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looked like a string of caricatures marching down the river-bank. Peter noticed her Northern accent, and fancied she was coming to Hooker's Bend to teach school.

One of the drummers turned to another.

"Did you ever hear Bob Taylor's yarn about Uncle 'Rastus's funeral? Funniest thing Bob ever got off." He proceeded to tell it.

Every one on the launch was laughing except the captain, who was swearing quietly; but the line of negroes marched on down to the wharfboat with the unshakable dignity of black folk in an important position. They came singing an old negro spiritual. The women's sopranos thrilled up in high, weird phrasing against an organ-like background of male voices.

But the black men carried no coffin, and suddenly it occurred to Peter

Siner that perhaps this celebration was given in honor of his own homecoming. The mulatto's heart beat a trifle faster as he began planning a suitable reply to this ovation.

Sure enough, the singing ranks disappeared behind the wharf-boat, and a minute later came marching around the stern and lined up on the outer guard of the vessel. The skinny, grizzly-headed negro commander held up his sword, and the Knights and Ladies of Tabor fell silent.

The master of the launch tossed his head-line to the wharf-boat, and yelled for one of the negroes to make it fast. One did. Then the commandant with the sword began his address, but it was not directed to Peter. He said:

"Brudder Tump Pack, we, de Hookah's Ben' lodge uv de Knights an' Ladies uv Tabuh, welcome you back to yo' native town. We is

proud uv you, a cullud man, who brings back de highest crown uv bravahry dis United States has in its powah to bestow.

"Two yeahs ago, Brudder Tump, we seen you ma'chin' away f'om Hookah's Ben' wid sixteen othah boys, white an' cullud, all ma'chin' away togethah. Fo' uv them boys is already back home; thwee, we heah, is on de way back, but six uv yo' brave comrades, Brudder Pack, is sleepin' now in France, an' ain't nevuh go'n' tuh come home no mo'. When we honnahs you, we honnahs them all, de livin' an' de daid, the white an' de black, who fought togethah fuh one country, fuh one flag."

Gasps, sobs from the line of black folk, interrupted the speaker. Just then a shriveled old negress gave a scream, and came running and half stumbling out of the line, holding out her arms to the barrel-chested soldier on the gang-plank. She seized him and began shrieking:

"Bress Gawd! my son 's done come home! Praise de Lawd! Bress His holy name!" Here her laudation broke into sobbing and choking and laughing, and she squeezed herself to her son.

Tump patted her bony black form. "I 's heah, Mammy," he stammered uncertainly. "I's come back, Mammy."

Half a dozen other negroes caught the joyful hysteria. They began a religious shouting, clapping their hands, flinging up their arms, shrieking.

One of the drummers grunted: "Good God! all this over a nigger getting back!"

At the extreme end of the dark line a tall cream-colored girl wept silently. As Peter Siner stood blinking his

eyes, he saw the octoroon's shoulders and breasts shake from the sobs, which her white blood repressed to silence.

A certain sympathy for her grief and its suppression kept Peter's eyes on the young woman, and then, with the queer effect of one picture melting into another, the strange girl's face assumed familiar curves and softnesses, and he was looking at Ida May. A quiver traveled deliberately over Peter from his crisp black hair to the soles of his feet. He started toward her impulsively.

At that moment one of the drummers picked up his grip, started down the gang-plank, and pressed Tump Pack and his mother out of his path with its leathern bulk. He moved on to the shore through the negroes, who divided at his approach. The captain of the launch saw that other of his white passengers were becoming impatient, and he shouted for the darkies to move aside and not to block the gangway. The youngish man drew the girl in the tailored suit close to him and started through with her. Peter heard him say, "They won't hurt you, Miss Negley." And Miss Negley, in the brisk nasal intonation of a Northern woman, replied: "Oh, I'm not afraid. We waste a lot of sympathy on them back home, but when you see them-"

§ 4

At that moment Peter heard a cry in his ears and felt arms thrown about his neck. He looked down and saw his mother, Caroline Siner, looking up into his face and weeping with the general emotion of the negroes and this joy of her own.

Caroline had changed since Peter

last saw her. Her eyes were a little more wrinkled, her kinky hair was thinner and quite gray.

Something warm and melting moved in Peter Siner's breast. He caressed his mother and murmured incoherently, as had Tump Pack. Presently the master of the launch came by, and touched the old negress, not ungently, with the end of a spikepole.

"You'll have to move, Aunt Cal'line," he said. "We 're going to get the freight off now."

she had forwarded him from time to time during his college years.

As Peter and his mother crept up the bank of the river, stopping from time to time to let the old negress rest, the meanness and shabbiness of the whole village grew upon him. From the top of the bank the single business street of the village ran straight back from the river. It was stony in places, muddy in places, strewn strewn with goods-boxes, broken planking, and excelsior and straw that had been used for packing. Charred

The black woman paused in her rubbish-piles lay in front of every weeping.

"Yes, Mas' Bob," she said, and she and Peter moved off the launch on to the wharf-boat.

The Knights and Ladies of Tabor were already up the river-bank hill with their hero. Peter and his mother were left alone. Now they walked around the guards of the wharf-boat to the bank, holding each other's arms closely. As they went, Peter kept looking down at his fleshy old black mother with a growing tenderness. She was so worn and heavy! He recognized the very dress she wore, an old black silk which she had "washed out" for Miss Patti Brownell when he was a boy. It had been then, it was now, her best dress. During the years the old negress had registered her increasing bulk by letting out seams and putting in panels. Some of the panels did not agree with the original fabric either in color or texture, and now the seams were stretching again and threatening a rip. Peter's own immaculate clothes reproached him, and he wondered for the hundredth, or for the thousandth, time how his mother had obtained certain remittances which

store, which the clerks had swept out and had attempted to burn. Hogs roamed the thoroughfare, picking up decaying fruit and parings, and nosing tin cans that had been thrown out by the merchants. The stores that Peter had once looked upon as show-places were poor two-story brick or framebuildings, defiled by time and wear and weather. The white merchants were coatless, listless men who sat in chairs on the brick pavements before their stores and who moved slowly when a customer entered their doors.

And, strange to say, it was this fall of his white townsmen that moved Peter Siner with a sense of the greatest loss. It seemed fantastic to him, this sudden landslide of the mighty.

As Peter and his mother came over the brow of the river-bank, they saw a crowd collecting at the other end of the street. The main street of Hooker's Bend is only a block long, and the two negroes could easily hear the loud laughter of men hurrying to the focus of interest and the blurry expostulations of negro voices. The laughter spread like a contagion. Merchants as far up as the river corner became infected, and moved

toward the crowd, looking back over their shoulders at every tenth or twelfth step to see that no one entered their doors.

Presently, a little short man, fairly yipping with laughter, stumbled back up the street to his store with tears of mirth in his eyes. A belated merchant stopped him by clapping both hands on his shoulders and shaking some composure into him.

"What is it? What 's so funny? Damn it! I miss ever'thing!"

"I-I-It's that f-fool Tum-Tump Pack. Bobbs arrested him!"

The inquirer was astounded. "How the 'ell can he arrest him when he hit town this minute?"

"Wh-why, Bobbs had an old warrant for crap-shooting-three years old-before the war. Just as Tump was a-coming down the street at the head of the coons, out steps Bobbs-" Here the little man was overcome.

The merchant from the corner opened his eyes.

with the county." Bobbs winked a chill eye at the crowd in general.

"But hit 's out o' date, Mistah Bobbs," the old gray-headed minister, a Parson Ranson, was pleading.

"May be that, Parson, but hit 's easier to come up before the J. P. and pay off than to fight it through the circuit court."

Siner pushed his way through the crowd.

"How much do you want, Mr. Bobbs?" he asked briefly.

The constable looked at the tall well-tailored negro with reminiscent eyes. He was plainly going through some mental card-index, hunting for the name of Peter Siner on some long-forgotten warrant. Apparently, he discovered nothing for he said:

"How do I know before he 's tried? C'mon, Tump!"

The procession moved in a long noisy line up Pillow Street, the white residential street lying to the west. It stopped before a large, shaded

"Arrested him on an old crap lawn, where a number of white men charge?"

The little man nodded. They gazed at each other. Both exploded simultaneously.

Peter left his obese mother to hurry to the corner. Dawson Bobbs, the constable, had handcuffs on Tump's wrists, and stood with his prisoner amid a crowd of arguing negroes.

Bobbs was a big, fleshy, red-faced man, with chilly blue eyes and a little straight slit of a mouth in his wide face. He was laughing and chewing a sliver of toothpick.

"O Tump Pack," he called loudly, "you kain't git away from me! If you roll bones in Hooker's Bend, you will have to divide your winnings

and women were playing a game with cards. The cards used by the lawn party were not ordinary playingcards, but had figures on them instead of spots, and were called "rook" cards. The party of white ladies and gentlemen were playing "rook." On a table in the middle of the lawn glittered some pieces of silver plate which formed the first, second, and third prizes for the three leading


The constable halted his black company before the lawn, where they stood in the sunshine patiently waiting for the justice of the peace to finish his game and hear the case of the State of Tennessee, plaintiff, versus Tump Pack, defendant.

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"Up and down its street flows the slow negro life of the village"

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