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' X 



Uncle Wash 

HIS STORIES 



BY 



JOHN TROTWOOD MOORE 

I 
AUTHOR OP 

^TIm Biihop of Cottontown," «*A Summer HymoAl," '*01e 
Mlitis,'' -The Old Cotton Gin." Etc 



ILLUSTRATED 



* - 



PHILADELPFIA 

THE JOHN C- WINSTON CO 



1910 



PUBLIC UBR^R^ 



w.^il 



,STOP. 



l^El^OX A^^^ 



nuoEt*^^'^ 



t4DA 



OHSl 



033 



Copyright, 19 io, by 
The John C. Winston Co. 



Copyright, iQOSt 1906, by 
Trotwood Publishing Co. 

Copyright, 1907, 1908, 1909, Z9XO, by 
Thb Taylor-Trotwood Publishing Co. 



• . » 






• • • 



• 1 



• • 



■ • • • 

• « • 






• • 



• » 






FOREWORD 

THE author's own part in this book has not been so 
much to create as to transcribe. The effort was 
not great and the art of it — ^if it can be said to rise to 
that dignity — ^makes no pretense. 

In a more or less strenuous literary life, these stories 
have come into existence at intervals; and the writing 
of them, it may as well be admitted, is in response to 
that spirit of fun which is the birth inheritance of every 
healthy Aryan claiming that slope in his land that lay 
toward the sunrise of the Celt. To the author these 
stories have been a mental unbottling. It is true he 
had many other ways of mental amusement — the 
little mare and the runabout, the colts in the pasture, 
the pacing race at the County Fair, the stubble-field 
in the fall, and Bob White flushed between wooded 
blue grass hills— these are not to be underestimated 
when play was needed for the body. 

The stories of Uncle Wash have been his play of 
**7 the mind. 

Q^ With this he bequeaths them to the world. And he 
^ will be repaid if there shall be the shifting of its mental 
burden with a laugh. 

Like Lord Byron, Uncle Wash could not tell a 
story that had not really happened. The chief inci- 
dents of all of these stories are true. 

Chief among the tenets of that broader religion of 

(3) 






4 FOREWORD 

today is that which recognizes the rights of laughter — 
that the soul, if it stands under the great burden of this 
age of effort, needs no less the smile for its journey 
than the body needs its newer religion of sun-light and 
air. J. T. M, 



CONTENTS 

^ FAQM 

Sister Ca' line's Enticement 9 

Brother Washington's Consolation 21 

The Watermelon Sermon 32 

A Race For A Valentine 42 

Uncle Wash and His Mothers-in-law 59 

How He Played Santa Claus 69 

Spottycuss — His World Beater 77 

Miss Ant'nette's Provin' 85 

The Resurrection of Brother Washing- 
ton 100 

How He Captured A Buck 1 1 1 

His Balking Mule 122 

His Little Preacher 129 

Miss Kitty 138 

The Examination 163 

"Ho, Every One That Thirsteth" 170 

The Mascot Mule 173 

The Ghost That Saved Three Flushes 182 

The Origin of The Coon 194 

The Nervous Goats 201 

A Contest in The King's English 209 

Phosphate Ike 213 

The Reconstruction of Marse George 222 

(5) 



6 CONTENTS 

PA6B 

His First Klu-Klux 231 

At The Fair 238 

Old Punch 248 

How Miss Celeste Solved the Negro Prob- 
lem 255 

How Jenny McGrew Came to Her Own 268 

How He Rode in An Automobile 285 

Uncle Wash on the Panic 294 

How Bigbyville went Dry ; 301 

Uncle Wash on Gambling 307 

How Uncle Wash Married the Widow 317 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



Uncle Wash Frontispiece 



PAOB 



Holdin' de Squirmin' Fox at Arm's Length 58 

The Old Man was Making the Banjo Hum 138 

Then He Pinted His Bony Finger at Kit. 236 

Fur I was Too 'stonished to Git Outbn 
DB Way* 306 



SIS CANINE'S ENTICEMENT 

WHEN I get particularly blue, when life becomes a 
burden and there seem to be more valleys of 
gloom in the world than sunshiny hilltops, I send for 
Uncle Wash. In a limited sense, I may as well admit, 
the old darky is my partner. He lives in a little 
cabin on my place and raises turkeys and pigs for me, 
as he expresses it, "on de sheers." It is true, when 
the dividing time comes, my part of the turkeys has 
generally died of the "limber neck" and my pigs have 
gone the cholera route to that bourne so often men- 
tioned. But I believe in the old man, and his solemn 
explanation, when I call for a division, that "dat am de 
dispensashun uv proverdence, sah, so fur as yo' part 
am consarned," is, to be sure, very comforting and 
helpful. Perhaps the truth is, I love the old man for his 
quaint, inexhaustible fund of mirth-producing stories, 
and the fact that he is the last leaf upon the tree of a 
civilization that has passed away forever. 

In truth, the old man is different. Body servant 
of a distinguished Southern gentleman, and associating 
with the best there was of the Old South, he had 
absorbed much, both of mannerism and of life, that 
the common field negro of his race knew not of. 
He is different — a type that has passed — but a quaint 
mirror of the rare old times that passed with him. 

And so the old man and I jpg along in this one-sided 
partnership— this partnership wherein I fall heir to the 

(9) 



10 "UNCLE WASH" 

debit and he to the credit account of the ledger, until 
death shall come in and wind it up forever. 

Perhaps, too, I know that the account is not always 
against me; for many of his quaint old stories of ante- 
bellum days, of chivalrous men and beautiful women, 
of a civilization as proud, gentle and refined as the 
world has ever known, linger with me in my working 
hours, and easily offset the losses from the turkey crop 
and the pig failure. 

"Now I want the best you've got," I said to him the 
other night, " and spin it out as long as you please — ^for 
I want to laugh till bedtime." 

"To be sho', to be sho'," said the old man, thought- 
fully, as he lit his pipe and adjusted the copper wire 
he always wore around his neck for the rheumatism. 
"Did I ever tell you 'bout de enticement uv Sister 
Ca'line Hunter?" 

But I knew the old man's ways, and that I was not 
expected to answer that question. So I merely lit 
my cigar, snuffed out the taper against the mantle, 
before which we sat facing a blazing hickory fire, and 
said nothing. 

"Sister Ca'line was a grass widder," went on the old 
man, "and I tells you right now, dat whenever a man 
hooks up wid er grass widder an' den specs ter git off 
wid sumpin' mor'n a blind bridle on, all I's got ter 
say is, he's struck er mighty cold wind in de back 
stretch fur er fas' mile. 

"It was in de Krismus times uv forty-fo' an', 
kordin' to my custom, I had saunt my wife Dinah 
down inter Giles County ter see her mother. I's 



SIS CA'LINE'S ENTICEMENT ii 

bin marrid meny years, an' I's allers made it a pint 
ter sen' my wife off at least once a year fur de benefit 
uv my health," he winked. "Sum say de way fur er 
man to enjoy puffeck health am ter take callermul in 
de spring-time an' er outin' in de fawl; but de bes' 
thing I urver foun' fur my 'tickler constertushun am 
to let my wife, Dinah, take bofe de callermul and de 
outin', a)i' kinder leave me free ter circumnavigate de 
high seas uv matrimonial konsolashun, an' look arter 
de widders uv de church, es St. Paul enjines us decuns 
ter do. 

"So es soon es I got Dinah off, for de benefit uv my 
health, es I was sayin', I 'lowed ter give er party fur 
two, an' ax Sis' Ca'line Hunter; but dat very night 
I tuck sick wid whut dey all thort wus yaller fever. 
But when Br'er Mixpill Johnson cum an' look at me, 
he say, 'No,' sez he, 'you ain't got yaller fever, but 
you is got black fever, an' you's got it mighty bad, an' 
ef you don't send fur Sis' Ca'line Hunter to nuss you 
'twell Sis' Dinah cum home, you gwin'ter die an' die 
mighty hard !' 

"Now, Sis' Ca'line, she wus er mighty 'ligus 'oman — 
mighty 'ligus. Allers talkin' 'bout bein' 'perpared fur 
de summons,' an' 'ready to go when de wurd wus 
given', an' 'wearin' de robe uv white fur de comin' uv de 
angel,* an' 'listenin' fur de toot uv de horn,' an' all dat. 
But when she cum in, thinkin' I had yaller fever, she 
jes' did squeeze into de door an' tuck her seat 'way 
off in de corner, an' sot dar lookin' at me wid one 
uv dose furerway 'ligus looks, sorter lak she was Moses 
an' I was de promised land ! Lor', but ain't er grass 



t9 



12 "UNCLE WASH 



widder on to de gait uv dis wurl? She jes' sot dar 
sateful lak, an' ax me how I felt, an' ef I wus perpared 
ef de angul called, an' ef I felt de 'proach uv eny black 
shadders, an' all that. But I knowed how ter manage 
dat, and I sez: 

" 'Sister Ca'line, de 'proach uv de black shadder am 
jes' whut I's longin' fur. Can't you move up yur 
cheer er leetle closer? It strikes me dat fur er 'oman 
es 'ligus es you is, you certinly am mo' feerd uv death 
den enybody I ever seed !' 

"She seed I wus onter her game, an' she laf an' say: 
'O, Br'er Washington, you so sateful!' But she focht 
her cheer up all de same, an' I hed jes' got her leetle 
han' in mine, an' wus axin' her ef she wouldn't be a 
sister to me whilst Dinah wus away, when who should 
walk in but ole Parson Whooploud, an' den an' dar he 
'cuse me uv de enticement uv Sister Ca'line Hunter! 

" Den Sis' Ca'line she tuck to weepin' an' wailin', an' 
de parson he 'lowed he gwine bring de whole thing up 
fo' de church, 'sides sendin' er speshul messenger arter 
Dinah. Up to dat time, sah, I don't think I had eny 
fever; but when I heurn dat news my pulse went up 
to one hundred an' forty in de shade, an' den I seed 
dat I'd played on a ten-ter-one shot an' lost all 'cept 
my honor. 

"But de naixt day de parson cum 'round an' 'lowed 
dat he'd bin prayin' over de thing, an' axin' fur heav- 
enly guidance, an' dat de missionary society wus er 
leetle short uv funds, an' dat ten dollars on my part 
would he'p oil de machinery uv de church mightily, 
an' go er long way t'word easin' de conscience uv de 



SIS CA'LINE'S ENTICEMENT 13 

saints; an' dat ef it wan't forthcomin' at once, he 
reckon' things 'ud hafter be 'lowed ter take dar course, 
includin' de speshul messenger fur Dinah. 

"Wal, sah, it tuck all my 'tater crap, but dat wus 
better'n Dinah gettin' holt uv it an' takin' all my ha'r! 

"But it didn't end dar; in erbout er week he cum 
over an' say dat he dun prayed fur heavenly guidance 
ergin, an' hitseemterbededispensashunuvproverdence 
dat de way uv de transgressor am hard, but bein' as 
how de fund fur super-numerous preachers wus mighty 
low it would take erbout five dollars to ease up de 
conscience uv de church on dat p'int ! Dat tuck all 
my terbacco crop, an' I say ter myse'f, sez I,'fur ever' 
ounce uv fun er man has in dis wurl, he pays er pound 
uv penetence! 

"Wal, sah, you think dat ole hypercrite didn't 
cum over ergin next week, an' talk erbout de conscience 
uv de church bein' so hurt dat nuffin' but my silver 
watch 'ud ease it? Den de naixt thing dat went to 
po' oil on de troubled waters wus de speckled shote, 
an' den, arter he dun got all he cu'd, an' me so skeered 
all de time I cu'dn't sleep fur fear it 'ud git out, I hope 
I may die ef he didn't have me read out in de church fur 
de enticement uv Sister Ca'line, ennyhow! 

"Wal, I seed de only thing I cu'd do wus to go dar 
an' make a clean breast uv it. I know'd I hadn't done 
nuffin' wrong, nur Sister Ca'line, neether, an' hit gin 
ter dawn on me dat sumtimes de false proffits uv dis 
wurl has a way uv playin' on de conscience uv fools in 
de name uv de church fur de benefit uv dey own pockets. 
But all dis time I manage ter keep de proceedin's frum 



14 "UNCLE WASH" 

Dinah by sendin* her wurd ever* day, an* tellin* heruv 
my undyin' luv, an' how me an' de chillun wus jes pinin' 
fur de sight uv her. Ef you want ter keep yo' wife 
away all winter," winked the old man, "jes' make her 
b'leeve you can't git erlong widout hen dat de uner- 
verse done stop waggin' sense she left, an' dat whut 's left 
uv it am er black an' dismul void. Dar's lot uv human 
nacher in de best uv wimmin' an' dey mighty nigh sho' 
ter be allers anx'us to gin you jes' whut you don't want. 

"So Dinah jes' saunt me back de wurd dat she wus 
havin' a mighty good time down dar in er distracted 
meetin', an' fur me ter take keer uv de chilluns an' 
behave myself. An' dat wus one time dat I prayed 
dat dat distracted meetin' might go over twell July, 
bringin' in de sheaves ripe onto de harvest. Wal, sah, 
es I thort, de parson soon let it all out, an' my miz'ry 
commenced. I orter made a clean breast uv it at fust, 
an' faced de music. But I's allers noticed dat a fool 
allers does in de end whut de wise man do in de begin- 
in'. Ef you sow tho'ns you better be keerful ter wear 
your brogans ! 

"Dar wan't er nigger on de place wid blue gums in 
his head an' chicken feathers in his hair dat wan't too 
much uv er gentleman ter speak ter me. Ole Sis' Sally 
Ann, dat I hugged twell she wus too ole ter be huggable, 
'fused ter speak ter me. An' Betsy, de yaller gal in 
de house, dat I kissed from Genesis to Revelashuns, 
turned up her nose at Sis' Ca'line. Ole Br'er Peter, dat 
hed stole all ole marster's hams, dat fawl, hilt a special 
prayer meetin' fur my convershun, an' Parson Whoop- 
loud cu'dn't hear my name widout crossin' hissc'f. 



SIS CA'LINE'S ENTICEMENT 15 

spittin' twice in a cross-mark in de road, an' sayin' 
de Lord's prayer back'ards to keep off devils. An' 
all uv 'em sed I wus a walkin' pesthouse, an' a pair uv 
Sodums an' Gomorrers in brogans. 

*' 'Dis am a queer ole wurl,' soliloquized the old man, 
' allers ready to giv de glad hand to de devil in disguise, 
an' de marble heart to de angul wid a spot on his 
gyarments. Born a fraud, mankind luvs ter be hum- 
bu^ed. Ef you wanter work 'im you must flatter 
'im, an' ef you wanter use 'im, you must fool 'im, and 
if you wanter skin 'im you must jine his church an' 
call 'im 'brother. 

"But all dat time I was sendin' luv messages ter 
Dinah an' hopin' sumpin' would break de connecshun 
in de grapevine telegraph 'twixt me an' Giles County. 

"Wal, sah, I don't kno' whut I'd done ef Marse 
Henry hadn't cum home frum college 'bout dat time. 
He wus erbout seventeen years old, an' es full uv mis- 
cheef as he cu'd be. Did you urver kno' dat boy, 
Marse Henry Young?" 

"Not the present judge of the Supreme Court?" 
I asked. 

"De same — de same. Allers brainy an' full uv 
mischeef, an' de best lawyer ter gin advice in a close 
place I urver seed. 

" 'Wash,' he say, when I tole 'im, 'you am er' ole 
fool an' no mistake. But ever'body learns to shave on 
a fool's beard, an' it's good for you. All men are 
divided into two classes, de caught an' de oncaught. 
Now, you jes' go over to de church meetin', hold your 
tongue, look pius an' penertent, an' leav de rest ter me. 



1 6 "UNCLE WASH" 

Befo' I'm through wid 'em you will find out dat a man 
ain't no wussern his neighbor, arter all.' 

"Wal, sah, when de night cum fur de trial uv my 
decunship an' de enticement uv Sis' Ca'line, ever'body 
wus dar' cept Dinah, thank de Lord. Sis' Ca'line wus 
dar in mournin' fur her first husband, er man dat hed 
bin mi'ghty nigh ter me — ^mighty nigh. She had on 
her white cap an' kep' er white handkercher up ter 
her eyes mighty nigh all de time, an' kerried a bottle uv 
hartshorn an' bear's oil in her han' ter be handy when 
she fainted. Two sisterin stood on each side uv her 
ter be reddy to hold her when she keeled over. All 
de sisterin wus mo' or less round her, fannin' her when 
she looked faintyfied an' sayin'. To', innercent angulT 
ever' time she'd weep. But na'ar one uv 'em ever cum 
nigh me! 'But dat's alright', sez I termyse'f, *dat's 
one uv de ways uv de wurl ; an' whenever de devil weeps 
an' say he sorry dar's allers sum fool ready ter wanter 
lend 'im a pair uv angels' wings! 

"Den dey had a long prayer in which Br'er Whoop- 
loud pertishuned de throne uv grace, most sarchin'ly, 
not ter visit de wrath uv Sodum an' Gomorrer on de 
whole church an' kommunity bekase uv one reperbate, 
but to spar him bekase uv de yudder hundred or mo' 
saints, dat allers walked in de true way an' lived in de 
light an' wus so pius an' good dey only need assenshun 
robes an' er gentle lift ter go right up to glory ! 

"Den dey all sung: 



' While de light holds out ter bum, 
De vilest sinner may return.' " 



SIS CA'LINE'S ENTICEMENT 17 

"Den my miz'ry commence sho' 'nuff ; for while dey 
sing dis, de way dey piled hit onter me wus scan'lus. 
Dey formed er ring an' walked all roun' me, singin', 
an' ever' now an' den sum ole sister 'ud look over at 
me an' say: To' sinner, better cum to de cross!' An' 
emur'r one would crane her ole neck, an' say: 'Heaben 
he'p his ole sateful heart !' An' er young black buxum 
sister 'ud eye me sorty diserp'intedly an' say: 'Mussy 
me, but I nurver 'spected it wus in 'im!' Den dey 
would all git roun' Sis' Ca'line an' say: To', soiled 
dove, dat flew inter de nest uv de fowler!' 

" But wusser miz'ry wus in sto' for me when Br'er 
Whooploud riz ter preach his sermon on my sins. He 
tuck fur his text : 'An' de devil tempted de profTit in de 
wilderness, an' de wolf enticed de lamb frum de fol'.' 
An' den he lit onter me in a way dat 'ud shake de faith 
uv Moses. De gist uv it all wus dat I wus wussern de 
devil hisse'f, an' when he got on dat subject he sho' did 
make it hot. You'd er thort de devil wus right dar 
in dat house, an' he preached' bout 'im so you cud 
smell de brimstone es fur away es de back benches, 
whilst he made it so hot it actually singed de hair on de 
heads uv de niggers in de front pews. He preached 
an' he preached, an' when he wound up he sez: 'Brud- 
derin', dar ain't but one thing left ter do, an' dat is fur 
de devil ter cum in an' claim his own !' 

"Now, boss, you kno' er nigger jes' nachully b'leeves 
in de devil, an' dat he am er bein', walkin' an' prowlin' 
round o' nights, seekin' fur bad niggers lak er sheep- 
killin' dorg fur black sheep. An' dis sermun had 'em 
worked up to de right pitch fur de thing dat cum next. 



i8 "UNCLE WASH" 

Dem words wan't no mor'n outen 'at preacher's mouf 
befo' dar wus a great kommoshun in de church do\ 
an' er deep voice, lak outer a yearlin' ca'f, sed: 

" 'Yas, an' Ts er-cominM' An', fo' dey all know'd 
it, in walked de devil, sho' nuff, lookin' turrible in de 
dim light uv de one candle in de church, but fetchin' 
erlong his pitchfork, an' his horns an' hoof an' forked 
tail, an' he wus a blowin' smoke frum his eyes an' 
mouf an' nose. He locked de only do' behind 'im es 
he cum an' walked right up to de pulpit. Bre'r 
Whooploud wus in it, but he never stop to 'spute de 
quallerfacashuns uv de candidate, nur de p'int uv 
possesshun, nur ter give 'im de right hand uv feller- 
ship. He jus' looked at de devil once, his ole eyes 
bulged out, an' lit up lak er oyster sign in a black night, 
an' es he jumped fur de winder he yelled: 'Lord, save 
me, a miserbul sinner!' 

" Boss, you've heurn tell uv de devil breakin' loose 
in Georgy, but ef you'd bin dar dat night you'd er 
seen 'im in Tennessee. Men fainted, wimmen hed 
fits, an' de chilluns jes' went inter er kommertose state 
an' stayed dar. Dem dat wan't so badly paralyzed dey 
cu'd use dey legs, made a rush fur de only winder in the 
house. But ole Aunt Fat Fereby, dat weighed fo' 
hundred an' sixty pounds, who happen to be settin' 
next to it, got dar fust an' started through without cal- 
culatin' on de rotundity uv her corporosity. Of course, 
she got stuck betwixt de jice an' de winder sill, an' 
shut off de air an' de exit at de same time. An' dar 
she stuck wid her legs flyin* lak windmills, an' tryin' 
ter kick de roof off en de house, go through or bust ! 



SIS CA'LINE'S ENTICEMENT 19 

'*But de devil wus migfity quiet lak, *cept he kept 
blowin' smoke frum his eyes an' mouf an' nose. We 
cu'dn't see 'im good, es he sot dar in de pulpit in de 
shadder, but he did look nachul, ter be sho', an' I 
'lowed ter myself it wan't de fust time he'd bin in de 
pulpit. Den he lifted a voice lak a yearlin' ca*f ergin 
an' sed: 

" 'I's cum fur myreckonin'. Enybodydat moves 
or tells me a lie will die. Render unter me de reckurd 
uv yo' transgresshuns as I p'int my pitchfork at you.' 

"Den he p'inted his pitchfork at Br'er Whooploud 
de fus' one, an' looked at 'im wid his turrible eyes, an' 
ole Br'er Whooploud groveled on de floor, an' cried: 
*Marse Devil, hav mussy on me! I'm a chicken thief, a 
blackmailer an' a hypercrite, an' Ts hugged ever' 
widder in de church.' 

"Den he p'inted his pitchfork at Betsy Ann, an' 
she tole how she'd stole ole Mistis' yaller bowl an' 
teaspoons an' ever'thing else she cu'd git. Ole Aunt 
Sally Ann 'fessed up an' sed she wus too mean ter liv, 
dat she'd run off wid emur'r 'oman's husband frum 
Ferginy. At dis ole Aunt Polly chimed in an' sed: 
'Marse Devil, I ain't nurver dun nothin' much mean- 
cr'n stealin' cold vittles frum de white folks, but Ts 
bound ter 'fess I's bin in sum mighty tight places whar 
I didn't hav de grace ter git out easy !' 

" 'Dat's me — dat's me, now!' " shouted ole Aunt 
Fat Fereby, 'es her legs still flew 'round an' 'round dat 
winder sill. Even Sis' Ca'line 'fessed up an' sed she'd 
cum over ter my house dat night to entice me, but I'd 
got dar fust. 



20 "UNCLE WASH" 

"Wal, sah, when he made 'em all 'fess up but me, 
he shook his pitchfork 'round his head, sloshed his tail, 
an' sed: 'But fur one godly, innercent man in dis here 
den uv sinners, I'd take you all wid me ter-night. 
Br'er Washington,' he say, 'stan' up an' show 'em de 
face uv er hones' man!' 

" Den es I riz de devil walked out jes' lak he cum in, 
an' when he wus gone, I tell you, boss, dey cum mighty 
nigh settin' me up an' worshippin' me, es dey did de 
golden ca'f uv ole. Dey 'lected me Pas' Gran' Marster 
uv Righteousness, Keeper uv de Seal uv Faith, an' 
Holder uv all de Excheckers Widders dat cum inter de 
church. 

"An' dar wan't a chicken missin' on dat plantashun 
fur er year ! 

*' De next day me an' Marse Henry went fishin' an' 
when our boat wus way up de lake I la'f an'say ter him: 

"Marse Henry, jes' tell me how in de wurl you done 
it!" 

"Marse Henry la'f an' say: 'Easy ernuff,' sez he; 
'dem horns an' hoof an' tail you'll fin' up in de tan- 
house lof on de raw-hide uv de red yellin' calf. An' 
all dat smoke wus jes' er good cigar I wus smokin' 
under dat ole dough-face. No', sez he, 'all mankind 
am divided into two classes — de caught an' de on- 
caught. De next time don't you git caught,' and he 
flung out his line an' pulled in a speckled trout. Arter 
a while he sez: 

" ' But, Wash, did you see de Whooploud's eyes?* 
An' den we bofe laugh twell dat boat lakter turned 
over in dat lake." 



y 



BR'ER WASHINGTON'S CONSOLATION 

"Sat'day night my wife died, 
Sunday she was buried, 

Monday was my kotin' day 
And Chewsday I got married. " 

WHENEVER I heard the old man singing I knew 
he was in a reminiscent mood and so I put down 
my book and went out to the barn, where he was build- 
ing a pen to put the fattening Berkshires in. For a 
month these slick rascals had been running in the ten- 
acre lot planted in com and, at the "lay-by plowing," 
sown in peas, all for their especial benefit. The corn 
had nearly ripened and the peas were in the pod; and 
now, day after day they had wallowed in the water of 
the ten-acre field branch or torn down the tempting 
com stalks or eaten the juicy peas till their tails had 
taken on the two-ring curl of contentment and they 
had grown too fat to mn in so large a lot. 

"An' now dey must be put in de parlor," said the 
old man as he proceeded to build their pen, " an' fed on 
variashun cake an' punkins. Fust er good dry pen, bilt 
on er solid blue lime-rock, ef you so forchewnate es to 
live in Middle Tennessee, an' ef you don't live heah, " 
he half soliloquized, "jes' bild it in sum mud hole an' 
be dun wid it, fur you ain't gwin'ter fatten your horgs 
nohow ef you don't live in Tennessee," he said, with a 
sly wink. " Den, arter you gits the pen bilt, bring up a 

(21) 



22 "UNCLE WASH" 

load uv yaller punkins to sharpen up dcy appletights 
an' start 'em off right; den plenty uv dis year's cohn 
wid er sour-meal mash ever' now and den to keep 'em 
eatin' good, an' den, chile, 'long erbout Krismus time 
jes' set your mouf fur spareribs an' sawsages — e — 
yum, yum, yum" — ^and he wiped the corner of his 
mouth suspiciously." 

"Ole Naper cum to my house 

I thout he cum to see me. 
But when I cum to find him out. 

He's 'swade my wife to leave me/' 

he sang again. "I'll tell you, sah," he laughed, 
" I can't see what fatnin' horgs hes got to do with 
marryin', but dat's what de aixpectashuns uv dis 
horg-pen remin's me uv ennyway — ^'bout de time I 
was kotin' Unk Peter's widder, way back in fifty-fo'," 
he added reflectively, "an' de hard time I had gettin' 
eny konsolashun from dat ar 'oman. I tell you, sah, 
it ain't easy to git eny konsolashun from er widder — 
not nigh es easy es it am frum er gal. Huh!" he 
ejaculated, derisively, "folks say it am, an' dat all 
widders jes' watchin' out fur er chance to git marrid 
ergin, but you jes* try to git er widder to say 'yas' — 
she'll jes' play erroun' an' play erroun' de hook, and 
f us' thing you know she's off, an' dar you looks an' lo ! — 
dun swallered de bait yo'se'f." 

" Befo' my wife died, " said the old man, as he ran 
his thumb down his hatchet-blade, "I useter think I'd 
nuwer wanter git marrid eny mo', an' I had de mos'. 



BRE'R WASHINGTON'S CONSOLATION 23 

^ dispizerble contemplashuns fur dese ole fools dat go 
rippin' erroun', dyein' dey ha'r an' writin' poltry to de 
moon befo' dey fus' wife's feet git cold good ! Hit's 
all right fur er young man to do dat — ^he jes' nacherly 
jucy an' he can't he'p hisself. But dese ole fools whut 
de hot sun uv matremony dun dried up, an' de trials 
of chillun-raisin' dun tuck de foolishnes' outen 'em 
an' monkey-shines uv mothers-in-law dun kill 'em in 
de home-stretch — I tell you, sah, when I see sech men 
as dese, dat has passed fur forty-odd years as sober, 
senserbul men in de kommunity whar dey lives, all at 
onct begin to git gay an' boyish ergin, er snortin' in 
de valley an' er clothin' dey neck wid thunder, an' er 
hollerin' kerhonk, kerhonk, kerhonk to de captins, an' 
er shoutin', an' er gwine 'round wantin' to fight de 
ipan-in-de-moon 'kase he happen to peep into dey 
lady-luv's winder, it jes' makes me wanter go 'round 
de bam an' hug sum ole gray mule fur konsolashun ! 

"Whenever er ole man's luv begins to take on er 
secon' growth, it am den dat de anguls in heaven per- 
pares to shed dey tears. Why, sah, I's seed ole 
fellers hav rumertizn an' hart-failure so bad dey 
cudn't creep to dey fus' wife's fun'ral, but de naixt 
time I'd see 'em, Gord bless yo' soul, honey, dey be 
runnin' erroun' at sum pickernick, fetchin' water frum 
de spring ever' five minutes fur sum sixteen-year-ole 
gal, cuttin' watermilions fur her, an' tryin' to meander 
off in de shady woods and pull up all de hart's-ease dat 
grows in er ten-acre woods lot! De rumertizn all 
gone, ter-be-sho', and de hart-failure dun turned into 
head failure, bless de Lawd! 



24 "UNCLE WASH" 

"Dat's whut I thout, sah, but bless yo' soul, 
honey, my wife hadn't bin dead er week befo' I got 
up one mornin' an' all onbeknownst to myself I foun' 
myself blackin' my shoes! Cudn't he'pit to save my 
life, sah — jes' had to do it. De naixt day, sah, 'tirely 
unbeknownst to de state ov my naturality, I kotch my- 
self in de act uv put tin' h'ar-oil on my hair, cinnermun- 
draps on my handkerchief, an' pullin' off de eel-skin 
gyarters 1 dun bin wearin' forty years fur de rumertizn. 
No mo' rumertizn fur me; er man nurver hes rumertizn 
arter his wife dies — ^leastwise," he whispered, know- 
ingly, "not twell he marries ergin an' den he hes it so 
bad he can't cut stove-wood fur her." 

"In er week dis' zeeze tuck me so komplementry 
I 'gun ter roach up de ole muel, fix up de buggy, an* 
whitewash de cabin. Dese am allers de fus' simptums, 
sah. I's knowed sum ole fellers to make dey house go 
widout paint fur forty years, but jes' es soon es dey 
wife dies, jes' watch 'em an' see ef de fus' thing dey 
don't do am to paint up dat ole house lak dey tryin' to 
ketch er angul---huh ! better had er painted it er leetle 
fur de fus' po angul arter dey fooled her inter hit ! 

" But de simptums come on me, sah, thick an' fas', 
an* fore goodness, sah, by Sunday I had it so bad it 
broke out in spots all over me, wid gradual risin' 
uv de temperchewin', dryness in de region uv de sal- 
vashun glands, an' complete p'ralersis uv de pizzer- 
rinctum uv de sense-bumps ! Gord, boss, I was mighty 
nigh insenserbul! 

"It all seemed lak er dream to me, an' I can't tell 
'zactly whut I did do. I seemed ter be walkin' in er 



BR'ER WASHINGTON'S CONSOLATION 25 

gyarden whar golden roses bloomed on peppermint 
candy vines, an' coon-dorgs wid diamon' eyes wus 
treein' solid silver 'possums up in de 'simmon trees ! 

"I tell you, Marse John, I wanted to marry! An' 
de fus' thing I knowed, me an' dat ole muel wus gwine 
in a peert trot up de road t'words de cabin uv Sister 
Ca'line Jones, Unk Peter Jones' widder. I felt sorter 
mean, an' I disremember sayin' to myself: 'Heab, you 
go. Wash, after all yore good revolusbuns, de biggest fool 
in de ban' xmggin' As I rid off, I seed dat young mis- 
cheevus Mistis uv mine. Miss Charlotte, God bless her ! 
— ^an' she called out to me kinder mad lak, an' sed: 
'Unkle Wash, I think it's a shame you ain't put on 
moanin' for Aunt Peggy. The way you are dressed, 
ennybody'd think you are gwine to er ball !' 

" 'Lor' bless your sweet soul. Miss Charlotte,' sez I, 
'don't hav ter put on moanin' lak de white folks; it am 
already dar, an' mo' dan skin* deep, too,' I sez. 'I bin 
moanin' for Peggy ever sense I marrid 'er,' 1 sed, 'an' 
now is my time for rejicement. Miss Charlotte, an* I 
gwin'ter rejice. 'Sides dat,' I sed, 'whilst I's moanin', 
all my things gwine to rack, an' de chillun's got nobody 
to take keer uv 'em an' sumpin' nuther sho' gwin'ter 
happen. Miss Charlotte.' 

"Miss Charlotte bleege to laf, an' old Marster he 
spoke up an' say, 'Let 'im erlone, Charlotte. Can't 
you see de ole fool has got it? Go on, you ole idjut,* 
he sed to me, 'an' marry sumbody an' git back heah 
termorrer wid enuf sense in yo' haid to run er straight 
furrer fer de fall plowin'.' An' wid dat I lit out. 

"Now, Unk Pete an' me, sah," he explained, 



26 "UNCLE WASH" 

"belong to de same church — de Candle Light — an' to de 
same lodge — de Ainshunt an' Honorbul Order uv de 
Bow-legged Sons uv de Black Cat — ^an' 'course I ain' 
gwi' marry his widder now an' spile sum moral obser- 
vashun, so I jes' stopped at his cabin to git his consent 
fur me to marry his widder. 

"Get his consent?" I asked. "Why how could you 
get his consent if he was dead?" 

" Who sed he wus dead? " said the old darky, quickly. 
"I nurver sed so; I sed she wus his widder!" 

I tried to explain to him that a man couldn't have 
a widow unless he were dead, but this only made him 
throw back his head and laugh heartily. 

"Wal, wal, wal, white folks got such curious ways 
uv thinkin'. Who'd urver thout it? You see," he 
said very solemnly and impressively, "It wus dis 
way: Unk Peter wus gittin' ole, an' went off contra- 
wise to de doctrine an' marrid dis young 'oman. 
Furst thing he know, he waked up sum mohnin' an' 
find hisself de father uv ten chilluns, sum uv 'em his'n 
an' sum uv 'em her'n, by her fus' husban', an' dar he 
wus gittin' so ole he cudn't s'port 'em. So up he 
jumps an' at de naixt meetin' uv de church he runs fer 
de offis uv Patr'ark uv Santerfercashun, which, 'kordin, 
to de doctrine uv Hollerness, marrid 'im to de church. 
'Course arter Unk Pete gits santerfercashun an' 
marrid to de church, he cudn't hav eny uder wife, 
so he hafter put Sis Ca'line an' de chilluns aside, which 
made all uv dem de widders uv de church. Don't 
you ketch on to de doctrine, suh?" 

I told him I caught. 



BR'ER WASHINGTON'S CONSOLATION 27 

The old man was silent as if in deep thought. Then 
he said: "I wus young den, an' bleeved ever' thing 
erbout de church an' de doctrine I ever heurd, smelt 
or dreamed, but I am older now, an' Ts cum to de 
pinted konklushun dat when er man or er 'oman gets 
santerfercashun , one or two things done happen to' em : 
Either de fiahs uv youth dun played out in de bilers uv 
dar natral swashun — de ole Adam in 'em jes' peg out 
from ole aige — or else dey am layin' low, Br'er 'Possum, 
fur de slickes' game dat ever wus played. I's kinder 
notis'd we all nacherly gits better es we gits older, 
enyway, an' when we gits so ole we can't sin no mo', 
we mighty nigh good-fur-nuffin'. An* dars whar de 
patr'arks uv ole had it on to de res' uv us," said the old 
man knowingly. "Jes' let de good Marster let me live 
heah erbout seben hundred years longer, an' jes' watch 
me set back an' view unconsemed de fleetin' vanerties 
uv dis life. 

" Br'er Peter wus in deep prayer when I rid up to his 
cabin, an' arter he riz up from his knees he blessed 
on de top uv my observashun, giv me de grip uv de Ain- 
shunt an' Honorbul Order uv de Bowlegged Sons uv 
de Black Cat, an' 'lowed he'd lak ter tak off my 
sandals an' wash my feet; but I tole 'im I jes' wash 'em 
'bout er month befo' an' didn't hav no time fur foolish- 
ness; dat I cum to dis cabin fur konsolashun an' den 
I jus' got offen dat muel an' plowed a straight furrer 
uv facts down de row uv his head: 'Br'er Peter,' sez 
I, 'de doctrine uv our church teach us it am not good 
fur er man wid er dozen chilluns to liv erlone on one 
side uv er plantashun, an' er nice, seekin' lookin' widder 



28 "UNCLE WASH 



ft 



'oman wid ten mo' to liv erlone on de yudder side. 
In union dar am strength, in numbers dar am pros- 
perity, an' in Duteromety dar am happiness. Br'er 
Peter, I wants ter marry Sister Ca'line,' sez I. 'She 
am yo' widder an' de widder uv de church, but you 
know yourself she ain't had no sho' 'tall — ^jes' ha'f a 
marrid life an' er house full uv chilluns — ten uv 'em, 
all needin' sum lovin* father's gidin' arm, wid er 
hickory attachment, whilst my twelve ur fifteen all 
need de spirtool keer uv er good muther ercompament. 
De cotton pickin' seezen am 'most on us, an' if I kin 
jine our forces I'll hav er lead-pipe cinch on de cotton 
crap uv Tennessee to say nuthin' 'bout de fo'teenth 
'mendment to de skule law fixin' de pro ratter qv all 
householders raisin' twenty or mo* widin de skule aige.* 

" I tell you, sah, Br'er Peter tuck the thing mighty 
hard, mighty hard. He didn't wanter do dat thing 
'tall. But arter he dun prayed over it, he cum out 
wid er new light in his eyie, an' he put his hand on my 
head an' bless me an' say, 'Br'er Washington, I's 
prayed over it. It am de will uv de Lord. Lite on 
dat muel an' seek your konsolashun. Go in an' 
receive de sanshun uv her retenshun an' de kompli- 
ment uv her adorin'.' And he kinder wink his off eye 
an' sed, 'Go in an' win, fur you am de Samson uv love 
fightin' de Phillustines uv matrermony; but when you 
cum to git konsolashun from er widder' — ^an' dar he 
wink hes eye ergin — ^*use de same weepun dat Samson 
used an' victory am yourn.' 

" But when I got to de widder's cabin an' tole her — 
great Scott, sah ! she tuck it turribul hard. She didn't 



BR'ER WASHINGTON'S CONSOLATION 29 

wan' marry 'tall. Leastways she made meb'leeveit. 
Hit's jes' es I tole you, sah; you hafterwrastle mighty 
swift fur konsolashun when you goes to marry a widder. 

" 'Br'er Washington,' she sez, 'dis am so suddent, 
so suddent! Don't you think you'd be satisfied ef I'd 
continue in de sisterly relashuns uv de church wid 
you?" 

" 'Sister Ca'line,' sez I, sorter detarmined lak, 'I's 
had ten ever'day sisters all my life en sum seven hun- 
dred Sunday ones. What 1 now wants am one wife!' 

"Oh, I tell you, sah, you gotter shoot mighty close 
fur konsolashun when you wants ter marry a widder! 

"We kept it up for hours, she argyfyin' an' me argy- 
fyin', she prayin' an' me prayin'. I tell you, she wus 
er speedy filly, an' she h^id no noshun uv quittin'. 
We went round de fus' quarter uv de last mile nose 
and nose — ^argyment ergin argyment, prayer ergin 
prayer. I thout sho' she had me distanced onct when 
she fotch out de scriptures on me an' turned to de 
twenty-second chapter uv Exerdust an' sed: 'Br'er 
Washington, read fur yo'self: 'Tbou shall not afflict 
any widder or fatherless chile.' But I turned over to 
Timerthy^ de fifth chapter an' de third verse, an' sez 
I,' Sister Ca'line, whut you read am Ole Testament. 
It am anshunt histery. Heah am de New Testament, 
heah am de new doctrine; 'Honor widder s dat am 
widder s, indeed,' "Oh, I tell you, Marse John," 
laughed the old man, "I sho' hung onto de sulky 
wheels uv her contenshun wid de wings uv my orthor- 
teries — you gotter hav sum speed lef fur de home 
stretch ef you wants ter beat er widder home ! 



30 "UNCLE WASH" 

"An' so we went, 'round an' 'round, wheel ergin 
wheel, an both drivin' fur life, she quotin' scriptures 
and argyfyin' an' me comin' back wid Numbers an' 
Duterrumetics — ^an' sumtimes things dat wus Rever- 
lashuns to her! At de half I got her tired, at de three- 
quarters she quit an' jes' befo' she got to de wire she 
giv up wid er tired, tangled break, an' sed: 

" 'Brer Washington, it am de Lord's will.' 

"Oh, I tell you, sah, you gotter use a mighty keen 
switch uv beseechment in de race ef you wanter lead 
er widder down de home stretch ! 

"But goodness grashus!" he said, as if suddenly 
remembering something. "I'd better be buildin' dis 
pen or we won't hav enny sawseges fur Kristmus," 
and he began to saw energetically. 

" Hold on, " t said, " You never told me whether you 
married the widow or not. " 

He looked at me in indignant astonishment — 
"Law, law, law," he said, "white folks got such cu'is 
ideas. In course I did — ^marrid her dat night an' tuck 
'er home de naixt day; ain't I bin tellin' you whut er 
hard time I had gettin' konsolashun frum dat ar 
•oman?" 

He sawed vigorously away for awhile, but I could see 
he wished to tell something else. Finally I said: 

"Well, go on, I'm waiting." 

He turned around quickly, laid down his saw, 
laughed, and said: "How de wurl did you know dar 
was enything else? Bless my life, sah, but de very 
look uv er white man am er search warrant to de 
nigger's soul. Ef you bleege ter hab it, heah it am," 



BR'ER WASHINGTON'S CONSOLATION 31 

he said as he looked slyly around: "I hadn't been 
married to dat 'oman but two years befo' I had to run 
fur er offis, too." 

''What office?" I asked. 

He grinned sheepishly. 

"Patr'ark uv de Santerf ercashun, " he said, "I beat 
Unk Peter fur dat offis, an ' got even wid 'im at his own 
game." 

"Lemme tell you, chile," he added, impressively, 
"two years uv konsolashun frum er widder will make 
a dead man or a Patr'ark outen 'most ennybody," 
and he resumed his sawing with a vigor. 



THE WATERMELON SERMON 

WATERMELON time is in full blast in Ten- 
nessee now. Ordinarily, the whites in the 
South cease to eat watermelons after the fifteenth of 
September, because they know that as soon as the cool 
nights begin every melon contains a hundred chills. 
But not so with the darkey. A chill rattles as harm- 
lessly off the armour of his constitution as buckshot 
from the back of the Olympia. He can absorb 
miasma like a sponge, and, like it, grow fat as he 
absorbs. The negro, then, eats his melon until the 
November frosts kill the vines. 

And a great treat it is. Did you ever wander over 
the fields, way down South, after the cotton was all 
picked, and the November breezes came cool and lad- 
ened with that delicate, indescribably rare flavor the 
frost gives when it first nips the mellow-ripe muscadine? 
You have shouldered your gun and gone out after old 
Mollie Cotton Tail. It was cool and crisp when you 
went out, but toward noon it has grown hot again. 
Flushed and tired, you stop to rest by the big spring 
that flows from under the roots of the big oak near the 
cotton field. In the shadow of that oak, half hid in 
the frost-bitten weeds, you find a little striped water- 
melon — ^a guinea melon, as the darkies call it — a kind 
of a volunteer melon that grows in the cotton every 
year, the first seeds of which were brought by some 
Guinea negro, from the coast of Africa, when he first 

(32) 



THE WATERMELON SERMON 33 

came over to servitude, with silver rings in his nose and 
ears. And though he failed to bring his idols and his 
household gods along with him, yet he did not forget 
the melon of his naked ancestors. Planting it as he 
hoed his first crop of cotton for a new master, it has 
never deserted him since, and so, year after year, it 
comes up amid the cotton, to remind him of the days 
it grew wild in a sunnier clime. 

And there you find it this November morning. Boy 
like, you pounce on it with a shout and soon it is laid 
open, as red as your first love's lips and as sweet ; and 
so cold it seems to have been raised in the deep-delved 
cellars of all the centuries. I am sorry for the boy who 
has grown to be a man and never, in a November 
morning's hunt after Old Mollie, had the exquisite 
sweetness of this satisfying surprise — ^the like of which 
is not equalled by the sweetness of any other surprise on 
earth. 

Every darkey of any standing in Tennessee "gives a 
treat" at least once in his life. He will stint and econ- 
omize for months to save money enough to invest in 
watermelons and tartaric acid (the acid makes the 
lemonade). Then, when the glorious day arrives, 
Nero, giving free entertainment to the citizens of 
Eternal Rome, is not in it with that darkey. Hence- 
forth he can get anything in that community he wishes, 
from constable to presiding elder, while the widows 
of the church are "his'n" by a large majority! 

I had heard that old Wash was going to run again for 
the " deaconship of Zion " over in the coon district of Big 
Sandy, and that he was going to give his annual treat. 



34 "UNCLE WASH 



ff 



These had always passed ofT beautifully and ended 
in the unanimous election of the old man to the office, 
and anything else he wanted. I thought it was all over 
and entirely harmonious until he came in the other 
night, looking like Montejo's flag-ship after Dewey's 
ten-inch shell went through her, "a-rippin' out her very 
innards" — ^as Old Wash himself described it — ^"from 
eend to eend. " 

But when I saw the old man, creeping into my 
library, I was certain he was in the last stages of Asiatic 
cholera, and I rang the telephone hastily to get my 
family physician. But he feebly raised his hand, and 
beckoned me to desist. 

"No, no, Marse John; he can't do me no good — ^no 
good, " as he feebly sank into a chair. Then he whis- 
pered: 

"Jes a drap, a leetle drap, on my tongue, — ^jes' to 
let the old man shuffle off dis mortal coil wid a good 
taste in his mouth. It's all I wants." 

Under the stimulant of that eternal beverage of 
moonlight and melody, he revived a little. 

"What's the matter with you? Anybody been 
giving you a hoodoo," I asked. 

"No, no, sah, — I — I — I gin a treat at Big Sandy." 

"Well, you have given many a treat at Big 
Sandy. Why should this one make you look like a 
piney-wood coal-kiln after a cyclone had struck it?" 

It took another dose from my side-board bottle to 
put enough life into the old man to make him take any 
interest in things. Then he brightened up and said: 

"Dat's jes' hit — 2l man may go on doin ' de same 



THE WATERMELON SERMON 35 

trick year arter year, ontwel it looks lak he cud do it 
wid his eyes shet, an' den at last, if he ain't mighty 
keerful, hit '11 buck and fling 'im! De hardes' luck, 
I take it, in dis wurl', is when a man dun shuck de 
dice uv success ontwel dey seem to bob up at his word, 
only to play off on him an' bust 'im es his palsied han' 
shakes 'em fur de las' time." 

His tears were flowing so freely and his remarks 
seemed so true and heartfelt, I did not have it in me 
not to brace him up with another pull from the side- 
board bottle. Then I saw he was ripe and reminiscent, 
and I lit my cigar, struck an easy attitude, and let him 
do the rest : 

"On de Sundy befo* de fust Mundy uv de full moon 
in September," he went on, "cum off de 'lection fur 
'ziden elder uv Zion, an' de next day am de 
day sot by law fur de 'lection of jestus uv de 
peace. So las' Sat'd'y I gin a treat. I axed ever' 
nigger in de deestrict dar, an' all de members uv 
Zion, an' Br'er Johnsing wus to preach de water- 
milion sermon. 

"Ain't nuver heurd uv de watermilion sermon? 
Hit's de sermon preached at de feast uv de watermilion 
jes' befo' de new moon in September, an' it am one 
uv de doctrines uv Zion to kinder take de place uv de 
feast uv de Passover 'mong de Jews — only in dis case 
we don't pass over nufTm', 'specially de watermilions. 
Now, hit tain't ever' nigger kin preach de watermilion 
sermon. Hit takes a mighty juicy nigger to do hit, 
yallar with dark stripes, juicy at de core, full of tears 
an' sweet penertence an' easy laid open by de blade 



36 "UNCLE WASH" 

of grace, an' brudder Johnsing am de slickest one I 
ever seed at it. 

"Now, dat wus my time to git in my fine Italyun 
ban', an' so I gin it out tbat bit wus to be my treat, an' 
I axed all de voters uv de deestrick an' all de members 
uv Zion ter be on ban' fur de revival uv de speerit an' 
de refresbment uv de flesb. 

"'Cordin' to my custom, jes' befo' de time fur de 
sermon I bad all de watermilions laid out on de grass, 
one bundred uv de bigges' an' fattes' ones you ever 
seed. You see, I am constertusbunally upp)osed to 
long sermons," be winked, "an' I knowed dey wa'n't 
a nigger livin' c'ud preacb over ten minnits wid all 
dem watermilions a-layin' dar a-winkin' at 'im an' 
waiting to.be led, lak' lambs, to de sacrifice. Does you 
seedep'int?" 

I saw it. 

"Wal, sub, you orter jes' beurd de prayer Br'er 
Jobnsing put up — ^it wus short, but migbty sweet. De 
flavor uv de watermilions seem ter git inter bit, an' 
de 'roma uv bits juice b'iled outen bis moutb. Marse 
Jobn, you've seed dese kinder preacbers dat talks to de 
good Lord wid all de easy fermileriaty uv a deestrick 
skule-teacber axin de president uv de skule-board fur 
wbat be wants, an ' wid all de sassy assurance u v de 
silent partner in a lan'-offis bisness, ain't you? Wal, 
dat's de way Br'er Jobnsing prayed, an' I wus de 
spesbul objec' uv bis conversasbun wid de Almigbty 
dat day. He tole 'im wbut I'd dun fur dat com- 
munity, informed 'im very posertively uv de fac' dat 
I wus a godly man, refreshed His mem'ry in a gentle 



THE WATERMELON SERMON 37 

way consamin' sum uv my long-furgotten deeds uv 
cheerity, an ' gin Him sum ' good, brotherly advice on 
how to git even wid me, an' in a measure pay off de 
debt of gratitude He owed me by makin ' it His will dat 
I wus erg'in to administer de law uv de Ian', both 
spiritual an' temper'l, an' fur ernudder twelvemonth 
ter be de venerbul ram uv de flock uv Zion, to lead 
His sheep to de fold an' by de still waters. Wal, 
suh, when he finish, mighty nigh ever' nigger dar said 
Amen, an' den dey lick dey chops an' look sorter 
dreamy lak over whar de watermilions lay'n de col' 
spring branch. 

"Dis wus my time to spring de s'prise uv de evenin' 
on 'em, dat I'd fixed up. An' so I riz up wid de most 
sancterfied look on I cu'd git, one uv dem onworthy, 
miser-bul-sinner sorter looks dat we elders allers carry 
aroun' in our coat pockets along wid our bandanna 
han'kerchiefs fur eny emergency, an' I sez: 'Brud- 
ders an' sistrin, befo' we listen to de soulful sermon 
in store fur our spiritual natures, which Br'er Johnsing 
gwin'ter giv us in his ellerquent way, I's sprung a 
leetle s'prise on you, an' I wants you all to retire wid 
me an' refresh de innard man a leetle. Brudderin', 
knowin' my onworthiness an' de many obligashuns I 
am under to dis enlightened community uv Christian 
saints an' godly men an'wimmen, I's made two 
bar'ls uv ice-cold lemmemade, an' you'll find 'em a- 
settin', es a big s'prise,' sez I, 'on de houn's uv my 
ox-waggin, in de cool shade by de spring, wid plenty 
uv tin dippers fur all. We'll now adjourn twenty 
minnits fur refreshments.' 



38 • "UNCLE WASH". 

^'Wal, suh, you sh'ud a heurd de shout! Ef de 
'lection hed cum off den, I'd a got ever' vote in de 
deestrick an' a fair sprinklin' uv sum' in all de yud- 
ders. I went wid 'em an' drunk, too. An' we all 
drunk ter one ernudder's health. I drunk to Sister 
Ca'line, an' Br'er Johnsing he drunk to Dinah, an' 
de leetle niggers drunk, an' de ole niggers drunk, de 
gals an' de boys. I hilt up my dipper an' laugh, an' 
sed to Br'er Johnsing, 'Br'er Johnsing, here's to you,' 
sez I, 'an' all dat goes up must go down.' An' wid 
dat I swallered down. 

"Den Br'er Johnsing — ^he's mighty funny — ^an' he 
hilt up his'n and laugh, an' say: 'Br'er Washington, 
here's to you,' sez he, 'an' all dat goes down nurver 
comes up ergin.' An' den we all laugh. 

" But dat wus one time he wus turribly mistaken, es 
you will see. 

" Wal, suh, when we all hed drunk enough we went 
back to hear de watermilion sermon, an' den eat de 
fruit uv whut we heurd. 'Tain't ever' man kin say 
dat, dat he eats de fruit uv whut he hears; digests de 
fustly, an' de secondly, an' de thudly, assimmer- 
lates in de juicy rime uv de tangerbul thing, de logical 
konclushunuv de interlecshul fac' An'darfore I've 
allers sed dat drawin' yo' konclushuns frum de heart 
uv a watermilion makes de bes' sermon in de wurl'. 

" I b'leeve I tole you, dat dat lemmernade wus in- 
tended fur a s'prise fur 'em, didn't I?" 

"Yes, I believe you mentioned that it was a little 
surprise of yours in store for them." 

The old man groaned. "Marse John, fur heaben's 



THE WATERMELON SERMON 39 

sake, annudder drap outen dat bottle! I'll hafter 
brace up erg'in to tell de sorrowin' scene dat follers. 
Thankee, thankee! I'm better now, an' maybe I kin 
finish, fur dat lemmernade turned out to be de bigges ' 
an' sorrerfuUest surprise dat ever come down a pike. 

" Br'er Johnsing tuck fur his tex' de sermon uv Noah 
an' de ark an' whilst Noah wus de man menshuned, 
hit wus plain dat I was de applercashun. He went on 
to show dat I wus a godly man, jes' lak' ole Noah, 
an' dat I wus to de community uv Big Sandy whut 
Noah wus to Jeerruselum. He was makin' it short 
but er-gwine in two-minnit time, er-pacin' lak' ole Jo 
Patchen at er matternee fur er silver cup an' wreath uv 
roses, an' den all at onct he lifted up his voice an' sed: 
'Yes brudderin, de waters uv de g-r-e-a-t deep riz 
up, an de bottom drop outen de clouds; de w-i-n- 
d-e-r-s uv heaben wus flung open, an' de upheaval 
uv de u-n-e-v-e-r-s-e begun ' 

"Dat wus es fur es he got, befo' de word upheaval 
wus outen his mouth, sho 'nuff , de upheaval did begun. 
I seed 'im stop so suddenly he kicked up behind, clap 
his hands on his stummick an' try to bolt fur a locus' 
thicket, but he c'udn't — ^he jes' turned a complete 
summerset, athrowin' up his immortal soul es he turned. 
Den I heurd a turrible commoshun in de congregashun, 
an' I look erroun', an' ever' nigger dar wus in de same 
fix es Br'er Johnsing. Dey wus whoopin ', an ' barkin ', 
and layin' out in ever' kinder way, an' all on 'em bent 
on de same thing. An' whut dey wus doin' to dat 
groun ' wus a-plenty ! Dey thought dey was pizened 
an' wus gwin'ter die, an' den sech s'archin' prayers es 



40 "UNCLE WASH" 

went up to de throne uv grace, mixed in wid moans, an ' 
groans, an' ice-cold lemmernade dat seem to think hit 
wus time ter rise erg'in and fetch ever'thing else frum 
de grave along wid it. By dis time I wus so 'stounded 
I didn't kno' whut ter do. I look erroun' an' I seed 
dat me an' ole Aunt Fat Fereby wus de onlies' ones 
dat wa'nt trying to turn inside out. She wus lookin' 
mighty ashy erroun' de gills, but she brace hers'f up 
an' started out ter raise dat good ole hymn: 

"How firm a foundation' — 

But she hadn't more'n got to 'foundashun' befo her 
foundashun wus shu'k, I seed her gag an' double up 
an' start in on: 

'My risin' soul leaps up to sing, 
A song of praise ter day.' 

• 

" 'Bout dat time I felt a 'tickler kinder mizry in 
my own innards, an' de nex' thing I disremember I 
had Sister Fereby 'round 'de neck an' we wus singin' 
dat hymn tergedder. Lor' ! hit wus awful. I's 
seed menny a sight, but I nurver expect ergin ter see 
three hundred an ' sixty-five niggers throwin ' up at de 
same time. When sum' on 'em got dey secon' wind 
dey wanted to lynch me, but by de time dey got 
erroun ' to me wid a rope dey ' cided I wus too nigh dead 
to need killin ', and by dis time dey all had to 'zamperfly 
de truth uv de biblical sayin ' about de dog an ' de 
thing he would go back to. By dis time ever' doctor 
in de country wus dar, fetchin' all de querrintine offer- 
cers, an' pest-tents, an' disenfec-tents, an' perparin' 



THE WATERMELON SERMON 41 

fer chorra an' fever. An' den we foun' out what ailed 
us." 

"In the name of heaven, what was it?" I asked 
eagerly. 

The tears rolled down the old man's cheeks as he 
feebly begged for another drop to enable him to finish 
his tale. Then he said: 

"Ain't I dun tole you hundreds uv times it am de 
leetle mistakes we make in life dat turns de tide? 
Ain't I? Wal, dat's whut ruined me dat day, an' 
terday I am a man widout offis an' widout honor' in 
my ole age. Dat mornin', 'stead uv gwine down to de 
sto' myse'f to get de poun' uv tartar acid ter make up 
dat lemmernade wid, I saunt dat trifflin' Jim Crow 
gran'son uv mine, an' he got de names twisted, an' 
'stead uv fetchin' me back tartar acid, he fotcht me 
back a poun' uv tartar emetic, an' I didn't do a thing 
but make up dat lemmernade wid it!" 

"But, surely, they wouldn't treasure up such a 
a mistake against you, seeing that you suffered with 
the rest," I said. 

*'Marse John," said the old man, rising, "how long 
you gwine ter live wid niggers, an ' den hafter be tole 
over an' over ergin de same thing? In course, dey 
didn't beat me fur offis on ercount uv dat fool mistake, 
but jes' lemme ax you, whar is de nigger livin' dat 
gwin'ter vote fur eny man dat'd lay out a hundred 
watermilions in de spring branch, let 'em look at 'em 
a hour, an' den turn dat nigger's stummick into a 
green persimmon fur a week? Whar is he, I ax?" And 
the old man crept feebly out to find him a cheap coffin. 



A RACE FOR A VALENTINE 

'TXTHEN I looked out over the meadow near my 
^ ^ window the other day, I saw some field larks 
there. One yellow-breasted fellow, as trim and proud 
as a race horse in racing form, sat on a clump of sedge- 
grass, the sentinel of a pretty group of other yellow- 
breasts who were feeding around. They had left the 
fields down by the woods early, and I wondered why 
it was. That night I asked Uncle Wash. 

"Look heah, Marse John, don't you kno' dey am 
thinkin' 'bout Valentine Day, an' how dey gwine mate 
off by dat day? Huc'cum you done forgit dat?" 

"You don't mean to tell me they are obliged to mate 
off by that day, whether they wish to or not, do you?" 
I asked. 

"In co'se I does — ^whuther dey wants to or not. 
But dey most generally allers wants to. An' so does 
enybody else dat has got eny sense. You ain't nurver 
heurn tell of any old-maid birds, has you?" 

"No"— I smiled— "I have not." 

"Nor any oldtmaid niggers, nurther, is you?" 

I had to laugh outright at this. But upon my life, 
I couldn't remember ever to have heard of one. 

The old man chuckled. "In co'se you ain't. De 
nearer you gits to nachur, de happier you gwin'ter find 
folks 'ull be, an' de fewer rules an' regulashuns you'll 
find dey'U hav to go by. It's only white folks dat hav 
ole maids an' ole bachelors. It's only some uv dem 

(42) 



A RACE FOR A VALENTINE 43 

dat seem to konlude dat de Lord wus kinder off his base 
when he put us heah wid de nachul instinct fur matri- 
mony in our hearts, an' dat ole Marse Noah was talkin' 
through his hat when he told us to be happy and mul- 
terply on de face uv de yearth. 

"And does you kno' whut's de most buterful sight 
in de wurl to de ole man?" he asked presently, with 
some enthusiasm. " Hit's de sight of a beautiful, full- 
blooded, high-minded young 'oman, who am nachul 
an' good an' treads de yearth lak she know God made 
her to be queen, sum day, uv some man's home an' 
heart, an' de muther uv God-fearin' hones' men an' 
wimen. 

"And does you kno' whut's de holiest sight in de 
wurl? Some church steeple, dried up ole maid, or 
some uv dese heah new-fangled interlecshul wemen, 
forever sputin' 'bout de laws uv progress, an' uglier 
den a burnt hole in a blanket? No; but hits dat 
same high-minded gal, when she reign de queen uv her 
home, an' stamps de little gold coins uv her fiah-side 
wid de eagle uv her nobilerty. 

"Dat's de holiest thing in de wurl. Dem's de sho' 
nuff coins uv de republic, de bonds uv de realm an' 
de dollars uv our daddies. 

" But when it comes to valentines de purtiest one I 
ever seed wus de one Marse Robert raced fur, 'way 
back befo' de wah. I don't nurver spec' ter see one 
look lak dat ergin," said the old man, enthusiastically. 
"De day de race cum off she wus de purtiest picture 
I ever seed — eyes big and black an' soft under droopy 
lids dat sorter shaded 'em lak de fringe uv de evenin' 



44 "UNCLE WASH 



ff 



skies when day close in de twilight — dem kinder eyes 
dat make you think dey don' kno' whuther dey wanter 
stay awake an ' kiss you or go to sleep an ' dream about 
you. Her black hair wus tucked up unner a plumed 
hat. One plume fell over on de right an ' hid her leetle 
pink year, creepin' out like a white rabbit at nightfall 
from under a huckleberry bush. De yudder plume 
fell over on de lef an' almost hid de yudder year 
peepin' out lak oneuv dese heah leetle white snow-birds 
wid a leetle red on his wings" — and the old man 
chuckled at the poetical turn he had given to his descrip- 
tion. "And den she had so much hair," went on the 
old man. "It fell down from unner dat hat, on her 
shoulders, in great big twisted coils, twisted 'roun'an' 
'roun ' lak a double hank uv fines ' yam, an ' big es de 
full-mussled forearm uv a Hal filly. Dat's all," he 
added proudly, " 'cep' a pair uv leetle dimples dat 'ud 
make a cloudy day smile out in sunshine, an' 'er leetle 
cooin' laugh dat 'ud make de pigeons come home to 
roost. 

"Dat was her, Miss Rose, ole Kunnel Rivers' 
daughter, dat Marse Robert had loved ever since he was 
big 'nuff to toss her on his pony an ' ride up de pike. 

"Now ole Kunnel Rivers was a big gun. He wus 
Marse Jeems K. Polk's law partner, an' de biggest 
lawyer he wus in Tennessee. He nurver went in for 
politics much, 'cept when Marse Jeems 'ud run for 
Gov'ner or sumpin'. Den he'd quit his practice long 
emuff to fight for his pardner, an' when he flung hisself 
in de shafts uv de political ban' wagon sumpin' 'ud 
have to move or bust. But he nurver would have no 



A RACE FOR A VALENTINE 45 

offis hisself, an ' when Marse Jeems wus nomernated fur 
de President, dey say hit wus his speech dat turned de 
tide an ' nomernated Marse Jeems. Course when Marse 
Jeems was 'lected, de time he beat Marse Henry Qay, 
he tole de Kunnel he could have enything he wanted, 
an' it 'ud be saunt him on a silver waiter. But he 
didn't want no offis at home. He want to rest, he 
say, an' aigucate Miss Rose. So Marse Jeems he 
saunt him as minister uv de gospel, to carry plenty- 
in-de-penitentiary to de heathens in Europe. 'Twas 
some years befo' he cum home, an' den Miss Rose 
look lak I jes' tole you 'bout. Marse Robert he'd 
graduated at West P'int, an' cum out uv de Mexercan 
war a captain. He cum home on er furlow dat summer 
— de summer Miss Rose got back from Europe. He 
ain't tell me, but I knowed he cum for Miss Rose. So 
de nex' night arter he cum, we saddled up an' rid 
over to de Kunnel' s. Marse Robert went to see Miss 
Rose, but I went along to make tings lively wid de 
yaller gals in de kitchen. 

"When we got dar, Marse Robert jumped offin his 
hoss an' run up de steps fo' jumps at a time, jes' lak 
he alius done ever sense he wus a boyi an' den I seed 
'im stop, wid dat quick milertary way he had, lak 
sumbody said: 'Halt!' Fur dar stood Miss Rose at de 
do' stately an' cold es a queen, an' de thing dat halted 
Marse Robert was a furrin bow, an' den dis: 

" 'Good mornin', Cap'n Young. I'm pleased to see 
you crgin!' 

"Befo' dat she'd allers called him Robert, an' he 
called her Rose. 



46 "UNCLE WASH" 

" Now when it cum to pilin ' on de dignerty, me an ' 
Marse Robert wus as good as all Europe, an' we cu'd 
put it on twell you'd think we wus de backbone uv de 
North Pole hitse'f. So Marse Robert he straightened 
hisse'f up, bowed low an' sed: 

" 'Good evenin', Miss Rivers; allow me to welcome 
you home ag'in.' 

" I soon seed whut wus de matter, for in dat parlor, 
a settin ' up dar so nachul you'd a thort he owned de hole 
thing, wus one uv dese heah furrin jukes — enyway, he 
wus a furriner way up in gee in his country, an' had 
followed Miss Rose home and wus gwin fer to marry 
her. 

"An' hit wus de same way in de kitchen. Dar sot 
a leetle bandylegged mulatto lookin' feller, wearin' 
knee-breeches, an' de calf uv his legs lookin' lak a corn- 
fed steer about Christmas time. An' when I went in 
dar he wus a-settin' back an' a chawin' his cud an' 
a talkin' to de yaller gals, an' all uv 'em wus a-puttin' 
on furrin airs an' a-talkin 'furrin talk scan'lus. Now 
I nurver has been much on furrin langwidge. My 
mammy allers sed she knowed I cud larn Greek an' 
sech kase I tuck to our own so nachul. But I's allers 
wondered whut fo'ks wanter larn so many furrin lang- 
widges fur wid only jes' one idee to spress in 'em all. 
It's lak a man buyin' fo' or five diffunt kinder fine 
kerridges jes' to hitch de same little ole mule to. 

"Course I thot dat little feller wus a nigger — ^whut 
fur he sociatin' wid niggers ef he wa'n't? an' arter I 
looked at 'im thort I'd joke 'im a leetle, an' I sez: 
'Say, nigger, whar'd you cum frum enyway, an' whut 






A RACE FOR A VALENTINE 47 

kinder bosses is you got in your country, dat sires 
yaller colts wid flax mane an' tails?' 

"Well, sah, dat made 'im so mad dat he jumped up, 
cussed 'round in French, bowed to de gals, an' den 
whutcher reckin dat flax-mane nigger wid de comfed 
legs do, boss? Why he challenge me to fight er duel wid 
'im de naixt day at daylight ! Hit made me so mad ! 
Sez I : 'Look heah, nigger, ef fightin' is whut you want, 
sez I, a-spittin' on my hands an' getherin' up de meat 
ax, 'jest he'p yo'se'f to de butcher-knife an' wade in!' 

"Well, sah, I reckin we'd a fit den an' dar if Clara 
hadn't cum in. Now Clara wus Miss Rose's maid, an' 
had been wid her to dis furrin Ian.' Befo' she left 
she'd promised to marry me de very day Miss Rose 
married Marse Robert. She wus de purtiest kind uv a 
yaller gal, with curly hair and black eyes an' a laugh dat 
'ud start my h'art to rabbit-huntin' eny day. But 
heah she cum in, an' 'stid uv kissin' me lak she uster do, 
she 'lowed I wus a low-bred nigger, not fit to sociate 
wid qualerty fo'ks, an' den whut you reckon? Sho 
'nuff, I kno' you ain't gwine b'leeve it, boss, but she 
ups an' 'lows dat Flax Mane wan't no nigger at all, 
but had a family tree, dat his name was Mister Valley, 
Mr. Juke's Valley, an' he wus a furrin' gen'man an' 
white es Marse Robert wus. An' den she 'stounded me 
clean out'n my boots. She 'lowed dat she an' Mister 
Valley wus gwin'ter marry an' go to Europe on a bridle 
to'er, along wid Miss Rose an' de Juke, an' dat both 
couples wus now ready for kongratulashuns an' bridle 
presents. 

"Well, sah, 1 seed in a minnit how de Ian' lay. 



48 "UNCLE WASH" 

'Stid of a bridle to'er, I felt like takin' a paddle to'er! 
De sassy thing! Sez I to de man: 

" 'Well, sah, if you wus as good as a nigger I'd ax 
yo' pardin, but eny white man dat'U sociate wid a 
nigger ain't good as a nigger.' An' den I sez to Clara: 
'An' es fer you, wid yo' sassy airs, befo' me an' Marse 
Robert git thru' wid you all, yo' Miss Rose will be 
willin' 'to marry de onliest gen'man in dese parts — 
Cap'n Robert Young — ^an' as for you, you'll be glad 
ernuff to marry your gran'mammy's black cat. De 
wildgoose fly mighty high,' sez I, 'but I's noticed he 
allers cum down on de groun' at last to roost. De 
smalles' 'possum allers climbs de biggest trees,' sez 
I, 'an' I's allers noticed de higher de family tree de 
smaller am de little 'possum up in de top.' 

" Wid dat I shuck my boot an' lit. 

"Well, sah, hit wus de same way in de parlor, an' 
Marse Robert didn't git no more konsolashun dar den 
I did in de kitchen. We rid home dat night, an' nary 
one uv us didn't say a word; but I cu'd see Marse 
Robert bitin' his mustache sorter nervous lak, an' 
jinglin' de spur on his boot, but he didn't say nary 
word. An' to save my life I c'udn't' hep thinkin' uv 
how pretty Clara look in dat little apron wid her furrin' 
ways, an' it mighty nigh broke my h'art to think she 
gwine marry dat scrub. 

" But Marse Robert wus a thurrerbred an' he never 
sed a word, not even de next week when dey sent out 
de invites to Miss Rose's weddin'. But I notis de 
spirit all seem to go out uv 'im — ^he didn't take no 
intrust in de bosses — an' 'twus a bad sign when Marse 



A RACE FOR A VALENTINE 49 

Robert was hurt dat way. But he wus game, an' de 
fust thing he done wus to give a swell dinner fur all de 
young people to meet Miss Rose an' de Juke. Den it 
wus our time to shine, an' bless yo' soul, honey, we 
she' did cut de pigeon*-wing. De Juke had fotch over 
two thurrerbred English hunters to take exercise on, 
whilst he wus here, an' dey wus good ones, too. He 
rid over to de party on one hoss, an' Miss Rose on de 
yuther, an' arter de dinner when he and Marse Robert 
got to talkin' hoss dey all went out to see de Juke's 
hosses. Marse Robert, lak de gen'man he wus, praised 
de good p'ints uv de Juke's hosses, but sed nuffm' 'bout 
his own. Den de Juke up and sed : 

" ' Bofe uv dese hosses, Cap'n, am sons of Nestor, 
an' dat hoss run secon' to Priam when he won de 
Darby.' 

" 'Ah!' sez Marse Robert, 'well-bred, capital fellers. 
I kongratulate you, sah, on havin' two sech good ones.' 

"Den de Juke he wanted to see Marse 
Robert's hosses, an' Marse Robert tole me to 
lead 'em out — ole Black Bess, an' Telula an' all de 
mares an' de colts. 

" 'Wash,' sez he, 'bring out de sire,' an' I fotch him 
out, lookin' lak de gran' hoss he wus, puttin' on all his 
airs, ca'se Miss Rose an' de ladies wus lookin' at 'im. 

" 'My! how proud he looks,' sez Miss Rose. 'He 
steps lak a king.' 

" 'Yesm', Miss Rose,' sez I, a-liftin' my ole hat, 
'beca'se he knows a queen's lookin' at 'im. Miss.' 

"Miss Rose blush an' de ladies laugh an' de Juke 
sez: 



50 "UNCLE WASH 



tf 



" 'Cap'n, whut's his name?' 

" 'Dat's Priam, sah/ sez Marse Robert. 

" 'De devil you say!' sez de Juke. 'Not de boss 
dat won de Darby?' 

" 'De same, sah,' sez Marse Robert; 'my father 
imported him.' 

"At dis de ladies all smile, an' de Juke turned 'round 
spiteful lak on his heels an' walk off. 

"Arter de coffee Marse Robert danced de Ferginny 
reel wid Miss Rose to show de Juke how it wus done, 
an' ever' time he'd lead Miss Rose down de Juke 'ud get 
mad an' show his temper in leetle things. An' once 
when Marse Robert danced wid annudder lady an' 
Miss Rose an' de Juke wus talkin' in de alcove, I 
watch Miss Rose an' I seed she wus lookin' at Marse 
Robert mor'n she wus at de Juke. I laugh an' say 
to myse'f : 'God bless you. Miss Rose, you sorter gettin' 
over dat furrin' feelin', or I don't kno' nuffm' 'bout 
signs uv love!' 

" Den de Juke he got too full uv wine. Our gen'man 
never tuck but one glass when de ladies wus 'roun', 
but de Juke he jes' tanked up scan'lus, an' de mo' he 
drunk de bigger fool he wus. He seem' to be mad 
'bout sumpin', an' arter dinner he sez to Marse Robert, 
whar Miss Rose wus, dat he'd lak ter go on a fox-hunt 
in dis country to sho' de grit uv his hunters. 

" 'I'll git up one fur you, wid pleasure, sah,' sez 
Marse Robert. 

*' 'Make hit an all-day run, Cap'n,'sez de Juke. 
* I wanter sho' you yo' American bosses can't stay in de 
race wid our English ones.' 



A RACE FOR A VALENTINE 51 

"Marse Robert flushed an' he say: 'You am my 
guest, so I cannot reply to dat taunt. But I assure you, 
it am very hard for me to resist the challenge you fling 
down/ 

"De Juke he laugh an' sez: 'Aw, don't stand back 
on etterket, Cap'n. Let us put up a leetle prize fur 
de winner — ^aw! — ^an' race fur it — ^aw! My blood am 
bilin' fur a leetle excitement — ^fawncy!' 

" 'Wid pleasure, den, since it suits you, Juke,' sez 
Marse Robert. 'Friday week am Valentine Day — 
shall we git up a party uv young folks dat day. Miss 
Rivers?' he sez, turnin' to Miss Rose. ' We'll get up ole 
Slippery Red, de ole red fox dat has been run a hundred 
times an' ain't never been wursted by a pack yit. 
We'll shet 'im out from his hole, an' make a life an' 
death fight uv it wid him and de hounds.' 

"An' den he tole de Juke all about ole Red, an' how 
no hounds had ever been able to wurst 'im, no pack 
could ever ketch 'im. 

" 'Capital— aw— capital!' sez de Juke. 'Dat'll try 
our bosses.' 

"An' den he stop quick, look at Miss Rose wid his 
leetle sharp eyes an' say: 'An' de man dat gets de 
brush gets Miss Rose as de valentine — aw?' 

"At dis Miss Rose turn scarlet, Marse Robert flushed, 
too, an' frowned, an' his eyes flashed so I thort sho' 
he gwin'ter furgit hiss'ef an' slap de Juke's jaws, as he 
orter. But des at dat time Miss Rose look up full into 
Marse Robert's eyes, sorter 'pologizin' an' sorry lak, 
an' sorter blushin', too, wid anudder funny kind o' 
look dat come and went lak a flash. But I knowed 



52 "UNCLE WASH" 

what it wus. It wus true love's decision in favor uv de 
true lover, an' she done it widout knowin' it. But 
it tuk all de mad outen Marse Robert's face an' put a 
merry beam in his eyes, an' he bowed to Miss Rose an' 
sez: 

" 'An' whut say de fair lady in de case?' 

"Miss Rose laugh and say: 'Oh, de Juke must have 
his way, you know; isn't he our guest?' 

"Den I never see Marse Robert so happy befo'. 
He seem ter fairly bubble over with joy an' sperits. 
He shine lak a star, an' his wit wus as keen es a frosty 
momin'. 

"De nex' mornin' he cum out ter me an' he sez: 
'Wash, fools talk, but wise men act. Fetch out 
Priam!' 

"We had been trainin' Priam sence Christmas to 
run in de fo' mile race fur de Cumberland Cup. Marse 
Robert look him over an' sez: 'How hard is he?' 

" 'Marse Robert,' sez I, 'he is hard as de prongs uv a 
buck uv ten.' 

" 'How much does you weigh?' sez he. 
'One hundred and seventy pounds,' sez I. 
'Good; dat's my weight; don't train him fur 
speed eny mo' but for distance; gallop him ten miles 
every day and back ergin; to-morrow I'll tell you de 



4t 
tt 



res . 



" I caught on in a minnit an' I sed : 'My Gord, Marse 
Robert you sho' ain't gwine run dis hoss in a 
foxchase, is you? Why, he cost us twenty thousand 
dollars r 

"Marse Robert looked at me quick an' sez: 'If he 



A RACE FOR A VALENTINE 53 

cost a million, he wud'nt be too good to run for the 
prize he gwin'ter run fur!' 

"Well, sah, I gallup dat hoss ever' day 'kordin' to 
orders, an' when de day uv de chase come, I b'lieve he 
cu'd run cross de State uv Tennessee, from Carter to 
Shelby, an' never draw a long breath. 

"De whole country turned out to see de chase, cause 
Old Red had a County repertashun, an' dey knowed 
it was gwin'ter be a famous race. All de ladies and 
gen'men wus dar, but none of 'em knowed 
what wus at stake 'cept Miss Rose, Marse Robert 
an' de Juke. 

"Ole Flax Mane wus dar, mounted on de Juke's 
yuther hoss, whilst I rid ole Kit, de gray mule. I rid 
up, an' sez to 'im: 'You seem to think you's mounted 
dis momin'.' 

" 'I kno' I am,' sez he. 'I'm mounted on a son of 
Nestor. What's dat you ridin'?' 

" 'I's ridin' a son-uv-a-gun,' sez I — ^'ole Kit — de 
gray mule — not much on pedigree, to be sho', but hell 
on short cuts an' gittin' dar! An' ef you got eny thing 
to put up 'cept your pedigree an' your knee pants,' 
sez I, 'I'll bet dis mule ergin yo' mount I'll be at de 
killin' fust.' 

" He looked at me scornful lak an' rid off. 

"Well, sah, hit wus a chase. De air was cool an' 
frosty an' de groun' jes' wet 'nough for good nosin'. 
You could almost smell de breath uv Nachur, an' I 
b'lieve I cu'd a run a fox myse'f by he scent. We had 
two packs, cause no one pack had ever been able to run 
Ole Red down, an' we wanted to git 'im dis time. We 



54 "UNCLE WASH" 

knowed his tricks, an' saunt one pack five miles away, 
up in de Hampshire hills, to be hilt and turned on him 
fresh, whar he allers dodged de tired-out dogs. Den 
we put de fus pack out an' soon hit de trail. Ole Red 
allers let a pack run 'im 'bout fo' miles fo' fun, den he'd 
ether outfoot 'em to de Hampshire hills and Hickman 
G)unty, or ef he didn't feel much lak runnin' dat day, 
he'd laf at 'em an' dodge 'em back to his hole in de 
bluff. But dis mornin' we had put a nigger at de hole, 
an' arter chasin' him 'roun' an' roun' for fo' hours, an' all 
widin five miles, he wus seen ter come over de hills 
an' make for his home in de lime-rock bluff. But de 
man at de hole had stop it up an' skeered him off, 
an' den de ole feller knowed he wus in fur de race uv 
his life, an' he shot away to de hills lak a streak uv 
red fire, wid de hounds in full bay. Marse Robert and 
de Juke followed de hounds nose to nose. Dey went 
over fences, an' breasted creeks an' cleared ditches, 
a-ridin' lak two demons; but de rest uv us tuck short 
cuts an' rode from hill to hill an' watched 'em. Priam 
wus pullin' on Marse Robert lak a team under lash 
an' wantin' to run over de hounds, an' de Juke plyin' 
de spur an' ridin' lak mad. I never seed sech reckless 
ridin' befo' nor sense. I cotch up wid 'em dar an' 
follered 'em in de hills an' rid wid 'em fur a mile. 
Ole Kit had got her second wind, an' no man ever 
heard uv a mule makin' a misstep. Den de onex- 
pected happened. Dey had run five miles an' de 
pack was still fresh, an' it looked lak dey gwine wind 
Ole Red up dar. Marse Robert and de Juke was both 
ridin' fur life to be in at de finish, when all at once de 



id 

it 4 



A RACE FOR A VALENTINE 55 

Juke's hunter went down up to de knee in a ground- 
hog hole, an' his rider made a fine turn over his head. 
I gin a whoop, cause I knowed dat gin de race to Marse 
Robert. Den I see Marse Robert pull up, jump down 
an' he'p him up. De Juke wus all right, but his hunter 
was dead lame. 

" ' Blow yo' horn !' sez Marse Robert. 

" 'What fur?' sez de Juke; 'it's yo' race now.' 
Fur yo' other hoss,' sez Marse Robert. 
De Juke flushed, looked at Marse Robert quick lak 
and sed: 

By God, Cap'n, you's white!' 
Oh, the chase ain't started good, yit!' sed Marse 
Robert; 'he'll turn soon an' race us clear back to his 
hole in de rock an' die dar if we ketch 'im at all. So 
mount, an' here goes!' 

*'01e Flax Mane had come up wid de yuther hoss 
an' dey mounted an' whirled away. Well, sah, de 
funnies' thing happen den. Ole Flax Mane didn't 
kno' as much about Hickman County bogs as he did 
'bout duelin', an* es I started off for a short cut on a 
lope, I hear 'im hollerin' fur help. When I got dar he 
had walked squar' into a bog, an' ef he hadn't got 
holt uv a big limb dat hung over it, whar he was hangin' 
lak a gray 'possum, he'd been buried right dar, ped- 
igree an' all. I sot on de bank, an Ole Kit, an' laugh 
whilst he b^ me to he'p him out. 

" 'No,' sez I; 'but I think I'll cut off dat limb, 'kase 
it seem to be hangin' in de way uv de hunters.' 

"Well, sah, uv all de tears an' petishuns he put up in 
his parley-voo tongue! It made ole Kit weep! 



56 "UNGLE WASH 



ff 



i€ i 



What'll you gimme/ sez I, 'ef I show you how 
to git out?' 

" 'Meester Vashington; oh, Meestcr Vashington!' 
hesed; 'Oh, efferyt'ing!' 

" 'Well,' sez I, 'clime up on dat limb an' straddle it. 
Now gimme dat suit uv huntin' clothes you got on. 
I lak dem brass buttons, an' I think dem knee-breeches 
will jes' about fit old Kit. Pull 'em off,' sez I, 'an' 
toss 'em over, an' I'll tell you.' 

"He clime up an' shed 'em quick; dat lef 'im wid 
nuffin' on but a huntin' shu't. 

" 'Now,' sez I, as I started oflf, 'jes' foUer de limb 
twell you git to de tree, an' den foller de tree twell 
you git to de ground, an' de next time we meet,' 
sez I, 'I hope you'll be shorter on pedigree an' longer 
on habiliments,' an' I rid off an' lef 'im crawlin 'along 
dat lim' whilst de cold breeze sung a song thro' his 
only gyarment to help him along. 

"But de chase on de back track fur home I'll never 
furgit. Only Marse Robert an' de Juke follered de 
houns. De rest of us jes' tuck short cuts from hill to 
hill an' watch 'em. But Ole Red tuck off over hills 
an' down valleys, cross creeks an' woods, an' stubble, 
flinty roads, an' holler bottoms, an' allers jes' behin' 
de pack rid Marse Robert holdin' back Priam to keep 
'im from runnin' over de pack, hoss an' rider lak one, 
bendin' to de stride, straitenin' to de jump, plungin' 
wid de leap. 

"An' allers de Juke was dar, but diggin' de spurs 
to his mount lak a red madftian. An' de two packs wus 
givin' a glowin' tongue dat echoed from de hollows 



A RACE FOR A VALENTINE 57 

an' made de blood leap. On dey went, Ole Red in a 
long lope, scuddin' over de ye'rth lak de shadder uv a 
red March cloud 'cross de sky. Sho' 'nuff, he wus 
headin' agin for his den, to beat de hounds dar, an' 
we cut 'cross, all de ladies and gen' mens, 'cept Marse 
Robert an' de Juke, to see 'im at de finish. We heurd 
'em comin' 'long 'fore dey got to us. Ole Red wus 
sore an' tired an' nearly run down. Dey cum in sight 
on de Dobbins hills, Ole Red headed fur de home he 
wus never agin to enter. Down Bigby Creek valley 
he cum, headed straight for us, de houn's boilin' outen 
de ground behind 'im an de two riders jes' behind. 
Dey struck de creek an' flew up de bank — ^but only one 
rider come up — de Juke — ^an' he flew along for de 
finish. 

" 'My Cord! sez I, an' I looked at Miss Rose settin' 
on her hoss in de group. She was v^hite as de lace 
'roun' her neck. I thort she'd faint. Den I look agin. 
Marse Robert had cooly stop an' let Priam plunge his 
nose in de creek waters for three swallows. It flash 
over me dat de didn't want to be in at de finish. Miss 
Rose thought it, too, an' I seen her reel in de saddle an* 
sorter cry out. On, on, come de Juke. On flew de 
pack. On loped Old Red. Two dogs outfooted de 
yuthers, an' now run side 'n side wid de fox, dey heads 
cocked sideways an' eyein' Ole Red for a ketch, an' 
de ole fox snappin' an' snarlin' back at 'em. De 
nex' minnit de hole pack would er bin on 'im, de Juke 
right in de bunch an' smilin' wid a satisfied smile. 

"Miss Rose sot lak a statue an' as white. Ef Marse 
Robert wus doin' it fur revenge, he sho' had his fill 



58 "UNCLE WASH 



9P 



On, on dey come — ^music, howlin', shouts. De Juke 
had run over de hindmost houns an' wus headed for 
de tired out ole fox, when I seed Miss Rose flush red 
den she lifted her han' an' waved her han' kerchief 
in a little sorter beck'nin' way to Marse Robert — ^an' 
he cum ! 

" He'd waited for dis all 'long, an' now for de fust 
time he gin Priam his head, an' de game hoss come lak 
powder afire, an' es ef he was winnin' anudder Darby. 
Marse Robert was smilin' lak a boy playin' a winnin' 
trick. He rode over de hounds lak dey been a barn 
floor — shot past de Juke lak a whirlwind — ^an' den I 
see 'im do de trick he learned on de plains — ^fling ont 
leg from de saddle, swing down, holdin' by Priam's 
mane, ride squar* over Ole Red, pick 'im up by de nape 
uv de neck as he passed, den strai'ten up in de saddle, 
an' gallop up to Miss Rose, holdin' de squirmin' fox 
at arm's length, whilst her own color come back redder 
dan Ole Red's brush. 

" 'They shan't kill 'im,' laughed Marse Robert, 
'he's too game to die!' 

"Den he wheeled Priam, rid up to Miss Rose's sad- 
dle, an' said: 

" 'A merry race, my friends; an' ef you'll ride over 
to my home we'll' have a weddin' an' a dinner — ^Rosc 
an' I are goin' to marry." 

"An' dat's whut dey done — dey sho did!" 




Holdin' de Squikmin' Fox at Arm's Le.i«g\h.. 



HOW UNCLE WASH GOT RH) OF HIS 

MOTHERS-IN-LAW 

I WAS telling old Wash the other night that I 
thought the President was a great man and that 
if he didn't make any break from now on, as for instance 
about knocking out states' rights and undue blowing 
about the devilish little Japs who are itching to scrap 
with us, he would rank among the great pres- 
idents. 

The old man was thoughtful for awhile, looking into 
the fire. 

"Wal, sah, he sho' is got all de year-marks — sl 
senserble, dermestic wife an' no signs uv a muther- . 
in-law. Now, sah, befo' eny man kin be great he 
must fus' ax his wife an' arter he gits her consent he 
mus' ax his muther-in-law. No man kin be great, 
don't keer how much 'bility he's got, ef his wife is in 
society an' his muther-in-law is in de house. You 
can look all down de line, sah, an' when you finds dat 
combinashun you'll find a man whose growin' gourd 
uv greatness is liable to wilt eny day, like Jonah's, at 
de fus' good jolt it gits. Wid both uv 'em in society 
an' both in de house, why. Lord, boss, his gourd will 
nurver even sprout! 

" Did I uver tell you 'bout my 'sperience in dat line 
an' how nigh I cum to missin' greatness, all on account 
uv a few muther-in-laws? It wus a close shave an' if 
I hadn't seed de way de ship wus headed an' steered 

(59) 



6o "UNCLE WASH" 

out from dat combernashun, instead uv bein' dat gen'- 
man an' floserpher whose 'pinions you so highly values/ 
he chuckled modestly, "you'd a had a ole nigger fit 
only fur de woodpile an' de blackin' bresh." 

"Marse John," he laughed as he bit off a chew of 
Brazil Leaf Twist, bred in the hills of Maury, "did 
you kno' the ole man am a Only? The only man dat 
ever lived dat had fo' muther-in-laws at unct — driv' 
a fo'in-han' uv 'em, so to speak! Oh, I kno' what 
you 'bout to say, sah — ^but mine wus legitermates, 
de actu'l product uv de law an' matremony." 

"Nonsense," I said, "you couldn't have been 
married to four women at once, as sly an old coon as 
you are. Though I did hear Marse Nick Akin say 
that he knew of his own knowledge that you once had 
three wives but gave two of them to the preacher 
if he would make you an elder in his church, which 
bargain was duly consummated. Oh, I knew you were 
driving a very long string of tandems, old man, but 
four abreast? Tell about it." 

He laughed so loud the pointer jumped up from his 
bed on the rug before the fire and barked. 

" Did Marse Nick vi'late de conferdence I composed 
in his veracity?" he laughed again. "Wal, I jis' well 
tell it fur you'll nurver guess how it wus. 

"Long in de fifties I spliced up wid a likely young 
widder dat wus de sod-relic uv Br'er Simon Harris, 
a 'Piscopal brudder up at Nashville. Befo' dat she 
had been de relic of several gen'men uv colon Fur 
a week or so I wus so busy co'tin her dat 1 wa'n't 
very 'tickler jis' whut her entitlements an' habilerments 



UNCLE WASH'S MOTHERS-IN-LAW 6i 

wus, nur jis' whut mineral rights an' easements went 
wid de property. 

"Ts allers noticed it's dat a way in de co'tin' 
stage an' hits a wise dispensashun uv ole Marster to 
trap us all into matremony an' make us blin', lak 
snakes in August; an' ever' one uv us, when he gits 
his seckin' sight arter de entrapment, wakes up to fin' 
dat in de deed to de state uv matremony dar has been 
passed wid de free-hold a few hererditerments dat he 
didn't cal'culate went wid de Ian'. 

"Sum uv us, uv co'rse nurver gits dey seckin' sight 
at all. But he's bohn dat way ! 

"But I ain't talkin' uv dem. I's nurver writ a 
fool's almernac yit! 

"But I claims I am de only man dat ever got fo' 
muther-in-laws, when I didn't 'spec' to git eny! 

"Arter a breef but very pinted co'tship, in which 
I done de usual close settin', low layin' an' tall lyin', 
I hitched up my team an' driv' up to Nashville an' 
married Sally. Arter de circus I driv' de team 'round 
to de door fur to carry her home an' I went in fur to 
pack up her things. I got 'em all in one big box, fur 
Br'cr Simon hadn't been very felicertus in passin' 
round de hat, an' when I tuck it out to de wag'n dar 
sot Sally an' fo' uther ladies all es cheerful an' happy 
as fo' ole tabby-cats in a hay loft. 

" 'Dese am my muthers. Wash,' sez Sally sweetly, 
'an' uv co'se dey 's all gwine to live wid us.' 

" 'Look heah, gal,' sez I sorter faintly, 'I ain't 
nurver heerd uv enbody havin' mor'n one muther. 
Dcsc other three am jes' es dear,' sez she. 



<< t 



62 "UNCLE WASH" 

p'intin' to de three ole ladies, 'dat's Simon's muthcr, 
dat's mine, an' dem over dar — ' 

"Marse John, I nearly had a fit! Do you kno' dat 
gal had de mothers uv ever' one uv her fus' husbands 
dar an' claimin' dey wus mighty nigh to her ? 

"Dar wa'n't nothin' to do but to git a divorcement 
an' es I wa'n't quite ready fur dat yit, I made de bes' 
uv it an' driv' off; but I knowed if dar wus ever a day 
when I needed sum brains now wus de time. An' 
de three sod muthers, — dat wus de entitlement I give 
to de three muthers uv Sally's dead husbands, — dey 
wus jes' plain ole grannies, wid de usual tongue an' 
de perviserty fer huntin' up trouble dat wu natu'Uy 
predistined fur sumbody else. 

" But Sally's muther she wus a fine lookin' 'oman, 
jes a shade heftier an' handsumer than Sally so I 
teched her mighty tenderly an' gin her to onderstan' 
dat I fully intended to fulfill to de letter de scrip'tul 
injunshuns nv filial affecshuns. She wus a hefty 
'oman, sah, but she wus es bossy es she wus hansum, 
es I found out. De day she landed at home, sah, I 
seed she'd sot in to own de place an' in two weeks, 
sah, sides ownin' Sally an' de sod-muthers, she owned 
de mules, de cow, de pigs an' de farm, me an' my 
'ligious convicshuns an' perlitical preferment. 
But es I wus sayin', she wus a han'sum 'oman! 
Now I's allers willin' to be bossed fur a while by 
a handsum 'oman, but when it comes to dat batch of 
ole sod muthers dat looked lak busted bags uv dried 
apples, dat wus a nurr thing. But I's noticed dar is 
allers a kin' of communercashun 'mong women folks 



it 



UNCLE WASH'S MOTHERS-IN LAW 63 

es to de bossin' uv er man. It jis' travels by grapevine, 
or dis here wireless business in de air, to de end dat 
when one 'oman kin boss er man all uv 'em think dey 
can do it. 

"An' dey think right, only in dis case de thinkin' 
hadn't all ben dun yit. So dey all jes' put me down 
as dead easy. 

" I let 'em have free han' till de honeymoon wus over. 
I didn't think I orter mix eny vinegar wid dat; but 
by dat time de whole tribe uv 'em wus needin' sum uv de 
salt dat Lot's wife got, an' mebbe sum uv de fire an' 
brimstone dat wus de 'casion uv her saltin'. Wal, sah, 
dey sot in fur infairs an' didn't do nuthin' but eat fur 
two weeks. I had to give 'em three infairs myself an' 
then they gin to nose aroun' an' git my naburs to have 
infairs. Fur two weeks mo' dar wa'n't nuffm but 
infairs fur de bride, an' groom, fur my naburs wus 
polite, till dey wusn't a chicken or shote left in five 
miles uv my home, an' if dar had been a hard winter 
an' de white folks' chickens had roosted high, we would 
er had a hard time uv it. 

"Wal, I stood dat, 'caze dar wus a honeymoon an' 
good eatin' gwine on wid it, but 'long 'bout de thud 
week when de sod-mammies gin to tell me how I orter 
roach my hair an' run my farm I gin to lay my plans fur 
axshun. 

"Dey wus all 'Piscopaliuns, es I wus sayin', an' 
dey bleeved turrible in Good Friday; an' ever' Friday 
wus Good Friday wid dem when it come to eatin.' 
When I seed my chickens all gwine an' de pigs an' sich, 
I got so disgusted wid dese Good Fridays dat I wanted 



64 "UNCLE WASH 



fp 



to be a jay-bird fur a while so I cu'd git off to hell ever' 
Friday myse'f ! Frum dat dey begin to rub it in to 
me 'bout baptism an' so forth an' dat didn't tend to 
make me change in de resolushuns I had fixed up. 
I went on fixin' my plans an' layin' low, meek as 
Moses outwardly but inwardly full uv wrath. 

" By dis time dey gin to ax in all de bredderin uv de 
chu'ch to he'p 'em eat an' settin' up by moonlight wid 
'em a holdin' ban's an' prayin'. Now, sah, de hefty 
one nurver mixed up in dese small things — she wus 
layin' fur bigger game. She seed de sod-muthers wur 
managin' it all right an' as she knowed she owned dem 
an' Sally an' dey all owned me, why she let it res' at dat. 

"Sides dat, as I sed, she wus a han'sum 'oman! 

"I let it run on till de time whut dey call Ash 
We'nesday come, when dey all had a feast an' special 
prayers fur de souls uv all who had died frum de 
beginnin' uv de worl' till den, — or sumpin' nurr like it. 
I had already spent all my money an' dey had ordered 
lumber fur a new house, 'sides orgernizin' a society 
to build de nigger preacher in town a rookery. Dey 
called it a pay supper — ^an' 1 done all de payin' ! It 
wus all to cum off de night uv Ash We'nesday. 

"Now dat Ash bizness sot me to thinkin'. Here 
wus my home turned into a karnival uv noise an' 
carousin' an' drinkin' an' hoodoo'in', an' me payin' fur 
it. 

" ' Wal,' sez I to myse'f, 'I'll jes' turn dis thing into a 
Ash We'nesday sho' nufT, so I goes out an' cuts down a 
ash tree an' makes me a good, lithe stick dat would 
knock a bull down, an' den bounce back into yo' ban's. 



UNCLE WASH'S MOTHERS-IN-LAW 65 

Dat wus fur de bredderin. Den I broke up a good 
ash-bar' 1 an' made de paddles handy fur de sisterin, 
an' I sot 'em in de corner behin' de cup'ard. 

"De night cum, but dat time dey didn't keer nuff 
fur me to ax me into de feast. I wus jes' er common ole 
Baptis' nigger. I waited till dey wus all dar, de sod- 
muthers in white apruns, candles burnin' an' dude 
niggers an' niggeresses frum town and ever' whar, all 
s'posin' to be payin' fur a thing dat finally cum outen 
my pocket. I walked in an' sot down by de fire, but 
befo' I got sot good, one of dem dude niggers put er 
insultment on me. 

"Dat suit me all right. I didn't want to start de 
fight in my own house — dat wa'n't good manners — 
but soon es dat nigger put de insultment on me, I wus 
reddy. 

" 'Frien's,' sez I, 'I am a plain ole Baptis' nigger, 
but es I onderstan' it, dis am Ash We'nesday.' 

" ' You bet it am, ole Moses,' sez one uv de dudes, 
'an' it ain't a good place fur Baptis' to eat — dey am lia- 
bul to have de collect !' 

" I didn't see de p'int, but dey did, an' all laf d. 

" 'Yes,' sez I, 'he mou't, but he is mor'n apt to 
have stumic enuff left to read de burial sarvices over 
a few dudes,' an' I lit in. I'd locked de do' but fer- 
got de winder; but I heum tell arterwards dat only 
two niggers got out uv dar wid a soun' head, an' dey 
didn't stop runnin' till Easter mo'nin'! 

" I lit on de sod-muthers early in de game wid de 
staves uv de ash bar'l till dey wus meet fur repentunce, 
an' de nex' mo'nin' I sent 'em back to town whar I 



66 "UNCLE WASH" 

foun' dey all had husbands livin' dat dey had quit fur er 
easier job. Wal, dey had to take 'em back. 

"Now, sah, I wus keerful not to hurt Sally an' her 
mammy — dey wus both han'sum women, es I wus 
sayin'. 

" I wus now rid uv de sod-muthers, but how to git 
riduv Sally's mammy wus de nex p'int. I'd figured 
dat out too, case es I said, she wus a han'sum 'oman. 
De tacticks I used, boss, is whut'll s' prize you. 

"Bout de thud night when I had her alone for a 
while on de leetle porch an' we wus waitin' fur Sally 
to git supper, fur she had gone to wuck in earnest arter 
she seed how handy I wus wid de ash bar'l, sez I : 

" *A good meny men have muther-in-laws dat am 
homely. I's mighty proud uv mine,' sez I, 'she is so 
han'sum.' 

" 'Why, Washin'tun!' she sez, 'does you really 
think so?' 

" I seed it tickled her, an' arter a while I slipped over 
closer an' sed: 

" 'An' I nurver seed a muther-in-law wid sech 
b'utiful eyes as you is got', an' I took her han'. 

" Dat wus mor'n she cu'd stan' on er col' collar an' 
you orter seed her light out — ^light out an' he'p git 
supper, too! 

"I let it res' at dat. I's noticed dat too many 
fo'ks plants dey truck too fas' in de spring. An' at 
de same time I's nurver let er late frost keep me frum 
believin' it'll be summer by an' by. 

" De nex' night I sot out on de po'ch ag'in arter er 
hard day's wuck an' I tuck my stan' whar I wus de 



UNCLE WASH'S MOTHERS-IN-LAW 67 

night befo' fur I knowed de ole doe allers crosses de 
creek at de same place. Sho 'nuff, by an' by heah she 
cum tip-periy'iip — tipperty-iip. 

"An' all she wanted wus to ax me if I thought de 
weather wus gwine ter change! I sot up close ag'in an' 
sed: 

" 'Sum times er man makes a great mistake by 
marryin' in too big a hurry.' 

" 'How's dat?' she sed, tickled to death an' nestlin' 
up to me. 

"Why/ sez I, 'he marries de gal an' den he fin's out 
whut 'ud suit him bes' wus de muther — shoots at de 
doe an' kills de fawn/ sez I, slippin' my arm aroun' 
her wais'. 

" Up she jumps ag'in an' goes up mad lak an' big es 
a balloon. 

" 'Ain't you 'shamed uv yo'se'f?' sez she. 'I's 
gwine right in an' tell Sally.' 

" I knowed she wouldn't an' I set back an' chuckled. 
It wus all wuckin' to suit me an' I seed dar would soon 
be er complete separashun uv de chu'ch an' de 
state. 

"Now, sah, you'll wonder des why I'd play es hefty 
an' han'sum a 'oman es she is sich er trick, but I 'cided 
dat one wife in de house am enuff in dat place. 

"De thud night I had it fixed. I knowed she'd 
gone off mad, but I knowed a 'oman, arter one huggin', 
is like a dog burryin' a bone — She'll leave it fur awhile, 
but he's sho to cum back to it ag'in ! I jes' waited an' 
let her cum back, fixin' my plans. I tole Sally to set 
down in one comer uv de po'ch in de dark an' keep 



68 "UNCLE WASH 



>* 



quiet — dat I had er s'prize fer her to sho' how her vir- 
tuous husban' wus bein' inticed by de Philistine. 

"Dat wus enuff — she sot. 

"I waited till dark fore I cum an' den I stomped 
aroun', washed my face an' ban's, an' lit my pipe. 
An' heah she cum tipperty-tip an' all she wanted to 
kno' wus, // de moon had rii! 

*' I let her do de talkin', fur she wus ripe fur it, an' 
'bout de time she tole me dat she lubbed me frum de 
fus' an' dat I orter married her stead uv Sally, I heerd 
a scufflin' in de co'ner, — ^Sally riz up, dar wus much 
excitement an' scatterment uv hair an' when it wus 
over dar wus nobody on dat place but me an' Sally, 
an* I owned her.'* 



HOW UNCLE WASH PLAYED 
SANTA CLAUS 

"N TO, NO, Marse John," said the old man ,as he 
1 N staggered in the other night, "don't git excited, 
it ain't de ku klux done it. I ain't seed eny uv dem 
sense I tried ter be smart an' own a few po' white 
fo'ks arter de war. No, sah, it ain't kuklux," and he 
tried to sit down, but gave it up and held on to the 
arm of a chair. 

I was distressed for I had never seen the old man 
look like that. His head was bandaged in cotton 
batting and the eye he had left was trying to look at 
me through a slit in an arnica poultice. 

"Sit down," I cried, reaching for a bottle of horse- 
medicine I kept for him in the sideboard. 

" I can't, Marse John, I ain't got er spot lef to res' 
on. I's branded onbofehips wid de bar uv de cannon- 
cracker. If I tries to recumber longer-turdernal I 
lays on de bran' o' de sky-rocket, an' if I goes in fur 
horizontal recumbrance I gits on de spot lef by tor- 
pedoes. Dar ain't but one spot lef for me to res' on. 
If dars a iron hook in de wall jes' hang me up on it by 
de coat collar. I's be'n playin' Sandy Claws," he 
groaned — ^"tryin' to do lak white fo'ks an' lak de 
mos' uv dem kerried my religun too fur. " 

I did what I could to help him. 

"Ah, Marse John, didn't you put a lettle too much 
turkentine in dat whiskey? Lord, but I's a wrick uv 
myse'f. 

(69) 



70 "UNCLE WASH" 

" Ef I had it my way, " he went on, as he adjusted 
himself to a soft spot on the sofa, "dar jes' nurver 
would be emuther Kris'mus. Us niggers copies ever* 
thing frum de white fo'ks, even borrowin' dey religgun. 
But I's blest ef it fits us eny mor'n it fits some uv 
dem, an' dis Kris'mus is jes' er nuesence an' er non- 
sense. Why, Sah, de gloomes' time uv dey year is jes' 
alter Kris'mus. When de foolishness and de fiahwucks 
is all over dar ain't nuffin lef but tucky feathers, 
taxes and a tired stumic! You owe ever'body from de 
grocer's lergitermates to de ole-skin nabur dat saunt 
you a cyard headed, "De Foot-paths uv Peace," an' 
spen's de res ' uv de year scrappin ' wid you, kase you 
furgot to sen' him er fat pullit in return. Yo' taxes is 
due, yo' wood is out, yo' stumic is de only thing you 
knows you own, kase you kin feel dat's in revolt, an' 
you spen's de res' uv de year takin' to callermul an' 
tall timber. 

"When you look 'roun', sah, it's jes' awful — ^twixt 
dried holly hung around, orange peelin', dirt, chicken 
feathers an' fish bone, de home looks lak er wolf-den at 
weanin' time, de chillun ruint fur wuck an' school, an' 
dey cough and cut up lak distempered colts. Yo' 
wife's made pincushens an' Kris'mus gif's till she broke 
you, and her constertushun an ' gone to bed, dey cows 
got garget when dey oughter have milk, an' de cat you 
be'n tryin' to git rid of all de year bobs up wid er 
basketful uv kittins. 

"Ain't it strange, sah, dat we celerbrates de buff-day 
uv sech er man in sech er way? He cum to tell us to 
be meek, an' we starts in fur mischief; he tells us to git 



UNCLE WASH PLAYED SANTA CLAUS 71 

Migun, an' we all git drunk; he tells us to give, an' 
we do it wid de hopeuv git tin' mo' in return; he say 
be temprit, an' we start in to stuflF. His whole life 
wus to entice us to heaven, an' we gits so happy at de 
very thought dat we 'megiately starts oflF to hell wid 
er pocket full uv fiahwucks fur fear de Devil didn't 
have enuff uv his own down dar!" 

"Hold on, old man," I cried, "you have expressed 
just what I have been wanting to say all my life, but 
didn't have your flow of language ! Excuse me while 
I go to my iron safe and get a bottle of Frank Chaffin's 
twenty-year-old — ^that horse medicine is not good 
enough for such sentiments. I've got the other in my 
safe and I am the only man who knows the com- 
bination. "• 

"Ah, dat's better, Marse John," he said, a moment 
afterwards — ^"I's jes' be'n scorin' now — jes' watch me 
pace. 

"An' swappin' dese Kris'mus gifs. Lord, it do make 
me tired! It's lak de time ole Marster tole ole Miss he 
sold his fine hound fur er thousand dollars, an ' ole Miss 
wus so glad, kase she hated dat hound, he sucked de 
^gs. But she wus hot when she found out ole Marster 
had jes swapped him fur two five hundred dollar pups. 
Dat's Kris'mus givin 'all over. 
Kris'mus gifs now is jes' Kris'mus gittin', an' ever* 
man is jes tryin' to git his piece on earth an' de good 
will uvde other man long enuff to skin him endurin' 
de year. 

"Now, dar's Dinah. She starts in right after Jinuary 
an' spen's de res' uv de year gittin ready fur Kris'mus, 



44 
44 



72 "UNCLE WASH 



tf 



an ' no heathen in Af erca spen's a year uv harder wuck, 
whittlin ' his god out uv a gum-stump wid er clam shell, 
den my 'ligus ole 'oman does fixin' fur Kris'mus. 
'Save it fur Kris'mus, Wash,' is whut she chirps on 
frum Jinuary to Jinuary. She's tuck down de good 
ole sign I useter hav up in de house, 'Save a nickel and 
own a dime, ' an ' now all she's got up is, 'Save it all fur 
Kris' musV She drilled dis so in our chillun dat it 
lakter led to a 'vorcement wid our oldes' gal, Sally. 
Sally she married er nice nigger, but I soon seed sumpin' 
wus wrong. De nigger got mad an' started for a 
'vorcement, an' when I gits to de bottom uv it, he said 
Sally nurver had kissed him yit. I gin dat gal a strap- 
pin' an' she 'fessed up and sed she luved de nigger, 
but she luved 'im so hard she wus savin' de fust kiss 
fur Kris'mus! 

" I tell you, sah, it's jes got redikerlus de way we go 
on. Now heah's de way it wucks wid me: 

"We spen's de summer an' fall raisin' er flock uv 
tuckies es Kris'mus gif's fur our frien's. Fur dese we 
gits back er armful uv Foot-paths uv Peace' cyards, er 
few po' pullits an' er lot uv candy made in Black Bottom 
an' painted by dat Irish Dago you calls Mike Angelo. 
Fur de fall lambs er two we sen's out mos'ly to de 
preachers, we gits back sumpin ' dat looks lak wool, but 
it ain't, on de painted toys de chillun can't eat; an' 
fur de good gyarments Dinah makes an' distributes 
'mong her frien's, she gits back cobweb collars dat 
you can't wear an' hankerchefs dat you wouldn't 
no mo' think uv blowin' your nose in then you would 
in a sifter. 



UNCLE WASH PLAYED SANTA CLAUS 73 

"An' some fool 'oman had spent a half a year 
a-msikin' 'em. 

"O, we gits cyards er plenty. But I's noticed dat 
de ones dat sen's me de Toot-paths uv Peace' is allers 
in er scrap er fuss wid us, an' de very nigger dat led de 
prayer-meetin ' an' sent us dat framed card, 'Our 
Faith is Our Fishiency,' 'loped wid our darter an' 
tuck all de blooded chickens wid him dat night. Eny 
way, he didn't leave us a fishiency — no, not even a min- 
nery. 

" But I got enuflF now sense I played Sandy Claws 
last week." 

"You played Santa Claus after all you have said?" 
I asked. 

"Yes, sah, I played Sandy Claws, an' God knows I 
find his claws an' his paws, an' heah I pause," he 
winked, looking toward the sideboard. 

"Now, " he said, after he tapped the bottle, "I 
didn't wanter play dat Sandy Claws, but de church 
saunt er committee uv one — 2l mighty hansum an' hefty 
'oman to see me — ^Sis Tilly — ^an ' she begged me to do it 
jes' fur her sake. Now, es I sed she wus hansum an' 
Dinah wus bizy makin' Kris'mus gif's outen cotton 
battin, ' dog hair an ' exselor, dat ! knowed she wudn't 
kno' er side-steppin ' waltz from er breakdown, so I 
'cided to he'p Sis Tilly out. Dis led to a lot uv prac- 
ticin' twixt me an' Sis Tilly at de church, an' by de 
time dat Kris'mus night cum I wus fitten an' good. 
All de sisterin he'p fix me up wid whiskers uv fiah- 
wucks an ' things on my back, an ' when I wus finished 
dey said I wus hansumer den dey ever seed me befo'. 



74 "UNCLE WASH" 

an ' I had 'em, boss, whar I could er started er church 
uv my own wid all dcm sisterin es charter members. 
Two uvdebes' lookers kissed me kasede said dey nuver 
had kissed Sandy Qaws in dey life. When it comes to 
inventin' er reason fur eatin' furbiddin' fruit don't ole 
Eve's gals all over de wourl' sho' dey pedigree? But 
Sis Tilly wus de one I wus arter, an' she sed she wus 
gwine ter kiss me arter de ball ef I acted ole Sandy well. 

"De sisterin' had spent er week on de tree an' it 
looked mighty putty all lit up, new candles all over it 
an' in de house. De leetle niggers sot in de front pew 
waitin ' fur ole Sandy lack dey knowed him all dey life, 
an' de church wus full an' all uv dem happy an' me de 
biggest man in de bunch, prancin' behind de stage wid 
Kris'mus in my bones an' feelin lak ole Tom Hal at de 
fust signs uv blue grass in de spring. Br'er Jones, de 
preacher, wus makin' er leetle talk an ' tellin' de chillun 
de usual lies about ole Sandy, an' what er mighty man 
he wus, an' heah 1 cum prancin' out, lak er blin' horse 
over 'tater rows. 1 wus so dazed when I cum out I 
cu'dn't see nuffin but holly an' wool all over de house. 
But I seed Sis Tilly on de f us' bench wid er big smile on 
reddy to vote in de affermative. 

" 'Dar's old Sandy! Dar's ole Sandy!' dey all 
shouted, an' sech er hurow! 

" It wus up ter me to act, an' 1 done my bes', but I's 
reached dat stage, like all ole men, when I thinks I 
wants a whole lot mo' than 1 do, an' 1 out-acted my- 
self. 1 ripped an ' 1 r'ared, 1 pranced an' I prared an' 
shuck my head at de chillun lak er billy goat, whilst 
cver'body howled an' de organ struck up. 



UNCLE WASH PLAYED SANTA CLAUS 75 

"I's heerd, sah, dat Marse Horns Greely sed dat 
ef our foresight wus es good es our hindsight we'd be 
better off by a dam sight, but dat is whar Marse Horris 
wus wrong — it wus my hindsight dat went back on me, 
fur in prancin' an' backin' aroun' I backed dat pack 
o' fiahwucks into a lighted candle an' jes es de congre- 
gashun struck up dat good ole hymn, 'Shell I be kerned 
I0 de skies an flowery beds uv ease,' I heerd sumpin' goin' 
off in my rear like de parked guns at Shiloh.an' I 
started to de skies sho' nuff, an' nuffiin but de cealin' 
kept me frum gwine on! It looked like ter me fur 
ten minets I rid de air on fiah wucks. Two cannon 
crackers tuck off my boots, my pants went out de 
winder actin' as de tail uv er skyrocket, er torpedo 
scattered my stumic till de feathers looked lak snow 
fallin', I wus sot afiah from my shurt to my whiskers, 
an' ef I hadn't lit in de baptismal pool when I fell, God 
knows I Vudn't er bin heah to-night. 

"I'd bin baptized twice befo, but I nurver seed eny 
candidate go into de water so willing agin. I's allers 
sed emershun wus de only way o' salvashun', an' now, 
thank God, 1 kno's it ! 

" But so he'p me, sah, dem fiahwucks wus so spiteful 
dey even kep' a poppin' under de watah. Dey sed 
it wus a sight ter see dey blue balls an' yaller balls 
cum bilin ' outen dat dar baptismal pool an ' sprinklin ' 
Baptis' niggers wid Presbeterian doctrine. 

"When I got up near 'nuff to peep over de brim, 
de mos' uv de congregashun wus under de benches, but 
Br'er Jones had be'n blowed up astraddle de stove pipe 
an' de benzine and bar's oil dat he'd greesed his hair 



76 "UNCLE WASH 



99 



wid wus a-fiah. One uv my boots, wid er skyrocket in 
it, had caught Sis Tilly in de mouf jes es she opened it to 
led in de singin'. She c'udn't talk, but she wus 
gwine 'round makin' signal fur sumbody to git er boot 
jack and pull it out. Nearly ever nigger dar had 
caught er red ball or er yaller ball an' wus bilin' out uv 
doors an ' winders cussin ' Sandy Claws an ' all his kin. 

"By dis time I wan't lookin' fur yaller balls nor 
black balls, but I sot up to my neck in de watah b^gin' 
fur a high ball ! Some still had sense enuff lef ' to put 
out de fiah wid watah frum de pool, an' when dey pulled 
me out I didn't have on nuffin but a dough face, some 
burnt whiskers an' patches uv chicken feathers an' 
er leetle skin in spots. 

"No, nobody b'leeves in Sandy Claws dar now, nor 
in de preacher dat lied to 'em, nor in me, dat tried to 
find Sandy an' found his claws. De fac' is, de plan uv 
sal vashun is mighty nigh blowed up in dat chu'ch. " 



SPOTTY-CUSS 

*'My ole marster promised me 
Ef I broke de re'kurd he'd set me free — 
My ole marster de'd an' gohn — 
He left Br'er Washin'tun hillin' up corn," 

THE old man now sleeps in a room in the bam. 
He says he wants to pass away in a manger 
with the smell of hay, and the maunching horses around 
him. He was bom with them, he says, and he wants 
them around him when he dies. So I had him moved 
there over a year ago. Now, a friend gave me some 
game chickens at the same time — some of his fine 
war-horse breed. I thought all war-horses ought to 
be in a bam, so I gave them that building for their 
very own. I had been told that all summer they had 
been roosting on the head of the old man's bed. It is 
tme I thought they were laying precious few eggs ; but 
I have never permitted myself to doubt the old man's 
honesty. Now and then I had heard him say that a 
pullet had lain an egg in his hair or down his shirt 
collar, or deposited one at intervals in his shoes by the 
bedside, which he had appropriated, of course, "bekase 
she had acted so sassy," as he explained it. But of 
late that had ceased> and now he wanted a change made 
about their roosting. Because, as he had told it, in 
the middle of the night, last night, just as he was 
dreaming he was making a talk to the congregation at 

(77) 



8o "UNCLE WASH 



9f 



us-or sumpin' nu'ur lak dat — I didn't kno' uv course, 
so she sot in wid one boy de fus' yar, two de naixt, an' 
three de th'ud. So I had to put dat ar 'oman erside 
an ' saunt 'er to her folks an ' tole 'em de only safe place 
fer her wus housemaid in er nunnery. Wal, sah, I 
named dat fus' boy George Washin'tun — ^for Booker's 
daddy, you kno' — " 

"George Washington had no children," I hastened 
to say. 

"Ter be sho," said the old man, scratching his head 
dubiously. "You don't say so. Wal, to be sho! but 
dey was makin ' sech a horay over dat ar Booker dat I 
'lowed he sho mus' be George's son. I's heum tell 
he sed in his book he was 'most too young when he was 
fus' bom to 'member 'zactly who his daddy wus an' 
his mammy forgot to tell 'im befo' she died; but I 
notice how all de papers now call 'im 'de son uv our 
country, an' es I's allers heurn de ole man Washin'- 
tun called de Father uv our Country, it 'peared to me 
he cum by his entitlements nach'ly. An' den all three 
uv us is named Washin'tun," said the old man proudly. 

"But I'll say one thing about my George: Dat ef 
he'd happen to be swappin' yams in de back yard uv 
de Whitewash House wid de Preserdent, when de dinner 
bell rung, an' de Preserdent had slapped 'imon de 
back an' said: 'George, ole man, go wash yo' ban's 
in de pan by de pump on de back po'ch, whar you see 
dat bar uv Gran' pa soap, an' wipe 'em on de rollin' 
towel, ef de kids hes lef a clean spot on it, an' cum 
in an' break bread wid us, whilst we discuss how to 
wipe out de color line in de Sou'f an' pass on de peder- 



SPOTTY-CUSS 8i 

grce uv de Jones family, d'ye think he'd a dun it?" 
asked the old man, brusquely. 

" I don't see why, " I said. " I think I should. " 

The old man shook his head: "Uh-er-r-r! You 
cain't see fur 'nuff, chile; It's de hoss dat can see 
furdest 'roun' de comer uv de last turn inde home 
stretch dat's apt to get to de wire fust. " 

" 'No,' George 'ud said, in his fine way — fur George 
was aigecated: 'Please 'scuse me. Mister Preserdent, 
from performin' eny evolushun wid de nigger inde 
North dat'll make eny mo' hemp grow fur 'em inde 
Sou'f. Yo' intenchuns am good, but you don't seem 
to kno' dat we don't keer so much 'bout de honor uv 
eatin' one dinner er year wid you. Whut's botherin' 
us is whar we gwine git de other three hundred an 
sixty-fo' ! An ' we're got to git 'em out uv de Souf. ' 

"But George died," he said sadly; "Genusesallers 
do. At de country fair he went ag'in de rekurd uv 
eatin' sixteen pies in two minutes, an' done it in 
1 : 59I — ^Star Pointer's time. But it kil't him." 

The old man wept. I had to give him another dram. 

" It was 'long in '68, arter de war, dat I raised de 
raal wurl-beater I started to tell 'bout. Dem wus hard 
times den, when dey sot us free an ' ole Marster quit 
feedin' us. De ole mare starved to de'th, de colt died 
— ever'thing died but de 'leben chillun we had, de 
house dorg an' er speckled shote we called Spotty- 
cuss. Now, Spotty-cuss wus bred for bacon, but ole 
granny Natur is mighty kind, an ' when she changes de 
kondishun uv animals she changes dey instinct. De 
Lord tempers de wind to de shorn lam', an' when dat 



82 "UNCLE WASH" 

shote found he want gwin'ter git no mo' to eat, an' if 
he survived at all he mus ' do it by out runnin ' de free 
niggers, he quit takin on bacon an' went in fur speed. 
From a fat, roun' Buckshur uv de good ole slavery 
days, he turned into er long snout, two years, er roach 
back an ' long tail an ' fo ' cat hammed legs that cu'd 
jump er ten rail fence eny moon light night, or run 
'cross er county in a close place. He had de mos' 
deceptive trot in de wurl'. 

"It wus fun to see 'im sorter trot er long lak he wus 
lookin' fur acorns, an' cover twenty miles er hour, 
an' ef ter nigger got at 'im he'd just say, 'Whoof T 
an' dat coon would have to jedge by de soun' uv his 
voice which way he went through de air. 

"Long 'bout dat time ole Marster got inter er 'spute 
wid er man named Stallins 'bout which hoss cu'd beat 
— ole Marster's or Stallin's. It wus in de fall uv de 
year an' it looked lak starvashun for me dat winter, 
when one day jes befo' de fall fair I seed dis stuck up 
in a tree by de road," and the old man pulled out an 
old print, yellow with age, and I read aloud: 



"a challenge." 



"The Honorable Jere Stallings will match his thrce- 
ycar'old filly, Arcalia, against any horse in Maury Co. — 
play or pay — ^for f 500, fall fair 1868. 

"N. B.^Dr anything else on four legs that wears 
hair!" 



The old man laughed. "Now dat End Bee per'd ter 
me to let Spotty<uss in an' I seed my chance. I tell 



SPOTTY-CUSS 83 

you, boss, Ts lived er long time, but de main thing in 
dis life is ter see de chances dat come. You may be 
sho' dey'll come. 

"Wal, I started at once to train Spotty-cuss. Now 
dat wus easy 'nuflF — he had de speed an' all I had to do 
wus to keep 'im hongry. I put 'im in er log crib wid 
no cracks, fur he cu'd go through two inches 'an' gin 
'im er leettle hot bran mash ever other day in slop. When 
he got too hongry I'd have de kids rub 'im down wid 
corn-cobs 'twell he went to sleep in de sunny comer. 
Ts heurn tell dat sev'ral drivers do dat way now to git 
speed, but I first thort it up. 

" When I went to feed 'im two uv de kids would take 
'im off in a box a mile from home; den I'd pull out 
my watch an' holler: 'Pig-^e-wbochupl fVbochupl an' 
time 'im es he cum. At de soun' uv my voice 
he'd light out — de boys sed all dey would heah 
wus his tail crack es he wen' through de air, an' de 
naix minnit he'd be at home wid his nose in de slop- 
bucket. 

"De white folks was so busy 'sputin' fur a place dc 
day uv dc fair dey don't pay no 'tenshun to me an' de 
kids when wc tuck Spotty-cuss in his box to de haid uv 
de stretch. Dar wus half a dozen hosses in, 'sides ole 
Marstcr's an' Stallins'. De war had ruined allde 
'roun' tracks, so dey had dis laid off straight away 
down in a meador bottom. De boys sot de box at one 
end wid de hosses in line, an' I stood jes' beyant de wire 
wid de slop an' bran mash. He hadn't had none fur 
nigh two days an' wus hongry crnuff to eat er keg uv 
b'iled gimlits. At de crack uv de gun, when, de hosses 



84 "UNCLE WASH" 

started, de kids turned 'im loose jes' es I hollered, 
* PigHe-whoo^pV an' heah he come! 

"De fus' thing he done was run under de nigh hoss 
an ' take de pole, an ' f rum dere on he led de whole gang 
home, me hollerin' 'Pig-^e-wbochupV de riders hol- 
lerin' an' whippin', an de folks goin 'crazy ter see a 
razor-back beat thurrerbreds. 

" I have never seed nuthin run es he did. He jes 
bored a hole thru ' de air. An ' ole Marster sez, he come 
so fas' he tho'rt it wus war times agin, fer dat horg 
made a noise through de air lak a bomb-shell, his tail 
poppin on de end lak de fuse. He beat 'em er mile an' a 
half in de mile an' when de crowd seed it an' caught 
on, you nuver seed sech laffin. ' 

"Wal, sah, Stallin's didn' wanter see it dat way, 
but de la'f wus on 'im, de crowd wus fer me, an' I 
went up an' claimed de money under dat End Bee. 
Dis made Stallins red-hot an' he 'lowed he kick us both 
off de groun's. 

"Now, de bes' frien' a nigger has is de white man 
dat's onc't owned 'im. Ole Marster drawed his gun 
an' sed ef he touch arry one uv us dar w'ud be a fun'- 
ral; dat his filly was naixt ter Spottycuss, an' ef he 
didn't claim de money nobody else c'ud. 

"Dat settled it, an' dey paid it ter me, an' dat," 
said the old man proudly, "gin me my start, thanks to 
ole Marstcr's grit an' Spotty-cuss' speed!' 



\9f 



MISS ANrNETTE'S PROVIN\ 

IT was a sharp gallop across the pasture and a quick 
turn into the woodlot. 

"And now we must run for it, Antoinette — ^for the 
the old man's cabin — or we will get a drenching for our 
laziness. So here goes, good filly — show the clouds 
your heels." And she did, the sly witch. This was 
just to her mind. She was too full of golden running 
blood, mingled with the silver strains of the saddler, 
not to love a good run whenever she got a chance. 
Nothing suited her better than to run through the blue 
grass lot, where the turf, pressed by her shapely hoofs, 
rose like a sponge under them and gave to her bound 
the elasticity of a fawn's. 

The rain came down in big drops as we cleared the 
ditch. I saw the shower behind us as I looked back, 
and felt a thickening of the mist in my face. But the 
next instant the filly was bolting like a quarter horse 
across a level plot, swept perilously swift through the 
narrow little gate that stood open near the cabin door, 
and, with a quick snort that scattered half a dozen 
chickens which had run under the old darky's shed, 
out of the rain, she came to a halt under the big shed, 
tossing and shaking her head gleefully, and half rising on 
her hind feet, as if she longed to get out and try it over 
again. But the rain was pouring down by this time, and 
the old darky had run out, and now stood at the filly's 
head, true to his raising, while I dismounted. 

(8s) 



86 "UNCLE WASH" 

"Hi, hi!" he laughed, "but wa'n't she comin 'briefly 
'cross dat pastur? Didn't she split dem rain-drops 
wide? Oh, she's er darling, is dis Ant'nette! Jes 
lak her grandam by de same name. My, 1 jest nachelly 
luvs ennything wid dat name. But cum in an' dry 
yere cloze. Dinah's got de fiah hummin' by now. 
We seed you comin' an' Dinah feered you gwi' git wet, 
but I 'lowed you w'udn't. Sez I : 'A good boss am 
better' n a rubber coat in a rainstorm, and dat's 
what you had. ' 

"I knowwhut I'm talking' 'bout,' he added, "'fur I 
raised her grandam — ^thurrer-bred mare — belonged to 
Miss Ant'nette, my young mistress. De best filly dat 
ever stood on iron or swum er flood. " 

1 smiled at the ambiguity of old Wash's remarks, and 
started in the cabin to dry my boots and hear his daily 
report of the lambs and calves, for he tended to both 
on the farm. 

We had reached the cabin door, and in his eagerness 
to tell me all about the filly's grandma, he ran over his 
little grandchild standing in the doorway, watching 
us in open-mouthed wonder. The child screamed, 
and the old man indignantly slapped it across the 
cabin floor, where it rolled itself up in straw tick and 
smothered its yells. A moment later, it had its head 
out, as if nothing had happened, and was listenting 
with evident satisfaction to hear what would happen 
next. 

"Hit makes me mad," said the old man, apolo- 
getically, "to see de no-mannered ways uv dis heah 
young generashunuv niggers. Dey stan' an' gape at 



MISS ANTNETTE'S PROVIN' 87 

white folks, lak dey nurver seed eny thing uv de kind 
befo.' 

"Does you think de gen 'man am a white elerfant, 
sah?" he shouted ironically at the straw tick. 

A short, apologetic wail came up from the straw, and 
then hushed in a most sudden, inquisitive manner. 

"Mebbe you think he's er brass ban' an' er ban'- 
waggin, " he shouted again, with sarcasm. 

" I tell you, sah," said the old man, addressing him- 
self to me, "dat boy's mammy was aigucated an' you 
sees whut de offspring cum to. Ef dis thing keep on an ' 
de nigger race git a leetle more aigucashun, it won't 
have sense ernuf lef ter take keer uv itself. " 

"But I started to tell you 'bout Miss Ant'nette," 
he said, and then, going to the old mantle, he took 
down a rare old daguerreotype and put it in my hands. 

It was a beautiful piece of art, the work of the famous 
old daguerreotyper, Brady, of New York, and as rare 
as beautiful, one of those exquisitely natural things 
which modern photography with all its science, has 
never yet approached. 

A young girl of twenty, in a neatly turned riding 
habit, as simple as it was elegant, looked out at me 
from under a large, full hat, with eyes as romantic as a 
shadowy moon, and yet as full of love and light and 
warmth as the stars. Around the hat circled a most 
splendid ostrich feather — one giant and beautiful plume 
— ^which fell over the hat and half circled around her 
graceful neck, in a profusion of rich and glorious splen- 
dor. Her face was pure Southern, with a classic, 
lilting fullness and charming hauteur that was queenly. 



88 "UNCLE WASH" 

The old man greatly enjoyed my surprise and the 
unconcealed admiration in my face, and he finally 
burst out enthusiastically: 

"Dat's de filly I wus tellin' you erbout, Gord bless 
her sweet soul! Dat's Miss Ant'nette, my young mis- 
tress. De same dat de mare wus named fur," and he 
could hardly contain himself in his anxiety, in his own 
inimitable way, to tell it all. 

"When de war broke out, it was pull Dick, pull 
Devil, es to which army should have Middle Tennessee. 
When Donelson fell, de Yankees had us, an' when 
Bragg went into Kentucky, why we jes' nachuUy had 
dem. 

"An' de raids — Gord, sah, I nurver got as tired uv 
raids in my life! It wus fus' Wilder, an' den Forrest, 
an' den Wilson, an' den Wheeler, twell it looked lak 
our corn crib nurver would get any rest. Meny an' 
meny er night I've gohn to bed an' didn't know when 
I wake up whether I be er Yankee or er Johnny Reb. 
Gord bless your soul, honey, I didn't want er hurt no- 
body's feelin' an' git up no fight, an' I allers made it 
er pint to ergree wid de side dat hilt de fort on Duck 
River, an' had dey guns sorter pinted t'words my 
cabin. ' Ef it wus Marse Abe Lincoln's guns, I wus fur 
Marse Abe, an ' ef it wus Marse Jeff Davis ' guns, I wus 
fur Marse Jeff. 

"But Miss Ant'nette didn't change! Gord, sah, no! 
She wus rebel frum de sassy-lookin' turn uv her he'd 
to de sole uv her leetle feet dat twinkled lak daisies 
when she run over de lawn. An' as fur her bein' 
feered! Lord, she jes' turned up her nose at de 



MISS ANTNETTE'S PROVIN' 89 

whole Yankee army! She wasn't feered uv nothin', 
altho' she looked lak er lily in er ball room. 

"We all thout she an' Marse Luchus wus gwin'ter 
marry befo' de war broke out. I can't tell when de 
time wus dey wa'n't sweethearts. Dey plantashuns 
jined an' dey went to skule togedder an' dey grewed 
up togedder, an' jes' nachelly luv each yudder, an' 
wus made fur each yudder, lak sunshine an flowers. 
Wy, sah, when Marse Luchus wus er leetle boy, he 
useter write poltry to Miss Ant'nette, an 'send it on er 
silver waiter by a nigger boy wid de Chester moner- 
gram. I disremember sum uv dat poltry now," 
said the old man, repeating very slowly and with much 
misgivings : 

'Ef I luved you lak you luve me. 
No knife could cut our luv in two.' 

"Now, ain't dat good poltry fur er boy?" he asked. 

"Quite," I smiled. "It's a wonder they had not 
captured him for some of the magazines. Its fully 
up to their standard. " 

"No, no," said the old man quickly, "dey cudn't 
captur' him! De Yankees tried dat. Dat's whut I's 
gwin'ter tell you 'bout. I 'clar ter goodness, I don't 
know whut luvers would do ef dey cudn't quarl ever 
now an' den. I don't b'leeve dar would ever be er 
marriage in de wurl. Fur quar'ls seem to act on luv 
lak pepper an' saltpeter on fatnin' horgs; er kinder 
change in de diet, you know — sumpin to make 'em 
eat mo' when dey git back to dey legitermates." 

"Now, heah wus Miss Ant'nette an' Marse Luchus 



90 "UNCLE WASH 



99 



gwine on luvin' each yudder lak two leetle patterges 
all dey life twell jes' es de war broke out. Den on de 
eve uv dat fool war, when it look lak Gord dun shet de 
pastur' gates uv heab'n on de wurl, an turn his back on 
us, an' dun gohn off in the medders to feed his lambs 
an' sheep up dar, an' let let dorgs and wolves fight 
it out on de outside, heah dese two chilluns, dat luve 
each udder hard ernuf to die fur it, jes' up an' gits 
mad an' parts in mizery, when de chances wus de/d 
nurver see each udder ergin. 

" Hit happened at de ball at Miss Ant'nette's de night 
befo' de soljers marched to de war. All de young 
officers wus dar, to dance de farewell dance, befo' 
dey went into dat dance uv death, an' hit wus a pooty 
pictur, ef dar ever wus one. De plumes an' unerforms 
an' silk dresses an' sashays, an' low-necks, an' tura- 
yer-partners an' gold and lace promenade — uv dat 
cump'ny, Gord, sah. Miss Ant'nette wus de queen, an' 
Marse Lushus was King. 

"He'd bin 'lected Cap'n uv his comp'n'y, an' ef dey 
urver wus er bohn soljer, he wus de one! 

"Dar wus a young man at dat ball Marse Lushus 
didn't lak — he nurver had laked him — tho' his folks 
wus rich an' he had fine cumpa'ny manners an' all 
dat. He wa'nt our kinder white folks, dat's all, an' 
Marse Lushus knowed it, an' he axed Miss Ant'nette 
not to waltz wid dat kinder man. Miss Ant'nette sor- 
ter laf an' say: 

" 'Luchus, you ain't jelus uv Mister Brice, are you?* 
an ' she give him er look dat would make de heart beat 
in a marble man. 



MISS ANT'NETTE'S PROVIN' 91 

" ' I'm jelous uv nobody, Ant'nette, ' he said proudly. 
An' then he whisper'd in her leetleyear, * fur I wearde 
ring an' de promise uv de only queen in de wurl.' 

"Miss Ant'nette blush an' say: 'An', sir knight, 
would you not have your queen beluved?' 

" 'It ain't dat,' sed Marse Lushus, '1 don't blame 
ennybody fur doin' whut 1 can't help doin' myself — 
luvin you, ' he said, 'but I don't want you to waltz 
wid Mister Brice. 

" 'O, ho,' say Miss Ant'nette, wid er leetlelaf, 'I 
see; you willin' nuff fur me ter be queen, but you 
want er be king, too. ' 

"Marse Luchus flushed an' looked sorter vexed. 

" 'De questun uv whuther or not I shall waltz,' she 
went on, sorter 'tarmined lak, 'I will decide fur my- 
self, wid mama's consent; but ef you kno' Mister 
Brice is not er gent' man, I think you should tell 
me.' 

"Marse Luchus turned quick es er shot. Then he 
sed, 'I could not es er gent' man tell you mo' in his 
absence than I tole him ter-day ter his face — 2l dastard 
in peace an' er tra'ter in war,' I knowed whut I wus 
sayin', he said, 'an' he dared not resent it.' 

" 'But I've already promised ter waltz wid 'im,' 
said Miss Ant'nette ergin, sorter 'tarminedly. 

" 'Ant'nette, ' said Marse Lushus, slowly and sternly, 
'ef you waltz wid dat man I'll tell you good-bye fur 
ever. ' 

" Dat wus er bad break fur Marse Lushus ter make, 
fur Miss Ant'nette cum frum stock es proud an' 
'tarmined es his'n. 'Sides dat, it put her in de 



92 "UNCLE WASH" 

light uv bein' de wooer, an' I'll nuver furgit de proud 
an' ladylak way she cum back at 'im: 

" 'An so you hang the desterny uv our luve on er 
threat, would you? So be it, Cap'n Chester. You 
will yet learn dat luve can be led but nurver driven!' 
An' then she turn an' bow lak de queen she wus to dat 
Mr. Brice, who cum up jes' den ter claim his waltz, an' 
den she jes' waltzed erway wid 'im. 

" Fur er minnit I seed Marse Lushus turn white es er 
stone, an' I thout he'd faint, spite uv de grit I knowed 
wus in 'im. Den he wheeled in er millertery way an' 
turned his back on de ballroom an' he beckin' ter me 
an' I followed 'im. He went in de sittin' room, sot 
down by de table, tuck out paper an' pencil, an' writ 
on de paper. Den he pulled off er ring he had on his 
finger — er plain gold ring — ^put de ring in de note, riz 
an sed: 

" 'Carry dis ter yore young Mistis. ' An ' as I bowed 
ter go, he hilt out his han' ter me in his frank way an' 
sed, " Good-bye, Uncle Wash. My comp'ny will march 
at daylight.' 

"When I got back to de ball-room, de waltz wus over, 
an' I foun' Miss Ant'nette settin' in de bay winder an' 
dat mister man, talkin' es onconsarned es ef nothin' 
hed happened. I stop an' bowed befo' her es perlite 
es I cud. She beckin me ter cum up. Den I axed her, 
sorter low, ef I wus ter deliver her er note I had fer her. 
She laf an' sed, *of course,' an' I handed it ter her all 
crumpled up 'round de ring. She didn't kno' de ring 
wus dar, an' it fell out. Mister Brice picked it up er 
kinder beamin' smile on his face an' han' it ter hen 



MISS ANT'NETTE'S PROVIN' 93 

She wus deadly pale but she laf an' thank im' an' ax 
im' ter 'scuse her whilst she red de note. 

"When she finished it she wus paler still, but game 
ter de las' fur she smile es ef nothin' wus de matter, 
say sumpin' pleasant to Mr. Brice, an' han' 'em both 
back ter me wid er laf an' say: 'Thank you; you 
may go now an' have 'em bofe fur yore trouble,' an' 
I got 'em ter dis day," said the old man, as he looked 
in a small box behind the daguerreotype on the mantel, 
and brought forth a plain gold ring and a crumpled 
note. 

" I disremember de note," he said, "but hits mighty 
pooty poltry, an' I'll ax you ter read it ter me." 

I took it and read aloud. 

" From the rose you have brushed its sweet sparkle of 

dew. 
From the peach the soft satin that gave it its hue; 
You have touched all too roughly the butterfly's wing. 
And shaken the bloom where the honey bees cling; 
You have breathed on the bubble that young love had 

blown. 
And the rosebud of love from its stem you have torn. 
You have wakened the sleeper ere his dreaming was 

through. 
And so my fair waltzer, gay waltzer, adieu!" 

"De naixt momin,' sho, 'nuflf, Marse Luchus was 
gohn, but dat Mister Brice wa' n't gohn, an' es de war 
went on an ' he made f us one excuse an ' den ernuder, 
I gun ter think Marse Luchus 'bout sized 'im up right. 



94 "UNCLE WASH 



t$ 



an' when he turned tra'ter, 1 knowed Marse Luchus 
wus right. 

"An' I clar ter goodness I lak ter got mad wid Miss 
Ant'nette fur de way she kerried on wid 'im. She rid 
wid 'im an' went wid 'im t'well it got ter be de sayin' 
in der county dat she gwine marry 'im. But 1 seed thru' 
dat. She wus jes' too proud ter let enybody kno' 
she keers for Marse Luchus, fur aldough she laf an' 
flirt wid dat mister-man, after a battle, when de news 
cum dat Marse Luchus wus mighty nigh dead, I foun' 
her one night on der front porch all huddled up in der 
dark an' er cryin' ter herself. 

"Wal, suh, den cum de raids I wus tellin' 'bout. 
De Yankees tuck de town fust, an' I'll nuver furgit 
de day 1 seed my fust Yankee. It was Gineral Wilder 
hisself, er fme-lookin' man on er fine hoss, an' when he 
rid up ter our gate ter ax me 'bout de road an' I seed 
his blue unerform an' dat de wus er Yankee, I lak ter 
drapped in my tracks, 1 wus so 'stounded! Wy, 
man-er-live, he looked just lak our folks! I'd heurd 
so much 'bout 'em twell I thort dey wus furrin kinder 
creeter, er cross 'twixt eriginal sin an' de devil wid 
horns an' skaley backs, an' all dat. But when I seed 
dat nice-lookin' gen 'man an' heum 'im talk so nice an' 
perlite. Flowed den an' dar dat Yankees wus white 
folks, too, an ' I sed ter myself, ' dis gwine er be er white 
folks war, an ' cr long an ' bloody one. ' 

"But one mohnin' dey wus a terribul clatter an' 
shootin ' down de rode. Our folks wus makin ' er raid, 
an' Marse Luchus an' his comp'ny hed rushed thru 
de town, driv de Yankees cross de bridge over de ribber, 



MISS ANTNETTE'S PROVIN' 95 

burnt all de millertery stores, an' wus erway befo' de 
big force cud cum up ter de rescue. 

"Bimeby, I heurd er turribul clatter an' runnin' 
down de pike, an ' heah dey cum by our house, Marse 
Luchus in de lead — gallopin', gallopin' ! 

"Dat mister-man wus in de parlor den, but when 
Miss Ant'nette seed Marse Luchus at de haid uv his 
comp'ny, fur he'd now riz to be kunnel, dough he 
didn't have but er han'ful wid 'im dat day, she didn't 
pay no mo' tenshun ter dat Brice man den ef he bin 
er poodle dorg, an' her eyes danced, an' she'd laf er 
leetle an' cry sum, an' all de time she would be sayin' 
sorter low, " Oh, ain't he gran'! Ain't he gran'! 

"I seed dey wus headed fur de bridge over Big 
Bigby, an ' 1 knowed de bridge wus burned, an ' dat ole 
Bigby wus on er reg'lar t'ar, an' would swim er reger- 
ment, 'na Marse Luchus didn't kno' it. I'd heurn, 
too, dat on 'count uv sum war killin' dey had sot er 
price on Marse Luchus' head, an' would pen 'im up 
dar an' kill 'im. So I run down ter de fence an' es 
Marse Luchus passed by I hollered out: 

" ' Marse Luchus, de bridge over Big Bigby is burned, 
an' de creek is boomin'! Strike 'cros he fiel' fur de 
upper ford! Strike 'cross he fiel' fur de bridge on de 
yudder side!' An' dey wheeled an' tuck me at my 
wurd. 

" But when Marse Luchus went by, I seed his hoss 
wus shot an' de blood wus jes' streamin' frum his 
flank, an' I knowed he cudn't mo'r'n git over Bigby 
befo' his hoss boun ter give out, an' I run back ter 
de house an tole Miss Ant'nette. 



96 "UNCLE WASH" 

"When I tole her, suh, I seed de jig wus all up wid 
dat mister-man. She run ter ole Marster an ' cotch his 
han' an' cried: 'O, don't let 'em ketch 'im, papa!* 
An' befo' ole Marster cud say eny thing she turned 
ter me an sed: 'Saddle Ant'nette quick!' 

"Ant'nette wus her saddle mare — ^three-quarters 
thurrerbred an' de yudder quarter better bred, an' 
she wus de proudes', gracefuUes creeter dat ever 
kerried er mistis; no man had erver bin on her back 
an' her mouf wus as tender es de mouf uv luve, an' 
her sides es soft as de cheek uv er gal, an' her legs es 
cordy an ' hard es er boss uv bronze. Run? She cud 
run lak er quarter boss, an' stay at it lak er steam 
engine. 

" I wus so shaky I cudn't hardly saddle de mare! It 
jes' peered lak my fingers all got stiff at onct, lak dey 
do in winter time. I cudn't hardly buckle de girth, 
an' my legs lak ter shake me off en de groun' but dat 
mare seem to kno' what wus up, an' dat I wus rattled 
an' no 'count, an' she jes' rubbed her sweet leetle 
nose ergin me so playful, lak es ef she'd say: 'Be cool, 
'ole man, an* put de saddle on; I'll do de res'. ' 

"In er minnit Miss Ant'nette cum runnin' out, 
dressed jes' as you see her dar, in dat ridin' habit, an* 
de big hat wid de ostrich plume. Her eyes look lak 
deep wells when you look down an' see de stars shinin' 
in de bottom, an' her face wus all erglo' wid de glory 
dat cums frum doin 'things. I'd mounted her up too 
often ter waste much time at dat, an' in er minnit I 
had de mare by de rein wid one han', whilst I hilt de 
yudder han' low down ter de groun'. Miss Ant'nette 



MISS ANTNETTE'S PROVIN' 97 

put her leetle foot in it, I gin her er slight toss, an ' she 
wus in de saddle. 

" 'Now, foller me on eraudder hoss, ' wus all she sed, 
an' she wheeled an' galloped over de lawn. 

"I bridled ernudder hoss' an' wus after her, bare- 
back, in er minnit. But es she rid ercross de lawn, it 
looked lak de road jes ' swarmed wid blue-coats, thun- 
derin' down de pike on Marse Luchus trail. Miss 
Ant'nette see 'em an' make er quick spurt fur de gate. 
But dey seed er' an' rushed ter de gate ter shet her 
off. Dey got dar fust, an' thinks I, 'Dey' 11 head her, 
sho'; but she seed de move quick, an' turned de mare's 
head sorter eater-cornered straight fur de rock wall. 
It wus er big high wall, an' de calv'ry spurred down de 
pike ter head her off ergin. I hilt my breaf when I 
seed de mare fly at dat wall, but I knowed Miss Ant'- 
nette might, nigh bohn in de saddle, an' I knowed her 
hoss lak de cap'n knows his ship, an' jes' at de proper 
time she felt de mare's mouf fur der rise an' dey riz es 
gracefully over de wall es er swaller skims over de sea 
an' rizes to de big waves in her path. De naixt minnit 
she had settled lak er ship, an' wus runnin' lak er gray- 
houn'. When she hit de pike, de soljers wa'n't ten 
yards behin' her, spurrin' fur all dey wus worth, an' 
shoutin ' : 

" 'Haiti HaW Stop her! Ketch her!' An' one big 
feller wus so anxious to ketch her, he spurred wid bofe 
legs an' beat his hoss wid his cap an' rid right up 'side 
his cap'n, crowdin' Miss Ant'nette fur all dey bosses 
wus wurf. An' when de soljer dat wus ridin' by de 
Cap'n seed Miss Ant'nette leavin' 'em behind, an' 



98 "UNCLE WASH" 

w'udn't surrender, he pulled out his pistol to shoot at 
'er, but befo' he cud shoot, de Cap'n hisself brough de 
butt end uv his saber down on his head an' knocked 'im 
clear outen de saddle, an' I heurs 'im say: 
" 'You coward! Would you shoot a woman?' 
"An' jes' 'bout dat time I seed Miss Ant'nette get 
down to business. She brough dat ostrick plume down 
on er flank dat had nurver felt even de wight uv er 
feather befo', Gord bless her sweet soul, dat mare jes' 
sailed erway befo' dem clumsy calv'ry plugs lak er 
sassy little pattege-hen befo' er flock uv noisy crows. 
" 'Great Gord!' 1 sed to myself, "She's headed furde 
burned bridge, stid of de ford;' an' de naixt instant de 
officer gin er comman': 

" 'To de ford! She can't cross de creek! We'll git 
'im yit!' An' den I knowed dey'd set er price on Marse 
Luchus' head an' 'twas him dey wus arter. 

"Now, de ford wus two miles off, an' de bridge wus 
only er mile down de pike, an' when I seed 'em strike 
fur de ford, I galloped down de pike ter try an' stop 
Miss Ant'nette. I run hard es my boss cud go, but 
when I got to de hill an' look down at de burnt bridge 
er quarrter uv er mile below, I seed Miss Ant'nette 
plunge in de creek jes' below de mill dam, striking de 
water on de current side, an' it whirlin' de mare 'round 
an ' 'round, lak er top. Sez I , ' My Gord, she'll drown Y 
An' I galloped down an' plunged my boss in. too, fur 
1 knowed I cud swim. 

"But, Gord bless her sweet soul, dat mare wus es 
good in water as she wus on Ian', an' es soon es she 
ketch her bearin's she struck out fur de yudder bank, 



MISS ANT'NETTE'S PROVIN' 99 

tremblin' lak er leaf, but stanch es er tree, snortin' 
lak er wild thing, but stiddy an' cool es de nurve er 
death! In er minnit she bounded up de bank, shook 
herself lak er wet dorg, an' flew ter whar I seed er 
clump uv horsemen standin' 'round de leader, whilst 
he stood over his dead hoss wid drawn pistol, ter make 
his last stand. De naixt instant Miss Ant'nette wus 
dar, an' es Marse Luchus cought her out frum de saddle, 
he kissed her befo' all dem men an' sed: 

" 'My own darling! How could 1 ever have doubted 
you? ' An ' den de pale went out en her face fur de fust 
time on dat ride, an' de mohnin' cum in es she lookes 
up in his eyes, whilst he pressed her to his heart, an ' 
she sed: 

" 'Dear heart, luve can be led, but not driven!' 

"Den she give de mare to Marse Luchus, an' in er 
jiffy de men put his saddle on her, an' wid er cheer dat 
shook de hills dey rid away. 

" I had put Miss Ant'nette's saddle on my hoss, and 
she wus mounted, ridin eriong when de Yankees rid up, 
an' when dey seed whut she had dun, the Cap'n hissef 
shouted : 

" 'Three cheers, boys, fur de gallant girl an ' her mare' ! 

"An 'es dey give it wid erwill Miss Ant'nette bowed 
her pretties' an' smile her sweetes' much es ter say: 

" 'Much erbleeged ter yer, gen'mun, but I's proved 
this day where my heart is.' 



9 99 



« ^ov^ * 



THE RESURRECTION OF BRO 

WASHINGTON 



I HAD not seen the old man for several months, but 
I supposed he was still prospering on his little 
farm, when he walked in the other day without knock- 
ing, took his seat by the fire, and casually remarked 
that March was always a bad month on rheumatism. 

"Why, how are you, old man?" I said, laying down 
my pen and seeing him for the first time. " I haven't 
seen you for several months." 

"No, I don't reck'n you is," he said quietly, "an' 
de reason is, I ain't seed myse'f — I's been dead!" 

"What!" I exclaimed — "dead — ^are you joking?" 

I looked at him closely, but I saw no evidence of 
insanity — nothing to indicate that he had yet reached 
his dotage. However, I thought it best to pass him 
something for his rheumatism. He quaffed it off so 
naturally that I knew he was all right and would tell 
it in his own way. 

"Enything happened ter speak of sense I be'n 
dead?" he asked, indifferently enough, as he smacked 
his lips and wiped them on the back of his hand. 

I was anxious to hear how he had died, .but I knew 
any eagerness on my part would spoil it, so I replied: 

"Why, no, old man — ^nothing new. But you have 
heard of Jupiter Pluvius, perhaps, and his home above 
the clouds. Well he has kept busy this spring with his 
watering pot." 

(lOO) 



RESURRECTION OF WASHINGTON loi 

*' Heard of 'im?" asked the old man, with a show 
of wrath — ^"why, I knowed 'im — ^he was a blue-gum 
nigger — ^that Jupiter was — that c'u'd pick five hun- 
dred pounds uv cotton in er day, an' he run off wid my 
secon' wife an' jined de Yankees. But he didn't live 
whar you placed de rickerlischun uv dis cohabitashun — 
he lived up on Bear Creek. No, I got no hard feelin's 
about it — ^for, onbeknownst to hisse'f he done me er 
great favor. No, I ain't got nothin' erg'in' him, nur 
de Yankees, nur'r." 

"I guess not," I said, "for since the Spanish war 
we are all Yankees now." 

"All Yankees now? Jes' lemme tell you, sonny, 
dah's one dat ain't. No, sah, I am a S'uthern gen'man, 
an' I still b'leeves de nigger was made to belong to 
somebody dat 'ud feed 'im an' mek 'im beehave. 
All Yankees now? Boss, I sho' am 'shamed uv you ! 
Well dat's all right, but 1 b'leeves I told you 'bout 
co'rtin' dat 'ar widder — " 
"You got her, didn't you?" 
"Boss, did you urver kno' enybody to go after er 
widder an' not get her? I's got jes' one rule fur 
co'rtin' — set up close, agree on all p'ints, an' dat'll 
fetch on luve. Never 'spute wid er widder, 'spec- 
ally ef you're c'ortin' her. Wait twell you're 
marri'd. 

" Did you ever notice, boss, how cu'is a widder is 
about dat ur c'ortin' bis'ness? So diff'unt frum er gal. 
Now, when you co'rt er gal, she ain't gwine say nuffin' 
fur er long time. She let you co'rt her an' co'rt her, 
an' sum day, when she fin' she luves you, she'll jes' 



102 "UNCLE WASH" 

thro' her arms aroun' yo' neck an' say, 'Darlin', I am 
your'n — ^take me!' 

" But wid er widder, nobody ain't nurver got one uv 
'em to say 'yes' yit — but dey manage to git dar all de 
same. 

"An' dat wus de way wid dis heah widder I co'rted. 
De fus' night I went to see her she 'lowed she hated 
de very groun' I walked on, yet she lemme hoi* her 
han' all de time. De nex' night I was wuss'n p'izen, 
yet she lemme squeeze her. De third time I was 
meaner n' dog-fennel, yet I was good enuff to hug her. 
De nex' time I cum she 'lowed I wus de mos' con- 
tempt'us, po', ignoble, bandy-legged has-been dat 
ever was, an' stell I sho' did kiss her. De las' night 
she fix me — I didn't think she'd have me to save 
my life, an' lak er fool 1 begged her wuss'n a little 
weaned calf, b^gin' fur milk. Dat wus jes' 
what she wus layin' fur, an' so, entirely onbe- 
knownst to me, she had de preacher wid de license 
dar hid in de closet, an' I sw'ar ter goodness, boss, 
befo' de cock crow twice dat 'ar 'oman had marri'd 
me thrice! 

"An* den I died," he added solemnly. "Yes, boss, 
I died dead, too. You see, it all happen' at de weddin* 
supper. You see, boss, de ole man had allers been 
used ter drinkin' sho' nuff licker, but dat night dey dose 
me up wid er konkoction uv pine-top, asserfederty an' 
buzzard's bre'f, an' 'fo' I knowed it I wus dead. Wy, 
boss, dey hurried me on de fus' Sat'd'y arter de secon' 
Sunday in Jinuary, an' I didn't rise ergin 'twell de 
Chusday arter de secon' Sunday in March, an* ef dat 



RESURRECTION OF WASHINGTON 103 

whisky hadn't er bin es good in its raisin' grace es 'twus 
in its fallin' grace, I'd er bin dar yit. 

"Wud you like to kno' what a man sees, an' how 
he feek arter he's dead, boss?" 

"Would I?" I gave the old man another dose of the 
heaven-brewed to help him along. 

"Wal, hit's about de cu'isest feelin' dat ever wus 
felt," he said, after a while, "One minnit you am 
livin' an' de nex' you am travlin' 'long de road to Jur- 
dan, an' you can't he'p yo'se'f to save yo' life. You 
can't stop, you can't set down, you can't turn back. 
You jes' seem to be drawed along lak you wus standin' 
on er slidin' sidewalk run on undergroun' cables. But 
dc road is buterful. Flowers bloom all erroun' you. 
Birds sing in de sunshine on gold trees, an' fishes swim 
in lakes uv melted di'monds. Inste'd uv bein' outdoors 
an' breathin' air, you 'peer to be movin' erlong under de 
bright roof uv er cut-glass house, or in er big bottle uv 
rarerfied perfume, wid de sun er blazin' stopper in de roof. 

" I didn't know whar I was gwine to, an' I didn't 
kcer — ^all I know wus I wus gwine, thank Gord ! 

" But, bimeby, everything stop whar two roads met, 
an' I know'd one of 'em went to heab'n, but I c'u'dn't 
say which one to save my life, I got down on my knees 
an' prayed fur light, but no light cum, an' 'stid uv it I 
heurd all de little birds singin' in de gold trees all 
aroun' me: 

" ' If you foller the road of sorrer an' sin. 

An' don't pray fur light in de wurl' you am in. 

No use fur to pray in de nex'.' 



104 "UNCLE WASH" 

"Dat mos' par'lyze me, boss, an' I'd a gi'n enything 
ef I hadn't spent so much time aroun' race-tracks whilst 
I wus alive an' had spent mo' uv it lookin' for dis heah 
track, an' tryin' to fin' out which road to take. Dar 
dey bofe lay, jes' erlak, shinin' in de glow uv eternity. 
An' yit de very silence seem ter speak in thunder tones, 
an' de stillness wus louder dan de noise uv battle. 
It all depended on de path I tuck. 

"Bimeby, I thort uv Ole Marster's little boy dat I 
seed die so long ago, an' dat I useter nuss an' carry in 
my arms, an' uv all de little chillun I seed bohn one day, 
an' die de nex', an' I got down on my knees in de 
golden dust uv dat 'ar road an' I look fur ter see ef dar 
wus eny baby tracks dar, fur I knowed whar de baby 
tracks wus, dat was de road dat leads to heab'n." 

The old man stopped, and I saw him brush away a 
tear. He had said something as great as Shakespeare's 
and I, myself, had to take a turn around the room to 
stop before the picture of a little curly-head over the 
mantel, and listen again for the prattle of a laughter 
which began one spring with a bird's note and ended 
with the first snow in a new-made grave. 

When I came back the old man was laughing. Tears 
— smiles — ^twins that dwell in the secret chambers of 
the heart, and they join hands so quickly at times ! 

" Bimeby," he went on, " I look up de road, an' heah 
cum ole Kunnel Ketchun er-splittin' de dust uv de 
golden road, en er-moppin' his old bald head wid er red 
bandanna handkerchief, an' er-lookin' es pi'ius in death 
es he wus sancterfied in life. Now boss, you kno' de 
Kunnel wus one uv des here prayin' lawyers — dat you 






RESURRECTION OF WASHINGTON 105 

kin always safely brand es de Devil's Own — ^an' he died 
jes' 'fo' I did, an* he wus awful smart an' awful slick, 
an' whilst I didn't have much idee he knowed eny mo' 
'bout de road to heab'n dan I did, I wus bankin' on 
his 'biiity to find it out fust. Marse John, lemme 
tell you sump'in to paste allers in yo' hat : never trust 
er prayin' lawyer or er tradin preacher — ^never. 
'Hello, Wash,' sezee, 'which way yo gwine?' 
Sez I: 'Kunnel I's cogertatin' on which uv dese 
heah roads leads to heab'n. 

" 'Oh', sez he, 'I kin show you which road ter take. 
I dun bin up dar an' file my brief wid Jedge Peter at de 
gate, but dar wus some leetle irregularerties in de 
pleadin's, an' I's come back to answer his demur.' 

"Den he laugh an' say: 'Wash, de ole feller don't 
kno' a little bit uv law, an' hit's de easiest thing in de 
wurr to wuck him ef you only do es I say. Now, when 
I went up and presented him my church papers, an' 
tole him who I wus, deac'n an' all dat, he 'lowed he 
nurver had I'amed to read English an' he throwed my 
papers over er bluff, whar I seed some smoke risin' an' 
swellin' sorter like de smoke uv er passin' freight engine, 
an' den he look at me an' ax ef I wus ridin' or walkin'? 
Sez I, 'Sir, I am walkin'.' 'Dat settles it,' sez 
he, " nobody erfoot will ever git in dis gait, an' es fur 
dat artomobeel crowd,' sez he, 'dey go on to hell 
widout stoppin', fur dey carry de scent of hell erlong 
wid 'em, anyhow. No, sah, Kunnel,' sez he, 'you 
gotter ride er hoss to git into heah. We need 'em to 
pull de cherriots in heab'n' ' — ^an' de Kunnel look 
wise an' stroke his chin whiskers. 



io6 "UNCLE WASH" 



«« « 



Now, Wash/ he went on, soft-lak, Ts got er 
plan, my color'd frien', dat'U fix ole Peter an' let us 
bofe in. I kno' de road — I's bin dar befo', so you 
be de boss an' I'll be de rider, an' Peter will throw open 
de gate, an' let us bofe in. Dey's nuffin' lak er leetle 
brains. Wash — er leetle brains in dis wurl' an' de nex'/ 

"Wal, boss, dat all look mighty conniv'rous ter me, 
an' es I had been all my life er-totin' de burdens uv de 
white man, it 'peered mighty nachul to keep it up. 
So I got down on my all-fo's, de Kunnel he mounted 
me, an' I started up de pike in er jog trot. But I 
hadn't gone fur befo' de ole Kunnel punch me in de 
side wid his heels, yanked my mouf nearly off wid de 
gallus bridle an' de shoestring bit he fixed up fur me 
befo' he started, an' yelled out : 

" 'Change dat gait, you ole fool; do you think I 
would ride into heab'non er trottin' boss when I c'u'd 
ride er easy pacer?' 

I seed de p'int, an' shifted. 
*Ah, dat's better,' sez he, 'an' mo' restful.' 
At de gate Marse Peter stop us, an' say: 'Am 
you ridin' or walkin', sah?' 

" ' Ridin' dis time, yo' Honoh,' say de Kunnel. 

" 'Good,' sez Peter, er-glancin' at me, 'but I don't 
lak de looks uv dat sway-backs scrub you're ridin', so 
I'll jes* let you hitch 'im to de fence, but you kin walk 
in!' 

"An* de ole Kunnel, he hitch me to de fence sho' 
'nuff, an' walked in widout battin' his eye or sayin' 
much obleged, an' dar I wus champin' er shoestring 
bit, tied to de fence uv heab'n, wid er gallus line, an' 



it 

U 4 



RESURRECTION OF WASHINGTON 107 

dodgin' er hoss-fly es big es er turkey gobbler dat wus 
buzzin' aroun' over de bluff nigh by. 

"Peter look at me er long time, sorter smilin' an' 
sorter mad, an' den he sez: 'Thort you'd fool me, did 
you? Wal, for dis decepshun, I'll turn you into er 
sho' 'nuff boss,' and befo' I c'u'd say scat, boss, I wus 
er black Hal pacer, wid two white feet,, a star, snip, 
black mane and tail, so help me Cord, an' dat 'ar hoss- 
fly es big es er turkey was buzzin' aroun' tryin' to bore 
er hole in me. 

"Gimme emurver dram, Marse John." 

I thought he was entitled to it. 

" But dat wa'n't all. F'um dat day on dey didn't 
do nuffin' but use me on dat road, carryin' folks up to 
de gate, but nurver gittin' in myse'f. An' dey wucked 
me 'twell I almos' drapped dead ag'in. An' I carried 
Jews an* Turks an' Chinese, an' ever' kind uv man 
dat ever lived, 'twell de golden pike wus er pile uv 
brass, an' de sun was er furnace uv fiah, an' me de boss 
er-doin' all de totin.' 

"An' ever day ole Peter 'u'd lead me to de bluff an' 
let me look over on de pit down below. An' dar I 
seed folks I nurver dreamed 'u'd be dar, in dis wurl', 
an' I failed ter see udders dat I thort 'u'd be dar on de 
hottes' gridiron. Dar wus heathens er-wonderin' what 
it all meant, an' Christians still 'sputin' on baptism an 
sancterfercashun, an' ever'one uv 'em, boss, er-holdin' er 
fat Afercan heathen 'twixt him an' de fiah. Greeks, 
Turks, niggers, Jews, Spanyards — ^all dar, boss. Dar 
wus doctors, still er-lyin' an' lookin* wise, an' when de 
yudders called fur water de devil had 'em to dose 'em 



io8 "UNCLE WASH 



» 



wid quinine an' calermel, or cut open de reel bad m( 
huntin' fur de 'pendix. Lawyers? Boss, ef hell on 
had er bookcase an' er dirty carpet, cuspedores an' 
sweatin' lot uv bad-smellin' jurors, you'd er-thort it w 
some ord'nary co'tehouse wid er fiah attachment, 
one comer dey had penned off er lot uv ole wimmei 
all talkin' an' argyin' at onct, an' I ax Peter whut d 
wus, an' he sed dey wus de muthers uv de wives 
men, an' dey had to be penned off dar ter keep U 
frum runnin' de place an' bossin' it deyselves. 

"Dey wus all dar, boss — ^all but de babies, as I w 
tellin' you. Nurver did I heah de wail uv er little o 
come up f um de pit, nur de lisp uv er lullerby turned ir 
moan. Fur de sweetes' Nurse dat ever er baby hi 
had sed, whilst He was on earth, 'De little chillun 1 
take keer uv dem' — ^an' dey had all gone to Him. 

"Day arter day 1 seed dis; day arter day I carri 
nations on my back from de partin' uv de two wa 
to de gate whar Peter stood, 'twell I prayed to c 
ag'in. 

"An' one day, when I thort I c'u'dn't stan' it i 
longer, dar come along er smilin', quiet man, wid 
kind look in his eyes. An' dey tole him to mount r 
an' ride up to de hill. But he looked me all over, n 
puffed l^s an' sore feet an' sweat-caked sides a 
drawn flank, an' he said; 'No — ^no — 1 wouldn't ri< 
into heab'n on the miz'ry uv er dumb beast.' 

*'An' he fotch me some water to squench my thin 
an' he tuck off de saddle an' bathe my back, an' he 1( 
me slowly up de hill. An' when we come to de gal 
Peter looked at 'im pow'ful 'stonished, an' sed : 



RESURRECTION OF WASHINGTON 109 



§t 4 



Who am you, sah, dat w'u'd choose ter walk ter 
heab'n when you mout ride?' 

"An' den de man look at 'im quiet-lak, an' say, 
'I am nuffin' heah, my Lord, an' it matters 
not what my name is. Call me one dat had 
no creed, an' harmed no man, an' luved all 
things. Lord, yea, even de beasts uv de fiel's an' 
de birds uv de air an' de wurm dat creepeth. 
An' so lovin' dem, I would not ride even to heab'n's 
gate on de miz'ry uv eny beast that Gord has 
made.' 

"And den dar cum er burst uv music de lak uv which 
no man ever heurd befo', an' a buterful gate on a river 
I nurver seed befo' was flung wide open, an' er voice sed: 
'Righteousness an' truth have met toguther. What- 
soever you did unto one uv dese you do it also unto 
me.' 

"An' Peter waved his han' an' de man was clothed 
in white an' light, an' went in de glory gate — de onlies' 
one uv dem all dat went in, an' I seed dat yudder gate 
dat ole Kunnel Ketchum an' all went in wusn't heab'n 
at all, but just a side entrance to hell — ^an' es he went 
in he waves his han' at me an' sed; 'Go back ag'in to 
earth an' learn to luve all things dat Gord has made, 
an' yo' nabur as yo'se'f , an' befo' I knowed it I 
stood in my grave clothes in de woods uv Bigby, 
lookin' fust at de grave at my feet an' den at de skies 
above me, an' wonderin' what had happen sense I 
died." 

The queer turn the old man gave to his story set me 
to thinking, and the hidden lesson touched me so 



112 "UNCLE WASH" 

tour in the barrens of Hickman County. Here, out in 
the woods, is a church of the faithful — old Hardshell 
Baptists — in which Uncle Wash, besides being Ouef 
Priest, is also the " High Exalted Steward of the Towel," 
and attends to the job of seeing that the feet of the 
"bredderin' and sisterin'" are properly dried after 
ablution. 

I was not surpr sed, therefore, to find him not only 
in bed but swathed in bandages dipped in "dat new 
kind uv medicine dat makes you a new skin, an' Cord 
knows I need it, " he groaned. 

"No, no, Marse John, de meetin' wus all right. 
Dis wuzn't no fight, no iection fur deacon dat wusted 
me. No, no; niggers cum forty miles to git ole- 
fashion religin' an' dey feet washed. I's allers sed 
our'ns de only korrect creed in de wurl', kase it makes 
de members wash dey feet at least onct er year an 
dat am mo' dan is in de Confession uv Faith uv sum 
uv de yudders. 

"Yas, sah, I went down dar in de barrens whar I 
use ter hunt deer wid ole Marster, an' I puts up wid 
Sis' Tilly at Goose Neck Holler. She is de main prop 
uv de church dar, an' she raises de bes' bran' uv yaller 
laigs in dem parts. About de thu'd mawnin', in de 
cool an' crisp uv dem hills de huntin' fever struck me. 
Dar cum er little haze on de hills at night, sorter misty 
and sorter still, dat set me to thinkin' uv de ole hunts 
I use ter have wid ole Marster down dar. Ever' day, 
gwine to meetin', I'd see squir'ls in de trees an' patter- 
ges runnin' 'cross de road, an' 1 knowed dat wa'n't all, 
dat dem barrens wus jes filled wid deer. To make it 



UNCLE WASH CAPTURED A BUCK 113 

wuss. Sis' Tilly told me 'bout er pow'ful fine buck she'd 
seed time an' erg'in cum right up to de cornfield in de 
clearin'; an' dat day when I called up de mo'ners at 
church my body wus dar but my sperit wus on de deer 
stand down on Swan Creek. I cudn't sleep at night fur 
thinkin' uv dat buck an' I cudn't pray in meetin' widout 
usin' sech expressions es de hart dat panteth fur de 
water brooks. 

"I had de huntin' fever bad. And like ever'body 
frum Jonah to Jehosefat dat deserted de Lawd's cause 
fur de flesh pots uv Egpyt, I got it in de neck — or ruther 
de back, " he said, mournfully as he tried to turn over 
in bed. 

" You can fiddle to de Lawd but you can't fool Him, 
Marse John. 

"One mawnin' jes' es day wus breakin' I riz up, es 
wus my custom, an' went out in de thicket uv er near- 
by hill fur my mawnin' devoshuns. I allers do dis 
befo' breakfus' on er empty stomach kase dar is nothin' 
lak er empty stomach to keep er man spir'chul an' 
nuthin' likeer full 'un to keep 'im devilish. I's allers 
sed that hell wus er place whar dey make er man eat 
breakfus' food all day long and drink sody water at 
night. 

" Wal, sah, up de hill I crep' fur de bushes. I allers 
prayed behin' er ole log way up de hill side an' daylight 
cotched me er-kneelin' down by dat log ready to put 
up sump'n worth while to de throne uv grace, dressed 
in my preachin' clo's. 

"But jes' es I crep' up an' knelt, I heerd sump'n 
sorter sigh, like a tired gal in her sleep, jes over de 



ii6 "UNCLE WASH 



» 



He was sitting up in bed, his eyes gleaming and J 
with mouth open, was hastening him on. A sigC"^ 
" Jes' wait, I say, Marse John — I thought I wus er-ke^^ 
chin' er buck, but I caught de devil. 

"Up, up, I crawls — ^no cat wus ever mo' slyer^-^ 
My heart kep' goin' tbumpeiy — tbump and choke me sc^ 
I hatter stop an' breathe through my mouth. Up — up 
I slips, crawlin' right on my stomach, right up behin' 
de log. I raised my head er little, an' thank Gawd, dar 
riz dem horns jes 'bove de log lak de fingers uv Faith 
er-pintin' to de better Ian'. Thank Gord, he wus still 
er-dreamin' uv his lady-luv an' er-sighin' to de spirit uv 
de mornin' stars. He wus sleepin' es sound es er houn' 
puppy on de door mat in de sun, arter er breakfas' uv 
raw beef liver, pot-licker an' bread, an' er-snoozin' lak 
er half grown boy at midnight arter er hard day's 
plowin' in new groun'. I slip my han' over gently — 
slowly, my heart beatin' lak er kittle drum an' makin 
sich er noise, I felt sho' he heerd it, an' den, wid er little 
thrust, I dropped de noose over dem five prongs — 
down — down! I seed it settle over his head. I gin 
er lightin' jerk, jumped up, bracin bofe foots agin' de 
log an' as I heerd dat de secret uv tamin' wild animuls 
wus bein' kind an' 'swazive, jes' to see how it 'ud take I 
whispered sorter smilin' an sorter 'swazive in his year: 

" 'Cum, htuk, you is my pet!' 

*'Gord, Boss, it tuck. He riz an' I riz. But 
I had sich a foot-holt an' sich er toe-holt an' leg-holt 
I felt dat whut Gord had j'ined together no man eu'd 
put asunder, an' it made me so happy I commence 
singin' dat good ole song: 



UNCLE WASH CAPTURED A BUCK 117 



€i t 



A c-b-a-r-g-e to keep I b-a-v^F 
"My Gord, Marse John, how often er man gits er 
dead cinch on er thing he'd lak to turn er-loose! In 
jes' two secon's I seed dar wus mo' fittin' applecashun 
in dat ole song dan I had ever dreamed uv. I nurver 
knowed befo' er buck cu'd jump from er nap into de 
nex' wurl an' take me along wid 'im. I seed sump'in' 
go up in de air, twixt me an' de sun, twenty feet high 
an' headed fur de bottom uv dat steep hill. I felt dat 
plow line sink out uv sight, three inches deep in my 
stomach, par'lizin' me in de I'ines wid er grip dat sent 
er pain clur th'oo my kidneys, an' leavin' me limp es er 
widder's handkerchief at de grave of her thu'd husban', 
an' do' I thought I had foot holt enuflF to stop er steam 
injine my legs give away, an' somehow it jes' seem to 
me entirely ergreeable to go 'long wid dat ar buck. 
An' yit not 'zactly wid 'im, but allers 'bout er plow line 
length behin' 'im, but givin' 'im er close race fur de 
bottom uv de hill! When he'd be up twenty feet in 
de air I'd be on de groun', an' when he'd be twenty 
feet down dehill I'd be takin' er little fresh air up'mong 
de lim's uv de trees. I nurver knowed befo' er nigger 
cu'd go so high an' ever cum back to earth agin, an' 
ever' jump he made I lost sum uv my linen on de lim's 
uv de trees an' you cu'd trail me throo' de trees de nex' 
day whar my wool an' tattered gyarments wus hung 
up fur birds' nestis. Dar wus only one diflf'unce twixt 
dat buck's race an' mine fur de bottom uv dat hill; 
I went jes' es high an' jes' es fur ever jump he made, 
but he landed right side up on his fo' feet on er good 
spot whilst I landed on eny ole part uv me dat happen 



ii8 "UNCLE WASH 



» 



to be nex' to de yearth at de time uv landin' an' on 
any ole thing from er stump to er flint bed. It looklak 
I hated fur 'im to beat me an' when I cu'dn't go fast 
enuflF th'oo' de air I'd break my gait an' roll an' tumble 
down. 

"Down de hill we cum, crashin' th'oo' de thickets; 
some times I'd be erhead uv buck an' sometimes buck 
'ud be erhead uv me. Es we cum down on de cabin 
under de hill, buck, lak de joyous creature he wus, 
thought it bes' to go over de top uv de house an' es it 
seem lak I done made up my mind nurver to let 'im 
git fur erhead uv me, I followed, scapin' off shingles an' 
knockin' down de chimbley. I heerd Sis' Tilly run to 
de do' an' look up 'mazed an' delighted: 

" ' Glory, hally-luyah, Br'er Washin'tun iser-playin' 
Sandy Claws erg'in an' er'breakin' in er reindeer.' 

" 'Cut de rope,' sez I, 'cut de rope — fetch de ax, 
quick!' 

"Dat make her nearly die laffin'; 'ha-ha-ia-nigger, 
'spile all dis fun an' my plow line, too? No, sah !' she 
'spon'. 'Br'er Washin'tun — you sho' have got 'im.' 

" 'Bout dat time I hit de gravel ag'in an' we started 
fur Swan Creek er hund'ed yards erway. But de nex' 
bump I hit my head erg'in er stump an' it sorter brighten' 
me up er little. I felt I wuz er-dyin' an' er-gwine to my 
death — ^an' den I seed jes' whut it all meant, dat I had 
bin sent by de Lawd on de hill-top to pray, but lak 
His chillun uv ole I'd raced arter de flesh pots uv 
Egypt. Lak Jonah, I wus doin' jes' de thing He'd 
tole me to let erlone. 

" I wus gwine down dat hill clipperty^lip^ang, but 



UNCLE WASH CAPTURED A BUCK 119 

er man sees de pint mighty quick in er tight place an' I 
started in to put up dat prayer I'd neglected, fur I 
seed it wa'nt gwineter keep no longer an' dat I had 
failed in my blindness to 'terpret de meanin' uv de 
whole thing an' stid uv dat buck layin' so peaceful gin 
dat log bein' intended fur er burnt sacrifice fur my 
stomach, he wus jes' de ole devil hisse'f dar to entice 
me from de true path. 

"1 lak ter died sho' nuff when dis dawned on me an' 
dat I hilt de devil hisse'f an' nuthin' but er plow line 
'twixt him an' me. But thank Gawd, by dis time he 
wus sorter winded an' now an' den he'd holler out 
hab-bah, sorter mad lak ef I failed to cum fas' nuff, an' 
es I went er-rollin' an' er-tumblin' down dat hill heah 
b de prayer Sis' Tilly say she heerd, es she cum to her 
senses at last an' tuck in de fix I wus in : 

" 'O, Lawd {bah! bumpetjhbump!) furgive an' have 
mercy! (bab-bab! bumperty-bump). Cut dis rope. Oh 
Lawd, an' I'll cut fur de prayer meetin'(&tfWtt;Wf-rf //>/). 
I'll pray all day, O Lawd {bab wbii-tb-u-mp! dam! dot's 
er stump!) 'Scuse me, O Lawd! Cut dis line fur I's 
tied to de devil an' racin' to {wback-bab dats er 
flint pile!). Cut it an' I'll nurver go back on you erg'in 
so he'p me Gord! {Bumpty-bump cr-a-sb). Tama- 
shun ! we've butted down Sis' Tilly's bee gum an' de 
pesky things hes kivered me an' buck, too, but thank 
Gord he's headed lak P'inter fer deep water. Head 
us, O Lawd, cut dis line an' I'll go back to preachin' 
an' dis ole buck c'n go to — 

" De bees had sot dat buck er-fiah es well es me an' 
when he put off to de deep hole at de crick not fifty foot 



120 "UNCLE WASH" 

erway, now pullin' me 'long lak er sled, I tole 'im he 
cu'dn't git into water too quick fur me. 

" Ker-cbunk'bab, he hit de water. 'O Lawd/ sez 
I, (blub-bl-^'b bl-^'b) an' my head went under but it 
wus better'n bees. 

" I heerd Sis' Tilly er-screamin' on de bank an' er- 
wavin' er ax es I went down. Jes' lak er fool 'oman, 
allers too late. 

"Up we cum an' I seed him hit de y udder bank an' 
er-doin' my best to beat him to it. My head cum up at 
last an' 1 wus mad es er hornet. I braced myself agin 
de bank an' to my joy I seed I'd stopped him. Den 1 
wus sorry — ^fur back he turn', stood on his hin' legs, 
sed babl babl an' butted me back into dat crick, 
knockin' me senseless. Gawd, chile I tell you he wus 
de devil! 

" But still I felt lak I wanted to go wid him, dat we 
wus united till death us do part, an' I feel myse'f 
bumperty-bumperty over de groun' an' up de bank. 
Den jes' es I give up an' shet my eyes I thought dat 
Pisgah had fell on me an' I seed dat buck fling up his 
head an' fall back sprawlin'. It wus Sis' Tilly an' 
her half ton uv sainted Christyun Faith. She sot on 
my chist to hold me down. I seed de buck snort and 
try to rise but he wus anchored on de beach lak de 
whale dat swaller's Jonah. I heerd her say, *cum, 
reindeer, you kerryin' dis fun too fur\ an' down cum 
her ax an' I went to sleep. 

"But you had some fine venison the next day," 
I said consolingly. 

The old man groaned: "Didn' I tell you dat wa'nt 



UNCLE WASH CAPTURED A BUCK 121 

deer? No, sah, I wouldn' te'ch it — I give 'im to 
nigger and he said he cooked er roast two days an' 
give out little blue flames. He tried to eat er piece 
' de more he chawed it the bigger it got an' so he 
rowed the whole thing in the crick an' it made the 
iter siz for er mile an' er ha'f. T'wus de devil, I 
1 you, but you cain't teach white fo'ks nuthin'. 
ho but de devil cu'd fix me lak dat? I started frum 
top uv dat hill dressed in my Prince Albert preachin' 
It, my broadcloth pants, er cellarlord collar, er good 
if uv shoes an' er whole skin, an' when 1 cum to I 
In't have on nuthin' but my shoes. O, gimme er 
nk, Marse John, and go on home! You cain't 
lain nuthin' to white fo'ks. 'Sides dat de ole man 
nts to go to sleep!" 



THE BALKING MULE 

I was reading to Uncle Wash the other night, a 
very interesting book — ^"Wild Animals I Have 
Owned. " The old man listened and said that it was 
mostly lies. "Now I can't write er book on WiV 
Animules I have owned, but gwine back er long life an' 
thinkin' uv all its correspondences, both comin' an' 
gwine, 1 cu'd write er good size voUyum on Wili 
Animules Dat Have Owned Me! An' de fust pair uv 
dese dat 1 rickollect wus my fust mother-in-law an' 
er balkin' mule named Tommy Pete. I menshuns 'em 
togedder beca'se I got possessed uv bofe uv 'em de 
same year, one by matrimony an' de other by get- 
your-money, fur de man dat put off Tommy Pete on me 
sho' got-my-money — ^'en fur nothin'. 

" Dis pair didn't fit nothin' else in de wurl but each 
other an' dar dey wus dead matches. Dey bofe balked 
on de rest uv de wurl but dey nurver balked on each 
yudder. Tommy Pete wouldn't pull fer me er plow 
line tied to his collar, but he wus allers ready to take 
my mother-in-law to de meetin' whar he'd spen' dc 
day in de shade uv er ellum switchin' flies offen de face 
uv annurr mule whilst de yudder mule turn'd de favor 
in kind. 

"An' my mother-in-law wus jes' es satisfied inside 
singin' all day 'bout Zion, de happy Ian' an' de stream 
dat flowed thru heab'n, while Dinah, my wife, spent 
her time washin' fur de fambly by de stream dat flowed 

(122) 



THE BALKING MULE 123 

thru de back yard, an' I spent mine ho'in' cohn when 
1 orter been plowin' it. 

"Tommy Pete wus bohn balkin' — so de man tole 
me arter I traded. He sed Tommy Pete nurver did 
want to be bohn. 

"De fus' time he balked on me wus on er 'possum 
hunt an' jes' when 1 had de bigges' 'possum up de 
leetles' tree. Befo' I cu'd get him to ondustan by 
all kinds uv moral swashun (de last argyment bein' 
a cedar rail wid er knot in it) dat 'possum meat wus 
good fur man to eat, de 'possum got erway. 

" Frum dat time on he went into er steady decline — 
chiefly declinin' to wurk. I allers thought he caught 
de disease frum my mother-in-law, fur lak her, he 
wan' pertickler whut he declined ef he got it into his 
head dat 1 wanted it de yudder way. Ef I wanted to 
go to de fiel,' he wanted to go to de village sto' whar 
loafin' niggers wus. Ef 1 wanted to ride him home, 
he wanted me to walk. Ef I wanted him to go to 
water, he wanted to waller, an' ef 1 wanted to wuck 
him, law, wal, he jes wanted ier see me do it! 

"Wal, sah, I tried ever'thing on him. One Sunday 
he balked at church arter meetin' wus out an' 1 had 
Dinah in de wagon an' de preacher wus gwine to go 
home wid us an' eat our yaller laig. 

" Wal, he saved us de yaller laig by dat balk. Fur 
arter I'd lambasted him wid ever'thing I cu'd lay my 
ban's on, frum er hick'ry stick to de hitchin' pos' in de 
front uv de church, an' had used up all my own lan- 
guage an' ha'f uv de devil's, de preacher he say very 
solemnly, 'Be keerful uv your remarks in de presence uv 



124 "UNCLE WASH 



f> 



derviniiy, Bfer fVasbin'ton, an' let me try moral suwsiwn 
on him — hits de greates* force in de universe.' 

"All right," says I, "Parson, but Til jes tell you 
to Stan' in his front ter swade him fur he's 'tickler sot 
agin moral swashun an' when it comes ter kickin* 
he can kick es fur in front as behin'. 

" 'O dat ain't it,' sed de parson, 'I's gwine whisper 
er few consolin' words in his year, de p'int bein' to 
distract his attenshun frum hisse'f. You don't 
ondustran'erbalkin' mule, Br'er Washin'ton — hit's all 
de result uv nervous se'f conshusness an' de t'ing is to 
get dey thorts oflfen deyse'f. Now jes watch me,' 
an' he 'proached Tommy Pete wid er glad, happy smile, 
tuck holt uv his year an' 'gun to whisper somethin' to 
him. 

"I don't know whut he whispered to him, Marse 
John, but it muster bin de mos' tarnel insult dat er man 
ever offered to er mule, an' 'fore I cu'd tell him to be 
keerful, an' dat Tommy Pete wus orful 'tickler 'bout 
who whispered in his years. Tommy Pete tole him. 
Fur sudden-lak he flung his head sideways, butted de 
parson back'ards an' den kicked him clear over de 
wagon into er huckerberry bush. 

" Wal, sah, we poured water on de parson's head fur 
two days an' he laked nurver to cum to. He didn't 
kno' nuffin. When I thort he wus sorter cumin' 
'round, I sed: 

*' Parson, what in de worV did you say to make him so 
madf 

** But all he cu'd do wus to moan in his sleep lak he 
wus preachin' er sermon an' mumblin', *An * Moses 



THE BALKING MULE 125 

struck de rock in de wilderness an* de watdb gushed 
fortbr 

"An' when he cum to he nurver cu'd 'member whut 
he sed dat made Tommy Pete so mad. 

" But dar wus no preachin' in Zion fur two months, 
thank Gord! 

" *Wal, sah, dat insultin' remark uv de preacher 
jes seem to fix 'im in his ways, an' he looked lak he 
wanted to take it all out on me. But when my 
mother-in-law died, he played it lowdown on me, to 
beat de ban'. I 'p'inted him chief mourner, 'kase dey 
nurver had been separated in life an' I wanted 'em 
togedder in death — an' selected him es chief pall- 
bearer fur to carry his ole frien' to de grave. Dis 
I thought he'd do wid dat same pleasure I'd er done 
myse'f, fur she wus er good 'oman in spite uv her ways. 
We gin de ole lady er fine sen'-ofF. We hed er succession 
er mile long, includin' two surreys, er rockaway an' er 
hayrake — six niggers bein' perched on one hayrake. 
Tommy Pete hauled her in de spring wagon two miles 
erfore it got into his head dat burryin' de ole lady wus 
jes whut I wanted him to do, an' den he balked an' we 
had to tote her five miles whilst Tommy Pete stood 
by de roadside an' wept. 

"Law, he wus dat onnery! 

*'Wal, sah, I 'civored him at las', leastwise Marse 
Jim did. I driv' 'im to town one day, an' Dinah bein' 
busy wid de week's washin', I took Sis Tilly 'long to 
see ole John Roberson's sho'. 

"I calklated Tommy Pete wanted to see de animules 
hisse'f (I allers had to calklate on whether it suited 



136 "UNCLE WASH 



»> 



Tommy Pete or not), an' dat he'd enjoy dc drkis 
'bout es well es we did. En he did. I hitched him 
nigh an' he nearly laflfed his fool se'f to death at dc 
trick mule an' 1 even seed 'im rubbin' noses wid de 
elerfunt es much es to say, Wal, ole feller, ef I bad yd 
bulk I'd be er balker sho* 'nuffV 

" It wus late when de sho' turned out an' I thought 
sho' Tommy Pete'ud go home in er hurry to keep warm, 
after havin' sech er happy day ; but he got it into his 
head dat de sho' wus got up jes fut his spechul benerfit 
an' dat he orter watch de elerfunt an' de trick mule fur 
ever, an' he balked wid us jes in front uv de drug store, 
blockin' de main street uv de town. 

"It wus de wuss place in de wurl fur him to sta'n 
fur dar wus er big crowd an' hit's one uv de leetle hap- 
its uv humanity fur ev'body to get erroun' er balkin' 
boss or mule an' tell de po' hacked devil in de wagon 
whut he already knows— ^^/ bit's er onnery cuss be*s 
got dar, an* wby don't you make bim go onf 

Now er balkin' mule is es ole es ole Joseph Potifur 
(an' I uster heah ole Marster lafF an' say dat Joseph 
wus de fus' balkin' mule uv which hist'ry has eny 
rccud), an' though dar ain't nurver been nothin' 
knowed to break 'em uv de habit, still dar am fools yet 
who b'leeves it kin be done. 

"Dey wus soon erroun' me tellin' me how. Long 
sperience wid Tommy Pete had tort me pashens, which 
is deonly Christian virtue er balkin' mule will bring in de 
sheaves to you, an' knowin' f rum long sperience dat desc 
fools must each have his say, me an' Sis Tilly jes folded 
our ban's an' waited until Tommy Pete finished wid 'em. 



THE BALKING MULE 127 

"An' dey wus all soon dar. 

" De f us' man tuck er piece uv scrap iron an' pecked 
on Tommy Pete's fo' foot. 

"Den Tommy Pete pecked on his'n an' de doctor he 
sed afterwards he wus mighty proud because he didn't 
have ter take off but two uv de man's toes. 

"An' me and Sis Tilly we jes sot still. 

" De nex' man wus jes passin' by (dat's one uv de sho' 
signs uv er dinged fool, dat he can't pass by er balkin' 
boss widout stoppin' to tell de driver how to make 
him go), an' of co'se he hed to stop an' try. He tuck 
'casion to tell all de crowd dat he were frum Bosting 
an' dat he b' longed to de Society Fur De Prevenshun 
of Hurtin' De Feelin's uv Things — ^'an' I's gwin'ter 
sho' you good people right now,' sez he, 'how fur 
kindness will go on er dumb animule.' He patted 
Tommy Pete 'fecshunately on de nose, an' tuck him 
by de bit an' sed: 'Now, my good fellow, don't be sore 
on yo' job — ^but jes move out an' do yo' duty — ^now, 
do!' But me an' Sis Tilly we sot still, an' when he cum 
to arter grovelin' roun' on de groun' an' foamin' at 
de mouf an' sayin' over an' over ag'in, 'Liberty an' 
union, now an' forever,' he wus er whole site sorer on 
his job den Tommy Pete wus on his'n. 

"An' me and Sis Tilly we sot still. 

" I tried to stop de man dat b'ilt de fiah under Tommy 
Pete, fur I knowed whut ud happen an' it ud jes fetch 
on mo' wuck fer me. But I acted as quick as 1 cu'd 
an' by totin' de wagon aroun' sideways an' strainin' 
my shoulder, I saved it. 

" Dis made me b'ilin' mad an' when er fool nigger 



128 "UNCLE WASH" 

cum up it jes dawned on him whut wus up an' he say, 
sorter laughin'. 

" 'Why, Uncle Wash, dat ole mule won't draw will 
he?' 

" 'Yes,' sez I, 'he sho' does — ^he draws ever' damn 
fool in ten miles of him !' 

" Den 1 went in de drug sto' an' I asked Marse Jim 
ef he didn't have somethin' dat 'ud move dat mule. 

" 1 seed Marse Jim reachin' fur de salts bottle, but 
when I 'splained to him dat 1 wanted him to move up 
de road, an' dat quick, fur it wus nigh to night an' 
pow'ful cold, he laughed an' sed 'sure,' an' reached fur 
de Gypsy Juice. He cum out an' sed to me: 'Noio 
he ready,* an' he stuck er leetle syringe under Tommy 
Pete's hide an' 'jected it. 

" I made er grab fur de lines but 1 wus too late. I 
seed Sis Tilly turn out back'ards es I heurd er rumble 
an' er snort an' up dat street went Tommy Pete, 
wagon an' all beatin' Star P'inter's time! I seed him 
go over de hill to'ards Hickman G)unty an' I turned 
to Marse Jim an' I sed: 

" ' Marse Jim, whut wus dat worth?' ^ 

" ' 1 don't charge you but a nickel. Wash,' he sed, 
laughin' 'fit to kill. 

" 'IValj Marse Jim,' se{ I, *fur Cord's sake jes injec' 
ten cents' worth into me fur I's now got to ketch de 
infurnel ole fool!' 

" But I didn't. Nurver heurd of him ag'in, an' I's 
allers hoped he's gone to jine my mother-in-law. " 



HIS LITTLE PREACHER 

TTHE other day I was whistling that coon song: 

" All coons look alike to me. " 



The old nian was poisoning potato bugs on our second 
crop of Irish potatoes. It was getting along "to'd's de 
shank uv de evenin'/' as I had heard him so often 
express it, and I have noticed that about that time 
the old man is always hunting for some excuse to stop 
working. " Dar am jes two sho' nufF fools in dis wurl, " 
I have heard him say, "one am de man dat wucks all de 
time an de yudder am de 'oman dat don't wuck at all. " 

I was not surprised, then, to see the old man set 
down his can of Paris green and water and give vent 
to a prolonged laugh. I have learned that the way to 
catch the old man is to get him when he is "fit and 
ready" — the same as a horse when he is expected to 
break the record — ^and I might carry it further and 
say you can't always tell when he is ready. But there 
are certain signs you can go by. 

And so the old man has signs, too — that he is ready 
to go a heat in an old time yam — and one is when the 
sun gets low and the bugs high — ^when a watermelon 
is waiting in the spring trough and the sheep on the 
hill begin to come out from the shaded woods for their 
evening meal in the meadow — ^now cooling with the 
condensing shadows of a setting sun. 
• (129) 



130 "UNCLE WASH" 

The sign he gives is a furtive glance around and a 
big, chuckling laugh. 

I had cut around the melon with my pocket-knife, 
and broken it open on a big rock, which left the jagged, 
juicy heart bulging out in a tempting lump. But 
I divided as equally as I could, under the circumstances, 
and as we sat in the shade of the elm by the big spring 
I shoved him his half and said: 

"Now that's for what you were laughing at just 
now — out with it." 

" I doan' blame white folks fur sayin' all coons look 
erlike, fur I tried it onct and I thou't I knowed my 
own kid — ^thou't ef it cum to de scratch I cu'd do lak 
er boss an' tell 'im by his smell, enyway. But 
when 1 wus put to de test I foun' dey not only all 
look alike, but smell alike, too— an' dar's whar I 
cum mighty nigh gittin' into de wuss scrape I ever got 
into. 

"Way back in slavery time, when er young p'aruv 
niggers 'ud marry, de rule wus dey wus to live wid de 
gal's muther ontwel de fust chile was bohn. Ole mar- 
ster useter la'f an* wink an' tell me it wus er trick uv de 
white folks to mek 'em hurry up wid de fus' chile! 
Jinerally we didn't need no hurryin' for ole Daddy 
Stork is mighty kind to young folks, 'spesh'ly niggers, 
which wus p'uffectly nat'ul, you know — ^rangin' all de 
way in his visertachuns frum er few weeks arter de 
suremony to es menny months — ^fur no nigger dat had 
eny manhood an' independence wanted to be pendin' 
on his wife's mammy eny longer den he cu'd he'p it! 
Den arter de chile wus bohn de marster 'ud give er log- 



HIS LITTLE PREACHER. 131 

rollin' an' er house-buildin' — jinerally oner Sad'dy arter 
de crop wus laid by — an' all de niggers f rum de 'joinin' 
farms 'ud cum over, fetch dey wives an' babies, 
an' whilst de men cut logs an* put up de cabin, de 
wimmen and gals 'ud quilt de young p'ar er quilt or 
two an' cook er big dinner uv gumbo soup and greens 
An' if de baby dat de young fo'ks had wus er boy de 
rule was dat Marster had to fling in er good big lam', 
cs er kind uver free gratis prize fur 'em gittin' er boy, an' 
den Lord, boss, de barbycue an' de stew we did have ! 
In dem days eny man in Tennessee cu'd 'still de fruit 
uv his own orchard and not pay no rivemew, an' 
Marster had er nigger named Pete Gallerway dat cu'd 
beat de wurl' makin' apple-brandy. Every fawl he'd 
'still Marster twenty gallons an' it 'ud stay in de cellar 
twell de naixt fawl, an' Lord, by dat time it wus dat 
kind uv stuff dat ef you drunk it in dis wurl' it seem 
ter kinder tel'fone to de angels in de naixt! It wus 
so ra'ar an' ripe you cu'd jes' put de stopper outen de 
bottle in yo' bootlegs an' cudn't keep from cuttin' de 
pigeon-wing to save yo' life an' er singin' dat song we 
sung den : 

" 'Cum down ter Tennessee, 

(Ride er olc gray boss.) 
Yaller gal's de gal fur me, 

(Ride er ole gray boss.) 
Kiss her under de Mulberry tree, 

(Ride er ole gray boss.) 
O my, nigger, don't you see. 
Better cum ter Tennessee!' 



132 'UNCLE WASH" 

" I tell you, boss, dey kin preach all dey please ergin 
good licker an' de famblys it busts up, but I's knowed 
menny er man to git er drink jes in time ter keep outen 
er divorcement. I don't see how sum men cu'd live 
wid de wives dey got ef dey cudn't tak er drink an' 
furgit dey miz'ry now an' den! Wal, in erbout three 
moons it wus my time to have er house-buildin' an' I 
wus mighty proud uv de job. Dinah wus kinder 
dissociated kase she'd sot her h'art on de fus' baby 
bein' yaller. Er 'oman, uv course, ain't got no reason 
fur eny thing — dey jes' goes by instinct, I reckin — 
an' de onlies' reason she had for spectin' an' wantin' 
er yaller baby wus dat she was allers mighty fond uv 
sorrel bosses an' she natur'ly hoped her fust child 'ud 
be er sorrel. It cum black, of course — jes' lak me, 
an' arter I opened his mouth an' seed he hed one tooth 
already cum an' ernudder comin' an' wus reddy fur 
eatin' de fus' day, I knowed he wus Br'er Washingtun 
up ter the thu'd an' fo'th jinerashun. But Dinah she 
tuck it mighty hard an' lowed she'd nurver git over 
he's not bein' er sorrel wid black p'ints! 
. "I say he wus black, but did yo ever see er right 
young nigger? A buzzard, you kno', is hatched white 
an' turns black, an' so er nigger is bohn red an' turns 
black. It's funny but it's so. A simon p'wore nigger 
when bohn is red wid er leetle bunch uv wooly h'ar on 
his head, an' five holes in his face, de two leetle ones 
in de center being* whar his nose gwineter be. Dey 
ain't no mistakin' his mouth, fur dat's de bigges' part 
uv his vizerbles, an' in jineral lang'widge you mout say 
it curls up on de north an' is bounded by hes h'ar, an' 



HIS LITTLE PREACHER. 133 

curls down on de south an' is bounded by his belly-ban\ 
He's red, 'ceptin' de skin uv his head, which is sorter 
yaller, but on the thu'd day begin ter turn black jes' 
erbovedeeyes, and in er few weeks he's all black 'ceptin' 
de bottom uv his hands an' feet, his wot ties an' hock 
fathers, de tip uv his stomach an' de spot whar he sets 
on all day. 

" Wal, arter de cabin wus put up an' de sun had set, 
de big stew wus sarved wid apple brandy an' den. Lord, 
de fun sho' started! Course I c'u'dn't be in it much — 
de dancin' an' juberlashun under de trees — case I wus 
de keeper uv de lam's, it bein' my house-raisin' an' my 
fus-bohn. Now de keeper uv de lam's is dis: de 
wimmin folks allers bring dey babies along ter de 
dance an' de house raisin' an' when de house is up an' de 
floor laid an' night cums an' de games begins, de 
babies is all suckled an' laid out, ever* one on his own 
sheepskin, on de flo' uv de new house fur ter go to sleep, 
an' de daddy uv de new-bohn kid is called de keeper 
uvde lam's an' must set dar an' watch 'em an' nuss 'em 
whilst de yudders eat an' play. It's hard, but it's 
de onwritten law, an' de objec' am to give de new daddy 
er lesson in pashents an' nussin' an' keerin' fur chilluns. 

"Wal, dey wus forty on 'em, mighty nigh de same 
age, wid er fair sprinklin' uv sorrels an' browns, whilst 
sum look lak dey mouten be made outen new saddles 
an' jinger cakes. It went ergin me mightily to be 
pestered wid all er dem new colts wid dey projeckin' 
ways, but I had er big bottle uv apple brandy an' tuck er 
little consolashun frum it now an' den myse'f, an' 
ever time er kid 'ud wake up, I'd jes gin 'im er stiff 



134 "UNCLE WASH" 

drink uv apple brandy an' stick de big toe uv de kid 
jes' above him in hes mouth ter suck on twell he dozed 
off. Dey wus three long rows on 'em. 1*11 sw'ar, boss, 
ef onct I didn't have 'em all konnected dat away lak 
links in er sauasge. Dat an' de brandy focht 'em ever* 
time an' I wus jes' chucklin' ter myse'f at whut erfine 
nuss I wus, an' dat I c'u'd soon be able to go out an' 
hug de gals, too, when dey all commence to have de 
jim-jams in dey sleep — seein' snakes an' things an' 
howlin' an' wigglin', an' frum de way some on 'em's 
eyes bulged out dey must er had elerfants an' rino- 
cerasses arter 'em, too. Wal, suh, I broke fur de 
stable an' got er quart bottle uv stuff we gin de mules 
fur de colic — ^asserfedity an' h'artshom, lademum an' 
tu'pentine, all mixed — ^an' den I got de vinerger funnel 
to git it down, an' I drenched ever' one on 'em wid dat 
mule medercine, stuck ever' one's toe in de naixt one's 
mouth an' put 'em ter sleep ergin. 

"Sum on 'em didn't wake up furer week, but dat 
ain't de tale I' tellin' now. 

"I tuck emurr drink outen de bottle an' den I 
happen ter see one uv de lam's dat struck my eye. He 
wus de preacher's kid, whose daddy, er yaller feller, 
ole mistis had 'larned 'im to read an' write an' he tuck 
to preachin', and his lam' wus er bright sorrel wid flax 
mane an' tail, an' es he was erbout de size uv my little 
coon I thou't I'd play er joke on de wimmin folks, bein' 
es how Dinah wus sot on havin' er yaller kid. So I ups 
an' changes de clothes an' puts de yaller preacher's 
lam' on our sheepskin an' oum on de yuther's pallet. 
Wal^ sah, de mo' I thort uv it de funnier it seemed. 



HIS LITTLE PREACHER. 135 

an' den I laffed twell I nearly wake 'em up again an' 
tuck emurr drink an' went in ter swap 'em all off. 
I'd pick out two erbout de same size an' sex an' 
changed dey clothes an' bed, an' when I got through 
dere wa'nt nary one on' em dat u'd know hisse'f from 
de naixt one, an' es dey all smelt erlike I didn't see 
how dey mammies wus ever gwine ter git 'em straight 
ergin. G)urse I 'spected er lot uv fun when de games 
broke up an' tuck ernurr drink an' fix fur ter see it. 
But hit seems de niggers played on twell one o'clock an' 
forgot all erbout time ontwell one uv de patteroles — de 
mounted poleece dat kept niggers from prowlin' at 
night in dem days — ^rid up wid er hickory whip an' tole 
'em it wus time fur to go to bed. Dis skeered 'em so 
dey all lit out an' ever' 'oman jes' bundled up her baby 
an' left, an' not one uv 'em knowed de difference. Es 
dey all lived from one ter ten miles erroun' on de 
farms, thinks I, dar'll be lots uv fun in de mawnin'! 
Dinah tuck emurr look at hem befo' she went to 
sleep, an' den I heurd her whoop: 'Glory,' she said, 
'my chile is done turned yaller — glory — glory!' 
She heard uv it bein' done onct befo' an' b'leeved it. 
Wal, I seed she had her h'art sot on it so bad I 'lowed 
I'd let it go at dat, 'specially es dey nurver had been er 
preacher in de family, but all er mine hed tuck to hoss 
racin' an' Dinah wus so happy over it she c'u'dn't 
sleep. 

" I sed dar 'u'd be er time in de mawnin', but bless 
you' soul, honey, it started befo' day. Lights wus 
seen flashin' ever'where an' niggers wus mnnin roun' 
wailin' an' weepin' an' wonderin'. De black uns had 



136 "UNCLE WASH" 

yaller babies an' yaller 'uns had black 'uns, dc upper 
crust had scrub babies an' de lettle black cohn fiel' 
scrubs wus in de highes' nigger socshul swim — wid de 
house gals an' maids an' qualerty niggers. Wuss en 
all, de chilluns jes' slept rat on an' didn't seem to keer 
whar dey wus an' who dey b' longed to. I tell you, 
boss, ef you ever gits bothered 'bout yo' chap not goin' 
to sleep, jes' gin 'im er good dose uv hoss medercine! 

" It 'u'd been all right, an' jes' er joke ef dey hadn't 
stirred up ole Voodoo Jake, de witch doctor. He 
'lowed de babies wus all right but dey had been voo- 
dooed an' de culler changed, an' he'd hafter rub 'em 
all wid de ile uv er black cat killed in de full moon on de 
grave uv er man dat had been hung fur murder, an' 
dey'd be all right. Er nigger jes' nachu'Uy b'leeves 
all dis, 'specially all dem dat had de yaller babies an' 
not one on 'em 'ud gin 'em up. 

"An' dat's hu' cum I got er yaller off-spring in my 
family ter-day, I am sorry ter say. But arter erwhile 
it got sorter mernoternous, an' I thort I'd lak ter git 
my own black baby back, an' I tole ole Marser whut 
I done, an' sum uv de niggers raised sech er stir dat de 
white folks hilt er meetin' an' did git sum on 'em back 
ag'in, but dey's jes' about ha'f uv 'em now in dat 
community dat don't kno' who dey daddies is. But 
dat's nachul, you kno'. But Dinah hed got stuck on 
de yaller baby, an' de preacher's wife on de black one, 
an' tho' 1 kicked erbout it I c'u'dn't do nuffin'. I tole 
ever'body how I dun it fur er joke, but dey all sed I wus 
sech er liar dey wouldn't b'leeve me. Ole Marser laff, 
an' say he hated to swap off er good black colt fur er 



HIS LITTLE PREACHER. 137 

yaller one, but ef it suited de wimmin folks it suited 
him, an' so dar I wus. 

" Wal, dey soon found I wus right, for when de boys 
growed up er leetle, an' big 'nuff fur dey pedergree to 
sho' up, whut you' reckin my black un dun 'fore he 
ten yeahs ole? De preacher tuck 'im ter camp meetin' 
an' he got up er mule race on de outside an' broke up his 
daddy's campmeetin' one day by ridin ole Marster's 
gray mule cl'ar over er bunch uv mourners an' spite uv 
punishment an' pra'ars arter dat, he tuck to ole 
Marster's stable an' dey ain't nurver got him out of it 
yit. 

"An' dat yaller dorg I got, he warn't long showin' de 
mettle uv his pasture an' de proof uv his pedergree, " 
and the old man sighed and looked troubled. 

"How?" I asked. 

''Marse JcAn," he said sadly, "befo' he wus ten 
yeahs ole he stole ever" yaller legged chicken in de 
na'borhood." 



HISS KITTY 

O heah de banjo ringin% 

O heah de tamboreen; 
O heah de darkies singin% 

Susanna, she's my queen. 
O cum, my luve; O cum, my luve, wid mc; 
We'll dance an' sing down by de 'sinunon tree. 

O heah de banjo ringin', 

O heah de tamboreen; 
O heah de darkies singin', 

Susanna, she's my queen. 

A SONG in type is as unsatisfactory as one of Na- 
ture's pastels on pasteboard, and th^ simple negro 
melody above sounds nothing like the vibrating notes 
that floated, not long ago, into my window, fresh from 
the echoing strings of a banjo. 1 could not resist it, 
and on going out I found Uncle Wash under the elm 
that shaded his cabin door. The moonbeams glittered 
askance, flecking the earth with silvered blossoms 
and changing each flooded leaf into a night-blooming 
flower. The distant notes of a tree-frog came from 
the forest beyond, while the regular cadences of a 
whippoorwill added just the tinge of weirdness necessary 
to form the background of a banjo song. In darky 
language, the old man was "makin' the banjo hum," 
and for melody and sweetness, in the hands of a master, 
there is no instrument more weirdly musical. 

(138) 



MISS KITTY. 139 

To-night Old Wash was beside himself. The brass 
thimble on his "pickin' finger" flashed in the moon- 
light; his foot patted in unison, and fluttered like a 
black bat trying to leave the earth. Even his body 
kept time and swayed to and fro with the music. I 
listened in silent delight. The tune 1 had heard before, 
but not the words, for he was improvising as he played. 

"De little stars am winkin', 
Dey 'bout ter go ter sleep; 
De pale moon now am sinkin'. 
An' daylight shadders creep. 
O cum, my luve, we'll dance Ferginny reel; 
De sun am up an' shinin'; now fur de cotton fiel\ 
O heah de banjo ringin', 
O heah de tamboreen; 
O heah de darkies singin', 
Susanna, she's my queen." 

" Go on, old man, " I said : " Give me that song again. 
You almost make me feel like going courting again. 
What's the matter with you? Thinking about start- 
ing all over in life?" 

"No, sah; 'taint dat, sah," laughed the old man, 
" 'taint dat. Dey's too much moss on de old tree fur 
de leaves ter cum ergin. De sap can't rise when de 
bark am dead. De leaves fall off when de cotton boll 
open. Didn't you nurver think erbout it?" He 
added after a moment's thought, "De soul don't 
nurver gro' ole ef it's lived right. De head gits white 
an' de lim's weak an' de eyes dim, but de soul gits 



I40 "UNCLE WASH 



»f 



younger es it grows older, de ole man gits mo' lak er 
boy es he goes down de hill. Nachur kinder seems to 
ease us off de stage uv life gently, lak she fotch us 
in. In our ole age we gits young ergin an' childish 
an' happy. We even try ter kick up our heels ergin an' 
be funny an' 'magine we gwinter live er long, long time 
yit. Sho' me de ole man — don't keer how ole he am — 
dat don't spec' ter live at least ten yeahs longer. Dat's 
Nachur's way uv fbolin' us, sah; dat's her way uv 
puttin' her babies ter sleep — de las' long sleep. Put- 
tin' 'em ter sleep contented lak, an' happy, thinkin' 
dey'U wake in de momin' an' be younger ergin. 

*' I tell you, sah, ole Marster's mighty good ter us. 
He could er put us heah widout hope ef he'd er wanted 
to; he could er put us heah widout sweet dreams, 
widout vishuns uv er better wurl, widout dat onpur- 
chasabul feelin' dat cums to us when we knows we 
dun right — widout even de blessed Book. But he 
didn't. An' so we dream on to de last an' hope to de 
last, an' b'leeve we gwinter be better an' stronger 
to-morrer an' cling to de Good Book fur de sweetes' 
promis' uv dem all — de promis' dat we'll live ergin. 

"No, sah," he continued, as he threw off his solemn 
tone and brightened up a bit, "no, sah, sho' es you live 
right you'll git younger es you gro' older. Why, sah, 
de oldes' man or woman in de wurl am de middle- 
aiged, chillun-raisin', money-makin', bizness-wurry- 
in', ain't-got-no-time-to-eat folks. Dey am de ole 
ones, fur older den de gray haids lak me dat dun laid 
erside all dese heah trashy things an' got to romantin' 
ergin. 



MISS KITTY. 141 

"Why, whut you reckon I wus thinkin' erbout to- 
night?" asked the old man, as he looked sheepishly 
around at the doorway, in which sat Aunt Dinah, his 
wife. This dusky lady had been listening, apparently 
unconcerned at the old man's narration, but filling 
the still night air with the fragrant breath of "deer 
tongue and Williamson leaf," as the smoke curled 
up from her newly-made cob pipe. 

"Thinkin' about marrying again?" I asked, as I 
glanced suspiciously at Aunt Dinah, and then I 
watched her shuffle her feet disdainfully as she stopped 
smoking long enough to remark laconically: 

"Jest let 'im go on, young Marster — ^let 'im super- 
seed," she said as she followed her usual custom of 
throwing in some big word sounding something like 
the one she was trying to use. "Let 'im superseed. 
He has dese fits ever, now an' den, an' de bes* way ter 
stop 'im am to let 'im run down lak you hafter do dese 
heah old-fashuned clocks. Whut er indebibul wurkin' 
appleratus he'd be," she said ironically, "ef he wus 
only es game in der tater patch as he am in de moon- 
light." 

The old man glanced sorrowfully at the doorway and 
continued: "Temight I jes' gotter thinkin' erbout my 
young Mistis, Miss Kitty, de younges' dorter uv Marse 
Robert Young; de chile uv his ole aige, by his secon' 
wife, de pooty leetle Yankee guv'ness dat cum down 
frum Bosting. She cum down ter teach ole Marster's 
yudder gals, but she got ter luvin' her skolers so she 
married dcy daddy so she cud be er mammy to 'em. 
Ain't it strange how wimmen folks will git up eny 



142 "UNCLE WASH" 

kinder excuse to marry on? Wy, I knowed, 'em ter 
marry fur indergestion an' dat tired feelin'," laughed 
the old darky, as he winked at me and then glanc^ at 
the cabin door. 

" Wal, she made 'em er good muther an' ole Marster 
er good wife, ef she did luve cod-fish balls an' baked 
beans. An' her dorter. Miss Kitty ! Why, man erlive, 
dat Yankee cross on our Southern stock jes' got up de 
pooties' gal dat ever said ' Yas' to young luve. She had 
all de brains an' intellec' uv her mammy's side wid 
all de grace an' beauty an' high breedin' an' lily-com- 
plecshun uv us Youngs. Her mammy was allers dead 
in fur edercashun, an' so ole Marster saunt an' got 'er 
three guv'nesses; one fur edercashun, one fer musica- 
shun, an' one fur dressercashun; an' my! how she did 
shine when she growed up! She wus de pooties' gal 
dat ever trod blue grass, de queenlies' one dat ever 
gethered up her trail, an' de sweetes' one dat ever 
pulled er rose in er golden bower whar de hunny- 
suckers gethers de dew-draps an' de turkel dove 
sings in de moonlight. 1 wus de kerridge driver an' 
kep' de horses, an' es I uster drive her about an' sec 
her wid all her grace an' beauty git in an' out de ker- 
ridge, I tell you I wus thankful it wus me dat had 
charge uv her an' not my ancestors in Affercur — fur 
dey would have et 'er up, thinkin' she wus sum kinder 
plumidged bird uv de golden pheasant tribe. 

"Endurin' her seventeenth yeah, Marse Robert's 
bes' frien' died in Alerbama an' lef Marse Robert 
gyardeen fur his son, Henry Robert Littleton, an' he 
soon cum out to Tennessee 'kose he had no close kin 



MISS KITTY 143 

livin' an' Marse Robert wanted to raise 'im, though 
he wus nineteen dat fall. An' he wus er fine young 
man, sah; es gentle es er gal an' es nervy es er red-bird 
in de settin' time. Ef by accerdent he got in de 
wrong, he'd mighty nigh stan' enythin' to git right 
ergin; but onc't in de right he'd fight fur er eyelash. 
Wy, I onc't seed 'im 'pollergize to de overseer, who 
was allers over-barin' an' cussin', 'stead uv actin'. 
Jes' think uv it! 'pollergize to de overseer! 'kose he 
happen not to know de overseer's orders one day an' 
saunt one uv de ban's on ernudder erran'. T'would 
er made no diff rence ef he hadn't 'pollergized fur it, 
but common trash can't stan' quality an' allers mis- 
takes gentleness fur lak uv grit, an' Marse Henry's 
humbleness made de po' white trash uppish an' he 
snapped out dat he didn't spec no better raisin' from 
er boy had cum frum sech er cracker state es Alerbama 
— hoo — ^hoo — e! — dat's es fur es he got — ^Marse Henry 
knocked 'im down three times befo' he cud git up onc't. 
" Bringin' two sech nachurs togedder under de same 
roof am mighty nigh de same thing es mixin' shampain 
an' red lips, an' I seed de thing wus fixed up betwixt 
'em befo' ole Marster caught on an' saunt de boy, as 
he called 'im, to Ferginny to finish his aigucashun. 
But dat didn't do no good; enybody dat had ever seed 
Miss Kitty en' cud ferget 'er ain't de kinder folks de 
gods luve ter kill young, an' arter he ben dar fo' yeahs 
an' finish his aigucashun heah he cum back to Ten- 
nessee ergin. 'Yore haid's level, Marse Henry,' sez 
I to myself; 'de right kinder man don't fall in luve but 
onc't an' den he strikes de pyore metal or de wuss 



144 "UNCLE WASH" 

pocket uv flint dat ever turned er pick; an' in yore case 
ef you ain't struck de pore metal I's black!' 

"An' I's heurd uv Romeo an' Greece an' all demole 
luvers," said the old man learnedly, "but de way 
dese heah two young folks luved one ernudder befo' 
de summer went by wus emuf to make all de yudder 
aiges take in deir signs. Dat's de happies' time uv 
ever'body's life, enyhow," he soliloquized: "We 
ain't got much brains at dat stage, 'kose Nachur didn't 
intend us ter have 'em ; ef we did we wouldn't git kotch 
in de trap she sets fur us — de trap uv matermony. 
Arter we gits kotched," said the old man as he shook 
all over with quiet laughter — ^" arter we gits kotched, 
we's lak de fox in de fable dat got his tail in de sted 
trap — ^we kerry it roun' wid us ever'whar we go an' 
make out lak hits des whut we wus lookin' fur all de 
time, an' er butiful omerment — ^but. Lor, hit pinches 
mighty hard all de same." 

(A vigorous, jerky puffing in the doorway and clouds 
of outraged smoke went up to the stars!) 

"An' whut you reckon my idee uv Heaben is?" 
queried the old man emphatically. " Hit's er blessed 
place way up on sum star, whar de Good Marster 
'lows us ter fall in luve ever' day, but never 'lows us ter 
spile de dream by marryin' — ^fur dat would sho' bust 
up Heaben!" he said as he shot another look at the 
doorway. "An' I kin prove it by de Scripturs deysef," 
he continued. "Don't de Scripturs say 'dar shall be 
no marryin' nur givin' in marriage?' an' don't dey 
also teech us dat up in Heaben we will all luv one 
ernudder? Well, jes, put dem two arguments toged- 



MISS KITTY 145 

der an' tell me how you gwinter git erround 'em, sah? 
Don't dat prove de p'int?" 

"I don't wish to get around them," I laughed, 
"they seem to be good doctrine; but go on with your 
story." 

"Wal, sah, de match wus de talk uv de country, as 
bein' de mos' suiterabules' one dat ever wus. 

"Marse Henry an' Miss Kitty! When I thinks uv 
dem temight 1 kin see de dew on de young grass uv 
life, de roses in de gyarden uv luve, an' de stars in de 
skies uv happiness. 1 smell de flowers uv de past 
ergin lak dey uster smell when I wus young. I see 
de long walks in de shade uv de ellums an' de oaks, an' 
de breaf uv de primroses floats over de gyarden. I 
see de hoss-back rides when de flutter uv Miss Kitty's 
ribbon meant de flag uv de yunerverse to Marse Henry, 
an' de perfume on her bit uv lace han'kerchief brought 
up de sweetes' fragrance frum de depths uv his hart. 
Her eyes wus so bright dey'd bring him up befo' day, 
lak de sun befo' its time, an' her cheeks wus es butiful 
es de mohnin' skies erbloom. 

"Oh, dar am luves an' luves, but dar am only jes' 
one fus' luve fur us all. De make-shifts arter dat am 
lak tryin' to make de red rosebud bloom twict. 

" But sumhow ruther ole Marster had his haid sot on 
er young lawyer in town dat dey called Capin' Estes.. 
dat wus also courtin' Miss Kitty, lak ever'body else 
dat seed 'er, an' ole Marster looked wid mo' favor on 
his suit dan he did on Marse Henry's, on account uv de 
relashunship betwixt 'em. But dar's where ole Mar- 
ster missed it, an' de onlies' time 1 urver knowed 'im 

10 



146 "UNCLE WASH" 

miss it. But dis feller wus slick, an' he done it all wid 
de leetle insterment in 'is jaw. He was allers talkin' 
erbout de constertooshunal perogatives uv de divine 
right uv freemen' an' er makin' law speeches in de Jestis 
court an' er windin' up wid 'my country, my muther, 
my Gord, an' my feller citizens', fer he was sech er 
demijug he allers put de citizens highes'. Ef he 
wasn't free wind at de rasho uv i6 ter i, an' de on- 
limited coinage uv brass, my name ain't Washingtun! 
Wy, he cu'd talk on fo' things at de same time, 
pocket er fee on bof sides uv er case, an' keep one 
eye on de bar-room an' de yuther on de church steeple. 
He cu'd play poker lak er gambler, drink lak er Kansas 
drought, an' pray lak er country deacon. He cu'd 
get drunk lak er sinner, an' yit stan' highes' es er 
saint; mak luve wid one eye to Miss Kitty an' yit keep 
de yuther solemnly sot fur ole Marster lak St. Paul 
watchin' fur revolushuns! 

" But de thing soon cum ter er end. Marse Henry 
was too honerbul to court er gal widout her daddy's 
say-so, an' de Chewsday befo' Easter him an' ole 
Marster had er long talk in de library. Den Marse 
Henry cut out sorry lak an' solemn an' he tells me ter 
take extry keer uv Jap — das wus his half thurrerbred 
saddle hoss — an' ter rub 'im down well, an' ter feed 
'im oats, not er grain uv cohn. 'Fur', sez he, 'Wash, 
I's ergwine erway furever!' 

"An' dat night I seed er ghost! Hit wus jes' arter 
Marse Henry started off. I hilt his sturrup an' bq[ 
'im wid tears in my eyes not ter leave us : 'Who gwi' 
he'p me take keer uv de bosses now an' pick out de 



MISS KITTY 147 

yearlirf fur de spring races? Who dis nigger gwi' 
foller arter de houn's in de spring an' de patterges in de 
fall? Who gwi' be de mohnin' sun uv de place in 
de strength uv his truth an' honer, an* de sweet moon- 
light in his tender senterment an' simplicity? Who 
gwi' set de 'zample 'mong de young folks fur dat 
conshus quietness dat cums wid de knowledge uv 
gameness dat am afeered uv nothin' but doin' wrong? 
O, Marse Henry! Marse Henry, we can't let you go!' 
" I hilt on ter his sturrups an' beg 'im ergin an' 
ergin, fur sumhow I felt lak I'd nurver see 'im eny 
mo'. But he only grip my han' ergin an' ergin, an' 
look at me good-by — good-by — ^wid his eyes, fur he 
cuden't talk, an' rode off in de gloom down de big 
row uv ellums. An' dars whar 1 seed er ghost! De 
fus' one I ever seed! Fur es I stood watchin' 'im wid 
sumpin' lak er pound weight in my throat, an' mighty 
nigh er ton in my heart, I seed dat ghost plain es I 
ever seed enything! He hed got nearly to de gate 
in de dark uv de big overshadowin' trees whar de new 
moon wus tangled up in de lim's (sho' sign er bad 
luck!) when out slip de ghost frum behind er big tree 
an' I lakter drap in my tracks ! De lump went down 
in my throat, but great Gord, how my hair riz! De 
ghost wus dressed in er windin' sheet uv white an' wid 
long hair hangin' down er back, an' she skeered Jap 
so he bolts an' snorts; an' she muster skeered Marse 
Henry too, fur 1 seed 'im stoop down ter grab dat 
ghost an' save hisse'f, an' — ^an' — den — ^fo' Gord! I 
kno' yo' won't believe it, but Marse Henry jes' kissed 
dat ghost time an' ergin an' I heurd 'im say 'furever. 



148 "UNCLE WASH 



»> 



my darling/ er sumpin' dat sounded lak it, an' den 
Jap's gallup clattered up de pike an' de young Marster 
dat I luve so well wus gone! 

"De naixt thing we heurd, Marse Henry wus way 
down in Fluridy, an' de naixt he hed jined General 
Lopez wid de five hundred Americans dat went over 
ter he'p de Cubans fight fer liberty. An' dey got 
er fighter when dey got Marse Henry! Hit was bred 
in 'im, fur it cum jes' es nachul fur us Scotch-Irish 
ter fight fur liberty — enybody's liberty an' eny 
kinder liberty — es it is fer er game cock ter crow when 
he sees de fus' beam uv daylight. 

" But you've read history an' kno' how dat fight 
ended. Marse Henry beat ijffi: time an' ergin, but 
arter erwhile deleetle ban' was overpowered by de 
whole Spanish army, an'— ^al'^ — he v/iped away a 
tear — ^"dem dat didn't die in de fight wus hungup 
lak dorgs! All but Marse Henry — ^brave, generous, 
noble Marse Henry! De papers said dat he erlone 
wus shot, dat he giv de Spanish officers ole Jap, de 
horse he luved so well, ef he'd shoot 'im lak er sojer, 
an' not hang 'im lak er spy ! An' dey shot 'im fer 
doin' whut wus bred in 'im ter do, when two uv his 
gran'daddies foUered de flag uv Green's brigade in 
No'th Calliner, or helped whip ole Ferguson at King's 
Mountain. « 

"Wal sah, de news lakter kill us. Hit hurt even ole 

Marster, fur I uster heah him walkin' de library flo' 

an' talkin' erbout it to hisself: 'De boy wus too high 

* strung,' he would say. 'I did not want 'im to leave 

us. I had no idea he wus gwine on dat fool filler- 



MISS KITTY 149 

buster!' An' den he would storm erroun' dat room 
an ' git hot under de collar as he thort how contrary to 
de rules uv war dey had acted in shootin' Marse 
Henry, an' den all at onct I see 'im tak down de 
ole sword his daddy wore at King's Mountain, an' 
es he fotch it down wid er bang on de library table 
lak he thort de whole Spanish army wus dar, hesez: 
'Damndem Spanish dorgs! Dey am nuffin' but hired 
cowards, an' I cud tak er regerment uv Tennessee 
troops lak dat brave boy an' give de Union de leetle 
islan' es er birf-day gif.' Damn 'em, I say!' Oh, ole 
Marster wus sho' mad, an' when he got mad in er 
righteous cause he cud mak eny body ershamed uv 
his cussin' record! 

"An' Miss Kitty! — I jes' can't talk erbout it widout 
chokin ' up. Fur two yeahs she went in deep moumin ', 
his own widder cuden't er tuck on wusser, fur she 
nurver smiled an' noboddy wus 'lowed ter menshun 
Marse Henry's name, hit seemed to 'feet her so! 

"But Time am Sorrow's doctah," sagely continued 
the old man, "an' his poultice will draw out de sharpes' 
pain! 

" Five long yeahs passed, an ' Estes had got high up in 
pollertics; he started out on er brass basis an' went 
frum postmaster ter Congress. He'd er gone ter 
Heaben ef he could er worked it through er pollitercal 
convenshun! 

"An' now, whut you reckon? De news cum dat 
he gwine ter marry Miss Kitty — ^an' sho' 'nuff — ^hits' 
true! 

"When I foun' hit out, I gin up all faith in mankind 



150 "UNCLE WASH" 

in gin'ral an' womankind in perticler. But den I felt 
sorry fur Miss Kitty when I lamt dat she wus jes' 
gwine ter marry 'im to please 'er old daddy — fur she'd 
do eny thing honorbul fur ole Marster — ^an' dat she 
tole Estes she would marry 'im but dat she would allers 
luve Marse Henry. She nurver tole me, mind you, but 
one night I seed it plainer den wurds kin tell. I seed 
it an' knowed 'er heart wus in Marse Henry's grave. 
I seed er ghost ergin, but hit wus Marse Henry's ghost 
dis time. 

"Dis wus de Chewsdy night befo' Easter, jes' five 
yeahs to de night dat Marse Henry went away. De big 
weddin ' wus ter cum off de naixt night an ' de house 
wus full uv comp'ny an' cakes. Miss Kitty nurver 
smiled, but hed gone erbout all day lak de Greek maiden 
spotless an' pyore, dat de skule books tell us dey useter 
kill to de wicket idols. 

"Dat night I had gone ter sleep thinkin' erbout 
Marse Henry, an' how Jap useter stan' in de fust stall 
naixt to de door; how Marse Henry aller useter cum 
whistlin' outen de house when he wanted me to saddle 
Jap, an' how we useter talk erbout de bosses, an' go to 
de races an' hooraw ef our boss won. 1 wus jes' 
thinkin' how open an' manly he wus, an' how fur 
erpart he wus frum dat Estes es de two ends uv Eter- 
nity, an' den, whut you reckon? I heurn Marse Henry 
cum outen de house lak he did in de days uv old. I 
heurd 'im cum down to de stable do', an' pop his ridin' 
whup es er signal fer me ter bring up Jap, an' den 
slash his whup on his leg while he waited — jes' lak 
he useter do hundreds uv times befo', an' all so nachul 



MISS KITTY 151 

lak, jcs' lak he wus gwinter ride ole Jap ergin arter de 
houn's. An' den, sah, I heurd his voice jes' es plain es 
I urver heurn annything an' jes' lak he useter say, 
only hit seemed so faint an' fur erway: 'Hello, Wash, 
saddle Jap ! I t's time we wus takin ' er han ' in de fun ! ' 
heurd it so plain, I jumped outen de bed, an' said es 
I rushed to open dedo', 'I's cumin', Marse Henry, I's 
cumin'!' But when I open de do' I wus so diser- 
pinted I lak ter cried, fur I cuden't see nuffin ' but de 
trees in de dim moonlight, an' I heurd nuflfin' but de 
hoot uv de owl over in de woods. I felt so cuis I cud- 
en't go ter sleep, fur I wus sho' Marse Henry's sperit 
wus summers erbout, an' dat he cuden't rest in his 
grave on ercount uv de weddin', an' I jes' walked down 
to de gate whar I last seed 'im five yeah befo' go down 
de road, nurver ter cum back eny mo'; ever' thing 
wus so nachul I thought I heurd Jap's footfalls ergin, 
an' den! — ^whut wus dat I seed all dressed in white 
wid her long hair hangin' down her back an' kneelin' 
down under de tree whar she last seed Marse Henry 
erlive, an' sobbin' lak her hart wud break? De same 
ghost I seed dat night five years ergo. I cuden't 
Stan ' an ' look at sech sacred grief as dat, so I went in 
my house thinkin' maybe de las' one wusn't er ghost 
sho' 'nuff, but jes' Miss Kitty prayin' at de tree she 
last seed Marse Henry erlive an' weepin' de las' time 
she cud honorably weep fur 'im. 

" De naixt day wus de big day, but I cuden't stay 
dar an' see dat sacrilege. 'Sides dat, I felt cuis 'bout 
seein' Marse Henry's ghost, an' I knowed sumpin' 
wus gwine happen. I knowed it fur sho' when I went 



152 "UNCLE WASH 



»f 



in de kitchen next mohnin' an' heurd sister Ca'line 
tell how she found er screech owl in Miss Kitty's room 
dat mohnin'. Sez I to mysef; 'Dar! I knows whut 
gwinter happen now. Po' innercent angel! She'll 
nurver live twell termorrow-but thank Gord fur it, fur 
dat yudder Screech Owl will nurver git in her room ! 

"But when I went to de stable, dar wus emudder 
sign: Ole Flint, Marse Henry's ole pet houn', an' de 
bes' one dat ever smelt er deer track, wus stone dead 
in de stall, dead frum er snake bite, too! 'Dat's dat 
Estes doin's ergin,' sez I. To' innercent Miss Kitty!' 
An' de cows wus pawin' an' lowin' at de pastur bars! 
Now ever'body knows dat when de milk cows go ter 
pawin' an' 'lowin' in de mohnin' befo' brekfus, some- 
body gwinter die befo' night. I stood even dat, but 
I gin up when I went to de well ter draw water fur de 
horses, fur dar wus Miss Kitty jes' as plain es she cud 
be, laid out in her coffin in her bridal dress ! 
I drapped dat bucket an' lit out frum dar! 
An 'I went to ole Marster an' beg 'im to let me go 
down to de lower place, five miles erway; an' I went to 
de lower place, five miles erway, an' dar I stayed all 
day long waitin' fur de calamerty to cum, an' groanin' 
in de sperit lak de proffit uv ole when he know de buter- 
ful city gwinter fall. Fur I seed Miss Kitty dead jus' 
es plain es I see you ! 

"Oh, dat wus er turribul day, an' one dat I'll nurver 
furgit, an' I sot dar in de cabin an' fasted, an' didn't eat 
nuffin all day, an ' wrastled wid de sperit in prayer, all 
day long. 

"De weddin' wus ter cum off at nine er clock at 



it 
it 



MISSS KITTY 153 

night. I wus settin' in de cabin do' myself; all de 
yudder darkies had gone to de big house fur de weddin ' 
supper, but I didn't wanter go; I hed no stummic dat 
night — I wus all hart, thinkin' 'bout po Marse Henry 
an' Miss Kitty's fun'ral dat I knowed wus bleeged ter 
cum! 

" Jes' es de clock struck nine, I heard er hoss cum up 
de pike, clatter, clatter, bipperty, bipperty, bipperty, 
an' I jumped up mighty nigh er yard high! 

" I knowed de soun' uv dem feet ! I'd kno' 'em in er 
million — dem wus Jap's feet, an' I hollered, glory hally- 
luyer! Befo' I knowed whether ter run under de bed 
or out on de pike — ^fur I wus sorter skeered an ' sorter 
brave — er big, strong, fine-lookin ' man, es brown es er 
race hoss, pulled up his hoss, covered wid sweat an' 
foam, at de do'. Pulled up his hoss quick lak an' nac- 
hul — ^too nachul fur dis nigger, fur jes' de moshun uv 
de han' fotch de tears to my eyes — ^fur dat hoss wus 
Jap, de same blood-lak, cordy-legged, big-nostriled, 
graceful Jap uv old ! 

"An grate Gord! One look in de blue eyes uv de 
rider, de fine mouf, de frank, manly face, now bronzed 
an ' er trifle stern, hit wus Marse Henry ! Marse Henry ! 

" I jumped up an' sed, 'O Marse Henry, ghost er no 
ghost, I's gwinter hug you! ' — an' I did, hugged him 
an ' Jap, too. 

"An' Marse Henry laf an' sed: 'Wash, my boy, 
I'm no ghost, but flesh an' blood, an' awful hongry 
flesh at dat. What am you doin' way down heah? 
Give ussumpin' ter eat, fur I'm anxious to git on tode 
ole place an' we need sumpin' to brace us up. Jap an' 



154 "UNCLE WASH" 

I have cum over fifty miles sence daylight, an ' while 
dat's no long ride fur us, you kno' we ble^ed ter have 
sumpin' ter run on/ he sed laffin'. 

"Lor/ sonny, you jes' orter seed me hustle erroun'! 
An' whiles I wus fixin' 'im sumpin' to eat, he tole me 
all erbout it, how he hed jined Lopez an' sailed frum 
Key West, an' all erbout de fights he hed. An' he 
sed dat he wuz de onlies' one left uv all his men, an' 
dat he owed his life to Jap's heels an' er Spanish gineral. 
He sed dat when he stormed Las Pozas, his men run 
over de Spaniards an' whupped 'em in er twinkle, an' 
dat sum uv his men begun to hang de Spaniards in 
return fur hangin' sum uv dairs de yeah befo', but 
when he foun' it out he tried to stop it an' he run in an* 
cut down de Spanish gineral dat dey hed hung up, but 
dat his men got mad even wid him an' mutinied an' 
he hed to draw his pistols on his men an' cut down de 
officer at de point uv his guns, 'kase he sed he wan't 
fightin ' er hangin ' war but er civilized war. 

"An he saved de officer's life an' exchanged 'im an' 
saunt 'im home. De papers wus right in sayin' Marse 
Henry wus arterwards overpowered an' hed ter sur- 
render, an' de dozen er two left wus sentenced to be 
hanged. In vain Marse Henry beg 'em to shoot 'em 
lak soljers, but dey hung his men befo' his eyes, an 
dey wooder hung him, but he bribed de officer in chaiige 
wid de gift uv Jap to 'low 'im to be shot and not hung! 

"De naixt mohnin' when dey led Marse Henry off 
to be shot, an ' when he wus er mile or two frum d. lines, 
de gineral whose life he hed saved wus waitin' at de 
spot fur 'im, an' commanded de squad to halt, an' 



MISS KITTY 155 

den he give Marse Henry his side-arms an ' Jap, dat he 
foun' de officer wid, an' he sed to Marse Henry: 'Go; 
you saved my life onct at de risk uv yo ' own. I return 
de compliment.' 

"An' den Marse Henry told me how he hed went in 
de sugar bizness an' made er fortune an' now he cum 
back ergin to live. 

" 'But dat wus five yeah ago, Marse Henry,' sez I; 
'Why ain't you cum home befo' or write us dat you 
still livin?' An' den Marse Henry's face grew dark es 
he sed: 'Bekase, Wash, Unkle Robert wrote me befo' 
de war wus ended dat Kitty wus married to Estes, 
an — 

" 'Dat's er lie, Marse Henry,' I shouted, es I cum 
to my senses ergin an' thout uv Miss Kitty fur de fust 
time — ^'Dat's er lie! Ole Marster didn't write no sech 
letter es dat! She ain't married yit — ^leastwise — dat 
is ter say — O Marse Henry, am it nine erclock yit? 
An' she nurver will be fur she's boun' ter die ternight, 
an' I's waitin' out heah to kno' when to go to de 
fun'ral — ^po' innercent angel!' an' I 'spec' I begun ter 
cry. 

"Marse Henry look at me stem lak, an' ax me what 
1 mean. Den I went back an' tole 'im all, an' I seed 
de tears run down his cheeks es I tole 'im how she hed 
loved an' suffered all dese yeahs. An' tole 'im 'bout 
de ghost scene las' night an' how she sobbed under de 
trees, an' es I tole him 1 seed 'im shake all over lak er 
child ^r sobbin ', an ' when I tole him 'bout de nurver 
failin' death signs I'd seen dis mohnin', an' dat I 'spec' 
right now she dun dead er married — 'twould be all de 



156 "UNCLE WASH 



» 



same to her — he vaulted wid one leap in de saddle an ' 
I seed Jap's tail fly up es he plunged two spurs in his 
side, an ' es he shot erway in de night 1 heurd 'im say 
sorter hard lak: Toller me. Wash, fur I's gwinter take 
er hand in dat fun'ral!' 

*' 1 jumped on er race filly ole Marster hed in trainin' 
at de lower place, an' I follered 'im wid my heart beat- 
in' er drum in my breast, an' de wind playin' er fife 
in my two years! Lor', sah, dat filly cud fly! but run 
es she mout, dar sot Marse Henry allers jes' erhaid, 
lookin' lak er statue on Jap; an' de ole hossrunnin' 
lak er swamp buck wid de pack at his heels ! Runnin,' 
sah, lak he knowed whut wus up an' dat ten minnits 
now wus wurth yeahs termorrer! An' ever' now an' 
den I'd ketch er glimpse uv Marse Henry's back an' 
heah 'im say: 'Grate Gord, ef I kin only git dar in 
time!' 

"Nobody'U ever b'leeve it," continued the old man, 
"but we broke de five mile recurd dat night, sho! An' 
when we cum to de house it wus lit up frum garret to 
cellar an' I cud see de guests in de parlors an' halls an' 
heah de music an' de lafter. But es I rid up closter, my 
hart sunk in my buzum, an' we bofe pulled up wid er 
jerk; fur dar, standin' dar in de light uv de bay winders 
wid flowers above an' belo' an' in de lace uv de curtains, 
dar stood Miss Kitty! An' de orange blossoms wus 
in her hair, an' er man wus by her side, an ' dey wus 
shakin' ban's wid de people. 
Grate Gord, dey wus married! 
I looked at Marse Henry, 'spectin ' to see 'im pale 
an' shaky lak I wus, an' mighty nigh ready ter fall 






MISS KITTY 157 

down ofTen his hoss, but dars whar I overlooked de 
thurrerbred dat wus in 'im, an' stead uv bein' pale, de 
luve light wus in his eyes, but he hed dat cuis hard smile 
on his lips dat allers made me think uv de cocked ham- 
mer uv er hair-trigger durringer. 

"He spurred up clost to me an' jes' es nachul lakes 
ef he wus tellin' me ter saddle Jap, an' jes' es quiet es 
ef he wus gwine to church, he sez: 'Wash, be keerful 
now fur you may save er life wid er level haid. I will 
ride up to de side porch, jes' whar it reaches to Jap's 
saddle skirts. I mus' speak to Kitty once mo' befo' 
I go back to Cuba forever. Slip in an' tell her sum 
one wants to see her quickly, on de side po'ch. Go, an ' 
remember your haid!' 

*' I wus glad ernuf to go. All de sarvants wus now 
pourin' in to shake ban's wid Miss Kitty, arter de white 
folks hed shook, an' I cum in nacherly wid de res'. 
De white folks hed stood back an' wus watchin' our 
awkward way, an' de room wus full uv flowers an' 
sweet sents an' hansum folks. 

"But Miss Kitty jes' hanted me — I cuden't keep 
my eyes ofTen her. She wus es butiful es truth in de 
halls uv de angels, an' yet es sad es sorrow at de grave 
uv her fust bom. She look lak er queen bowin ' right 
an' left, an ' her grace shone lak er pillar in er temple. 
She tried her bes' ter smile on us po' niggers dat had 
raised her an luved her all her life, but de smile jes' 
flickered 'round her dark, sad eyes lak er April sun- 
beam tryin' to git out fmm behind er March cloud. 
When she shuck ban's wid me I seen two tears start up 
in her eyes, lak little silver-side fish dat rise to de sur- 



158 "UNCLE WASH" 

face uv de lake fur air, an' I knowed she wus thinkin' 
uv Jap an' his rider, an' I cuden't stan' it no longer; 
I jes' stuck my big mouf up to her lily bloom uv er yeah 
an' tried to say it easy, but it seemed to me de folks 
heurd it over at quartahs, er mile erway: 'Gord bless 
yo, ' Miss Kitty, honey ! But cum out on de side po'ch, 
quick!' 

"Fur er secon' she looked at me lak she thort I wus 
crazy, an' den I tried ergin, steppin' on her butiful 
dress an' little white slipper, I got up so close an' 
whispered so yeamestly: 

" 'Miss Kitty! Miss Kitty! ! fur Cord's sake cum 
out on de side po'ch, quick!' 

* "She nodded her haid, an' I seed she thort sumbody 
wus in distress, an' es I went out, I seed her excuse her- 
self to de guests an' — ^an' — wal, de feller dat wus stand- 
in ' in de winder wid 'er, an ' den she gethered her trail 
in her lef han' an' follered me out es stately es Pharo's 
darter follered de niggers uv old. " 

Here the old man paused, and a look of triumph 
glinted in his dim eye, as he said, " Dar am sum scenes 
in life fixed on our mem'ry so dey git plainer es we gro' 
older, an ' dis wus one. De happiness uv two lives wus 
at stake, an' I trimbled so I cuden't think, fur I 
knowed er wurd too soon or too late or out uv place 
would ruined ever' thing. De poppin' uv er match 
might er brought on er shootin' an' de whinny uv er 
black boss es he stood blacker in de night mout er 
turned er weddin' inter er fun'ral. 

" I glanced at de side po'ch — dar sot er black hoss- 
man on er steed es black es he wus. Not er muscle 



MISS KITTY 159 

moved but I seed two steel-blue eyes shine even in de 
darkness. Den out cum Miss Kitty, so nachul lak, 
an' soft an' easy: 

" 'What is it. Uncle Wash; who wishes to see 
me?' 

" I p'inted to de hossman. Den 1 heurd her step es 
she walked ercross to de shadder, an' den I heurd er 
voice cum outer de shadder: 'Oh, Kitty, my darlin,' 
have you indeed forgotten me?' 

"To my dyin' day I'll see her es she hesertated, tried 
to advance, stopped, staggered, an' fell into de out- 
stretched arms uv de hossman, es she exclaimed piti- 
fully: 'Dear heart, I tole them all de time I wus 
yores!' 

"An' whut you reckon Marse Henry dun? He 
kissed dat man's wife scanlus, time an' ergin, an' stead 
uv spurrin ' erway wid her lak 1 spected to see 'im do, 
an*^ lak enybody else wooder dun, he jes' walked wid 
'er, dead fainted es she wus, right inter de parlor whar 
dey all wus, an' laid her gently down on er sofer, an' 
den he turned 'round lak er majah gineral reviewin' 
troops, an' he said: 'Unkle Robert, I have a word to 
say heah!' 

" Wal, sah, 'mazement wan't de wurd. De wimmin 
screamed an ' de men looked lak dey wanted to. Even 
ole Marster cuden't do nuffin' but stare. Estes cum 
.to fust an' made er quick movement to git to de sofer 
whar Miss Kitty wus, quiet es er sperit. But when 
Marse Henry seed 'im, his eyes flashed lak two stars, an' 
I dodged my haid spectin ' to heah er pistol shot naixt, 
but I didn't, only dis frum Marse Henry, 'an is cum 



i6o "UNCLE WASH" 

from 'im lak er battery, es he laid one han' on er 
instrument dat hed bin all through de Cuban fight. 

"An* den he tuhned loose. Cord, sah, he towered 
over Estes lak er lion dat hed cum home an' foun' 
er cur in his house. An' all de time his eyes shone 
lak lightnin' an' his face wus sot lak er jedge's, an' 
his voice wus lak er god's ! He pulled de forged letter 
out an' ole Marster read it, an' Miss Kitty cum to an' 
read it, an' he tole Miss Kitty how he writ to her time 
an' ergin an' at las' got dis letter. An' she cried lak 
her heart would break, an ' she tole how she hed writ 
to him time an' ergin befo' she heurd he wus dead, an' 
nurver got no letter, an' befo' I knowed it I jes' hol- 
lered: 'O, hit pays to be postmaster, it do!' 

„An', sah, whut do you reckon ole Marster dun? 
He jes' hugged Marse Henry an' wrung his han' an' 
call 'im his son, an' den he got so mad he lost his ole 
haid, an' cum runnin' out in de hall, an' sed: 'Wash! 
Wash! Bring me my pistols. Wash! The forgin' 
villian to dare marry er gemman's darter!' 

"In er minnit he cum runnin' back wid er pair uv 
durrungers in his ban's an ernudder pair in his eyes, 
an' he rushed up to Marse Henry an' sed: 'Henry, my 
son, you shan't kill 'im ! Let yore ole uncle have dat 
pleasure. The forger! Why, he married my darter, 
n' 1 thort he wus er gemman!' 

"But Estes wus gone, gone to parts unknown. An'. 
Miss Kitty wus laffin an' cryin', in Marse Henry's 
arms, befo' all de guests an' ever'body, an' ole Marster 
stop sorter sho't-lak, when he seed 'er, fur he wa'n't 
perpared fur dat, an ' Marse Henry laflf ed an ' pulled out 



MISS KITTY i6i 

eraudder paper — er little slip uv paper, an' den he sed: 
'In de sweetness uv dis hour I furgive 'im, Unkle. 
Besides, he ain't married yo' darter. Dis little in- 
strument am jes' five yeahs de oldes*. I'm sorry, 
Unkle,' he sed wid er twinkle in he's eyes dat belied 
his appoUergy, 'but I married Kitty de night befo' I 
lef five yeah, ago. Heah is de license an' dis am 
Squire Sanders' signature — an' — wy hello. Squire, 
I'm glad to see you ergin!' — es Squire Sanders an' all 
de folks he knowed flocked erroun' 'im to shake his 
han'. 

"Gord, sah, dat wus er happy night! But nuflfin' 
wud do ole Marster but dey mus' be married over 
ergin by de Piskolopium preacher, an' in gran' style, 
too. 

"So in erbout er hour Marse Henry cum out, dressed 
in der unerform uv er majah-gineral, an' dey wus 
married ergin— an de hansomes' pair dat ever sed yes 
to de preacher. An' when I went up to shake dey 
ban's, Marse Henry tell me to stan' by he's side, an' 
den he pull out ernudder paper, one jes' freshly writ, 
an' he read it to all de folks — ^thank Gord, he had 
bought me frum ole Marster! 

"An ' den he turned roun' to me, nigger dat I wus, 
an' he sed wid er tear in he's manly eye: 'Wash, er 
true frien' am er jewel on de finger uv life. I fout too 
hard fur de freedom uv others to see my bes' frien' er 
slave. I have bought yo' frum Unkle Robert, es dis 
bill uv sale will show. Take it; you are free!' 

"I drapped at his feet an' cried an' kissed his han', 
but he pulled me up, an' es he put five big gol' pieces 

11 



i62 "UNCLE WASH" 

in my han' he laflFed an' sed: *An these are frum my 
wife, for valuabul assistance rendered at her fun' rail' 

"An' es I kissed her sweet han', Gord bless her, 
she looked up at Marse Henry laffin' by her side, an' 
de smile she give him wus lak de break uv day in 
Heaben!" 






THE EXAMINATION 

MARSE JOHN," said Uncle Wash the other 
night, "I's got to hor 'Zamination fur teacher 
over in my Deestrick, an ' I wants you to write out de 
questions. I's Deestrick Cummisherner over dar 
fur culler'd fo'ks an' not one uv 'em can git license to 
teach or preach or git married unless I pass on dey 
pedigree. An' whils't you 's writing' out de ques- 
t'ons Marse John, jes' be good enough to write the 
answers too. It's er mighty po' teacher that ain't got 
his answers es reddy es his questu'ns. An' I wish you'd 
jes' go erlong wid me and see me squelsh dem smart- 
ike niggers that thinks they kno's it all." 

I knew this meant fun for me, so I went. On the 
day appointed there were three applicants; one was 
a pompous looking darkey with a knack of saying things 
grandiloquently and using big words. The old man 
named him Pompey, though his real name, I learned, 
was Green Washington Shadrock Smith. 

Number two was a sanctified, ashen and solemn 
faced negro who was studying for the ministry, very 
pious outwardly and exceedingly cautious of commit- 
ting himself, but possessed of abundant conceit. His 
brass and assurance were great. 

The old man called him Parson. 

The other was a little sharp-eyed coon, always in a 
grin, but with an air of really being outclassed among 
two such worthies as Pompey and the Parson, but who 

(163) 



i64 "UNCLE WASH" 

took his chances anyway, for the job paid fifty dollars 
a month. 

They called him Swipe. 

Nothing pleased the old man more than to show off 
his own learning before the helpless applicants, and to 
rub it in when occasion demanded. Slowly and with 
much dignity he put on his big, iron-rimmed glasses, 
unrolled learnedly his manuscript and shot out this 
grandiloquent flow of learning, calculated to squelch 
any too presumptious candidate for the honors of the 
Academy. 

"Now I's gwinter ax you all er few supernumerous 
quest'ons cal'erlated to disembody de fundermentals 
uv yo' understandin' forimpartin' informashun! An' 
1 wants you to chirp out es pert as er jaybird on er 
Friday." 

There is a negro superstition to the effect that jay- 
birds go to a place unmentionable on Friday and carry 
sand to his Satanic Majesty. 1 wondered if it was a 
hint of what the old man had in store for them. 

Adjusting his glasses again the old man asked the 
Preacher: 

"Whut is jogerfy?" 

The answer came back assuringly and glibly: 

" Jogerfy is de science u v de earth an' de art of navi- 
gation. " 

The old man squinted one eye and said witheringly : 

" Den I suppose you'd say er coon-dog wus de science 
uv de woods an' de art in barkin'. "Nex." 

"Jogerfy" — said Pompey — ^"jogerfy — Br'er Wash- 
ingtun ain't dat got sumpin' nurr to do sorter lak er 



<< 
ft 



THE EXAMINATION 165 

narrer neck jinin' two dimijohns uv Ian', sorter lak it an' 
so fo'th or sumpin' lak it?" 

"War, it may smell uv the jug er leetle," said the 
old man, "but it don't jine de demi-john to de extent 
uv pullin' out de cork! Nex'." 

" Jogerfy," said the Swipe, "is de art uv joggin' and 
de science uv gwine round circles." 

This set the old man to thinking. He scratched his 
head and inspected the candidate closely. "Ain't you 
de nigger dat use to swipe old Hal P'inter when he 
went to de races?" 
Yassir." 

Wal, dat ain't zactly right, but it's got mo' sense 
in it dan anythin' dat's been sed, an' I'll give you ten, 
as you seem to have sum hoss sense in yo' make-up." 

Fortunately I was where I could lean back behind the 
blackboard and save the dignity of the examination. 
For all this had been said with a dignity and earnestness 
that was appalling, and not the slighest trace of humor 
appeared in their voices 

"How am Tennessee bounded?" resumed the 
old man. 

"She's bounded by straight lines makin' er parallelo- 
gram inclinin' in er right angle, " came back knowingly 
from the Parson. 

The old man scratched his jaw and passed it to the 
Pompey . The answer came back as glibly : 

"Tennessee am bounded on de north by Kaintucky 
an' de rory-bory Alice, on de east by de Great Smoky 
mountains, on de west by Mt. Pelee an' on de south — " 

The old man brought his fist down indignantly. 



1 66 "UNCLE WASH" 

" Ef we 's bounded on all dem sides by de things you 
say dar ain't but one thing dat can nachully bind us on 
de south an' dat's hell ! You may know er whole lot 
erbout dat place but you don't kno' er leetle bit 'bout 
jogerfy," and he put it to the Swipe. 

"Tennessee is bounded," said the Swipe, "byer 
mighty good race track at New Orleans on the south 
by er better one at Lexington, Kentucky, on the north, 
an' there's always good horses in the east an' west." 

"Still showin' hoss sense," said the old man. "I 
pass yo' on dat. Now lemme see what you all kno' 
'bout history!" 

He slowly studied out the next question : 

"Relate de causes leadin' to de Riverlushunary 
War.' 

"De circumnavigatin, cause uv de Riverlushunary 
War," said the Preacher glibly, "was de extenshun uv 
de Equator too far into de Gulf stream, endengerin' de 
tail uv de British Umpire." 

The old man sadly shook his head and passed it to 
Pompay: 

"Dey fit us," said Pompey— " Br'er Washin'tun, 
wusn't it fetched on by Injuns stealing tea oflFen dair 
ships an' flingin' it into de sea?" 

"I can't jes zactly spress it kordin' to book lamin'," 
said the Swipe, "but it wus sorter lak dis: We drawed 
de pole an' axed for er squar race, but England fouled 
us on de fus' turn an' got us in er pocket on de half. 
We run into her, cut her down an' won es we pleased. " 

"Go head," said the old man proudly. "Hal' 
P'inter sho' done larned you sumpin." 



THE EXAMINATION 167 

This put the Swipe at the head. He scratched his 
chin, made eyes at the others and licked out his 
tongue. 

"Who wus Maj. Andre?" slowly spelled out the old 
man. 

The preacher thought he was one of the Disciples 
and Pompey, after much thought, said he was the man 
who went over Niagara in a barrel. The Swipe wasn't 
sure, but after a while his face lit up with a broad 
smile and he said: 

"Uncle Wash, wusn't he er British ringer dat got 
unkivered an' ruled off at de West P'int meetin'? 
'twas er close heat an' he lost by er neck." 

" De very man, " said the old man enthusiastically. 
" I tells you, sonny, if you keep up dis clip, yo'll 
break all the colts in dis deestrick. " The Swipe smiled 
and sat up higher in the sulky. The old man studied 
his manuscript carefully and propounded: 

"Describe de battle uv Shiloh." 

"Dat's easy," said the Preacher smiling. "It wus 
er hard-fit fight in which Shiloh got killed. " 

"Oh, he did," said the old man, wrathfully. "I 
guess de nex' thing yo'll be tryin' to teach de ole man 
dat at de battle uv de Nelson, de Nile fell ofen his hoss. 
Nex', wut you say Pompey?" 

" I don't kno' Br'er Washingtun, hit wus befo' I wus 
bohn!" 

The old man passed it to de Swipe. 

" Dat ar battle wus er dead heat 'twixt Gene'al Grant 
an' Johnsing, wan't it, Uncle Wash?" 

"Sonny," said the old man proudly, "I's beginnin' 



1 68 "UNCLE WASH 



p» 



It 
it 
it 



to think I orter resign an' let you ax dese questions. 
1 didn't kno' dar was so much hoss sense in hist'ry." 

"What am de princerpal organ uv circulation?" 
spelled out the old man. 

Pompey thought a long time and said it was the 
liver. The Preacher threw up his hand and a knowing 
smile went over his face. 

What am it, den?" asked the teacher. 
De hat," shouted the candidate. 
Es dat's de fust time you's come nigh it I'll give 
you ten on dat," said the old man, "but I think de 
P'inter boy can do better yet." 

"De princerpal organ om circulashun, " said the 
Swipe, " am de leetle silver cartwheel dat is stamped 
wid de eagle.' 

"Sonny," said the old man, "you have sho' been 
in de hoss bisness for some good. Now you Preacher 
man, whut was de greatest trade of England?" 

"De trade-wind," came back promptly. 

"Trade yo' grandmammy's black cat," said the 
old man, wrathfully. "What wind got to do wid dis 
deestrick skule? You 'pear to be mighty windy 
yo'se'f. Nex'." 

"Wan't dat de Pennsylvania whisky resurrection?" 
timidly asked Pompey. 

The old man glared at him. The Swipe held up his 
hand, and when the old man nodded, he said: 

"De princerpal trade. Uncle Wash? 'Pears to me 
it wus when ole Richard tried to trade his kingdom for 
cr good hoss. " 

The dd man marked the Swipe up one more. 




THE EXAMINATION 169 

"Now I'es gwinter see wat you all kno' about 
Fizerolc^ an' Anatermy. Au whut am de human 
blood composed, you Preacher man?" 

" De human blood is composed uv red corkscrews 
an' white corkscrews," said the Preacher. 

"You tamashun fool," said the lod man, "whut 
you wanter put corkscrews in yo' blood fur when you 
can keep em in yo' pocket? Tell us all erbout de 
human anatermy, Pompey hit's up ter you!" 

"De human anatermy," said Pompey, "is devided 
into three parts, de head, de chist an' de stumac. De 
head contains de brains, if any. De chist contains de 
de lights an' de liver. De stumac contains de bowels. 
There are five bowels, a, e, i, o, u, an' sometimes w 
an yl 

The old man looked at him with becoming scorn. 
"You two fools, " he said to the Preacher and Pompey, 
"Don't kno' emuflf to teach er houndorg to suck eggs. 
I's gwinter give it to you," he said turning to the 
grinning Swipe, "fur it 'pears lak you the only nigger 
in dat bunch dat's got eny sense an' dat's de main 
thing in skule teachin' or enything else." 



. ^ 



HOI EVERY ONE THAT TfflRSTETHI 



THE corn crop up in the Bigbyville neighborhood 
is clean, the cotton shows not a spear of grass. 
The potato field looks as clean and green as a billiard 
cushion floor and the darkies are still, still hoeing. 
All this was caused by a sermon Uncle Wash preached 
there on foot-washing day last month, a literal extract 
of which I got from the old man himself: 

"Brudderin' an' Sisterin' — ^You'll find my text in dc 
six chapter uv Noah's pistols to de Gentiles. 

"Ho! ever* one dat tbirstetb! Hoi 

"De commandments we get from de Bible is beyond 
de scrutiny uv man, an' we natchurly think dat when 
er man gets hot an' thirsty de thing fur him to do is to 
hunt de spring branch an' quench his bumin' lips. 
But not so. Here it is sot down in black an' white in 
de book uv books, dat when you git thirsty, jes' keep 
on boein.' 

"Ho! ever' one dat tbirstetb! Ho! 

"And dat is right; de Bible is allers right. Hoein* 
is good fur de limbs, good fur de wind, good fur de crap, 
an' good fur de soul. De sun am hot now, but de 
wind'U be cold ergin. De rays pour down now, but 
de sleet'll come bye an' bye. Dese is de ra)rs uv 
drought an' thirst, but ef you want to set back when 
de rains come, smoke yo' pipe an' sing dat song — 

"Bile dat cabbage down 

For it ain't gwine to rain no mo' — 

(170) 






HO! EVERY ONE THAT THIRSTETH 171 

jes' take oflF yo' coat, shed yo' shirt, an' foller de corn 
an' tater row, an' ef you git thirsty don't stop to drink, 
but jes' keep on er-hoein'! 
Hoi ever* one dat tbirstetbl ho! 
An' ain't dat de law an' de sense? Whut you 
wanter stop an' drink fur? Won't you jes' get thirsty 
ergin? Keep on er-hoein' ! 

"What did old Noah do when de windows uv de 
heabens was opened an' de flood uv de great deep 
begun to kiver de earth, an' de fools got round him an' 
laughed an' ax him whut he buildin' dat ole ark for? 
He wus tired, an' thirsty, an' hot, but he kep' on 
er-hoein', for he knowed he'd get water enough bye 
and bye. Ho! ever' one dat tbirstetbl bo! 

">\Tiat did Abraham do when dey got roun' him 
an' tried to stop him from gwine to de Promis' Lan'? 
He kept on er hoein' fur Jordan. 

"Don't let de flesh uv dis wurl' fool you. Things 
ain't whut dey seem. Water looks mighty good, 
specially to Baptists, but whut we want to do is to 
keep on er hoein'. De wicked uv Noah's day didn't 
hoe eny. Didn't dey git water enough? De Egypt- 
ians didn't hoe eny, but follered de Israelites into de 
Red Sea. Didn't dey get water enough? Ole Jonah 
didn't obey de Lord an' hoe to de mark, an' de water 
swallowed 'im fust an' de whale swallered 'im next. 
Let dat be er warnin' to you to stick to de tex' uv 
de Bible an' de doctrine uv de church, an' when you 
get thirsty keep on er-hoein'. It's hard now, but 
it'll be sweet bye and bye. It's hot now, but it'll 
be cold bye and bye. You git mighty thirsty an' 



172 "UNCLE WASH 



9f 



you think de taters ain't never goin' to come, but 
when de winter rains come, an' de winds blow, an' 
you set down round de big fiah wid de sweet brown 
'possum an' dem taters, you work so hard fur to get in 
de heat, an' sweat, an' thirst uv summer, den will de 
heart uv de faithful be glad, den will you shout an' sing: 

"Ho! ever' one that thirsteth, ho!" 

This last appeal was too much. The congregation 
arose in a body at the words 'possum and potatoes and 
went off to hoe, leaving the old man with no one to pass 
around the hat. 



THE MASCOT MXTLE 

IT is now nearly ten years since I became thor- 
oughly convinced that there was such a thing as 
a mascot. I had heard Uncle Wash talking about 
them and wishing for one, but I put it all down as darky 
talk until I fell heir to the genuine thing myself. 

Since then luck has come my way in great chunks. 
I speak from experience. I have tried it and I know. 

The mascot of all mascots is a blaze-face sorrel pacing 
mule, whose dam is a Hal mare. 

It is easy to get a pacing mule; it is easier to get a 
sorrel one; but a blaze-face pacing sorrel Tom Hal 
mule comes only once in a generation and when he 
does land he is simply the greatest rabbit foot that 
ever ambled through the southeast side of a graveyard ! 

From the day that mule arrived on my farm, good 
luck has been mine. Up to that time the bottom had 
been out of everything. The banks had burst, the 
drouths had come, the blind-staggers, murrain and the 
sheriff, also the Wilson bill! 

You could not give a horse away because he had to be 
fed; you could not borrow money on a bond; cotton, 
down South, was six cents a pound and a drag at that ; 
mules, the great staple of Middle Tennessee, were 
correspondingly low — scarcely worth their feed; "an' 
de only way you can fill yo' stumic," said Uncle Wash 
to me one day, "is to connect yo' lips to de town 
pump. " 

(173) 



174 



"UNCLE WASH 



»• 



He called it the "water cure!" 

But worse than that — I was heartsick, for in spite 
of my most earnest and poetic declarations, couched 
in all the foxy terms of masculine deception — the 
Angel — ^the most beautiful girl in the world, remained 
like a block of ice in a winter refrigerator, over the door 
of which she had tacked this verse: 

/ do not love you, Dr. Fell, 

The reason why I cannot tell. 

But this I know and know fuU well — 

I do not love you, Dr. Fell! 

Little did I dream, when, finding myself unable to 
sell horses and deciding that mules might sell, that this 
homely creature of ears and innocence, which the next 
spring found ambling around the lot after my favorite 
old saddle mare would turn the tide of my ill-luck. 
But such was the fact. Not only that, but I am con- 
vinced that the arrival of that mule turned the down- 
ward tide of prices in the horse markets of this country, 
precipitated the war with Spain, sank the Spanish navy, 
freed Cuba, and brought on the Boer War (thus enabling 
us to sell to the empire-grabbing British a half million 
of our mules and horses in exchange for our silent 
approval while they butchered a brave and heroic 
people), carried our flag to the Philippines and will 
eventually make us arbiters of the world. 

That mascot-mule did it! 

Uncle Wash is a man of infinite faith, and all through 
' these gloomy times he said he would pull through if 
the blackberry crop and coon-skins didn't fail us. 



THE MASCOT MULE 175 

But "blackberry winter" hit us in May and froze 
everything, and the old man said that a late black- 
berry winter "allers make coon-skins too full uv wolves 
to hold water" — ^whatever that means — ^any way they 
failed to materialize. Even the clover failed to come 
up, the peas to sprout, the hens to lay. After much 
fishing the old man failed even to land, amid the ice 
floes and cold water, the usual spring eel to make the 
eel skin for his rheumatism, and that night he came 
in and immortalized himself in this remark: 

" Taint no use, Marse John — ^luck's erg'in' us. They 
ain't nuthin' but ice aroun' heah, an' ef we'd ship er 
carload uv dat to hell, they'd be er freeze dar befo' 
daylight, an' no deman' fur it." 

In this unhappy state of mind I went out the next 
day to find the old man bluer than ever. Dinah, his 
wife — ^for lack of hope and sufficient nourishment, I 
suppose — ^had joined the Sanctified Ones, and Parson 
Candlelight, the pastor of the band, had been supping 
there every night, to the imminent danger of the last 
yellow leg. Worse than that, the old man said that a 
northeast wind on groundhog day was sure death to 
the 'possum crop, and that it had blown all through 
groundhog day. Moreover, the jimson weeds — ^the 
only dead sure thing for chicken mites in July — ^had 
for the first time in fifty years failed to sprout in the 
hog pen. 

I could not stand it, and I left. I did not return 
for three weeks, expecting to find everything dead and 
the farm a hole in the ground. 

But the old man met me two miles up the pike, a 



176 "UNCLE WASH" 

beam on his face. He could not wait till I reached 
him, but yelled out : 

"Luck's changed — luck's changed, boss!" 

"Where? How?" I exclaimed. 

"Come an' see!" he cried. 

With great pride he conducted me to the lot and 
showed me the new-born thing of moonlight and sorrel 
sunset ambling around after its dam. It looked like 
a blaze-faced grasshopper, a spider on stilts, a lobster 
in embryo. I looked at the old man in disgust, I 
wanted to kill him and the mule and then commit 
suicide. But he was chuckling around and looking 
so happy and positive that I finally said: 

"Well, this is the last drop in the bucket — ^the last 
cuff of ill luck. If this thing had come brown or black, 
with a mealy nose, it might have been worth a few 
dollars. But this cross between a moonbeam and a 
jack rabbit — ^this parody on the Tom Hal tribe, 
intended by nature to be a Tennessee mule, but 
brazenly defying her laws by changing to the blaze-face 
of a nobler animal — creating all kinds of doubt as to 
just who and what it is — ^this mongrel of uncertainty, 
this cross between an ass and an interrogation point — 
is this the thing that has set you to smirking like 
a schoolgirl at recess and shouting and shouting 
good luck two miles up the pike like a blanked 
idiot?" 

The old man only smiled and said dryly: 

"How many mules is you urver seed in yo' life?" 

"Thousands of them," I replied. 

"Did you urver see er blaze-face mule befo'?'* 



THE MASODT MULE 177 

*'No — ^and I'm glad of it. Never want to sec 
another one." 

"Did you urver heah of enybody dat ever seed 
er blaze-face sorrel pacing mule?" 

"Never." 

"An' his dam er Hal mare?" 

"Nobody was ever such a fool before," I snarled. 

"It takes two things to make er sho' nufT mascot," 
went on the old man without noticing my ill-nature, 
" it must be sorter kin to de devil an' sorter partake 
uv de earth — ^lak er graveyard rabbit, or er hunchback 
nigger, or er mule wid er cloven foot an' er blazen face. 
Den it must be sump'n nobody else urver had befo' — 
an' dar it is, sah," he said with dignity and emphasis. 

"An' now, sah, if you don't think it's jes' so come 
wid me an' see. De test uv de puddin' is chewin' de 
bag, an' I's got de bag," he chuckled. 

He took me to the paddock. When I last saw her 
the Berkshire sow had cholera. Now she had — 

"Why, old man," I shouted, " that looks like it. 
Ten pigs and the prettiest, slickest little fellows! 
Why, when—" 

"Las' night," he chuckled, "ten minutes after she 
heerd uv dat mascot-mule." 

" Well, that does look like it— good !" He chuckled, 
and knowingly beckoned me to follow him. 

In the bam the Jersey cow had found a clean-cut 
sprite of a girl baby calf, with the eyes of Juno and the 
form of a water nymph. 

"Good, good!" I cried, slapping the old man on the 
back. "When did—" 

12 



i8o "UNCLE WASH 



ff 



country, " and he ambled off to give the mascot a half 
pint of pure cream. 

The old man was right. From that day the tide 
changed. Among the many things which happened 
that year and which he told me were due to the 
especial influence of the little starlit streak of good 
luck, were the following: 

1. The death of a book agent at the farm gate by 
lightning in July. He was coming to collect his 
monthly payment on the World's Great Orations, 
to which, in an hour of generosity, the old man had 
treated himself (so tbat tbey might all be read at bis 
funeral, be said) and had regretted it every month since. 

2. Smallpox — 3i deputy sheriff that had levied on 
his cow in January was down with it. 

3. Dinah — ^lost her voice from a bad cold in August, 
and had not been able to talk since ! 

4. Wheat crop — out of sight. 

5. Com and oats — ditto! 

6. Cat fish — a ten pound one caught by the old 
man in Bigby Creek. 

7. A thunder-storm in July which rained frogs in 
car-load lots. The old man said he plowed them under 
the next day and expected a crop of frc^ 1^ the rest 
of his life. 

I tell it as he told it to me. But I know that my 
own good luck followed thick and fast. Everything 
1 touched turned to the good. The poems and stories 
I had been giving the country papers for ten years, 
being paid by them in puffs and old papers, came back 
no more from the magazines, but checks came instead. 



THE MASCOT MULE i8i 

Three publishers clamored for my next book. And 
the festive bill-shovers, deciding about that time that I 
was hopeless, gave up their job on back debts and let 
me rest. 

But strangest of all good-luck — ^and best of all! 
The next mail after the birth of that mule I received a 
little note which I still keep in the family Bible: 

/ did not lave you, Dr. Fell. 

The reason why I could not tell. 

But this I know and know full well — 

I love you now, dear Dr, Fell. 



<!■• 



THB GHOST THAT SAVED THREE 

FLUSHES 

IT had been raining all day that Qiristmas week 
and toward night it settled into a steady pour, 
with a cold, sudden wind which now and then beat 
shiveringly the drops against the window. Hard 
writing all day begins to tell on one toward night — not 
physically, so much as mentally; for mental creation 
calls for a flow of nervous force that leaves the mind 
limp and often hysteric. 

It is different from all other work in the world. 
It is a wonder the asylums are not filled with poets and 
novelists. 

Surely for the work they do, the world might stand 
the whims and caprices of those who create. 

This work continued, pays you back for over-strain- 
ing nature, in two ways : First, blues ; second, more blues. 

When these reach the stage that you begin to doubt 
everything, even that you live again, you must quit. 
If you are wise you will go out in the field with the gun. 
Then you will come home tired and hungry. A hot 
bath and a good supper fixes you about right. You 
are now ready to sleep ten hours straight, and wake 
up the next morning with dreams in your brain and 
a glad heart in a good world. 

But a man can't go out when it's raining — a raw, 
cold, December flower-killer. 

What possessed Uncle Wash to get into such a mood? 
Generally he was funny, but to-night — 

(iSa) 



4t 
it 



GHOST THAT SAVED THREE FLUSHES 183 

He had sat in my library for ten minutes, studying 
the fire and watching the steam rise up from his damp 
clothes. He had come over to tell me that somebody 
had read Booker Washington's new book to him and 
that Booker was a smart nigger with a long head "that 
wus liable to be sp'iled. An' er nigger is easier sp'iled 
than fresh fish in summer time, " he said. 

"Now you kin allers tell er new f angled nigger," 
he went on while I hunted for a cigar; "he don't 
b'leeve in ghosts. All ole niggers do." 

You surely have more sense than that, " I remarked. 
I may not have eny sense," said the old man 
quickly. "Hit's when my eyes sees er thing I's got 
sense nuff to know what I sees. " 

"And you have seen a ghost?" I asked, half ban- 
teringly. 

The next instant I was sorry. The old man had 
closed up like a clam. 

"I'll not believe it now unless you tell me," I said 
after a while: "and I'd hate to think you'd begun to 
tell untruthful yams in your old age. 

That was enough. The old man was on his mettle. 

"When my young marster wus married, ole marster 
give me to him. That wus Marse George Young. 
I heard tell dey wus sumpin' sorten wrong wid dat 
marriage, but I never seed no signs uv it myse'f befo' 
nor arter. Marse George wus mighty nigh crazy 
erbout er nurr' gal — I knowed dat — kase him and me 
uster go over dar twice er week fur to see her, an' whut 
Marse George done in de parlor I done in de kitchen. 
O, wc sho' gin em er run for our money ! I wus soon 



i84 "UNCLE WASH" 

engaged to erbout ha'f uv de yaller gals on dat plan- 
tashun, an' Marse George wus holdin his own wid de 
young mistis. She wus er powerful gal, spirited an' 
all dat, an han'sum es er picter; but she wus wild, an' 
reckless an' fond uv men dat flattered her. 

"But jes' fo' dey wus to be married dey fell out er- 
bout sumpin' an she married er rich murchant dat had 
er bushy head an' wo' sidebum whiskers. He didn't 
keer much fur her — ^too busy makin' money. Jes' 
wanted er han 'sum wife. 

"I sho' wus sorry fur her. She wus er fine gal an' 
orter had er square deal. But I knowed den she wus 
weak as water. 

" Uv course de pesky little yaller gals all potted me, 
too, but I heam arterwards dat dey hilt er meetin' on 
it an' 'sided ef dey didn't break dey engagement I wus 
gwine to break all dey ribs ! 

"0, 1 wus pritty sivigerus in dem days, boss, wid my 
right arm. It's de only correct instrument for cotin' 
wid. 

*'Dar wus er mighty sweet an pritty gal livin' near, 
dat Marse George had been gwine to see an' she wus 
crazy erbout him all de time he wus in luve wid de yud- 
der one. Wal, suh de day Marse George got his walk- 
in' papers he went to Miss Susie's house dat night (dat 
wus de yudder one), an' called on her. Now Marse 
George orter be ershamed uv hisself, for he luved dat 
other one, an' ef he hadn't been so reckless, de/d 
er-made up and married. But he wus reckless, allers 
wus — ^an' de little 'oman wus sho' pritty an' sweet an' 
would er made him er better wife dan de high flyin' one. 



GHOST THAT SAVED THREE FLUSHES 185 

"Susie/ say Marse George, arter er while, 'don't you 
think it's erbout time we wus marryin'?" She turned 
red an' den white — ^for she loved him so — ^an' den she 
cried er little an' didn't say nuffin' till Marse George 
kissed her an 'sed: 

" 'Nex' week, little 'oman— nex' week. I's tired 
u V all de shams of life an ' I wanter to settle down. ' 

"An'deydid. 

"Now Marse George he had won er fine farm ater 
game uv cards. It wus 500 acres uv es good land es I 
ever plowed over. He called it Three Flushes, so you 
know how he won it. Dar wus three in de game — 
Cap'in Jones an' Judge Peters — ^an' dey played three 
nights straight without sleep. Dey started wid dollar 
antes an' went on up to mules, niggers, cotton an' land. 
I allers thort Marse George wud win, kase he tuk coffee 
ever* time de yuthers tuk whisky. He kep' cool while 
dey kep ' hot, an ' er cool brain is er poker brain. 

" He b'ilt 'im er neat little home dar, not er fine home 
lak ole marster's, but it wus comf'teble an' cozy, an' dar 
he tuk Miss Susie an' his niggers an' horses an' stock. 

"I thort sho' dey'd be happy; but sumpin' wus 
wrong from the fus'. Miss Susie wus sweet as she 
cud be, an' so quiet an' good, but I seed she wus 
eatin' her heart out; for Marse George, try as he 
cud, cudn't git over pinin' fur de other one. No- 
body ever heard him say er word, an ' he give Miss Susie 
ever thing she wanted 'cept de love she wanted most 
uv all. Now dey ain't but two things in life dat's wurth 
while— one's wuck and de other is love; wid arry one 
uv 'em shut out, it's just er ha'f life at de most. 



i86 ••UNCLE WASH" 

•'I fus' noticed it in Marse George. He tuk to 
drinkin' whisky instead uv coffee an' he played reckless 
and run wid wild men. Dis nearly broke Miss Susie's 
heart. But befo' she died — for she died the second 
year — I seed her in her room settin' iner chair weepin' 
an ' combin ' out her long, beautiful hair. 

"Dat de plaines' time I ever seed her, an' after she 
wus dead I seem to 'member her dat way. 

** She never crossed Marse George nor nagged him, 
nor complained, an ' she wus sick er long time wid fever. 
But befo' she died she called him to her, an' wid tears 
in her eyes an' in his'n too, he promised her he'd never 
drink nor gamble. Den she look lak she wus happier 
den she ever wus. Marse George, too, looked lak he 
jus' begin to luve her good. 

" He wus holdin' her in his arms when she died. 

" It all had er pow'ful effec' on Marse George — ^an fur 
er year he quit drinkin'. He give his houn's away an' 
sold his race horse. I never seed er man es quiet an' 
miserable as he wus. 

" But one Christmais I notices he wus brighter. His 
ole self came erg'in. I soon seed what it wus. I seed 
him readin' er note from de murchant's wife. I 
watched him mighty close for de nex few days, for I 
didn't like dat kind er foolishness, an ' I knowed Marse 
George wus in danger uv ruin ef dat kind uv thing 
started. I soon had all de worry I wanted. She met 
Marse George dat night, es gay an ' spirited an ' es fond 
uv him es ever. She met him at er fox hunt wid er crowd 
uv people — ^all but herhusban' — he wus too busy to 
think of her — ^an ' she an ' Marse George got lost f rum 



t4 



GHOST THAT SAVED THREE FLUSHES 187 

de crowd, but turned up two hours afterwards. An' 
de horses didn't look lak dey'd been doin' any runnin'. 
An' when we got home dat night Marse George wus 
drinkin'. It mighty nigh killed me to see him throw 
hisse'f erway. 

He wus gay eser boy when I tuck dehorses, an ' he said : 
'Wash, we've had er great run to-night. I begin 
to feel like myse'f er'gin.' 

" 'Marse George,' say I, 'I hopes you will pardon 
me if I overstep de bounds uv yo' sarvent, but ain't 
you playin' wid fiah, Marse George'? 

" 'Hold yo tongue, an' tend to yo' own bisness,' 
say he. 'Don't yo' ever give me eny advise erg'in.' 

'* 'It beca'se I wus thinkin' uv Miss Susie, Marse 
George,' seys I. 

"He turned an' walked in. 

" Wal sah, dar wus more balls, an' parties, an' meet- 
in 's uv all kinds. Ever whur I turned dat 'oman 'ud 
bob up gay an' happy, an' headed fur Marse George. 
She'd drive by our place an' talk to him for hours in de 
hammock under de trees. She danced wid him at de 
balls, she hunted wid him an' lived wid him till ever' 
body 'cept her husban ' seed dey wus in love wid each 
other. He jes' kept on sellin' cotton an' sich, an' 
settin' up to his books instead uv his wife. 

" De hold she had on Marse George wus lak Delilah. 
He drunk more, talked more an' got more recklesser. 
He gin er stag party, an' de men all gambled at cards. 
Dey played all night, an' only two uv 'em wus sober 
enuff to come to de breakfas' table; an' Marse George 
wam't one uv 'em! 



1 88 "UNCLE WASH 



»p- 



"It sho' nearly brake my heart, but I tuck keer of 
ever thing an' pushed de farmin', an' made de crap 
es big es ever. 

"It wus late one evenin' when I wus cuttin' hay in 
de river meadow. De sun wus set an' twilight wus 
gatherin' over de hills. I made de ban's shoulder up 
dere sythes an' start to de cabin. I tuck er nigh cut to 
get to de bam quicker an' de res', fur I had all de 
feedin' to do. I stopped in de orcha'd by de spring 
house to git er drink uv water, fur I wus thirsty, fur 
it had been er hot day in de hay field. I wus down 
under de bluff by de spring when I heerd voices fur 
above me under de June apple tree — ^fur de apples 
wus ripe. I heard er saddle horse stompin' nigh, an' 
I looked an' seed er lady's saddle mare hitched nigh. 
I didn't intend to hear hit, but I heard Marse George 
say: 

" 'You were mine at fust — ^mine, I tell you befo' you 
wus ever his.' 

I heerd her sorter sigh, an' dey wus silent. 
Tou don't deserve me — ^the way you acted, fur 
you knowed I luved you then as I do now,' she said 
after while. 

" I heard Marse George kiss her. 

" To-night,' he say, 'I's gwiner to claim you. 
We'll go away — you an' me — don't ker whut de 
wurl', yu'r husban' or de devil say. You are mine — 
mine ! 

" I saw him take her in his arms an' dey stood, her 
head on his shoulder. I heurd 'em make arrangements 
to run off dat night. Dey wus to take de kerrige at 



it f 



GHOST THAT SAVED THREE FLUSHES 189 

two o'clock, he wus to drive to her home. After dat 
he say, 'We'll travel er year in er furrin country; by dat 
time he'll have er divorce fur he don't love you eny way, 
nor you — you don't love him? 

" 'No, no, darlin',' she said 'I love only you/ 

'*l slipped out to de bam. I wus shakin' all over. 
'Good God,' say I, 'Marse George is ruined!' 

" I never wus so miser'ble in my life. I seed her 
ride off in de twilight, an' den Marse George come to 
de barn sorter hummin' er ole love song. 

" 'Wash,' say he, 'I'se gwinter have Captain Jones 
an' Judge Peters to supper to-night. You stay up an' 
have de kerrige ready. I may wanter go off on er 
little trip.' 

" Den he tole me whut to do whilst he wus gone, an' 
how to plant ever field. I listened to him an' I didn't 
sey er thing, but my heart wus nigh brakin', fur I 
luved Marse George an' I knowed he had er great big 
heart, ef he wus reckless. 

"An' dat sot me to thinkin' uvpo' little dead Miss 
Susie. For I loved her best uv all. It wus nearly 
night when I went into de setting room to carry in de 
fresh water. The lamp wus turned low, an' de room 
was shadowy in de pale light. All wus still, an' 1 
passes Miss Susie's chair, where she allers set. I 
seemed to miss her mo' an' mo'. I had put de water 
down an' wus turnin' to go out, when I felt lak some- 
body wus in de room besides myself. I had hearn no 
foot-steps, but I jes' felt dar wus anurr presence dar 
besides me. I looked aroun' fur er minute. I didn't 
know w'ether I wus livin' or dead. Creepin' chills 



190 "UNCLE WASH" 

run up my back an' de blud jes' froze in my heart, fur 
dar sot Miss Susie in her chair, combing her long hair 
jes' lak she uster do befo' she died. De lamp blazed 
up an' lit up de room, an es de light flashed out it lit 
up her face an' eyes wid er gleam dat showed de tears 
dar, jes' es 1 seed her cry befo'. She never looked at 
me, but looked erway off, an' she wus es nachul es er 
livin' picture. 1 tried to move, but seemed to be 
froze to de 'arth. 

" 'Miss Susie, O, Miss Susie,' I cried, an' when 1 
looked ag'in she wus gone. 

"When 1 got so 1 cud walk, I started out an' met 
Marse George in de hall. 1 lackter run over him, es 
I wus shakin' wid er chill. 

" 'Whut's de matter with you?' he say, sorter 
sharp lak. 

" 'Marse George,' I sed, *Marse George, I jes' seed 
Miss Susie in dar as nachul es life' — but I cudn't sey 
no mo' — 1 sot down on the flo' in er dead fit. I heard 
him call de house gal for to bring de brandy an' he 
give it to me stiff. 

" Take dat,' sez he, 'Wash, your nerves is out 
uv fix, an' you is de victim uv er hallucinashun,' seys 
he. 'You ain't seen eny thing in dat room.' 

" But I cud see he wus puzzled an' worried. 

"I got up an' went out. I didn't b'lecve my own 
senses. I felt cold an' light erbout my head. I'd 
never b'leeved in sich things, an' de mo' Marse George 
talked to me de lesser I b'leeved I'd seed it. 

"Sides, de brandy doped me, an' it's er pow*ful good 
thing ter make er man see things es dey ain't. 



GHOST THAT SAVED THREE FLUSHES 191 

"I jes' tole myse'f I'd had er light-headed spell an' 
seed things dat wam't dar. 

*' Arter er while de Capt'in an' de Judge come in, de 
house wus lit up, an' er good supper served. Supper 
over, I brought out de whisky an' de ole fashion loaf 
sugar, big es er cake, an' de gentlemen went to drinkin' 
an' playin'. 

"Marse George wus reckless an' bet nigger after 
nigger. Sometimes he lost an' den he won. But luck 
sot in ag'in him an' he lost ever time. He put up de 
cotton an hit went. 

"I sot behind him watchin' de game. Dey had 
played on till nigh midnight. Marse George had tole 
dem dat at midnight he wud quit, es he had er 
engagement later. De pot had growed to be er big 
thing. Capt'n Jones he had up ten thousand in 
warehouse receets, an' Judge he had up de coin in big 
rolls. Marse George had lost steady, an' he say, 
'Gemmen, I'll put up de farm in dat pot, Ef I lose it's 
alright, for I don't mind telling you gemmen dat I's 
going erway for er year, to-night, maybe I'll come 
back — maybe I'll never come.' 

" 'Marse George 1 say, 'don't — ^for Gawd's sake 
don't put up de farm.' 

"He turned on me an' cussed me. I slipped down 
behind his chair, my face in my hands, fur I felt lak 
he wus lost. • 

" 'Will you take de farm in at twenty thousand 
dollars?' he say. 'Ef so, I'll now play you to er stand- 
still.' 

" De Judge nodded an' shuffled an' delt de cards. 



192 "UNCLE WASH 



»> 



it 

44 



"De light began to bum low. Den I smelt in dat 
room dat cur'is smell erg'in es frum de dead — jes' es 
I smelt dat evenin'; an' I felt de same feelin' lak 
somebody wus in de room. I wus feared to look up. 
I seed Marse George an' de others reach out to take 
up de cards an' I knowed on dat han' hung me an dat 
fine farm. 

" But Marse George never touched his, fur dar in 
dat same chair sot Miss Susie combin' her hair, an' de 
lamp lighted up her eyes an' de tears wus dar. 
I grabbed Marse George shoulder and p'inted. 
He gins one look an' 1 seed the blood freeze in his 
face. His hand re'ching out for de cards jes' lay still 
an' par' ly zed. 

" 'What in de hell, Young, is de matter wid you?* 
sed the Judge, lookin' at 'em plumb 'stounded. 

"Den de both turned an' looked wher' dey seed 
Marse George lookin'. 

" But dey didn't seem to understan', an' both uv 'em 
riz quick frum dey seats, an' de Judge bowed an' sez: 

" 'Pardon me, madam, I didn't kno' dar wus er lady 
in de house.' 

"Marse George had fell back in his chair. 

"An' den Miss Susie riz up an' walked towards de 
door, an' at de door she turned an' looked at Marse 
George for er second so sad it melted my heart. 

"Wid dat she vanished an' yit de door was still shet. 

"Not er man spoke er word nor moved for er moment. 
I seed de Judge rub his forehead lak he wondering ef 
he dreamed, an' de Capt'in stood pale an' shakin', 
reachin' for de whisky. At las' de Judge sed: 



GHOST THAT SAVED THREE FLUSHES 193 



«« «] 



'My God, Young, who was that woman an' where 
did she go to?' 

" That,' sez Marse George, 'wus my wife — she died 
er year ago.' 

" He riz up so shaky — I had to hold him. 'Gemmen, 
shall we finish the game? I fear I am going to faint.' 

" 'Wash,' he says, when he seed de other two lookin' 
fur dey hats, 'bring 'round the kerrige an' shut up this 
house.' Gemmen, we will ride. I am goin' out West 
wid this boy an' take er hunt. I've been all kinds uv er 
fool an' er madman, er reprobate an' er breaker uv 
solemn vows to er dying wife. But I'm sane erg'in.' 

" He wus, an' de yudder 'oman never seed 'im ergin. 
He died on de firin' line at Shiloh, sah, leadin' his 
foment." 



It 



THE ORIGIN OF THE COON 

"/^NE year ole Marster went up to Philadelphy, 
K^ whar er ship load uv niggers had been shipped in, 
an' focht back er half dozen likely bucks an' wenches 
fresh frum Afiker. We had to do this ever now an' 
then because de Ian' wus cleared so much faster dan 
we cud till it an' ole Marster wus allers buyin' mo' Ian' 
than we cud raise niggers to till it. Now there is sev'ral 
little pints about er nigger fresh frum Afiker dat you 
hafter watch, chief uv which is his smell. Fur ten years 
or mo' dese pints sticks an' often ain't bred out en dem 
untwell de nex' jinerashun. One wus to keep 'em 
outen hoo-doo tricks an' wash 'em in de creek at least 
once er month; de other wus to get 'em to eat cooked 
vittles, an' de las' wus to sew up dey clothes on 'em so 
dey cudn't git out when the sun shone hot. I's seen 
hundreds an' hundreds uv 'em in my life, lived on de 
same place wid 'em, an' dese have allers been de pints 
I's noticed it wus de hardes' to break 'em in for de 
fus' lesson uv civerlizashun. 

"And it wus er hard thing to get 'em to do it. Ever' 
one fetched his little gawds erlong wid him. Dese little 
gawds wus little stick men — ^wal, you cudn't call 'em 
much mor'n sticks, wid heads cyarved on 'em an' wore 
slick an' greasy frum bein' handed down for hundreds 
uv years from one nigger to er nurr. 

" I called dese little things Jacks. I thort that 'ud 
suit 'em as well as enything. 

(194) 



THE ORIGIN OF THE OX^N 195 

" An' ever nigger had his Jack, which he worshipped, 
and which he thort told him everthing dat 'ud come 
to pass. 

"An' don't you think dey wan't foolish 'bout dem 
little Jacks! 

" I wus overseer fur ole Marster an' had charge uv all 
them Afiker niggers an' I cum mighty nigh losin' my 
life onct by gittin' between one uv dem big, fierce 
savage niggers an' his r'ligun, which wus his Jack. 
This nigger used to git his Jack up ever momin' bright 
an' early, an' sich prayin' an' carryin' on wid dat Jack 
you never seed. Dis nigger wus named Skibo, an' he'd 
rastle wid his Jack in prayer mornin', noon an' night. 
He sed Jack kep him frum all harm, dat he kep snakes 
frum bitin' him in de new groun', an' fevers frum 
ketchin' him in de swamp, an' ghostes frum chasin' 
him at night, an' er blue-gum nigger cudn't pizen him 
ef he bit him ef he made Jack tech de spot. An' Jack 
even told him if his wife wus faithful or not, which es 
they generally wan't, shows whut er fool eny nigger 
is dat ever thinks he needs er Jack on dat pint 1 

"Wal, as I sed, dis Jack told Skibo everthing 'cept 
how to bathe onct er month, how to keep his shirt on 
widout tackin' it to his years an' how to wuck in de 
cotton an' cohn fiel'. 

"An' dem wus de things I wanted Jack to post him 
on most pintedly. 

"When the sun 'ud git hot Skibo 'ud throw off 
turriblc. I'd find him ever time my back wus turned 
havin' er bad case uv riligun in eny shady place he 
cu'd pull out his Jack, fur he allers carried de thing 



196 ''UNCLE WASH" 

tied up in er eel skin round his neck. So one day when 
I caught him for de thud time in one momin' gwine 
into er conference wid Jack es to whether his wife wus 
thinkin' uv him dat minute or er nurr nigger dat hader 
conjure made up uv er turkledove's egg an' er frog's foot 
an' put hit under his do' step to wean erway his wife's 
'flectuns, I gin him er kick in his prayin' end, snatched 
his Jack frum round his neck an' flung de thing into 
de creek. 

"Den 1 seed whut er mistake I'd made to try to get 
between er fool an' his r'ligun! He come at me lak 
er gorilla uv de woods, an' de only thing dat saved 
my life wus dat de staff uv my bull whip loaded wid 
nigh er pound uv lead wus er little further in de reach 
dan his arm wid er knife in it. Befo' he come to I 
shackled his right arm to his leg, went into de creek, 
got de leetle ole thing an' put it on his breast. 

"When he came to an' seed it you cud 'a heard him 
laughing a mile. He thort Jack had come out uv de 
creek an' saved his life! 

"After dat I seed I had to kill him ef I separated 
him from his r'ligun, an' es he cost ole Marster five 
hundred dollars, I done de bes' I cu'd. 

"Wal, dat nigger kep on till he got de whole 
plantashun, even ole Marster, to bleevin* in his Jack. 
He had Jack perdictin' two or three things dat she did 
come to pass. He sed er month erhead dat ole Shobo, 
de witch nigger, 'ud die on er certain day; an' on dat day 
ole Shobo laid down an' died! I allers thort he wus 
skeered to death, but it sho' fixed Jack es er proffit 
ermong de niggers. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE COON 197 

"The nex' shot he made wus dat in the spring of '42 
dar wus gwinter be er killin' frost de last week in May 
an' so hep me Gawdef it didn't come an' killed cotton 
hoe high an' corn up to yo' knees. Dat made me so 
mad that I begged Marster to let me sick de blood 
hounds on him an' run him into the swamp. But he 
wudn't — ole Marster wus beginnin' to bleeve in him 
hisself . Dar is superstishun in ever man dat ever lived 
an' dat fool savage an' his Jack wus beginnin' to tech 
ole Marster's. 

" One momin' he come to old Marster in er turrible 
hurry an' told him he jes had to speak to him. By 
dat he cud talk sorter like sumpin nurr, an' he got 
down on his knees and begged ole Marser to move 
outen de little office he slept in nigh de big house 
befo' night. Ole Marster laughed at him an' tole him 
to go to wuck. He went beggin' an' then I gin him 
er lickin' fur not wuckin', but he run back to de house 
an' got on his knees er'gin an' begged ole Marster not 
to sleep in de little room dat night, dat Jack told him 
sumpin turrible gwinter happen ef he did. Ole Marster 
tried to kick him away, but he hung on to ole Marster's 
han' kissin' it an' beggin' till ole Marster promised. 

"Dat wus de night uv de big cyclone dat struck 
de little office fust and swept it erway an' fo' nigger 
cabins, killin' three niggers. Ole Marster wus reddy 
then to swar' by him. 

"Then he played er trick on ole Marster. One night 
he stole ole Marster's saddle boss out an' hid him in 
de woods. De nex' day we scoured de country 
hoss-back an' erfoot« but no boss. 



198 "UNCLE WASH" 

"Marster called on Skibo an' Skibo set up his Jack, 
Fust he went into er trance — Jack wouldn't talk to him 
less he wus in er trance, an' when he wakes he goes 
straight to de swamp where he hid de boss and rides 
home. 

" By dis time it had gone all over de country, an' 
Marster sed he'd bet his farm he had er boodoo nigger 
dat could tell anything. He wouldn't let Skibo 
wuck at all; he fed him on de fat uv de land, and let 
him marry er wife on ever plantashun erroun' dar an' 
he even tuck Ole Pitt's young wife erway frum him 
an' gin her to dat Skibo. 

"An' de more ole Marster drunk the mo' he bragged 
on Skibo. 

"De fust thing 1 knowed (I heurd it frum nigger 
mouth) ole Marster and Majah Sellers, his nabur, had 
made er big bet. Hit wus the talk of the county. Ole 
Marster bet ten uv his niggers an' er thousan' dollars 
erg'in de same uv Majah Sellers dat de Majah cud 
put up enything, sight-under-seen, enywhar, day 
or night, an' Skibo would tell whut it wus. De 
Majah tuck it up an' Sat'day nex' afternoon wus to be 
de test, it bein' er half holiday fur us all. 

"Wal, de whole county turned out an' dat Sat'day 
we went in er body over to Majah Sellers, ole Marster 
ridin' in frunt wid Skibo an' his Jack. 

"De yard uv Majah Sellers wus full uv naburs an' 
niggers an' we wus all drawed up in er line an' de ten 
niggers on each side put up in er bunch an' de money 
in de stakeholder's hands. 

" I looked an' I seed nothin' in de open place whar 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GOON 199 

dc test wus to be made but er big iron pot turned over, 
an' den I larned dat de thing dat Skibo wus to tell 
uv wus under dat pot, an' he had jes one guess at it. 

"Majah Sellers wus laughin' an' mighty pleased at 
de chance uv winnin' ten niggers an' er thousan' 
dollars, an' Marster jes stalked erroun' an' swore he 
already had de Majah's niggers an' money. When 
de hour come an' everything wus ready an' everbody 
was dar, Marster walked to de open place wid Major 
Sellers an' de stakeholder who wus de referee, an' 
sed: 

" 'Gome, Skibo, git down on de groun', and rastle 
wid yo' Jack an' tell us what's under dat pot.' 

"Skibo got down, but I don't know why it wus, he 
cudn't go into his trance. Some sed de big crowd 
frustrated him; some sed Jack wouldn't wuck on er 
ungodly bet, and some sed de skill had left Skibo. 
Anyway, he sot an' foamed at de mouth an' beat his 
breast an' set Jack up befo' an' behind an' sideways 
an' on his back an' on his belly, but it wus no go, an' 
Marster cud see it plainer than enybody. 

" Five minutes — ^ten minutes — er half hour passed, 
an' still Skibo foamed an' beat his breast an' looked 
like er whipped dog, an' Marster stood pale an' worried. 

" 'Gome,' sed de referee, 'time's up; wbafs under 
dat pot, nigger.*' 

"An' den Skibo 'beat at his game an' wantin' to die, 
fell on his knees befo' de man, raised his ban's to 
heaben, put his mouth in de dust an' sed: 

" 'Buckra — Buckra — you done got de ole coon at 
lastl' 



300 "UNCLE WASH" 

"Majah Sellers turned pale. His laugh died on his 
face as he turned to ole Marster and sed: 

** 'By Gawd, he is right — it's er coon we caught and 
put under dot pot last night. Take de niggers an* de 
numey.* 

"De referee lifted de pot and out come Mister Gx)n. 
We raised er shout and carried Skibo back home on 
our shoulders. 

"An' frum dat day dey have called all black 
niggers coons." 



THE NERVOUS GOATS* 

"f NEVER had much use fur goats," said Uncle 
1 Wash the other night, "an I got less use fur 'em 
now dan ever. Dey may be es good to eat es sheep to 
some people, but when I hears er man say dat, ef he's 
white, 1 looks fur his head to be all cymling and his 
feets all giblets, an' ef he's black I looks fur blue gums 
an' wropped hair. Ever' now an' den, dey gits up er 
goat craze in de South an' dese city men whut edits 
farm papers in cities tells whut er pow'ful lot uv money 
dey is in goats. After tellin' how dey eats up ever'- 
thing nuthin' else will tetch — ^not even barrin' er 
carryon cro' — an' can live an' prosper on er dry spot 
so nigh de wicked place dat nuthin' else cu'd live dere 
wid col' feet unless dey walked on stilts, dey den pro- 
ceeds to tell how fast dey can prop-er-gait, which is er 
big word dey uses to tell how soon an* nachully er little 
sissy kid goat gits to be er nanny. 

"It ain't often I drops into poetry, but heah is de 
way I figures it out: 

Two little goatses, out in de sno' 
Dey gits married an' den dar is fo', 
Fo' little goatses longin' to mate. 
Bare is de larder, but soon dar is eight. 

^When this story was published in a magacine it bnnight many letters 
asking if there were, in fact, such goats as described by Old Wash. The 
story is true and these x>eculiar goats, called Nervous Goats, are well known 
in middle Tennessee. They have been the subject of much scientific inves- 
tigation. This incident happened to the flock owned by Mr. Walter Parmer, 
Nashville, Tennessee. 

(aoi) 



301 "UNCLE WASH 



y» 



Eight little goatses, weeds, an' no mo' — 
Weeds is for true love an' now twenty-fo'. 
Twenty-fo' goatses climbin' de gate, 
Ever'whar dey oughtn't be — ^now eighty-eight. 
Eighty-eight goatses, all in de com. 
Still studyin' 'rithmetic — two hundred's bom. 
Two hundred goatses on house top an' tree — 
Dey drops six hundred by de mle uv three ! 
Six hundred goatses, locustin' de land. 
Living on lizard, love-knots an' sand. 
But sand is deir manna — dey marry ag'in. 
Now sixteen million, nine hundred an' ten ! 

" Did you urver notice, Marse John, de turrible hard 
slam de Bible gives de goatses? An' when de Good 
Book tags er thing it's dar fur all eternity an' warranted 
not to fade. Uv all de animules in de ark, snakes an' 
goatses is de only things dat is under de ban. You 
know whut de snake done — ^tempted Eve, an' de rest 
uv us been stayin' in after skule ever sense an' takin' 
our spankin'. But de way it throwed off on de goatses 
wus wussur still, fur it laid ever' low-down white- 
livered thing dat happened on de goatses. Whenever 
er ole Jew had done sumpin' specially low down an' 
wanted to lie out uv it hisse'f, he'd mb asserfeterty 
an* gypsy juice on some goat an' start him th'oo de 
wilderness. Dey call him er scapegoat because dey 
thought he orter be thankful to 'scape wid his life, 
seein' he kerried so many other fo'kses sins on his back. 

"Oh, you kin jes' bet er man gits whut he sows in 
dis worl'. 



THE NERVOUS GOATS 203 

"Ole Abraham started de thing an' all de others 
kep' it up an' all th'oo de Good Book de sins uv de 
world is laid on goatses. Dey even studied it out fur 
de Jedgment day when dar'll be er big separashun uv 
de sheep an' de goatses, an' all sinners will be turned 
into goatses. Dis allers struck me es correct, fur dere 
is jes' erbout dat much difference 'twixt er game, ole, 
naughty, bad-smellin' sinner an' er weak, no'count, 
sissy, bab-bab, goody-goody! 

"An' it's all in favor uv de goat ! 

" Es fur me, give me er goat over er sheep ever' time. 
Er goat smells bad to some fo'ks, but he'll hustle fur his 
own, is dead game, don't complain, 'tends to his own 
business, ain't stuck up an' is er pow'ful ladies' man. 
You nurver heah uv er goat-killin' dog — ^no, sah, but 
I's seed er many er dog-killin' goat. An' de best way 
to save er flock uv cowardly sheeps is to put er few billies 
in ermongst 'em. But er sheep—de thing we Christyuns 
is picked out es emblem uv all dat's good an' holy, 
Marse John, it's er shame! He's er meek-faced, flop- 
yeared fool, so silly he'll jump into er bottomless pit ef 
his nigh neighbor happen to fall in, an' so cowardly 
any yaller cur can chase an' kill de whole flock. Whilst 
his big horns an' stiff neck is puttin' up er bold game 
uv bluff, his slinkin' limber tail, floppin' betwixt his 
legs, is doin' all it can to lie out uv it ! Dey ain't got 
sense enuff to keep er crow offen deir babes when born, 
dey hunts fur all de soft spots in de pasture an' dey 
quits to anything dat gits er good holt on dey wool. 
Don't put up no lamb on my tomb when I's gone, 
Marse John. Ef I's got to be pictured an' disgraced 



ao4 "UNCLE WASH 



*» 



es er animule an' er nachur faker after Ts dead an' it's 
er ch'ice 'twixt de goat an' de sheep, carve fur Uncle 
Wash er game ole goat, wise unto salvershun, keepin' 
his own council, speakin' no evil, stickin' to de middle uv 
de road — er good ole prop-er-gaitin' populite, whbkers 
an' all! 

"Yassah! 

" But 1 started out to tell erbout dem nervus goatses. 
I lives down nigh Marse Walter, an' he's got er flock 
uv dem goats, dat run in de pasture wid de fine mares. 
You know brood mares nurver git sick ef er goat stays 
ermong 'em, fur de smell uv de goat is so servigrus, dat 
whenever er microbe uv eny breed gits er good whiff uv 
it, he des' gasps an' smiles an' dies, as de poet sez uv de 
hero soljer. An' so Marse Walter he keeps dem goats 
wid his mares, an' do' he 'low us to go th'oo eny other 
part uv de farm, he don't 'low nobody to make er 
common passway th'oo de paddock. But de other 
Sunday es I went to preachin' I wus late, an' thinkin' 
he wouldn't keer dis time I tuck er short cut th'oo de 
paddock. I seed de flock uv goats an' de mares an' 
colts but I wuz so busy wuckin' out my sermon, de 
tex' of which was, 'And be separated de sheep frum 
de goats,' dat I run over er kid 'sleep in de grass befo' 
I seed it. 'Bab-hab,' sez de kid, jumpin' up so sudden 
'twixt my legs dat I jumped two feet off en de 
groun'. Den I gin him er kick when I hit de yearth, 
clap my hands to make him run an' sed, 'Bah4fab, 
yo'se'fy 

"Wid dat ever' goat dar started to run, but jcs' 
hollered hab-hab an' drapped dead! 



THE NERVOUS GOATS 305 

"An* when I seed whut I'd done I mighty nigh done 
it myse'f. 

" I started on er run fur de fence, but looked back 
an' de groun' wus jes' kivered wid goats kickin' an' 
stiff enin' out an' dyin*. I 'spected to see de mares 
an' colts tumble nex* so I makes er break over de fence 
an' over de hills back home. 

"No mo' sermon fur me dat day. I'd seed all I 
wanted to see erbout goatses, unless it wus how to raise 
'cm frum de dead. 

" I kep' hid out all day, wonderin' ef enybody seed 
me. All night I dreamed uv goats — dreamed it wus 
de last great day, dat Marse Walter wus de great 
Judge, an' when my time come I wus cast over among 
de goatses. 

"Sho' nuff, at breakfus' heah cum de sheriff, an' 
reads me er writ an' takes me to de jestice cou't. 

" I nurver had been 'rested befo'. I wus scand'lized 
an' ruined, all by er lot uv goatses. I axed 'em to let 
me see you, dat you'd go on my bond, but dey drug me 
bcfo' de squire. 

"You nurver seed sicher trial; ever'body wus dar, 
an' de trouble I wus in seem to give gener'l satisfacshun. 
De Majah he spoke ag'in' me, tellin' de jestice dat I 
went into de paddock an' kilt de whole flock uv 
goatses. 'He wus so iamal ugly dey all drapt dead at 
sight uv him,' he say. He kep' dat an' some mo' up 
fur er hour, an' he had de whole cou'thouse, judge an' 
all, cr-laffin' at me. I nurver seed fo'ks have so much 
fun an' I nurver felt so mean an' low down. De 
Majah 'splains it wus er flock uv ve'y unusual goatses. 



2o6 "UNCLE WASH" 

called Nervous Goats, an' dat day wus wuth er hundred 
dollars erpiece, an' he figured out dat I owed Marse 
Walter des' five thousand, six hundred dollars an' 
de state pen two years hard labor fur trespass ! 

" Wid dat 1 jes' give up. I'd figured dat ef it cum 
to de wuss dey wus wuth 'bout two dollars each an' 1 
knowed I cu'd sell de filly an' pay dat. But dis jes' 
mint me. I wanted to die. I wus willin' fur to sell 
all I had an' pay up, but de Judge sed I'd hafter make 
er speech an' 'splain how it wus or he'd hafter gin 
jedgment fur de amount an' hang me afterwards. Hit 
looked lak dey wus gwine to make it es miser'bul fur me 
as dey cud so I done de bes' 1 cud wid er heavy h'art. 

" 'Marse Judge an' Gen'lm'n,' sez I. Ts er ole 
nigger, dat has lived er godly life gwine in an' comin' 
out befo' you, an' nurver got into no trouble befo' 
till I got tangled up wid dat ar lot uv goatses in de 
paddock an' I think dis wus de same breed dat will 
be on de Lord's lef han' at de jedgment mom. De/s 
I na'chully de chillun uv darkness an' dis heah wus 
er put-up job on me fur to make me furgit my sermon 
an' do de devil er good turn. Gen'l'm'n, when dem 
goatses all drapped dead on me, don't you kno' I wus 
des' cs skeered es dey wus, an' de only reason I didn't 
drap too wus because I didn't stop runnin' long enuif? 
I wus in de same fix dat Marse Jack Reeves, uv Hard- 
man County, wus when he got drunk, missed his train 
an' wus put in de same bed by de landlord wid er dead 
man dat had been laid out in de hotel. 'Bout two 
o'clock he got sober cnufT an' thirsty cnufF to take 
notice an' he heerd two young fo'ks talkin' sweet in de 



THE NERVOUS GOATS 207 

rcx>m an' de young man wus tryin' to kiss de gal. 
But she said, 'George, you mustn't try to kiss me whilst 
we're sittin* up wider corpse* an' den Marse Jack puts 
out his han' an' feels to see who he is sleepin' wid an' 
de face he teches wus marble! He wus in his night 
clothes an' it wus er race 'twixt him an' de young fo'ks 
es to which 'ud git to de open air fust. But he 'lowed 
in de piece he writ erbout it, dat he wus des' es bad 
skeered as dey wus. Now dat's de way it wus wid me 
an' de goatses, gen'l'm'n, an' I think 1 got skeer enuff 
widout bein' fined an' saunt up.' 

"Dis seem to tickle 'em mighty, an' de judge said 
dat defo' he would decide he thort it jes' an' right fur all 
hands to go down to Marse Walter's farm an' see jes' 
how many goatses I did kill. 

"Dis kerried, an' de sheriff handcuffed me an' dey 
all tuck me down to dar, an' I felt 'bout de sheep- 
killines' dog dat ever wus. 1 seed 'em all winkin' an' 
laughin' es dey went erlong, an' me er-beggin' 'em to 
let me go off an' die. We went to de paddock an' 
dar wus anurr flock of goatses, 'zact'ly lak de ones I'd 
kilt. 1 looked at 'em 'stounded lak, fur I seed I'd 
Icf some seed goatses, an' knowin' how dey prop-er- 
gaits, I jes' nachully thort dey'd done all dat in two 
days. 

" ' Dar is er new flock,' sez de sheriff. 'Now, ole 
man, des' sho' us des' how you did manage to kill all 
dem other ones.' 

" 'Gen'l'm'n,' sez I, '1 wus comin' 'long right heah, 
cr-wuckin' out my sermon, an' right heah,' sez I, 
M steps oner little goat entirely unbeknownst to me. 



3o8 "UNCLE WASH 



$P 



an' he skeers me so I jumped twenty foot in de air, 
comin' right back down on dat fool goat, dat didn't 
do nuffin' but dance up an' down, hoUerin' bab-iab, 
an' tangled me up so ever' time I step he'd be dar whar 
I step at. "Bah-bab," sez he, still er-dancin' 'twixt 
my legs. "Bab-bah, yo'se'f," sez I; "if you cyan't 
run, fur Card's sake git ouien de way an' lent me sbow 
you bow;'* an' den, gen'l'm'n, so he'p he heab'n, I 
didn't do nuffin' but jes' gin er big whoop an' clap my 
hands like dis — .* 

" I heard 'em all shout wid fun, an' I looks an' 'fore 
Gawd, I'd done it erg'in — ever' goat dar had drapped 
dead! 

" I broke an' tried to run, dis time to de creek to 
drown myse'f. 

" ' Ketch him,' sed de Majah; 'don't you see he is de 
ole devil hisse'f? Ketch him; he's er witch.' 

'*! stood par'lyzed, beggin' 'em to kill me an' den 
1 seed one goat after anurr kick erwhile an' den git up es 
solemn es deacons an' go to eatin' grass es nachul es er 
grass widder! 

" I broke in er big laugh an'shouted an'de squire sed: 

" 'Resurrection morn. Wash — fust man up fur a 
mint julip!' 

" It wus all fur fun an' dey had put it up on de ole 
man scan'lous, but de aftermath wus fine — er shady 
grove, er good barbycue uv dat very kid dat had 
skeered me so, watermiKons an' mint julip! 

" But 1 nurver 'spects to heah dem white fo'ks tell 
de las' uv it an' nachuUy I keeps shy uv pervous 
goatses an' nervous fo'ks uv all kind!'* 



A CONTEST IN THE KING'S ENGLISH 

THERE is a young darky downtown, at a Uvcry 
stable who has been priding himself on his 
ability, as he expressed it, " ter fling English. " But he 
takes no pride in it any more. Uncle Wash cured him, 
and it happened this way: 

"Whenever I goes down dar arter yo' mare," the 
old darky said, "dis heah young niggah gins ter fling 
his English 'roun' scan'lus. I tell you, boss, I's 
gittin' tired uv dat, an' I's gwi' teach 'im how ter 
talk English sho' nufT some day. I sw'ar to you, sah," 
said the old man, as he mopped his face with his red 
handkerchief, "It's so hot I's mighty nigh mul- 
terplied, an' I's got de commissary rumertism, ter 
boot; but jes you watch out fur me de naixt time dat 
nigger 'gins ter fling his jaw-bone 'roun' whar I's 
standin' — jes you watch me riddle 'im wid sintax an' 
orfrography an' sich ! Jes you watch !" 

For several days after that I noticed the old man 
studying an old Davies Geometry and an obsolete 
work on synonyms, which I had sent to the attic long 
ago — looking, as he expressed it, for "some good cuss- 
words to fit de 'casion." But I had forgotten all 
about it until one evening I drove into the stable with 
him. A sprightly young darky ran out, took the mare 
by the bit, and patronizingly remarked: 

"G^ntermen, condescen' to disintergrate frum de 
vehicle, an' de quadruped shall have my unqualified 

14 (309) 



2IO "UNCLE WASH" 

solicertashun, wid abundance uv nutrititious eller- 
ments. " And he smirked at the old man as much as to 
say: "Don't dat paralyze you, old man?" 

" Hold on dar," exclaimed Uncle Wash, and his eyes 
flashed as he rose quickly to the occasion: "Sonny," 
he began witheringly, "it is transparent to de interlac- 
tual apprehension uv eny disinterested individual dat 
de gravertashun uv special conceits described on de 
hypotonuse of your simeon-headed eclipse, am entirely 
too cumbershum fur de horizontal vinculum dat cir- 
cumscribes de radius uv yo' cocoanut-shaped trape- 
zium, sah!" 

"Wha — ^wha — ^what dat you say, Unker Wash?" 
gasped the young darky as his jaw began to drop. 

"I merely riz ter interjec' de mental reservashun," 
remarked the old man indifferently, " dat de interlectual 
hemmerage uv verbosity procedin' from de vacuum 
produced by de metermorphosis uv de origonal super- 
structure uv de san'-stones uv yo' cranium, am entirely 
incumpatabul wid de consterpashun uv ideas generated 
by de paralysis uv yo' interlectual acumen, sah !" 

"Gawd, whut is he sayin'?" remarked the young 
negro sheepishly to the crowd that had gathered to 
enjoy his discomfiture. 

In udder words," shot out the old man again, 
ter make hit entirely incomprehensibul to de con- 
glommerated hypothesis uv yo' trapezoidal interlec', 
I simply remarked dat de corporeal superfluerty uv 
yo' physical insigniferkance am entirely too cumber- 
some fur de beliy-band uv yo' mental confermashun, 
sah!" 






A CONTEST IN THE KING'S ENGLISH 211 

Here the crowd shouted, the young darky's eyes 
looked like moons, his legs shook, and he gasped out: 
"Wha — ^wha — ^what dat old man talkin' 'bout, man?" 

" How long since dis nigger wus cotch in the jungles 
uv Africa," asked Uncle Wash quietly of the proprietor 
of the stable, "dat he can't understan' de simples' 
remark in de plaines' uv English?" 

And then the old man tried again. He rolled up his 
sleeves, and with the air of one who was trying to make 
himself exceedingly plain he began laying it off on his 
fingers and palm: 

"Sonny, de equilateral altertudeuv de comprehen- 
scrbility uv my former observations wus to de effect 
dat, ef in de course uv er cummercial transacshun, I 
shu'd onexpectedly negotiate fur yo' habeas-corporosity 
at its intrinsic invalidity an' quickly dispose uv it 
at de exaggerated hifolutiness uv yo' own colossal 
conceitability an' hipnartic expect ashun I'd have 
sufficient commercial collateral to transpose my 
present habitation to de perennial localization uv de 
avenue called Easy. " 

By this time the young darky was fairly groveling 
in the dust. 

"Do yo' comprehcn' dat," yelled the old man, 
''yo' po' benighted parallelergram, distended frum de 
apex uv er truncated coon (cone), yo' bow-legged son 
uv er parallelopipedon — " 

But the old man got no further with his geometrical 
swearing, for amid the shouts of the spectators his 
opponent had vanished, and as he went up the street 
to have the old man arrested for swearing in public. 



212 "UNCLE WASH 



tt 



he remarked to the policeman as he told his tale: 
" I didn't keer, Cap'n, 'bout 'im outgineralin' me er 
flingin' English, an' outcussin' me in mo' kinder new- 
fangled cuss words den ever cum out uv Turkey, but 
when he 'fleeted on my mother by callin' me de bow- 
legged-son-uv-er-parrot-an-er-pigeon-roost, de nigger 
don't live dat I gwi' take dat frum !" 

It was a week later before Uncle Wash and I had 
occasion to drive into the stable again. We were met 
by the same darky, who took the mare by the bit and 
meekly remarked: "Light, gentlemen; I'll take de 



main " 



And the old man said: "I am so excruciatinly 
rejoiced, sonny, to recognize de rejuvernated resur- 
rection uv de exhileration' perception dat an infiner- 
tesermal ray uv common sense has penerrated de 
comatose condition uv yo' fibrous misunderstandin'. 
In other words," he winked, '*Vs saved an ebononic 
interlec frum er new-bohn grave. " 



/ 



HOW UNCLE WASH CONVERTED 

PHOSPHATE IKE 

PHOSPHATE I KE was by all odds the worst negro 
in the Mount Pleasant phosphate fields. Three 
killings and ten years in the penitentiary were the 
decorations that made him at once the revered and 
honored of his kind, and after such a record the tribute 
he levied on all other negroes, and which they honored 
at sight and without protest, ran all the way from their 
wares to their wives. His beaten paths were from 
crap game to crap game and from bar-room to bar- 
room, varying by moonlight toward certain places 
where roosted things with feathers on them. This 
is Uncle Wash's account of how he changed the tenor 
Ike's ways: 

"De Mount Pleasant fiel' is de toughes' in our 
dioseize, de niggers dar bein' all phosphate miners, 
allers comin' an' gwine — chiefly gwine. An' among 
all de thievin', drunkin' lot, Phosphate Ike, wid cr 
razor in his hip pocket an' er durrenger in his boots, 
wus de wust. 

" I wus 'lected arter er hard tuzzle to minister to de 
spir'chul contenshuns uv dat congregashun, an' I 
made up my mind I wus gwine do things dat 'ud be 
worthy uv my repertashun. So I labored in de vine- 
yard early an' late, an' tho' I cort many er sinner in de 
net, I nurver cu'd ketch Ike. I belt sever'l distracted 
meetin's endurin' uv de yeah, thinkin' Ik'ud walk 

(«i3) 



214 "UNCLE WASH'' 

into dc trap, but he only laff* at me an* saunt me wurd 
I'd hafter bait dat trap wid sump'n mo' enticin' dan 
craw-fish gospel an' ole 'oman soup to make him give 
up whisky an' watermilyuns. He even had de' dacity 
to tell me to my face dat de wing uv one yaller laig on 
earth wus wurth two in heaben. Oh, he wus er scan'lus, 
thievin', blue-gum inferdel! 

"But I laid fur 'im. I had to do it. Befo' fall 
my influence 'gun to wane, an' I seed it all wus because 
I cu'dn't trap dat nigger into de fold. De contrer- 
bushuns in de hat dropped es stead 'lyes er ole maid's 
intrust in de widower preacher arter she learns he's 
gwine ter marry de fat gal uv de quire, an' one day 
when de hat cum back empty 1 knowed dey had los' 
faith in my 'bility to land dat onregenerit cuss an' 
his crowd, an' ef I didn't do somethin' quick dar'dbe 
ernuther nigger passin' dat hat ever' thu'd Sunday 
an' eatin' fried chicken 'tween meals wid de sisterin. 

"I gin out dat de bigges' distracted meetin' uv dc 
year'd start de nex' Lawd's day, an' dat I wus gwinter 
rout de devil in de Mount Pleasant District or give 
him de fiel'. 

"Befo de time come I sot my traps fur Bad Ike. 
He wus de head an' front uv all de crowd dat wus 
holdin' out ergin de Lawd. Behin' him wus forty odd 
devilish young niggers an' niggeresses, an' he wus dc 
bell-wether. I had wucked er year an' didn't have 
nuffin' in de church but er few old sisterin dat cu'dn't 
do nuffin' but go to sleep endurin' de sermon an' wake 
up to jine de doxology, an' er few ole bretherin dat had 
plenty of piety but no pie. Nuffin' went in dat secshun 



PHOSPHATE IKE CONVERTED 215 

but er bran' dance, er crap game an' er nigger killin', 
led by Ike an' his set. I wus square up agin' de wust 
propersishun de gospel had ever hit sence de bumin' 
uv de saints at de stake, an' I 'cided I'd hafter go 
outside uv all creed an' conduct an' outside uv all 
prescerdent an' gospel an' ever'thing else to bring de 
Lawd's side ahead uv dis deciple uv de devil. 

" But I done it. Necesserty am de mother uv inven- 
shun, an' it holds jes' es good in 'lijun es it do in 
anything else. But 1 wus de daddy uv dis skeme. 

"Wal, Marse John, de mo' I study it de mo' I seed 
I'd jes' hafter git up er new kind uv 'lijun myse'f to fit 
dat case. Dar wa'nt nuffm' in de Bible from Sodum 
an' Germorrah to de swallerin' uv Jonah dat'd fit dat 
nigger. Fiah on his back'd only made him git er 
move on hisse'f, like fiah on er turtle's back, to some 
other place uv devilment ; an' eny whale big emuff to 
swaller him wid dat razor in 'is pocket would er 
knowed how er operashun fur appendix felt frum de 
inside. De mo' I study hit de mo' I seed sump'n wus 
wrong wid our way uv enticin' sinners into de fold. 
Jes' compare de devil's way an' ourn an' see how he has 
got us beat er block. We sticks to de ole way, solium 
cs owls an' 'bout es much life in us as deir nestes, whilst 
de devil has er glad, new, joyous skeme to fit de require- 
ments uv ever' candidate. He keeps up wid de 
fashun, whilst we wearin' de same 'lijus clo's, knee 
britches, powdered wig an' all dat useter fit Marse 
John Wesley and Martin Luther. It must er bin er 
good fit fur dem befo* de days uv flyin' cyars an' 'lectric 
lights an' airships, beca'se de only fun er man had wus 



2i6 "UNCLE WASH" 

when he wus bom, married or dead, or turned out uv 
jail fur debt an' folks natchuUy went to church to hear 
de news an' see who hadn't bin hung fur his 'lijus 
cunvicshuns sence de las' meetin'. Jes look at some 
uv de devil's skemes. He gits up er theater, full uv 
light an' music an' fun ; we come back wid er prayer- 
meetin', wid de same ole long-winded bretherin sayin* 
de same ole prayers. He laughs an' gits up er dance 
whar young people can forgit deyse'fs in er little uv de 
joy uv living. We sees his han' an' cums back wid er 
Sunday-school lessin tellin' 'em all de way to have real 
fun is to be good an' lonesum an' let other folks kno' 
when dey ain't livin' right. He knows de weakness uv 
man an' de folly uv woman an' he gits up bar-rooms wid 
'lectric lights an' purty pictures, crap games fur niggers 
an' poker an' bridge whist fur de whites; we cums 
back wid sody-watter, church teas an' games lak tii'tat" 
toe an' flinch. He gits up politics an' politercul conven- 
shuns whar men meet, fight it out in de good ole way, 
raise hell, take chances lak game white men an' have 
er good time er die tryin'. We 'spon's wid sermons 
an' conf'runces an' convenshuns, whar everything is 
stacked an' dried, oil poured on de water befo' it gits 
troudled an' de fences all whitewashed befo' dey is 
ever put up. He changes de style uv 'is house wid 
ev'ry new invenshun, but allers bright an' joyous even 
if it ends in death, but we try to 'ntice young fo'ks into 
our house not wid de joy an' gladness an' cheer- 
fulness of 'lijun, but wid de same ole preacher still 
harpin' on hell an' damnashun an' de same ole organ 
croakin : 



PHOSPHATE IKE CONVERTED 217 

'Hark frum de tomb er doleful soun'. 

" He gits up op'rys dat make folks forgit dey livin' 
an' dream dreams uv beauty; an' social clubs wid fine 
clothes on to lif 'em up out er deyse'fs an' away frum 
de wuck an' common things uv life. He tells 'em all 
to live an' be happy an' we tells 'em to die an' be 
damned. 

"I knowed our 'lijun wus all right, but I seed we 
ain't doin' it right. Heah wus dese cattle dat I 
cu'dn't even git up to de paschure bars to salt 
'em, let alone close ernuff to put er halter on 
'em, all fur lack uv er little common sense in 'lijun. 
I 'cided to salt 'em, bridle 'em, saddle 'em an' 
ride 'em. 

"I laid awake uv nights thinkin' out my plan an' 
one night arter much prayer de light broke. It tuk 
mc two mo' days to git up my program an' git it stuck 
up on all de nigger trails from Columbia to Lawrence- 
burg." The old man chuckled as he pulled one out. 

BIG meetin' at fosfate chorch. 

Come one — Come all. New thing in relijun, cnter- 
tainin', enticin', upliftin'. 

1. Openin' Overtorys, Moses in de Bullrushes. By 
de fidlers three. 

2. Cake walk fur de bigges' watermilyun, widders 
barred. By all. 

3. Short talk. My Rikellecshuns uv Hell. Br'er 
Timothy Jones. 

(N. B. Br'er Jones is er reformed drunkard, bin in de 



2i8 "UNCLE WASH" 

pen 8 times an' had five wives in one year. He speaks 
from authority.) 

4. Guessin' contest fur de nex' big milyun. Ques- 
tion: Who was de father uv Zebedee's chillun? 

(Preachers not obleeged to answer.) 

5. Passin' de hat fur de po' uv de church. Deacon 
Dickey. 

(Save your bes' fur de las'.) 

6. Organ music. Carve dat Possum. By de quire. 

7. Potater race fur peck er sweet potaters. 
(Canderdates tied up in sackcloth an' ashes. Route 

from pulpit to pool in de creek. Winner an' water- 
milyun bofe baptized. 

8. Soulful sermon, text, Sodom an' Germorrah an' 
er Pile of Salt. Br'er Washington. 

9. Passin' de Hat fur de Parson. By Phosphate 
Ike. 

The old man chuckled. "You nurver seed any- 
thing lak it — de bigges' crowd dat ever got into dat 
church turned out, an', bless heaben, dar sot Ike on de 
front bench, so proud of de 'titlement I bestowed on 
him, leadin' de whole gang. Now, Ike wa'n't no fool, 
ef he did have fits, an' when de hat was passed arter 
de guessin' contes', and come back heavy wid plunks 
I seed Ike 'gin to take notice. At de fust call fur 
mohners, he wus up an' whilst dey wus prayin' Ike 
got me to po§t him on de wuckin' uv de hat. I 'splained 
to him dat all I needed wus er good deacon fur hat- 
passer an' dat I allers gin er tithe to de deacon, 'cord- 
in to de receets. I didn't hafter 'splain to him what 



PHOSPHATE IKE CONVERTED 219 

a tithe wus befo' he come to our 'lijun in great shape. 
This fetched all his gang, an' sech er love feast as we 
had! 

" 'Now, Ike,' I whispers to him, 'I's gwinter preach 
a soulful sermon, an' I spec's you to do de res'.' 

" ' I think you've hit 'em jes' right,' sez he, sorter 
keerless ; 'dey all been paid off yis'day , an' I kalkerlate 
dar is jes' about five hundred good dollars scattered in 
dat bunch uv niggers/ 

" I tole 'im I hope he be vigilant in de cause. " 

Ain't I de deacon uv de hat?' sez he. 

You is,' sez I. 
" 'And 1 gits er tithe?' 

Sartinly,' sez I. 

Whut's de watchword uv de deacon?' he asks. 

De Lawd lavetb er cheerful giver/ sez I. 
" He kep' on sayin' it over till he knowed it, an' den 
he went back an' locked de do's, lockin' up every 
nigger dar. 

" He wus a 'swasive nigger, as well as er holy terror, 
an' ever nigger dar wus mortal skeered uv him. I 
nearly drap outer de pulpit when I seed his methods. 
He hung er big basket on de muzzle uv his durringer an' 
went down de aisle, stickin' dat gun under de nose uv 
every nigger an whisperin', 'De Lawd lovetb er cheerful 
giver,' an' 'Cast thy bread upon de wotters.' An' dey 
jes' fell over each other, when dey look down de bar'l 
uv dat gun to reach dat basket wid de stuff dat er fool 
is soon parted wid. Dem dat didn't have de change, 
flung in fives an' tens, an' dem dat didn' have nothin' 
flung in collar buttons, razors, buckeyes, snuff boxes 



t € 

t i 



t » 
t « 
€ 4 



220 "UNCLE WASH 



t9 






an' terbacker bags. None uv dem didn' want ter spute 
de p'int wid er bad nigger wid his ban' on de trigger an' 
de muzzle in deir face tellin' 'em so 'swasive to give to 
de Lawd. 

" Boss, it wus de bigges' collecshun ever tuck up in 
niggerdom, an' I's still liven' on de proceeds. When 
Ike fotched it up an' poured it out dar wus: 

" Razors 44 

" Buckeyes 16 

Eelskins fur rheumatiz 10 

Ole pistols 14 

"Knives 18 

"Silver watches 8 

" Pipes 49 

" Snuff boxes 10 

"Sasshay bags 13 

"Money I487 

" Hit wus er clean haul, but you could er cut de silence 
in dat church wid er knife. 

" I gin out de doxology and Ike let 'em out, but dey 
went out so glum I felt bad, an' I sez : 

" 'Ike, dat new kinder meetin' is er />r^nounced 
success, but I's 'fraid I'll nurver git 'em back again.' 

" 'We don' need to,' sez Ike, as he counted out his 
part. 

" De nex' week I met Ike an' I axed him if he wus still 
stickin.' 

" 'Still stickin'?' sez he, contemplative lak; 'Br'er 
Washington, you don' know how good de Lawd has 



PHOSPHATE IKE CONVERTED 221 

been to me. You know, I uster be er bad nigger, killin' 
and stealin' fur er livin'. But sense I got yo' kind uv 
'lijun 1 bin different. Jes' to show you, I went into 
a sto' de other day to see er man. But he had went out 
fur er minute, an' dar wus nobody dar, an' dar wus hung 
up er twenty-dollar silver watch on de wall. I reached 
up my han' fur it, an' de Lawd said: "Don' take it, 
Ike. " I couldn' stan' it, an' my han' jes' drapped on er 
little ole pair uv five-dollar shoes, an' I slipped em in 
my pocket an' went out. Dat's whut de Lawd's done 
fur mc." 



THE RECONSTRUCTION OF MARSE 

GEORGE 

NO, sah," said Old Wash the other night, "I ain't 
nurver seed jestus contributed jes lak it useter 
be done when we niggers helt de balance uv de power 
an' misterpreted de laws uv de Ian'. It wus back in 
Reconstruction days — er skeme de publicans an' sinners 
'rigemated to change de complexion uv de fightin' white 
fo'ks uv de South without changin' their pedigrees. 

" Dey wanted to make white black, and black white, 
an' they cum 'bout es nigh succeedin' es de man who 
tried to make blackbirds white by whitewashin' their 
eggs before hatchin' ! 

" Bein' er wise nigger an' raised wid Marse George an' 
havin' some painful rickerlictions uv some uv my 
past experience in monkeyin' wid de cowhidin' end of 
ole Marster, I stayed on my side uv de fence an' left de 
speriment uv whitewashin' de eggs uv gamecocks to 
niggers dat had got er whole lot to I'am about de un- 
lawful proceedin's uv white fo'ks when they wus up 
ag'in er question uv life an' death. Wy it's scanlus de 
disrespect dat white fo'ks has fur er law dat don't fit 
'em! If ole Moses had brought 'em down de ten 
comman'ments an' had added es de 'leventh, de 
Fo'teenth 'Mendment to de constertushun, 'bout 
evry'body bein' created free an' equal, dey would er 
spoilt de whole plan uv salvashun by bustin' dem tab- 
lets over ole Moses' head ! 

"We know now dat all dat reconstrucshun foolish- 

(222) 



RECONSTRUCTION OF MARSE GEORGE 223 

ness wus wuss on de blacks dan on de whites an' dat 
wus bad enufF. Fur it sot our bes' friends ag'in us — 
our own white fo'ks — ^an' it brought to de front all dat 
wus low an' vishus in our own race. Reconstrucshiin 
es put up on us by de publicans, was de daddy uv Jim 
Crow cars, lynchin' an' Kuklux. 

" But dis heah Marse George thing — ^wal Suh, when 
we seed de jig was up at de ole home me an' Marse 
George we went to Wes' Tennessee to run er cotton 
plantashun. It wus right aftah de wah an' de niggers 
wus ten to one down dar. Dey done all de votin', hilt 
all de offices, got all de taxes which de white fo'ks 
paid, an' ended in raisin' all de hell dat wus needed 
to complete de pictur'. An' de mos' uv 'it cum 
back to dey own fiahsides. Dey wus all common, low- 
down fiel'-niggers out dar, jes three generashuns moved 
frum monkeys, an' bein' ef ememently spectabul 
cullid gemmen f'um de race hoss state uv Murry County 
an' havin' 'sochated all my life wid gentermen, I 
didn't have no standin' wid dat bunch uv baboons, 
dat run ever'thing in dat end uv de state. 

"So me an' Marse George, we jes' 'tended to our own 
bizness uv tryin' to make two stalks uv cotton grow wid 
one mule, fur de Yankees had cleaned up all de stock 
dat wan't hid in de cane brake endurin' de wah. 

" It useter be pow'ful lonesome uv er Sundays fur us, 
an' bein' away from home an' de blue-grass whar we 
useter spen our Sundays breakin' de thurrerbred colts, 
nachuUy we gin to git 'lijus fur lak uv healthy mental 
exercise an' sumpin' nurr to do. Es dar is no state es 
bad as dat fur er young man — ^hit leadin' frum hypock- 



234 "UNCLE WASH" 

ercy in youth to note shavin' in old age, an' es he 
cudn't play poker wid er nigger, Marse George nachully 
wus lonesome. 

"One Sunday we got er nigger to haul us some fiah 
wood an' Marse George 'mused hissef wid his Colt's 
pistol, shootin' at chips an' things I'd throw up, he 
allers bein' mighty handy wid his pistols, an' he didn't 
wanter lose de 'nack he had learned in de blue grass 
uv shootin' de heads off uv squrls, an' other varmints, 
not to mention de heads uv niggers ef dey got ob- 
streperus. 

"Wal, sah, bright an' early de nex' mornin' heah 
cum three mighty obstreperus lookin' niggers, ridin' 
bosses dey'd stole endurin' de wah, an' lookin' pow'ful 
solumn. Dey rid in de fiel' an' up to whar we wus an' 
one uv 'em sez : ^ 

"Sah, I's Cicero Caesartum, Gran' High Consterbul 
uv de Realm uv de Land, an' dese heah two gentermens 
is Pomeroy Patrick an' Brutus Begora, Second an' 
Third High Consterbuls as aforesed an' wharfore, an' 
we've got er circum-fetcbum fur you dat calls fur yo' 
habeas corpus instanter!' 

" 'Whut de devil do you coons mean,' sez I, ergittin' 
hot, 'er-ridin' over our plow'd groun', stoppin' our 
wuck an' flingin' you dog latin an' yo' pole cat perfume 
aroun' on de mohnin' air? Ef it's de English language 
you is tryin' to speak,' sez I, er-winkin' at Marse 
George, 'jes listen at yo' Unker Washin'ton speak it 
pure an' ondefiled.' 

"An' wid dat I struck er attertude an' shot dis bolt 
into de solumes' lookin' nigger: 'Sab,' sez I, 'ef de 



■'%. 



RECONSTRUCTION OF MARSE GEORGE 225 

neiber babiliments uvyo' fundermental equipments wus es 
incompaierabul in makin* connecsbun wid de res* uv yd 
anaiermy es de intelectual verbosity uv yd consterpasbun 
uv ideas, you'd be sbot yosef fur indecent exposure of yd 
own babus corpy-us!' 

"At dat volley he coght his bref an' nearly fell outer 
de saddle. 

" 'Sah/ sez he, 'I 'rests you fur contempt uv co'rt.' 

" 'Oh/ sez I, 'I pleads g'ilty to de contempt part, 
but whar is de co'rt?' 

" 'De Gran' High Consterbul is allers part uv de 
High Co'rt uv de Ian',' sez he, drawin' hissef up er inch 
higher, 'an' we stan' no furrin cuss words lak yo' done 
flung at us.' 

" 'But de co'rt ain't in sessun,' sez I. 

" 'I's in sessun, sah, allers in sessun sah, I'll have yo' 
kno', an' you am 'rested fur contem't and dis heah 
white man heah,' he went on, p'intin' to Marse George, 
an' drawin' his cirum-cum-fetcbum from his pocket 
ergin an' tryin' to read it upside down, 'am 'rested fur 
'sturbin' de peace uv de Sunday. Yo' am recited to 
appear at noon to-day, sah, befo' de Honerbul High 
Co'rt of de Tenth Deestrick, de Honerbul Rastus 
Glowers presidin' an' answer to de charges er wherein, er 
wherefore an' er whizzin' !' 

"I bristled up at dat sassy talk an' wus about to 
pull him offer dat boss an' beat his High Consterbul 
head into er jelly, when it dawned on Marse George dat 
it wan't no joke, but dey had us 'rested fur shootin' de 
day befo'. An' he put his han' on my shoulder an' 
tole me to be still an' sed ever so nice to de niggah: 

15 



326 "UNCLE WASH" 

" 'Say to Squire Glowers dat I have no desire to 
violate de law uv de Ian', dat I am not conshus uv 
havin' done it, an' dat as er law-abidin' citerzen I'll 
appear at de proper time to answer de charges ag'in me, 
an' I'll bring him wid me/ he sed, noddin' at me, an' 
be sponserbul fur his 'pearance.' 

"Wid dat de High Consterbul bowed three times, 
givin' de millertery s'lute an' rid off. 

"Wal, we went, Marse George fust stickin' his two 
Golts in his belt to have 'em ready in case de Go'rthouse 
cought on fiah. Mighty nigh ever' nigger in de 
deestrickwusdar to see er nigger judge try er white man. 
De house wus packed, even de winders wus full. De 
temple uv jestice dat day looked lak er rookery uv crows 
an' smelt er lettle mo' sivigerus than it looked. 

"When Squire Rastus Glowers cum in he wus so 
black dey had to light de co'rthouse candle to see de 
crowd. He tuck his seat wid great dignerty an' cum 
down on de table wid er gravel an' sed: 

" 'O yes, O yes, de Honerbul Rastus Qoweirs am 
now in sessun. Fetch in de witnesses!' 

" 'Ef yo' Honor please,' sez de High Conster- 
bul, 'I's got 'em all chained out in de thicket to 
saplin's.' 

" 'Dat's right,' sez His Honor, 'but you can now 
fetch 'em in an' let de chains cum wid 'em. Sol- 
ermun in all his glory,' sez he, er glarin' aroun' at 
de gapin' niggahs dar, 'had not de powah dat dis 
co'rt has.' 

" By an' by heah cum de witnesses wid de chains on 
'em. Sah, I nearly fell over. Dat fool Co'rt had tuck 



tt (1 



RECONSTRUCTION OF MARSE GEORGE 227 

ever' one of dem niggah witnusses an' had 'em chained 
each one to er saplin' in de woods. Dey cum in wid 
clankin' chains, makin' er turrubul 'pressive noise an' 
duly impressin' all de niggahs dar. 

" 'Stan up!' sez de Co'rt, an' dey all riz holdin' up 
dey han's wid de chains still on 'em. 'Do yo' solumnly 
swear,' sez de Co'rt, 'in de presence uvMe an' Almighty 
Gawd to tell de truth, de whole truth an' nothin' but 
de truth?' 

Which dey did an' sot down. 
'Let de pris'ner at de bar stan' up,' sez de Co'rt to 
Marse George, an' Marse George stood up, smilin' kindly 
among all dem niggahs, an' lookin' lak er thurrerbred 
in er mule pen. 

" 'Have yo' got enything to say, sah,' sed he er glarin' 
at Marse George, 'why de sentence uv dis co'rt should 
not be passed upon you an' de writ of cercherarity 
executed on yo' body?" 

" 'Why, yes, may it please de Co'rt, I'd lak ter kno' 
fur whut I's charged wid,' sez Marse George. 

" 'Lem me see de papers, Mistah High Consterbul,' 
sez de Co'rt, an' lookin' lak he forgot dat part of it: 
'Dis am er writ uv cirufn-cufn-fetcbufn,' sez he, 'enjoined 
by de Suv'renty uv de High Co'rt uv de Lan' fur de 
crime, fellemy and misdemeanor uv shootin' on de 
Sabbath agin de peace an' dignerty uv de lan'.' 

"'I'd like to see dat section uv de code, 'sez Marse 
George, 'dat sez it's er violation uv de law to shoot on 
de Sabbath onless in sech distance to er house uv 
worship to disturb it/ 

"De Co'rt grabbed his code an' begin to hunt fer it. 



228 "UNCLE WASH" 

Up an' down an' over pages he run his finger, de sweat 
standin' on his face, an' Marse George waitin' pashuntly 
At last he sed: 'It am de 'cision uv dis High Co'rt dat 
it can't jes' zactly put his finger on de spot sayin' it am 
er fellerny to shoot on de Sabbath, but de rule of can- 
sanguineriy an' nex' uv kin allers prevails in er case lak 
dis, bein' under de rule uv nullius fillius an' guvemed 
by de law of consanguinerty uv blood an' de nex' uv 
kin. Now I finds de nex' uv kin right heah in secshun 
49 dat it ain't lawful to sell licker on de Sabbath, an' de 
Co'rt am uv de 'pinion dat it's jes' es bad to shoot on 
de Sabbath es it am to sell licker, it bein' in accordance 
wid de law uv consanguinerty dat shootin' allers follers 
de whiskey, an' so we'll go to trial on de charge of 
sellin' whiskey.' 

Tou can't do that,' sez Marse George kindly. 
I can't?' sez de Co'rt erglarin' at him. 'Wal, jes 
watch me do it, an' be keerful yo' don't use no mo' 
superpulative remarks to dis co'rt or I'll find yo' fur 
contempt.' 

" 'I appeals from yo' rulin' to de Qrkit Co'rt,' sez 
Marse George. 

" 'I finds yo' five dollars fer sinnatin' dat eny body 
kin 'peal from dis Co'rt,' sed de judge. 

" 'I asks fur er change uv venue,' sed Marse George, 
very low-like in his voice — ^mighty low, but I'd Tamed 
it allers come befo' some mighty high actin.' 

" 'I'll hav yo' to kno', sah, dat dis Co'rt nurvcr 
changes enything.' 

" 'I sec it don't,' sez Marse George, 'not even it's 
linen.' 






RECONSTRUCTION OF MARSE GEORGE 329 

" 'I find yo' ten mo' dollars fur contempt uv co'rt/ 
he glared an' looked grandly over de bunch uv niggahs 
dat grinned back an' seem to enjoy it. 

" 'I'll nurver pay it,' sed Marse George, risin' up an' 
shakin' his finger in de Co'rt's face. 

" I seed sum niggahs begin to crowd up, cussin' an' 
spittin' fur er fight, an' I thort we wus sho in fur it. 

" 'I finds yo' er hundred mo' yells de Co'rt, 'an' I 
orders de Consterbul to take yo' to jail till it's paid,' 
an' he riz up, glared at Marse George an' pounded de 
gravel whilst de niggahs crowded up lak wolves aroun' 
er hamstrung steer. 

" But Marse George riz about de same time wid fight 
in his eyes, an' aftah makin' er few very unkomplemen- 
try remarks in language dat I don't want to put in de 
record, he lowed dat dey wan't ernuff niggahs in dat 
co'rt dat could do it, an' quick es er flash he pulled both 
guns, levelin' on de Co'rt fust. I heard er wild scramble 
uv niggahs fur de do* an' winder an' I seed de Co'rt 
dodge down under de bench an' heurd it holler es it 
bobbed up an' down: 

" *Don*t shoot, white man, Vll giv yo* er change uv 
venom!* 

" 'Sit up, then,' sez Marse George, but still holdin' his 
gun on de judge, 'an' let me put de motion properly 
befo' de Co'rt.' 

" 'Sartinly, sah,' sez de judge, bobbin' up, 'jes so yo' 
don't shoot.' 

" 'I now moves,' sez Marse George, 'dat de pris'ner 
at de bar be released.' 

" 'I second dat motion,' sez I, mighty peartly. 



330 "UNCLE WASH 



»» 



" Dis sounded like good law to de judge, an' he sez: 
'It am moved and seconded; dat de pris'ner at debar 
be released. All in favor uv dat moshun say aye' 

"An' ev'y niggah dar dat wan't already out behind 
er tree, yelled 'aye! 

" 'It am so ordered/ sed de Co'rt. 

"An* me an' Marse George walked out." 



mS FIRST KU-KLUX 

" A ^^'^ ^^ niggers wus sot free, " said de old man 
r\ when I asked him for a Ku-Klux story, "dey 
wus lak sheep widout er leader, an' didn't kno' jes whut 
to do. Menny uv 'em tho'rt somebody wus gwinter 
tak keer uv us — ^lak es not Marse Lincoln — jes lak ole 
Marster useter do — ^an' so dey loafed erroun' till dey 
mighty nigh starve, waitin' fur de forty acres uv Ian' 
an' de mule dat had been promised 'em fur votin' wid de 
'Publicans. Now, when fo'ks ain't wuckin' dey 
nachully gits into mischeef. But it ain't easy fur one 
man to git into mischeef by hisse'f, he has to have he'p, 
an' freed niggers flock together es nachully es black- 
birds. An' in de flockin' is de mischeef brewed. 

"Dey fus' begun to get together in dese heah dis- 
tracted meetin's, an' dar's whar all de raskality had its 
beginnin'." 

"I'll haveter tell you 'bout dese heah meetin's es 
dey wus de wust orgies enybody ever seed out uv de 
jungle, tho' they went fur church meetin'. Ever night 
de niggers would meet thar an' sech carryin' on under 
de name uv 'ligun you nurver seed ! Dar would gen- 
erally be four preachers an' they 'ud preach all 
night. T'wards midnight dey'd all git warmed up 
an' den de women 'ud go into de 'ligun dance, 
shoutin', singin' an' turnin' 'round an' 'round till dey 
fell into de trance. Dey'd stay in dis trance some- 
time two days an' nights an' when they'd come to, 

(as I) 



232 "UNCLE WASH" 

they'd have de awfulles tale to tell which dey call dey 
experunce. Dis experunce 'ud make yo' blood freeze. 
Dey nearly allers went fus' to hell whar Satan *ud 
take them erroun' an' sho' 'em de pits uv fiah full uv 
de damned. Sometimes he'd hoi 'em over dese pits 
er-grinnin' an' threatenin' 'em wid fiah if they didn't 
'knowledge him an' forsake de Lawd. When de/d 
broke erway frum him an' run off in de woods to pray, 
Satan 'ud foller 'em an' tho he cudn't tech 'em whilst 
dey prayer wus on — kase he cudn't break de spell uv 
prayer an' he cudn't tech eny one dat wus prayin', still 
he'd git behin' 'em in de woods an' bark lak er wolf 
an' break down trees wid er turribul noise an' do all he 
cud to distract dey minds an' break up de prayer so 
he cud lay han's on 'em ergin. 

"But ef you prayed on you wus all right fur de 
angul 'ud come an' take you up to heab'n an' sho you 
de glories uv hit. I's knowed 'em to be in er trance 
two days an' nights an' when dey come to, they 'ud 
tell tales uv hell dat 'ud warm de kinks outen de other 
niggers ha'r. 

"In all uv dese meetin's dar wus allers brothers 
pinted by de preacher dat we call de Holders. Dar 
bizness wus to hoi' de sisters when dey git to dancin' 
an' shoutin' an' see dat dey didn't hurt deyself. Den 
when dey went into de trance we'd hafter lay 'em out 
on de grass till dey cum to. 

"Uv dese Holders I wus generally de most pop- 
ular. 

"One night Sister Tilly went into er turribul trance 
an' didn't kno nuffin. She wus spinnin' erroun' an' 



HIS FIRST KU-KLUX 233 

shoutin' an' entirely outer her head an' singin' cr song 
dat run: 

/ don't want to live in dis Ian', 
I want to live in HeabenI 

" Jcs fo' she fell in de trance Brer Peter he run up to 
hoi' her an' she sung out ; 

Don't want Br'er Peter to hoV me 
I want Br'er Wash to hoV me! 

" 'Cose I hilt her! 

"Dis same Sis Tilly cum mighty nigh breakin' up 
de meetin' dat night. Some fool niggers tuck her out 
when she went into her trance an' laid her on de grass 
on de slope uv de little hill. Ef she'd laid still she'd er 
bin' all right but she went to kickin' an' rollin' erroun' 
out dar an' rolled down into er groun'-hornet's nes'. 

"Wal, sah, you never seed enybody cum outen 
er trance es quick es Sis Tilly ! She cum bilin' into de 
church whar all uv 'em wus gwine on, an' stid uv 
comin' wid prayers she cum er cussin'. She jes wanted 
to see de fool niggahs dat laid her by dat hornet's nes', 
an' when she seed 'em she lit on one uv 'em wid tooth 
an' toe-nail. Dat niggah had er wife an' she lit back 
on Sis Tilly an' pretty soon ever 'oman in dar dat 
wan't in er trance wus in er fight. Dey fit fur er hour 
an' when it wus all over dey wan't nuffin left but de 
preacher an' he had dumb frum de pulpit up into de 
rafters uv de church an' looked lak er ole possum on er 
grapevine. Ever now an' den he'd call out : 'Be quiet 
sisters — peace, be still!* 



334 "UNCLE WASH 



»» 






" It raised sech er racket dat Squire Glowers, de same 
Jestus dat tried Marse George, had us all up befo' him 
fur disturbin' 'ligus sarvices. But we proves to him 
hit wus er festerful dat night an' we paid at de do' an' 
hit jes got turned into er meetin' by chance. Soon es 
he heard dat he sed : 

" 'Who tuck in de funds/ sez he. 
De do-keeper,' sez I, 'Brer Peter/ 
'Wal, den,' sez he, 'I fines Brer Peter on de groun' 
dat he ortenter let in foks dat is liabul to fight/ 

"Dat sounded lak good law, but I allers tho'rt he 
fined Brer Peter kose he wus de onlies one dat had de 
funds. 

"Wal, dese meetin's went on till by an' by dey 
turned into orgies uv devil worship an' stealin.' All de 
meanness uv de naborhood fur miles wus traced to 
dese meetin's. Frum dese meetin's niggers went to 
steal an' burn white fo'ks barns, kose all de time dar 
wus white carpet-baggers in de Ian' sicken 'em on to 
aggervate de white foks. Dese carpet-bagging men 
voted 'em lak sheep an' hilt all de officers,. fur our 
white foks cudn't vote under de law. 

"I knowed sumpin' nurr gwineter happen an' hit 
did happen when ole man Jones, er good ole white man, 
wus waylaid an' robbed an' killed in his own yard. 

"Now whenever er nigger do eny mean thing, hit 
ain't er day befo' ever* uther nigger in dat settlement 
knows who done hit an' nary one of 'em will ever 
tell on him. 

" Hit's es nachul fur er nigger to hide his criminals es 
it is fur er wolf to hide her young. I knows es well es 



HIS FIRST KU-KLUX 235 

I am er ole man an' er nigger myself, dat every nigger 
in dat Brown ville Kumpany knows who shot up 
Brown ville, but nary one uv 'em will tell ef he wus up 
to be shot fur hit. 

"An' so before night we all knowed it wus Kit dat 
killed an' robbed ole man Jones. 

" Dat night when de meetin' wus at full blast I seed 
my fus Ku-Klux. An' ever nigger dar seed 'em, too, 
an' nurver will fergit it. 

"De moon wus shinin' when we seed, fru de church 
winders, er kompany uv ghost-horsemen ride outen de 
woods. 

"Dey cum slow an' solum one behin' de yudder, 
dressed in long white shrouds dat kivered dem an' 
dey even had dey horse skivered with ghost clothes. 
D^y wus ghost-men on ghost-horses, that cum out 
uv de woods from no whar an' es they rode erlong dey 
nurver se'd er word nur made er sign. Hit wus de 
awfuUes' sight I ever seed. 

" Befo' we cud break outen de doors an' winders an' 
git erway dey had marched es solum es death erroun' 
de log church an' had us swronded. Den, widout er 
word, but at de sign uv de grave-leader, dey faced de 
church an' stood solum es tombstones. Niggers turned 
white dat night dat had been bohn black befo' day- 
light. Some went under de benches but de mos' uv 'em 
wus froze to de bench. Den whut you reckon? Dat 
leader wus on er fine boss dat had sense lak er man, fur 
he rid him right in de church do' an' cum down de 'ile, 
tramp, tramp, tramp es solum es Gabriel on er boss uv 
fiah. 



336 "UNCLE WASH" 

"One look wus nuff fur ever niggah dar. Dat grave- 
man on' dat grave-hoss, an' not er word comin' frum de 
man, an' not er soun' frum de boss cept his iramp, 
tramp, es he walked up de 'ile. Some whispered at 
it wus de angul on de fiery steed, but ole man Pete, de 
oldes' nigger in de flock, he sed out loud : 

" 'Hifs ole Marsier dat wus kilt in de warl* 

"De grave-man muster heurd him, fur he turned 
his boss at de pulpit an' faced de crowd an' pinted wid 
his long bony finger fur de water bucket. 

"Some nigger, mighty nigh skeered to death, handed 
it to him an' fo' Gawd, sab, he jes drunk off de full 
bucket at one drink ! 

" Den he sed in er deep low voice dat seem to cum 
frum de bowels uv de boss he rid: 

" 'Thanks, friend! I ain't bad no watah since I wm 
kilt in de just battle uv SbilohJ 

" 'Hits ole Marster^jawd, I sed sol' sed de Pete 
es he made er dive fur de hole whar er plank wus up in 
de flo'. 

" 'It is /,' sed dat same deep voice. 'Pete is rigbtl' 

"Den he pinted his bony finger at Kit dat wus 
seem to be dazed an' sed: 

" 'Kit, murderer uv ole man Jones, prepare to meet 
yo' Gawdr 

" He beckin to Kit an' dat mean niggah walks up to 
him jes Hke er lamb, he cudn't no mo' he'p it den he 
cud fly. He wus ashy an' shakin', but he marched 
up an' when de leader pinted to de do'. Kit marched 
out, de grave-man an' boss foUerin' him. 

"We seed 'em circle roun' Kit an' den de whole 




"■"" "' '^™ H.. Bo»v F,»c„ 



HIS FIRST KU-KLUX 237 

company uv ghosts marched off wid Kit to de woods, 
no man makin' er soun' but jes de tramp tramp, tramp 
uv de hosses. . 

"We lost no time git tin' out uv dat church, some 
even gwine through de roof es dey wus already up in 
de rafters. 

" De nex' day we found Kit's body swingin' to er 
lim' in de woods an' pinned on hit wus dat strange 
sign, K. K. K. which wc afterwu'ds larn'd meant 
KLU-KLUX KLAN. 

''An' dat settled de meetin's an' de meanness in 
dat settlement fur good. " 



UNCLE WASH AT THE FAIR 

THE county fairs have been in full blast in Tenn- 
essee this fall, but I did not know that Uncle Wash 
had been off trying to run one until he ambled into my 
study the other night, the hungriest-looking, most 
woe-begone darky in Tennessee. He had rheumatism 
in his back, mesmerism in his head and a have-you-got- 
any-cold-victuals kind of a look spread over his 
countenance. I thought he had been through the 
famine in India and had floated home on the gang- 
plank of a wrecked vessel. 

"Look erheah, boss," he said, as soon as he had 
stuck his head in the doorway, as if trying to distract 
attention from his own looks, " I jes' cum over to ax 
you is de gol'-bug de microbe uv de yaller fever." 

"Why, no," I said. "It's a different disease 
altogether. " 

"Wal, jes' tell me, den," he said emphatically, 
"when dat wave uv prosperity gwine ter git out'n de 
threc-minnit class, enyway — ^jes' tell me!" 

As this was too much for me, I had to take the old 
man's sarcasm and say nothing. 

"I tell you, sah," he went on, "when er man starts 
out on er campain on de circus whar I b'en, wid cr 
stable uv bosses, he better take 'is dinner an' 'is 
'possum dorg erlong wid 'im, or he'll go hongry sho!" 

I looked at the old man in astonishment. When I 
had seen him last, he was fat and hearty. 

"Where have you been?" I asked, "that you should 

(238) 



UNCLE WASH AT THE FAIR 239 

bob up in this well-fed neighborhood looking like an 
old horse led off to the shambles?" 

"Hit all cum erbout dis way," said the old man 
shamefacedly. " You see, I dun b'en out on er cam- 
pian. De cuUud fo'ks gin er fair down in Giles County 
an' I thort I'd go down, take my ol' pie-ball pacer an' 
rake in all de filthy luker floatin' erroun dar. You 
see," he said proudly, "my ol' boss hoi' er worl' record 
— he am an' 'only.' " 

"How so?" I asked in feigned surprise. 

" He am de only boss in de worl' dat has er record uv 
2:29, er curb, two spavins an' er glass eye! Dar am er 
boss in Ingyanner dat hav er record uv 2:29, er curb, 
one spavin an' er glass eye, but be ain't in it wid my 
ol' Pie Ball. Yas, sah, dat's de wurl's record he hoi's. 
An' so, ez I wus sayin'l I thort I'd jes' go down an' 
rake in dat filthy luker wid 'im. I didn't have no 
harness, but I happen ter think erbout de little red-an'- 
white steer dat died so handy-lak las' winter jes' in 
time fer me ter feed all de preachers dat filled my 
house endurin' de deestrick conferdence, " the old man 
winked, "an' I made er mighty good set uv harness 
outen his hide. You see, I didn't have time ter git de 
ha'r offen it, an' when my ol' blue pie-ball pacer got 
ter pacin' fas' down dar erroun' dat track, I tell you, 
sah, hit wus de pooties' sight you ever seed — he made 
er red-white-an'-blue streak cl'ar 'roun' dat track, an' 
de niggers all hoorayed an' say he look lak de speerit 
uv Star P'inter wrap'd in de flag uv our country, 
an' gwine in 1 159^! I's patentid dat idee in harness, 
an' I's gwine ter use it nex' yeah fur speckicle effec'." 



240 "UNCLE WASH" 

I looked interested, and the old man came in and 
sat down in his usual chair, near the door. 

" Wal, but whar to git de sulky wus de naix question. 
Arter thinkin' over it I des remembered dat Brer Moses 
Armstrong had married de widder Johnson's buxomes' 
gal las' fall an' he had bin er-haulin' truck ter town in 
er ole high-wheel sulky dat Marse Ed Geers use ter 
train ole Hal P'inter wid at de ole track down by de 
crick. Now, I knowed whut Brer Moses would soon 
need wuss'n enything in dis worl', an' so I swop 'im 
dat ole ellum cradle dat me an' Dinah done raise all de 
chillun in, fer dat sulky. An' when I hitch ol' Pie Ball 
up, sah, he ack dat proud an' sassy I felt mighty nigh 
es**good es er buxum widder angel in er paradise uv 
bal'-haided men. I knowed all de excheckers uv dat 
Giles County fair wus jes' es good es reposited in de 
cash drawer uv my britches pocket an' I jes' lit out fer 
Giles County wid great expectashuns in de sulky an' 
ol' Pie Ball in de shaf's. 

"But when I got down dar, sah, whut you reckin 
dem niggers dun dar? Dar wus er mighty crowd uv 
'em at de fair groun's, an' de fus' thing I seed wus dis 
paper stuck up all over de groun's, an' on de trees an' 
fences," and the old man pulled out an old-time poster 
headed with a darky leading an ass, whose ears were 
longer than his legs. I looked and it read; 

CuLLURD Fo'ks Ertenshun! 

Gran' picknick an' free-fur-all race at der race track 
nex' Sat'dy. Ladies an' gents, widders an' yaller gals, 
'specially invited to percipertate, but babies an' 



UNCLE WASH AT THE FAIR 241 

Meferdis' preechers barred. De followin' fam'us 
drivers wid deir bosses will be dar : 

Free-fur-all race. Purse, Br'er Sbadrack Lewis's 
Coon Dorg. 

Pie Ball B. R.. G. G. N. H. H ; . . . . 

Br'er Washington. 

Limber Jim B. M. K. P. L. D 

Br'er Simon Su^s. 

Kuntry Sawsage G. J. N. S. U. D. B 

Br'er Lay Low. 

Admisshun loc; but eny gent escortin' er yaller 
l^ged chicken er gal kin cum in free. 

De Cummitty. 

"That's plain enough," I laughed, as I handed him 
back the poster, "but all these letters after the entries — 
what do they mean?" 

"Oh, dat's patentid," said the old man, "dat's 
plain emough— dat's plain ernough. Dem letters am 
new things on de track an' am dead good tips to de 
crowd. Don't you know whut Pie Ball, B. R. G. G. 
N. H. H. means?" he asked. "Why it means, Pie Ball, 
Blue Roan Gelding, Got No Holes in Him!" ' 

"Ah, I see now," I said, "and the other is Limber 
Jim, bay mare — " 

"No, suh," cried the old man, "you wrong ergin. 
De naix one means, 'Limber Jim, Bay Mule, Kin Pace 
Lak De Devil,' an' de las' one am 'Kuntry Sawsage, 
Gray Jinny, Not Skeered uv De Ban !' An' dat's whut 
made me mad," went on the old man; "I 'spected ter 
meet bosses, not mules and jinnies an' I raised er 

le 



242 "UNCLE WASH 



9» 



mighty kick. I driv up ter er nigger settin' sidewize 
in de saddle on er ole gray mule in front uv de jedge's 
Stan'. Sez I sorter mad-lak: 

" 'Mister, whar am de seckerterry uv dis associashun, 
an' whar am his headquarters?' 

" He drawed hisse'f up an' say, sorter bitter-lak: 

" 'Ef you contemplates formulatin' eny interro- 
gashuns consarnin' de regulashuns uv dis 'sociashun. 
suh, I begs ter circumnavergate eny previ'us dis- 
quietude by info'min' you dat / am de seckerterry, 
suh, an' my haidquartahs am in de saddle, suh !' 

" I shot er dagger look at 'im an' sez 1, quiet-lak: 

*' 'I knowed you wus er damfool, soon ez I seed yer, 
but I thort you knowed de diff'unce twixt yo' haid- 
quartahs an' yo' tailquartahs, sah!' An' den I lit 
inter dat nigger an' dat associashun ! I tol' 'em I fotch 
my famous hoss all de way down dar ter race ergin 
bosses, not mules an' jinnies, an' fur munny, not coon 
dorgs an' chitlin's. But de fools up in de jedges' 
Stan' — an' you know it am de easies' place in de worl' 
fur fools ter git inter — ^'lowed dat dat wus er pacin' 
race, an' dis wus de Ian' uv de free an' home uv dc 
pacin' hoss, an' bofe de jinny an' de mule would make 
me think dey sho'ly had dc right ter compete fer de 
coon dawg. 

" 'But how you 'spec' me, ef I win,' sez I, 'ter feed 
my hoss an' me wid er coon dorg? I kain't eat 'im,' 
sez I. 

" 'Dat's all right, Br'er Washington,' sed de jedges, 
'but sense de gol'-bugs dun cohnered all de munny in 
de kuntry, we hafter git back ter fus' principles, an' so 



UNCLE WASH AT THE FAIR 243 

we make coon dorgs en sech things our mejums uv 
exchange. An' I tells you right now dat er coon dorg 
am good fur ten dollars' wuf uv sawsages enny day in 
dese parts. Why, you am bettah off dan de 2:24 
pace/ sez he — ^"dat's payable in chitlin's an' tuckey 
tails.' 

"Wal, I seed I wus in it, an' es I wanted er good 
coon dorg enyway, an de widder Johnson dat I wus 
kinder seekin' arter hed cum out ter see me win, I jes' 's 
well make de bes' uv hit, so I hook up ol' Pie Ball an' 
cum out on de track. An' Law bless yo' soul, you jes' 
orter seen de 'plaws we got ! 

" But hit made me mad when dat blamed ol' pacin' 
mule an' jinny cum out on de track. Befo' dey even 
gib us de wurd, dat ol' mule tuck ter buckin' an' er- 
snortin', an' she skeered ol' Pie Ball so he run inter 
widder Johnson, dat I wus courtin' an' hed cum out 
ter see me in all my glory; hit 'er square in de stummick 
stept on her fifth wheel, an' punctured her tire — ^least- 
wise dat's whut I heerd 'em say ! De ole lady fainted 
an' dey had ter take her off an' blow her up ag'in — 
leastwise, dat's whut dey tol' me. An' she ain't spoke 
to me sence! Dey had tu'k de coon dorg up in de 
jedges' Stan' — ^to he'p jedge de race, I 'spec' — ^an' es 
we cum by in all our glory, dar he set, lookin' mighty 
nachul-lak an' happy, an' hit tickled him so he barked 
lak er ol' army petard jes' es we got op'site 'im, an' it 
skeered ol' Pic Ball so he paced clean over de fence, 
an' back ergin an' den beat de gang home two links. 
Oh, I wus sho' proud ! But when I got back, whut you 
reckin dem fool jedges say to me? 



244 "UNCLE WASH" 

"Dey say: 'Br'er Washington, we fine you er poun* 
uv terbacker fur layin' up dat heat/ 

" 'Good Heben, genTmen/ sez I, 'I didn't lay up 
no heat — I won it.' 

" 'De new rule say you shain't lay up no heat, don't 
it, suh?' sed de jedges. 

" 'In cose it do, but I didn't lay up no heat; I won 
it, I tell you.' 

" 'Br'er Washington, you don't ketch us. When 
you lay up er dollar you save it, don't you?' 

" 'Yes,' sez I. 

" 'Wal, you save dat heat an' in cose you lay hit up. 
Whut's layin' up er heat but savin' it?' sez dey. 'In 
cose de heat's yo'n, but we hafter go by de rules an' 
fine you jes' de same. Jes' han' us out dat poun' er 
terbacker,' dey say, 'or you don't go 'possum huntin' 
behin' dat dorg. How you 'spec' 'sociashuns gwineter 
prosper ef dey don't tax de winner?' 

"I wus bilin' mad, an' I sed, sorter bitter-lak: 
'Gen' r men, I means ter cas' no infecshuns on yo' 
feracity, but hadn't you bettah let de coon dorg jedgc 
de res' uv dis race?' Den I tu'ns off smilin', sarcasm- 
lak. But dey didn't min' my talk ertall, but calls fo' 
de naix' heat. 

" Wal, suh, we got off fur de naix' heat, but dat dorg- 
jedge up in de gran' stan' cu'dn't keep 'is mouf shet ter 
save 'is life. 'Sides dat, he cum er t'arin' down artcr 
us an' chased us up de track lak er yaller cyclone in cr 
bam lof. I'se heerd uv drivers chasin' stakes bcfo'," 
laughed the old man, "but I nurver heerd uv de stake 
er-chasin' de drivers. Hit skeered ol' Pic Ball inter 



UNCLE WASH AT THE FAIR 245 

cr break, but hit skeered de ol' mule an' de jinny into 
de fas'es' pace dat I ever seed turn er comer! Befo' 
I knowed it dey wus er-goin' down de track lak er pair 
uv ol' rusty lizards down er rail fence, an' ef ever I had 
eny doubt 'bout dat ol' mule an' jinny bein' in de 
free-fur-all pacin' class, hit soon lef ' me an' no mistake ! 
Befo' 1 knowed hit dey wus er quahter uv er mile erhaid 
uv me, wid dat coon dorg still er-chasin' 'em an' er- 
barkin' an' bofe uv 'em er-pacin' lak er team. De ol' 
jinny's ye'rs wus laid back lak er jack rabbit's, an' de 
ol'e mule's wus laid for'ds lak de cow-ketcher uv er 
steam engine. Her tail p'inted to'des de Nawth Stah, 
an' his'n to'des de horizon, an' twixt 'em, es long es de 
dorg kep in de rear, dey wus er-bustin' P'inter's record 
all ter pieces. I reefed an' reefed ol' Pie Ball, but when 
he settled we wus so fur behin' we cu'dn't tell which 
way ter go, so I jes' follered de coon dorg's bark lak 
I wus out 'possum huntin' an' driv on. An' somebody 
hollered out, 'Does you think dey kin pace now, 
Br'er Washin'ton?' an' I heerd de niggers laf lak dey 
fall outen de gran' stan'. 

"Thinks I ter myse'f, sump'n gotter be done er me 
an' Pie Ball gwine ter be beat by de oneryes' pa'r dat 
ever went roun' er track. 

"Now, when you can't win by speed, you mus' try 
sump'n' else," said the old man sagely. "De bes' 
gine'als, whuther in er race er in er war, am de ones dat's 
got brains up dey sleev es well es in dey haids, an' de 
man dat kin look on de laws uv common sense an' 
circumsense am jes' dat much bettah off dan de one dat 
do nuffin' but shoot de guns he happen ter have. Now 



246 "UNCLE WASH 



>» 



when 1 wus young I lamed ter blow my mouf lak er 
dinner hawn, an' when I seed dey had me beat, I jes' 
slapped my han' up ter my jaw an' sed, 'Toot — ioot— 
fuu — uu — u — ul' jes' lak er dinner hawn fer all de 
worl'." Here the old man laughed till he nearly fell 
out of hb chair. 

"An' whut you reckin happen? Why dat blame ol' 
mule thort it wus de dinnah hawn sho' 'nuff , en es he 
b'en allers stopped when dat tooted, he stopped es 
quick es er pewter bullet when it hits er mud bank, an' 
Br'er Simon Sugg div outen dat sulky seat lak er 
skeered bullfrog huntin' fer water. Den de ole mule 
turn roun' an' answer dat hawn wid : 'Kebonk — kebank 
— kfbee — €e — € — eF jes' es nachul es all de worl'. 

"An' de ole jinny," here the old man had another 
paroxysm of laughter, "she thort she recognized dat 
voice, hit soun' so much lak de mule's daddy, an' she 
stopped so suddin she an' de sulky bofe kicked up 
behin' an' sent Br'er Lay Low huntin' fur grass, an' 
befo' dey knowed it I paced by de whole gang an' lay 
up emur'r heat ! Sho' 'nuff de fool jedges fine me erg'in, 
but I wus 'tarmin'd ter have dat coon dorg an' I paid 
hit lak er man. 

" 'De puss am yo'n, Br'er Washin'ton,' said dc 
jedges; 'git you er good rope an' go haul it in/ " 

Here the old man sighed audibly and showed every 
inclination to stop. 

"Well, I hope it was a good dog," 1 said sympa- 
thetically. 

"Marse John, you ain't nurver b'en in er race wid er 
pacin' mule, is you? Wal, you ain't posted on de 



UNCLE WASH AT THE FAIR 247 

cussedness uv dat animule. When I went down de 
stretch ter git my stake, de cussed mule had paced 
over him an' kilt him! My puss sho' wus daid! I 
traded ol' Pie Ball off fur er good dinnah en emuff 
munny ter git home wid, an' when I go out on de gran' 
circus ergin hit '11 be ter pace fer de dollars uv our 
daddies an' not fur coon dorgs en chitlin's. " And the 
old man ambled out to put an extra corn pone and 
some sweet potatoes in the ashes, when he covered up 
his fire for the night. 



OLD PUNCH 

DID you ever notice it, Marse John," said old Wash 
the other night, "dat dere is alters some ole 
nigger in ev'y town down Souf dat is allers de bigges' 
Ike in it an' has been made that way by bein' sp'iled 
by white fo'ks?" I had noticed it — ^the most striking 
example being the old man himself; but 1 only smiled 
and nodded assent. 

"Uv course he is allers er Dimmicrat. Dere is 
jinnerally allers jes erbout one Dimmicrat nigger in 
er county uv 'em, an' dis is the one de white fo'ks make 
er fool uv by lettin' him do eny thing he pleezes, 
whilst he makes er fool uv dem by doin' it. Dat nigger 
can't do no harm — ^he's er Dimmicrat. Don't keer how 
sassy an' lazy an' meddlin' an' no-'count he is, he's er 
Dimmicrat, he's the one lam' that's been redeemed 
from the flock. It's funny, but they'd ruther have 
the honor of gettin' one ole nigger to be er Dimmicrat 
than to convert er dozen white men." 

"An' sech er nigger," went on the old man, "is sech 
jinerally de mos' meddlesome an' se'f-important an' 
conceited cuss that ever got the upper han' uv de res' 
uv de race. Standin' in wid de white fo'ks, he is es 
sassy as er jay-bird on Friday, sayin' an' doin' what he 
pleezes. An' it's 'stoundin' to me whut they'll stan' 
offen him. They'll take things from him dat dey'd 
kill er common nigger fur. He butts into all de white 
fo'ks talk jes lak he wus one of 'em, gits big wages fur 

(248) 



OLD PUNCH 249 

hangin' 'round de co'rthouse or some sto' doin' nothin' 
but sweepin' up onct er week or so, bringin' in er little 
coal an' water when he ain't playin' backgammon, 
co'rtin' some ole sassy nigger that's allers comin' to see 
him, or meddlin' in de affairs uv his betters. An' fur 
all dat the white fo'ks dat he's tied onto stan' it, 
thinkin' he's de onlies' nigger in de wurl till he dies 
uv plum laziness an' beer an' whiskey swillin' an' den 
dcy all bury him wid great pomp, actin' es pall 
bearers deyselves. 

"No, no, they ain't got no use fur er real, hard- 
wuckin' nigger dat stays at home an' tend's to his 
own bizness. Whut white fo'ks really love in de 
nigger tribe is er big-mouth, greasy-complected, fat- 
bellied ole nigger that calls 'em all Marsier an' Mistis, 
votes wid 'em an' loafs erroun' tellin' 'em nigger yarns 
an' ticklin' dey vanity, an' makin' out he's so humble 
he couldn't eat ef white fo'ks wus lookin' on, but in 
fact bossin' 'em in everthing frum drawin' his wages 
to namin' de babies ! 

"It's funny enyway how de whole wurl will let 
some fo'ks do things it'll crucify others fur. Look whut 
it let Marse Teddy Roastfelt do — de high actin', knee- 
bangin' gaits dat man went ! An' hit wus all right ! 

"Dat wus Teddy! 

"But you jes let Marse Billy Taft try dat gait an 
sec whar he will Ian'. He's got too much sense to try 
it! An' white fo'ks is the same way 'bout dey 
wimmins. I's seed meny an' meny er one dat led 
de ban'-wagin wid enywhar frum two to er dozen 
husban's an' nobody seem to keer, not even her 



350 "UNCLE WASH 



»» 



husban\ an' long es she lead de ban'-wagin and 
stayed in high society it wus all right. But let some 
ole maid be cocht kissin' her cat an' dar wus er scandal 
right dar! 

"Sech er nigger es I've tole you uv wus ole Punch dat 
lived at Macon, G'orgy. 

" I went down dar 'bout twenty years ergo wid Marse 
Henry on er co'rtin' trip. Leastwise, Marse Henry 
went to co'rt an' es I's nurver been in er town long 
widout fallin' from grace to de charms uv de fair sects, 
I wus soon payin' my tenshuns to er mighty fine lookin' 
widder dat I thort might be 'swaded to go back wid 
me to Tennessee. 

"An' I'd er done it right erwayef it hadn't been fur dat 
nigger de whole town called ole Punch. He wus 
porter in de bigges' sto' in town an' owned de white 
fo'ks in it same as ef they wus his'n. Him an' me had 
it red hot fur de widder but it bein' his home an' him 
bein' er boss-nigger, I soon seed I wus carryin' too much 
weight to run in ole Punch's class wid eny sho' fur 
de widder. 

"Dey giner ball fur Marse Henry an' me, er kind uver 
maskerade ball, and Marse Jimmy Jones that run de 
sto' whar Punch wus boss, he went as er soljer, carryin' 
er big dagger-knife two foot long made out uv wood and 
gilt paper, but lookin' mighty lak de real thing. 

"Now ole Punch find dat knife de nex' day in de 
sto' an' havin' nothin' to do, es usual, he 'mused de 
town de nex' day skeerin' de life outen cojuitry nig- 
gers. Of course de white fo'ks all put him up to it 
by standin' 'round an' laffin' at him, an' Punch wus in 



OLD PUNCH 351 

his glory. He'd put dat big wood knife in his belt, 
make out lak he wus half drunk an' walk erround till 
he seed some skeery lookin' country coon. Then all 
at once Punch would grab him in de collar, draw dat 
knife dat looked lak it wus er yard long an' all steel an* 
wid awful oaths start in to eat dat coon alive an' carve 
him. De po' nigger, taken unawares an' thinkin' 
Punch wus de turribles' man alive, would break into 
er dead run an' nurver look back till he wus safe in de 
tall timber. 

" Den de white fo'ks ud' nearly die laffin' an' Punch 
would start erroun' lookin' fur anurr country nigger. 

"All long he done dat till he skeered ever' nigger 
out uv town. 

"Dat night him an' me met at de widder's by 
accerdent an' Punch he wus braggin' how he'd skeered 
de niggers out uv town. He boasted an' bragged so 
I seed I had no sho' fur de widder. She jes thort he 
wus de bigges' nigger dat ever come down de pike. 

"To-morrer bein' Sat'day he wus gwinter have mo' 
fun an' he axed de widder to come down to de sto' 
whar he had er pair uv silk stockin's fur her, er box uv 
snuff, two bottles uv peppermint oil an' er New Testa- 
ment. Thar she wus to sit on de front seat an' see 
Punch run common niggers out uv town. 

"1 went away feelin' mighty bad, fur I knowed I 
had no chance 'gainst all dem presents an' pusson'l 
bravery. 

" Es I '^ 'ent into town de nex' day I seed er ha'f crazy 
nigger dey called LxK)ney dat jes had sense enuff to 
fight his weight in wildcats. Him an' me got pretty 



352 "UNCLE WASH" 

thick an' after I gin him er dram an' er half plug uv 
Tennessee tobacker, he wus my bosum frien' for 
life. 

"When we got to de town I stopped an' tele 
Looney I wus er little feared to go eny furder. 

" 'What's up?" sez Looney, 'ain't been after 
chickens las' night, is you?' 

" 'No,' sez I, 'but dar is er turrible bad nigger in 
town dat's run amuck an' he's liable to do us harm.' 

"I seed Looney's little, mean eyes flash an' he 
'lowed he wan't feared uv him. 

" 'No,' sez I, 'neither is I, but I's frum er peaceful 
state I is, an' I'd hate to have to hurt enybody on 
dis visit.' 

" 'Wal', sez Looney, 'I ain't frum sech er peaceful 
state an' I's gwine inter town!' 

" 'Wal, ef you is,' sez I, 'I think you'd better take 
dis pistol to defen' yo'se'f,' an' I give him er ole six- 
shooter wid er barrel er foot long an' I had loaded it wid 
big loads uv powder but no balls. 

" 'Now,' sez I, 'jes take dis, it shoots six times. Dat 
nigger is named Punch an' when he tackles you wid 
his big knife, kill him befo' he reaches yo' heart an' 
nobody'U ever pester you for it. 

Looney sed he'd do it, an' we went in. 
Sho' 'nough Punch wus dar an' had already run 
six niggers out uv town, whilst all de white fo'ks, 
even de town marshal, wus givin' him all de rope he 
wanted, an' had quit dey own bizness to watch de 
fun. 

"An' dar sat de widder on er goods box dippin' snuff 






OLD PUNCH 253 

an' laffin' fit to kill at de mighty deeds uv Punch. It 
wus plain to see dat whut she laked wus pusson'I 
bravery an' wan't Punch er mighty man uv valor, 
bigger dan de town marshal, who seem to jes let 
Punch run de town. 

" I tried to interest her, but she wouldn't look at me. 
Tennessee niggers had no charm fur her es long as 
Punch wus de whole show. 

" By an' by heah come Looney loafin' erlong an' lookin' 
lak er skeered dorg at er public fightin'. Soon es Punch 
seed him he gin de wink all aroun' an' it wus tipped 
off all down de line an' soon everbody stood in sto' 
doors watchin' to see Punch skeer Looney into er fit. 
Punch sidled 'long by Looney, eyin' him sideways, but 
Looney, thinkin' he w^us er sho' nuff bad nigger, never 
tuck his eyes offen Punch. All at once Punch gin er 
war whoop, drawed dat knife dat looked lak it wus 
er yard long, grabbed Looney in de collar an' sed 
fiercely : 

" 'Whut de devil you gwinter do heah, you chicken- 
stealin' son uv darkness? Run fo' I kills you !' 

" But Looney didn't run, an' he soon seed whut he 
wus gwinter do, fur he thort sho' Punch meant to kill 
him an' quick es er flash he drawed de ole pistol an' 
bang it went off right in Punch's face. 

" 'He'p, Marse Jim, fur Gawd's sake I's kilt! I's 
kilt !' yelled Punch, tumin' er handspring back'ards an' 
startin' down de main street hissc'f, wid Looney 
right after him an' bofc uv 'em borin' er hole in de air. 

''Bang! went de ole gun again an' we seed Punch 
jump twenty feet. Bang! hang! hang! an' down de 



J54 "UNCLE WASH 



$» 



Street he run yellin' fur Marse Jim, de town marshal, 
to shoot de fool nigger quick ! 

" 'Kill bim, Marse Jim, for Gowdas sake, he*s shot me 
through an* through, 'wus de las' we heard uv Punch es 
dey went over de hills. Punch er little in de lead. 

" Punch didn't come back for two weeks« an' bcfo' 
he did I married de widden " 



HOW MISS CELESTE SOLVED THE NEGRO 

PROBLEM 

IT was a few years after the war. She came from 
Boston, and her name was Cousin Celeste Mc- 
Hiram Winthrop. She wore the first pair of nose 
glasses and the first pair of boots I had ever seen on a 
woman. She was angular, square of jaw and positive 
and came South as the representative of a society bent 
on finding out all there was to be known on the negro 
question. Incidentally she was a member of The 
Boston Anthropological Society and was after original 
sources for future papers. Being our cousin, she 
boarded in our home and as she would be busy she was 
given the district school to teach. It was in the 
Summer vacation, and one month during the absence 
of all the family at the springs but me. Cousin Celeste 
took charge of the house-keeping. 
Hence this story: 

And a fine woman was Cousin Celeste in her way. 
But in Tennessee her way was the square peg in the 
round hole. As teacher of moral philosophy in a large 
school in Boston, Secretary of the Anthropological 
Society and Critic for the Saturdays Emerson Club 
she was a great success. 

But as mistress on a Southern plantation home! 

The first jar came from Aunt Dinah, Uncle Wash's 
redoubtable spouse. Now Aunt Dinah had cooked for 
my grandmother, and my mother, and had been in our 

(^55) 



2^6 "UNCLE WASH" 

family just sixty-five years. In the change of things 
by the war, they never seemed to know they were free, 
and, save the regular paying of wages under the new 
order, instead of the gifts and care of the old, no other 
change was made in their simple life. 

Ox)ks — ^they are the only monarchs under heaven 
that I, a free born American, will bow down to. For 
them I reserve my stateliest bow, my most servile 
homage. The place is theirs, and the pantry and the 
fullness thereof. Their word is my law, and so long 
as they cook I am their cringing slave. For was it not 
the great Scotch dyspeptic, Thomas Carlyle, who once 
remarked that all he was certain of in this life was that 
he had a stomach? 

"Your majesty, and how goes it with you this morn- 
ing?" I always ask as I sneak into my breakfast, 
thankful that it is there. If she deigns me a smile 
and a gracious reply I am her servant. And if with 
it the waffles are browned to their right color, the chops 
are just rare enough, and the eggs boiled just three 
minutes; aye, then I am her slave. 

A man in his forgetfulness, may some morning fail 
to salute the wife of his bosom; in his arrogance and 
false pride he may even fail to kiss his mother-in-law, 
but woe unto him if he fail to remember his cook and 
neglect those little courtesies! 

And so G^usin Celeste had been with me a month, 
perhaps when Aunt Dinah came in one morning 
with: 

"Look aheah, chile; I specs Ts gwinter hafter leave 
you. " 



THE NEGRO PROBLEM SOLVED .257 

"Now, Aunt Dinah, that's a good joke. What have 
we done to you now? " 

"Oh, nuffin ', chile — nuffin '. I likes you all jes es much 
es I ever did, 'specially dat are new 'oman frum Bost- 
ing. She is sho ' er daisy, or, I shu'd have sed, er bunch 
uv mighty sweet ole dried-up sage blossoms, an' me an' 
her cu'd git erlong furever. No, I hates pow'ful ter 
leave you all, chile, arter all dese years, an' I donenus 
you an' yo' blessed mother befo' you, but I jes heurn 
now frum my darter down in Giles County, an' de little 
gran 'chile dat was so peurt is kinder got de limber legs, 
an' I specs I hafter go down dar an' see ter it." 

I looked at Aunt Dinah. I knew that peculiarity 
of negroes, that, however just their cause for leaving 
may be, they never tell you the real one when they wish 
to go. Besides, her extravagant praise of G^usin 
Celeste told me at once what was the matter. 

"Now, Aunt Dinah, you know that grandchild is 
all right. The limber legs never was known to kill 
children. Tell me what is the matter?" 

"Lor' bless me, chile, dey ain't nuffin de matter wid 
me. It mighty nigh breaks my heart to leave you, 
chile!" 

"Aunt Dinah," 1 said, looking her very closely in 
the eyes, "what has Cousin Celeste been doing to 
you?" 

"G'wiffum heah, chile! Huccum you guess dat so 
quick? I believe white folks kin jes see through er 
nigger soon es dey look at 'em. " 

She shook all over with cunning laughter. Then, 
seriously: 

17 



258 "UNCLE WASH" 

"Oiile, I bin wid you all 'long 'fo' you was bohn, 
ain't I?" 1 nodded. 

"Wal, jes' tell me, did you er eny body else ever 
know me ter take de rappin' uv yo' finger?" 

"Aunt Dinah," I said, impressively, and with my 
most becoming bow, " I would trust you with the key 
to the pantry of paradise. I'd turn the very store- 
room of heaven over to you, knowing full well that, 
while you managed it, not a celestial sandwich, not a 
cherub doughnut would be missing." 

"Thang Gawd fur dat! I knowed you would, chile. 
Glory halleluja fur dat! Hit's jes laik' you, bohn er 
gem'man an' can't he'p yo'se'f. And so wud de angel 
Gabriel, yessah, de angel Gabriel, dat bosses de gates 
uv heaben — he'd say de same — ^he'd trust me, too! 
An' arter he'd knowed old Dinah an' e't er few uv my 
batter cakes an' waffles wid honey, he'd cum' by de 
kitchen uv heaben ever' mornin' an' say: 'Heab, 
Dinah, bless yo' ole soul, jes* take de pantry keys an 
git out wbuiever you wants, an' don't be scrup'Vus 'bout 
it — dey's *nuff fer us all. Don't you give us no baked 
beans an' cold, clammy bread an' codfish balls. Dafs 
de bill uv fare dey have in Bosting, an' — an' down dar,' 
sez he, er pintin' wid his finger down below, 'but give 
us Tennessee rare roast beef, an* Southdown lambs fed 
on bljie grass in de apple orch'd, an' hot cohn pones, an' 
beat hi skit, an' fried chicken wid fritter cakes, an' flap- 
jacks wid Louisiana syrup, an* North Carolina chicken 
pie! Feed de angels, Dinah, fur de craps nuruer fails 
in dis land uv light. ' 

"Dat's whut Gabriel hisse'f'd say." 



THE NEGRO PROBLEM SOLVED 259 

I nodded approvingly. 

"Wal, now, chile, ef de angel Gabriel hisse'fd say 
dat' de verry boss man uv heaben hisse'f " — here she 
paused, drew herself up two inches and shook from side 
to side for emphasis — ^"does you reckin Tse gwinter 
Stan' dat ar 'oman nosin' erroun' dat pantry, an' 
allers axin' me whut I git out dis fur, an' whut I git 
out dat fur? Nosin' an' nosin' erroun', an' eyein' 
whut I puts in my batter cakes, an' er measurin' out 
de flour — ^listen, chile, whut I's tellin' you, but fo' 
Gawd hits true es I cross my heart ! — er m-e-a-s-u-r-i-n' 
out de flour lak' de wan't ernudder wheat crop in de 
wurl', an' er w-a-i-g-h-i-n' de rice, an' allers a d-o-l-i-n' 
an' er d-o-l-i-n' out de lard, lak hit wus de alabaster 
box uv de ile uv de las' bucksheer on de top side uv 
yearth ! Tell me, chile, long as I bin wid you all, did 
you urver know me ter take de rappin' uv yo' finger? 
An ' now, in my ole age, to have dat ar 'oman heah an ' 
'flectin' on my keracter lak' dat, castin' spurgeons 
on my robe dat has bin spotless an' puore all dese 
years — " Here Aunt Dinah broke down, sat in the 
comer of a chair and wiped away tears with her cook 
apron. 

I shook my head sympathetically. "That's too bad. 
Aunt Dinah, too bad. But I don't think she meant it 
that way." 

*'Now ole mistis, she'd say ter me, 

"'Heah's de keys^ Dinah; git breakf us', an' heah's 
de keys, Dinah; git dinner,' an' heah's de keys, 
Dinah; git supper; an' I'd git 'em, an' dat'dbeall, an' 
nobody didn't think I wus gwinter steal eny thing!' 



36o "UNCLE WASH 



9» 



"But dai ain*i de wusi uv ii, Eber since she bin 
bedb she bin er-calUn' me Mrs. Grundy — Usien chile, 
whtU /'s iellin' you; fo' Gawd, hits true! — er-calUn* 
me Mrs. Grundy! At fust 1 thort she wus doin ' hit 
fur fun, an' I'd laf an' say: 'Misiis, white fo'ks don't 
call culler' d fo'ks by dey las' name in dis country — 
'iain't 'spec' Jul.' But you think she didn't jes' keep 
on a — ^Mrs. Grundy an' a — ^Mrs. Gnindyin' me, twell 
one evenin' when she had her supper by hitse'f, an' 
I fotch in her tea, an' she say: *Mrs. Grundy, 
won't you sot down an ' have er cup uv tea wid me?' Listen 
chile, whut I's tellin you; 'fo' Gawd, its true! I 
lak'ter fell down on dat flo'. I cum' mighty nigh, 
ra't den an' dar, tellin' dat 'oman whut I thort uv her. 
How she 'spect me ter have eny 'spec' fur her when 
she ain't got no 'spec' fur me? Ef it hadn't bin fur 
leabin' you, chile, heah by yo'se'f — leavin' you to eat 
de col', clammy, an' paralyzed stuff she'd make fur you, 
er cross betwixt cold bread, baked beans an' de spawn 
u V codfish, an ' all beat up wid dis heah Emersun Club 
she's allers tellin' 'bout (dough fur my part I'd nurver 
give my red-ellum biskit-pin fur allde Emersun clubs) — 
I'd jes ' er-quit ra't dar ! Eny white 'oman dat'd do dat 
can't 'spec' no cuUer'd 'oman ter stay wid her, dat's all !" 

"That was very thoughtless. Aunt Dinah, but I am 
sure she didn't mean anything by it. She has been 
raised so differently from us," I said 

"Wal, den, I's sorry fur her raisin, den, dat's 
all! An' I ain't 'spons'bul fur it, nuther! Don't de 
good Book hitse'f say: When sinners entice thee, can" 
sent thou not; an' 'void the 'pearance uv evil.' " 



THE NEGRO PROBLEM SOLVED 261 

It was some time before Aunt Dinah spoke again, so 
great was her indignation. Then she blazed out : 

"Listen, chile; now lis'en whut I's gwine tell you. 
Jes ' lis'en yo 'se 'f , an ' tell me ef you'd stan ' hit. Whut 
you reckin she's doin all de time when me an' you ain't 
lookin' at 'er? Writin' me an' my ole man down 
in er book — ^lise'n, chile; 'fo'Gawd, it's true! — ^puttin' 
us down in black an' white fur ter take us back up to 
Bosting an' scannerlize our repertashun wid, an' er- 
makin ' us say de mos ' outlandish things, an ' er-talkin ' 
lak' we nurver talked in all our life. Usin' us ter solve 
sum' problem, she call it, an' er-writin' us down in 
black an ' white ter be de laffin ' stock uv de res ' uv de 
wurl'. Chile, lis'en ter me your own se'f now, wid 
yo own years, an' tell me ef you'd stan' hit?" 

She was so indignant she could proceed no further. 

"That's bad — ^very bad. Aunt Dinah. I'll see that 
that is stopped." 

This pleased her immensely, and she broke out into 
a laugh as she said: "Chile, de cu'us questions she kin 
ax — he, he, he! — 'nufF ter mek' er owl laff at his gran- 
daddy's fun'ral. She'll set erroun' so quiet lak', 
you don't think she's loaded an' not gwine go off so 
onexpectedly. She'll jes' be settin' dar, so quiet 
lak', den all at onct, bang! Off she goes, an' fires 
sum paralizin' quest'un ra't inter yo' fifth rib. I 
tell you, chile, whenever dis writin' fever gits holt uv 
erole maid, dey ain't no doctor livin 'kin tell whar 
de dognosis uv her condishun gwine end — dey aint! 
She's liabul ter do mos' eny thing — she sho' is!" 

Aunt Dinah laughed again. "T'other day she wus 



262 "UNCLE WASH" 

joggin' erlong, knittin', 'tirely reconciled an' gwine 
'long easy an' smooth lak', not seein' er thing ter shy 
at, wid her pencil an' paper handy, dough, an' all 
dat, when all at onct she shied clear out en de road wid: 

" Mrs. Grundy, lemme ax you er question : 'Huccum 
puddle ducks allers so quiet 'twell dey happen ter git 
togedder, den dey jabber an' go on so?' 

"'Mistis,' sez 1. '1 don't know, but hit's zactly de 
same way wid wimmen fo'ks.' 

" 'Ah, dat am a cu'us 'zemblance,' she sez, 'Ah, so 
hit am; an' I'll make it de princerpullest p'int in my 
chapter on "De Kinship in Anermal Life." An' she 
sot hit right down den an ' dar under de head uv puddle 
ducks an' wimmen fo'ks. 

"Den she allers axin' me sum question which she 
thinks is calkerlated ter solve dat nigger problem she's 
allers talkin' 'bout. She don't know I am onto it, 
but I is. Sez she: 

" 'Mrs. Grundy, does you feel eny diff'runt now sence 
you free den you useter feel es er slave?' 

" ' Bout de same, thank you, mistis,' sez I ; 'bout de 
same. But I notice sence I's free I's got ter be 
mighty keerful how I eats col' cabbage fur supper — hit 
gives me er pow'ful miz'ry if I ain't 'tickler, fur I ain't 
so young es I useter be. 

"She laf an' say: 'Oh, you don't understan' me. 
I wus fererrin' to dat interlecshul an' soulful feelin'. 
Does de free life give you eny stronger longin' fur 
immortality, an' desire to go upward an' onward; 
eny secret flutterin' uv de soul erroun' de innermos' 
chambers uv de heart, eny — ' 



THE NEGRO PROLEM SOLVED 263 

" 'Not 'les I eats dem col' cabbages I wus tellin' 
you 'bout, mistis,' sez I. 'Den I seems to have all 
dem symtems at onct, 'speshly de flutterin. ' " 

Here Aunt Dinah laughed until I thought she would 
never begin again. " 

"But she axed de ole man de funnies' question de 
nex' day. He cum in frum de dairy wid de milk, an' 
she wus out dar er-joggin' erlong down de road jes' 
es natchu'l es life, an' not er-shyin' at er thing, es I 
wus saying, when all at onct dat writin ' fever tuk 'er 
an' she grabbed her pencil, shied cl'ar outen de road, 
and sed: 

" 'Mister Washington, I's allers wanted to ax sum- 
body er question, but Ts nurver hed de chance. 
Would you objec' to my axin' you?' 

"De ole man he pull off his hat an' he bow ve'y low, 
an' he say: 'Sart'n'y not, mistis; sart'n'y not. But 
ef you'll let de ole man be so bold, I hopes you won't 
put no mo' fiUer-gree work to my name. 'Deed I does. 
I can't Stan' hit> mistis; hit makes me feel lak I done 
stole sumpin'.' 

" 'Fillergree work to yo' name!' and she laf. 'Why, 
whut er funny ole culler'd gemmen you is ! You'll mek' 
er finecheracter fur er paper I'm writtin ' on " De Nigger 
Question in de Souf." ' 

" Dat lak' ter skeered de ole man ter deaf. He drapt 
his milk-pa I an ' his eyes bulged out, an ' he sez: 'Mistis, 
fur Gawd's sake don't do dat ! Whut is I urver done ter 
you dat mek' you wanter treat me dat 'er' way?' 

" 'Why nuffin',' sez she, 'I thort you'd be proud uv 
it.' 



364 "UNCLE WASH 



»» 



ti t] 



Fur goodness sake, mistis, you'll break my heart. 
So menny fo'ks hes come down here an' writ us up, 
er-makin' us talk lak heathen, an' er-chasin' us wid 
kodacs, an' er makin' us do er whol lot er things we 
nurver dreamed uv, dat now when I sees er 'oman 
er cummin' down de road with er pencil in her han' an' 
one uv dese heah fur-away, gwinter-write-you-up- 
enyway kinder looks in her eyes, I's ready ter dim' 
er barb-wire fence an' go through er bull lot, wid de 
bull arter me, to gin her all de pike she wants. Now, 
I's gittin' ole an' feeble, mistis, an' I can't go through 
bull lots lak I useter, so take pity on de ole man an' 
don't do dat !' 

" De 'oman she look lak she didn't know 'zactly whut 
ter say, but shesez: 

" 'An' why don't you want me to call you Mister 
Washington?' 

" 'Lor', mistis,' sez de ole man, 'dat's wussem de 
writin' up bizness, an' hit cum erbout dis way : Arter 
de wah, I heam so much 'bout de high 'spec' dey hilt 
de nigger in up in Bosting, an' 'bout dat literary 
atmosphere dat wus so congeenual ter fo'ks dat had 
bin raised in it, lak me, I 'cided ter go up dar an' begin 
life all over 'mong dem fo'ks. I'd saved er thousan' 
dollars ole marster'd gin me, an' when I got up dar I 
wus de bigges' man dar. Ever'whar' I go it wus 
Mister Washington. Den dey got to callin' me Jedge 
Washington, an' den Kunnel Washington, an' den I 
hope I may die ef I didn't soon git ter be Gineral 
Washington, 'twell I begin ter think myse'f I wus de 
father uv our kuntry done up in ebony. Cou'se dey ax 



THE NEGRO PROLEM SOLVED 265 

me ter eat wid 'em. Fust I cu'dn't half eat, settin' at 
de table wid white fo'ks, an' I lakter starve ter def. 
But dey kep on tellin' me we wus all equal now, an' 
one jes' es good es t'other an' so I mistered an' jedged 
'em an' Jineraled 'em back an' lit in. Den dey want 
me to lectur', an' lectur, I mus'. Wall, I didn't 
wanter do hit, but I had ter do hit, so I went 
dar an' tole 'em de tnif — dat ole master wus de bes' 
frien' I ever had; dat slavery wus de greates' blessin' 
dat ever happen fur de nigger, fetchin' 'im out uv 
darkness inter light; dat fur as I cou'd see hit wus all 
er big fambly wid us, but now, sence by de will uv Gawd 
hit hed all bin changed hit wus all right, 'cept we wus 
po' an' ign'ant, an' didn't kno' whut ter do, an' 
couldn't cope wid white fo'ks; dat whut we wanted 
wus ejucashun an' er chance to make er livin' an'notde 
ballot, 'ca'se wid it we'd make enemies 'mongde fo'ks we 
lived wid, an* git lynched an' shot an' have race wars 
whar de las' condishun uv us'd be worse dan de fust. 
I tole dem de truf, an' hit hes cum to pass jes' es I sed 
it would. ' 

" * Wal, my money gin out arter er while, an' den I 
thort I'd go to work. But, whilst I wus still Mister 
Washington, I couldn't git nuflfin ter do. I'd tuk keer 
uv bosses all my life, so I thort I'd try de big stables, 
but de man he sez: 'I's sorry. Mister Washington, 
but ef I'd hire you heah, ever' white man I's got'd 
quit.' 

" *Den I seed 'em buildin' er brick house. Now, I wus 
er good mason, 'cause ole marster he'd to'rt us all er 
trade. I wus Mister Washington ergin, but it wus de 



266 "UNCLE WASH" 

same. De boss say ever man dar'd lay down his 
trowel ef I went to work/ 

"'Den I 'cided dat literary air wus gittin' too cold 
fur me, an' I'd better git back home, ef I had to b^ 
my way erfoot. So I started out, but I hadn't gone 
fur down de street befo' I seed er quiet-lookin', go-easy 
sort uver man, wid er soft felt hat on, an' er kindly 
smile, lookin' lak he wan't in no 'tickler hurry an' wan't 
tryin' ter git rich nor solve no problem, an' I stopped 
an' pulled off my hat an' sez: *Good-momin', mars- 
ter.' 

" 'He looked at me wid er funny sort uver smile an' 
sez: 

'* ' You damned ole fool, wbui you doin' up heab . ' 

" 'Lor', marster" sez I, "lemme hug you! You do 
talk so nachu'l!' 

" 'Den I tole him all, how I'd cum frum Tennessee, 
an' had waited on Marse Felix Grundy, an' bin raised 
wid de bes' in de Ian', an' wus now beggin' my way 
back 'ca'se I couldn't get no work ter do. Wall, sah, 
he cussed me out ergin fur being sech er fool, an' I 
hugged 'im ergin — I couldn't he'p it, hit come so 
nachu'l — ^an' he tuk me an' gin me er drink, an' sed 
he'd cum frum Tennessee hisse'f, an' he tuk me to er 
resterrant an' gin me er square meal, an' den he gin 
me money ernuff ter git home on, an' sed: * Take dis 
an' go — go to de Ian* what de sun shines an' de birds 
sing; wbar de sperrit uv de race boss, lak dey wbiskey, 
gits better es it gits older; wbar dey ain't no art, no liter- 
cbure an no lies; wbar dey kno' er nigger ain't er wbite 
man an' nurver can he. Dey am good fo'ks up heab,' 



THE NEGRO PROBLEM SOLVED 267 

se^ be, 'an' maybe dey don't know it, but deyluvede 
nigger in tbeory an' crucifies 'im in fact. ' 

" 'So I lit, mistis, an' ain't nurver bin ambish'us 
fur no handle to my name sence.' " 

Here Aunt Dinah was quiet for awhile, and then 
she said: "Chile, I hates ter leave you, but yoii see 
yo'se'f I's bleeged ter go. But she tuk all dat down, 
an' when she finishes it, er-mixin' me an' de ole man 
up wid puddle ducks an' nigger problems an' all dat» 
don't you kno' we can't stan' it?" 

That night I explained the situation to Cousin 
Celeste. 

"Now Cousin Celeste," I said, "just give her the 
keys and let her alone. " 

"But she'll break you," said Cousin Celeste, "She's 
the most wasteful and extravagant thing. " 

"Yes," I replied, "but she has been with us sixty- 
five years, and she can make just that many kinds of 
batter cakes, and pies innumerable, and her cakes are 
immaculate, and her broils and roasts are fit for a 
king's table. Only let us be fed right. Cousin Celeste, 
and we can stand all the ills of life. " 

It was sometime before Cousin Celeste spoke. Then 
she said, dryly: "I think I have already solved the 
n^o problem in the South. " 

"How so?" I asked. 

"Once you owned the negroes — ^now they own you." 
And she snapped off to her room to finish a thesis for 
the Emerson Qub. 



HOW JENNY McGREW CAME TO HER OWN 

THE field which the old man had been plowing 
did not look unlike an hundred others of 
Middle Tennessee. There ran the shallow creek 
beyond it, following the lime bluff of the hills, which, 
in the distance, died away in a scroll of purple against 
the sky line. Nearer, they were emerald with the 
deep green of the apple orchard, or shimmered, showing 
flakes of that restful straw-green which the June wind 
always makes when it moves through heads of ripening 
wheat. 

By the clock it was nearly half to noon; but already 
he rested, — he and the lazy, gray, fat mule hitched to 
a small old fashioned bull-tongue plough. There 
could be no mistake in their attitude: the old darkey 
sitting on the soft grass, propped up between the 
plow-handles and fanning with a battered and drooped- 
brimmed wool hat, the old mule browsing amid the 
thick fringe of bordering blue grass — ^it meant rest, 
prolonged and complete rest. 

"I am afraid you are a quitter. Uncle Wash," I 
smiled as I came up. There was a deprecatory wave 
of his hand : 

"Dat bumblebee cohn sho' makes me tired, Marse 
John. No suh, I ain't never gwinter plant a'nurr' 
crap uv cohn on no mo' battle fiel's. I knowed befo' 
I planted it dat Hood an' dem Yankees done fit all 
over dis ole fiel' an' I was pow'ful anx's to rent dis 

(268) 



JENNY McGREW CAME TO HER OWN 269 

piece fnim ole Miss fur dat reezun. I tho'rt too much 
blood had bin spilt dar fur it ever to be droughty. 
I tor her de bre'f done went outen too menny men dar 
fur de Ian' ever to gro' any-thing but moanin' weeds 
an' thistles, an' I cud keep dem down. An' den I'd 
heurd dat de grass wouldn't gro' on no spot whar er 
daid man had laid, an' thinks I to myse'f 'if dai's so 
dar won't no grass dar at all on dis fielj fur dar is bin 
er daid man layin' on ever foot uv hit, fur I seed 'em 
dar myse'f de day after de battle.' 

" Wal, bless yo' soul, hit looks lak dat de grass is all 
dat's gwinter gro' heah, — ^it sho' do! 

" I c'lar to goodness, I don't see whut in de worl' ole 
Miss ever let dem men fight on her place fur. Dey jis' 
nachully played ruinashun wid hit. 

"I done all I cu'd to make dat crap uv cohn I 
know'd, to begin wid, dat no cohn crap 'ud gro' if de 
cobs uv de seed-cohn wa'nt buried an' kept moist all 
summer. So I buried de cobs uv de seed-cohn myse'f 
an' kept de groun' moist ever day. I done all I cu'd 
to make dis crap — ^all but plow an' hoe it, an' hit 
ortenter needed dat, bein' as how it's been kivered 
wid de daid. 

" Taint no good! Hit's dat dried blood an* all dem 
singein' red hot ghostes meandcrin' 'roun' here ever' 
night an' scorchin' up things. 

"Wal, lemme see. I wus jis historin' 'bout dis ole 
fiel' — hit's so full uv history. Bcfo' de wah dis bottom 
wus er level mcadcr, an' de white fo'ks had all day 
fairs heah. An' sech times! Gawd, hoss racin' an' 
drinkin' home made licker outen barrels wid tin dippers 



270 ''UNCLE WASH" 

all day an' dancin' ergwine all night ! You sed sumpin 
erbout er quitter — dat reminds me uv de story I bin 
historin' 'bout: 

"Long in de 50's de craps wus pow'ful an' we had 
er big fair dat fawl an' sum fine mile racin' an' plenty 
uv quartah racin'. 

" 'Bout de thurd day uv de fair, arter de bosses bin 
matched so often dat ever' body know'd whut deycu'd 
do, hit 'gun to drag er little. Hit spiled de fun, fur dar 
wa'nt no chances lef. Hoss racin' is lak er love-fair*, 
if hit gits too one-sided de fun is gone. Es long es er 
gal is got you guessin' she's got yo' gwine. Es fur de 
fellah, if he shows his ban' too soon, he's gwine do all 
de beggin' an' most uv de lyin'. An' dat's whut's de 
matter wid matrimony now; hit ain't bekase de fo'ks 
is tied up dat makes hit so mutton-notemus; hit's 
bekase de wife ain't got anurr' string to her bow to let 
her man kno' dat dis kin' uv injustice ain't sealed fur 
eternity. 

"We men fo'ks is turrible! We cuts off all er 
woman's chances by marryin' her to wash-tubs an' 
babies, an' den we cuts er bee-line to new pastures, 
whilst she takes hern out in mo' chilluns, cookin', 
mumps, measles an' mem'ries." 

He laughed quietly and chuckled as he leaned back 
against the plow handles and looked across the distant 
hills. 

"But I's giwne to tell you how dat game wus 
sp'iled onct. Marse Richard he married my young 
mistis. Miss Jinny McGrew, de same dat owns all dis 
Ian'— an' in marryin' her he got all her plantashuns, 



JENNY McGREW CAME TO HER OWN 271 

niggers, bridle-presents, an' all uv ole marster's race- 
hosses dat he'd lef her — ^his houn'-dorgs an' everthing. 
Got 'em all, — even her belle-days an' happy gal-days, 
jis fur er three-dollar license an' six chilluns in ten 
years. 

"O dey wus 'bout es happy es uther fo'ks, but -I 
seed de roses fade in her cheek an' whilst Marse 
Richard wus mighty proud uv her an' de chilluns, he 
kept all de funds in his own ban's, dolin' it out to her 
jis lak he'd alius owned it, an' had give her odds in de 
trade. 

"Miss Jinny, havin' all dem fine chillun to raise, 
jis had to stop gwine out — she had no pretty gowns lak 
she uster have, an' no funds to buy 'em. But Marse 
Richard, wal, he sho' wus mighty fond uv her an' 
mighty proud uv de chilluns an' de way he rushed de 
gals an' de gamblin' table wus er sight. 

" He got so he didn't cum home only ever Sat'day 
night, but he wus sho' fond uv his wife an' chillun. 

"Now her daddy, my ole marster, had er race mare 
by Timoleon named Jinny McGrew, fur his darter, dat 
had won in her day ever' big purse frum New Orleans 
to Balt'mo'. He tho't so much uv her, — she being 
named fur his only baby, an' never bin beat in her 
life, — dat he didn't give her in his will to young mistis, 
fur he know'd Marse Richard didn't have no sho'nuff 
hoss-sense an* 'ud trade her off fur some yaller dorg if 
he got ha'f er chance. So he gin her to Mister Billy 
Sparks, his overseer, dat had bin wid him all his life, 
an' no man's fool in enything. 

"Mister Billy Sparks know'd he couldn't gee wid 



272 "UNCLE WASH' 

Marse Richard arter ole marster died, an' so befo' de 
marriage cum oflF he moved to anurr' farm — er little 
hill farm uv his own — ^an' took Jinny McGrew wid 
him, all unbeknownst to Marse Richard. She wus er 
han'some dark gray three year ole filly den. 

" I didn't see no mo' uv her fur ten years — de week 
uv de big fair. Es I wus tellin' you, we'd had fine 
races an' Marse Richard's hoss, Trueblood, had beat 
everthing both at long an' short distance, an' his 
owner wus dar havin' his own fun, an' all his own 
way — done furgot all erbout Miss Jinny an' de Chilians 
he wus so busy cashin' in his tickets on Trueblood. 
At night he wus dancin' de Verginny reel wid de gals 
an' braggin' on whut er great hoss he had in de stable 
an' whut er fine wife he had at home. 

"He wus sho' mighty s'prized when twords de end 
uv de week up rid Miss Jinny in de fambly kerridge 
lookin' as pretty es when she wus er gal an' all de 
chilluns in dar wid her. 

" 'Why, my dear,' sed Marse Richard when he 
he'ped her out, 'You heah? I's so glad you cum. 
Hello, boys,' he sed to de little fellers, 'you done cum 
to see Trueblood win de big race fur father? Bully 
fur you — chips off de ole block! Jis back yo' pennies 
on father's hoss — nothin' kin beat him.' 

"Den up spoke little Robert, — he wus named fur 
his grandaddy, my ole marster, an' de very spit uv 
him he wus, an' he had hoss sense lak his ole gran'- 
daddy, an' he sed, talkin' very bold, lak de little man 
he wus: 'Father, I can't hones'ly bet on yo' hoss — he 
looks lak er quitter to me, suh/ 



JENNY McGREW CAME TO HER OWN 373 

"Marse Richard's gentlemen frien's standin' by 
laughed out loud, de little feller sed it so ole-lak an' 
solum, an' Marse Richard flushed an' sed: 'Son, when 
yo're older you'll kno' mo'; an' don't be sassy befo' 
comp'ny er father'll hav to teach you er lesson right 
heah.' 

" 'I begs yo' pardon, suh,' sed little Robert, 'I 
meant no disrespec' ; but when my money goes up on 
er hoss I's got a right to 'spress my 'pinion, suh!' 

"An' hit sounded so lak ole marster dat I nearly died 
laughin' an' wanted to hug him myse'f. 

" 'All right, — ^all right, you're pardoned, son. 
You've got nerve lak yo' father an* yo' judgment I 
hope will be es good when you is older.' 

"An' right thar I seed a light, but Marse Richard 
havin' no hoss-sense, he failed to connec'. 

"An' I seed it plainer when Miss Jinny smiled an' sed 
nothin'. I know'd she had somethin' 'nurr up her 
sleeve. She sho' wus ole marster's own chile; an' 
when Marse Richard tole her ergin to make herse'f at 
home she sed ever so sweet : 'O, thank you dearie, but 
we got er little lonesum at home an' jis cu'd'nt help 
runnin' over to see Trueblood win.' 

" 'So glad yo' cum,' sed Marse Richard — ^'so glad! 
Jis make yo' se'f at home, — you an* de chilluns. I's 
mighty busy. An' be sho' to play er little on Trueblood, 
it'll cum in handy dis winter when we want to go to de 
Gran' Op'ra at New 'leans.' 

"Miss Jinny she jes laughed. 

" By an' by, in er lull in de races I seed er hill-billy 
ride in de fair groun's on er ole marr, nearly white, 

18 



274 "UNCLE WASH 



f» 



she wus so gray. She looked lak she jes cum outen de 
pastur" fur she had cockle-burrs in her tail an' she wus 
grass-bellied to beat de ban'. She wus follered by er 
weanlin' cdt dat had de air uv er king an' cum wid his 
haid up an' his tail over his back. 

"Enybody wid ha'f sense cu'd er seed he know'd 
whut er brass ban' an* er race-track wus befo' he wus 
bohn. 

'' At fust I didn't see dat de man ridin' de gray marr 
wus Mister Billy Sparks, fur we hadn't seed him fur 
ten years, an' none uv us know'd de gray marr wus 
Jinny McGrew, fur she'd turned white in them years. 

*'I fust caught on when I seed her throw up her 
haid at de soun' uv de ban' an' de ole ginger flashed in 
her eyes es she caught sight uv de crowd an' de clatter 
uv runnin' bosses, an' 'spite uv Mister Billy Sparks' 
two strong arms, she tuk de bit in her mouth an' 
rushed at de entrunce gate to de track lak er steam 
engine unthrottled. 

"Den I know'd, spechully when I seed de natchul 
bohn airs uv dat colt dat acted lak he jes cum into his 
kingdom— er trottin', bold-lak, 'roun' his mammy wid 
his tail over his back an' cockin' his eye at de jedges in 
de jedge's stan'. 

" I jes had to laugh at de sassy ways uv dat colt. 

"An' Mister Billy Sparks, he sot on the ole marr es 
solum es er country deacon, which everbody tuck 'im 
to be,— or er nachul bohn-pall-bearer, he wus so dig- 
nified an' solum': 

" 'Eny place heah,' sez he to de gate-keeper, *whar 
er gen'l'man kin hitch his ole marr whilst she suckles 



JENNY McGREW CAME TO HER OWN 275 

her colt? De ole marr is mighty fond uv her colt an' 
has alius made it er pint to suckle him pretty reg'lar/ " 

"De gate-keeper laughed an' sed: Take her to de 
hitch yard wid de mules. Dis gate is fur de race 
hosses to cum in.' 

" ' Wal,' sez Mister Billy, 'she's nurver run wid mules 
in her life an' she ain't gwinter start dis late in de 
game. / ain't 'zactly satisfied when she's outen my 
sight, an' sbe ain't 'zactly satisfied when de colt's outen 
her'n, — she's mighty fond uv dis colt, an' so I'll jes set 
on her heah fur I cum to see de races.' 

" Den he flung one laig over de ole marr's back an' 
settled in fur er side-way spell to watch de races. De 
gate-keeper he wanted him to move on, but he sot on 
de ole marr lak death on er tomb-stone an' 'lowed in 
his solum' way dat he'd cum to see de races, an' wbar 
be wus VMS er fair good place to see 'em. 

" 7 want to keep my eye on de ole marr,' sez he, 
'sbe wants to keep ber'n on de colt an' be wants to 
keep bis'n on de race-track, fur he's gwinter be er race- 
hoss hisse'f, — an' so I'll jes set heah whar it kin all be 
done at onct.' 

"It looked lakdarwus goin' to be er row 'twixt him 
an' de gate-keeper but Marse Richard cum out uv er 
big tent nearby, 'bout dat time, an' he'd been playin' 
poker an' takin' de usual habilerments dat went wid it, 
an' de fust thing he seed wus dat blood-lak colt er 
trottin' erroun' wid his tail over his back an' er tryin' 
to git over de fence to de race-hosses. 

"Now Marse Richard had jes ernuff hoss-sense to 
be struck wid dat tail over dat colt's back an' dem 



4€ <1 



276 "UNCLE WASH" 

fool airs he wus puttin' on, an' he stopped an' sed to 
Mister Billy: 

" 'Say, ole man, but dat's er mighty han'som colt. 
Whut's he by?' 

" 'He's by Dan Rice,* scz Mister Billy, not takin' 
any ondue notice uv Marse Richard. 

" 'Pow'ful good colt,' sez Marse Richard, 'pitty he 
had er scrub dam.' 

De ole man shot his eye down quick an* keen. 
'Wal, she may be er scrub but she kin jes clean up 
any thing on dis groun' fur er half mile, — ^barr-footcd 
an' grass-fed es she is.' 

"Marse Richard laughed an' looked at de ole marr 
fur de fus time: 

" 'O, sez he, 'an' whut's she by?' 

" i disremember 'zactly' sed Mister Billy, 'but I 
think she wus sired by er ole scrub dey call Timoleon, 
an' ef I cu'd^git up er little half-mile dash, gentermen/ 
he sed, stroking his beard solum-lak, 'I'd hope to 
prove she wus worthy uv her breedin'. 

"Marse Richard an' de gentermen dey nearly died 
laughin' : 

" 'An' you want to race her, does yo'?' sed Marse 
Richard, er winkin' at de uthers. 

" 'Dat's whut I kinder had in my min' as I rid 
erlong,' sed Mister Billy: ef I cu'd only sep'rate her 
an' de colt — she's onduly fond uv dat colt,' he sed 
eyeing de colt proud hisse'f. 

" 'How fur do you calkilate she cu'd run,' asked 
Marse Richard, winkin' erg'in at de uthers. 

'Wal,' sed Mister Billy, er shiftin' his laig to dc 



*i 



y 



JENNY McGREW CAME TO HER OWN 277 

right side uv de ole marr an' set tin' up straight, 'I 
think I can divorce her an' dat colt long emuff fur 
her to run er half — she's onduly fond uv dat colt, 
genterw^M. Yes, barr-footed an' all dat, she cu'd run 
er half — ^least-wise I'd gamble dat she cu'd gentermen.' 

" 'Look heah, ole man,' sed Marse Richard, 'you 
look lak er good ole country deacon.' 

" 'I is,' sed Mister Billy er strokin' pi'usly his beard; 
'I is, gentermen — ole Zion Church, Hickman County — 
er most onworthy follower uv de prophet Jonah an' er 
good race-hoss now an' den.' 

"Marse Richard laughed: 'Wal, Deacon,' sed Marse 
Richard, 'I hate to rob yo' uv es good er colt as dat, but 
jes to git up er little excitement, I'll race yo' ha'f wid 
Trueblood, an' I'll play de hoss ergin de colt. I lak 
dat colt,' he sed, lookin' at de rascal er'gin — dis time 
makin' er mouth at anurr' hoss over de fence. 

" 'You'll hafter let me hoi' de colt at de wire, 
gentermen — de ole marr's onduly fond uv dat colt, an' 
ef he's hilt at de wire she'll do her best to git back 
home by suckin'-time.' 

" 'O hoi' him at de wire, on de wire, or thro' him 
over de wire,' sed Marse Richard, 'it's er go. But 
who'll ride yo' ole marr — ^you are overweight?' 

" De deacon nodded at er small hill-billy boy standin' 
nigh: 'He'll ride her — my little gran'-son — he's rid her 
arter de cows befo*. I wouldn't choose er better rider 
dan he is. Ef his galluses don't break he'll never fall 
off an' he do ride lak hell-fire in er close place. Excuse 
me gentermen, but when I's on de race track I some- 
times furgits I's er deacon at home. Whut I meant 



278 "UNCLE WASH" 

to say wus dat he do ride lak de devil beatin' tan bark! 
Dat fust remark wus onnecessary an' onbecomin' uv 
me — excuse me genterin^. Now I'll rub de ole man- 
down an' git her er good feed uv cohn. When shall 
I be reddy?' 

" 'At three/ sed Marse Richard, still laughin'. 'An' 
say/ he added, 'you kin back out now ef you wish — Id' 
hate to rob er deacon uv so good er colt/ he sed, sorter 
bitter-lak. 

" 'Don't menshun it/ sed de deacon, 'de colt is 
already yourn. Now dat you've pinned me down I'll 
hafter tell you dat Vs been lookin' fur some nice 
genterman to give him er way to fur some time — 
somebody wid hoss-sense dat 1 know'd wu'd raise him 
up in de paths uv rightusness an' give him er chance 
in life, an' I couldn't er foun' er nicer man to gin him 
to if I'd scraped er blue grass county wid er curry- 
comb. He's yourn. I'll hoi' 'im at de wire wid er 
halter so you won't hafter run 'im down when you 
wins, fur I knows er genterman wid hoss-sense when 
I sees 'em,' he sed, lookin' hard at Marse Richard. 

"Marse Richard flushed, but he thanked 'im — he 
wus so tickled. He never had hoss-sense emufF to 
see de ole man wus coltin' 'im an' he wus one uv dem 
kinds uv fools dat is tickled to be hit wid er comper- 
ment even ef hit comes wropped erroun' er brick-bat. 

" 'Thanks/ says Marse Richard, 'an' by-de-way, 
you ain't gwin'ter back out when I wins him?' 

" 'O sartinly,' sed de ole man, flushin' hot fur de 
fust time, dar's whar you'll hafter watch me. De 
fact is, I wus bohn backin' out. I's er cross 'tween 



JENNY McGREW CAME TO HER OWN 279 

er craw-fish an' er balkin' mule; but when I makes er 
nice genterman er present uv er leetle ole no-count 
colt early in de mornin' I kin generally be 'pended on 
not to steal 'im back outen de pastur* befo' sunset.' 

"De wager soon spread all over de groun's an' 
ever'body wus sorry fur Mister Billy Sparks, all uv 'em 
agreein' dat ole Zion up in Hickman had sent out er 
Jonah dat wu'd soon go into his eternal home in de 
belly uv er whale. Dem dat didn't think de ole man 
wus crazy tho't he wus er simple-minded ole fool dat 
had never seed er hoss-race an' tho't bekase his ole 
marr cu'd beat all de scrubs er quartah in de woods uv 
Hickman she cu'd beat de wurl'. 

" But dat dar little Robert, he laked to kilt me when 
I heurd 'im talkin' jes lak 1 heurd his ole gran'-daddy 
an' struttin' roun' chawin' rosin an' makin' lak it wus 
tobaccer an' spittin' an' sayin' to de fellers dat sed 
Trueblood wu'd beat her er quatah in de ha'f : *0, gen- 
iermen, whut you talkin' 'bout. De boss is er yaller 
dorg, — be'll fetcb er stick outen de pond ef you'll tbro' 
bit in. Wby, be'll bury er bone ef nobody wus lookin'. 
Beat de marr f He can't run fas' ernuff to beat er drum. 
My money is up on de gray, gentermen' — ^an' den he'd 
strut erroun' in his knee-pants an' ever'body laughed. 

"De airs he'd put on wus er toss-up 'twixt dem uv 
de colt, still struttin' roun' wid his tail over his back! 

"When de time come an' dey fotch out Trueblood 
he wus er gran' sight — ^in de very pink uv er good fix an' 
looked lak he cu'd run fur er kingdom. An' dar sot 
dat little rat uv er boy, settin' on de ole gray marr an' 
she snortin' an' squealin' fur her colt one minnit or 



i8o "UNCLE WASH" 

prancin' fiah-cycd an' full uv runnin' fury dc naixt 
tryin' to break way wuhthcr or no. 

"An' de colt — ^Mr. Billy Sparks wus dar, swinging to 
his halter at de wire an' sayin' ever now an' den: 
'Hurry up, gentertnen — I can't hoV 'im long, he's so 
sivigus, an' he's 'bout es fond uv bis mammy es she is 
uv biml' 

"An' little Robert, I had to laugh — he stood right 
by 'im an' offered to bet his very britches on de marr. 

"Marse Richard heurd 'im an' got awful mad. He 
cum up to de little feller an' sed: 'Son, I's gwin'ter 
teach you er lesson an' some hoss-sense right heah.' 

"Little Robert flushed 'kase he didn't kno' his 
father heurd 'im bettin' his britches. 

" 'See dis ten-dollar gol'-piece?' ses Marse Richard, 
lookin' fierce-lak at little Robert, 'take it, an* ef dat 
ole grass-bellied marr wins, hit's youm. Ef she don't— 
listen now, I's gwin'ter take yo' pants off, an' make 
yo' go home in yo' shut-tail; that'll humble you an' 
lam you some sense too!' 

" 'I really didn't mean it, suh,' sed little Robert, 
' 'bout my britches, but my word is my bond, suh, an' 
havin' sed it, I'll stan' by it. I agree to yo' condishun, 
suh, an' you'll fin* me right heah when de race is over.' 

" 'Washington,' sed Marse Richard, tumin' to me 
an' still so mad his voice trembled, 'You take de boy's 
pants off es soon es de race is over an' lead 'im home 
down de very middle uv de pike. Do you heah^" 

"Yessah" say I, winkin' at little Robert. 

" Dey wus soon lined up at de wire an' when dc ole 
marr wheeled into line she stopped her foolishness an' 



it t 



JENNY McGREW CAME TO HER OWN 381 

I seed dat nervus playin' uv her years, de flash uv her 
olc eyes, dc quiverin' uv de flanks dat wus ready fur 
de leap: 

" 'Look/ sed er man standin' by Marse Richard, 
'don't you see dat ole marr is on to dat game? — she 
knows whut she is doin." 

"Marse Richard looked worried an' at de tap uv de 
drum never did I see any thing but er gray ghost 
split de air lak she done! Flash! an' she tuck de pole 
right under de boss's nose ! 

" 'Great Gawd!' sed Marse Richard, his jaw droppin' 
—'whut—' 

'De gray marr ! de gray marr !' yelled de crowd. 
'Jes' tryifC io git borne to her colt, gentertnenr yelled 
dc ole man, holdin' on to de halter while er great light 
gleamed in his eyes. 'She's onduly fond uv dat colt !' 

"On dey cum, de gray marr's tail, cockled-burred 
till hit looked lak er rope, flyin' out behin,' her barr feet 
fannin' de air lak de buzzin' paddles uv er double- 
decker, an' runnin' es easy es er swaller bird flies! 

"An' Trueblood, de starch all outen him runnin' er 
length behin' ! 

"Marse Richard stood foolish an' pale: 'Great Gawd' 
he sed, 'Whut is de matter wid her — ^whut — ' 

" 'TryifC io git home by suckin'-time, sub, bits de colt 
sbe's tbinkin' uv!' sed Mister Billy. 

" 'Stop her!' yelled Marse Richard, snappin' his 
watch at de quartah — ^'She'll kill herse'f— she's run dat 
quartah in twenty-five seconds !' 

" 'Let 'er die,' sed Mister Billy, 'She'll die game, an' 
dats mor'n dat dorg she's runnin' wid'U ever do! 



282 "UNCLE WASH 

Besides, gentermen, hits mother love wid her — she's 
comin' home to her baby/ he sed so dry an' earnes' 
dat de crowd had to laugh. 

"Dey cum de naix quartah lak er cyclone, an' fifty 
feet frum de wire, beat, heart-broke an' worsted, 
Trueblood's tail hung limbered an' lifeless, while de 
ole marr cum in runnin' lak er queen wid her petty- 
coats afiah. 

"As she passed under de wire de ole man, his eyes 
shinin', turned de colt loose an' yelled: 'Go darn ye, an* 
finish de race. You air es big er fool 'bout yo' mammy 
es she is 'bout you,' an' down to de naix quartah de 
pair raced laker ghost an' her shadder, de little hill-billy 
on her back, laughin' lak he wu'd fall oflF an' de crowd 
fairly goin' crazy an' yellin' at sech er sight. 

"When dey stopped hit wus er motherly whinneyin' 
an' er suckin'-match right on de track! 

"An' de crowd — ^wal, sech laughin' an' yellin! Hit 
took Marse Richard er minnit to git his bre'f an' anurr' 
minnit to git his tongue: 

" 'Great Gawd! I can't let you have dat hoss, ole 
man,' sed Marse Richard, lookin' pale eroun' de gills 
an' mo' solum dan I had ever seed 'im fur twenty yeahs. 
'He's entered in ten futurities in my name. I'll have to 
pay de money an' keep 'im. Won't you let me do dat?' 

" 'Wal,' sed de ole man, 'seein' yo' hoss never had 
time to ketch his bre'f frum so sudden er start, an' bein' 
an' ole fool an' er nachul bohn crawfish es I tol' you, an' 
havin' er heart uv charity fur de misfortunes uv my 
feller man, 1 guess I'll jes take de cash instead. To be 
hones', it don't take very much money to make me 



JENNY McGREW CAME TO HER OWN 383 

think I'd ruther have hit in my pocket dan to have 
him in my stable/ 

" 'Thank you/ sed Marse Richard, 'dat's kind uv 
you, an' shall 1 jes write you er check fur five hundred?' 

" 'Wal, I guess he ain't really wuth dat much,' sed 
de ole man, ever so deacon-lak, 'but 1 have alius made 
it er pint to price my own hoss at whut I tho't de 
uther feller wu'd likely be willin' to give. I've lamt 
he's entered in twenty thousand dollars uv stakes an' 
I am thinkin' you'd be willin' to pay ten uv 'em to 
keep yo' standin' es er genterman on de turf an* not 
be expelled fur enterin' bosses you don't own/ 

"Marse Richard turned white an' den red, but he 
saw de pint an' writ his check fur ten thousand mighty 
quick, tho' hit tuck all he had in bank. Es he handed 
hit to de ole man he sed: 'An' now will you be kind 
enuflf to tell me who you air, an' whut's dat ole marr's 
name an' jes whut you'd call dis kin' uv er fool race 
eny how?' 

" 'To-be-sho,' sed de ole man, er lookin' careful over 
dis check to see dat hit wus all right, an' payin' no 
ondue notice uv Marse Richard; 'to-be-sho,' my en- 
titlements is Deacon Billy Sparks, dat onct lived wid 
Kunnel Robert McGrew; an' de marr is Jinny McGrew, 
dat he gin me befo' he died an' tol' me to take keer uv 
her lak I wu'd my own chile, an' to sell her an' gin de 
money to his'n when she got into de pinch dat he know'd 
wus cumin' fur her. An' seein' she's got hit, ef 1 wus 
huntin' fur er headin' fur de story, seein' as how hit 
worked bo'f ways. Miss Jinny bein' in de gran'stan' an' 
de colt at de wire, I jes don't think I cu'd give hit er 



284 "UNCLE WASH" 

better headin' calk'lated to 'spress de idee intended, 
dan 'Jinny McGrew er comin' to her own !' 

"An' Marse Richard's jaw drapped fur de light 
dawned on 'im good. 

"Straight to de gran'stan' walks Mister Billy Sparks, 
hat off, an' check in han' an' up to Miss Jinny he went 
an' gin hit to her: 

" Hit's youm, madam,' he sed, er bowin' low lak he'd 
seed ole marster do. 'I's heum tell dat since my 
good frien', yo' father died, you's been er little short 
uv cash at times, an' in presentin' you wid dis check 
I but carry out my promise to es fine er genterman es 
ever lived, an' es good er frien' es ever gin' er po' man 
er start in life.' 

"An' bowin' low ergin he mounted deole marr an' 
rid out while de crowd cheer'd em, an' de colt went out 
wid bis tail still over his back. 

"An' Miss Jinny tuck hit an cashed hit too, fur 
Marse Richard fur onct had sense enuff to grin an' 
humor de joke dat wus de laugh uv de county. 

"But when little Robert 'proached 'im an' sed: 
'Father, ef you please, shall I jes keep dis ten dollar goV 
piece an* take hit home in my britches pocket?' He sed, 
'sartinly, boy,' very short, an' got busy huntin' er cock- 
tail to stiddy his nerves an' stan' de broad-side uv 
laugh an' fun dat ever' body poked at 'im. 

"An' hit sho' changed 'im, fur er month afterwards 
I heurd 'im say to Miss Jinny: 'Darlin,' I fears I's 
neglected you uv late. Turn de chilluns over to de 
nurse an' we'll go to New 'leans nex' week an' heah 
Jinny Lind sing!' " 



HOW UNCLE WASH RODE IN AN 
AUTOMOBILE 

AS soon as I saw him I knew that something had 
been doing. I knew, too, that it had been done 
several weeks before, for, like an old breastwork after 
the battle, there were signs of rents and scars. He still 
wore some sticking plaster over his left eye, and a 
small bump was gradually hardening to ripeness behind 
the burr of his ear. But worst of all I saw his dignity 
had received a jolt — his faith a hard fall. 

"Vanity uv vanities — all are vanities, boss, said de 
preacher long ago. Ts herd it all my life an' preach- 
ed on it forty times, but de full signifercashun uv de 
conternuity uvdat tex' jes' foun' er permerment haber- 
tashun in de habilerments of — " 

He stopped to dodge the paper weight I threw at 
him. 

"Cut that out and tell your tale. I heard you went 
to the Democratic Convention at Nashville," and I 
looked understandingly at his battered condition. 

"Oh, yes, 1 went dar, but I didn't tarry long. Ts 
been thru de war wid ole marster an' I kin smell er 
battle erfar off, de capt'ns an' de shoutin'. I kno' 
rifle pits when I see 'cm an' walkin' arsenals an' de 
Rebblc yell an ' all de yuther signs dat tells de peace- 
maker dat now is his time to lay low an' inhabit de 
land, so I laid low. 

"You sec, Marse John Fry tuck me to Nashville wid 
er Cox badge on, gin me cr drink at de Tulane Hotel 

(285) 



286 "UNCLE WASH 



99 



bar an* started me out. But befo' I hit de sidewalk 
sumpin happen'. Er red-faced feller from Shelby 
G)unty cum at me wid er dirk in his teeth an' drawin' 
er gun wid bofe his yudder han's. Es nigh es I could 
make out whut he said, boss, wid his mouf full uv col' 
steel, it was to de effect dat I had on de wrong badge an' 
datef I didn't makeer change certain things 'ud happen 
entirely detremental to de equanimerty uv my conster- 
tushun. 

"'Marster,' sez I, erlookin' at my badge, plum 
'stounded, fur it didn't take me long to see de proper 
s'lution uv eny problem when de question am put on to 
me dat p'intedly. 'Marster,' sez I, 'I am er po' oie 
nigger dat can't read, an' some frien' he decerated me 
wid de wrong colors. Uv co'se, I's fur yo' man— 
jes' pin yo' badge on de yudder side uv my coat. 
'Hurrar for Patterson,' sez I, es soon as I fin' out whut 
his man's name wus. 

"Dat tickle him so he tuck me in an' give me er 
drink. I tell you, boss, it don't take so much grace es 
it do agreement fur to inherit long life in dis worl' and 
etarnity in de nex'. De man dat agrees is de same dat 
is gethered to his fathers in er ripe ole age, an ' de nigger 
dat 'sputes is de nigger dat is sooner buried! 

" I went out and pin on me two mo' badges — one wus 
Marse Ned Carmack's, de yudder wus Marse Bob Tay- 
lor's, an ' es I stalked out to de white man's armory at 
de contention hall, sez I, thank Gawd, I luv de whole 
wurl ' ! 

" But one look at dat arsenal wus enuflF. It reminded 
me uv de ole scalerwag days when we 'Publicans' 



UNCLE WASH IN AN AUTOMOBILE 287 

an' niggers useter hoi' convenshun an' I got erdoseuv it 
den dat lasted. Dar was two faxuns an' me an' 
anurr nigger wus on different sides an' wanted to 
control. So me an ' dat nigger made er run fur to see 
which cud git de chair fus. ' 1 got it — on de top uv my 
head — ^an' dat's why I ain't been in no convenshun 
sense an' dis one look too much lak de one I got de 
chair on de top uv my head. I wus on de way to Hot 
Springs fur my rumatizn an ' so out I put, fur es I wus 
tellin' you I think 1 kno's rifle pits an' breastwucks 
when I sees 'em. 

"I's allers contended, boss, dat de wurl' owes every 
man er livin' an' er good bath. I's had de livin' but 
I's neber had de bath, an' I heurd Hot Springs wus de 
place to git it, so I went, hopin' to c'wore my rumatizn. 

"Dey are robbers, boss — rooms five dollars er day 
an' upwards an' baths extry. I sized up my bill an' 
I soon seed ef I tuck er room in a hotel I'd soon have 
mo' room in my stummick den I wanted, so I started 
out to git er dram, an' er room an' er free bath all fur 
nuthin', 'cept dat nachul instinc' which de good 
Marster gives to iall dem dat inherit eternal sense. 

" I seed er lot uv common folks, but I allers make 
it er p'int when I wants to get sumpin', to go whar it's 
at. You can't gether figs from thistles, nor ducets 
from dead ducks, nor do de po' white man an' de hill- 
billy ever carry much erroun' wid 'em, but er clear 
conshuns, er tin cup an' er belly full uv undue sur- 
pishuns. 

" I soon seed de crowd I was er-huntin' — one uv 
dese dapper Yankee chaps, loaded wid money, an' out 



288 "UNCLE WASH' 

for cr lark an' er good chance to study de nigger ques- 
tun down South. He's de kin' dat sees mo' to intrust him 
in a nigger's fun'ral den in a white man's resurrecshun. 

"An' dat feller was sho' fixed, boss — he had every- 
thing he wanted — plenty uv money, er bran '-new gas 
wagin, er bulldog, er big lunch basket, his own wife an' 
anurr man's wife! Oh, he wus sho' fixed right. 

"I seed de basket fus' an' dat 'cided me I had hit 
my crowd. 

" 'Marster,' sez I, takin' off my hat an' bowin' so 
low I mighty nigh spiled de ant nest I wus standin' 
on, wid de top my head. 'Marster, kin yer tell whar 
er ole nigger dat's walked all de way from Tennessee an' 
ain't got no letter uv interducshun, kin git er free bath 
fur his rumatizn?' 

De ladies laf ' an' dey all got intrusted at once. 
From Tennessee?' sez he. 'Do yo' kno' er ole 
cullar'd gen 'man down dar name Uncle Wash, dat we 
read so much about?' 

" 'Marster,' sez I, bowin' erg'in, '1 has de honor to 
inform you dat you am now beholdin ' dat same gen*- 
man in proprior personee, as ole marster useter say. ' 

"It tickled him nearly to deaf. He winked at his 
own wife an ' smile at de yudder man's wife, shakes my 
arm nearly off an ' lef ' er ten-dollar bill right spack bang 
in my han'. 

" 'I'd ruther see you,' he sez , 'Mister Washin'ton, 
den ole King Solomon hisse'f. ' 

" 'An', Marster,' sez I, erbowin' erg'in 'you ammo' 
beholdin ' to my sight den de Queen uv Sheba wus to 
dat are same Sollermun. ' 



If 



UNCLE WASH IN AN AUTOMOBILE 289 

** ' Aint' he er dandy?' he sez, winkin' at his own wife 
an' smilin' at de tuther one — ^'don't he talk nachul?' 

" 'Thank you, Marster,' sez I erg'in, but winkin' at 
de bulldog — ^'but if you thinks I ta'k nachul you jes' 
orter see how nachul I eat. ' 

"Dey likin' die laffin' at dat, an' den dey open up 
dat lunch, champain an' ever' thing fur to eat. I 
wan't gwine eat wid dem white folks — I'd been raised 
wid manners' but when I seed dem fo'ks thort es much 
uv de bulldog es dey did uv deysels an' de man's wife 
call dey dorg Darlin' Dearie an' sot him up to dey 
lunch lak enybody, I knowed I wus good as dey wus. 

" 'Marster,' sez I, 'dar am two things I's nurver 
been raised to eat wid — white fo'ks and dogs, so jes' 
han' mine out out to me.' 

" 'Oh, nonsense,' sez de 'oman; 'Darlin' Dearie 
eats wid us all de time. You jes' orter see de clothes 
we got fur him when he need 'em. G)me on. Mister 
Washin'ton, dat's er dear.' 

" 'Mistis,' sez I, erbowin' low, 'be keerful how you 
fling yo' intitlements erroun' — dey lynches niggers in 
Tennessee fur less'n dat. No, Mistis, I ain't er deer, 
but I's jes' er plain ole buck nigger dat's been raised 
right. But if you all kin stan' de dorg you kin stan' 
me,' and wid dat I lit in, fur I wus sho' hongry. An' 
all de time 1 wus eatin' I wus tellin' 'em things so 
funny dat dey cudn't eat fur laffin'. Dat wus part 
uv my tackticks — ^all but dat dorg — he wus er low-lived 
dorg dat didn't have sense enuff to see de funny p'ints 
I wus makin', but jes' keep on eatin'. Ef it hadn' 
been fur him I'd got all dat lunch, 

19 



i 



290 "UNCLE WASH" 

"Alter lunch nuflfin' would do dat man but we mus' 
all ride in his gas wagin. 

"Now, boss, dar's one thing I's allers hated — er gas 
wagin. Dey may be all right for white fo'ks, but Ts 
allers had my doubt if dey wus es good es er mule for er 
nigger. 'Sides dat, my ole gran'manny wus er witch 
'oman an when I wus bom she se'd designs se'd 1 
mus' be keerfuf 'bout gas, dat it meant my death. 
Fur a long time I thort de ole 'oman meant I 'd talk 
myse'f to death, but arter livin' to my age an' still 
kickin' I gin it up till I seed dis gas wagin. I knowed 
whut she meant den, ef I ever put my foot in it. 

"I bucked an' begged, but it wan't no use. De 
man gin me anurr ten dollars an ' sed to git in, dat he 
allers wanted to ride wid er celebracy, an' now wus de 
time. When I seen 1 had to I sed de prayers my 
mammy tort me an got in. 

" He put me an ' de buUdorg in de front seat uv homor, 
as he calls it, an' de 'omen tittered an' laughin' and 
dey all wus happy but yo' Uncle Washin'ton. I was 
so skeered dat I cud raise de ha'r on de bulldorg's back 
by jes ' lookin at him ! De man teched er spring an ' de 
thing se'd kersook, kersok. 

" 'Say, mister,' 1 begged, 'lemme git out — dis hoss 
is got er bad case uv erperzootic. Hear 'im coughin?' 

"Dey all laugh. 'No, no,' sez de 'oman, 'jes sit 
still.' 

"Den de thing 'gin to quiver and twich his taillak 
he wus fixin ' to buck. 

" 'Lemme bresh dem hoss flies off/ sez I. 'I's sho' 
he's fixin' ter run away.' 



UNCLE WASH IN AN AUTOMOBILE 291 

"Den de thing went champ, champ, champ, on de 
bit an ' quiver an ' sorter bucked an ' started out shee- 
cbee^hee-chee-ee. 

" 'Bad wind!' sez I; 'you kin heah 'im blowin' er 
mile. ' 

"Wid dat we moved out smoother den melted lead 
runnin' over er red-hot stove lid. 

" 'Kerhonk, kerhonk, kerhonk, kerkonk,' it sed so 
close to me I jumped er foot high. 

" ' Whut's de matter?' sez de man, an' all uv 'em 
even de bulldorg — ^laughed. 

" '1 thort dis wus er hoss,' sez I, but I kno' dat 
voice am de voice uv er donkey. Dat'sone thing Ts 
never ride — ^let.me out,' sez I. 

" But we soon struck er good road an' w.us sailin' so 
fas' I had to hoi' my hat wid one han' an' my hair wid 
de yudder, but dat ar' bulldog he jes' seem to enjoy it. 

"Jes' den I seed er big load uv white fo'ks comin' 
down der road to meet us. It wus er picnic uv country 
fo'ks loaded to de gunnels in dat wagin, wid two cock- 
yeared, skeery, fool mules er pullin'. 

"Honk! Honk! De mules thort it wus Jedgment 
horn. I guess dey hadn't lived right, an ' dey started 
back fur er safe spot. You kno' how er mule kin do it — 
be agwine north an' de nex' thing be gwine south. 
I seed six different kind uv country, home-made yarn 
stockings huntin' fur different longertudes an' later- 
tudes; den I heard some tall cussin' frum de men fo'ks 
dat had been drivin', but wus now gittin' de sun outen 
dey eyes. 

" Den our driver made one big mistake. He stopped 



292 "UNCLE WASH" 

to poUcrgizc an dey all lit on me. Dey didn't seem to 
think de bulldorg and de white man had done any- 
thing. It wus all dat nigger ridin' in er autcr'beel an' 
skecrin' white fo'ks to death. 

"When I did git de man to pull out, boss, dey had 
onermented me behin' de lef year wid dis slight token 
uv dey love an' esteem. 

" 'An' de nex' time you skeer our team,' sez they, 
*we will hang you to de fence. ' 

*' ' Here is er ten, ' sez de man. 'I's so sorry fur you.' 

"Sez I, 'Marster, dat kind uv sorrow will cure any 
bump I may git. Ef you deal it out dat way hunt fur 
anurr mule team. I's got er place waitin' fur anurr 
bump in de yudder side uv my head.' 

"Dis got 'em to laflfin' erg'in. An' de way we spin 
erlong. But we wus gwine too good fur good luck. 
Er country dorg seen our dorg ersettin' up dar so cheer- 
f ul-lak an here he come er tarryin ' out at our wagin. 
Now, er country dorg is good at calcalatin ' de speed uv 
er mule team wagin but when he tackles er gas wagin 
he thinks he can snap at de front wheel an keep out de 
way. I heard er whack an' er bowl likcr heUer-ob" 
roo-oo-i! An ' at dorg was soon part uv our underpin'in '. 

"De man didn't stop dis time, furde bulldorg wus 
bouncin' up and down tryin' to git out an' swaller 
dat dorg erlivc, an ' when he seed we done de job fur 
him he got madder an ' tuck it out on me. He grabbed 
me in de seat uv de pants. 

" I turned on him to choke him off, but de man yelled: 
'Don't doit, don't doit! you'll spile hisspcrritt!' 
Good Scotts, Mister,' sez I, tryin' to jump out, 






it t 



UNCLE WASH IN AN AUTOMOBILE 293 

'but he's spilin ' mine, ' an ' I whacked dat dorg over de 
head. 

"He jes' sez *ow-wow/ an' hung on. 

Turn loose, you fool!' sez I, er try in' to choke him. 
Don't,' sez de 'oman, 'it ain't no use; he's boun' 
to hoi' on till it thunders.' 

" 'Den, for Gawd's Sake, mistis,'sez I, 'lemme git 
out and pray for rain.' 

" But, Marse John, I wan't bom to be e't up by er 
dorg an' set still while he dun it. I jedged by de way 
he was holdin' on to my britches dat he wanted 'em 
mighty bad, so I jes' shuck 'em an' tumbled out, 
remarkin' to him dat dey wus old an' he wus welcome 
to 'em. I turned er summerset in my shirt tail clear 
over de back uv dat gas wagin, hit de groun' on my 
head, bounced up, hit in two yudder spots an ' struck er 
blue streak fur de woods. 

" It was er narrer shave, but dar's good in' all things, 
boss. I had three tens an' de run I made de nex' four 
miles wid mighty nigh all Arkinsaw at my heels, think- 
in' I wus er 'scaped lunertic, cured de rumatizn I'd had 
fur ten years. No, no, boss, gin me er Hal boss when 
I locomotes erg'in." 



UNCLE WASH ON THE PANIC 

^^r^E PANIC," said de old man to me the other 
JLy night, "is erinvenshun uvde white man to 
carry out some skeme uv his own. Why, dese here 
panics, Marse John, is as ol' as Ejup'. De Good Book 
tells uv er panic down dar when de lean swine et up de 
fat swine. Dar wus jes' es much (noney in Pharo's 
house den es befo' — ^it jes' went into its hole. 
Prosperity is lak er groun' hog — hit cain't stan' to see 
its shadder — hit skeers him. But it don' bothah us, 
Marse John, fur er nigger can stan' enything er white 
man can, an' eat er lot mo' things dan de white man 
nurver dreamed uv. Fac' is, nobody enjoys er panic 
lak er nigger or er po' white. Hit fetches things down 
whar we c'n reach 'em. Why, I's been eatin 'tuhkey 
reg'lar sence de panic, tuhkey an' spare ribs an' 
sausages an ' beefsteaks. All uv 'em's now down to rock 
bottom, thank Gawd, an' I hopes dey'll stay down. 
Las' year tuhkeys brung twenty cents er poun' an' po' 
white fo'ks cudden' look at 'em. Now de farms uv 
Middle Tennessee is full of 'em at any ole price. An' 
hawg meat? Lawd! I'se greasy inside an' out! 

"Panics is all right. I enjoys 'em. De good Mar- 
ster put more'n enough here fur us all, an' when some 
uv you folks try to git it all into one barn or bin, an' 
let de res' uv de worl' starve, it gits de res' uv de worl' 
sorter suspishus, an' suspishun am de mother uv 
panics. Den arter you got all de po' fo'kses money in 



UNCLE WASH ON THE PANIC 295 

yo' banks, you claps de lid on an' sets down on it, 
sayin': 

" 'Haoe conferdunce, frien'sl Have conferdunu! In 
Gawd we trusts!' " 

The old man laughed for a minute. " Dese bankers 
minds me uv er time, Marse John, when, I loans my 
bes' mule to er preacher nigger named Luke. Luke 
borrowed him to ride to er deestrick meetin' in West 
Marshall, but he nurver stop dar, but keep on westward, 
as fur as I could Tarn by follerin' his trail to de Miss'ippi 
River. I gin up bofe Luke an' de mule es lost an' 
nurver heerd nothin' uv 'em fer ten years. Den one 
day I gits er letter f'um Luke down in de Pan Handle 
an' he say: 

" 'Have conferdunce, brother, I'll be back soon an* 
return de mule I borrered. Have conferdunce! It am er 
godly virtue! Yo' brother in de Lawd, Luke.' 

" I still got de conferdunce an Luke's got de mule! 

"Wy, Marse John, we don't need much money 
here. I's knowed one baked 'possum, dressed wid 
sweet taters, to wipe out de de'ts uv er whole nigger 
settlement betwix 'em. De filst nigger dat cotch it, 
an' dressed it an' cooked it don't have no trouble er- 
passin' it to de nex' in lickerdashun uv his debt — dat 
wus dead easy — speshully as ever' nigger wus hongry 
an' wanted it; an' when it got to me I et it, an 'ever' 
body wus happy, all dey debts wus paid, an ' dah wus 
plenty mo' 'possum in de woods. When dey seed how 
slick it wuck we 'cided f um dat day in dat settlement 
we'd use baked 'possum es er mejum uv^.x-change an' 
nobody nuver b'en hongry sence. Whut things we 



396 "UNCLE WASH" 

raise we trades fur baked 'possums an ' keeps gwine. 
Hit's er whole lot better' n dese here packin ' house certi- 
ferkits dat dese here white fo'ks' conferdunce banks 
puts out. 

" I went down to de bank de yudder day an ' took 
one uv dem packin' house scrips erlong, an' begged 
Marse Joe to gin me some sho 'nuff money; but he 
tells me dat I didn't know whut I wus talkin' 'bout, 
dat my packin' house certiferkits wus er long ways 
better' n money. 

" 'Ever dollar uv 'em,' sez he, 'is wuth er dollar 
an' er ha'f, de money bein' dar in de bank fer to show 
it/ 

" 'Why, look,' sez he, 'it's better'n money, I tell you, 
kase ever one uv 'em represents er dollar an' er ha'f.' 

" 'I tell you, Marse Joe,' sez 1, 'they sho' is valuable 
But ef ever' dollar uv 'em is wuth er dollar an' er ha'f 
as you say, hit seem to me mighty keerless uv you not 
to keep 'em in de bank, an' let out dat ole no-count 
money!' 

" 'Wal.' sez he, 'dis thing jes' had to come. But it'll 
prove to be er blessin' iti disgize fur it'll make Congress 
do somethin'.' 

" 'Yes, Marse Joe,' I sez, er scratchin' my head; 
'but it pears lak you is settin' on de blessin'!' 

" 'Now heah. Wash,' said Marse Joe, 'I see you 
don't understan' dis, an' I want all my bank cus- 
tomers, black an' white, to see jes' how it is. Now 
heah, it's dis way: Dese stificates is better'n money. 
You comes heah with yo' check fur five dollars. I 
gives you two dollars in money, and three dollar in 



UNCLE WASH ON THE PANIC 297 

stificates which is worth mo' dan de money. Now 
sec?' 

" 'Yes, Marse Joe,' sez 1, 'I see — ^it dis erway: I 
goes to feed my ole hoss to-night. He's had nothin' 
to eat all day. I gives him two nubbins uv cohn an' 
then I hangs up in his hayrack erb'utiful chromo picture 
called Bringtn' in de Sheaves fur him to look at. Dat 
orter satisfy eny hoss,' sez I, 'orten it?' 

"But Marse Joe didn't see de p'int." 

The old man thought a while, laughing gently. 

" Dat minds me uv Br'er Pete. Why, Marse John, er 
baked 'possum is not only de bes' mejum uv exchange 
in de wurl', but I's knowed one uv 'em to raise de 
dead! You think I's jokin' but I ain't, es I kin prove 
by ever ni^ah in our settlement dat seed me raise dat 
dead nigger. 

"Endurin' de wust uv de panic uv sebenty-three, 
Br'er Pete, er contrairy nigger dat wus allers hongry, 
an' allers dun jes' whut nobody else 'ud do, 'fused 
to jine wid us in our 'possum ^^change skeme, bein' 
too lazy to hunt 'possum an' too contrairy to wuk in 
harness, an' havin' nothin' to eat, he kep' er-gittin' 
weaker an* weaker twell he jes' nachally died. 

"I knowed how hongry he wus befo' he died, so 
'stidder buryin' him de fus' day lak his widder wanted 
us to do (fur she knowed Pete wus diff'unt, an' she'd 
b'en feedin ' him er long time, she said, an ' she didn ' 
wanter take no risks), I 'suaded 'em to let me try my 
ban' on Pete. Wal, we laid him out an'de niggers 
come fur miles to set up wid de cawpse. Ef dar is 
cnything er nigger laks to do, hit is to set up wid er 



298 "UNCLE WASH" 

cawpse an' go to er fun'ral. Why, Ts knowed meny 
an' meny er niggah to die jes' to see how big er fun'ral 
he could have ! An ' so dey wus all dar fur to set up wid 
Pete. Niggers dat hadn't spoke to Pete fur ten years, 
niggers dat had beat him in chicken an' dog trades, 
niggers dat had hoodooed an ' stole his fence rails, nig- 
gers dat wanted his wife, niggers dat had lied erbout him 
in de chu'ch, all wus dar, so sorry an' yet so sati'fied. 

"You couldn' see Pete fur de gloom in dat room, 
he bein' nachelly black. Now, fo' I went over, I had 
er nice young 'possum baked sweet an' brown in de 
middle uv steamin' hot yaller yam taters. Over 
all dis I had poured fresh butter gravy mixed wid er 
little barbycue sauce uv vinegar an' pepper an' big, 
white inguns. Dis poured over hot, raised er insense 
dat made mighty nigh ever nigger dar drop dead 
wid Pete. 

" 'Now, brethem an' sistren,' sez I, es I fotched de 
'possum in in er big, ole-fashion' stew pan, er-steamin' 
an' er-splutt'rin' an' de 'possum fat sizzlin', an' de 
taters sorter coughin', 'I's alius know'd dat de hair 
uv de dawg wus good fur de bite. Br'er Pete, as you- 
all know, died uv er panic an' privashun, also uv bein' 
too hongry an' headstrong, er lesson fur ever' nigger 
heah, dat in time uv panic we'd bettah all pull togethah, 
hit bein' no time fer 'speriments wid yo' stummicks. 
Knowin' how hongry he wus when he died an' whilst 
he lived, I's er-gwine to see ef I kain't fetch him to 
life erg'in wid de same medicine, fur I don't b'leebe 
eny uv Pete's orgins is out uv j'int, speshully his 
eatin' orgins, es his sorrowin' widder will testify when 



UNCLE WASH ON THE PANIC 299 

Pete wus in his usual health an' appytite. An' whilst 
you-all sing dat good ole hymn: 

*De fat uv my possessbuns rise 
Up in de nostrils uv de shies/ 
" 'I's er-gwine to try er little 'speriment on Pete 
dat'll raise him 'frum de daid ef enything dis side uv 
Gabri'l's hawn kin do it. Jes' all stan' erside f um 
erroun' de bed an' gin me air an' elbow room.' 

" I raised de winder so de air 'ud blow ercrost him. 
Dar he laid, dead as er 'Publican canderdate in Texas 
an' colder'n de bunions on Marse Fairbankses' toes. 
I felt uv 'im an' I knows. It was er fall night an' only 
middlin' cool, but Lawd, Marse John, when I touched 
him, he wus so daid an' cold he turned de hair oil I put 
on my haid inter taller! 

" I larned den dat er nigger dyin' uv honger dies 
deader an' colder dan enybody. 

" But I had er 'bidin' faith dat Pete wus still hongry 
an' faith is de principullest thing in wuckin' miracles ! 

" I sot dat steamin' stewin' pan on his chist, in his 
folded arms, so de win' would waft de scent ercrost his 
face: 

" 'Now, bretherin an 'sistren,' sez I, 'all jine in de 
hymn an' gin de 'possum time to wuck.' 

"And den I led out, givin' it out two lines at er time 
an' all uv em er-foUerin' : 

'De fat uv my possessbuns rise 
Up in de nostrils uv de skies.* 

"I stop an' look at Pete. De hot 'possum steam 
wus er-rollin' ercrost his face, but he wus still daid, I 
led erg'in: 



300 "UNCLE WASH" 

*De steam w incense it am sweet. 
Arise, my soul, dis scent to meet!* 
"Still no sign f um Pete, so I led erg'in: 
'My boungry siumnUck yearns to see 
A taste uv dis divinity!' 
" Pete didn't move, but I see de res' uv de congr^a- 
shun wus tur'bly 'fected. Dat 'possum wouldn't cr 
b'en dar two minits ef er cawpse hadn't er helt it. 
" I led erg'in, thinkin' I'd git er little more 'splicit: 
'What am de grejunts uv dis stew 
On what I stakes my faith emew . ' 
"Nuffin' f um Pete: 

'Possum cotcb in a 'simmon tree, 
Gray an' fat es be kin be. ' 
*' Dey all foUered — dey moufs, lak dey eyes, waterin.' 
'Cooked wid 'taters, gravy brown, 
Inguns wid melted butter roun' — ' 
"Den, bless heaben! I seed de en' uv Pete's nose 
'gin to wuck, jes' er little, lak er rabbit snuffin' gyarden 
truck. 
" I fairly lif de roof off wid de nex' lines: 
'Rise my soul, dese 'taters sweet. 
Rise an' eat uv 'possum meat!' 
" Marse John, I over-done it. Fo' I could say Amen, 
I seed Pete's mouth 'gin to wuck, his eyes flew opin, he 
sot up in de bed, whilst ever nigger dar turned sum- 
mersets out'n dat doo', an' some uv 'em am er-runnin' 
yit! 
"But Pete an' me, we et de 'possum!" 



HOW BIGBYVILLE WENT DRY, 

" I SEES er good deal uv talk in de papers now erdays 
1 'bout gamblin' on boss races, an' I sees dey 
'bout ter pass laws ter brake up de habit, " remarked 
Uncle Wash the other night, after he had brought a 
turn of wood in to the library, and, having built a 
crackling fire, sat passing his hands through the leaping 
blaze. " But I don't see no use uv all dat hurraw fur 
nuthin.' Bettin' am one uv de orgemal sins uv de 
yunerverse. Ever' thing we do am er hazzard, frum 
ketchin' er microbe ter er wife. Why, we falls in luve 
jes' lak we falls down de stair steps — all er chance — an' 
one uv em 'bout es bad es de yurther. Befo' we bawn 
de chances am jes' even dat we'll be er gal baby — jes' 
accident we ain't. Es we grow up we liabul ter be 
knocked out by de measels or de whoopin' coff, or 
choked ter deaf on er chicken gizzard; an' ef we 
happens ter 'scape dese we mighty nigh sho' ter drap 
by de roadside in pollertics or matrimony! I tell you 
sah, life am er big chance from de doctah's fus' visit 
to de undertaker's, an' jes' es likely to turn on de size 
uv de hat our grandaddy wore es cny thing else. An' 
cs fur bettin' on er boss race," said the old man, 
getting excited, "hit's jes' er nachul way uv Icttin' off 
sum uv de surplus chance-steam dat's in our bilers. 
Bless yore life, sah, I'll bet I's bin ter mo' hoss-races 
den eny yuther man in Tennessee, startin' back to 
de days uv Haynie's Maria, Double Head, Rachel 

(30O 



302 "UNCLE WASH" 

Jackson, an' de swift Paytona, up to de times uv 
Procter Knott an' Hal Pinter, an' I yuster allers put 
up er dollar ef I seed my way cl'ar, an' nurver did lose 
no big thing twell I quit bettin' on bosses an' run up 
ergin emudder combinashun up in Bigbyville way back 
in de fortys. Dat cuor'd me, an' I ain't nurver bet 
sence. 

"You see, sah, my ole Marster yuseter bet on boss 
races nachul es he chaw terbaccer. Es de Marster is, 
so am de servants, so am de chillun, so am de wife, so 
am de mudder-in-1 — no, no," he said quickly, "I 
lacter made er break right dar. Wal, enyway, my ole 
Marster yuseter bet an' run bosses, an' when I wus 
bawn on de plantashun I jus' wus bawn wid it in my 
lungs. Befo' I cud rid er boss I played marbles fur 
keeps, stole watermillions fur fun, an lied kase I couldn' 
help it. Dat wus de fix I wus nachully in 'twell I 
made dat bet dat Sat'dy evening, fifty years ergo. 

" Dar wus er feller run er bar-room in Bigbyville den, 
named Sid Thompson, an' he had er fightin' dorg 
named Jack — er little de meanes' dorg you ever did see. 
He'd whipped every dorg fur ten miles erround an' got 
de naburhood uv dorgs so tarrified dat you cudden't 
git er country dorg ter cum inter town, dey all wus so 
'feard uv him. Den Jack gotter playin' tricks on 
'em. I hope-I -may-die if he didn't yuseter lay out on 
de porch an' play lak he wus sound ersleep, but all de 
time keepin' one eye open fur eny friendles' lookin' 
cur-dorg dat mout be passin' humbly by — ^an' den 
jump out on him, give 'im er double-spiral circlin' twist 
uv er shake, an' den set down on his tail an' sorter laff 



HOW BIGBYVILLE WENT DRY 3(9 

es he watched dat tarrified dorg go yelpin' up de rode 
fleeing from de wrath ter cum. Jack wus er bob-tail 
dorg, — ^born dat way. He wus so mean nachur kno' 
he wuddn't need no tail ter wag, so she didn't give 'im 
eny. Nachur, I have noticed, allurs economizes an' 
nurver givs us eny thing we don't need — but bless 
yore sole, honey, how often does she also fail to give us 
er few uv de things dat's most essenshul to our welfare. 

"Havin nuffm' ter do, an' bein' bragged on 'twell 
he got de big haid. Jack got ter be de meddlesumes 
dorg in de wurl, an' soon gotter tendin' to everybody's 
business but his own. He went to all de fun'rals, an' 
yuster take de las' look at de deceased. He went to every 
camp-meetin' an' whenever de song started up, he'd 
howl 'twell dey would had ter take him out — ^thinkin' 
he wus sum city quire got out in de country. But de 
whole country bragged on his fightin' qualities, though 
dey lamented de lak uv his moral character. Ts 
allers noticed, sah, dat genius however depraved allers 
gets de fus' seat at de table uv public erpinion. Wy, 
sah, de preachers even yuseter brag on dat dorg an' 
hold him up es er sample uv gifted meanness, long wid 
Tom Paine, Caterline and Benedic Arnold — ^men uv 
great erbility but lackin' in de one p'int worth all de 
res'. He's owner hed up er standin' bet Jack cud 
whup enything in hide er hair dat went on fo' legs — 
an' hit looked lak nobody'd ever take 'im up. 

"One day dar cum ter Bigbyville de fus' monkey an' 
Italian I ever seed. De whole village turned out ter 
see 'em — ^Syd Thompson, Jack, an' all. De man he 
played de organ an' de nionkey he dance, an' Jack he 



304 "UNCLE WASH" 

sorter looked on, mad lak, 'cause eny thing 'ud tract 
mo' 'tenshun dan hisse'f. He sorter bristle up pretty 
close to de monkey, an' Syd said : 

" 'Say, heah, Mistah, look out fur yo' monkey — ef 
Jack jumps on him he'll eat 'im up." 

"Monkey noo' fraid e dpg,' said de man, 'e whip de 
dog." 

"Everybody lafTed at dis, an' Syd said: 

"Why, man, Jack would shake dat monkey like 
er rat." 

" 'Noo, 'no shake 'im lak e rat — monk he whip de 
dog,' said de man. 

"Dis made Syd so mad he tell de Italian he bet him 
all he hed de dorg cud kill de monkey in five minutes. 
But de Iterly man wus game an' he soon fotch out frum 
er olebelt 'round his waste mo' gold den Bigbyville hed 
ever seed, an' told us we cu'd all cum in an' help rob 
'im ef we wantd to. 

"We wus plum thunderstruck. Dat little thing 
whip Jack? But we thout we jes well have er fool's 
money es enybody, an' de bar-keeper mor'gaged evry 
thing he hed to put up on de fight. De whole town 
got stirred up. Everybody, even sum uv de folks dat 
nurver did bet befo', an' dat preached ergin de im- 
morality uv it, now thout dey jes' well make er little on 
er dead-sho' thing es eny body. I wus gwine'ter git 
married Sad'day night an' ole Marster hed give me 
fifty dollars to git fixed up wid. Dar was my chance, 
an' I put hit all up. De fight wus ter cum off de naixt 
day in de back yard uv de grocery sto', an' dat evenin' 
sum uv de boys drawed er picture an' put hit on de 



HOW BIGBYVILLE WENT DRY 305 

post offis door. Hit represented er great big dorg 
shakin' er po' little monkey ter deaf, an' under hit wus 
writ: 

"DeEnd Uv De Sucker." 

" Dis sot de whole town to laffin' hit wus so funny, 
an' de naixt day we wus all on han' — ^mighty nigh all 
Bigbyville — to back up Jack. De constable wus de 
stakeholder, an' we all felt mighty sorry fur de Italian 
an' de po' leetle monkey in his spike-tail coat an' cap. 
But de bar-keeper said dat er sucker wus bawn ever 
minit an' de lam's wus made fur ter be fleeced an' we 
all laft — ^all but de monkey. He jes' winked his eye 
an' said nuffin'. 

"When we opened de gate Jack was sound ersleep 
on er pile uv leaves in de corner uv de back lot. We 
wanted to wake him up, but Syd said: 

" 'Nurver mind; jes' fling de monkey in; Jack will 
enjoy his bre'kfas' after er good nap,' an' de Italian 
stooped down, unbuckle his chain, whispered sumpin' 
in de monkey's year, p'inted to Jack snoozin' erway in 
de comer an' turned him loose. De leetle fellow slipped 
over de ground 'twell he got to three feet uv de boss 
dorg, den he jumps on 'im widout eny noise, grabs 
Jack's stump uv er tail wid bofe uv his hans, sticks it in 
his wide mouf an' fotch his teeth together on hit lak er 
wolf trap. 

"Marse John, you's heurd dat electric batteries 
wus invented about i860, ain't you? Dat am er 
mistake. 1 seed de fus' one dat ever wus — bright dar; 
an' Jack riz wid it on his tail. 'Round an' 'round he 

20 



3o6 "UNCLE WASH 



» 



turned in his mizry, tryin' to shet de current off, but 
de holt wus too close, an' as de mizry got wusser an' 
wusser he jes' laid back his years an' went round dat 
lot raisin' er whirlwind uv leaves. Torrectly he seed 
de gate ha'f open an' made er break fur it, knockin' me 
down, fur 1 wus too 'stonished ter git outen de way, an' 
den es we all looked down de road de las' we ever saw 
uv de champion dorg he wus flyin' to'ards de settin' 
sun wid er pa'r uv spike-coattails settiil' off his hind 
end fur wings. Erbout er half hour afterwards de 
monkey cum trottin' on back, an' added de final 
weight uv wretchedness to our mizry by handin' 
'round his leetle cap— es if we hadn't already paid fur 
de exerbition. 

"Wal, sah, you cudder kerried all Bigbyville home 
dat night in yore vest pocket. Syd made er grate 
bluff an' tried ter claim er foul, sayin' Jack nurver did 
wake up, dat he was dreamin', — dreamin' de devil 
hed 'im by de tail, an' all dat. But de constable wus 
hones' an' es he handed over all de money dar wus in 
de town to de Italian, he 'lowed dat 'kordin' to his 
opinion Jack was de wides' erwake dorg he ever did see, 
but dat ef he wus dreamin' he only hoped he'd live ter 
see de day when he'd have er race boss dat cud dream 
ha'f es fast. 

" Boss dat busted up de whisky bizness in de town, 
fur Syd moved erway. I didn't git marrid fur er year, 
an' wooder bin single yit ef de gal hadn't tuck pitty on 
me an' 'lowed she'd have me jes' es I wus." 



■ 



'H 



h 



9 i.u 



• 'J7 



UNCLE WASH ON OAMBLINO 

•'/^^AMBLIN', Marse John is puffickly nachul! Dar 

V-J now ! " as he recovered himself from falling over 
my setter dog, which, after a hard day's hunt, lay 
stretched out before the library fire — ^"dat wus er 
chance dat I didn't break my neck over dat oblivermus 
dawg! Ain't dat gamblin'?" 

The setter rapped his tail on the floor and slept on, 
and the old man, after giving the dog a lecture on not 
knowing where to lie down and be out of the way, 
went on as he poked up the fire: 

" I see er whole lot 'bout de way you white fo'ks is 
misbehavin' yo'se'f dese days er-gamblin' and er-robbin* 
one nur'r. Uv co'se er niggah cain't gamble — ^he 
jes' plays craps es nachul es er groun' hawg smells strong. 
To gamble, er man must have money an' be 'spectabul 
an' so when he steals it's jes' *hei(lemint But when 
you gits down to it gamblin's nachul. Nachur started 
de game fust, an' whut's de use uv goin' erg'in nachur? 
Ef you don't pattern after her you'll mighty likely wind 
up wid sumpin' wuss dat'll stick crossways in yo' craw. 

"How kin I say dat? Chile, you sho' ain't studied 
out de question much ! 

" Ever'thing is er chance in life wid de odds all erg'in 
you! 

"Wy, de ve'y d'ciples uv de Lawd cast lots as to 
which shu'd have his coat. 

" But de whole trouble wid de times now in gamblin' 

(307) 



3o8 "UNCLE WASH 



ff 



— hig^ finance dey calk it — runnin' all th'oo ever'thing 
dat could be watered, milked or squeezed ! 

''An' de funny thing wid you white fo'ks is dat in 
ever* big wrong, dat needs rightin', you pick out some 
little ole thing to make it er scap^oat fur all de res'. 
You pick out er nigger crap shootin', or er moonshiner 
makin' er little lickerwidout revenue, whilst society 
games go on even 'mongst de ladies, an' ever' bum 
barkeeper in de Ian' cheats Uncle Sam out uv three- 
fourths uv his revenue, by addin' dat much water, 
high wines an' other pizens to de licker he selk. 

"You's barred hoss racin', where men ease dey 
min's by playin' er few dollars an' go home an fr^have, 
whikt Wall Street sharks gamble, on de insurance 
money uv de widders uv de Ian' ! 

"I's lived wid white fo'ks all my life, an' ef I wus 
axed whut wus de stranges' thing erbout 'em I have 
to say dey have er 'spedable name fur eve/ big sin an' 
damnasbun fur ever* Utile one\ 

"No, sah er little hones' gamblin' is healthy. It 
he'ps make brains an' good jedgment, quick thinkin' an' 
cool haids, all de way frum de farmer dat puts in de 
early crops to gamble on de early rains to de brainy 
chap dat sees de comin' city in his cawn fiel's. 

"No — no, I don't see no use in all dis hurrah 'gin 
er little hones' gamblin'. Too much piuserty ain't 
good fur de breedin' uv de race. Dirt ain't considered 
nice but we all got to cat our peck uv it to be real men. 
Sturilized babies all die wid de fust good stomach 
ache. Too much pi'usncss breeds hippercrits. You 
gotten to take yo' chance in life, fur it's all er big 



UNCLE WASH ON GAMBLING 309 

chance. You may play erroun' an' think you is er- 
drivin' de chances wid er good rein, but de chances 
is er-drivin' you. 

"Did I ever tell you 'bout de time I played hoss an' 
run er race fur stakes? I wus er young nigger den an' 
great Scotts, how I could run! Ole Marster 'spishioned 
I had speed frum meetin' me accidentally one moon- 
light night in his watermilion patch. He wus lef 
at de post an' seed nothin' but my back — dat's all 
dat saved my hide, but he * spishioned I had speed, as 
I wus sayin' ! 

" He found it out fur shore one night when he sent 
me to town in er hurry 'tendin' lak he needed some 
medicine quick an' tole me to take de shortes' rout 
home or he'd lambas' me. De shortes' rout, cuttin' 
off er mile, wus th'oo de fambly grave yard, an'dar dat 
mischeevus leetle Marse Henry uv his'n had dressed 
up lak er ghos' an' got behin' er tomb es I come by. 
It wus jes' one hundred an' fifty yards frum dar to de 
picket fence, an Marster said I stepped de distance in 
jes' 'leben seconds flat, 'sides jumpin' clear uv de 
palin's an' levin' mos' uv my garments on de pickets. 

" Frum dar, he said, I run de mile home in jes' i : 59 
1-4. 

" 'It wus jes' er little 'speriment. Wash,* ole Marster 
laff an' say, es he gin me er good toddy when I got back 
to de settin' room. 'I 'spishioned you had speed, 
an' I knowed many er good horse lak Haley's Halli- 
burton, fust discovered it wid er good skeer. You'll 
do,' sez he erg'in, laughin' t'well he nearly fell out'n de 
cheer, 'an' I's gwine to win some Krismus money on 



Vo "UNCLE WASH" 

you, an' beat Judge Burton's sprintin' hill-billy he 
alius braggin' erbout.' 

" -Master/ sez I, as he give me er rum toddy, 'don't 
you think you better have me blanketed arter dat 
heat — I feel lak I done throwed two curbs now/ 

"So Marster winked an' called in two mulatter 
niggers whut tended to his bosses an' tell em to 
rub me down an' blanket me an' gin me de fat uv 
de Ian.' 

Frum dat night I wus great. I had two niggers to 
wait on me, exercise me, rub me down an' git me in 
speed shape. I made 'em put er silk halter on me — 
I wouldn't come out'n de stall lessen dey did — ^an' 
when I did prance out er-snortin' to run down de or- 
chard track fer exercise ever' day, an' sho whut I could 
do, it wus lined wid pretty yaller gals an' pickaninnies 
all er-singin: 

See, de konkrin' hero comes.* 
I alius did b'leeve dat de white fo'ks orter let er 
nigger have es many wives es he pleases (fur he's gwine 
to have 'em anyway!) an' dat wus one time I cu'der 
married all de yaller gals on two plantations ! 

" De race wus to come off de Sat'd'y befo' Krismus, 
down de principullest street in de town, to be followed 
by er tuckey an' beef shootin' an' sum udder little sport. 
In dem days white fo'ks wa'nt so squeamish— dey 
wucked hard, fit, cleared de Ian', raced horses, shot 
fur beef, married when dey got ready, drunk licker ef 
dey wanted it, had fun when dey c'u'd, an' fights when 
dey c'u'dn't, an' died 'spectabul when de time cum, 
ef dey didn't die befo' dat. 






UNCLE WASH ON GAMBLING 311 

"Now it's all wuck, no fun, no fight, an' ever'body 
preachin' ! 

*'It may be best but it ain't breedin' men, Marse 
John! 

" 'Citement run high. It wus de talk uv de coun- 
try, dis race 'tween Kunnel Young's nigger Wash 
an' Slim Jim Coon — de hill-billy backed by Judge 
Burton. Marster had up er hundred on me erg'inst 
Judge Burton's hundred on de hill-billy. O, dey bet 
lak gem'men — special' in dem ole times. But all de 
time he seed dat I wus hard es er hound's rib, rubbed 
down to er muscle an' bone an' dat my toe nails want 
trimmed — ^for it wus er bar'foot race down de public 
road, an' Marster lafF an' say ef I could git er good skeer 
and plenty uv toe-holt, all hell couldn't beat met 

" De trainin' wus er leetle hard twixt de rubbin' an' 
de runnin', an' Marse wouldn't let 'em give me no 
whisky, terbacco, coffee er' sugar — ^an' dat wus hard 
— jes' whey milk an' oatmeal. It sho' wus indiffunt 
fodder, livin' es I had b'en on beefsteak an' dawn-pone! 

"I never seed Slim Jim till de day uv de race, 
De whole male 'swasion uv de country wus dar, black 
an' white. De town marshal wus de starter, three 
country squires wus jedges, an' de track wus in de 
main street an' harried hard an' good. 

I seed den whar my toe-holt 'ud come in. 
I wus sho' proud uv my app'intment. I went dar 
under er red blanket, pejammers, satin slippers, an'er 
silk halter. But when Marster had me stripped fur de 
race, I didn't have on nothin' but er fig leaf an' er halter 
-—an' be pulled off de halter! He said he wanted me 



tt 



BI2 "UNCLE WASH 



tt 



to run lak my ancestors useter run when de ghos' uv 
cr g'rilla got after 'em in de woods uv Africa! 

"It wus de bigges' day uv my life. De boys dat 
wanted to play de races would come an' look me over, 
an' den I ac' boss to puffecshun. I'd snort, paw de 
air, kick at ever'body dat come too nigh, an' you never 
seed sech bettin' as wus put up! Whole hatfuls uv 
knives, pistols, watches — ever'thing dey had — silver 
dollars up in leetle piles all up an' down de sidewalk. 

"Wal, sah, arter lookin' us all over, de wurd soon 
come dat I wus de fav'rit', an' dey said ever'thing wus 
jes' piled on me. 

"All but de hill-billies, dey bet on Slim Jim. 

" 1 felt mighty proud an' 'tarmined to run my best. 

" 'Bout dat time dar come to me er little, flashy- 
dressed, tin-horn gambler — de same dat has made 
boss racin' pestiferous in de Ian' twell all decent fo'ks 
is erg' in it. 

"He tempted me lak de sarpent tempted Adam an' 
lak Adam, I fell, Marse John, I sho' did. 

"Well, Marse John, him an' me, we hilt er earnest 
conversashun, an' when he slipped back, I had two 
hundred dollars uv his money, which I calc'lated would 
pay back Marse de hundred he'd loose on me, him 
bein' de only one I wus uneasy about an' dat chiefly 
on account uv my hide! 

" Den Mister Tin Horn bet erg'in me to beat de worl'. 

"Wal, long little befo' noon, de time come. Ole 
Marster drove me down to de track in his buggy, me 
wid my scarlet blanket, an' my black hide shinin' out 
lak er lookin' glass. De streets wus jes' crowded wid 



UNCLE WASH ON GAMBLING 313 

cr long line uv yellin', jos'lin' men, an' boys scootin' 
'bout betwixt dar laigs, an' m'latter gals, an' sum uv 
'em throwed flowers inter my buggy — Lawd! Lawd! 
Marse John." 

The old man broke off reminiscently, rubbed his 
hands softly down my setter's back, as the gaudy 
vision floated into his heart again. 

"Slim Jim wus done dar. I never seed sich er white 
man in all my bawn days. Now I wus mod' rate built 
fur runnin', an' I had muscles bulgin' out all over my 
body, I t'ink dey mus' er been er streak uv de Norman 
in me somewhere; but dat Slim Jim! Why, Marse 
John, dat man Slim Jim, mus' suttinly b'en er cross 
twixt er jack rabbit an' er grasshopper. He wus jes' 
a pair uv laigs j'ined togedder wid er po'-white hide. 
I looked him over, an' de crowd looked him over, an' 
den when I jumps out'n de buggy, an, th'ows off my 
scarlet robe, de crowd looks me over, an' den sich 
yellin' ! You see, dey wus countin' on de muscles on 
my arms an' chist to he'p me erlong in runnin'. 

"Men would come erroun' an' punch an' thump 
me, an' I'd shy, an' kick, an' froth at de mouf, an' de 
niggah dat Marster had 'p'inted would juk at my 
halter, an' say, 'Quiet now. Wash, Slow down oV 
boss, yovkse gwinter git on de track mighty shawtly.' 
Den he'd pat me on de haid an' I'd th'ow up my haid 
an' look out uv my eyes wild lak; ^n' dem mulatter 
gals — I sho' thought dey'd have fits er-lafiin'. Ever'7 
body wus 'mused. 

"Well, sah, de 'citement got in my blood, an' 'fo' 
goodness! I jes' begin to wish I hadn't took dat Tin 



314 "UNCLE WASH" 

Horn's two hundred. I felt lak I'd ruther have dat 
race dan any two hundred dat ever wus coined. 

"Me beat 'fo' all dese pussons? 1 jes' couldn't stan' 
de thought ! 

"Last we wus lined up, me an' Slim Jim. 'Way 
down yander stretched de road jes' ez level an' smooth 
ez de road to distruckshun. On both sides dar wus 
people lookin' up our direcshun — er long line uv haids, 
turned to'des us, wid er occasional flutt'rin han' 
kerchief, or de roses in some yaller gal's ban's. 

" I never saw de sun so bright in all my life. 

"We stood dar all scrooched over lak Marster showed 
me. I could feel ever' muscle in my body jes' waitin to 
git to wuck. Slim Jim wus bent up lak er steel spring, 
too. De crowd wus tiptoein' an scrougin'. 

"Sudden like — Bangl went de Judge's pistol. 

" Hoi' myse'f in ! Fo' de Lawd, I thought I wus er 
boss! Min' dat two hundred fur goin' slow? I tell 
you, Marse John, I tucked dis haid down an f-l-e-w. 
I jes' kinder seed er blur on both sides uv me as 1 
passed de people. I could beer er lot uv whoopin' 
an' hollerin' somewhar — I didn't know whar. I wus 
es' tearin' up de yeth. 

"All at once I hearer yellin', "Slimjiml Slim Jim! 
Slim Jim!" An' den I looked up. 

"An' would you b'lebe it, Marse John, dar was dat 
fool Slim Jim, Kinder lopin' 'long in front uv me, jes' 
sorter driftin' erlong lazy lak, an' lookin' roun' grinnin' 
back at me, lak he wus out fur er little jog trot. 'Hurry 
up/ sei be, 'you fool nigger I Whut you loafin' fur / 

"Hit made me mad. 'Gosh/ sez I, 'I'll ketch dat 



UNCLE WASH ON GAMBLING 315 

blame greyhoun' ef hit breaks my back/ an' I let out 
er couple uv loops in my gait an' fairly heated de track 
wid my speed. 

" I 'pro'ched him some, when wid er swat uv sickly 
grin at me. Slim Jim turned his haid down de track 
an' sorter shook me into de distance behin' him, an 
hones', Marse John, I had to look erroun' at de crowd 
to see whedder I was movin' er stan' in'still ! 

"Den de mos' erstonishin' thing happened: Jes' 
es dat long, keen racer wus er-crackin' de atmosphere, 
he stubbed his toe, 'bout half way down de track, 
an' he rolled over an' over fur 'bout er hundred yards 
faster'n I could run to save my neck. Befo' he had 
picked hisse'f up, I had passed him, an' felt onst more 
dat I wus about de fastest thing dat ever paced er 
quarter. 

"Den I thought uv dat two hundred! 

"I thought quick an' I acted quick. I knowed 
Slim Jim never stump his toe, case I never seed er 
jack rabbit stump his toe in all my days. Slim Jim 
bad sold out, too! 

" I thought quick an' acted quick. All uv er studdint, 
I begun caperin' 'cross de track, broke my gait, kicked 
out my heels, an' es good luck had it, er piece uv news- 
paper come blowin' 'cross de street, dat somebody 
had dropped — an' my, you orter seed me shy at de 
thing! I jes' cavorted. Th'owed up my haid an' 
neighed — ^turned roun, lef de track an' went hell-bent 
to ole Marster's stables, an' I didn't stop twell I got dar ! 

"An' I carried dat two hundred wid me — de gift 
uv de Tin Horn to de lost cause. " 



3i6 "UNCLE WASH" 

"But I don't understand/' I began. 

The old man laughed. 

"Wal, maybe not. But don't you see — bcin' es 
we wus bofe bought out, an' Slim Jim's fake fall, an' 
me boltin' de track, de race wus off, nobody won, an' 
de fools dat bet on bofe sides wus saved, all but de Tin 
Horn dat bought me. I had his two hundred, an' 
Marster said it served de Tin Horn gambler right— 
everibing hein* fair in er steal. 

'"But I's sorry," sez he, "to see de sport uv gentle- 
mun ruined by cheap gamblin'." 



HOW UNCLE WASH MARRIED THE 

WIDOW 

THE old man had been so comfortably fixed of 
late that I had not bothered about him. 1 
had heard vague rumors of his wealth — ^how that he 
owned a forty-acre farm, with a good home — well 
stocked, and that he lorded it over the dusky citizens 
of Dark Bottom — ^a very Croesus. 

I had even heard that he had married again — 
the thirteenth time — ^and to a handsome yellow widow 
who came into Dark Bottom from Alabama and taught 
the district school and played on the church organ. 
There was a hot rivalry for the organist it is said, last- 
ing from potato-planting and culminating to white 
heat during the dog-days; that every young darky 
in the district wanted her, but that the old man won 
out; that now he drove around in splendor, lived like 
a lord, looked twenty years younger, had the buxomest 
and fattest saddle-colored wife in the state and had 
taken a new lease on life. 

But what astonished me more was the rumor that 
the old man owned a dozen darkies himself — ^in plain 
violation of the law of the land and the Fourteenth 
Amendment to the Constitution. 

I imagined, naturally, that the Alabama widow had 
had something to do with all this, but not having seen 
the old man lately I was anxious for a report. 

Ail the earthly possessions he had, two years ago, 
besides a kidney plaster for his back, some eel-skin 

(3x7) 



3i8 "UNCLE WASH 



>» 



garters and a suit of old clothes, was an old Hal 
mare, with a long pedigree and a short lease on life, 
which a local butcher had given him rather than des- 
troy her. She had been drawing his delivery wagon 
for ten years, had run away regularly in the full of 
every moon, and had finally splintered her hocks in 
kicking at a preacher who had stopped her driver in 
the middle of the pike to argue on the sin of horse 
racing. 

It was a pretty day and nearing Qiristmas. 1 
knew the old man would be over soon, knowing that 1 
always had a present for him in the shape of a quart 
of Cascade and a pound of Navy Twist. 

It is the unexpected that happens, and my surprise 
was great. He came, but instead of shambling down 
the pike in the ragged suit of old clothes, he drove 
up in a rubber-tired trap, drawn by a pair of bays. 
He wore a silk hat, a new Prince Albert suit, sported 
a gold-headed cane, and had three darkies to wait on 
him. Two sat in front to drive while a footman sat 
behind. They ran in ages from twelve to eighteen and 
were smart-looking yellow fellows. On the seat with 
him were two big bronze gobblers. 

"In the name of heaven, old man!" I exclaimed 
as I met the turnout at the door, "but I thought you 
were the Sultan of Sulu coming after my cook. " 

He gave me a wink as much as to say that he was 
on his dignity, and then stepped grandly down, the 
footman assisting him with great deference. The 
two in front soon reached the horses' heads and stood 
eyeing the old man as if afraid to bat their eyes. 



MARRIED THE WIDOW 319 

**Howdee do Marse John — to be sho' — glad to see 
you. G)me, nigger, bresh me off. Step lively, now! 
Dar, get de dust ofFen my shoes — be pe' art. " 

"Why, Wash," I began, "what is all this?" 

He waved his hands grandiloquently. "Don't men- 
tion it — don't mention it, sah. Them am my Qiauncey 
DePew, Plowden Van Bibber an' Micajah Somerset — 
all niggers uv mine. Step lively dere, boys, an' tek 
dem* turkeys in to Miss Mary, I fotcht 'em to her for 
er Christmas gift — ^thou't she'd lak 'em, " he added to 
me. 

"Why, shell be delighted," 1 began again. 

"Don't mention it — don't mention it, boss, it's 
my time to give now — you's bin kin' nufT to me. 
Don't mention it, 'tall." 

"Will you come in?" I asked meekly, at the same 
time wondering if I had a room in the house fine enough 
for him. 

"To be sho' — ^to be sho' — dat's what I come fur — 
to come in. What yo' reckin I'd make dem niggers 
drive me ten miles fur, if it wa'nt jes' to see you an* 
have an' ole time talk? Here, Plowden Van Bibber, 
fetch me dat bundle, it's er leetle present fur yo, 
Marse John. " 

In the library I offered him the best chair by the fire. 
He wiped his silk hat and laid it gently down, parted 
his coat-tail and took his seat. 

I had not yet recovered my breath, and not knowing 
what to do, I got out his Christmas present. 

"Thankee, Marse John, to be sho', thankee. But I's 
focht you all er presen'— er quart uv club cocktail. 



330 "UNCLE WASH 



»» 



cxtry old — ^an' er box uv fine cigars. I fin' desc things 
suit de ole man's stomach-sake better'n er cob pipe an' 
crude licker — so I's usin' 'em now." 

He set them out with a majestic wave of his hand-- 
the merest trifle. 

"Great heaven!" I gasped — ^"drinkin* this kind 
of stuff an' ownin' darkies, too?" 

The old man laughed. "You kno' I's allers wanted 
to own er few niggers ever since I remember how happy 
ole Marster an' me useter be wid 'em. I's allers 
thou't dey ought to be some land whar er gem'man 
cu'd own er few niggers an' it ud be nobody's bizness, 
but I nurver thou't I'd be dat forchunit myse'f." 

"How did you get them, then?" 

"Marri'd 'em — ^boss — ^an' dey's jes' eight or ten 
mo' on 'em — some gals, too — ^all likely en' peart — not 
to mention dey mammy — de widder dat wus. But 
she ain't er widder no mo' — ^neither grass nor sod. 
Ay, yas, I b'leeves 1 will try dat cock-tail — it hepes me 
pow'ful — can tell you all erbout it better." 

He wiped his mouth on a silk handkerchief and went 
on: "You see, it all come erbout through dat ole Hal 
marr — I-ord bless her! — It was her colt dat done de 
bizness. Las' Jinuwary er year ergo I 'suaded er 
Yankee gem'man dat stopped over at Clumbia on his 
way to Fluridy for his health — an', lak all sech, he 
had mo' money dan he had boss sense — dat de only 
thing dat lay between him ownin' de champ'yun pacer 
uv de universe an' me ownin' him was jes' de pittiful 
little sum uv fo' thousan' dollars uv his frenzied finance, 
an', boss, he gin it up so easy— lak he thou't it wus 



MARRIED THE WIDOW 321 

unbranded wet goods, an' he was afeared some New- 
nited States rivernue officer would find 'em in his 
possesshun." 

"Oh, that explains it — ^but I thought you had 
married it with that thirteenth wife — " 

"Marse John," said the old man, sadly, "ain't you 
done live long enuflF to kno' dat er po' devil wid one hoss 
got erbout es much chance to marry er rich widder es ' 
er Dimmycrat baby has to be President some day? 
No, sah, I put dat money in er good farm wid er pritty 
leetle home — jes' de kinder trap to ketch de bird I 
wus arter — an', altho' dey was er dozen young niggers 
arter her, pickin' de light catarrh an' blowin' sonnets 
to de moon, she 'lowed dey all look to her mighty lak 
dey had cold feet compared to dat farm an' home. " 

He chuckled — delighted. He rubbed his hands and 
took another cocktail. 

"Oh, I was in fine fix for matrermony — er crib 
full uv cohn, twenty likely shoats, cows, chickens, 
pum'kins, taters, an' no tech uv de rumatizn in my 
back. I knowed she'd had several husban's befo' — 
some on 'em dead an' some runnin' fer de Legislatur 
an' some on 'em runnin' on Pullman cars. She nuver 
tole me she had anything else, an' we went on our bridal ' 
tower happy es larks, an' uv all my wives, thinks I, 
dis am de jewell. Her name was Marinet, an' she 
was de fines' 'oman I ever spliced up wid. Wal, sah, 
when we come back — Lord, boss, it was awful — 
emudder cocktail to brace me up — ah ! thankee — ^wal, 
when we come home an' I looked out I thou't de 
deestrick skule was gwine on in my yard — ^it was 

21 



332 "UNCLE WASH 



>y 



liter'lly lined wid niggers. Dey was so thick dat who- 
ever focht 'em cuden't git 'em all in de house an' had 
put some on 'em in de chicken coop an' hen-house. 
Leastwise, dey was dar, an' I gin 'em de bennyfit uv de 
doubt, altho' it mout er bin instinct. 

" 'What's all dat?" sez I to de widder, gaspin' for 
my breath. 

" 'Oh, dat's our dear chillun dat have come homer' 
an' wid dat she jumped out an' sech er kissin' an' 
huggin' you never seed. It look lak de yard wus full 
uv leetle mushrooms sprung up in de night. 

" ' Jes' er leetle sprize for you, dear Luv, jes' er leetle 
sprize. Ain't dey too sweet fur eny thing? Uv course 
I didn't tell you 'bout it — ^thou't I'd sprize you!' an' 
den she kissed me so grateful lak.' 

" ' Wal, you's done it,' sez I, pantin' fur breath— 
'not one, but whut I'd call er covey uv sprizes — ^an' 
you right sho' dey ain't none uv 'em wandered off? 
I shudn't lak for any mo' to bob up unexpected— 
I mout not be able to stan' de shock.' 

" *0h, no,' she sez, 'dey am all heah. Come, 
chillun, an' kiss yo' Paw.' 

"Wid dat dey piled on me, all on 'em wanted to kiss 
dey Paw, an' all at once. I wus smothered in er sea 
uv black an' ole gold, an' throwed up on er beach uv 
wet lips. Dey piled on me till I wus purple. You'd er 
thort I wus de football's haf-back wid all de yuhders 
on top. Some uv de gals wus nigh grown an' right 
peart, an' I don't mind dey huggin' me so much, but| 
some wan't even weaned— -dat is, dey didn't 'pear terj 
smell lak dey wus! Den she kiss me erg'in and sed: 

1 



MARRIED THE WIDOW 333 



«( < 



See how I luves yo' Paw? Dat's de way I wants 
you all to luve him.' 

" 'We all luves our Paw now/ dey yells, an' wid dat 
dey kivered me ergain, 

"At de supper table whilst dey made holes in de 
batter-cakes, biskets an' bac'n, I larnt all de names. 
De widder was literary an' had got 'em all outen books. 
Startin' wid de bigger gals, dar was Milcah an' Ho- 
sannah an' Sillawasha, an' Cokeette an' five or six mo' 
gals, endin' wid Rowena de kettle's one. De boys was 
Chauncey DePew, an' Plowden Van Bibber, an' 
Micajah Somerset an' Russell an' y udders an' all on 
'em wus eatin' bac'n lak er sausage mill. 

" 'Dey are sech healthy, happy, jolly dears,' sez 
she, *wid so much pussonality. What er sponserbility 
Gawd puts on parents — ^what er problem!' 

" For onct de widder had struck de key note uv my 
thorts — de problem wid me was how long my cobn 
an' yaller chickens 'ud last. 

" Wal, sah, you nurver seed chillun luve dey Paw lak 
dey did me fur erbout er week. When bedtime come 
all de leetle ones wanted to sleep wid dey Paw. We 
put down comforts all over de house an' den had to put 
five kids in de bed wid us. It was tar'bul. Oh, yes, 
boss, some mo' uv dat cocktail — ever time I'd move I'd 
stick my toe in er coon's mouth, ever time I'd turn over 
I'd mash one. An' what you reckin dat chap ud do 
— squall out an' bite me, boss. It seems lake dey been 
tort when dey got mad to bite. I soon larned dey 
was spiled an' had other tricks lak yaller dogs sides 
bitin', and dat week was tar'bul. Dey didn't do 



:^24 "UNCLE WASH" 

nuffin but dress up an' eat an' git mad an' bite one 
nur'r. Dey had no notion uv wuckin'. Day objec' 
in life seems to be to see how quick dey cu'd eat up all 
I had. De widder was jes' es bad, an' spent all her 
time dressin' 'em up. I spent my days calk'latin' how 
long it ud be befo' dey would eat up my cohn, an' my 
nights tryin' to keep from bein' et up myse'f. I'd lay 
wake and heah 'em talkin' in dey sleep bout de 
poultry bizness, an' snorin', and den I'd gaze way off 
through de winder an' look at de stars, an' ever' bunch 
uv 'em ud be thirteen. Den I groan an' count de 
chilluns, an' dey 'ud be thirteen ! It was tar'bul'. Yes 
— anur'r leetle drap outen dat bottle. Thankee. 

" But I wus mighty pashent fur er week tryin' to 
lead 'em in de straight an' narrer path. It wa'nt no 
use — dey luve fur dey Paw didn't go beyond de cohn- 
crib or de hen house. 

" Den dey all got sassy an' sassed me. I stood it till 
they begin to call me old niggah Methusalem — kase 
I was ole an' black an' dey was yaller, an' 'sineratin' 
dat I couldn't whip er kitten! I seed de time was ripe 
fur action, an' dat night I acted. I hid er good rawhide 
hosswhip under de bed an' by it I put er copperlined 
washboa'd wid er extry strong handle. Arter supper 
I got 'em all in de settin'-room an' locked de door an' 
put de key in my pocket. 

What's you gwinter do?' say de widder. 
We're all gwinter have fam'bly prayers/ sez I; 
'bein, es I am er deacon in de Baptis' Qiurch, an' I's 
kinder neglected it uv late.' 

" 'Oh, rats,' sez all on 'em at onct. 






it t 

<< t 

n t 



MARRIED THE WIDOW 325 

"Den sez I, sorter calm lak: 'I's gwinter break all 
dese colts over to harness. Dey don't seem ter wanter 
pull on er cold collar, an' dey balk an' have got wheels 
in dey haids — ' 

"She riz up mad as er hornet: 'Dey ain't got eny- 
thing in dey haids/ she sez. 'I thank you !I take keer 
uv my chillun !' 

" 'After I break 'em over ergin', sez I, 'I's gwinter 
baptize 'em all in Bigby Creek nex' Sunday.' 

Not much,' sez de widder, 'we is 'Piscopaliums.' 
Yes, we is 'Piscopaliums, ole nigger,' sez all on 'em. 
Wal, you'll be Baptis' when I get through wid 
you,' I sez, an' I grabbed my rawhide an' let in. 

"De widder come at me lak er wildcat, but I hadn't 
put de washboa'd dar fur nuflfin, an' I laid her out de 
fust lick — ^jes' had to do it, boss — ^had to do it. Der 
is times when er man has got to lick his wife, but he 
orter do it gently, lak I did. I seed her tumble over 
on de bed in er dead faint, but I knowed she had plenty 
uv wool an' er mighty hard haid whar I hit, an' she'd 
be through ergin by daylight. 

"Wal, wid de old bird knocked out, dis jes' par'- 
lyzed de covey, an' I frailed 'em out from Milcah to 
Rowena. I had 'em on de mourners' bench — I had 
'em beggin' to be led to de creek, I had 'em meek es 
lambs an' settin' 'round quiet an' humble. Den I 
bathed de widder's face till she come through an' sot 
up, humble lak, and full uv penertence. 

" 'Whut-whut-whut's happen?" she sez. 

" 'Nothin', Maw,' sez Milcah, sweet lak. Taw he's 
jes' made us all Baptis.' 






336 ''UNCLE WASH" 

" 'An' dat ain't all/ I sez. 'I been studyin' yo' 
names an' I's gwinter see whut yo' Maw intended you 
all to be when she named you all dem hifolutin'names. 

" 'Whut yo' name, gal?' I sez. 

'"Milcah,sah!' 

" 'Wai; sez I, 'I studied dat out. You'll find it in 
de Bible. It's jes' Hebrew fer plain ole milker, an' 
you go to de cow bam de fust thing at daybreak', 
sez I. 'You maw is sho' er genius fur gettin' de right 
name.' 

" 'Yas, sir. Paw,' she sez. 

" 'What's yo' name, nex'?* 
Hosannah, sah.' 

Dat,' sez I didn't take much study. Hose is 
stockins an' Annah is plain ole Hannah, an' it means 
Hannah darnin' stockins. Go at it at onct. I'll let 
you be de seamstress fur dis house, too, an' frum now 
on yo' name is Hannah.' 

" 'Yassir, Paw.' 

" 'Whut's yo' name, nex'?' 

" 'Cokette, sah.' 

" 'Dat's French fer cookin',' sez I. 'You git into 
dat kitchen by daybreak' Yo' maw is er genius fur 
names.' 

Yassir, Paw.' 
'Whut's yo' name, gal?' 
Sillawasha, sah.' 

" 'Oh,' sez I, 'dat's dead easy. It looks Latin, 
but it's plain English. Anybody cu'd see dat Gawd 
intended you fer de wash tub. 

" 'Yassir, Paw.' 



H i 
4€ 



MARRIED THE WIDOW 327 

Den I turns to de big, strappin' boys. 'What's yo' 
name, sah?' 

" 'Plowden Van Bibber, sah.' 

" 'Dat's Dutch,' sez I, 'but mighty plain to er man 
dat knows de langwedge lak yo' Paw does. Plowden 
mean plowin', an' Van Bibber is Dutch fur down by de 
river. It seems providential dat yo' name fits dat 
river bottom fiel' so handy! All you need is er mule 
an' plow an' you'll fin' 'em in de barn at daylight. 
Git at it.' 

" 'Yassir, Paw.' 

" 'What's yo' name, sonny?' 

" 'Micajah Somerset, sah!' 

"Dat,' sez I, 'would puzzle enybody but er scholar. 
Micajah is Greek for Mek-hay-sah, an' Somerset is ole 
Saxon fur befo' de sun set. Dat clover field needs 
you bad, an' yo' name fits it to er nat's heel !' 
'Yassir, Paw.' 

' Russell is mine, sah,' sed de nex' one — er black 
kid. 'Whut's dat fur?' 

" 'Dat's jes' plain nigger for hustle,' sez I, 'an' you 
can start in de cohnfield to-morrow. An' ef you belie 
yo' name you'll ketch dis rawhide ergain'.' 
' Yassir, boss.' 
'Chauncey DePew, sah, at yo' sarvice!' 

" 'Now,' sez I, 'Chauncey, you may think yo' was 
cut out fur makin' after-dinner speeches an' borryin' 
frenzied finance frum yo'sclf in de Equitabul, but frum 
now on de great pi'nt wid you is to fust earn yo' dinner. 
Chauncey is de Saxon fur Churnin' — you'll be mighty 
handy in de dairy. De rest uv yo' name suggests dat 






it 



328 "UNCLE WASH" 

de Baptis' church needs cleanin' up twice er week, 
arter prayer meetin' an' Sunday sarvice, an' I jes' let 
you tek care uv de pews.' 

"Oh, I had 'em all fixed. Do leetle 'un climbed in 
my lap an' de widder sed, sorter mean lak: 'Dat's 
Rowena — ^you sho' done figur out whut her name 
mean?' 

" 'Yes,' sez I — still holdin' er good grip on de wash- 
boa'd — ^'Ro is de Greek for time — ^an' de rest is easy: 
Time-to-ween 'er. I's gwinter sleep in peace to-night,' 
sez I.' 

" 'Oh,' she sez, still sassy lak — ^'an' my name is 
Marinet — ^maybe you think it means somethin'.' 

" 'I do,' sez I, 'you got er good home an' er good 
husban' an' father for you' children, but Marinet is de 
French fur er marryin'-yet, an' ef you don't walk er 
chalk-line frum now on, dat's whut you'll be doin' — 
er wife without er job — unless you can fool some other 
nigger. An' sence we're all Baptis' we'll now have 
prayer,' an' Boss, you never heard sech h' art-felt 
petestions es they put up. 

"Boss, you nurver seed enything wuck lak it did. 
I put 'em to wuck an' kep 'em at it, an' sech craps as 
we made. Every one uv 'em mor'n paid fur hisse'f 
an' I got mo' money in de bank den we can spen'. 
I's allers wanted to own er few niggers an' now I's 
makin' it pay. Dat's why I go in style. It seems 
to me I's solved de nigger problem." 

"How?" I asked. 

"Wy, jes' keep 'cm busy — keep 'cm busy — dat's 
dc p'int. 



MARRIED THE WIDOW 329 

" But I must go — come to see me an' fetch nothin' 
but yo' appetite." 

"Wash, let us test this club cocktail before you go. 
Here's to you — why, old man, you've drunk up your 

gift." 

"To be sho' — ^to be sho.' Didn't you set dar an' 
see me do it? Ain't I done tole you offen to be lib'ral 
an' give, but ef you're smart, you'll fix yo' triggers so 
you'll more'n git it back erg'in?" 

At the door I heard him say: "Step lively, you 
niggers! You's got to kill hogs when you git home!" 



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