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“I want to take one more look down the road before it's dark,” he answered.
“ You'll get wet.'
He thought there was no need to do that, as he was going no farther than the piazza.
“I want to see ef the niggers have everything snug and in order," he declared. On the broad old-fashioned Virginia piazza, he gazed up the long road leading to the distant mountains, now dim and almost concealed by the heavy mist, dark clouds and advancing shadows of night.
“I never saw sich weather for this season, clared the old man. Here, Dick! Dick! I say
you, Dick !"
Here, massa, here,” and a negro boy about sixteen appeared around a corner of the house.
Oh, you plaguey dog! so I must always split my throat with howling, before I can get you to
“ Hi, massa! sure Dick always come when he hear massa hallo!”
“Do you, you black rascal? Have you put the sheep in their pen?”
'Yes, massa. " And the cows?”
Am fed, massa."
you feed the horse in the barn?” “Yes, massa."
"Now begone, you black rascal, and feed yourself."
With a broad grin on his ebony face the negro turned about and hurried away to the kitchen. Mr. Gray gazed off into the night, listened to the sighing of the wind among the wet branches of chestnuts and vines, mingled with melancholy lowing of a distant cow, that had strayed from the fields, and remarked:
“ It will be a bad night. I don't suppose any traveller will come at this hour.
An old lantern, made of tin perforated with holes to emit light, hung on the porch, sending its shattered rays far and wide along the broad road which ran past the house. The inn-keeper returned to his comfortable seat in his great armchair by the fire, for, although summer had not yet gone, the night was so damp and chill that a fire was comfortable. He re-filled his pipe, thrust the tobacco into it with his thumb, and, by a skilful swoop among the coals, captured one of the glowing embers on the top, and proceeded to send volume after volume of puffs up the chimney.
Mr. Owen Gray was wrong when he prophesied that there would be no caller at the inn on that night. At the moment that he was sitting by the fireside enjoying his pipe, a wayfarer was slowly plodding his way along the road. His leggins were stained with mud, and the clay adhered to his shoes in great, thick coats, until he could scarcely drag his weary feet along.
He was an old man, poorly clad, and his thin gray locks hung down his shoulders. His old, three-cornered hat was battered, faded and worn. His face showed weariness and agony, yet he was silent, grim and determined.
“There it is again,” he said, as a dim light flickered along the dark road. It must be a house, and, perchance, I can get lodging there for the night."
On he trudged through the dampness and mud. The light grew more distinct, until he was near enough to see the great old inn, like a castle, grim and gloomy, before him. He ascended the steps to the piazza and, seizing the old-fashioned brass knocker, gave three raps, which brought Mr. Gray out of his revery to the door. He gazed for a moment at the man before him in astonishment, then asked:
Who are you?" “A wayfarer, who seeks shelter and food,” was the answer.
“ By my soul, you look as if you stood in need of both.”
“If you feel disposed, kind sir, to give a stranger food and shelter for the night, God must be your rewarder, for I have no money."
Egad! who said a word about pay? Here, Dick-Dick, you rascal!" cried the landlord, rushing out on the piazza. It was but a moment before the same negro boy who had before answered his call, came running in from the kitchen.
“Yes, massa, here Dick. Dick come when massa call.”
“Yes, you plaguey rascal, you come after I've howled my lungs out.”
“Dick come soon as massa call."
“Go, you scamp, run, jump, fly! Fly to the kitchen; wake old Aunt Aggy; seize her, shake her and yell in her ears, until she is awake, and then tell her to prepare supper for a hungry man.
“ Yes, massa. “And, Dick.' Yes, massa.
See that the bed in the north attic is warm and dry.” "Yes, massa.
And, Dick, hurry.” “Yes, massa."
Dick disappeared and the inn-keeper growling at the stupidity of his servant, went back into the
room where the stranger was, to see that Becky had given him a good seat by the fire.
“ It is not very cold, traveller; but the air is raw, and the rain goes right to one's bones.”
The traveller nodded gravely.
“ You shall have supper just as soon as that plaguey negress wakes up and can cook it.”
" Thank you, landlord; but you understand I have no money with which to pay you.'
Pay! egad! who said anything about pay? You shall have a supper smoking hot, and, by my soul, Becky, we have some old peach yet in the cellar, have we not?”
“The very thing, stranger. A glass of good old peach after such a walk in the rain will do you good.”
"Perhaps it would," the traveller answered.
“ Oh, yes; famous of a rainy night, a mighty antifogmatic. It will prevent you the ague; it clears a man's throat of the cobwebs, sir."
Again the landlord set up a shouting for Dick, which soon brought the negro in. He ordered him to the cellar for a certain cask which he would find there and some glasses from the cupboard. The negro hastened away and soon returned with the required articles. The landlord turned off a glass of “old peach” with the stranger and smacked