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The Story Of A Hoe Cake

The Story Of A Hoe Cake image
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They were all sitting on the wide gallery steps the other evening between sunset and dark. There were firetties shiniig like stars already among the orange trees and oleander bushes, and the soft wind that blew up from the south was s weet wiih the smell oí' roses and jassamines. 1 could see the little group from where I sat, and hear their voices in the hush of the closing day. Jin, the little nurse, very black, very woolly-headed, and very wise-looking, sat on the upper step, vvith Alfred's fair.plump little arms clasped abouther neck as he nestled in her lap. Dan, the six-yea:-old, leaned against her knee, on one side, and Maggie, round-eyed and chubby, cuddled close to the other. ÍShe had been singing one of these uaint little melodies, which the black aammy in the South chants over her iusky baby. It ran in this f ashion : "Snaky baked a hoe-cake, Set a f rog ter mind it, Froggy got ter noddin', Lizzard carne an' stole it: O, bring back my hoe-cake, yer long-tailed Nanny!" "Novf, Jin," 1 heard Dan say, in a coaxing tone, after a little silence, 'please teil us a story." "P'ease, D'sin a 'tory," lisped Al f red, ike a faithful little echo. "G'long, chillun!" cried Jin. "Did not I done tole you 'bout de Glass Sliper - an' dem angels whar stan' at de ed-poses ebry night - an' de lioss "vid wings dat dey cotch in a pig pen, whar 1 heerd Miss" M-ay read 'bout tother night -an'- O, g'long, chillun, I don't nuffin mo'!" "Pitase, Jin," coaxed Maggie. "Please D sin." "Well, den, if you mus', I'll teil you de true tale 'bout dat song whar rnammy larnt from a Virginny nigger, an' I knows de tale is true, kase I made it myself an' I were dar !" And here is the story I heard Jin teil, while the little folks listened in grave delight : "Well, one time ole Mis Snaky she buil' up a lire onto de harf in de kitchen, an she took up a f ryin'-pan an' run a-ter dem little snakesses, like mammy a-ter me n' Jin n' Ephrum, an' she say : 'Git out'n here, dis minnit, y er lazy, good-for-nothm' frazles. I'se gwïne ter make a hoe-cake, I is.' An' iem young snakeses runned onder de bed, an' in de grass like, an' ole Mis' Snaky she tuk de meal, an' de salt, an' de cracklins. an' de bilin' water, jes like mammy do down yonder to de cabin, an' she pat de hoe-cake wid her han', jes so (here Jin tossed Alfred's round little cheeks between her hands.) an' lef' de print of her flngers on de pone, an' den she dab it onto de shebbel, whar she done het in de ashes, an' bake it on one side, den she turn it ober - " "Didn't she brush Qff the ashes, Jin 't" asked Maggie. "Ashes, D'sin?" 'Brush off de ashes! Why, chillun, don't you know a hoe-cake ain't fitten to eat lessen it got de ashes all on it! Wel!, den, ole Mis' Snaky she shuck her f ryin'-pan at dem young snakeses.whar all had dfcy flnger in dey mouf, an' she say : 'Now, you all ain't gwine ter git none o' dis hoe-cake, kase yer pappy gwine to come home hungry from de cotton-patch.' So's she cali up a nice young frog whar live in a puddle 'long side o' de cayage house, an' she sot hin down for to watch dat hoe-cake twel she come back. Den she dress hersel up, jes like mammy do, an' flanee her sef down to de baptisin' at de bayou. "liimeby, dat Irog he git powerfu sleepy. He slap hissef an' scratch he head, jes so (here Jin slapped her own shouiders and touseled up Dan's au buril eurls.) But 'twaint no use. He nod wusser n' Uncle Jake a-ter hebeen possum-huntin ! " 'Bout dat time here come along Mis Lizard, dress up jes like dat house-gal Marthy Ann, whar thinks herself so smart, an' whar yer ma gwine to 'smis; some o' dese days, carryin' a pay-so ober her head an' switchin' her tail.lik as if she's white folks! Mis' Lizard sh look all aroun' an' she say to hersef low like : 'Ki, I smell hoe-cake, I does Ef old Mis' Snaky wa'nt so f uil of ebo I'd ax her to give me some.' Den she spy de hoe-cake on de shebbel an' sh come in an' grab it, jes so (here Jii clutched Maggie by the shoulder, and Maggie shivered with delighted ter ror.) "Den, laws, honey, how she fly Well, 'zactly dat minnit, ole Mis' Snaky she come home from de baptisin', sing ing Mes from de fountain,' jes lik mammy do, an' bringin' Brudder Vane 'long wid her to git some o' dat hoe cake. When she see Marthy Ann Liz zard dustin' off wid dat hoe-cake, sh scream a-ter her loud es she could 'Bring back dat hoe-cake, yer long tail Nanny!' An' she so mad an 'spinted 'twell she shake hersef all obe an' f all down in a fit. Dat's all. An' knows it, kase I were dar!" "And what did the little snakeses pappy do for his supper when he com home from the cotton-patch, Jin ?" in quired Dan, anxiously. "Supper, D'sin ?" said Alf red. "Now, g'long, chillun! How in nam o' sense is I gwine ter git dis chile te sleep, ef yer keeps on axin' yer foolisl questions. Jes yer keep still now, gwine ter sing ter de baby." And, as the stars came out, Jin san in a low, plaintive voice, and the littl ones, even the baby, chimed softly in : "I'm jes from de fountain dat nebber run dry."


Old News
Michigan Argus