At first Mrs. Livingstone refused, but her head ached so hard and her “nerves trembled so,” that she did not feel equal to the task of contending with John Jr., who was always sure in the end to have his own way. Yielding at last to his importunities, she gave him fifteen dollars, charging him to “keep out of bad company and be a good boy.”
“Trust me for that,” said he, and pulling the tail of Anna’s pet kitten, upsetting Carrie’s work-box, poking a black baby’s ribs with his walking cane, and knocking down a cob-house, which “Thomas Jefferson” had been all day building, he mounted his favorite “Firelock,” and together with a young negro, rode off.
“The Lord send us a little peace now,” said Aunt Milly, tossing her squalling baby up in the air, and telling Thomas Jefferson not to cry, “for his young master was done gone off.”
“And I hope to goodness he’ll stay off a spell,” she added, “for thar’s ole Sam to pay the whole time he’s at home, and if ever thar was a tickled critter in this world it’s me, when he clar’s out.”
“I’m glad, too,” said Anna, who had been sent to the kitchen to stop the screaming, “and I wish he’d stay ever so long, for I don’t take a bit of comfort when he’s at home.”
“Great hateful! I wish he didn’t live here,” said Carrie, gathering up her spools, thimble and scissors, while Mrs. Livingstone, feeling that his absence had taken a load from her shoulders, settled herself upon her silken lounge and tried to sleep.
Amid all this rejoicing at his departure, John Jr. put spurs to the fleet Firelock, who soon carried him to Lexington, where, as we have seen, he came unexpectedly upon his father, who, not daring to trust him on horseback, lest he should play the truant, took him into the stage with himself, leaving Firelock to the care of the negro.
“Oh, mother, get up quick—the stage has driven up at the gate, and I reckon pa has come,” said Anna, bursting into the room where her mother, who was suffering from a headache, was still in bed.
Raising herself upon her elbow, and pushing aside the rich, heavy curtains, Mrs. Livingstone looked out upon the mud-bespattered vehicle, from which a leg, encased in a black and white stocking, was just making its egress. “Oh, heavens!” said she, burying her face again in the downy pillows. Woman’s curiosity, however, soon prevailed over all other feelings, and again looking out she obtained a full view of her mother-in-law, who, having emerged from the coach, was picking out her boxes, trunks, and so forth. When they were all found, Mr. Livingstone ordered two negroes to carry them to the side piazza, where they were soon mounted by three or four little darkies, Thomas Jefferson among the rest.
“John, John” said Mrs. Nichols, “them niggers won’t scent my things, will they?”