The Gentleman from Indiana (Chapter 7, page 1 of 16)


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Chapter 7

The bright sun of circus-day shone into Harkless's window, and he awoke to
find himself smiling. For a little while he lay content, drowsily
wondering why he smiled, only knowing that there was something new. It was
thus, as a boy, he had wakened on his birthday mornings, or on Christmas,
or on the Fourth of July, drifting happily out of pleasant dreams into the
consciousness of long-awaited delights that had come true, yet lying only
half-awake in a cheerful borderland, leaving happiness undefined.

The morning breeze was fluttering at his window blind; a honeysuckle vine
tapped lightly on the pane. Birds were trilling, warbling, whistling. From
the street came the rumbling of wagons, merry cries of greeting, and the
barking of dogs. What was it made him feel so young and strong and light-
hearted? The breeze brought him the smell of June roses, fresh and sweet
with dew, and then he knew why he had come smiling from his dreams. He
would go a holiday-making. With that he leaped out of bed, and shouted
loudly: "Zen! Hello, Xenophon!"

In answer, an ancient, very black darky put his head in at the door, his
warped and wrinkled visage showing under his grizzled hair like charred
paper in a fall of pine ashes. He said: "Good-mawn', suh. Yessuh. Hit's
done pump' full. Good-mawn', suh."

A few moments later, the colored man, seated on the front steps of the
cottage, heard a mighty splashing within, while the rafters rang with
stentorian song:

"He promised to buy me a bunch o' blue ribbon,
He promised to buy me a bunch o' blue ribbon,
He promised to buy me a bunch o' blue ribbon,
To tie up my bonny brown hair

"Oh dear! What can the matter be?
Oh dear! What can the matter be?
Oh dear! What can the matter be?
Johnnie's so long at the Fair!"

At the sound of this complaint, delivered in a manly voice, the listener's
jaw dropped, and his mouth opened and stayed open. "Him!" he muttered,
faintly. "Singin'!"

"Well, the old Triangle knew the music of our tread;
How the peaceful Seminole would tremble in his bed!"

sang the editor.
"I dunno huccome it," exclaimed the old man, "an' dat ain' hyer ner dar;
but, bless Gawd! de young man' happy!" A thought struck him suddenly, and
he scratched his head. "Maybe he goin' away," he said, querulously. "What
become o' ole Zen?" The splashing ceased, but not the voice, which struck
into a noble marching chorus. "Oh, my Lawd," said the colored man, "I pray
you listen at dat!"

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