Not until the stars of midnight had swung to the zenith did they start down through the swamp. Bles sought to guide the old woman, but he found she knew the way better than he did. Her shadowy figure darting in and out among the trunks till they crossed the tree bridge, moved ever noiselessly ahead.
She motioned the boy and girl away to the thicket at the edge, and stood still and black in the midst of the cleared island. Bles slipped his arm protectingly around Zora, glancing fearfully about in the darkness. Slowly a great cry rose and swept the island. It struck madly and sharply, and then died away to uneasy murmuring. From afar there seemed to come the echo or the answer to the call. The form of Elspeth blurred the night dimly far off, almost disappearing, and then growing blacker and larger. They heard the whispering “swish-swish” of falling seed; they felt the heavy tread of a great coming body. The form of the old woman suddenly loomed black above them, hovering a moment formless and vast then fading again away, and the “swish-swish” of the falling seed alone rose in the silence of the night.
At last all was still. A long silence. Then again the air seemed suddenly filled with that great and awful cry; its echoing answer screamed afar and they heard the raucous voice of Elspeth beating in their ears:
"De seed done sowed! De seed done sowed!"
“Thinking the matter over,” said Harry Cresswell to his father, “I’m inclined to advise drawing this Taylor out a little further.”
The Colonel puffed his cigar and one eye twinkled, the lid of the other being at the moment suggestively lowered.
“Was she pretty?” he asked; but his son ignored the remark, and the father continued:
“I had a telegram from Taylor this morning, after you left. He’ll be passing through Montgomery the first of next month, and proposes calling.”
“I’ll wire him to come,” said Harry, promptly.
At this juncture the door opened and a young lady entered. Helen Cresswell was twenty, small and pretty, with a slightly languid air. Outside herself there was little in which she took very great interest, and her interest in herself was not absorbing. Yet she had a curiously sweet way. Her servants liked her and the tenants could count on her spasmodic attentions in time of sickness and trouble.
“Good-morning,” she said, with a soft drawl. She sauntered over to her father, kissed him, and hung over the back of his chair.
“Did you get that novel for me, Harry?”—expectantly regarding her brother.
“I forgot it, Sis. But I’ll be going to town again soon.”
The young lady showed that she was annoyed.
“By the bye, Sis, there’s a young lady over at the Negro school whom I think you’d like.”