hour more or less," stated his master. "Jeff,
you take this here parcel over to Mister Quintus
Q. Montjoy 's and present it with the com
pliments of Mister Houser. You needn't wait
fur an answer jest come on back. I reckin
there won't be no answer fur some little time."
He turned again to his nephew with the air
of a man who, having disposed of all immediate
and pressing business affairs, is bent now upon
"Son, ef you ain't got nothin' better to do
this evenin' I wish't you'd stay here and keep
score fur the tournament. Playing crokay,
I licked the pants off'en that poor old Jimmy
Bagby yis'tiddy, and now he wants to git even."
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
The judge spoke vaingloriously. "He's skeered
to tackle me again single-handed, I reckin.
So him and Father Tom Minor are comin'
over here to play me and Herman Felsburg a
match game fur the crokay champeenship of
Clay Street and adjacent thoroughfares. They
oughter be here almost any minute now I
was jest layin* here, waitin' fur 'em and sort
of souplin' up my muscles."
Playing magnificently as partners, Father
Minor and Sergeant Bagby achieved a signal
victory score three to one over the Felsburg-
Priest team. The players, with the official
referee who maintained a somewhat abstracted,
not to say a pestered, air, were sitting in the
little summer house, cooling off after the ardours
of the sport. Jeff Poindexter had been dis
patched indoors, to the dining-room sideboard,
to mix and fetch the customary refreshments.
The editor of the Daily Evening News, who was
by way also of being chief newsgatherer of that
dependable and popular journal, came up the
street from the corner below and halted outside
"Howdy, gentlemen!" over the paling he
greeted them generally. "I've got some news
for you-all. I came out of my way, going back
to the office, to tell you." He singled out the
judge from the group. "Oh, you Veritas!"
he called, jovially.
"Sh-h-h, Henry, don't be a-callin' me that,"
ACCORDING TO THE CODE
spoke up Judge Priest with a warning glance
about him and a heavy wink at the editor.
"Somebody that's not in the family might
hear you and git a false and a misleadin' notion
about the presidin' circuit judge of this district.
Whut's your news?"
"Well," said Mr. Tompkins, "it's sort of
unprofessional to be revealing the facts before
they're put in type but I reckon it's no great
breach of ethics to tell a secret to an occasional
contributor of signed communications ' he
indicated Judge Priest, archly "and the con
tributor's close friends and relatives. Any
how, you'd all know it anyhow as soon as
the paper comes out. Quintus Q. Montjoy
is withdrawing from the race for State Sen
"What?" several voices spoke the word in
chorus, only Sergeant Bagby pronounced it
Whut and Mr. Felsburg sounded the W with
the sound of V as in Vocal.
"Montjoy quits. I've got his card of with
drawal right here in my pocket now. Tobe,
allow me to congratulate you on your prospect
of getting the nomination without any opposi
tion at the polls."
"Quits, does he?" echoed Judge Priest.
"Well, do you boys know, I ain't surprised.
I've been lookin' fur him to do somethin' of
that nature fur the last two hours. I wonder
whut delayed him?" He addressed the query
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
"He gives some reasons maybe, yes?"
asked Mr. Felsburg, releasing Mr. Houser's
hand which he had been shaking with an ex
"Oh, yes," said Editor Tompkins, "I suppose
he felt as if he had to do that. The principal
reason he gives is that he finds he cannot spare
the time from his business interests for making
an extended canvass and also his repugnance
to engaging further in a controversy with a man
who so far forgets himself as to resort to phys
ical violence in the course of a joint debate upon
the issues of the day. That's a nice little fare
well side-slap at you, Houser.
"But I gleaned from what I picked up after
I got over to Mont joy's in answer to his tele
phone message asking me to call that there
may have been other reasons which are not
set forth in his card of withdrawal," continued
Mr. Tompkins. "In fact, about the time I
got over there to his house Hod Maydew
arrived in a free state of perspiration and ex
citement Hod's been up in Louisville on busi
ness, you know, and didn't get in until the two-
thirty train came and I rather gathered from
what he said a little bit ago to Quintus Q., in
the privacy of the dining room while I was
waiting in the library, that he was considerably
put out about something. His voice sounded
peeved especially when he was calling Mont-
joy's attention to the fact that even if he should
win the race now, he wouldn't be able to take
ACCORDING TO THE CODE
the oath of office. Anyhow, I think that's what
he was saying.
"Say, Judge, just for curiosity's sake now
and strictly between ourselves just what was
the message, or whatever it was, that you sent
over to Mont joy's right after dinner? I over
heard something about that too.'*
"Oh, that?" said the judge, as all eyes
turned in his direction. "That was jest a
spare copy of the Code that I happened to
have 'round the house with a page in it
marked and turned down."
"The Code what Code?" Mr. Tompkins
pressed the point like the alert collector of news
that he was.
"The Code and the Statutes with the accent
on the Code," answered the old judge, simply.
"Although, speakin' pussonally, I pay more
attention to the Statutes than some folks do.
In fact it would seem like some persons who are
reasonably well informed on most subjects
ancestors fur instance ain't never took the
time to peruse them old Statutes of ourn with
the care they should give to 'em ef they're
aimin' to engage in the job of bein* a states
man." He faced his nephew. "Tobe, my son,
this oughter be a great lesson to you it's a
work that'll bear consid'able study frum time
to time. I'm afeared you ain't ez well posted
on the subject ez you should be. Well, this
is a mighty good time to begin. You kin take
your first lesson right now."
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
He stooped and lifted the lid of the croquet
box, beneath the bench upon which they had
been sitting, and fetched forth a large, heavy
volume, bound in splotchy law calf. "I put
my other copy here jest a little while ago,
thinkin' somebody might be interested later
on in its contents," he explained as he ran
through the leaves until he came to a certain
page. Upon that page, with a blunt forefinger,
he indicated a certain paragraph as he handed
the tome over to his nephew.
"There, Tobe," he ordered, "you've got a
good strong voice. Read this here section
So then, while the others listened, with
slowly widening grins of comprehension upon
their several faces, and while Judge Priest stood
alongside, smiling softly, young Tobe read.
And what he read was this:
"OATH TO BE TAKEN BY ALL OFFICERS
FORM OF. Members of the General Assembly
and all officers, before they enter upon the
execution of the duties of their respective
offices, and all members of the bar, before they
enter upon the practice of their profession,
shall take the following oath or affirmation:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may
be) that I will support the Constitution of the
United States and the Constitution of this
Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the
Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I con
tinue a citizen thereof, and that I will faith-
ACCORDING TO THE CODE
fully execute, to the best of my ability, the
office of according to law;
and I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that since
the adoption of the present Constitution, I,
being a citizen of this State, have not fought
a duel with deadly weapons within this State,
nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a
challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons,
nor have I acted as second in carrying a chal
lenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus
offending, so help me God."
Having read it aloud, young Houser now re
read it silently to himself. He was rather a
slow-thinking and direct-minded person. Per
haps time was needed for the full force and
effect of the subject-matter to soak into him.
It was Mr. Tompkins who spoke next.
"Judge Priest," he said, "what do you
suppose those two fellows over yonder at
Mont joy's are thinking about you right now?"
"Henry," said Judge Priest, "fur thinkin'
whut they do about me, I reckin both of them
boys could be churched."
FORREST'S LAST CHARGE
TOWARD morning, after a spell of un
usually even-tempered and moderate
weather, it blew up cold, snowed hard
for two or three hours, and turned off
to be clear and freezing. The sun, coming up
at seven-thirty-five, according to his curtailed
December schedule, peeped out on a universe
that was clothed all in white, whereas when he
retired the night before in his west bedroom he
left it wearing a motley of faded yellows and
seasoned greens. Swinging in the east as a
pale coppery disk, he blinked his astonish
ment through a ragged grey veil of the last
of the storm clouds.
Others beside the sun were taken by surprise.
It was the first snowfall of the year and a good,
hard, heavy one. Down our way, some winters,
we had hardly any snows at all; then, again,
some winters we had a plenty ; but scarcely ever
did we have them before Christmas. This one
came as a profound and an annoying visitation,
[ 280 ]
taking the community at large unawares and
unprepared, and making a great nuisance of
itself from the start. Practically without excep
tion, doorstep hydrants had tight colds in the
head that morning. On being treated with
lavings of hot water they dripped catarrhally
from their cast-iron noses for a little while
and then developed the added symptoms of
Cooks were hours late coming to cook break
fast, and when they did come uttered despairing
moans to find range boilers frozen up and
kitchen taps utterly unresponsive to first-aid
measures. At some houses it was nearly eight
o'clock before the milkman got round, with
wooden runners under his milk wagon in place
of wheels and rosaries of rusted sleigh bells on
the necks of his smoking team. Last year's
rubber boots came out of the closet and any old
year's toy sled came out of the attic.
The old negro man who did whitewashing in
the spring, picked blackberries for his summer
time living, and in the fall peddled corn-shuck
doormats and scaly-bark hickory nuts, made the
circuit of his regular patrons, equipped with a
shovel over his shoulder and his venerable feet
done up in burlaps, to shovel footpaths for a
price. Where the wind piled the snow in little
drifts he left a wake behind him as though a
baby elephant had floundered through there.
In the back yard Sir Rooster squawked his
loud disgust as his naked legs sank shank-deep
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
into the feathery mass. His harem, a row of
still and huddled shapes on the roosts, clamped
their chilled toes all the tighter to their perch
and stared out through the chicken-house door
at a transformed and unfamiliar world. With
them except for their eyes rigor mortis
seemed far advanced. Small boys, rabbit dogs,
plumbers and the few persons in town who
owned sleighs rejoiced. Housewives, house cats
and thin-blooded old ladies and gentlemen were
acutely miserable and showed it.
There were tramps about in numbers. It took
a sudden cold snap, with snow accompaniments
such as this one, to fetch the tramps forth from
their sleeping places near the tracks, and make
the citizen realise how many of these south
bound soldiers of misfortune the town harboured
on any given date between Thanksgiving Day
and New Year's. Judge Priest did not know it
and probably would not have much cared if
he had known it but on the right-hand-side
post of his front gate, just below the wooden
letter box, was scratched the talismanic sign
which, to an initiated nation-wide brotherhood,
signified that here, at this place, was to be had
free and abundant provender, with no stove
wood to chop afterward and no heavy buckets
of coal to pack in.
Wherefore and hence, throughout the rising
hour and well on into the forenoon, a succession
of ragged and shivering travellers tracked a
straggling path up his walk and round to the
FORREST'S LAST CHA R G E
back door, coming, with noses a frostbitten red
and hands a frostbitten blue, to beg for suste
nance. It was part and parcel of the judge's
creed of hospitality to turn no stranger away
from his door unfed.
"Jedge!" Aunt Dilsey Turner bulged in
to the old sitting room, where her master sat
with his feet close to the grate toasting his
shoesoles. "Jedge, they's 'nother one of 'em
miz'ble wuthless w'ite trash out yere axin' fur
vittles. Tha's de fo'th one inside er hour.
Whut you reckin I best do wid 'im?"
"Well, Aunt Dilsey," the old man answered,
"ef vittles is what he asts fur, I believe, under
the circumstances, I'd give him some."
"Whar we goin' git vittles fur J im?" she
"Wasn't there anything left over frum break
fast?" He risked the inquiry mildly almost
"Breakfus'!" She sniffed her contempt for
masculine ignorance. "Breakfus'? How long
does you think one HT batch of breakfus' is
goin' last round yere? I ain't never tek much
fur myse'f jes' swallers a mossil of hot coffee
to stay my stomach, but you's suttinly a mighty
stiddy feeder; and ez fur 'at nigger Jeff of yourn
huh! he acks lak he wuz holler cl'ar down
to his insteps. Ef dat nigger had de right name,
de name would be Famine! 'Sides, ain't I done
tole you they's been three of dem trafflin', no-
'count vagroms here already dis mawnin',
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
a-eatin' us plum' out of house and home? Naw,
suh; dey ain't nary grain of breakfus' lef de
platters is done lick' clean!"
"Well, Aunt Dilsey,ez a special favour to me,
I'd be mighty much obliged to you ef you'd cook
up a little somethin' fur the pore feller."
"Po* feller! Po', you sez? Jedge, dat ole
tramp out yonder at my kitchen, do' is mighty
nigh ez fat ez whut you is. Still, you's de cap'n.
Ef you sez feed 'im, feed 'im I does. Only don't
you come round blamin' me w'en we-all lands
in de po'house tha's all I asts you."
And out the black tyrant flounced, leaving
the judge grinning to himself. Aunt Dilsey's
bark was worse than her bite and there was no
record of her having bitten anybody. Never
theless, in order to make sure that no breakfast
applicant departed hungry, he lingered on past
his usual time for starting the day's work. It
was cozily warm in his sitting room. Court was
not in session either, having adjourned over for
the holidays. It was getting well on toward ten
o'clock when, with Jeff Poindexter's aid, he
struggled into his ancient caped overcoat and
buckled his huge red-lined galoshes on over his
shoes, and started downtown.
Midway of the next block a snowball sailed
out and over from behind a hedge fence and
knocked his old black slouch hat half off his
head. Showing surprising agility for one of his
years and bulk, he ran down the fleeing sharp
shooter who had fired on him; and, while with
FORREST S LAST CHARGE
one hand he held the struggling youngster fast,
with the other he vigorously washed his cap
tive's face in loose snow until the captive bawled
for mercy. Then the judge gave him a dime to
console him for his punishment and went on his
way with a pleasant tingling in his blood and a
ruby tip on his already well-ruddied nose.
His way took him to Soule's Drug Store, the
gathering place of his set in fair weather and in
foul. He was almost there before he heard of
the trouble. It was Dave Baum who brought
the first word of it. Seeing him pass, Dave
came running, bareheaded, out of his notions
"Judge Priest, did you know what's just hap
pened?" Dave was highly excited. "Why,
Beaver Yancy's been cut all to pieces with a
dirk knife by one of those Dagos that was
brought on here to work on the new extension
that's what just happened ! It happened just
a little bit ago, down there where they've got
those Dagos a-keepin' 'em. Beave, he must've
said somethin' out of the way to him, and he
just up with his dirk knife and cut Beave to
Really it required much less time for little
Mr. Baum to make this statement than it has
taken for me to transcribe it or for you to read
it. In his haste he ran the syllables together.
Dan Settle came up behind them in time to
catch the last words and he pieced out the
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
"They toted poor old Beaver into Doctor
Lake's office I just came from there there's
a big crowd waitin' to hear how he comes out.
They don't think he's goin' to live but a little
while. They ain't got the one that did the
cuttin' yet. There's quite a lot of feelin'
"That's what the railroad gets for bringin' all
those foreigners down here." Mr. Baum, who
was born in Bavaria, spoke with bitterness.
"Judge, what do you think ought to be done
about this business?"
"Well, son," said Judge Priest, "to begin
with, ef I was you I'd run back inside of my
store and put my hat on before I ketched a bad
cold. And ef I was the chief of police of this
city I'd find the accused party and lock him up
good and tight. And ef I was everybody else I'd
remain ez ca'm ez I could till I'd heared both
sides of the case. There's nearly always two
sides to every case, and sometimes there's likely
to be three or four sides. I expect to impanel
a new grand jury along in January and I
wouldn't be surprised ef they looked into the
matter purty thoroughly. They ginerally do.
"It's too bad, though, about Beaver Yancy!"
added the judge; "I certainly trust he pulls
through. Maybe he will he's powerful husky.
There's one consolation he hasn't got any
family, has he?"
And, with that, Judge Priest left them and
went on down the snow-piled street and turned
FORREST S LAST CHARGE
in at Mr. Soule's door. What with reading a
Louisville paper and playing a long game of
checkers with Squire Rountree behind the pre
scription case, and telephoning to the adjutant
regarding that night's meeting of Gideon K.
Irons Camp, and at noontime eating a cove
oyster stew which a darky brought him from
SheriU's short-order restaurant, two doors below,
and doing one thing and another, he spent the
biggest part of the day inside of Soule's and so
missed his chance to observe the growing and
the mounting of popular indignation.
It would seem Beaver Yancy had more friends
than any unprejudiced observer would have
credited him with having. Mainly they were
the type of friends who would not have lent him
so much as fifty cents under any conceivable
circumstance, but stood ready to shed human
blood on his account. Likewise, as the day wore
on, and the snow, under the melting influence of
the sun, began to run off the eaves and turn to
slush in the streets, a strong prejudice against
the presence of alien day labourers developed
with marvellous and sinister rapidity.
Yet, had those who cavilled but stopped long
enough to take stock of things, they might have
read this importation as merely one of the mani
festations of the change that was coming over
our neck of the woods the same change that
had been coming for years, and the same that
inevitably would continue coming through years
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
Take for example, Legal Row that short
street of stubby little brick buildings where all
the lawyers and some of the doctors had their
offices. Summer after summer, through the
long afternoons, the tenants had sat there in
cane-bottomed chairs tilted back against the
housefronts, swapping gossip and waiting for a
dog fight or a watermelon cutting to break the
monotony. But Legal Row was gone now and
lawyers did not sit out on the sidewalks any
more; it was not dignified. They were housed,
most of them, on the upper floor levels of the
sky-scraping Planters' Bank building. Perhaps
Easterners would not have rated it as a sky
scraper; but in our country the skies are low and
friendly skies, and a structure of eight stories,
piled one on the other, with a fancy cornice to
top off with, rears mightily high and imposing
when about it, for contrast, are only two and
three and four story buildings.
Kettler's wagon yard, where the farmers used
to bring their tobacco for overnight storage, and
where they slept on hay beds in the back stalls,
with homemade bedquUts wrapped round them,
had been turned into a garage and smelled now
of gasoline, oils and money transactions. A new
brick market house stood on the site of the old
wooden one. A Great White Way that was
seven blocks long made the business district
almost as bright as day after dark almost, but
not quite. There was talk of establishing a civic
centre, with a regular plaza, and a fountain in
FORREST'S LAST CHARGE
the middle of the plaza. There was talk of try
ing the commission form of government. There
was talk of adopting a town slogan; talk of an
automobile club and of a country club. And
now white labour, in place of black, worked on
a construction job.
When, after many false alarms, the P. A. &
O. V. got its Boaz Ridge Extension under way
the contractors started with negro hands; but
the gang bosses came from up North, whence
the capital had likewise come, and they did not
understand the negroes and the negroes did not
understand them, and there was trouble from
the go-off. If the bosses fraternised with the
darkies the darkies loafed; if, taking the oppo
site tack, the bosses tried to drive the gangs
under them with hard words the gangs grew
sullen and insolent.
There was a middle ground, but the perplexed
whites could not find it. A Southern-born over
seer or a Southern-born steamboat mate could
have harried the crews with loud profanity, with
dire threats of mutilation and violent death, and
they would have grinned back at him cheerfully
and kept right on at their digging and their
shovelling. But when a grading expert named
Flaherty, from Chicago, Illinois, shook a freckled
fist under the nose of one Dink Bailey, coloured,
for whom, just the night before, he had bought
drinks in a groggery, the aforesaid Dink Bailey
tried to disarticulate him with a razor and made
very fair headway toward the completion of the
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
undertaking, considering he was so soon inter
Having a time limit ever before their pestered
eyes, it sorely irked the contractors that, where
as five hundred black, brown and yellow men
might drop their tools Saturday night at six
o'clock, a scant two hundred or so answered
when the seven-o'clock whistle blew on Monday
morning. The others came straggling back on
Tuesday or Wednesday, or even on Thursday,
depending on how long their wages held out.
"Whut I wants to go to work fur, Mist'
Wite Man? I got 'most two dollars lef '. Come
round to see me w'en all dat's done spent and
mebbe we kin talk bus'ness 'en."
The above statement, made by a truant grad
ing hand to an inquiring grading boss, was
typical of a fairly common point of view on
the side of Labour. And this one, below, which
sprang from the exasperated soul of a visiting
contractor, was just as typical, for it was the
cry of outraged Capital:
"It takes two white men, standing over every
black man, to make the black man work and
then he won't! I never was a Southern sym
pathiser before, but I am now you bet!"
The camel's back broke entirely at the end
of the third week. It was a green paymaster
from the Chicago offices who furnished the last
straw. He tried to pay off with paper money.
Since those early postbellum days, when the
black brother, being newly freed from servitude
FORREST S LAST CHARGE
and innocently devoid of the commercial in
stinct, thought the white man's money, whether
stamped on metal disks or printed on parch
ment rectangulars, was always good money,
and so accepted much Confederate currency, to
his sorrow at the time and to his subsequent
enlightenment, he has nourished a deep sus
picion of all cash except the kind that jingles;
in fact, it is rarely that he will accept any other
Give him the hard round silver and he is well-
content. That is good money money fit to
buy things with. He knows it is, because it
rattles in the pocket and it rings on the bar;
but for him no greenbacks, if you please. So
when this poor ignorant paymaster opened up