—“Stood ‘long side o’ Miss May, fus thing I hear war Jerry sayin’ weak-like an’ way down in de well: ‘Don’t you cry, Mas’ Will! Hol’ on to my neck, Mas’ Will! Hol’ tight, Mas’ Will! I kin hol’ you up. Don’t you be feerd Mas’ Will, I kin hol’ you up! Don’t you be feerd Mas’ Will; I kin hol’ you up!’
“Ole Mas’ lean over de well an’ look in. Mas’ Will he warn’t as high as Jerry, an’ Jerry he war standin in de water up to his neck an’ hol’in’ Mas’ Will up out’n de water. An’ dem chillun had been in dat well all day, honey, ‘all day, an’ my Jerry holdin Mas’ Will out’n de water; an’ dat water col’ as ice! Den ole Mas’ let down de rope dey fotch an’ tole Mas’ Will to ketch hol’. An Mas’ Will—dat yer pappy, honey—he say, weak-like, ‘Take Jerry too, pappy, take Jerry too!’
“‘We’ll get Jerry next time,’ says ole Mas’. An’ Jerry help Mas’ Will fix de rope roun’ him an’ dey pull him up out’n de water. He done fainted when dey got him out, an’ he tuk de fever, an’ dat chile war sick mos’ six months, an’ all de time he had de fever, he say: ’Take Jerry too, pappy, take Jerry too!’ And when he come to hisself, he say right off:
“‘Where’s Jerry? I want Jerry.’”
Mammy Delphy stopped.
“And where was Jerry, mammy?” cried the boys, breathless.
“‘Where war Jerry?’ Ole Mas’ let down de rope an’ say right loud: ’Ketch holt, Jerry my boy!’ But Jerry couldn’t ketch holt, chillen. Jerry war dead.”
“Yes, chillun, yes. Dey rub him an’ rub him, an’ do everything to fotch him to life. But, my Jerry war dead. An’ when me’n de ole man come home from de funeral—dey buried him in de white folks’ buryin’-groun,’ long side o’ Miss May’s little gal what died—an’ put a tombstone at de head—when we come home from de funeral dat night, de ole man look at de baby on my lap an’ he say, ‘Delphy, honey,’ he say, ’I think disher baby mout be name Grief.’ An’ we name him Grief.”
Mammy Delphy wiped her eyes and resumed her work. Then, looking up to the blue sky which shone between the vines, she began singing again:
“Call me in de mornin’ Lord,
Or call me in de night,
I’se always ready Lord,
And the boys, subdued and silent, and for a moment forgetful of horned-frogs and crawfish, went away softly, as if leaving a grave.
“Where going, Sammy Sealskin?”.
“Down to my kayah, Tommy Fishscales.”
“Is there any fish to-day?”
“A few, they say, but there is lots of seals—plenty of ’em on the rocks in the bay.”
“All right; bring home something to your friend, Tommy.”