Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Ephraim Bartlett, the Edisto Raftsman >> Page 418

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 418EPHRAIM BARTLETT
was standing by 'em, and looking so strange, I didn't go too nigh.
But the deer was still a-lying where he first threw it, and I thought
I'd turn the head over and see the critter fairly, when, as I'm a
living man, the antlers slipped through my fingers jest as fast as I
tried to take 'em, like so much water or smoke. There was a feel
to me as ef I had touched something, but I couldn't take hold no
how, and while I was a-trying, the nigger holla'd, in a gruff voice,
from the horses `Don't you touch Maussa's meat!' I was getting
desp'rate mighty fast, and I thought I'd push back, and try what
good another sup of whiskey would do. Well, when I went into the
house, the gentlemen were all a-setting round the table, and busy
with knife and fork, jest as ef they were the commonest people.
There was a mighty smart chance for feeding at the table. Ham and
turkey, a pair of as fine wild ducks, English, as you ever seed; a beef
tongue, potetters (potatoes), cabbage, eggs, and other matters, and
all for jest five men and their servants. Jest then, one of the gentle-
men set his eyes on me, and p'inted to one of the bottles—says he,
jest as if I had been his own servant
" 'Hand the bottle.'
"And somehow, I felt as ef I couldn't help myself, but must hand
it, sure enough. When he had poured out the liquor, which was a
mighty deep red, yet clear as the sunshine, he gin me back the bottle,
and I thought I'd take a taste of the stuff, jest to see what it was.
I got a chance, and poured out a tolerable dram—supposing it was a
sort of red bald face (whiskey)—into a cup and tossed it off in a
twinkle. But it warn't bald face, nor brandy, nor wine, nor any liquor
that I ever know'd before. It hadn't a strong taste, but was something
like a cordial, with a flavor like fruit and essence. 'Twarn't strong,
I say; so I tried it ag'in an' ag'in, whenever I could git a chance; for
I rather liked the flavor; and I warn't mealy-mouthed at helping
myself, as they had enough of the critter, and, by this time, they
had begun upon my own old bald-face. They seemed to like it well
enough. They tried it several times, as if 'twas something new to
them, and they didn't find it hard to make the acquaintance. I didn't
quarrel with them, you may be sure, for I never was begrudgeful
of my liquor; and, besides, wasn't I trying their'n? Well, I can't
tell you how long this lasted. 'Twas a good while; and they kept me
busy; one after the other on 'em calling out to me to hand 'em