Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1132. Ashcake
By Thomas Nelson Page
WELL, yes, sir, dat am a comical name—
  It are so, for a fac’—
But I knowed one, down in Ferginyer,
  Could ’a’ toted dat on its back.
“What was it?” I ’m gwine to tell you—        5
  ’T was mons’us long ago:
’T was “Ashcake,” sah; an’ all on us
  Use’ ter call ’im jes’ “Ashcake,” so.
You see, sir, my ole Marster, he
  Was a pow’ful wealfy man,        10
Wid mo’ plantations dan hyahs on you haid—
  Gre’t acres o’ low-groun’ lan.
Jeems River bottoms, dat used ter stall
  A fo’-hoss plough, no time;
An’ he ’d knock you down ef you jes’ had dyared        15
  Ter study ’bout guano ’n’ lime.
De corn used ter stan’ in de row dat thick
  You jes’ could follow de balk;
An’ rank! well, I ’clar ’ter de king, I ’se seed
  Five ’coons up a single stalk!        20
He owned mo’ niggers ’n arr’ a man
  About dyar, black an’ bright;
He owned so many, b’fo’ de Lord,
  He didn’ know all by sight!
Well, sir, one evelin’, long to’ds dusk,        25
  I seen de Marster stan’
An’ watch a yaller boy pass de gate
  Wid a ashcake in his han’.
He never had no mammy at all—
  Leastways, she was dead by dat—        30
An’ de cook an’ de hands about on de place
  Used ter see dat de boy kep’ fat.
Well, he trotted along down de parf dat night,
  An’ de Marster he seen him go,
An’ hollered, “Say, boy—say, what ’s yer name?”        35
  “A—ashcake, sir,” says Joe.
It ’peared ter tickle de Marster much,
  An’ he called him up to de do’.
“Well, dat is a curisome name,” says he;
  “But I guess it suits you, sho’.”        40
“Whose son are you?” de Marster axed.
  “Young Jane’s,” says Joe; “she ’s daid.”
A sperrit cudden ’a’ growed mo’ pale,
  An’ “By Gord!” I heerd him said.
He tuk de child ’long in de house,        45
  Jes’ ’count o’ dat ar whim;
An’, dat-time-out, you never see
  Sich sto’ as he sot by him.
An’ Ashcake swung his cradle, too,
  As clean as ever you see;        50
An’ stuck as close ter ole Marster’s heel
  As de shader sticks to de tree.
’Twel one dark night, when de river was out,
  De Marster an’ Ashcake Joe
Was comin’ home an’ de skiff upsot,        55
  An’ Marster ’d ’a’ drownded, sho’,
Excusin’ dat Ashcake cotch’d him hard
  An’ gin him holt o’ de boat,
An’ saved him so; but ’t was mo’n a week
  B’fo’ his body comed afloat.        60
An’ de Marster he grieved so ’bouten dat thing,
  It warn’ long, sah, befo’ he died;
An’ he ’s sleep, way down in Ferginyer,
  Not fur from young Ashcake’s side.


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