The Fiery Cross

I

OLD Flo was in the kitchen, eating, not bread and honey, but coffee soup, which was simply bread dipped in coffee. It was of all viands most admirable, furnishing both stimulation and a solvent for bread no longer edible without softening.

The kitchen, which was also parlor and bedroom, contained a stove, a table, two chairs, one of them broken, a bed made up on the floor, and the iron frame of a cot hung on the wall. Drinking her soup, Flo contemplated the iron frame and commented upon it aloud as was her wont. She was very short, very thin, very black, and almost toothless. Her voice was soft and beautifully modulated, and all harsh sounds had long since been elided. There was in it now a tremor which was either of weakness or of fright. The skin on her little face quivered; her hands shook.

‘Ladies ob de Gettysburg Red Cross’ — the emphasis was on the ‘red,’ as though there were ladies of other sorts of crosses — ‘Ladies ob de Red Cross done bring me dat bed. But I ain’ got no use for a high bed, ’cept to crawl beneaf. Ise got a floor bed what’s good enough fo’ me. All I wants’— a profound shiver set her body quivering — ‘all I wants is peace an’ plenty. Plenty I has now, but it won’ las’ long. When de col’ winds blow an’ I ain’ got wood fo’ mah fiah or food fo’ mah mouf, den I ain’ got plenty. An’ peace! I ain’ got no peace whatsoevah! Ise got de terro’ — dat’s what Ise got! Terro’ in mah haid and in mah haht, an’ in’ — Flo essayed to rise, but sat down with a thud — ‘an’ in mah bones. Heah I is, one hundred an’ twenty yeahs in dis wo’ld, an’ I ain’ nebber yet been ’fraid o’ nobody, an’ now Ise ’fraid to deaf. Ise ’fraid to go to bed, Ise ’fraid to get up, Ise ’fraid to stay in de house, Ise ’fraid to go out.’

There was a knock on the door and Flo clutched the table. The knock was furtive, as though the arrival were afraid also.

‘It’s me, Aunt Flo!’ said a woman’s voice. ‘Let me in!’

Flo uttered a long sigh of relief and tottered toward the door. She did not have many visitors. The sensible members of her own race let her alone as she wished to be let alone, and the foolish stood in awe of her. In her own house, her head uncovered, she was the least dangerous of all human creatures, but dressed for the street, a stall in her hand, her bright eyes peering from a cavernous sunbonnet, she had a witchlike appearance.

The visitor, admitted after a bolt had been slipped, a key turned, and a chain drawn back, was a young woman, Annie Garrett, who lived next door. She was much lighter in color than Flo and she had a pretty face and a shapely body. Far from being pure African, she spoke a language less soft and sweet than Flo’s. She came in and closed the door, and Flo locked and bolted and chained it.

‘They’s beginnin’ to come in, Aunt Flo!’ she gasped. She sat down on Flo’s chair as though she could no longer stand. ‘We’s goin’ to lock ourselves in the house and stay there from now on. They’s comin’ into the Square in droves.’

‘Oh, I guess not!’ Flo always took a lofty tone with the Garretts.

‘They is! They has signs on their autos, crosses an’ words that don’ mean nothin’ to mos’ folks, like “Kiggy.”’

‘Kiggy!’ repeated Flo scornfully. The word had a dreadful sound. She was frightened almost to the point of dying, but she determined not to acknowledge it.

‘Yes, K-I-G-Y, Kiggy. A-K-I-A is another word they has. There’ll be ten thousand of ’em. They’re tentin’ on the hill and there they holds their convocation.’

‘ “ Kiggy ” means nothin’ — ’xactly nothin’.’ Flo tried to control the tremor of her checks.

‘It means kill, burn, destroy — that’s what it means!’ gasped Annie. ‘I heard tell of ’em. They comes from war times. They rides on hosses with white robes trailin’ round ’em, an’ they has long tongues an’ firey eyes. Some of ’em needs only to look at you, an’ spang! you dies.’

‘Dat was ol’ times,’ said Flo.

‘It’ll be again,’ insisted Annie. ‘By night the town’ll be so full you can’t breathe. Then’s when they’ll do their work.’

‘Den’s when dey’ll be caught!’ answered Flo. ‘Ain’ we got no policeman?’

‘We got only one policeman,’ said Annie. ‘You know that. What good is one policeman in this big place? How could he stop the killing at the end of York Street if he was first called to Seminary Ridge? How could he’ — Annie began to gesticulate, pointing now this way, now that — ’how could he save your life in your house if he was savin’ someone’s life four blocks away? How could he look after you at this end of the Long Lane if he was lookin’ after bedridden Pete Evans at the other and savin’ him from their claws? How —’ Suddenly Annie uttered an hysterical shriek.

‘You quiet yo’self,’ ordered Flo. ‘You asks how can de police save me in mah house? Ise not goin’ to be in mah house.’

‘Where you goin’? You can’t run away. They’s all about the town an’ they’ll round you up.’

‘ Ise not goin’ to leab de town,’ answered Flo with dignity. ‘No Cluckses can dribe me from mah town where I libed a hundred years. I ain’ goin’ to leab de limits. Heah I votes and heah I stays.’

‘You’re going to hide, though!’

‘Hide? No, Ise not goin’ to hide. I has my frien’s an’ I has de Lo’d. De Lo’d took care of me fru frien’s and I trusts Him an’ I trusts dem. Ise goin’ out to collect as usual from de good families. If I needs to, I stops in and visits.’

‘The good families!’ mocked Annie. ‘Lots they care for poor colored people!’

‘Dey cares fo’ me,’ said Flo. ‘De good families, dey jest waits on me.’

‘You’re not going uptown!’

‘Yes, I is. Ise not ’fraid. I’ll see dem in dey robes! I’ll look dem in de eye!’ Flo’s own eyes flamed, but in her mouth there was a soft sound which would have been called chattering if she had been equipped for chattering. ‘ Ise not ’fraid.’

‘They’s death on Jews,’ declared Annie.

‘I ain’ no Jew,’ said Flo. ‘But de Jews is good people.’

‘And on Catholics.’

‘I ain’ no Catholic,’said Flo. ‘But de Catholics is good people. Dey often helps me out.’

‘But it’s the colored people they hates.’ Again Annie was working herself up to an hysterical climax. ‘They turns green when they sees ’em, they hates ’em so.’

‘I ain’ ’fraid of ’em,’ declared Flo. ‘Let ’em turn green or yallow as dey pleases. Now, Annie, you go an’ hide yo’self in yo’ house. Ise got to make mah preparations.’

II

Having triple-locked the door, Flo sank down in her chair.

‘Ise goin’ out because Ise ’fraid to stay in,’ she confessed. ‘I’d as soon stay heah an’ be killed as go out, but I guess Ise safer out. Ise goin’ to de Squah. Dere once Abe Lincoln looked out de window and bress me. Dere mah frien’s can see me and de Jedge can see me and de Lo’d lookin’ down from Heaven can see me in de open spaces. Best of all, dere de man what fetches me to vote can see me. He ain’ goin’ to let me be sacrificed like de goat or de lamb, not when he thinks enough of me to fetch me to vote in he auto.’ For an instant Flo’s eyes were dreamy. ‘I suah do like ridin’ in he auto!’

The strong coffee began to have an effect and her courage returned.

‘I puts mah tongue out at de Cluckses,’ she said in a shrill voice.

Rising, she unbarred the door and looked out. Over her cabin spread a magnificent sycamore, through whose silver branches and green leaves she could see the blue sky.

‘Sun’s long past de meridium,’ she muttered. ‘Time to sta’t.’

She took her shawl and sunbonnet from their hook behind the door.

‘May not get back to-night. May have to sit on a bench all night. May have to stay till de Cluckses is all gone.’

She took from the corner her staff, which was almost as long as she was tall.

‘I could swinge a couple of ’em anyhow,’ she said. ‘Knock dey heads off, I could. I will, too, ’fo’ dey ties me to dey firey cross.’ Into a deep pocket reënforced by several thicknesses of cloth she put a piece of bread; then she looked again round the tiny room, tears running down her deeply furrowed cheeks. ‘I certainly has a nice home.’

Shivering, she stepped out. She saw in imagination the street at night, filled with skulking figures, white-robed and masked, stealing from house to house, their light the blaze of a fiery cross. Trembling, she locked first her door, then a padlock. Into her deep pocket she dropped the two keys. The street was entirely deserted; all the windows were darkened. At the Garretts’, next door, she saw a movement of the shade — they were watching her.

‘Dey thinks Flo’s done fo’,’ she said. ’Like’s not dey’s right.’

At the corner she came upon a group of colored children playing ring, but keeping a wary eye toward the centre of the town. She enjoyed the celerity with which they broke ranks and took refuge at a little distance, the look of awe with which they regarded her, even the crossed fingers behind their backs. They were desperately afraid of the Ku Klux, but they were more afraid of her. She grinned at them; it was absurd to fear mortals dressed in white robes with masks over their faces; it was still more absurd to fear her.

‘Run! Dey’ll catch you!’ she said.

At the corner she met Jim Washington, also of her own race. He was six feet tall and weighed a hundred and ninety pounds, but in him racial timidity persisted. He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. He too credited Flo with occult powers.

‘Dey’ll get you, Jim,’ prophesied Flo cheerfully.

‘Where you goin’, Aunt Flo?'

‘Ise goin’ about mah business,’ explained Flo. ‘Ise callin’ on mah frien’s among de ol’ families as usual. Mah bread is gone and I has no wood in mah pile fo’ de wintah. Ise takin’ de collection.’

‘Ain’t you afraid?’

‘Ise ’fraid of nobody,’ declared Flo. ‘Talkin’ big helps,’ said she to herself.

At the next corner she met an acquaintance of the white race. She did not belong to the old families, and Flo treated her as an equal.

‘The Ku Klux’ll get you, Flo.’

‘I puts my tongue out at de Cluckses,’ said Flo. ‘I — ’ Without completing her sentence she walked away, putting out not her tongue but her hand. Coming toward her was Dr. Severan, who belonged to an old family and was one of her benefactors. She felt already the comfortable touch of his quarter, or perhaps even his half dollar.

‘Well, Flo, not afraid of the Ku Klux?’

‘No, sah.’ Flo grinned. It was a half dollar. ‘Not ’fraid of nobody.’

‘That’s right,’ said Dr. Severan.

A second later Flo suffered a shock. She turned the corner and could look straight up the street toward the Square. Even here, three blocks from the centre of the town, no parking space remained, and the pavement was thronged with strangers wearing white badges. She could not see the Square plainly, but she believed that it was filled with white-robed figures.

‘Dey’s heah!’ she said in a whisper. ‘Dey’s suah heah!’

She faltered and stood still — fearhad her at last. Perhaps her cabin and extinction there were better than a death in the public arena. At least at home she would be on her own ground.

‘But I belongs in de town,’ she muttered. ‘I votes. I pays for de streets an’ de ’lectric lights an’ I pays for de policeman.’ She took a step forward, keeping, as was her wont, to whatever part of the pavement suited her fancy.

The strangers looked at her curiously; to some who came from country districts far to the north a Negro was an uncommon sight. Almost anywhere Flo would have attracted attention. Her skirt trailed on the ground, her shawl was too large for her little frame, her face was invisible from all positions but the front, her large staff looked dangerous. She had a far more determined air than the visitors, some of whom had doubts as to the necessity of their organization. Others looked troubled at the state police who appeared walking innocently about.

Suddenly Flo’s hand went out and she smiled her sweet, toothless smile. She had been oblivious to the stares of the strangers, but she was not oblivious to the glance of a pair of kind eyes. They belonged to the butcher who often supplied her basket with meat. As her hand went out, his went toward his pocket. He did not belong to an old family, but he had aristocratic instincts.

‘Glad you’re not afraid, Flo.’

‘’Fraid!’ mocked Flo. ‘Not I!’

But in an instant Flo was afraid. The butcher passed on, strangers surrounded her, and a gigantic and spectral creature came toward her, tall and broad, robed in white, a mask over his face, the aperture for the mouth cut in a fantastic shape, the eyes black caverns. She tried to walk backward and, stepping on her dress, fell flat. The spectre laughed and some of the people laughed, but a kind woman helped her up and restored her staff.

‘ Better go home, aunty,’ she advised.

Flo took one halting step, then another. The Square, she could see plainly, was filled with similar spectres, but she was too dazed to alter her direction. She tottered on until she reached the curb, and, waiting her chance, crossed at risk of her life to the space in the centre where there were a planting of grass and shrubbery and a number of benches. She often sat here in the sunshine and took a nap, and there was one bench which fitted best the bend of her back. To it she tottered and sank down. Two men who had been resting at the other end rose immediately and left. They too wore white badges, and it was clear from their gait and their backward glance that those who could inspire fear could also experience it.

For a long time Flo sat motionless, her eyes closed. It was after two o’clock when she left home, her slow progress took half an hour, and now an hour passed before she opened her eyes. She sat with her arms folded, her head bent, her face invisible, presenting a strange contrast to the crowd about her. The Gettysburgians who crossed the Square believed that she slept and did not disturb her; strangers who sat down beside her by accident rose quickly and went away.

Round her surged a thickening mass of automobiles, from near-by Harrisburg, from distant Erie, from Somerset, from Easton. Some were ornamented with an inscription in chalk, ‘On to Gettysburg, ’ some had streamers of white muslin floating from the top. Some had the words ‘Ku Klux Klan’ written across the back, some had printed cabalistic signs pasted on the rear window. Some had no insignia, and the passengers looked out furtively, preferring to remain unrecognized. Frequently a car would arrive undecorated, and the driver, halting at the edge of the wide curve, would put up a banner or a card, as though he could at last make his principles known. A large camping ground had been provided on the hill above the town, but the delegates seemed to enjoy riding round and round.

III

When Flo woke it was at the sound of music. A delegation from Reading was headed by a band which struck up ‘America’ as it entered the Square. Flo opened her eyes, yawned, and looked about. Her situation seemed for the moment perfectly natural. Then she lifted her head and saw that the Square was filled with people.

‘What’s dis?’ she cried, forgetting the circumstances which had driven her thither. What did it mean — these multitudes of cars, these sheeted creatures, this noise? She panted for breath, and suddenly cried through her dry throat, ‘Jedgment! Dat’s what it is — Jedgment!’

Suddenly she remembered where she was and why she had come. Toward her across the street, appearing to her terrified eyes to be passing bodily through the cars themselves, strode four tall spectres.

‘I knows you!’ she groaned. ‘You is Cluckses! O Lo’d, defen’ me!’

The spectres passed and she drew a deep breath. Other groups passed and she was still safe.

‘Dey waits de time ob da’kness,’ she muttered. ‘An’ de time ob da’kness is on de way.’

She looked out the street toward the west. Already the sun was dropping toward Seminary Ridge. She began to shiver, though she was wrapped in her thick shawl and the warm sun shone full upon her.

‘Ise had a good time in dis life,’ she muttered. ‘But de en’ is at han’.’

She looked desperately for a familiar face. How foolish she had been to isolate herself thus — it was like taking refuge in the heart of the enemy’s stronghold.

‘Dey’s thick as flies,’ she muttered. ‘Dey’s like de rats what ate de bad man what would n’t give de po’ people food. Dey’s gettin’ mo’ an’ mo’, an’ thicker an’ thicker. Nobody could fin’ me to save mah life. Dey could kill me an’ eat me ’ — she was not so far gone in terror that this thought did not amuse her — ‘an’ nobody would even know whah Ise gone. Dey could put me in one of dey cahs and take me off and set me ’longside dey firey cross, an’ dat would be de en’ ob Flo. I ought to of gone to de Jedge — he’s mah frien’ and she’s mah frien’ — and said, “Hide me in yo’ house.” I could ’a’ hid in de coal bin, or undah de bed. But heah I is, los’ fo’ good. I hates to die.’

The tears rolled down her cheeks. She ceased for a moment to talk aloud, but her thoughts went on, now fearfully, now insolently.

‘Look at de big one comin’ like a fat pig! Look at de bean stalk! How dey big men’s feet sticks out beneaf ob dey robes! Dey beliebes dey looks handsome! Why, my soul,’ — Flo uttered these words aloud, — ’look at de lady one! ’

The sun sank lower; it shone in under Flo’s sunbonnet; it dropped at last behind the Ridge. Automobiles continued to arrive, singly and in groups; trucks heaped with human beings rolled along; great buses rumbled in, filled with singing passengers.

‘Dey sings, “My country ’t is ob Dee! ” ’ said Flo, outraged. ‘ What was de words ob Abe Lincoln! Dere’s de bery window whah he look down on me! I wish he lookin’ down on me now! I beliebe it ain’ too late to run to de Jedge. Dat’s what I do — run to de Jedge. I knowed he pappy an’ he gran’pappy — he boun’ to help me.’

She rose and put her foot over the edge of the curb, and drew it back. It was impossible to cross; round and round went the cars, four deep.

‘Nebber will I get ’cross,’said Flo. ‘Nebber, nebber!'

Again she tried, and still again. Once she stepped down and advanced a few inches, but a shout of warning drove her back. When at last the lights came on she gave up hope. The sky grew dark; the Square became a place of shadows and glaring, shifting, treacherous shafts of light. Weak with hunger, but forgetting the bread in her pocket, she sat muttering to herself.

’I must get to de Jedge. I must get to de Jedge.'

Once the judge in whom she trusted went swinging past, boldly crossing the Square directly, but she did not see him. She saw only the sheeted figures — all, it seemed, were putting on regalia as it grew dark. The other benches were occupied, but she sat alone until a Klansman, as tall and broad as the one she had encountered in the afternoon, came toward her. She held her hands before her face to shut out the dreadful sight, but she heard his tread close at hand. She felt — oh, horror!— the bench sag as he sank down beside her. He made, to her further terror, no motion; he simply sat, statuelike. Her heartheats shook her body; her jaws clapped softly together; her feet, in their worn shoes, danced a jig.

At last, unable to endure the suspense, she turned her head.

‘Is you my gua’deen?’ she inquired in a shriek. ‘If not, say so!’

The man gave a mighty start. His mask had the same effect as blinders on a horse, and he had not been aware of her presence. Never had she looked so eerie, so witchlike. She lifted her face, and the light from the standard above her shone in upon her glittering eyes. It shone also upon his own eyes, and Flo saw in them a strange sight. Though white, he, like Jim Washington, still had old superstitions. He was, Flo saw, afraid — too afraid, she believed, to move. At once her heart leaped in a different measure, and instantly, grinning, she held out her hand. To a hand held out even a partially paralyzed creature may make the appropriate response. The stranger put his hand into his pocket; he put something into the hand of Flo; he fled.

‘Humph!’ said Flo after a long moment. ‘It’s a whole half dollah!’

‘Humph!’ said Flo after five minutes. ‘I eats mah refreshments.'

‘Humph!’ said Flo after fifteen minutes. ‘I takes up mah staff and gets to work.'

IV

A cessation in the flow of cars, an access of bravery on the part of Flo, and she had crossed the street. She went at a leisurely pace, staff in hand, her skirts dragging. She put her half dollar into her pocket. It was a fine pocket; it held in turn bread and meat and candy and tobacco and money. Sometimes it held them all together. She approached three masked and sheeted figures at the corner. She could not prevent her body from trembling a little, but her hand was steady.

‘You help po’ Flo?’ she said, ingratiatingly.

The three men jumped; then they looked at her. Without masks they were three gentle souls, one a clerk in a shoe store, one a clerk in a dry-goods store, one the janitor of a church. They knew Jewish people and liked them; they knew Catholic people and were entirely friendly with them; but, coming from the northern border of the state, they knew few colored people and stood in terror of them. Each put his hand into his pocket and drew out a quarter. They then edged away. Flo did not leave them — they left her.

‘My, she scared me!’ said one.

‘I’m glad I’m not in the black belt,’ declared another.

’I tell you, brothers—’ began the third, and they passed out of hearing.

Flo sucked in her lips as though she tasted something good. She looked about and saw near by another group. She took a few steps and held out her hand.

‘You gent’men help po’ Flo?’

These gentlemen also felt beneath their sheets and put their hands into their pockets. They were moved not by fright but by a different impulse. They held Ku Klux principles, but they did not carry them out against individuals. They presented their donations with flourishes, hoping that they were observed giving gifts to this poor old Negress.

Flo fingered the coins and dropped them into her pocket. Evidently the Cluckses were rich. People usually gave her dimes or nickels or even pennies. She took another step, and a man said, ‘Why, yes, aunty, surely I ’ll give you something!’

‘Is you one of dese Cluckses?’ she asked.

‘No,’ answered he, amused.

‘Nor is I,’ said Flo.

‘You’re not afraid of them, then?’ said the kindly gentleman.

Flo saw another group ahead.

‘No mo’ dan a rabbit,’ she said, and stepped away.

The band tunes grew livelier, the cars more numerous. In the distant field preparations were being made for a huge meeting, but it was not to be called until ten o’clock, and ten o’clock was still far off. Round and round the Square went Flo, her hand outstretched. Nine o’clock struck and half past. At quarter to ten the Square began to empty.

‘I thinks of bed,’ said Flo aloud. ‘But I has too much money to look aftah — I takes mah money to de Jedge.’

Walking at a pace which was little more than a crawl, leaning upon her staff, she proceeded out the street. If she had lifted her head she might have seen against the sky a bright glow. The fiery cross had been erected and was now ablaze. But she did not lift her head.

‘I goes slow,’ she said to herself, with amusement. ‘But it ain’ my hundred and twenty yeahs, it’s my heavy weight.’

When she reached the Judge’s house she had to lift her pocket with her hand in order to get up the step. Confident of a welcome, she rang the bell, and the Judge himself answered. He was slender and straight, and he looked down upon his visitor from a great height.

‘Why, Flo!’ said he. ‘You’re out late!’

‘I is,’ smiled Flo.

‘Are n’t you afraid of all these Ku Klux?’

‘I is n’t,’ declared Flo.

‘Will you sit down?’

‘Inside,’ stipulated Flo. ‘I has private business.’

The Judge laughed and bade her enter.

‘Ise dog tiad!’ she sighed as she sank down into a pleasant chair.

‘You look tired,’ said the Judge. ‘Would you like something to eat?’

‘No, sah,’ answered Flo. ‘What I needs is to get rid of mah money.’

‘Your money?’ As a frequent contributor to Flo’s treasury, the Judge was surprised.

‘Mah money,’ insisted Flo. ‘Jedge, you pull down de shades and shet de do’ an’ I’ll show you mo’ money dan you saw in yo’ life. You get a basket.’

Greatly amused, the Judge obeyed directions.

‘How big a basket?’

‘’Bout a bushel. If you was me and could feel dis pocket bangin’ ’gainst yo’ laig, you’d know how big a basket.’

The Judge spread a paper on a deep chair.

‘Put it in here.’

Flo thrust her hand into her pocket.

‘Dimes, qua’tahs, nickels, half dollahs,’ she said, emptying handfuls into the paper.

‘Where did you get all this?’

‘I got it from de Cluckses,’ explained Flo. ‘Dey’s ’fraid of me — dey can’t look me in de eye. De chilluns in my neighborhood, dey’s ’fraid of me, but mos’ grown folks is n’t ’fraid of me ’cept Cluckses. Roun’ an’ roun’ de Squah I went, holdin’ out mah han’. I did n’t need say no word. Dey shrinks from me an’ shivers.’

‘You spoiled the Egyptians, did you?’

‘I don’t know ’bout spilin’ de ’Gyptians,’ said Flo, ‘but I suah did spile de Cluckses. Now you keep mah money. When col’ wintah comes, I got wood; when I gets hungry, I has food; when I gets col’, I buys myself clothes.’ The Judge had begun to count, and she watched him earnestly. ‘I don’t need no Red Cross no mo’. When dose ladies comes roun’ I say, “No Red Cross fo’ me — de firey cross is what I stands by.” I says to dem, “Yo’ takes yo’ bed an’ yo’ basket elsewhah.” How much is I got, Jedge?’

‘Forty-seven dollars and ten cents,’ answered the Judge. ‘That’s a good deal.’

‘Fo’ de lan’ sakes!’ cried Flo. She tried to rise and failed. ‘Ise worn out at last.’

‘I’ll take you home,’ offered the Judge. ‘You sit still till I get the car.’

‘I suah will,’ said Flo. She sank back into her chair and remained there till the Judge summoned her. ‘ I prayed de Lo’d fo’ peace an’ plenty, an’ He sent me peace an’ plenty, an’ now he sets me up in a chariot like a king.’ Having recovered her strength, she stepped nimbly into the car. ‘I asks you to drive roun’ de Squah, Jedge, so’s I can look whah I sat in tribulation.’

The Judge laughed and drove round the Square.

‘Dey is mostly gone,’ said Flo. ‘Only a few po’ samples lef’.’

‘Now home?’ asked the Judge.

‘Home,’ answered Flo. ‘Ise got a good home an’ Ise glad.’

‘Roof tight?’ asked the Judge.

‘Yes, sah. An’ if it is n’t tight, I has ample money to fix it.’

The car stopped and Flo stepped down. Under the great tree her tiny cabin looked like a doll’s house. She herself looked like a strange, untidy doll.

‘ You do me one mo’ kindness, Jedge? ’

It would have been hard to refuse, so wheedling was Flo’s tone.

‘What’s that?’

‘You blow yo’ ho’n, good an’ loud.’

The Judge complied with vigor.

‘Want your neighbors? They don’t seem to hear.’

Flo looked back from the door where she was fumbling with the padlock. No day had ever had so satisfying a climax.

‘Dey heahs all right,’ she called. ‘Dey’s lookin’ fru de cracks ob de shade. I said I goin’ to visit de bes’ families an’ I wants ’em to know I tells de truf. Dey sees you an’ dey knows you, an’ I bids you good-night.’