955 255 Sf:,ttLF i o mEBffli&&3KSSiX mSBB&mm. ^^^ OOORD BROS. Inc. ham s Spectacles ISAM S SPECTACLES * HARRY STILLWELL EDWARDS AUTHOR OF "TWO RUNAWAYS." "HIS DEFENSE" "ENEAS AFR1CANUS." ETC. : PUBLISHED BY THEJ. W. BURKE COMPANY MACON, GEORGIA COPYRIGHT. 192U BY THE J. W. BURKE COMPANY 455 ham s Spectacles ISAM sat on the back steps at Woodhaven, the yard full of the cool, deep shadows of twilight, Helen s little boy by his side, and Major Worthington, as usual, smoking in his great arm-chair, with one of his stout legs peacefully reposing on the balustrade of the veranda. Not far away, in the deep shadow, was Helen, dreaming, with hands clasped be hind her shapely head. The little boy was impatiently shaking the old negro s arm and pleading: "Please, Unc Isam! please! You ve been promising for a week to tell me how you saved your life with a pair of spectacles." "Was hit er true story, honey?" Isam scratched his chin reflectively, and the major chuckled.  373 1H ISAM S SPECTACLES $ "Yes; a true story. Of course it was true if it happened to you, wasn t it, Unc Isam?" "To be sho, to be sho." The old man ap peared to be studying over some half-forgot ten incident. He began slowly and cautiously : "I disremember now perzactly bout de spec- tides. I disremember bout de specticles. An I done save mer life so many times you don t mean when de bees an de goat tackled me, an driv Marse Craffud unner de kitchin, does yer?" "Oh, no, no, no ! That wasn t the time." "Den dere was de special casion," said Isam, dreamily, "when I fought de whole Yankee yarmy out up yonner bout Chicken- mauger, an save mer life, long wid er whole waggin-train an er lot er niggers ter boot." "Oh, no, Unc Isam; you know what I mean." "An time when I save mer life wid er watch, while Marse Craffud was prac sin wid a pistul on Marse Rem Billin s "  $ ISAM S SPECTACLES 0? "No, no; not that. Don t you know you went to town with Uncle Crawford, and they took you to some place where all the doctors stay?" "Oom-hoo! Oom-hoo ! Now I sorter gin ter ketch what you been drivin at. Ef you d des said docters de fus time, an not kep on beatin bout de bushes so long what ails yer, chile, anyhow?" he asked with a show of in dignation. "Whar yer git dat roun erbout way of not comin straight out an sayin wha s on yo min ? You don t git hit f om me, cause I ain t er man to was e words; an you don t git hit f om Miss Helen, cause when she got any thing ter say, hit comes straight out. Hit s Isam, I want you to hitch up er horse, or Isam, fetch er pail er water, or, Isam, have em serve supper ; an so on. Marse Craffud conies to de p int in er lope : Isam, yo "Isam, don t use such language in the pres ence of my child!" Helen s voice floated out reproachfully from the shadow. $? ISAM S SPECTACLES <$$ "Dere, now! What I tell yer, honey? Ain t no roun erbout an com-up-behin -yer in dat. She know des what ter say, an " The little boy shook the old man with both hands. "Oh, Unc Isam, you know what I want. Go on, please p-1-e-a-s-e !" "Lemme steddy erwhile ; lemme steddy. I disremember perzactly whar de specticles come in. Savin mer life was er special fac . Why n t yer ask me bout dis hyah story long time ergo? Big fac s is all right; dey hangs in de min of man like cockle-burs in es breetches leg, an he cyan t loose em. He sorter feels em er-techin somewhar all time ; but dese hyah miser ble little trashy fac s cyan t be pended on no time. Now, in gen l, specticles is mos ly er little fac ; you can lay down specticles an tek up specticles, an hit don t count fer nothin on yer min . Hit s like er ole oman fannin herse f ter sleep in er  $? ISAM S SPECTACLES $* cheer, an gittin her nap out thout breakin her lick." "You reached out and took them off the table don t you remember?" "Seems ter me like I do sorter ketch er little shimmer of hit. I reached out, tuk em f om de table, an den what? I m er-stumblin ergin." "You reached out and took them off the table, and put them on, and sat up in bed don t you remember?" Isam looked at his questioner with wide- open eyes. "Sholy. I sholy does. Hit all comes back ter me des like hit was yestiddy. But, honey, ef yer know all bout dis spe iunce of mine, what yer keep on pesterin me bout hit fer? It ain t ev y man c n tell de same story des erlike more an oncest. Ef I done gi yer dis story oncest, an I tell yer de same story wid er special diff unce in de tex , yer goin ter rack roun dis hyah plantation lettin on erbout hit  ISAM S SPECTACLES to Hannah an Silvy an Mandy an er whole passel er tattlin niggers, an git me drapt f om de church fer de ninth time. Lemme keep in de norrer paf, chile; don t crowd me, don t crowd me." "You haven t told me anything but that," said the little boy, earnestly. "You just told me your spectacles were once lying on a little table, and you reached out and took them, and sat up in bed, and put them on, and saved your life. You promised me if I would get you a plug of tobacco out of Uncle Crawford s closet " "An I m er-goin ter tell yer bout hit right now," said Isam, raising his voice and straightening up. "You got too much sense fer any chile livin , an dere ain t no way to head yer off, once yer git started. Whar yer want me to pick up de story?" The major and Helen were silently laugh ing. The little boy dropped down happily be-  4? ISAM S SPECTACLES if side the old negro s side, and rested one arm on his knee. u Tell me all about it every bit." "All is er heap, honey, specially when hit comes ter er story what s true. Dere ain t no tellin whar any story what s true gits hits fus start. Dis hyah story er mine heads erway back yonner fo you was born, an I ain t sayin perzactly how much more. Hit heads long erbout muscadine-time somewhar an hit come of me gittin er muscadine-seed hitched in mer vermafooge pendullum." There was a sudden explosion where the major sat, and fire flew from his pipe. Isam looked toward him silently a few moments, one eyebrow twitch ing silently. "I never tole dis story but twicest befo ," he said, "an Marse Craffud blowed all de fire outer his pipe at de same place, bofe times." "But, Unc Isam, what did you say it was that the muscadine-seed got into?" ISAM S SPECTACLES The old man took the little boy s hand sol emnly and pressed it against his heart. "Wha s dat rookus goin on inside dere? Tech me, tech me! Don t be erfeared ter tech me." "That s your heart beating." "Oom-hoo! des so. An dat s what move all de inside works uv er man, too. Hit s de clock; an when hit gits outer gear, hit s good bye, Isam ! Go upstairs, honey, fo yer go ter bed, an look thoo de little roun glass in de wais of de big clock in de hall, an yer goin ter see somep n waggin ercross f om one side to de yuther, an tickin erway ter beat de ban " "Oh, I ve seen that many a time. That s the pendulum." "Dis boy is sho got sense," said Isam, slowly. "Ain t nothin goin on bout de place he don t know. Oom-hoo ! honey, dat s de pendullum; an dere s somep n inside ev y man dey calls er pendullum, too er verma-  ISAM S SPECTACLES fooge pendullum ; an when hit quits er-work- in , dat man on de outside knocks off erlong bout de same time. Ef you don t b lieve hit, you ax anybody ef dey ever hyah tell of er tickin inside er dead man, or seen er man up an goin erbout when de inside tickin done quit." This statement was being gravely pon dered by the little boy when the old man con tinued: "De muscadine-seed lodge in de pen dullum, an de fus news I got, de mis ry ketch me unner the bottom rib on mer right side ; an hit stuck dere, comin an er-goin mo er less ye r in an ye r out, tell I mos fergit how ter walk on mer heels. Many an many er time I couldn t more n git up f om mer cheer, much less git er bucket er water f om de well. An when hit come ter hoein in de gyarden, de mis ry was des scand lous. Marse Craffud is er-laughin up yonner, honey, ergin, but I m er-talkin fac s ter yer des de same. Hit was des natchully too scand lous ter git erlong wid. An den come erlong Docter Bailey, one day,  $>g ISAM S SPECTACLES $ an tuk er look at me, an press es finger hyah an plump me dere; an bimeby he pass his pinion dat I d done got er seed in mer verma- fooge pendullum. Hit sholy scyared me f om de start, cause Docter Bailey is somebody what knows de name of ev ything on de inside of er man, an can cut er man s leg off wid es eyes shet an never tek his seegyar outer es mouf. He knows all de titlements of what flicts er nigger, an tell him whar he aches fo he done settle on de spot esse f ; an des whar ter drop er little ile, an when ter brace up ev ything wid er dram. An when Docter Bailey let on bout dat muscadine-seed, an I knowed I d been er-swallerin em forty ye rs ruther n hunt roun in mer mouf fer em, I mos drapt down in mer tracks, I was so pluralized wid de shock. De mis ry got worser an worser f om dat day on; an den dey up an say ef dey don t tek me inter town an have de seed distracted f om whar hit done been lodge, I was sholy er gone nigger. Honey, hit ISAM S SPECTACLES tuk me nigh on ter fo weeks ter mek up mer min , an de mis ry helpin all night. Look like I would n more n shet mer eyes fo I d hyah dat pendullum knock off, an I d jump fer fresh air at de winder an set ev ything inside er me rackin erlong like er scyared rabbit. An in de daylight I got ter goin in yonner an wastin mer time front er de big clock, an wishin hit was ole Isam gittin erlong so steady, tick-noc, tick-noc so steady, an hit forty ye rs ole when Marse Craffud was a baby! "Well, I drag erlong tell one dey Marse Craffud he git mad an mek em hitch up de blacks; an he got me inside de coach wid him, an gi de word fer town. Bless Gord! fo I had mer min made up, I was yonner in de horsepk l, ondressed, layin up in bed. Dey ain been er man moved so fas sence er chair t snatch up ole man Lijah. An dar I lay, full er spicion by day an wrastlin wid de night- mar by night. But folks was sho good ter me,  ISAM S SPECTACLES honey; dey sho was. Dey say I warn t goin ter be teched fer fo days, leastwise not tell dey done got me sorter conditioned up to de right pitch ; but, oom-m-m ! de stuff dey gim me ter swaller!" Isam made a grimace that started the little boy laughing. "Look ter me like de pu smell of hit was ernough ter stop any town clock in de worl . An Miss Helen she come an fetched er whole raft er pictur papers an mer ole specticles; an dere I lay an steddy bout de doin s in de worl outside de young omen in dey short dresses an de men in dey woolens goin in er-swimmin ter- gyether, an proud o hit ; an er ship erfire ; an er whole passel er sojers runnin er man up er hill what done stole dey flag, I reck n; an er railroad injine fallin off er trestl . But, chile, I never seed er pictur of anybody in sech trouble as I was er-havin over des one musca dine-seed. Dere was er man long erbout de back of de paper what seem like he was er- sufferin mightily, f om de spression of his f* ISAM S SPECTACLES H? face ; an ernuther man right erlong side o im fat an sassy an er-laughin fit ter kill esse f. I spelled out dat hit was de same man befo an de same man after, an I say ter merself, I don t wonder at im, ef hit means er musca dine-seed. Hit didn t help me much, cause I couldn t tell which pictur. was took las . I laid out ter ask Miss Helen; but when she come, she come er-cryin , an drapt down dere by me on er knees an gin ter pray. Honey, I been scyared er heap er times in mer life, but when yo mar drapt down dere an ask de good Lord ter be wid me in mer fliction, an , case hit was his will dat I shouldn t be spa d, ter lead me thoo de valley an de shadder, well, hit tuk her an er nigger oman an two young docters ter hoi me in dat bed ! Dey never did hoi me tell somebody jabbed me in de hip wid er hipperderme contraption " "What was it they jabbed you with, Unc Isam?" asked the little boy, eagerly. "Oh, I don t know, chile; hit was some  ISAM S SPECTACLES sorter little tin squirt-gun wid er p int like er hornet s tail." Isam rubbed his leg gently and sighed. "When I woke up dey say I done been sleep; an I hyah Docter Bailey say hit s bes ter break de news ter me. I gyethered that I was er mighty sick man er mighty sick man ! Ev ybody was stirrin roun on dey tiptoe, an de air was natchully heavy wid trouble. Doc ter Bailey pass out an lef me er-steddyin , an bout dat time I seed de young docters busy in de nex room, movin things hyah an er- movin things yonner spreadin er cloth, clinkin dishes, an washin dey han s in er chiny bowl. So much doin erbout sot me ter steddyin mo an mo , an tekin mo intrust. I ketch de eye of de nigger oman when she pass de do , an she come close to de bed. Chile, I says, des so, you is bout de likeliest gal I seen sence freedom. Is yo sweet name Heartstrings? " No, she answered me back; mer name is des Lucy Ann.  $? ISAM S SPECTACLES $ " Oom-hoo! says I, hit s er name mos as putty as de gal what er-wearin hit. Lucy Ann, is de white gemmen in de nex room gittin mer dinner ready? Seems like I hyah de clink o dishes, an ef mer eyes don t fool me, Docter Muckhat n had er cyarvin -knife in es han des now. I sholy would want some dinner, fer dey s been er-feedin me on prom- isses to times er day fer fo days, an I m natchully hongry. Gord knows I done swal- lered ernough "condition" powders ter eat er sawmill steer. "Well, wid dat she look at me sorter cu ious like outer de lef corner of er eye. " Dinner? says she. Dinner? " Oom-hoo! says I, ain t yer never hyah tell of er man eatin dinner? "She look at me like I done gone stracted. " Why, man, she says, des so, dey is git- tin ready in dere ter perform on er sick man. Lucy Ann, says I, atter waitin fer mer  ISAM S SPECTACLES pendullum ter start ter tickin ergin, is dere anybody sick in dis hyah house ? " Yes, says she; ain t you sick, Unc Isam? Ain t nobody sick hyah but me? says I. " Nobody but you, she answer back, an out she went. "Den I lowed ef dere warn t nobody sick dere but me, dat all de gittin ready in de nex room was fer me. I sot up sudden in de bed, an reach fer mer specticles, an clapped em on, bein nigh-sighted. Bout dat time de youngest docter open er box an start ter layin out saws an long, cu ious knives an wrenches wid twisted handles; an Docter Muckhat n scratch er match on his right leg ter light er paper chee-root, an I hyah im say, Dere ain t much chance fer de ole nigger, but we ll cut im open an see what ails im. Well, honey, I knowed den dat warn t no place fer me. I let mer foot to de flo ; ses I, leg save de body; I slip cross de room, an stuck mer  $? ISAM S SPECTACLES $ foot in mer breetches ; I gyethered mer shoes in mer lef han , an drapt outer de nighes winder like er wet towel. I hit de groun , er runnin , an tek de main road outer town, an I cross de fiel s like er man s tracks. It come ter my min , when I hit de valley whar de log cross de crik, bout how yo ma done pray fer somebody ter lead me thoo de shad- der, an I quicken mer lick when I look back an see de sun drap behin er cloud, an er shadder comin erlong on my trail. I was sholy movin ! I done lead dat shadder plumb home in er seven-mile race. I did n know I was done hyah tell I hit head fo mos g inst de back do , an shuk ev y winder-pane in de house. Dat s what mek me say as how de specticles save mer life." "But, Unc Isam," said the little boy, when he had ceased to laugh, "what became of the muscadine-seed?" "De muscadine-seed? Well, honey, when I hit dat back do head fo mos I reck n I des  % ISAM S SPECTACLES $ natchully swallered hit furder. Yo uncle kin laugh, an yo ma kin laugh, but I know what I m er-talkin erbout. I ain t never been so shuk up in all my horned days as I was when I look thoo dese specticles for dinner, an seed dem perform m instermunts on dat table cept when I hit de back do of dis house. Des one little ole pa r of specticles," continued Isam, taking off his glasses tenderly "des one little ole pa r specticles! An ter think how many times I done sot on em, an drapt em, an lef em erroun for er aggervatin boy to projec wid! Hit fa rly meks me col f om head ter foot ! When er man cyan t look thoo er do wid es necked eye an know de diff unce twixt perform m instermunts an er lay-out fer dinner, hit s time ter tie es spec ticles on ter im. Chile, ef ever yer see dese hyah specticles o mine layin erroun loose anywhar, call me call me !" That night, when Isam was closing the  ISAMS SPECTACLES house, he found the little boy in his night gown, intently studying the pendulum through the round glass in the "waist" of the great hall clock. *Books by zjtfr. Edwards "Two Runaways" and other stories $1.75 "His Defense" and other stories 1.75 "The Marbeau Cousins," 12 mo. cloth 1.50 "Eneas Africanus," new edition, paper .50 "Eneas Africanus," new edition, board .75 "Eneas Africanus," new edition illustrated 1.00 "Eneas Africanus," Flexible Ooze Leather 2.00 "Just Sweethearts," paper bound .50 "Just Sweethearts," Christmas bound 1.00 "Just Sweethearts," Ooze Calf 2.00 "How Sal Came Through" .50 "Brother Sims s Mistake" .50 "Isam s Spectacles" .50 "The Adventures of a Parrot" .50 "Shadow" A Christmas Story .50 "The Vulture and His Shadow" .50 The demand for "Eneas" and other books of Mr. Edwards is so great that we believe his friends will appreciate our bringing out these additional gems of the Old South, the old-time negro and his old-time "white folks." All of these will not be ready at the same time, but orders will be filled as rapidly as the books are off the press, and we will appreciate advance orders. Postpaid to any address THE J. W. BURKE COMPANY PUBLISHERS MACON, GEORGIA j&j&KgS ml Manufactured by CttORD BROS. ! fcnroeuw. M.Y. Stockton, Collf .