Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 326

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 326MAIZE IN MILK
grew to be quite blinded by my tears. And then old Enoch tottered
to me in the piazza, staff in hand, and his gray beard hanging on his
chest, and his old eyes, half shut up by age, were dripping too; and,
taking my arm, he said to me, `Mauss Openheart, you surely ain't
gwine to let us go off to strange people?' only these words, and
they finished my struggles. Just then, Skinflint said one hundred
round, and I mounted him with another. I knew his game the mo-
ment I heard his voice. And when he said to me, `Really, Mr. Open-
heart, I had no idea that you wished to increase your force,' I swore
in my own mind that he at least shouldn't have them. You've heard
the whole story. The negroes are to be here to-morrow, and Mary
Butler, and Skinflint himself, who is to bring the bonds and bill of
sale."
"Well, Edward, I only hope that you may not suffer by your
benevolence."
"Nay, never fear, Emily. I'm rash and headstrong, I know, and
have done many foolish things, but I feel sure that I shan't suffer
for this helping of the orphan, and keeping these poor dependent
creatures from being scattered over the face of the earth. The
probability is that my bonds will scarcely be presented for payment so
long as the interest is regularly paid. The executors, Ingelhart and
Cripps, can make no better investment of the money, and it will be
a very nice sum for her when she is of age or I am prepared to
let her have the negroes back if she prefers it then. The plantation
was not sold."
"And what will you do with these old negroes, Edward?"
The answer was somewhat impatiently spoken.
"Feed them first, Emily; clothe them, give them Christmas.
We'll kill a beef for them to-morrow to begin with, and pray God
to-night for good times, that we may be enabled to feed them
always, from Christmas to Christmas, as well as now. So now to bed,
and see that you rise before the sun, Bessy Clinton. You have to see
to the pies and pastries. It's now one week to Christmas, and"
looking out from the windows "a bright starlight night, in the lan-
guage of the watchman. May we wake to a bright, dry, and honest
winter morning!"