be punished for not doing what she had not strength to do. When released from the cabin, she came and thanked me for having interfered for her, and talked with me awhile. She cried and took on fearfully about Sam, and was afraid you would punish her when you returned. I promised you would not, and she left me seeming more cheerful. I supposed she would go directly home after getting her child from the nurse's quarters; but it appears she went to Pompey's, where she staid till after ten o'clock. Neither she nor the child have been seen since."

"Did you get no trace of her in the morning?"

"Yes, but soon lost it. When she did not appear at work, Sam went to her cabin to learn the cause, and found the door open, and her bed undisturbed. She had not slept there. Knowing that Sandy had returned, I sent for him, and, with Jim and his dog, he commenced a search. The dog tracked her directly from Pompey's cabin to the bank of the run near the lower still. There all trace of her disappeared. We dragged the stream, but discovered nothing. Jim and Sandy then scoured the woods for miles in all directions, but the hound could not recover the trail. I hope otherwise, but I fear some evil has befallen her."

"Oh, no! there's no fear of that," said the Colonel: "she is smart: she waded up the run far enough to baffle the dog, and then made for the swamp. That is why you lost her tracks at the stream. Rely upon it, I am right: but she shall not escape me."

We shortly afterward adjourned to the library. After being seated there a while the Colonel, rising quickly, as if a sudden thought had struck him, sent for the old preacher.

The old negro soon appeared, hat in hand, and taking a stand near the door, made a respectful bow to each one of us.

"Take a chair, Pompey," said Madam P——, kindly.

The black meekly seated himself, when the Colonel asked: "Well, Pomp, what do you know about Jule's going off?"

"Nuffin', massa—I shures you, nuffin'. De pore chile say nuffin to ole Pomp 'bout dat."

"What did she say?"

"Wal, you see, massa, de night arter you gwo 'way, and arter she'd worked hard in de brush all de day, and been a strung up in de ole cabin fur to be whipped, she come ter me wid har baby in har arms, all a-faint and a-tired, and har pore heart clean broke, and she say dat she'm jess ready ter drop down and die. Den I tries ter comfut har, massa; I takes har up from de floor, and I say ter har dat de good Lord He pity har—dat He woant bruise de broken reed, and woant put no more on her dan she kin b'ar—dat He'd touch you' heart, and I toled har you'se a good, kine heart at de bottom, massa—and I knows it, 'case I toted you 'fore you could gwo, and when you's a bery little chile, not no great sight bigger'n har'n, you'd put your little arms round ole Pomp's neck, and say dat when you war grow'd up you'd be bery kine ter de pore brack folks, and not leff 'em be 'bused like dey war in dem days."

"Never mind what you said," interrupted the Colonel, a little impatiently, but showing no displeasure; "what did she say?"

"Wal, massa, she tuk on bery hard 'bout Sam, and axed me ef I raaily reckoned de Lord had forgib'n him, and took'n him ter Heself, and gibin' him one o' dem hous'n up dar, in de sky. I toled her dat I know'd it; but she say it didn't 'pear so ter har, 'case Sam had a been wid har out dar in de woods, all fru de day; dat she'd a seed him, massa, and dough he handn't a said nuffin', he'd lukd at har wid sech a sorry, grebed luk, dat it gwo clean fru har heart, till she'd no strength leff, and fall down on de ground a'most dead. Den she say big Sam come 'long and fine har dar, and struck har great, heaby blows wid de big whip!"

"The brute!" exclaimed the Colonel, rising from his chair, and pacing rapidly up and down the room.

"But p'r'aps he warn't so much ter blame, massa," continued the old negro, in a deprecatory tone; "maybe he 'spose she war shirkin' de work. Wal, den she say she know'd nuffin' more, till byme-by, when she come to, and fine big Sam dar, and he struck har agin, and make har gwo ter de work; and she did gwo, but she feel like as ef she'd die. I toled har de good ma'am wudn't leff big Sam 'buse har no more 'fore you cum hum, and dat you'd hab 'passion on har, and not leff har gwo out in de woods, but put har 'mong de nusses, like as afore.

"Den she say it 'twarn't de work dat trubble har—dat she orter work, and orter be 'bused, 'case she'd been bad, bery bad. All she axed war dat Sam would forgib har, and cum to har in de oder worle, and tell har so. Den she cried, and tuk on awful; but de good Lord, massa, dat am so bery kine ter de bery wuss sinners, He put de words inter my mouf, and I tink dey gib har comfut, fur she say dat it sort o' 'peared to har den dat Sam would forgib har, and take har inter his house up dar, and she warn't afeard ter die no more.

"Den she takes up de chile and gwo 'way, 'pearin' sort o' happy, and more cheerful like dan I'd a seed har eber sense pore Sam war shot."

My host was sensibly affected by the old man's simple tale, but continued pacing up and down the room, and said nothing.

"It's plain to me, Colonel," I remarked, as Pompey concluded, "she has drowned herself and the child—the dog lost the scent at the creek."

"Oh, no!" he replied; "I think not. I never heard of a negro committing suicide—they've not the courage to do it."

"I fear she has, David," said the lady. "The thought of going to Sam has led her to it; yet, we dragged the run, and found nothing. What do you think about it, Pompey?"

"I dunno, ma'am, but I'se afeard of dat; and now dat I tinks ob it, I'se afeard dat what I tole har put har up ter it," replied the old preacher, bursting into tears. "She 'peared so happy like, when I say she'd be 'long wid Sam in de oder worle, dat I'se afeard she's a gone and done it wid har own hands. I tole har, too, dat de Lord would oberlook good many tings dat pore sinners do when dey can't help 'emselfs—and it make har do it! Oh! it make har do it!" and the old black buried his face in his hands, and wept bitterly.

"Don't feel so, Pomp," said his master, very kindly. "You did the best you could; no one blames you."

"I knows you doant, massa—I knows you doant, and you'se bery good nottur—but oh! massa, de Lord!" and his body swayed to and fro with the great grief; "I fears de Lord do, massa, for I'se sent har ter Him wid har own blood, and de blood of dat pore innercent chile, on har hands. Oh, I fears de Lord neber'll forgib me—neber'll forgib me for dat."

"He will, my good Pomp—He will!" said the Colonel, laying his hand tenderly on the old man's shoulder. "The Lord will forgive you, for the sake of the Christian example you've set your master, if for nothing else;" and here the proud, strong man's feelings overpowering him, his tears fell in great drops on the breast of the old slave, as they had fallen there in his childhood.

Such scenes are not for the eye of a stranger, and turning away, I left the room.



CHAPTER XVI.

"ONE MORE UNFORTUNATE."

The family met at the breakfast-table at the usual hour on the following morning; but I noticed that Jim was not in his accustomed place behind the Colonel's chair. That gentleman exhibited his usual good spirits, but Madam P—— looked sad and anxious, and I had not forgotten the scene of the previous evening.

While we were seated at the meal, the negro Junius hastily entered the room, and in an excited manner exclaimed:

"Oh, massa, massa, you muss cum ter de cabin—Jim hab draw'd his knife, and he swar he'll kill de fuss 'un dat touch him!"

"He does, does he!" said his master, springing from his seat, and abruptly leaving the apartment.

Remembering the fierce burst of passion I had seen in the negro, and fearing there was danger a-foot, I rose to follow, saying, as I did so:

"Madam, cannot you prevent this?"

"I cannot, sir; I have already done all I can. Go and try to pacify the Colonel—Jim will die before he'll be whipped." Jim was standing at the farther end of the old cabin, with his back to the wall, and the large spring knife in his hand. Some half-dozen negroes were in the centre of the room, apparently cowed by his fierce and desperate looks, and his master was within a few feet of him.

"I tell you, Cunnel," cried the negro, as I entered, "you touch me at your peril!"

"You d——d nigger, do you dare to speak so to me?" said his master, taking a step toward him.

The knife rose in the air, and the black, in a cool, sneering tone, replied: "Say your prayers 'fore you come nigher, for, so help me God, you'm a dead man!"

I laid my hand on the Colonel's arm, to draw him back, saying, as I did so: "There's danger in him! I know it. Let him go, and he shall ask your pardon."

"I shan't ax his pardon," cried the black; "leff him an' me be, sir; we'll fix dis ourselfs."

"Don't interfere, Mr. K——," said my host, with perfect coolness, but with a face pallid with rage. "Let me govern my own plantation."

"As you say, sir," I replied, stepping back a few paces; "but I warn you—there is danger in him!"

Taking no notice of my remark, the Colonel turning to the trembling negroes, said: "One of you go to the house and bring my pistols."

"You kin shoot me, ef you likes," said Jim, with a fierce, grim smile; "but I'll take you ter h—l wid me, shore. You knows WE wont stand a blow!"

The Colonel, at the allusion to their relationship, started as if shot, and turning furiously on the negro, yelled out: "I'll shoot you for that, you d——d nigger, by ——."

"It 'pears ter me, Cunnel, ye've hed 'bout nuff shootin' round har, lately; better stop thet sort o' bis'ness; it moight give ye a sore throat," said the long, lean, loose-jointed stump-speaker of the previous Sunday, as he entered the cabin and strode directly up to my host.

"What brought you here, you d——d insolent hound?" cried the Colonel, turning fiercely on the new-comer.

"Wal, I cum ter du ye a naaboorly turn—I've kotched two on yer niggers down ter my still, and I want ye ter take 'em 'way," returned the corn-cracker, with the utmost coolness.

"Two of my niggers!" exclaimed the Colonel, perceptibly moderating his tone—"which ones?"

"A yaller gal, and a chile."

"I thank you, Barnes; excuse my hard words—I was excited."

"All right, Cunnel; say no more 'bout thet. Will ye send fur 'em? I'd hev fotched 'em 'long, but my waggin's off jest now."

"Yes, I'll send at once. Have you got them safe?"

"Safe? I reckon so! Kotched 'em last night, arter dark, and they've kept right still ever sense, I 'sure ye—but th' gal holds on ter th' young 'un ter kill—we cudn't get it 'way no how."

"How did you catch them?"

"They got 'gainst my turpentime raft—the curren' driv 'em down, I s'pose."

"What! are they dead?"

"Dead? deader'n drownded rats!" replied the native,

"My God! drowned herself and her child!" exclaimed the Colonel, with deep emotion.

"It is terrible, my friend. Come, let us go to them, at once," I said, laying my hand on his arm, and drawing him unresistingly away.

A pair of mules was speedily harnessed to a large turpentine wagon, and the horses we had ridden the day before were soon at the door. When the Colonel, who had been closeted for a few minutes with Madam P——, came out of the house, we mounted, and rode off with the "corn-cracker."

The native's farm was located on the stream which watered my friend's plantation, and was about ten miles distant. Taking a by-road which led to it through the woods, we rode rapidly on in advance of the wagon.

"Sort o' likely gal, thet, warn't she?" remarked the turpentine-maker, after a while.

"Yes, she was," replied the Colonel, in a half-abstracted manner; "very likely."

"Kill harself 'case har man war shot by thet han'som overseer uv your'n?"

"Not altogether for that, I reckon," replied my host; "I fear the main reason was her being put at field-work, and abused by the driver."

"Thet comes uv not lookin' arter things yerself, Cunnel. I tend ter my niggers parsonally, and they keer a durned sight more fur this world then fur kingdom-cum. Ye cudn't hire 'em ter kill 'emselves fur no price."

"Well," replied the Colonel, in a low tone, "I did look after her. I put her at full field-work, myself!"

"By——!" cried the native, reining his horse to a dead stop, and speaking in an excited manner: "I doant b'lieve it—'taint 't all like ye—yer a d——d seceshener; thet comes uv yer bringin'-up—but ye've a soul bigger'n a meetin'-house, and ye cudn't hev put thet slim, weakly gal inter th' woods, no how!"

The Colonel and I instinctively halted our horses, as the "corn-cracker" stopped his, and were then standing abreast of him in the road.

"It's true, Barnes," said my host, in a voice that showed deep dejection; "I did do it!"

"May God Almighty furgive ye, Cunnel," said the native, starting his horse forward; "I wudn't hev dun it fur all yer niggers, by ——."

The Colonel made no reply, and we rode on the rest of the way in silence.

The road was a mere wagon-track through the trees, and it being but little travelled, and encumbered with the roots and stumps of the pine, our progress was slow, and we were nearly two hours in reaching the plantation of the native.

The corn-cracker's house—a low, unpainted wooden building—stood near the little stream, and in the centre of a cleared plot of some ten acres. This plot was surrounded by a post-and-rail fence, and in its front portion was a garden, which grew a sufficient supply of vegetables to serve a family of twenty persons. In the rear, and at the sides of the dwelling, were about seven acres, devoted mainly to corn and potatoes. In one corner of the lot were three tidy-looking negro-houses, and close beside them I noticed a low shed, near which a large quantity of the stalks of the tall, white corn, common to that section, was stacked in the New England fashion. Browsing on the corn-stalks were three sleek, well-kept milch cows, and a goat.

About four hundred yards from the farmer's house, and on the bank of the little run, which there was quite wide and deep, stood a turpentine distillery; and around it were scattered a large number of rosin and turpentine barrels, some filled and some empty. A short distance higher up, and far enough from the "still" to be safe in the event of a fire, was a long, low, wooden shed, covered with rough, unjointed boards, placed upright, and unbattened. This was the "spirit-house," used for the storage of the spirits of turpentine when barrelled for market, and awaiting shipment. In the creek, and filling nearly one-half of the channel in front of the spirit-shed, was a raft of pine timber, on which were laden some two hundred barrels of rosin. On such rude conveyances the turpentine-maker sent his produce to Conwayboro'. There the timber-raft was sold to my way-side friend, Captain B——, and its freight shipped on board vessel for New York. Two "prime" negro men, dressed in the usual costume, were "tending the still;" and a negro woman, as stout and strong as the men, and clad in a short, loose, linsey gown, from beneath which peeped out a pair of coarse leggins, was adjusting a long wooden trough, which conveyed the liquid rosin from the "still" to a deep excavation in the earth, at a short distance. In the pit was a quantity of rosin sufficient to fill a thousand barrels.

"Here, Bill," said Barnes to one of the negro men, as we pulled up at the distillery, "put these critters up, and give 'em sum oats, and when they've cooled off a bit, water 'em."

"Yas, yas, massa," replied the negro, springing nimbly forward, and taking the horses by the bridles, "an' rub 'em down, massa?"

"Yas, rub 'em down right smart," replied the corn-cracker; then turning to me, as we dismounted, he said: "Stranger, thet's th' sort o' niggers fur ye; all uv mine ar' jess like him—smart and lively as kittens."

"He does seem to go about his work cheerfully," I replied.

"Cheerfully! d——d ef he doant—all on 'em du! They like me better'n thar own young 'uns, an' it's 'cause I use 'em like human bein's;" and he looked slyly toward the Colonel, who just then was walking silently away, in the direction of the run, as if in search of the browned "chattels."

"Not thar, Cunnel," cried the native; "they're inter th' shed;" and he started to lead the way to the "spirit-house."

"Not now, Barnes," I said, putting my hand on his arm: "leave him alone for a little while. He is feeling badly, and we'd better not disturb him just yet."

The native motioned me to a seat on a rosin-barrel, as he replied:

"Wal, he 'pears ter—thet's a fact, and he orter. D——d ef it arn't wicked to use niggers like cattle, as he do."

"I don't think he means to ill-treat them—he's a kind-hearted man."

"Wal, he ar sort o' so; but he's left ev'ry thing ter thet d——d overseer uv his'n. I wudn't ha' trusted him to feed my hogs."

"Hogs!" I exclaimed, laughing; "I supposed you didn't feed hogs in these diggins. I supposed you 'let 'em run.'"

"I doant; an' I've got th' tallest porkys round har."

"I've been told that they get a good living in the woods."

"Wal, p'r'aps the' du jest make eout ter live thar; but my ole 'oman likes 'em ter hum—they clean up a place like—eat up all th' leavin's, an' give th' young nigs suthin' ter du."

"It seems to me," I said, resuming the previous thread of the conversation; "that overseers are a necessity on a large plantation." "Wal, the' ar', an' thet's why thar ortent ter be no big plantations; God Almighty didn't make human bein's ter be herded togethar in th' woods like hogs. No man orter ter hev more'n twenty on 'em—he can't look arter no more himself, an' its agin natur ter set a feller over 'em what hain't no int'rest in 'em, an' no feelin' fur 'em, an' who'll drive 'em round like brutes. I never struck one on 'em in my life, an' my ten du more'n ony fifteen th' Cunnel's got."

"I thought they needed occasional correction. How do you manage them without whipping?"

"Manage them! why 'cordin' ter scriptur—do ter 'em as I'd like ter be dun ter, ef I war a nigger. Every one on 'em knows I'd part with my last shirt, an' live on taters an' cow-fodder, fore I'd sell em; an' then I give 'em Saturdays for 'emselfs—but thet's cute dealin' in me (tho' th' pore, simple souls doant see it), fur ye knows the' work thet day for 'emselfs, an' raise nigh all thar own feed, 'cept th' beef and whiskey—an' it sort o' makes 'em feel like folks, too, more like as ef the' war free—the' work th' better fur it all th' week."

"Then you think the blacks would work better if free?"

"In course I does—its agin man's natur to be a slave. Thet lousy parson ye herd ter meetin, a Sunday, makes slavery eout a divine institooshun, but my wife's a Bible 'oman, and she says 'taint so; an' I'm d——d ef she arn't right."

"Is your wife a South Carolina women?"

"No, she an' me's from th' old North—old Car'tret, nigh on ter Newbern; an' we doant take nat'rally to these fire-eaters."

"Have you been here long?"

"Wal, nigh on ter six yar. I cum har with nuthin' but a thousan' ter my back—slapped thet inter fifteen hun'red acres—paid it down—and then hired ten likely, North Car'lina niggers—hired 'em with th' chance uv buyin' ef the' liked eout har. Wal, th' nigs all know'd me, and the' sprung ter it like blazes; so every yar I've managed ter buy two on 'em, and now I've ten grow'd up, and thar young'uns; th' still and all th' traps paid fur, an' ef this d——d secesh bis'ness hadn't a come 'long, I'd hev hed a right smart chance o' doin' well."

"I'm satisfied secession will ruin the turpentine business; you'll be shut up here, unable to sell your produce, and it will go to waste."

"Thet's my 'pinion; but I reckon I kin' manage now witheout turpentime. I've talked it over 'long with my nigs, and we kalkerlate, ef these ar doin's go eny furder, ter tap no more trees, but clar land an' go ter raisin' craps."

"What! do you talk politics with your negroes?"

"Nary a politic—but I'm d——d ef th' critters doan't larn 'em sumhow; the' knows 'bout as much uv what's goin' on as I du—but plantin arn't politics; its bisness, an' they've more int'rest in it nor I hev, 'cause they've sixteen mouths ter feed agin my four."

"I'm glad, my friend, that you treat them like men: but I have supposed they were not well enough informed to have intelligent opinions on such subjects."

"Informed! wal, I reckon the' is; all uv mine kin read, an' sum on 'em kin write, too. D'ye see thet little nig thar?" pointing to a juvenile coal-black darky of about six years, who was standing before the "still" fire; "thet ar little devil kin read an' speak like a parson. He's got hold, sumhow, uv my little gal's book o' pieces, an' larned a dozen on 'em. I make him cum inter th' house, once in a while uv an evenin', an' speechify, an' 'twould do yer soul good ter har him, in his shirt tail, with a old sheet wound round him fur a toger (I've told him th' play-acters du it so down ter Charles'on), an' spoutin' out: 'My name am Norval; on de Gruntin' hills my fader feed him hogs!' The little coon never seed a sheep, an' my wife's told him a flock's a herd, an' he thinks 'hog' sounds better'n 'flock,' so, contra'y ter th' book, he puts in 'hogs,' and hogs, you knows, hev ter grunt, so he gits 'em on th' 'Gruntin hills;" and here the kind-hearted native burst into a fit of uproarious laughter, in which, in spite of myself, I had to join.

When the merriment had somewhat subsided, the turpentine-maker called out to the little darky:

"Come here, Jim."

The young chattel ran to him with alacrity, and wedging in between his legs, placed his little black hands, in a free-and-easy way, on his master's knees, and, looking up trustfully in his face, said:

"Wal, massa?"

"What's yer name?"

"Dandy Jim, massa."

"Thet arn't all—what's th' rest?"

"Dandy Jim of ole Car'lina."

"Who made ye?"

"De good God, massa."

"No, He didn't: God doant make little nigs. He makes none but white folks;" said the master, laughing.

"Yas He'm do; Missus say He'm do; dat He make dis nig jess like He done little Totty."

"Wal, He did, Jim. I'm d——d ef He didn't, fur nobody else cud make ye!" replied the man, patting the little woolly head with undisguised affection.

"Now, Jim, say th' creed fur 'de gemman.'"

The young darky then repeated the Apostle's Creed and the Ten Commandments.

"Is thet all ye knows?"

"No, massa, I knows a heap 'sides dat."

"Wal, say suthin' more—sum on 'em pieces thet jingle."

The little fellow then repeated with entire correctness, and with appropriate gestures, and emphasis, though in the genuine darky dialect—which seems to be inborn with the pure-Southern black—Mrs. Hemans' poem:

"The boy stood on the burning deck."

"Mrs. Hemans draped in black!" I exclaimed, laughing heartily: "How would the good lady feel, could she look down from where she is, and hear a little darky doing up her poetry in that style?"

"D——d ef I doant b'lieve 'twud make her love th' little nig like I do;" replied the corn-cracker, taking him up on his knee as tenderly as he would have taken up his own child.

"Tell me, my little man," I said: "who taught you all these things?"

"I larned 'em, myseff, sar," was the prompt reply.

"You learned them, yourself! but who taught you to read?"

"I larned 'em myseff, sar!"

"You couldn't have learned that yourself; didn't your 'massa' teach you?"

"No, sar."

"Oh! your 'missus' did."

"No, sar."

"No, sar!" I repeated; then suspecting the real state of the case, I looked him sternly in the eye, and said: "My little man, it's wrong to tell lies—you must always speak the truth; now, tell me truly, did not your 'missus' teach you these things?"

"No, sar, I larned 'em myseff."

"Ye can't cum it, Stranger; ye moight roast him over a slow fire, an' not git nary a thing eout on him but thet," said the corn-cracker, leaning forward, and breaking into a boisterous fit of laughter. "It's agin th' law, an' I'm d——d ef I teached him. Reckon he did larn himself!"

"I must know your wife, my friend. She's a good woman."

"Good! ye kin bet high on thet; she's uv th' stuff th' Lord makes angels eout on."

I had no doubt of it, and was about to say so, when the Colonel's turpentine wagon drove up, and I remembered I had left him too long alone.

The coachman was driving, and Jim sat on the wagon beside him.

"Massa K——," said the latter, getting down and coming to me: "Whar am dey?"

"In the spirit-shed."

He was turning to go there, when I called him back, saying: "Jim, you must not see your master now; you'd better keep out of sight for the present."

"No, massa; de ma'am say de Cunnel take dis bery hard, and dat I orter tell him I'se sorry for what I'se done."

"Well, wait a while. Let me go in first."

Accompanied by the corn-cracker, I entered the turpentine-shed. A row of spirit-barrels were ranged along each of its sides, and two tiers occupied the centre of the building. On these a number of loose planks were placed, and on the planks lay the bodies of the metif woman and her child. The Colonel was seated on a barrel near them, with his head resting on his hands, and his eyes fixed on the ground. He did not seem to notice our entrance, and, passing him without speaking, I stepped to the side of the dead.

The woman's dress, the common linsey gown worn by her class, was still wet, and her short, kinky, brown hair fell in matted folds around her face. One arm hung loosely by her side; the other was clasped tightly around her child, which lay as if asleep on her bosom. One of its small hands clung to its mother's breast, and around its little lips played a smile. But how shall I describe the pale, sweet beauty of the face of the drowned girl, as she lay there, her eyes closed, and her lips parted, as in prayer? Never but once have I seen on human features the strange radiance that shone upon it, or the mingled expression of hope, and peace, and resignation that rested there—and that was in the long-gone time, when, standing by her bedside, I watched the passing away of one who is now an angel in heaven!

"Come, my dear friend, let us go," I said, turning and gently taking the Colonel by the arm, "the negroes are here, and will take charge of the dead."

"No, no!" he replied, rising, and looking around, as if aroused from a troubled dream; "that is for me to do!" Then he added, after a moment's pause, "Will you help me to get them into the wagon?"

"Yes, I will, certainly."

He made one step toward the body of the dead girl, then sinking down again on the barrel, covered his face with his hands, and cried out: "My God! this is terrible! Did you ever see such a look as that? It will haunt me forever!"

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