The Red Acorn by John McElroy
Chapter XII. Aunt Debby Brill.
Beneath the dark waves where the dead go down, There are gulfs of night more deep; But little they care, whom the waves once drown, How far from the litght they sleep. And dark though Sorrow's fearful billows be, They have caverns darker still. O God! that Sorrow's waves were like the sea, Whose topmost waters kill. -Anonymous.
It was nearly noon when Harry awoke. The awakening came slowly and with pain. In all his previous experiences he had had no hint even of such mental and bodily exhaustion as now oppressed him. Every muscle and tendon was aching a bitter complaint against the strain it had been subjected to the day before. Dull, pulseless pain smoldered in some; in others it was the keen throb of the toothache. Continued lying in one position was unendurable; changing it, a thrill of anguish; and the new posture as intolerable as the first. His brain galled and twinged as did his body. To think was as acute pain as to use his sinews. Yet he could not help thinking any more than he could help turning in the bed, though to turn was torture.
Every organ of thought was bruised and sore. The fearful events of the day before would continue to thrust themselves upon his mind. To put them out required painful effort; to recall and comprehend them was even worse. Reflecting upon them now, with unstrung nerves, made them seem a hundred-fold more terrible than when they were the spontaneous offspring of hot blood. With the reflection came the thoguhts that this was but a prelude--an introduction--to an infinitely horrible saturnalia of violence and blood, through which he was to be hurried until released by his own destruction. This became a nightmare that threatened to stagnate the blood in his veins. He gasped, turned his back to the wall with an effort that thrilled him with pain, and opened his eyes.
Naught that he saw reminded him of the preceding day. Sunny peace and contentment reigned. The door stood wide open, and as it faced the south, the noonday sun pushed in--clear to the opposite wall--a broad band of mellow light, vividly telling of the glory he was shedding where roof nor shade checked his genial glow. On the smooth, hard, ashen floor, in the center of this bright zone, sat a matronly cat, giving with tongue and paw dainty finishing touches to her morning toilet, and watching with maternal pride a kittenish game of hide-and-seek on the front step. Through the open doorway came the self-complacent cackling of hens, celebrating their latest additions to their nests, and the exultant call of a cock to his feathered harem to come, admire and partake of some especially fat worm, which he had just unearthed. Farther away speckled Guinea chickens were clamoring their satisfaction at the improvement in the weather. Still farther, gentle tinklings hinted of peacfully-browsing sheep.
Inside the house, bunches of sweet-smelling medicinal herbs, hanging agains the walls to dry, made the air heavy with their odors. Aunt Debby was at work near the bright zone of sun-rays, spinning yarn with a "big wheel." She held in one hand a long slender roll of carded wool, and in the other a short stick, with which she turned the wheel. Setting it to whirling with a long sweep of the stick against a spoke, she would walk backward while the roll was twisted out into a long, thin thread, and then walk forward as they yarn was wound upon the spindle. When she walked backward, the spindle hummed sharply; when she came forward it droned. There was a stately rhythm in both, to which her footsteps and graceful sway of body kept time, and all blended harmoniously with the camp-meeting melody she was softly singing:
"Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee; Naked, poor, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shalt be. Perish every fond ambition-- All I've sought, or hoped, or known; Yet how rich is my condition-- God and Heaven still my own."
A world of memories of a joyous past, unflecked by a single one of the miseries of the present, crowded in upon Harry on the wings of this well-remembered tune. It was a favorite hymn at the Methodist church in Sardis, and the last time he had heard it was when he had accompanied Rachel to the church to attend services conducted by a noted evangelist.
Ah, Rachel!--what of her?
He had not thought of her since a swift recollection of her words at the parting scene on the piazza had come to spur up his faltering resolution, as the regiment advanced up the side of Wildcat. Now one bitter thought of how useless all that he had gone through with the day before was to rehabilitate himself in her good opinion was speedily chased from his mind by the still bitterer one of the contempt she must feel for him, did she but know of his present abject prostration.
After all, might not the occurrences of yesterday be but the memories of a nightmare? They seemed too unreal for probability. Perhaps he was just recovering consciousness after the delirium of a fever.
The walnut sticks in the fireplace popped as sharply as pistols, and he trembled from head to foot.
"Heavens, I'm a bigger coward than ever," he said bitterly, and turning himself painfully in bed, he fixed his eyes upon the wall. "I was led to believe," he continued, "that after I had once been under fire, I would cease to dread it. Now, it seems to me more dreadful than I ever imagined it to be."
Aunt Debby's wheel hummed and droned still louder, but her pleasant tones rode on the cadences like an Aeolian harp in a rising wind:
"Man may trouble and distress me, 'T will but drive me to Thy breast; Life with trials hard may press me; Heaven will bring me sweeter rest. O, 'tis not in grief to harm me, While Thy love is left to me. O, 'twere not in joy to charm me, Were that joy unmixed with Thee."
He wondered weakly why ther were no monasteries in this land and age, to serve as harbors or refuge for those who shrank from the fearfulness of war.
He turned over again wearily, and Aunt Debby, looking toward him, encountered his wide-open eyes.
"Yer awake, air ye?" she said kindly. "Hope I didn't disturb you. I wuz tryin' ter make ez little noise ez possible."
"No, you didn't rouse me. It's hard for me to sleep in daylight, even when fatigued, as I am."
"Ef ye want ter git up now," she said, stopping the whell by pressing the stick against a spoke, and laying the "roll" in her hand upon the wheel-head, "I'll hev some breakfast fur ye in a jiffy. Ye kin rise an' dress while I run down ter the spring arter a fresh bucket o' water."
She covered her head with a "slat sun-bonnet," which she took from a peg in the wall, lifted a cedar waterpail from a shelf supported by other long pegs, poured its contents into a large cast-iron teakettle swinging over the fire, and whisked out of the door. Presently the notes of her hymn mingled in plaintive harmony with the sparkling but no sweeter song of a robin redbreast, twittering his delight in the warm sunshine amid the crimson apples of the tree that overhung the spring.
"Will ye hev a fresh drink?" she asked Harry, on her return.
He took the gourdful of clear, cool water, which she offered him, and drank heartily.
"Thet hez the name o' bein' the best spring in these parts," she said, pleased with his appreciation.
"An' hit's a never-failin' spring, too. We've plenty o' water the dryest times, when everybody else's goes dry."
"That is delicious water," said Harry.
"An' now I'll git ye yor breakfast in a minnit. The teakittle's a-bilin', the coffee's ground, the pone's done, an' when I fry a little ham, everything will be ready."
As her culinary methods and utensils differed wholly from anything Harry had ever seen, he studied them with great interest sharpened not a little by a growing appetite for breakfast.
The clumsy iron teakettle swung on a hook at the end of a chain fastened somewhere in the throat of the chimney. On the rough stones forming the hearth were a half-dozen "ovens" and "skillets"--circular, cast-iron vessels standing on legs, high enough to allow a layer of live coals to be placed beneath them. They were covered by a lid with a ledge around it, to retain the mass of coals heaped on top. The cook's scepter was a wooden hook, with which she moved the kettles and ovens and lifted lids, while the restless fire scorched her amrs and face ruddier than cherry.
It was a primitive way, and so wasteful of wood that it required a tree to furnish fuel enough to prepare breakfast; but under the hands of a skillful woman those ovens and skillets turned out viands with a flavor that no modern appliance can equal.
The joists of the house were thickly hung with the small delicious hams of the country--hams made from young and tender hogs, which had lived and fattened upon the acorns, fragrant hickory-nuts and dainty beechnuts of the abundant "mast" of the forest, until the were saturated with their delicate, nutty flavor. This was farther enriched by a piquancy gained from the smoke of the burning hickory and oak, with which they were cured, and the absorption of odors from the scented herbs in the rooms where they were drying. Many have sung the praises of Kentucky's horses, whisy and women, but no poet has tuned his lyre to the more fruitful theme of Kentucky's mast-fed, smoke-cured, herb-scented hams. For such a man waits a crown of enduring bays.
Slices of this savory ham, fried in a skillet--the truth of history forces the reluctant confession that the march of progress had not yet brought the grid-iron and its virtues to the mountains--a hot pone of golden-yellow meal, whose steaming sweetness had not been allowed to distill off, but had been forced back into the loaf by the hot oven-lid; coffee as black and strong as the virile infusions which cheer the hearts of the true believers in the tents of the Turk, and cream from cows that cropped the odorous and juicy grasses of mountain meadows, made a breakfast that could not have been more appetizing if composed by a French chef, and garnished by a polyglot bill-of-fare.
Moved thereto by the hospitable urgings of Aunt Debby, and his own appetite, Harry ate heartily. Under the influence of the comfortable meal, the cheerful sunshine, and the rousing of the energies that follow a change from a recumbent to an erect posture, his spirits rose to a manlier pitch. As he could not walk without pain he took his seat in a slat-bottomed chair by the side of the hearth, and Aunt Debby, knitting in hand, occupied a low rocker nearly opposite.
"Where's Mr. Fortner?" asked Harry.
"Jim got up, arly, an' arter eatin' a snac said he'd go out an' take a look around--mebbe he mout go ez fur ez the Ford."
As if to accompany Harry's instinctie tremor over the possibilities attending the resumption of Fortner's prowling around the flanks of Zollicoffer's army, the fire shot off a whole volley of sharp little explosions.
Harry sprang two or three inches above his chair, then reddened violently, and essayed to conceal his confusion by assiduous attention with the poker to the wants of the fire.
Aunt Debby regarded him with gentle compassion.
"Yer all shuck up by the happenin's yesterday," she said with such tactful sympathy that his sensitive mettle was not offended. "'Tis nateral ye should be. Hit's allers so. Folks kin say what they please, but fouten's terrible tryin' to the narves, no matter who does hit. My husband wuz in the Mexican War, an' he's offen tole me thet fur weeks arter the battle o' Buner Visty he couldn't heah a twig snap withouten his heart poppin' right up inter his mouth, an' hit wuz so with everybody else, much ez they tried ter play off unconsarned like."
"Ah, really?" said Henry, deeply interested in all the concerned this woman, whose remarkable qualities were impressing themselves upon his recognition. "What part of the army did your husband belong to?"
"He wuz in the Kentucky rigimint commanded by Kunnel Henry Clay, son o' the great Henry Clay, who wuz killed thar. My husband was promoted to a Leftenant fur his brav'ry in the battle."
"Then this is not your first experience with war?"
"No, indeed," said she, with just a trace of pride swelling in the temple's delicate network of blue veins. "The Fortners an' the Brills air soljer families, an' ther young men hev shouldered ther guns whenever the country needed fouten-men. Great gran'fathers Brill an' Fortner come inter the State along with Dan'l boone nigh onter a hundred years ago, and sence then them an' ther descendents hev fit Injuns, Brittishers an' Mexikins evr'y time an inimy raised a sword agin the country."
"Many of them lose their lives?"
"Yes, ev'ry war hez cost the families some member. Gran'fathes Brill an' Fortner war both on 'em killed at the Injun ambush at Blue Licks. I wuz on'y a baby when my father wuz killed at the massacre of Winchester's men at the River Raisin. My brother---"
"father of the man I was with yesterday?"
"No; his father wuz my oldest brother. My youngest brother--the 'baby' o' the family--wuz mortally wounded by a copper ball in the charge on the Bishop's Palace at the takin' o' Monterey."
"And your husband--he went through the war safely, did he?"
The pleasant, mobile lines upon the woman's face congealed into stony hardness. At the moment of Harry's question she was beginning to count the stitches in her work for some feminine mystery of "narrowing" or "turning." She stopped, and hands and knittng dropped into her lap.
"My husband," she said slowly and bitterly, "wuz spared by the Mexikins thet he fit, but not by his own countrymen an' neighbors, amongst whom he wuz brung up. His blood wuz not poured out on the soil he invaded, but wuz drunk by the land his forefathers an' kinsmen hed died fur. The godless Greasers on the River Grande war kinder ter him nor the Christian gentlemen on the Rockassel."
The intensity and bitterness of the utterance revealed a long conning of the expression of bitter truths.
"He lost his life, then," said Harry, partially comprehending, "in some of the troubles around here?"
"He wuz killed, bekase he wouldn't help brek down what hit hed cost so much ter build up. He wuz killed, bekase he thot a pore man's life wuth mo'en a rich man's nigger. He wuz killed, bekase he b'lieved this whole country belonged ter the men who'd fit fur hit an' made hit what hit is, an' thet hit wuzn't a plantation fur a passel o' slave-drivers ter boss an' divide up jess ez hit suited 'em."
"Why, I thought all you Kentuckians were strongly in favor of keeping the negores in slavery," said Harry in amazement.
"Keepin the niggers ez slaves ain't the question at all. We folks air ez fur from bein' Abolitionists ez ennybody. Hit's a battle now with a lot uv 'ristocrats who'd take our rights away."
"I don't quite understand your position," said Harry.
"Hit's bekase ye don't understand the country. The people down heah air divided into three classes. Fust thar's the few very rich fam'lies that hev big farms over in the Blue Grass with lots o' niggers ter work 'em. Then thar's the middle class--like the Fortners an' the Brills--thet hev small farms in the creek vallies, an' wharever thar's good land on the mounting sides; who hev no niggers, an' who try ter lead God-fearin', hard-workin' lives, an' support ther fam'lies decently. Lastly thar's the pore white trash, thet lives 'way up in the hollers an' on the wuthless lands about the headwaters. They've little patches o' corn ter make ther breadstuff, an' depend on huntin', fishin', an' stealin' fur the rest o' their vittles. They've half-a-dozen guns in every cabin, but nary a hoe; they've more yaller dogs then the rest o' us hev sheep, an they find hit a good deal handier ter kill other folks's hogs than ter raise ther own pork."
"Hardly desirable neighbors, I should think," ventured Harry.
"Hit's war all the time between our kind o' people, and them other kinds. Both on 'em hates us like pizen, an' on our side--well, we air Christians, but we recken thet when Christ tole us ter love our inimies, an' do good ter them ez despitefully used us, he couldn't hev hed no idee how mean people would git ter be long arter he left the airth."
Harry could not help smiling at this new adaptation of Scriptural mandate.
"The low-down white hates us bekase we ain't mean an' ornery ez they air, an' hold ourselves above 'em. The big-bugs hates us bekase we won't knuckle down ter 'em, ez ther niggers an' the pore whites do. So hit's cat-an'-dog all the time. We don't belong ter the same parties, we don't jine the same churches, an' thar's more or less trouble a-gwine on batween us an' them continnerly."
"Then when the war broke out you took different sides as usual?"
"Of course! of course! The big nigger-owners an' the ornery whites who air just ez much ther slaves ez ef they'd been bot an' paid fur with ther own money, became red-hot Secessioners, while our people stuck ter the Union. The very old Satan hisself seemed ter take possession ov 'em, and stir 'em up ter do all manner o' cruelty ter conquer us inter jinin' in with 'em. The Brills an' Fortners hed allers been leaders agin the other people,an' now the Rebels hissed their white slaves onter our men, ez one sets dogs onter steers in the corn. The chief man among 'em wuz Kunnel Bill Pennington."
Harry looked up with a start.
"Yes, the same one who got his reward yesterd," she continued, interpreting the expression of his eyes. "The Penningtons air the richest family this side o' Danville. They an' the Brills an' Fortners hev allers been mortal enemies. Thar's bin blood shed in ev'ry gineration. Kunnel Bill's father limpt ter his grae on 'count of a bullet in his hip, which wuz lodged thar soon arter I'd flung on the floor a ten dollar gold piece he'd crowded inter my hand at a dance, where he'd come 'ithout ary invite. The bullet wuz from teh rifle ov a young man named David Brill, thet I married the next day, jest ez he wuz startin' fur Mexico. He volunteered a little airlier then he'd intended, fur his father's wheat wuz not nearly all harvested, but hit wuz thot best ter git himself out o' the way o' the Penningtons, who wuz a mouty revengeful family, an' besides they then hed the law on ther side. Ez soon ez he come back from teh war Ole Kunnel Bill, an' Young Kunnel Bill, an' all the rest o' the Pennington clan an' connection begun watchin' fur a chance ter git even with him. The Ole Kunnel used ter vow an' swar thet he'd never leave the airth ontil Dave Brill wuz under the clods o' the valley. But he hed ter go last year, spite o' hisself, an' leave David Brill 'live an' well an' becomin' more an' more lookt up ter ev'ry day by the people, while the Penningtons war gittin' wuss and wuss hated. We hed a son, too, the very apple of our eyes, who wuz growin' up jest like his father---"
The quaver of an ill-repressed sob blurred her tones. She closed her eyes firmly, as if to choke back the brimming tears, and then rising from her seat, busied herself brushing the coals and ashes back into the fire.
"Thet walnut pops so awfully," she said, "thet a body hez to sweep nearly ev'ry minnit ter keep the harth at all clean."
"The death of his father made no change in the younger Col. Pennington? He kept up the quarrel the same as ever, did he?" asked Harry, deeply interested in teh narrative.
"Wussen ever! Wussen ever! He got bitterer ev'ry day. He laid his defeat when he wuz runnin' fur the Legislatur at our door. He hired bullies ter git inter a quarrel with David, at public getherin's, an' kill him in sech a way ez ter have a plea o' self-defense ter cla'r themselves on, but David tuck too good keer o' hisself ter git ketched that a-way, an' he hurt one o' the bullies so bad thet he niver quite got over hit. He an' Kunnel Pennington leveled ther weepons on each other at a barbecue near London last Fall, but the bystanders interfered, an' prevented bloodshed fur a time."
"When the war broke out, we never believed hit would reach us. Thar mout be trouble in Louisville and Cincinnati--some even thought hit likely that thar would be fouten' in Lexington--but way up in the mountings we'd be peaceable an' safe allers. Our young men formed theirselves inter a company o' Home Gyards, an' elected my husband their Capting. Kunnel Pennington gathered together 'bout a hundred o' the poorest, orneriest shakes on the headwaters, an' tuck them off ter jine Sidney Johnson, an' drive the Yankees 'way from Louisville. Everybody said hit wuz the best riddance o' bad rubbish the country 'd ever knowed, and when they wuz gone our chances fur peace seemed better'n ever.
"All the flurry made by ther gwine 'way hed died down, an' ez we heered nothin' from 'em, or the war, people's minds got quiet ag'in, an' they sot 'bout hurryin' up their Spring work.
"One bright, sweet mornin' in May, I wuz at my work in the yard with Fortner--thet wuz my son's name--fixin' up the kittles ter dye some yarn fur a coat fur him. Husband 'd went ter the other side o' the hill, whar the new terbacker ground wuz, ter cut out some trees that shaded the plants. The skies wuz ez bright an' fa'r ez the good Lord ever made 'em. I could heah the ringin' o' David's ax, ez he chopped away, an'h hit seemed ter be sayin' ter me cheefully all the time: 'Heah I am--hard at work.' The smoke from some brush-piles that he'd sot afire riz up slowly an' gently, fur thar wuz no wind a-stirring. The birds sung gayly 'bout their work o' nest-buildin', an' I couldn't help singin' about mine. I left the kittles fur a minnit ter run down the gyardin walk, ter see how my bed o' pinks wuz comin' out, an' I sung ez I run.
"Jest then a passel o' men come stringin' up the road ter the bars. They looked like some o' them that Kunnel Pennington tuck 'way with him, but they rid better critters then any o' them ever hed, an' they were dressed in a sorter soljer-cloze, an' all o' 'em toted guns.
"Something sent a chill ter my very heart the moment I laid eyes on 'em. Hit a'most stopped beatin' when I see Kunnel Bill Pennington a little ways behind 'em, with a feather in his hat, an' sword an' pistols in his belt. When they waited at the bars fur him ter come up, I knowed instantly what they were arter.
"'Fortner,' I said ter my son, tryin' ter speak ez low ez possible; 'Fortner, honey, slip back through the bushes ez quick ez the Lord'll let ye, an tell yer daddy that Bill Pennington an' his gang air heah arter him. Sneak away, but when ye air out o' sight, run fur yer life, honey.'
"He turned ter go, but tat that minnit Bill Pennington shouted out:
"'Stop thar! Don't ye send thet boy away! Ef he moves a step, I'll put a bullet through his brain!' Fortner would've run in spite o' him, but I wuz so skeered for him thet I jumped ter his side an' ketched his arm.
"'Keep quiet, honey,' I said. 'Likely they won't find yer daddy at all.'
"Vain hope! Ez I spoke, the sound o' David's ax rung out clearly and steadily. The cannons at Wildcat, yesterday, didn't sound no louder ter me. I could even tell that he wuz choppin' a beech tree. The licks was ex a-sharp an' ringin' ez ef the ax struck iron.
"Bill Pennington lit offen his beast, an' walked toward me, with his sword a-clatterin' an' his spurs a-jinglin'.
"'Whar's that Yankeefied scalawag of a husband o' your'n? Whar's Dave Brill?' he said savagely.
"Hit seemed ter me that every stroke from over the hill said ez plainly ez tongue could utter words: 'Heah I am. Come over heah!' I tried ter gain time ter think o' something.
"'He started this mornin' on Roan Molly fer Mt. Vernon, to 'tend court,' I said, knowin' thet I didn't dare hesitate ter make up a story.
"'Kunnel, thet air's a lie,' said Jake Johnson, who knowed us. 'Thar's Dave Brill's Roan Molly over thar, in the pasture.'
"'An' this hain't court-day in Mt. Vernon, neither,' said another.
"'I know your husband's on the place, I wuz tole so this mornin',' said Kunnel Bill. 'Hit'll be much better fur ye, ef ye tell me whar he is. Hit'll at least save yer house from bein' sot afire.'
"Ring! ring! went David's ax, ez ef hit war a trumpet, shoutin' ter the whole world: 'Heah I am. Come over heah!'
"'Ye kin burn our house ef yer that big a villain,' I said; 'but I can't tell ye no different.'
"'Kunnel, thet's him a-choppin' over thar,' said Jake Johnson. 'I know he's cl'ared some new ground fur terbacker on thet air hill-side.'
"'I believe hit is,' said Kunnel Bill, listenin' a minnit. 'Parker, ye an' Haygood go over thar an' git him, while some o' the rest o' ye look 'bout the stable an' fodder-stack thar. Mind my orders, an' see thet they are carried out.'
"His manner made me fear everything. A thought flashed inter my mind. Thar wuz thet horn thar."--Harry followed her eyes with his, and saw hanging on hooks against the wall one of the long tin horns, used in the South to call the men-folks of the farms to their meals. It was crushed and battered to uselessness.--"I thought I'd blow hit an' attract his attention. He mout then see them a-comin' an' git away. I ran inter the house an' snatched the horn down, but afore I could put hit ter my lips, Bill Pennington jerked hit 'way from me, an' stamped on hit.
"'Deb Brill,' said he, with a mortally hateful look, 'yer peart an' sassy an' bold, an' hev allers been so, an' so 's yer Yankeefied husband. Ye've hed yer own way offen--too offen. Now I'll heve mine, an' wipe out some long-standin' scores. Dave Brill hez capped a lifetime o' plague an' disturbance ter his betters, by becomin' a trator to his country, an' inducin' others ter be traitors. He must be quieted. come out an' listen.'
"He pulled me out inter the yard. Dave wuz still choppin' away. Fur nearly every day fur night thirty years, the sound o' his ax hed been music in my ears. I had larned to know hit, even afore we wuz lovers, fur his father's land jined my father's, an' hit seems ter me that I could tell he note o' his ax from thet o' everybody else, a'most ez airly ez I could tell a robin's song from a blackbird's. Girl, woman, wife an' mother, I hed listened to hit while I knit, wove, or spun, every stroke minglin' with the sounds o' my wheel or loom an' the song o' the birds, an' tellin' me whar he wuz, an' thet he wuz toilin' cheefully fur me an' mine.
"Now, fur the fust time in all these years, hits steady strong beat brought mis'ry ter my ears. Hit wuz ez the tollin' of bell fur some one not yit dead. My heart o'ny beat ez fast ez he chopped. Hit would give a great jump when the sound o' the blow reached me, an' then stand still until the next one came.
"At last came a long--O, so long pause.
"'They've got thar,' said Bill Pennington, cranin' forward his head ter ketch the fust sound. 'He's seed 'em, an' is tryin' ter git 'way. But he kin never do hit. I know the men I sent ter do the job.'
"Two rifle shots sounded a'most together, an' then immediately arter wuz a couple o' boastful Injun-like yells.
"'Thar, Deb, heah thet? Ye'r a widder now. Be thankful thet I let ye off so easy. I ought by rights ter burn yer house, an' put thet boy o' your'n whar he'll do no harm. but this'll do fur an example ter these mounting traitors. They've lost their leader, an' ther hain't no one ter take his place. They'll know now thet we're in dead airnest. Boys, go inter the house an' git all the guns thar is thar, an' what vittles an' blankets ye want; but make haste, fur we must git away from heah in a hurry.'
"I run ez fast ez my feet'd carry me to whar David lay stone dead. Fortner saddled his colt an' galloped off ter his cousin Jim Fortner's, ter rouse the Home Gyard. The colt reached Jim's house, bekase hits mammy wuz thar; but my son never did. In takin' the shortest road, he hed ter cross the dangerousest ford on the Rockassel. The young beast wuz skeered nigh ter death, an' hits rider wuz drowned."