Kennedy Square eBook

Francis Hopkinson Smith
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 499 pages of information about Kennedy Square.
consciousness (some of them hadn’t opened their mouths for twenty years, except to have them immediately stopped with a new cork), and placed in the expectant coasters, Todd handling each one with the reverence of a priest serving in a temple.  Crusty, pot-bellied old fellows, who hadn’t uttered a civil word to anybody since they had been shut up in their youth, now laughed themselves wide open.  A squat, lean-necked, jolly little jug without legs—­labelled in ink—­“Crab-apple, 1807,” spread himself over as much of the mahogany as he could cover, and admired his fat shape upside down in its polish.  Diamond-cut decanters—­regular swells these—­with silver chains and medals on their chests—­went swaggering round, boasting of their ancestors; saying “Your good health” every time any one invited them to have a drop—­or lose one—­while a modest little demijohn—­or rather a semi-demi-little-john—­all in his wicker-basket clothes, with a card sewed on his jacket—­like a lost boy (Peggy Coston of Wesley did the sewing) bearing its name and address—­“Old Peach, 1796, Wesley, Eastern Shore,” was placed on St. George’s right within reach of his hand.  “It reminds me of the dear woman herself, gentleman, in her homely outside and her warm, loving heart underneath, and I wouldn’t change any part of it for the world.”

“What Madeira is this, St. George?” It was the judge who was speaking—­he had not yet raised the thin glass to his lips; the old wine-taster was too absorbed in its rich amber color and in the delicate aroma, which was now reaching his nostrils.  Indeed a new—­several new fragrances, were by this time permeating the room.

“It is the same, judge, that I always give you.”

“Not your father’s Black Warrior?”

“Yes, the 1810.  Don’t you recognize it?  Not corked, is it?”

“Corked, my dear man!  It’s a posy of roses.  But I thought that was all gone.”

“No, there are a few bottles still in my cellar—­some—­ How many are there, Todd, of the Black Warrior?”

“Dat’s de las’ ’cept two, Marse George.”

“Dying in a good cause, judge—­I’ll send them to you to-morrow.”

“You’ll do nothing of the kind, you spendthrift.  Give them to Kennedy or Clayton.”

“No, give them to nobody!” laughed Kennedy.  “Keep them where they are and don’t let anybody draw either cork until you invite me to dinner again.”

“Only two bottles left,” cried Latrobe in consternation!  “Well, what the devil are we going to do when they are gone?—­what’s anybody going to do?” The “we” was the key to the situation.  The good Madeira of Kennedy Square was for those who honored it, and in that sense—­and that sense only—­was common property.

“Don’t be frightened, Latrobe,” laughed St. George—­“I’ve got a lot of the Blackburn Reserve of 1812 left.  Todd, serve that last bottle I brought up this morning—­I put it in that low decanter next to—­ Ah, Malachi—­you are nearest.  Pass that to Mr. Latrobe, Malachi—­ Yes, that’s the one.  Now tell me how you like it.  It is a little pricked, I think, and may be slightly bruised in the handling.  I spent half an hour picking out the cork this morning—­but there is no question of its value.”

Project Gutenberg
Kennedy Square from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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