Our cat was Mrs. Belinda Black, and her children were Potty Black and Sir Thomas More Black, this last being a creature of noble mien and a meditative turn of mind.
“Homage and praise to Bast, the cat-headed, the wise one, the great goddess!” purred Alicia, stroking Mrs. Belinda Black’s satiny head. “And may Sekhet the Cat of the Sun aid me, a devotee at her shrine, to butter the paws of some two-legged cats in Hyndsville!”
“You-all’s dinnah ’s waitin’.” Mary Magdalen stubbornly held to the notion that any meal eaten between breakfast and night was dinner; lunch being sandwiches and fried chicken taken out of a basket at church picnics and eaten out of one’s hand, or lap, for choice. “What was de text to-day, Miss Sophy? Ah sort o’ likes to chaw easy on a mout’ful o’ text whilst Ah ‘m washin’ up mah dishes.”
We gave her the text, which happened to be one that fills every negro’s heart with undiluted joy: “O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” And we had the satisfaction of hearing her rolling out, to the clatter of pans and pots:
“Dry bones in de valley,
Whut yuh gwine do wid dem dry bones,
while we went up-stairs to change our frocks. We were still sharing one room then, finding it more convenient. And there, in front of our door, in a nest of ferns and mosses, was a great cluster of wild flowers, summer’s last and autumn’s first children. They had been gathered in no ordered garden, but taken from the skirts of the fields and the bosom of the woods; and Carolina the opulent, the beautiful, the free-handed, does not deck herself niggardly.
Alicia’s face that had been so wistful lighted with a sudden joy. She gave a happy cry:
“Ariel!” she cried, “Ariel! Oh, what a heavenly thing, what a human thing to do! And to-day, too, just when we need a little bit of friendliness!” She looked around with a queer, shy smile.
“Ariel!” she called, “Ariel, no matter who comes, or goes, or what happens in Hynds House, we believe in you. Don’t leave us, Ariel! Maker of music, bringer of blossoms, stay!”
“THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF”
Mr. Nicholas Jelnik, with an uplift of his fine black brows and a satirical smile, once diagnosed the case of Great-Aunt Sophronisba Scarlett as “congenital Hyndsitis”; Doctor Richard Geddes said you’d only to take a glance at her house to see that she was predestined to be damned. I know that she was so hidebound in her prejudices, so virulently conservative, so constitutionally opposed to change, that anything savoring of modernity was anathema to her.