Obrazy na stronie


sunny rays of a half-score of de

The house was of red brick; it parted summers.

was two stories high and perfectly With the Digges advent this square. A wide corridor was of course all changed. But straight through it below, and the house was furnished distinct- another with the same direct simly upon Thacker and not upon plicity pierced it above. Upon Digges lines. As Amanda Digges the ground-floor there were three was an only daughter of old man rooms upon each side of the corHiram Thacker, she had inherited ridor, all exactly the same size and his household goods. Among these, exactly alike. Upon the upper too, there were family portraits of floor, too, there were three rooms a kind-portraits of individuals, upon each side of the corridor, also however, that suggested the sign- all of the same size and exactly painter s art in execution and the alike. cattle-show in design. Admirable It had never been rightly demen and women, no doubt, these cided

which was

the back and two generations of Thackers that which the front of the Clover Hill blew about in gilt frames upon the house, for at either end of the walls. There were few men in corridor there were big porticoes, Middle Virginia that knew the supported by the same number of exact value of a negro so well high white fluted columns, and apas Hiram Thacker. There were proached by the same number of none whose “shipping” tobacco half-decayed wooden steps. The brought higher prices in Shucks- up-stair corridor led through doors ville than that of his brother on to the roofs of these porticoes, Moses. But the portraits, how- from whence, under the overarchever faithful to nature, were not ing leaves of aged oaks, could be of a kind to give an aristocratic seen glorious views of woodlands, tone to the family picture gallery. fields, and distant mountains. It

The house at Clover Hill, though was a pity that these imposing not so venerable nor so large nor props and qualifiers of the otherso hallowed by tradition as New- wise astonishing rectangularity of town, had still been built as dis- the house should have had their tinctly a gentleman's residence in classic beauty marred by their apthe early part of the century. The plication to domestic

In Colonel's great-uncle, Randolph Uncle Ran's time, you may be Digges, somewhat prominent in sure, no such things would have his day as a Whig politician, had happened; but in the utilitarianbeen its founder and its occupant ism of Thacker tradition it was for a great number of years. The no uncommon thing, after washinstalment of Amanda Thacker and ing-day, to see the family linen her family household gods at Clover hanging in graceful festoons over Hill was an improvement on the the carved railings, and fluttering overseer interregnum. Still it did in the wanton wind. very little, I am afraid, to re- The doors and the windows of store to Clover Hill the aristo- the Clover Hill mansion may poscratic tone that was said by old sibly one day have fitted tolerably, people to have marked it when though even in an old Virginia that venerable patriarch “Uncle house of the most approved kind Ran” used to make its walls echo such a condition would have been to post-prandial denunciations of hardly orthodox. Now, however, Jefferson, infidels, and Frenchmen. they had sprung at their lintels,


and gaped at their hinges to such which the rain-storms soaked, with an extent that Mar'se Dabused houses though which the winter to swear that the house was not winds blew. merely not weather-proof, “but


When the Colonel took up his it warn't hardly dog-proof.

abode at Clover Hill, the land was As for the winter wind ! The in very fair condition. The overhurricanes that blew down these seer, who had had it in charge so corridors had one advantage, at long for the Digges family, had been any rate, for there was nothing a skilful and thrifty farmer. Beabout them of the nature or ing too old to be drafted for the character of a draught. They army, he had remained at home all were real honest broad-volumed through the war. The estate had gales, which blew not only down never been too heavily stocked with the corridors, but under the closed negroes, and had been seeded largely doors and out of the rattling win- to grass and clover, the very acme dows with a force that made the of high farming in the South of Thacker portraits flap against the those days. whitewashed walls till you trem- When slavery and capital tobled for the safety of those great gether were swept away by the works of art. Half a waggon-load war, and the conditions of Southern of oak-logs might blaze in the huge life practically revolutionised, most draughty chimney, but six feet sensible men recognised that a difaway from the blaze you were ferent system of farming must be practically out of doors, and had pursued. Numbers of the upper to act accordingly.

class Alinched from the prospect, From the early spring to the and went into business. Others set late fall of the year, however, to work with good resolutions, and there were few more charming kept them. Many, again, made spots in all Virginia than Clover the resolutions, but did not keep Hill. Mar'se Dab could then boast them. Mar'se Dab, however, when with justice that “ther was ’ar stir- he came to Clover Hill after the rin' thar" (for he had dropped war, not only showed no inclinahopelessly, I am sorry to say, into tion whatever towards agricultural the vernacular), “when the heat reform, but he did not even make elsewhere was enough to kill a any profession of such intentions. mule.”

He did even more than this. He To nature's charms, however, I openly and emphatically repudifear Mar’se Dab was almost in- ated any such course, and declared sensible. He was not devoid of that the style of farming that had sentiment of a kind. Indeed it been good enough for his fathers was partly that, I think, that made was good enough for him. He was him so reactionary. But it was a too old, he said, to start raising sentiment that hugged insensibly clover and grass, when he'd been all time-honoured Virginia rural all his life trying to kill it in the customs—a sentiment that made corn rows. So Mar’se Dab "went him cling obstinately to old-fash- into terbaccer." He collected ioned ways, to be happy among big double as many free negroes on gangs of negroes, to love the very the place, both renters and hired sight of a tobacco-field, to put up al- hands, as there had been slaves most cheerfully with roads bottom- before the war, and commenced less for mud, with gates that would that enlightened course which finnot swing, with barns through ally reduced Clover Hill from

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tolerable fertility to absolute bar- gether with the hamlet attached, renness.

was known as Digges' Mills. Here Mar'se Dab, moreover, was more the corn and wheat of the neighfortunate than many of his neigh- bourhood had been ground ever bours; for when he married, he since there had been any to grind, got with his wife five thousand which a good long time. dollars of hard money, which, in From an Old World standpoint, old man Thacker's thrifty hands, perhaps, it was not very ancient. had somehow or other survived the At any rate it looked it. While general wreck of war.

the hum and drone of the wheel Clover Hill was a picturesque and the flashing of the waters property, undulating enough to over its black and sodden timbers, give happy variety to the land- and the spray that sparkled on scape, without too great abrupt- the mossy rocks beneath, and the ness for cultivation. The prevail- rustic bridge of chestnut trunks ing colour of the soil was red, that crossed the stream, and the which gives such a warm look to huge weeping-willow from which fallowed hillsides when contrasted it swung, made a picture that on with the green of woodlands and sunny summer days it was both cool growing crops. Of meadow-land and pleasant to behold. Besides there was plenty in former days— the mill there was a store, where snug flats of rich alluvial soil be- Mar'se Dab had, in his earlier tween the hills, whose fertility was prosperous days, a ready and exsufficient to resist, without deteri- tensive credit with Captain Toporation, the average treatment of fodder the merchant. In the days the old Virginia rip and tear” of his too evident decline, he had an system, which was saying much. account even greater still, whose In the overseer's time, and probably remote settlement agitated greatly in the time, too, of old Uncle Ran, the waking hours of that worthy exwaving timothy grass and rank commodore of canal-boats. Mar’se clover had flourished there and glis- Dab's wages to his hired hands, and tened in the heavy dews of the the advances to his tenants, came bright June mornings. When I more and more, as time went on, first knew the place the backs of in the shape of little notes on the the negroes in hay time used to torn leaf of a pocket-book, written bend low, and the perspiration in pencil, to the long-suffering Cappour from their ebony faces as tain. There were whole files of they swished their mowing-blades these scrubby little remnants through the heavy growth. Little stored away in the desk behind tinkling streams, all overgrown with the counter, running after this alders and grape-vines, coursed fashion mostly :their way down the valleys; and very troublesome they grew in " To Cap. TOPFODDER.Please flood times if treated, as Mar'se supply Chris' Johnson with goods Dab used to treat them, with to am $1.75, - Yr. friend, D. contemptuous neglect.

Digges." At the far end of the place where Buffalo Creek, which bound- The Captain began to wish he ed it on one side, crossed the high- hadn't been quite such a friend road to Shucksville, which bounded to Dabney Digges. As he sai it on the other, there stood a ven- tilted back in his straw-bottomed erable wooden edifice which, to- chair on the store porch, squirting

tobacco-juice over the railing and Clover Hill plantation. When he calling to his customers as they was remonstrated with upon the rode past to “ lite and set awhile,' African centre he had set up, he he ruminated over the possibilities used to reiterate the vices and the of how upon earth at this late date worthlessness of the dusky race he could alter matters without ap- with much greater warmth of feelpearing unneighbourly. The Cap- ing than the other would think of tain did get so far as to say in doing. But he used to say, “Dawg public that “ Dab Digges was the my skin! I must have a big force hardest man to git money out of of these scoundrels, if I am going in North Berkeley.” Besides the to make any terbaccer worth mill and the store there was a speaking about. I tell you, sir, wheelwright's shop, whither ploughs folks may talk about grass, and and waggon bodies and dilapidated stock, and fruit, and suchlike. buggies retired for repair for in- Terbaccer made old Virginia, not definite periods, and grew weather- termaters, and, by golly! I'm goin' scarred and almost mossy from to hold on by it any way.long hope deferred.

There was Now Mar’se Dab did really unthe forge, too, of a blacksmith, derstand the science of tobacco who was always out of coal or growing and curing. It was the “gone away to 'tend his crap," management of free labour, and and an Episcopal church, that had the keeping in heart, by judicious of late years found it exceedingly cultivation, a limited amount of difficult to procure, or at any rate land, that beat him. to retain, the services of a parson. Now, in Virginia, it is generally

Mar'se Dab was a man rough of estimated that a labourer is respeech, as has been implied. He quired for every 20,000 hills of todidn't say negro, nor even nigro, bacco. As the Colonel used to aim but always used the word "nigger,' at planting 400,000 hills, or about which is a variety that, strange 80 acres, it will be understood that as the statement may appear to he was compelled to have about outsiders, is seldom used by well- him what was a large force of bred Southern men, and never by hands for ante-bellum days and a ladies. “ Those durned niggers !” limited estate. For it was not only Mar’se Dab used to be fond of say- the tobacco, but the 300 or 400 ing, “ought to be put right back in acres of maize, not to speak of slavery,-a triflin', no 'count par- the wheat he had to grow “to cel of scoundrels."

bread his folks," as he would This was mere verbosity. The have said, and to keep his horses Colonel would have been miserable and mules, and milch-cows and if he had not been surrounded by hogs. them. Most people in the neigh- To describe the nature of the bourhood agreed, in a great meas- resettlement of Clover Hill when ure, with the sentiments so badly the Colonel went there, we should expressed by Mar’se Dab; but have to enter into abstract disthey acted up to their opinions, quisitions regarding the war and and dispensed as much as possible the negro question, for which there with Ethiopian assistance.

But is here no space.

We should have the Colonel did nothing of the kind. to describe how the negroes, in the As I have already stated, he col- first burst of freedom, generally lected all he could lay hands on, moved off the old plantations,and established them upon the not from dislike to their former homes, but, as it were, to give a year. The true reason of this themselves a shake, to show that may perhaps best be given in the they were free. How, with all words of old Uncle Ephraim, one this, they generally stuck to their of the most attached of the bunch. old counties, and to a great extent It was a confidential communicaeven to their old neighbourhoods. tion, it is true, and delivered across This subject is such a wide one, the boundary fence which separated the only thing to be done with it my own woodland from the tobacco here is to drop it at once and re- patch on Mar’se Dab's land, which vert to the subject of the sketch. old Ephraim was working. After

When I first knew the Colonel all these years, however, there intimately his system was in full could, I think, be no sort of objecblast. I have mentioned that he tion to recalling some of the old recommenced his life with some man's remarks, ready money, as he did also free " Mar'se Dab," said the patrifrom debt.

arch, "is a mighty good man, but There were two or three years, he ain't like his pa. I bin raised moreover, about that period when with quality folks, and knows what prices were exceptionally high, for they is. Thar ain't no fambly in artificial reasons that traced them- the State as held therselves higher selves to the war. Mar'se Dab's or more 'sclusive than our folks credit was good, and he seemed done useter. But Mar'se Dab! for a time to be actually prosper- Lor'! he don't seem to have no ing in spite of his defiance of respect for hisself or fambly. It economic laws. He came to believe make me feel mighty bad to hear in himself more than ever. He him cutt'n up, a rippin' and a ridiculed his neighbours who sowed swarin'an a hollerin' roun' like the clover and agitated themselves on ordinary white folks at this upper the subject of the improvement of 'een of the county, that ain't had stock. His loudest and most tre- no raisin' wuth speakin' 'bout. I. mendous laughs were got off at the was a bit of a chap down at the expense of a cousin of his wife's, big house when Mar’se Dab were who had set out fifty acres of borned, an’ when I heern him lettin' apple-trees in the mountains. When hisself down an' gwine on in sich I last saw that cousin he was net- a way, I feel powerfully moved to ting 4000 dollars a-year from his say suthin. But he's a rough orchards, and poor Mar'se Dab was man, Mar'se Dab, an' like as not in Western Kansas! Well, as I was to

burst me all to pieces. It saying, a great crop was the idea 'ud go mighty hard with the ole in those days, not only on Clover Miss' if she alive and Hill, but on many other planta- know'd. She'd get after me, tions too. The negroes in the too, fur cert'n and sho', if she neighbourhood would flock to thote I 'lowed Mar'se Dab to run Clover Hill before Christmas-time on without speakin' any. I'll be to try and rent a bit of land or powerful oneasy when I see ole hire out to Mar’se Dab. Many of Miss' at de judgment, when de the regular old Digges servants hearts of all men from Newtown again united their The asterisks represent one of fortunes with the family in this those exhortations to which Uncle manner.

Ephraim, since he took religion, It was noticed, however, that had been addicted. But sound these last seldom stayed more than as was his doctrine, and eloquent



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