Bricks Without Straw
Albion W. Tourgee
Part 8 out of 9
"Of all such an example should be made. Inaugurate social ostracism
against every white man who gives any support to the Radical Party.
Every true Southern man or woman should refuse to recognize as a
gentleman any man belonging to that party, or having any dealings
with it. Hesden Le Moyne has chosen to degrade an honored name.
He has elected to go with niggers, nigger teachers, and nigger
preachers; but let him forever be an outcast among the respectable
and high minded white people of Horsford, whom he has betrayed and
A week later, it contained another paragraph:
"We understand that the purpose of Hesden Le Moyne in going to the
North was not entirely to stir up Northern prejudice and hostility
against our people. At least, that is what he claims. He only went,
we are informed he says, to take the half-monkey negro preacher
who calls himself Eliab Hill to a so-called college in the North to
complete his education. We shall no doubt soon have this misshapen,
malicious hypocrite paraded through the North as an evidence of
"The truth is, as we are credibly informed, that what injuries
he received on the night of the raid upon Red Wing were purely
accidental. There were some in the company, it seems, who were
disappointed at not finding the black desperado, Nimbus Desmit, who
was organizing his depraved followers to burn, kill, and ravish,
and proposed to administer a moderate whipping to the fellow Eliab,
who was really supposed to be at the bottom of all the other's
rascality. These few hot-heads burst in the door of his cabin, but
one of the oldest and coolest of the crowd rushed in and, at the
imminent risk of his own life, rescued him from them. In order to
bring him out into the light where he could be protected, he caught
the baboon-like creature by his foot, and he was somewhat injured
thereby. He is said to have been shot also, but we are assured
that not a shot was fired, except by some person with a repeating
rifle, who fired upon the company of white men from the woods beyond
the school-house. It is probable that some of these shots struck
the preacher, and it is generally believed that they were fired by
Hesden Le Moyne. Several who were there have expressed the opinion
that, from the manner in which the shooting was done, it must have
been by a man with one arm. However, Eliab will make a good Radical
show, and we shall have another dose of Puritanical, hypocritical
cant about Southern barbarity. Well, we can bear it. We have
got the power in Horsford, and we mean to hold it. Niggers and
nigger-worshippers must take care of themselves. This is a white
man's country, and white men are going to rule it, no matter whether
the North whines or not."
The report given in this account of the purpose of Hesden's journey
to the North was the correct one. In the three months in which the
deformed man had been under his care, he had learned that a noble
soul and a rare mind were shut up in that crippled form, and had
determined to atone for his former coolness and doubt, as well as
mark his approval of the course of this hunted victim, by giving
him an opportunity to develop his powers. He accordingly placed him
in a Northern college, and became responsible for the expenses of
A BOLT OUT OF THE CLOUD.
A year had passed, and there had been no important change in the
relations of the personages of our story. The teacher and her
"obstreperous" pupils had disappeared from Horsford and had been
almost forgotten. Hesden, his mother, and Cousin Hetty still led
their accustomed life at Red Wing. Detraction had worn itself
out upon the former, for want of a new occasion. He was still made
to feel, in the little society which he saw, that he was a black
sheep in an otherwise spotless fold. He did not complain. He did
not account himself "ostracized," nor wonder at this treatment.
He saw how natural it was, how consistent with the training and
development his neighbors had received. He simply said to himself,
and to the few friends who still met him kindly, "I can do without
the society of others as long as they can do without mine. I can
wait. This thing must end some time--if not in my day, then afterward.
Our people must come out of it and rise above it. They must learn
that to be Americans is better than to be 'Southern.' Then they
will see that the interests and safety of the whole nation demand
the freedom and political co-equality of all."
These same friends comforted him much as did those who argued with
the man of Uz.
Mrs. Le Moyne's life had gone back to its old channel. Shut out
from the world, she saw only the fringes of the feeling that had
set so strongly against her son. Indeed, she received perhaps more
attention than usual in the way of calls and short visits, since
she was understood to have manifested a proper spirit of resentment
at his conduct. Hesden himself was almost the only one who did not
know of her will. It was thought, of course, that she was holding
it over him _in terrorem_.
Yet he was just as tender and considerate of her as formerly, and
she was apparently just as fond of him. She had not yet given up
her plan of a matrimonial alliance for him with Cousin Hetty, but
that young lady herself had quite abandoned the notion. In the year
she had been at Mulberry Hill she had come to know Hesden better,
and to esteem him more highly than ever before. She knew that he
regarded her with none of the feeling his mother desired to see
between them, but they had become good friends, and after a short time
she was almost the only one of his relatives that had not allowed
his political views to sunder their social relations. Living in
the same house, it was of course impossible to maintain a constant
state of siege; but she had gone farther, and had held out a flag
of truce, and declared her conviction of the honesty of his views
and the honorableness of his _intention_. She did not think
as he did, but she had finally become willing to let him think for
himself. People said she was in love with Hesden, and that with
his mother's aid she would yet conquer his indifference. She did
not think so. She sighed when she confessed the fact to herself.
She did indeed hope that he had forgotten Mollie Ainslie. She could
never live to see her mistress at the dear old Hill!
The term of the court was coming on at which the suits that had
been brought by Winburn against the occupants of Red Wing must be
tried. Many had left the place, and it was noticed that from all who
desired to leave, Theron Pardee had purchased, at the full value,
the titles which they held under Nimbus, and that they had all gone
off somewhere out West. Others had elected to remain, with a sort
of blind faith that all would come out right after a while, or from
mere disinclination to leave familiar scenes--that feeling which
is always so strong in the African race.
It was at this time that Pardee came one day to Mulberry Hill and
announced his readiness to make report in the matter intrusted to
his charge concerning the will of J. Richards.
"Well," said Hesden, "have you found the heirs?"
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Le Moyne," said Pardee; "I have assumed
a somewhat complicated relation to this matter, acting under the
spirit of my instructions, which makes it desirable, perhaps almost
necessary, that I should confer directly with the present owner of
this plantation, and that is--?"
"My mother," said Hesden, as he paused. "I suppose it will be mine
some time," he continued laughing, "but I have no present interest
"Yes," said the lawyer. "And is Mrs. Le Moyne's health such as to
permit her considering this matter now?"
"Oh, I think so," said Hesden. "I will see her and ascertain."
In a short time the attorney was ushered into the invalid's room,
where Mrs. Le Moyne, reclining on her beautifully decorated couch,
received him pleasantly, exclaiming,
"You will see how badly off I am for company, Captain Pardee, when I
assure you that I am glad to see even a lawyer with such a bundle
of papers as you have brought. I have literally nobody but these two
children," glancing at Hesden and Hetty, "and I declare I believe
I am younger and more cheerful than either of them."
"Your cheerfulness, madam," replied Pardee, "is an object of universal
remark and wonder. I sincerely trust that nothing in these papers
will at all affect your equanimity."
"But what have you in that bundle, Captain?" she asked. "I assure
you that I am dying to know why you should insist on assailing a
sick woman with such a formidable array of documents."
"Before proceeding to satisfy your very natural curiosity, madam,"
answered Pardee, with a glance at Miss Hetty, "permit me to say
that my communication is of great moment to you as the owner of
this plantation, and to your son as your heir, and is of such a
character that you might desire to consider it carefully before it
should come to the knowledge of other parties."
"Oh, never mind Cousin Hetty," said Mrs. Le Moyne quickly. "She
has just as much interest in the matter as any one."
The lawyer glanced at Hesden, who hastened to say, "I am sure there
can be nothing of interest to me which I would not be willing that
my cousin should know."
The young lady rose to go, but both Hesden and Mrs. Le Moyne
insisted on her remaining.
"Certainly," said Pardee, "there can be no objection on my part.
I merely called your attention to the fact as a part of my duty as
your legal adviser."
So Miss Hetty remained sitting upon the side of the bed, holding
one of the invalid's hands. Pardee seated himself at a small table
near the bed, and, having arranged his papers so that they would
be convenient for reference, began:
"You will recollect, madam, that the task intrusted to me was
twofold: first, to verify this will found by your son and ascertain
whose testament it was, its validity or invalidity; and, in case It
was valid, its effect and force. Secondly, I was directed to make
all reasonable effort, in case of its validity being established,
to ascertain the existence of any one entitled to take under its
provisions. In this book," said he, holding up a small volume, "I
have kept a diary of all that I have done in regard to the matter,
with dates and places. It will give you in detail what I shall now
"I went to Lancaster, where the will purports to have been executed,
and ascertained its genuineness by proving the signatures of the
attesting witnesses, and established also the fact of their death.
These affidavits'--holding up a bundle of papers--"show that I also
inquired as to the testator's identity; but I could learn nothing
except that the descendants of one of the witnesses who had bought
your ancestor's farm, upon his removal to the South, still had
his deed in possession. I copied it, and took a tracing of the
signature, which is identical with that which he subsequently used
--James Richards, written in a heavy and somewhat sloping hand,
for that time. I could learn nothing more in regard to him or his
"Proceeding then to Marblehead, I learned these facts. There were
two parties named James Richards. They were cousins; and in order
to distinguish them from each other they were called by the family
and neighbors, 'Red Jim' and 'Black Jim' respectively--the one
having red hair and blue eyes, and the other dark hair and black
"Yes," interrupted Mrs. Le Moyne, "I was the only blonde in my
family, and I have often heard my father say that I got it from some
ancestral strain, perhaps the Whidbys, and resembled his cousins."
"Yes," answered Pardee, "a Whidby was a common ancestress of your
father and his cousin, 'Red Jim.' It is strange how family traits
reproduce themselves in widely-separated strains of blood."
"Well," said Hesden, "did you connect him with this will?"
"Most conclusively," was the reply. "In the first place, his wife's
name was Edna--Edna Goddard--before marriage, and he left an only
daughter, Alice. He was older than his cousin, 'Black Jim,' to
whom he was greatly attached. The latter removed to Lancaster, when
about twenty-five years of age, having inherited a considerable
estate in that vicinity. I had not thought of examining the record
of wills while in Lancaster, but on my return I went to the
Prothonotary's office, and verified this also. So there is no doubt
about the 'Black Jim' of the Marblehead family being your ancestor."
"Stop! stop! Captain Pardee!" interrupted Mrs. Le Moyne quickly.
"Isn't Marblehead near Cape Cod?"
"And Buzzard's Bay?"
"No wonder," said she, laughing, "that you wanted Hetty to leave
before you opened your budget. Do pray run away, child, before
you hear any more to our discredit. Hesden, do please escort your
cousin out of the room," she added, in assumed distress.
"No indeed," laughed Miss Hetty; "I am getting interested, and as
you would not let me go when I wished to, I have now determined to
stay till the last horror is revealed."
"It is too late, mother," said Hesden ruefully; "fortunately, Cousin
Hetty is not attainted, except collaterally, thus far."
"Well, go on, Captain," said Mrs. Le Moyne gayly. "What else?
Pray what was the family occupation--'calling' I believe they say
in New England. I suppose they had some calling, as they never have
any 'gentlemen' in that country."
Pardee's face flushed hotly. He was born among the New Hampshire
hills himself. However, he answered calmly, but with a slight
"They were seafaring men, madam."
"Oh, my!" cried the invalid, clapping her hands. "Codfish! codfish!
I knew it, Hetty! I knew it! Why didn't you go out of the room
when I begged you to? Do you hear it, Hesden? That is where you get
your Radicalism from. My! my!" she laughed, almost hysterically,
"what a family! Codfish at one end and Radical at the other! 'And
the last state of that man was worse than the first!' What would
not the newspapers give to know that of you, Hesden?"
She laughed until the tears came, and her auditors laughed with
her. Yet, despite her mirth, it was easy to detect the evidence of
strong feeling in her manner. She carried it off bravely, however,
"But, perhaps, Captain Pardee, you can relieve us a little. Perhaps
they were not cod-fishers but mackerelers. I remember a song I
have heard my father sing, beginning,
"When Jake came home from mack'reling, He sought his Sary Ann, And
found that she, the heartless thing, Had found another man!"
"Do please say that they were mackerelers!"
"I am sorry I cannot relieve your anxiety on that point," said
Pardee, but I can assure you they were a very respectable family."
"No doubt, as families _go_ 'there," she answered, with some
bitterness. "They doubtless sold good fish, and gave a hundred
pounds for a quintal, or whatever it is they sell the filthy truck
"They were very successful and somewhat noted privateers during
the Revolution," said Pardee.
"Worse and worse!" said Mrs. Le Moyne. Better they were fishermen
than pirates! I wonder if they didn't bring over niggers too?"
"I should not be at all surprised," answered Pardee coolly. "This
'Red Jim' was master and owner of a vessel of some kind, and was
on his way back from Charleston, where it seems he had sold both
his vessel and cargo, when he executed this will."
"But how do you know that it _is_ his will?" asked Hesden.
"Oh, there is no doubt," said Pardee. "Being a shipmaster, his
signature was necessarily affixed to many papers. I have found not
less than twenty of these, all identical with the signature of the
"That would certainly seem to be conclusive," said Hesden.
"Taken with other things, it is," answered Pardee. "Among other
things is a letter from your grandfather, which was found pasted
inside the cover of a Bible that belonged to Mrs. Edna Richards, in
regard to the death of her husband. In it he says that his cousin
visited him on his way home; went from there to Philadelphia, and
was taken sick; your grandfather was notified and went on, but death
had taken place before he arrived. The letter states that he had
but little money and no valuable papers except such as he sent.
Out of the money he had paid the funeral expenses, and would remit
the balance as soon as he could make an opportunity. The tradition
in 'Red Jim's' family is that he died of yellow fever in Philadelphia,
on his way home with the proceeds of his sale, and was robbed of
his money before the arrival of his cousin. No suspicion seems ever
to have fallen on "Black Jim."
"Thank God for that!" ejaculated Hesden fervently.
"I suppose you took care to awaken none," said Mrs. Le Moyne.
"I spoke of it to but one person, to whom it became absolutely
necessary to reveal it. However, it is perfectly safe, and will go
"Well, did you find any descendants of this 'Red Jim' living?"
asked Mrs. Le Moyne.
"One," answered Pardee.
"Only one?" said she. "I declare. Hesden, the Richards family is
not numerous if it is strong."
"Why do you say 'strong,' mother?"
"Oh, codfish and Radicals, you know!"
"Oh, if you hate to hear about it, why don't you quit the dirty
crowd and be a gentleman again. Or is it your new-found cousin you
feel so bad for? By the way, Captain, is it a boy or girl, and is
it old or young?"
"It is a lady, madam, some twenty years of age or thereabout."
"A lady? Well, I suppose that is what they call them there. Married
"What a pity you are getting so old, Hesden! You might make a match
and settle her claim in that way. Though I don't suppose she has
any in law."
"On the contrary, madam," said Pardee, "her title is perfect. She
can recover not only this plantation but every rood of the original
"You don't say!" exclaimed the invalid. "It would make her one of
the richest women in the State!"
"Oh, it cannot be, Captain Pardee!" exclaimed Miss Hetty. "It cannot
"There can be no doubt about it," said Pardee. "She is the
great-grand-daughter of 'Red Jim,' and his only lineal descendant.
His daughter Alice, to whom this is bequeathed, married before
arriving at the age of eighteen, and died in wedlock, leaving an
only daughter, who also married before she became of age, and also
died in wedlock, leaving a son and daughter surviving. The son died
without heirs of his body, and only the daughter is left. There has
never been an hour when the action of the statute was not barred."
"Have you seen her?" asked Mrs. Le Moyne.
"Does she know her good luck?"
"She is fully informed of her rights."
"Indeed? You told her, I suppose?"
"I found her already aware of them."
"Why, how could that be?"
"I am sure I do not know," said Pardee, glancing sharply at Hesden.
"What," said Hesden, with a start; "what did you say is the name
of the heir?"
"I did not say," said Pardee coolly. Hesden sprang to his feet,
and going across the room stood gazing out of the window.
"Why don't you tell us the name of the heir, Captain? You must
know we are dying to hear all about our new cousin," said Mrs. Le
Moyne bitterly. "Is she long or short, fat or lean, dark or fair?
Do tell us all about her?"
"In appearance, madam," said Pardee carelessly, "I should say she
much resembled yourself at her age."
"Oh, Captain, you flatter me, I'm sure," she answered, with just
a hint of a sneer. "Well, what is her name, and when does she wish
to take possession?"
"Her name, madam, you must excuse me if I withhold for the present.
I am the bearer of a proposition of compromise from her, which,
if accepted, will, I hope, avoid all trouble. If not accepted, I
shall find myself under the necessity of asking to be relieved from
further responsibility in this matter."
"Come here, Hesden," said his mother, "and hear what terms your
new cousin wants for Mulberry Hill. I hope we won't have to move
out till spring. It would be mighty bad to be out of doors all
winter. Go on, Captain Pardee, Hesden is ready now. This is what
comes of your silly idea about doing justice to some low-down Yankee.
It's a pity you hadn't sense enough to burn the will up. It would
have been better all round. The wealth will turn the girl's head,
and the loss of my home will kill me," she continued fiercely to
"As to the young lady, you need have no fear," said Pardee. "She
is not one of the kind that lose their heads.
"Ah, you seem to be quite an admirer of her?"
"I am, madam."
"If we do not accept her proposal, you will no doubt become her
"I am such already."
"You don't say so? Well, you are making good speed. I should think
you might have waited till you had dropped us before picking her
up. But then, it will be a good thing to be the attorney of such
an heiress, and we shall be poor indeed after she gets her own--as
you say it is."
"Madam," said Pardee seriously, "I shall expect you to apologize
both to me and to my client when you have heard her proposition."
"I shall be very likely to, Mr. Pardee," she said, with a dry
laugh. "I come of an apologetic race. Old Jim Richards was full
of apologies. He liked to have died of them, numberless times. But
what is your proposal?"
"As I said," remarked Pardee, "my client--I beg pardon--the
great-grand-daughter of 'Red Jim' Richards, instructs me to say that
she does not desire to stain her family name or injure your feelings
by exposing the fraud of your ancestor, 'Black Jim' Richards.
"What, sir!" said Mrs. Le Moyne sharply. "Fraud! You had better
measure your words, sir, when you speak of my father. Do you hear
that, Hesden? Have you lost all spirit since you became a Radical?"
she continued, while her eyes flashed angrily.
"I am sorry to say that I do not see what milder term could be
used," said Hesden calmly. "Go on with your proposition, sir."
"Well, as I said," continued the lawyer, "this young lady, desiring
to save the family name and your feelings from the shock of exposure,
has instructed me to say: First, that she does not wish to disturb
any of those rights which have been obtained by purchase from your
ancestor; and second, that she understands that there is a dispute
in regard to the title of a portion of it--the tract generally
known as Red Wing--neither of the parties claiming which have any
title as against her. She understands that the title held by Winburn
is technically good against that of the colored man, Nimbus Desmit,
providing hers is not set up.
"Now she proposes that if you will satisfy Winburn and obtain a
quit-claim from him to Desmit, she will make a deed in fee to Mrs.
Le Moyne of the whole tract; and as you hold by inheritance from
one who purported to convey the fee, the title will thereafter be
estopped, and all rights held under the deeds of 'Black Jim' Richards
will be confirmed."
"Well, what else?" asked Mrs. Le Moyne breathlessly, as he paused.
"There is nothing more."
"Nothing more! Why, does the girl propose to give away all this
magnificent property for nothing?" she asked in astonishment.
"Absolutely nothing to her own comfort or advantage," answered the
"Well, now, that is kind--that is kind!" said the invalid. "I am
sorry for what I have said of her, Captain Pardee."
"I thought you would be, madam," he replied.
"You must attend to that Red Wing matter immediately, Hesden," she
"You accept the proposal then?" asked Pardee.
"Accept, man? Of course we do!" said Mrs. Le Moyne.
"Stop, mother!" said Hesden. "You may accept for yourself, but not
for me. Is this woman able to give away such a fortune?" he asked
"She is not rich. She has been a teacher, and has some property--enough,
she insists, for comfort," was the answer.
"If she had offered to sell, I would have bought at any possible
price, but I cannot take such a gift!"
"Do you accept the terms?" asked Pardee of Mrs. Le Moyne.
"I do," she answered doggedly, but with a face flushing with shame.
"Then, madam, let me say that I have already shown the proofs in
confidence to Winburn's attorney. He agrees that they have no chance,
and is willing to sell the interest he represents for five hundred
dollars. That I have already paid, and have taken a quit-claim
to Desmit. Upon the payment of that, and my bill for services, I
stand ready to deliver to you the title."
The whole amount was soon ascertained and a check given to Pardee
for the sum. Thereupon he handed over to Mrs. Le Moyne a deed in
fee-simple, duly executed, covering the entire tract, except that
about Red Wing, which was conveyed to Nimbus in a deed directly
to him. Mrs. Le Moyne unfolded the deed, and turning quickly to
the last page read the name of the donor:
"What!" she exclaimed, "not the little nigger teacher at Red Wing?"
"The same, madam," said Pardee, with a smile and a bow.
The announcement was too much for the long-excited invalid. She
fell back fainting upon her pillow, and while Cousin Hetty devoted
herself to restoring her relative to consciousness, Pardee gathered
up his papers and withdrew. Hesden followed him, presently, and
asked where Miss Ainslie was.
"I am directed," said Pardee, "not to disclose her residence, but
will at any time forward any communication you may desire to make."
AN UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER.
The next day Mr. Pardee received a note from Mrs. Le Moyne,
requesting him to come to Mulberry Hill at his earliest convenience.
Being at the time disengaged, he returned with the messenger. Upon
being ushered again into the invalid's room, he found Miss Hetty
Lomax with a flushed face standing by the bedside. Both the ladies
greeted him with some appearance of embarrassment.
"Cousin Hetty," said the invalid, "will you ask Hesden to come here
for a moment?"
Miss Hetty left the room, and returned a moment afterward in company
"Hesden," said Mrs. Le Moyne, "were you in earnest in what you said
yesterday in regard to receiving any benefits under this deed?"
"Certainly, mother," replied Hesden; "I could never consent to do
"Very well, my son," said the invalid; "you are perhaps right; but
I wish you to know that I had heretofore made my will, giving to
you and Cousin Hetty a joint interest in my estate. You know the
feeling which induced me to do so. I am in the confessional to-day,
and may as well admit that I was hasty and perhaps unjust in so
doing. In justice to Cousin Hetty I wish also to say--"
"Oh, please, Mrs. Le Moyne," interrupted Hetty, blushing deeply.
"Hush, my child," said the invalid tenderly; "I must be just to
you as well as to others. Hetty," she continued, turning her eyes
upon Hesden, who stood looking in wonder from one to the other,
"has long tried to persuade me to revoke that instrument. I have
at length determined to cancel and destroy it, and shall proceed
to make a new one, which I desire that both of you shall witness
when it has been drawn."
Being thus dismissed, Hesden and his cousin withdrew, while
Pardee seated himself at the little table by the bedside, on which
writing materials had already been placed, and proceeded to receive
instructions and prepare the will as she directed. When it had been
completed and read over to her, she said, wearily,
"That is right."
The attorney called Hesden and his cousin, who, having witnessed
the will by her request, again withdrew.
"Now Mr. Pardee," said Mrs. Le Moyne sadly, "I believe that I have
done my duty as well as Hesden has done his. It is hard, very hard,
for me to give up projects which I have cherished so long. As I
have constituted you my executor, I desire that you will keep this
will, and allow no person to know its contents unless directed by
me to do so, until my death."
"Your wishes shall be strictly complied with, madam," said Pardee,
as he folded the instrument and placed it in his pocket.
"I have still another favor to request of you, Mr. Pardee," she
said. "I have written this note to Miss Ainslie, which I wish you
to read and then transmit to her. No, no," she continued, as she
saw him about to seal the letter which she had given him, without
reading it; "you must read it. You know something of what it has
cost me to write it, and will be a better judge than I as to whether
it contains all that I should say."
Thus adjured, Pardee opened the letter and read:
"MULBERRY HILL Saturday, Oct. 8, 1871.
"MY DEAR MISS AINSLIE:
"Captain Pardee informed us yesterday of your nobly disinterested
action in regard to the estate rightfully belonging to you. Words
cannot express my gratitude for the consideration you have shown to
our feelings in thus shielding the memory of the dead. Mr. Pardee
will transmit to you with this the papers, showing that we have
complied with your request. Pardon me if I do not write as warmly
as I ought. One as old and proud as I cannot easily adapt herself
to so new and strange a role. I hope that time will enable me to
think more calmly and speak more freely of this matter.
"Hoping you will forgive my constraint, and believe that it arises
from no lack of appreciation of your magnanimity, but only springs
from my own weakness; and asking your pardon for all unkindness of
thought, word, or act in the past, I remain,
"HESTER RICHARDS LE MOYNE."
"My dear Mrs. Le Moyne," said Pardee, as he extended his hand and
grasped that of the suffering woman, "I am sure Miss Ainslie would
never require any such painful acknowledgment at your hands."
"I know she would not," was the reply; "it is not she that requires it,
but myself--my honor, Mr. Pardee. You must not suppose, nor must
she believe, that the wife of a Le Moyne can forget the obligations
of justice, though her father may have unfortunately done so."
"But I am sure it will cause her pain," said Pardee.
"Would it cause her less were I to refuse what she has so delicately
"No, indeed," said the attorney.
"Then I see no other way."
"Perhaps there is none," said Pardee thoughtfully.
"You think I have said enough?" she asked.
"You could not say more," was the reply. After a moment's pause
he continued, "Are you willing that I should give Miss Ainslie any
statement I may choose of this matter?"
"I should prefer," she answered, "that nothing more be said; unless,"
she added, with a smile, "you conceive that your duty imperatively
"And Hesden?" he began.
"Pardon me, sir," she said, with dignity; "I will not conceal from
you that my son's course has given me great pain; indeed, you are
already aware of that fact. Since yesterday, I have for the first
time admitted to myself that in abandoning the cause of the Southern
people he has acted from a sense of duty. My own inclination, after
sober second thought," she added, as a slight flush overspread her
pale face, "would have been to refuse, as he has done, this bounty
from the hands of a stranger; more particularly from one in the
position which Miss Ainslie has occupied; but I feel also that her
unexpected delicacy demands the fullest recognition at our hands.
Hesden will take such course as his own sense of honor may dictate."
"Am I at liberty to inform him of the nature of the testament which
you have made?"
"I prefer not."
"Well," said Pardee, "if there is nothing more to be done I will
bid you good-evening, hoping that time may yet bring a pleasant
result out of these painful circumstances."
After the lawyer had retired, Mrs. Le Moyne summoned her son to
her bedside and said,
"I hope you will forgive me, Hesden, for all--"
"Stop, mother," said he, playfully laying his hand over her mouth;
"I can listen to no such language from you. When I was a boy you
used to stop my confessions of wrong-doing with a kiss; how much
more ought silence to be sufficient between us now."
He knelt by her side and pressed his lips to hers.
"Oh, my son, my son!" said the weeping woman, as she pushed back
the hair above his forehead and looked into his eyes; "only give
your mother time--you know it is so hard--so hard. I am trying,
Hesden; and you must be very kind to me, very gentle. It will not
be for long, but we must be alone--all alone--as we were before all
these things came about. Only," she added sobbingly, "only little
Hildreth is not here now."
"Believe me, mother," said he, and the tears fell upon the gentle
face over which he bent, "I will do nothing to cause you pain. My
opinions I cannot renounce, because I believe them right."
"I know, I know, my son," she said; "but it is so hard--so hard--to
think that we must lose the place which we have always held in the
esteem of--all those about us."
There was silence for a time, and then she continued, "Hetty thinks
it is best--that--that she--should--not remain here longer at this
time. She is perhaps right, my son. You must not blame her for
anything that has occurred; indeed--indeed she is not at fault. In
fact," she added, "she has done much toward showing me my duty. Of
course it is hard for her, as it is for me, to be under obligations
to--to--such a one as Miss Ainslie. It is very hard to believe that
she could have done as she has without some--some unworthy motive."
"Mother!" said Hesden earnestly, raising his head and gazing
reproachfully at her.
"Don't--don't, my son! I am trying--believe me, I am trying; but
it is so hard. Why should she give up all this for our sakes?"
"Not for ours mother--not for ours alone; for her own as well."
"Oh, my son, what does she know of family pride?"
"Mother," said he gravely, "she is prouder than we ever were.
Oh, I _know_ it,"--seeing the look of incredulity upon her
face;--"prouder than any Richards or Le Moyne that ever lived; only
it is a different kind of pride. She would _starve_, mother,"
he continued impetuously; "she would work her fingers to the bone
rather than touch one penny of that estate."
"Oh, why--why, Hesden, should she do that? Just to shield my father's
"Not alone for that," said Hesden. "Partly to show that she can
give you pride for pride, mother."
"Do you think so, Hesden?"
"I am sure of it."
"Will you promise me one thing?"
"Whatever you shall ask."
"Do not write to her, nor in any way communicate with her, except
at my request."
"As you wish."
SOME OLD LETTERS.
"RED WING, Saturday, Feb. 15, 1873.
"MISS MOLLIE AINSLIE:
"I avail myself of your kind permission to address you a letter
through Captain Pardee, to whom I will forward this to-morrow. I
would have written to you before, because I knew you must be anxious
to learn how things are at this place, where you labored so long;
but I was very busy--and, to tell you the truth, I felt somewhat hurt
that you should withhold from me for so long a time the knowledge
even of where you were. It is true, I have known that you were
somewhere in Kansas; but I could see no reason why you should not
wish it to be known exactly where; nor can I now. I was so foolish
as to think, at first, that it was because you did not wish the
people where you now live to know that you had ever been a teacher
in a colored school.
"When I returned here, however, and learned something of your
kindness to our people--how you had saved the property of my dear
lost brother Nimbus, and provided for his wife and children, and
the wife and children of poor Berry, and so many others of those
who once lived at Red Wing; and when I heard Captain Pardee read
one of your letters to our people, saying that you had not forgotten
us, I was ashamed that I had ever had such a thought. I know that
you must have some good reason, and will never seek to know more
than you may choose to tell me in regard to it. You may think it
strange that I should have had this feeling at all; but you must
remember that people afflicted as I am become very sensitive--morbid,
perhaps--and are very apt to be influenced by mere imagination
rather than by reason.
"After completing my course at the college, for which I can never
be sufficiently grateful to Mr. Hesden, I thought at first that I
would write to you and see if I could not obtain work among some
of my people in the West. Before I concluded to do so, however, the
President of the college showed me a letter asking him to recommend
some one for a colored school in one of the Northern States. He said
he would be willing to recommend me for that position. Of course
I felt very grateful to him, and very proud of the confidence
he showed in my poor ability. Before I had accepted, however, I
received a letter from Mr. Hesden, saying that he had rebuilt the
school-house at Red Wing, that the same kind people who furnished
it before had furnished it again, and that he wished the school
to be re-opened, and desired me to come back and teach here. At
first I thought I could not come; for the memory of that terrible
night--the last night that I was here--came before me whenever I
thought of it; and I was so weak as to think I could not ever come
here again. Then I thought of Mr. Hesden, and all that he had done
for me, and felt that I would be making a very bad return for his
kindness should I refuse any request he might make. So I came,
and am very glad that I did.
"It does not seem like the old Red Wing, Miss Mollie. There are
not near so many people here, and the school is small in comparison
with what it used to be. Somehow the life and hope seem to have
gone out of our people, and they do not look forward to the future
with that confident expectation which they used to have. It reminds
me very much of the dull, plodding hopelessness of the old slave
time. It is true, they are no longer subject to the terrible
cruelties which were for a while visited upon them; but they feel,
as they did in the old time, that their rights are withheld from
them, and they see no hope of regaining them. With their own poverty
and ignorance and the prejudices of the white people to contend
with, it does indeed seem a hopeless task for them to attempt to
be anything more, or anything better, than they are now. I am even
surprised that they do not go backward instead of forward under
the difficulties they have to encounter.
"I am learning to be more charitable than I used to be, Miss Mollie,
or ever would have been had I not returned here. It seems to me
now that the white people are not so much to be blamed for what has
been done and suffered since the war, as pitied for that prejudice
which has made them unconsciously almost as much _slaves_ as
my people were before the war. I see, too, that these things cannot
be remedied at once. It will be a long, sad time of waiting, which
I fear our people will not endure as well as they did the tiresome
waiting for freedom. I used to think that the law could give us our
rights and make us free. I now see, more clearly than ever before,
that we must not only make _ourselves_ free, but must overcome
all that prejudice which slavery created against our race in the
hearts of the white people. It is a long way to look ahead, and I
don't wonder that so many despair of its ever being accomplished.
I know it can only be done through the attainment of knowledge and
the power which that gives.
"I do not blame for giving way to despair those who are laboring
for a mere pittance, and perhaps not receiving that; who have wives
and children to support, and see their children growing up as poor
and ignorant as themselves. If I were one of those, Miss Mollie,
and whole and sound, I wouldn't stay in this country another day.
I would go somewhere where my children would have a chance to learn
what it is to be free, whatever hardship I might have to face in
doing so, for their sake. But I know that they cannot go--at least
not all of them, nor many of them; and I think the Lord has dealt
with me as he has in order that I might be willing to stay here
and help them, and share with them the blessed knowledge which kind
friends have given to me.
"Mr. Hesden comes over to see the school very often, and is very
much interested in it. I have been over to Mulberry Hill once,
and saw the dear old 'Mistress.' She has failed a great deal, Miss
Mollie, and it does seem as if her life of pain was drawing to an
end. She was very kind to me, asked all about my studies, how I was
getting on, and inquired very kindly of you. She seemed very much
surprised when I told her that I did not know where you were, only
that you were in the West. It is no wonder that she looks worn and
troubled, for Mr. Hesden has certainly had a hard time. I do not
think it is as bad now as it has been, and some of the white people,
even, say that he has been badly treated. But, Miss Mollie, you
can't imagine the abuse he has had to suffer because he befriended
me, and is what they call a 'Radical.'
"There is one thing that I cannot understand. I can see why the
white people of the South should be so angry about colored people
being allowed to vote. I can understand, too, why they should abuse
Mr. Hesden, and the few like him, because they wish to see the
colored people have their rights and become capable of exercising
them. It is because they have always believed that we are an inferior
race, and think that the attempt to elevate us is intended to drag
them down. But I cannot see why the people of the _North_ should
think so ill of such men as Mr. Hesden. It would be a disgrace for
any man there to say that he was opposed to the colored man having
the rights of a citizen, or having a fair show in any manner. But
they seem to think that if a man living at the South advocates
those rights, or says a word in our favor, he is a low-down, mean
man. If we had a few men like Mr, Hesden in every county, I think
it would soon be better; but if it takes as long to get each one
as it has to get him, I am afraid a good many generations will live
and die before that good time will come.
"I meant to have said more about the school, Miss Mollie; but I
have written so much that I will wait until the next time for that.
Hoping that you will have time to write to me, I remain
"Your very grateful pupil,
"MULBERRY HILL, Wednesday, March 5, 1873.
"Miss MOLLIE AINSLIE:
"Through the kindness of our good friend, Captain Pardee, I send
you this letter, together with an instrument, the date of which
you will observe is the same as that of my former letter. You will
see that I have regarded myself only as a trustee and a beneficiary,
during life, of your self-denying generosity. The day after I
received your gift, I gave the plantation back to you, reserving
only the pleasing privilege of holding it as my own while I lived.
The opportunity which I then hoped might some time come has now
arrived. I can write to you now without constraint or bitterness.
My pride has not gone; but I am proud of you, as a relative proud
as myself, and far braver and more resolute than I have ever been.
"My end is near, and I am anxious to see you once more. The dear
old plantation is just putting on its spring garment of beauty.
Will you not come and look upon your gift in its glory, and gladden
the heart of an old woman whose eyes long to look upon your face
before they see the brightness of the upper world?
"Come, and let me say to the people of Horsford that you are one
of us--a Richards worthier than the worthiest they have known!
"Yours, with sincerest love,
"HESTER RICHARDS LE MOYNE.
"P. S.--I ought to say that, although Hesden is one of the witnesses
to my will, he knows nothing of its contents. He does not know
that I have written to you, but I am sure he will be glad to see
"H. R. LE M."
Mrs. Le Moyne received the following letter in reply: "March 15,
"MY DEAR MRS. LE MOYNB:
"Your letter gave me far greater pleasure than you can imagine.
But you give me much more credit for doing what I did than I have
any right to receive. While I know that I would do the same now,
to give you pleasure and save you pain, as readily as I did it then
from a worse motive, I must confess to you that I did it, almost
solely I fear, to show you that a Yankee girl, even though a teacher
of a colored school, could be as proud as a Southern lady. I did it
to humiliate _you._ Please forgive me; but it is true, and I
cannot bear to receive your praise for what really deserves censure.
I have been ashamed of myself very many times for this unworthy
motive for an act which was in itself a good one, but which I am
glad to have done, even so unworthily.
"I thank you for your love, which I hope I may better deserve
hereafter. I inclose the paper which you sent me, and hope you
will destroy it at once. I could not take the property you have so
kindly devised to me, and you can readily see what trouble I should
have in bestowing it where it should descend as an inheritance.
"Do not think that I need it at all. I had a few thousands which
I invested in the great West when I left the South, three years
ago, in order to aid those poor colored people at Red Wing, whose
sufferings appealed so strongly to my sympathies. By good fortune
a railroad has come near me, a town has been built up near by and
grown into a city, as in a moment, so that my venture has been
blessed; and though I have given away some, the remainder has
increased in value until I feel myself almost rich. My life has
been very pleasant, and I hope not altogether useless to others.
"I am sorry that I cannot do as you wish. I know that you will
believe that I do not now act from any un-worthy motive, of from
any lack of appreciation of your kindness, or doubt of your sincerity.
Thanking you again for your kind words and hearty though undeserved
praises, I remain,
"Yours very truly,
"Hesden," said Mrs. Le Moyne to her son, as he sat by her bedside
while she read this letter, "will you not write to Miss Ainslie?"
"What!" said he, looking up from his book in surprise. "Do you mean
"Indeed I do, my son," she answered, with a glance of tenderness.
"I tried to prepare you a surprise, and wrote for her to come and
visit us; but she will not come at my request. I am afraid you are
the only one who can overcome her stubbornness.
"I fear that I should have no better success," he answered.
Nevertheless, he went to his desk, and, laying out some paper, he
placed upon it, to hold it in place while he wrote, a great black
hoof with a silver shoe, bearing on the band about its crown the
word "Midnight." After many attempts he wrote as follows:
"Miss MOLLIE AINSLIE:
"Will you permit me to come and see you, upon the conditions imposed
when I saw you last?
"HESDEN LE MOYNE."
While Hesden waited for an answer to this letter, which had been
forwarded through Captain Pardee, he received one from Jordan
Jackson. It was somewhat badly spelled, but he made it out to be
"EUPOLIA, KANSAS, Sunday, March 23, 1873.
"MY DEAR LE MOYNE:
"I have been intending to write to you for a long time, but have
been too busy. You never saw such a busy country as this. It just
took me off my legs when I first came out here. I thought I knew
what it meant to 'git up and git.' Nobody ever counted me hard to
start or slow to move, down in that country; but here--God bless
you, Le Moyne, I found I wasn't half awake! Work? Lord! Lord! how
these folks do work and tear around! It don't seem so very hard
either, because when they have anything to do they don't do nothing
else, and when have nothing to do they make a business of that,
"Then, they use all sorts of machinery, and never do anything by
hand-power that a horse can be made to do, in any possible way.
The horses do all the ploughing, sowing, hoeing, harvesting, and,
in fact, pretty much all the farm-work; while the man sits up on a
sulky-seat and fans himself with a palm-leaf hat. So that, according
to my reckoning, one man here counts for about as much as four in
"I have moved from where I first settled, which was in a county
adjoining this. I found that my notion of just getting a plantation
to settle down on, where I could make a living and be out of harm's
way, wasn't the thing for this country, nohow. A man who comes
here must pitch in and count for all he's worth. It's a regular
ground-scuffle, open to all, and everybody choosing his own hold.
Morning, noon, and night the world is awake and alive; and if a
man isn't awake too, it tramps on right over him and wipes him out,
just as a stampeded buffalo herd goes over a hunter's camp.
"Everybody is good-natured and in dead earnest. Every one that
comes is welcome, and no questions asked. Kin and kin-in-law don't
count worth a cuss. Nobody stops to ask where you come from, what's
your politics, or whether you've got any religion. They don't care,
if you only mean 'business.' They don't make no fuss over nobody.
There ain't much of what we call 'hospitality' at the South, making a
grand flourish and a big lay-out over anybody; but they just take
it, as a matter of course, that you are all right and square and
honest, and as good as anybody till you show up diferent. There
ain't any big folks nor any little ones. Of course, there are rich
folks and poor ones, but the poor are just as respectable as the
rich, feel just as big, and take up just as much of the road. There
ain't any crawling nor cringing here. Everybody stands up straight,
and don't give nor take any sass from anybody else. The West takes
right hold of every one that comes into it and makes him a part of
itself, instead of keeping him outside in the cold to all eternity,
as the South does the strangers who go there.
"I don't know as you'd like it; but if any one who has been kept
down and put on, as poor men are at the South, can muster pluck
enough to get away and come here, he'll think he's been born over
again, or I'm mistaken. Nobody asks your politics. I don't reckon
anybody knew mine for a year. The fact is, we're all too busy to
fuss with our neighbors or cuss them about their opinions. I've
heard more politics in a country store in Horsford in a day than
I've heard here in Eupolia in a year--and we've got ten thousand
people here, too. I moved here last year, and am doing well. I
wouldn't go back and live in that d--d hornet's nest that I felt
so bad about leaving--not for the whole State, with a slice of the
next one throwed in.
"I've meant to tell you, a half dozen times, about that little
Yankee gal that used to be at Red Wing; but I've been half afraid
to, for fear you would get mad about it. My wife said that when she
came away there was a heap of talk about you being sorter 'sweet'
on the 'nigger-school-marm.' I knew that she was sick at your house
when I was there, and so, putting the two together, I 'llowed that
for once there might be some truth in a Horsford rumor. I reckon it
must have been a lie, though; or else she 'kicked' you, which she
wouldn't stand a speck about doing, even if you were the President,
if you didn't come up to her notion. It's a mighty high notion, too,
let me tell you; and the man that gits up to it'll have to climb.
Bet your life on that!
"But that's all no matter. I reckon you'll be glad to know how
she's gettin' on out here, anyhow. She come here not a great while
after I did; but, bless your stars, she wasn't as green as I, not
by any manner of means. She didn't want to hide out in a quiet
part of the country, where the world didn't turn around but once
in two days. No, sir! She was keen--just as keen as a razor-blade.
She run her eye over the map and got inside the railroad projects
somehow, blessed if I know how; and then she just went off fifty
miles out of the track others was taking, and bought up all the
land she could pay for, and got trusted for all the credit that
that brought her; and here she is now, with Eupolia building right
up on her land, and just a-busting up her quarter-sections into
city lots, day after day, till you can't rest.
"Just think on't, Moyne! It's only three years ago and she was
teaching a nigger school, there in Red Wing; and now, God bless
you, here she is, just a queen in a city that wasn't nowhere then.
I tell you, she's a team! Just as proud as Lucifer, and as wide-awake
as a hornet in July. She beats anything I ever did see. She's given
away enough to make two or three, and I'll be hanged if it don't
seem to me that every cent she gives just brings her in a dollar.
The people here just worship her, as they have a good right to; but
she ain't a bit stuck up. She's got a whole lot of them Red Wing
niggers here, and has settled them down and put them to work,
and made them get on past all expectation. She just tells right
out about her having taught a nigger school down in Horsford, and
nobody seems to think a word on't. In fact, I b'lieve they rather
like her better for it.
"I heard about her soon after she came here, but, to tell the truth,
I thought I was a little better than a 'nigger-teacher,' if I was
in Kansas. So I didn't mind anything about her till Eupolia began
to grow, and I came to think about going into trading again. Then
I came over, just to look around, you know. I went to see the little
lady, feeling mighty 'shamed, you may bet, and more than half of
the notion that she wouldn't care about owning that she'd ever seen
me before. But, Lord love you! I needn't have had any fear about
that. Nobody ever had a heartier welcome than she gave me, until
she found that I had been living only fifty miles away for a year
and hadn't let her know. Then she come down on me--Whew! I thought
there was going to be a blizzard, sure enough.
"'Jordan Jackson,' said she, 'you just go home and bring that wife
and them children here, where they can see something and have a
"I had to do it, and they just took to staying in Eupolia here
nigh about all the time. So I thought I might as well come too;
and here I am, doing right well, and would be mighty glad to see
an old friend if you could make up your mind to come this way. We
are all well, and remember you as the kindest of all old friends
in our time of need.
"I never wrote as long a letter as this before, and never 'llow to
do it again.
"Your true friend,
In due time there came to Hesden Le Moyne an envelope, containing
only a quaintly-shaped card, which looked as if it had been cut
from the bark of a brown-birch tree. On one side was printed, in
delicate script characters,
"Miss Mollie Ainslie,
On the other was written one word: "Come."
A bride came to Mulberry Hill with the May roses, and when Mrs.
Le Moyne had kissed her who knelt beside her chair for a maternal
benison, she placed a hand on either burning cheek, and, holding the
face at arm's length, said, with that archness which never forsook
her, "What am I to do about the old plantation? Hesden refuses to
be my heir, and you refuse to be my devisee; must I give it to the
The summer bloomed and fruited; the autumn glowed and faded; and
peace and happiness dwelt at Red Wing. But when the Christmas
came, wreaths of _immortelles_ lay upon a coffin in "Mother's
Room," and Hesden and Mollie dropped their tears upon the sweet,
pale face within.
So Hesden and Mollie dwelt at Red Wing. The heirs of "Red Jim" had
their own, and the children of "Black Jim" were not dispossessed.
A SWEET AND BITTER FRUITAGE.
The charms of the soft, luxurious climate were peculiarly grateful
to Mollie after the harshness of the Kansas winter and the sultry
summer winds that swept over the heated plains. There was something,
too, very pleasant in renewing her associations with that region
in a relation so different from that under which she had formerly
known it. As the teacher at Red Wing, her life had not been wholly
unpleasant; but that which had made it pleasant had proceeded
from herself and not from others. The associations which she then
formed had been those of kindly charity--the affection which one
has for the objects of sympathetic care. So far as the world in
which she now lived was concerned--the white world and white people
of Horsford--she had known nothing of them, nor they of her, but
as each had regarded the other as a curious study. Their life had
been shut out from her, and her life had been a matter that did not
interest them. She had wondered that they did not think and feel
as she did with regard to the colored people; and they, that any
one having a white skin and the form of woman should come a thousand
miles to become a servant of servants. The most charitable among
them had deemed her a fool; the less charitable, a monster.
In the few points of contact which she had with them personally,
she had found them pleasant. In the few relations which they held
toward the colored people, and toward her as their friend, she had
found them brutal and hateful beyond her power to conceive. Then,
her life had been with those for whom she labored, so far as it
was in or of the South at all. They had been the objects of her
thought, her interest, and her care. Their wrongs had entered into
her life, and had been the motive of her removal to the West. Out
of these conditions, by a curious evolution, had grown a new life,
which she vainly tried to graft upon the old without apparent
Now, by kinship and by marriage, she belonged to one of the most
respectable families of the region. It was true that Hesden. had
sullied his family name by becoming a Radical; but as he had never
sought official position, nor taken any active part in enforcing or
promulgating the opinions which he held; had, in fact, identified
himself with the party of odious principles only for the protection
of the victims of persecution or the assertion of the rights of
the weak--he was regarded with much more toleration and forbearance
than would otherwise have been displayed toward him.
In addition to this, extravagant rumors came into the good county
of Horsford respecting the wealth which Mollie Ainslie had acquired,
and of the pluck and enterprise which she had displayed in the far
West. It was thought very characteristic of the brave young teacher
of Red Wing, only her courage was displayed there in a different
manner. So they took a sort of pride in her, as if she had been
one of themselves; and as they told to each other the story of her
success, they said, "Ah, I knew she would make her mark! Any girl
that had her pluck was too good to remain a nigger-teacher long.
It was lucky for Hesden, though. By George! he made his Radicalism
pay, didn't he? Well, well; as long as he don't trouble anybody,
I don't see why we should not be friends with him--if he _is_
a Radical." So they determined that they would patronize and
encourage Hesden Le Moyne and his wife, in the hope that he might
be won back to his original excellence, and that she might be
charmed with the attractions of Southern society and forget the
bias of her Yankee origin.
The occupants of Mulberry Hill, therefore, received much attention,
and before the death of Hesden's mother had become prime favorites
in the society of Horsford. It is true that now and then they met
with some exhibition of the spirit which had existed before, but
in the main their social life was pleasant; and, for a considerable
time, Hesden felt that he had quite regained his original status as
a "Southern gentleman," while Mollie wondered if it were possible
that the people whom she now met upon such pleasant terms were
those who had, by their acts of violence, painted upon her memory
such horrible and vivid pictures. She began to feel as if she had
done them wrong, and sought by every means in her power to identify
herself with their pleasures and their interests.
At the same time, she did not forget those for whom she had before
labored, and who had shown for her such true and devoted friendship.
The school at Red Wing was an especial object of her care and
attention. Rarely did a week pass that her carriage did not show
itself in the little hamlet, and her bright face and cheerful tones
brought encouragement and hope to all that dwelt there. Having learned
from Hesden and Eliab the facts with regard to the disappearance of
Nimbus, she for a long time shared Lugena's faith in regard to her
husband, and had not yet given up hope that he was alive. Indeed,
she had taken measures to discover his whereabouts; but all these
had failed. Still, she would not abandon the hope that he would some
time reappear, knowing how difficult it was to trace one altogether
unnoted by any except his own race, who were not accustomed to be
careful or inquisitive with regard to the previous life of their
Acting as his trustee, not by any specific authority, but through
mere good-will, Hesden had managed the property, since the conclusion
of the Winburn suit, so as to yield a revenue, which Lugena had
carefully applied to secure a home in the West, in anticipation of
her husband's return. This had necessarily brought him into close
relations with the people of Red Wing, who had welcomed Mollie
with an interest half proprietary in its character. Was she not
_their_ Miss Mollie? Had she not lived in the old "Or'nary,"
taught in their school, advised, encouraged, and helped them? They
flocked around her, each reminding her of his identity by recalling
some scene or incident of her past life, or saying, with evident
pride, "Miss Mollie, I was one of your scholars--I was."
She did not repel their approaches, nor deny their claim to her
attention. She recognized it as a duty that she should still minister
to their wants, and do what she could for their elevation. And,
strangely enough, the good people of Horsford did not rebel nor cast
her off for so doing. The rich wife of Hesden Le Moyne, the queen
of the growing Kansas town, driving in her carriage to the colored
school-house, and sitting as lady patroness upon the platform, was
an entirely different personage, in their eyes, from the Yankee girl
who rode Midnight up and down the narrow streets, and who wielded
the pedagogic sceptre in the log school-house that Nimbus had built.
She could be allowed to patronize the colored school; indeed, they
rather admired her for doing so, and a few of them now and then went
with her, especially on occasions of public interest, and wondered
at the progress that had been made by that race whose capacity they
had always denied.
Every autumn Hesden and Mollie went to visit her Kansas home, to
look after her interests there, help and advise her colored proteges,
breathe the free air, and gather into their lives something of the
busy, bustling spirit of the great North. The contrast did them
good. Hesden's ideas were made broader and fuller; her heart was
reinvigorated; and both returned to their Southern home full of
hope and aspiration for its future.
So time wore on, and they almost forgot that they held their places
in the life which was about them by sufferance and not of right;
that they were allowed the privilege of associating with the "best
people of Horsford," not because they were of them, or entitled to
such privilege, but solely upon condition that they should submit
themselves willingly to its views, and do nothing or attempt nothing
to subvert its prejudices.
Since the county had been "redeemed" it had been at peace. The vast
colored majority, once overcome, had been easily held in subjection.
There was no longer any violence, and little show of coercion,
so far as their political rights were concerned. At first it was
thought necessary to discourage the eagerness with which they sought
to exercise the elective franchise, by frequent reference to the
evils which had already resulted therefrom. Now and then, when
some ambitious colored man had endeavored to organize his people
and to secure political advancement through their suffrages, he
had been politely cautioned in regard to the danger, and the fate
which had overwhelmed others was gently recalled to his memory.
For a while, too, employers thought it necessary to exercise the
power which their relations with dependent laborers gave them, to
prevent the neglect of agricultural interests for the pursuit of
political knowledge, and especially to prevent absence from the
plantation upon the day of election. After a time, however, it
was found that such care was unnecessary. The laws of the State,
carefully revised by legislators wisely chosen for that purpose,
had taken the power from the irresponsible hands of the masses, and
placed it in the hands of the few, who had been wont to exercise
it in the olden time.
That vicious idea which had first grown up on the inclement shores
of Massachusetts Bay, and had been nourished and protected and
spread abroad throughout the North and West as the richest heritage
which sterile New England could give to the states her sons had
planted; that outgrowth of absurd and fanatical ideas which had made
the North free, and whose absence had enabled the South to remain
"slave"--the township system, with its free discussion of all matters,
even of the most trivial interest to the inhabitants; that nursery
of political virtue and individual independence of character,
comporting, as it did, very badly with the social and political
ideas of the South--this system was swept away, or, if retained in
name, was deprived of all its characteristic elements.
In the foolish fever of the reconstruction era this system had
been spread over the South as the safeguard of the new ideas and
new institutions then introduced. It was foolishly believed that
it would produce upon the soil of the South the same beneficent
results as had crowned its career at the North. So the counties were
subdivided into small self-governing communities, every resident
in which was entitled to a voice in the management of its domestic
interests. Trustees and school commissioners and justices of the
peace and constables were elected in these townships by the vote of
the inhabitants. The roads and bridges and other matters of municipal
finance were put directly under the control of the inhabitants of
these miniature boroughs. Massachusetts was superimposed upon South
Carolina. That system which had contributed more than all else to
the prosperity, freedom, and intelligence of the Northern community
was invoked by the political theorists of the reconstruction era
as a means of like improvement there. It did not seem a dangerous
experiment. One would naturally expect similar results from the
same system in different sections, even though it had not been
specifically calculated for both latitudes. Especially did this
view seem natural, when it was remembered that wherever the township
system had existed in any fullness or perfection, there slavery
had withered and died without the scath of war; that wherever in
all our bright land the township system had obtained a foothold
and reached mature development, there intelligence and prosperity
grew side by side; and that wherever this system had not prevailed,
slavery had grown rank and luxuriant, ignorance had settled upon
the people, and poverty had brought its gaunt hand to crush the
spirit of free men and establish the dominion of class.
The astute politicians of the South saw at once the insane folly
of this project. They knew that the system adapted to New England,
the mainspring of Western prosperity, the safeguard of intelligence
and freedom at the North, could not be adapted to the social and
political elements of the South. They knew that the South had grown
up a peculiar people; that for its government, in the changed state
of affairs, must be devised a new and untried system of political
organization, assimilated in every possible respect to the institutions
which had formerly existed. It is true, those institutions and
that form of government had been designed especially to promote and
protect the interests of slavery and the power of caste. But they
believed that the mere fact of emancipation did not at all change
the necessary and essential relations between the various classes
of her population, so far as her future development and prosperity
Therefore, immediately upon the "redemption" of these states from
the enforced and sporadic political ideas of the reconstruction
era, they set themselves earnestly at work to root out and destroy
all the pernicious elements of the township system, and to restore
that organization by which the South had formerly achieved power
and control in the national councils, had suppressed free thought
and free speech, had degraded labor, encouraged ignorance,
and established aristocracy. The first step in this measure of
counter-revolution and reform was to take from the inhabitants of
the township the power of electing the officers, and to greatly
curtail, where they did not destroy, the power of such officers.
It had been observed by these sagacious statesmen that in not a few
instances incapable men had been chosen to administer the laws, as
justices of the peace and as trustees of the various townships. Very
often, no doubt, it happened that there was no one of sufficient
capacity who would consent to act in such positions as the
representatives of the majority. Sometimes, perhaps, incompetent
and corrupt men had sought these places for their own advantage.
School commissioners may have been chosen who were themselves
unable to read. There may have been township trustees who had
never yet shown sufficient enterprise to become the owners of land,
and legislators whose knowledge of law had been chiefly gained by
frequent occupancy of the prisoner's dock.
Such evils were not to be endured by a proud people, accustomed
not only to self-control, but to the control of others. They did
not stop to inquire whether there was more than one remedy for these
evils. The system itself was attainted with the odor of Puritanism.
It was communistic in its character, and struck at the very deepest
roots of the social and political organization which had previously
prevailed at the South.
So it was changed. From and after that date it was solemnly enacted
that either the Governor of the State or the prevailing party in
the Legislature should appoint all the justices of the peace in
and for the various counties; that these in turn should appoint in
each of the subdivisions which had once been denominated townships,
or which had been clothed with the power of townships, school
commissioners and trustees, judges of election and registrars
of voters; and that in the various counties these chosen few, or
the State Executive in their stead, should appoint the boards of
commissioners, who were to control the county finances and have
direction of all municipal affairs.
Of course, in this counter-revolution there was not any idea of
propagating or confirming the power of the political party instituting
it! It was done simply to protect the State against incompetent
officials! The people were not wise enough to govern themselves,
and could only become so by being wisely and beneficently governed
by others, as in the ante-bellum era. From it, however, by a _curious
accident_, resulted that complete control of the ballot and the
ballot-box by a dominant minority so frequently observed in those
states. Observe that the Legislature or the Executive appointed
the justices of the peace; they in turn met in solemn conclave, a
body of electors, taken wholly or in a great majority from the same
party, and chose the commissioners of the county. These, again, a
still more select body of electors, chose with the utmost care the
trustees of the townships, the judges of election, and the registrars
of voters. So that the utmost care was taken to secure entire
harmony throughout the state. It mattered not how great the majority
of the opposition in this county or in that; its governing officers
were invariably chosen from the body of the minority.
By these means a _peculiar safeguard_ was also extended to
the ballot. All the inspectors throughout the state being appointed
by the same political power, were carefully chosen to secure the
results of good government. Either all or a majority of every
board were of the same political complexion, and, if need be,
the remaining members, placed there in order that there should be
no just ground of complaint upon the part of the opposition, were
unfitted by nature or education for the performance of their duty.
If not blind, they were usually profound strangers to the Cadmean
mystery. Thus the registration of voters and the elections were
carefully devised to secure for all time the beneficent results
of "redemption." It was found to be a very easy matter to allow
the freedman to indulge, without let or hindrance, his wonderful
eagerness for the exercise of ballotorial power, without injury to
the public good.
From and after that time elections became simply a harmless amusement.
There was no longer any need of violence. The peaceful paths of
legislation were found much more pleasant and agreeable, as well
as less obnoxious to the moral feelings of that portion of mankind
who were so unfortunate as to dwell without the boundaries of these
In order, however, to secure entire immunity from trouble or
complaint, it was in many instances provided that the ballots should
be destroyed as soon as counted, and the inspectors were sworn to
execute this law. In other instances, it was provided, with tender
care for the rights of the citizen, that if by any chance there
should be found within the ballot-box at the close of an election
any excess of votes over and above the number the tally-sheet should
show to have exercised that privilege at that precinct, instead
of the whole result being corrupted, and the voice of the people
thereby stifled, one member of the board of inspectors should
be blindfolded, and in that condition should draw from the box so
many ballots as were in excess of the number of voters, and that
the result, whatever it might be, should be regarded and held as
the voice of the people. By this means formal fraud was avoided,
and the voice of the people declared free from all legal objection.
It is true that when the ticket was printed upon very thin paper,
in very small characters, and was very closely folded and the box
duly shaken, the smaller ballots found their way to the bottom,
while the larger ones remained upon the top; so that the blindfolded
inspector very naturally removed these and allowed the tissue ballots
to remain and be counted. It is true, also, that the actual will of
the majority thus voting was thus not unfrequently overwhelmingly
negatived. Yet this was the course prescribed by the law, and the
inspectors of elections were necessarily guiltless of fraud.
So it had been in Horsford. The colored majority had voted when
they chose. The ballots had been carefully counted and the result
scrupulously ascertained and declared. Strangely enough, it was
found that, whatever the number of votes cast, the majorities were
quite different from those which the same voters had given in the
days before the "redemption," while there did not seem to have
been any great change in political sentiment. Perhaps half a dozen
colored voters in the county professed allegiance to the party
which they had formerly opposed; but in the main the same line still
separated the races. It was all, without question, the result of
wise and patriotic legislatioa!
COMING TO THE FRONT.
In an evil hour Hesden Le Moyne yielded to the solicitations of
those whom he had befriended, and whose rights he honestly believed
had been unlawfully subverted, and became a candidate in his county.
It had been so long since he had experienced the bitterness of
persecution on account of his political proclivities, and the social
relations of his family had been so pleasant, that he had almost
forgotten what he had once passed through; or rather, he had come
to believe that the time had gone by when such weapons would be
employed against one of his social grade.
The years of silence which had been imposed on him by a desire
to avoid unnecessarily distressing his mother, had been years of
thought, perhaps the richer and riper from the fact that he had
refrained from active participation in political life. Like all
his class at the South, he was, if not a politician by instinct,
at least familiar from early boyhood with the subtle discussion of
political subjects which is ever heard at the table and the fireside
of the Southern gentleman. He had regarded the experiment of
reconstruction, as he believed, with calm, unprejudiced sincerity;
he had buried the past, and looked only to the future. It was not
for his own sake or interest that he became a candidate; he was
content always to be what he was--a quiet country gentleman. He
loved his home and his plantation; he thoroughly enjoyed the pursuits
of agriculture, and had no desire to be or do any great thing. His
mother's long illness had given him a love for a quiet life, his
books and his fireside; and it was only because he thought that
he could do something to reconcile the jarring factions and bring
harmony out of discord, and lead his people to see that The Nation
was greater and better than The South; that its interests and
prosperity were also their interest, their prosperity, and their
hope--that Hesden Le Moyne consented to forego the pleasant life
which he was leading and undertake a brief voyage upon the stormy
sea of politics.
He did not expect that all would agree with him, but he believed
that they would listen to him without prejudice and without anger.
And he so fully believed in the conclusions he had arrived at that
he thought no reasonable man could resist their force or avoid
reaching a like result. His platform, as he called it, when he
came to announce himself as a candidate at the Court House on the
second day of the term of court, in accordance with immemorial
custom in that county, was simply one of plain common-sense. He
was not an office-holder or a politician. He did not come of an
office-holding family, nor did he seek position or emolument. He
offered himself for the suffrages of his fellow-citizens simply
because no other man among them seemed willing to stand forth and
advocate those principles which he believed to be right, expedient,
He was a white man, he said, and had the prejudices and feelings that
were common to the white people of the South. He had not believed
in the right or the policy of secession, in which he differed from
some of his neighbors; but when it came to the decision of that
question by force of arms he had yielded his conviction and stood
side by side upon the field of battle with the fiercest fire-eaters of
the land. No man could accuse him of being remiss in any duty which
he owed his State or section. But all that he insisted was past.
There was no longer any distinct sectional interest or principle to
be maintained. The sword had decided that, whether right or wrong
as an abstraction, the doctrine of secession should never be
practically asserted in the government. The result of the struggle
had been to establish, beyond a peradventure, what had before been
an unsettled question: that the Nation had the power and the will
to protect itself against any disintegrating movement. It might not
have decided what was the meaning of the Constitution, and so not
determined upon which side of this question lay the better reasoning;
but it had settled the practical fact. This decision he accepted;
he believed that they all accepted it--with only this difference,
perhaps, that he believed it rendered necessary a change in many
of the previous convictions of the Southern people. They had been
accustomed to call themselves Southern men; after that, Americans.
Hereafter it became their duty and their interest to be no longer
Southern men, but Americans only.
"Having these views," he continued, "it is my sincere conviction
that we ought to accept, in spirit as well as in form, the results
of this struggle; not in part, but fully." The first result had
been the freeing in the slave. In the main he believed that had
been accepted, if not cheerfully, at least finally. The next had
been the enfranchisement of the colored man. This he insisted had
not been honestly accepted by the mass of the white people of the
South. Every means, lawful and unlawful, had been resorted to to
prevent the due operation of these laws. He did not speak of this
in anger or to blame. Knowing their prejudices and feelings, he
could well excuse what had been done; but he insisted that it was
not, and could not be, the part of an honest, brave and intelligent
people to nullify or evade any portion of the law of the land.
He did not mean that it was the duty of any man to submit without
opposition to a law which he believed to be wrong; but that opposition
should never be manifested by unlawful violence, unmanly evasion,
or cowardly fraud.
He realized that, at first, anger might over-bear both patriotism
and honor, under the sting of what was regarded as unparalleled
wrong, insult, and outrage; but there had been time enough for anger
to cool, and for his people to look with calmness to the future
that lay before, and let its hopes and duties overbalance the
disappointments of the past. He freely admitted that had the question
of reconstruction been submitted to him for determination, he would
not have adopted the plan which had prevailed; but since it had
been adopted and become an integral part of the law of the land,
he believed that whoever sought to evade its fair and unhindered
operation placed himself in the position of a law-breaker. They
had the right, undoubtedly, by fair and open opposition to defeat
any party, and to secure the amendment or repeal of any law or
system of laws. But they had no right to resist law with violence,
or to evade law by fraud.
The right of the colored man to exercise freely and openly his
elective franchise, without threat, intimidation, or fear, was the
same as that of the whitest man he addressed; and the violation of
that right, or the deprivation of that privilege, was, really an
assault upon the right and liberty of the white voter also. No
rights were safe unless the people had that regard for law which
would secure to the weakest and the humblest citizen the free and
untrammeled enjoyment and exercise of every privilege which the
law conferred. He characterized the laws that had been enacted
in regard to the conduct of elections and the selection of local
officers as unmanly and shuffling--an assertion of the right to
nullify national law by fraud, which the South had failed to maintain
by the sword, and had by her surrender virtually acknowledged
herself in honor bound to abandon.
He did not believe, he would not believe, that his countrymen
of the South, his white fellow-citizens of the good old county of
Horsford, had fairly and honestly considered the position in which
recent events and legislation had placed them, not only before the
eyes of the country, but of the civilized world. It had always been
claimed, he said, that a white man is by nature, and not merely by
the adventitious circumstances of the past, innately and inherently,
and he would almost add infinitely, the superior of the colored
man. In intellectual culture, experience, habits of self-government
and command, this was unquestionably true. Whether it were true
as a natural and scientific fact was, perhaps, yet to be decided.
But could it be possible that a people, a race priding itself upon
its superiority, should be unwilling or afraid to see the experiment
fairly tried? "Have we," he asked, "so little confidence in
our moral and intellectual superiority that we dare not give the
colored man an equal right with us to exercise the privilege which
the Nation has conferred upon him? Are the white people of the
South so poor in intellectual resources that they must resort to
fraud or open violence to defeat the ignorant and weak colored man
of even the least of his law-given rights?
"We claim," he continued, "that he is ignorant. It is true. Are we
afraid that he will grow wiser than we? We claim that he has not
the capacity to acquire or receive a like intellectual development
with ourselves. Are we afraid to give him a chance to do so?
Could not intelligence cope with ignorance without fraud? Boasting
that we could outrun our adversary, would we hamstring him at the
starting-post? It was accounted by all men, in all ages, an unmanly
thing to steal, and a yet more unmanly thing to steal from the weak;
so that it has passed into a proverb, 'Only a dog would steal the
blind man's dinner.' And yet," he said, "we are willing to steal
the vote of the ignorant, the blind, the helpless colored man!"
It was not for the sake of the colored man, he said in conclusion,
that he appealed to them to pause and think. It was because the
honor, the nobility, the intelligence of the white man was being
degraded by the course which passion and resentment, and not reason
or patriotism, had dictated. He appealed to his hearers as _white
men_, not so much to give to the colored man the right to
express his sentiments at the ballot-box, as to regard that right
as sacred because it rested upon the law, which constituted the
foundation and safeguard of their own rights. He would not appeal
to them as Southern men, for he hoped the day was at hand when there
would no more be any such distinction. But he would appeal to them
as men--honest men, honorable men--and as American citizens, to
honor the law and thereby honor themselves.
It had been said that the best and surest way to secure the repeal
of a bad law was first to secure its unhindered operation. Especially
was this true of a people who had boasted of unparalleled devotion
to principle, of unbounded honor, and of the highest chivalry. How
one of them, or all of them, could claim any of these attributes
of which they had so long boasted, and yet be privy to depriving
even a single colored man of the right which the Nation had given
him, or to making the exercise of that right a mockery, he could
not conceive; and he would not believe that they would do it when
once the scales of prejudice and resentment had fallen from their
eyes. If they had been wronged and outraged as a people, their
only fit revenge was to display a manhood and a magnanimity which
should attest the superiority upon which they prided themselves.
This address was received by his white hearers with surprised silence;
by the colored men with half-appreciative cheers. They recognized
that the speaker was their friend, and in favor of their being
allowed the free exercise of the rights of citizenship. His white
auditors saw that he was assailing with some bitterness and earnest
indignation both their conduct and what they had been accustomed to
term their principles. There was no immediate display of hostility
or anger; and Hesden Le Moyne returned to his home full of hope
that the time was at hand for which he had so long yearned, when the
people of his native South should abandon the career of prejudice
and violence into which they had been betrayed by resentment and
Early the next morning some of his friends waited upon him and adjured
him, for his own sake, for the sake of his family and friends, to
withdraw from the canvass. This he refused to do. He said that what
he advocated was the result of earnest conviction, and he should
always despise himself should he abandon the course he had calmly
decided to take. Whatever the result, he would continue to the end.
Then they cautiously intimated to him that his course was fraught
with personal danger. "What!" he cried, "do you expect me to flinch
at the thought of danger? I offered my life and gave an arm for a
cause in which I did not believe; shall I not brave as much in the
endeavor to serve my country in a manner which my mind and conscience
approve? I seek for difficulty with no one; but it may as well be
understood that Hesden Le Moyne does not turn in his tracks because
of any man's anger. I say to you plainly that I shall neither offer
personal insult nor submit to it in this canvass."
His friends left him with heavy hearts, for they foreboded ill.
It was not many days before he found that the storm of detraction
and contumely through which he had once passed was but a gentle
shower compared with the tornado which now came down upon his head.
The newspapers overflowed with threat, denunciation, and abuse.
One of them declared:
"The man who thinks that he can lead an opposition against the
organized Democracy of Horsford County is not only very presumptuous,
but extremely bold. Such a man will require a bodyguard of Democrats in
his canvass and a Gibraltar in his rear on the day of the election."
"The Radical candidate would do well to take advice. The white men
of the State desire a peaceful summer and autumn. They are wearied
of heated political strife. If they are forced to vigorous action
it will be exceedingly vigorous, perhaps unpleasantly so. Those
who cause the trouble will suffer most from it. Bear that in mind,
persons colored and white-skinned. We reiterate our advice to the
reflective and argumentative Radical leader, to be careful how he
goes, and not stir up the animals too freely; they have teeth and
Still another said:
"Will our people suffer a covert danger to rankle in their midst
until it gains strength to burst into an open enemy? Will they
tamely submit while Hesden Le Moyne rallies the colored men to
his standard and hands over Horsford to the enemy? Will they stand
idly and supinely, and witness the consummation of such an infamous
conspiracy? No! a thousand times, No! Awake! stir up your clubs;
let the shout go up; put on your red shirts and let the ride begin.
Let the young men take the van, or we shall be sold into political
Another sounded the key-note of hostility in these words:
"Every white man who dares to avow himself a Radical should be
promptly branded as the bitter and malignant enemy of the South;
every man who presumes to aspire to office through Republican votes
should be saturated with stench. As for the negroes, let them amuse
themselves, if they will, by voting the Radical ticket. We have
the count. We have a thousand good and true men in Horsford whose
brave ballots will be found equal to those of five thousand vile
One of his opponents, in a most virulent speech, called attention
to the example of a celebrated Confederate general. "He, too,"
said the impassioned orator, "served the Confederacy as bravely as
Hesden Le Moyne, and far more ably. But he became impregnated with
the virus of Radicalism; he abandoned and betrayed the cause for
which he fought; he deserted the Southern people in the hour of
need and joined their enemies. He was begged and implored not to
persevere in his course, but he drifted on and on, and floundered
deeper and deeper into the mire, until he landed fast in the slough
where he sticks to-day. And what has he gained? Scorn, ostracism,
odiurn, ill-will--worse than all, the contempt of the men who stood
by him in the shower of death and destruction. Let Hesden Le Moyne
take warning by his example."
And so it went on, day after day. Personal affront was studiously
avoided, but in general terms he was held up to the scorn and
contempt of all honest men as a renegade and a traitor. Those who
had seemed his friends fell away from him; the home which had been
crowded with pleasant associates was desolate, or frequented only
by those who came to remonstrate or to threaten. He saw his mistake,
but he knew that anger was worse than useless. He did not seek to
enrage, but to convince. Failing in this, he simply performed the
duty which he had undertaken, as he said he would do it--fearlessly,
openly, and faithfully.
The election came, and the result--was what he should have been
wise enough to foresee. Nevertheless, it was a great and grievous
disappointment to Hesden Le Moyne. Not that he cared about a seat
in the Legislature; but it was a demonstration to him that in his
estimate of the people of whom he had been so proud he had erred
upon the side of charity. He had believed them better than they had
shown themselves. The fair future which he had hoped was so near
at hand seemed more remote than ever. His hope for his people and
his State was crushed, and apprehension of unspeakable evil in the
future forced itself upon his heart.
THE SHUTTLECOCK OF FATE.
"Marse Hesden, Marse Hesden!" There was a timorous rap upon the
window of Hesden Le Moyne's sleeping-room in the middle of the night,
and, waking, he heard his name called in a low, cautious voice.
"Who is there?" he asked.
"Sh--sh! Don't talk so loud, Marse Hesden. Please come out h'yer
a minnit, won't yer?"
The voice was evidently that of a colored man, and Hesden had no
apprehension or hesitancy in complying with the request. In fact,
his position as a recognized friend of the colored race had made
such appeals to his kindness and protection by no means unusual.
He rose at once, and stepped out upon the porch. He was absent for
a little while, and when he returned his voice was full of emotion
as he said to his wife,
"Mollie, there is a man here who is hungry and weary. I do not wish
the servants to know of his presence. Can you get him something to
eat without making any stir?"
"Why, what--" began Mollie.
"It will be best not to stop for any questions," said Hesden
hurriedly, as he lighted a lamp and, pouring some liquor into a
glass, started to return. "Get whatever you can at once, and bring
it to the room above. I will go and make up a fire."
Mollie rose, and, throwing on a wrapper, proceeded to comply with
her husband's request. But a few moments had elapsed when she went
up the stairs bearing a well-laden tray. Her slippered feet made
no noise, and when she reached the chamber-door she saw her husband
kneeling before the fire, which was just beginning to burn brightly.
The light shone also upon a colored man of powerful frame who sat
upon a chair a little way back, his hat upon the floor beside him,
his gray head inclined upon his breast, and his whole attitude
"Here it is, Hesden," she said quietly, as she stepped into the
The colored man raised his head wearily as she spoke, and turned
toward her a gaunt face half hidden by a gray, scraggly beard. No
sooner did his eyes rest upon her than they opened wide in amazement.
He sprang from his chair, put his hand to his head, as if to assure
himself that he was not dreaming, and said,
"What!--yer ain't--'fore God it must be--Miss Mollie!"
"Oh, Nimbus!" cried Mollie, with a shriek. Her face was pale as
ashes, and she would have fallen had not Hesden sprang to her side
and supported her with his arm, while he said,
"Hush! hush! You must not speak so loud. I did not expect you so
soon or I would have told you."
The colored man fell upon his knees, and gazed in wonder on the
"Oh, Marse Hesden!" he cried, "is it--can it be our Miss Mollie,
or has Nimbus gone clean crazy wid de rest ob his misfortins?"
"No, indeed!" said Hesden. "It is really Miss Mollie, only I have
stolen her away from her old friends and made her mine."
"There is no mistake about it, Nimbus," said Mollie, as she extended
her hand, which the colored man clasped in both his own and covered
with tears and kisses, while he said, between his sobs,
"Tank God! T'ank God! Nimbus don't keer now! He ain't afeared ob
nuffin' no mo', now he's seen de little angel dat use ter watch
ober him, an' dat he's been a-dreamin' on all dese yeahs! Bress
God, she's alive! Dar ain't no need ter ax fer 'Gena ner de little
ones now; I knows dey's all right! Miss Mollie's done tuk keer o'
dem, else she wouldn't be h'yer now. Bress de Lord, I sees de deah
little lamb once mo'."
"There, there!" said Mollie gently. "You must not talk any more
now. I have brought you something to eat. You are tired and hungry.
You must eat now. Everything is all right. 'Gena and the children
are well, and have been looking for you every day since you went
"Bress God! Bress God! I don't want nuffin' mo' !" said Nimbus. He
would have gone on, in a wild rhapsody of delight, but both Hesden
and Mollie interposed and compelled him to desist and eat. Ah!
it was a royal meal that the poor fugitive had spread before him.
Mollie brought some milk. A coffee-pot was placed upon the fire,
and while he ate they told him of some of the changes that had taken
place. When at length Hesden took him into the room where Eliab
had remained concealed so long, and closed the door and locked it
upon him, they could still hear the low tones of thankful prayer
coming from within. Hesden knocked upon the door to enjoin silence,
and they returned to their room, wondering at the Providence which
had justified the faith of the long-widowed colored wife.
The next day Hesden went to the Court House to ascertain what
charges there were against Nimbus. He found there were none. The
old prosecution for seducing the laborers of Mr. Sykes had long ago
been discontinued. Strangely enough, no others had been instituted
against him. For some reason the law had not been appealed to to
avenge the injuries of the marauders who had devastated Red Wing.
On his return, Hesden came by way of Red Wing and brought Eliab
home with him.
The meeting between the two old friends was very affecting. Since
the disappearance of Nimbus, Eliab had grown more self-reliant. His
two years and more of attendance at a Northern school had widened
and deepened his manhood as well as increased his knowledge, and
the charge of the school at Red Wing had completed the work there
begun. His self-consciousness had diminished, and it no longer
required the spur of intense excitement to make him forget his
affliction. His last injuries had made him even more helpless, when
separated from his rolling-chair, but his life had been too full
to enable him to dwell upon his weakness so constantly as formerly.
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