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by [?]

Some few years ago one of those great national conventions which draw together all ages and conditions of the sovereign people of America was held in Charleston, South Carolina.

Colonel Demarion, one of the State Representatives, had attended that great national convention; and, after an exciting week, was returning home, having a long and difficult journey before him.

A pair of magnificent horses, attached to a light buggy, flew merrily enough over a rough-country for a while; but toward evening stormy weather reduced the roads to a dangerous condition, and compelled the Colonel to relinquish his purpose of reaching home that night, and to stop at a small wayside tavern, whose interior, illuminated by blazing wood-fires, spread a glowing halo among the dripping trees as he approached it, and gave promise of warmth and shelter at least.

Drawing up to this modest dwelling, Colonel Demarion saw through its uncurtained windows that there was no lack of company within. Beneath the trees, too, an entanglement of rustic vehicles, giving forth red gleams from every dripping angle, told him that beasts as well as men were cared for. At the open door appeared the form of a man, who, at the sound of wheels, but not seeing in the outside darkness whom he addressed, called out, “‘Tain’t no earthly use a-stoppin’ here.”

Caring more for his chattels than for himself, the Colonel paid no further regard to this address than to call loudly for the landlord.

At the tone of authority, the man in outline more civilly announced himself to be the host; yet so far from inviting the traveller to alight, insisted that the house was “as full as it could pack;” but that there was a place a little farther down the road where the gentleman would be certain to find excellent accommodation.

“What stables have you here?” demanded the traveller, giving no more heed to this than to the former announcement; but bidding his servant to alight, and preparing to do so himself.

“Stables!” repeated the baffled host, shading his eyes so as to scrutinize the newcomer, “stables, Cap’n?”

“Yes, stables. I want you to take care of my horses; I can take care of myself. Some shelter for cattle you must have by the look of these traps,” pointing to the wagons. “I don’t want my horses to be kept standing out in this storm, you know.”

“No, Major. Why no, cert’n’y; Marion’s ain’t over a mile, and—-“

“Conf–!” muttered the Colonel; “but it’s over the river, which I don’t intend to ford to-night under any consideration.”

So saying, the Colonel leaped to the ground, directing his servant to cover the horses and then get out his valise; while the host, thus defeated, assumed the best grace he could to say that he would see what could be done “for the horses.”

“I am a soldier, my man,” added the Colonel in a milder tone, as he stamped his cold feet on the porch and shook off the rain from his travelling-gear; “I am used to rough fare and a hard couch: all we want is shelter. A corner of the floor will suffice for me and my rug; a private room I can dispense with at such times as these.”

The landlord seemed no less relieved at this assurance than mollified by the explanation of a traveller whom he now saw was of a very different stamp from those who usually frequented the tavern. “For the matter of stables, his were newly put up, and first-rate,” he said; and “cert’n’y the Gen’ral was welcome to a seat by the fire while ’twas a-storming so fierce.”

Colonel Demarion gave orders to his servant regarding the horses, while the landlord, kicking at what seemed to be a bundle of sacking down behind the door, shouted–“Jo! Ho, Jo! Wake up, you sleepy-headed nigger! Be alive, boy, and show this gentleman’s horses to the stables.” Upon a repetition of which charges a tall, gaunt, dusky figure lifted itself from out of the dark corner, and grew taller and more gaunt as it stretched itself into waking with a grin which was the most visible part of it, by reason of two long rows of ivory gleaming in the red glare. The hard words had fallen as harmless on Jo’s ear-drum as the kicks upon his impassive frame. To do Jo’s master justice, the kicks were not vicious kicks, and the rough language was but an intimation that dispatch was needed. Very much of the spaniel’s nature had Jo; and as he rolled along the passage to fetch a lantern, his mouth expanded into a still broader grin at the honor of attending so stately a gentleman. Quick, like his master, too, was Jo to discriminate between “real gentlefolks” and the “white trash” whose rough-coated, rope-harnessed mules were the general occupants of his stables.