Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. IXXI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 18611889
From Marse Chan
By Thomas Nelson Page (18531922)
[Born at Oakland, Hanover Co., Va., 1853. Died there, 1922. Marse Chan. In Ole Virginia. 1887.]
ONE night Marse Chan come back from de offis wid a telegram dat say, Come at once, so he wuz to start nex mawnin. He uniform wuz all ready, gray wid yaller trimmins, an mine wuz ready too. an he had ole marsters sword, whar de State gi im in de Mexikin war; an he trunks wuz all packed wid evrything in em, an my chist wuz packed too, an Jim Rasher he druv em over to de depo in de waggin, an we wuz to start nex mawnin bout light. Dis wuz bout de las o spring, yo know. Dat night ole missis made Marse Chan dress up in he uniform, an he sutny did look splendid, wid he long mustache an he wavin hyar an he tall figger.
Arfter supper he come down an sez: Sam, I wan you to tek dis note an kyar it over to Cunl Chahmblins, an gi it to Miss Anne wid yo own hans, an bring me wud what she sez. Don let any one know bout it, or know why youve gone. Yes, seh, sez I.
Yo see, I knowed Miss Annes maid over at ole Cunl Chahmblinsdat wuz Judy whar is my wife nowan I knowed I could wuk it. So I tuk de roan an rid over, an tied im down de hill in de cedars, an I wen roun to de back yard. Twuz a right blowy sort o night; de moon wuz jes risin, but de clouds wuz so big it didn shine cep thoo a crack now an den. I soon foun my gal, an arfter tellin her two or three lies bout hersef, I got her to go in an ax Miss Anne to come to de do. When she come, I gi her de note, an arfter a little while she brot me anurr, an I tole her good-by, an she gi me a dollar, an I come home an gi de letter to Marse Chan. He read it, an tole me to have de hosses ready at twenty minits to twelve at de corner of de garden. An jes befo dat he come out ez ef he wuz gwine to bed, but instid he come, an we all struck out tods Cunl Chahmblins. When we got mos to de gate, de hosses got sort o skeered, an I see dey wuz somen or somebody stanin jes inside; an Marse Chan he jump off de sorrel an flung me de bridle and he walked up.
She spoke fust (twuz Miss Anne had done come out dyah to meet Marse Chan), an she sez, jes ez cold ez a chill, Well, seh, I granted your favor. I wished to relieve mysef of de obligations you placed me under a few months ago, when you made me a present of my father, whom you fust insulted an then prevented from gittin satisfaction.
De moon come out, an I cotch sight o her stanin dyah in her white dress, wid de cloak she had wrapped hersef up in drapped off on de groun, an she didn look like she wuz feared o nuthin. She wuz monsus purty ez she stood dyah wid de green bushes behine her, an she hed jes a few flowers in her breasright hyahand some leaves in her sorrel hyar; an de moon come out an shined down on her hyar an her frock, an peared like de light wuz jes stanin off it ez she stood dyah lookin at Marse Chan wid her head thod back, jes like dat mawnin when she pahss Marse Chan in de road widout speakin to im, an sez to me, Good mawnin, Sam.
Marse Chan, he den tole her he hed come to say good-by to her, ez he wuz gwine way to de war nex mawnin. I wuz watchin on her, an I thot, when Marse Chan tole her dat, she sort o started an looked up at im like she wuz mighty sorry, an peared like she didn stan quite so straight arfter dat. Den Marse Chan he went on talkin right fars to her; an he tole her how he had loved her ever sence she wuz a little bit o baby mos, an how he nuver membered de time when he hedn spected to marry her. He tole her it wuz his love for her dat hed made im stan fust at school an collige, an hed kep im good an pure; an now he wuz gwine way, wouldn she let it be like twuz in ole times, an ef he come back from de war wouldn she try to think on him ez she use to do when she wuz a little guirl?
But I don love yo. (Jes dem thee wuds!) De wuds fall right slowlike dirt falls out a spade on a coffin when yos buryin anybody, an sez, Uth to uth. Marse Chan he jes let her hand drap, an he stiddy hissef ginst de gate-pos, an he didn speak torekly. When he did speak, all he sez wuz:
I clar, marster, I didn know twuz Marse Chans voice tell I look at im right good. Well, she wouldn let im go wid her. She jes wrap her cloak roun her shoulders, an wen long back by hersef, widout doin moren jes look up once at Marse Chan leanin dyah ginst de gate-pos in he sodger clos, wid he eyes on de groun. She said Good-by sort o sorf, an Marse Chan, widout lookin up, shake hans wid her, an she wuz done gone down de road. Soon ez she got mos roun de curve, Marse Chan he followed her, keepin under de trees so ez not to be seen, an I led de hosses on down de road behine im. He kep long behine her tell she wuz safe in de house, an den he come an got on he hoss, an we all come home.
Nex mawnin we all come off to jine de army. An dey wuz a-drillin an a-drillin all bout for a while an dey went long wid all de res o de army, an I went wid Marse Chan an clean he boots, an look arfter de tent, an tek keer o him an de hosses. An Marse Chan, he wan a bit like he use to be. He wuz so solum an moanful all de time, at leas cep when dyah wuz gwine to be a fight. Den hed peartin up, an he alwuz rode at de head o de company, cause he wuz tall; an hit wan ony in battles whar all his company wuz dat he went, but he use to volunteer whenever de cunl wanted anybody to fine out anythin, an twuz so dangersome he didn like to mek one man go no soonern anurr, yo know, an axd whod volunteer. He peared to like to go prowlin aroun mong dem Yankees, an he use to tek me wid im whenever he could. Yes, seh, he sutny wuz a good sodger! He didn mine bullets no moren he did so many draps o rain. But I use to be powful skeered sometimes. It jes use to pear like fun to im. In camp he use to be so sorrerful hed hardly open he mouf. Youd a thot he wuz seekin, he used to look so moanful; but jes le im git into danger, an he use to be like ole timesjolly an laughin like when he wuz a boy.
When Capn Gordon got he leg shot off, dey mek Marse Chan capn on de spot, cause one o de lieutenants got kilt de same day, an turr one (named Mr. Ronny) wan no count, an all de company said Marse Chan wuz de man.
An Marse Chan he wuz jes de same. He didn nuver mention Miss Annes name, but I knowed he wuz thinkin on her constant. One night he wuz settin by de fire in camp, an Mr. Ronnyhe wuz de secon lieutenantgot to talkin bout ladies, an he say all sorts o things bout em, an I see Marse Chan kinder lookin mad; an de lieutenant mention Miss Annes name. He hed been courtin Miss Anne bout de time Marse Chan fit de duil wid her pa, an Miss Anne hed kicked im, dough he wuz mighty rich, cause he warn nuthin but a half-strainer, an cause she like Marse Chan, I believe, dough she didn speak to im; an Mr. Ronny he got drunk, an cause Cunl Chahmblin tole im not to come dyah no more, he got mighty mad. An dat evenin Ise tellin yo bout, he wuz talkin, an he mention Miss Annes name. I see Marse Chan tun he eye roun on im an keep it on he face, and presny Mr. Ronny said he wuz gwine hev some fun dyah yit. He didn mention her name dat time; but he said dey wuz all on em a parecel of stuck-up risticrats, an her pa wan no gentman anyway, an I don know what he wuz gwine say (he nuver said it), fur ez he got dat far Marse Chan riz up an hit im a crack, an he fall like he hed been hit wid a fence-rail. He challenged Marse Chan to fight a duil, an Marse Chan he excepted de challenge, an dey wuz gwine fight; but some on em tole im Marse Chan wan gwine mek a present o him to his famly, an he got somebody to brek up de duil; twan nuthin dough, but he wuz fred to fight Marse Chan. An purty soon he lef de compny.
Well, I got one o de gentmens to write Judy a letter for me, an I tole her all bout de fight, an how Marse Chan knock Mr. Ronny over fur speakin discontemptuous o Cunl Chahmblin, an I tole her how Marse Chan wuz a-dyin fur love o Miss Anne. An Judy she gits Miss Anne to read de letter fur her. Den Miss Anne she tells her pa, anyou mine, Judy tells me all dis arfterwards, an she say when Cunl Chahmblin hear bout it, he wuz settin on de poach, an he set still a good while, an den he sey to hissef:
An den he gits up an walks up to Miss Anne an looks at her right hard; an Miss Anne she hed done tun away her haid an wuz makin out she wuz fixin a rose-bush ginst de poach; an when her pa kep lookin at her, her face got jes de color o de roses on de bush, and presny her pa sez:
We didn know nuthin bout dis den. We wuz a-fightin an a-fightin all dat time; an come one day a letter to Marse Chan, an I see im start to read it in his tent, an he face hit look so cuious, an he hans trembled so I couldn mek out what wuz de matter wid im. An he fol de letter up an wen out an wen way down hine de camp, an stayed dyah bout nigh an hour. Well, seh, I wuz on de lookout for im when he come back, an, fo Gord, ef he face didn shine like a angels! I say to mysef, Umm! ef de glory o Gord ain done shine on im! An what yo spose twuz?
He tuk me wid im dat evenin, an he tell me he hed done git a letter from Miss Anne, an Marse Chan he eyes look like gret big stars, an he face wuz jes like twuz dat mawnin when de sun riz up over de low groun, an I see im stanin dyah wid de pistil in he han, lookin at it, an not knowin but what it mout be de lars time, an he done mek up he mine not to shoot ole Cunl Chahmblin fur Miss Annes sake, what writ im de letter.
He fol de letter wha was in his han up, an put it in he inside pocketright dyah on de lef side; an den he tole me he thot mebbe we wuz gwine hev some warm wuk in de nex two or thee days, an arfter dat ef Gord speared im hed git a leave o absence fur a few days, an wed go home.
Well, dat night de orders come, an we all hed to git over tods Romney; an we rid all night till bout light; an we halted right on a little creek, an we stayed dyah till mos breakfas time, an I see Marse Chan set down on de groun hine a bush an read dat letter over an over. I watch im, an de battle wuz a-goin on, but we had orders to stay hine de hill, an evy now an den de bullets would cut de limbs o de trees right over us, an one o dem big shells what goes Awharawharawhar! would fall right mong us; but Marse Chan he didn mine it no mon nuthin! Den it peared to git closer an thicker, and Marse Chan he calls me, an I crep up, an he sez:
Sam, wese goin to win in dis battle, an den well go home an git married; an Ise goin home wid a star on my collar. An den he sez, Ef Im wounded, kyar me home, yo hear? An I sez, Yes, Marse Chan.
Well, jes den dey blowed boots an saddles, an we mounted; an de orders come to ride roun de slope, an Marse Chans compny wuz de secon, an when we got roun dyah, we wuz right in it. Hit wuz de wust place ever dis nigger got in. An dey said, Charge em! an my king! ef ever you see bullets fly, dey did dat day. Hit wuz jes like hail; an we wen down de slope (I long wid de res) an up de hill right tods de cannons, an de fire wuz so strong dyah (dey hed a whole rigiment o infintrys layin down dyah onder de cannons) our lines sort o broke an stop; de cunl was kilt, an I blieve dey wuz jes bout to brek all to pieces, when Marse Chan rid up an cotch hol de fleg an hollers, Foller me! an rid strainin up de hill mong de cannons. I seen im when he went, de sorrel four good lengths ahead o evy urr hoss, jes like he use to be in a fox-hunt, an de whole rigiment right arfter im. Yo ain nuver hear thunder! Fust thing I knowed, de roan roll head over heels an flung me up ginst de bank, like yo chuck a nubbin over ginst de foot o de corn pile. An dats what kep me from bein kilt, I specks. Judy she say she think twuz Providence, but I think twuz de bank. O cose, Providence put de bank dyah, but how come Providence nuver saved Marse Chan? When I look roun, de roan wuz layin dyah by me, stone dead, wid a cannon-ball gone mos thoo him, an our men hed done swep dem on turr side from de top o de hill. Twan mon a minit, de sorrel come gallupin back wid his mane flyin, an de rein hangin down on one side to his knee. Dyah! sez I, fo Gord! I specks dey done kill Marse Chan, an I promised to tek care on him.
I jumped up an run over de bank, an dyah, wid a whole lot o dead men, an some not dead yit, onder one o de guns wid de fleg still in he han, an a bullet right thoo he body, lay Marse Chan. I tun im over an call im, Marse Chan! but twan no use, he wuz done gone home, sho nuff. I pick im up in my arms wid de fleg still in he hans, an toted im back jes like I did dat day when he wuz a baby, an ole marster gin im to me in my arms, an sez he could trus me, an tell me to tek keer on im long ez he lived. I kyard im way off de battlefiel out de way o de balls, an I laid im down onder a big tree till I could git somebody to ketch de sorrel for me. He wuz cotched arfter a while, an I hed some money, so I got some pine plank an made a coffin dat evenin, an wrapt Marse Chans body up in de fleg, an put im in de coffin; but I didn nail de top on strong, cause I knowed ole missis wan see im; an I got a ambulance an set out for home dat night. We reached dyah de nex evein, arfter travellin all dat night an all nex day.
Hit peared like somethin hed tole ole missis we wuz comin so; for when we got home she wuz waitin for usdone drest up in her best Sunday-cloes, an stanin at de head o de big steps, an ole marster settin in his big cheerez we druv up de hill tods de house, I drivin de ambulance an de sorrel leadin long behine wid de stirrups crost over de saddle.
She come down to de gate to meet us. We took de coffin out de ambulance an kyard it right into de big parlor wid de pictures in it, whar dey use to dance in ole times when Marse Chan wuz a school-boy, an Miss Anne Chahmblin use to come over, an go wid ole missis into her chamber an tek her things off. In dyah we laid de coffin on two o de cheers, an ole missis nuver said a wud; she jes looked so ole an white.
When I hed tell em all bout it, I tuned right roun an rid over to Cunl Chahmblins, cause I knowed dat wuz what Marse Chan hed a wanted me to do. I didn tell nobody whar I wuz gwine, cause yo know none on em hadn nuver speak to Miss Anne, not sence de duil, an dey didn know bout de letter.
When I rid up in de yard, dyah wuz Miss Anne a-stanin on de poach watchin me ez I rid up. I tied my hoss to de fence, an walked up de parf. She knowed by de way I walked dyah wuz somethin de motter, an she wuz mighty pale. I drapt my cap down on de een o de steps an went up. She nuver opened her mouf; jes stan right still an keep her eyes on my face. Fust, I couldn speak; den I cotch my voice, an I say, Marse Chan, he done got he furlough.
When we got home, she got out, an walked up de big walkup to de poach by hersef. Ole missis hed done fin de letter in Marse Chans pocket, wid de love in it, while I wuz way, an she wuz a-waitin on de poach. Dey sey dat wuz de fust time ole missis cry when she find de letter, an dat she sutny did cry over it, pintedly.
Well, seh, Miss Anne she walks right up de steps, mos up to ole missis stanin dyah on de poach, an jes falls right down mos to her, on her knees fust, an den flat on her face right on de flo, ketchin at ole missis dress wid her two hansso.
I couldn see, I wuz cryin so mysef, an evybody wuz cryin. But dey went in arfter a while in de parlor, an shet de do; an I heahd em say, Miss Anne she tuk de coffin in her arms an kissed it, an kissed Marse Chan, an call im by his name, an her darlin, an ole missis lef her cryin in dyah tell some on em went in, an found her done faint on de flo.
Judy (shes my wife) she tell me she heah Miss Anne when she axed ole missis mout she wear monin fur im. I don know how dat is; but when we buried im nex day, she wuz de one whar walked arfter de coffin, holdin ole marster, an ole missis she walked next to em.
Miss Anne she nuver went home to stay arfter dat; she stay wid ole marster an ole missis ez long ez dey lived. Dat warn so mighty long, cause ole marster he died dat fall, when dey wuz fallerin fur wheatI had jes married Judy denan ole missis she warn long behine him. We buried her by him next summer. Miss Anne she went in de hospitals toreckly arfter ole missis died; an jes fo Richmond fell she come home sick wid de fever. Yo nuver would a knowed her fur de same ole Miss Anne. She wuz light ez a piece o peth, an so white, cep her eyes an her sorrel hyar, an she kep on gittin whiter an weaker. Judy she sutny did nuss her faithful. But she nuver got no betterment! De fever an Marse Chans bein kilt hed done strain her, an she died jes fo de folks wuz sot free.
I gave him the comfort of my earnest belief in some other interpretation, together with several spare eighteen-pences, as he called them, for which he seemed humbly grateful. And as I rode away I heard him calling across the fence to his wife, who was standing in the door of a small whitewashed cabin, near which we had been standing for some time: