Hot Foot Hannibal by Charles Waddell Chesnutt
“I HATE you and despise you! I wish never to see you or speak to you
“Very well; I will take care that henceforth you have no opportunity
to do either.”
These words—the first in the passionately vibrant tones of my
sister-in-law, and the latter in the deeper and more restrained accents
of an angry man—startled me from my nap. I had been dozing in my
hammock on the front piazza, behind the honeysuckle vine. I had been
faintly aware of a buzz of conversation in the parlor, but had not at
all awakened to its import until these sentences fell, or, I might
rather say, were hurled upon my ear. I presume the young people had
either not seen me lying there,—the Venetian blinds opening from the
parlor windows upon the piazza were partly closed on account of the
heat,—or else in their excitement they had forgotten my proximity.
I felt somewhat concerned. The young man, I had remarked, was proud,
firm, jealous of the point of honor, and, from my observation of him,
quite likely to resent to the bitter end what he deemed a slight or an
injustice. The girl, I knew, was quite as high-spirited as young
Murchison. I feared she was not so just, and hoped she would prove more
yielding. I knew that her affections were strong and enduring, but that
her temperament was capricious, and her sunniest moods easily overcast
by some small cloud of jealousy or pique. I had never imagined,
however, that she was capable of such intensity as was revealed by
these few words of hers. As I say, I felt concerned. I had learned to
like Malcolm Murchison, and had heartily consented to his marriage with
my ward; for it was in that capacity that I had stood for a year or two
to my wife's younger sister, Mabel. The match thus rudely broken off
had promised to be another link binding me to the kindly Southern
people among whom I had not long before taken up my residence.
Young Murchison came out of the door, cleared the piazza in two
strides without seeming aware of my presence, and went off down the
lane at a furious pace. A few moments later Mabel began playing the
piano loudly, with a touch that indicated anger and pride and
independence and a dash of exultation, as though she were really glad
that she had driven away forever the young man whom the day before she
had loved with all the ardor of a first passion.
I hoped that time might heal the breach and bring the two young
people together again. I told my wife what I had overheard. In return
she gave me Mabel's version of the affair.
“I do not see how it can ever be settled,” my wife said. “It is
something more than a mere lovers' quarrel. It began, it is true,
because she found fault with him for going to church with that hateful
Branson girl. But before it ended there were things said that no woman
of any spirit could stand. I am afraid it is all over between them.”
I was sorry to hear this. In spite of the very firm attitude taken
by my wife and her sister, I still hoped that the quarrel would be made
up within a day or two. Nevertheless, when a week had passed with no
word from young Murchison, and with no sign of relenting on Mabel's
part, I began to think myself mistaken.
One pleasant afternoon, ,about ten days after the rupture, old
Julius drove the rockaway up to the piazza, and my wife, Mabel, and I
took our seats for a drive to a neighbor's vineyard, over on the
“Which way shall we go,” I asked,—“the short road or the long
“I guess we had better take the short road,” answered my wife. “We
will get there sooner.”
“It's a mighty fine dribe roun' by de big road, Mis' Annie,”
observed Julius, “en it doan take much longer to git dere.”
“No,” said my wife, “I think we will go by the short road. There is
a baytree in blossom near the mineral spring, and I wish to get some of
“I 'spec's you'd fin' some bay-trees 'long de big road, ma'm,”
“But I know about the flowers on the short road, and they are the
ones I want.”
We drove down the lane to the highway, and soon struck into the
short road leading past the mineral spring. Our route lay partly
through a swamp, and on each side the dark, umbrageous foliage,
unbroken by any clearing, lent to the road solemnity, and to the air a
refreshing coolness. About half a mile from the house, and about
half-way to the mineral spring, we stopped at the tree of which my wife
had spoken, and reaching up to the low-hanging boughs, I gathered a
dozen of the fragrant white flowers. When I resumed my seat in the
rockaway, Julius started the mare. She went on for a few rods, until we
had reached the edge of a branch crossing the road, when she stopped
“Why did you stop, Julius?” I asked.
“I didn', suh,” he replied. “'Twuz de mare stop'. G' 'long dere,
Lucy! W'at you mean by dis foolis'ness?”
Julius jerked the reins and applied the whip lightly, but the mare
did not stir.
“Perhaps you had better get down and lead her,” I suggested. “If you
get her started, you can cross on the log and keep your feet dry.”
Julius alighted, took hold of the bridle, and vainly essayed to make
the mare move. She planted her feet with even more evident obstinacy.
“I don't know what to make of this,” I said. “I have never known her
to balk before. Have you, Julius?”
“No, suh,” replied the old man, “I neber has. It's a cu'ous thing
ter me, suh.”
“What's the best way to make her go?”
“I 'spec's, suh, dat ef I'd tu'n her 'roun', she'd go de udder way.”
“But we want her to go this way.”
“Well, suh, I 'low ef we des set heah fo' er fibe minutes, she'll
sta't up by herse'f.”
“All right,” I rejoined; “it is cooler here than any place I have
struck today. We'll let her stand for a while, and see what she does.”
We had sat in silence for a few minutes, when Julius suddenly
ejaculated, “Uh huh! I knows w'y dis mare doan go. It des flash' 'cross
“Why is it, Julius?” I inquired.
“'Ca'se she sees Chloe.”
“Where is Chloe?” I demanded.
“Chloe's done be'n dead dese fo'ty years er mo',” the old man
returned. “Her ha'nt is settin' ober yander on de udder side er de
branch, unner dat willer-tree, dis blessed minute.”
“Why, Julius!” said my wife, “do you see the haunt?”
“No'm,” he answered, shaking his head, “I doan see 'er, but de mare
“How do you know?” I inquired.
“Well, suh, dis yer is a gray hoss, en dis yer is a Friday; en a
gray hoss kin alluz see a ha'nt w'at walks on Friday.”
“Who was Chloe?” said Mabel.
“And why does Chloe's haunt walk?” asked my wife.
“It's all in de tale, ma'm,” Julius replied, with a deep sigh. “It's
all in de tale.”
“Tell us the tale,” I said. “Perhaps, by the time you get through,
the haunt will go away and the mare will cross.”
I was willing to humor the old man's fancy. He had not told us a
story for some time; and the dark and solemn swamp around us; the
amber-colored stream flowing silently and sluggishly at our feet, like
the waters of Lethe; the heavy, aromatic scent of the bays, faintly
suggestive of funeral wreaths,—all made the place an ideal one for a
“Chloe,” Julius began in a subdued tone, “use' ter b'long ter ole
Mars' Dugal' McAdoo,—my ole marster. She wuz a lackly gal en a smart
gal, en ole mis' tuk her up ter de big house, en l'arnt her ter wait on
de w'ite folks, 'tel bimeby she come ter be mis's own maid, en 'peared
ter 'low she run de house herse'f, ter heah her talk erbout it. I wuz a
young boy den, en use' ter wuk 'bout de stables, so I knowed eve'ythin'
dat wuz gwine on 'roun' de plantation.
“Well, one time Mars' Dugal' wanted a house boy, en sont down ter de
qua'ters fer ter hab Jeff en Hannibal come up ter de big house nex'
mawnin'. Ole marster en ole mis' look' de two boys ober, en 'sco'sed
wid deyse'ves fer a little w'ile, en den Mars' Dugal' sez, sezee:—
“ 'We lacks Hannibal de bes', en we gwine ter keep him. Heah,
Hannibal, you'll wuk at de house fum now on. En ef you er a good nigger
en min's yo' bizness, I'll gib you Chloe fer a wife nex' spring. You
other nigger, you Jeff, you kin go back ter de qua'ters. We ain' gwine
ter need you.'
“Now Chloe had be'n stan'in' dere behin' ole mis' dyoin' all er dis
yer talk, en Chloe made up her mint fum de ve'y fus' minute she sot
eyes on dem two dat she didn' lack dat nigger Hannibal, en wa'n't neber
gwine keer fer'im, en she wuz des ez sho' dat she lack' Jeff, en wuz
gwine ter set sto' by 'im, whuther Mars' Dugal' tuk 'im in de big house
er no; en so co'se Chloe wuz monst'us sorry w'en ole Mars' Dugal' tuk
Hannibal en sont Jeff back. So she slip' roun' de house en waylaid Jeff
on de way back ter de qua'ters, en tol' 'im not ter be down-hea'ted,
fer she wuz gwine ter see ef she couldn' fin' some way er 'nuther ter
git rid er dat nigger Hannibal, en git Jeff up ter de house in his
“De noo house boy kotch' on monst'us fas', en it wa'n't no time
ha'dly befo' Mars' Dugal' en ole mis' bofe 'mence' ter'low Hannibal wuz
de bes' house boy dey eber had. He wuz peart en soopl', quick ez
lightnin', en sha'p ez a razor. But Chloe didn' lack his ways. He wuz
so sho' he wuz gwine ter git 'er in de spring, dat he didn' 'pear ter
'low he had ter do any co'tin', en w'en he'd run 'cross Chloe 'bout de
house, he'd swell roun' 'er in a biggity way en say:—
“ 'Come heah en kiss me, honey. You gwine ter be mine in de spring.
You doan 'pear ter be ez fon' er me ez you oughter be.'
“Chloe didn' keer nuffin fer Hannibal, en hadn' keered nuffin fer
'im, en she sot des ez much sto' by Jeff ez she did de day she fus'
laid eyes on 'im. En de mo' fermilyus dis yer Hannibal got, de mo'
Chloe let her min' run on Jeff, en one ebenin' she went down ter de
quatters en watch', 'tel she got a chance fer ter talk wid 'im by
hisse'f. En she tol' Jeff fer ter go down en see ole Aun' Peggy, de
cunjuh 'oman down by de Wim'l'ton Road, en ax her ter gib 'im sump'n
ter he'p git Hannibal out'n de big house, so de w'ite folks 'u'd sen'
fer Jeff ag'in. En bein' ez Jeff didn' hab nuffin ter gib Aun' Peggy,
Chloe gun 'im a silber dollah en a silk han'kercher fer ter pay her
wid, fer Aun' Peggy neber lack ter wuk fer nobody fer nuffin.
“So Jeff slip' off down ter Aun' Peggy's one night, en gun 'er de
present he brung, en tol' 'er all 'bout 'im en Chloe en Hannibal, en
ax' 'er ter he'p 'im out. Aun' Peggy tol' 'im she'd wuk 'er roots, en
fer 'im ter come back de nex' night, en she'd tell 'im w'at she c'd do
“So de nex' night Jeff went back, en Aun' Peggy gun 'im a baby doll,
wid a body made out'n a piece er co'n-stalk, en wid splinters fer a'ms
en laigs, en a head made out'n elderberry peth, en two little red
peppers fer feet.
“ 'Dis yer baby doll,' sez she, 'is Hannibal. Dis yer peth head is
Hannibal's head, en dese yer pepper feet is Hannibal's feet. You take
dis en hide it unner de house, on de sill unner de do', whar
Hannibal'll hafter walk ober it eve'y day. En ez long ez Hannibal comes
anywhar nigh dis baby doll, he'll be des lack it is,—light-headed en
hot-footed; en ef dem two things doan git 'im inter trouble mighty
soon, den I'm no cunjuh 'oman. But w'en you git Hannibal out'n de
house, en git all th'oo wid dis baby doll, you mus' fetch it back ter
me, fer it's monst'us powerful goopher, en is liable ter make mo'
trouble ef you leabe it layin' roun'.'
“Well, Jeff tuk de baby doll, en slip' up ter de big house, en
whistle' ter Chloe, en w'en she come out he tol' 'er w'at ole Aun'
Peggy had said. En Chloe showed 'im how ter git unner de house, en w'en
he had put de cunjuh doll on de sill, he went 'long back ter de
qua'ters—en des waited.
“Nex' day, sho' 'nuff, de goopher mence' ter wuk. Hannibal sta'ted
in de house soon in de mawnin' wid a armful er wood ter make a fire, en
he hadn' mo' d'n got 'cross de do'-sill befo' his feet begun ter bu'n
so dat he drap'de armful er wood on de flo' en woke ole mis' up a' hour
sooner 'n yushal, en co'se ole mis' didn' lack dat, en spoke sha'p
“W'en dinner-time come, en Hannibal wuz help'n' de cook kyar de
dinner f'm de kitchen inter de big house, en wuz gittin' close ter de
do' whar he had ter go in, his feet sta'ted ter bu'n en his head begun
ter swim, en he let de big dish er chicken en dumplin's fall right down
in de dirt, in de middle er de ya'd, en de w'ite folks had ter make dey
dinner dat day off'n col' ham en sweet'n' 'taters.
“De nex' mawnin' he overslep' hisse'f, en got inter mo' trouble.
Atter breakfus', Mars' Dugal' sont 'im ober ter Mars' Marrabo Utley's
fer ter borry a monkey wrench. He oughter be'n back in ha'f a' hour,
but he come pokin' home 'bout dinner-time wid a screwdriver stidder a
monkey wrench. Mars' Dugal' sont ernudder nigger back wid de
screw-driver, en Hannibal didn' git no dinner. 'Long in de atternoon,
ole mis' sot Hannibal ter weedin' de flowers in de front gya'den, en
Hannibal dug up all de bulbs ole mis' had sont erway fer, en paid a lot
er money fer, en tuk 'em down ter de hawg-pen by de ba'nya'd, en fed
'em ter de hawgs. W'en ole mis' come out in de cool er de ebenin', en
seed w'at Hannibal had done, she wuz mos' crazy, en she wrote a note en
sont Hannibal down ter de oberseah wid it.
“But w'at Hannibal got fum de oberseah didn' 'pear ter do no good.
Eve'y now en den 'is feet 'd 'mence ter torment 'im, en 'is min' 'u'd
git all mix' up, en his conduc' kep' gittin' wusser en wusser, 'tel
fin'lly de w'ite folks couldn' stan' it no longer, en Mars' Dugal' tuk
Hannibal back down ter de qua'ters.
“ 'Mr. Smif,' sez Mars' Dugal' ter de oberseah, 'dis yer nigger has
done got so triflin' yer lately dat we can't keep 'im at de house no
mo', en I's fotch' 'im ter you ter be straighten' up. You's had 'casion
ter deal wid tim once, so he knows w'at ter expec'. You des take 'im in
han', en lemme know how he tu'ns out. En w'en de han's comes in fum de
fiel' dis ebenin' you kin sen' dat yaller nigger Jeff up ter de house.
I'll try 'im, en see ef he's any better'n Hannibal.'
“So Jeff went up ter de big house, en pleas' Mars' Dugal' en ole
mis' en de res' er de fambly so well dat dey all got ter lackin' 'im
fus' rate; en dey 'd 'a' fergot all 'bout Hannibal, ef it hadn' be'n
fer de bad repo'ts w'at come up fum de qua'ters 'bout 'im fer a mont'
er so. Fac' is, dat Chloe en Jeff wuz so int'rusted in one ernudder
sence Jeff be'n up ter de house, dat dey fergot all 'bout takin' de
baby doll back ter Aun' Peggy, en it kep' wukkin' fer a w'ile, en
makin' Hannibal's feet bu'n mo' er less, 'tel all de folks on de
plantation got ter callin' 'im Hot-Foot Hannibal. He kep' gittin' mo'
en mo' triflin', 'tel he got de name er bein' de mos' no 'countes'
nigger on de plantation, en Mars' Dugal' had ter th'eaten ter sell 'im
in de spring, w'en bimeby de goopher quit wukkin', en Hannibal 'mence'
ter pick up some en make folks set a little mo' sto' by 'im.
“Now, dis yer Hannibal was a monst'us sma't nigger, en w'en he got
rid er dem so' feet, his min' kep' runnin' on 'is udder troubles. Heah
th'ee er fo' weeks befo' he'd had a' easy job, waitin' on de w'ite
folks, libbin' off'n de fat er de lan', en promus'de fines' gal on de
plantation fer a wife in de spring, en now heah he wuz back in de
co'n-fiel', wid de oberseah a-cussin' en a-r'arin' ef he didn' get a
ha'd tas' done; wid nuffin but co'n bread en bacon en merlasses ter
eat; en all de fiel'-han's makin' rema'ks, en pokin' fun at'im'ca'se
he'd be'n sont back fum de big house ter de fiel'. En de mo' Hannibal
studied 'bout it de mo' madder he got,'tel he fin'lly swo' he wuz gwine
ter git eben wid Jeff en Chloe, ef it wuz de las' ac'.
“So Hannibal slipped 'way fum de qua'ters one Sunday en hid in de
co'n up close ter de big house, 'tel he see Chloe gwine down de road.
He waylaid her, en sezee:—
“ 'Hoddy, Chloe?'
“ 'I ain' got no time fer ter fool wid fiel'-han's,' sez Chloe,
tossin' her head; 'w'at you want wid me, Hot-Foot?'
“ 'I wants ter know how you en Jeff is gittin' 'long.'
“ 'I 'lows dat's none er yo' bizness, nigger. I doan see w'at'casion
any common fiel'-han' has got ter mix in wid de 'fairs er folks w'at
libs in de big house. But ef it'll do you any good ter know, I mought
say dat me en Jeff is gittin' 'long mighty well, en we gwine ter git
married in de spring, en you ain' gwine ter be 'vited ter de weddin'
“ 'No, no!' sezee, 'I wouldn' 'spec' ter be 'vited ter de weddin',—
a common, low-down fiel'-han' lack I is. But I's glad ter heah
you en Jeff is gittin' 'long so well. I didn' knowed but w'at he had
'mence' ter be a little ti'ed.'
“ 'Ti'ed er me? Dat's rediklus!' sez Chloe. 'W'y, dat nigger lutes
me so I b'liebe he'd go th'oo fire en water fer me. Dat nigger is des
wrop' up in me.'
“ 'Uh huh,' sez Hannibal, 'den I reckon it mus' be some udder nigger
w'at meets a 'oman down by de crick in de swamp eve'y Sunday ebenin',
ter say nuffin 'bout two er th'ee times a week.'
“ 'Yas, hit is ernudder nigger, en you is a liah w'en you say it wuz
“ 'Mebbe I is a liah, en mebbe I ain' got good eyes. But 'less'n I
is a liah, en 'less'n I ain' got good eyes, Jeff is gwine
ter meet dat 'oman dis ebenin' 'long 'bout eight o'clock right down
dere by de crick in de swamp 'bout half-way betwix' dis plantation en
Mars' Marrabo Utley's.'
“Well, Chloe tol' Hannibal she didn' b'liebe a wo'd he said, en
call' 'im a lowdown nigger, who wuz tryin' ter slander Jeff 'ca'se he
wuz mo' luckier'n he wuz. But all de same, she couldn' keep her min'
fum runnin' on w'at Hannibal had said. She 'membered she'd heared one
er de niggers say dey wuz a gal ober at Mars' Marrabo Utley's
plantation w'at Jeff use' ter go wid some befo' he got 'quainted wid
Chloe. Den she 'mence' ter figger back, en sho' 'nuff, dey wuz two er
th'ee times in de las' week w'en she'd be'n he'pin' de ladies wid dey
dressin' en udder fixin's in de ebenin', en Jeff mought 'a' gone down
ter de swamp widout her knowin' 'bout it at all. En den she 'mence' ter
'member little things w'at she hadn' tuk no notice of befo', en w'at
'u'd make it 'pear lack Jeff had sump'n on his min'.
“Chloe set a monst'us heap er sto' by Jeff, en would 'a' done mos'
anythin' fer'im, so long ez he stuck ter her. But Chloe wuz a mighty
jealous 'oman, en w'iles she didn' b'liebe w'at Hannibal said, she seed
how it could 'a' be'n so, en she 'termine' fer ter fin' out fer
herse'f whuther it wuz so er no.
“Now, Chloe hadn' seed Jeff all day, fer Mars' Dugal' had sont Jeff
ober ter his daughter's house, young Mis' Ma'g'ret's, w'at libbed 'bout
fo' miles fum Mars' Dugal's, en Jeff wuzn' 'spected home 'tel ebenin'.
But des atter supper wuz ober, en w'iles de ladies wuz settin' out on
de piazzer, Chloe slip' off fum de house en run down de road,—dis yer
same road we come; en w'en she got mos' ter de crickÄdis yer same crick
right befo' us—she kin' er kep' in de bushes at de side er de road,
'tel fin'lly she seed Jeff settin' on de bank on de udder side er de
crick,—right unner dat ole wilier-tree droopin' ober de water yander.
En eve'y now en den he'd git up en look up de road to'ds Mars'
Marrabo's on de udder side er de swamp.
“Fus' Chloe felt lack she'd go right ober de crick en gib Jeff a
piece er her min'. Den she 'lowed she better be sho' befo' she done
anythin'. So she helt herse'f in de bes' she could, gittin' madder en
madder eve'y minute, 'tel bimeby she seed a 'oman comin' down de road
on de udder side fum to'ds Mars' Marrabo Utley's plantation. En w'en
she seed Jeff jump up en run to'ds dat 'oman, en th'ow his a'ms roun'
her neck, po' Chloe didn' stop ter see no mo', but des tu'nt roun' en
run up ter de house, en rush' up on de piazzer, en up en tol' Mars'
Dugal' en ole mis' all 'bout de baby doll, en all 'bout Jeff gittin' de
goopher fum Aun' Peggy, en 'bout w'at de goopher had done ter Hannibal.
“Mars' Dugal' wuz monst'us mad. He didn' let on at fus' lack he
b'liebed Chloe, but w'en she tuk en showed 'im whar ter fin' de baby
doll, Mars' Dugal' tu'nt w'ite ez chalk.
“ 'W'at debil's wuk is dis?' sezee. 'No wonder de po' nigger's feet
eetched. Sump'n got ter be done ter l'arn dat ole witch ter keep her
han's off'n my niggers. En ez fer dis yer Jeff, I 'm gwine ter do des
w'at I promus', so de darkies on dis plantation'll know I means w'at I
“Fer Mars' Dugal' had warned de han's befo' 'bout foolin'wid
cunju'ation; fac', he had los' one er two niggers hisse'f fum dey bein'
goophered, en he would 'a' had ole Aun' Peggy whip' long ago, on'y Aun'
Peggy wuz a free 'oman, en he wuz 'feard she'd cunjuh him. En w'iles
Mars' Dugal' say he didn' b'liebe in cunj'in' en sich, he 'peared ter
'low it wuz bes' ter be on de safe side, en let Aun' Peggy alone.
“So Mars' Dugal' done des ez he say. Ef ole mis' had ple'd fer Jeff,
he mought 'a' kep' 'im. But ole mis' hadn' got ober losin' dem bulbs
yit, en she neber said a wo'd. Mars' Dugal' tuk Jeff ter town nex' day
en' sol' 'im ter a spekilater, who sta'ted down de ribber wid 'im nex'
mawnin' on a steamboat, fer ter take 'im ter Alabama.
“Now, w'en Chloe tol' ole Mars' Dugal' 'bout dis yer baby doll en
dis udder goopher, she hadn' ha'dly 'lowed Mars Dugal' would sell Jeff
down Souf. How someber, she wuz so mad wid Jeff dat she 'suaded herse'f
she didn' keer; en so she hilt her head up en went roun' lookin' lack
she wuz rale glad 'bout it. But one day she wuz walkin' down de road,
w'en who sh'd come 'long but dis yer Hannibal.
“W'en Hannibal seed 'er, he bus' out laffin' fittin' fer ter kill:
'Yah, yah, yah! ho, ho, ho! ha, ha, ha! Oh, hol' me, honey, hol' me, er
I'll laf myse'f ter def. I ain' nebber laf' so much sence I be'n bawn.'
“ 'W'at you laffin' at, Hot-Foot?'
“ 'Yah, yah, yah! W'at I laffin' at? W'y, I's laffin' at myse'f,
tooby sho',—laffin' ter think w'at a fine 'oman I made.'
“Chloe tu'nt pale, en her hea't come up in her mouf.
“ 'W'at you mean, nigger?' sez she, ketchin' holt er a bush by de
road fer ter stiddy herse'f. 'W'at you mean by de kin' er 'oman you
“ 'W'at do I mean? I means dat I got squared up wid you fer treatin'
me de way you done, en I got eben wid dat yaller nigger Jeff fer
cuttin' me out. Now, he's gwine ter know w'at it is ter eat co'n bread
en merlasses once mo', en wuk fum daylight ter da'k, en ter hab a
oberseah dribin' 'im fum one day's een' ter de udder. I means dat I
sont wo'd ter Jeff dat Sunday dat you wuz gwine ter be ober ter Mars'
Marrabo's visitin' dat ebenin', en you want 'im ter meet you down by de
crick on de way home en go de rest er de road wid you. En den I put on
a frock en a sun bonnet, en fix' myse'f up ter look lack a 'oman; en
w'en Jeff seed me comin', he run ter meet me, en you seed 'im,—fer
I'd be'n watchin' in de bushes befo' en 'skivered you comin' down de
road. En now I reckon you en Jeff bofe knows w'at it means ter mess wid
a nigger lack me.'
“Po' Chloe hadn' heared mo' d'n half er de las' part er w'at
Hannibal said, but she had heared 'nuff to l'arn dat dis nigger had
fooled her en Jeff, en dat po' Jeff hadn' done nuffin, en dat fer
lovin' her too much en goin' ter meet her she had cause' 'im ter be
sol' erway whar she'd neber, neber see 'im no mo'. De sun mought shine
by day, de moon by night, de flowers mought bloom, en de mawkin'-birds
mought sing, but po' Jeff wuz done los' ter her fereber en fereber.
“Hannibal hadn' mo' d'n finish' w'at he had ter say, w'en Chloe's
knees gun 'way unner her, en she fell down in de road, en lay dere half
a' hour er so befo' she come to. W'en she did, she crep' up ter de
house des ez pale ez a ghos'. En fer a mont' er so she crawled roun' de
house, en 'peared ter be so po'ly dat Mars' Dugal' sont fer a doctor;
en de doctor kep' on axin' her questions 'tel he foun' she woz des
pinin' erway fer Jeff.
“W'en he tol' Mars' Dugal', Mars' Dugal' lafft, en said he'd fix
dat. She could hab de noo house boy fer a husban'. But ole mis' say,
no, Chloe ain' dat kin'er gal, en dat Mars' Dugal' sh'd buy Jeff back.
“So Mars' Dugal' writ a letter ter dis yer spekilater down ter
Wim'l'ton, en tol' ef he ain' done sol' dat nigger Souf w'at he bought
fum 'im, he'd lack ter buy 'im back ag'in. Chloe 'mence' ter pick up a
little w'en ole mis' tol' her 'bout dis letter. Howsomeber, bimeby
Mars' Dugal' got a' answer fum de spekilater, who said he wuz monst'us
sorry, but Jeff had fell ove'boa'd er jumped off'n de steamboat on de
way ter Wim'l'ton, en got drownded, en co'se he could n' sell 'im back,
much ez he'd lack ter 'bleedge Mars' Dugal'.
“Well, atter Chloe heared dis, she wa'n't much mo' use ter nobody.
She pu'tended ter do her wuk, en ole mis' put up wid her, en had de
doctor gib her medicine, en let 'er go ter de circus, en all so'ts er
things fer ter take her min' off'n her troubles. But dey didn' none un
'em do no good. Chloe got ter slippin' down here in de ebenin' des lack
she 'uz comin' ter meet Jeff, en she'd set dere unner dat willer-tree
on de udder side, en wait fer'im, night atter night. Bimeby she got so
bad de w'ite folks sont her ober ter young Mis' Ma'g'ret's fer ter gib
her a change; but she runned erway de fus' night, en w'en dey looked
fer 'er nex' mawnin', dey foun' her co'pse layin' in de branch yander,
right 'cross fum whar we're settin now.
“Eber sence den,” said Julius in conclusion, “Chloe's ha'nt comes
eve'y ebenin' en sets down unner dat willer-tree en waits fer Jeff er
e'se walks up en down de road yander, lookin' en lookin', en waitin' en
waitin', fer her sweethea't w'at ain' neber, eber come back ter her no
There was silence when the old man had finished, and I am sure I saw
a tear in my wife's eye, and more than one in Mabel's.
“I think, Julius,” said my wife, after a moment, “that you may turn
the mare around and go by the long road.”
The old man obeyed with alacrity, and I noticed no reluctance on the
“You are not afraid of Chloe's haunt, are you?” I asked jocularly.
My mood was not responded to, and neither of the ladies smiled.
“Oh, no,” said Annie, “but I've changed my mind. I prefer the other
When we had reached the main road and had proceeded along it for a
short distance, we met a cart driven by a young negro, and on the cart
were a trunk and a valise. We recognized the man as Malcolm Murchison's
servant, and drew up a moment to speak to him.
“Who's going away, Marshall?” I inquired.
“Young Mistah Ma'colm gwine 'way on de boat ter Noo Yo'k dis
ebenin', suh, en I'm takin' his things down ter de wharf, suh.”
This was news to me, and I heard it with regret. My wife looked
sorry, too, and I could see that Mabel was trying hard to hide her
“He 's comin' 'long behin', suh, en I 'spec's you'll meet 'im up de
road a piece. He's gwine ter walk down ez fur ez Mistah Jim Williams's,
en take de buggy fum dere ter town. He 'spec's ter be gone a long time,
suh, en say prob'ly he ain' neber comin' back.”
The man drove on. There were few words exchanged in an undertone
between my wife and Mabel, which I did not catch. Then Annie said:
“Julius, you may stop the rockaway a moment. There are some
trumpet-flowers by the road there that I want. Will you get them for
I sprang into the underbrush, and soon returned with a great bunch
of scarlet blossoms.
“Where is Mabel?” I asked, noting her absence.
“She has walked on ahead. We shall overtake her in a few minutes.”
The carriage had gone only a short distance when my wife discovered
that she had dropped her fan.
“I had it where we were stopping. Julius, will you go back and get
it for me?”
Julius got down and went back for the fan. He was an unconscionably
long time finding it. After we got started again we had gone only a
little way, when we saw Mabel and young Murchison coming toward us.
They were walking arm in arm, and their faces were aglow with the light
I do not know whether or not Julius had a previous understanding
with Malcolm Murchison by which he was to drive us round by the long
road that day, nor do I know exactly what motive influenced the old
man's exertions in the matter. He was fond of Mabel, but I was old
enough, and knew Julius well enough, to be skeptical of his motives. It
is certain that a most excellent understanding existed between him and
Murchison after the reconciliation, and that when the young people set
up housekeeping over at the old Murchison place, Julius had an
opportunity to enter their service. For some reason or other, however,
he preferred to remain with us. The mare, I might add, was never known
to balk again.