"You ain't none o' my mother," replied Dumps. "You're mos' black ez my shoes; an' de Lord ain't er goin' ter pull all my hair off jes 'boutn you."
"I gwine right down-sta'rs an' tell yer ma," said Mammy. "She don't 'low none o' you chil'en fur ter sass me, an' ter call me brack; she nuver done it herse'f, wen she wuz little. I'se got ter be treated wid 'spec myse'f; ef I don't, den hit's time fur me ter quit min'en chil'en: I gwine tell yer ma."
And Mammy left the room in high dudgeon, but presently came back, and said Dumps was to go to her mother at once.
"What is the matter with my little daughter?" asked her father, as she came slowly down-stairs, crying bitterly, and met him in the hall.
"Mammy's ben er sa-a-as-sin me," sobbed Dumps; "an' she sa-aid de Lord wuz goin' ter sen' an angel fur ter git my ha-air, an' she won't lem'me go-o-o ter see de spec-ec-ec-erlaters."
"Well, come in mamma's room," said her father, "and we'll talk it all over."
And the upshot of the matter was that Major Waldron said he would himself take the children to the speculator's camp; and accordingly, as soon as dinner was over, they all started off in high glee—the three little girls and the three little negroes—leaving Mammy standing at the top of the stairs, muttering to herself, "Er catchin' uv de measles an' de hookin'-coffs."
The speculator's camp was situated on the bank of the creek, and a very bright scene it presented as Major Waldron and his party came up to it. At a little distance from the main encampment was the speculator's tent, and the tents for the negroes were dotted here and there among the trees. Some of the women were washing at the creek, others were cooking, and some were sitting in front of their tents sewing; numbers of little negroes were playing about, and, altogether, the "speculator's camp" was not the horrible thing that one might suppose.
The speculator, who was a jolly-looking man weighing over two hundred pounds, came forward to meet Major Waldron and show him over the encampment.
The negroes were well clothed, well fed, and the great majority of them looked exceedingly happy.
They came across one group of boys and girls dancing and singing. An old man, in another group, had collected a number of eager listeners around him, and was recounting some marvellous tale; but occasionally there would be a sad face and a tearful eye, and Mr. Waldron sighed as he passed these, knowing that they were probably grieving over the home and friends they had left.
As they came to one of the tents, the speculator said, "There is a sick yellow woman in there, that I bought in Maryland. She had to be sold in the settlement of an estate, and she has fretted herself almost to death; she is in such bad health now that I doubt if anybody will buy her, though she has a very likely little boy about two years old."
Mr. Waldron expressed a wish to see the woman, and they went in.
Lying on a very comfortable bed was a woman nearly white; her eyes were deep-sunken in her head, and she was painfully thin. Mr. Waldron took her hand in his, and looked into her sad eyes.
"Do you feel much pain?" he asked, tenderly.
"Yes, sir," answered the woman, "I suffer a great deal; and I am so unhappy, sir, about my baby; I can't live long, and what will become of him? If I only had a home, where I could make friends for him before I die, where I could beg and entreat the people to be kind to him and take care of him! 'Tis that keeps me sick, sir."
By this time Diddie's eyes were swimming in tears, and Dumps was sobbing aloud; seeing which, Tot began to cry too, though she hadn't the slightest idea what was the matter; and Diddie, going to the side of the bed, smoothed the woman's long black hair, and said,
"We'll take you home with us, an' we'll be good to your little boy, me an' Dumps an' Tot, an' I'll give 'im some of my marbles."
"An' my little painted wagin," put in Dumps.
"An' you shall live with us always," continued Diddie; "an' Mammy'll put yer feet into hot water, an' rub turkentine on yer ches', an' give yer 'fermifuge' ev'y mornin', an' you'll soon be well. Papa, sha'n't she go home with us?"
Major Waldron's own eyes moistened as he answered,
"We will see about it, my daughter;" and, telling the woman, whose name was Ann, that he would see her again, he left the tent, and presently the camp.
That night, after the little folks were asleep, Major Waldron and his wife had a long talk about the sick woman and her little boy, and it was decided between them that Major Waldron should go the next morning and purchase them both.
The children were delighted when they knew of this decision, and took an active part in preparing one room of the laundry for Ann's reception. Their mother had a plain bedstead moved in, and sent down from the house a bed and mattress, which she supplied with sheets, pillows, blankets, and a quilt. Then Uncle Nathan, the carpenter, took a large wooden box and put shelves in it, and tacked some bright-colored calico all around it, and made a bureau. Two or three chairs were spared from the nursery, and Diddie put some of her toys on the mantel-piece for the baby; and then, when they had brought in a little square table and covered it with a neat white cloth, and placed upon it a mug of flowers, and when Uncle Nathan had put up some shelves in one corner of the room, and driven some pegs to hang clothes on, they pronounced the room all ready.
And Ann, who had lived for several months in the camp, was delighted with her new home and the preparations that her little mistresses had made for her. The baby, too, laughed and clapped his hands over the toys the children gave him. His name was Henry, and a very pretty child he was. He was almost as white as Tot, and his black hair curled in ringlets all over his head; but, strange to say, neither he nor his mother gained favor with the negroes on the place.
Mammy said openly that she "nuver had no 'pinion uv wite niggers," and that "marster sholy had niggers 'nuff fur ter wait on 'im doutn buyen 'em."
But, for all that, Ann and her little boy were quite happy. She was still sick, and could never be well, for she had consumption; though she got much better, and could walk about the yard, and sit in front of her door with Henry in her lap. Her devotion to her baby was unusual in a slave; she could not bear to have him out of her sight, and never seemed happy unless he was playing around her or nestling in her arms.
Mrs. Waldron, of course, never exacted any work of Ann. They had bought her simply to give her a home and take care of her, and faithfully that duty was performed. Her meals were carried from the table, and she had every attention paid to her comfort.
One bright evening, when she was feeling better than usual, she went out for a walk, and, passing Uncle Snake-bit Bob's shop, she stopped to look at his baskets, and to let little Henry pick up some white-oak splits that he seemed to have set his heart on.
The old man, like all the other negroes, was indignant that his master should have purchased her; for they all prided themselves on being inherited, and "didn't want no bought folks" among them. He had never seen her, and now would scarcely look at or speak to her.
"You weave these very nicely," said Ann, examining one of his baskets. Uncle Bob looked up, and, seeing she was pale and thin, offered her a seat, which she accepted.
"Is this always your work?" asked Ann, by way of opening a conversation with the old man.
"In cose 'tis," he replied; "who dat gwine ter make de baskits les'n hit's me? I done make baskits 'fo mistiss wuz born; I usen ter 'long ter her pa; I ain't no bort nigger myse'f."
"You are certainly very fortunate," answered Ann, "for the slave that has never been on the block can never know the full bitterness of slavery."
"Wy, yer talkin' same ez wite folks," said Uncle Bob. "Whar yer git all dem fine talkin's fum? ain't you er nigger same ez me?"
"Yes, I am a negress, Uncle Bob; or, rather, my mother was a slave, and I was born in slavery; but I have had the misfortune to have been educated."
"Kin yer read in de book?" asked the old man earnestly.
"Oh yes, as well as anybody."
"Who showed yer?" asked Uncle Bob.
"My mistress had me taught; but, if it won't bother you, I'll just tell you all about it, for I want to get your interest, Uncle Bob, and gain your love, if I can—yours, and everybody's on the place—for I am sick, and must die, and I want to make friends, so they will be kind to my baby. Shall I tell you my story?"
The old man nodded his head, and went on with his work, while Ann related to him the sad history of her life.
"My mother, who was a favorite slave, died when I was born; and my mistress, who had a young baby only a few days older than myself, took me to nurse. I slept, during my infancy, in the cradle with my little mistress, and afterwards in the room with her, and thus we grew up as playmates and companions until we reached our seventh year, when we both had scarlet fever. My little mistress, who was the only child of a widow, died; and her mother, bending over her death-bed, cried, 'I will have no little daughter now!' when the child placed her arms about her and said, 'Mamma, let Ann be your daughter; she'll be your little girl; I'll go to her mamma, and she'll stay with my mamma.'
"And from that time I was no more a slave, but a child in the house. My mistress brought a governess for me from the North, and I was taught as white girls are. I was fond of my books, and my life was a very happy one, though we lived on a lonely plantation, and had but little company.
"I was almost white, as you see, and my mistress had taught me to call her mamma. I was devoted to her, and very fond of my governess, and they both petted me as if I really had been a daughter instead of a slave. Four years ago the brother of my governess came out from Vermont to make his sister a visit at our home. He fell in love with me, and I loved him dearly, and, accompanied by my 'mamma' and his sister, we went into Pennsylvania, and were married. You know we could not be married in Maryland, for it is a Slave State, and I was a slave. My mistress had, of course, always intended that I should be free, but neglected from time to time to draw up the proper papers.
"For two years after my marriage my husband and I lived on the plantation, he managing the estate until he was called to Washington on business, and, in returning, the train was thrown down an embankment, and he was among the killed.
"Soon after that my baby was born, and before he was six months old my mistress died suddenly, when it was found that the estate was insolvent, and everything must be sold to pay the debts; and I and my baby, with the other goods and chattels, were put up for sale. Mr. Martin, the speculator, bought me, thinking I would bring a fancy price; but my heart was broken, and I grieved until my health gave way, so that nobody ever wanted me, until your kind-hearted master bought me to give me a home to die in. But oh, Uncle Bob," she continued, bursting into tears, "to think my boy, my baby, must be a slave! His father's relatives are poor. He had only a widowed mother and two sisters. They are not able to buy my child, and he must be raised in ignorance, to do another's bidding all his life, my poor little baby! His dear father hated slavery, and it seems so hard that his son must be a slave!"
"Now don't yer take on like dat, er makin' uv yerse'f sick," said Uncle Bob; "I know wat I gwine do; my min' hit's made up; hit's true, I'm brack, but den my min' hit's made up. Now you go on back ter de house, outn dis damp a'r, an' tuck cyar er yerse'f, an' don't yer be er frettin', nuther, caze my marster, he's de bes' man dey is; an' den, 'sides dat, my min' hit's made up. Hyear, honey," addressing the child, "take deze hyear wite-oak splits an' go'n make yer er baskit 'long o' yer ma."
Ann and her baby returned to the house, but Uncle Snake-bit Bob, long after the sun went down, still sat on his little bench in front of his shop, his elbows on his knees, and his face buried in his hands; and when it grew quite dark he rose, and put away his splits and his baskets, saying to himself,
"Well, I know wat I'm gwine do; my min', hit's made up."
UNCLE BOB'S PROPOSITION.
The night after Ann's interview with Uncle Bob, Major Waldron was sitting in his library overlooking some papers, when some one knocked at the door, and, in response to his hearty "Come in," Uncle Snake-bit Bob entered.
"Ebenin' ter yer, marster," said the old man, scraping his foot and bowing his head.
"How are you, Uncle Bob?" responded his master.
"I'm jes po'ly, thank God," replied Uncle Bob, in the answer invariably given by Southern slaves to the query "How are you?" No matter if they were fat as seals, and had never had a day's sickness in their lives, the answer was always the same—"I'm po'ly, thank God."
"Well, Uncle Bob, what is it now?" asked Major Waldron. "The little negroes been bothering your splits again?"
"Dey's all de time at dat, marster, an' dey gwine git hu't, mun, ef dey fool long o' me; but den dat ain't wat I come fur dis time. I come fur ter hab er talk wid yer, sar, ef yer kin spar de ole nigger de time."
"There's plenty of time, Uncle Bob; take a seat, then, if we are to have a talk;" and Major Waldron lit his cigar, and leaned back, while Uncle Bob seated himself on a low chair, and said:
"Marster, I come ter ax yer wat'll yer take fur dat little boy yer bought fum de specerlaters?"
"Ann's little boy?" asked his master; "why, I would not sell him at all. I only bought him because his mother was dying of exposure and fatigue, and I wanted to relieve her mind of anxiety on his account. I would certainly never sell her child away from her."
"Yes, sar, dat's so," replied the old man; "but den my min', hit's made up. I've laid me up er little money fum time ter time, wen I'd be er doct'in' uv hosses an' mules an' men'in' cheers, an' all sich ez dat; de folks dey pays me lib'ul; an', let erlone dat, I'm done mighty well wid my taters an' goobers, er sellin' uv 'em ter de steamboat han's, wat takes 'em ter de town, an' 'sposes uv 'em. So I'm got er right smart chance uv money laid up, sar; an' now I wants ter buy me er nigger, same ez wite folks, fur ter wait on me an' bresh my coat an' drive my kerridge; an' I 'lowed ef yer'd sell de little wite nigger, I'd buy 'im," and Uncle Bob chuckled and laughed.
"Why, Bob, I believe you are crazy," said his master, "or drunk."
"I ain't neder one, marster; but den I'm er jokin' too much, mo'n de 'lenity uv de cazhun inquires, an' now I'll splain de facks, sar."
And Uncle Bob related Ann's story to his master, and wound up by saying:
"An' now, marster, my min', hit's made up. I wants ter buy de little chap, an' give 'im ter his mammy, de one wat God give 'im to. Hit'll go mighty hard wid me ter part fum all dat money, caze I ben years pun top er years er layin' uv it up, an' hit's er mighty cumfut ter me er countin' an' er jinglin' uv it; but hit ain't doin' nobody no good er buried in de groun'; an' I don't special need it myse'f, caze you gives me my cloes, an' my shoes, an' my eatin's, an' my backer, an' my wisky, an' I ain't got no cazhun fur ter spen' it; an', let erlone dat, I can't stay hyear fureber, er countin' an' er jinglin' dat money, caze wen de angel soun' dat horn, de ole nigger he's got ter go; he's boun' fur ter be dar! de money can't hol' 'im! De Lord, he ain't gwine ter say, 'Scuze dat nigger, caze he got money piled up; lef 'im erlone, fur ter count dat gol' an' silver.' No, sar! But, marster, maybe in de jedgemun' day, wen Ole Bob is er stan'in' fo' de Lord wid his knees er trim'lin', an' de angel fotches out dat book er hisn, an' de Lord tell 'im fur ter read wat he writ gins 'im, an' de angel he 'gin ter read how de ole nigger drunk too much wisky, how he stoled watermillions in de night, how he cussed, how he axed too much fur doct'in' uv hosses, an' wen he wuz men'in' cheers, how he wouldn't men' 'em strong, so's he'd git ter men' 'em ergin some time; an' den, wen he read all dat an' shet de book, maybe de Lord he'll say, 'Well, he's er pow'ful sinful nigger, but den he tuck his money, he did, an' buy'd de little baby fur ter give 'im ter his mammy, an' I sha'n't be too hard on 'im."
"Maybe he'll say dat, an' den ergin maybe he won't. Maybe he'll punish de ole nigger ter de full stent uv his 'greshuns; an' den, ergin, maybe he'll let him off light; but dat ain't neder hyear nur dar. What'll yer take fur de baby, caze my min' hit's made up?"
"And mine is too, Uncle Bob," said his master, rising, and grasping in his the big black hand. "Mine is too. I will give Ann her freedom and her baby, and the same amount of money that you give her; that will take her to her husband's relatives, and she can die happy, knowing that her baby will be taken care of."
The next day Uncle Bob dug up his money, and the bag was found to contain three hundred dollars.
His master put with it a check for the same amount, and sent him into the laundry to tell Ann of her good fortune.
The poor woman was overcome with happiness and gratitude, and, throwing her arms around Uncle Bob, she sobbed and cried on his shoulder.
She wrote at once to her husband's relatives, and a few weeks after Major Waldron took her to New Orleans, had the requisite papers drawn up for her freedom, and accompanied her on board of a vessel bound for New York; and then, paying her passage himself, so that she might keep her money for future emergencies, he bade adieu to the only slaves he ever bought.
AUNT EDY'S STORY.
Aunt Edy was the principal laundress, and a great favorite she was with the little girls. She was never too busy to do up a doll's frock or apron, and was always glad when she could amuse and entertain them. One evening Dumps and Tot stole off from Mammy, and ran as fast as they could clip it to the laundry, with a whole armful of their dollies' clothes, to get Aunt Edy to let them "iun des er 'ittle," as Tot said.
"Lemme see wat yer got," said Aunt Edy; and they spread out on the table garments of worsted and silk and muslin and lace and tarlatan and calico and homespun, just whatever their little hands had been able to gather up.
"Lor', chil'en, ef yer washes deze fine close yer'll ruint 'em," said Aunt Edy, examining the bundles laid out; "de suds'll tuck all de color out'n 'em; s'posin' yer jes press 'em out on de little stool ober dar wid er nice cole iun."
"Yes, that's the very thing," said Dumps; and Aunt Edy folded some towels, and laid them on the little stools, and gave each of the children a cold iron. And, kneeling down, so as to get at their work conveniently, the little girls were soon busy smoothing and pressing the things they had brought.
"Aunt Edy," said Dumps, presently, "could'n yer tell us 'bout Po' Nancy Jane O?"
"Dar now!" exclaimed Aunt Edy; "dem chil'en nuber is tierd er hyearn' dat tale; pyears like dey like hit mo' an' mo' eb'y time dey hyears hit;" and she laughed slyly, for she was the only one on the plantation who knew about "Po' Nancy Jane O," and she was pleased because it was such a favorite story with the children.
"Once pun er time," she began, "dar wuz er bird name' Nancy Jane O, an' she wuz guv up ter be de swif'es'-fly'n thing dar wuz in de a'r. Well, at dat time de king uv all de fishes an' birds, an' all de little beas'es, like snakes an' frogs an' wums an' tarrypins an' bugs, an' all sich ez dat, he wur er mole dat year! an' he wuz blin' in bof 'is eyes, jes same like any udder mole; an', somehow, he had hyearn some way dat dar wuz er little bit er stone name' de gol'-stone, way off fum dar, in er muddy crick, an' ef'n he could git dat stone, an' hol' it in his mouf, he could see same ez anybody.
"Den he 'gun ter steddy how wuz he fur ter git dat stone.
"He stedded an' he stedded, an' pyeard like de mo' he stedded de mo' he couldn' fix no way fur ter git it. He knowed he wuz blin', an' he knowed he trab'l so slow dat he 'lowed 'twould be years pun top er years befo' he'd git ter de crick, an' so he made up in 'is min' dat he'd let somebody git it fur 'im. Den, bein' ez he wuz de king, an' could grant any kin' er wush, he sont all roun' thu de kentry eb'ywhar, an' 'lowed dat any bird or fish, or any kin' er little beas' dat 'oud fotch 'im dat stone, he'd grant 'em de deares' wush er dey hearts.
"Well, mun, in er few days de whole yearth wuz er movin'; eb'ything dar wuz in de lan' wuz er gwine.
"Some wuz er hoppin' an' some wuz er crawlin' an' some wuz er flyin', jes 'cord'n to dey natur'; de birds dey 'lowed ter git dar fus', on 'count er fly'n so fas'; but den de little stone wuz in de water, an' dey'd hatter wait till de crick run down, so 'twuz jes 'bout broad ez 'twuz long.
"Well, wile dey wuz all er gwine, an' de birds wuz in de lead, one day dey hyeard sump'n gwine f-l-u-shsh—f-l-u-shsh—an' sump'n streaked by like lightnin', and dey look way erhead, dey did, an' dey seed Nancy Jane O. Den dey hearts 'gun ter sink, an' dey gin right up, caze dey knowed she'd outfly eb'ything on de road. An' by'mby de crow, wat wuz allers er cunnin' bird, sez,' I tell yer wat we'll do; we'll all gin er feas',' sezee, 'an' git Nancy Jane O ter come, an' den we'll all club togedder an' tie her, sezee.
"Dat took dey fancy, an' dey sont de lark on erhead fur ter cotch up wid Nancy Jane O, an' ter ax 'er ter de feas'. Well, mun, de lark he nearly kill hese'f er flyin'. He flew an' he flew an' he flew, but pyear'd like de fas'er he went de furder erhead wuz Nancy Jane O.
"But Nancy Jane O, bein' so fur er start uv all de res', an' not er dreamin' 'bout no kin' er develment, she 'lowed she'd stop an' take er nap, an' so de lark he come up wid 'er, wile she wuz er set'n on er sweet-gum lim', wid 'er head un'er 'er wing. Den de lark spoke up, an', sezee, 'Sis Nancy Jane O,' sezee, 'we birds is gwinter gin er big feas', caze we'll be sho' ter win de race any how, an' bein' ez we've flew'd so long an' so fur, wy we're gwine ter stop an' res' er spell, an' gin er feas'. An' Brer Crow he 'lowed 'twouldn' be no feas' 'tall les'n you could be dar; so dey sont me on ter tell yer to hol' up tell dey come: dey's done got seeds an' bugs an' wums, an' Brer Crow he's gwine ter furnish de corn.'
"Nancy Jane O she 'lowed ter herse'f she could soon git erhead uv 'em ergin, so she 'greed ter wait; an' by'mby hyear dey come er flyin'. An' de nex' day dey gin de feas'; an' wile Nancy Jane O wuz er eatin' an' er stuffin' herse'f wid wums an' seeds, an' one thing er nudder, de blue jay he slope up behin' 'er, an' tied 'er fas' ter er little bush. An' dey all laft an' flopped dey wings; an' sez dey, 'Good-bye ter yer, Sis Nancy Jane O. I hope yer'll enjoy yerse'f,' sez dey; an' den dey riz up an' stretched out dey wings, an' away dey flewed.
"Wen Po' Nancy Jane O seed de trick wat dey played her, she couldn' hardly stan' still, she wuz so mad; an' she pulled an' she jerked an' she stretched ter git er loose, but de string wuz so strong, an' de bush wuz so fum, she wuz jes er was'en 'er strengt'. An' den she sot down, an' she 'gun ter cry ter herse'f, an' ter sing,
"'Please on-tie, please on-tie Po' Nancy Jane O! Please on-tie, please on-tie Po' Nancy Jane O!'
"An' atter er wile hyear come de ole bullfrog Pigunawaya. He sez ter hisse'f, sezee, 'Wat's dat I hyear?' Den he lis'en, an' he hyear sump'n gwine,
"'Please on-tie, please on-tie Po' Nancy Jane O!'
an' he went whar he hyeard de soun', an' dar wuz de po' bird layin' down all tied ter de bush.
"'Umph!' says Pigunawaya, sezee, 'Ain't dis Nancy Jane O, de swif'es'-flyin' bird dey is?' sezee; 'wat ail 'long yer, chile? wat yer cryin' 'bout?' An' atter Nancy Jane O she up an' tol' 'im, den de frog sez:
"'Now look er yer; I wuz er gwine myse'f ter see ef'n I could'n git dat gol'-stone; hit's true I don't stan' much showin' 'long o' birds, but den ef'n eber I gits dar, wy I kin jes jump right in an' fotch up de stone wile de birds is er waitin' fur de crick ter run down. An' now, s'posin' I wuz ter ontie yer, Nancy Jane O, could yer tuck me on yer back an' cyar me ter de crick? an' den we'd hab de sho' thing on de gol'-stone, caze soon's eber we git dar, I'll git it, an' we'll cyar it bof tergedder ter de king, an' den we'll bof git de deares' wush uv our hearts. Now wat yer say? speak yer min'. Ef'n yer able an' willin' ter tote me fum hyear ter de crick, I'll ontie yer; efn yer ain't, den far yer well, caze I mus' be er gittin' erlong.'
"Well, Nancy Jane O, she stedded an' stedded in her min', an' by'mby she sez, 'Brer Frog,' sez she, 'I b'lieve I'll try yer; ontie me,' sez she, 'an' git on, an' I'll tuck yer ter de crick.' Den de frog he clum on her back an' ontied her, an' she flopped her wings an' started off. Hit wuz mighty hard flyin' wid dat big frog on her back; but Nancy Jane O wuz er flyer, mun, yer hyeard me! an' she jes lit right out, an' she flew an' she flew, an' atter er wile she got in sight er de birds, an' dey looked, an' dey see her comin', an' den dey 'gun ter holler,
"'Who on-tied, who on-tied Po' Nancy Jane O?'
An' de frog he holler back,
"'Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!'
"Den, gemmun, yer oughten seed dat race; dem birds dey done dey leb'l bes', but Nancy Jane O, spite er all dey could do, she gaint on 'em, an' ole Pigunawaya he sot up dar, an' he kep' er urg'n an' er urg'n Nancy Jane O.
"'Dat's you!' sezee; 'git erhead!' sezee. 'Now we're gwine it!' sezee; an' pres'nly Nancy Jane O shot erhead clean befo' all de res'; an' wen de birds dey seed dat de race wuz los', den dey all 'gun ter holler,
"'Who on-tied, who on-tied Po' Nancy Jane O?'
An' de frog, he turnt roun', he did, an' he wave his han' roun' his head, an' he holler back,
"'Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!'
"Atter Nancy Jane O got erhead er de birds, den de hardes' flyin' wuz thu wid; so she jes went 'long, an' went 'long, kin' er easy like, tell she got ter de stone; an' she lit on er' simmon-bush close ter de crick, an' Pigunawaya he slipt off, he did, an' he hist up his feet, an' he gin er jump, kerchug he went down inter de water; an' by'mby hyear he come wid de stone in his mouf. Den he mount on Nancy Jane O, he did; an', mun, she wuz so proud, she an' de frog bof, tell dey flew all roun' an' roun', an' Nancy Jane O, she 'gun ter sing,
"' Who on-tied, who on-tied Po' Nancy Jane O?'
An' de frog he ans'er back,
"'Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!'
"An' wile dey wuz er singin' an' er j'yin' uv deyselves, hyear come de birds; an' de frog he felt so big, caze he'd got de stone, tell he stood up on Nancy Jane O's back, he did, an' he tuck'n shuck de stone at de birds, an' he holler at 'em
"'O Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!'
An' jes ez he said dat, he felt hisse'f slippin', an' dat made him clutch on ter Po' Nancy Jane O, an' down dey bof' went tergedder kersplash, right inter de crick.
"De frog he fell slap on ter er big rock, an' bust his head all ter pieces; an' Po' Nancy Jane O sunk down in de water an' got drownded; an' dat's de een'."
"Did the king get the stone, Aunt Edy?" asked Dumps.
"Wy no, chile; don't yer know de mole he's blin' tell yit? ef'n he could er got dat stone, he could er seen out'n his eyes befo' now. But I ain't got no time ter fool 'long er you chil'en. I mus' git marster's shuts done, I mus'."
And Aunt Edy turned to her ironing-table, as if she didn't care for company; and Dumps and Tot, seeing that she was tired of them, went back to the house, Tot singing,
"Who on-tied, who on-tied Po' Nanty Dane O?"
and Dumps answering back,
"Pig-un-a-wa-ya, Pig-un-a-wa-ya, hooo-hooo!"
"Mammy, the quarter folks are goin' ter play to-night; can't we go look at 'em?" pleaded Diddie one Saturday evening, as Mammy was busy sorting out the children's clothes and putting them away.
"Yer allers want ter be 'long er dem quarter-folks," said Mammy. "Dem ain't de 'soshuts fur you chil'en."
"We don't want ter 'soshate with 'em, Mammy; we only want ter look at 'em play 'Monkey Moshuns' and 'Lipto' and 'The Lady You Like Best,' and hear Jim pick the banjo, and see 'em dance; can't we go? PLEASE! It's warm weather now, an' er moonshiny night; can't we go?"
And Diddie placed one arm around Mammy's neck, and laid the other little hand caressingly on her cheek; and Mammy, after much persuasion, agreed to take them, if they would come home quietly when she wanted them to.
As soon as the little girls had had their supper, they set out for the quarters. Dilsey and Chris and Riar, of course, accompanied them, though Chris had had some difficulty in joining the party. She had come to grief about her quilt patching, having sewed the squares together in such a way that the corners wouldn't hit, and Mammy had made her rip it all out and sew it over again, and had boxed her soundly, and now said she shouldn't go with the others to the quarters; but here Dumps interfered, and said Mammy shouldn't be "all time 'posin' on Chris," and she went down to see her father about it, who interceded with Mammy so effectually that, when the little folks started off, Chris was with them. When they got to the open space back of Aunt Nancy's cabin, and which was called "de play-groun'," they found that a bright fire of light-wood knots had been kindled to give a light, and a large pile of pine-knots and dried branches of trees was lying near for the purpose of keeping it up. Aunt Nancy had a bench moved out of her cabin for "marster's chil'en" to sit on, while all of the little negroes squatted around on the ground to look on. These games were confined to the young men and women, and the negro children were not allowed to participate.
Mammy, seeing that the children were safe and in good hands, repaired to "Sis Haly's house," where "de chu'ch membahs" had assembled for a prayer-meeting.
Soon after the children had taken their seats, the young folks came out on the play-ground for a game of Monkey Motions.
They all joined hands, and made a ring around one who stood in the middle, and then began to dance around in a circle, singing,
"I ac' monkey moshuns, too-re-loo; I ac' monkey moshuns, so I do; I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'— I ac' jes like dem monkeys ac'.
"I ac' gemmun moshuns, too-re-loo; I ac' gemmun moshuns, so I do; I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'— I ac' jes like dem gemmuns ac'.
"I ac' lady moshuns, too-re-loo; I ac' lady moshuns, so I do; I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'— I ac' jes like dem ladies ac'.
"I ac' chil'en moshuns, too-re-loo; I ac' chil'en moshuns, so I do; I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'— I ac' jes like dem chil'ens ac'.
"I ac' preacher moshuns, too-re-loo; I ac' preacher moshuns, so I do; I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'— I ac' jes like dem preachers ac'.
"I ac' nigger moshuns, too-re-loo; I ac' nigger moshuns, so I do; I ac' 'em well, an' dat's er fac'— I ac' jes like dem niggers ac'."
The song had a lively air, and Jim picked the accompaniment on the banjo. Many of the negroes had good voices, and the singing was indeed excellent.
While the dancers were singing the first verse, "I ac' monkey moshuns," the one in the middle would screw up his face and hump his shoulders in the most grotesque manner, to represent a monkey.
When they sang "I ac' gemmun moshuns," he would stick his hat on one side of his head, take a walking-cane in his hand, and strut back and forth, to represent a gentleman.
In the "lady moshuns," he would take little mincing steps, and toss his head from side to side, and pretend to be fanning with his hand.
"I ac' chil'en moshuns" was portrayed by his pouting out his lips and twirling his thumbs, or giggling or crying.
When they sang "I ac' preacher moshuns," he straightened himself back, and began to "lay off" his hands in the most extravagant gestures.
"I ac' nigger moshuns" was represented by scratching his head, or by bending over and pretending to be picking cotton or hoeing.
The representation of the different motions was left entirely to the taste and ingenuity of the actor, though it was the rule of the game that no two people should represent the same character in the same way. If one acted the lady by a mincing walk, the next one must devise some other manner of portraying her, such as sewing, or playing on an imaginary piano, or giving orders to servants, or anything that his fancy would suggest.
The middle man or woman was always selected for his or her skill in taking off the different characters; and when they were clever at it, the game was very amusing to a spectator.
After one or two games of "Monkey Moshuns," some one proposed they should play "Lipto," which was readily acceded to.
All joined hands, and formed a ring around one in the middle, as before, and danced around, singing,
"Lipto, lipto, jine de ring; Lipto, lipto, dance an' sing; Dance an' sing, an' laugh an' play, Fur dis is now er holerday."
Then, letting loose hands, they would all wheel around three times, singing,
"Turn erroun' an' roun' an' roun';"
then they would clap their hands, singing,
"Clap yer han's, an' make 'em soun';"
then they would bow their heads, singing,
"Bow yer heads, an' bow 'em low;"
then, joining hands again, they would dance around, singing,
"All jine han's, an' hyear we go."
And now the dancers would drop hands once more, and go to patting, while one of the men would step out with a branch of honeysuckle or yellow jessamine, or something twined to form a wreath, or a paper cap would answer, or even one of the boys' hats—anything that would serve for a crown; then he would sing,
"Lipto, lipto—fi-yi-yi; Lipto, lipto, hyear am I, Er holdin' uv dis goldin' crown, An' I choose my gal fur ter dance me down."
Then he must place the crown on the head of any girl he chooses, and she must step out and dance with him, or, as they expressed it, "set to him" (while all the rest patted), until one or the other "broke down," when the man stepped back in the ring, leaving the girl in the middle, when they all joined hands, and began the game over again, going through with the wheeling around and clapping of hands and the bowing of heads just as before; after which the girl would choose her partner for a "set to," the song being the same that was sung by the man, with the exception of the last line, which was changed to
"An' I choose my man fur ter dance me down."
"Lipto" was followed by "De One I Like de Bes'," which was a kissing game, and gave rise to much merriment. It was played, as the others were, by the dancers joining hands and forming a ring, with some one in the middle, and singing,
"Now while we all will dance an' sing, O choose er partner fum de ring; O choose de lady you like bes'; O pick her out fum all de res', Fur her hansum face an' figur neat; O pick her out ter kiss her sweet. O walk wid her erroun' an' roun'; O kneel wid her upon de groun'; O kiss her once, an' one time mo'; O kiss her sweet, an' let her go. O lif' her up fum off de groun', An' all jine han's erroun' an' roun', An' while we all will dance an' sing, O choose er partner fum de ring."
At the words "choose de lady you like bes'," the middle man must make his selection, and, giving her his hand, lead her out of the ring. At the words "walk wid her erroun' an' roun'," he offers her his arm, and they promenade; at the words "kneel wid her upon de groun'," both kneel; when they sing "Kiss her once," he kisses her; and at the words "one time mo'" the kiss is repeated; and when the dancers sing "Lif' her up fum off de groun'," he assists her to rise; and when they sing "All jine han's erroun' an' roun'," he steps back into the ring, and the girl must make a choice, the dancers singing, "O choose de gemmun you like bes';" and then the promenading and kneeling and kissing were all gone through with again.
Some of the girls were great favorites, and were chosen frequently; while others not so popular would perhaps not be in the middle during the game.
"De One I Like de Bes'" was a favorite play, and the young folks kept it up for some time, until some one suggested sending for "Uncle Sambo" and his fiddle, and turning it into a sure-enough dance. Uncle Sambo was very accommodating, and soon made his appearance, when partners were taken, and an Old Virginia reel formed. The tune that they danced by was "Cotton-eyed Joe," and, the words being familiar to all of them as they danced they sang,
"Cotton-eyed Joe, Cotton-eyed Joe, What did make you sarve me so, Fur ter take my gal erway fum me, An' cyar her plum ter Tennessee? Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe, I'd er been married long ergo.
"His eyes wuz crossed, an' his nose wuz flat, An' his teef wuz out, but wat uv dat? Fur he wuz tall, an' he wuz slim, An' so my gal she follered him. Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe, I'd er ben married long ergo.
"No gal so hansum could be foun', Not in all dis country roun', Wid her kinky head, an' her eyes so bright; Wid her lips so red an' her teef so white. Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe, I'd er been married long ergo.
"An' I loved dat gal wid all my heart, An' she swo' fum me she'd never part; But den wid Joe she runned away, An' lef' me hyear fur ter weep all day. O Cotton-eyed Joe, O Cotton-eyed Joe, What did make you sarve me so? O Joe, ef it hadn't er ben fur you, I'd er married dat gal fur true."
And what with Uncle Sambo's fiddle and Jim's banjo, and all of those fresh, happy young voices, the music was enough to make even the church members want to dance.
The children enjoyed the dancing even more than they had the playing, and Diddie and Dumps and Tot and all of the little darkies were patting their hands and singing "Cotton-eyed Joe" at the very top of their voices, when Mammy appeared upon the scene, and said it was time to go home.
"No, Mammy," urged Dumps; "we ain't er goin' ter; we want ter sing 'Cotton-eyed Joe;' hit ain't late."
"Umph-humph! dat's jes wat I 'lowed," said Mammy. "I 'lowed yer wouldn't be willin' fur ter go, er set'n' hyear an' er patt'n' yer han's same ez niggers, an' er singin' uv reel chunes; I dunno wat makes you chil'en so onstrep'rous."
"Yes, Dumps, you know we promised," said Diddie, "and so we must go when Mammy tells us."
Dumps, finding herself overruled, had to yield, and they all went back to the house, talking very animatedly of the quarter folks and their plays and dances.
DIDDIE IN TROUBLE.
Diddie was generally a very good and studious little girl, and therefore it was a matter of surprise to everybody when Miss Carrie came down to dinner one day without her, and, in answer to Major Waldron's inquiry concerning her, replied that Diddie had been so wayward that she had been forced to keep her in, and that she was not to have any dinner.
Neither Major nor Mrs. Waldron ever interfered with Miss Carrie's management, so the family sat down to the meal, leaving the little girl in the schoolroom.
Dumps and Tot, however, were very indignant, and ate but little dinner; and, as soon as their mamma excused them, they ran right to the nursery to tell Mammy about it. They found her overhauling a trunk of old clothes, with a view of giving them out to such of the little negroes as they would fit; but she dropped everything after Dumps had stated the case, and at once began to expatiate on the tyranny of teachers in general, and of Miss Carrie in particular.
"I know'd how 'twould be," she said, "wen marster fotch her hyear; she got too much wite in her eye to suit me, er shettin' my chile up, an' er starvin' uv her; I ain't got no 'pinion uv po' wite folks, nohow."
"Is Miss Carrie po' white folks, Mammy?" asked Dumps, in horror, for she had been taught by Mammy and Aunt Milly both that the lowest classes of persons in the world were "po' white folks" and "free niggers."
"She ain't no rich wite folks," answered Mammy, evasively; "caze efn she wuz, she wouldn't be teachin' school fur er livin'; an' den ergin, efn she's so mighty rich, whar's her niggers? I neber seed 'em. An', let erlone dat, I ain't neber hyeard uv 'em yit;" for Mammy could not conceive of a person's being rich without niggers.
"But, wedder she's rich or po'," continued the old lady, "she ain't no bizness er shettin' up my chile; an' marster, he oughtn't ter 'low it."
And Mammy resumed her work, but all the time grumbling, and muttering something about "ole maids" and "po' wite folks."
"I don't like her, nohow," said Dumps, "an' I'm glad me an' Tot's too little ter go ter school; I don't want never to learn to read all my life. An', Mammy, can't you go an' turn Diddie erloose?"
"No, I can't," answered Mammy. "Yer pa don't 'low me fur ter do it; he won't do it hisse'f, an' he won't let dem do it wat wants ter. I dunno wat's gittin' in 'im myse'f. But, you chil'en, put on yer bunnits, an' run an' play in de yard tell I fixes dis chis' uv cloes; an' you little niggers, go wid 'em, an' tuck cyar uv 'em; an' ef dem chil'en git hut, yer'll be sorry fur it, mun; so yer'd better keep em off'n seesaws an' all sich ez dat."
Dumps and Tot, attended by their little maids, went out in the yard at Mammy's bidding, but not to play; their hearts were too heavy about poor little Diddie, and the little negroes were no less grieved than they were, so they all held a consultation as to what they should do.
"Le's go 'roun' ter de schoolroom winder, an' talk ter her," said Dilsey. And, accordingly, they repaired to the back of the house, and took their stand under the schoolroom window. The schoolroom was on the first floor, but the house was raised some distance from the ground by means of stone pillars, so none of the children were tall enough to see into the room.
Dilsey called Diddie softly, and the little girl appeared at the window.
"Have you said your lesson yet?" asked Dumps.
"No, an' I ain't ergoin' to, neither," answered Diddie.
"An' yer ain't had yer dinner, nuther, is yer, Miss Diddie?" asked Dilsey.
"No; but I don't care 'bout that; I sha'n't say my lesson not ef she starves me clean ter death."
At this dismal prospect, the tears sprang to Tot's eyes, and saying, "I'll dit it, Diddie; don' yer min', I'll dit it," she ran as fast as her little feet could carry her to the kitchen, and told Aunt Mary, the cook, that "Diddie is sut up; dey lock her all up in de woom, an' s'e neber had no dinner, an' s'e's starve mos' ter def. Miss Tawwy done it, an' s'e's des ez mean!" Then, putting her chubby little arms around Aunt Mary's neck, she added, "Please sen' Diddie some dinner."
And Aunt Mary, who loved the children, rose from the low chair on which she was sitting to eat her own dinner, and, picking out a nice piece of fried chicken and a baked sweet potato, with a piece of bread and a good slice of ginger pudding, she put them on a plate for the child.
Now it so happened that Douglas, the head dining-room servant, was also in the kitchen eating his dinner, and, being exceedingly fond of Tot, he told her to wait a moment, and he would get her something from the house. So, getting the keys from Aunt Delia, the housekeeper, on pretence of putting away something, he buttered two or three slices of light bread, and spread them with jam, and, putting with them some thin chips of cold ham and several slices of cake, he carried them back to the kitchen as an addition to Diddie's dinner.
Tot was delighted, and walked very carefully with the plate until she joined the little group waiting under the window, when she called out, joyfully,
"Hyear 'tis, Diddie! 'tis des de bes'es kine er dinner!"
And now the trouble was how to get it up to Diddie.
"I tell yer," said Chris; "me 'n Dilsey'll fotch de step-ladder wat Uncle Douglas washes de winders wid."
No sooner said than done, and in a few moments the step-ladder was placed against the house, and Dilsey prepared to mount it with the plate in her hand.
But just at this juncture Diddie decided that she would make good her escape, and, to the great delight of the children, she climbed out of the window, and descended the ladder, and soon stood safe among them on the ground.
Then, taking the dinner with them, they ran as fast as they could to the grove, where they came to a halt on the ditch bank, and Diddie seated herself on a root of a tree to eat her dinner, while Dumps and Tot watched the little negroes wade up and down the ditch. The water was very clear, and not quite knee-deep, and the temptation was too great to withstand; so the little girls took off their shoes and stockings, and were soon wading too.
When Diddie had finished her dinner, she joined them; and such a merry time as they had, burying their little naked feet in the sand, and splashing the water against each other!
"I tell yer, Diddie," said Dumps, "I don't b'lieve nuthin' 'bout bad little girls gittin' hurt, an' not havin' no fun when they runs away, an' don't min' nobody. I b'lieve Mammy jes makes that up ter skyeer us."
"I don't know," replied Diddie; "you 'member the time 'bout Ole Billy?"
"Oh, I ain't er countin' him," said Dumps; "I ain't er countin' no sheeps; I'm jes er talkin' 'bout ditches an' things."
And just then the little girls heard some one singing,
"De jay bird died wid de hookin'-coff, Oh, ladies, ain't yer sorry?"
and Uncle Snake-bit Bob came up the ditch bank with an armful of white-oak splits.
"Yer'd better git outn dat water," he called, as soon as he saw the children. "Yer'll all be havin' de croup nex'. Git out, I tell yer! Efn yer don't, I gwine straight an' tell yer pa."
It needed no second bidding, and the little girls scrambled up the bank, and, drying their feet as best they could upon their skirts, they put on their shoes and stockings.
"What are you doin', Uncle Bob?" called Diddie.
"I'm jes er cuttin' me er few willers fur ter make baskit-handles outn."
"Can't we come an' look at yer?" asked Diddie.
"Yes, honey, efn yer wants ter," replied Uncle Bob, mightily pleased. "You're all pow'ful fon' er dis ole nigger; you're allers wantin' ter be roun' him."
"It's 'cause you always tell us tales, an' don't quar'l with us," replied Diddie, as the children drew near the old man, and watched him cut the long willow branches.
"Uncle Bob," asked Dumps, "what was that you was singin' 'bout the jay bird?"
"Lor', honey, hit wuz jes 'boutn 'im dyin' wid de hookin'-coff; but yer better lef' dem jay birds erlone; yer needn' be er wantin' ter hyear boutn 'em."
"Why, Uncle Bob?"
"Caze, honey, dem jay birds dey cyars news ter de deb'l, dey do; an' yer better not fool 'long 'em."
"Do they tell him everything?" asked Diddie, in some solicitude.
"Dat dey do! Dey tells 'im e'bything dey see you do wat ain't right; dey cyars hit right erlong ter de deb'l."
"Uncle Bob," said Dumps, thoughtfully, "s'posin' they wuz some little girls l-o-n-g time ergo what stole ernuther little girl outn the winder, an' then run'd erway, an' waded in er ditch, what they Mammy never would let 'em; efn er jay bird would see 'em, would he tell the deb'l nuthin' erbout it?"
"Lor', honey, dat 'ud be jes nuts fur 'im; he'd light right out wid it; an' he wouldn't was'e no time, nuther, he'd be so fyeard he'd furgit part'n it."
"I don't see none 'bout hyear," said Dumps, looking anxiously up at the trees. "They don't stay 'bout hyear much, does they, Uncle Bob?"
"I seed one er settin' on dat sweet-gum dar ez I come up de ditch," said Uncle Bob. "He had his head turnt one side, he did, er lookin' mighty hard at you chil'en, an' I 'lowed ter myse'f now I won'er wat is he er watchin' dem chil'en fur? but, den, I knowed you chil'en wouldn't do nuffin wrong, an' I knowed he wouldn't have nuffin fur ter tell."
"Don't he never make up things an' tell 'em?" asked Dumps.
"I ain't neber hyeard boutn dat," said the old man. "Efn he do, or efn he don't, I can't say, caze I ain't neber hyeard; but de bes' way is fur ter keep 'way fum 'em."
"Well, I bet he do," said Dumps. "I jes bet he tells M-O-O-O-R-E S-T-O-R-I-E-S than anybody. An', Uncle Bob, efn he tells the deb'l sump'n 'boutn three little white girls an' three little niggers runnin' erway fum they teacher an' wadin' in er ditch, then I jes b'lieve he made it up! Now that's jes what I b'lieve; an' can't you tell the deb'l so, Uncle Bob?"
"Who? Me? Umph, umph! yer talkin' ter de wrong nigger now, chile! I don't hab nuffin te do wid 'im mysef! I'se er God-fyearn nigger, I is; an', let erlone dat, I keeps erway fum dem jay birds. Didn' yer neber hyear wat er trick he played de woodpecker?"
"No, Uncle Bob," answered Diddie; "what did he do to him?"
"Ain't yer neber hyeard how come de woodpecker's head ter be red, an' wat makes de robin hab er red breas'?"
"Oh, I know 'bout the robin's breast," said Diddie. "When the Saviour was on the cross, an' the wicked men had put er crown of thorns on him, an' his forehead was all scratched up an' bleedin', er little robin was settin' on er tree lookin' at him; an' he felt so sorry 'bout it till he flew down, an' tried to pick the thorns out of the crown; an' while he was pullin' at 'em, one of 'em run in his breast, an' made the blood come, an' ever since that the robin's breast has been red."
"Well, I dunno," said the old man, thoughtfully, scratching his head; "I dunno, dat mout be de way; I neber hyeard it, do; but den I ain't sayin' tain't true, caze hit mout be de way; an' wat I'm er stan'in' by is dis, dat dat ain't de way I hyeard hit."
"Tell us how you heard it, Uncle Bob," asked Diddie.
"Well, hit all come 'long o' de jay bird," said Uncle Bob. "An' efn yer got time fur ter go 'long o' me ter de shop, an' sot dar wile I plats on dese baskits fur de oberseer's wife, I'll tell jes wat I hyearn 'boutn hit."
Of course they had plenty of time, and they all followed him to the shop, where he turned some baskets bottom-side up for seats for the children, and, seating himself on his accustomed stool, while the little darkies sat around on the dirt-floor, he began to weave the splits dexterously in and out, and proceeded to tell the story.
HOW THE WOODPECKER'S HEAD AND THE ROBIN'S BREAST CAME TO BE RED.
"Well" began Uncle Bob, "hit wuz all erlong er de jay bird, jes ez I wuz tellin' yer. Yer see, Mr. Jay Bird he fell'd in love, he did, 'long o' Miss Robin, an' he wuz er courtin' her, too; ev'y day de Lord sen', he'd be er gwine ter see her, an' er singin' ter her, an' er cyarin' her berries an' wums; but, somehow or udder, she didn't pyear ter tuck no shine ter him. She'd go er walkin' 'long 'im, an' she'd sing songs wid 'im, an' she'd gobble up de berries an' de wums wat he fotch, but den w'en hit come ter marry'n uv 'im, she wan't dar.
"Well, she wouldn't gib 'im no kin' er 'couragement, tell he got right sick at his heart, he did; an' one day, ez he wuz er settin' in his nes' an' er steddin how ter wuck on Miss Robin so's ter git her love, he hyeard somebody er laughin' an' talkin', an' he lookt out, he did, an' dar wuz Miss Robin er prumurradin' wid de Woodpecker. An' wen he seed dat, he got pow'ful mad, an' he 'low'd ter hisse'f dat efn de Lord spar'd him, he inten' fur ter fix dat Woodpecker.
"In dem times de Woodpecker's head wuz right black, same ez er crow, an' he had er topknot on 'im like er rooster. Gemmun, he wuz er han'sum bird, too. See 'im uv er Sunday, wid his 'go-ter-meetin'' cloze on, an' dar wan't no bird could totch 'im fur looks.
"Well, he an' Miss Robin dey went on by, er laffin' an' er talkin' wid one ernudder; an' de Jay he sot dar, wid his head turnt one side, er steddin an' er steddin ter hisse'f; an' by'mby, atter he made up his min', he sot right ter wuck, he did, an' he fix him er trap.
"He got 'im some sticks, an' he nailt 'em cross'n 'is do' same ez er plank-fence, only he lef' space 'nuff twix' de bottum stick an' de nex' one fur er bird ter git thu; den, stid er nailin' de stick nex' de bottum, he tuck'n prope it up at one een wid er little chip fur ter hole it, an' den jes res' tudder een 'gins de side er de nes'. Soon's eber he done dat, he crawlt out thu de crack mighty kyeerful, I tell yer, caze he wuz fyeared he mout er knock de stick down, an' git his own se'f cotch in de trap; so yer hyeard me, mun, he crawlt thu mighty tick'ler.
"Atter he got thu, den he santer 'long, he did, fur ter hunt up de Woodpecker; an' by'mby he hyeard him peckin' at er log; an' he went up ter him kin' er kyeerless, an' he sez, 'Good-mornin',' sezee; 'yer pow'ful busy ter day.'
"Den de Woodpecker he pass de kempulmence wid 'im, des same ez any udder gemmun; an' atter dey talk er wile, den de Blue Jay he up'n sez, 'I wuz jes er lookin' fur yer,' sezee; 'I gwine ter hab er party ter-morrer night, an' I'd like fur yer ter come. All de birds'll be dar, Miss Robin in speshul,' sezee.
"An' wen de Woodpecker hyearn dat, he 'lowed he'd try fur ter git dar. An' den de Jay he tell him good-mornin', an' went on ter Miss Robin's house. Well, hit pyeart like Miss Robin wuz mo' cole dan uzhul dat day, an' by'mby de Jay Bird, fur ter warm her up, sez, 'Yer lookin' mighty hansum dis mornin',' sezee. An' sez she, 'I'm proud ter hyear yer say so; but, speakin' uv hansum,' sez she, 'hev yer seed Mr. Peckerwood lately?'
"Dat made de Blue Jay kint er mad; an' sezee, 'Yer pyear ter tuck er mighty intrus' in 'im.'
"'Well, I dunno 'bout'n dat,' sez Miss Robin, sez she, kinter lookin' shame. 'I dunno 'boutn dat; but, den I tink he's er mighty hansum bird,' sez she.
"Well, wid dat de Jay Bird 'gun ter git madder'n he wuz, an' he 'lowed ter hisse'f dat he'd ax Miss Robin ter his house, so's she could see how he'd fix de Peckerwood; so he sez,
"'Miss Robin, I gwine ter hab er party ter-morrer night; de Woodpecker'll be dar, an' I'd like fur yer ter come.'
"Miss Robin 'lowed she'd come, an' de Jay Bird tuck his leave.
"Well, de nex' night de Jay sot in 'is nes' er waitin' fur 'is cump'ny; an' atter er wile hyear come de Woodpecker. Soon's eber he seed de sticks ercross de do', he sez, 'Wy, pyears like yer ben er fixin' up,' sezee. 'Ain't yer ben er buildin'?'
"'Well,' sez de Jay Bird, 'I've jes put er few 'provemunce up, fur ter keep de scritch-owls outn my nes'; but dar's plenty room fur my frien's ter git thu; jes come in,' sezee; an' de Woodpecker he started thu de crack. Soon's eber he got his head thu, de Jay pullt de chip out, an' de big stick fell right crossn his neck. Den dar he wuz, wid his head in an' his feet out! an' de Jay Bird 'gun ter laff, an' ter make fun atn 'im. Sezee, 'I hope I see yer! Yer look like sparkin' Miss Robin now! hit's er gre't pity she can't see yer stretched out like dat; an' she'll be hyear, too, d'rectly; she's er comin' ter de party,' sezee, 'an' I'm gwine ter gib her er new dish; I'm gwine ter sot her down ter roas' Woodpecker dis ebenin'. An' now, efn yer'll 'scuse me, I'll lef' yer hyear fur ter sorter 'muse yerse'f wile I grin's my ax fur ten' ter yer.'
"An' wid dat de Jay went out, an' lef de po' Woodpecker er lyin' dar; an' by'mby Miss Robin come erlong; an' wen she seed de Woodpecker, she axt 'im 'wat's he doin' down dar on de groun'?' an' atter he up an' tol' her, an' tol' her how de Jay Bird wuz er grin'in' his axe fur ter chop offn his head, den de Robin she sot to an' try ter lif' de stick offn him. She straint an' she straint, but her strengt' wan't 'nuff fur ter move hit den; an' so she sez, 'Mr. Woodpecker,' sez she, 's'posin' I cotch holt yer feet, an' try ter pull yer back dis way?' 'All right,' sez de Woodpecker; an' de Robin, she cotch er good grip on his feet, an' she brace herse'f up 'gins er bush, an' pullt wid all her might, an' atter er wile she fotch 'im thu; but she wuz bleeged fur ter lef' his topknot behin', fur his head wuz skunt des ez clean ez yer han'; an' 'twuz jes ez raw, honey, ez er piece er beef.
"An' wen de Robin seed dat, she wuz mighty 'stressed; an' she tuck his head an' helt it gins her breas' fur ter try an' cumfut him, an' de blood got all ober her breas', an' hit's red plum tell yit.
"Well, de Woodpecker he went erlong home, an' de Robin she nusst him tell his head got well; but de topknot wuz gone, an' it pyeart like de blood all settled in his head, caze fum dat day ter dis his head's ben red."
"An' did he marry the Robin?" asked Diddie.
"Now I done tol' yer all I know," said Uncle Bob. "I gun yer de tale jes like I hyearn it, an' I ain't er gwine ter make up nuffin', an' tell yer wat I dunno ter be de truff. Efn dar's any mo' ter it, den I ain't neber hyearn hit. I gun yer de tale jes like hit wuz gunt ter me, an' efn yer ain't satisfied wid hit, den I can't holp it."
"But we are satisfied, Uncle Bob," said Diddie. "It was a very pretty tale, and we are much obliged to you."
"Yer mo'n welcome, honey," said Uncle Bob, soothed by Diddie's answer—"yer mo'n welcome; but hit's gittin' too late fur you chil'en ter be out; yer'd better be er gittin' toerds home."
Here the little girls looked at each other in some perplexity, for they knew Diddie had been missed, and they were afraid to go to the house.
"Uncle Bob," said Diddie, "we've done er wrong thing this evenin': we ran away fum Miss Carrie, an' we're scared of papa; he might er lock us all up in the library, an' talk to us, an' say he's 'stonished an' mortified, an' so we're scared to go home."
"Umph!" said Uncle Bob; "you chil'en is mighty bad, anyhow."
"I think we're heap mo' better'n we're bad," said Dumps.
"Well, dat mout er be so," said the old man; "I ain't er 'sputin' it, but you chil'en comes fum er mighty high-minded stock uv white folks, an' hit ain't becomin' in yer fur ter be runnin' erway an' er hidin' out, same ez oberseer's chil'en, an' all kin' er po' white trash."
"We are sorry about it now, Uncle Bob," said Diddie "but what would you 'vize us to do?" "Well, my invice is dis," said Uncle Bob, "fur ter go ter yer pa, an' tell him de truff; state all de konkumstances des like dey happen; don't lebe out none er de facks; tell him you're sorry yer 'haved so onstreperous, an' ax him fur ter furgib yer; an' ef he do, wy dat's all right; an' den ef he don't, wy yer mus' 'bide by de kinsequonces. But fuss, do, fo' yer axes fur furgibness, yer mus' turn yer min's ter repintunce. Now I ax you chil'en dis, Is—you—sorry—dat—you—runned—off? an'—is—you—'pentin'—uv—wadin'—in—de—ditch?"
Uncle Bob spoke very slowly and solemnly, and in a deep tone; and Diddie, feeling very much as if she had been guilty of murder, replied,
"Yes, I am truly sorry, Uncle Bob."
Dumps and Tot and the three little darkies gravely nodded their heads in assent.
"Den jes go an' tell yer pa so," said the old man. "An', anyway, yer'll hatter be gwine, caze hit's gittin' dark."
The little folks walked off slowly towards the house, and presently Dumps said,
"Diddie, I don't b'lieve I'm rael sorry we runned off, an' I don't right 'pent 'bout wadin' in the ditch, cause we had er mighty heap er fun; an' yer reckon ef I'm jes sorter sorry, an' jes toler'ble 'pent, that'll do?"
"I don't know about that," said Diddie; "but I'm right sorry, and I'll tell papa for all of us."
The children went at once to the library, where Major Waldron was found reading.
"Papa," said Diddie, "we've ben very bad, an' we've come ter tell yer 'bout it."
"An' the Jay Bird, he tol' the deb'l," put in Dumps, "an' 'twan't none er his business."
"Hush up, Dumps," said Diddie, "till I tell papa 'bout it. I wouldn't say my lesson, papa, an' Miss Carrie locked me up, an' the chil'en brought me my dinner."
"'Tuz me," chimed in Tot. "I b'ing 'er de besses dinner—take an' jam an' pud'n in de p'ate. Aunt Mawy durn turn me."
"Hush, Tot," said Diddie, "till I get through. An' then, papa, I climbed out the winder on the step-ladder, an' I—"
"Dilsey an' Chris got the ladder," put in Dumps.
"HUSH UP, Dumps!" said Diddie; "you're all time 'ruptin' me."
"I reckon I done jes bad ez you," retorted Dumps, "an' I got jes much right ter tell 'boutn it. You think nobody can't be bad but yerse'f.'
"Well, then, you can tell it all," said Diddie, with dignity. "Papa, Dumps will tell you."
And Dumps, nothing daunted, continued:
"Dilsey an' Chris brought the step-ladder, an' Diddie clum out; an' we runned erway in the woods, an' waded in the ditch, an' got all muddy up; an' the Jay Bird, he was settin' on er limb watchin' us, an' he carried the news ter the deb'l; an' Uncle Snake-bit Bob let us go ter his shop, an' tol' us 'bout the Woodpecker's head, an' that's all; only we ain't n-e-v-er goin' ter do it no mo'; an', oh yes, I furgot—an' Diddie's rael sorry an' right 'pents; an' I'm sorter sorry, an' toler'ble 'pents. An', please, are you mad, papa?"
"It was certainly very wrong," said her father, "to help Diddie to get out, when Miss Carrie had locked her in; and I am surprised that Diddie should need to be kept in. Why didn't you learn your lesson, my daughter?"
"I did," answered Diddie; "I knew it every word; but Miss Carrie jus' cut up, an' wouldn't let me say it like 'twas in the book; an' she laughed at me; an' then I got mad, an' wouldn't say it at all."
"Which lesson was it?" asked Major Waldron.
"'Twas er hist'ry lesson, an' the question was, 'Who was Columbus?' an' the answer was, 'He was the son of er extinguished alligator;' an' Miss Carrie laughed, an' said that wan't it."
"And I rather think Miss Carrie was right," said the father. "Go and bring me the book."
Diddie soon returned with her little history, and, showing the passage to her father, said, eagerly,
"Now don't you see here, papa?"
And Major Waldron read, "He was the son of a distinguished navigator." Then, making Diddie spell the words in the book, he explained to her her mistake, and said he would like to have her apologize to Miss Carrie for being so rude to her.
This Diddie was very willing to do, and her father went with her to the sitting-room to find Miss Carrie, who readily forgave Diddie for her rebellion, and Dumps and Tot for interfering with her discipline. And that was a great deal more than Mammy did, when she saw the state of their shoes and stockings, and found that they had been wading in the ditch.
She slapped the little darkies, and tied red-flannel rags wet with turpentine round the children's necks to keep them from taking cold, and scolded and fussed so that the little girls pulled the cover over their heads and went to sleep, and left her quarrelling.
A PLANTATION MEETING AND UNCLE DANIEL'S SERMON.
"Are you gwine ter meetin', Mammy?" asked Diddie one Sunday evening, as Mammy came out of the house attired in her best flowered muslin, with an old-fashioned mantilla (that had once been Diddie's grandmother's) around her shoulders.
"Cose I gwine ter meetin', honey; I'se er tryin' ter sarve de Lord, I is, caze we ain't gwine stay hyear on dis yearth all de time. We got ter go ter nudder kentry, chile; an' efn yer don't go ter meetin', an' watch an' pray, like de Book say fur yer ter do, den yer mus' look out fur yerse'f wen dat Big Day come wat I hyears 'em talkin' 'bout."
"Can't we go with you, Mammy? We'll be good, an' not laugh at 'em shoutin'."
"I dunno wat yer gwine loff at 'em shoutin' fur; efn yer don't min' de loff gwine ter be turnt some er deze days, an' dem wat yer loffs at hyear, dem's de ones wat's gwine ter do de loffin' wen we gits up yon'er! But, let erlone dat, yer kin go efn yer wants ter; an' efn yer'll make has'e an' git yer bunnits, caze I ain't gwine wait no gret wile. I don't like ter go ter meetin' atter hit starts. I want ter hyear Brer Dan'l's tex', I duz. I can't neber enj'y de sermon doutn I hyears de tex'."
You may be sure it wasn't long before the children were all ready, for they knew Mammy would be as good as her word, and would not wait for them. When they reached the church, which was a very nice wooden building that Major Waldron had had built for that purpose, there was a large crowd assembled; for, besides Major Waldron's own slaves, quite a number from the adjoining plantations were there. The younger negroes were laughing and chatting in groups outside the door, but the older ones wore very solemn countenances, and walked gravely in and up to the very front pews. On Mammy's arrival, she placed the little girls in seats at the back of the house, and left Dilsey and Chris and Riar on the seat just behind them, "fur ter min' 'em," as she said (for the children must always be under the supervision of somebody), and then she went to her accustomed place at the front; for Mammy was one of the leading members, and sat in the amen corner.
Soon after they had taken their seats, Uncle Gabe, who had a powerful voice, and led the singing, struck up:
"Roll, Jordan, roll! roll, Jordan, roll! I want ter go ter heb'n wen I die, Fur ter hyear sweet Jordan roll.
"Oh, pray, my brudder, pray! Yes, my Lord; My brudder's settin' in de kingdum, Fur ter hyear sweet Jordan roll.
Roll, Jordan, roll! roll, Jordan, roll! I want ter go ter heb'n wen I die, Fur ter hyear sweet Jordan roll.
"Oh, shout, my sister, shout! Yes, my Lord; My sister she's er shoutin' Caze she hyears sweet Jordan roll.
"Oh, moan, you monahs, moan! Yes, my Lord; De monahs sobbin' an' er weepin', Fur ter hyear sweet Jordan roll.
"Oh, scoff, you scoffers, scoff! Yes, my Lord; Dem sinners wat's er scoffin' Can't hyear sweet Jordan roll."
And as the flood of melody poured through the house, the groups on the outside came in to join the singing.
After the hymn, Uncle Snake-bit Bob led in prayer, and what the old man lacked in grammar and rhetoric was fully made up for in fervency and zeal.
The prayer ended, Uncle Daniel arose, and, carefully adjusting his spectacles, he opened his Bible with all the gravity and dignity imaginable, and proceeded to give out his text.
Now the opening of the Bible was a mere matter of form, for Uncle Daniel didn't even know his letters; but he thought it was more impressive to have the Bible open, and therefore never omitted that part of the ceremony.
"My bredren an' my sistren," he began, looking solemnly over his specs at the congregation, "de tex' wat I'se gwine ter gib fur yer 'strucshun dis ebenin' yer'll not fin' in de foremus' part er de Book, nur yit in de hine part. Hit's swotuwated mo' in de middle like, 'boutn ez fur fum one een ez 'tiz fum tudder, an' de wuds uv de tex' is dis:
"'Burhol', I'll punish um! dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'
"My bredren, embracin' uv de sistren, I'se ben 'stressed in my min' 'boutn de wickedness I sees er gwine on. Eby night de Lord sen' dar's dancin' an' loffin' an' fiddlin'; an' efn er man raises 'im er few chickens an' watermillions, dey ain't safe no longer'n his back's turnt; an', let erlone dat, dar's quarlin' 'longer one nudder, an' dar's sassin' uv wite folks an' ole pussuns, an' dar's drinkin' uv whiskey, an' dar's beatin' uv wives, an' dar's dev'lin' uv husban's, an' dar's imperrence uv chil'en, an' dar's makin' fun uv 'ligion, an' dar's singin' uv reel chunes, an' dar's slightin' uv wuck, an' dar's stayin' fum meetin', an' dar's swearin' an' cussin', an' dar's eby kin' er wickedness an' dev'lment loose in de land.
"An', my bredren, takin' in de sistren, I've talked ter yer, an' I've tol' yer uv de goodness an' de long-suff'rin' uv de Lord. I tol' yer outn his Book, whar he'd lead yer side de waters, an' be a Shepherd ter yer; an' yer kep' straight on, an' neber paid no 'tenshun; so tudder night, wile I wuz er layin' in de bed an' er steddin' wat ter preach 'bout, sumpin' kin' er speak in my ear; an' hit sez, 'Brer Dan'l, yer've tol' 'em 'bout de Lord's leadin' uv 'em, an' now tell 'em 'boutn his drivin' uv 'em. An', my bredren, includin' uv de sistren, I ain't gwine ter spare yer feelin's dis day. I'm er stan'in' hyear fur ter 'liver de message outn de Book, an' dis is de message:
"'Burhol', I'll punish um! dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'
"Yer all hyear it, don't yer? An' now yer want ter know who sont it. De Lord! Hit's true he sont it by a po' ole nigger, but den hit's his own wuds; hit's in his Book. An', fussly, we'll pursidder dis: IS HE ABLE TER DO IT? Is he able fur ter kill marster's niggers wid de s'ord an' de famine? My bredren, he is able! Didn' he prize open de whale's mouf, an' take Jonah right outn him? Didn' he hol' back de lions wen dey wuz er rampin' an' er tearin' roun' atter Dan'l in de den? Wen de flood come, an' all de yearth wuz drownded, didn' he paddle de ark till he landed her on top de mount er rats? Yes, my bredren, embracin' uv de sistren, an' de same Lord wat done all er dat, he's de man wat's got de s'ords an' de famines ready fur dem wat feels deyse'f too smart ter 'bey de teachin's uv de Book. 'Dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'
"Oh, you chu'ch membahs wat shouts an' prays uv er Sundays an' steals watermillions uv er week-days! Oh, you young men wat's er cussin' an' er robbin' uv hen-rooses! Oh, you young women wat's er singin' uv reel chunes! Oh, you chil'en wat's er sassin' uv ole folks! Oh, you ole pussons wat's er fussin' an' quarlin'! Oh, you young folks wat's er dancin' an' prancin'! Oh, you niggers wat's er slightin' uv yer wuck! Oh! pay 'tenshun ter de message dis ebenin', caze yer gwine wake up some er deze mornin's, an' dar at yer do's 'll be de s'ord an' de famine.
"'Burhol', I'll punish um! dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'
"Bredren, an' likewise sistren, yer dunno wat yer foolin' wid! Dem s'ords an' dem famines is de wust things dey is. Dey's wuss'n de rheumatiz; dey's wuss'n de toofache; dey's wuss'n de cramps; dey's wuss'n de lockjaw; dey's wuss'n anything. Wen Adam an' Ebe wuz turnt outn de gyarden, an' de Lord want ter keep 'em out, wat's dat he put dar fur ter skyer 'em? Wuz it er elfunt? No, sar! Wuz it er lion? No, sar! He had plenty beases uv eby kin', but den he didn' cyar 'boutn usen uv 'em. Wuz hit rain or hail, or fire, or thunder, or lightnin'? No, my bredren, hit wuz er s'ord! Caze de Lord knowed weneber dey seed de s'ord dar dey wan't gwine ter facin' it. Oh, den, lis'en at de message dis ebenin'.
"'Dey young men shall die by de s'ord.'
"An' den, ergin, dars dem famines, my bredren, takin' in de sistren—dem famines come plum fum Egypt! dey turnt 'em erloose dar one time, mun, an' de Book sez all de lan' wuz sore, an' thousan's pun top er thousan's wuz slaint.
"Dey ain't no way fur ter git roun' dem famines. Yer may hide, yer may run in de swamps, yer may climb de trees, but, bredren, efn eber dem famines git atter yer, yer gone! dey'll cotch yer! dey's nuffin like 'em on de face uv de yearth, les'n hit's de s'ord; dar ain't much chice twix dem two. Wen hit comes ter s'ords an' famines, I tell yer, gemmun, hit's nip an' tuck. Yit de message, hit sez, 'dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'
"Now, bredren an' sistren, an' monahs an' sinners, don't le's force de Lord fur ter drive us; le's try fur ter sarve him, an' fur ter git erlong doutn de s'ords an de famines. Come up hyear roun' dis altar, an' wrestle fur 'ligion, an' dem few uv us wat is godly—me an' Brer Snake-bit Bob an' Sis Haly an' Brer Gabe, an' Brer Lige an' Brer One-eyed Pete, an' Sis Rachel (Mammy) an' Sis Hannah—we're gwine put in licks fur yer dis ebenin'. Oh, my frens, yer done hyeard de message. Oh, spar' us de s'ords an de famines! don't drive de Lord fur ter use 'em! Come up hyear now dis ebenin', an' let us all try ter hep yer git thu. Leave yer dancin' an' yer singin' an' yer playin'; leave yer whiskey an' yer cussin' an' yer swearin', an' tu'n yer min's ter de s'ords an' de famines.
"Wen de Lord fotches dem s'ords outn Eden, an' dem famines outn Egyp', an' tu'n 'em erloose on dis plantation, I tell yer, mun, dar's gwine be skyeared niggers hyear. Yer won't see no dancin' den; yer won't hyear no cussin', nor no chickens hollin' uv er night; dey won't be no reel chunes sung den; yer'll want ter go ter prayin', an' yer'll be er callin' on us wat is stedfus in de faith fur ter hep yer; but we can't hep yer den. We'll be er tryin' on our wings an' er floppin' 'em" ("Yes, bless God!" thus Uncle Snake-bit Bob), "an' er gittin' ready fur ter start upuds! We'll be er lacin' up dem golden shoes" ("Yes, marster!" thus Mammy), "fur ter walk thu dem pearly gates. We can't stop den. We can't 'liver no message den; de Book'll be shot. So, bredren, hyear it dis ebenin'. 'Dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'
"Now, I've said ernuff; dey's no use fur ter keep er talkin', an' all you backslidin' chu'ch membahs, tremblin' sinners, an' weepin' monahs, come up hyear dis ebenin', an' try ter git erroun' dem s'ords an' dem famines. Now my skyearts is clar, caze I done 'liver de message. I done tol' yer whar hit come fum. I tol' yer 'twas in de Book, 'boutn middle-ways twix' een an' een; an' wedder David writ it or Sam'l writ it, or Gen'sis writ it or Paul writ it, or Phesians writ it or Loshuns writ it, dat ain't nudder hyear nor dar; dat don't make no diffunce; some on 'em writ it, caze hit's sholy in de Book, fur de oberseer's wife she read hit ter me outn dar; an' I tuck 'tickler notice, too, so's I could tell yer right whar ter fin' it. An', bredren, I'm er tellin' yer de truf dis ebenin'; hit's jes 'bout de middle twix' een an' een. Hit's dar, sho's yer born, an' dar ain't no way fur ter 'sputin' it, nor ter git roun' it, 'septin' fur ter tu'n fum yer wickedness. An' now, Brudder Gabe, raise er chune; an' sing hit lively, bredren; an' wile dey's singin' hit, I want yer ter come up hyear an' fill deze monahs' benches plum full. Bredren, I want monahs 'pun top er monahs dis ebenin'. Bredren, I want 'em in crowds. I want 'em in droves. I want 'em in layers. I want 'em in piles. I want 'em laid 'pun top er one ernudder, bredren, tell yer can't see de bottumus' monahs. I want 'em piled up hyear dis ebenin'. I want 'em packed down, mun, an' den tromped on, ter make room fur de nex' load. Oh, my bredren, come! fur 'dey young men shall die by de s'ord, an' dey sons an' dey daughters by de famine.'"
The scene that followed baffles all description. Uncle Gabe struck up—
"Oh, lebe de woods uv damnation; Come out in de fields uv salvation; Fur de Lord's gwine ter bu'n up creation, Wen de day uv jedgment come."
"Oh, sinners, yer may stan' dar er laffin', Wile de res' uv us is er quaffin' Uv de streams wich de win's is er waffin' Right fresh fum de heb'nly sho'."
"But, min', dar's er day is er comin', Wen yer'll hyear a mighty pow'ful hummin'; Wen dem angels is er blowin' an' er drummin', In de awful jedgment day."
"Oh, monahs, you may stan' dar er weepin', Fur de brooms uv de Lord is er sweepin', An' all de trash dey's er heapin' Outside er de golden gate."
"So, sinners, yer'd better be er tu'nin', Er climbin' an' er scramblin' an' er runnin', Fur ter 'scape dat drefful burnin' In de awful jedgment day."
And while the hymn was being sung, Uncle Daniel had his wish of "monahs 'pun top er monahs," for the benches and aisles immediately around the altar were soon crowded with the weeping negroes. Some were crying, some shouting Glory! some praying aloud, some exhorting the sinners, some comforting the mourners, some shrieking and screaming, and, above all the din and confusion, Uncle Daniel could be heard halloing, at the top of his voice, "Dem s'ords an' dem famines!" After nearly an hour of this intense excitement, the congregation was dismissed, one of them, at least, more dead than alive; for "Aunt Ceely," who had long been known as "er pow'ful sinful ooman," had fallen into a trance, whether real or assumed must be determined by wiser heads than mine; for it was no uncommon occurrence for those "seekin' 'ligion" to lie in a state of unconsciousness for several hours, and, on their return to consciousness, to relate the most wonderful experiences of what had happened to them while in the trance. Aunt Ceely lay as if she were dead, and two of the Christian men (for no sinner must touch her at this critical period) bore her to her cabin, followed by the "chu'ch membahs," who would continue their singing and praying until she "come thu," even if the trance should last all night. The children returned to the house without Mammy, for she was with the procession which had followed Aunt Ceely; and as they reached the yard, they met their father returning from the lot.
"Papa," called Dumps, "we're goin' ter have awful troubles hyear."
"How, my little daughter?" asked her father.
"The Lord's goin' ter sen' s'ords an' famines, an' they'll eat up all the young men, an' ev'ybody's sons an' daughters," she replied, earnestly. "Uncle Dan'l said so in meetin'; an' all the folks was screamin' an' shoutin', an' Aunt Ceely is in a trance 'bout it, an' she ain't come thu yet."
Major Waldron was annoyed that his children should have witnessed any such scene, for they were all very much excited and frightened at the fearful fate that they felt was approaching them; so he took them into his library, and explained the meaning of the terms "swords and famines," and read to them the whole chapter, explaining how the prophet referred only to the calamities that should befall the Hebrews; but, notwithstanding all that, the children were uneasy, and made Aunt Milly sit by the bedside until they went to sleep, to keep the "swords and the famines" from getting them.
DIDDIE AND DUMPS GO VISITING.
It was some time in June that, the weather being fine, Mammy gave the children permission to go down to the woods beyond the gin-house and have a picnic.
They had a nice lunch put up in their little baskets, and started off in high glee, taking with them Cherubim and Seraphim and the doll babies. They were not to stay all day, only till dinner-time; so they had no time to lose, but set to playing at once.
First, it was "Ladies come to see," and each of them had a house under the shade of a tree, and spent most of the time in visiting and in taking care of their respective families. Dumps had started out with Cherubim for her little boy; but he proved so refractory, and kept her so busy catching him, that she decided to play he was the yard dog, and content herself with the dolls for her children. Riar, too, had some trouble in her family; in passing through the yard, she had inveigled Hester's little two-year-old son to go with them, and now was desirous of claiming him as her son and heir—a position which he filled very contentedly until Diddie became ambitious of living in more style than her neighbors, and offered Pip (Hester's baby) the position of dining-room servant in her establishment; and he, lured off by the prospect of playing with the little cups and saucers, deserted Riar for Diddie. This produced a little coolness, but gradually it wore off, and the visiting between the parties was resumed.
After "ladies come to see" had lost its novelty, they made little leaf-boats, and sailed them in the ditch. Then they played "hide the switch," and at last concluded to try a game of hide-and-seek. This afforded considerable amusement, so they kept it up some time; and once, when it became Dumps's time to hide, she ran away to the gin-house, and got into the pick-room. And while she was standing there all by herself in the dark, she thought she heard somebody breathing. This frightened her very much, and she had just opened the door to get out, when a negro man crawled from under a pile of dirty cotton, and said,
"Little missy, fur de Lord's sake, can't yer gimme sump'n t' eat?"
Dumps was so scared she could hardly stand; but, notwithstanding the man's haggard face and hollow eyes, and his weird appearance, with the cotton sticking to his head, his tone was gentle, and she stopped to look at him more closely.
"Little missy," he said, piteously, "I'se er starvin' ter def. I ain't had er mouf'l ter eat in fo' days."
"What's the reason?" asked Dumps. "Are you a runaway nigger?"
"Yes, honey; I 'longs ter ole Tight-fis' Smith; an' he wanted ter whup me fur not gittin' out ter de fiel' in time, an' I tuck'n runned erway fum 'im, an' now I'm skyeert ter go back, an' ter go anywhar; an' I can't fin' nuf'n t' eat, an' I'se er starvin' ter def."
"Well, you wait," said Dumps, "an' I'll go bring yer the picnic."
"Don't tell nobody 'boutn my bein' hyear, honey."
"No, I won't," said Dumps, "only Diddie; she's good, an' she won't tell nobody; an' she can read an' write, an' she'll know what to do better'n me, because I'm all the time such a little goose. But I'll bring yer sump'n t' eat; you jes wait er little minute; an' don't yer starve ter def till I come back."
Dumps ran back to the ditch where the children were, and, taking Diddie aside in a very mysterious manner, she told her about the poor man who was hiding in the gin-house, and about his being so hungry.
"An' I tol' 'im I'd bring 'im the picnic," concluded Dumps; and Diddie, being the gentlest and kindest-hearted little girl imaginable, at once consented to that plan; and, leaving Tot with the little negroes in the woods, the two children took their baskets, and went higher up the ditch, on pretence of finding a good place to set the table; but, as soon as they were out of sight, they cut across the grove, and were soon at the gin-house. They entered the pick-room cautiously, and closed the door behind them, The man came out from his hiding-place, and the little girls emptied their baskets in his hands.
He ate ravenously, and Diddie and Dumps saw with pleasure how much he enjoyed the nice tarts and sandwiches and cakes that Mammy had provided for the picnic.
"Do you sleep here at night?" asked Diddie.
"Yes, honey, I'se skyeert ter go out anywhar; I'se so skyeert uv Tight-fis' Smith."
"He's awful mean, ain't he?" asked Dumps.
"Dat he is, chile," replied the man; "he's cruel an' bad."
"Then don't you ever go back to him," said Dumps. "You stay right here an' me'n Diddie'll bring you ev'y-thing ter eat, an' have you fur our nigger."
The man laughed softly at that idea, but said he would stay there for the present, anyway; and the children, bidding him good-bye, and telling him they would be sure to bring him something to eat the next day, went back to their playmates at the ditch.
"Tot," said Diddie, "we gave all the picnic away to a poor old man who was very hungry; but you don't mind, do you? we'll go back to the house, and Mammy will give you just as many cakes as you want."
Tot was a little bit disappointed, for she had wanted to eat the picnic in the woods; but Diddie soon comforted her, and before they reached the house she was as merry and bright as any of them.