Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 333

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Page 333

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription MAIZE IN MILK333
and crimson, giving to the spacious walls and rooms a charming
aspect of the English Gothic. How sweet is work when our tastes
go with the toil, and when beauty compensates industry. Our happy
maidens were conscious of this pleasure in the progress of the labors
of their hands; and now they put up and pulled down, re-arranged
and altered, their tastes becoming more and more critical the more
they were exercised. And "there now, Susan, that will so please
father," declared at length that Bessy Clinton was herself quite
satisfied.
Leaving the girls thus happily engaged, let us follow the boys in
their excursion to the river. You should have seen the lads mount
each on his own pony, not excepting Harry the little, who did not
seem a bit too little for the marshtacky, brought all the way from
Pocotaligo, which he straddled like an infant centaur. Colonel Open-
heart, mounted on a strong, black parade horse, upon which he had
more than once marshaled his regiment, led the way, Tom trying
hard to keep beside him in the narrow road, and Dick more ambi-
tiously darting half the time ahead. They were followed by Swift,
Sure and Slow, three famous dogs, which were the admiration of
all the hunters of St. Matthews. Then came Bedford, the Superlative,
a stout, gray-headed negro, who officiated as high sheriff over the
plantation, carried out the wishes of his master, and reported progress
nightly —a shrewd, sensible negro, cool and steady, confident in his
opinions, yet perfectly respectful, who served God and his master
as well as he knew how, and, murdering the king's English, seldom
committed any more heinous offences. The way of the cavalcade lay
over hill and dale, gentle eminences and pleasant slopes, and chiefly
through woods which were as old as the hills themselves. Colonel
Openheart was fond of trees and foliage, and had so contrived his
fields as to maintain a fine body of wood between each. Through
these his several roads meandered, and he could pass to the survey
of one field after another without once leaving the shelter of the
original forests. These were of pine, or oak and hickory, interspersed
with a pleasant variety of gum and poplar, and shrub trees of every
sort. Long reaches of swamp occasionally relieved the uniform aspects
of the hill foliage, by the gigantic forms of cypress, ash and other
trees of deciduous character. The brightness of that sunshiny Decem-
ber morning had its effect upon all parties. A cheery smile sat upon