" Somebody must do it," Mrs. Manning had said ; " and
why not Bro ? He has lived in our house for twelve years,
and, after all, now that old Mr. Vickery is gone, he is in one
way our nearest friend. â€” Do let me ask him, Marion."
" Very well," assented the bride, caring l)ut little for any-
thing now but to be with 1-awrence every instant.
She did, however, notice Bro during the crowded although
informal reception which followed the ceremony. In truth,
he was noticeable. In honor of the occasion, he had ordered
from Savannah a suit of black, and had sent the measure-
ments himself ; the result was remarkable, the coat and vest
being as much too short for him as the pantaloons were too
long. He wore a white cravat, white-cotton gloves so large
that he looked all hands, and his button-hole was decked with
flowers, as many as it could hold. In this garb he certainly
was an extraordinary object, and his serious face appearing at
the top made the effect all the more grotesque. Marion was
too good-hearted to smile ; but she did say a word or two in
an undertone to Lawrence, and the two young people had their
own private amusement over his appearance.
But Bro was unconscious of it, or of anything save the
task he had set for himself. It was remarked afterward that
" really Bro Cranch talked almost like other people, joked and
laughed, too, if you will beUevc it, at that Manning wedding."
Lawrence promised to bring his wife home at the end of a
year to see her mother, and perhaps, if all went well, to take
the mother back with them. Mrs. Manning, happy and sad
together, cried and smiled in a breath. But Marion was ra-
diant as a diamond ; her g^y eyes flashed light. Not even
when saying good-by could she pretend to be anything but
supremdy happy, even for a moment. By chance Bro had
her last look as the carriage rolled away ; he went over to the
mill carrying it with him, and returned no more that night.
Wilbarger began to wonder after awhile when that Rhode
Island capitalist would begin work in his cotton-fields ; they
are wondering still. In course of time, and through the
roundabout way he had chosen, Bro received the deeds of
sale ; he made his will, and left them to Marion. Once Mrs.
Manning asked him about the screw.
** I have heard nothing of it for some time," he replied ;
and she said no more, thinking it had also, like the valve,
proved a failure. In the course of the winter the little work-
room was dismantled and the partitions taken down ; there is
nothing there now but the plain wall of the mill. The red
lights no longer shine across the marsh to Vickery Island, and
there is no one there to see them. The new keeper lives in a
cabin at the bridge, and plays no tricks on the superintendent,
who, a man of spirit still, but not quite so sanguine as to the
future of Wilbarger, still rolls by on his hand-car from north-
east to southeast.
Bro has grown old ; he is very patient with everybody.
Not that he ever was impatient, but that patience seems now
his principal characteristic. He, often asks to hear portions of
Marion's letters read aloud, and always makes gently the final
comment : " Yes, yes ; she is happy ! "
It is whispered around Wilbarger that he "has had a
stroke " ; Mrs. Manning herself thinks so.
Well, in a certain sense, perhaps she is right.
I met a traveler on the road ;
His foce was wan, his feet were weary ;
Yet he unresting went with such
A strange, still, patient mien â€” a look
Set forward in the empty air,
As he were reading an unseen hook.
Richard Watson Gilder.
The scholars were dismissed. Out they trooped â€” big
boys, little boys, and full-grown men. Then what antics â€”
what linked lines of scuffling; what double shuffles, leaps,
and somersaults; what rolling laughter, interspersed with
short yelps and guttural cries, as wild and free as the sounds
the mustangs make, gamboling on the plains ! For King
David's scholars were black â€” ^black as the ace of spades. He
did not say that ; he knew very little about the ace. He said
simply that his scholars were " colored " ; and sometimes he
called them " the Children of Ham." But so many mistakes
were made over this title, in spite of his careful explanations
(the Children having an undoubted taste for bacon), that he
finally abandoned it, and fell back upon the national name of
"freedmen,*' a title both good and true. He even tried to
make it noble, speaking to them often of their wonderful lot
as the emancipated teachers and helpers of their race ; laying
before them their mission in the future, which was to go over
to Africa, and wake out of their long sloth and slumber the
thousands of souls there. But Cassius and Pompey had only
a mythic idea of Africa ; they looked at the globe as it was
turned around, they saw it there on the other side, and then
their attention Wandered off to an adventurous aiit who was
making the tour of Soodan and crossing the mountains of
Kong as though they were nothing.
Lessons over, the scholars went home. The schoolmaster
went home too, wiping his forehead as he went. He was a
grrave young man, tall and thin, somewhat narrow-chested,
with the diffident air of a country student. And yet this
country student was here, far down in the South, hundreds of
miles away from the New Hampshire village where he had
thought to spend his life as teacher of the district school.
Extreme near-sightedness and an inherited delicacy of con-
stitution which he borÂ« silently had kept him out of the field
during the days of the war. " I should be only an encum-
brance," he thought. But, when the war was over, the fire
which had burned within burst forth in the thought, " The
freedmen ! " There was work fitted to his hand ; that one
thing he could do. "My turn has come at last," he said.
" I feel the call to go." Nobody cared much because he was
leaving. " Going down to teach the blacks ? " said the farm-
ers. " I don't see as you're called, David. We've paid dear
enough to set 'em free, goodness knows, and now they ought
to look out for themselves."
" But they must first be taught," said the schoolmaster.
" Our responsibility is great ; our task is only just beg^n."
" Stuff ! " said the farmers. What with the graves down
in the South, and the taxes up in the North, they were not
prepared to hear any talk about beginning. Beginning, in-
deed ! They called it ending. The slaves were freed, and it
was right they should be freed ; but Ethan and Abner were
gone, and their households were left unto them desolate. Let
the blacks take care of themselves.
So^ all alone, down came David King, with such aid and
instruction as the Freedman's Bureau could give him, to this
little settlement among the pines, where the freedmen had
built some cabins in a careless way, and then seated them-
selves to wait for fortune. Freedmen ! Yes ; a glorious
256 KING DAVID.
idea ! But how will it work its way out into practical life ?
What are you going to do with tens of thousands of ignorant,
childish, irresponsible souls thrown suddenly upon your hands ;
souls that will not long stay childish, and that have in them
also all the capacities for evil that you yourselves have â€” you
with your safeguards of generations of conscious responsibility
and self-government, and yetâ€” so many lapses ! This is what
David King thought. He did not see his way exactly ; no,
nor the nation's way. But he said to himself : " I can at least
begin ; if I am wrong, I shall find it out in time. But now it
seems to me that our first duty is to educate them." So he
began at " a, b, and c 'â€¢' ; " You must not steal " ; " You must
not fight"; "You must wash your faces"; which may be
called, I think, the first woricing out of the emancipation
Jubilee Town was the name of the settlement ; and when
the schoolmaster announced his own, David King, the title
struck the imitative minds of the scholars, and, turning it
around, they made " King David " of it, and kept it so. De-
lighted with the novelty, the Jubilee freedmen came to school
in such numbers that the master was obliged to classify them ;
boys and men in the mornings and afternoons ; the old people
in the evenings ; the young women and girls by themselves
for an hour in the early morning. " I can not do full justice
to all," he thought, " and in the men lies the danger, in the
boys the hope ; the women can not vote. Would to God the
men could not either, until they have learned to rfead and to
write, and to maintain themselves respectably ! " For, aboli-
tionist as he was, David King would have given years of his
life for the power to restrict the suffrage. Not having this
power, however, he worked at the problem in the only way
left open : ** Take two apples from four apples, Julius â€” how
many will be left ? " " What is this I hear, Caesar, about
stolen bacon ? "
On this day the master went home, tired and dispirited ;
the novelty was over on both sides. He had been five months
at Jubilee, and his scholars were more of a puzzle to him than
ever. They learned, some of them, readily ; but they forgot
as readily. They had a vast capacity for parrot-like repeti-
tion, and caught his long words so quickly, and repeated them
so volubly, with but slight comprehension of their meaning,
that his sensitive conscience shrank from using them, and he
was forced back upon a rude plainness of speech which was
a pain to his pedagogic ears. Where he had once said,
" Demean yourselves with sobriety," he now said, " Don't get
drunk." He would have fared better if he had learned to
say " uncle " and " aunty," or " maumer," in the familiar
Southern fashion. But he had no knowledge of the customs ;
how could he have ? He could only blunder on in his slow
His cabin stood in the pine forest, at a little distance from
the settlement; he had allowed himself that grace. There
was a garden around it, where Northern flowers came up
after a while â€” a little pale, perhaps, like English ladies in In-
dia, but doubly beautiful and dear to exiled eyes. The school-
master had cherished from the first a wish for a cotton-field
â€” a cotton-field of his own. To him a cotton-field repre-
sented the South â€” a cotton-field in the hot sunshine, with a
gang of slaves toiling under the lash of an overseer. This
might have been a fancy picture, and it might not. At any
rate, it was real to him. There was, however, no overseer
now, and no lash ; no slaves and very little toil. The negroes
would work only when they pleased, and that was generally
not at all. There was no doubt but that they were almost
hopelessly improvident and lazy. "Entirely so," said the
planters. " Not quite," said the Northern schoolmaster. And
therein lay the difference between them.
David lighted his fire of pitch-pine, spread his little table,
and beg^ to cook his supper carefully. When it was nearly
ready, he heard a knock at his gate. Two representative
specimens of his scholars were waiting without â€” Jim, a field-
hand, and a woman named Esther, who had been a house-
258 KING DAVID.
servant in a planter's family. Jim had come " to bony an
axe," and Esther to ask for medicine for a sick child.
** Where is your own axe, Jim ? " said the schoolmaster.
" Somehow et's rusty, sah. Dey gets rusty mighty
"Of course, because you alwajrs leave them out in the
rain. When will you learn to take care of your axes ? "
" Don' know, mars.''
" I have told you not to call me master," said David. " I
am not your master."
" You's schoolmars, I reckon," answered Jim, grinning at
" Well, Jim," said the schoolmaster, relaxing into a smile,
" you have the best of it this time ; but you know quite well
what I mean. You can take the axe ; but bring it back to-
night. And you must see about getting a new one immedi-
ately ; there is something to begin with. â€” Now, Esther, what
is it ? Your boy sick ? Probably it is because you let him
drink the water out of that swampy pool. I warned you."
" Yes, sah," said the woman impassively.
She was a slow, dull-witted creature, who had executed
her tasks marvelously well in the planter's family, never vary-
ing by a hair's breadth either in time or method during long
years. Freed, she was lost at once; if she had not been
swept along by her companions, she would have sat down
dumbly by the wayside, and died. The schoolmaster offered
supper to both of his guests. Jim took a seat at the table at
once, nothing loath, and ate and drank, talking all the time
with occasional flashes of wit, and an unconscious suggestion
of ferocity in the way he hacked and tore the meat with his
clasp-knife and his strong white teeth. Esther stood; no-
thing could induce her to sit in the master's presence. She
ate and drank quietly, and dropped a courtesy whenever he
spoke to her, not from any especial respect or gratitude, how-
ever, but from habit. " I may possibly teach the man some-
thing," thought the schoolmaster ; " but what a terrible crea-
KING DAVID. 259
ture to turn loose in the world, with power in his hand !
Hundreds of these men will die, nay, must die violent deaths
before their people can learn what freedom nieans, and what
it does not mean. As for the woman, it is hopeless ; she can
not learn. But her child can. In truth, our hope is in the
And then he threw away every atom of the food, washed
his dishes, made up the fire, and went back to the beginning
again and cooked a second supper. For he still shrank from
personal contact with the other race. A Southerner would
have found it impossible to comprehend the fortitude it re-
quired for the New-Englander to go through his daily rounds
among them. He did his best; but it was duty, not liking.
Supper over, he went to the schoolhouse again : in the even-
ings he taught the old people. It was an odd sight to note
them as they followed the letters with a big, crooked forefin-
ger, slowly spelling out words of three letters. They spelled
with their whole bodies, stooping over the books which lay
before them until their old grizzled heads and gay turbans
looked as if they were set on the table by the chins in a
long row. Patiently the master taught them ; they had gone
no further then " cat " in five long months. He made the
letters for them on the blackboard again and again, but the
treat of the evening was the making of these letters on the
board by the different scholars in turn. " Now, Dinah â€” B."
And old Dinah would hobble up proudly, and, with much
screwing of her mouth and tongue, and many long hesita-
tions, produce something which looked like a figure eight
gone mad. Joe had his turn next, and he would make, per-
haps, an H for a D. The master would go back and explain
to him carefully the difference, only to find at the end of ten
minutes that the whole class was hopelessly confused : Joe's
mistake had routed them all. There was one pair of spec-
tacles among the old people : these were passed from hand
to hand as the turn came, not from necessity always, but as
an adjunct to the dignity of riding.
26o KING DAVID.
"Never mind the glasses, Tom. Surdy you can spell
* bag ' without them."
"Dey helps. Mars King David," replied old Tom with
solemn importance. He then adorned himself with the spec-
tacles, and spelled it â€” " g, a, b."
But the old people enjoyed their lesson immensdy; no
laughter, no joking broke the solemnity of the scene, and
they never failed to make an especial toilet â€” ^much shirt-col-
lar for the old men, and clean turbans for the old women.
They seemed to be generally half-crippled, poor old crea-
tures; slow in their movements as tortoises, and often un-
wieldy ; their shoes were curiosities of patches, rags, strings,
and carpeting. But sometimes a fine old black face was
Bfted from the slow-moving bulk, and from under wrinkled
eyelids keen sharp eyes met the master's, as intelligent as his
There was no church proper in Jubilee. On Sundays, the
people, who were generally Baptists, assembled in the school-
room, where services were conducted by a brother who had
" de gif ob preachin*," and who poured forth a flood of Scrip-
ture phrases with a volubility, incoherence, and earnestness
alike extraordinary. Presbyterian David attended these ser-
vices, not only for the sake of example, but also because he
steadfastly believed in "the public assembling of ourselves
together for the worship oi Almighty God."
*' Perfiaps they understand him," he thought, noting the
rapt black faces, '* and I, at least, have no right to judge
them â€” I, who, with all the lights I have had, still find myself
unable to grasp the great doctrine of Election." For David
had been bred in Calvinism, and many a night, when younger
and more hopeful of arriving at finalities, had he v^rrestled
with its problems. He was not so sure, now, of arriving at
finalities either in belief or in daily life ; but he thought the
fault lay with himself, and deplored it.
The Yankee schoolmaster was, of course, debarred from
intercourse with those of his own color in the neighborhood.
KING DAVID, 261
There were no " poor whites " there ; he was spared the sight
of their long, clay-colored faces, lank yellow hair, and half-
open mouths ; he was not brought into contact with the igno-
rance and dense self-conceit of this singular class. The
whites of the neighborhood were planters, and they regarded
the schoolmaster as an interloper, a fanatic, a knave, or a
fool, according to their various degrees of bitterness. The
phantom of a cotton-field still haunted the master, and he
often walked by the abandoned fields of these planters, and
noted them carefully. In addition to his fancy, there was
now another motive. Things were not going well at Jubilee,
and he was anxious to try whether the men would not work
for good wages, paid regularly, and for their Northern teacher
and friend. Thus it happened that Harnett Ammerton, re-
tired planter, one afternoon perceived a stranger walking up
the avenue that led to his dilapidated mansion ; and as he
was near-sighted, and as any visitor was, besides, a welcome
interruption in his dull day, he went out upon the piazza to
meet him ; and not until he had offered a chair did he rec-
ognize his guest. He said nothing ; for he was in his own
house ; but a gentleman can freeze the atmosphere around
him even in his own house, and this he did. The school^
master stated his errand sunply : he wished to rent one of the
abandoned cotton-fields for a year. The planter could have
answered with satisfaction that his fields might lie for ever
untilled before Yankee hands should touch them ; but he was
a poor man now, and money was money. He endured his visit-
or, and he rented his field ; and, with the perplexed feelings of
his class, he asked himself how it was, how it could be, that a
man like that â€” ^yes, like that â€” had money, while he himself had
none ! David had but little moneyâ€” a mere handful to throw
away in a day, the planter would have thought in the lavish
old times ; but David had the New England thrift.
" I am hoping that the unemployed hands over at Jubilee
will cultivate this field for me," he said â€” " for fair wages, of
course. I know nothing of cotton myself,"
262 KING DAVID.
" You will be disappointed," said the planter,
" But they must live ; they must lay up something for the
" They do not know enough to live. They might exist,
perhaps, in Africa, as the rest of their race exists ; but here,
in this colder climate, they must be taken care of, worked,
and fed, as we work and feed our horses â€” ^precisely in the
" I can not agree with you," replied David, a color rising
in his thin face. " They are idle and shiftless, I acknowledge
that ; but is it not the natural result of generations of servi-
tude and ignorance ? "
" They have not capacity for anything save ignorance."
'" You do not know then, perhaps, that I â€” ^that I am try-
ing to educate those who are over at Jubilee," said David.
There was no aggressive confidence in his voice ; he knew
that he had accomplished little as yet. He looked wistfully
at his host as he spoke.
Harnett Ammerton was a bom patrician. Poor, homely,
awkward David felt this in every nerve as he sat there ; for
he loved beauty in spite of himself, and in spite of his belief
that it was a tendency of the old Adam. (Old Adam has
such nice things to bother his descendants with ; almost a
monopoly, if we are to believe some creeds.) So now David
tried not to be influenced by the fine face before him, and
steadfastly went on to sow a little seed, if possible, even upon
this prejudiced ground.
" I have a school over there," he said.
" I have heard something of the kind, I believe," replied
the old planter, as though Jubilee Town were a thousand
miles away, instead of a blot upon his own border. " May I
ask how you are succeeding ? "
There was a fine irony in the question. David felt it,
but replied courageously that success, he hoped, would come
** And I, young man, hope that it will never come ! The
KING DAVID, 263
negro with power in his hand, which you have given him,
with a little smattering of knowledge in his shallow, crafty
brain â€” ^a knowledge which you and your kind are now striv-
ing to give him â€” ^will become an element of more danger in
this land than it has ever known before. You Northerners
do not understand the blacks. They are an inferior race by
nature; God made them so. And God foigive those (al-
though I never can) who have placed them over us â€” ^yes,
virtually over us, their former masters â€” ^poor ignorant crea-
tures ! "
At this instant an old negro came up the steps with an
armful of wood, and the eye of the Northerner noted (was
forced to note) the contrast. There sat the planter, his head
crowned with silver hair, his finely chiseled face glowing with
the warmth of his indignant words ; and there passed the old
slave, bent and black, his low forehead and broad animal fea-
tures seeming to typify scarcely more intelligence than that
of the dog that followed him. The planter spoke to the ser-
vant in his kindly way as he passed, and the old black face
lighted with pleasure. This, too, the schoolmaster's sensitive
mind noted : none of his pupils looked at him with anything
like that affection. " But it is right they should be freed â€” it
is right," he said to himself as he walked back to Jubilee ;
** and to that belief will I cling as long as I have my being.
It is right." And then he came into Jubilee, and found three
of his freedmen drunk and quarreling in the street.
Heretofore the settlement, poor and forlorn as it was, had
escaped the curse of drunkenness. No liquor was sold in the
vicinity, and David had succeeded in keeping his scholars
from wandering aimlessly about the country from place to
place â€” often the first use the blacks made of their freedom.
Jubilee did not go to the liquor; but, at last, the liquor had
come to Jubilee. Shall they not have all rights and privileges,
these new-bom citizens of ours ? The bringer of these doc-
trines, and of the fluids to moisten them, was a white man,
one of that class which has gone down on the page of Ameri-
264 KING DAVID.
can history, knighted with the initials C. B. " The Captain "
the negroes called him ; and he was highly popular already,
three hours of the Captain being worth three weeks of Da-
vid, as far as familiarity went. The man was a glib-tongued,
smartly dressed fellow, well supplied with money ; and his
errand was, of course, to influence the votes at the next elec-
tion. David, meanwhile, had so carefully kept all talk of
politics from his scholars that they hardly knew that an elec-
tion was near. It became now a contest between the two
higher intelligences. If the schoolmaster had but won the
.easily won and strong affections of his pupils! But, in all
those months, he had gained only a dutiful attention. They
did not even respect him as they had respected their old mas-
ters, and the cause (poor David was that very thrift and in-
dustry which he relied upon an an example.