“Mr. Gibbs”—he said as he wrote—“I have the sprout of a notion that you and Mr. Lafontaine would be an ornament to a field-battery I’m about to take command of. I’d like to talk with you about that presently.” He tore out the page he had written and beckoned the Gascon aside:
“Mon ami”—he showed a roll of “city money” and continued in French—“do you want to make a hundred dollars—fifty now and fifty when you bring me an answer to this?”
The man nodded and took the missive.
The old “Jackson Railroad” avoided Carrollton and touched the river for a moment only, a short way beyond, at a small bunch of flimsy clapboard houses called Kennerville. Here was the first stop of its early morning outbound train, and here a dozen or so passengers always poked their heads out of the windows. This morning they saw an oldish black man step off, doff his hat delightedly to two young men waiting at the platform’s edge, pass them a ticket, and move across to a pair of saddled horses. The smaller of the pair stepped upon the last coach, but kept his companion’s hand till the train had again started.
“Good-by, Tony,” cried the one left behind.
“Good-by, Jake,” called the other, and waved. His friend watched the train vanish into the forest. Then, as his horse was brought, he mounted and moved back toward the city.
Presently the negro, on the other horse, came up almost abreast of him. “Mahs’ Hil’ry?” he ventured.
“Well, uncle Jerry?”
“Dat’s a pow’ful good-lookin’ suit o’ clo’es what L’tenant Greenfeel got awn.”
“Jerry! you cut me to the heart!”
The negro tittered: “Oh, as to dat, I don’t ’spute but yone is betteh.”
The master heaved a comforted sigh. The servant tittered again, but suddenly again was grave. “I on’y wish to Gawd,” he slowly said, “dat de next time you an’ him meet—”
“Well—next time we meet—what then?”
“Dat you bofe be in de same sawt o’ clo’es like you got on now.”
HER HARPOON STRIKES
The home of the Callenders was an old Creole colonial plantation-house, large, square, strong, of two stories over a stoutly piered basement, and surrounded by two broad verandas, one at each story, beneath a great hip roof gracefully upheld on Doric columns. It bore that air of uncostly refinement which is one of the most pleasing outward features of the aloof civilization to which it, though not the Callenders, belonged.
Inside, its aspect was exceptional. There the inornate beauty of its finish, the quiet abundance of its delicate woodwork, and the high spaciousness and continuity of its rooms for entertainment won admiration and fame. A worthy setting, it was called, for the gentle manners with which the Callenders made it alluring.