Marse Chan by Thomas Nelson Page
A TALE OF OLD VIRGINIA.
ONE afternoon, in the autumn of 1872 I was riding leisurely down the
sandy road that winds along the top of the water-shed between two of
the smaller rivers of eastern Virginia. The road I was travelling,
following “the ridge” for miles, had just struck me as most significant
of the character of the race whose only avenue of communication with
the outside world it had formerly been. Their once splendid mansions,
now fast falling to decay, appeared to view from time to time, set back
far from the road, in proud seclusion, among groves of oak and hickory,
now scarlet and gold with the early frost. Distance was nothing to this
people; time was of no consequence to them. They desired but a level
path in life, and that they had, though the way was longer, and the
outer world strode by them as they dreamed.
I was aroused from my reflections by hearing some one ahead of me
calling, “Heah!—heah—whoo-oop, heah!”
Turning the curve in the road, I saw just before me a negro
standing, with a hoe and a watering-pot in his hand. He had evidently
just gotten over the “worm-fence” into the road, out of the path which
led zigzag across the “old field” and was lost to sight in the dense
growth of sassafras. When I rode up, he was looking anxiously back down
this path for his dog. So engrossed was he that he did not even hear my
horse, and I reined in to wait until he should turn around and satisfy
my curiosity as to the handsome old place half a mile off from the
The numerous out-buildings and the large barns and stables told that
it had once been the seat of wealth, and the wild waste of sassafras
that covered the broad fields gave it an air of desolation that greatly
excited my interest. Entirely oblivious of my proximity, the negro went
on calling “Whoo-oop, heah!” until along the path, walking very slowly
and with great dignity, appeared a noble-looking old orange and white
setter, gray with age, and corpulent with excessive feeding. As soon as
he came in sight, his master began:
“Yes, dat you! You gittin' deaf as well as bline, I s'pose! Kyarnt
heah me callin', I reckon? Whyn't yo' come on, dawg?”
The setter sauntered slowly up to the fence and stopped, without
even deigning a look at the speaker, who immediately proceeded to take
the rails down, talking meanwhile:
“Now, I got to pull down de gap, I s'pose! Yo' so sp'ilt yo' kyahn
hardly walk. Jes' ez able to git over it as I is! Jes' like white folks
—think 'cuz you's white and I's black, I got to wait on yo' all de
time. Ne'm mine, I ain' gwi' do it!”
The fence having been pulled down sufficiently low to suit his
dogship, he marched sedately through, and, with a hardly perceptible
lateral movement of his tail, walked on down the road. Putting up the
rails carefully, the negro turned and saw me.
“Sarvent, marster,” he said, taking his hat off. Then, as if
apologetically for having permitted a stranger to witness what was
merely a family affair, he added: “He know I con' mean nothin' by what
I sez. He's Marse Chan's dawg, an' he's so ole he kyahn git long no
pearter. He know I'se jes' prodjickin' wid 'im.”
“Who is Marse Chan?” I asked; “and whose place is that over there,
and the one a mile or two back—the place with the big gate and the
carved stone pillars?”
“Marse Chan,” said the darky, “he's Marse Channin'—my young
marster; an' dem places—dis one's Weall's, an' de one back dyer wid
de rock gate-pos's is ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin's. Dey don' nobody live dyer
now, 'cep' niggers. Arfter de war some one or nurr bought our place,
but his name done kind o' slipped me. I nuver hearn on 'im befo'; I
think dey's half-strainers. I don' ax none on 'em no odds. I lives down
de road heah, a little piece, an' I jes' steps down of a evenin' and
looks arfter de graves.”
“Well, where is Marse Chan?” I asked.
“Hi! don' you know? Marse Chan, he went in de army. I was wid im.
Yo' know he ware' gwine an' lef' Sam.”
“Will you tell me all about it?” I said, dismounting.
Instantly, and as if by instinct, the darky stepped forward and took
my bridle. I demurred a little; but with a bow that would have honored
old Sir Roger, he shortened the reins, and taking my horse from me, led
“Now tell me about Marse Chan,” I said.
“Lawd, marster, hit's so long ago, I'd a'most forgit all about it,
ef I hedn' been wid him ever sence he wuz born. Ez 'tis, I remembers it
jes' like 'twuz yistiddy. Yo' know Marse Chan an' me-we wuz boys
togerr. I wuz older'n he wuz, jes' de same ez he wuz whiter'n me. I wuz
born plantin' corn time, de spring arfter big Jim an' de six steers got
washed away at de upper ford right down dyer b'low de quarters ez he
wuz a bringin' de Chris'mas things home; an' Marse Chan, he warn' born
tell mos' to de harves' arfter my sister Nancy married Cun'l
Chahmb'lin's Torm, 'bout eight years arfterwoods.
“Well, when Marse Chan wuz born, dey wuz de grettes' doin's at home
you ever did see. De folks all hed holiday, jes' like in de Chris'mas.
Ole marster (we didn' call 'im ole marster tell arfter Marse Chan wuz
born—befo' dat he wuz jes' de marster, so)—well, ole marster, his
face fyar shine wid pleasure, an' all de folks wuz mighty glad, too,
'cause dey all loved ole marster, and aldo' dey did step aroun' right
peart when ole marster was lookin' at 'em, dyer warn' nyar hen' on de
place but what, ef he wanted anythin', would walk up to de back poach,
an' say he warn' to see de marster. An' ev'ybody wuz talkin' 'bout de
young marster, an' de maids an' de wimmens 'bout de kitchen wuz sayin'
how 'twuz de purties' chile dey ever see; an' at dinner-time de mens
(all on 'em hed holiday) come roun' de poach an' ax how de missis an'
de young marster wuz, an' ole marster come out on de poach an' smile
wus'n a 'possum, an, sez, 'Thankee! Bofe doin' fust rate, boys ;' an'
den he stepped back in de house, sort o' laughin' to hisse'f, an' in a
minute he come out ag'in wid de baby in he arms, all wrapped up in
flannens an' things, an' sez, 'Heah he is, boys.' All de folks den, dey
went up on de poach to look at 'im, drappin' dey hats on de steps, an'
scrapin' dey feets ez dey went up. An' pres'n'y ole marster, lookin'
down at we all chil'en all packed togerr down dyah like a parecel o'
sheepburrs, cotch sight o' me (he knowed my name, 'cause I use' to hole
he hoss fur 'im sometimes; but he didn' know all de chil'en by name,
dey wuz so many on 'em), an' he sez, 'Come up heah.' So up I goes
tippin', skeered like, an' old marster sez, 'Ain' you Mymie's son?'
'Yass, seh,' sez I. 'Well,' sez he, 'I'm gwine to give you to yo' young
Marse Channin' to be his body-servant,' an' he put de baby right in my
arms (it's de truth I'm tellin' yo'!), an' yo' jes' ought to a-heard de
folks sayin', 'Lawd! marster, dat boy'll drap dat chile!' 'Naw, he
won't,' sez marster; 'I kin trust 'im.' And den he sez: 'Now, Sam, from
dis time you belong to yo' young Marse Channin'; I wan' you to tek keer
on 'im ez long ez he lives. You are to be his boy from dis time. An'
now,' he sez, 'carry 'im in de house.' An' he walks arfter me an' opens
de do's fur me, an' I kyars 'im in my arms, an' lays 'im down on de
bed. An from dat time I was tooken in de house to be Marse Channin's
“Well. you nuver see a chile grow so. Pres'n'y he growed up right
big, an' ole marster sez he must have some edication. So he sont 'im to
school to ole Miss Lawry down dyer, dis side o' Cun'l Chahmb'lin's, an'
I use' to go 'long wid 'im en' tote he books an' we all's snacks; an'
when he larnt to read an' spell right good, an' got 'bout so-o big, ole
Miss Lawry she died, an' ole marster said he mus' have a man to teach
'im en' trounce 'im. So we all went to Mr. Hall, whar kep' de
school-house beyant de creek, an' dyer we went ev'y day, 'cep Sat'd'ys
of co'se, an' sich days ez Marse Chan din' warn' go, an' ole missis
begged 'im off.
“Hit wuz down dyer Marse Chan fust took notice o' Miss Anne. Mr.
Hall, he taught gals ez well ez boys, en' Cun'l Chahmb'lin he sont his
daughter (dat's Miss Anne I'm talkin' about). She wuz a leetle bit o'
gal when she fust come. Yo' see, her ma wuz dead, an' ole Miss Lucy
Chahmb'lin, she lived wid her brurr an' kep' house for 'im; an' he wuz
so busy wid politics, he didn' have much time to spyar, so he sont Miss
Anne to Mr. Hall's by a 'ooman wid a note. When she come dat day in de
school-house, an' all de chil'en looked at her so hard, she tu'n right
red, an' tried to pull her long curls over her eyes, en' den put bofe
de backs of her little hen's in her two eyes, an' begin to cry to
herse'f. Marse Chan he was settin' on de een' o' de bench nigh de do',
an' he jes' reached out an' put he arm roun' her en' drawed her up to
'im. An' he kep' whisperin' to her, an' callin' her name, an' coddlin'
her; an' pres'n'y she took her hen's down an' begin to laugh.
“Well, dey 'peered to tek' a gre't fancy to each urr from dat time.
Miss Anne she warn' nuthin' but a baby hardly, en' Marse Chan he wuz a
good big boy 'bout mos' thirteen years ole, I reckon. Hows'ever, dey
sut'n'y wuz sot on each urr an' (yo' heah me!) ole marster an' Cun'l
Chahmb'lin, dey 'peered to like it 'bout well ez de chil'en. Yo' see,
Cun'l Chahmb'lin's place j'ined ourn, an' it looked jes' ez natural fur
dem two chil'en to marry ant mek it one plantation, ez it did fur de
creek to run down de bottom from our place into Cun'l Chahmb'lin's. I
don' rightly think de chil'en thought 'bout gittin' married, not den,
no mo'n I thought 'bout marryin' Judy when she wuz a little gal at
Cun'l Chahmb'lin's, runnin' 'bout de house, huntin' fur Miss Lucy's
spectacles; but dey wuz, good frien's from de start. Marse Chan he use
to, kyar Miss Anne's books fur her ev'y day, an' ef de road wuz muddy
or she wuz tired, he use' to tote her, an' 'twarn' hardly a day passed
dat he didn' kyar her some'n' to school—apples or hick'y nuts, or
some'n. He wouldn' let none o' de chil'en tease her, nurr. Heh! One
day, one o' de boys poked he finger at Miss Anne, and arfter school
Marse Chan he axed 'im 'roun' hine de school-house out o' sight, an' ef
he didn' whop 'im!
“Marse Chan, he wuz de peartes' scholar ole Mr. Hall hed, an' Mr.
Hall he wuz mighty proud o' 'im I don' think he use' to beat 'im ez
much ez he did de urrs, aldo' he wuz de head in all debilment dat went
on, jes' ez he wuz in sayin' he lessons.
“Heh! one day in summer, jes' fo' de school broke up, dyah come up a
storm right sudden, an' riz de creek (dat one yo' cross' back yonder),
an Marse Chan he toted Miss Anne home on he back. He ve'y off'n did dat
when de parf wuz muddy. But dis day when dey come to de creek, it had
done washed all de logs 'way. 'Twuz still mighty high so Marse Chan he
put Miss Anne down, an' he took a pole an' waded right in. Hit took 'im
long up to de shoulders. Den he waded back, an' took Miss Anne up on
his head an' kyared her right over. At fust she wuz skeered; but he
tol' her he could swim an' wouldn' let her git hu't, an' den she let
'im kyar her 'cross, she hol'in' his han's. I warn' 'long dat day, but
he sut'n'y did dat thing.
“Ole marster he wuz so pleased 'bout it, he giv' Marse Chan a pony;
an' Marse Chan rode 'im to school de day arfter he come, so proud, an'
sayin' how he wuz gwine to let Anne ride behine 'im; an' when he come
home dat evenin' he wuz walkin'. 'Hi! where's yo' pony?' said ole
marster. 'I give 'im to Anne,' says Marse Chan. 'She liked 'im, an'—I
kin walk.' 'Yes,' sez ole marster, laughin', 'I s'pose you's already
done giv' her yo'se'f, an' nex' thing I know you'll be givin' her this
plantation and all my niggers.'
“Well, about a fortnight or sich a matter arfter dat, Cun'l
Chahmb'lin sont over en' invited all o' we all over to dinner, an'
Marse Chan wuz 'spressly named in de note whar Ned brought; an' arfter
dinner he made ole Phil, whar wuz his ker'ige-driver, bring roun' Marse
Chan's pony wid a little side-saddle on 'im, an' a beautiful little
hoss wid a bran'-new saddle an' bridle on 'im; an' he gits up an' meks
Marse Chan a gre't speech, an' presents 'im de little hoss; an' den he
calls Miss Anne, an' she comes out on de poach in a little ridin'
frock, an' dey puts her on her pony, an' Marse Chan mounts his hoss,
an' dey goes to ride, while de grown folks is a-laughin' an' chattin'
an' smokin' dey cigars.
“Dem wuz good ole times, marster—de bes' Sam ever see! Dey wuz, in
fac'! Niggers didn' hed nothin' 't all to do—jes' hed to 'ten' to de
feedin' an' cleanin' de hosses, en' doin' what de marster tell 'em to
do; an' when dey wuz sick, dey had things sont 'em out de house, an' de
same doctor come to see 'em whar 'ten' to de white folks when dey wuz
po'ly. Dyar warn' no trouble nor nothin'.
“Well, things tuk a change arfter dat. Marse Chan he went to de
bo'din' school, whar he use' to write to me constant. Ole missis use'
to read me de letters, an' den I'd git Miss Anne to read 'em ag'in to
me when I'd see her. He use' to write to her too, en' she use' to write
to him too. Den Miss Anne she wuz sont off to school too. An' in de
summer time dey'd bofe come home, an' yo' hardly knowed whether Marse
Chan lived at home or over at Cun'l Chahmb'lin's. He wuz over dyah
constant. 'Twuz always ridin' or fishin' down dyah in de river; or
sometimes he' go over dyah, an' 'im an' she'd go out an' set in de yard
onder de trees; she settin' up mekin' out she wuz knittin' some sort o
bright-cullored some'n', wid de grarss growin all up 'g'inst her, an'
her hat th'owed back on her neck, an' he readin' to her out books; an'
sometimes dey'd bofe read out de same book, fust one en' den todder. I
use' to see 'em! Dat wuz when dey wuz growin' up like.
“Den ole marster he run for Congress, an' ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin he
wuz put up to run 'g'inst ole marster by de Dimicrats; but ole marster
he beat 'im. Yo' know he wuz gwine do dat! Co'se he wuz! Dat made ole
Cun'l Chahmb'lin mighty mad, and dey stops visitin, each urr reg'lar,
like dey had been doin' all 'long. Den Cun'l Chahmb'lin he sort o' got
in debt, an' sell some o' he niggers, an' dat's de way de fuss begun.
Dat's whar de lawsuit cum from. Ole marster he didn' like nobody to
sell niggers, an' knowin' dat Cun'l Chahmb'lin wuz sellin' o' his, he
writ an' offered to buy his M'ria an' all her chil'en, 'cause she hed
married our Zeek'yel. An' don' yo' think, Cun'l Chahmb'lin axed ole
marster mo' 'n th'ee niggers wuz wuth fur M'ria! Befo' old marster
bought her, dough, de sheriff cum an' levelled on M'ria an' a whole
parecel o' urr niggers. Ole marster he went to de sale, an' bid for
'em; but Cun'l Chahmb'lin he got some one to bid 'g'inst ole marster.
Dey wuz knocked out to ole marster dough, an' den dey hed a big
lawsuit, an' ole marster wuz agwine to co't, off an' on, fur some
years, till at lars' de bo't decided dat M'ria belonged to ole marster.
Ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin den wuz so mad he sued ole marster for a little
strip o' lan' down dyah on de line fence, whar he said belonged to 'im.
Evy'body knowed hit belonged to ole marster. Ef yo' go down dyah now, I
kin show it to yo', inside de line fence, whar it hed done bin ever
since long befo' Cun'l Chahmb'lin wuz born. But Cun'l Chahmb'lin wuz a
mons'us perseverin' man, an' ole marster he wouldn' let nobody run over
'im. No, dat he wouldn'! So dey wuz agwine down to co't about dat, fur
I don' know how long, till ole marster beat 'im.
“All dis time, yo' know, Marse Chan wuz agoin' back'ads en' for'ads
to college, an' wuz growed up a ve'y fine young man. He wuz a ve'y
likely gent'man! Miss Anne she hed done mos' growed up too—wuz
puttin' her hyar up like ole missis use' to put hers up, an' 't wuz
jes' ez bright ez de sorrel's mane when de sun cotch on it, an' her
eyes wuz gre't big dark eyes, like her pa's, on'y bigger an' not so
fierce, an' 'twarn' none o' de young ladies ez purty ez she wuz. She
an' Marse Chan still set a heap o' sto' by one 'nurr, but I don' think
dey wuz easy wid each urr ez when he used to tote her home from school
on his back. Marse Chan he use' to love de ve'y groun' she walked on,
dough, in my 'pinion. Heh! His face 'twould light up whenever she come
into chu'ch, or anywhere, jes' like de sun hed come th'oo a chink on it
suddenly. “Den ole marster lost he eyes. D' yo' ever heah 'bout dat?
Heish! Didn' yo'? Well, one night de big barn cotch fire. De stables,
yo' know, wuz under de big barn, an' all de hosses wuz in dyah. Hit
'peered to me like 'twarn' no time befo' all de folks an' de neighbors
dey come, en' dey wuz a-totin' water, an' a-tryin' to save de po'
critters, and dey got a heap on 'em out; but de ker'ige-hosses dey
wouldn' come out, en' dey wuz a-runnin' back'ads an' for'ads inside de
stalls, a-nikerin' en' a-screamin', like dey knowed dey time hed come.
Yo' could heah 'em so pitiful, an' pres'n'y old marster said to Ham
Fisher (he wuz de ker'ige-driver),'Go in dyah an' try to save 'em; don'
let 'em bu'n to death.' An' Ham he went right in. An' jest arfter he
got in, de shed whar it hed fus' cotch fell in, an' de sparks shot 'way
up in de air; an' Ham didn' come back, en' de fire begun to lick out
under de eaves over whar de ker'ige hosses' stalls wuz, an' all of a
sudden ole marster tu'ned an' kissed ole missis, who wuz standin' nigh
him, wid her face jes' ez white ez a sperit's, an', befo' anybody
knowed what he wuz gwine do, jumped right in de do', an' de smoke come
po'in' out behine 'im. Well, seh, I nuver 'spects to heah tell Judgment
sich a soun ez de folks set up! Ole missis she jes' drapt down on her
knees in de mud an' prayed out loud. Hit 'peered like her pra'r wuz
heard; for in a minit, right out de same do', kyarin' Ham Fisher in his
arms, come ole marster, wid his clo's all blazin'. Dey flung water on
'im, an' put 'im out; an', ef you b'lieve me, yo' wouldn' a-knowed
'twuz ole marster. Yo' see, he hed find Ham Fisher done fall down in de
smoke right by the ker'ige-hoss' stalls, whar he sont him, en' he hed
to tote 'im back in his arms th'oo de fire what hed done cotch de front
part o' de stable, and to keep de flame from gittin' down Ham Fisher's
th'ote he hed tuk off his own hat and mashed it all over Ham Fisher's
face, an' he hed kep' Ham Fisher from bein' so much bu'nt; but he wuz
bu'nt dreadful! His beard an' hyar wuz all nyawed off, an' his face an'
hen's an' neck wuz scorified terrible. Well, he jes' laid Ham Fisher
down, an' then he kind o' staggered for'ad, an' ole missis ketch' 'im
in her arms. Ham Fisher, he warn' bu'nt so bad, an' he got out in a
month or two; an' arfter a long time, ole marster he got well, too; but
he wuz always stone blind arfter that. He nuver could see none from dat
“Marse Chan he comed home from college toreckly, an' he sut'n'y did
nuss ole marster faithful—jes' like a 'ooman. Den he took charge of
de plantation arfter dat; an' I use' to wait on 'im jes' like when we
wuz boys togedder; an' sometimes we'd slip off an' have a fox-hunt, an'
he'd be jes' like he wuz in ole times, befo' ole marster got bline, an'
Miss Anne Chahmb'lin stopt comin' over to our house, an' settin' onder
de trees, readin' out de same book. “He sut'n'y wuz good to me. Nothin'
nuver made no diffunce 'bout dat. He nuver hit me a lick in his life—
an' nuver let nobody else do it, nurr.
“I 'members one day, when he wuz a leetle bit o' boy, ole marster
hed done tole we all chil'en not to sl de on de straw-stacks;
an' one day me an' Marse Chan thought ole marster hed done gone 'way
from home. We watched him git on he hoss an' ride up de road out o'
sight, ant we wuz out in de field a-slidin' an a-slidin', when up comes
ole marster. We started to run; but he hed done see us, an' he called
us to come back; an' sich a whuppin' ez he did gi' us!
“Fust he took Marse Chan, an' den he teched me up. He nuver hu't me,
but in co'se I wuz a-hollerin' ez hard ez I could stave it, 'cause I
knowed dat wuz gwine mek him stop. Marse Chan he hed'n open he mouf
long ez ole marster wuz tunin' 'im; but soon ez he commence warmin' me
an' I begin to holler, Marse Chan he bu'st out cryin', an' steps right
in befo' ole marster, an' ketchin' de whup, sed:
“'Stop, seh! Yo' sha'n't whup 'im; he b'longs to me, an' ef you hit
'im another lick I'll set 'im free!'
“I wish yo' hed see ole marster. Marse Chan he warn' mo'n eight
years ole, an' dyah dey wuz—old marster stan'in' wid he whup raised
up, an' Marse Chan red an' cryin', hol'in on to it, an' sayin' I
b'longst to 'im.
“Ole marster he raise' de whup, an' den he drapt it, an' broke out
in a smile over he face, an' he chuck' Marse Chan onder de chin, an'
tu'n right roun' an' went away, laughin' to hisse'f, an' I heah' 'im
tellin' ole missis dat evenin', an laughin' 'bout it.
“ 'Twan' so mighty long arfter dat when dey fust got to talkin'
'bout de war, Dey wus a-dictatin' back'ads an' for'ds ' bout it fur two
or th'ee years 'fo' it come sho' nuff, you know. Ole marster, he wuz a
Whig, an' of co'se Marse Chan he tuk after he pa. Cun'l Chahmb'lin, he
wus a Dimicrat. He wuz in favor of de war, an' ole marster and Marse
Chan dey wuz agin' it. Dey wuz a-talkin' 'bout it all de time, an'
purty soon Cun'l Chahmb'lin he went about ev'vywhar speakin' an'
noratin' 'bout Ferginia ought to secede; an' Marse Chan he wuz picked
up to talk agin' 'im. Dat wuz de way dey come to fight de duil. I
sit'n'y wuz skeered fur Mars Chan dat mawnin', an' he was jes' ez cool!
Yo' see, it happen so: Marse Chan he wuz a-speakin' down at de Deep
Creek Tavern, an' he kind o' got de bes' of ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin. All
de white folks laughed an' hoorawed, an' ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin—my
Lawd! I t'ought he'd bu'st, he was so mad. Well, when it come to his
time to speak, he jes' light into Marse Chan. He call 'im a traitor,
an' ab'litionis, an I don' know what all. Marse Chan, he jes' kep' cool
till de ole Cun'l light into he pa. Ez soon ez he name ole marster, I
seen Marse Chan sort o' lif' up he head. D' yo' ever see a hoss rar he
head up right sudden at night when he see somethin' comin' to'ds 'im
from de side an' he don' know what 'tis? Ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin he went
right on. He said ole marster he taught Marse Chan; dat ole marster wus
a wuss ab'litionis dan he son. I looked at Marse Chan, an' sez to
myse'f: 'Fo' God! old Cun'l Chahmb'lin better min', an' I hedn' got de
wuds out, when ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin 'cuse' old marster o' cheatin' 'im
out 'o he niggers, an' stealin' piece o' he lan''—dat's de lan' I
tole you 'bout. Well, seh, nex' thing I knowed, I heahed Marse Chan—
hit all happen right 'long togerr, like lightnin' and thunder when they
hit right at you—I heah 'im say:
“'Cun'l Chahmb'lin, what you say is false, an' yo' know it to be so.
You have wilfully slandered one of de pures' and nobles' men Gord ever
made, an' nothin' but yo' gray hyars protects you.'
“Well, ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin, he ra'ed an' he pitch'd. He said he
wan' too ole, an' he'd show 'im so.
“ 'Ve'y well,' say Marse Chan.
“De meetin broke up den. I wuz hol'in de hosses ou dyar in de road
by de een' o' de poach, an' I see Marse Chan talkin' to Mr. Gordon an'
anudder gent'man, and den he come out an' got on de sorrel an' galloped
off. Soon ez he got out o' sight he pulled up, an' we walked along tell
we come to de road whar leads off to'ds Mr. Barbour's. He wuz de big
lawyer o' de country. Dar he tu'ned off. All dis time he hedn' sed a
wud, 'cep' to kind o' mumble to hisse'f now and den. When we got to Mr.
Barbour's, he got down en' went in. Dat wuz in de late winter; de folks
wuz jes' beginnin' to plough fur corn. He stayed dyer 'bout two hours,
an' when he come out Mr. Barbour come out to de gate wid 'im an' shake
hen's arfter he got up in de saddle. Den we all rode off. 'Twuz late
den—good dark; an' we rid ez hard ez we could, tell we come to de ole
school-house at ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin's gate. When we got dar, Marse
Chan got down an' walked right slow 'roun' de house. Arfter lookin'
roun' a little while an' tryin' de do' to see ef it wuz shet, he walked
down de road tell he got to de creek. He stop' dyer a little while an'
picked up two or three little rocks an' frowed 'em in, an' pres'n'y he
got up ant we come on home. Ez he got down, he tu'ned to me an, rubbin'
de sorrel's nose, said: 'Have 'em well fed, Sam; I'll want 'em early in
“Dat night at supper he laugh an' talk, an' he set at de table a
long time. Arfter ole marster went to bed, he went in de charmber en'
set on de bed by 'im talkin' to 'im en' tellin' 'im 'bout de meetin'
an' e'vything; but he nuver mention ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin's name. When
he got up to come out to de office in de yard, whar he slept, he
stooped down an' kissed 'im jes' like he wuz a baby layin' dyer in de
bed, an' he'd hardly let ole missis go at all. I knowed some'n wuz up,
an' nex mawnin' I called 'im early befo' light, like he tole me, an' he
dressed an' come out pres'n'y jes' like he wuz goin' to church. I had
de hosses ready, an' we went out de back way to'ds de river. Ez we rode
along, he said:
“'Sam, you an' I wuz boys togedder, wa'n't we?'
“'Yes,' sez I, 'Marse Chan, dat we wuz.'
“ 'You have been ve'y faithful to me,' sez he, 'an' I have seen to
it that you are well provided fur. You want to marry Judy, I know, ant
you'll be able to buy her ef you want to.'
“Den he tole me he wuz goin' to fight a duil, an' in case he should
git shot, he had set me free an' giv' me nuff to tek keer o' me an' my
wife ez long ez we lived. He said he'd like me to stay en' tek keer o'
ole marster an' ole missis ez long ez dey lived, an' he said it wouldn'
be very long, he reckoned. Dat wuz de on'y time he voice broke—when
he said dat; en' I couldn' speak a wud, my th'oat choked me so.
“When we come to de river, we tu'ned right up de bank, an' arfter
ridin' 'bout a mile or sich a matter, we stopped whar day wuz a little
clearin' wid elder bushes on one side an' two big gum-trees on de urr,
an' de sky wuz all red, an' de water down to'ds whar the sun wuz comin'
wuz jes' like de sky. “Pres'n'y Mr. Gordon he come, wid a 'hogany box
'bout so big 'fore 'im, an' he got down, an' Marse Chan tole me to tek
all de hosses an' go 'roun' behine de bushes whar I tell you 'bout—
off to one side; an' 'fore I got 'roun' dar, ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin an'
Mr. Hennin an' Dr. Call come ridin' from t'urr way, to'ds ole Cun'l
Chahmb'lin's. When dey hed tied day hosses, de urr gent'mens went up to
whar Mr. Gordon wuz, an' arfter some chattin' Mr. Hennin step' off
'bout fur ez 'cross dis road, or mebbe it mout be a little furder; an'
den I seed 'em th'oo de bushes loadin' de pistils, an' talk a little
while; an' den Marse Chan an' ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin walked up wid de
pistils in dey han's, an' Marse Chan he stood wid his face right to'ds
de sun. I seen it shine on him jes' ez it come up over de low groun's,
an' he look like he did sometimes when he come out of church. I wuz so
skeered I couldn' say nothin'. Ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin could shoot fust
rate, an' Marse Chan he never missed.
“Den I heared Mr. Gordon say, 'Gent'mens, is yo' ready?' and bofe of
'em sez, 'Ready,' jes' so.
“An' he sez, 'Fire, one, two'—an' ez he said 'one,' ole Cun'l
Chahmb'lin raised he pistil an' shot right at Marse Chan. De ball went
th'oo his hat. I seen he hat sort o' settle on he head ez de bullit hit
it, an' he jes' tilted his pistil up in de a'r an' shot—bang; an ez
de pistil went bang, he sez to Cun'l Chahmb'lin 'I mek you a present to
yo' fam'ly, seh!'
Well, dey had some talkin' arfter dat. I didn't git rightly what it
wuz; but it 'peered like Cun'l Chahmb'lin he warn't satisfied, en'
wanted to have anurr shot. De seconds dey wuz talkin', an' pres'n'y dey
put de pistils up, an' Marse Chan an' Mr. Gordon shook hen's wid Mr.
Hennin an' Dr. Call, an' come an' got on dey hosses, An' Cun'l
Chahmb'lin he got on his horse an' rode away wid de urr gent'mens,
lookin' like he did de day befo' when all de people laughed at 'im.
“I b'lieve ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin wan' to shoot Marse Chan, anyway!
“We come on home to breakfast, I totin' de box wid de pistils befo'
me on de roan. Would you b'lieve me, seh, Marse Chan he nuver said a
wud 'bout it to ole marster or nobody. Ole missis didn' fin' out 'bout
it for mo'n a month, an' den, Lawd! how she did cry and kiss Marse
Chan; an' ole marster, aldo' he never say much, he wuz jes' ez please'
ez ole missis. He call' me in de room an' made me tole 'im all 'bout
it, an' when I got th'oo he gi' me five dollars an' a pyar of breeches.
“But ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin he nuver did furgive Marse Chan, an' Miss
Anne she got mad too. Wimmens is mons'us onreasonable nohow. Dey's jes'
like a catfish: you can n' tek hole on 'em like udder folks an' when
you gits yo' can n' always hole 'em.
“What meks me think so? Heaps o' things—dis: Marse Chan he done
gi' Miss Anne her pa jes' ez good ez I go' Marse Chan's dawg sweet
'taters, an' she git mad wid 'im ez if hed kill 'im 'stid o' sen'in'
'im back to her dat mawnin' whole an' soun'. B'lieve me! she wouldn'
even speak to him arfter dat!
“Don' I 'member dat mawnin'!
“We wuz gwine fox-huntin', 'bout six weeks or sich a matter after de
duil, an' we met Miss Anne ridin' 'long wid anurr lady an' two
gent'mens whar wuz stayin' at her house, Dyar wuz always some one or
nurr dyar co'ting her. Well, dat mawnin' we meet 'em right in de road.
'Twuz de fust time Marse Chan had see her sence de duil, an' he raises
he hat ez he pahss, an' she looks right at 'im wid her head up in de
yair like she nuver see 'im befo' in her born days; an' when she comes
by me, she sez, 'Good-mawnin', Sam!' Gord! I nuver see nuthin' like de
look dat come on Marse Chan's face when she pahss 'im like dat. He gi'
de sorrel a pull dat fotch 'im back settin' down in de san' on he
hanches. He ve'y lips wuz white. I tried to keep up wid 'im, but 'twarn
no use. He sont me back home pres'n'y, an' he rid on. I sez to Marse
Chan dis mawnin'. He ain' lookin' 'roun' de ole school-house, whar he
an' Miss Anne use' to go to school to ole Mr. Hall together, fur
nuffin'. He won' stan' no prodjickin' to-day.'
“He nuver come home dat night tell 'way late, an' ef he'd been
fox-huntin' it mus' ha' been de ole red whar lives down in de greenscum
mashes he'd been chasin'. De way de sorrel wuz gormed up wid sweat an'
mire sut'n'y did hu't me. He walked up to de stable wid he head down
all de way, an' I'se seen 'im go eighty miles of a winter day, an'
prance into de stable at night ez fresh ez ef hed jes' cantered over to
ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin's to supper. I nuver seen a hiss beat so sence I
knowed de fetlock from de fo'lock, an' bad ez he wuz he wan' ez bad ez
“Whew! he didn' git over dat thing, seh—he nuver did git over it.
“De war come on jes' den, an Marse Chan wuz elected cap'n; but he
wouldn' tek it. He said Firginia hadn' seceded, an' he wuz gwine stan'
by her. Den dey 'lected Mr. Gordon cap'n.
I sut'n'y did wan' Marse Chan to tek de place, cuz I knowed he wuz
gwine tek me wid 'im. He wan' gwine widout Sam. An' beside, he look so
po' an' thin, I thought he wuz gwine die.
“Of co'se, ole missis she heared 'bout it, an' she met Miss Anne in
de road, an' cut her jes' like Miss Anne cut Marse Chan.
“Ole missis, she wuz proud ez anybody! So we wuz mo' strangers den
ef we hadn' live' in a hunderd miles of each urr. An' Marse Chan he wuz
gittin' thinner en' thinner, an' Firginia she come out, an' den Marse
Chan he went to Richmond an' listed, an' come back an' sey he wuz a
private, an' he didn' know whe'r he could tek me or not. He writ to Mr.
Gordon, hows'ever, an' 'twuz 'cided dat when he went I wuz to go 'long
en' wait on him an' de cap'n too. I didn' min' dat, yo' know, long ez I
could go wid Marse Chan, an' I like' Mr. Gordon, anyways.
“Well, one night Marse Chan come back from de offis wid a telegram
dat say, 'Come at once,' so he wuz to start nex' mawnin'. He uniform
wuz all ready, gray wid yeller trimmin's, an' mine wuz ready too, an'
he had ole marster's sword, whar de State gi' 'im in de Mexikin war;
an' he trunks wuz all packed wid ev'rything in 'em, an' my chist was
packed too, an' Jim Rasher he druv 'em over to de depo' in de waggin,
an' we wuz to start nex mawnin' 'bout light. Dis wuz 'bout de las' o'
spring, you know. Dat night ole missis made Marse Chan dress up in he
uniform, an' he sut'n'y did look splendid, wid he long mustache en' he
wavin' hyar an' he tall figger.
“Arfter supper he come down an' sez: 'Sam, I wan' you to tek dis
note an, kyar it over to Cun'l Chahmb'lin's, en' gi' it to Miss Anne
wid yo' own hen's, an' bring me wud what she sez. Don' let any or know
'bout it, or know why you've gone.' 'Yes, seh,' sez I.
“Yo' see, I knowed Miss Anne's maid over at ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin's—
dat wuz Judy whar is my wife now—an' I knowed I could wuk it. So I
tuk de roan an' rid over, an' tied 'im down de hill in de cedars, an' I
wen' 'roun' to de back yard. 'Twuz a right blowy sort o' night; de moon
wuz jes' risin', but de clouds wuz so big it didn' shine 'cep' th'oo a
crack now an' den. I soon foun' my gal, an' arfter tellin' her two or
three lies 'bout herse'f, I got her to go in an' ax Miss Anne to come
to de do'. When she come, I gi' her de note, an' arfter a little while
she bro't me anurr, an' I tole her good-by, an' she gi' me a dollar,
an' I come home an' gi' de letter to Marse Chan. He read it, an' tole
me to have de hosses ready at twenty minits to twelve at de corner of
de garden. An' jes' befo' dat he come out ez ef he wuz gwine to bed,
but instid he come, an' we all struck out to'ds Cun'l Chahmb'lin's.
When we got mos 'to de gate, de hosses got sort o' skeered, an' I see
dey wuz some'n or somebody standin' jes' inside; an' Marse Chan he
jumps off de sorrel an' flung me de bridle and he walked up.
“She spoke fust ('twuz Miss Anne had done come out dyer to meet
Marse Chan), an' she sez, jes' ez cold ez a chill,'Well, seh, I granted
your favor. I wished to relieve myse'f of de obligations you placed me
under a few months ago, when you made me a present of my father, whom
you fust insulted an' then prevented from gittin' satisfaction.'
“Marse Chan he didn' speak fur a minit, an' den he said:'Who is with
you?' (Dat wuz ev'y wud.)
“'No one,' sez she;'I came alone.'
“ 'My God!' sez he, 'you didn' come all through those woods by
yourse'f at this time o' night?'
“ 'Yes, I'm not afraid,' sez she. (An' heah dis nigger! I don'
b'lieve she wuz.)
“De moon come out, an' I cotch sight o' her stan'in' dyer in her
white dress, wid de cloak she had wrapped herse'f up in drapped off on
de groun', an' she didn' look like she wuz 'feared o' nuthin'. She wuz
mons'us purty ez she stood dyer wid de green bushes behine her, an' she
hed jes' a few flowers in her breas'—right hyah—and some leaves in
her sorrel hyar; an' de moon come out en' shined down on her hyar an'
her frock, an' 'peered like de light wuz jes' stan'in' off it ez she
stood dyer lookin' at Marse Chan wid her head tho'd back, jes' like dat
mawnin' when she pahss Marse Chan in de road widout speakin' to 'im,
an' sez to me, 'Good mawnin', Sam.'
“Marse Chan, he den tole her he hed come to say good by to her, ez
he wuz gwine 'way to de war nex' mawnin'. I wuz watchin' on her, en' I
tho't, when Marse Chan tole her dat, she sort o' started an' looked up
at 'im like she wuz mighty sorry, an' 'peared like she didn' stan'
quite so straight arfter dat. Den Marse Chan he went on talkin' right
fars' to her; an' he tole her how he had loved her ever sence she wuz a
little bit o' baby mos', an' how he nuver 'membered de time when he
hedn' 'spected to marry her. He tole her it wuz his love for her dat
hed made 'im stan' fust at school an' collige, an' hed kep' 'im good
an' pure; an' now he wuz gwine 'way, wouldn' she let it be like 'twuz
in ole times, an' ef he come back from de war wouldn' she try to think
on him ez she use' to do when she wuz a little guirl?
“Marse Chan he had done been talkin' so serious, he hed done tuk
Miss Anne's hen', an' wuz lookin' down in her face like he wuz
list'nin' wid his eyes.
“Arfter a minit Miss Anne she said somethin', an' Marse Chan he
cotch her urr hen' an' sez:
“ 'But if you love me, Anne?'
“When he said dat, she tu'ned her head 'way from 'im, en' wait' a
minit, en' den she said—right clear:
“ 'But I don' love yo'.' (Jes' dem th'ee wuds!) De wuds fall right
slow—like dirt falls out a spade on a coffin when yo's buryin'
anybody, an' seys, 'Uth to uth.' Marse Chan he jes' let her hand drap,
an' he stiddy hisse'f 'g'inst de gate-pos', an' he didn' speak torekly.
When he did speak, all he sez wuz:
“'I mus' see you home safe.'
“I 'clar, marster, I didn' know 'twuz Marse Chan's voice tell I look
at 'im right good. Well, she wouldn' let 'im go wid her. She jes' wrap'
her cloak 'roun' her shoulders, an' wen' 'long back by herse'f, widout
doin' more'n jes' look up once at Marse Chan leanin' dyah 'g'inst de
gate-pos' in he sodger clo's, wid he eyes on de groun'. She said 'Good
by' sort o' sorf, an' Marse Chan, widout lookin' up, shake hen's wid
her, en' she wuz done gone down de road. Soon ez she got 'mos' 'roun de
curve, Marse Chan he followed her, keepin' under de trees so ez not to
be seen, an' I led de hosses on down de road behine 'im. He kep' 'long
behine her tell she wuz safe in de house, an' den he come an' got on he
hoss, an' we all come home.
“Nex' mawnin' we all come off to j'ine de army. An' dey wuz
a-drillin' an' a-drillin' all 'bout for a while an' dey went 'long wid
all de res' o' de army, an' I went wid Marse Chan an' clean he boots,
an' look arfter de tent, en' tek keer o' him en' de hosses. An' Marse
Chan, he wan' a bit like he use' to be. He wuz so solum an' moanful all
de time, at leas' 'cep' when dyah wuz gwine to be a fight. Den he'd
peartin' up, en' he alwuz rode at de head o' de company, 'cause he wuz
tall; en' hit wan' on'y in battles whar all his company wuz dat he
went, but he use' to volunteer whenever de cun'l wanted anybody to fine
out anythin', an' 'twuz so dangersome he didn' like to mek one man go
no sooner'n anurr, yo' know, an, ax'd who'd volunteer. He 'peered to
like to go prowlin' aroun' 'mong dem Yankees, an' he use' to tek me wid
'im whenever he could. Yes, seh, he sut'n'y wuz a good sodger! He didn'
mine bullets no more'n he did so many draps o' rain. But I use' to be
pow'ful skeered sometimes. It jes' use' to 'pear like fun to 'im. In
camp he use' to be so sorrerful he'd hardly open he mouf. You'd 'a'
tho't he wuz seekin', he used to look so moanful; but jes' le' 'im git
into danger, an' he use' to be like ole times—jolly en' laughin' like
when he wuz a boy.
“When Cap'n Gordon got he leg shot off, dey mek Marse Chan cap'n on
de spot, 'cause one o' de lieutenants got kilt de same day, an' turr
one (named Mr. Ronny) wan' no 'count, an' all de company said Marse
Chan wuz de man.
“An' Marse Chan he wuz jes' de same. He didn' never mention Miss
Anne's name, but I knowed he wuz thinkin' on her constant. One night he
wuz settin' by de fire in camp, an' Mr. Ronny—he wuz de secon'
lieutenant — got to talkin' 'bout ladies, an' he say all sorts o'
things 'bout 'em, an' I see Marse Chan kinder lookin' mad; an' de
lieutenant mention Miss Anne's name. He hed been courtin' Miss Anne
'bout de time Marse Chan fit de duil wid her pa, an' Miss Anne hed
kicked 'im, dough he wuz mighty rich, 'cause he warn' nuthin' but a
half-strainer, an' 'cause she like Marse Chan, I believe, dough she
didn' speak to 'im; an' Mr. Ronny he got drunk, an' 'cause Cun'l
Chahmb'lin tole 'im not to come dyah no more, he got mighty mad. An'
dat evenin' I'se tellin' yo' 'bout, he wuz talkin', ant he mention'
Miss Anne's name. I see Marse Chan tu'n he eye 'roun' on 'im an' keep
it on he face, and pres'n'y Mr. Ronny said he wuz gwine hev some fun
dyah yit. He didn' mention her name dat time; but he said dey wuz all
on 'em a parecel of stuckup 'risticrats, an' her pa wan' no gent'man
anyway, an'—I don' know what he wuz gwine say (he nuver said it), fur
ez he got dat far Marse Chan riz up an' hit 'im a crack, an' he fall
like he hed been hit wid a fence-rail. He challenged Marse Chan to
fight a duil, an' Marse Chan he excepted de challenge, an' dey wuz
gwine fight; but some on 'em tole 'im Marse Chan wan' gwine mek a
present o' him to his fam'ly, an' he got somebody to bre'k up de duil;
twan' nuthin' dough, but he wuz 'fred to fight Marse Chan. An' purty
soon he lef' de comp'ny.
“Well, I got one o' de gent'mens to write Judy a letter for me, an'
I tole her all 'bout de fight, an' how Marse Chan knock Mr. Ronny over
fur speakin' discontemptuous o' Cun'l Chahmb'lin, an' I tole her how
Marse Chan wuz a-dyin' fur love o' Miss Anne. An' Judy she gits Miss
Anne to read de letter fur her. Den Miss Anne she tells her pa, an'—
you mind, Judy tells me all dis arfterwards, an' she say when Cun'l
Chahmb'lin hear 'bout it, he wuz settin' on de poach, an' he set still
a good while, an' den he sey to hisse'f:
“ 'Well, he carn' he'p bein' a Whig.'
“An' den he gits up an' walks up to Miss Anne an' looks at her right
hard; an' Miss Anne she hed done tu'n away her haid en' wuz makin' out
she wuz fixin' a rose-bush 'g'inst de poach; an' when her pa kep'
lookin' at her, her face got jes' de color o' de roses on de bush, and
pres'n'y her pa sez:
“An' she tu'ned roun', an' he sez:
“ 'Do yo' want 'im?'
“An' she sez, 'Yes,' an' put her head on he shoulder an' begin to
cry; an' he sez:
“'Well, I won' stan' between yo' no longer. Write to 'im an' say
“We didn' know nuthin' 'bout dis den. We wuz a-fightin' an'
a-fightin' all dat time; an' come one day a letter to Marse Chan, an' I
see 'im start to read it in his tent, an' he face hit look so cu'ious,
an he hen's trembled so I couldn' mek out what wuz de matter wid 'im.
An' he fol' de letter up an' wen' out an' wen' way down 'hine de camp,
an' stayed dyah 'bout nigh an hour. Well, seh, I wuz on de lookout for
'im when he come back, an', fo' Gord, ef he face didn' shine like a
angel's! I say to myse'f, 'Um'm! ef de glory o' Gord ain' done shine on
'im!' An' what yo' 'spose 'twuz?
“He tuk me wid 'im dat evenin', an' he tell me he hed done git a
letter from Miss Anne, an' Marse Chan he eyes look like gre't big
stars, an' he face wuz jes' like 'twuz dat mawnin' when de sun riz up
over de low groun', an' I see 'im stan'in' dyah wid de pistil in he
hen', lookin' at it, an' not knowin' but what it mout be de lars' time,
an' he done mek up he mine not to shoot ole Cun'l Chahmb'lin fur Miss
Anne's sake, what writ 'im de letter.
“He fol' de letter wha' was in his hen' up, an' put it in he inside
pocket—right dyer on de lef' side; an' den he tole me he tho't mebbe
we wuz gwine hev some warm wuk in de nex' two or th'ee days, an' arfter
dat ef Gord speared 'im he'd git a leave o' absence fur a few days, an'
we'd go home.
“Well, dat night de orders come, an' we all hed to git over to'ds
Romney; en' we rid all night till 'bout light; en' we halted right on a
little creek, an' we stayed dyah till mos' breakfas' time, an' I see
Marse Chan set down on de groun' 'hine a bush an' read dat letter over
an' over. I watch 'im, an' de battle wuz a-goin' on, but we had orders
to stay 'hine de hill, an' ev'y now an' den de bullets would cut de
limbs o' de trees right over us, an' one o' dem big shells what goes
'Awhar—awhar—awhar!' would fall right 'mong us; but Marse Chan he
didn' mine it no m'on nuthin'! Den it 'peared to git closer an'
thicker, and Marse Chan he calls me, an' I crep' up, en' he sez:
“'Sam, we'se goin' to win in dis battle, an' den we'll go home an'
git married; an' I'se goin' home wid a star on my collar.' An' den he
sez, 'Ef I'm wounded, kyar me home, yo' hear?' An' I sez, 'Yes, Marse
“Well, jes' den dey blowed boots an' saddles, 'an we mounted; an' de
orders come to ride 'roun' de slope, an' Marse Chan's comp'ny wuz de
secon', an' when we got 'roun' dyah, we wuz right in it. Hit wuz de
wust place ever dis nigger got in. An' dey said, 'Charge 'em!' an' my
king! ef ever you see bullets fly, dey did dat day. Hit wuz jes' like
hail; an' we wen' down de slope (I long wid de res') an' up de hill
right to'ds de cannons, an' de fire wuz so strong dyer (dey hed a whole
rigiment o' infintrys layin' down dyer onder de cannons) our lines sort
o' broke an' stop; de cun'l was kilt, an' I b'lieve dey wuz jes' 'bout
to bre'k all to pieces, when Marse Chan rid up an' cotch hol' de flag
an' hollers, 'Foller me!' an' rid strainin' up de hill 'mong de
cannons. I seen 'im when he went, de sorrel four good lengths ahead o'
ev'y urr hoss, jes' like he use' to be in a fox-hunt, an' de whole
rigiment right arfter 'im. Yo' ain' nuver hear thunder! Fust thing I
knowed, de roan roll' head over heels an' flung me up 'g'inst de bank,
like yo' chuck a nubbin over 'g'inst de foot o' de corn pile. An dat's
what kep' me from bein' kilt, I 'spects. Judy she say she think 'twuz
Providence, but I think 'twuz de bank. O' co'se, Providence put de bank
dyah, but how come Providence nuver saved Marse Chan? When I look'
'roun', de roan wuz layin' dyah by me, stone dead, wid a cannon-ball
gone 'mos' th'oo him, an our men hed done swep' dem on t'urr side from
de top o' de hill. 'Twan' mo'n a minit, de sorrel come gallupin' back
wid his mane flyin', en' de rein hangin' down on one side to his
knee.'Dyar!' says I, 'fo' Gord! I 'specks dey done kill Marse Chan, an'
I promised to tek care on him.'
“I jumped up an' run over de bank, en' dyer, wid a whole lot o' dead
men, an' some not dead yit, onder one o' de guns wid de flag still in
he hen', an' a bullet right th'oo he body, lay Marse Chan. I tu'n 'im
over an' call 'im, 'Marse Chan!' but 'twan' no use, he wuz done gone
home, sho' 'nuff. I pick' 'im up in my arms wid de flag still in he
hen's, an' toted 'im back jes' like I did dat day when he wuz a baby,
an' ole marster gin 'im to me in my arms, en' sez he could trus' me,
en' tell me to tek keer on 'im long ez he lived. I kyar'd 'im 'way off
de battilefiel' out de way o' de balls, en' I laid 'im down onder a big
tree till I could git somebody to ketch de sorrel for me. He wuz
cotched arfter a while, an' I hed some money, so I got some pine plank
en' made a coffin dat evenin', en' wraps Marse Chan's body up in de
flag, an' put 'im in de coffin; but I didn' nail de top on strong,
'cause I knowed ole missis wan' see 'im; an' I got a' ambulance an' set
out for home dat night. We reached dyer de nex' evein', arfter
travellin' all dat night an' all nex' day.
“Hit 'peered like somethin' hed tole ole missis we wuz comin' so;
for when we got home she wuz waitin' for us—done drest up in her best
Sunday-clo'es, an' stan'n' at de head o' de big steps, an' ole marster
settin' in his big cheer—ez we druv up de hill to'ds de house, I
drivin' de ambulance an' de sorrel leadin' 'long behine wid de stirrups
cross over de saddle.
“She come down to de gate to meet us. We took de coffin out de
ambulance en' kyar'd it right into de big parlor wid de pictures in it,
whar dey use' to dance in ole times when Marse Chan wuz a schoolboy,
an' Miss Anne Chahmb'lin use' to come over, an' go wid ole missis into
her chamber an' tek her things off. In dyer we laid de coffin on two
o'de cheers, an' ole missis nuver said a wud; she jes' looked so ole
“When I had tell 'em all 'bout it, I tu'ned right 'roun' an' rid
over to Cun'l Chahmb'lin's, 'cause I knowed dat wuz what Marse Chan
he'd 'a' wanted me to do. I didn' tell nobody whar I wuz gwine, 'cause
yo' know none on 'em hadn' nuver speak to Miss Anne, not sence de duil,
en' dey didn' know 'bout de letter.
“When I rid up in de yard, dyer wuz Miss Anne a-stan'in' on de poach
watchin' me ez I rid up. I tied my hoss to de fence, an' walked up de
parf. She knowed by de way I walked dyer wuz somethin' de motter, an'
she wuz mighty pale. I drapt my cap down on de een' o' de steps en'
went up. She nuver opened her mouf; jes' stan' right still an' keep her
eyes on my face. Fust I couldn' speak; den I cotch my voice, an' I say,
'Marse Chan, he done got he furlough.'
“Her face was mighty ashy, en' she sort o' shook but she didn' fall.
She tu'ned roun' an' said, 'Git me de ker'ige!' Dat wuz all.
“When de ker'ige come 'roun', she hed put on her bonnet, an' wuz
ready. Ez she got in, she sey to me, 'Hev yo' brought him home?' an' we
drove 'long, I ridin' behine.
“When we got home, she got out, an' walked up de big walk—up to de
poach by herse'f. Ole missis hed done fin' de letter in Marse Chan's
pocket, wid de love in it, while I wuz 'way, en' she wuz a-waitin' on
de poach. Dey sey dat wuz de fust time ole missis cry when she find de
letter, an' dat she sut'n'y did cry over it, pintedly.
“Well, seh, Miss Anne she walks right up de steps, mos' up to ole
missis stan'in' dyer on de poach, an' jes' falls right down mos' to
her, on her knees fuss, an' den flat on her face right on de flo'
ketchin' at ole missis' dress wid her two hen's—so.
“Ole missis stood for 'bout a minit lookin' down at her, an' den she
drapt down on de flo' by her, an' took her in bofe her arms. “I couldn'
see, I wuz cryin' so myself, an' ev'y body wuz cryin'. But dey went in
arfter a while in de parlor, an' shet de do'; an' I heahd 'em say, Miss
Anne she tuk de coffin in her arms an' kissed it, an' kissed Marse
Chan, an' call 'im by his name, en' her darlin', an' ole missis left
her cryin' in dyer tell some on 'em went in, an' found her done faint
on de flo'.
Judy (she's my wife) she tell me she heah Miss Anne when she axed
ole missis mout she wear mo'nin fur 'im. I don' know how dat is; but
when we buried 'im nex' day, she wuz de one whar walked arfter de
coffin, holdin' ole marster, an' ole missis she walked next to 'em.
“Well, we buried Marse Chan dyer in de ole grabeyard, wid de flag
wrapped roun' 'im, an' he face lookin' like it did dat mawnin' down in
de low groun's, wid de new sun shinin' on it so peaceful.
“Miss Anne she nuver went home to stay arfter dat; she stay wid ole
marster an' ole missis ez long ez dey lived. Dat warn' so mighty long,
'cause ole marster he died dat fall, when dey wuz fallerin' fur wheat—
I had jes' married Judy den—an' ole missis she warn' long behine him.
We buried her by him next summer. Miss Anne she went in de hospitals
toreckly arfter ole missis died; an' jes' fo' Richmond fell she come
home sick wid de fever. Yo' nuver would 'a' knowed her fur de same ole
Miss Anne. She wuz light ez a piece o' peth, en' so white, 'cep' her
eyes an' her sorrel hyar, an' she kep' on gittin' whiter an' weaker.
Judy she sut'n'y did nuss her faithful. But she nuver got no
betterment! De fever an' Marse Chan's bein' kilt hed done strain her,
an' she died jes' fo' de folks wuz sot free.
“So we buried Miss Anne right by Marse Chan, in a place whar ole
missis hed tole us to leave, an' dey's bofe on 'em sleep side by side
over in de ole grabeyard at home.
“An' will yo' please tell me, marster? Dey tells me dat de Bible sey
dyer won' be marryin' nor givin' in marriage in heaven, but I don'
b'lieve it signifies dat—does you?”
I gave him the comfort of my earnest belief in some other
interpretation, together with several spare “eighteen-pences,” as he
called them, for which he seemed humbly grateful. And as I rode away I
heard him calling across the fence to his wife, who was standing in the
door of a small whitewashed cabin, near which we had been standing for
“Judy, have Marse Chan's dawg got home?”