“With whom?” asked Mr. Livingstone, John Jr., Carrie, and Anna, in the same breath.
“With Miss Polly Atherton, that nice old colored lady in the kitchen,” said Mrs. Nichols.
The scowl on Mrs. Livingstone’s face darkened visibly, while her husband, thinking it time to speak, said, “It is my wish, mother, that you keep away from the kitchen. It does the negroes no good to be meddled with, and besides that, when you are hungry the servants will take you something.”
“Accustomed to eat in the kitchen, probably,” muttered Carrie, with all the air of a young lady of twenty.
“Hold on to your nose, Cad,” whispered John Jr., thereby attracting his sister’s attention to himself.
By this time the soup was removed, and a fine large turkey appeared.
“What a noble great feller. Gobbler, ain’t it?” asked Mrs. Nichols, touching the turkey with the knife.
John Jr., roared, and was ordered from the table by his father, while ’Lena, who stepped on her grandmother’s toes to keep her from talking, was told by that lady “to keep her feet still.” Along with the desert came ice-cream, which Mrs. Nichols had never before tasted, and now fancying that she was dreadfully burned, she quickly deposited her first mouthful upon her plate.
“What’s the matter, grandma? Can’t you eat it?” asked Anna.
“Yes, I kin eat it, but I don’t hanker arter it,” answered her grandmother, pushing the plate aside.
Dinner being over, Mrs. Nichols returned to her room, but soon growing weary, she started out to view the premises. Coming suddenly upon a group of young negroes, she discovered her bellows, the water dripping from the nose, while a little farther on she espied ’Lena’s bonnet, which the negroes had at last succeeded in catching, and which, wet as it was, now adorned the head of Thomas Jefferson! In a trice the old lady’s principles were forgotten, and she cuffed the negroes with a right good will, hitting Jeff, the hardest, and, as a matter of course, making him yell the loudest. Out came Aunt Milly, scolding and muttering about “white folks tendin’ to thar own business,” and reversing her decision with regard to Mrs. Nichols’ position in the next world. Cuff, the watch-dog, whose kennell was close by, set up a tremendous howling, while John Jr., always on hand, danced a jig to the sound of the direful music.
“For heaven’s sake, husband, go out and see what’s the matter,” said Mrs. Livingstone, slightly alarmed at the unusual noise.
John complied, and reached the spot just in time to catch a glimpse of John Jr.’s heels as he gave the finishing touch to his exploit, while Mrs. Nichols, highly incensed, marched from the field of battle with the bonnet and bellows, thinking “if them niggers was only her’n they’d catch it!”