Chapter XII: The Discovery

' It can't be ; I wont believe it!' said Franks, at the breakfast table on Sunday morning, after hearing that little Joe was missed, 'he certainly must be lost in the shrubbery.'
After breakfast a thorough search was made, none being more industrious than Ailcey in hunting the little fugitive, but without success.
' When was he last seen ?' enquired Franks.
' He wah put to bed las' night while we wuh at de suppeh seh !' replied Ailcey.
5' There's something wrong about this thing, Mrs. Franks, and I'll be hanged if I don't ferret out the whole before I'm done with it !' said the Colonel.
' I hope you dont suspect me as—'
' Nonsense ! my dear, not at all—nothing of the sort, but I do suspect respectable parties in another direction.'
' Gracious, Colonel ! whom have you reference to ? I'm sure I can't imagine.'
' Well, well, we shall see ! Ailcey call Judy.'
10' Maus Stephen, yeh sen' fah me ?' enquired the old woman, puffing and blowing.
' Yes Judy. Do you know any-thing/anything about little Joe ? I want you to tell me the truth !' sternly enquired Franks.
' Maus Stephen ! I cah lie ! so long as yeh had me, yu nah missus neveh knows me tell lie. No bless de Laud ! ah sen' my soul to de ole boy dat way? No maus Stephen, ah uhdn give wat I feels in my soul—'
' Well never mind Judy about your soul, but tell us about—'
' Ah ! maus Stephen, ah 'spects to shout wen de wul's on fiah ! an'—'
15' Tell us about the boy Judy, and we'll hear about your religion another time.'
' If you give her a little time Colonel, I think she'll be able to tell about him !' suggested Mrs. Franks on seeing the old woman weeping.
' Sho, mammy !' said Ailcey in a whisper with a nudge, standing behind her, ' wat yeh stan' heah cryin' befo' dese ole wite folks fah !'
' Come, come, Judy ! what are you crying about ! let us hear quickly what you've got to say. Dont be frightned !'
' No maus Stephen, I's not feahed ; ah could run tru troop a hosses an' face de debil ! My soul's happy, my soul's on fiah! Whoo! blessed Jesus ! ride on King!' when the old woman tossed and tumbled about so dexterously, that the master and mistress considered themselves lucky in getting out of the way.
20' The old thing's crazy ! We'll not be able to get anything out of her Mrs. Franks.'
' No maus Stephen, blessed be God a'mighty! I's not crazy, but sobeh as a judge! an—'
Then let us hear about little Joe, as you can understand so well what is said around you, and let us have no more of your whooping and nonsense, distracting the neighborhood !'
' Blessed God! blessed God ! Laud sen' a nudah gale! O, fah a nudah sho weh!'
' I really believe she's crazy ! We 've now been here over an hour, and no nearer the information than before.'
25'I think she's better now !' said Mrs. Franks.
' Judy, can you compose yourself long enough to answer my questions ?' enquired Franks.
' O yes, mausta! ah knows wat I's 'bout, but w'en mausta Jesus calls, ebry body mus' stan' back, case 'e's 'bove all!'
'That's all right Judy, all right; but let us hear about little Joe; do you know anything about him, where he is, or how he was taken away ?'
' 'E wah dab Sattiday night, maus Stephen.'
30'What time Judy, on Saturday evening was he there ?'
' W'en da wah eatin suppeh seh.'
' How do you know, when you were at the lower quarters, and he in your hut?'
' 'E wah put to bed den.'
' Who put him to bed, you ?'
35' No, seh, Ailcey.'
' Ailcey—who went with her, any one ?'
'Yes seh, Van Wintah Ben went wid uh.'
' Van Winter's Ben ! I thought we'd get at the thieves presently ; I knew I'd ferret it out! Well now Judy, I ask you as a Christian, and expect you to act with me as one Christian with another—has not Mrs. Van Winter been talking to you about this boy?'
'No seh, nebeh!'
40'Nor to Henry?'
'No seh!'
'Did not she, to your knowledge, send Ben there that night to steal away little Joe?'
'No seh!'
'Did you not hear Ailcey tell some one, or talking in her sleep, say that Mrs. Van Winter had something to do with the abduction of that boy?'
45'Maus Stephen, ah do'n undehstan' dat duckin uh duckshun, dat w'at yeh call it—dat big wud!'
'O! "abduction" means stealing away a person, Judy.'
'Case, ah waun gwine tell nothin 'bout it.'
'Well, what do you know Judy?'
'As dah's wud a troof in me, ah knows nothin' 'bout it.'
50'Well Judy, you can go now. She's an honest old creature I believe!' said Franks, as the old fat cook turned away.
'Yes, poor old black fat thing! she's religious to a fault,' replied Mrs. Franks.
'Well Ailcey, what do you know about it?' enquired the master.
'Nothin' seh, o'ny mammy Judy ask me toat 'im up to da hut an' put 'im in bed.'
'Well, did you do it?'
55'Yes seh!'
'Did Ben go with you?'
'Yes seh!'
'Did he return with you to the lower quarters?'
'Yes seh!'
60'Did he not go back again, or did he remain in the house?'
''E stay in.'
Did you not see some one lurking about the house when you took the boy up to the hut?'
'Ah t'ot ah heahn some un in da bushes, but Ben say 'twan no one.'
' Now Ailcey, dont you know who that was ?'
65' No seh!'
' Was'nt it old Joe ?'
' No seh, lef 'im in de low quahteh.'
'Was it Henry?'
' Dun no seh !'
70' Was'nt it Mrs. Van Winter's—'
' Why Colonel!' exclaimed Mrs. Franks with surprise.
' Negroes I mean ! You did'nt let me finish the sentence my dear !' explained he, correcting his error.
' Ah dun'o seh !'
' Now tell me candidly, my girl, who and what you thought it was at the time ?'
75' Ah do'n like to tell!' replied the girl, looking down.
' Tell Ailcey ! who do you think it was, and what they were after?' enquired Mrs. Franks.
' Ah do'n waun tell missus !'
' Tell, you goose you ! did you see any one ?' continued Franks.
' Ah jis glance 'em.'
80' Was the person close to you ?' farther enquired Mrs. Franks,
' Yes um, da toched me on da shouldeh an' run.'
' Well, why don't you tell then Ailcey, who you thought it was, and what they were after, you stubborn jade you, speak!' stormed Franks, stamping his foot.
' Don't get out of temper, Colonel! make some allowance for her under the circumstances. Now tell Ailcey, what you thought at the time?' mildly asked Mrs. Franks.
' Ah tho't 'twah maus Stephen afteh me.'
85' Well, if you know nothing about it, you may go now !' gruffly replied her master. ' These negroes are not to be trusted. They will endeavor to screen each other if they have the least chance to do so. I'll sell that girl!'
' Colonel don't be hasty in this matter, I beg of you!' said Mrs. Franks, earnestly.
' I mean to let her go to the man she most hates, that's Crow.'
' Why do you think she hates Crow so badly ?'
' By the side looks she gives him when he comes into the house.'
90' I pray you then Colonel, to attempt no more auction sales, and you may avoid unpleasant associations in that direction.'
' Yes, by the by, speaking of the auction, I really believe Mrs. Van Winter had something to do with the abduction of that little negro.'
' I think you do her wrong Colonel Franks; she's our friend, and aside from this, I dont think her capable of such a thing.'
' Such friendship is worse than open enmity my dear, and should be studiously shunned.'
' I must acquit her Colonel, of all agency in this matter.'
95' Well mark what I tell you Mrs. Franks, you'll yet hear more of it, and that too at no distant day.
' Well it may be, but I can't think so.'
' May be!' I'm sure so. And more: I believe that boy has been induced to take advantage of my clemency, and run away. I'll make an example of him, because what one negro succeeds in doing, another will attempt. I'll have him at any cost. Let him go on this way and there wont be a negro in the neighborhood presently.'
' Whom do you mean Colonel ?'
' I mean that ingrate Henry, that's who.'
100' Henry gone!'
' I have no doubt of it at all!' as he had a pass to Woodville and Jackson ; and now that the boy is stolen by some one, I've no doubt himself. I might have had some leniency towards him had he not committed a theft, a crime of all others the most detestable in my estimation.'
' And Henry is really gone ?' with surprise again enquired Mrs. Franks.
' He is my dear, and you appear to be quite inquisitive about it!' remarked Franks as he thought he observed a concealed smile upon her lips.
' I am inquisitive Colonel, because whatever interests you should interest me.'
105' By Monday evening, hanged if I don't know all about this thing. Ailcey call Charles to get my saddle horse!'
' Charles ain' heah maus Stephen.'
' Where's old Joe ?'
' At de hut, seh.'
' Tell him to saddle Oscar immediately, and bring him to the door.'
110' Yes seh !' replied the girl, lightly tripping away.
The horse was soon at the door, and with his rider cantering away.
' Tony, what is mammy Judy about?' enquired Mrs. Franks as evening approached.
' She's sifen meal missus to make mush fah ouah suppah.'
'You must tell mammy not to forget me Tony, in the distribution of her mush and milk.'
115' Yes missus, ah tell uh right now !' when away ran Tony bearing the message, eager as are all children to be the agents of an act of kindness.
Mammy Judy smiling received the message with the assurance of ' Yes, dat she shall hab much as she want!' when turning about she gave strict orders that Ailcey neglect not to have a china bowl in readiness to receive the first installment of the hasty pudding.
The hut of mammy Judy served as a sort of head quarters on Saturday and Sunday evenings for the slaves from the plantation, and those in town belonging to the ' estate,' who this evening enjoyed a hearty laugh, at the expense of daddy Joe.
Slaves are not generally supplied with light in their huts, consequently, except from the fat of their meat and that gathered about the kitchen with which they make a ' lamp,' and the use of pine wood tapers, they eat and do everything about their dwellings in the dark.
Hasty pudding for the evening being the bill of fare, all sat patiently awaiting the summon of mammy Judy, some on blocks, some on logs of wood, some on slab benches, some on inverted buckets and half barrel wash tubs, and whatever was convenient, while many of the girls, and other young people, were seated on the floor around against the wall.
120' Hush chilen !' admonished mammy Judy, after carefully seeing that each one down to Tony, had been served with a quota from the kettle.
' Laud, make us truly tankful fah wat we 'bout to 'ceive!' petitioned daddy Joe with uplifted hands. ' Top dah wid yo' nause an' nonsense ole people cah heah deh yeahs to eat!' admonished the old man as he took the pewter dish between his knees and commenced an earnest discussion of its contents. ' Do'n yeh heah me say hush dah ? Do'n yeh heah !'
' Joe !' was the authoritative voice from without.
' Sah!'
' Take my horse to the stable!'
125' Yes, sah!' responded the old man, sitting down his bowl of mush and milk on the hearth in the corner of the jam. ' Do'n any on yeh toch dat, yeh heah ?'
' We ain gwine to daddy Joe,' replied the young people.
' Huccum de young folks, gwine eat yo' mush and milk ? Sho, ole man, g' long whah yeh gwine, ad' let young folk 'lone !' retorted mammy Judy.
On returning from the stable, in his hurry, the old man took up the bowl of a young man who sat it on his stool for the moment.
' Yoheh daddy Joe, dat my mush !' said the young man.
130' Huccum dis yone ?' replied the old man.
' Wy ah put it dah; yeh put yone in de chimbly connoh.'
' Ah! dat eh did!' exclaimed he, taking up the bowl eating heartily. ' Wat dat yeh all been doin' heah? Some on yeh young folks been prankin' long wid dis mush an' milk !' continued the old man, champing and chewing in a manner which indicated something more solid than mush and milk.
' Deed we did'n daddy Joe ; did'n do nothin' to yo' mush an' milk so we did'n!' replied Ailcey, whose word was always sufficient with the old people.
' Hi, what dis in heah! Sumpen mighty crisp!' said daddy Joe, still eating heartily and now and again blowing something from his mouth like course meal husks. 'Sumpen heah mighty crisp ah tells yeh ! Ole umin, light dat pine knot dah ; so dahk yeh cah'n see to talk. Git light dah quick ole umin ! Sumpen heah mighty crisp
135in dis mush an' milk!—Mighty crisp!'
' Good Laud! see dah now! Ah tole yeh so !' exclaimed mammy Judy when on producing a light, the bowl was found to be partially filled with large black house roaches.
'Reckon daddy Joe do'n tank'im fah dat !' said little Tony, referring to the blessing of the old man ; amidst an outburst of tittering and snickering among the young people.
Daddy Joe lost his supper, when the slaves retired for the evening.
To Chapter XIII

Textual Notes

1,] 59; ; 61
3enquired] 59; inquired 61
4wah] 59; was 61
4wuh] 59; was 61
10fah] 59; for 61
11any-thing/] 59; not in 61
11enquired] 59; inquired 61
12cah] 59; can't 61
12yu nah] 59; you nor 61
12ah] 59; I 61
12ah uhdn] 59; I would'n 61
14ah] 59; I 61
14wul] 59; worl 61
14fiah] 59; fieh 61
17,] 59; ; 61
17heah] 59; hear 61
17fah] 59; for 61
18hear] 59; heear 61
18Dont] 59; Don't 61
18frightned] 59; frightened 61
19feahed ; ah] 59; feared: I 61
19tru] 59; thru 61
19fiah] 59; fieh 61
19dexterously] 59; dextrously 61
21-22an—'] 59; an—' / 'Then let 61
23nudah] 59; nutheh 61
23fah] 59; for 61
23nudah sho weh] 59; nutheh showeh 61
26enquired] 59; inquired 61
27ah] 59; I 61
27case] 59; case he's 'bove 61
27e'] 59; not in 61
29'E wah dab] 59; He was dar 61
31wah] 59; was 61
31eatin] 59; was eatin' suppeh 61
33'E wah] 59; He was 61
37Wintah] 59; Winteh 61
37uh] 59; her 61
37Christian] 59; Christian 61
39nebeh] 59; neveh 61
45, ah] 59; I 61
45uh] 59; or " 61
45,] 59; " 61
47, ah waun] 59; I want 61
49dah] 59; dar 61
49ah] 59; I 61
53da] 59; de 61
61-62in.'] 59; in.' / 'Did you 61
63Ah t] 59; I tho 61
63ot ah heahn] 59; t I hearn 61
63da] 59; de 61
67'im] 59; lef' 'im in 61
67quahteh] 59; quarteh 61
69Dun] 59; Don 61
73Ah dun] 59; I don 61
75Ah] 59; I 61
76?'] 59; !' 61
77Ah] 59; I 61
77waun] 59; want 61
79Ah] 59; I 61
80enquired] 59; inquired 61
80,] 59; . 61
81da] 59; de 61
84Ah] 59; I 61
84twah] 59; twas 61
87,] 59; ; 61
92wrong] 59; her wrong, Colonel 61
95.] 59; .' 61
97!'] 59; ! 61
99.'] 59; !' 61
101!'] 59; ! 61
101that] 59; not in 61
101boy] 59; child 61
101detestable] 59; destestable 61
102enquired] 59; inquired 61
103her] 59; their 61
105Ailcey] 59; thing. Ailcey, call 61
106heah] 59; hear 61
109,] 59; not in 61
110Yes] 59; Yeh 61
111away. ' Tony,] 59; cantering away, the Colonel to return in the evening. / 'Tony, 61
113sifen] 59; sif'en 61
113fah ouah suppah] 59; for our suppeh 61
115ah] 59; I 61
115uh] 59; 'er 61
117in] 59; in the town 61
119summon] 59; summons 61
121fah] 59; for 61
121Top dah] 59; Stop dar 61
121nonsense] 59; nonesense 61
121cah heah deh yeahs] 59; can' hear der years 61
121heah] 59; hear 61
121dah] 59; dar 61
121heah] 59; hear 61
122authoritative] 59; authorative 61
123Sah] 59; Sar 61
125sah] 59; sar 61
125heah] 59; hear 61
127Huccum] 59; How cum 61
127,] 59; not in 61
127? Sho] 59; ?' So 61
127whah] 59; whar 61
127ad] 59; an 61
127folk] 59; folks 61
128the] 59; a 61
129Yoheh] 59; See hear 61
130Huccum] 59; How come 61
131ah] 59; I 61
131dah] 59; dar 61
131connoh.'] 59; corneh. 61
132eh] 59; I 61
132heah?] 59; hear?' 61
134what] 59; wat 61
134heah] 59; hear 61
134heah] 59; hear 61
134ah] 59; I 61
134dah] 59; dar 61
134cah] 59; can 61
134n] 59; t 61
134dah] 59; dar 61
134heah] 59; hear 61
136dah] 59; dar 61
136Ah] 59; I 61
136roaches] 59; roaches 61
137tank'] 59; thank 61
137fah] 59; for 61