Tempest and Sunshine (Chapter 2, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 2

Next morning before daybreak Mr. Wilmot was aroused from a sound slumber
by what he thought was the worst noise he had ever heard. He instantly
concluded that the house was on fire, and springing up, endeavored to find
his clothes, but in the deep darkness of the room such a thing was
impossible; so he waited a while and tried to find out what the noise
could be.

At last it assumed something of a definite form, and he found it was the
voice of a man calling out in thunder-like tones, "Ho, Jebediah! Come out
with ye! Do you hear? Are you coming?"

Then followed a long catalogue of names, such as Sam, Joe, Jack, Jim, Ike,
Jerry, Nehemiah, Ezariah, Judy, Tilda, Martha, Rachel, Luce and Phema, and
at the end of each name was the same list of questions which had preceded
that of Jebediah; and ever from the negro quarters came the same response,
"Yes, marster, comin'."

By this time all the hens, geese, turkeys and dogs were wide awake and
joining their voices in the chorus, made the night, or rather the morning,
hideous with their outcries. At last the noise subsided. Silence settled
around the house and Wilmot tried to compose himself to sleep. When he
again awoke the sun was shining brightly into his room. He arose and
dressed himself, but felt in no hurry to see "his host," who had come
home, he was sure, and had given such tremendous demonstrations of the
strength of his lungs.

Mr. Wilmot finally descended to the sitting room, where the first object
which presented itself was a man who was certainly six and a half feet
high, and large in proportion. His face was dark and its natural color was
increased by a beard of at least four weeks' growth! He had on his head an
old slouched hat, from under which a few gray locks were visible. As soon
as Wilmot appeared, the uncouth figure advanced toward him, and seizing
his hand, gave a grip, which, if continued long, would certainly have
crushed every bone! He began with-"Well, so you are Mr. Wilmot from New York, hey? Of course a red-hot
Abolitionist, but I don't care for that if you'll only keep your ideas to
yourself and not try to preach your notions to me. I've heard of you
before."

"Heard of me, sir?" said Mr. Wilmot in surprise.

"Yes, of you; and why not? Thar's many a man, not as good as you, judging
by your looks, has had a hearing in his day; but, however, I haint heard
of you by the papers. As I was coming home last night I got along to old
man Edson's, and I seen him swarin' and tarin' round so says I, 'Ho, old
man, what's the row?' 'Oh,' says he, 'that you, Middleton? Nuff's the row.
I've done let my best horse and nigger go off with a man from the free
States, who said he's going to your house, and here 'tis after nine and
Jim not at home yet. Of course they've put out for the river.' 'Now,' says
I, 'don't be a fool, Edson; if that ar chap said he's goin' to my house,
he's goin' thar, I'll bet all my land and niggers he's honest. Likely
Jim's stopped somewhar. You come along with me and we'll find him.' So we
jogged along on the pike till of a sudden we met Prince coming home all
alone! This looked dark, but I told Edson to say nothin' and keep on; so
we came to Woodburn's fine house, and thar in the cabins we seen a bright
light, and heard the niggers larfin like five hundred, and thought we
could distinguish Jim Crow's voice; so we crept slyly up to the window and
looked in and, sure enough, there was Jim, telling a great yarn about the
way you rode and how you got flung onto the gate. It seems he didn't half
hitch Prince, who got oneasy like, and started for home. Edson hollered to
Jim, who came out and told how he didn't go clear here with you, cause you
said you could find the way, and he might go back. Then old man Edson
turned right round and said you were a likely man, and he hoped I'd do all
I could for you. So that's the way I heard of you; and now welcome to old
Kentuck, and welcome to my house, such as it is. It's mighty mean, though,
as 'Tempest' says."

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