“Dar now, bro’ Ish!” exclaimed Aunt Verbeny, watching Eugenia as she sat in the dull red glare. “Ef dat chile ain’t de patt’en er young Miss Meeley, I’se clean cracked in my head, I is. I ‘members Miss Meeley des’ ez well ez ’twuz yestiddy de day Marse Tom brung her home en de niggers stood a-bowin’ en axin’ howdy at de gate. She wuz all black en white en cold lookin’ twell she smiled, en den it wuz des’ like er lightwood blaze in ’er eyes.”
Uncle Ish nodded dreamily.
“I use ter ride erlong wid Marse Tom ter co’te ’er,” he said, “en de gent’men wuz a-troopin’ ter see her in vayous attitudes. Dey buzzed roun’ ‘er de same ez bees, but she ain’ had no eyes fer none ’cep’n Marse Tom.”
At that instant the door opened, and Rindy rushed in, breathlesly pursuing Eugenia.
“Miss Chris is pow’ful riled,” she announced, “an’ Marse Tom is a-stampin’ roun’ same ez er bull. I reckon you’se gwine ter ketch it when dey once gits dere han’s on you.” Then, as her eye fell on Nicholas, she assumed an indignant air. “Dis ain’t de place fer po’ folks,” she added.
Eugenia rose and put a roasted apple in her pocket.
“I ain’t goin’ to catch anything that Bernard doesn’t catch,” she said. “When he goes I’m goin’ too.”
And she went out, followed by Rindy and the boys.
The first breath of the chill atmosphere brought a glow to Nicholas’s cheek, and he started at a brisk run across the fields. He had gone but a few yards when he was checked by Eugenia’s voice.
“Nick!” she called.
Her small, dark shadow was falling on the ground beside him, and by the light of the pale moon he could see the fog of her breath.
As he went towards her she held out her hand.
“Here’s an apple I saved for you,” she panted. “And—and I don’t mind about your being poor white trash!”
He took the apple, but before the reply left his lips she had darted from him and was speeding homeward across the glimmering whiteness of the frost.
A RAINY SEASON
Mrs. Jane Dudley Webb was a lady who supported an impossible present upon an important past. She had once been heard to remark that if she had not something to look back upon she could not live: and, as her retrospective view was racial rather than individual, the consolation attained might be considered disproportionate to the needs of the case. The lines of her present had fallen in a white frame house in the main street of Kingsborough; those of her past began with the first Dudley who swung a lance in Merry England, to end with irascible old William of the name, who slept in the family graveyard upon James River.
Mrs. Webb herself was straight and elegant, and inclined to the ironical, when, as Jane Dudley, the belle of the country-side, she fired the fancy of young Julius Webb, an officer in the cavalry of the United States. He danced a minuet with her at a ball in Washington, was heard to swear an oath by her eyes at punch before the supper was over; and proceeded the following week to spur his courtship upon old William as daringly as he had ever spurred his horse upon an Indian wigwam.