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Jim’s Probation
by [?]

“Now look here, Parker, I’ve got a fine lot of that good old tobacco you like so up to the big house, and I’ll tell you what I’ll do. If you’ll just try to work on Jim, and get his feet in the right path, you can come up and take all you want.”

“Oom-oomph,” said the old man, “dat sho’ is monst’ous fine terbaccer, Mas’ Stua’t.”

“Yes, it is, and you shall have all you want of it.”

“Well, I’ll have a little wisit wid Jim, an’ des’ see how much he ‘fected, an’ if dey any stroke to be put in fu’ de gospel ahmy, you des’ count on me ez a mighty strong wa’ior. Dat boy been layin’ heavy on my mind fu’ lo, dese many days.”

As a result of this agreement, the old man went down to Jim’s cabin on a night when that interesting sinner was suffering particularly from his rheumatic pains.

“Well, Jim,” the preacher said, “how you come on?”

“Po’ly, po’ly,” said Jim, “I des’ plum’ racked an’ ‘stracted f’om haid to foot.”

“Uh, huh, hit do seem lak to me de Bible don’ tell nuffin’ else but de trufe.”

“What de Bible been sayin’ now?” asked Jim suspiciously.

“Des’ what it been sayin’ all de res’ o’ de time. ‘Yo’ sins will fin’ you out'”

Jim groaned and turned uneasily in his chair. The old man saw that he had made a point and pursued it.

“Don’ you reckon now, Jim, ef you was a bettah man dat you wouldn’ suffah so?”

“I do’ know, I do’ know nuffin’ ’bout hit.”

“Now des’ look at me. I ben a-trompin’ erlong in dis low groun’ o’ sorrer fu’ mo’ den seventy yeahs, an’ I hain’t got a ache ner a pain. Nevah had no rheumatics in my life, an’ yere you is, a young man, in a mannah o’ speakin’, all twinged up wid rheumatics. Now what dat p’int to? Hit mean de Lawd tek keer o’ dem dat’s his’n. Now Jim, you bettah come ovah on de Lawd’s side, an’ git erway f’om yo’ ebil doin’s.”

Jim groaned again, and lifted his swollen leg with an effort just as Brother Parker said, “Let us pray.”

The prayer itself was less effective than the request was just at that time for Jim was so stiff that it made him fairly howl with pain to get down on his knees. The old man’s supplication was loud, deep, and diplomatic, and when they arose from their knees there were tears in Jim’s eyes, but whether from cramp or contrition it is not safe to say. But a day or two after, the visit bore fruit in the appearance of Jim at meeting where he sat on one of the very last benches, his shoulders hunched, and his head bowed, unmistakable signs of the convicted sinner.

The usual term of mourning passed, and Jim was converted, much to Mandy’s joy, and Brother Parker’s delight. The old man called early on his master after the meeting, and announced the success of his labors. Stuart Mordaunt himself was no less pleased than the preacher. He shook Parker warmly by the hand, patted him on the shoulder, and called him a “sly old fox.” And then he took him to the cupboard, and gave him of his store of good tobacco, enough to last him for months. Something else, too, he must have given him, for the old man came away from the cupboard grinning broadly, and ostentatiously wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Great work you’ve done, Parker, a great work.”

“Yes, yes, Mas’,” grinned the old man, “now ef Jim can des’ stan’ out his p’obation, hit’ll be montrous fine.”

“His probation!” exclaimed the master.

“Oh yes suh, yes suh, we has all de young convu’ts stan’ a p’obation o’ six months, fo’ we teks ’em reg’lar inter de chu’ch. Now ef Jim will des’ stan’ strong in de faif–“

“Parker,” said Mordaunt, “you’re an old wretch, and I’ve got a mind to take every bit of that tobacco away from you. No. I’ll tell you what I’ll do.”