She stooped, gravely gathered up the books, and walked resolutely on her way, a cloud of yellow butterflies fluttering like loosened petals of full-blown buttercups about her head.
Battie Hall was a square white frame house with bright-green window shutters and a deep front porch, supported by heavy pillars, and reached from the gravelled walk below by a flight of rugged stone steps. In the rear of the house, through which a wide hall ran, dividing the rooms of the first floor, there was another porch similar to the one at the front, except that the pillars were hidden in musk roses and the long benches at either side were of plain, unpainted pine. At the foot of the back steps a narrow, well-trodden path led to the vegetable garden, which was separated from the yard by what was called “Cattle Lane”—a name derived from the morning and evening passage of the cows on their way to and from the pasture.
Beginning at the gate into the garden, where the tall white palings were gay with hollyhocks and heavy-headed sunflowers, a grapevine trellis extended to the farmyard at the end of the lane, whence an overgrown walk led across tangled meadows to the negro “quarters”—a long, whitewashed row of almost deserted cabins. Since the close of the war the “quarters” had fallen partly into disuse and had decayed rapidly, though some few were still tenanted by the former slaves, who gathered as of old in the doorways of an evening to strum upon broken-stringed banjos and to wrap the hair of their small offspring. Beyond this row there was a slight elevation called “Hickory Hill,” where Uncle Ishmael had lived for more than seventy years; and at the foot of the hill, on the other side, near “Sweet Gum Spring,” there were several neatly patched log cabins occupied by the house servants, who held in social contempt the field hands in the neighbouring “quarters.” Overlooking the “Sweet Gum Spring,” on a loftier hill, was the family graveyard, which was walled off from the orchard near by, where the twisted old fruit trees had long since yielded the larger part of their abundance.
At the front of the Hall the view was vastly different. There the great blue-grass lawn was thickly studded with ancient elms and maples, whose shade fell like a blanket upon the velvety sod beneath. The gravelled walk, beginning at the front steps, was bordered on either side by rows of closely clipped box, which ended in the long avenue of cedars leading from the lawn to the distant turnpike. To the right of the house there were three pointed aspens, which shivered like skeletons in silver, holding grimly aloof from the vivid pink of the crepe myrtle at their feet. Beyond them was the well-house, with a long moss-grown trough where the horses and the cows came to drink, and across the road began the cornlands, which stretched in rhythmic undulations to the dark belt of the pine forest. On the left of the box walk, in a direct