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on him and reported that the sense of the preferring them to those that were to be congregation was to call a colored gentle- had for a price at the nurseries. man from Louisville. Private objections There was, perhaps, a suggestion of to Peter were that he had a broken leg, pathetic humor in the fact that it should wore Colonel Fields's second-hand clothes, have called on the Colonel and Peter, them. which were too big for him, preached in selves so nearly defunct, to furnish the the old-fashioned way, and lacked self- flowers for so many funerals; but, it is control and repose of manner.
certain, almost weekly the two old gentlePeter accepted his rebuff as sweetly as men received this chastening admonition Socrates might have done. Humming the of their all-but-spent mortality. The Colburden of an old hymn, he took his right- onel cultivated the rarest fruits also, and eous coat from a nail in the wall and folded had under glass varieties that were not it away in a little brass-nailed deerskin friendly to the climate; so that by means trunk, laying over it the spelling-book and of the fruits and flowers there was estabthe "Pilgrim's Progress," which he had lished a pleasant social bond with many ceased to read. Thenceforth his relations who otherwise would never have sought to his people were never intimate, and them out. even from the other servants of the Col- But others came for better reasons. onel's household he stood apart. But the To a few deep-seeing eyes the Colonel Colonel took Peter's rejection greatly to and Peter were ruined landmarks on a heart, and the next morning gave him the fading historic landscape, and their devoted new silk socks he had worn at the party. friendship was the last steady burningIn paying his servants the Colonel would down of that pure flame of love which can sometimes say, “ Peter, I reckon I'd better never again shine out in the future of the begin to pay you a salary; that's the style two races. Hence a softened charm innow.” But Peter would turn off, saying vested the drowsy quietude of that shadowy he didn't have no use fur no salary.” paradise in which the old master without
Thus both of them dropped more and a slave, and the old slave without a master, more out of life, but as they did so drew still kept up a brave pantomime of their more and more closely to each other. obsolete relations. No one ever saw in The Colonel had bought a home on the their intercourse aught but the finest edge of the town, with some ten acres of courtesy, the most delicate consideration. beautiful ground surrounding. A high The very tones of their voices in addressosage-orange hedge shut it in, and forest ing each other were as good as sermons trees, chiefly maples and elms, gave to the on gentleness, their antiquated playfulness lawn and house abundant shade. Wild- as melodious as the babble of distant water. grape vines, the Virginia creeper, and the To be near them was to be exorcised of climbing oak swung their long festoons evil passions. from suminit to summit, while honey- The sun of their day had indeed long suckles, clematis, and the Mexican-vine since set, but, like twin clouds lifted high clambered over arbors and trellises, or and motionless into some far quarter of along the chipped stone of the low, old- the gray twilight skies, they were still fashioned house. Just outside the door radiant with the glow of the invisible orb. of the Colonel's bedroom slept an ancient, Henceforth the Colonel's appearances in broken sun-dial.
public were few and regular. He went to The place seemed always in half-shadow, church on Sundays, wiere he sat on the with hedgerows of box, clumps of dark edge of the choir in the center of the holly, darker firs half a century old, and building, and sang an ancient bass of his aged, crape-like cedars.
own improvisation to the older hymns, It was in the seclusion of this retreat, and glanced furtively around to see which looked almost like a wild bit of whether any one noticed that he could country set down on the edge of the town, not sing the new ones. At the Sundaythat the Colonel and Peter spent more of school picnics the committee of arrangetheir time as they fell farther in the rear ments allowed him to carve the mutton, of onward events. There were no such and after dinner to swing the smallest flower gardens in the city, and pretty much children gently beneath the trees. He the whole town went thither for its flowers, was seen on Commencement Day at Morrison Chapel, where he always gave his possible use of his kindness and her bouquet to the valedictorian. It was the opportunity. Moreover, Peter walked speech of that young gentleman that always down street and ascertained that the touched him, consisting as it did of fare- young fellow was an energetic farmer livwells.
ing a few miles from town, and son of one In the autumn he might sometimes be of the Colonel's former friends; on both noticed sitting high up in the amphitheater of which accounts the latter's heart went at the fair, a little blue around the nose, out to him. So when, a few days later, and looking absently over into the ring the Colonel, followed by Peter, crept up where the judges were grouped around breathlessly and peeped through the the music-stand. Once he had strutted bushes at the pair strolling along the around as a judge himself, with a blue shady, perfumed walks, and so plainly ribbon in his buttonhole, while the band happy in that happiness which comes but played “Sweet Alice, Ben Bolt," and once in a lifetime, they not only aban“Gentle Annie.” The ring seemed full doned the idea of betraying the secret, but of young men now, and no one even afterwards kept away from that part of thought of offering him the privileges of the grounds, lest they should be an interthe grounds. In his day the great feature ruption. of the exhibition had been cattle; now “ Peter,” stammered the Colonel, who everything was turned into a horse show. had been trying to get the words out for He was always glad to get home again to three days, " do you suppose he has Peter, his true yokefellow. For just as already- asked her ?” two old oxen-one white and one black- "Some's pow'ful quick on de trigger, that have long toiled under the same yoke en some's mighty slow,” replied Peter, will, when turned out to graze at last in neutrally. “En some,” he added, exhaustthe widest pasture, come and put them- ively, “ don't use de trigger 't all !" selves horn to horn and Aank to flank, so “ I always thought there had to be the Colonel and Peter were never so happy asking done by somebody.” remarked the as when ruminating side by side.
Colonel, a little vaguely.
axed Phillis !” exclaimed
Peter, with a certain air of triumph. In their eventless life the slightest in- “Did Phillis ask you, Peter?" inquired cident acquired the importance of a the Colonel, blushing and confidential. history. Thus, one day in June, Peter “No, no, Marse Rom! I couldn't er discovered a young couple love-making in stood dat from no ’oman !" replied Peter, the shrubbery, and with the deepest agita- laughing and shaking his head. tion reported the fact to the Colonel.
The Colonel was sitting on the stone Never before, probably, had the flutter- steps in front of the house, and Peter stood ing of the dear god's wings brought more below, leaning against a Corinthian coldismay than to these ancient in voluntary umn, hat in hand, as he went on to tell guardsmen of his hiding-place. The Col
his love story. onel was at first for breaking up what he “ Hit all happ'n dis way, Marse Rom. considered a piece of underhand proceed. We wuz gwine have pra'r-meetin', en I ings, but Peter reasoned stoutly that if the 'lowed to walk home wid Phillis en ax 'er pair were driven out they would simply go on de road. I been 'lowin' to ax 'er heap to some other retreat; and, without get o'times befo’; but I ain' jes' nuver done ting the approval of his conscience to this So I says to myse'f, says I, “I jes' view, the Colonel contented himself with mek my sermon to-night kiner lead up to merely repeating that they ought to go whut I gwine tell Phillis on de road home.' straight and tell the girl's parents. Those So I tuk my tex’ from de lef' tail o'my parents lived just across the street out- coat : De greates' o' dese is charity; side his grounds. The young lady he 'caze I knowed charity wuz same ez love. knew very well himself, having a few En all de time I wuz preachin' an' gloriyears before given her the privilege of fyin' charity en identifyin' charity wid making herself at home among his flowers. love, I couldn' he'p thinkin' 'bout what I It certainly looked hard to drive her out gwine say to Phillis on de road home. now, just when she was making the best Dat mek me feel better; en de better I
feel, de better I preach, so hit boun' to creek, en when I retched out to fetch 'er inek my heahehs feel better likewise - up, I stepped in a hole; en 'fo' I knowed Phillis mong um. So Phillis she jes' sot it, we wuz flounderin' roun' in de watter, dah listenin' en listenin'en lookin' like en de hymn dey was singin' on de bank we wuz a'ready on de road home, till I got sounded mighty confused-like. En Phillis so wuked up in my feelin's I jes' knowed she swallowed some watter, en all 't oncet de time wuz come. By en by, I hadn' she jes' grap me right tight roun’ de neck, mo' 'n done preachin' en wuz lookin'
en say mighty quick, says she, • I gwine roun' to git my Bible en my hat, 'fo' up marry whoever gits me out'n dis yere popped dat big Charity Green, who been watter l' settin' 'longside o' Phillis en tekin' ev'y “En by en by, when me en 'er wuz las' thing I said to herse'f. En she tuk walkin' up de bank o' de creek, drippin' hole o' my han' en squeeze it, en say she all over, I says to 'er, says I : felt mos' like shoutin'. En 'fo' I krowed “ • Does you 'member what you said it, I jes' see Phillis wrap'er shawl roun' back yon'er in de watter, Phillis?' 'er head en tu'n 'er nose up ai me right “I ain't out'n no watter yit,' says she, quick en flip out de dooh. De dogs howl ve'y contemptuous. mighty mou’nful when I walk home by "When does you consider yo'se'f out'n myse't dat night," added Peter, laughing de watter ?' says I, ve'y humble. to himself, “ en I ain' preach dat sermon " " When I git dese soakin' clo'es off'n no mo' tell atter me en Phillis wuz mar- my back,' says she. ried.
Hit wuz good dark when we got home, “ Hit wuz long time,” he continued, en atter a while I crope up to de dooh o' “ 'fo' Phillis come to heah me preach any Phillis's cabin en put my eye down to de mo'. But ’long 'bout de nex' fall we had keyhole, en see Phillis jes' settin' 'fo' big meetin', en heap mo' um j'ined. But dem blazin' walnut logs dressed up in 'er Phillis, she ain't nuver j'ined yit. I new red linsey dress, en 'er eyes shinin'. preached mighty nigh all roun' my coat- En I shuk so I 'mos' faint. Den I tap tails, till I say to myse'f, D'ain't but one easy on de dooh, en say in a mighty tremtex' lef', en I jes' got to fetch 'er wid dat! blin' tone, says I : De tex' wuz on de right tail o' my ccat : "• Is you out'n de watter yit, Phillis?' • Come unto me, all ye dat labor en is “• I got on dry dress,' says she. heavy laden.' Hit wuz a ve’y momentous " • Does you 'member what you said sermon, en all 'long I jes' see Phillis back yon'er in de watter, Phillis ?' says I. wras'lin' wid 'erse't, en I say, 'She g t to “ • De latch-string on de outside de come dis night, de Lohd he'pin' me.' En
dooh,' says she, mighty sof'. I hadn' mo' 'n said de word, 'fo' she jes' “En I walked in." walked down en guy me 'er han’.
As Peter drew near the end of this “Den we had de baptizin' in Elkhorn reminiscence, his voice sank to a key of Creek, en de watter wuz deep en de cur- inimitable tenderness; and when it was ren' tol'ble swif'. Hit look to me like ended he stood a few minutes, scraping dere wuz five hundred uv um on de creek the gravel with the toe of his boot, his side. By en by I stood on de edge o' de head dropped forward. Then he added, watter, en Phillis she come down to let huskily: me baptize 'er. En me en 'er j'ined han's “ Phillis been dead heap o'years now;" en waded out in the creek, mighty slow, and turned away. 'caze Phillis didn' have no shot roun' de This recalling of the scenes of a time bottom uv,’er dress, en it kep' bobbin' on long gone by may have awakened in the top de watter till I pushed it down. But breast of the Colonel some gentle memory; by en by we got 'way out in de creek, en for after Peter was gone he continued to bof uv us wuz tremblin'. En I says to 'er sit a while in silent musing. Then, getting ve'y kin'ly, When I put you un’er de up, he walked in the falling twilight across watter, Phillis, you mus' try en hole the yard and through the gardens until yo'se'f stiff, so I can lif' you up easy.' he came to a secluded spot in the most But I hadn't mo' ’n jes' got 'er laid back distant corner. There he stooped or over de watter ready to souze 'er un'er rather knelt down and passed his hands, when 'er feet flew up off de bottom uv de as though with mute benediction, over a
little bed of old-fashioned China pinks. " Peter," said the Colonel, gravely, a When he had moved in from the country minute or two later, “we are like two he had brought nothing away from his dried-up stalks of fodder. I wonder the mother's garden but these, and in all the Lord lets us live any longer.” years since no one had ever pulled them, “I reck’n He's managin' to use us as Peter well knew; for one day the some way, or we wouldn' be heah," said Colonel had said, with his face turned Peter. away :
“Well, all I have to say is, that if He's “Let them have all the flowers they using me, He can't be in much of a hurry want; but leave the pinks."
for his work," replied the Colonel. He continued kneeling over them now, “ He uses snails, en I know we ain' ez touching them softly with his fingers, as slow ez dem," argued Peter, composedly. though they were the fragrant, never- "I don't know. I think a snail must changing symbols of voiceless communion have made more progress since the war with his past. Still it may have been only than I have.” the early dew of the evening that glistened The idea of his uselessness seemed to on them when he rose and slowly walked weigh on him, for a little later he remarked, away, leaving the pale moonbeams to with a sort of mortified smile : haunt the spot.
“Do you think, Peter, that we would Certainly after this day he showed pass for what they call representative men increasing concern in the young lovers of the New South?” who were holding clandestine meetings in “We done had ou’day, Marse Rom,” his grounds.
replied Peter. * We got to pass fur what “ Peter,” he would say, “why, if they
Mebbe de Lohd's got mo''use love each other, don't they get married?fur us yit 'n people has," he added, after Something may happen."
a pause. “I been 'spectin' some'n to happ'n fur From this time on the Colonel's strength some time, ez dey been quar'lin' right gradually failed him; but it was not until smart lately," replied Peter, laughing. the following spring that the end came.
Whether or not he was justified in this A night or two before his death his prediction, before the end of another mind wandered backward, after the familiar week the Colonel read a notice of their manner of the dying, and his delirious elopement and marriage; and several days dreams showed the shifting, faded pictures later he came up from downtown and told that renewed themselves for the last time Peter that everything had been forgiven on his wasting memory. It must have the young pair, who had gone to house- been that he was once more amid the keeping in the country.
It gave him
scenes of his active farm life, for his pleasure to think he had helped to per- broken snatches of talk ran thus: petuate the race of blue-grass farmers. “Come, boys, get your cradles! Look
where the sun is! You are late getting
to work this morning. That is the finest It was in the twilight of a late autumn field of wheat in the county. Be careful day in the same year that nature gave the about the bundles!. Make them the same Colonel the first direct intimation to pre- size and tie them tight. That swath is pare for the last summons. They had too wide, and you don't hold your cradle been passing along the garden walks, right, Tom. ... where a few pale flowers were trying to “ Sell Peter! Sell Peter Cott n! No, flourish up to the very winter's edge, and sir ! You might buy me some day and where the dry leaves had gathered un- work me in your cotton-field; but as long swept and rustled beneath their feet. All as he's mine, you can't buy Peter, and at once the Colonel turned to Peter, who you can't buy any of my negroes. : : : was a yard and a half behind, as usual, "Boys ! boys! If you don't work faster and said :
you won't finish this field to-day. ... “Give me your arm, Peter; I feel tired;" You'd better go in the shade and rest and thus the two, for the first time in all now. The sun's very hot. Don't drink their lifetime walking abreast, passed too much ice-water. There's a jug of slowly on.
whisky in the fence-corner. Give them a
THE YEARNING PASSED AWAY
good dram around, and tell them to work his
eyes fell on the pinks, sweet and fresh, slow till the sun gets lower. ...'
with the dew on them. He stretched out Once during the night a sweet smile his hand and touched them caressingly, played over his features as he repeated a and his eyes sought Peter's with a look few words that were part of an old rustic of grateful understanding. song and dance. Arranged, not as they “I want to be alone with Peter for a came broken and incoherent from his lips, while,” he said, turning his face towards but as he once had sung them, they were the others. as follows:
When they were left alone, it was some " ( Sister Phæbe! How merry were we
minutes before anything was said. Peter, When we sat under the juniper-tree,
not knowing what he did, but kn-w...g The juniper-tree, heigho!
what was coming, had gone to the winPut this hat on your head! Keep your head
dow and hid himself behind the curtains, warm ; Take a sweet kiss! It will do you no harm, drawing them tightly around his form as Do you no harm, I know !"
though to shroud himself from sorrow. After this he sank into a quieter sleep, * At length the Colonel said, “Come but soon stirred with a look of intense here!" pain.
Peter, almost staggering forward, fell “ Helen! Helen!” he murmured. “Will at the foot of the bed, and, clasping the you break your promise ? Have you Colonel's feet with one arm, pressed his changed in your feelings towards me? I I cheek against them. have brought you the pinks. Won't you • Come closer!" take the pinks, Helen?"
Peter crept on his knees and buried his Then he sighed as he added, " It wasn't head on the Colonel's thigh. her fault. If she had only known—" “Come up here—closer ;” and, putting
Who was the Helen of that far-away one arm around Peter's neck, he laid the time? Was this the Colonel's love story? other hand softly on his head, and looked
But during all the night, whithersoever long and tenderly into his eyes. “ I've his mind wandered, at intervals it returned got to leave you, Peter.' Don't you feel to the burden of a single strain—the har- sorry for me?" vesting. Towards daybreak he took it up “Oh, Marse Rom !” cried Peter, hiding again for the last time :
his face, his whole form shaken by sobs. “() boys, boys, boys! If you don't “ Peter," added the Colonel, with ineffawork faster you won't finish the field to- ble gentleness, “if I had served my day. Look how low the sun is ! ... I Master as faithfully as you have served am going to the house. They can't finish yours, I should not feel ashamed to stand the field to-day. Let them do what they in his presence.” can, but don't let them work late.
“If my Marseter is ez mussiful to me Peter to go to the house with me. Tell
ez you have been" him to come on. ..."
“I have fixed things so that you will In the faint gray of the morning, Peter, be comfortable after I am gone. When who had been watching by the bedside all your time comes, I should like you to be night, stole out of the room, and, going laid close to me. We can take the long into the garden, pulled a handful of pinks sleep together. Are you willing ?” -a thing he had never done before-and, " That's whar I want to be laid.” re-entering the Colonel's bedroom, put The Colonel stretched out his hand to them in a vase near his sleeping face. the vase, and, taking the bunch of pinks, Soon afterwards the Colonel opened his said,
very calmly: eyes and looked around him. At the foot “ Leave these in my hand; I'll carry of the bed stood Peter, and on one side them with me.” A moment more,
and he sat the physician and a friend. The added : night-lamp burned low, and through the "If I shouldn't wake up any more, folds of the curtains came the white light good-by, Peter !” of early day.
“Good-by, Marse Rom!" “ Put out the lamp and open the cur- And they shook hands a long time. tains," he said, feebly. “It's day.” After this the Colonel lay back on the When they had drawn the curtains aside, pillows. His soft, silvery hair contrasted