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paniment of the dawn of civilisa- as he passed by with his mule- or tion. But Virginia is the oldest his ox-cart, and dropped the tribucommunity of Englishmen outside tary tear to the ghost of the old England. It is an ancient and family conveyance, which he had
a distinguished province. once steered with such éclat. Some For over two centuries it has had of these old carcasses survive to something like a territorial aris- this very day-in remote corners tocracy living upon its soil. Their of barnyards and orchards—buried pleasures and their interests have in briers and weeds, a harbour of been wholly rural. No people refuge for the “ broody" hen and have ever existed in the wide world roosting turkey. Our road, it was to whom country locomotion was true, was perhaps the worst, if more important. And yet in most there could be a worst, in the parts, not only till the Civil War county. It was lifted for a conbut up to this very day, the two- siderable part of its course off the horse plough has been the only red clay of the lower country, and factor in road mending and con wound its tortuous way over the struction. Over these unspeakable shoulder of mountain-spurs, where tracks of mud, pleasantly broken by the winter rains did not stand, but slabs of rock and wandering tree tore into atoms every feeble effort roots, it was not only the waggon that was made to soften the natural of rural commerce that had to jolt, obstacles of rock and gully. It was but the family coach itself to rock a road that would have made even and stagger on its way to dance or a Rocky Mountain teamster hold wedding, to church or merry-mak- his breath. But our local patriots ing—and with what loss of dignity were quite equal to the occasion, can be well imagined. These old and used to declare, when twitted relics of past splendour (as the by people who were fortunate word is used in Virginia), with enough to live off it, that it was, their leather springs, have long at least, a fine winter road. That vanished now. But I can recall is to say, you couldn't sink permany a venerable specimen that manently into a mud-hole-you survived the war, and can see either broke your neck or got over them even now writhing in all it. But then, again, it was almost the agonies of a bottomless mud as bad in summer; whereas in the hole, the negro coachman cran lower country, when the mud ing forward with loud shouts of hardened on the track, a reckwonderfully worded exhortations less driver with a fast horse and to his struggling horses.
a strong buggy could make five many years before these rickety miles an hour with luck. emblems of ante-bellum dignity dis Our neighbourhood was beyond appeared entirely from the road. doubt a bit isolated, and this perOne after another they made their haps accounted for the fact of oldfinal trip to the village wheelwright, time ideas dying harder than in to be hopelessly condemned even by other parts with which I am famithat resourceful functionary, and liar-particularly among the neleft, perchance, to rot upon the way- groes. Of these, great numbers side amid the wreck of humbler of the best of the old régime were machinery. Much sorrowful con- still, at the time I write of, living solation, I have reason to think, and in their prime, and some of was afforded by these bleaching them were in every sense as reliskeletons to the ex-family retainer able and as trustworthy as good
English farm-servants. Their fami man used to complain, “but it ain't lies had generally got out of hand, no manner of use—these new-fanbut the older darkies were often the gled notions of projeckin' roun' very models of industry, and even fust hyar den dar, there ain't no honesty. One old man in particu- satisfyin' young folks these times.” lar whom we found upon the plan So the forest above Archie's tation, renting an outlying cabin cabin continued to wave in all its and a few stony acres in a moun- pristine luxuriance, and to this tain hollow, was of this description. day the wild turkey still leads her So far as cleared land went, he young in summer-time beneath its had what he would have called "a friendly shades, and the squirrel mighty po' chance fur terbaccer," gambols amid its huge grey trunks, which at that time was the crop and the spotted woodpecker still which dazzled and filled the eye of wakes with cheery tapping its the emancipated slave. But old mysterious echoes. Uncle Archie had two or three Uncle Archie, it will be gathstalwart sons who worked out for ered, was a laudator temporis acti wages, and when he went into this of the most pronounced kind. I dignified retirement he forgot that think he would have reversed the the patriarchal era was over in issue of the war and put his whole Virginia — between parent and race back into slavery again, if he child as between master and slave. had had his will. The times, acThe old gentleman was quite sur cording to Archie, were all out of prised when his “chaps” showed joint. The revolt of his sons sat a disposition to appropriate their sorely on bis mind. He had been own wages to their own an industrious, hard-working man Archie had built his own cabin all his life, and had belonged to a after the war in a corner of the kind but hard-working master plantation at the foot of a heavily one of those thousands of small timbered mountain, whence a crys- slave - owners of whom the usual tal brook, breaking from the shade literature on this subject shows its of the forest, went babbling over ignorance by taking no account. his patch of open tillage land. Rough, decent men, whose apUp over this wide expanse of oak pearance, education, habits, and and chestnut foliage the old man means were those of small working had gazed with sanguine eye, and farmers, neither more nor less, pictured the tall trees tumbling in who owned perhaps a couple of every direction, and vast tobacco- families of coloured folks, and not lands opening, beneath the sturdy seldom laboured with them on the strokes of his obedient and filial small farm that supported all. offspring-inspired, of course, and Archie had looked forward to directed by the wisdom that lay running a bit of rented land with beneath his own snowy brow. his own family upon somewhat the But Archie's “ chaps” showed no same principles—inclusive of the disposition whatever to develop a whip, if needed. He was an family estate for their clothes and ardent member of the Baptist rations, when they grew to be Church, and had hoped, no doubt, worth ten dollars a-month to any for a leisurely as well as a dignified farmer in the neighbourhood. old age in which he could pursue “I've dun frailed them chillern" on fence-rails and at cross-roads (they were eighteen and twenty) that taste for religious discussion " till my arms jes ache,” the old and controversy which his soul deVOL. CLXI.—NO. DCCCCLXXVII.
lighted in. Still he raised a tobacco dust of the harrows was actually crop of a sort, enough to prove, at flying over his new-made grave. any rate, that the filial instincts
seen again, too, in the of Jake and Wash were not wholly same week by Lizzie, our cook, dead; and his corn-patch supplied hovering in spectral fashion around at least his daily bread. A pig or the tobacco-plant-beds he had sown two, moreover, called him owner, just before his death. and carried ruin and destruction indeed, already somewhat overrun in the point of their snouts all with ghosts — thanks to the posover the plantation ; and a cow, session of two graveyards, whose which, even with a forefoot tied to inmates, if negro tradition were its horns, could jump any fence to be believed, were of the most in the neighbourhood, completed uneasy kind. Archie's stock.
I may remark in passing that The old gentleman was quite as the ghosts, or, in negro parlance, honest as he knew how to be. He the “hants," of our neighbournever succeeded in paying any hood seem to have retained, even rent, it is true; but the desire to in the after-world, their devotion do so was the burden of many an to agriculture. For whether white eloquent harangue, which or black, it was in the dawn of something. Archie, however, as spring that they were always a weather prophet and as a char “looked for ”; nor, like orthodox acter which memory is thankful ghosts, did they haunt bedsides or for, was well worth the twenty-five passages, but were to be seen dollars a - year which constituted rather in the neighbourhood of his nominal tribute. He died in corn-cribs, wheat-fields, or tobacco the odour of sanctity-lecturing us barns. all to the last on the degeneracy The mention of Archie's funeral of the world since "the s'render,” obsequies recalls another of his and foretelling the doom of Sodom neighbours and our tenants, who and Gomorrah for a land where held a remote corner of the planage and authority were getting to tation, and this was the aforesaid be at such a discount. We had a William Henry Higginbottom. negro burial-ground on the planta. Most of the negroes after the war tion, and thither Archie's remains took their late masters' names, were dragged in solemn state by but no Higginbottom had ever his neighbour William Henry Hig- been heard of in those parts. This ginbottom's bull. There was snow was serious, it is true, but not unon the ground, I remember; but natural, seeing that the bearer of
a Sunday, and half the so much name had come from the negroes in the county were there. lower counties since the war, and It was always said that the patri- was in some sort an alien as well arch would "walk," and " walk as a suspect. Negro nomenclature he did, sure enough, for he was was of a brief order as a rule, and seen in the full moon of the April it was probably in tacit disapprofollowing his death sowing a big val of William Henry's personality, field near the house that had been and of the sort of mystery attachfallowed for oats; for it should be ing to him, that he was usually remarked that he was the great called by all his three names, and, grain-sower of the neighbourhood, in spite of his grizzled locks and and it was natural enough that his furrowed face, never achieved the spirit should rest uneasy while the honoured sobriquet of “Uncle."
In face William Henry was the he was supposed to resemble, in most forbidding, in form he was the night over the almost pathless the most comical, negro I ever saw. mountains that divided the plantaWe found him inhabiting a cabin tion from the adjoining county. close to the house, and thought at Wherever William Henry got first his looks might belie him. his bull, he certainly made it earn It took about a month to find out its keep. He hitched it to his from experience that they did not. rude plough and his clumsy harHence his removal to the slope of row. It pulled the rough-hewn the mountain where he undertook sled on which he hauled his fireto raise corn and tobacco on shares. wood and his fence-rails; while
William Henry was, to use the on its broad back, behind a sack vernacular of the neighbourhood, of corn, he himself might often be a "mighty low man”-in a physi- seen perched upon his way to the cal sense, that is to say—for he mill. Such spectacles as these, howwas barely five feet, while he had ever, were not unfamiliar in the old a head upon him the size of a happy-go-lucky Virginia life. But Missouri pumpkin. He could even in Virginia, so far as I ever neither laugh nor could he joke saw or heard of, the bitting, bridlike the rest of them. I never ling, and saddling of a bull was saw him even smile, but there an unprecedented performance. sat upon his black seamed face But William Henry was notha perennial frown. In wintering if not unconventional. And and in summer he wore a long it was with no sense of humour tail-coat that had once been black; whatever, but in a solemn seriand if the front view of him was ousness which heightened the subhideous, his reverse side was much limity of the spectacle, that he the funniest in the whole county used to clap an old broken huntto look upon. But what made ing-saddle on to the broad back William Henry famous, even more of the patient ox, and seat himthan his whispered crimes and self astride thereon, and turn his his grotesque appearance, was his face on Sunday mornings towards bull.
the negro church at Mount HerFor when he moved to his mon. Mr Higginbottom, it is permountain farm with nothing but haps needless to remark, was no his household truck, it seemed a church member. The vacant seats problem to the neighbours how upon the mourners' bench had no his stony acres were to be cul- attraction for him, nor had the tivated; but William Henry was eloquent black forefinger or stridequal to the occasion, and one ent appeals of brother Moses ever fine day his establishment was moved a muscle of the scowling seen to be augmented by a two furrowed face. But, for some year-old bull that was as mys- mysterious reason, William Henry terious in origin as the owner was always to be found at Mount himself. There was no direct Hermon on a preaching Sunday evidence that our Mephistopheles --silent, inscrutable, and hideous was a great criminal, but he was in a back pew — while outside, said to be capable of any enormity. hitched to a tree in the shade, That he stole that bull I am afraid stood the Durham bull, with its there was no doubt, and it was saddle and bridle, all unconscious whispered that he drove it, with of any indignity of treatment. the help of the Evil One, whom The first time we ever sighted
this never-to-be forgotten spectacle acres, and actually hired labour on was, I remember, upon the Sunday his own account. Indeed he was on which Archie's funeral sermon justly regarded as "a 'sponsible was preached, in the summer fol man. He got a good house with lowing his death, and all the his holding, built of squared logs negroes in the neighbourhood had and shingle-roofed, and a gardenflocked to hear how brother Moses patch, and the run for a cow, thought the illustrious dead was which, like Archie's, no fence getting on in Paradise. We were could turn. John worked his land sitting in the porch as the ad on shares—we providing the horses vanced-guard of the returning con and implements, he the labour; gregation came into view upon the and, like a few of his kind, at that highway. This consisted of those period he was an indefatigable negroes who could either beg, worker. From dawn till dark he borrow, or steal their master's never rested except to feed his mules for the day, or those who, teams and get his meals, and I being tenants at a money rent, have even known him to work all had some attenuated quadruped of night when the weeds in his corn their own.
As the capering, chat or the suckers on his tobacco had tering crowd came along amid a got ahead of him. In spite of his cloud of red dust, William Henry practical qualities, however, John Higginbottom could be seen hold was as comical a character in his ing a clear lead of several lengths, way as William Henry. He mounted on his bull, which was thought he could write, for one travelling at a steady, swinging thing - an almost unknown pertrot that was thoroughly business formance at that time—and he like. That its back was no arm was inordinately proud of it. chair was evident, for William Furthermore, he bad, as is rare Henry's long coat-tails were flying among his race, a bad stammer in painful agitation, as, with a with terrific facial contortions, rein in each hand, he leaned back This, as we know, is sometimes sufin approved Southern fashion till ficiently trying in a Caucasian, but his short legs, which were short in a negro of quizzical appearance even for so “low" a man, came it is simply irresistible; and John's not far off the level of the straight appearance was not calculated to horns of his extraordinary steed. bear any further embellishments The ordinary negro mounted on of the kind. He was of the his master's mule, and attired in round, smooth, beardless, and oily his full Sunday war-paint of black type of Ethiopian, as black as a broadcloth and white shirt-front, coal, without a touch of cross was a sight entirely edifying ; but about him. He was a stranger to William Henry Higginbottom, the neighbourhood, and came to leading the queer crowd upon his us, I remember, one autumn before bull, solemn and gloomy, without wheat-sowing, which was the season the faintest suspicion of any hum- of the year all over Virginia for our in the thing, was a spectacle to making contracts, and wheat by have lived for.
the way at that time was worth But there was a serious side to a dollar and a half a bushel. I our plantation life of course, and can see him now as he stood at John Jones, who was our largest the foot of the verandah steps, tenant, took life very seriously with his mouth twisted nearly indeed. He held nearly a hundred round to his ear trying to tell