|WHEN I got there it was all still and Sunday-like, and hot and sunshiny; the hands was gone to the fields; and there was them kind of faint dronings of bugs and flies in the air that makes it seem so lonesome and like everybody’s dead and gone; and if a breeze fans along and quivers the leaves it makes you feel mournful, because you feel like it’s spirits whispering—spirits that’s been dead ever so many years—and you always think they’re talking about YOU. As a general thing it makes a body wish HE was dead, too, and done with it all.||It was hot and sunny when I got to the Phelps farm. Everything was still and quiet, just like a church on Sunday. The farmhands were out in the fields, and the bugs and flies in the air made a kind of faint droning sound that makes you feel lonely, as if everyone were dead and gone. If a breeze blew by and shook the leaves, it would make you feel awful sad, because it’d feel like ghosts were whispering—ghosts that had been dead for many years—and talking about you. Usually that kind of stuff will make you feel like YOU are dead too, and done with life.|
|Phelps’ was one of these little one-horse cotton plantations, and they all look alike. A rail fence round a two-acre yard; a stile made out of logs sawed off and up-ended in steps, like barrels of a different length, to climb over the fence with, and for the women to stand on when they are going to jump on to a horse; some sickly grass-patches in the big yard, but mostly it was bare and smooth, like an old hat with the nap rubbed off; big double log-house for the white folks—hewed logs, with the chinks stopped up with mud or mortar, and these mud-stripes been whitewashed some time or another; round-log kitchen, with a big broad, open but roofed passage joining it to the house; log smoke-house back of the kitchen; three little log nigger-cabins in a row t’other side the smoke-house; one little hut all by itself away down against the back fence, and some outbuildings down a piece the other side; ash-hopper and big kettle to bile soap in by the little hut; bench by the kitchen door, with bucket of water and a gourd; hound asleep there in the sun; more hounds asleep round about; about three shade trees away off in a corner; some currant bushes and gooseberry bushes in one place by the fence; outside of the fence a garden and a watermelon patch; then the cotton fields begins, and after the fields the woods.||
The Phelps farm was one of those little one-horse plantations—they all
look alike. A rail fence encircled a yard of about two acres. There was a
stile made out of sawed off logs that had been turned over to make steps,
like barrels of different lengths, and used to climb over the fence or for
the women to stand on when getting on a horse. There were some sickly
looking patches of grass in the big yard, but most of it was bare and
smooth, like an old worn hat. There was a big two storey log house where the
white folks lived. It was made out of hewed logs with the chinks plugged
with mud or morter. The stripes of mud had been whitewashed at some point.
There was a round log kitchen with a big, broad, open but roofed passage
connecting it to the house. A log smokehouse sat behind the kitchen. There
were three small log n----- cabins in a row on the other side of the
smokehouse, and one little hut standing all by itself down against the back
fence. There were some outhouses down a bit on the other side, an
a bin filled with ashes, which is turned into lye when water is poured over themash hopper and a big kettle to boil soap in by the little hut, and a bench by the kitchen door with a bucket of water and a gourd. There was a dog sleeping in the sun and more hounds asleep here and there. There were about three shade trees off in the corner and some currant bushes and gooseberry bushes in one spot by the fence. Outside of the fence there was a garden and a watermelon patch. Then the cotton fields began, and beyond those were the woods.
|I went around and clumb over the back stile by the ash-hopper, and started for the kitchen. When I got a little ways I heard the dim hum of a spinning-wheel wailing along up and sinking along down again; and then I knowed for certain I wished I was dead—for that IS the lonesomest sound in the whole world.||I went around and climbed over the back stile by the ash hopper and headed toward the kitchen. When I got close, I heard the dim humming sound from a spinning wheel moving up and down. That’s when I knew I was dead, since that IS the loneliest sound in the whole world.|
|I went right along, not fixing up any particular plan, but just trusting to Providence to put the right words in my mouth when the time come; for I’d noticed that Providence always did put the right words in my mouth if I left it alone.||I kept going. I didn’t have a specific plan in mind, but I trusted in Providence to put the right words in my mouth when the time came. I’d noticed that Providence always did put the right words in my mouth if I let it.|
|When I got half-way, first one hound and then another got up and went for me, and of course I stopped and faced them, and kept still. And such another powwow as they made! In a quarter of a minute I was a kind of a hub of a wheel, as you may say—spokes made out of dogs—circle of fifteen of them packed together around me, with their necks and noses stretched up towards me, a-barking and howling; and more a-coming; you could see them sailing over fences and around corners from everywheres.||When I got halfway to the kitchen, one hound and then others started after me. Of course, I stopped and faced them and kept still. What a ruckus they made! In a quarter of a minute, they’d turned me into the hub of a wheel, you might say, with the spokes made out of dogs. Fifteen of them were packed together and circling around me with their necks and noses stretched out toward me. They were barking and howling, and more were coming—you could see them jumping over fences and running around corners from everywhere.|
|A nigger woman come tearing out of the kitchen with a rolling-pin in her hand, singing out, “Begone YOU Tige! you Spot! begone sah!” and she fetched first one and then another of them a clip and sent them howling, and then the rest followed; and the next second half of them come back, wagging their tails around me, and making friends with me. There ain’t no harm in a hound, nohow.||A n----- woman came running out of the kitchen with a rolling pin in her hand, crying, “Go away, Tiger! Go on, Spot! Get out of here!” She hit one and then another and sent them howling off. The rest left on their own, but in the next second, half of them came back, wagging their tails around me and making friends with me. There is no meanness in a hound.|
|And behind the woman comes a little nigger girl and two little nigger boys without anything on but tow-linen shirts, and they hung on to their mother’s gown, and peeped out from behind her at me, bashful, the way they always do. And here comes the white woman running from the house, about forty-five or fifty year old, bareheaded, and her spinning-stick in her hand; and behind her comes her little white children, acting the same way the little niggers was going. She was smiling all over so she could hardly stand—and says:||A little n----- girl and two little n----- boys came up behind the woman. They were wearing nothing but tow linen shirts. They hung on to their mother’s gown and peered out at me from behind her, shy, like they always are. A white woman came running from the house. She was about forty-five or fifty years old, hatless, and she had her spinning stick in her hand. Her little white children followed behind her, acting the same way that the n----- children acted. The woman was smiling so much, she could hardly stand up straight. She said:|
|“It’s YOU, at last!—AIN’T it?”||“At last! It’s YOU! … Isn’t it?”|
|I out with a “Yes’m” before I thought.||Without thinking I said, “Yes, ma’am.”|
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