Page:Lippincotts Monthly Magazine-94.pdf/652

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to his gentle, white-haired wife, “things are not done now as they were in our day. There's a lack of conscience in things—a certain—un

reliable—ha—hum!—Uncle Noah— do see to that log. The room's blis tering.” Now





spectacles at a shadow beneath the

window, “if I hain't gone an' plumb fo'got to chase Job to roost! Fo de Lawd, sah, if he hain't out dere, pert an' sassy as yoh please, peckin' at de shadder berries on de ground an a

gobblin' away, jus’ to remind me.


If he hain't de sassiest bird l’’ he add

enough that the Northern express

ed in a glow of pride. “Hi, dar, yoh

was not late and that the heat of the

Massa Job Fairfax, yoh jus’ git along

room was largely due to the Colonel's impatience to see his son, but he

an’ make tracks fo dat barn.

mildly dabbed at the blazing log in the fireplace and cleared his throat. “’Pears like I hain't never seen

sich a Christmasy kind o' log!” he

grumbled, showering sparks about, "'Pears to be all sparks an’ crackle an' sich-like Christmasy fussin’.” He coughed delicately. “Mebbe, sah, mebbe, Massa Dick, 'stid o' lettin' de Major bring young Massa Dick an' Missy Ruth from de Cotesville sta tion—mebbe I jus' oughta hitched up ol' Mingo an druv in maself. He's mos' powahful spirited, dat Mingo, an’ full o' ginger jus’ account o' stan din idle in de barn—”

Now Mingo, last of the Colonel's blooded stock, had been dead this many a year and Job was the hermit king of the lonely barn, but this was a flight of fancy in which the loyal darky frequently indulged in stub born pretense that the old plantation was much the same as it had been in kindlier times.

So to-night the Colonel, a willing coadjutor, gravely shook his head. “No, no, Uncle Noah,” he said.

“Major Verney would drive into Cotesville himself—insisted upon it —looked to me indeed—ahem' as if

he might grow quarrelsome if I de nied him the privilege of meeting his niece. Better open a window, Uncle Noah, 'pon my word that is a Christ masy log!” Uncle Noah obeyed. “Gord-a-massy, Massa Dick,” he

exclaimed, peering suddenly over his


yoh gobble at me. Hain't I goin' feed yoh soon as I git time to breathe ?” Grumbling benevolently, the old man hurried away to feed and house his pet, and the nightly chase was on. Having pinioned the squawking tur key beneath his arm with an indul gent chuckle, Uncle Noah entered the tumble-down barn where he fed

his prisoner and consigned him to a roost of shingles in an ancient, dusty

carriage house capacious enough to hint of gayer and kindlier days. Outside in the quiet rang suddenly the cheery jingle of sleigh-bells and a genial “Whoal” and Uncle Noah hobbled hurriedly to the door. “Dar!” he grumbled in mild re proof, “Major Verney back from de

Cotesville station a'ready an I ain't had time to change dis yere ol' ragged coat, jus’ sprintin’ about in de snow

after yoh! G'long, now, yoh quit dat peckin' at my ankles!” A wild, protesting gobble followed the banging of the barn-door. Un cle Noah hurried back to the kitchen,

struggled into his ancient company coat and was presently out upon the

porch, beaming over his steel-rimmed spectacles at the laughing group about Major Verney's sleigh.

Through the crisp cold air came the sound of voices.

“Major,” exclaimed young Dick Fairfax, smiling, “do come in for a

minute anyway. You're nothing like so busy, I'm sure, as you look!” The Major tugged plaintively at his beard.