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The fresh charcoal with which she had away. In her absorbed and fascinated atfilled it had burned itself out, and now tention she was wholly unaware that her lay a mass of ruddy coals, alternately pal- mind had become the reflex of Sis'
' ing and darkening, making in the bare, Mame's, transmitting every movement of mean room its one spot of light, above the older woman's body to her own in which Sis' Mame's lined and yellow vis- unconscious though lessened mimicry. It age, with its somber eyes, seemed a gro- was therefore with no shock or revulsion tesque caricature of humanity. Indeed, at of feeling that, as she found herself at Sis' first it seemed rather a symbol of that Mame's side, she felt her hand seized, and humanity rudely carved in wood, so mo- was guided forward toward the mysterious tionless was she. But as Myra's first box, keeping step, in momentary pauses, sensation of benumbing fear gradually with the queer, shuffling dance with which gave way to an awed and curious interest the old negress broke her hesitating adin the spectacle before her, she noted that vance. As they stood at last above the Sis' Mame's face had relaxed. Her lips mystic receptacle, suddenly Sis' Mame now moved in rhythmic regularity, as if in began a quick-moving series of genuflectime to whispered music; her head, nod- tions, directing her gaze toward the box ding, seemed to be marking the same ca- and chanting in a low, staccato recitative: dences, while momentarily a spasmodic shiver ran through her shoulders and
“Miche' Nabo, Miche' Nabo, jerked her arms like those of a marionette. What dat shinin' een yo' eye? Then all at once she broke into a crooning
Ha'nt ob dade man, Miche' Nabo? song of the obi worship.
Soul ob gal dat wants tow die? At first a mere croon, the song gradu
Sin an' sorreh, Miche' Nabo? ally increased in volume and time as the
Load o'lies an' heart o' thief? singer's movements became wilder. Sud- Fire an’ wateh, Miche' Nabo? denly, still chanting the barbaric measure, P'ison flower an' p'ison leaf? she rose to her feet, and in a sort of pro
Miche' Nabo, cain't yo' sabe? cessional dance went from point to point
Some one 's walkin' on ma grabe.” of the room, collecting the strange objects used in the heathen worship and setting With both women the crouching dance them in orderly array about the brazier. had now become a series of rapid moveWith them she brought candles, placing ments, the song a breathless croon. As these in a circle about a closed box, sur- they rose and sank in exhausting frenzy mounted by a bell, which seemed the cen- opposite each other, they pushed the box ter of the ceremony.
back and forth, with a constant jingling As the mystic rites gradually composed of the small bell topping it. themselves in a series of incantations and But the limit of human endurance was frenzied dances about the mysterious box, at last reached, and suddenly Myra fell, from which now Sis' Mame no longer and lay prone upon the dirt floor, her hand turned her eyes, Myra was borne further still gripped by Sis' Mame, who crouched and further away from the inertness of above the box, breathing in quick gasps. body and spirit that had long bound her, With a quick movement she Aung back as it were, in chains. An odd physical the lid and sank upon her heels. In interpretation of any mental distress from the half-stupor of complete prostration, which she longed to escape, which her Myra's eyes, dumbly watchful, dilated childishly imaginative mind had always with the paralyzing sickness of an unpictured as a stilling room wherefrom a speakable fear as slowly above the uncovdoor might suddenly open to boundless ered receptacle the green head of Miche' space, now came to her anew. Some- Nabo, a snake, rose and began to weave where near, she thought, there was surely back and forth with a lightning-like dartan open door back to her old joyous life. ing of its forked tongue. With a moan,
She had not seated herself on entering, Myia closed her eyes and lay limp, lost to but standing at first at a distance, step by all things but the expected blow that she step she had drawn nearer to Sis' Mame had no strength to escape. as, under the influence of her growing ex- She never knew how long that breath
fear had gradually dropped less silence lasted. She seemed to herself
to have died a thousand times when some- “Chile, dey yen't no mahk-not er thing sharply Aipped her cheek. Even scratch!” he exclaimed at last. then she did not know that she shrieked; “Dat 's whar he bit me," she pershe was only aware that she seemed to be sisted, “an' it huhts. Oh, Jim, is Ah drifting out on the tide of blackness, and goin' tow die?" She seized his hand, blessed unconsciousness, which she thought clinging to it. “Doan' lebe me! Ah doan' death, folded her in arms of tenderness. want tow die all erlone."
She must have wakened with the first “Ah yen't nebber goin' tow lebe yo’ no cool rush of the morning wind, after that mo',” he replied ; "not 'ca'se yo' goin' tow stifling room, for life seemed to her to die, but 'ca'se yo' goin' tow libe. Dat come back with a spring, and all at once snake yen't huht yo’; dey yen't no mahk.” her world lay unrolled before her eyes Doubtfully she rose, and passed into hardly a step from Sis' Mame's door-the the house, returning a moment later with steep stairway of Love-Lady Lane; the the broken bit of a looking-glass in her mean hovels lining it, but dignified now hand. The eastern hills still hid the risen with the translating glamour of the morn- sun, but the white radiance of day was ing twilight; the whispering trees; and, flooding the sea beyond the point of cocoafar beyond, the ocean stretching wide, palms. with the first faint hint of dawn Aushing Crouching on the door-step, Myra its sky.
dropped to her lap the mirror into which She knew that she was being rapidly she had been gazing. though tenderly borne over the familiar “Ah doan' unnerstan'," she murmured. road to her own home, but she had no cu- “He bit me, an' Ah done pass erway; but riosity. Her utter exhaustion for the mo- dey yen't no mahk, jes lak yo' tell me; an' ment left her dulled to everything but the it doan' huht no mo'.” She looked up grateful coolness and sense of rest. And doubtfully at her companion, sitting at her just then again, though gradually, amid side. Half-unconsciously she laid her the awakening memories of the wild night hand on his shoulder. A new light came now passed, through the old, familiar pas
to his eyes. sage-way of fear, there came the thought Mebbe he done cure yo’, liddie gal," of the sharp blow upon her face. With a he said eagerly. sudden convulsive lifting of her hand to She nodded thoughtfully, and wearily her cheek, she moaned.
let her head fall against the doorpost. "Whah yo' huht, honey chile?" It was "Mebbe," she agreed. A trembling the voice of Gumbo Jim, her bearer. She came to her lips, and her fingers tightened turned her face quickly, looking up into on his sleeve.
Anyway, Ah doan' want his suffering eyes.
tow be erlone no mo'. Ah 'm sick o' sor“Heeh," she whispered, and touched reh." her cheek with trembling fingers. "He He leaned toward her eagerly. bit me-- dat Miche' Nabo." Her voice “Yo' want me, liddie Myra?” he whisbroke in a sob.
pered. His own was choked with impotent "Ah want somebuddy," she replied in a rage as he answered:
low voice. “He won't bite no mo'; Ah done kill "Well, dat 's me, chile- dat 's me," him wid ma heel. But yo', liddie gal! he exclaimed. Oh, ma Lawd!” In a blind frenzy at the "Yass," she said dutifully. thought of his own helplessness, he broke He sprang to his full height, and, leapinto à shambling run, continued to her ing high, brought his feet sharply together. very door.
"Heah dat!” he laughed. Then stooping, Then, struggling, she freed herself, and he let his hand fall tenderly to her shoulsank upon the door-step, covering her face der. “Now yo' go res', liddie gal; go res'. with her hands. He bent over her. Ah mus' go tow wohk, but wid joy. An'
“Lemme see yo’ face, liddie gal,” he Ah come ergain wid joy." said.
But she held him a moment longer. Hesitatingly she drew her hand away, “How yo' know how tow fin' me?" she as he bent closer in the growing light. He whispered. gazed long.
He grinned sheepishly.
"Me? Oh, Ah was jes er-prowlin' Ah done; 'foh Gawd, Ah doan'. Ah done roun', an' Ah heah yo' call."
los' ma tempeh when Ah kill him wid ma "Yo' always goin' come when Ah foot. Ah" call?" she asked.'
Sis' Mame laughed. "Try me, liddie gal; jes try me," he “Who huht him? Yo'?" she asked desaid tenderly.
risively, and, rising, beckoned him into the Day had fully come as he went down house. In a far corner of the room she the road to the landing, going now with a stooped above a box and threw back the light heart. Sounds that he knew well lid. Above its coiled length Gumbo Jim were beginning to be heard; high on the saw the green head of a snake swiftly rise. hill he caught the creaking of the arms of Jim's jaw dropped in amazement as Sis a windmill
, beginning the day's grinding, Mame snapped back the lid and grinned for the sugar-cane was now ripe; he could in his face. She gave him a playful hear, far below, the shouts of the negro push. boys riding their horses into the roadstead; "Go 'long, yalleh man!" she scoffed. he could hear their plunging. In front of “Dey yen't nuttin' goin' huht no ol' opena house a negro stood yawning, looking eyes lak us. We done cut our toofs befoh sleepily up at the round trade-wind clouds yo' was thought of, an' we 'll be scrummarching across the sky like a flock of magin' roun' when yo' is done forgot.” sheep on a blue hill. As he passed the "Ob co'se, Sis' Mame; ob co'se. Dat 's foot of Love-Lady Lane a sharp call yo' right,” he said politely. Bewildered, halted him.
but relieved, he turned away; but at the It was Sis' Mame, sitting on her door- door he paused for a moment. “Ah doan' step with her pipe in her mouth, and ap- unnerstan'," he said gratefully; "but Ah prehensively he went up to meet her. Her know dis, Sis' Mame: Ah yen't goin' ferown face was full of peace.
git what yo' done faw me, an' Ah yen't "Marra, Jim," she called “How yo' goin' let yo' fergit. No 'm."
She had followed him to the door and "Marra, Sis' Mame," he responded. stood with her hands braced against the For a moment he stood before her, awk- doorposts, nodding her head ruminatwardly shifting his weight from foot to ingly. foot. His troubled eyes avoided her gaze, "Some t'ings Ah doan’ want tow fergit, as he went on: “Sis' Mame, Ah doan' an' some Ah does, an' some Ah cain't; so mean faw tow go tow huht yo' frien' lak thah yo' be,” said Sis' Mame.
racy and are aware that all things which is an absurdity. change, you should take some account of I am spared describing, and you are the direction in which your civilization is spared reading about, the ancestry, the esgrowing. In this story you will discover tate, and the solid characteristics of Coloa dreadful example of what may happen nel and Mrs. Teddington Fyles, because if American institutions should grow in a you have read about them already in sevcertain direction in which at present they eral standard English novels. Or, at any are not growing. Just as in another story rate, you pretend to have read about them, I could give you a dreadful example of because you keep those books in expensive what may happen if they keep on in the bindings on your shelves. (The story is direction in which they really are grow- not interesting unless the reader is well ing.
bred enough to maintain this pretense.) The names and pedigrees of the persons The ancestral home was in Sussex ; there in this episode would grace any drawing- was a proper acreage, gate, lodge, keeper, room table, printed in the best of our pub- head gardener with unconscious humor, lications. For though not people of title, and a very beautiful distribution of everythey were of the same blood with people thing vegetable that flourishes in a damp of title whom they called by their Chris- climate where the sun is not vulgarly and tian names, and all that there was in Eng- nakedly in evidence half the days of the lish tradition, birth, and breeding, coupled year. Colonel Fyles had been educated at with sufficient wealth, was theirs; so that Eton, or, to be more accurate, he had they possessed everything worth having in passed through Eton and acquired the title this world except imagination, music, and "a public-school man,” which is a man your sense of the ridiculous. I take some who has been to a school that is closed to credit to myself for writing about them the public outside of those who have at a time when the pages of our most sound incomes. It is a title without which polite periodicals are filled with accounts the title of duke or prince is valueless. of people who probably black their own There is nothing you can say to an Engboots, dine at midday, and take twice of lishman so sure of putting him abjectly in
his place as to suggest, if it be true, that They were products of that finished civ- he is not a public school man. No man ilization which a century of undisputed who is not a public school man appears in national supremacy, of wealth, and of this story except to wear a livery and to do natural solidity has made, from one point things which are strictly menial. of view, the finest in the world. That And so, since you already have an intipoint of view is England's; and on the mate acquaintance with Colonel Fyles, whole I agree with it. I am forced to, who was of course retired on half-pay and because, seeing that the same supremacy who had a pink skin, iron-gray hair, and and wealth and a like blood-quality are was turned five and fifty, I move to his molding our own institutions, I should wife Alice, née Glaston, a family which otherwise despair of the future, which was quite everything it ought to be, and
which possessed the wealth without which sible, I am glad to say, for any woman refinement is only a pose. When I say to be more chaste than Alice Fyles was, wealth, I do not mean anything vulgar, even when there was nothing to be chaste like a million pounds; I mean sufficient to about. You had only to hear her play the pay for proper wines and annual subscrip- above accompaniments, preferably from tions and to maintain the parklike aspect near a door, to be convinced of that. of its acres without ostentation and with- Still further to differentiate Alice as out strain. You generally find an account well as Colonel Fyles, who was her second of Alice in about the third chapter of a husband, let me add that, within their two-volume novel, where she is apt to great circle, they belonged to the segment appear as a secondary character, being too which does not keep a house in town and authentic to fill the rôle of a heroine, does not keep hunters in the country, nor heroines being more like what people yet lead a social life of endless gaiety. In would wish them to be, or would them- other words, they could afford not to do selves wish to be, than like what people those things, which you, with ten times are.
their income, could not, unless your name For instance, Alice's beauty lacked exists. By which I mean if it exists in something which the British mind does Debrett, not in the sailing-list of the not readily distinguish with a name.
ne. Her Mayflower. You must see that no person features were fairly regular, her hair was of note had any reason to come over in the abundant and ash-blonde, and she had the Mayflower and leave his note behind him. long Norman face which keeps one from Colonel and Mrs. Fyles —“Mrs." is really being thought a nonconformist. But her more a distinction than “Lady” – would carriage was on the doubtful authority of have been in the circles where they moved Rossetti and Burne-Jones-a forward because it is rarer- lived the domestic lite leaning of the head, a compression of the of the early Victorian period, as shown in lungs, and rounded shoulders, all of which the best steel engravings of those times, brought her weight upon her heels. except that the children were replaced by Bluntly, she had no life in her toes, such more dogs. But the upholstery was the as goes with a woman of a lively and well- same: the drawing-room was hung in regulated self-consciousness.
maroon, with a salmon-colored Turkish must not assume from this anything carpet and two hundred and eighty-five against one of the old county families of objects of art and uselessness arranged in Sussex. Nor must you assume that you or such a manner that no person wanting in your daughter could arrive on your or her perfect drawing-room composure would toes in all the places where the Glastons be wise to attempt its navigation. I once went on their heels, even if you have a fell down half a light of stairs and quite million dollars. It would come to nearer out of the most solemn picture while ata million pounds, unless you possessed tempting to tow a lady from a first-floor some renown which had acquired a British drawing-room to a ground floor dininghall-mark. For England is the most room past two threatening ebony statues democratic country in the world; by which of Moorish chieftains. Such scenes are I mean that England has long proved only vulgar, especially if accompanied by what other democracies are still striving the least trace of American accent. Nothto prove, that all men are equal at birth, ing is more distressing on the part of a and at birth only.
new-comer than a display of anything like Alice could play the accompaniment to eagerness when there is food in the wind. ballads on the piano; she could do a Now, since this story is likely to begin water-color sketch of the paddock, includ- at any moment, let me explain that within ing birds, but not cattle; and she could their great circle there were differences of embroider with deep-green silk on bright- opinion in matters of taste. The hunting pink satin. She could dig in the garden and other sets spoke of the Fyleses as inwith a trowel, and she knew how to talk clined to be merely rustic; and the Fyleses to the lower classes. She had negative spoke of them with the suggestion that ideas on all the great subjects of the hour they overdid in some directions, which is even before they were introduced to pub- a pretty strong thing to say. But while lic notice. And as to virtue, it is not pos- this is to show that you must not take the