Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Ephraim Bartlett, the Edisto Raftsman >> Page 413

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Page 413

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription E P H RAI M BARTLETT413
long time before Bram was relieved from his suffering and fright.
Repeated doses of the potent beverage were necessary to a cure;
and, by the time this was effected, the old fellow was asleep. In the
meantime, Ephraim had built a rousing fire in the old chimney:
had gathered lightwood (resinous pine) sufficient to keep up the
fire all night; had covered the old negro with his own blanket,
which he bore strapped beneath the sack upon his shoulders; and
had opened his wallet of dried meat and city bread for his supper.
Meanwhile, the fumes of the whiskey had ascended gratefully to
his own nostrils; and it seemed only reasonable that he should
indulge himself with a dram, having bestowed no less than three
upon his companion. He drank accordingly, and as he had no coffee
to his supper, he employed the whiskey, which he thought by no
means a bad substitute. He may have swallowed three several doses
in emulation of Bram, and in anticipation of a similar attack, before
he had quite finished supper. He admits that he certainly drank
again when his meal was ended, by way of washing down the frag-
ments. Bram, meanwhile, with the blazing fire at his feet, continued
to sleep on very comfortably. When Ephraim got to sleep is not so
certain. He admits that he was kept awake till a late hour by the
fumes of the whiskey, and by strange noises that reached him from
the forest. He recalled to memory the bad character of the dwelling
and neighborhood as haunted; ,and is not so sure, but thinks it pos-
sible that this recollection prompted him to take another draught, a
stirrup cup, as it were, before yielding himself to sleep. But he denies
that he was in any way affected by the whiskey. To use his own
language, he had none of the "how-come-you-so" sensation upon him,
but insists that he said his prayers, rationally, like any other Christian,
put several fresh brands upon the fire, and sank into the most sober
of all mortal slumbers.
I am the more particular in stating these details, since a question
has been made in regard to them. Bram, had his story also. He
admits that he was sick, and physicked as described that Ephraim
had gathered the fuel, made the fire, and covered him with his
blanket, while he slept but he alleges that he awoke at midnight,
when Ephraim himself was asleep, and being still a little distressed
in the abdominal region, he proceeded to help himself out of the
jug, without disturbing the repose of his comrade; and he affirms,