“Oh, pa,” laughingly interrupted little Clarence; “I’ve been telling him of what you read to me about Nimrod being a great hunter.”
“That’s quite a mistake, Eph,” said Mr. Garie, joining in the laugh. “Well, I knowed it was suffin,” said Eph, scratching his head; “suffin with a rod to it; I was all right on that pint—but you’r gwine to let him go, ain’t yer, massa?”
“I suppose, I must,” replied Mr. Garie; “but mind now that no accident occurs to young Ramrod.”
“I’ll take care o’ dat,” said Eph, who hastened off to prepare the horses, followed by the delighted Clarence.
That evening, after his return from Savannah, Clarence kept his little sister’s eyes expanded to an unprecedented extent by his narration of the wonderful occurrences attendant on his trip to town, and also of what he had seen in the vessel. He produced an immense orange, also a vast store of almonds and raisins, which had been given him by the good-natured steward. “But Em,” said he, “we are going to sleep in such funny little places; even pa and mamma have got to sleep on little shelves stuck up against the wall; and they’ve got a thing that swings from the ceiling that they keep the tumblers and wine-glasses in—every glass has got a little hole for itself. Oh, it’s so nice!”
“And have they got any nice shady trees on the ship?” asked the wondering little Em.
“Oh, no—what nonsense!” answered Clarence, swelling with the importance conferred by his superior knowledge. “Why, no, Em; who ever heard of such a thing as trees on a ship? they couldn’t have trees on a ship if they wanted—there’s no earth for them to grow in. But I’ll tell you what they’ve got—they’ve got masts a great deal higher than any tree, and I’m going to climb clear up to the top when we go to live on the ship.”
“I wouldn’t,” said Em; “you might fall down like Ben did from the tree, and then you’d have to have your head sewed up as he had.”
The probability that an occurrence of this nature might be the result of his attempt to climb the mast seemed to have considerable weight with Master Clarence, so he relieved his sister’s mind at once by relinquishing the project.
The morning for departure at length arrived. Eph brought the carriage to the door at an early hour, and sat upon the box the picture of despair. He did not descend from his eminence to assist in any of the little arrangements for the journey, being very fearful that the seat he occupied might be resumed by its rightful owner, he having had a lengthy contest with the sable official who acted as coachman, and who had striven manfully, on this occasion, to take possession of his usual elevated station on the family equipage. This, Eph would by no means permit, as he declared, “He was gwine to let nobody drive Massa dat day but hissef.”
It was a mournful parting. The slaves crowded around the carriage kissing and embracing the children, and forcing upon them little tokens of remembrance. Blind Jacob, the patriarch of the place, came and passed his hands over the face of little Em for the last time, as he had done almost every week since her birth, that, to use his own language, “he might see how de piccaninny growed.” His bleared and sightless eyes were turned to heaven to ask a blessing on the little ones and their parents.