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Produced by David Widger





THE CRISIS

By Winston Churchill


Volume 2.



CHAPTER VIII

BELLEGARDE

Miss Virginia Carvel came down the steps in her riding-habit. And Ned,
who had been waiting in the street with the horses, obsequiously held his
hand while his young mistress leaped into Vixen's saddle. Leaving the
darkey to follow upon black Calhoun, she cantered off up the street,
greatly to the admiration of the neighbor. They threw open their windows
to wave at her, but Virginia pressed her lips and stared straight ahead.
She was going out to see the Russell girls at their father's country
place on Bellefontaine Road, especially to proclaim her detestation for a
certain young Yankee upstart. She had unbosomed herself to Anne Brinsmade
and timid Eugenie Renault the day before.

It was Indian summer, the gold and purple season of the year. Frost had
come and gone. Wasps were buzzing confusedly about the eaves again,
marvelling at the balmy air, and the two Misses Russell, Puss and Emily,
were seated within the wide doorway at needlework when Virginia
dismounted at the horseblock.

"Oh, Jinny, I'm so glad to see you," said Miss Russell. "Here's Elise
Saint Simon from New Orleans. You must stay all day and to-night."

"I can't, Puss," said Virginia, submitting impatiently to Miss Russell's
warm embrace. She was disappointed at finding the stranger. "I only came
- to say that I am going to have a birthday party in a few weeks. You must
be sure to come, and bring your guest."

Virginia took her bridle from Ned, and Miss Russell's hospitable face
fell.

"You're not going?" she said.

"To Bellegarde for dinner," answered Virginia.

"But it's only ten o'clock," said Puss. "And, Jinny?"

"Yes."

"There's a new young man in town, and they do say his appearance is very
striking - not exactly handsome, you know, but strong-looking."

"He's horrid!" said Virginia. "He's a Yankee."

"How do you know?" demanded Puss and Emily in chorus.

"And he's no gentleman," said Virginia.

"But how do you know, Jinny?"

"He's an upstart."

"Oh. But he belongs to a very good Boston family, they say."

"There are no good Boston families," replied Virginia, with conviction,
as she separated her reins. "He has proved that. Who ever heard of a good
Yankee family?"

"What has he done to you, Virginia?" asked Puss, who had brains.

Virginia glanced at the guest. But her grievance was too hot within her
for suppression.

Do you remember Mr. Benbow's Hester, girls? The one I always said I
wanted. She was sold at auction yesterday. Pa and I were passing the
Court House, with Clarence, when she was put up for sale. We crossed the
street to see what was going on, and there was your strong-looking Yankee
standing at the edge of the crowd. I am quite sure that he saw me as
plainly as I see you, Puss Russell."

"How could he help it?" said Puss, slyly.

Virginia took no notice of the remark.

"He heard me ask Pa to buy her. He heard Clarence say that he would bid
her in for me. I know he did. And yet he goes in and outbids Clarence,
and buys her himself. Do you think any gentleman would do that, Puss
Russell?"

"He bought her himself!" cried the astonished Miss Russell. "Why I
thought that all Bostonians were Abolitionists."

"Then he set her free," said Miss Carvel, contemptuously Judge Whipple
went on her bond to-day."

"Oh, I'm just crazy to see him now," said Miss Russell.

"Ask him to your party, Virginia," she added mischievously.

"Do you think I would have him in my house?" cried Virginia.

Miss Russell was likewise courageous - "I don't see why not. You have
Judge Whipple every Sunday dinner, and he's an Abolitionist."

Virginia drew herself up.

"Judge Whipple has never insulted me," she said, with dignity.

Puss gave way to laughter. Whereupon, despite her protests and prayers
for forgiveness, Virginia took to her mare again and galloped off. They
saw her turn northward on the Bellefontaine Road.

Presently the woodland hid from her sight the noble river shining far
below, and Virginia pulled Vixen between the gateposts which marked the
entrance to her aunt's place, Bellegarde. Half a mile through the cool
forest, the black dirt of the driveway flying from Vixen's hoofs, and
there was the Colfax house on the edge of the, gentle slope; and beyond
it the orchard, and the blue grapes withering on the vines, - and beyond
that fields and fields of yellow stubble. The silver smoke of a steamboat
hung in wisps above the water. A young negro was busily washing the broad
veranda, but he stopped and straightened at sight of the young
horsewoman.

"Sambo, where's your mistress?"

"Clar t' goodness, Miss Jinny, she was heah leetle while ago."

"Yo' git atter Miss Lilly, yo' good-fo'-nuthin' niggah," said Ned,
warmly. "Ain't yo' be'n raised better'n to stan' theh wif yo'mouf open?"

Sambo was taking the hint, when Miss Virginia called him back.

"Where's Mr. Clarence?

"Young Masr? I'll fotch him, Miss Jinny. He jes come home f'um seein'
that thar trottin' hose he's gwine to race nex' week."

Ned, who had tied Calhoun and was holding his mistress's bridle, sniffed.
He had been Colonel Carvel's jockey in his younger days.

"Shucks!" he said contemptuously. "I hoped to die befo' the day a
gemman'd own er trottah, Jinny. On'y runnin' hosses is fit fo' gemmen."

"Ned," said Virginia, "I shall be eighteen in two weeks and a young lady.
On that day you must call me Miss Jinny."

Ned's face showed both astonishment and inquiry.

"Jinny, ain't I nussed you always? Ain't I come upstairs to quiet you
when yo' mammy ain't had no power ovah yo'? Ain't I cooked fo' yo', and
ain't I followed you everywheres since I quit ridin' yo' pa's bosses to
vict'ry? Ain't I one of de fambly? An' yit yo' ax me to call yo' Miss
Jinny?"

"Then you've had privileges enough," Virginia answered. "One week from
to-morrow you are to say 'Miss Jinny.'"

"I'se tell you what, Jinny," he answered mischievously, with an emphasis
on the word, "I'se call you Miss Jinny ef you'll call me Mistah Johnson.
Mistah Johnson. You aint gwinter forget? Mistah Johnson."

"I'll remember," she said. "Ned," she demanded suddenly, "would you like
to be free?"

The negro started.

"Why you ax me dat, Jinny?"

"Mr. Benbow's Hester is free," she said.

"Who done freed her?"

Miss Virginia flushed. "A detestable young Yankee, who has come out here
to meddle with what doesn't concern him. I wanted Hester, Ned. And you
should have married her, if you behaved yourself."

Ned laughed uneasily.

"I reckon I'se too ol' fo' Heste'." And added with privileged impudence,
"There ain't no cause why I can't marry her now."

Virginia suddenly leaped to the ground without his assistance.

"That's enough, Ned," she said, and started toward the house.

"Jinny! Miss Jinny!" The call was plaintive.

"Well, what?"

"Miss Jinny, I seed that than young gemman. Lan' sakes, he ain' look like
er Yankee."

"Ned," said Virginia, sternly, "do you want to go back to cooking?"

He quailed. "Oh, no'm - Lan' sakes, no'm. I didn't mean nuthin'."

She turned, frowned, and bit her lip. Around the corner of the veranda
she ran into her cousin. He, too, was booted and spurred. He reached
out, boyishly, to catch her in his arms. But she drew back from his
grasp.

"Why, Jinny," he cried, "what's the matter?"

"Nothing, Max." She often called him so, his middle name being Maxwell.
"But you have no right to do that."

"To do what?" said Clarence, making a face.

"You know," answered Virginia, curtly. "Where's Aunt Lillian?"

"Why haven't I the right?" he asked, ignoring the inquiry.

"Because you have not, unless I choose. And I don't choose."

"Are you angry with me still? It wasn't my fault. Uncle Comyn made me
come away. You should have had the girl, Jinny, if it took my fortune."

"You have been drinking this morning, Max," said Virginia.

"Only a julep or so," he replied apologetically. "I rode over to the race
track to see the new trotter. I've called him Halcyon, Jinny," he
continued, with enthusiasm. "And he'll win the handicap sure."

She sat down on the veranda steps, with her knees crossed and her chin
resting on her hands. The air was heavy with the perfume of the grapes
and the smell of late flowers from the sunken garden near by. A blue haze
hung over the Illinois shore.

"Max, you promised me you wouldn't drink so much."

"And I haven't been, Jinny, 'pon my word," he replied. "But I met old
Sparks at the Tavern, and he started to talk about the horses, and - and
he insisted."

"And you hadn't the strength of character," she said, scornfully, "to
refuse."

"Pshaw, Jinny, a gentleman must be a gentleman. I'm no Yankee."

For a space Virginia answered nothing. Then she said, without changing
her position:

"If you were, you might be worth something."

"Virginia!"

She did not reply, but sat gazing toward the water. He began to pace the
veranda, fiercely.

"Look here, Jinny," he cried, pausing in front of her. "There are some
things you can't say to me, even in jest."

Virginia rose, flicked her riding-whip, and started down the steps.

"Don't be a fool, Max," she said.

He followed her, bewildered. She skirted the garden, passed the orchard,
and finally reached a summer house perched on a knoll at the edge of the
wood. Then she seated herself on a bench, silently. He took a place on
the opposite side, with his feet stretched out, dejectedly.

"I'm tired trying to please you," he said. "I have been a fool. You don't
care that for me. It was all right when I was younger, when there was no
one else to take you riding, and jump off the barn for your amusement,
Miss. Now you have Tom Catherwood and Jack Brinsmade and the Russell boys
running after you, it's different. I reckon I'll go to Kansas. There are
Yankees to shoot in Kansas."

He did not see her smile as he sat staring at his feet.

"Max," said she, all at once, "why don't you settle down to something?
Why don't you work?"

Young Mr. Colfax's arm swept around in a circle.

There are twelve hundred acres to look after here, and a few niggers.
That's enough for a gentleman."

"Pooh!" exclaimed his cousin, "this isn't a cotton plantation. Aunt
Lillian doesn't farm for money. If she did, you would have to check your
extravagances mighty quick, sir."

"I look after Pompey's reports, I do as much work as my ancestors,"
answered Clarence, hotly.

"Ah, that is the trouble," said Virginia.

"What do you mean?" her cousin demanded.

"We have been gentlemen too long," said Virginia.

The boy straightened up and rose. The pride and wilfulness of generations
was indeed in his handsome face. And something else went with it. Around
the mouth a grave tinge of indulgence.

"What has your life been?" she went on, speaking rapidly. "A mixture of
gamecocks and ponies and race horses and billiards, and idleness at the
Virginia Springs, and fighting with other boys. What do you know? You
wouldn't go to college. You wouldn't study law. You can't write a decent
letter. You don't know anything about the history of your country. What
can you do - ?"

"I can ride and fight," he said. "I can go to New Orleans to-morrow to
join Walker's Nicaragua expedition. We've got to beat the Yankees,
- they'll have Kansas away from us before we know it."

Virginia's eye flashed appreciation.

"Do you remember, Jinny," he cried, "one day long ago when those Dutch
ruffians were teasing you and Anne on the road, and Bert Russell and Jack
and I came along? We whipped 'em, Jinny. And my eye was closed. And you
were bathing it here, and one of my buttons was gone. And you counted the
rest."

"Rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief, doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief,"
she recited, laughing. She crossed over and sat beside him, and her tone
changed. "Max, can't you understand? It isn't that. Max, if you would
only work at something. That is why the Yankees beat us. If you would
learn to weld iron, or to build bridges, or railroads. Or if you would
learn business, and go to work in Pa's store."

"You do not care for me as I am?"

"I knew that you did not understand," she answered passionately. "It is
because I care for you that I wish to make you great. You care too much
for a good time, for horses, Max. You love the South, but you think too
little how she is to be saved. If war is to come, we shall want men like
that Captain Robert Lee who was here. A man who can turn the forces of
the earth to his own purposes."

For a moment Clarence was moodily silent.

"I have always intended to go into politics, after Pa's example," he said
at length.

"Then - " began Virginia, and paused.

"Then - ?" he said.

"Then - you must study law."

He gave her the one keen look. And she met it, with her lips tightly
pressed together. Then he smiled.

"Virginia, you will never forgive that Yankee, Brice."

"I shall never forgive any Yankee," she retorted quickly. "But we are not
talking about him. I am thinking of the South, and of you."

He stooped toward her face, but she avoided him and went back to the
bench.

"Why not?" he said.

"You must prove first that you are a man," she said.

For years he remembered the scene. The vineyard, the yellow stubble; and
the river rushing on and on with tranquil power, and the slow panting of
the steamboat. A doe ran out of the forest, and paused, her head raised,
not twenty feet away.

"And then you will marry me, Jinny?" he asked finally.

"Before you may hope to control another, we shall see whether you can
control yourself, sir."

"But it has all been arranged," he exclaimed, "since we played here
together years ago!"

"No one shall arrange that for me," replied Virginia promptly. "And I
should think that you would wish to have some of the credit for
yourself."

"Jinny!"

Again she avoided him by leaping the low railing. The doe fled into the
forest, whistling fearfully. Virginia waved her hand to him and started
toward the house. At the corner of the porch she ran into her aunt Mrs.
Colfax was a beautiful woman. Beautiful when Addison Colfax married her
in Kentucky at nineteen, beautiful still at three and forty. This, I am
aware, is a bald statement. "Prove it," you say. "We do not believe it.
It was told you by some old beau who lives upon the memory of the past."

Ladies, a score of different daguerrotypes of Lillian Colfax are in
existence. And whatever may be said of portraits, daguerrotypes do not
flatter. All the town admitted that she was beautiful. All the town knew
that she was the daughter of old Judge Colfax's overseer at Halcyondale.
If she had not been beautiful, Addison Colfax would not have run away
with her. That is certain. He left her a rich widow at five and twenty,
mistress of the country place he had bought on the Bellefontaine Road,
near St. Louis. And when Mrs. Colfax was not dancing off to the Virginia
watering-places, Bellegarde was a gay house.

"Jinny," exclaimed her aunt, "how you scared me! What on earth is the
matter?"

"Nothing," said Virginia

"She refused to kiss me," put in Clarence, half in play, half in
resentment.

Mrs. Colfax laughed musically. She put one of her white hands on each of
her niece's cheeks, kissed her, and then gazed into her face until
Virginia reddened.

"Law, Jinny, you're quite pretty," said her aunt

"I hadn't realized it - but you must take care of your complexion. You're
horribly sunburned, and you let your hair blow all over your face. It's
barbarous not to wear a mask when you ride. Your Pa doesn't look after
you properly. I would ask you to stay to the dance to-night if your skin
were only white, instead of red. You're old enough to know better,
Virginia. Mr. Vance was to have driven out for dinner. Have you seen him,
Clarence?"

"No, mother."

"He is so amusing," Mrs. Colfax continued, "and he generally brings
candy. I shall die of the blues before supper." She sat down with a grand
air at the head of the table, while Alfred took the lid from the silver
soup-tureen in front of her. "Jinny, can't you say something bright? Do I
have to listen to Clarence's horse talk for another hour? Tell me some
gossip. Will you have some gumbo soup?"

"Why do you listen to Clarence's horse talk?" said Virginia. "Why don't
you make him go to work!"

"Mercy!" said Mrs. Colfax, laughing, "what could he do?"

"That's just it," said Virginia. "He hasn't a serious interest in life."

Clarence looked sullen. And his mother, as usual, took his side.

"What put that into your head, Jinny," she said. "He has the place here
to look after, a very gentlemanly occupation. That's what they do in
Virginia."

"Yes," said Virginia, scornfully, "we're all gentlemen in the South. What
do we know about business and developing the resources of the country?
Not THAT."

"You make my head ache, my dear," was her aunt's reply. "Where did you
get all this?"

"You ask me because I am a girl," said Virginia. "You believe that women
were made to look at, and to play with, - not to think. But if we are
going to get ahead of the Yankees, we shall have to think. It was all
very well to be a gentleman in the days of my great-grandfather. But now
we have railroads and steamboats. And who builds them? The Yankees. We of
the South think of our ancestors, and drift deeper and deeper into debt.
We know how to fight, and we know how to command. But we have been ruined
by - " here she glanced at the retreating form of Alfred, and lowered her
voice, "by niggers."

Mrs. Colfax's gaze rested languidly on her niece's faces which glowed
with indignation.

"You get this terrible habit of argument from Comyn," she said. "He ought
to send you to boarding-school. How mean of Mr. Vance not to come! You've
been talking with that old reprobate Whipple. Why does Comyn put up with
him?"

"He isn't an old reprobate," said Virginia, warmly.

"You really ought to go to school," said her aunt. "Don't be eccentric.
It isn't fashionable. I suppose you wish Clarence to go into a factory."

"If I were a man," said Virginia, "and going into a factory would teach
me how to make a locomotive or a cotton press, or to build a bridge, I
should go into a factory. We shall never beat the Yankees until we meet
them on their own ground."

"There is Mr. Vance now," said Mrs. Colfax, and added fervently, "Thank
the Lord!"




CHAPTER IX

A QUIET SUNDAY IN LOCUST STREET

IF the truth were known where Virginia got the opinions which she
expressed so freely to her aunt and cousin, it was from Colonel Carvel
himself. The Colonel would rather have denounced the Dred Scott decision
than admit to Judge Whipple that one of the greatest weaknesses of the
South lay in her lack of mechanical and manufacturing ability. But he had
confessed as much in private to Captain Elijah Brent. The Colonel would
often sit for an hour or more, after supper, with his feet tucked up on
the mantel and his hat on the back of his head, buried in thought. Then
he would saunter slowly down to the Planters' House bar, which served the
purposes of a club in those days, in search of an argument with other
prominent citizens. The Colonel had his own particular chair in his own
particular corner, which was always vacated when he came in at the door.
And then he always had three fingers of the best Bourbon whiskey, no more
and no less, every evening.

He never met his bosom friend and pet antagonist at the Planters' House
bar. Judge Whipple, indeed, took his meals upstairs, but he never
descended, - it was generally supposed because of the strong slavery
atmosphere there. However, the Judge went periodically to his friend's
for a quiet Sunday dinner (so called in derision by St. Louisans), on
which occasions Virginia sat at the end of the table and endeavored to
pour water on the flames when they flared up too fiercely.

The Sunday following her ride to Bellegarde was the Judge's Sunday,
Certain tastes which she had inherited had hitherto provided her with
pleasurable sensations while these battles were in progress. More than
once had she scored a fair hit on the Judge for her father, - to the
mutual delight of both gentlemen. But to-day she dreaded being present at
the argument. Just why she dreaded it is a matter of feminine psychology
best left to the reader for solution.

The argument began, as usual, with the tearing apart limb by limb of the
unfortunate Franklin Pierce, by Judge Whipple.

"What a miserable exhibition in the eyes of the world," said the Judge.
"Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire" (he pronounced this name with infinite
scorn) "managed by Jefferson Davis of Mississippi!"

"And he was well managed, sir," said the Colonel.

"What a pliant tool of your Southern slaveholders! I hear that you are to
give him a plantation as a reward."

"No such thing, sir."

"He deserves it," continued the Judge, with conviction. "See the
magnificent forts he permitted Davis to build up in the South, the
arsenals he let him stock. The country does not realize this. But the day
will, come when they will execrate Pierce before Benedict Arnold, sir.
And look at the infamous Kansas-Nebraska act! That is the greatest crime,
and Douglas and Pierce the greatest criminals, of the century."

"Do have some more of that fried chicken, Judge," said Virginia.

Mr. Whipple helped himself fiercely, and the Colonel smiled.

"You should be satisfied now," said he. "Another Northern man is in the
White House."

"Buchanan!" roared the Judge, with his mouth full.

"Another traitor, sir. Another traitor worse than the first. He swallows
the Dred Scott decision, and smirks. What a blot on the history of this
Republic! O Lord!" cried Mr. Whipple, "what are we coming to? A Northern
man, he could gag and bind Kansas and force her into slavery against the
will of her citizens. He packs his Cabinet to support the ruffians you
send over the borders. The very governors he ships out there, his
henchmen, have their stomachs turned. Look at Walker, whom they are
plotting against in Washington. He can't stand the smell of this
Lecompton Constitution Buchanan is trying to jam down their throats.
Jefferson Davis would have troops there, to be sure that it goes through,
if he had his way. Can't you see how one sin leads to another, Carvel?
How slavery is rapidly demoralizing a free people?"

"It is because you won't let it alone where it belongs, sir," retorted
the Colonel. It was seldom that he showed any heat in his replies. He
talked slowly, and he had a way of stretching forth his hand to prevent
the more eager Judge from interrupting him.

"The welfare of the whole South, as matters now stand, sir, depends upon
slavery. Our plantations could not exist a day without slave labor. If
you abolished that institution, Judge Whipple, you would ruin millions of
your fellow-countrymen, - you would reduce sovereign states to a situation
of disgraceful dependence. And all, sir," now he raised his voice lest
the Judge break in, "all, sir, for the sake of a low breed that ain't fit
for freedom. You and I, who have the Magna Charta and the Declaration of
Independence behind us, who are descended from a race that has done
nothing but rule for ten centuries and more, may well establish a
Republic where the basis of stability is the self-control of the
individual - as long as men such as you and I form its citizens. Look at
the South Americans. How do Republics go there? And the minute you and I
let in niggers, who haven't any more self-control than dogs, on an equal
basis, with as much of a vote as you have, - niggers, sir, that have lived
like wild beasts in the depths of the jungle since the days of Ham,
- what's going to become of our Republic?"

"Education," cried the Judge.

But the word was snatched out of his mouth.

"Education isn't a matter of one generation. No, sir, nor two, nor three,
nor four. But of centuries."

"Sir," said the Judge, "I can point out negroes of intelligence and
learning."

"And I reckon you could teach some monkeys to talk English, and recite
the catechism, and sing emotional hymns, if you brought over a couple of
million from Africa," answered the Colonel, dryly, as he rose to put on
his hat and light a cigar.

It was his custom to offer a cigar to the Judge, who invariably refused,
and rubbed his nose with scornful violence.

Virginia, on the verge of leaving, stayed on, fascinated by the turn the
argument had taken.

"Your prejudice is hide-bound, sir," said Mr. Whipple.

"No, Whipple," said the Colonel, "when God washed off this wicked earth,


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