Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesColonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 3. An Old Family Servant
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Colonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 3. An Old Family Servant Post by :Hugh_de_Payen Category :Long Stories Author :Francis Hopkinson Smith Date :May 2012 Read :1062

Click below to download : Colonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 3. An Old Family Servant (Format : PDF)

Colonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 3. An Old Family Servant

CHAPTER III. An Old Family Servant


The colonel's front yard, while as quaint and old-fashioned as his house, was not--if I may be allowed--quite so well bred.

This came partly from the outdoor life it had always led and from its close association with other yards that had lost all semblance of respectability, and partly from the fact that it had never felt the refining influences of the friends of the house; for nobody ever lingered in the front yard who by any possibility could get into the front door--nobody, except perhaps now and then a stray tramp, who felt at home at once and went to sleep on the steps.

That all this told upon its character and appearance was shown in the remnants of whitewash on the high wall, scaling off in discolored patches; in the stagger of the tall fence opposite, drooping like a drunkard between two policemen of posts; and in the unkempt, bulging rear of the third wall,--the front house,--stuffed with rags and tied up with clothes-lines.

If in the purity of its youth it had ever seen better days as a garden--but then no possible stretch of imagination, however brilliant, could ever convert this miserable quadrangle into a garden.

It contained, of course, as all such yards do, one lone plant,--this time a honeysuckle,--which had clambered over the front door and there rested as if content to stay; but which later on, frightened at the surroundings, had with one great spring cleared the slippery wall between, reached the rain-spout above, and by its helping arm had thus escaped to the roof and the sunlight.

It is also true that high up on this same wall there still clung the remains of a criss-cross wooden trellis supporting the shivering branches of an old vine, which had spent its whole life trying to grow high enough to look over the tall fence into the yard beyond; but this was so long ago that not even the landlord remembered the color of its blossoms.

Then there was an old-fashioned hydrant, with a half-spiral crank of a handle on its top and the curved end of a lead pipe always aleak thrust through its rotten side, with its little statues of ice all winter and its spattering slop all summer. Besides all this there were some broken flower-pots in a heap in one corner,--suicides from the window-sills above,--and some sagging clothes-lines, and a battered watering-pot, and a box or two that might once have held flowers; and yet with all this circumstantial evidence against me I cannot conscientiously believe that this forlorn courtyard ever could have risen to the dignity of a garden.

But of course nothing of all this can be seen at night. At night one sees only the tall clock tower of Jefferson Market with its one blazing eye glaring high up over the fence, the little lantern hung in the tunnel, and the glow through the curtains shading the old-fashioned windows of the house itself, telling of warmth and comfort within.

To-night when I pushed open the swinging door--the door of the tunnel entering from the street--the lantern was gone, and in its stead there was only the glimmer of a mysterious light moving about the yard,--a light that fell now on the bare wall, now on the front steps, making threads of gold of the twisted iron railings, then on the posts of the leaning fence, against which hung three feathery objects,--grotesque and curious in the changing shadows,--and again on some barrels and boxes surrounded by loose straw.

Following this light, in fact, guiding it, was a noiseless, crouching figure peering under the open steps, groping around the front door, creeping beneath the windows; moving uneasily with a burglar-like tread.

I grasped my umbrella, advanced to the edge of the tunnel, and called out:--

"Who's that?"

The figure stopped, straightened up, held a lantern high over its head, and peered into the darkness.

There was no mistaking that face.

"Oh, that's you, Chad, is it? What the devil are you doing?" "Lookin' for one ob dese yer tar'pins Miss Nancy sent de colonel. Dey was seben ob 'em in dis box, an' now dey ain't but six. Hole dis light, Major, an' lemme fumble round dis rain-spout."

Chad handed me the lantern, fell on his knees, and began crawling around the small yard like an old dog hunting for a possum, feeling in among the roots of the honeysuckle, between the barrels that had brought the colonel's china from Carter Hall, under the steps, way back where Chad kept his wood ashes--but no "brer tar'pin."

"Well, if dat don't beat de lan'! Dey was two ba'els--one had dat wild turkey an' de pair o' geese you see hangin' on de fence dar, an' de udder ba'el I jest ca'aed down de cellar full er oishters. De tar'pins was in dis box--seben ob 'em. Spec' dat rapscallion crawled ober de fence?" And Chad picked up the basket with the remaining half dozen, and descended the basement steps on his way through the kitchen to the front door above. Before he reached the bottom step I heard him break out with:--

"Oh, yer you is, you black debbil! Tryin' to git in de door, is ye? De pot is whar you'll git!"

At the foot of the short steps, flat on his back, head and legs wriggling like an overturned roach, lay the missing terrapin. It had crawled to the edge of the opening and had fallen down in the darkness.

Chad picked him up and kept on grumbling, shaking his finger at the motionless terrapin, whose head and legs were now tight drawn between its shells.

"Gre't mine to squash ye! Wearin' out my old knees lookin' for ye. Nebber mine, I'm gwine to bile ye fust an' de longest--hear dat?--de longest!" Then looking up at me, "I got him, Major--try dat do'. Spec' it's open. Colonel ain't yer yit. Reckon some ob dem moonshiners is keepin' him down town. 'Fo' I forgit it, dar's a letter for ye hangin' to de mantelpiece."

The door and the letter were both open, the latter being half a sheet of paper impaled by a pin, which alone saved it from the roaring fire that Chad had just replenished.

I held it to the light and learned, to my disappointment, that business of enormous importance to the C. & W. A. L. R. R. might preclude the possibility of the colonel's leaving his office until late. If such a calamity overtook him, would I forgive him and take possession of his house and cellar and make myself as comfortable as I could with my best friend away? This postscript followed:--

"Open the new Madeira; Chad has the key."

Chad wreaked his vengeance upon the absconding terrapin by plunging him, with all his sins upon him, headlong into the boiling pot, and half an hour later was engaged at a side table in removing, with the help of an iron fork, the upper shell of the steaming vagabond, for my special comfort and sustenance.

"Tar'pin jes like a crab, Major, on'y got mo' meat to 'em. But you got to know 'em fust to eat 'em. Now dis yer shell is de hot plate, an' ye do all yo' eatin' right inside it," said Chad, dropping a spoonful of butter, the juice of a lemon, and a pinch of salt into the impromptu dish.

"Now, Major, take yo' fork an' pick out all dat black meat an' dip it in de sauce, an' wid ebery mou'ful take one o' dem little yaller eggs. Dat's de way _we eat tar'pin. Dis yer stewin' him up in pote wine is scand'lous. Can't taste nuffin' but de wine. But dat's _tar'pin._"

I followed Chad's directions to the word, picking the terrapin as I would a crab and smothering the dainty bits in the hot sauce, until only two empty shells and a heap of little bones were left to tell the tale of my appetite.

"Gwine to crawl ober de fence, was ye?" I heard him say with a chuckle as he bore away the debris. "What I tell ye? Whar am ye now?"

"Did Miss Nancy send those terrapin?" I asked, watching the old darky drawing the cork of the new Madeira referred to in the colonel's note.

"Ob co'se, Major; Miss Nancy gibs de colonel eberytin'. Didn't ye know dat? She's de on'y one what's got anythin' to gib, an' she wouldn't hab dat on'y frough de war her money was in de bank in Baltimo'. I know, 'cause I went dar once to git some for her. De Yankee soldiers searched me; but some possums got two holes."

"And did she send him the Madeira too?"

"No, sah; Mister Grocerman gib him dat."

As he pronounced this name his voice fell, and for some time thereafter he kept silent, brushing the crumbs away, replacing a plate or two, or filling my wine-glass, until at last he took his place behind my chair as was his custom with his master. It was easy to see that Chad had something on his mind.

Every now and then a sigh escaped him, which he tried to conceal by some irrelevant remark, as if his sorrow were his own and not to be shared with a stranger. Finally he gave an uneasy glance around, and, looking into my face with an expression of positive pain, said:--

"Don't tell de colonel I axed, but when is dis yer railroad gwineter fotch some money in?"

"Why?' said I, wondering what extravagance the old man had fallen into.

"Nuffin', sah; but if it don't putty quick dar's gwineter be trouble. Dese yer gemmen on de av'nue is gittin' ugly. When I got dar Madary de udder day de tall one warn't gwineter gib it to me, pass-book or no pass-book. On'y de young one say he'd seen de colonel, an' he was a gemmen an" all right, I wouldn't 'a' got it at all. De tall gemmen was comin' right around hisself--what he wanted to see, he said, was de color ob de colonel's money. Been mo' den two months, an' not a cent.

"Co'se I tole same as I been tellin' him, dat de colonel's folks is quality folks; but he say dat don't pay de bills."

"Did you tell the colonel?"

"No, sah; ain't no use tellin' de colonel; on'y worry him. He's got de passbook, but I ain't yerd him say nuffin' yit 'bout payin' him. I been spectin' Miss Nancy up here, an' de colonel says she's comin' putty soon. She'll fix 'em; but dey ain't no time to waste."

While he spoke there came a loud knock at the door, and Chad returned trembling with fear, his face the very picture of despair.

"Dat's de tall man hisself, sah, an' his dander's up. I knowed dese Yankees in de war, an' I don't like 'em when dey's ris'. When I tole him de colonel ain't home he look at me pizen-like, same as I was a-lyin'; an' den he stop an' listen an' say he come back to-night. Trouble comin'; old coon smells de dog. Wish we was home an' out ob dis!"

I tried to divert his attention into other channels and to calm his fears, assuring him that the colonel would come out all right; that these enterprises were slow, etc.; but the old man only shook his head.

"You know, Major, same as me, dat de colonel ain't nuffin' but a chile, an' about his bills he's _wuss_. But I'm yer, an' I'm 'sponsible. 'Chad,' he says, 'go out an' git six mo' bottles of dat old Madary;' an' 'Chad, don't forgit de sweet ile;' an' 'Chad, is we got claret enough to last ober Sunday?'--an' not a cent in de house. I ain't slep' none for two nights, worritin' ober dis business, an' I'm mos' crazy." I laid down my knife and fork and looked up. The old man's lip was quivering, and something very like a tear stood in each eye.

"I can't hab nuffin' happen to de fambly, Major. You know our folks is quality, an' always was, an' I dassent look my mistress in de face if anythin' teches Marsa George." Then bending down he said in a hoarse whisper: "See dat old clock out dar wid his eye wide open? Know what's down below dat in de cellar? De jail!" And two tears rolled down his cheeks.

* * * * *

It was some time before I could quiet the old man's anxieties and coax him back into his usual good humor, and then only when I began to ask him of the old plantation days.

Then he fell to talking about the colonel's father, General John Carter, and the high days at Carter Hall when Miss Nancy was a young lady and the colonel a boy home from the university.

"Dem was high times. We ain't neber seed no time like dat since de war. Git up in de mawnin' an' look out ober de lawn, an' yer come fo'teen or fifteen couples ob de fustest quality folks, all on horseback ridin' in de gate. Den such a scufflin' round! Old marsa an' missis out on de po'ch, an' de little pickaninnies runnin' from de quarters, an' all hands helpin' 'em off de horses, an' dey all smokin' hot wid de gallop up de lane.

"An' den sich a breakfast an' sich dancin' an' co'tin': ladies all out on de lawn in der white dresses, an' de gemmen in fair-top boots, an' Mammy Jane runnin' round same as a chicken wid its head off,--an' der heads was off befo' dey knowed it, an' dey a-br'ilin' on de gridiron.

"Dat would go on a week or mo', an' den up dey'll all git an' away dey'd go to de nex' plantation, an' take Miss Nancy along wid 'em on her little sorrel mare, an' I on Marsa John's black horse, to take care bofe of 'em. Dem _was times!

"My old marsa,"--and his eyes glistened,--"my old Marsa John was a gem-man, sah, like dey don't see nowadays. Tall, sah, an' straight as a cornstalk; hair white an' silky as de tassel; an' a voice like de birds was singin', it was dat sweet.

"'Chad,' he use' ter say,--you know I was young den, an' I was his body servant,--'Chad, come yer till I bre'k yo' head;' an' den when I come he'd laugh fit to kill hisself. Dat's when you do right. But when you was a low-down nigger an' got de debbil in yer, an' ole marsa hear it an' send de oberseer to de quarters for you to come to de little room in de big house whar de walls was all books an' whar his desk was, 't wa'n't no birds about his voice den,--mo' like de thunder."

"Did he whip his negroes?"

"No, sah; don't reckelmember a single lick laid on airy nigger dat de marsa knowed of; but when dey got so bad--an' some niggers is dat way--den dey was sold to de swamp lan's. He wouldn't hab 'em round 'ruptin' his niggers, he use' ter say.

"Hab coffee, sah? Won't take I a minute to bile it. Colonel ain't been drinkin' none lately, an' so I don't make none."

I nodded my head, and Chad closed the door softly, taking with him a small cup and saucer, and returning in a few minutes followed by that most delicious of all aromas, the savory steam of boiling coffee.

"My Marsa John," he continued, filling the cup with the smoking beverage, "never drank nuffin' but tea, eben at de big dinners when all de gemmen had coffee in de little cups--dat's one ob 'em you's drink-in' out ob now; dey ain't mo' dan fo' on 'em left. Old marsa would have his pot ob tea: Henny use' ter make it for him; makes it now for Miss Nancy.

"Henny was a young gal den, long 'fo' we was married. Henny b'longed to Colonel Lloyd Barbour, on de next plantation to ourn.

"Mo' coffee, Major?" I handed Chad the empty cup. He refilled it, andwent straight on without drawing breath.

"Wust scrape I eber got into wid old Marsa John was ober Henny. I tell ye she was a harricane in dem days. She come into de kitchen one time where I was helpin' git de dinner ready an' de cook had gone to de spring house, an' she says:--

"'Chad, what ye cookin' dat smells so nice?'

"'Dat's a goose,' I says, 'cookin' for Marsa John's dinner. We got quality,' says I, pointin' to de dinin'-room do'.

"'Quality!' she says. 'Spec' I know what de quality is. Dat's for you an' de cook.'

"Wid dat she grabs a caarvin' knife from de table, opens de do' ob de big oven, cuts off a leg ob de goose, an' dis'pears round de kitchen corner wid de leg in her mouf.

"'Fo' I knowed whar I was Marsa John come to de kitchen do' an' says, 'Gittin' late, Chad; bring in de dinner.' You see, Major, dey ain't no up an' down stairs in de big house, like it is yer; kitchen an' dinin'-room all on de same flo'.

"Well, sah, I was scared to def, but I tuk dat goose an' laid him wid de cut side down on de bottom of de pan 'fo' de cook got back, put some dressin' an' stuffin' ober him, an' shet de stove do'. Den I tuk de sweet potatoes an' de hominy an' put 'em on de table, an' den I went back in de kitchen to git de baked ham. I put on de ham an' some mo' dishes, an' marsa says, lookin' up:--

"'I t'ought dere was a roast goose, Chad?'

"'I ain't yerd nothin' 'bout no goose,' I says. 'I'll ask de cook.'

"Next minute I yerd old marsa a-hollerin':--

"'Mammy Jane, ain't we got a goose?'

"'Lord-a-massy! yes, marsa. Chad, you wu'thless nigger, ain't you tuk dat goose out yit?'

"'Is we got a goose?' said I.

"'_Is we got a goose_? Didn't you help pick it?'

"I see whar my hair was short, an' I snatched up a hot dish from de hearth, opened de oven do', an' slide de goose in jes as he was, an' lay him down befo' Marsa John.

"'Now see what de ladies'll have for dinner,' says old marsa, pickin' up his caarvin' knife.

"'What'll you take for dinner, miss?' says I. 'Baked ham?'

"'No,' she says, lookin' up to whar Marsa John sat; 'I think I'll take a leg ob dat goose'--jes so.

"Well, marsa cut off de leg an' put a little stuffin' an' gravy on wid a spoon, an' says to me, 'Chad, see what dat gemman'll have.'

"'What'll you take for dinner, sah?' says I. 'Nice breast o' goose, or slice o' ham?'

"'No; I think I'll take a leg of dat goose,' he says.

"I didn't say nuffin', but I knowed bery well he wa'n't a-gwine to git it.

"But, Major, you oughter seen ole marsa lookin' for der udder leg ob dat goose! He rolled him ober on de dish, dis way an' dat way, an' den he jabbed dat ole bone-handled caarvin' fork in him an' hel' him up ober de dish an' looked under him an' on top ob him, an' den he says, kinder sad like:--

"'Chad, whar is de udder leg ob dat goose?'

"'It didn't hab none,' says I.

"'You mean ter say, Chad, dat de gooses on my plantation on'y got one leg?'

"'Some ob 'em has an' some ob 'em ain't. You see, marsa, we got two kinds in de pond, an' we was a little boddered today, so Mammy Jane cooked dis one 'cause I cotched it fust.'

"'Well,' said he, lookin' like he look when he send for you in de little room, 'I'll settle wid ye after dinner.'

"Well, dar I was shiverin' an' shakin' in my shoes, an' droppin' gravy an' spillin' de wine on de table-cloth, I was dat shuck up; an' when de dinner was ober he calls all de ladies an' gemmen, an' says, 'Now come down to de duck pond. I'm gwineter show dis nigger dat all de gooses on my plantation got mo' den one leg.'

"I followed 'long, trapesin' after de whole kit an' b'ilin', an' when we got to de pond"--here Chad nearly went into a convulsion with suppressed laughter--"dar was de gooses sittin' on a log in de middle of dat ole green goose-pond wid one leg stuck down--so--an' de udder tucked under de wing."

Chad was now on one leg, balancing himself by my chair, the tears running down his cheeks.

"'Dar, marsa,' says I, 'don't ye see? Look at dat ole gray goose! Dat's de berry match ob de one we had to-day.'

"Den de ladies all hollered an' de gemmen laughed so loud dey yerd 'em at de big house.

"'Stop, you black scoun'rel!' Marsa John says, his face gittin' white an' he a-jerkin' his handkerchief from his pocket. 'Shoo!'

"Major, I hope to have my brains kicked out by a lame grasshopper if ebery one ob dem gooses didn't put down de udder leg!

"'Now, you lyin' nigger,' he says, raisin' his cane ober my head, 'I'll show you'--

'"Stop, Marsa John!' I hollered; ''t ain't fair, 't ain't fair.'

"'Why ain't it fair?' says he.

"''Cause,' says I, 'you didn't say "Shoo!" to de goose what was on de table.'" (Footnote: This story, and the story of the "Postmaster" in a preceding chapter, I have told for so many years and to so many people, and with such varied amplifications, that I have long since persuaded myself that they are creations of my own. I surmise, however, that the basis of the "Postmaster" can be found in the corner of some forgotten newspaper, and I know that the "One-Legged Goose" is as old as the "Decameron".)

Chad laughed until he choked.

"And did he thrash you?"

"Marsa John? No, sah. He laughed loud as anybody; an' den dat night he says to me as I was puttin' some wood on de fire:--

"'Chad, where did dat leg go?' An' so I ups an' tells him all about Henny, an' how I was lyin' 'cause I was 'feared de gal would git hurt, an' how she was on'y a-foolin', thinkin' it was my goose; an' den de ole marsa look in de fire for a long time, an' den he says:--

"'Dat's Colonel Barbour's Henny, ain't it, Chad?'

"'Yes,' marsa, says I.

"Well, de next mawnin' he had his black horse saddled, an' I held the stirrup for him to git on, an' he rode ober to de Barbour plantation, an' didn't come back till plumb black night. When he come up I held de lantern so I could see his face, for I wa'n't easy in my mine all day. But it was all bright an' shinin' same as a' angel's.

"'Chad,' he says, handin' me de reins, 'I bought yo' Henny dis arternoon from Colonel Barbour, an' she's comin' ober tomorrow, an' you can bofe git married next Sunday.'"

* * * * *

A cheerful voice at the yard door, and the next moment the colonel was stamping his feet on the hall mat, his first word to Chad an inquiry after my comfort, and his second an apology to me for what he called his brutal want of hospitality.

"But I couldn't help it, Major. I had some letters, suh, that could not be postponed. Has Chad taken good care of you? No dinner, Chad; I dined down town. How is the Madeira, Major?"

I expressed my entire approbation of the wine, and was about to fill the colonel's glass when Chad leaned over with the same anxious look in his face. "De grocerman was here, Colonel, an' lef' word dat he was comin' agin later."

"You don't say so, Chad, and I was out: most unfortunate occurrence! When he calls again show him in at once. It will give me great pleasure to see him."

Then turning to me, his mind on the passbook and its empty pages,--"I'll lay a wager, Major, that man's father was a gentleman. The fact is, I have not treated him with proper respect. He has shown me every courtesy since I have been here, and I am ashamed to say that I have not once entered his doors. His calling twice in one evening touches me deeply. I did not expect to find yo' tradespeople so polite."

Chad's face was a study while his master spoke, but he was too well trained, and still too anxious over the outcome of the expected interview, to do more than bow obsequiously to the colonel,--his invariable custom when receiving an order,--and to close the door behind him.

"That old servant," continued the colonel, watching Chad leave the room, and drawing his chair nearer the fire, "has been in my fam'ly ever since he was bawn. But for him and his old wife, Mammy Henny, I would be homeless to-night." And then the colonel, with that soft cadence in his voice which I always noticed when he spoke of something that touched his heart, told me with evident feeling how, in every crisis of fire, pillage, and raid, these two faithful souls had kept unceasing watch about the old house; refastening the wrenched doors, replacing the shattered shutters, or extinguishing the embers of abandoned bivouac fires. Indeed, for months at a time they were its only occupants, outside of strolling marauders and bands of foragers, and but for their untiring devotion its tall chimneys would long since have stood like tombstones over the grave of its ashes. Then he added, with a break in his voice that told how deeply he felt it:--

"Do you know, Major, that when I was a prisoner at City Point that darky tramped a hundred miles through the coast swamps to reach me, crossed both lines twice, hung around for three months for his chance, and has carried in his leg ever since the ball intended for me the night I escaped in his clothes, and he was shot in mine.

"I tell you, suh, the color of a man's skin don't make much diffe'ence sometimes. Chad was bawn a gentleman, and he'll never get over it."

As he was speaking, the object of his eulogy opened the hall door, and the next instant a tall, red-headed man with closely trimmed side-whiskers, and wearing a brown check suit and a blue necktie, ran the gauntlet of Chad's profound but anxious bow, and advanced towards the colonel, hat in hand.

"Which is Mr. Carter?"

The colonel arose gracefully. "I am Colonel Carter, suh, and I presume you are the gentleman to whom I am indebted for so many courtesies. My servant tells me that you called earlier in the evenin'. I regret, suh, that I was detained so late at my office, and I have to thank you for perseve'in' the second time. I assure you, suh, that I esteem it a special honor."

The tall gentleman with the auburn whiskers wiped his face with a handkerchief, which he took from his hat, and stated with some timidity that he hoped he did not intrude at that late hour. He had sent his pass-book, and--

"I have looked it over, suh, repeatedly, with the greatest pleasure. It is a custom new to us in my county, but it meets with my hearty approval. Give yo' hat to my servant, suh, and take this seat by the fire."

The proprietor of the hat after some protestations suffered Chad to bear away that grateful protection to his slightly bald head,--retaining his handkerchief, which he finally rolled up into a little wad and kept tightly clenched in the perspiring palm of his left hand,--and then threw out the additional hope that everything was satisfactory.

"Delicious, suh; I have not tasted such Madeira since the wah. In my cellar at home, suh, I once had some old Madeira of '28 that was given to my father, the late General John Caarter, by old Judge Thornton. You, of course, know that wine, suh. Ah! I see that you do."

And then followed one of the colonel's delightful monologues descriptive of all the vintages of that year, the colonel constantly appealing to the dazed and delighted grocerman to be set right in minor technical matters,--the grocer understanding them as little as he did the Aztec dialects,--the colonel himself supplying the needed data and then thanking the auburn gentleman for the information so charmingly that for the moment that worthy tradesman began to wonder why he had not long before risen from the commonplace level of canned vegetables to the more sublime plane of wines in the wood.

"Now the Madeira you sent me this mornin', suh, is a trifle too fruity for my taste. Chad, open a fresh bottle."

The owner of the pass-book instantly detected a very decided fruity flavor, but thought he had another wine, which he would send in the morning, that might suit the colonel's palate better.

The colonel thanked him, and then drifted into the wider field of domestic delicacies,--the preserving of fruits, the making of pickles as practiced on the plantations by the old Virginia cooks,--the colonel waxing eloquent over each production, and the future wine merchant becoming more and more enchanted as the colonel flowed on.

When he rose to go the grocer had a mental list of the things he would send the colonel in the morning all arranged in his commercial head, and so great was his delight that, after shaking hands with me once and with the colonel three times, he would also have extended that courtesy to Chad had not that perfectly trained servant checkmated him by filling his extended palm with the rim of his own hat.

When Chad returned from bowing him through the tunnel, the lines in his face a tangle of emotions, the colonel was standing on the mat, in his favorite attitude--back to the fire, coat thrown open, thumbs in his armholes, his outstretched fingers beating woodpecker tattoos on his vest.

Somehow the visit of the grocer had lifted him out of the cares of the day. How, he could not tell. Perhaps it was the fragrance of the Madeira; perhaps the respectful, overawed bow,--the bow of the tradesman the world over to the landed proprietor,--restoring to him for one brief moment that old feudal supremacy which above all else his soul loved. Perhaps it was only the warmth and cheer and comfort of it all.

Whatever it was, it buoyed and strengthened him. He was again in the old dining-hall at home: the servants moving noiselessly about; the cut-glass decanters reflected in the polished mahogany; the candles lighted; his old, white-haired father, in his high-backed chair, sipping his wine from the slender glass.

Ah, the proud estate of the old plantation days! Would they ever be his again?

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Colonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 4. The Arrival Of A True Southern Lady Colonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 4. The Arrival Of A True Southern Lady

Colonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 4. The Arrival Of A True Southern Lady
CHAPTER IV. The Arrival of a True Southern Lady"Mistress yer, sah! Come yistidd'y mawnin'." How Chad beamed all over when this simple statement fell from his lips! I had not seen him since the night when he stood behind my chair and with bated breath whispered his anxieties lest the second advent of "de grocerman" should bring dire destruction to the colonel's household. To-day he looked ten years younger. His kinky gray hair, generally knotted into little wads, was now divided by a well-defined path starting from the great wrinkle in his forehead and ending in a dense tangle of underbrush
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Colonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 2. The Garden Spot Of Virginia Seeks An Outlet To The Sea Colonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 2. The Garden Spot Of Virginia Seeks An Outlet To The Sea

Colonel Carter Of Cartersville - Chapter 2. The Garden Spot Of Virginia Seeks An Outlet To The Sea
CHAPTER II. The Garden Spot of Virginia seeks an Outlet to the SeaChad was just entering the small gate which shut off the underground passage when I arrived opposite the colonel's cozy quarters. I had come to listen to the details of that booming enterprise with the epidemic proclivities, the discussion of which had been cut short by the length of time it had taken to kill the postmaster the night before. It was quite evident that the colonel expected guests, for Chad was groaning under a square wicker basket, containing, among other luxuries and necessities, half a dozen bottles of
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT