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The Guardian of the Accolade
by [?]

And then to the turmoil of Uncle Bushrod’s thoughts came the corroborating recollection of preceding events–Mr. Robert’s increasing intemperance and consequent many moods of royal high spirits and stern tempers; the casual talk he had heard in the bank of the decrease in business and difficulty in collecting loans. What else could it all mean but that Mr. Robert Weymouth was an absconder–was about to fly with the bank’s remaining funds, leaving Mr. William, Miss Letty, little Nab, Guy, and Uncle Bushrod to bear the disgrace?

During one minute Uncle Bushrod considered these things, and then he awoke to sudden determination and action.

“Lawd! Lawd!” he moaned aloud, as he hobbled hastily toward the side door. “Sech a come-off after all dese here years of big doin’s and fine doin’s. Scan’lous sights upon de yearth when de Weymouth fambly done turn out robbers and ‘bezzlers! Time for Uncle Bushrod to clean out somebody’s chicken-coop and eben matters up. Oh, Lawd! Marse Robert, you ain’t gwine do dat. ‘N Miss Letty an’ dem chillun so proud and talkin’ ‘Weymouth, Weymouth,’ all de time! I’m gwine to stop you ef I can. ‘Spec you shoot Mr. Nigger’s head off ef he fool wid you, but I’m gwine stop you ef I can.”

Uncle Bushrod, aided by his hickory stick, impeded by his rheumatism, hurried down the street toward the railroad station, where the two lines touching Weymouthville met. As he had expected and feared, he saw there Mr. Robert, standing in the shadow of the building, waiting for the train. He held the satchel in his hand.

When Uncle Bushrod came within twenty yards of the bank president, standing like a huge, gray ghost by the station wall, sudden perturbation seized him. The rashness and audacity of the thing he had come to do struck him fully. He would have been happy could he have turned and fled from the possibilities of the famous Weymouth wrath. But again he saw, in his fancy, the white reproachful face of Miss Letty, and the distressed looks of Nan and Guy, should he fail in his duty and they question him as to his stewardship.

Braced by the thought, he approached in a straight line, clearing his throat and pounding with his stick so that he might be early recognized. Thus he might avoid the likely danger of too suddenly surprising the sometimes hasty Mr. Robert.

“Is that you, Bushrod?” called the clamant, clear voice of the gray ghost.

“Yes, suh, Marse Robert.”

“What the devil are you doing out at this time of night?”

For the first time in his life, Uncle Bushrod told Marse Robert a falsehood. He could not repress it. He would have to circumlocute a little. His nerve was not equal to a direct attack.

“I done been down, suh, to see ol’ Aunt M’ria Patterson. She taken sick in de night, and I kyar’ed her a bottle of M’lindy’s medercine. Yes, suh.”

“Humph!” said Robert. “You better get home out of the night air. It’s damp. You’ll hardly be worth killing to-morrow on account of your rheumatism. Think it’ll be a clear day, Bushrod?”

“I ‘low it will, suh. De sun sot red las’ night.”

Mr. Robert lit a cigar in the shadow, and the smoke looked like his gray ghost expanding and escaping into the night air. Somehow, Uncle Bushrod could barely force his reluctant tongue to the dreadful subject. He stood, awkward, shambling, with his feet upon the gravel and fumbling with his stick. But then, afar off–three miles away, at the Jimtown switch–he heard the faint whistle of the coming train, the one that was to transport the Weymouth name into the regions of dishonour and shame. All fear left him. He took off his hat and faced the chief of the clan he served, the great, royal, kind, lofty, terrible Weymouth–he bearded him there at the brink of the awful thing that was about to happen.

“Marse Robert,” he began, his voice quivering a little with the stress of his feelings, “you ‘member de day dey-all rode de tunnament at Oak Lawn? De day, suh, dat you win in de ridin’, and you crown Miss Lucy de queen?”