Lazarus Mart'n, De Cullud Lieyer

“ DEM whar take’n up de fiddle an de banjer gotter put down de Gabriel horn an de heavenly harp.”

These were the last words spoken by Uncle Bob Martin to his son Lazarus. It was after the war, but before a railroad had superseded the canal, and so, despite a scarcity of money, Lazarus Martin, colored, was enabled to work his way to Richmond on one of those picturesque James River bateaux. He was proud of his newly acquired freedom, and he left the plantation against the protest of his old father, whose faithful service had been rewarded by the present of a good patch of land from his former master. It had been indeed a happy day in Uncle Bob Martin’s life when he received the deed to the bit of real estate, on which he would be able to raise corn and pigs enough to supply him for life. Marse William had declared, during the war, that he would never forget a certain brave service rendered by his old slave; and now that the war had left the once rich farmer nothing but a quantity of land, he adopted the only means in his power of fulfilling his promise. Lazarus was Uncle Bob’s only son, and was called “ a likely nigger ” by his companions. He had from boyhood been so prone to dressing himself in such gorgeous fashion as his ingenuity would permit, had been so volatile in temperament, that more than one of the older hands had been heard to remark, “Borb boy too fluke [that is, too pert] ; dat boy got too much nonsense in he haid; dats de laz’st nigger on dish yere farm, dat is.” The young darkey so disparagingly alluded to, however, had given little heed to such remarks. It had been his good fortune to be a banjo-player, and his accomplishment made him in a measure a privileged personage, since it secured him the powerful influence of the three young masters. The result was that be led a lounging, easy existence. But the edict that emancipated the slave forced Lazarus Martin to begin for the first time in his life the startling undertaking of really supporting himself. Many months’ work of burning brush and digging stumps in the pine field where his father desired to plant corn disgusted him. He declared his intention of seeking his fortune in the city of Richmond. The announcement was a shock to Uncle Bob, who since the death of his wife, five years before, had made a constant companion of Lazarus. His calculations as to his own future had always embraced his son, and he had believed that a diligent use of the hoe would not only develop Lazarus into a useful coadjutor, but would develop the corn-patch as well.

“ Er looky heyar, fool nigger ! ” he said, in exasperation. " You’se a fool, Laz’us Mart’n. What you gwine ter Richmond fr ? Specn somebody spoat you dar same’s I been doin ? Who gwi do’t ? ”

“ Lemmine bout you,” the son responded sulkily, and with an air indicating possession beyond all peradventure of vast resources of knowledge on this very point, — " lemmine bout you. What I know I know. You ain sposn I gwi stay here an starve ? I know what I gwi do in Richmond.”

Lazarus had much confidence in himself. One of the young white men on the plantation had taught him to read after a halting fashion, and the accomplishment was one of which, in the early days of freedom, Lazarus thought he could make good use. It was not altogether ambition that caused him to leave the home of his boyhood. Not only had the farm life become dull, but he realized that those who had been his companions in slavery did not now render him such homage as in the old days. In slave times it was known that Lazarus had the ear of the young masters, and therefore the policy of securing his good-will was obvious. But now he was in no wise more influential than any other colored man on the farm, and Lazarus, being human and having once felt that gratification accompanying a slight elevation above the rest of mankind, was unwilling to occupy a subordinate place. When rumors reached him that several smart darkeys were coming to the front in Richmond, he decided to make his way to that point. In fact, after profound thought, Lazarus Martin had determined to become a lawyer, but at present he intended to keep quiet on the subject. During the days of slavery the negroes looked upon lawyers with superstitious awe, and imagined them in a degree prescient. They believed, in a vague way, that the lawyer, if not in partnership with the devil, was able at a moment’s notice to summon him. In these early years after slavery the superstition still lingered, and Lazarus, knowing this, decided to be the first of his race to turn it to advantage and to dare to be a lawyer; but at the same time he knew that he could not woo the law and stay on the farm, because the effect of this change upon his former associates would be lost. He luxuriated in imagining the sensation to be created among his old companions when the news should come to them from Richmond that Lazarus Martin was a lawyer. The very fact that he was acting in secret gave him confidence, and the consequent elation with which he bade all hands goodby had its intended effect upon them. Uncle Bob, however, was the solitary exception, and after the vain effort to dissuade his son from taking the trip he accompanied him to the boat, and when he saw among the traveler’s baggage a banjo he called Lazarus aside. Uncle Bob was a member of the church, and he referred on this occasion with much emotion to a subject which had already agitated the Red Hill community of Christian brothers.

“ Laz’us, what you gwi keyar dat insterment down ’t Richmond fr ? Leff dat thing behind, kase hit’s got de devil in ’t. You heyar me! Ev time you done struck er tune an shake er foot, dat vey time you done hut yo salvashun; de devil all de time he dancin’ fit ter kill hisseff. Dem whar take’n up de fiddle an de banjer gotter put down de Gabriel horn an de heav’nly harp.” This parting, though ineffectual, admonition rang in the ears of Lazarus Martin as he boarded the boat.

During the first year in Richmond Lazarus led a scuffling life. Much of the time was spent in cleaning bricks, among the ruins of the conflagration that had almost destroyed the late capital of the Southern Confederacy. To one who had breathed the clear country air, the inhalation of clouds of burnt

mortar-dust made a severe contrast, and more than once Lazarus yearned for his old home ; but just about the time his strength of purpose was failing he chanced to attend one of the political meetings then held nightly by colored men in Richmond. He was in his element. He heard the Constitution frequently spoken of, but what particularly captivated him was the gentle exhilaration caused by the interminable raising of " pints er order.” These punctuated the proceedings every ten minutes, and kept the chairman busy. In a small room serving as a grocery store and bar combined, Lazarus enrolled himself among the rising statesmen. This gathering was the result of a bolt from a bolter’s meeting. The original meeting of the series, of which this was number three, had been held for the purpose of electing delegates to a convention. Dissatisfied members of the first meeting had bolted, and elected another set of delegates; and dissatisfied members of this second meeting had bolted, and had assembled together to elect their set of delegates, when Lazarus entered the hall, innocent of the object of the assemblage. He watched the proceedings with keen interest. Time after time cries were raised of “ Question, question ! ” but whenever the chairman rose and said, " Gent’men, is you ready for de question ? ” he was as invariably met with the reply, “ Not ready, Mr. Charm’n.” Therefore the conventions of that significant era in this nation’s history rarely reached the adjourning point, some of them being in session to this very day. The subject of discussion was whether a member who had been defeated for a position of delegate before the body from which this meeting had bolted had a right to again run for the place of delegate. The convention was noisy, the would-be delegate himself being one of the most persistent debaters, and he, without embarrassment, argued his claims. Lazarus looked on with intense excitement, and longed to participate in the discussion. He felt that he could speak better than a good many who were taking so conspicuous a part in the proceedings. He was not wanting in assurance, and when he had gained some idea of the drift of the argument he moved forward, and after a majestic wave of the hand, such as he had seen the butler on the old plantation make when opening the door for the white folks, said : —

“ Mr. Charm’n ” —

“ De gent’mun ’ll state whar he fum,” said the presiding officer.

“ I’se fum Goochland, Mr. Charm’n: dat’s whar I come fum,” replied Lazarus, smiling, as he now felt some degree of self-possession. “ Mr. Charm’n ” — “ Mr. Cheerm’n,” —a member of the body here rose, with much show of indignation. He was the one whose claims were in dispute, a short, stout, and pompous - looking individual, whose voice seemed to come from a very hollowsounding chest, — “ Mr. Cheerm’n, a pint, suh, a pint. I were astonished when you re-COG-nize dat gent’mun. He air got no place in dis meet’n. Dis air a meet’n er citizens er Richmond. Dis air not Goochland.”

As this speaker proceeded, Lazarus looked on in some bewilderment. He was a very imitative darkey, and what especially impressed him was the elegant language of the speaker who said “ cheerm’n,” and whose use of the familiar words “air” and “were” was not as Lazarus had heard the plantation darkeys use them. Indeed, had Lazarus been a student of philology, he would have known that in the mere pronunciation of this one word “chairman ” each stage of the progress in statesmanship of the colored orator in Virginia is indicated. In the originalor vulgar plantation darkey dialect it is “ charm’n.”The second step upward is “ chum'n,” given with a jerk on the first syllable. The third and last is “ cheerm’n.”

There is no word handled by the colored statesman with more delight than “ recognize.” He always divides it into three sections, and opens mildly and lingeringly on the first, but attacks the second sharply and with an emphasis that makes it tower in prominence above any three-letter word in the language ; so much energy being placed upon it, indeed, that there is not much left for the last section, which dies out in a whisper. These interesting facts in the history of the Virginia darkey’s meritorious struggles with the English tongue should properly be recorded here, because Lazarus Martin then learned that a man of his own race had used the language in an entirely new and more vigorous way; and the further fact may be noted that Lazarus was so much impressed that at one bound he began a reformation of his own diction, and proceeding to reply said : —

“ Mr. Cheerm’n,”— and then, sensible of an indescribable buoyancy of spirit, such as must reward the daring leap from “ charm’n ” to “ cheerm’n,” he proceeded to observe, “ I gwi say dis ” —

“ Mr. Chum’n, a pint, suh, a pint.”

This interruption came from another speaker.

“ De gent’mun state he pint er order.” said the chairman.

“ My pint er order is dis : have de gent’mun whar rizn on dis flo credenshuns? ”

Lazarus was somewhat puzzled. This was his first glimpse of parliamentary life, and he replied at random, but with easy effrontery: —

“ Mr. Charm’n,” his inward agitation causing him to forget for the moment the newly noted “ cheerm’n,” — “ Mr. Charm’n, I’se bin out er wuck here lately, an ain bin able for to buy none yit. but I gwi git um.”

This reply created a stir in the meeting.

“ De gent’mun ain ketch de question,” said the chairman, leaning towards Lazarus. “ Is you got de papers whar showen dat you blongst to dis party an dish yere ward ? ”

“ I uz raised by Dr. Foster, up ’n Goochland County,” ventured Lazarus slowly.

“ Mr. Chum’n, a pint, suh, a pint.”

“ De gent’mun state he pint,” said the chairman.

“ My pint is dis. Dish yere ain no place to talk about rais’n people. Dem days is done gone. Dey ain no sich thing ez rais’n people now. You raise horgs an chicken, but de collud man raise hisseff now, an he er standn dis vey time onter de great Constitushun er de lan whar he done liff hisseff, and whar he gwi stall tell he eekal to nar man in de lan [great applause]. De gent’mun — I ain cotch he name — out er order when he say dat whar he done say.”

“ De pint er order well taken,” said the chairman, partaking somewhat of the enthusiasm of the moment, and frowning at Lazarus. But Lazarus was quickwitted, and he had gleaned sufficient material from the question and points of order decided to essay the task of extricating himself from the ignoble position of ignorance of the meaning of credentials.

“ Mr. Cheerm’n,” he said, I re-COGnize de facs what have bin said on dish yere flo. De gent’mun whar spoken ain gimme nar chance ter clarmyseff. One member, he ups an axes is I got any credenshuns. I says I ain bin ’t wuck. Den I see’m larf’n fit ter kill hisseff. What I mean when I say I warn able to buy none ? I mean dis : de man whar mak’n money, dat man better off ’n de man whar ain mak’n no money. I ain had nuff money ter spoat me while I tend ter my plitical re-cord. Dat how come I ain tended ter no credenshuns. What I mean when I say Dr. Foster raise me ? I mean dat when I live dar hit was rais’n, but when I come here I done riz.”

This explanation was satisfactory, and before Lazarus left he had been enrolled as a member of the Free Light Club, and had so far progressed as to be appointed on the committee on address to voters. But more important still, he made a warm friend of Napoleon Bonaparte, the delegate whose novel language had captivated him. Bonaparte was a statesman of much experience, and as he had been a lifelong resident of Richmond his knowledge of the people was great. He was an older man than Lazarus, who congratulated himself on possessing such a friend and counselor. And, better still, when Lazarus informed him in confidence of his proposed adoption of the law as a profession, Bonaparte not only cordially indorsed the scheme, but was kind enough to say that it was just the profession he had thought of taking up, because the colored man, in these important times, had no member of his race to whom he could go for legal advice. The result of the exchange of confidence was that the law firm of Bonaparte & Martin was formed, and began its varied career in the exciting reconstruction times, when it was nobody’s business to ascertain whether lawyers had licenses to practice or not. In conformity with Bonaparte’s suggestion, the firm confined itself mainly to giving legal advice, and kept out of the courts.

“ Dere’s two kind er lawyer,” Bonaparte explained to his visitors. “ Dere’s de lawyer where go into de coat an speak, an dere ’s de lawyer where stay in he office an giv’n you advice what to do, an if you got to go into de coat where tell’n you what sort er coat lawyer you got ter git. Dis firm office practice so big, it air not got no time to wasten at coat, — it air not,” he said, smiling, and rolling unctuously over his tongue those words “ air ” and " were ” which always impressed the visitor. Bonaparte & Martin being the only colored lawyers in the capital of the late Confederacy, the new firm was soon thriving, and when the rush of business was great the joint receipts were often as much as four or five dollars a week. Bonaparte & Martin were not bound down by certain ancient rules and customs, which have hampered the legal profession since remote periods. They saved their own time as well as that of their clients by having but two books in their law library,— Mayo’s Virginia Magistrate’s Guide and a copy of the Constitution of the United States. The former volume contained all that they deemed necessary of the law of the commonwealth, and the latter gave the vital principles of the law of the United States. As the grocer soon learns when his customers prefer a certain brand of flour, and therefore keeps that on hand in largest quantities, so the firm of Bonaparte & Martin soon learned that their clients were better satisfied with the Constitution of the United States, and therefore dealt out to them sections of that venerable work as bearing upon the case in hand. The fact may be stated as evidencing the marvelous wisdom of the authors of that great guide, in making it adaptable to all classes, that whenever a portion of it was read aloud to one of the clients of Bonaparte & Martin, it not only settled the case, but drew forth the encomium, " Dat ’s so.” The firm adopted a cash system. If the visitor had only twenty-five cents, that amount was taken, and his case given full attention, and treated as satisfactorily to the client as if he had been called on to pay one or two thousand dollars. The sign “ Quick Sales and Small Profits,” which Bonaparte had seen over the store of a Yankee sutler, had impressed him. He believed that it contained the secret of all real success, and was especially applicable to the profession of law, because the client who knew he could get his legal advice quickly would probably come again. The firm of Bonaparte & Martin was successful because it believed in charging what it could get, and getting what it charged. “ How much air you got ? " was Bonaparte’s usual formula for eliciting the client’s cash basis ; and “ How much is you got ? ” was the less elegant but equally effective wording of Lazarus’s query before he himself adopted the language of his abler partner. The fee, whether it was a dollar or fifty cents, was always collected before the advice was given. Another and more astute feature of Bonaparte & Martin’s equity system was their ability to represent both parties to a legal proceeding. When John Doe had a difficulty with Richard Roe, and the said Doe sought legal advice, the Messrs. Bonaparte & Martin sent also for Roe, the other party to the misunderstanding, if the said Roe did not come of his own volition; but he usually did come, as eager for advice as his opponent. Then the firm of Bonaparte & Martin, having heard in its capacity of one the evidence from both parties, proceeded to dissolve this relation of oneness for the moment, and Bonaparte took Roe into a corner, while Martin took Doe into another corner, and the litigants were generously advised to make up the difference, and were shown how this result could be accomplished legally as well as in accordance with those sentiments of self - respect which animate every man when he goes to law, and which generally depart from him before he is through law, — though in this latter respect the method of Bonaparte & Martin was different from the usual lawsuit, since the litigants left satisfied, the trouble being ended in an hour instead of in weary years. This happy blending of the judge and advocate was peculiar to Bonaparte & Martin’s system of procedure. As their clients regarded the arguments as absolutely irrefutable, and yielded obedience to them, the result was always a settlement of the trouble.

On a morning memorable to Lazarus in after years, he sat in his office reading the Constitution. He was nodding his head in affirmation of the truths therein set forth, when a knock at the door caused him to pause. In response to his invitation to walk in, a young colored woman, of jaunty aspect, entered.

“ Is dis de office er Bonaparte & Martin, the cullud lieyers ? ” she asked.

“ Dis is dat vey office, mum,” replied the lawyer, offering a chair. “ I’se Mr. Martin er dat firm.”

“ Dat’s what I come to see you bout. Dey tell me you kin give folks de benefit er de law douten dey gwine to coat, an as how hit don cost much ter git justice in datter way.”

“ Dey tellin you de truth, too,” said Lazarus, leaning back in his chair and crossing his legs.

Thus reassured, the visitor said, “ Mr. Mart’n, I hear um say as how when er man promus ter marry er ooman, hit’s er law whar kin meek him marry her, an dat law bindin on him same’s ef er ooman, when she promus ter marry er man, dat law say she got ter do hit. Dat’s what I come ter ax you.”

“ I know what de law say on dat pint,” Lazarus responded, turning the leaves of the Constitution. “ Hit’s my business ter know all dem things. I bin look’n into dat vey matter dis day.”

“You doan say!” ejaculated the client, in amazement.

“ Deeze law pints vey deep, an hit teek er deep lieyer ter git down ter de bottom whar dey is. You gotter git er lieyer whar know all deeze things. Me ’n my partner does all dat kind er business. He out now look’n arfter case juss like dat whar you bin tell’n me.”

“ Well, I declar ! ”

“We has ter have cash down fr our advice,” continued Lazarus. “ I know whar de law is what ’ll help you, but dey is mitey few men what do know. Hoc cum (how come) dat ? You want ter know ? Well, kase I had so many people come arfter me meck’n great miration, some men ter meck ooman marry dem, some ooman want ter meck men marry dem. I give de law ter de fust whar come an whar pay fr my pinion fust.”

“ How much is you axn ? ” she inquired tremulously, and drawing out some ten-cent notes.

“ Dis pinion cost you twenty-five cent er pint. De fust pint we gotter look at is ter prove de man promus ter marry de ooman. De second pint is dat de ooman gree ter marry de man. De third pint is, did de man fuse ter hold ter his promus ? An de foth pint is ter git de law ter show he wrong. De is fo pints in dis heyar case right now, dat meck er dollar even. De is some mo pints, but I ain charge you fr dem.” The client handed him a dollar, which Lazarus, having eyed as she held it in her hand, put in his pocket with an air of carelessness, and without looking at it, thereby conveying the impression that handling money was an every-day matter with him. “ Now,” said he, as he let his chin drop on his breast and compressed his lips, “ you got justice on yo side, tell me all bout dish year matter.”

“ Mr. Mart’n,” she said solemnly, “ I gwi tell you de truth. I ain gwi tell you no lie, kase ef I gotter git er thing by tell’n er lie I don want dat thing. Dat’s what I say to Susan Jyner; an Susan Jyner, she say, ‘ Henrietta, you’se right.’ I say I know I right, kase I blongst to de chutch, an I know I ain gwi git justice douten I tell de truth.”

“ Yes, dat’s so, but less git at dis case,” said Lazarus impatiently. “ Dis man say he gwi marry you, an now he say he ain gwi marry you. Is dat so ? ”

“ Dat’s de truth whar I tell’n you, Mr. Mart’n. I ain gwi tell you no lie. He sutnly say as how I was de kind er ooman he ’ud marry. He say I a safe ooman, an he wish he seed me befo. I tell Susan Jyner bout hit dat vey night, I did, kase I ain gwi tell you no lie. Our chutch have er scusion up de river, an he chutch have er scusion down de river, an de two scusions meet one nur an g’long togerr. He gin ter talk ter me on de cunnnal-boat, an when we come sho he ax me ter walk wid him, an Susan Jyner whisper in my ear, ‘ Dat man sutnly like you,’ which he sutnly meck b’leve he did. Den he ax me is I married. I say no. He say, ‘ I sutnly glad ter hear dat.’ ”

“ He say he sutnly glad ter hear you ain married?” repeated Lazarus interrogatively.

“ Dem’s his vey words, Mr. Mart’n. I ain gwi tell you no lie. Dem’s his vey words, kase I tell Susan Jyner bout hit. Dat time he say, ‘ How old is you, Henrietta ? ’ — he ain call me nuthn but Henrietta; an when I tell Susan Jyner dat, she say, ‘ Ef a preacher hadder bin dar, he could er married dem two, on dem vey words,’ — dat’s what Susan say. I tell him I thirty year old dis gone May, an he say I doan look ter be twenty, an he smile when he say hit, an den he say I meck some man mitey good wife. I say I glad ter hear him say dat, an he say he glad ter heyar me say I glad. When I tell Susan Jyner dat, she say, ‘ Dem words fishnt fr marrage.’ He talk datter way ter me cornstant dat day. He say life mitey lonesome dout er wife. I say I glad ter heyar him say dat. Den when we go home he sit by me on de boat cornstant, an folks round say, ‘ Dat man sutnly like Henrietta.’ He sutnly press my ban when he tell me good-by, an say he spec’n ter see me gin. Den three weeks arfter dat, Susan Jyner an me, we go ter stay in he neighborhood wid Say Jane Thomas, an I go ter his chutch, an shake bans wid him, an he walk home wid me both er dem Sundays. An he say on dat last Sunday he wonder I ain marry all dis time ; an I say de right man ain cum long tell now. Dem’s my vey words, Mr. Mart’n. I ain gwi tell you no lie. An he say he vey glad ter heyar dat. Den he leff me at de do, an I tell Susan Jyner, ‘ Susan, he dun say de word now,’ an she up an axn me what he say ; an I tell her, ‘ He say he wonder I ain marry all dis time, an I say de right man ain cum long tell now, an he say lie vey glad ter heyar dat.’ Den Susan Jyner, she say, Susan Jyner did, ‘ Dem words sutnly settle hit,’ an dat he mean ter ax me ter marry him in dem words, an as how he sutnly got er right to think I say yes when I dun tell him de right man ain come long tell now. She say he bring preacher wid him next time sho. But he ain come no mo. I see him in de feel, an ax him why he ain bin, an he say he too busy. I say I wait’n fr him ter cum an bring preacher. He say, ‘ What you warn wid preacher ? 5 An I sayl think from what I heyar him say he gwi bring preacher ter marry him an me. Den he ups, mad like, an say, ‘ What you talkn bout, gal ? Who you fool’n longst ? You spec’n me ter marry you ? I ainter gwi do it, you sassy, impdent, lazy black hussy. You go wuck fr er liv’n ; doan come pesterin long me, or I war dish heyar hoe-handle out on you.’ Den I gits mad, an say, ‘ Ef I black ez you, I go hang my seff.’ Den he say, ‘ You git offn dis place, you jumber-jawed piece.’ I say, ‘ I gwi sho you who impdent, I gwi sho you who jumber-jawed ; ’ an I tell him he ain fittn ter sker crows outten de corn feel, I did, an how I gwi have jestice on him, an I gwi meck him pay fr dis.”

Lazarus heard the narrative thus far without interrupting Henrietta, but lie was growing tired of it. He desired to dispose of the case before his partner returned, so he asked : —

“How dus you want justice ? What kin er justice ? You warn punish dat man ? ”

“I sutnly dus,” responded Henrietta, with energy.

“dun manage sich cases fo dis. You go ter de magistrate whar liv’n narest whar you live.”

“ I ain live in Richmond. I live in de country.”

“Den you go ter de magistrate whar liv ‘n narest you, an swar out er warnt ginst him fr busen of you. Dey kin fine him fr dat. He be sorry he done hit. Den arfter he dun bin fine, you tell yo frens dat Lieyer Mart’n tole you all dis. Dey ‘ll know dat you had justice den.”

The lawyer at this point seemed to indicate that the interview ought to end, but his client evidently had something more on her mind, and was not ready to leave. Lazarus noticed this, and said:

“ Dat ’ll fix hit. You ain want dat man whar busen you in datter way ter marry you, is you ? ”

“ Susan Jyner say as how he gotter pay for all he dun say. He call me jumber-jawed, an he say he gwi brecker dat hoe-handle ov my haid. Susan tell me in de law he dun promus ter marry me, and he carn holp hisseff douten he pay me ter be let off.”

“ Dey call dat — less see,” murmured Lazarus reflectively, as he corrugated his brow, and endeavored to recall the legal expression he had heard which covered such cases. “ Dey call dat breachin de promus.”

“ Yes, dat’s hit; dem de vey words whar Susan say ! ” cried Henrietta ecstatically.

“ But you earn meck nuthn outter him, kase he ain got nuthn. He ain got no property,” said Lazarus.

“Who you tellen ? ” said the client sharply, and forgetting for the moment her awe of her legal adviser. “ Dat man got property. I know dat. Dat nigger got cow, an mule, an horgs, kase I dun see um. Evbody know dat.”

A new light dawned upon Lazarus. Here was a chance of reaching out and gathering in a fee of some proportions ; for would not that man pay heavily to avoid taking the marriage step ?

“ You warn damages, dat ’s what you gotter git,” said he significantly. “ You ain toll me fuss dat man had property.”

“ Dat’s hit,” she ejaculated, with excitement. “ He gotter vide wid me fo I let him off. He gotter marry me or vide, an I ain gwi marry him, so he gotter vide.”

“ Dis case kin be com - comprumcomprummust,” said Lazarus, gulping out the word in divisions ; for the conversation had conveyed him into new and difficult fields, calling for the use of fresh expressions and knowledge, which were not readily at hand. His hesitation at this point seemed for the moment to excite his client’s suspicion.

“ Er cullud lieyer do well’s er white lieyer for ter git damages, won’t he ? ”

“ Uv cose he will. He do better deeze days,” replied Lazarus quickly. He was alarmed at the direction the conversation was taking.

“ What sort er law you gwi put on him ? ” she asked, anxiously.

“ I gwi put de law er de lan onto him,” replied Lazarus solemnly. “ I gwi bring de Constitution er de United States rite down squar ergin him. Dey is other ways, but dey ain so sutten. Dey ain no lieyers know how ter do dis cepten tis Bonaparte & Mart’n, an I larn Mr. Bonaparte dat whar he know. We dun win ev case we sot our mins onter win. Dey carn git er way fum us.”

“You got dat law here, is you?” asked the client, glancing around the room. Lazarus appreciated that her talk was drifting in a dangerous direction ; he took up the Constitution, which he had put down during Henrietta’s narrative. He decided that the situation at this particular juncture required sharp, quick work. He slowly turned over the pages of the little volume, glancing at each carefully, and endeavoring to adjust their contents to the present emergency. Indeed, the firm of Bonaparte & Martin had found, after frequent practice, that the Constitution belonged to materials of the ductile class, and could be so drawn out or contracted by what they knew as liberal interpretation as to cover any case that came up. Lazarus then began to read aloud : —

“ Ar-tick-l V an three I’s. ‘ Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.’ You doan see what dat gotter do wid hit, dus you ? ” he asked.

“ N - no, suh,” faltered the woman, already slightly awed by this sudden presence of the law.

“ Uv cose you don’t,” he replied triumphantly, and then, tapping his forehead significantly with his forefinger, he continued, “ but I dus. Hit’s all heyah. I studies deeze things, an dey ain many know what I know.”

“ What do dat whar you said outter dat book mean ? ” asked the client anxiously.

“ Hit say,” he replied, again reading from the book, “ ‘ cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted.’ Ef promusin ter marry er young ooman, an den fus’n ter marry her arfter she got her min sot on hit, ain cruel an onusual punishment, what is hit ? ” asked Lazarus warmly, as he suddenly rose and swept the room with that comprehensive glance with which lawyers sometimes take in jury, judge, and spectators at once.

“ Dat’s so.” she commented. “ Dat’s what de law say ? ”

“ Dat de vey law er de lan. Dat de Constitution er de United States. Dat what all dis war was bout. De North hit say slavery cruel an onusual punishment. De South say hit aint, an tell de North, ‘ You glong an ten yo’wn bisness, an I ten ter mine.’ Den dey fit one nurr, an bimeby de South git whip, an de North say, ‘ I show you I know what I talk’n bout.’ An dey ain gwi be no mo spute bout dis law now.”

“Yes, dat’s so, dat’s de vey truth you tellin,” said Henrietta, in amazement. “ Is dey any mo law in dat book ? ”

“ Law in heyah fr evthing,” responded Lazarus ; “ dis de law er de lan. When dey ain no law anywhar else, hit in heyah.”

“ Do hit say any mo whar meck er man pay fr promusin ter marry er ooman, an den insultin uv her ? ”

“ Uv cose hit do,” replied Lazarus, turning back the leaves slowly. Then he read “ Ar-tick-l I an V. Section two I’s. ‘ Privileges of Citizens. The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.’ What do dat say ? Up dar in New York er man promus ter marry er ooman, an den fuse. Dey had him up an meck him pay five thousan dollars for breachin de promus. Dat how New York perfect de ooman citizens dar. What dis Constitution say ? Hit say, ‘ The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.’ Ain you a ooman citizen er Fuhginia, an doan dis law er de lan say dat de citizens er each State shill be entitled ter de same privliges ? Dis mean ef er ooman gotter right ter git five thousan dollars fr breachin de promus in New York, she got er right ter have hit in Fuhginia.”

“ Dat ’s so, Lieyer Mart’n,” assented Henrietta, her face beaming with exultation, “ he gotter pay me. De law sutnly say dat. You sutnly smart man,” she continued, looking at him admiringly.

“ You gotter git up wid de ole heyah an git ter bed wid de mink ter fine me wake,” said the lawyer, modestly, by which figurative term he meant to convey the idea that he could never be caught napping. At this point he discerned the figure of his partner slowly approaching. As the interview had been carried on thus far during the absence of Bonaparte, Lazarus wished to terminate it before that individual reached the house. It was the first time he had conducted a legal examination without the supporting presence of his sharper associate, and he thought of this fact with some pride, while he already felt a glow of gratification over the prospect of telling Bonaparte what he had accomplished. His plan of action was quickly determined. “ I bin givin you heap er my time, import’nt time,” he said, rising. “ I gotter vey big law case ter look arfter now. You lissen ter me, an do what I tell you. You tell dat man you see Lieyer Mart’n, an dat Lieyer Mart’n say he gotter marry you, or give up all he property fr damages. Den you tell him how Lieyer Mart’n say dis case kin be compromusst ef he come heyah an talk wid me. You bring dat man heyah, an doan nar one come but you two.”

“ I gwi do dat whar you tellin me,” said she, slowly, and somewhat bewildered by the rapidity of Lazarus’s utterances, while he almost hustled her out of the office. This prompt action was none too soon, for Bonaparte entered a few minutes later.

“ Have air one bin here ter see me, Laz’us ? ” he asked, as he put down his umbrella.

“ Nar one. But dey is bin a pusson ter cornsult wid me on er law pint. Hit ’s er big case I tell you, Poleyum.”

He did not wait for further questions, but detailed the previous conversation.

“ She say de man air got some property ? ” queried Bonaparte, rubbing his chin.

“ Dat ’s what she specify,” answered Lazarus.

“ When you tell her ter fetch de man heyar ? ”

“ I ain say. I tell her ter come wid him, an doan nar one come but dem two,” responded Lazarus, uneasily, for he stood in awe of his partner.

“ Laz’us,” said Bonaparte, with a solemn air, —“Laz’us,” he repeated, “you dun tree er coon, an dun let him git er way when you got yo han onter him. Tain no law when you air got yo han onter er client, an doan fix er time or er place ter men yo holt.” And then, seeing that his partner was distressed, he continued, “ But we kin men dat mistake. One er us gotter be in dis office all de time, so ef dey come we be ready fr um.”

The days that followed were days of weary waiting. The firm of Bonaparte & Martin did not know where to look for their Henrietta or her deceiver, because Lazarus, in his excitement, had neglected to get the necessary specific information; and his mortification was made the keener when his senior said, quite bitterly, “ Laz’us, you gotter git er bigger holt onter de fust principles. De fust principles air, nuvr loose sight er de man tell you dun wid him. Dey was ten dollar; it mout er bin twenty dollar in dat case.”

“ Poleyum, doan tell me no mo. You right, — you right,” muttered Lazarus, gloomily, and he went out into the fresh air.

It had been agreed that if the woman came, a sheet of white paper was to be displayed in the window, and if both the man and woman came, then a sheet of red paper was to be the signal, while the curtain drawn entirely down was to indicate that the lawyer was alone with the deceiver. This was the plan mapped out by Bonaparte himself, and was in accordance with Bonaparte & Martin’s usual mode of law practice, since it was very often proper for only one member of the firm to be in the office with his client, especially at those junctures when one member of the firm represented the plaintiff, and the other the defendant. When Lazarus was within half a block of the office, to which he was returning, after an hour’s walk, his heart gave a jump, for he saw that the curtain was entirely down. Then, as he halted, he was almost face to face with Henrietta, who stood on the curbstone, her eyes fixed on that same curtain, and he knew from her exultant glance that it in some way foreshadowed a triumph.

“ How you do, Henrietta ? ” he said.

“ I clar, ef tain Mr. Mart’n,” she said, advancing to meet him, and giving him her hand.

“ Hit workn like I tole you, ain hit? ” said Lazarus, cautiously.

“ Dey in dar now. Dat man an me, we come ter de offis an knock; an when de voice say come in, I open de do an ax fr Lieyer Mart’n, an de cullud gent’mun set’n dar say as how Lieyer Mart’n juss gone out, but low dat de partner, Mr, Bonaparte, in ; but I say, I ain stud’n bout no Mr. Bonaparte, kease Mr. Mart’n de one I dar ter see. Den he say he got sorter inklin what I arfter, and tell me you dun gone out, an he spec’n I find you comin dis er way now. He say he arfter hav’n private talk wid de man I wid, an so I leffer dem two in dar, an come out heyar look’n ter find you. Dat time I have dat talk wid you I went straight arfter de man whar ciev’n me, an tole him deni words you say bout breachin de promus, an he git vey mad. Den when I tell him Lieyer Mart’n say he gwi put de Cornstitution er de lan onter him, he look like he gwi have er fit. Dat time I say ‘ Cornstitution er de lan ’ he trimble, an say sorter ter hisseff like, ‘ De good Lord, what do hit mean ? ‘ He sutnly fraid when I say dem words. Den arfter specifyn an act’n same ’s er fool, he say he come wid me, but he ain gwi marry me. He low he ain promus ter marry me, an as how one wife nuff fr him ” —

“ He got nuther wife?” interrupted Lazarus, in consternation. “ You ain tole me dat at fust. Dat man in tight place. But who gwi pay fr dis breachin de promus ? ”

Before she could venture an answer, Lazarus, whose eyes had been fixed on the law office of Bonaparte & Martin, saw the curtain roll up suddenly; and as this indicated that his partner required his presence, he hastened to the scene, Henrietta following him eagerly. When they entered the room Lazarus caught his breath, and shook with fear, for he saw his father standing in front of Bonaparte.

“ De name er de Lord, whar did you come fum, Laz’us ? ” ejaculated the old man, wheeling upon him.

“ Dis air my law partner,” said Napoleon sharply, “ an he juss like me. He know all bout dis case, an he air not gwi stan any fool’n, neither. You gotter settle wid dis lady mitey quick. Airthem yo views on dis law pint, Mr. Mart’n ? ”

As Napoleon was making this explanation, Uncle Bob glanced from one to another of the party, and as the speaker concluded the old darkey repeated his last two words, “ Mr. Mart’n,” as if to assure himself that he was not dreaming. The truth, however, seemed to dawn upon him slowly, and his fright gave way to a feeling of intense indignation, which he proceeded to vent in no uncertain voice.

“ Laz’us,” he said, “you call’n youseff er lieyer ? You sot dat ooman onto me, you ongrateful dorg, you lyin dev’l! You tryin ter rob me, you ’n dis man whar call’n hisseff er lieyer ! Er nigger call hisseff er lieyer ! I come all dis way ter see dat! Dis gal ain tell me two niggers want ter see me. She say two lieyers say I gotter come dar, an douten I did dey would put de Cornstitution er de lan onter me. Dat meck how I come.”

“ Laz’us, you know dis man whar insultin of de law er de lan in dis er way ? Air he in he good min ? ” asked Napoleon, turning to his associate.

“ Do he know me ? De black rarscul ! ” shouted Uncle Bob, his rage increasing as he spoke. “ Do he know me ? Axn de son do he know he father ! ”

Lazarus was still so agitated that he could not speak coherently, and Bonaparte and the client were now almost as much disconcerted at this unlooked-for complication of what had promised to be such an easy case. Uncle Bob Martin, believing that this was not only a plot to rob him, but that his son had knowingly selected him as the victim, took advantage of the situation, of which he now seemed master, and poured forth a torrent of invective. He clenched his stick, and glared savagely at the group.

“ I gwi war you out, you low-life nigger,” he said to his son. “ Arfter I dun raise you, you run off t’ Richmond an git er sassy jade ter meck mock er me.”

“I ain know ’t was you,” Lazarus found breath to say.

“You ain know t’ was me! You liar, you liar ! You meck blieve I dun change much es dat,” replied Uncle Bob, misapprehending his son’s explanation. “ I gwi show you who you pesterin. All dis time I thinkn you wuckn fr livin you fixn ter rob me er dat Marse William gimme.”

“ Dis air most unfortunate,” said Bonaparte, who now began to understand the matter. “ De air some mistake bout dis year case. Laz’us ain tell me you he father. He ain evn tell me yo name. He ain know yo name hisseff. De air sumpn wrong ; de air indeed.”

“ Who you telln ? Doan try none er yo fanciful talk on me. Doan come er sputtern yo ‘ air ’ an yo ‘ ware ’ bout me ! ” yelled the old negro, mimicking Bonaparte. “Yo keyarn talk like white folk ter me. You’se er nigger, an er black nigger at dat.”

“ We ain know yo name, Laz’us ain, an I ain,” expostulated Bonaparte. “ Dis ooman where employ Laz’us fr her lieyer ain tell him who you was.”

“ De good Lord ! ” ejaculated the irate old man. “ Laz’us Mart’n er lieyer ! Whenev ar nigger drop he hoe an call hisseff er lieyer, look out fr yo hen-house. Who teach him law ? He ain no mo lieyer ’n I is. Laz’us, you specn ter rob me er my piece er lan. I show you. Heyah ! yah, yah! You keep on waitn fr dat lan.” And with this remark, accompanied by a look of defiance, Uncle Bob Martin stalked out of the room ; nor did his son attempt to detain him, for he knew from former episodes that when his father’s wrath once burst forth, many days must elapse before the quiet calm of his disposition could be assured. This was to Lazarus the bitterest experience of his life. The sudden collapse of a promising law case was as nothing compared to this defeat of a cherished plan of his, for he had carefully kept from his father and former associates the fact that he was pursuing the practice of law. He had designed visiting his old home, and dazzling them with the intelligence. And as he built his airy castles, he had dramatized the effect of this announcement on his father, picturing himself the pride of the old man, who would boast of his son’s rise.

“ He ’ll ruin all dat now,” thought Lazarus, bitterly ; “ he ‘ll tell’m all. He say I meck mock er him, an now he gwi meck mock er me. Dey woan bleeve I lieyer, neither.”

Lazarus was not mistaken in his fears. Uncle Bob not only denounced him as an unworthy son, but in caustic terms revealed him to the colored people near the old home as a charlatan. Two months after the imperative summons to the law office of Bonaparte & Martin Uncle Bob married a second wife, — a woman of more mature years than the one whose cause his son had unwittingly championed. There were those of Lazarus Martin’s associates on the old farm who did not hesitate to affirm that this important step was taken to prevent “ Lieyer Mart’n,” as they derisively termed him, from ultimately securing the patch of land which the plaintiff, in the breachin de promus case, had coveted so vainly. A few days after the nuptial ceremony the law firm of Bonaparte & Martin was, for some reason not obtainable by the public, dissolved.

William W. Archer.