One day dis yer Dan tuk de noo mule out in de cotton-fiel' fer ter plough, en w'en dey wuz gwine 'long de tu'n-row, who sh'd he meet but dis yer Sally. The white people were almost revered by the narrator, saying that black people needed to worry less about being affluent, and more about them needing to learn trade skills so that they could get better jobs and get out of their own crap on their own. We had a piano in the house, on which my wife played with skill and feeling. En w'en he 'mence' ter tell 'bout de noo nigger, Mars Jeems prick' up 'is yeahs en listen', en eve'y now en den he'd say, 'Uh huh! Nobody didn' notice it at de time, but dat night, on de way home, de gemman's hoss runned away en kill' de coachman. Of course I had to build it. Here I is lent ter Mars Jeems dis mont', en I got ter do so-en-so; en ter Mars Archie de nex' mont', en I got ter do so-en-so; den I got ter go ter Miss Jinnie's: en hit's Sandy dis en Sandy dat, en Sandy yer en Sandy dere, tel it 'pears ter me I ain' got no home, ner no marster, ner no mistiss, ner no nuffin. Then we have Du Bois, who felt the problem was one for all to be concerned about, and while white people needed to quit being dicks, black people had their own part to play as well.
En den she 'mence' ter 'member little things w'at she hadn' tuk no notice of befo', en w'at 'u'd make it 'pear lack Jeff had sump'n on his min'. Mars Jim was stan'in' in front er Sandy Campbell's bar-room, up by de ole wagon-ya'd, w'en a po' w'ite man fum down on de Wim'l'ton Road come up ter 'im en ax' 'im, kinder keerless lack, ef he didn' wanter buy a mule. We'll let her stand for a while, and see what she does. Enamored by remnants of the plantation world, John portrays the South in largely idealistic terms. En de mo' Hannibal studied 'bout it de mo' madder he got,'tel he fin'lly swo' he wuz gwine ter git eben wid Jeff en Chloe, ef it wuz de las' ac'. She became the victim of a settled melancholy, attended with vague forebodings of impending misfortune. The wooden shutter, which had once protected the unglazed window, had fallen from its hinges, and lay rotting in the rank grass and jimson-weeds beneath.
Chesnutt's short story illustrates that romanticizing the plantation home goes back at least as far as the nineteenth century—indeed, for as long as romance writers have used the Old South as a setting for their books and entertained readers with their sentimentalized portrayal of that place and time. De nex' day atter he come back, he tol' de han's dey neenter wuk on'y fum sun ter sun, en he cut dey tasks down so dey didn' nobody hate ter stan' ober 'em wid a rawhide er a hick'ry. I lives des ober yander, behine de nex' san'-hill, on de Lumberton plank-road. Any doubt in my mind as to whose they were was soon resolved when Julius reached the steps and, putting the umbrella down, got a good dash of the rain as he stepped up on the porch. Henry nebber say nuffin 'bout de goopher ter his noo marsters, 'caze he know he gwine ter be tuk good keer uv de nex' winter, w'en Mars Dugal' buy him back. But ole mis' hadn' got ober losin' dem bulbs yit, en she neber said a wo'd.
Den he 'vise Mars Dugal' fer ter trim de vimes close't, en Mars Dugal' tuck 'n done eve'ything de Yankee tole him ter do. En sometimes, w'en night would come, de niggers useter heah him howlin' en howlin' down dere, des fittin' ter break his hea't. You take dis home, en gin it ter de cook, ef you kin trus' her, en tell her fer ter put it in yo' marster's soup de fus' cloudy day he hab okra soup fer dinnah. Tenie had got de night sot fer her en Sandy ter run away, w'en dat ve'y day one er Mars Marrabo's sons rid up ter de big house in his buggy, en say his wife wuz monst'us sick, en he want his mammy ter len' 'im a 'oman fer ter nuss his wife. But de niggers all notice' dey marster didn' tie Primus up, ner take on much 'ca'se de mule wuz gone.
On June 20, 1858, Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born to Andrew Jackson Chesnutt and Anna Maria Sampson, free African Americans living in Cleveland, Ohio. When de vimes fresh' up a bit, Henry'd git peart ag'in, en when de vimes wither' ag'in, Henry'd git ole ag'in, en des kep' gittin' mo' en mo' fitten fer nufffin; he des pined away, en pined away, en fine'ly tuk ter his cabin; en when de big vime whar he got de sap ter 'n'int his head withered en turned yaller en died, Henry died too, - des went out sorter like a cannel. Fer Aun' Nancy's ole missis 'lowed he wuz a lackly little nigger en wu'th raisin'. W'en she did, she crep' up ter de house des ez pale ez a ghos'. We approached him at an angle from the rear, and were close to him before he perceived us.
En ef you manages ter 'scape de p'isen animals, you is des boun' ter hab a ha'nt ter settle wid, - ef you doan hab two. I believe, however, that the wages I paid him for his services as coachman, for I gave him employment in that capacity, were more than an equivalent for anything he lost by the sale of the vineyard. I knew that her affections were strong and enduring, but that her temperament was capricious, and her sunniest moods easily overcast by some small cloud of jealousy or pique. As a slave, he is considered property, and can be bought and sold whenever his owners see fit. I ain' skeered ter eat de grapes, 'caze I knows de old vimes fum de noo ones; but wid strangers dey ain' no tellin' w'at mought happen. Ez I wuz a-sayin', 'Dolphus lef' de mule stan'in' in de ya'd, en went inter de smoke-house fer ter git de beef.
Den he run down ter ole Aun' Peggy, but she didn' know de wolf langwidge, en couldn't 'a' tuk off dis yuther goopher nohow, eben ef she'd 'a' unnerstood w'at Dan wuz sayin'. So one night I cotch' 'im down by de swamp on his way ter a candy-pullin', en I th'owed a goopher mixtry on 'im, en turnt 'im ter a mule, en got a po' w'ite man ter sell de mule, en we 'vided de money. So to grasp the total process of redistribution of matter and motion as to see simultaneously its several necessary results in their actual interdependence is scarcely possible. The conjure man engages a poor white to sell the mule to Jim McGee and it does several strange things on the plantation - eating tobacco, getting drunk on wine, and attacking the new lover of Primus's sweetheart Sally. Mars Dugal' had all de dirt dug away fum under de roots er all de scuppernon' vimes, an' let 'em stan' dat away fer a week er mo'.
Hannibal sta'ted in de house soon in de mawnin' wid a armful er wood ter make a fire, en he hadn' mo' d'n got 'cross de do'-sill befo' his feet begun ter bu'n so dat he drap'de armful er wood on de flo' en woke ole mis' up a' hour sooner 'n yushal, en co'se ole mis' didn' lack dat, en spoke sha'p erbout it. En so Tenie tuk 'im down by de aidge er de swamp, not fur fum de quarters, en turnt 'im inter a big pine-tree, en sot 'im out 'mongs' some yuther trees. But she wanted ter turn 'im back long ernuff fer ter 'splain ter 'im dat she hadn' went off a-purpose, en lef' 'im ter be chop' down en sawed up. In 1928, Charles Chesnutt was awarded the Springarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in recognition of his literary achievements. Henry done good wuk all de summer, but sence de fall set in he 'pears ter be sorter pinin' away. Becky goes to Aunt Peggy on her return, and Aunt Peggy removes the conjure.
But dey ha' ter be monst'us keerful, er e'se somebody would 'a' seed 'em, en dat would 'a' spile' de whole thing; so Tenie alluz turns Sandy back in de mawnin' early, befo' anybody wuz a-stirrin'. Of course I had to build it. When we reached the mill, the foreman had gone over to a neighboring farmhouse, probably to smoke or gossip, and we were compelled to await his return before we could transact our business. But de mos' cur'ouses' thing happen' in de fall, when de sap begin ter go down in de grapevimes. He didn' mix' wid ner talk much ter de res' er de niggers, en couldn' 'peer ter git it th'oo his min' dat he wuz a slabe en had ter wuk en min' de w'ite folks, spite er de fac' dat Ole Nick gun 'im a lesson eve'y day. But she wanted ter turn 'im back long ernuff fer ter 'splain ter 'im dat she had n' went off a-purpose, en lef 'im ter be chop' down en sawed up. Aun' Peggy had sont a sparrer, w'at had a nes' in one er de trees close ter her cabin, fer ter watch w'at wuz gwine on 'roun' de big house, en w'en dis yer sparrer tol' 'er de hoss wuz gittin' ober de swellin', she sont de hawnet back fer ter sting 'is knees some mo', en de nex' mawnin' Lightnin' Bug's laigs wuz swoll' up wuss'n befo'.
En w'en she seed Jeff jump up en run to'ds dat 'oman, en th'ow his a'ms roun' her neck, po' Chloe didn' stop ter see no mo', but des tu'nt roun' en run up ter de house, en rush' up on de piazzer, en up en tol' Mars' Dugal' en ole mis' all 'bout de baby doll, en all 'bout Jeff gittin' de goopher fum Aun' Peggy, en 'bout w'at de goopher had done ter Hannibal. En I dunno how it come to be so, but he happen fer ter hit on de ve'y tree w'at Sandy wuz turns inter. He turned out to be very trifling, and I was much annoyed by his laziness, his carelessness, and his apparent lack of any sense of responsibility. De darkies notice' dat de fus' thing de new mule done, w'en he was turnt inter de pastur', wuz ter make fer de terbacker-patch. Upon Annie's complaining of weariness I led the way back to the yard, where a pine log, lying under a spreading elm, afforded a shady though somewhat hard seat. He tu'nt out ter be a sma't man, en l'arnt de blacksmif trade; en Kunnel Pen'leton let 'im hire his time. It is really interesting that even though slavery was abolished, he still had a menial job working for a rich white couple but this time he used his intellect to convince or some might say trick the couple to not take down the schoolhouse.