CHAPTER IV.

     WHEN Monsieur Dutarque had
  slammed the churchyard gate
  behind him, Catharine, baffled by
  the futility of her imploring cry, had
  dropped her chin upon her breast and
  sobbed.  Then she had struggled fiercely
  to be free, until she felt quite faint and
  weak.  Then she had sobbed again in all
  a child's impotent fury of grief.
     But after all, she was "outdoors." To
  the country-bred child this was a great
  deal.  She was hungry, it is true, but
  the slanting light of afternoon was very
  sweet.  The faint fragrance in the air,
  the buzzing of the bees, the shrill "tweet-
  tweet" of a bird near at hand, the dis-
  tant, mellow, monotonous chant of the
  men on the ferryboat-all conspired to
  soothe the pain at her heart.
     Nature, that great nursing mother,
  took Catharine up, as she takes us all
  when human sympathy fails us, and
  hushed her on her breast.  Then, too,
  there woke within her a healthy instinct

  of anxiety as to the fate of Flying Child-
  ers.  By dint of keen watching, she saw
  at last a little black moving object not
  far away.
     An hour and more went by in eager
  watching of the efforts of Flying Child-
  ers to get over a mound, and in palpita-
  ting anxiety lest he might not come her
  way.  But slowly, wanderingly, furtively,
  with many wayside halts and many aim-
  less excursions in other directions, finally
  the tiny creature crept up so near that
  Catharine could touch him with one
  buckled shoe-tip.  And then she used that
  shoe-tip coaxingly, and felt almost as
  though she were no longer alone.
     "O Flyin'," she said, plaintively, every
  time he wandered even an inch away,
  "don't leave your poor little mistress-
  don't-Flyin'!" and it almost seemed as
  though "Flyin'" might have understood,
  for he kept always within her sight, and
  often within her reach, as long as she
  could see him.
    All this while she had strained against
  her bonds, leaning forward to talk to Fly-
  ing Childers, so that when she raised her-
  self up at last from the slight latitude
  the rope had allowed her, the sudden twi-
  light of the South had fallen over the


  land, and already it was night in leafy
  corners under the locust-trees.  
  Then the pathos which lurks in the
  lowland landscapes of Carolina, even in
  the sunshine, and which reigns supreme
  about the evening hour in spring, pierced
  poignant to the core of that sore little
  Catharine lifted up her voice and wept,
  though there was none to hear.  All the
  tales told by the negroes of the ghosts and
  apparitions, all the pictures that survived
  on her sensitive brain from the stories her
  father had told her about the Indians,
  were all developed now in the darkness
  of her agony into a panorama of pain.
  Worse still, she could hear the distant
  bark of the fox, the baying of the wolf,
  the snarl of the wildcat, the weird call of
  the owl, followed by the "Ha-ha-ha!"
  that sounds so utterly unbirdlike.  Even
  to the experienced woodsman in those
  days these night sounds were unwelcome.
  To the ignorant, timid, petted child they
  must have been fraught with unspeak-
  able horror.
   She strained her eyes against the wall
  of the forest that rose on her right, op-
  posite the church.  She could see only
  vague, uncountable columns of lofty

         LITTLE, MISTRESS CHICKEN.           41

  pines, under the branches of which in the
  blackness of darkness that lurked there
  might be grim beasts of prey, or the
  stealthy forms of thieving Choctaws.
    Every day the heads of wildcats, of
  bears and wolves and tigers were brought
  in by the Indians and the poor white
  traders for the bounty offered for their
  destruction; and Catharine knew well the
  look of each terrible beast, fierce even in
  death.  They seemed all about her now,
  they, and all apparitions of dread with
  which superstition then peopled the
    And she-she wanted her own little
  bed; she wanted her mauma, who had
  been wont to sit by her bedside at night,
  and tell her stories about "B'er Rabbit
  and the Tar Baby."  Above all, she
  wanted her mother, and with the thought
  she broke into such a passion of weeping
  that even Flying Childers scudded away,
  and pitying echoes woke and whispered
  all about the empty church.
    So, tied erect to the tombstone, wri-
  thing against it in her weariness and
  fright, with head as hot as fire, and hands
  and feet like ice, despite the warm spring
  night, she cried herself to sleep, and hung,
  a dead-weight, there against the rope.


    Not long might one sleep in such a pos-
  ture, and at about midnight poor little
  Catharine Chicken woke with terrible
  pains in every limb and joint.  She looked
  first up to the sky, where one black cloud
  had blotted out the Milky Way and all
  the stars were growing faint.  She tried
  to move her hands, but they were like the
  hands of the dead.  Even her feet refused
  to obey her.  Her tongue clove to the roof
  of her mouth as she recognized her where-
    A muffled cry of fear had wakened her.
  It was repeated now, closer at hand.
    "0 Mas' Jesus! Lord, hab mussy!"
    It was like the slave Money's voice, but
  the tone was one of indescribable fear.
  She would have called to him for help,
  but the next moment a huge, shining head
  appeared but two feet from the ground,
  and came slowly toward her.  Her brain
  reeled.  Monsieur Dutarque must surely
  have summoned this dreadful dwarf to
  torture her!
    "M'sieu' Dutarque," she cried, faintly,
  with a supreme effort-"Dear M'sieu'
    The great head wavered, and then
  came on faster.  A thought of the kind
  usher came to her-a wild idea that he
  might intercede for her.

        LITTLE MISTRESS CHICKEN.                43

    "Mr. Mack-Mr. Mack," she cried,
  with fast failing strength, "tell him I will
  be good!"
    But when all was of no avail, and the
  head continued to approach, there leapt
  from her that piteous poignant cry for her
  mother, and then she fell silent, blind to
  every sight and deaf to every sound of
    The slave Money, stealing stealthily
  home to Coming T, without a passport,
  carried with him a monstrous gourd, with
  holes cut in it representing eyes and
  mouth.  Within was a bit of a candle.
  Upon this device, and upon the atmo-
  sphere of dread that hung about the Rob-
  intation Tree, he relied to elude the vigi-
  lance of the plantation patrol, and to
  reach in safety, as he had often done be-
  fore, the "Quarters" on the top of the
  hill, beyond the sycamores.  But while
  planning to frighten others, he had never
  counted on a scare for himself.
    His teeth had chattered, and he had
  cried out at sight of that little white child-
  ghost close by a new-made grave.  Then
  he had quickly regained his self-posses-
  sion, and lighted his gourd-face, for he
  was a slave of more than ordinary courage
  and intelligence.


    When his act elicited that piercing
  scream, in the well-known voice of little
  Mistress Chicken, he had hurried to her
  aid, all-wondering, and unthinking that
  he, himself, might fright her more with
  his lantern near the ground.  He found
  her hard-tied, and cold, and thought her
    Suppose he should untie her?  What
  then?  Would he escape the whipping he
  deserved for leaving Coming T without
  a ticket of leave?  Nay, would they not
  rather suspect him of some foul play in
  the matter?  Alas! a slave's word had
  little weight in the Province, nor in such
  a matter as this would he be allowed time
  for many words.
    Could little mistress have been "voo-
  dooed"? But Money put that aside
  grimly.  Nay, it was the schoolmaster
  who had done this evil thing.
    Money knew Monsieur Dutarque's rec-
  ord better than any other in St. John's
  could know it, and he bore him a heavy
  grudge which dated since long before the
  day on which Money had stood on the
  Vendue Table in Charles Town, and had
  become the property of his present kindly
  old master.
    The slave could not tell what to do.

         LITTLE MISTRESS CHICKEN.           45

  He wanted the schoolmaster's wickedness
  brought to light, yet his heart smote him
  when he tried to go on and leave that
  piteous little white body exposed to the
  weather and the wild beasts.
    He had only to go by, and say nothing,
  and then they must suspect the school-
  master.  But 'if he should report the mat-
  ter, would not that plausible Monsieur
  Dutarque manage somehow to shift the
  blame from his own to the slave's broad
  shoulders?  In that case, certain death
  would be his portion.  For what was a
  slave's life to that of sweet little Mistress
    So poor Money, dubious and uncertain,
  with that fear of the dead which belongs
  not only to the ignorant, and which, even
  in his grief for her, held him aloof from
  the bound body of the child, waited, with
  the tireless patience of the negro, to see
  what might befall.
    Grimly he noted the approach of the
  schoolmaster and his wife, and then, with
  a grin, almost as malicious as the master's
  own, he hung the gourd on the end of the
  fishing-pole he carried, lighted anew the
  candle, and raised it aloft behind the
  child.  The effect was all that he hoped.
    But Money himself was impelled to


  take to his heels at sound of the baying
  of dogs, and the blowing of horns, and
  the cries of the searchers, which all at
  once became audible above the murmur-
  ing voices of the night.  Under cover of
  this tumult he could easily steal unno-
  ticed into Coming T.
    In this uncertainty something fine
  within the slave's heart asserted itself
  above the fear of punishment, and when
  Mr. Harleston rode into the town with
  a band of his friends, and a vast crowd
  of excited runners with lightwood torches
  before and behind, some holding in leash
  the eager bloodhounds, some trusty slaves
  carrying cutlasses and guns - something
  dark and frantic clung about his stirrup
  with a cry that filled all hearts with
    "Gie me de cowskin, Mas' John! Gie
  me de cowskin!  But Mis' Lyddy leetle
  Cat'rin' dey-dey een de grabeya'd dead
  an' cole!"

Contents Chapter V