“How come yer ter git lef, Daddy?” asked Uncle Snake-bit Bob, as the old man came up hobbling on his stick.
“Well, yer see, chile, I wuz er lightin’ uv my pipe, an’ er fixin’ uv er new stim in it, an’ I nuber notus wen de wagins went off. Yer see I’m er gittin’ er little deef in deze ole yurs uv mine: dey ben er fasten’t on ter dis ole nigger’s head er long time, uperds uv er hunderd years or mo’; an’ de time hez ben wen dey could hyear de leaves fall uv er nights; but dey gittin’ out’n fix somehow; dey ain’t wuckin’ like dey oughter; an’ dey jes sot up dar, an’ let de wagins drive off, an’ leave de ole nigger er lightin’ uv his pipe; an’ wen I got thu, an’ went ter de do’, den I hyeard er mighty stillness in de quarters, an’, bless yer heart, de folks wuz gone; an’ I lookt up dis way, an’ I seed de wagin hyear, an’ I ‘lowed yer’d all gimme er lif’ some way.”
“Dem little niggers’ll hatter stay at home,” said Mammy, sharply, eying the little darkies, “or else dey’ll hatter walk, caze Daddy’s got ter come in dis wagin. Now, you git out, you little niggers.”
At this, Dilsey and Chris and Riar began to unpack themselves, crying bitterly the while, because they were afraid to walk by themselves, and they knew they couldn’t walk fast enough to keep up with the wagon; but here Diddie came to the rescue, and persuaded Uncle Bob to go to the stable and saddle Corbin, and all three of the little negroes mounted him, and rode on behind the wagon, while Daddy Jake was comfortably fixed in the space they had occupied; and now they were fairly off.
“Mammy, what does folks have Fourf of Julys for?” asked Dumps, after a little while.
“I dunno, honey,” answered Mammy; “I hyearn ’em say hit wuz ‘long o’ some fightin’ or nuther wat de wite folks fit one time; but whedder dat wuz de time wat Brer David fit Goliar or not, I dunno; I ain’t hyeard ’em say ‘bout dat: it mout er ben dat time, an’ den ergin it mout er ben de time wat Brer Samson kilt up de folks wid de jawbone. I ain’t right sho’ wat time hit wuz; but den I knows hit wuz some fightin’ or nuther.”
“It was the ‘Declination of Independence,’” said Diddie. “It’s in the little history; and it wasn’t any fightin’, it was a writin’; and there’s the picture of it in the book; and all the men are settin’ roun’, and one of ’em is writin’.”
“Yes, dat’s jes wat I hyearn,” said Uncle Bob. “I hyearn ’em say dat dey had de fuss’ Defemation uv Ondepen’ence on de fourf uv July, an’ eber sence den de folks ben er habin’ holerday an’ barbecues on dat day.”
“What’s er Defemation, Uncle Bob?” asked Dumps, who possessed an inquiring mind.
“Well, I mos’ furgits de zack meanin’,” said the old man, scratching his head; “hit’s some kin’ er writin’, do, jes like Miss Diddie say; but, let erlone dat, hit’s in de squshionary, an’ yer ma kin fin’ hit fur yer, an’ ‘splain de zack meanin’ uv de word; but de Defemation uv Ondepen’ence, hit happened on de fuss fourf uv July, an’ hit happens ev’y fourf uv July sence den; an’ dat’s ‘cordin’ ter my onderstandin’ uv hit,” said Uncle Bob, whipping up his horses.