"Certainly," said Stephen, smiling; "it was my fault for getting in your way." "Not at all, seh," said the cavalry Colonel; "my clumsiness, seh." He did not pass on, but stood pulling with some violence a very long mustache. "Damn you Yankees," he continued, in the same amiable tone, "you've brought us a heap of misfortune. Why, seh, in another week we'd been fo'ced to eat niggers."
"I don't relish this hyar job overly much nohow.... Ye fo'ced me ter layway ther man ... but when ye comes ter makin' a common thief outen me, I'm ready ter quit." At this hint of insubordination Rowlett's anger came back upon him, but now instead of frothy self-betrayal it was cold and domineering.
The Honorable William Jones was impatient of interruption. "Comin' to our own side of the sea, gentlemen, what do we find? New England foremost in the slave trade! New York, ownin' onct more slaves than Virginny ever did! Georgia was fo'ced to take on slave labor, although she had tried to do without it. Every race, every nation, sirs, has accepted the theory of slave labor. What says Mr.
Sometimes when I is fo'ced ter sleep in the ca'ige, when Miss Ann an' me air a visitin' wha' things air kinder crowded like, I digs me up a little flower an' plants it in a ol' can an' kinder makes out my coachman's box air a po'ch. Miss Judy, it air a sad thing ter git ter be ol' an' wo' out 'thout ever gittin' what you wanted when you wa' young an' spry."
"That's a fact. I was the one that was a talkin' about a sheep. I know'd it was one of us, but I sorter forgot which one." "Didn't he say that you made a good deal o' licker when the sun wan't shinin'? Didn't he?" "Margaret, ef you keep on, I'll be fo'ced to believe you have been listenin'; an' I'd hate to think that.
'Tain't my fault I got on dese clo'es, 'deed it ain't. Dey done fo'ced me. I heared you was here an' I been tryin' to git to ye all day. Oh, I so glad to git hold ob ye, Sammy, so glad, so glad. He broke out into sobs of crying. I was near it myself, for he was the first one from home I had seen, and there was something in his voice that went through me.
Alexander was not gone long and she returned with a restored calm. The fingers that stitched industriously at his torn coat, were as steady as before his coming. "I don't aim ter be fo'ced, Jack," she quietly announced. "Ye boasts thet ye kin mek me come into yore arms of my own free will. If ye kin all right but hit won't be afore ye fares back from yore journey. Hit won't be ternight."
"Us Doanes," broke out the red-eyed Opdyke, explosively, "what hev we got ter do with yore feisty lot?" "Yes, you Doanes," Thornton shot back at him with a stiffening jaw. "When ther Harpers didn't want me, and I didn't want them, you men plum fo'ced me on 'em by seekin' ter hold me accountable fer all thar doin's. Ef I'm goin' ter be accountable, I'm likewise goin' ter be accounted to!
I was plum fo'ced ter do hit by a low-lived feller thet hed done got me whar he wanted me a feller thet bull-dozed an' dogged me an' didn't suffer me ter call my soul my own a feller thet I hates an' dreads like I don't nuver expect ter hate Satan in hell!" The informer broke off there and stood a pitiable picture of rage and cowardice, shaken with tearless sobs of unwonted emotion.
"Certainly," said Stephen, smiling; it was my fault for getting in your way." "Not at all, seh," said the cavalry Colonel; "my clumsiness, seh." He did not pass on, but stood pulling with some violence a very long mustache. "Damn you Yankees," he continued, in the same amiable tone, "you've brought us a heap of misfortune. Why, seh, in another week we'd been fo'ced to eat niggers."