Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Ephraim Bartlett, the Edisto Raftsman >> Page 412

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 412EPHRAIM BARTLETT
potations; and between the sale of one fleet of rafts, and the prepara-
tion for the market of another, Ephraim, I am sorry to say, was a
case which would have staggered the temperance societies. But the
signal once given by his employers, he would shake himself free
from the evil spirit, by a plunge into the river. Purification followed
his head was soon as clear for business as ever; and, wound about
with a bandanna handkerchief of flaming spot in place of a hat, it
would be seen conspicuous on the raft, making for the city. With
cheerful song and cry he made his way down, pole in hand, to ward
off the overhanging branches of the trees, or to force aside the
obstructions. Accompanied by a single negro, still remembered by
many as old 'Bram Geiger, his course was usually prosperous. His
lumber usually found the best market, and Ephraim and Bram,
laying in their little supplies in Charleston, with a sack over their
shoulders, and staff or gun in hand, would set out from the city on
their return to Lexington, the district of country from which they
descended. On these occasions, Ephraim never forgot his jug. This
was taken with him empty on the raft, but returned filled, upon
his or Bram's shoulders. They took turns in carrying it, concealing it
from too officious observers by securing it in one end of the sack.
In the other might be found a few clothes, and a fair supply of
tobacco.
On the particular occasion when Ephraim discovered for himself
that the ancient house and tract were haunted, it happened that he
left the city about mid-day. It was Saturday, at twelve or one o'clock,
according to his account, when they set out, laden as usual. They
reached the house, which was probably twelve or thirteen miles from
town, long before sundown; and might have stretched away a few
miles farther, but for a cramp in the stomach, which seized upon
Old 'Bram. Ephraim at once had resort to his jug, and a strong
noggin was prepared for the relief of the suffering negro. At the
same time, as Bram swore that he - must die, that nothing could
possibly save him under such sufferings as he experienced, Ephraim
concluded to take lodgings temporarily in the old house, which
happened to be within a few hundred yards of the spot, and to lie
by for the rest of the day. The building was of brick, two stories in
height, but utterly out of repair doors and windows gone, floors
destroyed, and the entire fabric within quite dismantled. It was a