Mr. Buckley had long ago settled down to a humdrum life as a planter, having wedded the daughter of a big man in the parish. When the old spirit of turbulence grew too strong within him to resist lie had to work it off by a bear hunt in the Mississippi canebrakes, or perhaps a lynching bee—he did not state this latter positively, but there was something in the wink he gave the boys while speaking of such things that told them the truth.
They were too wise to think of starting an argument with a Southern man upon a subject of which they had a very small amount of information, and which entered upon his daily life, so they said nothing while he was present.
That ride was one long to be remembered, for they saw things that might never have come under their observation otherwise.
Various plantations were passed, and collections of negro cabins, around which hosts of youngsters were playing, as free from care as the rabbit that ran across the road—indeed, much more so, for Bunny had to look sharp lest he afford a meal for one of his many enemies, while these pickaninnies had their daily wants supplied, and grew up like so many puppies.
Along about noon they reached their destination.
The Buckley plantation was well known in that section as one of the best in western Mississippi.
Of course, the main staple was cotton, king of the South; but there were various other products that the owner raised. He had a grinding mill and produced a large amount of sugar and molasses in season. Then on some lowlands he grew rice of a superior quality. His ambition being to constantly improve on what had been produced the preceding season, his experience all over the world proved of value to him now, when he could calmly review what he had seen and profit by it.
The place seemed an ideal Southern plantation to Maurice, and he soon wished he had a camera along with which to secure some views that he could carry with him wherever he went. As the owner had a weakness that way, the want was supplied before they had been there two days, and when the tune came to depart, lo, Maurice had a dozen or two pictures in his possession to show “Old Ambrose,” as the planter said.
Indeed, it took Maurice just two days to straighten the books out, and then Mr. Buckley kept him busy with that camera; for he had had miserable success himself in handling it, and was just hoping some one would come along with a better knowledge of such things than himself.
A night hunt for coons.
“What do you think,” said Thad, one afternoon, after they had been nearly a week at the plantation, “tonight the major’s going to take us out on a regular old ’coon hunt. I’ve tried to get ’coons that way lots of times up home, but never had the right kind of dog. But that yellow Spider of his is the best in the county, he says, while Crusoe is a good second.”