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8 > Page 8 of Bad Hugh / by Mary J. Holmes.

attractive to the little girls, while their mothers pitied him, wondering why he had been permitted to come there, and watch- ing for the change in him, which was sure to ensue. Not all at once did Hugh conform to the customs of his uncle's household, and at first there often came over him a long- ing for something different, a yearning for the refinements of his early home among the Northern hills, and a wish to infuse into Chloe, the colored housekeeper, some of his mother's neat- ness. But a few attempts at reform had taught him how futile was the effort, Aunt Chloe always meeting him with the argu- ment: "'Taint no use, Mr. Hugh. A nigger's a nigger; and I spec' ef you're to talk to me till you was hoarse 'bout your Yankee ways of scrubbin', and sweepin', and moppin' with a broom, I shouldn't be an atomer white-folksey than I is now. Besides Mas'r John wouldn't bar no finery; he's only happy when the truck is mighty nigh a foot thick, and his things is lyin' round loose and handy." To a certain extent this was true, for John Stanley would have felt sadly out of place in any spot where, as Chloe said, " his things were not lying round loose and handy," and as habit is everything, so Hugh soon grew accustomed to his surround- ings, and became as careless of his external appearance as his uncle could desire. Only once had there come to him an awak- ening-a faint conception of the happiness there might arise from constant association with the pure and refined, such as his uncle had labored to make him believe did not exist. He was thinking of that incident now, and as he thought the veins upon his broad, white forehead stood out round and full, while the hands clasped above the head worked nervously together, and it was not strange that he did not heed his mother when she spoke, for Hugh was far away from Spring Bank, and the wild storm beating against its walls was to him like the sound of the waves dashing against the vessel's side, just as they did years ago on that night he remembered so well, shuddering as he heard again the murderous hiss of the devouring flames, covering the fatal boat with one sheet of fire, and driving into the water as a safer friend the shrieking, frightened wretches who but an hour before had been so full of life and hope, dancing gayly above the red-tongued demon stealthily creeping upward from the hold below, where it had taken life. What a fearful scene that was, and the veins grew larger on Hugh's brow while 8 BAD HEUGHR