Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Ephraim Bartlett, the Edisto Raftsman >> Page 414

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 414EPHRAIM BARTLETT
on his honesty, that he then found the jug fully half emptied, which
had been quite full when he left the city; and he insisted that, in
giving him his several doses, Ephraim had always been very careful
not to make them over strong. Bram admits that, when he had
occasion to help himself, as the attack was still threatening, he pre-
ferred to take an over dose rather than peril his safety by mincing
the matter. It is very certain, from the united testimonies of the
two, the whiskey had, one half of it, most unaccountably disappeared
before the night was half over. I must suffer Ephraim to tell the
rest of the story for himself, and assert his own argument.
"Well, now, you see, my friends," telling his story to a group,
"as I said afore, it was mighty late that night afore I shut my eyes.
I reckon twarn't far from day-peep when I slipped off into a hearty
sleep, and then I slept like a cat after a supper. Don't you be thinking
now 'twas owing to the whiskey that I was wakeful, or that I slept
so sound at last. 'Bram's troubles in the stomach made me oneasy,
and them strange noises in the woods helped the matter."
"But what were the noises like, Ephraim?"
"Oh! like a'most anything and every thing. Horns a-blowing,
horses a-snorting, cats a-crying, and then sich a rushing and a tramp-
ling of four-footed beasts, that I could 'a-swore it was a fox hunt
for all the world. But it warn't that! No! 'Twas a hunt agin natur'.
The hounds, and horses, and horns that made that racket, warn't
belonging to this world. I felt suspicions about it then, and I reckon
I knows it now, if such a matter ever is to be made known. Well, as
I was a-saying, I got to sleep at last near upon day-light. How long
I did sleep there's no telling. 'Twas mighty .late when I waked, and
then the noise was in my ears again. I raised myself on end, and
sat up in my blanket. The fire was gone out clean, and I was a little
coldish. 'Bram, the nigger, had scruged himself into the very ashes,
and had quite kivered up his head in the blanket. How he drawed
his breath there's no telling, since the tip of his nose warn't to be
seen nowhere. Says I, "Bram, do you hear them noises?' But never
a word did he answer. Says I, to myself, `the nigger's smothered.'
So I onwrapt him mighty quick, and heard him grunt. Then I
know'd there was no harm done. The nigger was only drunk."
"Nebber been drunk dat time," was the usual interruption of
'Bram, whenever he was present at the narration.