xt72804xh426 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt72804xh426/data/mets.xml Taylor, Robert Love, 1850-1912. 1896  books b92-204-30752668 English DeLong Rice & Co., : Nashville, Tenn. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Gov. Bob Taylor's tales  : "The fiddle and the bow," "The paradise of fools," "Visions and dreams." text Gov. Bob Taylor's tales  : "The fiddle and the bow," "The paradise of fools," "Visions and dreams." 1896 2002 true xt72804xh426 section xt72804xh426 












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qoV. Bob. TailoP'0 Ta1eg.





"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW,"

"THE PARADISE OF FOOLS",

  "VISIONS AND DREAMS."




        ILLUSTRATED.




          Published by
     DeLONG RICE  COMPANY.
         Nashville, Tenn.

 




















               COPYRIGHTED, 1896.
       All rghts reserved by DeLong Rice CM Co


























UNIVERSITY PRESS CO.,
NASHVILLE.TEN N.

 

               PREFACE.

  This volume presents the first publication of
the famous lectures of Governor Robert L.
Taylor. His great popularity as an orator and
entertainer, and his wide reputation as a humor-
ist, have caused repeated inquiries from all sec-
tions of the country for his lectures in book form;
and this has given rise to an earlier publication
than was expected.
  The lectures are given without the slightest
abridgment, just as delivered from the plat-
form throughout the country. The consecutive
chain of each is left undisturbed; and the idea
of paragraphing, and giving headlines to the
various subjects treated, was conceived merely
for the convenience of the reader.
  In the dialect of his characters, the melody of
his songs, and the originality of his quaint,
but beautiful conceptions, Governor Taylor's
lectures are temples of thought, lighted with
windows of fun.
                            DxLONG RicE.

 










Temples of Thought,
    Lighted with
    Windows
    Of Fun.


 


               CONTENTS.

"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW.,"         .............  9
   Cherish the Little Ones .... ..................        19
   Fat Men and Bald-Headed Men ....... ........... 22
   The Poet Laureate of Music ....................... 23
   The Convict and His Fiddle ............        ...... 25
   A Vision of The Old Field School .................. 27
   The Quilting and the Old Virginia Reel .36
   The Candy Pulling .44
   The Banquet ........ . .......... ................ 48
   There is Music All Around Us .53
   The Two Columns .61
   There is a Melody for Every Ear .63
   Music is the Wine of the Soul ...................... 66
   The Old Time Singing School .....    ................ 72
   The Grand Opera ................................. 78
   Music.................................      80


"THE PARADISE OF FOOLS ....................... 83
  The Paradise of Childhood       ....  .................... 90
  The Paradise of the Barefooted Boy  .  .    98
  The Paradise of Youth .......... ................. 104
  The Paradise of Home   .      ................. 112
  Bachelor and Widower ........... .. .    ............ 117
  Phantoms....                               119
  The False Ideal............... ....        121
  The Circus in the Mountains .................. .. 123
  The Phantom of Fortune ......................... 128
  Clocks..........................           130
  The Panic..........    ................   . 133
  Bunk City .......... ..... .................. ...... 135

 


8                  CONTENTS.

   Your Uncle ...... ................................. 137
   Fools ..o....................... .... .............. 140
   Blotted Pictures .143


"VISIONS AND DREAMS." .147
   The Happy Long Ago .151
   Dreams of the Years to Come .160
   From the Cave-man to the Kiss-o-phone .169
   Dreams .175
   Visions of Departed Glory ......      ................... 178
   Nature's Musicians...................        181
   Preacher's Paradise ........ .  ...................... 18,
   Brother Estep and the Trumpet .................... 189
   "Wamper-jaw" at the Jollification.....        190
   The Tir Innabulation of the Dinner Bells....  193
   Phantoms of the Wine Cup .......................1 196
   The Missing Link.                            197
   Nightmare...................................... 198
   Infidelity........................ ........... 200
   The Dream of God.......................      201


 

"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."

                       I heard a great master
                     play on the wondrous
                     violin; his bow quivered
                     like the wing of a bird;
                 in every quiver there was a
                 melody, and every melody
                 breathed a thought in Ian-
            t .Lguage sweeter than was ever
                uttered by human t on gu e.
                I was conjured, I was mes-
                merized by his music. I
                thought I fell asleep under
                its power, and was rapt into
                the realm of v i s i o n s and
dreams. The enchanted violin broke out in
tumult, and through the rifted shadows in my
dream I thought I saw old ocean lashed to fury.
The wing of the storm-god brooded above it,
dark and lowering with night and tempest and
war. I heard the shriek of the angry hurri-
cane, the loud rattling musketry of rain, and
  2

 

10    "THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



hail, and the louder and deadlier crash and roar
of the red artillery on high. Its rumbling bat-
teries, unlimbered on the vapory heights and
manned by the fiery gunners of the storm,
boomed their volleying thunders to the terrible
rythm of the strife below. And in every stroke
of the bow fierce lightnings leaped down from
their dark pavilions of cloud, and, like armed
angels of light, flashed their trenchant blades
among the phantom squadrons marshalling for
battle on the field of the deep. I heard the
bugle blast and battle cry of the charging winds,
wild and exultant, and then I saw the billowy
monsters rise, like an army of Titans, to scale
and carry the hostile heights of heaven. Assail-
ing again and again, as often hurled back head-
long into the ocean's abyss, they rolled, and
surged, and writhed, and raged, till the af-
frighted earth trembled at the uproar of the
warring elements. I saw the awful majesty
and might of Jehovah flying on the wings of the
tempest, planting his footsteps on the trackless
deep, veiled in darkness and in clouds. There
was a shifting of the bow; the storm died away
in the distance, and the morning broke in floods
of glory. Then the violin revived and poured

 

"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



out its sweetest soul. In its music I heard the
rustle of a thousand joyous wings, and a burst
of song from a thousand joyous throats. Mock-
ing birds and linnets thrilled the glad air with
warblings; gold finches. thrushes and bobolinks
trilled their happiest tunes; and the oriole sang
a lullaby to her hanging cradle that rocked in
the wind. I heard the twitter of skimming
swallows and the scattered covey's piping call;
I heard the robin's gay whistle, the croaking of
crows, the scolding of blue-jays, and the melan-
choly cooing of a dove. The swaying tree-tops
seemed vocal with bird-song while he played,
and the labyrinths of-leafy shade echoed back
the chorus. Then the violin sounded the hunt-
er's horn, and the deep-mouthed pack of fox
hounds opened loud and wild, far in the ringing
woods, and it was like the music of a hundred
chiming bells. There was a tremor of the bow,
and I heard a flute play, and a harp, and a gold-
en-mouthed cornet; I heard the mirthful babble
of happy voices, and peals of laughter ringing
in the swelling tide of pleasure. Then I saw a
vision of snowy arms, voluptuous forms, and
light fantastic slippered feet, all whirling and
floating in the mazes of the misty dance. The



11

 

12    "THE; FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



flying fingers now tripped upon the trembling
strings like fairy-feet dancing on the nodding
violets, and the music glided into a still sweeter
strain. The violin told a story of human life.
Two lovers strayed beneath the elms and oaks,
and down by the river side, where daffodils and
pansies bend and smile to rippling waves, and
there, under the bloom of incense-breathing
bowers, under the soothing sound of humming
bees and splashing waters, there, the old, old
story, so old and yet so new, conceived in heaven,
first told in Eden and then handed down through
all the ages, was told over and over again. Ah,
those downward drooping eyes, that mantling
blush, that trembling hand in meek submission
pressed, that heaving breast, that fluttering
heart, that whispered "yes," wherein a heaven
lies-how well thev told of victory won and par-
adise regained! And then he swung her in a
grapevine swing. Young man, if you want to
win her, wander with her amid the elms and
oaks, and swing her in a grapevine swing.
       "Swinging in the grapevine swing,
       Laughing where the wild birds sing;
       I dream and sigh for the days gone by,
       Swinging in the grapevine swing."


 


































"SWINGING IN THE GRAPEVINE SWING,"



I,
Belief



1,- --

 

'THF PIDDLE AND THE BOW."



But swiftly the tides of music run, and swiftly speed the
    hours;
Life's pleasures end when scarce begun, e'en as the sum-
    mer flowers.

  The violin laughed like a child and my dream
changed again. I saw a cottage amid the elms
and oaks and a little curly-head toddled at the
door; I saw a happy husband and father return
from his labors in the evening and kiss his happy
wife and frolic with his baby. The purple glow
now faded from the Western skies; the flowers
closed their petals in the dewy slumbers of the
night; every wing was folded in the bower; every
voice was hushed; the full-orbed moon poured
silver from the East, and God's eternal jewels
flashed on the brow of night. The scene changed
again while the great master played, and at
midnight's holy hour, in the light of a lamp
dimly burning, clad in his long, white mother-
hubbard, I saw the disconsolate victim of love's
young dream nervously walking the floor, in
his bosom an aching heart, in his arms the
squalling baby. On the drowsy air, like the
sad wails of a lost spirit, fell his woeful voice
singing:



14

 

"THE FIDDLE AND THFE BOW."



V                                        - _ -
With my la - e,   lo - e, hush - a-bye   ba - by,



   I 1J e   I    I I _-     A

Danc - ing the  ba - by ev - er so high; with my



W I 0_- UQ-r a   Ad   

   La - e,  lo  -   e, hush- a-bye ba - by



.J _                     -_



Mam - ma will come to



you bye and bye.



  It was a battle with king colic. But this
ancient invader of the empire of babyhood had
sounded a precipitate retreat; the curly head
had fallen over on the paternal shoulder; the
tear-stained little face was almost calm in re-
pose, when down went a naked heel square on
an inverted tack. Over went the work table;
down came the work basket, scissors and all;
up went the heel with the tack sticking in it,
and the hero of the daffodils and pansies, with
a yell like the Indian war-whoop, and with his



is


 

16    "THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



A BATTLE WITH KING COLIC.



mother-hubbard now floating at half mast, hop-
ped in agony to a lounge in the rear.
There was "weeping and gnashing of teeth;"
there were hoarse mutterings; there was an
angry shake of the screaming baby, which he

 

"THF FIDDLE AND THEM BOW."



had awakened again. Then I heard an explo-
sion of wrath from the warm blankets of the
conjugal couch, eloquent with the music of "how
dare you shake my little baby that way!!!! I'll
tell pato-morrow!" which instantly brought the
trained husband into line again, singing:
"La-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye baby, dancing the baby ever so
    high,
With my la-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye baby, mamma will come to
    you bye and bye."

  The paregoric period of life is full of spoons
and midnight squalls, but what is home without
a baby
  The bow now brooded like a gentle spirit over
the violin, and the music eddied into a mournful
tone; another year intervened; a little coffin sat
by an empty cradle; the prints of baby fingers
were on the window panes; the toys were scat-
tered on the floor; the lullaby was hushed; the
sobs and cries, the mirth and mischief, and the
tireless little feet were no longer in the way to
vex and worry. Sunny curls drooped above
eyelids that were closed forever; two little
cheeks were bloodless and cold, and two little
dimpled hands were folded upon a motionless
breast, The vibrant instrumient sighed and



17

 
18     "THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."

wept; it rang the church bell's knell; and the
second story of life, which is the sequel to the
first, was told.
  Then I caught glimpses of a half-veiled par-
adise and a sweet breath from its flowers; I saw
the hazy stretches of its landscapes, beauti-
ful and gorgeous as Mahomet's vision of heaven;
I heard the faint swells of its distant music and
saw the flash of white wings that never weary,
wafting to the bosom of God an infant spirit;
a string snapped; the music ended; my vision
vanished.
  The old Master is dead, but his music will
live forever.


 
"THE FIDDLE AND THFE BOW."  



    CHERISH THE LITTLE ONES.

  Do you sometimes forget and wound the hearts
of your children with frowns and the dagger
of cruel words, and sometimes with a blow
Do you sometimes, in your own peevishness, and
your own meanness, wish yourself away from
their fretful cries and noisy sports Then think
that to-morrow may ripen the wicked wish; to-
morrow death may lay his hand upon a little
fluttering heart and it will be stilled forever.
'Tis then you will miss the sunbeam and the
sweet little flower that reflected heaven on the
soul. Then cherish the little ones! Be tender
with the babes! Make your homes beautiful!
All that remains to us of paradise lost, clings
about the home. Its purity, its innocence, its
virtue, are there, untainted by sin, unclouded
by guile. There woman shines, scarcely dim-
med by the fall, reflecting the loveliness of
Eden's first wife and mother; the grace, the
beauty, the sweetness of the wifely relation, the
tenderness of maternal affection, the gracious-



19

 
20    "THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



ness of manner w hich once charmed angel guests,
still glorify the home.
  If you would make your homes happy, you
must make the children happy. Get down on
the floor with your prattling boys and girls and
play horse with them; take them on your back
and gallop them to town; don't kick up and
buck, but be a good and gentle old steed, and
join in a hearty horse laugh in their merriment.
Take the baby on your knee and gallop him to
town; let him practice gymnastics on top of
your head and take your scalp; let him puncture
a hole in your ear with his little teeth, and bite
off the end of the paternal nose. Make your
homes beautiful with your duty and your love,
make them bright with your mirth and your
music.
  Victor Hugo said of Napoleon the Great: "The
frontiers of kingdoms oscillated on the map.
The sound of a super-human sword being
drawn from its scabbard could be heard; and he
was seen, opening in the thunder his two wings,
the Grand Army and the Old Guard; he was
the archangel of war." And when I read it I
thought of the death and terror that followed
wherever the shadow of the open wings fell. I

 
"THE FIDDLE AND ;rHE BOW."



thought of the blood that flowed, and the tears
that were shed wherever the sword gleamed in
his hand. I thought of the human skulls that
paved Napoleon's way to St. Helena's barren
rock, and I said, 'I would rather dwell in a log
cabin, in the beautiful land of the mountains
where I was born and reared, and sit at its
humble hearthstone at night, and in the fire-
light, play the humble rural tunes on the fiddle
to my happy children, and bask in the smiles of
my sweet wife, than to be the 'archangel of
war,' with my hands stained with human blood,
or tc make the 'frontiers of kingdoms oscillate
on the map of the world, and then, away from
home and kindred and country, die at last in
exile and in solitude.'



21


 

"THE: FIDDLE AND THE, BOW."



FAT MEN AND BALD-HEADED MEN.

  It ought to be the universal law that none
but fat men and bald-headed men should be the
heads of families, because they are always good
natured, contented and easily managed. There
is more music in a fat man's laugh than there is
in a thousand orchestras or brass bands. Fat
sides and bald heads are the symbols of music,
innocence, and meek submission. 0! ladies
listen to the words of wisdom! Cultivate the
society of fat men and bald-headed men, for "of
such is the Kingdom of Heaven." And the fat
women, God bless their old sober sides-they
are "things of beauty, and a joy forever."



22


 
THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



THE VIOLIN, THE POET LAUREATE
                OF MUSIC.


  How sweet are the lips of morning that kiss
the waking world! How sweet is the bosom of
night that pillows the world to rest. But
sweeter than the lips of morning, and sweeter
than the bosom of night, is the voice of music
that wakes a world of joys and soothes a world
of sorrows. It is like some unseen ethereal
ocean whose silver surf forever breaks in song,
forever breaks on valley, hill, and craig, in ten
thousand symphonies. There is a melody in
every sunbeam, a sunbeam in every melody; there
is a flower in every song, a love song in every
flower; there is a sonnet in every gurgling foun-
tain, a hymn in every brimming river, an anthem
in every rolling billow. Music and light are
twin angels of God, the first-born of heaven,
and mortal ear and mortal eye have canght only
the echo and the shadow of their celestial glo-
ries.



23

 
24      "THE FIDDLZ AND THE BOW."

  The violin is the poet laureate of music; violin
of the virtuoso and master, fiddle of the un-
tutored in the ideal art. It is the aristocrat of
the palace and the hall; it is the democrat of the
unpretentious home and humble cabin. As vio-
lin, it weaves its garlands of roses and camelias;
as fiddle it scatters its modest violets. It is ad-
mired by the cultured for its magnificent pow-
ers and wonderful creations; it is loved by the
millions for its simple melodies


 

"THF FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



   THE CONVICT AND HIS FIDDLE.

   One bright morning, just before Christmas
day, an official stood in the Executive chamber
in my presence as Governor of Tennessee, and
said: "Governor, I have been implored by a
poor miserable wretch in the penitentiary to
bring you this rude fiddle. It was made by his
own hands with a penknife during the hours
allotted to him for rest. It is absolutely value-
less, it is true, but it is his petition to you for
mercy. He begged me to say that he has neither
attorneys nor influential friends to plead for him;
that he is poor, and all he asks is, that when
the Governor shall sit at his own happy fireside
on Christmas eve, with his own happy children
around him, he will play one tune on this rough
fiddle and think of a cabin far away in the moun-
tains whose hearthstone is cold and desolate and
surrounded by a family of poor little wretched,
ragged children, crying for bread and waiting
and listening for the footsteps of their father."
  Who would not have been touched by such an



25

 
26     "THE FIDDLE AND THE, BOW."

appeal The record was examined; Christmas
eve came; the Governor sat that night at his
own happy fireside, surrounded by his own hap-
py children; and he played one tune to them on
that rough fiddle. The hearthstone of the cabin
in the mountains was bright and warm; a par-
doned prisoner sat with his baby on his knee,
surrounded by his rejoicing children, and in
the presence of his happy wife, and although
there was naught but poverty around him, his
heart sang: "Be it ever so humble, there's
no place like home;" and then he reached up and
snatched his fiddle down from the wall, and
played "Jordan is a hard road to travel."


 
"THe FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



A VISION OF THE OLD FIELD SCHOOL.

  Did you never hear a fiddler fiddle I have.
I heard a fiddler fiddle, and the hey-dey-dciddle
of his frolicking fiddle called back the happy days
of my boyhood. The old field schoolhouse with
its batten doors creaking on wooden hinges, its
windows innocent of glass, and its great, yawn-
ing fireplace, cracking and roaring and flaming
like the infernal regions, rose from the dust of
memory and stood once more among the trees.
The limpid spring bubbled and laughed at the
foot of the hill. Flocks of nimble, noisy boys
turned somersaults and skinned the cat and ran
and jumped half hammon on the old play ground.
The grim old teacher stood in the door; he had
no brazen-mouthed bell to ring then as we have
niow, but he shouted at the top of his voice:
"Come to books!!!" And they came. Not to
come meant "war and rumors of war." The
backless benches, high above the floor, groaned
under the weight of irrepressible young Amer-
ica; the multitude of mischievous, shining



27

 
28    "THZ FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



faces, the bare legs and feet, swinging to and
fro, and the mingled hum of happy voices, spell-
ing aloud life's first lessons, prophesied the fu-
ture glory of the State. The curriculum of the
old field school was the same everywhere-one
Webster's blue backed, elementary spelling
book, one thumb-paper, one stone-bruise, one
core toe, and Peter Parley's Travels.
  The grim old teacher, enthroned on his split
bottomed chair, looked terrible as an army with
banners; and he presided with a dignity and sol-
emnity which would have excited the envy of
the United States Supreme Court: I saw the
school commissioners visit him, and heard them
question him as to his system of teaching.
They asked him whether, in geography, he
taught that the world was round, or that the
world was flat. With great dignity he replied:
"That depends upon whar I'm teachin'. If my
patrons desire me to teach the round system, I
teach it; if they desire me to teach the flat sys-
tem, I teach that."
  At the old field school I saw the freshman
class, barefooted and with pantaloons rolled up
to the knees, stand in line under the ever uplift-
ed rod, and I heard them sing the never-to-be-

 
"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



forgotten b-a ba's. They sang them in the
olden times, and this is the way they sang:
"b-a ba, b-e be, b-i bi-ba be bi, b-o bo, b-u bu-
ba be bi bo bu. "
  I saw a sophomore dance a jig to the music of
a dogwood sprout for throwing paper wads. I
saw a junior compelled to stand on the dunce
block, on one foot-(a la gander) for winking at
his sweetheart in time of books, for failing to
know his lessons, and for "various and sundry
other high crimes and misdemeanors."
  A twist of the fiddler's bow brought a yell
from the fiddle, and in my dream, I saw the
school come pouring out into the open air.
Then followed the games of "prisoner's base,"
"town-ball," "Antney-over;" "bull-pen" and
"knucks," the hand to hand engagements with
yellow jackets, the Bunker Hill and Brandy-
wine battles with bumblebees, the charges on
flocks of geese, the storming of apple orchards
and hornet's nests, and victories over hostile
" setting " hens. Then I witnessed the old
field school "Exhibition"-the wonderful "ex-
hibition" -they call it Commencement now.
Did you never witness an old field school "ex-
hibition," far out in the country, and listen to



29

 

30      "THE FIDDrZ AND THE BOW."

its music If you have not your life is a failure
-you are a broken string in the harp of the
universe. The old field school "exhibition"
was the parade ground of the advance guard of
civilization; it was the climax of great events in
the olden times; and vast assemblies were swayed
by the eloquence of the budding sockless states-
men. It was at the old field school "exhibition"
that the goddess of liberty always received a
broken nose, and the poetic muse a black eye;
it was at the old field school "exhibition" that
Greece and Rome rose and fell, in seas of gore,
about every fifteen minutes in the day, and,
The American eagle, with unwearied flight,
Soared upward and upward, till he soared out of sight.
It was at the old field school "exhibition" that
the fiddle and the bow immortalized themselves.
When the frowning old teacher advanced on the
stage and nodded for silence, instantly there
was silence in the vast assembly; anrd when
the corps of country fiddlers, "one of which I
was often whom," seated on the stage, hoisted
the black flag, and rushed into the dreadful
charge on "Old Dan Tucker," or "Arkansas
Traveller," the spectacle was sublime. Their
heads swung time; their bodies rocked time;


 


"THZ FIDDLE AND TIM BOW."



MUSIC OF THE OLD FIELD SCHOOL EXHIBITION.



31

 

"THE VIDDLFE AND THE BOW."



their feet patted time; the muscles of their faces
twitched time; their eyes winked time; their
teeth ground time. The whizzing bows and
screaming fiddles electrified the audience who
cheered at every brilliant turn in the charge of
the fiddlers. The good women laughed for joy;
the men winked at each other and popped their
fists; it was like the charge of the Old Guard at
Waterloo, or a battle with a den of snakes.
Upon the completion of the grand overture of
the fiddlers the brilliant programme of the "ex-
hibition," which usually lasted all day, opened
with "Mary had a little lamb;" and it gathered
fury until it reached Patrick Henry's "Give me
liberty or give me death!!!"  The programme
was interspersed with compositions by the girls,
from the simple subject of "flowers," including
"blessings brighten as they take their flight,"
up to "every cloud has a silver lining;" and it
was interlarded with frequent tunes by the fid-
dlers from early morn till close of day.
  Did you never hear the juvenile orator of the
old field school speak He was not dressed like
a United States Senator; but he was dressed with
a view to disrobing for bed, and completing his
morning toilet instantly; both of which he per-



32


 


"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



THE1 OLD FIELD SCHOOL ORATOR.



33

 

"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



formed during the acts of ascending and de-
scending the stairs. His uniform was very
simple. It consisted of one pair of breeches
rolled up to the knees, with one patch on the
"'western hemisphere," one little shirt with one
button at the top, one "gallus," and- one inva-
lid straw hat. His straw hat stood guard over
his place on the bench, while he was delivering
his great speech at the "exhibition."  With
great dignity and eclat, the old teacher advanc-
ed on the stage and introduced him to the ex-
pectant audience, and he came forward like a
cyclone.
  "The boy stood on the burnin' deck whence
all but him had fled -The flames that lit the
battle's wreck shown 'round him o'er the dead,
yet beautiful and bright he stood the boy
stood on the burnin' deck and he wuz the
bravest boy that ever wuz. His father told him
to keep a-stan'in' there till he told him to git
off'n there, and the boy he jist kep' a stan'in'
there     and fast the flames rolled on
The old man went down stairs in the ship to see
about sump'n, an' he got killed down there, an'
the boy he didn't know it, an' he jist kept a
stan'in' there    an' fast the flames rolled on.



34

 

        "THFE FIDDIZ AND THE BOW."        35

He cried aloud: "say father, say, if yit my
task is done," but his father wuz dead an'
couldn't hear 'im, an' the boy he jist kep' a
stan'in' there    an' fast the flames rolled on.
      They caught like flag banners in the sky,
an' at last the ol' biler busted, an' the boy he
went up!!!!!!!!',
  At the close of this great speech the fiddle
fainted as dead as a herring.


 

36    "THE, FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



  THE QUILTING AND THE OLD VIR-
               GINIA REEL.

  The old fiddler took a fresh chew of long,
green tobacco, and rosined his bow. He glided
off into "Hop light ladies, your cake's all
dough," and then I heard the watch dog's hon-
est bark. I heard the guinea's merry "pot-
rack." I heard a cock crow. I heard the din
of happy voices in the "big house" and the sizz
and songs of boiling kettles in the kitchen.
It was an old time quilting-the May-day of the
glorious ginger cake and cider era of the Amer-
ican Republic; and the needle was mightier
than the sword. The pen of Jefferson announc-
ed to the world, the birth of the child of the
ages; the sword of Washington defended it in
its cradle, but it would have perished there had
it not been for the brave women of that day who
plied the needle and made the quilts that warm-
ed it, and who nursed it and rocked it through
the perils of its infancy, into the strength of a
giant. The quilt was attached to a quadrang-

 
"THF FIDDLE AND THE BOW."



ular frame suspended from the ceiling; and the
good women sat around it and quilted the live-
long day, and were courted by the swains be-
tween stitches. At sunset the quilt was al-
ways finished; a cat was thrown into the center
of it, and the happy maiden nearest to whom
the escaping "kitty-puss" passed was sure to
be the first to marry.
  Then followed the groaning supper table,
surrounded by giggling girls, bashful young
men and gossipy old matrons who monopolized
the conversation. There was a warm and ani-
mated discussion among the old ladies as to
what was the most delightful product of the
garden. One old lady said, that so "fur" as
she was "consarned," she preferred the "per-
turnip"-another preferred the "pertater"-
another the "cow-cumber," and still another
voted "ingern" king. But suddenly a wise
looking old dame raised her spectacles and set-
tled the whole question by observing: "Ah,
ladies, you may talk about yer per-turnips, and
your pertaters, and your passnips and other
gyardin sass, but the sweetest wedgetable that
ever melted on these ol' gums o' mine is the
'possum."



37

 
38    "THE FIDDLZ AND THE BOW."



  At length the feast was ended, the old folks
departed and the fun and frolic began in earnest
at the quilting. Old uncle "Ephraham" was
an old darkey in the neighborhood, distinguish-
ed for calling the figures for all the dances, for
miles and miles around. He was a tall, raw-
boned, angular old darkey with a very bald
head, and a great deal of white in his eyes.
He had thick, heavy lips and a very flat nose.
I will tell you a little story of uncle "Ephra-
ham." He lived alone in his cabin, as many of
the old time darkeys lived, and his'possum dog
lived with him. One evening old uncle "Eph-
rabam" came home from his labors and took his
'possum dog into the woods and soon caught a
fine, large, fat 'possum. He brought him home
and dressed him; and then he slipped into his
master's garden and stole some fine, large, fat
sweet potatoes-("Master's nigger, Master's
taters,") and he washed the potatoes and split
them and piled them in the oven around the
'possum. He set the oven on the red hot coals
and put the lid on, and covered it with red hot
coals, and then sat down in the corner and nod-
ded and breathed the sweet aroma of the baking
'possum, till it was done. Then he set it out

 
"THE FIDDLE AND THHE BOW."



into the middle of the floor, and took the lid off,
and sat down by the smoking 'possum and solil-
oquized: "Dat's de fines' job ob bakin' 'pos-
sum I evah has done in my life, but dat 'pos-
sum's too hot to eat yit. I believes I'll jis lay
down heah by 'im an' take a nap while he's
coolin', an' maybe I'll dream about eat'n 'im, an'
den I'll git up an'eat 'im, an' I'll git de good uv
dat 'possum boaf times dat-a-way." So he lay
down on the floor, and in a moment he was
sleeping as none but the old time darkey could
sleep, as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms.
Old Cye was another old darkey in the neigh-
borhood, prowling around. He poked his head
in at "Ephraham's" door ajar, and took in the
whole situation at a glance. Cye merely re-
marked to himself: "I loves 'possum myself."
And he slipped in on his tip-toes and picked up
the 'possum and ate him from tip to tail, and
piled the bones down by sleeping "Ephraham;"
he ate the sweet potatoes and piled the hulls
down by the bones; then he reached into the
oven and got his hand full of 'possum grease
and rubbed it on "Ephraham's" lips and cheeks
and chin, and then folded his tent and silently
stole away. At length "Ephraham" awoke-



39

 

40    "THE RIDDLE AND THE BOW."



"Sho' nuf, sho' nuf-jist as I expected; I
dreampt about eat'n dat 'possum an' it wuz de
sweetest dream I evah has had yit." He looked
around, but empty was the oven-"'possum
gone." "Sho'ly to de Lo'd," said "E