George Shelby had written to his mother merely a line, stating the day that she might expect him home. Of the death scene of his old friend he had not the heart to write. He had tried several times, and only succeeded in half choking himself; and invariably finished by tearing up the paper, wiping his eyes, and rushing somewhere to get quiet.
There was a pleased bustle all though the Shelby mansion, that day, in expectation of the arrival of young Masr George.
Mrs. Shelby was seated in her comfortable parlor, where a cheerful hickory fire was dispelling the chill of the late autumn evening. A supper-table, glittering with plate and cut glass, was set out, on whose arrangements our former friend, old Chloe, was presiding.
Arrayed in a new calico dress, with clean, white apron, and high, well-starched turban, her black polished face glowing with satisfaction, she lingered, with needless punctiliousness, around the arrangements of the table, merely as an excuse for talking a little to her mistress.
Laws, now! wont it look natural to him? she said. Thar,I set his plate just whar he likes it,round by the fire. Masr George allers wants de warm seat. O, go way!why didnt Sally get out de best tea- pot,de little new one, Masr George got for Missis, Christmas? Ill have it out! And Missis has heard from Masr George? she said, inquiringly.
Yes, Chloe; but only a line, just to say he would be home tonight, if he could,thats all.
Didnt say nothin bout my old man, spose? said Chloe, still fidgeting with the tea-cups.
No, he didnt. He did not speak of anything, Chloe. He said he would tell all, when he got home.
Jes like Masr George,hes allers so ferce for tellin everything hisself. I allers minded dat ar in Masr George. Dont see, for my part, how white people genlly can bar to hev to write things much as they do, writin s such slow, oneasy kind o work.
Mrs. Shelby smiled.
Im a thinkin my old man wont know de boys and de baby. Lor! shes de biggest gal, now,good she is, too, and peart, Polly is. Shes out to the house, now, watchin de hoe-cake. I s got jist de very pattern my old man liked so much, a bakin. Jist sich as I gin him the mornin he was took off. Lord bless us! how I felt, dat ar morning!
Mrs. Shelby sighed, and felt a heavy weight on her heart, at this allusion. She had felt uneasy, ever since she received her sons letter, lest something should prove to be hidden behind the veil of silence which he had drawn.
Missis has got dem bills? said Chloe, anxiously.
Cause I wants to show my old man dem very bills de perfectioner gave me. And, say he, Chloe, I wish youd stay longer. Thank you, Masr, says I, I would, only my old mans coming home, and Missis,she cant do without me no longer. Theres jist what I telled him. Berry nice man, dat Masr Jones was.
Chloe had pertinaciously insisted that the very bills in which her wages had been paid should be preserved, to show her husband, in memorial of her capability. And Mrs. Shelby had readily consented to humor her in the request.
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