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“You’re not going to stop up there 2 O you can't do it!” “Well, I shall try it, at all events.” . “Don’t do it; Orangeburg is just as good as any of these towns; but I advise you to shun all of 'em. The accommodations are awful: push right on to Columbia.” I was n’t to be put down that way, for I had consulted a gazetteer, and learned that “Orangeburg is a pleasant and thriving town on the northeast bank of the north fork of the Edisto River. It is in the midst of a farming district, and is the centre of a large cotton trade. Population two thousand seven hundred.” That was before the war, and I knew the place had been partly burned; but I felt consident that my friend exaggerated. We left the city at seven and a half o'clock in the morning. Twenty miles out, the conductor came through the car, and collected our fares; for no tickets are sold at Charleston. In front of me sat a good-looking young woman, of about twenty-two, I judged. Hearing her very plainly say that she was going to Orangeburg, I deter mined to ask her about the town and its hotel accommodation.S. “Yes, I live there,” she said. “Is there a hotel in the town, or any place at which a person can stop 2 ° - w “O yes, there 's a hotel,” she said; and after a pause, she added, “but it's hardly such a place as a gentleman would choose, I think.” She spoke pleasantly enough, and, having answered my question, might have dropped the conversation; instead of which, she went on to say that persons who had occasion to stop in town for some days frequently took a room at a private house, and were much better suited than at the hotel. I did the only thing I well could do, - the thing that it was perfectly natural I should do. I asked her if she could mention one or two private houses at which I might ask for accommodations, if the hotel proved unendurable.
I fully expected that she would say her mother sometimes accommodated gentlemen; and I may as well own that I had determined what reply I should make to that announcement. Instead, however, she turned in her seat so as to face me, and said, with considerable vim, “Are you a Yankee ?” The question surprised me ; and I simply answered, “From the North.” “By what right do you presume to speak to me, sir?” she asked, in a clear and snapping tone, that caught the ears and eyes of most of the passengers. The strangeness of the question, no less than the remarkable change in her manner, coupled with the fact that I knew myself to be under the observation of thirty or more persons of Southern birth and feeling, embarrassed me to such degree that I could only stammer, “By the right which I supposed a gentleman always had to ask a lady a civil Question.” “Well, sir, I don't choose to talk with you.” And she settled herself sharply into her seat, jerked her little body into a very upright position, and squared her shoulders in a very positive manner, — while I sat flushed and confused. What should I do about it? That was a question I asked myself twenty times per hour for the next thirty miles. I was seriously inclined to apologize, though I hardly knew for what ; but did n't, for I feared the little Rebel might snub me again, if I gave her an opportunity. In front of her sat a young man who had been a captain in the Rebel army. Him she soon engaged in conversation, and they cheered the slow miles with most lively chat. Surely, thought I, this is beginning the three months' journey unfortunately. I could have borne her indignation quite easily; but each individual in the car soon made me aware that my Yankee baseness was well known and thoroughly appreciated.
The forenoon wore away, and the crazy old engine dragged itself along. Little Miss was vivacious and entertaining; the ex-officer was evidently in a cheerful frame of mind; I sat alternating between repentance and indignation. Finally the whistle sounded for Branchville. Missy rose in her seat, shook out her skirts, drew on her small thread glove, turned to me, – mind you, not to the ex-officer, but to me, – and asked me if I would be good enough to hand out her basket for her. Here was another surprise. Queer creatures, these little Rebels, said I to myself, as I followed her out, — carrying the not heavy basket. She did n’t stop when we reached the platform of the station-house, but walked on towards its upper end; and I followed, demurely, but wonderingly. Fifteen or twenty yards away from the car, she suddenly stopped, and turned quickly upon me with “Thank you; I want to apologize to you ; I was rude.” And here was the greatest surprise of all ! It caught me in confusion; but I managed to say something to the effect that perhaps I was too forward in asking the question I did. “No, you were not. It was right that you should ask it, and I was rude to answer you so uncivilly. But you caught me at a disadvantage; I had n't spoken to a Federal since Sumter was taken.” “Well, it did n’t hurt you very much, did it 7" said I. Whereat she laughed and I laughed, and then the engine whistled. “I’m going to stop here a day or two,” she remarked; and then, “You’ll shake hands, won't you?” as I started for the car. So we shook hands, and I left her standing on the platform. I had n’t learned much about my chances for comfort in Orangeburg, however. We got here at three o'clock in the afternoon. I was determined to stop, let the accommodations be what they would, and firmly said “No” when the stage agent at the depot urged me to take a seat for Columbia. There were five passengers with baggage. Twenty-five negroes crowded around us, and troubled the hot air with harsh clamor. “Give yer baggage here, sir.” “Luf dis yer nig tote yer plun'er, Mass’r.” “Have yer balese toted to de hotel, sah?” “Tuk a hack up town, Mass'r?” There was the man I wanted. He proved to be a strapping boy of thirteen or fourteen, who tossed my valise to the top of his head and strode off with both hands swinging. I found the “hack” to be a rickety old short-boxed spring wagon, with two rough board seats, on the back one of which was a worn-out cushion, over both being a canvas supported on sticks nailed to each corner of the box. This establishment was drawn by a scrawny lame mule, and we were seventeen minutes in accomplishing the half-mile, which the boy called it, up to the hotel. I was a little distrustful about the hotel; and learning from the driver that boarders were sometimes taken at another house, I stopped there and asked the white girl of fifteen, whom I found on the piazza, if they could give me meals and lodgings for about three days. She thought they could, but would call her mother. So much of the house and grounds as I could see presented an inviting appearance, and I indulged in visions of a pleasant chamber and many dreamy hours on the broad piazza. Presently “mother” appeared. She was a plump woman of thirty-three, perhaps. “Yes, sir, we have a couple of rooms, and we sometimes take transient boarders,” said she, answering the question I put to the girl. “I am stopping three or four days in town, and had much rather be at a pleasant private house than at the hotel,” I said. “Are you a Yankee or a Southerner ?”
“O, a Yankee, of course,” I answered, smiling, though I saw breakers ahead. “No Yankee stops here ! Good day, sir!” And she turned and walked into the house. The negro boy, who stood with my valise on his head, volunteered the remark, “Haf to go to de hotel, sah”; and I followed him back to the “hack.” At the “hotel” was a negro boy washing the steps from the piazza into the basement. I told him what I wanted. He would call the Missus. She was somewhere in the lower part of the house; and after her head came into sight above the level of the floor on which I stood, she stopped and washed her hands in the dirty water with which the boy had just finished scrubbing the stairway, smoothing her hair with them and wiping them on her apron. I made known my desires, paid my driver his charge of Seventy-five cents, and was shown by Robert — him of the wash-rag and scrubbing-brush — to room No. 8, the figure being at least a foot in length and rudely done in white chalk. The room is about fourteen feet square, has one window fronting the southeast, and is in the third story. Lath and plaster there are not, on this floor at least. The partitions are of rough unmatched pine, with strips of cloth over the larger cracks, and a cheap wall paper on the boards all round. The ceiling is also of wood, and was once painted white, but is now, like the wall paper, of a smoky yellow. The paper is much broken by the shrinkage of the boards, and large patches of it have been torn off in a dozen places. The walls and ceiling are handsomely decorated with wasp’s mud nests and sooty-branched cobwebs. The bed is a dirty cotton mattress in an old-fashioned high-post bedstead. There are no sheets, and in fact nothing but a cotton-stuffed pillow and a calico spread. This establishment is the abode of a numerous and industrious colony of the Improved Order of