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- Colonel Carter of Cartersville - 1/23 -


COLONEL CARTER OF CARTERSVILLE

BY F. HOPKINSON SMITH

I dedicate this book to the memory of my counselor and my friend,--that most delightful of story-tellers, that most charming of comrades,--my dear old Mother; whose early life was spent near the shade of the Colonel's porch, and whose keen enjoyment of the stories between these covers--stories we have so often laughed over together--is still among my pleasantest recollections.

F. H. S.

New York, May, 1891.

CONTENTS AND LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"My fire is my friend."

I. THE COLONEL'S HOUSE IN BEDFORD PLACE.

The Street Entrance.

Chad "dishin' the Dinner."

"Gentlemen, a true Southern lady."

Fitz.

II. THE GARDEN SPOT OF VIRGINIA SEEKS AN OUTLET TO THE SEA.

"Chad was groaning under a square wicker basket."

"The little negroes around the door."

III. AN OLD FAMILY SERVANT.

"Who's that?"

The old Clock Tower.

Mister Grocerman.

IV. THE ARRIVAL OF A TRUE SOUTHERN LADY.

V. AN ALLUSION TO A YELLOW DOG.

The Colonel's Office.

The Advance Agent.

The Nervous Man.

VI. CERTAIN IMPORTANT LETTERS.

"Like an ebony Statue of Liberty."

VII. THE OUTCOME OF A COUNCIL OF WAR.

"Down a flight of stone steps."

VIII. A HIGH SENSE OF HONOR.

"Klutchem looked at him in perfect astonishment."

IX. A VISIT OF CEREMONY.

The Colonel's Door.

X. CHAD IN SEARCH OF A COAL-FIELD.

XI. CHAD ON HIS OWN CABIN FLOOR.

Polishing the Parlor Floor.

Henny.

Some Stray Pickaninnies.

XII. The ENGLISHMAN'S CHECK.

CHAPTER I

_The Colonel's House in Bedford Place_

The dinner was at the colonel's--an old-fashioned, partly furnished, two-story house nearly a century old which crouches down behind a larger and more modern dwelling fronting on Bedford Place within a stone's throw of the tall clock tower of Jefferson Market.

The street entrance to this curious abode is marked by a swinging wooden gate opening into a narrow tunnel which dodges under the front house. It is an uncanny sort of passageway, mouldy and wet from a long-neglected leak overhead, and is lighted at night by a rusty lantern with dingy glass sides.

On sunny days this gruesome tunnel frames from the street a delightful picture of a bit of the yard beyond, with the quaint colonial door and its three steps let down in a welcoming way.

Its retired location and shabby entrance brought it quite within the colonel's income, and as the rent was not payable in advance, and the landlord patient, he had surrounded himself not only with all the comforts but with many of the luxuries of a more pretentious home. In this he was assisted by his negro servant Chad,--an abbreviation of Nebuchadnezzar,--who was chambermaid, cook, butler, body-servant, and boots, and who by his marvelous tales of the magnificence of "de old fambly place in Caartersville" had established a credit among the shopkeepers on the avenue which would have been denied a much more solvent customer.

To this hospitable retreat I wended my way in obedience to one of the colonel's characteristic notes:--

No. 51 BEDFORD PLACE _Friday._

Everything is booming--Fitz says the scheme will take like the measles--dinner tomorrow at six--don't be late.

CARTER.

The colonel had written several similar notes that week,--I lived but a few streets away,--all on the spur of the moment, and all expressive of his varying moods and wants; the former suggested by his unbounded enthusiasm over his new railroad scheme, and the latter by such requests as these: "Will you lend me half a dozen napkins--mine are all in the wash, and I want enough to carry me over Sunday. Chad will bring, with your permission, the extra pair of andirons you spoke of." Or, "Kindly hand Chad the two magazines and a corkscrew."

[Illustration]

Of course Chad always tucked them under his arm, and carried them away, for nobody ever refused the colonel anything--nobody who loved him. As for himself, he would have been equally generous in return, and have emptied his house, and even his pocketbook, in my behalf, had that latter receptacle been capable of further effort. Should this have been temporarily overstrained,--and it generally was,--he would have promptly borrowed the amount of the nearest friend, and then have rubbed his hands and glowed all day with delight at being able to relieve my necessity.

"I am a Virginian, suh. Command me," was his way of putting it.

So to-night I pushed open the swinging door, felt my way along the dark passage, and crossed the small yard choked with snow at the precise minute when the two hands of the great clock in the tall tower pointed to six.

The door was opened by Chad.

"Walk right in, suh; de colonel's in de dinin'-room."

Chad was wrong. The colonel was at that moment finishing his toilet upstairs, in what he was pleased to call his "dressing-room," his cheery voice announcing that fact over the balusters as soon as he heard my own, coupled with the additional information that he would be down in five minutes.

What a cosy charming interior, this dining-room of the colonel's! It had once been two rooms, and two very small ones at that, divided by folding doors. From out the rear one there had opened a smaller room answering to the space occupied by the narrow hall and staircase in front. All the interior partitions and doors dividing these three rooms had been knocked away at some time in its history, leaving an L interior having two windows in front and three in the rear.

Some one of its former occupants, more luxurious than the others, had paneled the walls of this now irregular-shaped apartment with a dark wood running half way to the low ceiling badly smoked and blackened by time, and had built two fireplaces--an open wood fire which laughed at me from behind my own andirons, and an old-fashioned English grate set into the chimney with wide hobs--convenient and necessary for the various brews and mixtures for which the colonel was famous.

Midway, equally warmed by both fires, stood the table, its centre freshened by a great dish of celery white and crisp, with covers for three on a snow-white cloth resplendent in old India blue, while at each end shone a pair of silver coasters,--heirlooms from Carter Hall,--one holding a cut-glass decanter of Madeira, the other awaiting its customary bottle of claret.

On the hearth before the wood fire rested a pile of plates, also Indiablue, and on the mantel over the grate stood a row of bottles adapting themselves, like all good foreigners, to the rigors of our climate. Add a pair of silver candelabra with candles,--the colonel despised


Colonel Carter of Cartersville - 1/23

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