“You’ll go home with me, of course,” the colonel said, “and then we’ll see what must be done.”
This seemed the only feasible arrangement, and the family carriage was brought around to take the ladies to Mosside—the negroes, whose cabins had not been burned, staying at Spring-Bank to watch the fire, and see that it spread no farther. But Alice could not remain in quietness at Mosside, and early the next morning she rode down to Spring Bank, where the negroes greeted her with loud cries of welcome, asking her numberless questions as to what they were to do, and who would go after “Massah Hugh.”
It seemed to be the prevailing opinion that he must come home, and Alice thought so, too.
“What do you think, Uncle Sam?” she asked, turning to the old man, who replied:
“I thinks a heap of things, and if Miss Ellis comes dis way where so many can’t be listen in’, I tella her my mind.”
Alice followed him to a respectable distance from the others, and sitting down upon a chair standing there, waited for Sam to begin.
Twirling his old straw hat awkwardly for a moment, he stammered out:
“What for did Massah Hugh jine de army?”
“Because he thought it his duty,” was Alice’s reply, and Sam continued:
“Yes, but dar is anodder reason. ’Scuse me, miss, but I can’t keep still an’ see it all agwine wrong. ’Seuse me ’gin, miss, but is you ever gwine to hev that chap what comed here oncet a sparkin’—Massah Irving, I means?”
Alice’s blue eyes turned inquiringly upon him, as she replied: “Never, Uncle Sam. I never intended to marry him. Why do you ask?”
“’Cause, miss, when a young gal lets her head lay spang on a fellow’s buzzum, and he a kissin’ her, it looks mighty like somethin’. Yes, berry like;” and in his own way Sam confessed what he had seen more than a year ago, and told, too, how Hugh had overheard the words of love breathed by Irving Stanley, imitating, as far as possible, his master’s manner as he turned away, and walked hurriedly down the piazza.
Then he confessed what, in the evening, he had repeated to Hugh, telling Alice how “poor massah groan, wid face in his hands, and how next day he went off, never to come back again.”
In mute silence, Alice listened to a story which explained much that had been strange to her before, and as she listened, her resolve was made.
“Sam,” she said, when he had finished, “I wish I had known this before. It might have saved your master much anxiety. I am going North—going to Snowdon first, and then to Washington, in hopes of finding him.”
In a moment Sam was on his knees, begging to go with her.
“Don’t leave me, Miss Ellis. Take me ’long. Please take me to Massah Hugh. I’se quite peart now, and kin look after Miss Ellis a heap.”