Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1131. Uncle Gabe’s White Folks
By Thomas Nelson Page
SARVENT, Marster! Yes, sah, dat ’s me—
  Ole Unc’ Gabe ’s my name;
I thankee, Marster, I ’m ’bout, yo’ see.
  “An’ de ole ’ooman?” She ’s much de same,
Po’ly an’ ’plainin’, thank de Lord!        5
But de Marster ’s gwine ter come back from ’broad.
“Fine ole place?” Yes, sah, ’t is so;
  An’ mighty fine people my white folks war—
But you ought ter ’a’ seen it years ago,
  When de Marster an’ de Mistis lived up dyah;        10
When de niggers’d stan’ all roun’ de do’,
Like grains o’ corn on de cornhouse flo’.
“Live mons’ ous high?” Yes, Marster, yes;
  Cut ’n’ onroyal ’n’ gordly dash;
Eat an’ drink till you could n’ res’.        15
  My folks war ’n’ none o’ yo’ po’-white-trash;
No, sah, dey was ob high degree—
Dis heah nigger am quality!
“Tell you ’bout ’em?” You mus’ ’a’ hearn
  ’Bout my ole white folks, sho’!        20
I tell you, suh, dey was gre’t an’ stern;
D’ did n’ have nuttin’ at all to learn;
  D’ knowed all dar was to know;
Gol’ ober de’ head an’ onder dey feet;
An’ silber! dey sowed ’t like folks sows wheat.        25
“Use ter be rich?” Dat war n’ de wud!
  Jes’ wallowed an’ roll’ in wealf.
Why, none o’ my white folks ever stir’d
  Ter lif’ a han’ for d’self;
De niggers use ter be stan’in’ roun’        30
Jes’ d’ same ez leaves when dey fus’ fall down;
De stable-stalls up heah at home
Looked like teef in a fine-toof comb;
De cattle was p’digious—mus’ tell de fac’!
An’ de hogs mecked de hillsides look like black;        35
An’ de flocks ob sheep was so gre’t an’ white
Dey ’peared like clouds on a moonshine night.
An’ when my ole Mistis use’ ter walk—
  Jes’ ter her kerridge (dat was fur
  Ez ever she walked)—I tell you, sir,        40
You could almos’ heah her silk dress talk;
Hit use’ ter soun’ like de mornin’ breeze,
When it wakes an’ rustles de Gre’t House trees.
An’ de Marster’s face!—de Marster’s face,
  Whenever de Marster got right pleased—        45
Well, I ’clar’ ter Gord, ’t would shine wid grace
  De same ez his countenance had been greased.
De cellar, too, had de bes’ ob wine,
An’ brandy, an’ sperrits dat yo’ could fine;
An’ ev’ything in dyah was stored,        50
’Skusin’ de glory of de Lord!
“Warn’ dyah a son?” Yes, sah, you knows
  He ’s de young Marster now;
But we heah dat dey tooken he very clo’es
  Ter pay what ole Marster owe;        55
He ’s done been gone ten year, I s’pose.
But he ’s comin’ back some day, of co’se;
An’ my ole ’ooman is aluz pyard,
  An’ meckin’ de Blue-Room baid,
An’ ev’y day dem sheets is ayard,        60
  An’ will be till she ’s daid;
An’ de styars she ’ll scour,
  An’ dat room she ’ll ten’,
  Ev’y blessed day dat de Lord do sen’!
What say, Marster? Yo’ say, you knows?—        65
  He ’s young an’ slender-like an’ fyah;
Better-lookin’ ’n you, of co’se!
Hi! you ’s he? ’Fo Gord, ’t is him!
  ’T is de very voice an’ eyes an’ hyah,
An’ mouf an’ smile, on’y yo’ ain’ so slim—        70
I wonder whah—whah ’s de ole ’ooman?
Now let my soul
  Depart in peace,
For I behol’
Dy glory, Lord!—I knowed you, chile—        75
  I knowed you soon ’s I see’d your face!
Whar has you been dis blessed while?
  Done come back an’ buy de place?
  Oh, bless de Lord for all his grace!
De ravins shell hunger, an’ shell not lack,        80
De Marster, de young Marster’s done come back!


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