The Project Gutenberg eBook of Hazel

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Title: Hazel

Author: Mary White Ovington

Illustrator: Harry Roseland

Release date: May 8, 2022 [eBook #68017]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Crisis Publishing Company, 1913

Credits: David E. Brown and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (The New York Public Library's Digital Collections)






26 Vesey Street

Copyright, 1913

Robert N. Wood,

202 East Ninety-ninth Street, New York

E. D. M.



When I was a little girl, my favorite books dealt with children whose lives were like my own. I smudged with many readings the pages that told of Susy and Prudy and Dotty in Portland, of their visits to the country, of their every-day happenings. Their adventures were far dearer to me than those of foreign lads and lasses and richly clad little princesses whose ways were not as my ways.

I have thought for some time that the colored children in the United States might also like to have their intimate books telling of happenings that were like their own. They must be tired of reading always of far-away children. So, out of my years of experience among these soft-eyed, velvet-cheeked small friends, I have written this story.

I have purposely avoided dialect. Correct English spelling is difficult enough to young readers without superimposing other forms for[vi] the not too-familiar words. I have, however, tried to give the turn of expression in the southern speech.

I hope my colored child friends will smudge my pages. And if the white child stops to read, I trust that she will feel an awakened sympathy for the dark-faced boys and girls whose world is outside her own.

M. W. O.

Brooklyn, N. Y.,
    September 15, 1913.


I. The Queen of Sheba 7
II. Health and a Day 20
III. Leave Taking 30
IV. The Journey 41
V. Granny 54
VI. Letters 67
VII. That Old Time Religion 74
VIII. Brother and Sister 84
IX. Lost 98
X. Spring 114
XI. Choosing a Birthday 125
XII. Good-Bye 139
XIII. Home 153




It was raining, and Hazel Tyler had not been allowed to go out all day. As she sat looking out of her window into the narrow Boston street she would have made a pretty picture but for the woe-begone expression on her brown face. Her hair was soft and curly, her eyes dark and clear, her mouth full, but delicate. Usually it was happy in expression; but this afternoon it drooped at the corners. Four o’clock! Two hours more before supper. Oh, this stupid, stupid Saturday!

She got up and walked from the tiny parlor, where she had been sitting, into a tiny bedroom where a large baby doll lay on the bed she and her mother shared. Hazel took the doll[8] up, shook it severely, and put it down again. She was growing to care very little for dolls; they were not warm and dimpled and you had to do all the talking for them. She left the tiny bedroom and stepped into a tiny kitchen thus making the tour of the apartment.

“Mother,” she said to a slender woman who stood at an ironing-board, “may I go around and play with the McGinnis’s baby? It’s such a little way.”

Mrs. Tyler looked up. Her face like Hazel’s was gentle and delicate, but the features were finer and the skin lighter in shade. She was ironing an elaborate pink tea gown, and she seemed ill-fitted for such taxing work.

“No, Hazel,” she replied. “I’ve told you that you can’t go out in the rain while you have a cold. There is no use in teasing.”

Hazel knew this to be true, and for a time was silent, watching her mother. She ran her slender finger along the tucks of the pink gown.

“What pretty clothes Mrs. Hollingsworth always has,” she said. “I wish I could have[9] something pretty. I’ve nothing to wear but this blue serge.”

Hazel’s mother looked at her a second and the child felt abashed. She knew very well that since her father’s death—her dear, dear father—her mother had had to support them both, and how hard she had worked at whatever would bring in money—at sewing, hairdressing, and even this tiring laundry. She knew, too, that when the rent was paid, and the grocer’s and butcher’s bills settled, the little money left went first to her and her wants. Why, only last week she had had pretty hair ribbons; and her mother’s black dress was growing shabby. She bent over and kissed the hand that was patting the pink wrapper into place.

“I’ll go into the parlor and make my picture-puzzle,” she said.

“That’s right, dear,” Mrs. Tyler answered.

The little girl worked for a time at the elaborate puzzle spread out on the parlor table; but its green trees were perplexing, and she soon returned to the kitchen to find the pink[10] dress finished and on the top of a pile of speckless linen in the laundry basket. Her mother stood with hat and coat on.

“I’m going to run out to make sure that John comes to-night to get the clothes,” Mrs. Tyler said. “Now, don’t look so woe-begone, dear. I’ll cook waffles for supper, and we’ll have the maple syrup that Mrs. Brown brought us from the country.”

Hazel’s face brightened. “May we eat off the pretty china?” she asked.

“Yes, you may set the table with it when I get back.” And Mrs. Tyler went out into the narrow hall, down the dark stairs and into the narrow street.

She could hardly have reached the corner when Hazel heard a knock at the door, and opened it to a little black girl who at once stepped gaily into the room.

“Where you been all day, Hazel?” she asked.

She was a jolly little girl of ten, a year younger than Hazel, with plump arms and legs and a sturdy body. Her crinkly hair was tied with a bright red ribbon, and she wore a gay bandanna[11] about her neck. Her black eyes shone with good will.

“How do you do, Charity?” Hazel said, a little hesitatingly.

She liked this new neighbor and had played with her the rare afternoons that she had been allowed on the street; but she knew her mother scarcely approved of Charity. But then her mother did not approve of any of the girls and boys on Hammond Street and one must play with some one.

“Your mother’s out,” said Charity. “I know, for I saw her go. Where you been all day, Hazel?”

“Here at home,” Hazel answered. “I’ve got a sore throat, and I’m not allowed to go out, and there’s nothing to do in this poky place.”

“Let’s play,” said Charity, “you shut your eyes and I’ll hide.”

“Pooh,” Hazel replied contemptuously, “you know, Charity, there isn’t a single place here big enough for a cat to hide in.”

“Well, let’s, let’s,” Charity looked about for[12] inspiration, and her glance fell on the doll in the adjoining room, “let’s play house.”

“No, you would just beat the baby. Let’s play a new game, something brand new that we never played before.”

Charity began jumping about on one foot, and on into the little parlor, but she had no suggestion to offer. Hazel followed her and as her eye fell on the family Bible, her face lighted with excitement.

“I know,” she declared, “let’s play a Bible game. Let’s act a Bible story the way we act history at school.”

Charity stood on her two feet. “George Washington?” she asked.

“No, not George Washington, but like that. A Bible story. We can’t be Joseph and his Brethren,” Hazel went on musing, “there’re too many of them. I don’t like Jacob—”

“I’ll be King Solomon,” Charity exclaimed quite suddenly.

She sat in the arm chair and held herself erect. Taking her bandanna she wreathed it in a turban about her head.

[13]“That’s splendid, Charity,” Hazel said heartily. “That’s your crown and you’re sitting on your throne. Now who shall I be?”

“You? Why, of course, you’ll be the Queen of Sheba.”

Hazel laughed gleefully. “I’ll be a real queen, won’t I? What’ll I do, Charity?” Her friend’s knowledge of Bible history was evidently greater than her own.

“You ask me questions,” Charity explained, “all sorts of questions, and I answer them.”

“But what do I wear?”

“Let me recollect.” Charity shut her eyes to think the harder. “The Queen of Sheba she come to Jerusalem, with, with a very great train. You must wear a train, Hazel.”

“There isn’t a thing with a train here,” Hazel replied mournfully.

Looking into the kitchen her eyes fell upon the laundry basket with the pink dress on top. “I could borrow Mrs. Hollingsworth’s tea gown,” she said.

Now Charity might make slips in grammar[14] and slap unoffending dolls, but the laundry was sacred to her. Once the pile of muslin was ironed and placed in the basket it was not to be tampered with.

“You daren’t,” she said.

Hazel walked into the other room, took the pink wrapper and slowly put it on. Her heart beat fast and her fingers trembled, but she fastened the dress at the throat and held it up about her. Entering the parlor she went to the chair in which King Solomon sat, and bowed low, dropping the pink dress so that it trailed upon the floor. Then she looked up into the king’s dark face.

“Isn’t this a royal great train?” she said softly.

King Solomon nodded. He was saying to himself, “You bet, my mother needn’t say she’s such a good little girl again!”

The Queen of Sheba bowed once more. “What do I do next, Charity?”

“You ask me questions.”

“I can’t think of any;” and the queen, like Alice in Through the Looking Glass, courtesied[15] again to help her think. “What did I have for dinner?” she said at last.

“Myrrh and mint and jasper and honey and the honeycomb.”

The queen looked up in admiration. “That’s a beautiful answer; how did you think of all those things? But is jasper something to eat?”

King Solomon did not regard the question. “Ask me something else?” he demanded.

“What—what—what did I have for breakfast?”

The king stuck out his tongue derisively. “Can’t you think of a single thing, Hazel Tyler, but food?”

Hazel felt her lack of originality. “Have you had pleasant weather this past week in Jerusalem?” she asked politely.

“It has rained,” replied King Solomon, “for forty days and nights; and great was the fall thereof.”

The king’s answers were so much more impressive than the queen’s questions that Hazel sought for first place.

[16]“Now I shall dance before the king,” she said, and began slowly advancing and receding before King Solomon’s throne, holding up the pink dress as she moved. She looked very pretty and graceful as she made her low courtesies and King Solomon’s eyes gleamed approbation.

“If you like a me, as I like a you,” he began to sing and the Queen of Sheba stepped in a little livelier fashion toward the kitchen door. “’Cause I love you,” he went on, and the little queen danced before him over the door-sill and into the kitchen where she struck against the table and fell in a heap upon the floor.

The singing stopped. Charity stooped to where Hazel sat, a frightened heap. She examined the pink gown. It had a black smudge on the back.

“Have to be done all over again,” said Charity briefly.

Hazel rose and took the dress off. Her lip quivered.

“I’d best go home,” said Charity. “There[17] ain’t nothing I can do. Oh, Hazel won’t you catch it!”

“My mother never whips me,” said Hazel sharply.

“She ain’t like mine,” said Charity.

The bandanna was off King Solomon’s head and he crept out of the door and down the stairs to his home.

The Queen of Sheba sat on the kitchen chair with the soiled dress on her lap. Like the queen of old, “there was no more spirit in her.” She remained quite still two, three, five minutes. Then she heard her mother knock.

She opened the door, the dress in her hand, and showed the spot without speaking.

“How did it happen?” Mrs. Tyler asked.

“I was playing with Charity. It wasn’t her fault,” hastily, “she told me not to touch it, but I was the Queen of Sheba and I wanted a train. Will it have to be done all over, Mother? Charity said it would have to be done all over.”

“Yes, it will,” said Mrs. Tyler, and turned to the tub where she began to draw water.

[18]“You must go to bed, Hazel,” she said sternly. “Later I will bring you a supper of bread and milk.”

As the little girl lay in bed, she could hear her mother rub, rubbing the dress against the wash-board. Then that sound ceased, and the door of the refrigerator was opened and shut. She silently ate the bread and milk brought her. No jolly time together at the table over the waffles and maple syrup and the pretty flowered plates! She heard her mother’s tired footsteps moving from ironing-board to stove and back to ironing-board, and she noted the click of the iron as it fell upon the metal holder. She could almost count each movement up and down the waist and the long skirt.

At length John came. He was kept waiting a few minutes. Then the basket was handed him, the outer door closed, and the long day’s work was done.

Hazel stole out of bed into the kitchen where her mother sat. She put her arms about her neck and kissed her again and again.

[19]“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

Her mother kissed back and held her close.

“It does seem, Mother dear,” Hazel said at length, “as though, ever since we came to this place, I couldn’t have the least bit of fun without making such a lot of trouble.”



The sky was washed the clear blue of late November the next morning, and Hazel could count the few little white clouds floating on it as she walked to church. The cold, fresh air quickened her blood and made her want to skip and dance, but she stayed demurely at her mother’s side. They soon left their dingy street and turned into a well-to-do neighborhood where white people lived, and then went on with the white people into a large church. The usher nodded pleasantly to them, and they took a pew to the left, half way up the aisle. Here they sat in silence while the organ played its solemn, spiritual music.

As she listened to the music the anxious look, that was usually present, left Mrs. Tyler’s face. This was her dear and holy place where her mother and her mother’s mother had worshipped.[21] As a little girl she had known its first minister—the noble, courageous citizen who had never failed to plead for the freedom of the slave. After her marriage with her southern husband she had gone a few times to listen to the big-hearted oratory at the colored church; but the service there did not touch her spirit, and she and her husband had agreed on Sunday mornings to worship in different places the same Heavenly Father. Hazel had always accompanied her mother, and she was quite at home among the white people. More than one greeted her with a smile.

“My heart is resting, oh, my God,
My heart is in Thy care,”

sang the congregation.

Hazel loved this hymn. She joined in the singing with her clear child’s voice. She always loved the hymns, and she even loved the sermon, for was not the minister her dear friend? When the sermon was finished there was the five cents to be dropped into the contribution plate, and there was the beautiful benediction[22] at the end of the service asking that the peace of God abide in her heart. “Amen,” sang the choir, and the organ pealed that the service was over.

“How do you do, Hazel?” the lady behind her asked. “She seems a little peaked, doesn’t she?” addressing the mother.

The anxious look returned to Mrs. Tyler’s face. “She hasn’t been very well,” she answered.

“Keep her in the fresh air as much as you can, though I know that that is difficult to do in cold weather.”

“How do you do, Hazel?” “How do you do, Mrs. Tyler?” came from many sides as the two walked from the church into the street.

Their Sunday dinner was to be eaten with their old friends, the Perkins, who lived in Jamaica Plains. As their car stopped, Hazel fairly raced down the street where she had spent her life until her father’s death, and turned up the steps of a pleasant cottage, and almost into the arms of a big, smiling black man. He carried her off at once, leaving Mrs.[23] Tyler to be ministered to by his young, bright-faced wife. The two visitors were evidently at home.

The dinner was a lavish one, beginning with turkey and ending with ice-cream. Mr. Perkins heaped Hazel’s plate, urging her to eat. But though these were her favorite dishes her appetite was small. He encouraged her to tell him of her doings, of how well she ranked at school. “Right at the top, Hazel; you know you are going to college.” He asked how she liked the new story he had given her, “The Jungle Book.” After dinner was over he took her to his study across the hall from the parlor where the two women sat.

“How Henry loves children,” Mrs. Tyler said to her friend. Mrs. Perkins nodded. Behind where she sat, was the picture of the only child born to her and her husband, the child whom they had lost five years ago. She knew how his hungry heart went out to this little girl.

Mrs. Tyler faced the picture. She had loved the child and mothered her. A lump rose in her throat.

[24]“Sarah,” she said, laying her hand on her friend’s arm, “I’ve got to talk with you about Hazel. I’m worried, I’m worried.”

“Hazel, why hasn’t she been well?”

“No, all this autumn she has seemed so delicate. She takes cold easily and she doesn’t throw it off. I fear the long winter for her.”

“I wish you hadn’t left Jamaica Plains.”

“I had to. I mustn’t spend the little money left me. I must work and save. Hazel will need more every year. But I don’t want to save just for doctor’s bills. Sometimes, Sarah, she frightens me. She looks as her father looked——”

Mrs. Tyler stopped. She could not yet speak of her husband’s long illness and of the blank left by his death.

“I’m not saying this just to complain,” she went on after a moment. “I’ve a wild idea that I can’t keep out of my head.”

“What is it, Lucy?”

“It’s to send Hazel for the winter to her grandmother Tyler’s.”

[25]“To Alabama? Oh, Lucy, how could you! It’s so far away.”

“I know, but it’s a home in a beautiful place where she could be out-of-doors all day long. My husband used to tell me about the good times he had as a boy among the pines with plenty of space around him. He, like Hazel, would have hated to have been shut up in three rooms.”

“But it’s in the South,” Mrs. Perkins said earnestly. “We don’t know the South, Lucy, but I fear it with its jim-crow cars and its lynchings.”

“Don’t,” gasped Mrs. Tyler. Then, after a little, she laughed. “There are thousands and tens of thousands of colored children who grow up there in safety. Hazel will be under good care. Her grandmother will have more time to give to her than I.”

“Has she written for Hazel?”

“Not recently, but I know she would welcome her. She is alone just now, but she is always mothering some child. She will love Hazel, for Hazel is like her father in many ways.[26] Perhaps living with her grandmother, she will learn to be still more like him. I cannot bear the thought of having her leave me, but I know that if she goes she will be in good hands.”

A tremendous noise issued from the room across the hall, and Hazel popped out her head to call, “He’s Shere Khan, a tiger of the jungle, and I’m Mowgli.”

“Come here and let me eat you, Little Frog,” called out the tiger, and made a hideous sound between a snarl and roar.

“It’s Sunday, Henry. Don’t make so much noise,” said his wife.

“Don’t make so much noise, Shere Khan,” said Mowgli, and fearlessly shut herself up with the tiger in the jungle.

Through the door the two women heard the little girl cough.

“How could you get the child South?” Mrs. Perkins asked.


[27]“Why, oddly enough, one of my neighbors, Mrs. Graham, is going South in two or three weeks. She lives at Montgomery, only a couple of hours by train from Mother Tyler’s home. She is a kindly, sensible soul whom Hazel likes. I can trust the child with her. I dread it, Sarah,” and Mrs. Tyler clasped her hands tightly together, “I dread it inexpressibly, but I dread her staying here more.”

“Couldn’t you go with her?”

“That would be impossible. What could I do there to earn money? I must stay at home and work. I’ve plans for building up a good business. I feel sure that I can, but it will take time. Perhaps I shall succeed more quickly if I put all my energy into my work. And then Hazel will return in the spring, for it wouldn’t be good for her to stay through a southern summer. If I am busy every minute I’m hoping that the time won’t seem so long. It will pass quickly if I hear that Hazel gains in health.”

“Who’s talking about health?” asked Mr. Perkins, as he came out of his room with Hazel at his side.

“I am,” replied Mrs. Tyler.

“You remember Emerson: ‘Give me health and a day and I will make the pomp of emperors[28] ridiculous.’ Lucy, may I take this young lady out for a walk?”

“Surely, Henry.”

Hazel put on her hat and coat and raced off with her boon companion.

“She will need a warmer coat,” Mrs. Tyler said, and her brow puckered. “If she stays here she must have warm clothes and even then I shall have sometimes to keep her indoors. She was restless yesterday and naughty, and that isn’t like Hazel. Health. That is more than anything else in the world, isn’t it? What shall I do, Sarah?”

Her friend had risen and was looking at the picture of her little child.

“I can only say this Lucy,” she at length answered. “You will never cease to reproach yourself if anything happens and you haven’t done everything possible for Hazel. If a winter in the South will mean health for her, then if she is ill you will always regret that you did not send her away.”

“People are ill in the South,” said Mrs. Tyler, wanting to contradict the advice she sought.

[29]“Of course. But you will have done all you could.”

Mrs. Tyler looked hard at the floor, for a minute. When she raised her eyes to her friend’s they were full of tears.

“It won’t really be living while she’s away,” she said; “but I’ll write to mother Tyler to-night.”



When Hazel first learned that she was to go away from her mother, she cried bitterly. But as the preparations for her departure began, she regained her spirits. Who could grieve for long in the midst of such excitement?

In the first place, there was the new trunk, very small and shining.

“Look at it, Charity,” she said, the afternoon it came home “See my initials on the side, H. T. That stands for Hazel Tyler.”

Charity looked, and envy entered her heart. When she visited her granny in Virginia her clothes were stuffed into a shabby, collapsible bag.

“Folks ’ll think you stuck up,” she said.

“Well, let them,” answered Hazel. “This is a steamer trunk, Charity,” she went on, opening it, “see the cunning tray. When it’s[31] shut you push it under your berth on the steamer. I’m going to have a warm shawl in it to wear on deck.”

“Bet you’ll be sick,” said Charity.

Nevertheless, she was deeply impressed with the little trunk, and watched Hazel as day after day she packed and repacked it.

“I’m putting all my clothes in the bottom, Charity. Mother says for me to take my summer and my winter clothes both. Here is my blue gingham, and Mother has let down my white muslin dress again. Isn’t it pretty with the lace and embroidery?”

Charity sniffed. “Bet you won’t wear your white dress. Folks wear calico down there. Who’s going to spend the time washing and ironing for you?”

Hazel looked a little troubled. “Why, Granny, I suppose.”

“Humph, your Granny ’ll be too busy to wait on you.”

Hazel patted the white dress better in place. “I can keep it clean quite a while,” she said.

[32]“See, Charity, the pretty present Mrs. Perkins gave me,” she said later, taking a dainty box from the tray and opening it. “Six handkerchiefs and each marked with an ‘H.’ Nobody can take them, can they, because the ‘H’ shows they belong to me.”

Charity deliberately took one from the box. “Guess I’ve got one now,” she declared.

But while she refused to show enthusiasm regarding Hazel’s preparations she was really greatly interested and appeared one day with something, new to Hazel, in her hand.

“It’s a sun-bonnet,” she explained, holding it out. “Everyone wears them down there; the sun is so hot. Mother and I made it for you.”

“Oh, it’s such a pretty pink,” cried Hazel, turning it about on her hand. “Thank you and your mother so much, Charity,” and she kissed her companion.

Charity’s eyes shone. “Put it on,” she commanded.

The brown face with the soft hair looked very attractive set in the pink muslin frill. Hazel[33] viewed herself in the glass and jumped up and down with pleasure.

“It’s like a play to be wearing a sun-bonnet.”

“Take it off and I’ll show you how to pack it.” And together they put it in the tray.

“I’ve another present, Charity,” Hazel confided, taking out a small package, and showing a long, black hair-ribbon. “It’s from Miss Gray, my teacher. Mother says I must count these presents for Christmas, because I’ll be away at Christmas. Perhaps I’ll put them in my stocking Christmas eve.”

“Pooh! Folks don’t hang up stockings South.”

“Why, Charity, you’d think they didn’t do anything down there.”

Charity cogitated. “They don’t do much,” she decided, and added a little wistfully, “it’s lots more fun on Hammond Street.”

Hazel slipped her hand in her friend’s. “I wish you were going with me,” she whispered.

“I wish you weren’t going away,” Charity whispered back.

Hazel and her mother had a long discussion[34] regarding a suitable present to take to Granny. Hazel wanted to buy a black and white gingham dress she saw at Jordan, Marsh’s; but did Granny wear a thirty-six like her mother, or a forty-four, like Charity’s mamma? Such uncertainty made the dress impracticable. A pretty black and white kitten strayed into the Tyler flat and when Hazel had fed it, and become attached to it, she felt that it would be a better present even than the dress. No arguments concerning the difficulty of carrying a kitten to Alabama could make her forsake her plan; only when her mother asked that it be left to keep her company did Hazel at once give it up.

“Yes, do keep it, Mother dear,” she said.

But still Granny’s present was unsettled. Mrs. Perkins unconsciously determined what it should be.

“Lucy,” she said, one day, “here is a card that entitles you to six photographs. You have a good picture of Hazel, but she has none of you. Please have them taken immediately and give the child one.”

“Yes, and give one to Granny,” Hazel said.[35] And although Mrs. Tyler protested, Granny’s present, carefully packed in many rolls of tissue paper, was her daughter-in-law’s picture tastefully framed.

Hazel could not decide, even to the day of departure, whether she should give it to Granny on her arrival or should wait until Christmas.

One day her minister climbed the tenement stairs and called upon her and her mother. The trunk was in the parlor and he examined with deep interest the contents that Hazel showed him. Especially he admired the pink sun-bonnet.

“You must wear it to church next summer,” he said. “Only I should look at it so much I might forget to preach my sermon.”

He encouraged Mrs. Tyler in what she was doing. “It will be the making of the child,” he assured her. “I’ve lived a little in that country and I know how healthful it is.”

At parting he placed a package shaped like a book in Hazel’s hands. “This is for Christmas,” he said; and taking a pencil from his[36] pocket, he wrote in big letters, “Not to be opened until Christmas.”

Hazel gave him a kiss, and holding the book declared, “I will keep it sacredly until Christmas.”

She walked down the stairs with him. “You’ll take good care of my mother at the church, won’t you?” she asked, squeezing his hand, “She works so hard. She says she’s saving to send me to college, and now I’ll lose a whole year at school. It troubles me.”

“Why, it mustn’t trouble you, little girl,” said the minister. They reached the street and he looked down at her anxious face. “We will look after your mother. The ladies will see that she gets work. That is the only way that we can help her, for she will take nothing that she does not earn.”

Then he raised his hat and bade the child good-bye.

It was nearing the time of departure—Thursday, and the ship sailed Saturday. The trunk was packed for the last time, with Mrs.[37] Tyler’s gifts, a box of writing-paper and a dictionary, on top.

“I hope you will write me a little every day, Hazel,” her mother said. “It will be good practice for you. Mail the letters once or twice a week, but write a little every day.”

“It will be like a diary,” said Hazel.

“Yes, dear.”

“And you’ll write often to me, Mother, won’t you?”

“I’ll write often, but you will write without waiting for an answer. That will be your gift to me.”

The days were so full that Hazel had not much time to think of the Southland to which she was going; but at odd minutes she questioned what it might be like. She had traveled no further from Boston than neighboring seashore resorts, and until her father’s death she had seen little of any but refined people, white or colored.

“Charity,” she said, Friday night, “I’ve been saying good-bye to the McGinnis’s baby.[38] He is so dear and dimpled and rosy. Are there many white babies South?”

“Sure,” answered Charity. “But don’t you have nothing to do with white folks. There’s two kinds of white folks down there: those that hates you and those that calls you ‘a cute little nigger.’ My mother says that ain’t so, for she knows the first families of Virginia, but I ain’t acquainted with ’em.”

“My father used to tell about white people near his home who were nice,” said Hazel reflectively.

“Poor white trash, I guess. There ain’t any first families in Alabama.”

That night, before they went to bed, Hazel questioned her mother about the white folks.

“Won’t they like me?” she said. “Will they call out ‘Nigger,’ the way the boys on Shawmut Avenue do to Charity?”

“I don’t know, dear, I don’t know. Granny can help you about that, not I. But I would not bother with them, Hazel. They go their way and you go yours. On the steamer, in the train, at the church and at school—everywhere[39] you will be separated. Their world will not be your world. Leave them alone.”

“I will remember,” Hazel said softly.

The kind world that she had known seemed slipping away from her. She held her mother’s hand tight.

“I will be with the colored people,” she said, “and I will love Granny.”

“And when night comes, Hazel, remember we shall both be saying our prayers to the same Father in Heaven. I shall ask him to bless you.”

“And I to bless you, Mother dear.”

“And when I look at the stars at night I shall know that the same stars shine on you, only you will see the huge heavens and I shall only see a piece from my city window.”

“And the stars shine on Father, too,” said Hazel. “I think he sees the stars.”

With this thought she went to bed and, after a little, fell asleep, but her mother lay awake the night long.

The last present came as they stood on the steamer. Mr. Perkins brought it to her and[40] demanded and received six hugs in thanks. It was a soft woolen coat, blue outside and red within, finer than anything Hazel had ever owned.

“It’s to keep your heart warm for your old friend,” Mr. Perkins said, as he buttoned it about her. “Take very good care of her, Mrs. Graham;” he spoke earnestly to the woman at Hazel’s side. “Don’t let her from your sight.”

“I’ll be mighty careful,” Mrs. Graham answered.

Then the bell rang and visitors were ordered ashore.

Hazel gave her mother one more kiss. “I’ll be back soon,” she whispered.

Mrs. Tyler did not try to answer; but her last look was at a shy, brave little girl in a new blue coat, going out into an unknown, untried world.



Charity was right. The shawl did not come out of the trunk until the ship had passed Cape Hatteras and the voyage was nearly at an end. Poor Hazel lay in her upper berth, sick and wretched. When at length she was able to dress and climb to the deck the rough weather was over, and she saw a clear, blue sky and an expanse of soft, tranquil water. She grew better at once, and ate her dinner with an appetite.

The landing was wearying, and the long journey to Alabama in a dirty, ill-ventilated car was inexpressibly tiring. The child grew wretchedly weary, and a big lump rose in her throat when night came on. She was homesick and uncomfortable. Instead of her pleasant bed at home, there was only a hard seat on which to rest. Mrs. Graham pillowed her as[42] well as she could, but the sensitive child lay awake the most of the night: for if she fell asleep from weariness, a vicious jolt of the train shook her awake again. Early in the evening their train stopped to wait until an express overtook it and passed on ahead. Hazel saw the Pullman with its comfortable beds and its brightly-lighted dining car where colored waiters were serving delicious-looking food to white people.

“Why don’t we ride in a car like that?” she asked Mrs. Graham.

But she knew the answer before she heard it. “Colored people are not allowed to in the South.”

All things come to an end, however, even a wakeful night. In the morning Montgomery was reached, and at the station Hazel was met by a kindly colored man who said that his name was Jenks and that he was a friend of Granny’s. He was to look after Hazel and take her to her grandmother’s home. So the little girl bade Mrs. Graham an affectionate good-bye and went with her new companion.

[43]Mr. Jenks lived in a quiet, country-like street, and Hazel picked out his house before they reached it. It had roses growing by the doorway, and a sweet-faced young woman, like her mother, stood on the porch.

“You’re tired out, aren’t you, honey?” the young woman said, giving Hazel a kiss. “You don’t travel again until late afternoon. Come in and have breakfast, and then lie down and sleep.”

The biscuit and egg tasted delicious. To her hostess’s surprise Hazel refused coffee. “My mother doesn’t want me to drink it until I am grown up,” she explained; and instead she had a glass of milk. Breakfast over, she gladly accepted the invitation to lie down in the clean, white bed in the little room upstairs. How good it was to get into a fresh night-gown and creep between the sheets! Her head swam from the motion of the cars, but soon that stopped and she was in the land of dreams.

She dreamed that her mother called, “Come, Hazel, it is time for dinner,” and she answered,[44] “Yes, I’m coming,” and tried to run from the bedroom into the little kitchen; but she could not move. Again the voice called her, and with a great effort she caught her mother’s hand, and awoke to find that she was clutching Mrs. Jenks’ dress.

“You’ve slept a long while, dear,” her hostess said. “There’s only time to wash and dress for dinner. Here is hot water I’ve brought for you. You’ll feel better when you’ve had a bath.”

She washed and dressed, and was just fastening her collar when there was a knock at her door. Opening it she found a little girl of about six who shyly held out to her a bunch of roses.

“Are these for me?” Hazel asked.

The child nodded.

Hazel looked with astonishment at the flowers. They were like hot-house roses. At home they would cost ten, fifteen cents apiece, so much that you only looked at them in the florist’s window. You could never afford to buy them, unless it were for a wedding or a funeral. And[45] she held all these lovely pink and white blossoms in her hand!

“Thank you so much,” she said to the child, who still remained outside. Hazel went to the washstand and filling the glass she found there with water, placed the roses in it. Then, viewing her treasures with great pride, she took out one bud and pinned it to her dress.

It seemed very festive, like a party, to be wearing a pink rose. And the dinner was festive, too, with more roses on the table and Mr. and Mrs. Jenks and their two little daughters talking and laughing. Hazel ate heartily of the chicken and sweet potato and guava jelly, the last a gift from a friend in Florida and only put on the table at special occasions. But this was a special occasion, for while Hazel was only a little girl she was a visitor from the North, and from the North’s best-loved city, Boston.

Dinner over, Hazel and the children played together, building towers of blocks and destroying them only to build others. The time seemed short when Mrs. Jenks called her to make ready to go to the train.

[46]“My husband will take you all the way,” she said to Hazel, who rose reluctantly from the floor. The child went to her room, took the roses out of the water, dried their stems and tied them together with a bit of thread from her traveling bag. They would be a comfort, she thought, in the dirty train. Then putting on her hat and coat she went down stairs.

It was hard to say good-bye to her new friends. The children clung to her and Mrs. Jenks invited her to make them a visit when she returned in the spring. “You haven’t been a bit of trouble,” she answered in reply to Hazel’s thanks for her hospitality. “I wish I could keep you over night.”

Hazel wished the same in her heart, but she only said good-bye again and returned to the railroad station.

“Let me have your check,” Mr. Jenks said. “And have you the money for your ticket?”

“Yes,” answered Hazel, and with a feeling of pride, she took the money needed from her leather purse. The business of ticket and trunk[47] accomplished, the two took their seats in the car and were soon moving out into the big world.

“It isn’t far now, is it?” asked Hazel when they had traveled for an hour and a half.

“No,” her companion replied, “we shall soon be at the station; and then we drive three miles to your grandmother’s.”

The station was reached at last, and when they got out Hazel met a colored man whom Mr. Jenks called John, and whom he seemed to know very well. John took the check for Hazel’s trunk, and placed the luggage on the back of his wagon. Then giving the reins to Mr. Jenks, he walked away.

“See you right soon,” he called.

“I’m to drive you. Jump in,” Mr. Jenks commanded, and Hazel climbed to the seat by his side.

It was sunset. There was but one house near the station, and their road led through a sparsely tenanted country. Slender pines stood in the fields, and beyond the sky glowed golden. The air was clear and fragrant, and[48] Hazel found herself drinking in deep breaths. Suddenly from the meadow came a bird’s note, long and sweet and plaintive. Again and again the bird called.

“A meadow lark,” Mr. Jenks said.

The child pressed her hands together. She felt exquisitely sad, and yet full of awe and wonder. The bird sang on and on from the meadow, and when at length she left it behind, the sunset had changed to red and the air was growing chill.

“Yes, I have a warm coat,” she said in answer to Mr. Jenks’ look, and she buttoned the blue coat about her neck.

Fields and pines and pines and fields. The sunset light, purple now, a single star shining in the west. Then a cabin by the road, and the horse stopped.

Hazel trembled as Mr. Jenks lifted her down. The cabin door opened and a tall, large woman came down the steps, put her arm about Hazel and spoke to Mr. Jenks.

“You done brought my child,” she said. “Come in and rest yourself.”

[49]“Not to-night,” Mr. Jenks answered. “I’m going back to John’s.”

He took the trunk from the wagon and placed it on the ground.

“Good-night, Hazel. Good-night, Aunt Ellen,” and turning his team, he drove away.

The room that Hazel entered was lighted by a kerosene lamp and a fire of logs that sent forth a rich, yellow flame. Her grandmother helped the child take off her hat and coat, and then, sitting on a low chair by the blaze, drew the little girl toward her.

“You favors your mother, honey,” she said, “but your eyes looks at me like your father’s did. They’s dark and tired, now. You’s come over the sea and over the land clear to your granny. Put your head on my breast where your daddy rested when he was a baby.”

Hazel put her arms around the old woman’s neck and held her tight. Little warm pulses of feeling swept through her. The pines, the sunset, the bird’s note, and this loving welcome by the open fire, all made her heart beat fast[50] and her body shake. She was sobbing before she knew it.

Granny understood what to do. She put the little girl in her chair, and leaving her for a moment came back with a gray kitten, very small and warm and helpless. Hazel ceased crying as she took it on her lap and gently stroked its fur.

“Is it named?” she asked after a moment.

“No, honey; it’s been saving for you.”

“Then, please, I will call it Lucy after my mother.”

She stroked it tenderly and thought of the purring black and white kitten in the kitchen at home.

“You has a sweet, loving mother, I know.”

“I’ve her picture for you.” And that settled the question of whether Granny’s present should be kept until Christmas.

It was decided not to open the trunk until morning. A warm supper was eaten before the fire, and then Granny declared that it was time good little girls were in bed.

The room in which they sat seemed very[51] large to Hazel. Granny’s big bed was at one end, and the fire-place at the other. A door to the left of the fire-place lead into Hazel’s bedroom, the one other room of the house.

“Here your father used to sleep, honey,” Granny said, “and here you rest to-night.”

But in this last statement Granny was mistaken. After Hazel had said her prayers and had crept among the soft feathers a terrible feeling of loneliness came over her. She heard her grandmother walking in the other room, and then the light grew less and she knew the lamp was out. Her door was open and she could see shadows on the wall beyond.

“Granny,” she called. “Are you going to bed?”

“Yes, honey.”

“Could I have pussy Lucy with me?”

Her grandmother brought her the little kitten and placed it on the pillow.

“Shut your eyes, honey, and the sand man will come.”

But the sand man refused to visit the little room. Granny went to bed, and Hazel could[52] hear no sound save the chirp of a late cricket outside the open window. Out there were the heavens, where her father had gone, filled with their myriad stars. Was her mother gazing at them and thinking of her? She hugged the kitten, and looked for comfort into the other room. It seemed to her, as she watched the flickering shadows, that the light was growing less. Yes, the fire would go out, and she would be left alone in darkness. Her heart pounded and a strange terror possessed her. She did not yet know this new home, and while she loved the light of the moon and the stars, she hated blackness. If she should wake up alone, the fire gone, only the black night about!

Her throat grew hot. Holding the kitten in one hand against her warm neck and cheek, she left her bed and walked into Granny’s room. The firelight showed her standing there, a slim, timid figure.

She sat by the hearth a minute and watched the blaze just as her father had watched it when he was a little boy. The kitten tumbled to her lap, and crawled to the floor.

[53]Then she heard a sweet, drawling voice, “Lonely, baby? Come by the big bed to-night.”

And the lonely baby climbed into the great pile of feathers, and with one hand pillowing her cheek, the other touching the warm face of her father’s mother, fell fast asleep.



When Hazel awoke the next morning her grandmother was up and dressed, and moving about the room. The child watched her unobserved.

Here was someone quite different from any of the people Hazel had known. Until she moved to Hammond Street she had met only the small class of business and professional colored people of her city. These men and women dressed and acted like the cultivated white people about them. Their view-point was that of their New England white neighbors; and their children, who were educated with white children, were staunch little New Englanders, with the same speech, the same dress, the same ambitions as their white schoolmates. On Hammond Street colored people were different. But then, they were poor,[55] and did not have time for the niceties of life. But no one she had known in Jamaica Plains or in the South End was in the least like this grandmother.

The first thing Hazel noted was her strength. She had felt it the night before when she had snuggled up against the old woman’s breast, and she felt it this morning as she watched her move about the room lifting the full kettle as though it were made of tin, not of iron. And yet the hair that the child could see under the turban was grey, and the face bore many wrinkles.

She was dressed as though she had come out of a story book. On her head was a turban of a rich, deep red, and about her neck was a gay bandanna; her calico dress, faded now, still showed its red stripes on a grey background. Her dark brown face with its big features was alight with expression. She was looking toward the bed and Hazel shut her eyes.

She opened them in a few seconds and began to study the room. Here again was[56] something quite outside her experience. It was large and the walls were of wood, but partly covered with pictures, photographs in frames, postal cards, illustrations cut from newspapers. On the bureau was her picture, taken when she was a baby.

One end of the room was the kitchen, where there were shelves with pots and pans and glasses filled with delicious-looking jelly. There was a sideboard full of china, and a table which Granny was setting for breakfast. And last, the room was full of a delicious fragrance, the odor of wood smoke.

Granny looked over again, and nodded.

“I see you’s awake, sugar,” she said, “Getting acquainted with the new room and them as is in it. Run and dress now or the breakfast will spoil.”

Hazel scampered into her room where everything was in readiness for her. The little trunk had been moved in, the pitcher was filled with water, and the roses she had brought were in a glass on the bureau. She dressed carefully, putting on the blue gingham that[57] showed her slender prettiness. Granny looked approval as she came in to breakfast.

After breakfast the trunk was unpacked. Granny was full of praise of the photograph that brought her daughter home to her, and wanted to see again and again the pretty gifts that Hazel had received from her friends. Then everything was put in place, the trunk was stowed under the bed and Hazel put on her pink sun-bonnet and went out-of-doors.

The morning was warm, and though it was December she had no need of a coat. Granny’s house was fenced in and within the enclosure was her garden and a little outhouse in which was a small cooking-stove and a loom. The garden showed a few late vegetables and in the front of the house roses climbed upon the porch, and grew in tall bushes by the fence.

The landscape dipped at the back of the cabin, and Hazel looked over fields of corn and stubble and dry cotton stalks. A number of cabins were dotted about among the fields. In front, across the road, was a hill, half covered[58] with pines. No house was visible from the road, but among the pines, to the left, was a chimney from which smoke issued. Hazel felt that she was a long way from trolley and library, from rattling carts and loud-voiced children, from school and playground.

Dinner-time came; and after dinner there was a long letter to write to Mother who had learned of the journey only on hurriedly written post-cards. But while the child kept busy, the day was tedious to her and she was glad with the coming of the night to seek her little room, grown familiar now. What, she wondered, would she do in the many days that stretched before her? How could she ever occupy herself until the summer came?

The week that followed was the longest that Hazel had ever known. Accustomed as she was to regular hours for school and play and home-work she now found the time from breakfast to supper very hard to fill. And Granny did not help her much. She was watching the little girl, “studying” she would have said. So Hazel wandered about somewhat aimlessly,[59] and yet gradually learned to enjoy her new surroundings.

Her first acquaintances were the hens.

“Look, Granny,” she cried one morning. “I’ve found an egg!” and she held up her treasure.

“You has, sugar, sure enough. I just naturally overlooked that egg this morning. That white hen always done find a new place to hide from me.”

“Perhaps I can find more eggs,” Hazel thought, and hunted assiduously, but without success. She grew fond, however, of the clucking creatures, and often fed them from the food left on her plate.

Her grandmother had a flock of turkeys, and their wanderings lead Hazel on many a pleasant walk. She did not like to go out of sight of her home, but when the turkeys turned to the pines across the road she loved to follow them over the pine-cones among the trees. Here she would sit and watch the smoke as it curled from Granny’s chimney, and would listen to the monotonous soughing of the wind among the pines.

[60]But there was a serpent in this garden; it went on four legs and grunted and was dirty and disgusting. Hazel had seen pigs in a pig-pen in Massachusetts, but here in Alabama they had the freedom of the road. She soon realized why the garden was fenced in. In the North you imprisoned your live stock; but in the South you let them loose and enclosed with picket-fence your house and garden. This was very nice for the animals but not so nice for timid little girls. Hens, turkeys, cows, pigs, all roamed at will. The few cows that Hazel met were thin and spiritless, and she did not fear them much; but when the inquisitive pig came near to where she sat, she jumped up and scurried away. Such great ugly creatures, rightly called hogs! So out-of-doors, save in the narrow garden enclosure, had its drawbacks.

Granny, Hazel found, was an important person in the neighborhood. No one went by her porch without a word of welcome. If she were about, Granny would call to her, and ask her to come and meet Uncle Silas, or[61] Aunt Harriet, or whoever the visitor might be. She was not especially attracted by these people who took a long time to say that the weather was fine, or to ask how Granny’s hens were laying. She answered their questions, but she did not volunteer any information.

One day two white ladies, for whom Granny sometimes did laundry work, stopped as they drove by in their buggy. They saw Hazel, and at once began to question her. They wanted to know why she had come to Alabama, how she got there, and asked her many details of her life at home. When they left Hazel turned somewhat excitedly to her grandmother.

“Why do they say such things to me?” she asked. “My mother, if she went to see them, wouldn’t ask about every teenty thing they did.

“‘Is your pa living?’

“‘What does your ma do?’

“‘How is she buying you such clothes?’

“‘How long have you been to school?’

“‘Are you reckoning to stay here this winter?’

“‘Are you working for Aunt Ellen?’

[62]“Just like that, Granny.”

Granny gave one of her big laughs, and sat down with Hazel on the steps.

“These people here are just naturally curious, sugar. Don’t you get put out at ’em. I knows the proper city manners. If old man Lee above here should drink himself to death with whiskey, or old mammy Smith down below should burn up in her house, you city folks ’ud just inquire, polite-like, the next time you met one of the family, ‘I heard you-all met with an accident, I’m so sorry. I hope you-all is doing well now.’ But we hasn’t city manners down here. Nothing much happens except the hoeing of the corn and the picking of the cotton; and when a little girl with soft eyes and a pretty dress and sweet ways comes among us, we’s just naturally curious. We wants to see her and learn all about it.”

Hazel laughed, but she still criticized the visitors. “They weren’t pretty or well-dressed and they made mistakes the teacher corrects us for at school. Were they first families?”

Granny looked mystified.

She still picked her cotton in the autumn and planted it in the spring

[63]“Charity, you know I’ve told you about Charity, said all the nice white people in the South were first families. She said there were lots of them in Virginia but she guessed there weren’t any in Alabama.”

Granny answered more gravely than before, “There’s first families everywhere, child, but its like the Scriptures, some of them as thinks they’re first will be last; and the last, as thinks they’re no account, will be first. By their fruits you shall know them; by their charity and kindness. And it’s soon, dearie, for you to be judging them by their fruits.”

If Hazel had little to busy herself with, she saw that Granny was rarely idle. The old woman never hurried, and was ready to stop and speak to the passing neighbor, but when the day was done she had accomplished a great deal. She still picked her cotton in the autumn and planted it in the spring; but now she was busy about her house, her laundry, her poultry, her spinning-wheel and loom. For she was one of the very few old people left who spun and wove, and travelers from many parts of[64] the country had bits of her handiwork. Hazel watched her spinning with wide eyes. One day she asked timidly if she might learn.

“I’s right glad to teach you, honey,” was the answer. “The children about here thinks they’s above learning to spin.”

“I don’t,” said Hazel, and took her place at the wheel.

And now the days grew less long and were full of pleasant anticipation. In the morning, before breakfast, she hunted eggs. After breakfast was over, she put her room in order and helped Granny with the dishes, and then she turned to her spinning. She soon became expert at twisting the thread, and grew so interested that Granny sometimes had to send her away to play. Before dinner, she went among the pines and practised gymnastic exercises that she had learned at school. She was a conscientious little body; and having come South to get well, did all that she knew to bring about the desired result.

“If I am to get home,” she would argue to herself, “I must grow stronger every day;”[65] and swinging wide her arms, she would take deep breaths of the delicious air.

In the afternoon she would write to her mother, and later she and Granny would often take a walk across the bare fields, occasionally stopping at a neighbor’s cottage. Hazel would look shyly at the barefooted, barelegged little black children, but she could not think of anything to say to them, and they in their turn only stared.

When dusk came she would watch the turkeys as they went to roost in the trees. One tree seemed almost full of these strange birds, half wild, half domesticated. In the evening Granny and she would sit before the open fire and tell one another stories. Hazel loved to recite poetry, and Granny never tired of the “Village Blacksmith” and “The little Shadow that goes in and out with me.” Hazel had an odd assortment of poems, among them Whittier’s “Slave Ship” which she recited with great feeling. “Those were dark days,” Granny would say, and then perhaps, to Hazel’s unending delight, would sing, “Let my people go,” or “Oh,[66] freedom over me!” The strange music in the quiet house by the open fire, stirred the child’s heart. Then, when she was safe in bed, Granny would stand near the candle and would make funny figures upon the wall—Brer Rabbit and his numerous family. And with a laugh and a good-night, Hazel would turn over and fall asleep.

So the quiet days went by and brought in the New Year.



December 26.

Darling Mother:—

Christmas day is like the Fourth of July, they set off fire crackers, and it is so warm that you wear summer dresses. I wore my white dress.

I read last night to Granny from the minister’s book. You know he wrote, not to be opened until Christmas. It is full of poems. The first one says:

Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into here.

There are babies living about here, only their mothers don’t wash them very much. There are no bath tubs and no hot water faucets. I take my bath in the wash tub.


December 27.

I went to Sunday school Sunday, and there were 16 children. The teacher comes from the school at Jonesville, 8 miles away. It is a fine school, as fine as the Jamaica Plains grammar school, and ladies from the North come down to teach. They teach only colored boys and girls.

The Sunday school was in the church, and all the boys and girls had bare feet. Some are so poor they had no pennies to bring, and guess, what do you think they put in the plate, EGGS!!! Only it was a hat. An egg is worth a penny, and I eat a great many of them.

They had the same singing books we have at Boston. Some kind ladies sent them down. The children sing much prettier than at home. The teeniest can sing alto.

Everybody is very poor. Not Granny, her sons have been good to her. People eat bacon. Granny often kills a chicken, but no one, not the richest people, eat roast beef.


December 28.

I forgot to tell you, mother darling, that the Sunday school teacher was colored. There were not any classes. She explained the lesson to everybody. I like her very much. She kissed me good-bye and told me to come again, but Sunday school is only once a month and so is church.

Tell Charity I wear the sun-bonnet some days, and Granny says I shall wear it more when the sun gets hot.

Darling Mother, I think of Father a great deal because I sleep in his bed and Granny showed me the first shoes he wore. They are all out at the toes. They are not little because he went barefoot. At first I used to cry but now I don’t. Granny says he was always jolly. I can make Granny laugh when I tell her about Boston. She pretends not to believe about elevators and sky-scrapers and telefones. I think she really doesn’t truly believe about telefones.

December 30.

You don’t mind if I sometimes skip a day, do you, Mother? Because sometimes I am busy.[70] I am spinning. I am like Priscilla in Miles Standish. It is more fun to spin than to sew or cook or wash or iron. When Granny washes she makes a fire out-of-doors and boils water in a great big iron pot.

December 31.

I have written a New Year’s poem for you.

Where did you come from, mother dear?
Out of the skies and the atmosphere.
Here is pussy Lucy, mother dear,
She is named after you, do you hear?
Pussy Lucy will die
And so will you and I.

Your affectionate daughter,
Hazel Tyler.


January 1.

Dear Hazel,

A Happy New Year, darling! Last night I saw the Old Year out and the New Year in at the Perkins. There were thirty of us, and we sang, and Mr. Douglass played on his violin,[71] until twelve o’clock. Then we all said Happy New Year to one another.

“I am spinning. I am like Priscilla in Miles Standish”

The New Year has begun well for me in my business. I have ten people I go to every week. Just think of it! That is ten dollars a week shampooing hair! They say I have a gentle touch. You used to like to have me wash your hair, do you remember? I hope you are taking good care of it.

You see I am getting quite rich. I do not do any laundry except Mrs. Hollingsworth’s. Mrs. Hollingsworth sent the pink tea gown the other day, and said it was not worth laundering again, and for me to keep it. So I have it for my little Queen of Sheba.

Charity helps me sometimes. I want to tell you that I have grown very fond of Charity. Her father is no account. He has gone away and her mother has to work out as a cook. That leaves Charity all alone until nine o’clock at night, so sometimes she comes up to see me. One afternoon, just before Christmas, I didn’t get home until seven at night, and I found Charity in the kitchen ironing. She had[72] climbed up the fire-escape, opened the kitchen window, and dropped in. She looked up and said, “You bet now, I surprised you.” But when I looked at the ironing I was more surprised. I couldn’t have done it better.

Of course, I asked her to stay to supper, and we had griddle cakes and maple syrup and we talked about you. Then I told Charity stories. She didn’t know Cinderella, or Jack and the Beanstalk, and it was a real comfort to have her put her arms around me and bid me good-night. For it was Christmas Eve, Hazel dear. When she left I cuddled the kitty. I gave her a collar with a bell on it for Christmas.

We are having snow and cold east winds, while you are playing in the sunshine without a coat. Mr. Perkins pretends to be very provoked every time I see him, and says Boston has the finest climate in the world, but I am glad you are escaping it. It has snowed and thawed and rained and snowed again all in twenty-four hours.

The ladies in the church sewing-circle sent a box last week to a school for colored children[73] at Jonesville. They tell me that it is quite near you. I wonder if you have heard of it.

I hope you are getting stronger every day, darling, and that when you come home Charity will have to lend you her clothes, you will be so plump.

Give Granny my love, and kiss pussy Lucy for me to-night. I have named my kitten for you.

Your loving,



The Lee family had left their cabin up the road and were on their way to church. They were all out this Sunday evening, old man Lee, sober for once, his wife, Scipio, a heavy, solemn-looking boy of thirteen, Julius, Theora, Thomas and Ezekiel. Mother Lee had evidently long since given up keeping all her children’s clothes in repair. Her boys’ garments were few and ragged. But upon her little girl she had attempted some embellishment. Theora’s crinkly hair was tied with a piece of bright cotton cloth, and on her feet were shoes and stockings.

The family caught up with Granny and Hazel, and the mother felt a sullen resentment at Hazel’s dress. The child wore her blue coat, and a dark blue hat with a grey quill. She nodded pleasantly to her neighbors, but kept[75] close to Granny’s side. She was afraid of old man Lee whom she had seen one night staggering past her home, and his children seemed dull. Granny, who had a kindly word for everyone, talked with the mother, and Hazel watched the deepening twilight.

It was a pleasant walk to church, along the road and then through the open fields. At a turn to the west the new moon shone before them, a clear bow in the deep blue sky. Hazel stopped to look at the lovely crescent; but she was recalled to earth by hearing a sharp voice call: “Where you going, Scip? Stop your mooning and help me with Zeke.”

Scipio had been looking at the moon, too! She watched him with awakening sympathy as, moving past her, he picked up his little brother. As she hurried to join Granny she found herself by his side, and turning, and nodding her head toward the moon, she said in her clear, distinct voice: “It is pretty, isn’t it?”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Scipio.

The church was small, and when they entered[76] the bare room was more than half filled, so they took their places near the door. The only light was furnished by two kerosene lamps, and in the corners of the room were strange shadows. As the black men and women and children continued to come the place grew crowded and the air became close and full of an uncleanly odor.

“Move up, Hazel,” Granny said, for the child was at the end of the bench and there was space for one more on it.

Hazel moved up reluctantly, dreading a seat-mate, but Scipio, who had been standing, slipped in at her side. She felt relieved.

The minister, a portly man in a long black coat, mounted the platform and the congregation began to sing:

“That old time religion,
That old time religion,
That old time religion,
Is good enough for me.”

They did not rise, but remained in their seats swaying a little back and forth. It was strange minor music.

[77]After the singing, the minister prayed and read from the Bible, and then he began to preach. He gave as his text:

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of Hell?”

He began by drawing a picture of heaven, the dwelling-place of the saints. He measured the thousand furlongs of the city; he depicted the streets of gold and the gates of pearl; he garnished the walls with chrysolite, beryl and amethyst. His voice at times was low and soft, and then suddenly it became loud and dramatic, and almost shook the little building. Hazel awoke from her absorption in his manner to note his words when he called out:

“And the building of the wall was jasper.”

“There,” she thought triumphantly, “I was right that day and Charity was wrong. Jasper isn’t something to eat.”

She was wholly unaccustomed to hearing the congregation take a spontaneous part in the service, and was amazed at their frequent cries of “That’s so,” and “Amen.”

But the preacher did not mean to dwell long[78] this evening on the celestial sphere. He was concerned with showing his hearers the terrors of the underworld. In a few moments he depicted them as standing in the lake of fire and brimstone, burning, burning, not for a day but forever and ever. The flames seemed to leap up as the minister shouted: “And the devil will reach out for you, ye generation of vipers, he’ll reach out for you across the flames, and he’ll catch you and draw you into the burning lake.”

“Lord save us!” “Please have mercy, Jesus,” came from the moaning crowd.

Hazel was aghast.

“Come to the Lord and be saved,” cried the preacher. “Be saved by the blood of the Lamb!”

A change came over the congregation. The moaning ceased. From different parts of the room arose calls of “Yes, Jesus,” “I’s coming, Lord.” Women began to sway back and forth, crying loudly for salvation.

Hazel looked at Granny. The old woman had forgotten her.

[79]“The devil shan’t get us in the burning pit,” shouted the preacher.

“No, Lord,” said Granny.

“Lord save us,” shouted old man Lee in front.

Hazel grew frightened. She felt suffocated and wanted to get away. Glancing at Scipio she saw that he sat as stolid as ever, unmoved apparently by all that was going on about him.

“Scip,” she whispered, “I want to get out.”

He looked at her frightened face, and, taking her hand, butted with his head until he had made a way through the crowd of people standing between them and the open door. Then they passed out into the night.

The little moon was setting behind the trees. The air was fresh and cool, but not chill. Above were the peaceful stars.

“The heathen are burning,” shouted the preacher, “and every day the devil pours on fresh oil and the flames mount higher and higher to the sky.”

[80]“Scip,” said Hazel with a quick breath, “do you believe in hell?”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Scipio.

“You don’t believe what he is saying? You don’t believe God will put us in fire to burn forever and ever?”

“I seen a lynching once,” Scipio replied. “It were just like that, they poured on oil.”

“Oh, don’t,” Hazel gasped. She seized his arm with her two hands; “don’t,” she cried.

After a moment she whispered, “But it didn’t last forever. He died?”

“Yes, ma’am. He died.”

“And wicked men burned him, and it was only for a few minutes. God wouldn’t make him burn forever and ever.”

“Don’t you fret,” said Scipio. She had let go of his arm, but he knew that she was trembling. “They-all is sure they’ll get off. They’s sure the devil won’t catch them. There’s my pa, he ain’t done a stroke of work this week. Been crazy drunk. But he’s got religion. Hear him holler!”

“I don’t believe it’s like that, Scip,” Hazel[81] said very earnestly. “Religion is being good and honest and pure in heart.”

A man approached the children as they stood a little apart from the throng about the door.

“Howdy, little ’un,” he leered, lounging up to Hazel. “You’s a pretty trick.”

Hazel caught Scipio by the hand.

The boy moved forward into the light, leaving the little girl in the shadow. He held her hand tight.

“Let her alone,” he said.

“Deliver us from the fire of hell and take us into the kingdom of heaven,” called the preacher.

“Amen, Hallelujah,” came out upon the night.

The strange man advanced another step toward Hazel. Scipio stood still, his chin forward like a bulldog. The man muttered a curse and turned away.

A hymn was sung and the service broke up. Granny was among the first to leave the building.

“I’s glad to find you, child,” she said as[82] Hazel came up to her. “Where you done gone?”

“I felt faint, Granny, and came out to get a breath of fresh air,” Hazel explained.

At that moment old man Lee called roughly to his son, “Come here, you lazy hound,” and moved as if to strike him.

Hazel started forward. “Please don’t blame Scip, Mr. Lee,” she said. “He’s been taking care of me.” And turning to the boy she added: “Thank you, Scip.”

Something in her speech, perhaps the unfamiliar “Mr. Lee,” quieted the old man. He turned away from his eldest son who went to help with the baby.

Hazel was silent on the way home, for she felt that this time Granny could not share her thoughts. The old woman was happy at having seen her friends and hummed a hymn. Perhaps, had Hazel given her her confidence, she would have said that hell was just a place to scare people with: that the Lord never meant the devil should keep anyone there.

They reached home before the Lees whom[83] they saw coming slowly behind, Scipio with the baby in his arms.

Granny gave Hazel a good-night kiss, but the little girl did not go at once to bed. For some time, wrapped in her warm shawl, she sat at the window, looking out upon the stars. They rested her perturbed spirit. At length, a smile lighted her face. A new thought had come to her.

“My own father wouldn’t have hurt anybody,” she whispered. “Not even if they were wicked. And God is my Father in Heaven.”

And comforted, she knelt and said the Lord’s prayer, and asked God to bless her mother and Charity and Mr. and Mrs. Perkins and Granny and—and Scip.



Do you know, Scip,” Hazel confided, “I’m dreadfully afraid of pigs.”

“They won’t hurt you,” Scip replied.

The two children were sitting among the pines on the hill that overlooked their homes. A few hogs grunted near them among the cones.

“Of course, I’m not afraid when you’re here,” Hazel explained, “but when I come up alone sometimes they try to get around me and it makes me fidgety.”

“They might give you fleas,” said Scip.

He found a stick for her. “Hit ’em with that,” he said. “That’ll fix ’em.”

“Would it do for cows, too, Scip?”


“I’m afraid of cows and pigs and I’m terribly afraid of bulls. I expect you think I’m a coward.”

[85]“No, I don’t,” Scip said, looking squarely at her. “You wasn’t afraid of my father, Sunday night.”

Hazel changed the subject. “What do you want to do when you grow up?” she asked.

“Go to school.”

The girl laughed. “Why now’s the time to go to school, before you grow up. You can’t go afterwards.”

“Can’t I?” the boy asked anxiously, “I ain’t got time now.”

“Haven’t you been to school at all?”

“Six weeks when I were ten, and four weeks when I were eight.”

“That’s all?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Then you can’t read?”

“I’s feared I’s forgot. I can print some.”

Hazel thought a moment, and then said, “Would you like me to teach you, Scip? I’m not busy. I don’t have anything that I have to do except make my bed, and of course I help Granny with the dishes and ironing. I can iron nicely now, and I can spin, too. But[86] I could teach you any time you would come. I have books.”

Scipio dug a stick in the ground and scattered the pine-cones. “I ain’t smart,” he muttered. “I’s feared you couldn’t learn me.”

“I’ll try,” Hazel answered. “I’m a young teacher, don’t you think, Scip?” She jumped up and laughed. “You must do everything I say. Let’s begin now. I’ll go and get my books.”

She ran down the hill, her blue dress blowing in the wind, her small head gaily erect.

“Like a blue-bird,” Scipio thought.

She came back in a few minutes, her hands full.

“I’ve pencil and paper,” she called. “Scip, can’t we find a nice place to keep school in?”

“There’s a green spot a way up,” the boy replied. “You might like it.”

He led her among the trees to a little enclosure. Small pines, not more than six feet high, made a natural hedge, and shut them out from the road below.

“How pretty,” cried Hazel. “It’s like a[87] little house. Here, take the books, Scip, and I’ll decide what to do.”

He obediently held the books for her.

As she looked about among the pines a new idea came to her.

“We won’t call it school,” she declared. “We’ll play house. You and I will be brother and sister. We’ll play that I’ve had advantages, I’ve been North to school, and now I’ve come home. This will be our house and this,” tapping with her foot, “will be the parlor. We’ll sit down here and I’ll teach you.”

She took the books and papers from his hands and placed them on the ground. “I can sit down and lean against this tree and pretend I’m in a chair. Here is the paper and pencil. I haven’t a primer so I’ll start and print the letters. Sit down, Scip.”

He seated himself beside her.

“Do you know your alphabet?” she asked.

“I don’t rightly know whether I remember it all, ma’am.”

“You mustn’t say ma’am to me, I’m your sister.”

[88]“No, ma’am.”

Hazel laughed. “You’re so funny, Scip. Now do you know what that letter is?” pointing to the first on his paper.

“Yes, Sister. That’s A.”

The little girl almost jumped at her new name. She did not know how common the appellation was in the South.

“And the next one, Scip?”


And so on. I and J proved stumbling blocks, but once passed the end was reached without further mistake.

“Now words,” said Hazel, turning from the alphabet, “are letters put together. Can you spell any words?”

“I can print my name.”

“Please do, then.”

Scipio took the pencil and laboriously printed SCIPIO LEE.

“The C isn’t pronounced,” Hazel said thoughtfully. “I guessed it was spelt SIPIO. You can never guess at spelling, though, it’s so queer.”

Scipio Lee

[89]“It’s a fool name,” said Scip, moodily. “My pa and ma done give us all fool names but Tom.”

“I think Scipio was a Roman, and the Romans were very brave. You aren’t afraid of anything are you?”

“I’s afraid of my father.”

Hazel was silent. She felt very sorry for her new playmate.

“Shall we go on?” she said at length.

“Yes, ma’am.”

She let the “ma’am” pass, and began to teach again.

“We’ll spell the things about us. There are the pigs. See, pig is spelt PIG.” And she printed it for him.

He slowly repeated the letters.

“Say it phonetically,” she commanded. “P—ig.”

He tried unsuccessfully to imitate her.

“Oh, Scip, you’re so funny. This is the sound of P, Pe̤, Pe̤.” She blew the P out from between her lips. “P—ig P—en, P—encil, P, P, P, say them, Scip.”

[90]He did better this time.

“Now, can’t you think of something that begins with P yourself?”

“P, P, P, Peep,” Scip said, stumbling on the word by chance.

“Yes, that’s right. That’s what the chickens say, isn’t it? Have you chickens at your house?”

“Yes, Sister. We tries to raise ’em; but they ain’t pert like Aunt Ellen’s chickens.”

“There’s another P. P—ert. Don’t you hear it, Scip?”

He repeated it after her.

“Good! Now I’ll write these words for your lesson to-morrow. Can you come here to-morrow, do you think?”

“I try to,” he answered, looking at her gravely. “We ain’t over busy now. Ma, she’d be glad to have me come. She’d kep’ me in school if she’d been ’lowed. I come if I can, but I can’t never be sure.”

“What is the best time for you to get away?”

“I reckon when dinner’s done. Pa goes to sleep then sometimes.”

[91]“We’ll play like this, Scip. I’ll always be here after dinner, if it is pleasant. Granny doesn’t need me then, so I’ll come to my house up here. And I’ll brush up, and get things tidy; and if my brother comes I’ll teach him his lessons. If he doesn’t, I’ll play by myself. Now I’ll write out your words.” And she made a fair copy and handed it to him.

He held it by the corner carefully, afraid of soiling the page.

Hazel gathered up her belongings and together they moved from the little enclosure.

“This is our house, isn’t it, Scip? And we won’t tell anyone about it. We might go to it a roundabout way. Oh, where is my stick to scare the pigs with?”

Scipio brought it to her.

“This ain’t much account,” he said. “I done bring you a better one to-morrow.”

“Will you? Thank you. Good-bye, Scip.”

“Good-bye, Sister.”

He watched her run down the road and into her grandmother’s open door. Then he trudged home.

[92]Hazel told Granny that evening of what she had undertaken.

“I’s right glad, sugar,” Granny said heartily. “That boy’s been put upon. The old man works him like he was a mule, and then drinks up all he makes. They is Ward’s tenants, he that keeps the store down the tracks, and Ward always gives his tenants whiskey. I pity that poor woman. Every year it’s just the same. Slave, slave and not a thing to show for it.”

“Scip says they had a good crop of cotton last year.”

“He’s right, they done did. And what good come to them? Ward, he weighed the cotton and ’lowed old man Lee owed it on his books. He see to it his men always owes the half of the cotton and the half of the corn as is theirs by rights.”

Hazel looked puzzled.

“You don’t understand, child, and it ain’t no wonder. But I’s been through it. I’s owned my land many years now, though, thanks to my sons. You see, Ward, the master[93] here, he owns the land and the store and the seed and the mules and the cows and the calves. Along come a colored family, like the Lees, and the master say to them: ‘You-all wants work. I done give you-all a house and mule for half the crop you done raise.’ Understand?”

“Yes, I understand,” said Hazel.

“Then the family move in; but they’s got to plant and make the crops afore anything comes to them. Then Master Ward he tell them to trade at his store and there ain’t no hurry to pay. So he run up a bill against them, charging what he feel like, and he sell the old man whiskey, ’stead of shoes for the children, ’cause there’s more money made in whiskey than in shoes and when fall come the crop is all drunk up, all traded off.”

“But, Granny, my mother keeps such careful accounts, every penny. Don’t they know how much money they spend?”

“Of course they don’t. They don’t have pennies to spend, honey. And the store won’t give them no account.”

[94]“Then no matter how hard Scip works he won’t get any money?”

“Not a cent, sugar.”

“Then if I were he I wouldn’t work at all!”

“Reckon you’d be turned out then pretty quick without a roof over your head. That happened once before Scip were big. The others they ain’t much account for work. They was born tired. But Scip he’s strong and steady-like.”

“Perhaps he’ll run away and get rich.”

“Perhaps he will,” said Granny, “and perhaps he’ll stay by his mother.”

The teaching progressed, for Hazel was unusually apt for a child at her profession; and if Scip failed at times as a pupil it was not for lack of application on his part. At least four afternoons in the week he found it possible to slip away from the fields or the dirty cabin to the house, as Hazel liked to call it, among the pines. She had made it look like a dwelling-place, bringing two boxes for seats and a third for a table. One day Scipio brought her some early violets and she flew down to Granny’s[95] for a tin can which she filled with water. In this she placed the flowers, setting the can in a corner against the pines. After that the tin vase was often filled. When her pupil could not come she tidied her pine-needle carpet, or, armed with the two-pronged stick Scip had given her, walked bravely among the cows and the grunting pigs. Some days teacher and scholar found it too cold to sit still long and raced one another through the trees, or teased the turkeys whose “gobble, gobble” always amused Hazel. But usually they worked hard at the task of learning to read. Hazel wisely gave up for the present the effort to teach the boy’s clumsy fingers to guide the pencil to write.

One afternoon he was late and seemed unusually slow in responding to his teacher’s questionings.

“Oh, Scip, you must remember that word,” Hazel said impatiently. “Look down and study the letters again,” and she pointed to the HORSE plainly printed on the copy in her lap.

[96]As the boy bent over she saw that his hair was matted with blood, and that blood was oozing from a gash in his forehead.

“Scip,” she cried, “what has happened?”

“Don’t you mind Sister,” he answered. “I can read the letters,” he went on—“HORSE”—studying it, “but I can’t rightly remember what they done spell.”

“Scip, how did your head get that way?”

“It ain’t nothing.”

“I’m going right to the house to get some water to wash the blood off for you.”

“Don’t you do that, Hazel,” he said earnestly. “It ain’t much, and you’d mind the blood. My father’s been drunk again,” he added sullenly.

“Oh, Scip, dear, I’m so sorry,” Hazel cried, “I’m so sorry,” and longing to give such comfort as she could she put her arms about his neck and kissed him.

The tears came to the boy’s eyes. His child’s face, grown dull and expressionless from neglect and cruelty, quivered in every muscle. Hazel moved back shyly, startled at her[97] own impulsiveness. He looked down at the copy in her lap, at her slender brown hands, and said gently, “Don’t you mind, Hazel. I don’t mind no more.”

Then placing his black finger on the word over which he had been puzzling, “It’s ‘Horse,’ ain’t it? Horse, Horse. Reckon you thought I was a mule!”



Granny, it was as cold as Boston in my room this morning. It doesn’t seem as though it would ever be warm again. It’s freezing cold!”

“It’s freezing, indeed, honey, but eat breakfast and you’ll be warmer.”

The first winter weather had come when, by the calendar, winter should have been nearly over. Hazel had so long enjoyed the mild air that she had begun to believe nothing else was possible in Alabama. Now she was to learn that in a warm climate one most keenly feels the cold.

“I wonder if Mother is freezing up in Boston,” she mused, as she and Granny together did the housework. “She goes out to work a good deal now. I hope she isn’t taking cold.”

“Don’t borrow trouble, honey.”

[99]“But if she should take cold Charity would take care of her. Charity gets her supper sometimes now, Mother says, when she’s tired. And then Mother reads to her out of the Blue Fairy Book. I couldn’t bring many books, Granny, in just one little trunk, but I do wish I could read to you in the Blue Fairy Book. You would like it so much.”

“Then I done rob Charity of her good time.”

“But in Boston,” Hazel explained, “you have a library where you can get any book in the world.”

“Telephone for it, I suppose,” said Granny sceptically.

“Yes,” answered Hazel absently.

“It will be too cold for Scip to come to play house this afternoon,” the little girl declared somewhat petulantly as they sat at dinner after a morning indoors; “his father’s sure to be cross. But I’ll go up, Granny, because I never miss, you know.”

She put on her hat and her warm coat and climbed the little hill.

The wind was high, but crouched in her[100] enclosure, Hazel scarcely felt it. But she could hear it though, soughing through the pines—she believed the trees were never silent. To-day their singing leaves trumpeted the winter and called for action.

“I believe I’ll go to the top of the hill,” she said to herself. “Scip isn’t coming and it’s a good day to explore.”

She climbed up the hillside, striking once with her trusty stick at a stray pig, and soon reached the top. Below on one side was her home and the cabins with which she was familiar; on the other side stretched an unknown country, a land where she had been told the white folks lived.

“I’ll go just a little further,” Hazel decided.

The cold air made her feel like exercising. She was in much better health than when she had come to Alabama; in better health, her mother would have seen, than she had ever been in her life. The tingling air gave her courage, and she raced unconcernedly past cows and pigs down the hill on the other side.

It seemed remarkably like the side she had[101] left. There were the same log cabins, the same stretches of land filled with dry cotton stalks, the same hens, the same hogs. If she came upon a clapboarded house it was devoid of paint. She met an occasional lean, ragged white child, dull of complexion, who stared at her but had no word of greeting. But the cold kept the people indoors.

Hazel walked a little way along the road, when she was startled by a dog, which ran out from under a house and barked furiously at her. She held her stick tight, determined to use it if necessary, though Scip had said nothing about hitting dogs. But the animal only barked and she passed by it in safety. This incident, however, made her apprehensive, and after a little more investigation without interesting results she turned to go home.

What had become of the hill down which she had run?

It seemed to have melted into the landscape. Striving to retrace her steps she ran up one acclivity after another, wearying herself in the[102] hunt, but from none did she see the Lees’ cabin and Granny’s home. And the more she ran, the more she became completely turned around.

The sun was low in the west. It was bitter cold and she felt tired. Worst of all, she was in the land of the unknown white folk who called you “nigger,” and who went their way and wanted you to go yours. How could she ask her way of them?

She walked briskly along the road again, searching for a house where a colored family lived. Indeed, there were such houses, but their occupants were snuggled over their fires, and did not come out and show their friendly dark faces to the little colored girl. Only a dog rushed at her. She thought at first it was the one that had barked when she came over the hill, but this was an ugly cur that snapped at her heels, and caused her to run, it mattered not in what direction, so that she left it behind.

When she took note again of her surroundings the sun was dropping into a dark cloud[103] near the horizon. She was familiar now with the short twilight of the South, and she knew that night would soon be upon her. She must be brave and knock at one of these houses to ask the way.

Her training led her to choose the most pretentious one in sight, a large, square, unpainted, frame house. And again her training sent her to the front door where she knocked timidly.

The door was opened almost immediately, as though someone had been passing through the hall, and a high-pitched voice bade her enter.

“Whose child are you?” the voice said.

“I’m Aunt Ellen’s granddaughter,” answered Hazel, knowing enough to call her grandmother by that familiar title, “and I’ve lost my way. Can you please tell me how to get back to her house?”

“Sister,” the white woman called shrilly, and another woman appeared at an open door at Hazel’s left, “here’s Aunt Ellen’s child come to ask her way, and if the little nigger didn’t knock at the front door!”

[104]“You don’t say so, Jane,” said Sister.

Hazel recognized the two white ladies who had stopped at Granny’s house on their drive, and had asked her so many questions. She pressed her lips tightly together at the word “nigger,” but then she had expected it, and anyway they knew where Granny lived. “I don’t want to be any trouble,” she said in her most dignified manner, “and if you will please explain to me how to get to Granny’s, I will go. I came over the hill, but it is getting so dark I am afraid I couldn’t return that way.”

If she imagined she would be permitted to leave so easily she was mistaken.

“Come by the kitchen,” Miss Jane said, and led her to the rear of the house.

Hazel went unwillingly, but the bright fire in the stove made her give a little cry of pleasure.

“Warm yourself, child,” Miss Jane said kindly. “Rest your hat and coat, and sit by the fire. How much might that coat cost now?” she asked, examining the garment that Hazel obediently took off.

[105]“I don’t know,” Hazel replied. “It was given to me.”

“Who might give you a coat like that?” the other sister queried.

“A friend of my father’s. You know my father is dead,” Hazel added.

“Yes, I know, honey,” Miss Jane said sympathetically. “He was a right nice boy. He used to come here to sell my mother vegetables. He’d fix everything to sell as neat and nice, and he’d tell about the doings around his way until we’d almost die laughing. I’ve often wondered if he took to gardening up North.”

“We had a tiny garden where we lived,” Hazel answered eagerly, “and father worked in it in the early morning before he went to business. He was a lawyer, you know.”

“A lawyer?”

“Yes, ma’am, a lawyer.”

“A nigger lawyer! That beats all. Marty,” calling into the darkness, “did you know Aunt Ellen’s son, George, used to be a nigger lawyer?”

[106]“Yes, Miss Jane; I sure knowed.”

“This is his child. Make her a cup of warm coffee and give her some biscuits. She’s come a long way.”

The coffee, an unfamiliar but delectable drink, warmed not only Hazel’s body, but her heart. The two sisters did not leave the kitchen, but plied her with questions which she answered, trying to remember what Granny had told her. Here were two women living alone in a big house with few neighbors; they were giving her food and she ought to talk if they wanted her to. So she told them about her former home, and the flat in Hammond Street, and her mother’s present work.

“Seems to me your father ought to have left something if he had a practice,” the younger sister, whose name was Laura, remarked.

“He did,” Hazel answered quickly; “but mother won’t touch anything but the interest, and you know what seems a good deal of money makes a very little interest. She spent some to send me down here, and she’s planning to spend more to send me to college.”

[107]“What will you do with all your learning?” Miss Jane asked.

“I’ll teach.”


Hazel did not want to answer; but sitting very erect, with a precision that would have done any teacher credit, she replied: “Everybody goes to school in Boston, every single child. And the teachers don’t ask whether they are black or white, or rich or poor. There are Turks, and Arabians, and (switching to the map of Europe as safer ground) Hungarians, and Bulgarians, and Norwegians, and Swedians, (doubtfully) and Greeks, and Spaniards, and Romans, and Germans and Irish.”

“You don’t say,” exclaimed Miss Laura, “all those heathen!”

There was a moment’s silence.

“When are you going home?” asked Miss Jane.

“In May, I think, if anyone can be found to take me. I came down with Mrs. Graham, but she doesn’t return until July.”

“A white lady?”

[108]“No, Miss Fairmount.”

Hazel had heard the name in the course of their conversation, and felt pleased to be able to use it.

But Miss Fairmount felt differently.

“My name is Jane,” she said. “You should call me Miss Jane.”

“Not Miss Fairmount?”

“Certainly not. It is impertinent in a nigger.”

The blood rushed to Hazel’s face. She felt as though someone had struck her. Rising from her chair she said in an unsteady voice, “I must go home now. Granny will be anxious. Please tell me what road to take?”

Night had come on and the lamps were lighted.

“You don’t suppose we’d let you go home alone, child,” Miss Jane said. “Marty ’ll take you. Marty, you get on your shawl and take Hazel to Aunt Ellen’s. It’s not far beyond your house. Laura, show Hazel the birds in the parlor. Maybe she’d like to look at them.”

[109]Miss Laura took up a lamp, and led the child into the parlor, where she had been sitting when Hazel entered the house. The walls were bare of pictures and the furniture was heavy and decayed. In one corner was a table on which was a glass case containing three stuffed birds, a mocker, a humming bird and a cardinal. Hazel admired appreciatively, but her eyes would wander across the room where stood a huge four-poster, covered with an elaborate spread.

“They’re very pretty,” she said politely. “Granny tells me I must hear the mocking birds in the spring. We don’t have mocking birds in Massachusetts.”

“The North and the South are very different,” Miss Laura said, looking perplexedly at the child.

Hazel called them Miss Jane and Miss Laura when she said good-bye. She held out her hand a little shyly to Miss Jane, fearing that might be impertinent in the South. But Miss Jane took it, and stroked her coat, and told her to come again, and Miss Laura shook[110] hands too, and sent a message to Aunt Ellen. Then, the good-bye over, in proper southern fashion the little colored girl went out the back door.

Marty was not communicative, like her mistress, and scarcely spoke as they walked along the dark road. When they had gone a short distance past her cabin a boy appeared ahead of them.

“Hazel,” he called.

“Scip,” she answered, and ran to him.

He caught her roughly. “Where you been?” he asked.

“I was lost, Scip, and I asked Miss Jane and Miss Laura the way home, and I had to wait until Marty could come home with me.”

“Reckon I can leave you now,” Marty said, and with an interchange of good-nights she turned back.

“Was Granny worried, Scip?” Hazel asked. “Did she send you for me?”

“In course she were worried. You hadn’t ought to be out at night alone.”

Hazel explained what had happened. They[111] hurried over the road, and once she stumbled and caught Scip’s hand.

“How cold you are!” she exclaimed; and noticed that he had only a ragged jacket and that his feet were bare.

“It was kind of you to come, Scip,” she began, and then she saw Granny on the road in front of her cabin, and ran into her arms.

“Won’t you come in and get warm?” she called to the boy; but he answered “No,” and went on his way.

Granny heard the whole story that night before the fire.

“I tried to remember what you said about knowing them by their fruits,” Hazel explained seriously, “and they were kind to me and gave me food and sent me home with Marty. But they hurt my feelings dreadfully. They said I was impertinent when I said ‘Miss Fairmount,’ instead of ‘Miss Jane,’ and at home, really truly, it would have been impertinent to have said Miss Jane; and,” the child hung her head, “they called me ‘nigger.’”

Granny’s strong, kindly face grew sad.

[112]“You’s a hard road to travel, dearie, as you goes through life with your pretty face and your gentle ways. I’s feared the stones will often bruise your feet and the briars tear your hands. Shall I give you a token to keep in your heart as you go down the road? I learned it to your father when he was a boy and he never forgot it.”

“Please tell me, Granny, and I will not forget.”

“Watch how folks says things, and not what they says. Now, Miss Jane, she didn’t do that to-day, and she hurt my baby girl. She ain’t quality and that’s a fact. She were thinking of the words when you said ‘Miss Jane’ and not the feeling in your heart and voice. Don’t you make the mistake she made.”

Hazel was silent for a few seconds. When she answered her voice was unsteady.

“Nobody knows how angry I am, right through, when anyone calls me a nigger.”

“And yet, honey, I’s heard a forlorn, ignorant mammy say it to her baby when it sounded like she were whispering to the Lord. It’s[113] an ugly word. I hates it, too. But there’s white folks as don’t mean any harm by it. You fell in good hands to-day, and I thank the Lord for it. There’s those as might have spoken slick enough but as would have been rough in their hearts.”

Hazel gave Granny a hug.

“I do love you, Granny,” she said with a little sob, “and I’ll forget all the horrid things to-day, and remember the coffee and the fire and Miss Laura showing me those three poor little stuffed birds. But Granny;” brightening, “what do you think was in their parlor? Why, right there in the company room in that great big house they had a bed!”



Hazel awoke one morning to find it spring. She had seen it beginning, but she had not fully recognized it until now. A mocking bird told her all about it. He sat on a rosebush and chattered so fast and so gaily and as it seemed to Hazel of such a number of happenings, that she hurried through breakfast to learn what it was all about. And then she saw that spring had come.

“Granny, look!” she cried excitedly. “Everything is growing. The leaves are jumping out, just as fast, and the flowers are opening and the birds are singing, singing! Why that mocking bird”—she stopped for the highest praise she could command, “Why that mocking bird is lots jollier than any birds we have near Boston.”

“Well, sugar,” said Granny, “I’s glad to know once when the South come out on top.”

[115]“Why, Granny,” Hazel went on, disregarding the gentle sarcasm, “our teacher used to take us out in the spring to hear the bluebirds and song sparrows, and they just twitter, twitter like little birds, but that mocking bird!”

She stopped to listen again to the riot of song that came from the slender bird standing with tilted tail on the top of the rosebush.

“He’s talking to his mate, sugar,” said Granny. “Run out and play all the morning. The spring done call you, too.”

Hazel accepted spring’s summons, and ran down the road. She had not gone far when a redbird whistled, and she stopped to hear his full rich notes. A Judas tree blossomed across the road. Sweet-smelling blossoms and bright new leaves seemed everywhere. Even the pine showed fresh young shoots at the end of each bough. Truly the world was made new.

She had wandered for two hours up and down the road and among the pines until she found herself on the hill just above the Lees’ cabin.[116] She wondered if Scip were very busy, and looking about for him she heard an angry voice, and then a child’s cry of pain.

“It’s old man Lee,” she thought, and shrank back trembling. Then remembering what Scip had said of her bravery she walked slowly forward trying to find courage to plead for mercy.

A few steps showed her what was happening. It was not old man Lee, however, whom she saw administering discipline, but Scipio flogging his little brother Tom. He was beating him harshly, and as Hazel ran forward, without timidity now, he gave him a kick. The little fellow limped off, sobbing, and Scipio turned to see Hazel coming toward him, her eyes blazing, her hands clenched.

“What did you do that for?” she cried out.

“He sassed me,” Scipio answered.

“You’re a wicked, wicked boy,” Hazel said, her voice shaking with excitement, “and I’ll never speak to you again.”

Then she turned and ran down the road, leaving the lad staring speechless after her.

She stopped to listen to the riot of song

[117]All the joy had gone out of the spring. It was a commonplace day and the sun made her head ache.

Granny was surprised when, dinner over, Hazel failed to go to her house among the pines. The little girl had been as regular as if she were already a teacher in a real school, and this failure to keep her appointment boded something serious.

“She don’t keep colored people’s time,” Granny had said proudly to a neighbor; “she done never forget the clock on the meeting-house in Boston.” So when Hazel went to her spinning-wheel and worked hard and nervously, the old woman felt troubled but deemed it best to say nothing.

“Will you walk a way with me, dearie?” she said in the middle of the afternoon. “I’s an errand and I’s pining for company.”

Hazel put on the pink sun-bonnet and together they went down the road.

“Look at that turkey-cock,” Granny said, pointing to one in the field at their side. And indeed he was a wonderful sight. Every[118] feather stood out. His great tail was spread, his body thrown back for his majestic stride. Near him was the hen bird, indifferent to all of his efforts to attract her attention. He went up to her, beating his outstretched wings upon the ground. He walked pompously about her. Hazel forgot her trouble for a little in watching him.

“That’s his courting,” said Granny. “He can’t sing like the mocker, so he makes up with his fine feathers.”

“She doesn’t care about him,” said Hazel, and took no further interest in their walk.

A letter from her mother brightened things a little the next morning. It was full of interesting news, of going to the theatre, of the church sale, and of Charity and her perplexities over her school work. But what sunshine the letter brought was clouded by the last message: “Give my love to Scip.”

And she would never speak to him again!

She held to her resolve and stayed indoors after dinner; but at four o’clock, when Scipio surely would not be there, she ran up to her[119] house among the pines. Someone had visited it before her. The cones were brushed away, leaving the floor as she liked to have it, and in the tin can that served as a vase were strange wild flowers, the blossoms of the pitcher-plant. How wonderful they were with their streaked leaves! She had never seen them before.

Near the flowers was a piece of old paper in which something was wrapped. Looking, Hazel found bright birds’ feathers: blue quills from the jay, black iridescent crow’s feathers and the rose-colored quills of the cardinal. Someone must have been collecting them for a long time.

Hazel counted the feathers, drew them, one after another, across her cheek, feeling their soft surfaces, played a little with the flowers and then gathering the offerings together, carried them soberly home. In her room she pulled the little trunk out from under the bed and placed the feathers carefully in the tray. Then she locked the trunk, and pushed it back in its place. Her precious possessions were safe.

[120]She had received many presents in her short life, but they had all been bought with money. These gifts showed the patient toil by which they had been purchased. She was glad she had gone to the pines; she would accept Scipio’s silent message and play with him again, to-morrow.

Granny came in from the garden where she had been at work. “It’s going to rain, sugar,” she called. “We’d best build up the fire.”

“Is my kitten indoors?” Hazel asked anxiously, and ran down the road to find it playing among some dry branches.

When she returned, the kitten in her arms, the drops were already falling, and in a little time the shower had settled into a steady downpour.

“The rain will refresh the earth,” said Granny wisely. “All the world will shine beautiful to-morrow.”

“It’s pleasant to hear the rain on the roof, isn’t it?” said Hazel later, as she sipped the cocoa that Granny had learned to make for her, and ate her cornbread.

[121]Sometimes at supper they did not set any table, but ate before the fire (just like a picnic, Hazel would say) and they were sitting that way to-night.

“I never heard the rain beat on the roof until I came to Alabama,” Hazel said. “I’ve heard a great many new things, haven’t I, but the most beautiful of all is the mocking bird. What is it doing now out in the rain? I should think it would be very wet?”

Granny laughed. “Its head is under its wing and the water done run off its back. But it likes it, honey, it don’t never take cold. Listen how it’ll sing to-morrow.”

They were silent for a minute, enjoying the fire. Then Granny rose to her feet.

“Someone is outside,” she said; and moving quickly, she threw open the door.

On the porch stood Scipio.

“Come in, child,” she invited.

“I can’t,” he answered. “I’s wet and soiled.”

Hazel ran to where he stood. “Come in, oh, please come in, Scip,” she cried; and Scipio[122] stepped within the door while Granny went back to the fire.

The boy’s scanty clothing was soaked. He would not advance into the room, but remained with head bent, a heavy figure in the shadow. He looked tired and the circles beneath his eyes showed the need of sleep.

As he stood, hungry and ragged, he might have embodied the patient laborer of his patient race who for so long has planted the crop only to see another reap the harvest.

Hazel caught her breath as she saw his big lips tremble.

“Oh, Scip,” she whispered, “it was mean of me.”

The boy looked up at her. “I know I’s rough,” he said.

“Shut that door, Scip,” Granny called out, “and come in here. Never mind your clothes, child. We’s had working folks here before, and a little water won’t spoil this floor. Come get warm and drink this cocoa. Our Boston lady,” Granny said this with mock grandeur, “she done try make me believe cocoa beats[123] coffee; she don’t know everything yet, Scip. But you can manage to drink the stuff, I reckon. Set here now, on this stool, close to the blaze. Don’t act like you thought you’d outen the fire. Hazel, pass that cornbread and give Scip a big plate for himself. Our guests always has big plates. And you, Scip, do your best by the bananas we boughten yesterday. Our Boston lady thinks they’s mighty fine, and the Lord certainly done do them up in pretty yellow husks. See me shell one, Scip.” And so Granny talked on until Scip, with his big plate on his lap, seated by the warm fire, felt at home.

When supper was over Granny made the shadows on the wall that Hazel loved, and after she was through Scip made still cleverer ones, Hazel thought. Then they all sat very still while Hazel recited poetry and read out of the book the minister gave her. It was a jolly evening.

When Scipio had said good-night, and with many invitations to come again, had gone out into the rain, Hazel brought the pitcher-plants in to her grandmother.

[124]“Do they grow near here?” she asked.

“No, they come from the swamp, three miles south.”

“I quarrelled with Scipio, Granny,” Hazel pursued, her cheeks hot, “because I saw him beat his little brother Tom.”

“Tom ain’t good for much,” said Granny dryly. “He’s lazy.”

“But he’s so little,” Hazel pleaded. She put down the flowers and, stooping, picked up the kitten playing on the hearth. “He’s little, like a kitten.”

Granny smiled sadly as she replied: “I’s afraid the children here has to learn to catch mice mighty young. Scip has worked ever since he could toddle to the cotton fields. He thinks Tom might naturally help him.”

“They ought both to be at play,” Hazel said with a little catch in her breath. “You said so this morning. It’s spring.”



“Monday’s child is fair of face;
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is happy and glad;
Thursday’s child is sour and sad;
Friday’s child is loving in giving;
And Saturday’s child must work for its living.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is blithe and bonnie and good and gay.”

I was born on Tuesday. What day were you born on, Granny?” Hazel asked.

“What day was I born on, sugar? I don’t know the year I was born on much less the day.”

“Why, Granny,” said Hazel, startled, “Haven’t you a birthday?”

“I suppose I has, child. But I knows no more when I come into the world than I knows when the Lord ’ll take me out of it. You see, I was sold down here when I was about four[126] year old. That I knows. I can recollect when I first come here. The violets were blooming, and my mistress clapped her hands when she see me picking the little blossoms. That were in the spring of ’46. But whether I were just four, or most five, or only three maybe, I don’t rightly know.”

Granny saw the tears standing in Hazel’s eyes. “Your mother?” the child said.

“We never found one another; and there’s thousands like that. Every day in the year there was children sent from their folks to the bottom lands. But don’t think about it, sugar. It ain’t no use fretting about what’s past. Howsomever, that’s why I can’t tell whether I’s a Monday or a Tuesday or a Saturday child. The Lord alone can reckon my days.”

When Hazel had finished the dishes she went out-of-doors to think over what she had heard. The story of the past stirred her deeply, but had it not also a present import? Granny had never had a birthday, had never known what it was to be the centre of a birthday party, to have a cake with candles, most[127] of all to have the proud feeling that here was a day that belonged to her alone. Could nothing be done about it?

Hazel looked up at the clear blue sky and about her at the riot of flowers. What a beautiful time of year for a birthday! So much better than her month of November. Why not give Granny a birthday now?

“Scip,” Hazel called excitedly as he met her on the hillside that afternoon. “I’m going to give Granny a birthday party. Will you help?” And she explained Granny’s condition.

Scipio listened attentively, only half understanding, for birthdays had never been celebrated in the Lee household. But, of course, he promised to help if Hazel would show him the way; and before they went to their books ways and means were already devised by Hazel’s active mind.

That afternoon the little girl was a long time writing her home letter. Some explanation was necessary, and then the admonition to please send them, quick, quick, and as[128] many dozen as she thought right. “Pink and green and blue and yellow and white, please, like the candles I have.”

The next question was, who should come to the party?

“Only children, I think, Scip,” Hazel said as she discussed it with him. “If I didn’t ask all the grown people those left out would be offended, wouldn’t they?”

“I reckon there might be trouble,” Scip answered.

“There’ll be you and Tom and Theora—”

“That’s enough for we-all,” said Scip as he saw Hazel hesitate. “Jule can stay home and work.”

Hazel sighed, but felt relieved. It would be well to have the guests very young so that she could handle them.

“And Mammy Smith’s little girl, and Carrie and Johnnie Hunt, that will be enough, and I’ll teach them songs and games.”

There were busy days next week. Hazel drilled the little country children, who looked shyly at her and understood nothing of what[129] she was saying. Hazel called them stupid many times in her heart and sometimes with her lips, but they were only unfamiliar with all that she was trying to put into their lives. But one thing was sure. They could sing the birthday verse.

“Here’s a little box for you, honey,” Granny said one morning, handing Hazel a package. “Come by the post,” and she eyed it curiously.

“It’s—it’s a secret just now,” Hazel stammered.

“A secret? Well, child, don’t you tell it until you is good and ready,” and Granny went to her work in the garden.

In her room Hazel opened the box. It contained six dozen little candles, pink and green and blue and yellow and white. Just what she wanted. Mother always did exactly right.

But now, most difficult of all, to make the cake!

Granny loved to cook in the old way over the fire, but she had a stove in an outhouse which she used now that the warm weather[130] had come. If Hazel could get access to this, without Granny’s knowing it, she would make and try to bake the cake. At home she did the mixing and her mother the baking. But would Granny go away long enough for her to do her work? There was the great difficulty.

On the day after the candles came, however, it was solved.

“Aunt Ellen,” a breathless boy called, rushing into the cabin in the morning, “Ma’s sick and wants you.”

And Aunt Ellen went at once and left Hazel alone.

When the cake was baked and frosted Hazel looked at it with mingled delight and distrust. It had risen, but had it not fallen since? She must not taste it to find out. It was made of sugar and flour and eggs and it had been beaten until her hand and arm were first prickly, and then stiff with fatigue. It ought to be light. And anyway it was round and had white icing; certainly it was a beautiful looking birthday cake.

Hazel put it carefully in the bottom of her[131] trunk. The party she decided should be on the morrow.

“What is the matter with you, child?” Granny said the next day as they sat down to dinner. “You’s as restless as a bird, and you ain’t eating more’n a bird would eat.”

“Ain’t you going to teach Scip?” she said later, when Hazel failed to take her books and papers and climb the hill.

“Scip can’t come to-day, Granny, he said so. Let me help you.” And Hazel began to straighten things in the room. “Can’t we sweep a little?”

The old woman was clearly puzzled but she helped Hazel with the work.

“Let’s dress up and pretend it’s Christmas,” Hazel exclaimed when three o’clock came. “I’ll put on my white dress and you put on your new calico.”

“I’s got to work, child,” Granny said a little severely.

“Oh, don’t work this afternoon,” Hazel cried jumping up and down. “Play with me, won’t you please play with me? I do want[132] you to play with me, Granny, just one day.” And before four o’clock Hazel had her way and the two were sitting in their best gowns. “Much like fools,” Granny said.

“I’ll be back in a moment,” Hazel cried suddenly, and ran from the cabin door down the road. Granny waited a minute or two and then went to the porch to look out. Coming up the road was a little procession led by Hazel, with Scipio in the rear; between were three little girls and two little boys. They all marched solemnly to the porch where Granny stood.

“Now,” commanded Hazel, and the children sang:

“Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday, Aunt Ellen,
Happy birthday to you.”

Granny looked the children over; but she did not ask them in.

“It’s your birthday, Granny,” Hazel said, her voice shaking with excitement. “I chose to-day for your birthday.”

[133]The old woman glanced at Hazel without smiling and held herself very erect. She felt that they were making game of her.

“It’s a pretend party,” Hazel tried to explain; but as she looked into Granny’s eyes she suddenly wanted to cry.

The little children stood quietly, waiting to be told what to do next.

Then Scipio stepped forward.

“Aunt Ellen,” he said in his slow way, “it’s like this; you’s been kind to we-all here. There’s many of us as you’s helped into the world like you did Mrs. Brown’s baby yesterday. We wants to do something for you, so we’s just come and we’s brought you some flowers.”

The five waiting children looked at Hazel. She nodded, and they stepped forward and each gave a bouquet to Granny.

The old woman’s face softened as Scipio spoke, and now she smiled kindly and asked the children in. As they entered she noticed that each one was decked out a little, and she glanced at her own dress and then at Hazel’s.

[134]“She’s a smart one,” she thought.

“May we play a game, Granny?” Hazel asked hesitatingly. Scipio had seemingly saved the day, but she must make no further mistakes.

“Yes, child.”

“Then you sit here by the hearth, Granny, and Scip with you, and we’ll act a charade.”

She took the children out on the porch and presently they came in, each on hands and feet, and meowed with persistence if not with fervor.

“That’s meant to be a word, Granny and Scip, can you guess what it is?”

“Cats,” said Granny.

“That’s right,” Hazel cried, clapping her hands. “Cat. You guessed right the first time, didn’t you? Now we act the next word.”

She skipped out of the room with the children onto the porch. She was beginning to feel like herself. Granny smoothed her dress complacently.

Presently two boys came in and stood across the room each holding the end of a long string. A third child, a girl with an apron on, walked solemnly forward and fastened a towel to the[135] string with a clothes-pin. Immediately Hazel, with a dark shawl stretched out at arms-length to look like wings, hopped up and nipped off the nose of the maid, who gave a very creditable sob.

“Along came a black-bird and nipped off her nose,” the two boys said.

“That’s a little word,” explained Hazel, “and if you put it with cat it makes a longer word.”

Granny and Scip listened in silence; a charade seemed outside their mental horizon.

But Hazel and her troupe acted the whole word with studied care, and five little cats rolled about ecstatically in the green stuff Hazel threw to them.

“I knows it, Hazel,” Scipio cried suddenly. “It’s Catnip. You make it like you learn me words.”

Hazel beamed at him. He had pleased his little teacher to-day more than he could ever have hoped to please her in all his life. This might be Granny’s pretend birthday, but it was a real day of triumph for Hazel’s pretend brother.

[136]“And now, Granny,” Hazel said, still a little tremulously, “would you go on the porch with the children for just a few minutes and shut the door and leave Scipio and me here?”

Granny went willingly enough. She was beginning to enter into the spirit of the game.

“Darken the room as much as you can, Scip. Well put it in the middle of the table, and the candles on it and around it, and the flowers about them. We must light them, quickly, quickly. Oh, Scip, Scip, see! It’s the beautifulest kind of a birthday cake when you have seventy candles.”

“Let her come in right now,” Scipio said.

Granny with the children entered the room. On the table was a big white cake. Candles were in it and candles were around it, two rows deep. Each little flame twinkled as it rose from the bright-colored wax. It was a lovely sight.

“What you done do, sugar?” Granny gasped.

“It’s a birthday cake for you, Granny. I wanted you so to have a birthday cake. I’ve had five that I can remember, but they’re[137] prettiest when you’re seventy. I wanted you so to have a birthday that I chose one for you; and April is a nice time, don’t you think? You do like it, don’t you, Granny?” and Hazel ran to her grandmother’s side.

“Baby,” Granny said holding her tight. “It’s the most beautiful thing as ever was. It’s the prettiest sight these eyes has ever seen. Scip,” she called suddenly, “don’t you let those candles burn down. Everybody’s got to see my cake.”

“And now, Granny,” Hazel said when the candles were blown out, “you must cut the cake for the children.”

“Cut the cake for them tricks,” Granny cried excitedly. “No, indeed. The children can have corn-pone. Everybody has got to see my birthday cake. Where did you buy it, honey?”

“I made it,” Hazel answered, and that completed Granny’s amazement and Hazel’s happiness.

The children had their corn-pone, with jelly on it, and the cake was left on the table.[138] News of this wonder soon reached the community, and the first visitors came that evening. For one week the sight lasted. Twelve times did the candles, for a brief space, shine out on the white icing and brighten the flowers. The cake was not moved from the table, but remained there day and night, and the kitten was kept rigidly indoors to frighten away any possible mouse. At length, when the candles had burned to their sockets, Granny cut through the icing and gave a slice to Hazel and one to herself.

Hazel ate and said nothing, but she was glad it had not been cut before. Staleness might seem to account in part for the very heavy character of the half-cooked dough.

But Granny ate her piece as if it had been ambrosia, the food of the gods.

“That are splendid cake,” she exclaimed. “That icing are as sweet as you are, sugar, and I can’t say more.”

And she took another slice.



Granny, please help me to weave once more,” said Hazel, “and I’ll have a good big piece of cotton cloth.”

Ever since Hazel had spun the cotton she had wanted to weave it, but her grandmother’s loom was too large for her to handle. Granny had solved the difficulty by saying they could do it together, Hazel throwing the shuttle while she pushed the frame. In this fashion they had woven their cloth. “It’s your work, honey,” Granny had insisted. “You’re doing the weaving, not me.”

“Isn’t it hot!” Hazel said, after they had worked for an hour. “April in the South is as warm as June at home. Is it hotter than this in the summer?”

“I expect it is,” said Granny, looking at the child’s moist curls. “Don’t do any more now.”

[140]They went out on the porch to get cool.

“I’ve thought a great deal about my weaving,” said Hazel, very seriously, “and, Granny, I’ve decided to cut some of the cloth into wash-rags so that I can make presents to a number of my friends. I can hem them, can’t I?”

“Yes, dearie.”

“And then I shall make ten pieces at least. Granny, who is that coming down the road?”

Granny stood up and saw a young white lady coming toward them on horseback, who pulled up her horse as she reached the porch.

“Does Hazel Tyler live here?” she asked.

“Yes,” Hazel replied, going out to her, “I am Hazel Tyler.”

“I know your minister,” said the young lady, smiling, “and he asked me to come to see you.”

Hazel’s heart swelled with pride. The young lady dismounted, tied her horse, and then, declining to go indoors, sat on the steps with them.

“I am afraid you won’t like my errand, Mrs. Tyler,” the new-comer said, “but I have[141] come to ask Hazel if she wishes to go home with me.”

“You couldn’t have come on a less welcome errand to me,” said Granny sadly, “but the hot days is coming, and I suppose the child must go North again.”

The young lady, whose name was Miss Davis, then explained that she came from Boston, that she taught in the Jonesville school, and that she should return to her home the middle of May. “And if that will be convenient for Hazel,” she concluded, “she can go by rail all the way with me.”

“If my mother tells me it is what she wants me to do,” Hazel said, “of course I would love to travel with you.”

“I think from your minister’s letter, that you will hear shortly from your mother,” answered Miss Davis, and went into the details of the journey.

Hazel learned that if she were in company with a white person she might ride in the Pullman car and sleep in the fascinating bed that pulled down from the top. She would[142] only be traveling two days, and her mother would be at the end of the journey. But Granny! She did not want to look in her direction as she talked with Miss Davis.

“Wasn’t she pretty?” she asked the old woman as their visitor trotted down the road.

“I didn’t see as she was well-favored,” Granny answered.

Hazel put her arms about her grandmother’s neck. “I don’t leave for three weeks,” she said, “and I’m coming back again. Why, Granny, I truly do love the South. At least, the part where you are.”

“You dear baby,” was Granny’s only answer.

When Scip heard the news among the pines that afternoon, he started as though Hazel had struck him.

“Who going to take you?” he asked.

Hazel explained about Miss Davis, and the comfort of the train. Scipio could find no fault, but remained silent watching a redbird that hopped fearlessly about among their books on the ground. They had made a pet of this cardinal, scattering food for him, and making[143] bird sounds in conversation which Hazel insisted he could understand. When she had finished talking, the bird flew to a bough near them and began his clear, sweet song.

“He is asking you to stay,” Scip said.

He felt like crying.

“I’m going to my mother, Scip,” Hazel said softly.

After a little pause she went on: “I’ll write letters to you. See, I’ll make you a plain copy of written letters. I’ll make it very plain. You’ve only learned to print, Scip, but these next three weeks you must learn about writing.” And glad to have something definite to do, the little teacher turned to her task with earnest persistence and the matter of departure was not spoken of again.

But it hung over the three weeks. The mocking bird’s morning song now had a note of sadness. “You’re going away,” he said. The hen was reproachful as she showed her chickens. “You won’t see them grow up,” she clucked. Pussy Lucy purred, “You can’t play with me when I get to be a cat.” And[144] even the pigs grunted, “Why do you leave our babies now that they are so cunning?” for spring had glorified the pigs that fathered and mothered dear little offspring.

“There are so many things to say good-bye to,” Hazel said to Granny one night.

As for Granny, she was openly heart-broken. “You’s been the light of this house,” she said, “and the sun done drop out of my sky when you leave me. But I don’t blame your mother for calling you, not one speck.”

The first of May, Hazel began to pack her trunk. But there were certain possessions that went in and out with her changing mood. What books should she leave for Scip?

Scip had nothing to read. That she knew, and meant to leave him some of her little library, but how much?

She had six books which she kept on a shelf in her room. The first was a New Testament given her by her father. Of that there was no question; it was hers for ever and ever. The second was a simple reader that she fortunately had brought and had used in her[145] lessons. Of course, that would go to Scip. The third was the dictionary. Scip should have that, for Mother would be glad to give it to him. The fourth was “What Katy did,” a girl’s book, that she knew Scip wouldn’t care for; it could go in the trunk. The fifth and sixth were the Jungle Book, and Child Life, the Christmas gift of her minister.

When the first week of May came to an end, it seemed probable that the Jungle Book would remain on the shelf. Scipio did not fully appreciate it—it was evident he thought some of the conversation silly—but he liked the pictures, especially the one of the tiger. Hazel adored the Jungle Book, but, though she knew she should not count on this, she guessed shrewdly that when Mr. Perkins learned of her generosity he would give her another copy. But Child Life was different. And for many days it seemed that Child Life would remain in the trunk.

Hazel was an only child, and she had had few serious calls upon her generosity. Pretty things had been given her, and she had been genuinely[146] grateful, but she had come imperceptibly to regard them as her right. Never in her life had she given away anything for which she deeply cared. And she cared deeply for this book of poems. But Scip cared for them, too, and knew some of them almost by heart. Such a book would help him in his reading very much.

She had told Granny about the Boston library, where you could get any book in the world. Of course, it would have Child Life. But it was one thing to get a book for two weeks from a library, and another to have it on your book shelf every month of the year for your very own. And then, this book had her name in it, written by her minister. She hugged it close. It would not be right to give away the minister’s present. And feeling a little like a hypocrite she put it back in the trunk.

That afternoon she impressed upon Scipio that he must write to her. She had spoken of it before, but he had said nothing. “You really must write, Scip. You can print now quite nicely, you know. It will be good practice[147] for you, and I shall want to hear. You will, won’t you?”

Scipio shook his head.

Hazel felt disappointed and angry. “You must, Scip. Why won’t you?”

He gave his reason. “I ain’t got no money, and they won’t give stamps at the store.”

When she went home Hazel took Child Life out of the trunk and put it, almost savagely, on her table. “It’s a wicked shame,” she said to herself. “He works and works and he can’t have one single thing.” She took her pen, dipped it in the ink, and turning to the title page wrote under her own name, “To Scipio Lee.”

When she was done she looked at it hard and winked the tears from her eyes. Then she placed it on the shelf with the primer and the dictionary and the Jungle Book.

“Granny, will you write to me when I leave here?” she asked that night as they sat on the porch.

“Yes, sugar; but you mustn’t be surprised at my kind of writing. Colored children[148] weren’t taught to read and write in slavery days, but your father he learned me. When he were about twelve he began. ‘It may be I done leave home and mammy by and by,’ he said, ‘and I wants to get letters from my mother.’ So he worked with me every day like you work with Scip.”

“I remember the letters you wrote. Father loved them. I would understand what they were about now. So you’ll surely write me,” she went on persistently.

“Yes, honey.”

“Then, Granny, will you let Scip put his letters inside of yours, because he hasn’t money to buy stamps?”

“I sure will, you dear child.”

It had been arranged that Miss Davis should call for Hazel the Monday morning after her school closed and should take her to the station. She was to come at ten o’clock. The day before, Sunday, Scipio, on Granny’s and Hazel’s urgent invitation, took supper with them. The boy felt more conscious of his ill-kept clothes within doors than when with[149] Hazel in the woods, but she had been persistent and he had come. She took him into her room and showed him the shelf with its four books.

“I give them to you,” she said solemnly, and put them in his arms.

He looked bewildered. “You ain’t leaving all these for me?” he asked.

She nodded, “Yes, they’ve got your name in them.”

“I can’t have ’em,” he said, almost crying. “I ain’t any place to keep ’em. The boys is worse than ever now you don’t let me lick ’em.”

Hazel was dumb for a moment. Then she called Granny to her.

The old woman appeared in the doorway and the situation was explained to her.

“Could Scip keep the books here on this shelf?” Hazel asked. “Then they would be quite safe.”

“Why, in course,” Granny replied heartily. “And maybe he’ll read aloud sometimes to me. We could make them out together.”

[150]“I’m going to know how to read,” Scip said resolutely. “I never had nothing to read before, but now I’ve got books and a dictionary.”

Hazel read to them for a long time that evening; it was easier than to talk. She read the favorite poem of each; for Granny, “The Hen with One Chicken,” who thought she was so much busier than the ducks and turkeys with their broods; for Scip, “The Night with a Wolf,” “The Captain’s Daughter,” and the one she, too, liked so much, of the little girl in the woods.

“Are you not often, little maid,
Beneath the sighing trees afraid?”

And the little girl’s answer:

“Afraid, beneath the tall, strong trees,
That bend their arms to shelter me?”

“Do you know,” Hazel said confidentially, “I used to be a little frightened in the woods, but I never am now. I think of the poem and I have Scip’s stick!”

[151]“I’m coming again,” she said to Scip as he went down the porch to his home. “I’m coming again,” and she repeated it often to Granny before she went to bed.

Miss Davis arrived in a carriage the next morning on the front seat with the driver, her trunk behind. Hazel’s was placed beside it, and then the child turned to say good-bye.

Scipio was there with Theora and Tom hanging shyly to their big brother. He was very gentle with them. Hazel kissed both the children good-bye, and put out her hand to Scip.

He took it and said softly, “Good-bye, Sister.”

Granny held her close and could not let her go. “You’s been the light of my house,” she said. “Tell your mother I bless her for letting me have you. And I send you back to her sound and well, honey. She’ll be full of happiness. But we-all ’ll miss you sorely.”

Hazel could only give her one more hug.[152] Then she scrambled to the seat between the driver and Miss Davis, and the horse started off.

When she looked back she saw Granny standing in the road, her hand on Scipio’s shoulder.



It was necessary to stay in Montgomery over night in order to make railroad connections; so Hazel was able to visit Mr. and Mrs. Jenks again, while Miss Davis went to a hotel. Mrs. Jenks and her husband were delighted at the change in Hazel’s appearance. The thin, shy child had grown almost plump and was full of spirits. She talked gaily at dinner, she romped with the children, and she gave her host such a generous good-night hug that he was breathless and disheveled when it was over.

“Excuse me,” Hazel called as she ran upstairs, “but that is the way Mr. Perkins likes me to say good-night to him. And, oh,” ecstatically, “I shall see him next Sunday!”

The following morning Mrs. Jenks put up an enormous box of luncheons and breakfasts[154] and suppers for Hazel. Such a quantity of bread and butter sandwiches, such a lot of sliced chicken and hard-boiled eggs, and a jar of guava jelly with a spoon that didn’t have to be returned.

“It will be less expensive for you than to get your meals on the train,” Mrs. Jenks began hesitatingly.

Hazel broke in impetuously, “I know all about it, Mrs. Jenks. I’m not wanted in the dining car because I’m colored. I’m traveling North as Miss Davis’s maid, and I’m to do little things for her and to play I really am a maid. She says her traveling dress hooks up the back and around the side with about a hundred hooks, and that she could never wear it except for me. And I must keep her hair smooth for her because her mother says it is always untidy—it isn’t, it’s beautiful. And I’m to fan the flies away from her when she takes a nap. As if I thought flies were on trains! But we are going to play that I am her maid, to make a game of it, because it is better to do that than to keep feeling angry. How many[155] meals do I eat? One, two, three, four, five? This is plenty, for I can get milk and cocoa. I’m going to sleep in an upper berth, think, and climb up on a ladder! It will be great fun.”

Mrs. Jenks smiled and sighed and put some cakes in the box.

Miss Davis called for Hazel in a carriage, and the little girl felt very proud as she drove away with her new friend. The station was an exciting place. Hazel saw a check marked “Boston” put on her trunk and knew that home was near. She entered the Pullman car with Miss Davis and held her hand tightly as the porter showed them their seats. All her safety from insult, she knew, lay in the presence of her white companion. They sat down together and at length the train drew out of the station, headed for the North and home.

The little girl looked up at her friend. “I’m trying to think all the time of Mother,” she said, “but I can’t forget Granny and Scip.”

“You’ll visit them again,” Miss Davis said[156] consolingly. “When people once begin to travel they never stop.”

The journey was full of interest to Hazel, and not an unkind word was said to her during the trip. Indeed, an old lady in the seat across the aisle took a fancy to her, and sent her a big plate of ice-cream from the dining car. “Two portions, I’m sure,” Miss Davis said when she heard about it. New York was reached, a din of trolleys and elevateds and a big, beautiful station with a restaurant where everyone could sit and eat, and then Boston and home.

It was night when they got off the train at the South Station, and Hazel trembled as she walked by Miss Davis’s side. If Mother should miss her! Then she saw a big black man and she rushed toward and past him and into her mother’s arms.

“I waited a long time for my greeting,” said Mr. Perkins, smoothing his coat collar, “but it was satisfactory when I got it.”

“Where is Miss Davis?” asked Hazel when she could look about her again.

[157]“She left her good-bye,” said Mr. Perkins; “she was hurrying to meet someone, too; perhaps it was her brother, and perhaps it wasn’t. Come, Little Frog, give me your check. I’ll look after your trunk when I’ve put you and your mother on the car. You’re coming to dine with us Sunday.”

How beautiful home looked with its three dear little rooms! The table was set for supper. There was a big dish of strawberries, white bread and butter, and a spider on the fire with a lamb chop in it ready to cook! In a moment Charity came in.

The two little girls flew into one another’s arms.

“My, ain’t you fat, Hazel!” said Charity.

Hazel laughed delightedly. “I like to be fat,” she said.

“I am going to cook your chop,” said Charity, and Mrs. Tyler let her.

“Mother,” said Hazel as she ate her supper, “you don’t know, for you haven’t been South, how good this chop tastes. There are two things I don’t want to see again for a long[158] time; one is bacon and the other is corn bread.” Then, feeling that this might seem ungrateful to Granny, “they are both good, but I’ve had enough of them.”

“There’s a moving-picture show around the corner,” said Charity, when Hazel had finished her supper, “want to go? I’ve got two dimes.”

“Oh, not to-night, Charity.”

“Well, whenever you want, the price is on me.”

Hazel was not allowed to help with the dishes, for she was a visitor this evening. To-morrow she would slip back into the routine of home. She and her mother talked and talked far into the night, there was so much to tell about, and both were so happy. At length Hazel dropped off to sleep, but her mother lay awake until the dawn showed her her child’s face again. “How well she looks,” Mrs. Tyler said again and again to herself. “I did right to send her away.”

“Here is a wash-cloth that I spun and wove for you, Charity,” Hazel said the next morning and handed it triumphantly to her friend.

[159]Charity looked it over carefully. “I can buy ’em like that for five cents at Jordan, Marsh’s.”

“Can you?” answered Hazel, trying not to be hurt. “And it took me days and days to make it.”

“Sure,” said Charity loftily, “didn’t I tell you it was slow down South?”

When Hazel took the same gift to her school-teacher, however, she heard a very different comment.

“You’ve done a wonderful thing, Hazel,” Miss Grey said. “You’ve followed an industry from its beginning to the finished product. Next year, if it is possible, we will get a spinning-wheel and loom and you can demonstrate the spinning and weaving to the school.”

Hazel repeated this to Charity.

“Bet you’d break your thread,” Charity declared, “when you had to spin before all the boys and girls.”

The homecoming was very exciting. There was the first Sunday at church, and the Sunday school service, when they wanted to hear[160] about their song-books down in Alabama, and the good time at the Perkins’s and the trolley rides with Charity. Mr. Perkins gave Hazel a dollar for trolley rides, telling her that she must not forget the city and its delights.

June came, and one late afternoon Mrs. Tyler returned from her work looking so happy that Hazel accused her of having a secret.

Mrs. Tyler nodded assent. “You shall hear it after supper,” she said.

So when the dishes were washed they sat down together, and Hazel heard the secret.

“We are going away for the summer,” said her mother. “I find I can make more money at my shampooing in the country than here. Some of my customers go to a beautiful place by the sea and they promise me plenty of business there.”

“Is it at Revere Beach?” asked Hazel.

“No indeed, goosey, much further than that, ’way down in Maine.”

“More traveling?”

[161]“Yes, more traveling, but not so far as Alabama.”

“I shall miss Charity,” mused Hazel, “but I believe wherever you go you have to miss somebody. Are there pines in Maine?”


“Yes, pine trees. Do they grow there?”

“I think so, dear.”

“Then, if there are pine trees, I shall like it very much!”

Just before they left town letters came from Granny and Scip.

“Mother,” said Hazel after reading them, “my heart is content. Scipio is living with Granny; at least, he is staying there at night. She never did like living alone, the least bit, and so she got Scip’s father to let the boy stay with her. She gives him supper and breakfast and Granny says he was half starved before, and at night they both read out of the books I left. Granny says they think of me.”

Scipio’s letter was plainly printed and showed constant consultation with the dictionary.


Dear Sister:

Aunt Ellen has took me in.

I am going to help her pick cotton when it ripes.

The cat is playing by the fire.

Scipio Lee.

“I’m so glad you trimmed my summer hat with the feathers Scip gave me, Mother,” Hazel said, “I shall tell him about it the next time I write.”



Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

Archaic or variant spelling has been retained from the original.