Puslapio vaizdai
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

fruit and vegetable cellar to learn if of people. Often they craved leave to the apples did not need looking over or camp "thar and git water and water that the potatoes were not rotting? If the critters,” which my gentle old any one thinks that a Southern woman grandfather always allowed, and would trod a primrose path, let him remem- send corn-meal and eggs and milk ber that all this had to be done by the down by the ready hands of the chilmistress of the house or by one of her dren. If any one was sick, my granddaughters. My grandmother had a mother went down and administered big medicine-box from which she dis- pills and powders to the patient. Once, pensed pills and powders, and liberal I remember, a vender of patent medidoses of castor-oil and calomel, for cines, passing down the turnpike, had ordinary ailments, and then, if these the misfortune to have his horse die in failed, the doctor was called to bleed front of the house, and traded many the patient. It was the heroic age of hundred boxes of Halloway's pills in medicine.

exchange for a charger to replace the One of our favorite amusements was one lost. My grandmother was wrathto run down to the big gate, climb to ful at first at my grandfather for taking the top of the fence, and watch the them, saying that she preferred to mix passers-by. There was an almost end- her own blue mass; but the boxes bore less procession of white, cloth-covered a most enticing list of all ills under the wagons, and some one of us never sun which they were warranted to failed to sing out, “Where are you cure, and really they must have been going to and where did you come harmless, for we took them for all from?" I can still hear, "Comin' from diseases, and none of us died. Posey County, Indiana, and goin' Not all the passers down that windback to South Ca’liny.” They were ing pike were cheerful ones, for I can

, an unhealthy, yellow-complexioned lot recall long lines of negroes chained two

[ocr errors]

by two to an iron chain that clanked as shore,” that it was a brave negro inthey slouched along, a sorrowful, some- deed who could be persuaded to purtimes a ferocious, procession of men and chase freedom at such a price. My women going down to the cotton- and grandfather sent two, but could not tobacco-fields of the South. How my induce any more to follow. heart swelled with pity for them! I The gold fever of 1849 struck Kendid not know exactly what "going tucky, and my father's elder brother, down South” meant, but something having an adventurous spirit, took five dreadful, I feared;

men and started on for if at any time

that long journey a servant was dis

across the plains. obedient or lazy,

The negro men were the threat, "If you

to have their freedon't do better,

dom after two years you will be sold

of work.

The news South,” was suffi

came back of their cient to tame the

safe arrival and of most refractory.

their having struck Even negro moth

gold, and the negro ers would quell a

carpenter whom my crying child by

aunt had taught to saying, “Old marse

read sent her the first will sell you Souf

gold he mined, which if you holler SO

she had made into a loud."

ring and wears toThis dread of

day. But, alas! my the South was ex

uncle shot himself ceeded only by the

while hunting, and fear of being sent

died, and California to Liberia. About

was far away in those this time the Li

days, and we never beria Colonization

loten Wolcou aamus

heard what became Society was trying

of the negroes.

We to solve the prob

did hear that Sam, lem of slavery. It

the carpenter, tried was a very expen- "She was too small to do anything but tag to buy his wife, who

around after me sive experiment,

belonged on a neighfor not only was

boring plantation. there the cost of the long journey, But her owner, who was a notoriously but the colonist must be fitted with

mean man, asked him two thousand a settler's outfit and means to main- dollars for her; and Sam wrote him he tain himself until there was some could buy a wife in California cheaper return from his crops. Such dark than that, and made no further effort. tales came back of fever and snakes The quarters for the negroes were and alligators "that jes waited to built at a distance from the house, and gobble you down befo' you could git on from the turnpike had the appearance


of a small village. Each house had a evil one, and we children stood in little garden where a few vegetables great fear of her. The negroes lived and flowers were cultivated, and some principally on fat pork and corn-bread, times a small patch of tobacco. As I beans and potatoes, and such vegeremember them, the negroes seemed a tables as were in season. They had a jolly, laughing, care-free race, singing, woman, Aunt Rosy, who cooked for patting Juba, and dancing what they them alone. They could never bear to called a “hoe-down." One old woman have white folks watch them eat, and I called a Guinea negro was held in great can recall being sent into the house on awe by the rest of the negroes; they re- such occasions. garded her as having some supernatural Convenience could not have been a powers. She was a tall, slender old prime factor in Southern life, since all woman of a bright-yellow color, always kitchens were fully forty or fifty feet trimly dressed, with slender hands and away from the dining-room and in a feet. She claimed that she came from separate building.

Hot dishes for Africa and that her father was a king. meals were borne in by waiters who Certainly she made no effort to dis- ran at full speed, carrying the dishes claim that she had dealings with the in their uplifted hands.

Very often on the birth of a baby, a negro child near its own age was given to it, and the two were not only inseparable companions in childhood, but the association lasted through later years, the slave becoming the maid or body-servant of the mistress or master. I never heard the word valet used in Kentucky; it was always body-servant. My father was much attached to William, his body-servant, and brought him to St. Louis when we came to sippi, and it was nearly a year before big, fat black genius who presided over we heard a knock one morning, and the kitchen, that no murmur against in came a smiling black face, with her providing ever reached her. In"Here I is, Marse John.” William deed, I think that even my grandhad arrived. I am sorry to add that mother did not correct Aunt Rindy William fell a victim to the charms of much. I do recall a tradition that my a "yaller gal” whose name was Rose grandfather once passed Aunt Rindy and whose character was far from leaning against a door and pushed her good, and they reared a numerous aside. progeny. I often hear of persons bear- “Whut you pushin' me fur, Marse ing the family name being taken up in Harry? I ain't doin' nothin',” deJacksonville and Decatur for petty clared the colored autocrat. larceny.

Illinois; but there he loth Wolcon esaus

had to leave him, as the law did not permit a man to bring a negro into a free State. Wil

liam was left with in"To be a lady, you must play on the piano"

structions to steal his way across the Missis

“Just what I am pushing you for, A negro girl of about my own age Rindy," answered her master. was given to me. I tyrannized over Our house was in a yard filled with her, but I loved her. I do not think I trees, and a winding road led down to should have loved her if I could have the turnpike. On one side was the garhelped it, for even at that early age I den, my grandmother's garden. Dewas fully aware of the difference in our lectable place! There was a plant positions; but little Liz was so devoted called ambrosia, a long, green wreathto me that I could not help but love like affair, with tiny balls of a bitter, her in return. She was too small to do aromatic odor. It was a lovely plant, anything but tag around after me, and and lent itself to any scheme of decoramany were the interesting happenings tion. I can recall one special occasion we saw in that complex household. when a young aunt wove it into a

Every morning we all gathered at bridal wreath for Jane, a tall, black the horse-block to see my aunts and housemaid who was to be "nunited in the numberless house guests go on merriage" to Mesty, the butler. At their daily rides, and I can recall how least he would be called the butler jealous every maid was of the beauty now, for he served in the dining-room; and horsemanship of her own lady. but we called him “You Mesty.” My My aunt Susan's maid once said: “I aunt was a young woman of original bet you none of them ladies can beat conceptions, and placed three tiny red my Miss Suse. Law! you ought to see tomatoes in the very front of the her r'ar back on her trinity and ride wreath as a crowning point of beauty. off lak a queen!" I do not recall ever We called them "love apples," but they sitting at the first table with the white are more prosaically known as "cherry folks. Such honor was not for my

tomatoes." It was the first wedding of years. In those ante-bellum days my memory, so no wonder I can recall children were always served at a every detail of Jane's dress, which was second table after the grown people of a stiff white muslin. As Jane was had finished. What anguish filled our very tall and very thin and the shade hearts at the frequent announcement, of ebony, she must have looked lovely. "White folks done et all de biscuits; I remember feeling hurt because you chillen got to eat co'n-bread.” But mammy said Jane was skinny. I such was our awe of Aunt Rindy, the think mammy did not like the match. Mesty's full name was Mephistopheles, very depths of their chalices, while a name given to him by a young uncle great gray moths, looking like first home from college whom mammy had cousins to the humming-birds, flutentreated to "name de baby." Marse tered after them. In the lower end of Will had been asked to give “a real the garden a shallow stream swept with gran', highfalutin name," and mammy swift current over its rocky bed, and was much pleased with the result. tall iris blossoms waved purple ban"De onliest fault wid dat name is it ners amid their lance-like leaves. Sildon't come handy to your mind," she ver-stemmed alder-bushes bore great said; so she called him “Mesty" for fronds of creamy white blossoms that daily use, asking occasionally, “Marse made lovely parasols to play lady with, Will, would you min’ sayin' dat chile's and later, as their beauty waned, the name over ag'in?

white blooms changed into dark wineIn my grandmother's garden there red clusters of berries that served the were beds of a mossy green plant that same purpose. There were many usebloomed in hundreds of yellow and ful things in my grandmother's garden; white and red satiny blossoms every poke-berries, for instance. I wager no day, and had tiny silvery seeds that belle on Broadway ever felt more perburst from their pointed caps when fectly attired than I, with my cheeks you tried to pick them. These satiny painted a glowing poke-berry red, a blooms had a long name, portulaca, horse-radish leaf for a fan, and my which captivated my ear by its roman- auburn locks shielded from the sun by tic foreign sound. And there was a an alderberry sunshade. At each end great bed of petunias. Never were

. Never were of the porch-steps stood great tubs of blossoms more loved. You could do hydrangeas that had fairylike flowers so many things with them! You could that were green one day, white the next, make lovely dolls. First, you picked then blushed into a faint pink that in the petunia, and after you had pulled time gave way to a delicate lavender. the green stem off and sucked the I have seen many hydrangeas since, honey out, you could slip any number but they were just hydrangeas, with of other blossoms on the long, slender nothing magical about them, and I had flower-stalk, thus forming a flounced not the least inclination to stand gown, finishing the whole effect by watching them for hours in the hope sticking a bud on top for a head. that some time the magical changes When you had exhausted the daily would take place while I was looking. novelty of Madam and the Misses While little Liz had no regular occuPetunia, you could blow elfin music pation, there were two offices she some through the dainty purple-and-white times unwillingly filled, in neither of trumpets. Lastly, you could watch which, truth compels me to admit, was the bees and bumblebees that came she a success. She sometimes fanned buzzing and droning about before my grandmother during her afternoon creeping into the sweet, sticky cups nap, but she would get sleepy herself, of your favorites; and as the day de- and hit my grandmother on that clined, humming-birds hovered on swift august feature of her face, the nose. wings over the blossoms and dipped Then, too, when she kept the flies off their long, slender bills down into the the table, she would dip the fly-brush


« AnkstesnisTęsti »