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drawers; saddle-bags and buckskin leg- spicuous in dress, he had conceived for gins; hunting-jackets, powder-horns, and himself the creation of a unique garment militiamen hats ; looms and knitting-nee- which should symbolize in perfection the dles; snuffboxes and reticules—what a claims and consolations of his apostolic treasure-house of the past it was! And office. This was nothing less than a sacred now the only thing that had the springs of blue-jeans coat that he had had his old life within its bosom was the great, sweet- mistress make him, with very long and voiced clock, whose faithful face had kept spacious tails, whereon, at his further unchanged amid all the swift pageantry of direction, she embroidered sundry texts of changes.
Scripture which it pleased him to regard He dismounted at the stiles and handed as the fit visible annunciations of his holy the reins to a gray-haired negro, who had calling. And inasmuch as his mistress, hobbled up to receive them with a smile who had had the coat woven on her own and a gesture of the deepest respect. looms from the wool of her finest sheep,
“ Peter,” he said, very simply, “I am was, like other gentlewomen of her time, going to sell the place and move to town. rarely skilled in the accomplishments of I can't live here any longer.”
the needle, and was moreover in full With these words he passed through sympathy with the piety of his intent, the yard-gate, walked slowly up the broad she wrought of these passages a border pavement, and entered the house.
enriched with such intricate curves, mar
velous flourishes, and harmonious letterMUSIC NO MORE
ings, that Solomon never reflected the On the disappearing form of the Colonel glory in which Peter was arrayed whenwas fixed an ancient pair of eyes that ever he put it on. For, after much prayer looked out a: him from behind a still more that the Almighty wisdom would aid his ancient pair of silver-rimmed spectacles reason in the difficult task of selecting the with an expression of indescribable solici- most appropriate texts, Peter had chosen tude and love.
seven-one for each day in the weekThese eyes were set in the head of an with such tact, and no doubt heavenly old gentleman-for such he was--named guidance, that when braided together they Peter Cotton, who was the only one of the did truly constitute an eloquent epitome of Colonel's former slaves that had remained Christian duty, hope, and pleading. inseparable from his person and his altered From first to last they were as follows: fortunes. In early manhood Peter had “Woe is unto me if I preach not the been a wood-chopper ; but he had one day gospel ;" Servants, be obedient to them had his leg broken by the limb of a falling that are your masters according to the tree, and afterwards, out of consideration flesh ;" “ Come unto me, all ye that labor for his limp, had been made supervisor of and are heavy laden;" "Consider the the wood-pile, gardener, and a sort of lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil nondescript servitor of his master's luxu- not, neither do they spin ;” “ Now abideth rious needs.
faith, hope, and charity, these three ; but Nay, in larger and deeper characters the greatest of these is charity;" “ I would must his history be writ, he having been, not have you to be ignorant, brethren, in days gone by, one of those ministers of concerning them which are asleep;” “ For the gospel whom conscientious Kentucky as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall masters often urged to the exercise of all be made alive.” This concatenation spiritual functions in behalf of their be- of texts Peter wished to have duly solemnighted people. In course of preparation nized, and therefore, when the work was for this august work, Peter had learned to finished, he further requested his mistress read and had come to possess a well-chosen to close the entire chain with the word library of three several volumes—“ Web- “ Amen," introduced in some suitable ster's Spelling-Book," “ The Pilgrim's place. Progress," and the Bible. But even these But the only spot now left vacant was unusual acquisitions he deemed not one of a few square inches, located just enough ; for, being touched with a spark where the coat-tails hung over the end of of poetic fire from heaven, and fired by Peter's spine; so that when any one stood the African's fondness for all that is con- full in Peter's rear, he could but marvel at the sight of so solemn a word emblazoned Phillis, his wife, budge from their cabin. in so unusual a locality.
“Go, Peter! Go, Phillis !” the Colonel had Panoplied in this robe of righteousness, said time and again. “No one is happier and with a worn leathern Bible in his hand, that you are free than I am; and you can Peter used to go around of Sundays, and call on me for what you need to set you up during the week, by night, preaching from in business.” But Peter and Phillis asked cabin to cabin the gospel of his heavenly to stay with him. Then suddenly, several Master.
months before the time at which this The angriest lightnings of the sultriest sketch opens, Phillis had died, leaving the skies often played amid the darkness upon Colonel and Peter as the only relics of that those sacred coat-tails and around that populous life which had once filled the girdle of everlasting texts, as though the house and the cabins. The Colonel had evil spirits of the air would fain have succeeded in hiring a woman to do Phillis's burned them and scattered their ashes on work; but her presence was a strange the roaring winds. The slow-sifting snows note of discord in the old domestic harof winter whitened them as though to chill mony, and only saddened the recollections their spiritual fires; but winter and sum- of its vanished peace. mer, year after year, in weariness of body, Peter had a short, stout figure, darkoften in sore distress of mind, for miles brown skin, smooth-shaven face, eyes along this lonely road and for miles across round, deep-set, and wide apart, and a that rugged way, Peter trudged on and on, short, stub nose which dipped suddenly withal perhaps as meek a spirit as ever into his head, making it easy for him to grew footsore in the paths of its Master.
wear the silver-rimmed spectacles left him Many a poor overburdened slave took by his old mistress. A peculiar conformafresh heart and strength from the sight of tion of the muscles between the eyes and that celestial raiment; many a stubborn, the nose gave him the quizzical expression rebellious spirit, whose flesh but lately of one who is about to sneeze, and this quivered under the lash, was brought low was heightened by a twinkle in the eyes by its humble teaching; many a worn-out which seemed caught from the shining of old frame, racked with pain in its last ill- an inner sun upon his tranquil heart. ness, pressed a fevered lip to its hopeful Sometimes, however, his face grew sad hem; and many a dying eye closed in enough. It was sad on this afternoon death peacefully fixed on its immortal while he watched the Colonel walk slowly pledges.
up the pavement, well overgrown with When Peter started abroad, if a storm weeds, and enter the house, which the setthreatened, he carried an old cotton um- ting sun touched with the last radiance of brella of immense size; and as the storm the finished day. burst, he gathered the tails of his coat carefully up under his armpits that they might be kept dry. Or if caught by a About two years after the close of the tempest without his umbrella, he would war, therefore, the Colonel and Peter were take his coat off and roll it up inside out, to be found in Lexington, ready to turn leaving his body exposed to the fury of the over a new leaf in the volumes of their elements. No care, however, could keep lives, which already had an old-fashioned it from growing old and worn and faded; binding, a somewhat musty odor, and but and when the slaves were set free and he few unwritten leaves remaining. was called upon by the interposition of After a long, dry summer you may have Providence to lay it finally aside, it was seen two gnarled old apple-trees, that stood covered by many a patch and stain as with interlocked arms on the western slope proofs of its devoted usage.
of some quiet hillside, make a melancholy One after another the Colonel's old serv- show of blooming out again in the autumn ants, gathering their children about them, of the year and dallying with the idle buds had left him, to begin their new life. He that mock their sapless branches. Much bade them all a kind good-by, and into the same was the belated, fruitless effloresthe palm of each silently pressed some cence of the Colonel and Peter. gift that he knew would soon be needed. The Colonel had no business habits, no But no inducement could make Peter or political ambition, no wish to grow richer,
He was too old for society, and without horses, mules, and cattle in front of the near family ties. For some time he wan- Colonel's door, they swarmed in from the dered through the streets like one lost- hot sun and sat around on the counter and sick with yearning for the fields and woods, the plows and machines t'i the entrance for his cattle, for familiar faces. He was blocked to other customers. haunted Cheapside and the court-house When a customer did come in, the square, where the farmers always assem- Colonel, who was probably talking with bled when they came to town; and if his some old acquaintance, would tell him just eye lighted on one, he would buttonhole to look around and pick out what he him on the street-corner and lead him into wanted and the price would be all right. a grocery and sit down for a quiet chat. If one of those acquaintances asked for a Sometimes he would meet an aimless mel- pound of nails, the Colonel would scoop up ancholy wanderer like himself, and the two some ten pounds and say: " I reckon that's would go off and discuss over and over about a pound, Tom." He had never seen again their departed days; and several a pound of nails in his life: and if one had times he came unexpectedly upon some of been weighed on his scales, he would have his old servants who had fallen into bitter said the scales were wrong. want, and who more than repaid him for He had no great idea of commercial the help he gave by contrasting the hard- despatch, One morning a lady came in ships of a life of freedom with the ease of for some carpet-tacks, an article that he their shackled years.
had forgotten to lay in. But he at once In the course of time, he could but sent off an order for enough to have tacked observe that human life in the town was a carpet pretty well all over Kentucky ; reshaping itself slowly and painfully, but and when they came, two weeks later, he with resolute energy. The colossal struc- told Peter to take her up a dozen papers ture of slavery had fallen, scattering its with his compliments. He had laid in, runs far and wide over the State; but out however, an ample and especially fine of the very débris was being taken the assortment of pocket-knives, for that instrumaterial to lay the deeper foundations of ment had always been to him one of grathe new social edifice. Men and women cious and very winning qualities. Then as old as he were beginning life over and when a friend dropped in he would say, trying to fit themselves for it by changing General, don't you need a new pocketthe whole attitude and habit of their minds knife?" and, taking out one, would open
by taking on a new heart and spirit. all the blades and commend the metal and But when a great building falls, there is the handle. The “General” would inquire always some rubbish, and the Colonel and the price, and the Colonel, having shut the others like him were part of this. Hence- blades, would hand it to him, saying in a forth they possessed only an antiquarian careless, fond way, “I reckon I won't sort of interest, like the stamped bricks of charge you anything for that." His mind Nebuchadnezzar,
could not come down to the low level of Nevertheless he made a show of doing such ignoble barter, and he gave aray' the something, and in a year or two opened whole case of knives. on Cheapside a store for the sale of hard- These were the pleasanter aspects of ware and agricultural implements. He his business life, which did not lack as knew more about the latter than anything well its tedium and crosses. Thus there else, and, furthermore, he secretly felt that were many dark, stormy days when no one a business of this kind would enable him he cared to see came in ; and he then beto establish in town a kind of headquarters came rather a pathetic figure, wandering for the farmers. His account-books were absently around amid the symbols of his to be kept on a system of twelve months' past activity, and stroking the plows, credit; and he resolved that if one of his like dumb companions. Or he would stand customers couldn't pay then, it would make at the door and look across at the old no difference.
court-house, where he had seen many a Business began slowly. The farmers slave sold and had listened to the great dropped in and found a good lounging- Kentucky orators. place. On county-court days, which were But what hurt him most was the talk of great market-days for the sale of sheep, the new farming and the abuse of the old which he was forced to hear; and he gen- acter were now but the moldy cornererally refused to handle the improved im stones of a crumbling ruin. plements and mechanical devices by which It was a subtle evidence of deterioration labor and waste were to be saved.
in manliness that he had taken to dress. Altogether he grew tired of “the thing,” When he had lived in the country, he had and sold out at the end of the year with a never dressed up unless he came to town. loss of over a thousand dollars, though he When he had moved to town, he thought insisted he had done a good business. he must remain dressed up all the time;
As he was then seen much on the streets and this fact first fixed his attention on a again, and several times heard to make matter which afterwards began to be loved remarks in regard to the sidewalks, gutters, for its own sake. Usually he wore a Derby and crossings, when they happened to be hat, a black diagonal coat, gray trousers, in bad condition, the “ Daily Press” one and a white necktie. But the article of morning published a card stating that if attire in which he took chief pleasure was Colonel Romulus Fields would consent to hose; and the better to show the gay colmake the race for mayor he would receive ors of these, he wore low-cut shoes of the the support of many Democrats, adding a finest calfskin, turned up at the toes. tribute to his virtues and his influential Thus his feet kept pace with the present, past. It touched the Colonel, and he however far his head may have lagged in walked downtown with a rather com- the past; and it may be that this stream manding figure the next morning. But of fresh fashions, flowing perennially over it pained him to see how many of his his lower extremities like water about the acquaintances returned his salutations roots of a tree, kept him from drying up very coldly; and just as he was passing altogether. the Northern Bank he met the young Peter always polished his shoes with too opposition candidate—a little red-haired much blacking, perhaps thinking that the fellow, walking between two ladies, with a more the blacking the greater the proof of rosebud in his buttonhole—who refused love. He wore his clothes about a season to speak at all, but made the ladies laugh and a half-having several suits—and then by some remark he uttered as the Colonel passed them on to Peter, who, foreseeing passed. The card had been inserted the joy of such an inheritance, bought no humorously, but he took it seriously; and new ones. In the act of transferring them when his friends found this out, they the Colonel made no comment until he rallied round him. The day of election came to the hose, from which he seemed drew near. They told him he must buy unable to part without a final tribute of votes. He said he wouldn't buy a vote to esteem, as: “ These are fine, Peter;" or, be mayor of the New Jerusalem. They
They “ Peter, these are nearly as good as new." told him he must “mix” and “treat.” Thus Peter, too, was dragged through the He refused. Foreseeing he had no chance, whims of fashion: To have seen the Colthey besought him to withdraw. He said onel walking about his grounds and garhe would not. They told him he wouldn't den followed by Peter, just a year and a poll twenty votes. He replied that one half behind in dress and a yard and a half would satisfy him, provided it was neither behind in space, one might well have taken begged nor bought. When his defeat the rear figure for the Colonel's double, was announced, he accepted it as another slightly the worse for wear, somewhat evidence that he had no part in the shrunken, and cast into a heavy shadow. present-no chance of redeeming his idle- Time hung so heavily on his hands at ness.
night that, with a happy inspiration, he A sense of this weighed heavily on him at added a dress suit to his wardrobe, and times; but it is not likely that he realized accepted the first invitation to an evening how pitifully he was undergoing a moral party. shrinkage in consequence of mere disuse. He grew excited as the hour approached, Actually, extinction had set in with him and dressed in a great fidget for fear he long prior to dissolution, and he was dead should be too late. years before his heart ceased beating. “ How do I look, Peter ?” he inquired The very basic virtues on which had at length, surprised at his own appearance. rested his once spacious and stately char- “Splendid, Marse Rom," replied Peter,
bringing in the shoes with more blacking and that when, in imitation of the others, on them than ever before.
he had laid his white silk handkerchief “I think,” said the Colonel, apologetic- across his bosom inside his vest, it had ally—“ I think I'd look better if I'd put a slipped out during the evening, and had little powder on. I don't know what makes been found by him, on confronting a mirme so red in the face.”
ror, flapping over his stomach like a little But his heart began to sink before he white ma: reache' his hostess's, and he had a fearful “ Did you have a nice time, Marse sense of being the observed of all observ- Rom ?” inquired Peter, as they drove home ers as he slipped through the hall and through the darkness. passed rapidly up to the gentlemen's room. "Splendid time, Peter, splendid time," He stayed there after the others had gone replied the Colonel, nervously. down, bewildered and lonely, dreading to Did you dance any, Marse Rom ?” go down himself. By and by the musicians “I didn't dance. Oh, I coulil have danced struck up a waltz, and with a little cracked if I'd wanted to; but I didn't.” laugh at his own performance he cut a few Peter helped the Colonel out of the carshines of an unremembered pattern; but riage with pitying gentleness when they his ankles snapped audibly, and he sud- reached home. It was the first and only denly stopped with the thought of what party. Peter would say if he should catch him Peter also had been finding out that his at these antics. Then he boldly went occupation was gone. downstairs.
Soon after moving to town, he had tenHe had touched the new human life dered his pastoral services to one of the around him at various points; as he now fashionable churches of the city-not bestretched out his arms towards its society, cause it was fashionable, but because it for the first time he completely realized was made up of his brethren. In reply he ho x far removed it was from him. Here was invited to preach a trial sermon, which he saw a younger generation—the flowers he did with gracious unction. of the new social order-sprung from the It was a strange scene, as one calm very soil of fraternal battlefields, but Sunday morning he stood on the edge of blooming together as the emblems of ob- the pulpit, dressed in a suit of the Colonel's livious peace.
He saw fathers, who had old clothes, with one hand in his trousers fought madly on opposite sides, talking pocket, and his lame leg set a little forward quietly in corners as they watched their at an angle familiar to those who know the children dancing, or heard them toasting statues of Henry Clay. their old generals and their campaigns How self-possessed he seemed, yet with over their champagne in the supper-room. what a rush of memories did he pass his He was glad of it; but it made him feel eyes slowly over that vast assemblage of at the same time that, instead of treading his emancipated people! With what feelthe velvety floors, he ought to step up and ings must he have contrasted those silk take his place among the canvases of old- hats, and walking-canes, and broadcloths, time portraits that looked down from the those gloves and satins, laces and feathers, walls.
jewelry and fans--that whole many-colored The dancing he had done had been not panorama of life—with the weary, sad, and under the blinding glare of gaslight, but sullen audiences that had often heard him by the glimmer of tallow-dips and star- of old under the forest trees or by the candles and the ruddy glow of cavernous banks of some turbulent stream! firesides—not to the accompaniment of an In a voice husky, but heard beyond the orchestra of wind-instruments and strings, Airtation of the uttermost pew, he took but to a chorus of girls' sweet voices, as his text. “Consider the lilies of the field, they trod simpler measures, or to the mad- how they grow; they toil not, neither do dening sway of a gray-haired negro fiddler they spin.” From this he tried to preach standing on a chair in the chimney corner. a new sermon, suited to the newer day. Still, it is significant to note that his sad- But several times the thoughts of the past dest thought, long after leaving, was that his were too much for him, and he broke down shirt bosom had not lain down smooth, but with emotion. stuck out like a huge cracked eggshell; The next day a grave committee waited