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No Respecter Of Persons
by [?]



I have been requested to tell this story, and exactly as it happened. The moral any man may draw for himself. I only want to ask my readers the question I have been asking myself ever since I saw the girl: Why should such things be among us?

* * * * *

Marny’s studio is over the Art Club.

He was at work on a picture of a canon with some Sioux Indians in the foreground, while I sat beside him, watching the play of his masterly brush.

Dear old Aunt Chloe, in white apron and red bandanna, her round black face dimpled with smiles, was busying herself about the room, straightening the rugs, puffing up the cushions of the divan, pushing back the easels to get at the burnt ends of abandoned cigarettes, doing her best, indeed, to bring some kind of domestic order out of Marny’s Bohemian chaos.

Now and then she interpolated her efforts with such remarks as:

“No, doan’ move. De Colonel”–her sobriquet for Marny–“doan’ keer whar he drap his seegars. But doan’ you move, honey”–sobriquet for me. “I kin git ’em.” Or “Clar to goodness, you pillows look like a passel o’ hogs done tromple ye, yo’re dat mussed.” Critical remarks like these last were given in a low tone, and, although addressed to the offending articles themselves, accompanied by sundry cuffs of her big hand, were really intended to convey Aunt Chloe’s private opinion of the habits of her master and his friends.

The talk had drifted from men of the old frontier to border scouts, and then to the Kentucky mountaineers, whom Marny knows as thoroughly as he does the red men.

“They are a great race, these mountaineers,” he said to me, as he tossed the end of another cigarette on Aunt Chloe’s now clean-swept floor. Marny spoke in crisp, detached sentences between the pats of his brush. “Big, strong, whalebone-and-steel kind of fellows; rather fight than eat. Quick as lightning with a gun; dead shots. Built just like our border men. See that scout astride of his horse?”–and he pointed with his mahl-stick to a sketch on the wall behind him–“looks like the real thing, don’t he? Well, I painted him from an up-country moonshiner. Found him one morning across the river, leaning up against a telegraph pole, dead broke. Been arrested on a false charge of making whiskey without a license, and had just been discharged from the jail. Hadn’t money enough to cross the bridge, and was half-starved. So I braced him up a little, and brought him here and painted him.”

We all know with what heartiness Marny can “brace.” It doubtless took three cups of coffee, half a ham, and a loaf of bread to get him on his feet, Marny watching him with the utmost satisfaction until the process was complete.

“You ought to look these fellows over; they’re worth it. Savage lot, some of ’em. Remind me of the people who live about the foothills of the Balkans. Mountaineers are the same the world over, anyway. But you don’t want to hunt for these Kentuckians in their own homes unless you send word you are coming, or you may run up against the end of a rifle before you know it. I don’t blame them.” Marny leaned back in his chair and turned toward me. “The Government is always hunting them as if they were wild beasts, instead of treating them as human beings. They can’t understand why they shouldn’t get the best prices they can for their corn. They work hard enough to get it to grow. Their theory is that the Illinois farmer feeds the corn to his hogs and sells the product as pork, while the mountaineer feeds it to his still and sells the product to his neighbors as whiskey. That a lot of Congressmen who never hoed a row of corn in their lives, nor ran a furrow, or knew what it was to starve on the proceeds, should make laws sending a man to jail because he wants to supply his friends with liquor, is what riles them, and I don’t blame them for that, either.”