And there was no doubt that Jeff unfolded his plan to Caroline Darrah from pure love of sympathy and excitement and for no ulterior purpose, although it served to further his schemes as well as if he had been of a most wily turn of mind.
“Jeff,” exclaimed Caroline Darrah excitedly, “how much would it take to have a barbecue and ice-cream and everything good to go with it and a big band of music and fireworks and—”
“Golly, Miss Ca’line, they will be most five hundred of ’em and the ’scription ain’t but a little over fifty dollars. I’m counting on the dancing and the gitting-there ter draw ’em.”
“We can’t risk it,” said Caroline. “I will give you two hundred and fifty dollars and you can let it be known that no such celebration ever was as the one his colored friends are going to give in honor of the election of Judge David Kildare—his united colored friends, Jeff, high and low.”
“Miss Ca’line, I’m a-skeered to take it! Mister David, he’s jest naterly—”
“Mr. David need never know about it. It is a subscription and you have collected it—advertise that fact. I’m one of his friends and I can subscribe even if I am white. You must take it, and get to work about it. Only four more days, remember, and we all must work for Mr. David; and too, Jeff, for those poor ignorant people who would commit the crime of letting themselves sell their votes.” There was real concern for the endangered souls of the coons in Caroline’s voice, and Jeff was duly impressed.
They both fell to work on the packing of the basket as Temple’s voice was heard in the distance, for they knew she would express herself in no uncertain terms if she found the amount of work done unsatisfactory.
But when he departed, Jeff carried in his pocket a slip of paper about which it nearly scared him to death to think, and one of the money-bags of the late Peters Brown was eased by the extraction of a quarter thousand. Caroline was happy from a clear conscience and a virtuous feeling of having saved a crisis for a dependent and ignorant people. Which goes to show that a woman can put her finger into a political pie and draw it out without even a stain, while to touch that same confection ever so lightly would dye a man’s hand blood red.
PURSUING THE POSSUM
And as if in sympathy with the heart of the pursued possum, the thermometer began to fall in the afternoon and by night had established a clear, cold, windless condition of weather. The start for the Cliffs was to be made from the fork of the River Road, where cars, horses, traps and hampers were to be left with the servants, who by half past nine were already in an excited group around a blazing, dry oak fire, over which two score plump birds were ready to be roasted, attended by the autocratic Tempie. Jeff piled high with brush a huge log whose heart was being burned out for the baking of sundry potatoes, while the aroma from the barbecue pit was maddening to even a ten o’clock appetite, and no estimate could be made of what damage would be done after the midnight return from the trail of the wily tree fruit.