An Old Kentucky Home

THIRTY years ago there stood in the heart of the Blue Grass Country an old stone homestead, nominally occupied only by a rich planter, his wife, and son, but usually overrun, especially during the summer vacations, by all the children in the connection. I say, instinctively, stood, though the truth is, the house still exists, and is so substantially built that it is likely to outlast many more changes than those which it has already experienced ; but these have been so great that the place seems now but an empty shell. Its glory has departed, its whole outlook is dreary and decayed. But in those prosperous years just before the war, it was the Mecca toward which many youthful hearts turned during the long school year, and most of all in those enchanting, exasperating spring days, when to the young human animal, as to all others, comes a return of the savage instinct, a wild desire to break all bonds and take to the woods ; that Stirring of the blood like sap in the trees, which later makes the young fancy “ lightly turn to thoughts of love.”

When the first leaves came on the trees, making the streets beautiful with a tender green haze, there came also visions of the delights of a summer at Uncle Doctor’s ; visions which often obtruded themselves between our eyes and the dingy school-books, and yet were a spur to our flagging efforts. Finally the last lessons were said, the trunk was packed with a good supply of strong, partly worn garments, and the sweet freshness of some early June morning found us rolling away on the cars toward the capital of the State. Every station along the railway was a wellknown landmark, for which we watched with absorbing interest; and when we reached our destination there was something delightful even in the noise and dirt and confusion of the crowded depot. There was a little feeling of uneasiness for fear no one had come to meet us, and then a thrill of perfect pleasure, as we saw among the crowd the tall form of Uncle Doctor, his sunburned face smiling a hearty welcome. He was a genuine Kentuckian, over six feet in height, with a frame that must have been very powerful in youth, but now, at sixty, was somewhat burdened with flesh. His face was clean-shaven, showing wellcut, vigorous features ; thick iron-gray hair hung over his forehead, below a broad-brimmed straw hat; and his keen blue eyes could beam with hospitality and fun, or flash with sudden anger. A suit of light jeans, no vest, but a broad expanse of purest linen, relieved only by a loose black tie under the rumpled, rolling collar, — this was a summer costume perfectly suited to his age and occupations.

We were promptly stowed away : some squeezed into the rockaway along with baskets and bundles which excited our liveliest curiosity, one or two favored ones taken into the buggy, with an enviable prospect of holding the reins part of the way, and off we started for an eight-mile drive out to “ the place.”

We jolted along for a time through the streets; then the houses became fewer and meaner ; we passed some scattered negro cabins on the outskirts, and soon were fairly on “ the pike,” making our way over the bulwark of hills that shut in the town. The ride was full of interest: we knew every farmhouse, every turning; we watched for the bridge, that had been for years in exactly the same shattered condition, and necessitated careful driving to one side through the water ; we watched even more eagerly for the mill at Elkhorn Forks, where we should stop, perhaps, to take up a bag of meal which had been left in the morning to be ground. Before long we escaped from the white glare of the turnpike, and the wheels rolled smoothly over the soft brown clay of shaded lanes ; the last one bordered our uncle’s fields, and as he stopped now and then to ask some question of the farm hands at work there, we received many an enthusiastic “ Howdy ” and welcoming grin.

When we neared the big gate, the entrance to the farm, our excitement knew no bounds. A dozen little negroes were perched there on the watch. When we came in sight they made a wild rush at the gate, tumbling over each other in their zeal to open it. These were our chosen playfellows, and no one without experience can realize the fascination that the little darkies then had for white children; the most attractive companion of their own color was tame in comparison. They ran along beside us with beaming faces, but their answers to our fire of questions were more reserved than we could wish, restrained by the awe felt for " Ole Marsa,” at whom they stole furtive glances.

From the gate to the house was a distance of at least half a mile. The road, noticeably better than the one we had just left, ran through rolling, richly wooded, and well-watered lands: on one side, broad corn and wheat fields ; on the other, gentle slopes where sheep were grazing, and richer meadows where horses were turned out. Then came the “ sugar-camp,” its stately maples bringing delightful memories of great crackling fires where we had seen the kettles of boiling sap, and afterwards, when they were emptied, tasted the crisp, delicious compound, half candy, half sugar, that had hardened along their edges. From the top of a hill just beyond the sugarcamp we had a first glimpse of the house; soon another gate was entered, and we had arrived. Passing the " lot,” with its great whitewashed barn and stable, we reached the stile which led to the house-yard, and quickly scrambled up the three outside steps and down the three inside ones, eager for the first greeting from Aunt Sis.

We loved the Doctor, but we adored his wife, and had we not done so we should have been the most ungrateful of mortals, for she was untiring in her love and care for us. She had married late, and had no children of her own, but if ever a motherly heart beat in woman’s breast, it was hers. There were often from six to a dozen children under her roof, at all the trying ages between five and fifteen. She was watchful of us, and restrictions, even punishments, were not uncommon, but no one ever heard from her an impatient word. She always had many questions to ask about the school year, was proud of our progress, and could shame for a moment the most inveterate laggard.

All the long summer days we lived out-of-doors, and found ample amusement for ourselves ; but when there came an occasional rain, we turned to Aunt Sis to furnish us entertainment in-doors. There was a battered backgammon board, and a dingy pack of cards with which we learned to play Old Maid and Smut; as the evenings grew long and cool, we roasted apples, popped corn, or made candy on the big wood fire. When all else palled upon our restless spirits, an unfailing source of delight remained in the stories she could tell of Indian fights, and of her adventures in early life during a carriage trip through Texas. We regarded this wholesome, cheery woman as our property, our natural prey, in those days, but some of us look back now and wonder at her patience. There was one delicate child who could not join in the rougher sports, and who sometimes sat watching them with wistful eyes, or limped into the house when the running games began. For her Aunt Sis could always find some new amusement, or, what is better still to an intelligent child, some useful occupation ; and soon the little cripple excelled all the others at quieter games, and had some private accomplishments as well in the way of sewing and knitting. No one could know how her heart swelled with delight when one day a way was contrived for her to ride without hurting the tender ankle; after that, when Black Mary or Old Maria was brought up, with the side-saddle on, for the children to ride around the circle, she had her turn with the rest.

One of our favorite haunts was a broad, gentle slope just outside the yard, but within sight and call of the house. It was bare except at the top; here grew a magnificent walnut-tree, and under its ample shade we spent many a happy hour. We had no regular toys, but there were smooth, polished buckeyes, fairy cups of acorn shells, velvetlined chestnut burs, and the spicy walnuts, with which we once stained our hands and faces in order to act a favorite Indian story. We made hickory whistles in endless succession, collected shining pebbles from the “ branch ” and gay feathers from the poultry-yard, and dressed our corn-cob babies with as much pleasure as if they had been Paris dolls.

Every child who does not know something of country life is deprived of its natural birthright, — a birthright which, once enjoyed, can never be wholly lost. Town-bred children, who are kept unnaturally clean and well dressed, and taken decorously to walk once a day, are pitifully ignorant of the rapture of old clothes, bare feet, and absolute freedom of action in investigating every nook and corner of a large farm. They know the country only by an occasional drive beyond the city limits, where they gaze longingly at the dusty, wayside flowers, and at stray blackberries hanging here and there. No knights in search of adventure ever knew more eagerness than they at the entrance to a wood; the great trees towering above the denser undergrowth, a study in cool browns and grays and greens, with little patches of sunlight dotting it here and there like bright, watchful eyes. They long to explore those distant shadowy recesses, to push their way through brier and brake, deeper, deeper into the woods, until its secret charm, its mystery, is discovered, sleeping like Dornröschen in the tangled depths. An Indian jungle does not appeal to an adult mind more strongly than does an ordinary wood to an imaginative child. The delightful quiver of mingled hope and fear, the breathless interest of reading the unknown by what we have seen, the confident pride of doing something great simply because it is something new, — all these delicious sensations, peculiar to the period of youth, we knew in perfection. No city pleasures could ever have given us half the delight that we found in feeding the poultry, seeing the milking, visiting a new-born calf or lamb, carrying salt to the cattle, or wandering about the fields looking for a turkey’s nest among the brush in the fence corners, or seeking some stray turkey-hen with her quaint, wild-eyed brood. Sometimes we would brave the intense heat of an August noon to watch the harvesters, and ride home in the cool of the evening on a load of fragrant clover. Sometimes Aunt Sis would take us all, black and white, for a walk in the “ big woods,” and drop by the way many a bit of homely information about bird and tree and flower. We always begged to come home by way of the spring, ostensibly to get some mint for the Doctor, or for a drink of the cool, delicious water from the large gourd dipper that always lay close by on a flat rock ; but our real object was the rare treat of wading in the “ branch,” which took its rippling way hence to water the lower meadows. We envied the train of little negroes with whom this was no unusual privilege.

There was one place which we often visited with Aunt Sis. Down below the garden, within sound of the brook’s “ friendly brawl,” was a little plot of ground where the grass grew long and rank, and was sò choked with weeds and briers that it was not easy at first to distinguish the low mounds that lay here and there. At head and foot stood dilapidated slabs of marble or granite, which told, often in quaint type with the long Old English f, of those who rested here in their last quiet asleep. The tombstones were mouldy and weather-stained ; some had sunk deep in the rain-softened soil, others slanted forward over the graves, and a few lay quite flat and helpless on the ground. The only element of beauty about this spot was a wild-rose bush filled with open-hearted pink blooms; but to us it was full of interest, for there we heard of aunts and uncles and cousins who were shades before our young lives began. Here lay the mother of our grandmother, herself a stately, straight-backed, keen-eyed old lady, with whom it was difficult to associate the idea of youth. These family burying-grounds, which may be often seen scattei’ed through Kentucky, are peculiar to this State, and to her neighbor and parent, Virginia. The custom doubtless was brought from England, growing out of church-yard burials there, and continuing here on account of the extent of the plantations, and consequent difficulty of finding a convenient meeting-place, even in death. There were no ghastly removals; where the dead were first laid by the hands of faithful slaves, there they remained ; so that the great-grandmother of a present generation rests to-day within sound of the rippling water, as she did thirty years ago. It may be that the headstones are all gone now, and the mounds leveled by the indifferent plough of a stranger.

The homestead was of square, roughhewn blocks of granite, and had been built before the days of professional architects by a former Governor of the State, who was a stone-mason in early life, and worked honestly at his trade until the people called him into another sphere of action. The house was at once thoroughly comfortable and extremely inconvenient ; additions had been made to the main building at different times, with no idea of general effect. From the broad front porch one entered at once a large, high room, which was parlor, library, and sitting-room all in one ; and very attractive it was with cheerful paper and carpet, comfortable rocking-chairs and sofas, and big open fireplace with great brass-knobbed andirons. Opposite the front door and leading to the back porch was a hall, from which a door opened directly upon some steps leading to what was called the “ big up-stairs.” This room, which was of necessity entered head-foremost as one ascended the stairs, took in the main body of the house, and held always three double beds, with ample space for as many more when the house was crowded. Two bedrooms opened from the parlor below, and from the back one another flight of stairs ascended to rooms above, known as the “ little up-stairs.” The characteristic feature of the building was the entire lack of any means of communication between the two parts of the upper floor. In the large room over the parlor one might hear plainly the voices of the occupants of an adjacent room, but to reach them it was necessary to descend one stairway, traverse the whole length of the house, and ascend another flight. Above the “ little up-stairs ” was the attic : here hung festoons of okra, red peppers, onions, and garden herbs for seasoning; in the corners were bags of nuts and bunches of pop-corn, and apples and peaches were spread on deal boards to dry; there were bits of old harness, a ragged side-saddle that was to be re-covered some day, a shot-gun or two, and some hunting-coats ; and in a dark, shelving recess were some relics of the day when Uncle Doctor was a medical student and practicing physician, — some bones which Mr. Venus would have classified as “ human warious.” These were a source of infinite terror to every child and negro on the place, and made a visit to the attic after dusk a perilous expedition, necessitating ample companionship and subject to sudden panics.

From the front bedroom down-stairs — for it was impossible to go anywhere about the house without passing through somebody’s private apartment — three or four steps led down to a large porch, open only on two sides, and these so trellised and covered with vines that it was the most delightful of summer dining-rooms. From this porch opened capacious storerooms, and just around the corner was the kitchen, large, disorderly, often crowded, but clean in the main, and the source of most toothsome and abundant fare. At one corner of the porch stood an iron-bound hogshead, which caught and stored the rain-water from the roof. We used to listen in a summer storm to the raindrops on the shingles, and hear them gutter along through the tin spout down to this old receptacle; and when the rain was over, when the fresh, sweet, earthy odor was abroad, and the sun was hanging glistening jewels on every flower and shrub, we would climb upon the balustrade of the porch and peer eagerly into the depths of the old hogshead, looking for the real diamonds that the negroes said were sometimes brought down by the rain. After breakfast there was always a group of negroes about the porch, each one armed with a tin cup or plate, and waiting for the daily allowance of molasses, sugar, and coffee to be given out from the storeroom, hoping also for some special tidbit from the remains of the meal.

Walks made of flat, irregular stones led from the kitchen door to various points in the yard : to the lot where the milking was done ; to the smoke-house, the duck-pond and poultry-yard, and the line of orderly cabins known as “ the quarters ; ” to the garden, with its picturesque mingling of fruit and vegetables and old-fashioned flowers; and to the cisterns, to whose water the limestone rock gave the same tonic quality that it imparts to the blue grass, making this the finest grazing country in the world. Near the garden was the circular ice-house, a most seductive building, whose slanting roof began about two feet above the ground, and was delightfully mossy and slippery. There we would slide by the hour, and many were the rents — not only in our clothes, but in our small persons as well — which were due to its ragged shingles and bent nails. We knew also the delicious coolness and dimness of the interior on a hot summer day, and enjoyed tossing aside the damp straw and sawdust, and dragging out the great crystal blocks, especially if there was ice-cream in prospect.

About the yard, as indeed about the whole farm, everything was neat and orderly. The fields were carefully and to a certain extent scientifically cultivated ; the woods were free from weeds and harmful undergrowth; the outhouses and stable (the word “ barn ” was rarely used in central Kentucky in those days) were kept whitewashed and in good repair ; and if there was one thing more than another about the place in which its owner took pride and pleasure, it was the line of “stone fence” that formed nearly the whole boundary of the farm. Whenever there was a slack time and suitable weather, the whole force of field hands was put to work to extend this structure; and so well were the rocks selected and fitted that there were few better stone fences than the Doctor’s in the whole Blue Grass Country.

The negroes were a good-natured, careless, happy set, full of impulsive, if shallow, devotion to those who were kind to them, and with imaginations quick to seize upon and magnify any beauty of person or richness of dress in a favorite. Slavery had its shadowed side in Kentucky as elsewhere, but what we saw of it here was bright and sunny. This was not an immense plantation, but only a very fertile and valuable farm of five hundred acres, worked by about thirty hands, who lived in the quarters. These were eight or ten well-built log huts, whitewashed within and without, the floors scrubbed clean and spread with bits of rag carpet. They were full, but not crowded beyond the limits of health and decency. Most of the men were married, and the family relations were recognized and respected. The clothing of the negroes was extremely good ; this was in our aunt’s department, and under her direction two trained seamstresses were almost always at work. In one storeroom were piles of unbleached cotton shirts, jeans pantaloons, and other articles, which were distributed as they were needed. Stout boots and brogan shoes were bought by the box, and wives and daughters were constantly knitting gray yarn socks and stockings ; this was the earliest lesson taught to a negro girl, except nursing, which began as soon as she left the cradle, to make way for a new occupant. The negroes were cared for and treated very much as children: scolded for neglect of duty or of themselves, and, when sick, called up to be dosed from a brass-mounted cherry medicine chest, of which they stood in wholesome dread. Quinine, calomel, rhubarb, and similar drugs were dealt out in alarming quantities; for their master was a doctor of the old school, and his treatment was sometimes heroic.

There was little or no waste labor about the farm. One woman cooked both for the family and the field hands ; another was laundress, and attended also to the milking and churning. In the house there were several maids, but they did rather more than the average, and were all taught to sew. They always flocked into the room of a newly arrived guest, one or two with some small duty to perform, the others without even this semblance of an excuse, all eager to see the trunks opened. They watched every article as it was taken out, with admiration not loud but deep, and occasionally their enthusiasm would break out into some such expression as, “ Law’, Mistis, ain’t you gwine to gimme dat ’ar when you done wore it out ? ” — for they begged with the same frankness and freedom from shame which we consider part of the general picturesqueness of the Italians, and were content with quite as little. We children delighted in their simple ways, and sympathized with their little hopes and enjoyments, as they with ours. They were the best and most patient of nurses, always gentle and affectionate, and sang quaint songs and told odd stories to our hearts’ content. One of the latter was recalled by those of Uncle Remus, for its hero was Brer Rabbit. It told of his stealing a jar of butter from a dairy, and agreeing with his partner, Mister B’ar, to keep it for a Christmas feast. They hide the jar in a hollow tree ; but Brer Rabbit is haunted by the thought of its sweetness, so he leaves home after a while, under pretense of going to a christening where he must be godfather, eats part of the butter, and on his return tells Mister B’ar that the child’s name is Top-off. He goes several times on the same errand, with the same excuse, and each time the alleged name of a mythical child tells the state of the jar : “ Halfdone,” " Mos’-gone,” and " Lickedclean.” Were these fables dispersed through the South by that saddest of all mediums, the slave-trade ? Or did the negroes, as a nation, once have an animal epic with the rabbit for its hero, like Reynard the fox, and Isengrim the wolf, in France and Germany ?

The negro men all had general and particular duties, and even the youngsters were spasmodically put to use in keeping order about the yard, cutting weeds in the woods, or, in the autumn, in gathering apples for the cider-press and cutting corn-stalks for winter fodder. The men had an air of steadiness and self-respect, and seemed to work cheerfully and intelligently. One of them, Joe, was a man of fine bearing and good ability. He was the carpenter, and had built most of the out-houses, which his skill also kept in order. The Doctor always spoke to him kindly, and indeed with an undercurrent of respect, though he was sometimes severe to the others, doubtless with good reason. He was not a hard master, although, perhaps, not a particularly indulgent one. A practical farmer, he insisted that the work should be properly done, and to keep the indolent, careless negroes up to the mark required an immense amount of oversight. His horse was saddled before breakfast, and he was mounted and about the farm early and late, knowing the old maxim that the eye of the master will do more work than both his hands. He went to bed as soon as it was dark, usually rose at three o’clock in the morning, and smoked a meditative pipe on the back porch before any one else was about; and then at “ sun-up ” his stentorian voice would be heard “ starting the hands.” His constant companion was a corn-cob pipe filled with Kentucky tobacco, which was always lighted by a live coal; and one of the most common sounds about the place was his call to one of the little darkies, “ Bring me a coal of fire, Polly,” or Lizzie, or Tom, as the case might be. The piece of glowing wood was carried in a pair of short tongs from the kitchen fire, and as he blew away the ashes and applied it to his pipe, he put good-natured, teasing questions to the little negro who had brought it. These colloquies were the source of infinite enjoyment to him and of embarrassment to his victim, who stood uneasily on one foot, twisting the other about and boring into the ground with one bare toe, until the tongs were handed back with some extravagant compliment, and the interview ended.

In the evening came from the quarters the enticing sounds of the banjo and of “ pattin’ Juba,” when nothing short of explicit commands kept the white children from seeking their cherished companions. Not only at night, but often during the day, were heard those sudden, inconsequent bursts of melody, so characteristic of the race. Sunday was a time of abundant leisure with them, but one in which we were rarely allowed to share. Memory always brings back that day as clear and hot, when it was something of a trial to get into clothes as disagreeable in their stiffly starched propriety as some prim spinster, and go to church. This involved a start soon after breakfast, and a drive of several miles along the glaring white pike, with the sun beating unsparingly down and being mercilessly reflected from below, while the unusual number of vehicles bound for the same point raised the fine limestone dust in clouds.

The church, a bare white building with green shutters, stood just off the road, surrounded by a well-trodden grassplot. On one side was a row of hitching-posts, with rude troughs for corn; also a large shed for shelter in case of rain. About these points the farmers grouped, discussing crops and neighborhood news, comparing, and occasionally, it must be confessed, trading horses; while the women exchanged whispered confidences and young people flirtatious greetings. It was no uncommon thing to see a belle dismount with that fearlessness and consequent grace in horsemanship which seems to be a birthright with most Kentucky women, and then, stepping out of an alpaca riding skirt, appear miraculously in all the crisp freshness of white draperies and blue ribbons. Such an arrival caused a flutter of excitement, which was only allayed, or turned into another channel, when some young fellow dashed up on a local celebrity in horse-flesh. The social features of meeting continued until the minister came in sight, ambling along on his wellknown mare, whose sides, as he rode, he continually kicked, more from force of habit than from any hope of quickening its conservative pace. Behind him came his worthy helpmeet, with a delegation of their offspring; the lady seated well forward in the buggy, her arms extended at full length, holding the reins very far apart, and flapping them up and down on the horse’s back after the manner of her sex. The minister led the way into the church, and preached a good, old-fashioned, drowsy sermon ; after which everybody started for home, with that cheerful alacrity born of a duty fulfilled and a pleasure in prospect in the way of a good dinner.

Several times during the season there were family gatherings at the farm, in honor of the summer visitors. The guests — all relatives — arrived early in the day. The ladies, in gala costume of black glacé silk, with a bit of real lace at the neck pinned with a round miniature brooch, sat in state in the parlor, busy with sewing and knitting, or solemnly waving to and fro a turkey-tail fan, with the firm conviction of being suitably dressed for any occasion, from a wedding to a funeral. The men walked about looking at the stock, and admiring the fine points of some “likely” colt, coming into the house just in time for a generous mint julep before dinner. It was apropos of these juleps that the lines were quoted with regard to the special products of the State, namely, whiskey, horses, maple-sugar, and fair women: —

“ The first is strong, the second are fleet,
The third and fourth are exceedingly sweet,
And all are uncommonly hard to beat.”

Dinner was the event of the day, and was worthy to be so. First came the rich gumbo soup, which cannot be properly made in less than three days; then at one end of the table juicy lamb; at the other a great dish of fried chicken, flanked by hams, spiced and baked in a way peculiar to Kentucky ; every vegetable possible at the season, headed by that dish for the gods, a corn pudding; jellies, amber and crimson; pickles whose fame descended from generation to generation ; milk that was like cream, and cream that might almost be cut with a knife. Aunt Sis knew what was due the honor of her house; every woman there was a connoisseur, whose opinions and receipts were worth having. There were wonderful cakes, and ices, and puddings for dessert; and finally came luscious melons that had been buried for days in the ice, and were as good to look upon as to taste. The children were served at a separate table, and afterwards played with added freedom on account of the preoccupation of their elders, and with added zest from the presence of unusual companions. Our choicest possessions were displayed, our favorite haunts visited, and when the sweet, cool twilight came on we had glorious games of hide-and-seek, from one end of the yard to the other; the cabins, smoke-house, and great locust and beech trees affording every opportunity of adding vigor and variety to the game. At last the happy day was over; we saw our aunts and uncles and cousins depart, and then crept off to bed, too tired to live over our pleasures again even in dreams.

The halo which childish enthusiasm — and later, the glamour of tender recollection — wreathes about the life on the farm bursts into a blaze of glory at the thought of an event which took place during the last untroubled summer. The son of the house was to be married to a pretty girl in an adjoining county. The wedding was to take place at her father’s house, and the younger members of the family heard, to their sorrow, that they were not expected; but the following day our cousin was to bring his bride home, and that evening there was to be a certain solemnity known as an “ infair.” We were on the spot, and we meant to stay. Our notions with regard to the said solemnity were somewhat vague : we had general ideas of a procession with brassband accompaniments, resembling a circus parade, but at the same time were humbly conscious that this was an occasion to which neither our experience nor imagination could do justice. For a week beforehand the whole place was in a state of profound excitement. The spring wagon made daily journeys to town, and returned laden with a profusion of eatables that savored of barbaric magnificence: barrels of oranges and boxes of lemons, — the fruit wrapped in tissue-paper, which eager little fingers delighted in removing; bags of coffee ; kegs of brown sugar and blue-covered cones of white; melon-shaped citrons and all the spices of Araby ; squat bluefigured jars of preserved ginger ; fancy cheeses; cases of wine; and at the last moment a box from the confectioner of a distant city that was positively bewildering. Several experienced cooks in the neighborhood were loaned for the occasion, and their mistresses came too, with grave advice and practical assistance. Everybody wanted to take part in preparing for the feast; even the hens seemed to strut about with an important, self-conscious cluck ! cluck ! as if they realized that more than usual was expected of them in the matter of fresh eggs, and were anxious as to the result.

Some one was always ordering the children away, and they as persistently returned to help after their fashion. Now and then a little black face, looking all eyes and teeth, would peer around a corner of the porch, and a ragged excuse for a hat would be held out, with the information that the bearer had “done foun’ some mo’ aigs fer Ole Miss.” A choice sheep was killed; a young pig that had been fed for weeks on cream was another victim of the festive spirit; and all the cooks, white and black, went in solemn conclave to the smoke-house to select the best hams.

The day of the wedding came at last, and in the early twilight all the vehicles on the place drove away from our envious eyes. Quiet settled down on the old home; twilight gave way to starlight, and soon the young moon rose. The air was damp and heavy with the breath of the sweet honeysuckle near the porch where we sat; bats and nightbirds began to fly, and the tree-toads to chant their monotonous, sleepy song, and soon we were glad to go to bed. There was some flavor of festivity even in this every night occurrence, for we were to sleep on pallets in the big room up-stairs, as the beds were reserved for relatives who were to come after the wedding. About midnight there mingled with our dreams the sound of wheels and the voices of the guests who had invaded our quarters, but everybody was tired, and soon all was quiet again.

Next day we were early astir, for there was still much to be done : ices and cream to be frozen, cakes iced, fruit candied, pitchers of lemonade and claretcup to be made, and a priceless Japanese bowl filled with such punch as only the Doctor knew how to brew ; it combined the mildness of the dove with the guile of the serpent. Perhaps it was a sip, a very moderate one, of this deceptive compound that makes the recollection of the “ infair ” itself a delicious blur of ices, cakes, jellies; pyramids of black faces looking in at the doors and windows ; white-jacketed waiters so impressed with a sense of their own importance that they were utterly useless; fair, happy faces, and graceful figures moving about to the music of a trio of negro fiddlers, who called the figures vigorously, and sometimes sang the inspiring tunes as they played. The beaux were handsome, gallant fellows, who rode, shot, and danced well, boasted a good deal of their horses and their sweethearts, quoted Byron and Tom Moore, and approached all women with instinctive reverence ; altogether they were favorable specimens of the much-sneeredat Southern chivalry. Their costume of white linen trousers, low-cut vest, and dark body-coat may not have been fashionable, hut it was appropriate and becoming. The belles were frank, cheery girls, with more than the average amount of beauty, fearless horsewomen and tireless dancers, but with a fund of romance and true womanliness in their hearts that gave promise of loving wives and tender mothers.

Already that summer of the wedding there was a cloud in the sky, of which we were dimly aware from hearing bits of somewhat animated talk concerning “ Southern rights ” and the probability and consequences of Lincoln’s election. During the following summer, that of 1861, the family gatherings were marred by violent debates and bitter words ; for the members represented all parties then existing in the State, — the thorough Union man, the advocate of strict neutrality, the “ Southern sympathizer,” and the fiery youth who was chafing under restraint, and eager to be off “ beyond the lines.”

The women, of course, had most to say, and said it most uncompromisingly. One day in August, after the state elections, we children slipped away from dinner, — which was prolonged beyond our patience by the violent political discussions, — and took refuge under our favorite walnut-tree, whose ample, catholic branches sheltered us all alike, no matter how much our parents differed. That day marked the beginning of a breach which was long in healing: two brothers separated without a word of farewell, and for years did not cross each other’s threshold. That night there were high words in the old house between father and son ; they parted angrily ; the latter went to his room with flushed face and resolute lips, and when they met next morning he was in traveling suit, and his saddle-bags were packed for a journey. The young man ate his breakfast in grave silence, looking now and then at the tear-stained face of his wife, and speaking to her with more than usual gentleness. After a leavetaking that all tried to make like an ordinary one, he went to the stile to mount his horse, but there at the hitching-post, arching her beautiful neck, was Nelly Gray, the pride of the place, a magnificent iron-gray mare which he had broken and ridden, but never called his own. He looked inquiringly at his father; the stern old face melted, their hands joined silently but closely, and the next moment the mare and her new master were moving toward the big gate. Before long everybody knew that he had gone to Humphrey Marshall’s camp in Owen County. Poor Nelly Gray was shot under him hi the first battle.

During the war the house harbored parties from both sides. It was searched more than once, and not in the most considerate fashion, by the Union soldiers, for suspected persons. No one was ever found, although, during Bragg’s campaign and Morgan’s raids, the old homestead welcomed and ministered to many a poor fellow, who rode away blessing its hospitable owners. Sometimes about dusk a group of horsemen would be seen coming down the hill beneath the drooping branches of the beech-trees; but before morning they were far away again. Often, as the Doctor and his wife sat at night by the wood fire, they would hear a long, low whistle, answer the signal cautiously from the open door, and a figure would emerge from the darkness, — the son on a visit to his young wife, or perhaps one of his comrades with a letter. Once they were roused at midnight by a troop, under orders of the provost marshal to look for arms and their bearers, only a few hours after a rebel soldier had left them to make his cautious way beyond the lines ; and during another search a wounded man, who had been in the house for weeks, was hidden in the slanting recess of the attic, in the ghastly company of those very bones which were the terror of our childish dreams.

After the war the old place was never the same. Some of the negroes, with the feeling common to all of them that they could never be quite free so long as they stayed with their former owners, went away, not openly but secretly, and, as it seemed, ungratefully. Others who remained were not perfectly obedient, and the Doctor, though never a harsh master, had been too long an absolute one to brook the slightest check. At the beginning of the war he was a firm advocate of the Union and of the neutral policy first attempted by the State ; its end found his opinions and sympathy entirely on the side of the South. The emancipation was to him " legalized robbery ; ” he had no respect for “ a government that would forcibly take property without compensation,” and thenceforward he never cast a vote. He was never “ reconstructed ; ” he could not adjust himself in his old age to the new order of things, and he became a bitter, disappointed man.

The farm passed into other hands; and those who knew it in youth think of it now as desolate and deserted, though it may be that the outward change is less than we imagine, and it is only the free, joyous spirit of a former time that has gone from this representative old Kentucky home.

Patty B. Semple.