Edward Payson Roe.

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In Loving Dedication











































A great, rudely built stone chimney was smoking languidly one
afternoon. Leaning against this chimney, as if for protection and
support, was a little cabin gray and decrepit with age. The door of the
cabin stood wide open, for the warm spring was well advanced in the
South. There was no need of a fire, but Aun' Jinkey, the mistress of
the abode, said she "kep' hit bunin' fer comp'ny." She sat by it now,
smoking as lazily as her chimney, in an old chair which creaked as if
in pain when she rocked. She supposed herself to be in deep meditation,
and regarded her corncob pipe not merely a solace but also as an
invaluable assistant to clearness of thought. Aun' Jinkey had the
complacent belief that she could reason out most questions if she could
only smoke and think long enough. Unfortunately, events would occur
which required action, or which raised new questions before she had had
time to solve those originally presented; yet it would be hard to fancy
a more tranquil order of things than that of which she was a humble

The cabin was shaded by grand old oaks and pines, through which the
afternoon sun shone in mild radiance, streaming into the doorway and
making a broad track of light over the uneven floor. But Aun' Jinkey
kept back in the congenial dusk, oblivious to the loveliness of nature
without. At last she removed her pipe from her mouth and revealed her
mental processes in words.

"In all my projeckin' dat chile's wuss'n old mars'r en miss, en de wah,
en de preachin'. I kin kin' ob see troo dem, en w'at dey dribin' at,
but dat chile grow mo' quare en on'countable eb'y day. Long as she wus
took up wid her doll en tame rabbits en pony dar wa'n't no
circum'cutions 'bout her, en now she am all circum'cution. Not'n gwine
'long plain wid her. She like de run down dar - but win' en win' ez ef
hit had ter go on, en hit couldn't mek up hits min' which way ter go.
Sometime hit larfin' in de sun en den hit steal away whar you kyant
mos' fin' hit. Dat de way wid Miss Lou. She seem right hyar wid us - she
only lil gyurl toder day - en now she 'clinin' to notions ob her own, en
she steal away to whar she tink no one see her en tink on heaps ob
tings. Won'er ef eber, like de run, she wanter go way off fum us?

"Ole mars'r en ole miss dunno en doan see not'n. Dey kyant. Dey tinks
de worl' al'ays gwine des so, dat means de way dey tink hit orter go.
Ef hit go any oder way, de worl's wrong, not dey. I ain' sayin' dey is
wrong, fer I ain' des tink dat all out'n. 'Long ez she keeps her foots
on de chalk line dey mark out dey ain' projeckin' how her min' go yere
en dar, zigerty-zag wid notions ob her own."

The door darkened, if the radiant girl standing on the threshold could
be said to darken any door. She did not represent the ordinary Southern
type, for her hair was gold in the sun and her eyes blue as the violets
by the brook. They were full of mirth now as she said: "There you are,
Aun' Jinkey, smoking and 'projeckin' as usual. You look like an old
Voudoo woman, and if I didn't know you as my old mammy - if I should
just happen in as a stranger, I'd be afraid of you."

"Voudoo ooman! How you talks, Miss Lou! I'se a member ob de Baptis'
Church, en you knows it."

"Oh, I know a heap 'mo'n dat,' as you so often say. If you were only a
member of the Baptist Church I wouldn't be running in to see you so
often. Uncle says a member of the Baptist Church has been stealing some
of his chickens."

"I knows some tings 'bout de members ob HE church," replied Aun'
Jinkey, with a toss of her head.

"I reckon you do, more than they would like to see published in the
county paper; but we aren't scandal-mongers, are we, Aun' Jinkey?" and
the young visitor sat down in the doorway and looked across the green
meadow seen through the opening in the trees. A dogwood stood in the
corner of the rail fence, the pink and white of its blossoms well
matching the girl's fair face and her rose-dotted calico gown, which,
in its severe simplicity, revealed her rounded outlines.

Aun' Jinkey watched her curiously, for it was evident that Miss Lou's
thoughts were far away. "Wat you tinkin' 'bout, Miss Lou?" she asked.

"Oh, I hardly know myself. Come, Aun' Jinkey, be a nice old witch and
tell me my fortune."

"Wat you want ter know yo' fortin fur?"

"I want to know more than I do now. Look here, Aun' Jinkey, does that
run we hear singing yonder go round and round in one place and with the
same current? Doesn't it go on? Uncle and aunt want me to go round and
round, doing the same things and thinking the same thoughts - not my own
thoughts either. Oh, I'm getting so tired of it all!"

"Lor' now, chile, I wuz des 'parin' you ter dat run in my min'," said
Aun' Jinkey in an awed tone.

"No danger of uncle or aunt comparing me to the run, or anything else.
They never had any children and don't know anything about young people.
They have a sort of prim, old-fashioned ideal of what the girls in the
Baron family should be, and I must become just such a girl - just like
that stiff, queer old portrait of grandma when she was a girl. Oh, if
they knew how tired of it all I am!"

"Bless yo' heart, Miss Lou, you ain' projeckin' anyting?"

"No, I'm just chafing and beating my wings like a caged bird."

"Now see yere, Miss Lou, isn't you onreason'ble? You hab a good home;
mars'r en miss monstus pius, en dey bringin' you up in de nurter en
'monitions ob de Lawd." "Too much 'monition, Aun' Jinkey. Uncle and
aunt's religion makes me so tired, and they make Sunday so awfully
long. Their religion reminds me of the lavender and camphor in which
they keep their Sunday clothes. And then the pages of the catechism
they have always made me learn, and the long Psalms, too, for
punishment! I don't understand religion, anyway. It seems something
meant to uphold all their views, and anything contrary to their views
isn't right or religious. They don't think much of you Baptists."

"We ain' sufrin' on dat 'count, chile," remarked Aun' Jinkey, dryly.

"There now, Aun' Jinkey, don't you see? Uncle owns you, yet you think
for yourself and have a religion of your own. If he knew I was thinking
for myself, he'd invoke the memory of all the Barons against me. I
don't know very much about the former Barons, except that my father was
one. According to what I am told, the girl Barons were the primmest
creatures I ever heard of. Then uncle and aunt are so inconsistent,
holding up as they do for my admiration Cousin Mad Whately. I don't
wonder people shorten his name from Madison to Mad, for if ever there
was a wild, reckless fellow, he is. Uncle wants to bring about a match,
because Mad's plantation joins ours. Mad acted as if he owned me
already when he was home last, and yet he knows I can't abide him. He
seems to think I can be subdued like one of his skittish horses."

"You HAB got a heap on yo' min', Miss Lou, you sho'ly hab. You sut'ny
t'ink too much for a young gyurl."

"I'm eighteen, yet uncle and aunt act toward me in some ways as if I
were still ten years old. How can I help thinking? The thoughts come.
You're a great one to talk against thinking. Uncle says you don't do
much else, and that your thoughts are just like the smoke of your pipe."

Aun' Jinkey bridled indignantly at first, but, recollecting herself,
said quietly: "I knows my juty ter ole mars'r en'll say not'n gin 'im.
He bring you up en gib you a home, Miss Lou. You must reckermember dat

"I'm in a bad mood, I suppose, but I can't help my thoughts, and it's
kind of a comfort to speak them out. If he only WOULD give me a home
and not make it so much like a prison! Uncle's honest, though, to the
backbone. On my eighteenth birthday he took me into his office and
formally told me about my affairs. I own that part of the plantation on
the far side of the run. He has kept all the accounts of that part
separate, and if it hadn't been for the war I'd have been rich, and he
says I will be rich when the war is over and the South free. He said he
had allowed so much for my bringing up and for my education, and that
the rest was invested, with his own money, in Confederate bonds. That
is all right, and I respect uncle for his downright integrity, but he
wants to manage me just as he does my plantation. He wishes to produce
just such crops of thoughts as he sows the seeds of, and he would treat
my other thoughts like weeds, which must be hoed out, cut down and
burned. Then you see he hasn't GIVEN me a home, and I'm growing to be a
woman. If I am old enough to own land, am I never to be old enough to
own myself?"

"Dar now, Miss Lou, you raisin' mo' questions dan I kin tink out in a

"There's dozens more rising in my mind and I can't get rid of them.
Aunt keeps my hands knitting and working for the soldiers, and I like
to do it. I'd like to be a soldier myself, for then I could go
somewhere and do and see something. Life then wouldn't be just doing
things with my hands and being told to think exactly what an old
gentleman and an old lady think. Of course our side is right in this
war, but how can I believe with uncle that nearly all the people in the
North are low, wicked and vile? The idea that every Northern soldier is
a monster is preposterous to me. Uncle forgets that he has had me
taught in United States history. I wish some of them would just march
by this out-of-the-way place, for I would like to see for myself what
they are like."

"Dar, dar, Miss Lou, you gittin' too bumptious. You like de fus' woman
who want ter know too much."

"No," said the girl, her blue eyes becoming dark and earnest, "I want
to know what's true, what's right. I can't believe that uncle and
aunt's narrow, exclusive, comfortless religion came from heaven; I
can't believe that God agrees with uncle as to just what a young girl
should do and think and be, but uncle seems to think that the wickedest
thing I can do is to disagree with him and aunt. Uncle forgets that
there are books in his library, and books make one think. They tell of
life very different from mine. Why, Aun' Jinkey, just think what a
lonely girl I am! You are about the only one I can talk to. Our
neighbors are so far away and we live so secluded that I scarcely have
acquaintances of my own age. Aunt thinks young girls should be kept out
of society until the proper time, and that time seems no nearer now
than ever. If uncle and aunt loved me, it would be different, but they
have just got a stiff set of ideas about their duty to me and another
set about my duty to them. Why, uncle laughed at a kitten the other day
because it was kittenish, but he has always wanted me to behave with
the solemnity of an old cat. Oh, dear! I'm SO tired. I wish something
WOULD happen."

"Hit brokes me all up ter year you talk so, honey, en I bless de Lawd
'tain' likely any ting gwinter hap'n in dese yere parts. De wah am
ragin' way off fum heah, nobody comin' wid news, en bimeby you gits mo'
settle down. Some day you know de valley ob peace en quietness."

"See here, Aun' Jinkey," said the girl, with a flash of her eyes, "you
know the little pond off in the woods. That's more peaceful than the
run, isn't it? Well, it's stagnant, too, and full of snakes. I'd like
to know what's going on in the world, but uncle of late does not even
let me read the county paper. I know things are not going to suit him,
for he often frowns and throws the paper into the fire. That's what
provokes me - the whole world must go just to suit him, or else he is

"Well, now, honey, you hab 'lieve yo' min', en I specs you feel bettah.
You mus' des promis yo' ole mammy dat you be keerful en not rile up ole
mars'r, kase hit'll ony be harder fer you. I'se ole, en I knows tings
do hap'n dough dey of'un come slowlike. You des gwine troo de woods
now, en kyant see fur; bimeby you come ter a clearin'. Dat boy ob mine
be comin' soon fer his pone en bacon. I'se gwinter do a heap ob tinkin'
on all de questions you riz."

"Yes, Aun' Jinkey, I do feel better for speaking out, but I expect I
shall do a heap of thinking too. Good-by," and she strolled away toward
the brook.



It was a moody little stream which Miss Lou was following. She did not
go far before she sat down on a rock and watched the murmuring waters
glide past, conscious meantime of a vague desire to go with them into
the unknown. She was not chafing so much at the monotony of her life as
at its restrictions, its negation of all pleasing realities, and the
persistent pressure upon her attention of a formal round of duties and
more formal and antiquated circle of thoughts. Only as she stole away
into solitudes like the one in which she now sat dreaming could she
escape from the hard materialism of routine, and chiding for idleness
usually followed. Her aunt, with an abundance of slaves at her command,
could have enjoyed much leisure, yet she was fussily and constantly
busy, and the young girl could not help feeling that much which she was
expected to do was a mere waste of time.

The serene beauty of the evening, the songs of the mocking and other
birds, were not without their effect, however, and she said aloud: "I
might be very happy even here if, like the birds, I had the heart to
sing - and I would sing if I truly lived and had something to live for."

The sun was approaching the horizon, and she was rising wearily and
reluctantly to return when she heard the report of firearms, followed
by the sound of swiftly galloping horses. Beyond the brook, on the
margin of which she stood, rose a precipitous bank overhung with vines
and bushes, and a few rods further back was a plantation road
descending toward a wide belt of forest. A thick copse and growth of
young trees ran from the top of the bank toward the road, hiding from
her vision that portion of the lane from which the sounds were
approaching. Suddenly half a dozen cavalrymen, whom she knew to be
Federals from their blue uniforms, galloped into view and passed on in
the direction of the forest. One of the group turned his horse sharply
behind the concealing copse and spurred directly toward her. She had
only time to throw up her hands and utter an involuntary cry of warning
about the steep bank, when the horse sprang through the treacherous
shrubbery and fell headlong into the stream. The rider saw his peril,
withdrew his feet from the stirrups, and in an instinctive effort for
self-preservation, threw himself forward, falling upon the sand almost
at the young girl's feet. He uttered a groan, shivered, and became
insensible. A moment or two later a band in gray galloped by wholly
intent upon the Federals, who had disappeared spurring for the woods,
and she recognized her cousin, Madison Whately, leading the pursuit.
Neither he nor any of his party looked her way, and it was evident that
the Union soldier who had so abruptly diverged from the road behind the
screening copse had not been discovered. The sounds died away as
speedily as they had approached, and all became still again. The
startled birds resumed their songs; the injured horse moved feebly, and
the girl saw that it was bleeding from a wound, but the man at her feet
did not stir. Truly something had happened. What should she do?
Breaking the paralysis of her fear and astonishment, she stepped to the
brook, gathered up water in her hands, and dashed it into the face of
the unconscious man. It had no effect. "Can he be dead?" she asked
herself in horror. He was as pale as his bronzed features could become,
and her woman's soul was touched that one who looked so strong, who had
been so vital a moment before, should now lie there in pathetic and
appealing helplessness. Was that fine, manly face the visage of one of
the terrible, bloodthirsty, unscrupulous Yankees? Even as she ran to
Aun' Jinkey's cottage for help the thought crossed her mind that the
world was not what it had been represented to her, and that she must
learn to think and act for herself.

As she approached, Chunk, Aun' Jinkey's grandson, appeared coming from
the mansion house. He was nicknamed "Chunk" from his dwarfed stature
and his stout, powerful build. Miss Lou put her finger to her lips,
glanced hastily around, and led the way into the cabin. She hushed
their startled exclamations as she told her story, and then said, "Aun'
Jinkey, if he's alive, you must hide him in your loft there where Chunk
sleeps. Come with me."

In a few moments all three were beside the unconscious form. Chunk
instantly slipped his hand inside the soldier's vest over his heart.
"Hit done beats," he said, quickly, and without further hesitation he
lifted the man as if he had been a child, bore him safely to the cabin,
and laid him on Aun' Jinkey's bed. "Hi, granny, whar dat hot stuff you
gib me fer de belly misery?"

Aun' Jinkey had already found a bottle containing a decoction of the
wild ginger root, and with pewter spoon forced some of the liquid into
the man's mouth. He struggled slightly and began to revive. At last he
opened his eyes and looked with an awed expression at the young girl
who stood at the foot of the bed.

"I hope you feel better now," she said, kindly.

"Are you - am I alive?" he asked.

"Dar now, mars'r, you isn't in heb'n yet, dough Miss Lou, standin' dar,
mout favor de notion. Des you took anoder swaller ob dis ginger-tea, en
den you see me'n Chunk ain' angels."

Chunk grinned and chuckled. "Neber was took fer one in my bawn days."

The young man did as he was bidden, then turned his eyes wistfully and
questioningly from the two dark visages back to the girl's sympathetic

"You remember," she said, "you were being chased, and turned your horse
toward a steep bank, which you didn't see, and fell."

"Ah, yes - it's all growing clear. You were the woman I caught glimpse

She nodded and said: "I must go now, or some one will come looking for
me. I won't speak - tell about this. I'm not on your side, but I'm not
going to get a helpless man into more trouble. You may trust Aun'
Jinkey and her grandson."

"Dat you kin, mars'r," Chunk ejaculated with peculiar emphasis.

"God bless you, then, for a woman who has a heart. I'm quite content
that you're not an angel," and a smile so lighted up the soldier's
features that she thought she had never seen a pleasanter looking man.

Worried indeed that she was returning so much later than usual, she
hastened homeward. Half-way up the path to the house she met a tall,
slender negro girl, who exclaimed, "Hi, Miss Lou, ole miss des gettin'
'stracted 'bout you, en mars'r sez ef you ain' at supper in five minits
he's gwine down to Aun' Jinkey en know what she mean, meckin' sech'
sturbence in de fambly."

"How absurd!" thought the girl. "Being a little late is a disturbance
in the family." But she hastened on, followed by the girl, who was
employed in the capacity of waitress. This girl, Zany by name, resented
in accordance with her own ideas and character the principle of
repression which dominated the household. She threw a kiss toward the
cabin under the trees and shook with silent laughter as she muttered,
"Dat fer you, Chunk. You de beat'nst nigger I eber see. You mos' ez
bro'd ez I is high, yit you'se reachin' arter me. I des like ter kill
mysef lafin' wen we dance tergeder," and she indulged in a jig-step and
antics behind Miss Lou's back until she came in sight of the windows,
then appeared as if following a hearse.

Miss Lou entered the rear door of the long, two-story house, surrounded
on three sides by a wide piazza. Mr. Baron, a stout, bald-headed old
gentleman, was fuming up and down the dining-room while his wife sat in
grim silence at the foot of the table. It was evident that they had
made stiff, old-fashioned toilets, and both looked askance at the
flushed face of the almost breathless girl, still in her simple morning
costume. Before she could speak her uncle said, severely, "Since we
have waited so long, we will still wait till you can dress."

The girl was glad to escape to her room in order that she might have
time to frame some excuse before she faced the inquisition in store for

Constitutional traits often assert themselves in a manner contrary to
the prevailing characteristics of a region. Instead of the easy-going
habits of life common to so many of his neighbors, Mr. Baron was a
martinet by nature, and the absence of large, engrossing duties
permitted his mind to dwell on little things and to exaggerate them out
of all proportion. Indeed, it was this utter lack of perspective in his
views and judgments which created for Miss Lou half her trouble. The
sin of tardiness which she had just committed was treated like a great
moral transgression, or rather it was so frowned upon that it were hard
to say he could show his displeasure at a more heinous offence. The one
thought now in Mr. Baron's mind was that the sacred routine of the day
had been broken. Often there are no greater devotees to routine than
those who are virtually idlers. Endowed with the gift of persistence
rather than with a resolute will, it had become second nature to
maintain the daily order of action and thought which he believed to be
his right to enforce upon his household. Every one chafed under his
inexorable system except his wife. She had married when young, had
grown up into it, and supplemented it with a system of her own which
took the form of a scrupulous and periodical attention to all little
details of housekeeping. There was a constant friction, therefore,
between the careless, indolent natures of the slaves and the precise,
exacting requirements of both master and mistress. Miss Lou, as she was
generally called on the plantation, had grown up into this routine as a
flower blooms in a stiff old garden, and no amount of repression,
admonition and exhortation, not even in her younger days of punishment,
could quench her spirit or benumb her mind. She submitted, she yielded,
with varying degrees of grace or reluctance. As she increased in years,
her thoughts, as we have seen, were verging more and more on the border
of rebellion. But the habit of obedience and submission still had its
influence. Moreover, there had been no strong motive and little
opportunity for independent action. Hoping not even for tolerance, much
less for sympathy, she kept her thoughts to herself, except as she
occasionally relieved her mind to her old mammy, Aun' Jinkey.

She came into the dining-room hastily at last, but the expression of
her face was impassive and inscrutable. She was received in solemn
silence, broken at first only by the long formal grace which Mr. Baron
never omitted and never varied. In her rebellious mood the girl
thought, "What a queer God it would be if he were pleased with this old
cut-and-dried form of words! All the time uncle's saying them he is
thinking how he'll show me his displeasure."

Mr. Baron evidently concluded that his best method at first would be an

Online LibraryEdward Payson RoeMiss Lou → online text (page 1 of 26)