Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 324

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Page 324

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 324MAIZE IN MILK

"But Bessy Clinton did not join with me, husband. She was quite
opposed to it."
"Ah, that alters the case. You shall have Christmas at home. And
Bessy Clinton, for your reward, hear farther
"What, papa?"
"You shall have your old friend, Mary Butler, to spend it with
you."
"Oh! will she come, papa? Can you get her?"
"Ay will she. And more than that, mamma, I've bought in all the
Butler negroes bought them in for her benefit, to save them from
that shark of a lawyer who manages the estate."
"Surely, Mr. Openheart, you haven't made such a purchase?"
anxiously inquired the mother.
"Ay, but I have."
"What! bought in all the negroes?"
"All but a single family. Thirty-five workers, seventy-one negroes
in all and gave a pretty good price for them, too."
"How much?" asked the matron, with increasing concern.
"Two hundred and sixty dollars round."
"Good heavens! And how are you to pay for them?"
"I have three years to pay it in, Emily first instalment next
December of five thousand dollars, and the balance in equal parts the
next two years. The terms are quite easy."
"But how are you to pay it, husband?"
"How? Why, surely, you don't suppose that I shan't make a
sufficient crop next season to pay five thousand dollars ! "
"Have you done so this?"
"No. Why do you ask when you know that this crop is a failure?"
"Ah should the next be so?"
"'Pon my honor, Mrs. Openheart, you do contrive to suggest the
prettiest prospects."
"But why did you buy these negroes, Mr. Openheart? You have
more than you want already, and more than are profitable."
"True bill, Emily."
"You have scarcely any open land more than your present force
can work."
"Go to clearing on the first of January. Plenty to clear, thank
God."