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Mammy Peggy’s Pride
by [?]

“I shall slink out of it like a cur. I can’t meet the eyes of the new owner; I shall hate him.”

“W’y, Miss Mime, whaih’s yo’ pride? Whaih’s yo’ Ha’ison pride?”

“Gone, gone with the deed of this house and its furniture. Gone with the money I paid for the new cottage and its cheap chairs.”

“Gone, hit ain’ gone, fu’ ef you won’t let on to have it, I will. I’ll show dat new man how yo’ pa would ‘a’ did ef he’d ‘a’ been hyeah.”

“What, you, Mammy Peggy?”

“Yes, me, I ain’ a-gwine to let him t’ink dat de Ha’isons didn’ have no quality.”

“Good, mammy, you make me remember who I am, and what my duty is. I shall see Mr. Northcope when he comes, and I’ll try to make my Harrison pride sustain me when I give up to him everything I have held dear. Oh, mammy, mammy!”

“Heish, chile, sh, sh, er go on, dat’s right, yo’ eyes is open now an’ you kin cry a little weenty bit. It’ll do you good. But when dat new man comes I want mammy’s lamb to look at him an’ hol’ huh haid lak’ huh ma used to hol’ hern, an’ I reckon Mistah No’thcope gwine to withah away.”

And so it happened that when Bartley Northcope came the next day to take possession of the old Virginia mansion he was welcomed at the door, and ushered into the broad parlor by Mammy Peggy, stiff and unbending in the faded finery of her family’s better days.

“Miss Mime’ll be down in a minute,” she told him, and as he sat in the great old room, and looked about him at the evidences of ancient affluence, his spirit was subdued by the silent tragedy which his possession of it evinced. But he could not but feel a thrill at the bit of comedy which is on the edge of every tragedy, as he thought of Mammy Peggy and her formal reception. “She let me into my own house,” he thought to himself, “with the air of granting me a favor.” And then there was a step on the stair; the door opened, and Miss Mima stood before him, proud, cold, white, and beautiful.

He found his feet, and went forward to meet her. “Mr. Northcope,” she said, and offered her hand daintily, hesitatingly. He took it, and thought, even in that flash of a second, what a soft, tiny hand it was.

“Yes,” he said, “and I have been sitting here, overcome by the vastness of your fine old house.”

The “your” was delicate, she thought, but she only said, “Let me help you to recovery with some tea. Mammy will bring some,” and then she blushed very red. “My old nurse is the only servant I have with me, and she is always mammy to me.” She remembered, and throwing up her proud little head rang for the old woman.

Directly, Mammy Peggy came marching in like a grenadier. She bore a tray with the tea things on it, and after she had set it down hovered in the room as if to chaperon her mistress. Bartley felt decidedly uncomfortable. Mima’s manners were all that politeness could require, but he felt as if she resented his coming even to his own, and he knew that mammy looked upon him as an interloper.

Mima kept up well, only the paleness of her face showed what she felt at leaving her home. Her voice was calm and impassive, only once it trembled, when she wished that he would be as happy in the house as she had been.

“I feel very much like an interloper,” he said, “but I hope you won’t feel yourself entirely shut out from your beautiful home. My father, who comes on in a few days is an invalid, and gets about very little, and I am frequently from home, so pray make use of the grounds when you please, and as much of the house as you find convenient.”