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“The little darky dug harder and harder into the sand, and flashed a furtive glance from under his brows at his fellow-conspirator. Then he drawled out, ‘I done it.’

“‘You didn’t,’ came back the instant retort from his young master, ‘I did it myself.’

“‘I done it,’ repeated Ben, and ‘You didn’t,’ reiterated his young master.

“The father sat and looked on at the dispute, and his mouth twitched suspiciously, but he spoke up sternly. ‘Well, if I can’t get the truth out of you this way, I’ll try some other plan. Mandy,’ he hailed a servant, ‘put these boys on a diet of bread and water until they are ready to answer my questions truthfully.’

“The culprits were led away to their punishment. Of course it would have just been meat to Mandy to have stolen something to the youngsters, but her master kept such a close eye upon her that she couldn’t, and when brought back at the end of three hours, their fare had left the prisoners rather hungry. But they had evidently disputed the matter between themselves, and from the cloud on their faces when they reappeared before their stern judge, it was still unsettled.

“To the repetition of the question, Vaughan answered again, ‘I did it,’ and then his father tried Ben again.

“After several efforts, and an imploring glance at his boy master, the little black stammered out:

“‘Well, I reckon–I reckon, Mas,’ me an’ Mas’ Vaughan, we done it in cahoots.’

“Old Fairfax Fairfax had a keen sense of humour, and as he looked down on the strangely old young darky and took in his answer, the circumstance became too much for his gravity, and his relaxing laugh sent the culprits rolling and tumbling in the sand in an ectasy of relief from the strained situation.

“‘Cahoots–I reckon it was “Cahoots,”‘ the judge said. ‘You ought to be named that, you little black rascal!’ Well, the story got around, and so it was, and from that day forth the black boy was ‘Cahoots.’ Cahoots, whether on the plantation, at home, in the halls of the Northern College, where he accompanied his young master, or in the tragic moments of the great war-drama played out on the field of Malvern.

“As they were in childhood, so, inseparable through youth and young manhood, Robert Fairfax and Cahoots grew up. They were together in everything, and when the call came that summoned the young Virginian from his college to fight for the banner of his State, Cahoots was the one who changed from the ease of a gentleman’s valet to the hardship of a soldier’s body-servant.

“The last words Fairfax Fairfax said as his son cantered away in his gray suit were addressed to Cahoots: ‘Take good care of your Mas’ Vaughan, Cahoots, and don’t come back without him.’

“‘I won’t, Mastah,’ Cahoots flung back and galloped after his lifelong companion.

“Well, the war brought hard times both for master and man, and there were no flowery beds of ease even for the officers who wore the gray. Robert Fairfax took the fortunes of the conflict like a man and a Virginia gentleman, and with him Cahoots.

“It was at Malvern Hill that the young Confederate led his troops into battle, and all day long the booming of the cannon and the crash of musketry rising above the cries of the wounded and dying came to the ears of the slave waiting in his tent for his master’s return. Then in the afternoon a scattered fragment came straggling back into the camp. Cahoots went out to meet them. The firing still went on.

“‘Whah’s Mas’ Bob?’ his voice pierced through the cannon’s thunder.

“‘He fell at the front, early in the battle.’

“‘Whah’s his body den, ef he fell?’

“‘We didn’t have time to look for dead bodies in that murderous fire. It was all we could do to get our living bodies away.’

“‘But I promised not to go back without him.’ It was a wail of anguish from the slave.