« AnteriorContinuar »
State, and emigrants from New Jersey, cultivate on their plantations Indian corn, wheat, tobacco, and rye. After passing Bull Run, a stream that takes its appellation from the mountains of the same name, the Traveller comes to the intersection of two roads, and is in suspense which to take. If he travels the left it will bring him to the -unaccommodating town of New-Market, where publicans* and sinners waste the day in drinking and riot; but the right will conduct him to the hospitable plantation of Mr. Ball, who never yet shut his door against the houseless stranger.
Having come to Bull Run, I stopped at a kind of waggoner's tavern on its border, to inquire the way to the plantation. Old Flowers the landlord, reeled out of his log-hut towards my horse, but was too much intoxicated to make a coherent reply; so giving my steed his head, I was all passive to his motions, till overtaking an old negro man, I demanded the road to Mr. Ball's. The old negro was clad in rags, if rags can be called cloathing; he was a squalid figure of sixty, and halted as he walked; he was grunting somewhat in the manner of an old hog at an approaching shower of rain; and he carried a hickory stick in his right hand, with which he was driving the cattle home from pasture.
Is this the way, old man, to Mr. Ball's Aye, Master, I'm going there myself; and should have got to the plantation a couple of hours before
* Tax Gatherers.
sun-down, but the red bull was strayed after old mother Dye's heifers, and it cost me a plaguy search to find him in the woods.
Good company on the road, says Goldsmith, is the shortest cut, and I entered into conversation with the negro. Then
live with Mr. Ball ? Aye, Master, I live with the 'Squire, and do a hundred odd jobs for him. You're going to see him, I reckon; some friend its like enough. The 'Squire is a worthy Gentleman, and I don't tell a word of a lie when I say he would not part with me for the best young negur that was ever knocked down at vendue.* There was 'Squire Williams of Nortbumberland wanted to tempt him, by offering for me a young woman that was a house-servant, a seamster, and could work at the hoe. But old birds is not to be catched with chaff. No! No! says Master, I shant easily meet with the fellow of Dick again ; he is a gardener, a flax-beater, and a good judge of horseflesh, No! No! if I part with Dick, I part with my right-hand-man. Has your
Master a large family? Aye, a house full of children. Four and three makes seven.
There's seven young ones altogether ; four girls and three boys. Master Waring is a sharp one ; he found a nest of bees in the woods, which I reckoned nobody know'd any thing about but myself; and will make nothing
eyes round and round, and look all manner of
of climbing a hickory after an owl's nest, and pulling out old and young by the neck. Concern it, an owl always scares me. He'll turn his
ways at once!
Have you good hunting in the woods ?
Aye, rat it, Sir, I reckoned you was coming to hunt with Master. But, God help us, hunting is all over; the New Jersey men have cleared the woods. When I was a lad, I used to track the wolves on the snow, and never tracked one that I did not catch. Master, I don't tell you a word of a lie, if you'll believe me, when I say that in one winter I got fifteen dollars reward from the Justice at New-Market, for the heads of wolves. And then there was such mighty herds of deer ; the woods was fested with them. We would not take the trouble to hunt them; all we had to do, was to tie a bell to the neck of a tame doe, and turn her into the woods. A little after sun-down, we got ready our guns, and stood behind the outhouse. Presently we could see the doe trot towards home, followed by half a dozen bucks prancing after her. Then we crack away at them all together, and hie! they come tumbling down by hundreds !
The conversation of the negro held me engaged till we got to the plantation ; I then
him my horse, and walked through the garden to the house,
my way through the garden I passed two
young ladies gathering roses, who, however immured in the woods, were clad with not less elegance than the most fashionable females of Europe. They were beautiful in face and form; and I asked them with a bowing mien, whether Mr. Ball was at home. They replied, that their papa was in the parlour, and with much sweetness of manner directed me by the shortest path to the house.
Mr. Ball received mc with undissembled accents of joy; he said he had long expected my coming, and was gratified at last. A nod to a mulatto boy placed refreshments on the sideboard, and in a few minutes the family assembled to take a peep at the Schoolmaster.
The first impression made by Mr. Ball decided that he was a Gentleman ; and I was not a little delighted with the suavity of his manners, and the elegance of his conversation.
When the children withdrew, I entered on the terms of my proposed engagement, and presented to him a letter which I had been honoured with from Mr. Jefferson. I knew my host to be a Virginian who favoured the Administration, and thought a letter from the President would operate on him like witchcraft. But I was unacquainted with my man.
Mr. Ball was not to be biassed by the whistling of a name; he read my letter more from complaisance than any motive of curiosity; observed, that a man's conduct could
alone decide his character; congratulated himself upon the acquisition of a man of letters in his family; and offered to engage me for a twelvemonth, at a salary of a hundred gui
I acknowledged the honour he did me, and engaged with him for a quarter of a year.
The following day every farmer came from the neighbourhood to the house, who had any children to send to my Academy, for such they did me the honour to term the log-hut in which I was to teach. Each man brought his son, or his daughter, and rejoiced that the day was arrived when their little ones could light their tapers at the torch of knowledge! I was confounded at the encomiums they heaped upon a man whom they had never seen before, and was at a loss what construction to put upon their speech. No price was too great for the services I was to render their children ; and they all expressed an eagerness to exchange perishable coin for lasting knowledge. If I would continue with them seven years ! only seven years ! they would erect for me a brick seminary on a hill not far off; but for the present I was to occupy a log-house, which, however homely, would soon vie with the sublime College of William and Mary, and consign to oblivion the renowned Academy in the vicinity of Fanquier Court-House.
I thought Englishmen sanguine ; but these Virginians were infatuated.