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THE UPWARD PATH
A READER FOR COLORED CHILDREN
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT R. MOTON PRINCIPAL OF TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE
COMPILED BY MYRON T. PRITCHARD PRINCIPAL, EVERETT SCHOOL, BOSTON
MARY WHITE OVINGTON CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
NEW YORK HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE, INC.
To the present time, there has been no collection of stories and poems by Negro writers, which colored children could read with interest and pleasure and in which they could find a mirror of the traditions and aspirations of their race. Realizing this lack, Myron T. Pritchard, Principal of the Everett School, Boston, and Mary White Ovington, Chairman of the Board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have brought together poems, stories, sketches and addresses which bear eloquent testimony to the richness of the literary product of our Negro writers. It is the hope that this little book will find a large welcome in all sections of the country and will bring good cheer and encouragement to the young readers who have so largely the fortunes of their race in their own hands.
The editors desire to express thanks to the authors who have generously granted the use of their work. Especial acknowledgement is due to Mrs. Booker T. Washington for the selection from Up from Slavery; to The Crisis for "The Rondeau," by Jessie Fauset, "The Brave Son," by Alston W. Burleigh, "The Black Fairy," by Fenton Johnson, "The Children at Easter," by C. Emily Frazier, "His Motto," by Lottie B. Dixon, "Negro Soldiers," by Roscoe C. Jamison, "A Legend of the Blue Jay," by Ruth Anna Fisher; to the American Book Company for "The Dog and the Clever Rabbit," from Animal Tales, by A. O. Stafford; to Frederick A. Stokes and Company for "A Negro Explorer at the North Pole," by Matthew A. Henson; to A. C. McClurg and Company for the selection from Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. DuBois; to Henry Holt and Company for the selection from The Negro, by W. E. B. DuBois; to the Cornhill Company for the selections from The Band of Gideon, by Joseph F. Cotter, Jr., and The Menace of the South, by William J. Edwards; to Dodd, Mead and Company for "Ere Sleep Comes Down" and the "Boy and the Bayonet" (copyright 1907), by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
THE BOY AND THE BAYONET Paul Laurence Dunbar 1 BEGINNINGS OF A MISSISSIPPI SCHOOL William H. Holtzclaw 13 UP FROM SLAVERY Booker T. Washington 15 BOOKER T. WASHINGTON William H. Holtzclaw 20 ANNA-MARGARET Augusta Bird 22 CHARITY H. Cordelia Ray 28 MY FIRST SCHOOL W. E. B. DuBois 29 ERE SLEEP COMES DOWN Paul Laurence Dunbar 38 THE LAND OF LAUGHTER Angelina W. Grimke 40 THE WEB OF CIRCUMSTANCE Charles W. Chesnutt 47 IS THE GAME WORTH THE CANDLE? James E. Shepard 48 O BLACK AND UNKNOWN BARDS James Weldon Johnson 54 THE GREATEST MENACE OF THE SOUTH William J. Edwards 56 THE ENCHANTED SHELL H. Cordelia Ray 63 BEHIND A GEORGIA MULE James Weldon Johnson 66 HAYTI AND TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE W. E. B. DuBois 72 HIS MOTTO Lottie Burrell Dixon 77 THE MONTHS H. Cordelia Ray 86 THE COLORED CADET AT WEST POINT Lieut. Henry Ossian Flipper, U.S.A. 90 AN HYMN TO THE EVENING Phyllis Wheatley 95 GOING TO SCHOOL UNDER DIFFICULTIES William H. Holtzclaw 96 THE BRAVE SON Alston W. Burleigh 101 VICTORY Walter F. White 102 THE DOG AND THE CLEVER RABBIT A. O. Stafford 109 THE BOY AND THE IDEAL Joseph S. Cotter 112 CHILDREN AT EASTER C. Emily Frazier 114 ABRAHAM LINCOLN William Pickens 117 RONDEAU Jessie Fauset 120 HOW I ESCAPED Frederick Douglass 121 FREDERICK DOUGLASS W. H. Crogman 128 INCIDENT IN THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS 134 ANIMAL LIFE IN THE CONGO William Henry Sheppard 135 COOPERATION AND THE LATIN CLASS Lillian B. Witten 143 THE BAND OF GIDEON Joseph F. Cotter, Jr. 148 THE HOME OF THE COLORED GIRL BEAUTIFUL Azalia Hackley 150 THE KNIGHTING OF DONALD Lillian B. Witten 153 A NEGRO EXPLORER AT THE NORTH POLE Matthew A. Henson 159 BENJAMIN BANNEKER William Wells Brown 166 THE NEGRO RACE Charles W. Anderson 168 PAUL CUFFE John W. Cromwell 169 THE BLACK FAIRY Fenton Johnson 175 IT'S A LONG WAY William Stanley Braithwaite 181 NEGRO MUSIC THAT STIRRED FRANCE Emmett J. Scott 182 NOVEMBER 11, 1918 187 SEA LYRIC William Stanley Braithwaite 189 A NEGRO WOMAN'S HOSPITALITY Leila A. Pendleton 190 RECORD OF "THE OLD FIFTEENTH" IN FRANCE Emmett J. Scott 192 NEGRO SOLDIERS Roscoe C. Jamison 194 THE "DEVIL BUSH" AND THE "GREEGREE BUSH" George W. Ellis 195 EVENING PRAYER H. Cordelia Ray 199 THE STRENUOUS LIFE Silas X. Floyd 200 O LITTLE DAVID, PLAY ON YOUR HARP Joseph F. Cotter, Jr. 202 A DAY AT KALK BAY, SOUTH AFRICA L. J. Coppin 203 BISHOP ATTICUS G. HAYGOOD W. H. Crogman 205 HOW TWO COLORED CAPTAINS FELL Ralph W. Tyler 207 THE YOUNG WARRIOR James Weldon Johnson 208 WHOLE REGIMENTS DECORATED Emmett J. Scott 209 ON PLANTING ARTICHOKES Daniel A. Rudd and Theodore Bond 210 A SONG OF THANKS Edward Smyth Jones 214 OUR DUMB ANIMALS Silas X. Floyd 216 A LEGEND OF THE BLUE JAY Ruth Anna Fisher 218 DAVID LIVINGSTONE Benjamin Brawley 220 IRA ALDRIDGE William J. Simmons 224 FIFTY YEARS James Weldon Johnson 228 A GREAT KINGDOM IN THE CONGO William Henry Sheppard 233 PILLARS OF THE STATE William C. Jason 249 OATH OF AFRO-AMERICAN YOUTH Kelly Miller 250 NOTES 251
The Negro has been in America just about three hundred years and in that time he has become intertwined in all the history of the nation. He has fought in her wars; he has endured hardships with her pioneers; he has toiled in her fields and factories; and the record of some of the nation's greatest heroes is in large part the story of their service and sacrifice for this people.
The Negro arrived in America as a slave in 1619, just one year before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth in search of freedom. Since then their lot has not always been a happy one, but nevertheless, in spite of difficulties and hardships, the race has learned many valuable lessons in its conflict with the American civilization. As a slave the lessons of labor, of constructive endeavor, of home-life and religion were learned, even if the opportunity was not always present to use these lessons to good advantage.
After slavery other lessons were learned in their order. Devoted self-sacrificing souls—soldiers of human brotherhood—took up the task in the schoolroom which their brothers began on the battlefield. Here it was that the Negro learned the history of America, of the deeds of her great men, the stirring events which marked her development, the ideals that made America great. And so well have they been learned, that to-day there are no more loyal Americans than the twelve million Negroes that make up so large a part of the nation.
But the race has other things yet to learn: The education of any race is incomplete unless the members of that race know the history and character of its own people as well as those of other peoples. The Negro has yet to learn of the part which his own race has played in making America great; has yet to learn of the noble and heroic souls among his own people, whose achievements are praiseworthy among any people. A number of books—poetry, history and fiction—have been written by Negro authors in which the life of their own people has been faithfully and attractively set forth; but until recently no effort has been made on a large scale to see that Negro boys and girls became acquainted with these books and the facts they contained concerning their people.
In this volume the publishers have brought together a number of selections from the best literary works of Negro authors, through which these young people may learn more of the character and accomplishments of the worthy members of their race. Such matter is both informing and inspiring, and no Negro boy or girl can read it without feeling a deeper pride in his own race. The selections are each calculated to teach a valuable lesson, and all make a direct appeal to the best impulses of the human heart.
For a number of years several educational institutions for Negro youths have conducted classes in Negro history with a similar object in view. The results of these classes have been most gratifying and the present volume is a commendable contribution to the literature of such a course.
ROBERT R. MOTON
TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE, ALA., June 30, 1920
To the man in the tower the world below him is likely to look very small. Men look like ants and all the bustle and stir of their hurrying lives seems pitifully confused and aimless. But the man in the street who is looking and striving upward is in a different situation. However poor his present plight, the thing he aims at and is striving toward stands out clear and distinct above him, inspiring him with hope and ambition in his struggle upward. For the man who is down there is always something to hope for, always something to be gained. The man who is down, looking up, may catch a glimpse now and then of heaven, but the man who is so situated that he can only look down is pretty likely to see another and quite different place.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
THE UPWARD PATH
THE BOY AND THE BAYONET
PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR
It was June, and nearing the closing time of school. The air was full of the sound of bustle and preparation for the final exercises, field day, and drills. Drills especially, for nothing so gladdens the heart of the Washington mother, be she black or white, as seeing her boy in the blue cadet's uniform, marching proudly to the huzzas of an admiring crowd. Then she forgets the many nights when he has come in tired out and dusty from his practice drill, and feels only the pride and elation of the result.
Although Tom did all he could outside of study hours, there were many days of hard work for Hannah Davis, when her son went into the High School. But she took it upon herself gladly, since it gave Bud the chance to learn, that she wanted him to have. When, however, he entered the Cadet Corps it seemed to her as if the first steps toward the fulfilment of all her hopes had been made. It was a hard pull to her, getting the uniform, but Bud himself helped manfully, and when his mother saw him rigged out in all his regimentals, she felt that she had not toiled in vain. And in fact it was worth all the trouble and expense just to see the joy and pride of "little sister," who adored Bud.
As the time for the competitive drill drew near there was an air of suppressed excitement about the little house on "D" Street, where the three lived. All day long "little sister," who was never very well and did not go to school, sat and looked out of the window on the uninteresting prospect of a dusty thoroughfare lined on either side with dull red brick houses, all of the same ugly pattern, interspersed with older, uglier, and viler frame shanties. In the evening Hannah hurried home to get supper against the time when Bud should return, hungry and tired from his drilling, and the chore work which followed hard upon its heels.
Things were all cheerful, however, for as they applied themselves to the supper, the boy, with glowing face, would tell just how his company "A" was getting on, and what they were going to do to companies "B" and "C." It was not boasting so much as the expression of a confidence, founded upon the hard work he was doing, and Hannah and the "little sister" shared that with him.
The child often, listening to her brother, would clap her hands or cry, "Oh, Bud, you're just splendid an' I know you'll beat 'em."
"If hard work'll beat 'em, we've got 'em beat," Bud would reply, and Hannah, to add an admonitory check to her own confidence, would break in with, "Now, don't you be too sho'; dey ain't been no man so good dat dey wasn't somebody bettah." But all the while her face and manner were disputing what her words expressed.
The great day came, and it was a wonderful crowd of people that packed the great baseball grounds to overflowing. It seemed that all of Washington's colored population was out, when there were really only about one-tenth of them there. It was an enthusiastic, banner-waving, shouting, hallooing crowd. Its component parts were strictly and frankly partisan, and so separated themselves into sections differentiated by the colors of the flags they carried and the ribbons they wore. Side yelled defiance at side, and party bantered party. Here the blue and white of company "A" flaunted audaciously on the breeze beside the very seats over which the crimson and gray of "B" were flying and they in their turn nodded defiance over the imaginary barrier between themselves and "C's" black and yellow.
The band was thundering out Sousa's "High School Cadet's March," the school officials, the judges, and reporters, and some with less purpose were bustling about discussing and conferring. Altogether doing nothing much with beautiful unanimity. All was noise, hurry, gaiety, and turbulence.
In the midst of it all, with blue and white rosettes pinned on their breasts, sat two spectators, tense and silent, while the breakers of movement and sound struck and broke around them. It seemed too much to Hannah and "little sister" for them to laugh and shout. Bud was with company "A," and so the whole program was more like a religious ceremonial to them. The blare of the brass to them might have been the trumpet call to battle in old Judea, and the far-thrown tones of the megaphone the voice of a prophet proclaiming from the hill-top.
Hannah's face glowed with expectation, and "little sister" sat very still and held her mother's hand save when amid a burst of cheers company "A" swept into the parade ground at a quick step, then she sprang up, crying shrilly, "There's Bud! there's Bud! I see him!" and then settled back into her seat overcome with embarrassment. The mother's eyes danced as soon as the sister's had singled out their dear one from the midst of the blue-coated boys, and it was an effort for her to keep from following her little daughter's example even to echoing her words.
Company "A" came swinging down the field toward the judges in a manner that called for more enthusiastic huzzas that carried even the Freshmen of other commands "off their feet." They were, indeed, a set of fine-looking young fellows, brisk, straight, and soldierly in bearing. Their captain was proud of them, and his very step showed it. He was like a skilled operator pressing the key of some great mechanism, and at his command they moved like clockwork. Seen from the side it was as if they were all bound together by inflexible iron bars, and as the end man moved all must move with him.
The crowd was full of exclamations of praise and admiration, but a tense quiet enveloped them as company "A" came from columns of four into line for volley firing. This was a real test; it meant not only grace and precision of movement, singleness of attention and steadiness, but quickness tempered by self-control. At the command the volley rang forth like a single shot. This was again the signal for wild cheering and the blue and white streamers kissed the sunlight with swift impulsive kisses. Hannah and "little sister" drew closer together and pressed hands.
The "A" adherents, however, were considerably cooled when the next volley came out, badly scattering, with one shot entirely apart and before the rest. Bud's mother did not entirely understand the sudden quieting of the adherents; they felt vaguely that all was not as it should be, and the chill of fear laid hold upon their hearts. What if Bud's company (it was always Bud's company to them), what if his company should lose. But, of course, that couldn't be. Bud himself had said that they would win. Suppose, though, they didn't; and with these thoughts they were miserable until the cheering again told them that the company had redeemed itself.
Someone behind Hannah said, "They are doing splendidly, they'll win, they'll win yet in spite of the second volley."
Company "A," in columns of four, had executed the right oblique in double time, and halted amid cheers; then formed left front into line without halting. The next movement was one looked forward to with much anxiety on account of its difficulty. The order was marching by fours to fix or unfix bayonets. They were going at a quick step, but the boys' hands were steady—hope was bright in their hearts. They were doing it rapidly and freely, when suddenly from the ranks there was the bright gleam of steel lower down than it should have been. A gasp broke from the breasts of company "A's" friends. The blue and white dropped disconsolately, while a few heartless ones who wore other colors attempted to hiss. Someone had dropped his bayonet. But with muscles unquivering, without a turned head, the company moved on as if nothing had happened, while one of the judges, an army officer, stepped into the wake of the boys and picked up the fallen steel.
No two eyes had seen half so quickly as Hannah and "little sister's" who the blunderer was. In the whole drill there had been but one figure for them, and that was Bud,—Bud, and it was he who had dropped his bayonet. Anxious, nervous with the desire to please them, perhaps with a shade too much of thought of them looking on with their hearts in their eyes, he had fumbled, and lost all he was striving for. His head went round and round and all seemed black before him.
He executed the movements in a dazed way. The applause, generous and sympathetic, as his company left the parade ground, came to him from afar off, and like a wounded animal he crept away from his comrades, not because their reproaches stung him, for he did not hear them, but because he wanted to think what his mother and "little sister" would say, but his misery was as nothing to that of the two who sat up there amid the ranks of the blue and white, holding each other's hands with a despairing grip. To Bud all of the rest of the contest was a horrid nightmare; he hardly knew when the three companies were marched back to receive the judges' decision. The applause that greeted company "B" when the blue ribbons were pinned on the members' coats meant nothing to his ears. He had disgraced himself and his company. What would his mother and his "little sister" say?
To Hannah and "little sister," as to Bud, all of the remainder of the drill was a misery. The one interest they had had in it failed, and not even the dropping of his gun by one of company "E" when on the march, halting in line, could raise their spirits. The little girl tried to be brave, but when it was all over she was glad to hurry out before the crowd got started and to hasten away home. Once there and her tears flowed freely; she hid her face in her mother's dress, and sobbed as if her heart would break.
"Don't cry, Baby! don't cry, Lammie, dis ain't da las' time da wah goin' to be a drill. Bud'll have a chance anotha time and den he'll show 'em somethin'; bless you, I spec' he'll be a captain." But this consolation of philosophy was nothing to "little sister." It was so terrible to her, this failure of Bud's. She couldn't blame him, she couldn't blame anyone else, and she had not yet learned to lay all such unfathomed catastrophes at the door of fate. What to her was the thought of another day; what did it matter to her whether he was a captain or a private? She didn't even know the meaning of the words, but "little sister," from the time she knew Bud was a private, thought that was much better than being a captain or any other of those things with a long name, so that settled it.
Her mother finally set about getting the supper, while "little sister" drooped disconsolately in her own little splint-bottomed chair. She sat there weeping silently until she heard the sound of Bud's step, then sprang up and ran away to hide. She didn't dare to face him with tears in her eyes. Bud came in without a word and sat down in the dark front room.
"Dat you, Bud?" asked his mother.
"Bettah come now, supper's puty 'nigh ready."
"I don't want no supper."
"You bettah come on, Bud, I reckon you's mighty tired."
He did not reply, but just then a pair of thin arms were put around his neck and a soft cheek was placed close to his own.
"Come on, Buddie," whispered "little sister," "Mammy an' me know you didn't mean to do it, an' we don't keer."
Bud threw his arms around his little sister and held her tightly.
"It's only you an' ma I care about," he said, "though I am sorry I spoiled the company's drill; they say "B" would have won anyway on account of our bad firing, but I did want you and ma to be proud."
"We is proud," she whispered, "we's mos' prouder dan if you'd won," and pretty soon she led him by the hand to supper.
Hannah did all she could to cheer the boy and to encourage him to hope for next year, but he had little to say in reply, and went to bed early.
In the morning, though it neared school time, Bud lingered around and seemed in no disposition to get ready to go.
"Bettah git ready fer school," said Hannah cheerily.
"I don't believe I want to go any more," Bud replied.
"Not go any more? Why, ain't you 'shamed to talk that way! O' cose you goin' to school."
"I'm ashamed to show my face to the boys."
"What you say about de boys? De boys ain't a-goin' to give you an edgication when you need it."
"Oh, I don't want to go, ma; you don't know how I feel."
"I'm kinder sorry I let you go into dat company," said Hannah musingly, "'cause it was de teachin' I wanted you to git, not the prancin' and steppin'; but I did t'ink it would make mo' of a man of you, an' it ain't. Yo' pappy was a po' man, ha'd wo'kin', an' he wasn't high-toned neither, but from the time I first see him to the day of his death, I nevah seen him back down because he was afeared of anything," and Hannah turned to her work.
"Little sister" went up and slipped her hand in his. "You ain't a-goin to back down, is you, Buddie?" she said.
"No," said Bud stoutly, as he braced his shoulders, "I'm a-goin'."
But no persuasion could make him wear his uniform.
The boys were a little cold to him, and some were brutal. But most of them recognized the fact that what had happened to Tom Harris might have happened to any one of them. Besides, since the percentage had been shown, it was found that "B" had outpointed them in many ways, and so their loss was not due to the one grave error.
Bud's heart sank when he dropped into his seat in the Assembly Hall to find seated on the platform one of the blue-coated officers who had acted as judge the day before. After the opening exercises were over he was called upon to address the school. He spoke readily and pleasantly, laying especial stress upon the value of discipline; toward the end of his address he said "I suppose company 'A' is heaping accusations upon the head of the young man who dropped his bayonet yesterday." Tom could have died. "It was most regrettable," the officer continued, "but to me the most significant thing at the drill was the conduct of that cadet afterward. I saw the whole proceeding; I saw that he did not pause for an instant, that he did not even turn his head, and it appeared to me as one of the finest bits of self-control I had ever seen in any youth; had he forgotten himself for a moment and stopped, however quickly, to secure the weapon, the next line would have been interfered with and your whole movement thrown into confusion." There were a half hundred eyes glancing furtively at Bud, and the light began to dawn in his face. "This boy has shown what discipline means, and I for one want to shake hands with him, if he is here."
When he had concluded the Principal called Bud forward, and the boys, even his detractors, cheered as the officer took his hand.
"Why are you not in uniform, sir?" he asked.
"I was ashamed to wear it after yesterday," was the reply.
"Don't be ashamed to wear your uniform," the officer said to him, and Bud could have fallen on his knees and thanked him.
There were no more jeers from his comrades, and when he related it all at home that evening there were two more happy hearts in that South Washington cottage.
"I told you we was more prouder dan if you'd won," said "little sister."
"An' what did I tell you 'bout backin' out?" asked his mother.
Bud was too happy and too busy to answer; he was brushing his uniform.
THE BEGINNINGS OF A MISSISSIPPI SCHOOL
WILLIAM H. HOLTZCLAW
I had been unable to get permission to teach in the little church, so I started my school in the open air. We were out under the big trees amidst the shrubbery. This would have made a very good schoolhouse but for its size. In such a schoolhouse one could get along very well, if he could keep his pupils close enough to him, but the chances are, as I have found, that they will put bugs down one another's collars, and while you are hearing one class the other children will chase one another about. Their buoyant spirits will not permit them to keep quiet while they are in the open. It is pretty hard to hear a class reciting and at the same time to witness a boxing-match, but those who teach in the open air must be prepared for such performances. These annoyances were accentuated by the fact that some of my pupils were forty years old while others were six.
After a while we moved into an abandoned house, which we used for a schoolhouse, but it was little better than teaching out of doors. When it rained the water not only came through the roof, but through the sides as well. During cold winter rains I had to teach while standing with my overcoat on and with arctic rubbers to protect myself against pneumonia. During those rainy days Miss Lee, my assistant, would get up on a bench and stand there all day to keep her feet out of the water and would have an umbrella stretched over her to keep from getting wet from above. The little fellows would be standing in the water below like little ducks. They stood these conditions exceedingly well. Many of them were not protected with overshoes or any shoes, but they came to school each day just as if they had been properly clad.
It is impossible to describe the hardships that we suffered during that winter, which was severe for the South. As the winter came on and grew more and more severe a great many of the children were taken with pneumonia, la grippe, and similar ailments. I wished, in the interest of health, to abandon the school for a few weeks until better weather; but neither pupils, nor teachers, nor parents would listen to this, and so the school continued under these circumstances until the new schoolhouse was ready for use. It is needless to say that some of the pupils never survived those conditions; in fact, the strange thing is that any of us did.
UP FROM SLAVERY
THE STRUGGLE FOR AN EDUCATION
Booker T. Washington
One day, while at work in the coal-mine, I happened to overhear two miners talking about a great school for colored people somewhere in Virginia. This was the first time that I had ever heard anything about any kind of school or college that was more pretentious than the little colored school in our town.
In the darkness of the mine I noiselessly crept as close as I could to the two men who were talking. I heard one tell the other that not only was the school established for the members of my race, but that opportunities were provided by which poor but worthy students could work out all or a part of the cost of board, and at the same time be taught some trade or industry.
As they went on describing the school, it seemed to me that it must be the greatest place on earth, and not even Heaven presented more attractions for me at that time than did the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, about which these men were talking. I resolved at once to go to that school, although I had no idea where it was, or how many miles away, or how I was going to reach it; I remembered only that I was on fire constantly with one ambition, and that was to go to Hampton. This thought was with me day and night.
After hearing of the Hampton Institute, I continued to work for a few months longer in the coal-mine. While at work there, I heard of a vacant position in the household of General Lewis Ruffner, the owner of the salt-furnace and coal-mine. Mrs. Viola Ruffner, the wife of General Ruffner, was a "Yankee" woman from Vermont. Mrs. Ruffner had a reputation all through the vicinity for being very strict with her servants, and especially with the boys who tried to serve her. Few of them had remained with her more than two or three weeks. They all left with the same excuse: she was too strict. I decided, however, that I would rather try Mrs. Ruffner's house than remain in the coal-mine, and so my mother applied to her for the vacant position. I was hired at a salary of $5 per month.
I had heard so much about Mrs. Ruffner's severity that I was almost afraid to see her, and trembled when I went into her presence. I had not lived with her many weeks, however, before I began to understand her. I soon began to learn that, first of all, she wanted everything kept clean about her, that she wanted things done promptly and systematically, and that at the bottom of everything she wanted absolute honesty and frankness. Nothing must be sloven or slipshod; every door, every fence, must be kept in repair.
I cannot now recall how long I lived with Mrs. Ruffner before going to Hampton, but I think it must have been a year and a half. At any rate, I here repeat what I have said more than once before, that the lessons that I learned in the home of Mrs. Ruffner were as valuable to me as any education I have ever gotten anywhere since. Even to this day I never see bits of paper scattered around a house or in the street that I do not want to pick them up at once. I never see a filthy yard that I do not want to clean it, a paling off of a fence that I do not want to put it on, an unpainted or unwhitewashed house that I do not want to paint or whitewash it, or a button off one's clothes, or a grease-spot on them or on a floor, that I do not want to call attention to it.
From fearing Mrs. Ruffner I soon learned to look upon her as one of my best friends. When she found that she could trust me she did so implicitly. During the one or two winters that I was with her she gave me an opportunity to go to school for an hour in the day during a portion of the winter months, but most of my studying was done at night, sometimes alone, sometimes under some one whom I could hire to teach me. Mrs. Ruffner always encouraged and sympathized with me in all my efforts to get an education. It was while living with her that I began to get together my first library. I secured a dry-goods box, knocked out one side of it, put some shelves in it, and began putting into it every kind of book that I could get my hands upon, and called it "my library."
Without any unusual occurrence I reached Hampton, with a surplus of exactly fifty cents with which to begin my education. To me it had been a long, eventful journey; but the first sight of the large, three-story, brick school building seemed to have rewarded me for all that I had undergone in order to reach the place. If the people who gave the money to provide that building could appreciate the influence the sight of it had upon me, as well as upon thousands of other youths, they would feel all the more encouraged to make such gifts. It seemed to me to be the largest and most beautiful building I had ever seen. The sight of it seemed to give me new life. I felt that a new kind of existence had now begun—that life would now have a new meaning. I felt that I had reached the promised land, and I resolved to let no obstacle prevent me from putting forth the highest effort to fit myself to accomplish the most good in the world.
As soon as possible after reaching the grounds of the Hampton Institute, I presented myself before the head teacher for assignment to a class. Having been so long without proper food, a bath, and change of clothing, I did not, of course, make a very favorable impression upon her, and I could see at once that there were doubts in her mind about the wisdom of admitting me as a student. I felt that I could hardly blame her if she got the idea that I was a worthless loafer or tramp. For some time she did not refuse to admit me, neither did she decide in my favor, and I continued to linger about her, and to impress her in all the ways I could with my worthiness. In the meantime I saw her admitting other students, and that added greatly to my discomfort, for I felt, deep down in my heart, that I could do as well as they, if I could only get a chance to show what was in me.
After some hours had passed, the head teacher said to me, "The adjoining recitation room needs sweeping. Take the broom and sweep it."
It occurred to me at once that here was my chance. Never did I receive an order with more delight. I knew that I could sweep, for Mrs. Ruffner had thoroughly taught me how to do that when I lived with her.
I swept the recitation-room three times. Then I got a dusting-cloth and I dusted it four times. All the woodwork around the walls, every bench, table, and desk, I went over four times with my dusting-cloth. Besides, every piece of furniture had been moved and every closet and corner in the room had been thoroughly cleaned. I had the feeling that in a large measure my future depended upon the impression I made upon the teacher in the cleaning of that room. When I was through, I reported to the head teacher. She was a "Yankee" woman who knew just where to look for dirt. She went into the room and inspected the floor and closets; then she took her handkerchief and rubbed it on the wood-work about the walls, and over the table and benches. When she was unable to find one bit of dirt on the floor, or a particle of dust on any of the furniture, she remarked quietly, "I guess you will do to enter this institution."
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
A STUDENT'S MEMORY OF HIM
WILLIAM H. HOLTZCLAW
One thing about Mr. Washington that impressed me was his regularity. He was as regular as the clock. He appeared at his office in the morning exactly at eight o'clock, remained until twelve, very often took part in an Executive Council meeting until one, and then went to lunch. At two o'clock he would again be in his office and would invariably remain there until half-past four, when he would leave and tramp across the plantation; sometimes he would run for a mile or two, as fast as he could go, for exercise. When he returned he would go to his library and there would pass the time until six, when he would go to dinner. After dinner he played with the children for a while and then returned to his library until 8.40. He would then go to Chapel for evening prayers with the whole student body. This prayer service was one that Mr. Washington seldom ever missed and he always appeared on the rostrum exactly on the minute.
Mr. Washington had a grasp of the details of the work of Tuskegee that seemed almost incredible. I remember one evening that I was startled to hear my name, together with that of one of my friends, called out by Mr. Washington from the chapel platform. He simply said, "William Holtzclaw and Charles Washington may rise." I was so weak in my knees that I could scarcely stand, but I knew nothing else to do but to rise at the command of that voice. After we stood up and the whole school was looking at us, Mr. Washington said: "These young men may pass out of the Chapel and go and pick up the tools they worked with to-day." We had been ditching and when the work-bell rang had left our tools where we were working, when they should have been carried to the toolhouse.
If the water main, or water pipe, had a defect in it so that it was leaking anywhere on the grounds, Mr. Washington was almost sure to see that something was wrong and to call the matter to the attention of the Superintendent of Industries.
If he came into the dining-room while the students were eating their meals, he would notice such small details as a student's pouring out more molasses on his plate than he could eat and would stop in the dining-room, send for the matron, have some bread brought to the student, and wait until that student had eaten all the molasses he had poured on his plate.
If one walked about the campus at night, he would be sure to meet Mr. Washington almost anywhere on the grounds. For instance, he might be found in the kitchen at two o'clock in the morning examining the method of preparing the students' breakfast. He seldom seemed to me to take sufficient rest for an average man.
To Anna-Margaret's mind, being the baby of the family was simply awful. This fact seemed to grow with it each day. It began in the morning when she watched her sisters as they laughed and rollicked through their dressing.
"Bet I'll beat, and you got on your stockings already," challenged Edith.
"I'll bet you won't,—bet I'll be out to the pump, my face washed, and be at the breakfast table and you won't have your shoes laced up," boasted Ruth, the older of the two.
"We'll see, we'll see," giggled Edith.
"Oho, I guess you will. Mother gave you new shoe strings," said Ruth somewhat crestfallen.
"I told you so, I told you so," and Edith bounded out of the door, closely pursued by Ruth who cried: "You didn't beat me but 'bout an inch."
Anna-Margaret was left alone to sit and think for all the next hour how perfectly awful it was to be the baby, until Mother Dear was able to come and dress her.
The next morning it was the same torture all over again. It seemed to Anna-Margaret that people never stopped to think or know what a baby was forced to go through. There were Edith and Ruth racing again. Anna-Margaret spied her shoes and stockings on a chair. Out of the side of her crib she climbed.
"Look at Anna-Margaret!" screamed Edith.
"You, Anna-Margaret, get right back in that crib!" commanded Ruth assuming her mother's tone.
"I won't!" And right over to the chair where her shoes and stockings were, walked the baby. She seated herself on the floor and drew on her stocking as if she had been in the habit of doing it on preceding mornings. It was surprising to Anna-Margaret, herself, the ease with which it went on.
"Look at that child," gasped Ruth.
Edith looked and said a little grudgingly, "I'll bet she can't put on her shoes though." Edith remembered how long it was before she was able to put on her shoes, and this accomplishment, in her mind, seemed to give her a great superiority over her baby sister.
"Come on, Edith," called Ruth, "I'll beat you down to the pump and I'll give you to the rose bush, too."
Struggling, pulling and twisting sat Anna-Margaret all alone, but the shoe would not go on. She was just about to give up in utter despair and burst into tears when Mother Dear appeared in the doorway.
"What is mother's angel doing? Well, well, look at Mother's smart child, she has got on her stocking already,—here, let mother help her."
It was awful to think you were still such a baby that you couldn't do anything yourself, but it was very nice, so Anna-Margaret thought, to have such an adorable mother to come to your rescue.
"There now, run out and tell Ruth to wash your face and then mother will give you your breakfast."
"Wash my face, Ruth," requested Anna-Margaret at the pump.
"Who laced up your shoes?" asked Edith suspiciously.
"I did." Anna-Margaret said it so easily that it startled herself.
"I don't believe it, I don't believe it. I am going to ask Mother."
"Hold still, will you, and let me wash your face," commanded Ruth.
As soon as she was free, away went Anna-Margaret back to the house.
"Muvver, Muvver," cried Anna-Margaret almost breathless as she entered the big kitchen, "tell Edith I laced up my shoes, tell 'er, Muvver, will yo', Muvver?"
Mother stopped her work at the breakfast table. "Anna-Margaret, I could not do that because you didn't."
"But tell 'er I did, won't you, Muvver," she pleaded.
"Anna-Margaret, I can't do that because I would be telling a lie. Don't I whip Ruth and Edith for telling lies?"
"Tell a lie, Muvver, tell a lie, I won't whip you."
Mother Dear was forced to smile. "Here, eat your breakfast, I can't promise my baby I will tell a lie, even if she won't whip me."
Fortunately no one questioned Mother Dear and Anna-Margaret ate her breakfast in silence. Then kissing her mother in a matter of fact way, she went out to play with her sisters.
"Ah, here comes Anna-Margaret to knock down our things," moaned Edith.
"Let her come on," cried Ruth, "and we'll go down in the bottom and build sand forts; it rained yesterday and the sand is nice and damp."
"Oh-oo, let's," echoed Edith, and off they scampered. Anna-Margaret saw them and started after them as fast as her little chubby brown legs could carry her, which wasn't very fast. The other children were far in front of her. Anna-Margaret stopped suddenly,—she heard a little biddie in distress. There was a mother hen darting through the grass after a fleeing grasshopper, and close behind her was the whole flock save one. Anna-Margaret watched them as the young chickens spread open their wings and hurried in pursuit of their mother. Far behind one little black, fuzzy biddie struggled and tripped over the tall grass stems. The baby looked at the little chick and then at the other ones and saw that they were different. She didn't know what the difference was. She could not understand that the other chickens were several days older and that this one had only been taken away from its own mother hen that morning in order that she would remain on her nest until all her chicks were hatched. All Anna-Margaret knew was that they were different.
"Poor l'll biddie, dey don't want you to play wif them," she sympathized, "come, come to Anna-Margaret."
With little difficulty she captured the young chick and started back to the house.
"Dat's all 'ight, I know what I'm gonna do," she decided, "I'm gonna play Dod. Poor l'll biddie, just wait, Anna-Margaret'll fix yo', so you can run and fly and keep up with the biddies. Won't dat be nice, uh?" And she put her curly head down close to the little chick as if to catch its answer.
Anna-Margaret went straight to the big sewing-basket and placing the biddie on the machine extracted a threaded needle. Cutting two small pieces of black cloth for wings, she took the chick and seated herself on the drop-step between the sewing-room and dining-room. She then attempted to sew one of the little black pieces of cloth to one of the tiny wings of the young chick.
"There, there, yo'll be all 'ight in dest a minute," she said amid the distressful chirping of the chick. The biddie's cries brought Mother Dear to the scene.
"Anna-Margaret, what on earth are you doing to the little chicken?"
Anna-Margaret turned her big brown eyes upon her mother. "I'm playin' Dod and I'm puttin' some wings on des l'll biddie so it can run and fly like the oo-ver ones, and so they won't run off all the time and leave it."
"But Anna-Margaret, don't you know you are hurting the little biddie?"
"No-o, Muvver," she said slowly, "but I know what it is to be always runned off and lef'."
Mother Dear understood what was in her baby's mind as she gathered her up in her arms. Anna-Margaret dropped the sewing, cuddled the little biddie close in one arm and clasped her mother's neck with the other. Mother Dear held her closely.
"I love yo', Muvver Dear," whispered Anna-Margaret.
"I love you, baby dear," was the whispered answer.
Being the baby of the family to Anna-Margaret's mind, just now, was awfully nice.
H. CORDELIA RAY
I saw a maiden, fairest of the fair, With every grace bedight beyond compare. Said I, "What doest thou, pray, tell to me!" "I see the good in others," answered she.
MY FIRST SCHOOL
W. E. B. DUBOIS
Once upon a time I taught school in the hills of Tennessee, where the broad dark vale of the Mississippi begins to roll and crumple to greet the Alleghanies. I was a Fisk student then, and all Fisk men thought that Tennessee—beyond the Veil—was theirs alone, and in vacation time they sallied forth in lusty bands to meet the county school-commissioners. Young and happy, I too went, and I shall not soon forget that summer.
First, there was a Teachers' Institute at the county-seat; and there distinguished guests of the superintendent taught the teachers fractions and spelling and other mysteries,—white teachers in the morning, Negroes at night. A picnic now and then, and a supper, and the rough world was softened by laughter and song. I remember how—but I wander.
There came a day when all the teachers left the Institute and began the hunt for schools. I learn from hearsay (for my mother was mortally afraid of firearms) that the hunting of ducks and bears and men is wonderfully interesting, but I am sure that the man who has never hunted a country school has something to learn of the pleasures of the chase. I see now the white, hot roads lazily rise and fall and wind before me under the burning July sun; I feel the deep weariness of heart and limb as ten, eight, six miles stretch relentlessly ahead; I feel my heart sink heavily as I hear again and again, "Got a teacher? Yes." So I walked on—horses were too expensive—until I wandered beyond railways, beyond stage lines, to a land of "varmints" and rattlesnakes, where the coming of a stranger was an event, and men lived and died in the shadow of one blue hill.
Sprinkled over hill and dale lay cabins and farmhouses, shut out from the world by the forests and the rolling hills toward the east. There I found at last a little school. Josie told me of it; she was a thin, homely girl of twenty, with a dark-brown face and thick, hard hair. I had crossed the stream at Watertown, and rested under the great willows; then I had gone to the little cabin in the lot where Josie was resting on her way to town. The gaunt farmer made me welcome, and Josie, hearing my errand, told me anxiously that they wanted a school over the hill; that but once since the war had a teacher been there; that she herself longed to learn,—and thus she ran on, talking fast and loud, with much earnestness and energy.
Next morning I crossed the tall round hill, lingered to look at the blue and yellow mountains stretching toward the Carolinas, then plunged into the wood, and came out at Josie's home. It was a dull frame cottage with four rooms, perched just below the brow of the hill, amid peach trees. The father was a quiet, simple soul, calmly ignorant, with no touch of vulgarity. The mother was different,—strong, bustling, and energetic, with a quick, restless tongue, and an ambition to live "like folks."
There was a crowd of children. Two boys had gone away. There remained two growing girls; a shy midget of eight; John, tall, awkward, and eighteen; Jim, younger, quicker, and better looking; and two babies of indefinite age. Then there was Josie herself. She seemed to be the center of the family: always busy at service, or at home, or berry-picking; a little nervous and inclined to scold, like her mother, yet faithful, too, like her father. She had about her a certain fineness, the shadow of an unconscious moral heroism that would willingly give all of life to make life broader, deeper, and fuller for her and hers.
I saw much of this family afterwards, and grew to love them for their honest efforts to be decent and comfortable, and for their knowledge of their own ignorance. There was with them no affectation. The mother would scold the father for being so "easy"; Josie would roundly berate the boys for carelessness; and all know that it was a hard thing to dig a living out of a rocky side-hill.
I secured the school. I remember the day I rode horseback out to the commissioner's house with a pleasant young white fellow who wanted the white school. The road ran down the bed of a stream; the sun laughed and the water jingled, and we rode on. "Come in," said the commissioner,—"come in. Have a seat. Yes, that certificate will do. Stay to dinner. What do you want a month?" "Oh," thought I, "this is lucky"; but even then fell the first awful shadow of the Veil, for they ate first, then I—alone.
The schoolhouse was a log hut, where Colonel Wheeler used to shelter his corn. It sat in a lot behind a rail fence and thorn bushes, near the sweetest of springs. There was an entrance where a door once was, and within, a massive rickety fireplace; great chinks between the logs served as windows. Furniture was scarce. A pale blackboard crouched in the corner. My desk was made of three boards, reinforced at critical points, and my chair, borrowed from the landlady, had to be returned every night. Seats for the children—these puzzled me much. I was haunted by a New England vision of neat little desks and chairs, but, alas! the reality was rough plank benches without backs, and at times without legs. They had the one virtue of making naps dangerous,—possibly fatal, for the floor was not to be trusted.
It was a hot morning late in July when the school opened. I trembled when I heard the patter of little feet down the dusty road, and saw the growing row of dark solemn faces and bright eager eyes facing me. First came Josie and her brothers and sisters. The longing to know, to be a student in the great school at Nashville, hovered like a star above this child-woman amid her work and worry, and she studied doggedly. There were the Dowells from their farm over toward Alexandria,—Fanny, with her smooth black face and wondering eyes; Martha, brown and dull; the pretty girl-wife of a brother, and the younger brood.
There were the Burkes,—two brown and yellow lads, and a tiny haughty-eyed girl. Fat Reuben's little chubby girl came, with golden face and old-gold hair, faithful and solemn. 'Thenie was on hand early,—a jolly, ugly, good-hearted girl, who slyly dipped snuff and looked after her little bow-legged brother. When her mother could spare her, 'Tildy came,—a midnight beauty, with starry eyes and tapering limbs; and her brother, correspondingly homely. And then the big boys,—the hulking Lawrences; the lazy Neills, unfathered sons of mother and daughter; Hickman, with a stoop in his shoulders; and the rest.
There they sat, nearly thirty of them, on the rough benches, their faces shading from a pale cream to a deep brown, the little feet bare and swinging, the eyes full of expectation, with here and there a twinkle of mischief, and the hands grasping Webster's blue-back spelling-book. I loved my school, and the fine faith the children had in the wisdom of their teacher was truly marvelous. We read and spelled together, wrote a little, picked flowers, sang, and listened to stories of the world beyond the hill.
At times the school would dwindle away, and I would start out. I would visit Mun Eddings, who lived in two very dirty rooms, and ask why little Lugene, whose flaming face seemed ever ablaze with the dark-red hair uncombed, was absent all last week, or why I missed so often the inimitable rags of Mack and Ed. Then the father, who worked Colonel Wheeler's farm on shares, would tell me how the crops needed the boys; and the thin, slovenly mother, whose face was pretty when washed, assured me that Lugene must mind the baby. "But we'll start them again next week." When the Lawrences stopped, I knew that the doubts of the old folks about book-learning had conquered again, and so, toiling up the hill, and getting as far into the cabin as possible, I put Cicero "pro Archia Poeta" into the simplest English with local applications, and usually convinced them—for a week or so.
On Friday nights I often went home with some of the children,—sometimes to Doc Burke's farm. He was a great, loud, thin Black, ever working, and trying to buy the seventy-five acres of hill and dale where he lived; but people said that he would surely fail, and the "white folks would get it all." His wife was a magnificent Amazon, with saffron face and shining hair, uncorseted and barefooted, and the children were strong and beautiful. They lived in a one-and-a-half-room cabin in the hollow of the farm, near the spring. The front room was full of great fat white beds, scrupulously neat; and there were bad chromos on the walls, and a tired center-table. In the tiny back kitchen I was often invited to "take out and help" myself to fried chicken and wheat biscuit, "meat" and corn pone, string-beans and berries.
At first I used to be a little alarmed at the approach of bedtime in the lone bedroom, but embarrassment was very deftly avoided. First, all the children nodded and slept, and were stowed away in one great pile of goose feathers; next, the mother and the father discreetly slipped away to the kitchen while I went to bed; then, blowing out the dim light, they retired in the dark. In the morning all were up and away before I thought of awaking. Across the road, where fat Reuben lived, they all went out-doors while the teacher retired, because they did not boast the luxury of a kitchen.
I liked to stay with the Dowells, for they had four rooms and plenty of good country fare. Uncle Bird had a small, rough farm, all woods and hills, miles from the big road; but he was full of tales,—he preached now and then,—and with his children, berries, horses, and wheat he was happy and prosperous. Often, to keep the peace, I must go where life was less lovely; for instance, 'Tildy's mother was incorrigibly dirty, Reuben's larder was limited seriously, and herds of untamed insects wandered over the Eddingses' beds. Best of all I loved to go to Josie's, and sit on the porch, eating peaches, while the mother bustled and talked: how Josie had bought the sewing-machine; how Josie worked at service in winter, but that four dollars a month was "mighty little" wages; how Josie longed to go away to school, but that it "looked like" they never could get far enough ahead to let her; how the crops failed and the well was yet unfinished; and, finally, how "mean" some of the white folks were.
For two summers I lived in this little world; it was dull and humdrum. The girls looked at the hill in wistful longing, and the boys fretted and haunted Alexandria. Alexandria was "town,"—a straggling, lay village of houses, churches, and shops, and an aristocracy of Toms, Dicks, and Captains. Cuddled on the hill to the north was the village of the colored folks, who lived in three- or four-room unpainted cottages, some neat and homelike, and some dirty. The dwellings were scattered rather aimlessly, but they centered about the twin temples of the hamlet, the Methodist and the Hard-Shell Baptist churches. These, in turn, leaned gingerly on a sad-colored schoolhouse. Hither my little world wended its crooked way on Sunday to meet other worlds, and gossip, and wonder, and make the weekly sacrifice with frenzied priest at the altar of the "old-time religion." Then the soft melody and mighty cadences of Negro song fluttered and thundered.
I have called my tiny community a world, and so its isolation made it; and yet there was among us but a half-awakened common consciousness, sprung from common joy and grief, at burial, birth, or wedding; from a common hardship in poverty, poor land, and low wages; and above all, from the sight of the Veil that hung between us and Opportunity. All this caused us to think some thoughts together; but these, when ripe for speech, were spoken in various languages. Those whose eyes twenty-five or more years before had seen "the glory of the coming of the Lord," saw in every present hindrance or help a dark fatalism bound to bring all things right in His own good time. The mass of those to whom slavery was a dim recollection of childhood found the world a puzzling thing: it asked little of them, and they answered with little, and yet it ridiculed their offering. Such a paradox they could not understand, and therefore sank into listless indifference, or shiftlessness, or reckless bravado. There were, however, some—such as Josie, Jim and Ben—to whom War, Hell, and Slavery were but childhood tales, whose young appetites had been whetted to an edge by school and story and half-awakened thought. Ill could they be content, born without and beyond the World. And their weak wings beat against their barriers,—barriers of caste, of youth, of life; at last, in dangerous moments, against everything that opposed even a whim.
ERE SLEEP COMES DOWN TO SOOTHE THE WEARY EYES
PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, Which all the day with ceaseless care have sought The magic gold which from the seeker flies; Ere dreams put on the gown and cap of thought, And make the waking world a world of lies,— Of lies most palpable, uncouth, forlorn, That say life's full of aches and tears and sighs,— Oh, how with more than dreams the soul is torn, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, Now all the griefs and heartaches we have known Come up like pois'nous vapors that arise From some base witch's caldron, when the crone, To work some potent spell, her magic plies. The past which held its share of bitter pain, Whose ghost we prayed that Time might exorcise, Comes up, is lived and suffered o'er again, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, What phantoms fill the dimly lighted room; What ghostly shades in awe-creating guise Are bodied forth within the teeming gloom. What echoes great of sad and soul-sick cries, And pangs of vague inexplicable pain That pay the spirit's ceaseless enterprise, Come thronging through the chambers of the brain, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, Where ranges forth the spirit far and free? Through what strange realms and unfamiliar skies Tends her far course to lands of mystery? To lands unspeakable—beyond surmise, Where shapes unknowable to being spring, Till, faint of wing, the Fancy fails and dies Much wearied with the spirit's journeying, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, Now questioneth the soul that other soul— The inner sense which neither cheats nor lies, But self exposes unto self, a scroll Full writ with all life's acts unwise or wise, In characters indelible and known; So, trembling with the shock of sad surprise, The soul doth view its awful self alone, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
When sleep comes down to seal the weary eyes, The last dear sleep whose soft embrace is balm, And whom sad sorrow teaches us to prize For kissing all our passions into calm, Ah, then, no more we heed the sad world's cries, Or seek to probe th' eternal mystery, Or fret our souls at long-withheld replies, At glooms through which our visions cannot see, When sleep comes down to seal the weary eyes.
THE LAND OF LAUGHTER
ANGELINA W. GRIMKE
Once upon a time there were two dear little boys, and they were all alone in the world. They lived with a cruel old man and old woman, who made them work hard, very hard—all day, and beat them when they did not move fast enough, and always, every night, before they went to bed. They slept in an attic on a rickety, narrow bed, that went screech! screech! whenever they moved. And, in the summer, they nearly died with the heat up there; and in the winter with the cold.
One wintry night, when they were both weeping very bitterly after a particularly hard beating, they suddenly heard a pleasant voice saying:
"Why are you crying, little boys?"
They looked up, and there in the moonlight, by their bed, was the dearest little old lady. She was dressed all in grey, from the peak of her little pointed hat to her little, buckled shoes. She held a black cane much taller than her little self. Her hair fell about her ears in tiny, grey corkscrew curls; and they bobbed about as she moved. Her eyes were black and bright—as bright as—well, as that lovely, white light in the fire. And her cheeks were as red as an apple.
"Why are you crying, little boys?" she asked again, in a lovely, low, little voice.
"Because we are tired and sore and hungry and cold; and we are all alone in the world; and we don't know how to laugh any more. We should so like to laugh again."
"Why, that's easy," she said, "it's just like this," and she laughed a little, joyous, musical laugh. "Try!" she commanded.
They tried, but their laughing boxes were very rusty and they made horrid sounds.
"Well," she said, "I advise you to pack up, and go away, as soon as you can, to the Land of Laughter. You'll soon learn there, I can tell you."
"Is there such a land?" they asked doubtfully.
"To be sure there is," she answered, the least bit sharply.
"We never heard of it," they said.
"Well, I'm sure there must be plenty of things you never heard about," she said just the "leastest" bit more sharply. "In a moment you'll be telling me the flowers don't talk together, and the birds."
"We never heard of such a thing," they said in surprise, their eyes like saucers.
"There!" she said, bobbing her little curls. "What did I tell you. You have much to learn."
"How do you get to the Land of Laughter?" they asked.
"You go out of the eastern gate of the town, just as the sun is rising; and you take the highway there, and follow it; and if you go with it long enough, it will bring you to the gate of the Land of Laughter. It is a long, long way from here; and it will take you many days."
The words had scarcely left her mouth when, lo! the little lady disappeared, and where she had stood was the white square of moonlight—nothing else.
And without more ado these two little boys put their arms round each other, and fell fast asleep. And in the grey, just before daybreak, they awoke and dressed; and putting on their little ragged caps and mittens, for it was a wintry day, they stole out of the house, and made for the eastern gate. And just as they reached it and passed through, the whole east leapt into fire.
All day they walked, and many days thereafter; and kindly people, by the way, took them in and gave them food and drink and sometimes a bed at night. Often they slept by the roadside; but they didn't mind that for the climate was delightful—not too hot, and not too cold. They soon threw away their ragged little mittens.
They walked for many days; and there was no Land of Laughter. Once they met an old man, richly dressed, with shining jewels on his fingers, and he stopped them and asked:
"Where are you going so fast, little boys?"
"We are going to the Land of Laughter," they said very gravely.
"That," said the old man, "is a very foolish thing to do. Come with me and I will take you to the Land of Riches. I will cover you with beautiful garments, and give you jewels and a castle to live in with servants and horses and many things besides."
And they said to him, "No, we wish to learn how to laugh again; we have forgotten how, and we are going to the Land of Laughter."
"You will regret not going with me. See if you don't," he said, and he left them in quite a huff.
And they walked again, many days, and again they met an old man. He was tall and imposing-looking and very dignified. And he said:
"Where are you going so fast, little boys?"
"We are going to the Land of Laughter," they said together very seriously.
"What!" he said, "that is an extremely foolish thing to do. Come with me, and I will give you power. I will make you great men; generals, kings, emperors. Whatever you desire to accomplish will be permitted you."
And they said politely:
"Thank you, very much, but we have forgotten how to laugh; and we are going there to learn how."
He looked upon them haughtily, without speaking, and disappeared.
And they walked and walked more days; and they met another old man. And he was clad in rags; and his face was thin; and his eyes were unhappy. And he whispered to them:
"Where are you going so fast, little boys?"
"We are going to the Land of Laughter," they answered, without a smile.
"Laughter! laughter! that is useless. Come with me and I will show you the beauty of life through sacrifice, suffering for others. That is the only life. I come from the Land of Sacrifice."
And they thanked him kindly, but said:
"We have suffered enough. We have forgotten how to laugh. We would learn again." And they went on; and he looked after them wistfully.
They walked more days; and at last they came to the Land of Laughter. And how do you suppose they knew this? Because they could hear, over the wall, the sound of joyous laughter—the laughter of men, women and little children.
And one sat guarding the gate, and they went to her.
"We have come a long, long distance; and we would enter the Land of Laughter."
"Let me see you smile, first," she said gently. "I sit at the gate and no one who does not know how to smile may enter into the Land of Laughter."
And they tried to smile, but could not.
"Go away and practise," she said kindly, "and come back tomorrow."
And they went away, and practised all night how to smile; and, in the morning, they returned. And the gentle lady at the gate said:
"Dear little boys, have you learned how to smile?"
And they said: "We have tried. How is this?"
"Better," she said, "much better. Practise some more, and come back tomorrow."
And they went away obediently and practised.
And they came the third day. And she said:
"Now, try again."
And tears of delight came into her lovely eyes.
"Those were very beautiful smiles," she said. "Now you may enter."
And she unlocked the gate and kissed them both, and they entered the beautiful Land of Laughter.
Never had they seen such blue skies, such green trees and grass; never had they heard such bird song.
And people, men, women and children, laughing softly, came to meet them, and took them in, and made them at home; and soon, very soon, they learned to laugh. All day they laughed, and even in their sleep. And they grew up here, and married, and had laughing, happy children. And sometimes they thought of the Land of Riches, and said, "Ah! well"; and sometimes of the Land of Power, and sighed a little; and sometimes of the Land of Sacrifice—and their eyes were wistful. But they soon forgot, and laughed again. And they grew old, laughing. And when they died—a laugh was on their lips. Thus are things in the beautiful Land of Laughter.
THE WEB OF CIRCUMSTANCE
CHARLES W. CHESNUTT
Some time, we are told, when the cycle of years has rolled around, there is to be another golden age, when all men will dwell together in love and harmony, and when peace and righteousness shall prevail for a thousand years. God speed the day, and let not the shining thread of hope become so enmeshed in the web of circumstance that we lose sight of it; but give us here and there, and now and then, some little foretaste of this golden age, that we may the more patiently and hopefully await its coming!
IS THE GAME WORTH THE CANDLE?
JAMES E. SHEPARD
A man's life depends upon his emotions, his aspirations, his determinations.
A young man, somebody's son, starts out with the determination that the world is indebted to him for a good time. "Dollars were made to spend. I am young, and every man must sow his wild oats and then settle down. I want to be a 'hail fellow well met' with every one."
With this determination uppermost in his life purpose he starts out to be a good-timer. Perhaps some mother expects to hear great things of her boy, some father's hopes are centered in him, but what does that matter? "I am a good-timer." From one gayety to another, from one glass to another, from one sin to another, and the good-timer at last is broken in health, deserted by friends, and left alone to die. Thus the "man about town" passes off the stage. When you ask some of his friends about him, the answer is, "Oh, John was all right, but he lived too fast. I like good times as well as anyone, but I could not keep up with John." Was the game worth the candle?
Two pictures came before my mind: two cousins, both of them young men. One started out early in life with the determination of getting along "easy," shirking work, and looking for a soft snap. His motto was, "The world owes me a living, and I am going to get mine." He was employed first by one firm and then by another; if anything that he considered hard came along, he would pay another fellow to do the work and he "took things easy." It was not long before no one would hire him. He continued to hold the idea that the world was indebted to him and furthermore, he arrogated a belief that what another man had accumulated he could borrow without his knowledge. He forged another man's name, was detected, and sentenced to the penitentiary and is now wearing the badge of felony and shame—the convict's stripes. Is the game worth the candle?
The other cousin started out with a determination altogether different. He believed with Lord Brougham, that if he were a bootblack he would strive to be the best bootblack in England. He began in a store as a window-cleaner, and washed windows so well that they sparkled like diamonds under the sun. As a clerk, no customer was too insignificant to be greeted with a smile or pleasant word; no task was too great for him to attempt. Thus step by step, he advanced, each day bringing new duties and difficulties but each day also bringing new strength and determination to master them, and today that cousin is a man of wealth and an honored citizen, blessed, too, with a happy home.
Some young men start life with the idea that every dollar made requires that one dollar and a half shall be spent; in order to be noticed they must make a big show, give big dinners, carriage drives, and parties, invite friends to the theaters, and have a "swell" time; must do like Mr. "So-and-So." They forget in their desire to copy, that Mr. "So-and-So," their pattern, has already made his fortune; that he began to save before he began to spend. But no, his name appears often in the papers and they think also that theirs must. So they begin their careers. A few years pass. The young men marry; their debts begin to accumulate and to press them, their countenances are always woe-begone; where once were smiles, now are frowns, and the homes are pictures of gloom and shadows. The lesson is plain.
Debt is the greatest burden that can be put upon man; it makes him afraid to look honest men in the face. No man can be a leader in the fullest sense who is burdened by a great debt. If there is any young man who is spending more than he is making, let him ask himself the question, Is the game worth the candle?
I know another young man who believed he could be happy by spending one-third of what he made and saving the other portion. He said to me, "some day I want to marry and I want to treat my wife better, if possible, than she was treated at home. I want to respect my fellow man, I want to be a leader, and I know I can only do so by saving a part of what I make." It was my good pleasure, a few weeks ago, to visit the city where this young man is practising medicine. He carried me over that town in an automobile, he entertained me in his $5000 home, he showed me other property which he owned. Ah, his indeed was a happy home. Life to him was blessedly real.
A young man starts out in life with the determination to fight his way by physical force to the front ranks. Bruised, disfigured, or killed, he is forced back even beyond the lines again. A religiously inclined youth asked his pastor, "Do you think it would be wrong for me to learn the noble art of self-defense?" "Certainly not," replied the pastor, "I learned it in youth myself, and I have found it of great value in my life." "Indeed, sir, did you learn the Old English system or the Sullivan system" "Neither; I learned Solomon's system!" replied the minister. "Yes, you will find it laid down in the first verse of the fifteenth chapter of Proverbs, 'A soft answer turneth away wrath'; it is the best system of self-defense I know."
Another young man starts life with a wrong idea regarding city and country life. Born in the country he is free, his thoughts and ambitions can feed on a pure atmosphere, but he thinks his conditions and his surroundings are circumscribed; he longs for the city, with its bigness, its turmoil, and its conflicts. He leaves the old homestead, the quiet village, the country people, and hies himself to the city. He forgets to a large extent the good boy he used to be, in the desire to keep up with the fashions and to make the people forget that he was once a country boy. City life, as is often the case, breaks up his youth, destroys his morals, undermines his character, steals his reputation, and finally leaves the promising youth a wrecked man. Was the game worth the candle?
Young men, never be ashamed of the old log-cabin in the country, or the old bonnet your mother used to wear, or the jean pants your father used to toil in. I had rather be a poor country boy with limited surroundings and a pure heart than to be a city man bedecked in the latest fashions and weighted down with money, having no morals, no character. I had rather have the religion and faith of my fathers than to have the highest offices. I had rather have glorious life, pure and lofty, than to have great riches. Sir Walter Scott was right when he said:
"Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife, To all the sensual world proclaim: One crowded hour of glorious life Is worth an age without a name."
There are two old Dutch words which have resounded through the world, "Neen nimmer," "No, never." The fleets of Spain heard it, and understood it fully, when they saw the sinking Dutch ships with the flags nailed to the shattered mainmast, crying, "Neen nimmer," which indicated that they would never surrender.
Will the young men who are to be the leaders, spend their hours in riotous living? No, never! Will they be false to duty? No, never! Will they shirk? No, never! Will they be disloyal to self, to home, to country, and to God? No, never!
Croesus was a rich man, a king. One day Croesus said to Solon, the philosopher, "Do you not think I am a happy man?" Solon answered, "Alas, I do not know, Croesus; that life is happy that ends well." A few years later when Croesus had lost his wealth, his kingdom, and his health, and had been deserted by those who in his days of glory ran to do his slightest bidding, Croesus in anguish and misery exclaimed, "Solon, Solon, thou saidst truly that life is well and happy that ends well."
O BLACK AND UNKNOWN BARDS
JAMES WELDON JOHNSON
O black and unknown bards of long ago, How came your lips to touch the sacred fire? How, in your darkness, did you come to know The power and beauty of the minstrel's lyre? Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes? Who first from out the still watch, lone and long, Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song?
Heart of what slave poured out such melody As "Steal away to Jesus"? On its strains His spirit must have nightly floated free, Though still about his hands he felt his chains. Who heard great "Jordan roll"? Whose starward eye Saw chariot "swing low"? And who was he That breathed that comforting, melodic sigh, "Nobody knows de trouble I see?"
What merely living clod, what captive thing, Could up toward God through all its darkness grope, And find within its deadened heart to sing These songs of sorrow, love, and faith, and hope? How did it catch that subtle undertone, That note in music heard not with the ears? How sound the elusive reed so seldom blown, Which stirs the soul or melts the heart to tears.
Not that great German master in his dream Of harmonies that thundered 'mongst the stars At the creation, ever heard a theme Nobler than "Go down, Moses." Mark its bars, How like a mighty trumpet-call they stir The blood. Such are the notes that men have sung Going to valorous deeds; such tones there were That helped make history when Time was young.
There is a wide, wide wonder in it all, That from degraded rest and servile toil The fiery spirit of the seer should call These simple children of the sun and soil. O black slave singers, gone, forgot, unfamed, You—you alone, of all the long, long line Of those who've sung untaught, unknown, unnamed, Have stretched out upward, seeking the divine.
You sang not deeds of heroes or of kings; No chant of bloody war, no exulting pean Of arms-won triumphs; but your humble strings You touched in chord with music empyrean. You sang far better than you knew; the songs That for your listeners' hungry hearts sufficed Still live,—but more than this to you belongs: You sang a race from wood and stone to Christ.
THE GREATEST MENACE OF THE SOUTH
WILLIAM J. EDWARDS
In every age there are great and pressing problems to be solved. Perhaps no section of this country has been confronted with more difficult problems than the South. I therefore wish to present what I consider to be the greatest menace of this section.
The one thing to-day, in which we stand in greatest danger, is the loss of the fertility of the soil. If we should lose this, as we are gradually doing, then all is lost. If we should save it, then all other things will be added. Our great need is the conservation and preservation of the soil.
The increased crops which we have in the South occasionally, are not due to improved methods of farming, but to increased acreage. Thousands of acres of new land are added each year and our increase in farm production is due to the strength of these fresh lands. There is not much more woodland to be taken in as new farm lands, for this source has been well nigh exhausted. We must then, within a few years, expect a gradual reduction in the farm production of the South.
Already the old farm lands that have been in cultivation for the past fifty or fifty-five years are practically worn out. I have seen in my day where forty acres of land twenty or twenty-five years ago would produce from twenty to twenty-five bales of cotton each year, and from 800 to 1000 bushels of corn. Now, these forty acres will not produce more than eight or nine bales of cotton and hardly enough corn to feed two horses. In fact, one small family cannot obtain a decent support from the land which twenty years ago supported three families in abundance. This farm is not on the hillside, neither has it been worn away by erosion. It is situated in the lowlands, in the black prairie, and is considered the best farm on a large plantation. This condition obtains in all parts of the South today. This constant deterioration of land, this gradual reduction of crops year after year, if kept up for the next fifty years, will surely prove disastrous to the South.
Practically all the land in the black belt of the South is cultivated by Negroes and the farm production has decreased so rapidly during the last ten or fifteen years that the average Negro farmer hardly makes sufficient to pay his rent and buy the few necessaries of life.
Of course, here and there where a tenant has been lucky enough to get hold of some new land, he makes a good crop, but after three or four years of cultivation, his crop begins to decrease and this decrease is kept up as long as he keeps the land. Instead of improving, the tenant's condition becomes worse each year until he finds it impossible to support his family on the farm. Farm after farm is being abandoned or given up to the care of the old men and women. Already, most of these are too old and feeble to do effective work.
Now, the chief cause of these farms becoming less productive is the failure on the part of the farmers to add something to the land after they have gathered their crops. They seem to think that the land contains an inexhaustible supply of plant food. Another cause is the failure of the farmer to rotate his crop. There are farms being cultivated in the South today where the same piece of land has been planted in cotton every year for forty or fifty years. Forty years ago, this same land would yield from one bale to one and a half per acre. And today it will take from four to six acres to produce one bale.
Still another cause for the deterioration of the soil is erosion. There is no effort put forth on the tenant's part to prevent his farm from washing away. The hillside and other rolling lands are not terraced and after being in use four or five years, practically all of these lands are washed away and as farm lands they are abandoned. Not only are the hillside lands unprotected from the beating rains and flowing streams, but the bottom or lowlands are not properly drained, and the sand washed down from the hill, the chaff and raft from previous rains soon fill the ditches and creeks and almost any ordinary rain will cause an overflow of these streams.
Under these conditions an average crop is impossible even in the best of years. At present the South does not produce one-half of the foodstuff that it consumes and if the present conditions of things continue for the next fifty years, this section of the country will be on the verge of starvation and famines will be a frequent occurrence. Of course, Negro starvation will come first, but white man starvation will surely follow. I believe, therefore, that I am justified in saying that there is even more danger in Negro starvation than there is in Negro domination.
I have noticed in this country that the sins of the races are contagious. If the Negro in a community be lazy, indifferent, and careless about his farm, the white man in the community will soon fall into the same habit. On the other hand, if the white man is smart, industrious, energetic and persevering in his general makeup, the Negro will soon fall into line; so after all, whatever helps one race in the South will help the other and whatever degrades one race in the South, sooner or later will degrade the other.
But you may reply to this assertion by saying that the Negro can go to the city and make an independent living for himself and family, but you forget that all real wealth must come from the soil and that the city cannot prosper unless the country is prosperous. When the country fails, the city feels the effect; when the country weeps, the city moans; when agriculture dies, all die. Such are the conditions which face us today. Now for the remedy.
It is worth while to remember that there are ten essential elements of plant food. If the supply of any one of the elements fails, the crop will fail. These ten elements are carbon and oxygen taken into the leaves of the plant from the air as carbon dioxide; hydrogen, a constituent of water absorbed through the plant roots; nitrogen, taken from the soil by all plants also secured from the air by legumes. The other elements are phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and sulphur, all of which are secured from the soil. The soil nitrogen is contained in the organic matter or humus, and to maintain the supply of nitrogen we should keep the soil well stored with organic matter, making liberal use of clover or other legumes which have power to secure nitrogen from the inexhaustible supply in the air.
It is interesting to note that one of the ablest chemists in this country, Prof. E. W. Clark of the United States Geological Survey, has said that an acre of ground seven inches deep contains sufficient iron to produce one hundred bushels of corn every year for 200,000 years, sufficient calcium to produce one hundred bushels of corn or one bale of cotton each year for 55,000 years, enough magnesium to produce such a crop 7,000 years, enough sulphur for 10,000 years and potassium for 2,600 years, but only enough phosphorus for 130 years. The nitrogen resting upon the surface of an acre of ground is sufficient to produce one hundred bushels of corn or a bale of cotton for 700,000 years; but only enough in the plowed soil to produce fifty such crops. In other words, there are enough of eight of the elements of plant food in the ordinary soil to produce 100 bushels of corn per acre or a bale of cotton per acre for each year for 2,600 years; but only enough of the other two, phosphorus and nitrogen, to produce such crops for forty or fifty years.
Let us grant that most of our farm lands in the South have been in cultivation for fifty or seventy-five years, and in many instances for one hundred years, it is readily seen that practically all of the phosphorus and nitrogen in the plowed soil have been exhausted. Is it any wonder then that we are having such poor crops? The wonder is that our crops have kept up so well. Unless a radical change is made in our mode of farming, we must expect less and less crops each year until we have no crops, or such little that we can hardly pay the rent.
To improve and again make fertile our soils, we must restore to them the phosphorus and nitrogen which have been used up in the seventy-five or more crops that we have gathered from them. This is a herculean task but this is what confronts us and I for one believe we can accomplish it. By the proper rotation of crops, including oats, clover, cowpeas, as well as cotton and corn, and a liberal use of barnyard manure and cotton seed fertilizer, all of the necessary elements of plant food can be restored to our worn-out soil. But the proper use of these requires much painstaking study.
If the Negro is to remain the farming class in the Black Belt of the South, then he must be taught at least the rudiments of the modern methods of improving farming. He must have agricultural schools and must be encouraged to attend them. The loss of the fertility of the soil is the greatest menace of the South. How can we regain this lost fertility is the greatest question of the hour.
THE ENCHANTED SHELL
H. CORDELIA RAY
Fair, fragile Una, golden-haired, With melancholy, dark gray eyes, Sits on a rock by laughing waves, Gazing into the radiant skies;
And holding to her ear a shell, A rosy shell of wondrous form; Quite plaintively to her it coos Marvelous lays of sea and storm.
It whispers of a fairy home With coral halls and pearly floors, Where mermaids clad in glist'ning gold Guard smilingly the jeweled doors.
She listens and her weird gray eyes Grow weirder in their pensive gaze. The sea birds toss her tangled curls, The skiff lights glimmer through the haze.
Oh, strange sea-singer! what has lent Such fascination to thy spell? Is some celestial guardian Prisoned within thee, tiny shell?
The maid sits rapt until the stars In myriad shining clusters gleam; "Enchanted Una," she is called By boatmen gliding down the stream.
The tempest beats the restless seas, The wind blows loud, fierce from the skies; Sweet, sylph-like Una clasps the shell, Peace brooding in her quiet eyes.
The wind blows wilder, darkness comes, The rock is bare, night birds soar far; Thick clouds scud o'er the gloomy heav'ns Unvisited by any star.
Where is quaint Una? On some isle, Dreaming 'mid music, may she be? Or does she listen to the shell In coral halls within the sea?
The boatmen say on stormy nights They see rare Una with the shell, Sitting in pensive attitude, Is it a vision? Who can tell?
BEHIND A GEORGIA MULE
JAMES WELDON JOHNSON
Now if you wish to travel fast, I beg you not to fool With locomotion that's procured Behind a Georgia mule.
When I was teaching school in the backwoods of Georgia I had, one day, to attend to some business in Mudville, an embryo city about eleven miles from my school. Now you must know that a country school teacher can do nothing without first consulting his Board of Trustees; so I notified that honorable body that there was some business of vast importance to be attended to, and asked them to meet me on Friday afternoon; they all promised to be on hand "two hours b'sun." Friday afternoon, after school was dismissed, they came in one by one until they had all gathered.
As the chairman called the meeting to order, he said: "Brederen, de objick ob dis meeting is to consider de ways ob pervidin de means ob transposin de 'fessar to Mudville." Now, by the way, the chairman of the Board was undoubtedly intended by nature for a smart man. He had a very strong weakness for using big words in the wrong place, and thought it his special duty to impress the "'fessar" at all times with his knowledge of the dictionary. Well, after much debate it was finally decided that "Brudder" Whitesides would "furnish de mule" and "Brudder Jinks de buggy" and that I should start early the next morning.
The next morning I was up quite early, because I wished to start as soon as possible in order to avoid the heat of the day. I ate breakfast and waited—six o'clock, seven o'clock, eight o'clock—and still that promised beast had not put in appearance. Knowing the proclivity of the mule to meander along as his own sweet will dictates, especially when the sun shines hot, I began to despair of reaching Mudville at all that day; but "Brudder" Jinks, with whom I boarded, seeing my melancholy state of mind, offered to hitch up Gypsy, an antiquated specimen of the mule, whose general appearance was that of the skeleton of some prehistoric animal one sees in a museum.
I accepted this proposition with haste, and repented at leisure.
I could see a weary, long-suffering look in that mule's eye, and I could imagine how his heart must have sought the vicinity of his tail, when they disturbed his dreams of green fields and pleasant pastures, and hitched him to an old buggy, to encounter the stern realities of a dusty road. "Verily, verily," I soliloquized, "the way of the mule is hard." But, putting aside all tender feelings, I jumped into the buggy and grasping a stick of quite ample proportions began to urge his muleship on his way.
Nothing of much consequence hampered our onward journey except the breaking down of three wheels and the excessive heat of the sun, which great luminary seemed not more than ninety-five miles away.
I arrived at Mudville sometime between 12 M. and 6 P. M. After having finished my business and having bountifully fed my mule on water and what grass he could nibble from around his hitching post, I bought a large watermelon and started for home. Before I was out of sight of the town, I began to have serious misgivings about reaching home before a very late hour. In the morning by various admonitions and applications of the hickory, I had been able to get my mule into a jog trot, but on the homeward journey he would not even get up a respectable walk. Well, we trudged on for two hours or more, when to my dismay he stopped,—stopped still. As the hour was getting late and it was growing dark, I began advising him—with the hickory—that it was best to proceed, but he seemed to have hardened his heart, and his back also, and paid me no heed. There I sat—all was as still as the grave, save for the dismal hoot of the screech-owl. There I was, five and a half miles from home with no prospect of getting there.
I began to coax my mule with some words which perhaps are not in the Sabbath School books, and to emphasize them with the rising and falling inflection of the stick across his back; but still he moved not. Then all at once my conscience smote me. I thought perhaps the faithful beast might be sick. My mind reverted to Balaam, whose beast spoke to him when he had smitten him but three times and here I had smitten my beast about 3,333 times. I listened almost in expectation of hearing him say, "Johnson, Johnson, why smitest thou me 3,333 times?"
I got out of the buggy and looked at the mule; he gazed at me with a sad far-away expression in his eye, which sent pangs of remorse to my heart. I thought of the cruel treatment I had given him, and on the impulse of the moment I went to the buggy, got out my large, luscious melon, burst it open and laid it on the ground before the poor animal; and I firmly resolved to be a friend of the mule ever after, and to join the Humane Society as soon as I reached Atlanta.
As I watched that mule slowly munching away at my melon, I began to wonder if I had not acted a little too hastily in giving it to him, but I smothered that thought when I remembered the pledge I had just taken. When he had finished he looked around with a satisfied air which encouraged me; so I took hold of his bridle and after stroking him gently for a moment, attempted to lead him off. But he refused to be led. He looked at me from under his shabby eyebrows, but the sad, far-away expression had vanished and in its stead there was a mischievous gleam, born of malice afore-thought. I remonstrated with him, but it only seemed to confirm his convictions that it was right for him to stand there. I thought of my melon he had just devoured; then I grew wrathy, and right there and then renounced all my Humane Society resolutions, and began to shower down on that mule torrents of abuse and hickory also, but all to no effect. Instead of advancing he began to "revance." I pulled on the bridle until my hands and arms were sore, but he only continued to back and pull me along with him. When I stopped pulling he stopped backing, and so things went on for the space of about half an hour.