Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Ephraim Bartlett, the Edisto Raftsman >> Page 416

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 416EPHRAIM BARTLETT
scare—and it did. People reckoned he must have been snake-bit,
for there were the bones of the snake beside him, with the rattles
on, eleven and the button; he must have killed the snake after he
was struck. But it didn't help him. He never got away from the spot
till they found his skileton, and they know'd him by the ring upon
his finger, and his knife, and horn, and gun; but all the iron was
ruined, eaten up by the rust. Well, when I heer'd the horns a-Sunday,
I recollected all about Squire Lumley, and his wickedness; and,
before I seed anything, I was all over in a shiver. Well, presently I
heerd the horns blowing merrily again, and the sounds come fresher
than ever to my ears. I was oneasy enough, and I made another trial
to wake up 'Bram, but 'twas of no use. He was sounder than ever."
"I 'speck I bin sleep den, for true," was the modest interruption
of 'Bram, at this stage of the narrative. With a grave shake of the
head, Ephraim continued
"I went out then in front of the house, and the horns were coming
nigher from behind it. I was a-thinking to run and hide in the
bushes, but I was so beflustered that I was afeer'd I should run right
into the jaws of the danger. Though, when I thought of the matter
agin', I got a little bolder, and I said to myself, `what's the danger,
I wonder. I'm in a free country. I'm troubling no man's property.
I've let down no man's fence. I've left no man's gate open to let in
the cattle. This old house nobody lives in, and I wouldn't ha'
troubled it, of so be Bram hadn't been taken sick in his bowels.
What's the danger?' When I thought, in this way, to myself, I went
in and took a sup of whiskey —a small sup only a taste—by way of
keeping my courage up. I tried to waken Bram again, for I said, `two's
always better than one, though one's a nigger,' but 'twas no use;
Bram's sleep was sounder than ever. It was pretty cl'ar that he had
soak'd the whiskey mighty deep that night!"
"Ki! Mass Ephraim! How you talk! Ef you nebber been drink
more than me, dat night, you nebber been scare wid de hunters dat
blessed Sunday morning."
"The nigger will talk ! " said Ephraim, contemptuously, as he
continued his narrative.
"Well, I felt stronger after I had taken that little sup, and went
out again. Just then there came a blast of the horns almost in my
very ears, and in the next minute I hear'd the trampling of horses.