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Recently Eli Rudgis had been thinking a good deal about Grim; for, as the war continued, it grew in his mind that the South was going to lose the fight. He had only recently heard of President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation, and with that far-seeing prudence characteristic of a certain order of provincial intellect he was considering how best to forestall the effect of freedom if it should come, as he feared it would. Grim was his property, valued at about eight hundred dollars in "good money," or in Confederate scrip at, perhaps, two or three thousand dollars, more or less. He shrank from selling the negro, for in his dry, peculiar way he was fond of him; but, on the other hand, he could not consent to lose so much money on the outcome of an issue not of his own making. It can readily be imagined how, with ample leisure for reflection, and with no other problem to share his attention, Rudgis gradually buried himself, so to speak, in this desire to circumvent and nullify emancipation, in so far as it would affect his ownership of Grim, when it
Grim was far more knowing, far better informed, and much more of a philosopher, than his master gave him credit for being. By some means, as occult as reliable, he had kept perfectly abreast of the progress of the great, weltering, thundering, death-dealing tempest of the war, and in his heart he felt the coming day of deliverance, the jubilee of eternal freedom for his race. Incapable, perhaps, of seeing clearly the true aspect of what was probably in store for him, he yet experienced a change of prospect that affected every fiber of his imagination, and opened, so to say, every pore of his sensibility. Naturally wary, suspicious, and quick to observe signs, he had been aware lately that his master was revolving some scheme which in all probability would effect a change in their domestic relations, to the extent, possibly, of severing the tie which for so long had bound together the lord and the thrall of Lone Ridge Pocket.
"He studyin' 'bout er-sellin' me," he soliloquized, as he lingered over his task of basketmending after Rudgis had gone away, "an' he fink he er-gwine ter fool dis ol' coon. Well, 'fore de Lor', mebbe he will."
"What ye mutterin' thar, Grim?" called the master from his seat on the veranda. "What ye growlin' 'bout, lak er pup over er ham-bone?
"Nuffin', sah; I jes tryin' fo' ter ketch dat chune w'at I be'n er-l'arnin'."
He drew away at his wheezing pipe, leaning his chin, thinly fringed with grizzled beard, in his left hand, and propping that arm with his knee. His typical mountain face wore a puzzled, half-worried, half-amused expression.
"Dern 's black pictur'," he continued inaudibly, though his lips moved; "he air a-considerin' freedom right now."
"Whi' man tuk me fer er fool,
Keep er-hoein' yo' co'n, honey,"
hummed Grim in that tender falsetto of his. There was a haze in the air, a Maytime shimmer over the Pocket and up the terraced slopes of the mountains. Suddenly a heavy booming, like distant thunder, tumbled as if in long, throbbing waves across the peaks, and fell into the little drowsy cove.
"W'at dat, Mars Rudgis? 'Fore de Lor'! w'at dat?" cried the negro, leaping to his feet, and staring stupidly, his great mouth open, his long arms akimbo.
Eli Rudgis took his pipe-stem from his mouth, and sat in a harkening attitude. "Hit's thet air war er-comin'," he presently said, and resumed his smoking and reflections.
"De good Lor', Mars Rudgis, w'at we gwine ter do?" stammered Grim, his heavy countenance growing strangely ashen over its
Then, to clinch the false statement, Grim corrugated blackness. began humming:
"De coon he hab er eejit wife,
Hoe yo' co'n, honey,
"Shet erp, an' mend that there basket," growled the master. "Goin' ter mek ye wo'k like the devil er-beatin' tan-bark while I kin;
fer thet's yer frien's er-comin' ter free ye, a good bed, sufficient clothing, and unlimited Grim, sure 's shootin'." tobacco-what more could he want?
The African bowed his head over his light task, and remained thoughtfully silent, while the dull pounding in the far distance increased to an incessant roar, vague, wavering, suggestive, awful.
Rudgis thought little of the wider significance accompanying that slowly rolling tempest of destruction; his mental vision was narrowed to the compass of the one subject which lately had demanded all his powers of consideration. Was it possible for him to hold Grim as his slave despite the proclamation of emancipation, and notwithstanding the triumph of the Federal armies?
"Ef I try ter take 'im down the country ter sell 'im, they'll conscrip' me inter the war," he argued to himself, "an' ef I stays yer them 'fernal Yankees 'll set 'im free. Seem lak it air pow'ful close rubbin', an' dern ef I know what ter do! I air kind o' 'twixt the skillet an' the coals."
Day after day he sat smoking and cogitating, while Grim pottered at this or that bit of labor. He had an unconquerable aversion to going into the army, a thing he had avoided, partly by reason of his age and partly by one personal shift or another, after the exigencies of the Confederacy had led to the conscription of "able-bodied men" regardless of age. He felt that things were growing to desperate straits in the low country, and he feared to show himself outside his mountain fastness lest a conscript officer might nab him and send him to the front. Not that he was a coward; but in the high, dry atmosphere of the hill-country there lingered a sweet and inextinguishable waft of loyalty to the old flag, which touched the minds of many mountaineers with a vague sense of the enormity of rebellion against the government of Washington and Jackson. And yet they were Southerners, good fighters, Yankee-haters, and clung to the right of property in their negroes with a tenacity as tough as the sinews of their hardy limbs. They were, indeed, far more stubborn in this last regard than any of the great slave-owners of the low country, owing, no doubt, to their narrow, provincial notions of personal independence, which felt no need for the aid or the interference of the law in their private concerns.
Grim was not a typical slave, but he was a legitimate instance of the slavery known in the secluded region of the Southern mountaincountry. He was as free, in all but name, as were most illiterate laborers of that day, barring that his skin and the Southern traditions set him on a plane far below, and quite detached from, that of the lowest white men. He had no bonds that galled him personally; plenty to eat, just enough work to keep him robust,
His master, however, observed that he was doing a great deal of thinking; that lately he was busying his mind with some absorbing problem, and from certain signs and indications the fact appeared plain that Grim was making ready to meet the day of freedom. Rudgis saw this with a dull, deep-seated sentimental pang mixed with anger and resentment. Years of companionship in that lonely place had engendered a fondness for his slave of which he was not fully aware, and out of which was now issuing a sort of bewilderment of mind and soul. Would Grim indeed forsake him, desert him to go away to try the doubtful chances of a new order of things? This question was supplemented by another based on a different stratum of human selfishness. Rudgis, like all mountain-men, had a narrow eye to profit and loss. The money represented by Grim as his slave possessed a powerful influence; it was the larger part of his fortune.
Grim, on his part, watched his master as the tide of the war flowed on through the mountain-gaps far to the east of the Pocket; his calculations were simpler and more directly personal than those of his master. Of course things could not remain in this situation very long. Grim was the first to speak straight to the subject. "Mars Rudgis," said he one day, "yo' be'n 'siderin' erbout sellin' me."
This direct accusation took the master unawares.
"Wha-wha-what 's that air ye air er-sayin', ye ol' whelp?" he spluttered, almost dropping his pipe.
"Yo' be'n er-finkin' 'at I 's gittin' close onter de freedom line, an' ye s'pose yo' 'd better git w'at ye kin fo' me, yah-yah-yah-ee-oorp! and the black rascal broke forth with a mighty guffaw, bending himself almost double, and slapping his hands together vigorously. "But yo''s 'feared dey git ye an' mek yo' tote er gun, an' 'at yo''d git de stuffin' shot outen yo' ef yo' try take me down de country, yah-yahyah-ee-ee-oorp!"
"Shet erp! What ye mean? Stop thet air sq'allin', er I'll—”
"Yah-yah-yah-ee-eep! I done cotch onter yo' ca'c'lation, Mars Rudgis, 'fo' de Lor' I has, oh! Yah-yah-yah-yah-ha-eep! An' yo' fink I 's er eejit all dis time, yah-yah-yah! Oh gi' 'long, Mars Rudgis, yo' cayn't fool dis chicken, yah-ha-yah-ha-ha-ha-ee-eer-pooh!"
Rudgis tried several times to stop this flow of accusative mirth, but at last, quite confused, he stood tall and gaunt, with a sheepish grin on his dry, wrinkled face, gazing at the writhing negro as he almost screamed out his sententious but fluent revelation.
"I done be'n er-watchin' yo' like er sparrerhawk watchin' er peewee, Mars Rudgis, an' I say ter myself: 'Jes see 'im er-figerin' how much I 's wo'f, an' how much he gwine ter lose w'en I goes free.' An' I done be'n jes er-bustin' over it all dis time, yah-yah-yah-ee-ee!"
"Grim," said Rudgis, presently, with slow, emphatic expression, "I air er-goin' 'mejitly ter give ye one whirpin' 'at ye 'll ricomember es long es they 's breath in yer scurvy ol' body!" They were standing on the veranda at the time. Rudgis turned into the entry, and immediately came out with a ramrod in his hand.
"Now fer yer sass ye air er-goin' ter ketch hit," he said, in that cold, rasping tone that means so much. "Stan' erp yer an' take yer med'cine."
Grim went down on his knees and began to beg; his mirth had vanished; he was trembling violently. Rudgis never had whipped him.
"Fo' de Lor' sake, Mars Eli, don' w'irp de po' ol' chil'! I jes funnin', Mars Rudgis; I jes want ter see w'at yo' gwine say. I-"
At that moment there was a great clatter of iron-shod hoofs at the little yard gate; the next, three or four horses bounded over the low fence and dashed up to the veranda.
"Please, Mars Rudgis, don' w'irp me! I did n' mean no harm, Mars Rudgis, 'deed I did n'! Oh, fo' de Lor' sake!"
"Ha! there! stop that!" commanded a loud, positive voice.
Rudgis had already looked that way. He saw some mounted soldiers, wearing blue uniforms and bearing bright guns, glaring at him.
"O, Mars Rudgis, I never gwine do so no mo', don' w'irp me! don' w'irp me!" continued Grim, paying no heed to the soldiers. "Le' me off dis yer time, fo' de goo' Lor' sake!"
"If you strike that negro one blow, I'll shoot a hole through you quicker than lightning!" roared one of the men, who appeared to be an officer, at the same time leveling his pistol.
Rudgis dropped the ramrod as if he had been suddenly paralyzed. Grim sprang to his feet with the agility of a black cat.
"What does this mean?" demanded the officer, showing a gleam of anger in his eyes, his voice indicating no parleying mood.
Rudgis stood there, pale, stolid, silent, his mouth open, his arms akimbo.
"Lor', sah, we 's jes er-foolin'," said Grim, seeing that his master could not find a word to say. "We 's er-playin' hoky-poky."
"IF YOU STRIKE THAT NEGRO ONE BLOW."
"Are you dumb?" stormed the officer, again handling his weapon. "Can't you speak?"
"Hit were hoky-poky," gasped Rudgis.
"Dah, now! Dah, now! Mebbe yo' 's sat'sfied, sah. W'a''d I tol' yo'?" cried Grim, wagging his head and gesticulating. "We 's jes er-playin' dat leetle game."
The officer wanted some information about a road over the mountain, so he made Grim saddle a mule and go with him to show the way. As he rode off he called back to Rudgis:
"This man 's as free as you are, and he need n't come back if he don't want to."
When they were quite gone, and the last sound of their horses' feet had died away down in the straggling fringe of trees at the foot of the hill, Rudgis picked up his ramrod and looked at it quizzically, as if he expected it to speak. Slowly his face relaxed, and a
queer smile drew it into leathery wrinkles.
"Hit were hoky-poky, by gum! he muttered. "The dern ole scamp!
Presently he filled his pipe, and lighted it, grinning all the while, and saying:
"The triflin' ol' rooster he hed half er dozen dif'ent names fer it; but hit were hoky-poky jes the same. The dern old coon!"
THE day passed, likewise the night; but Grim did not return. A week, a month, six months; no Grim, no mule. Sherman had swept through Georgia, and on up through the Carolinas; Johnston and Lee had surrendered. Peace had fallen like a vast silence after the awful din of war. The worn and weary soldiers of the South were straggling back to their long-neglected homes to resume as best they could the broken threads of peaceful lives.
Rudgis missed Grim more as a companion than as a slave. He mourned for him, in a way, recalling his peculiarities, and musing over that one superb stroke of wit by which, perhaps, his life had been saved. Never did he fail, at the end of such a reverie, to repeat, more sadly and tenderly each time, "Hit were hoky-poky, blame his ol' hide!" The humor of this verbal reference was invariably indicated by a peculiar rising inflection in pronouncing were, by which he meant to accentuate lovingly Grim's prompt prevarication.
Spring had come again to the mountains, bringing its gush of greenery, its mellow sunshine, and its riotous birds. Into the Pocket blew a breeze soft, fragrant, dream-burdened, eddying like a river of sweets around the lonely, embowered cabin.
Early one morning Rudgis was smoking in his accustomed seat on the veranda. In his shirt-sleeves, bareheaded and barefooted, his cotton shirt open wide at throat and bosom, he looked like a bronze statue of Emaciation, so collapsed, wrinkled, and sear was he. His Roman nose was the only vigorous feature of his unkempt and retrospective face.
The sound of a mule's feet trotting up the little stony road did not attract his curiosity, albeit few riders passed that way; but when Grim came suddenly in sight, it was an apparition that relaxed every fiber of Rudgis's frame. He dropped lower in the old chair, his arms fell limp, and his mouth opened wide, letting fall the cob-pipe. He stared helplessly.
"Yah I is, Mars Rudgis; got back at las'. How ye do, Mars Rudgis?
ENGRAVED BY J. F. JUNGLING.
"PRESENTLY HE FILLED HIS PIPE, AND LIGHTED IT.
There was the ring of genuine delight in the negro's voice- the timbre of loyal sentiment too sweet for expression in written language. He slid from the mule's back,- not the same mule that he had ridden away, but an older and poorer one, and scrambled through the lop-sided gate.
"Well, by dad!" was all Rudgis could say. "Well, by dad!"
"Tol' yo' dey could n't sot dis niggah free, did n' I?" cried Grim, as he made a dive for both of his old master's hands. "I's come back ter 'long ter yo' same lak I allus did. Yah sah; yah sah."
Rudgis arose slowly from his seat and straightened up his long, lean form so that he towered above the short, sturdy negro. He looked down at him in silence for some moments, his face twitching strangely. Slowly the old-time expression began to appear around his mouth and in his eyes. With a quick step he went into the house, and returned almost instantly, bearing a ramrod in his hand.
"Well, Grim," he said, with peculiar emphasis, "ef ye air still my prop'ty, an' ye don't objec', s'posin' we jes finish up that air leetle game er hoky-poky what we was er-playin' w'en them Yankees kem an' bothered us."
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING FOR
HE farmer was never before so prominent a figure in the United States. This fact is all the more noteworthy when considered in connection with the decreasing proportion of our population living in the country, and with the growing importance of our city industries as compared with agriculture. The explanation is to be found in the fact that the United States has just reached a point of marked change in agricultural conditions.
For more than a century the pioneer farmer has been working his way, year by year, toward the West. Beginning on the Atlantic coast, he cut the forests of New England, exhausted the fair fields of Virginia, tried and passed by the fertile valleys of central New York, stopped for a time in the Ohio Valley, completed the conquest of Kansas, quickly took possession of Nebraska and Montana, and now has come face to face with the agriculture of the Pacific Slope. During all this time he has planted his seed and gathered his crops without giving a thought to the destruction his methods were bringing upon the fertility of the soil. The exhaustion of the soil was a matter of no serious import, for to him its only meaning was an easy move to a new location. We of to-day see the birth of agriculture in the United States. The farming of the past was land-skimming; the farming of the future must be land-culture. Suddenly the old pioneer farmer has found the play played out, and the present wide-spread interest in the farmer is the manifestation of the fact that our agriculture-still the greatest of our industries-is under the necessity of accommodating itself to new conditions.
So long as the supply of virgin land was sufficient, agriculture asked few favors. The Eastern and Middle States have long been studying methods for preserving the soil, diversification of products, and means of protection from plant diseases, insect pests, and other enemies. But it is only recently that crop disasters or low prices, affecting the great staple-producing regions of the West, have brought the farming population to an agreement in the demand for help. This demand has called men of science to the study of the principles that underlie the VOL. XLIV.-61.
right practice of agriculture, and has asked the lawmakers for such protection and help as it is in their power to afford.
It is the purpose of this article to state very briefly the principal points of some of the more important legislation bearing upon agricultural interests. Space, however, makes it necessary to leave a large and important part of the field uncovered. By special exception, railroad legislation is treated in another article. Nor will any attempt be made to trace the effects of legislation, which, though of great influence on the welfare of the farmer, yet touches his interests only in common with those of others. This exception will throw out any consideration of the general effect of the tariff on the tiller of the soil. The specific protection meant for his direct benefit will be noticed, but it will not be possible to touch the still more important and more difficult consideration of the net results of the McKinley Act, arising from giving him control of the home market with increased prices for some of his products, and at the same time requiring him to pay increased prices for some of the articles which he consumes. Another important class of laws is composed of those relating to banking and money. The changes which are asked in these lines deserve the respectful and careful consideration both of the people at large and of Congress, but they can not be considered here. Another tempting topic which the writer must not discuss is the fairness to the farmer of the laws which distribute the burdens of national, State, and local taxation. Another body of laws of the greatest interest is State legislation; but all that can be done in this article is to make mention of some of the more interesting subjects which it covers. Prominent among these at present are the making and the care of country roads; and if it be true, as stated, that it often costs more to haul grain ten miles by wagon to the railroad than to carry it by rail and steamer from the interior of the United States to Liverpool, it will be seen that this subject deserves even more attention than it is now receiving. Other subjects are the control of the fertilizer trade, the inspection of milk, butter, meats, and other products, the liabilities of owners of stray stock, the necessity of fences, the regulation of the slaughtering of animals, the duties and privileges of grain-elevators and other public