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Silas Jackson
by [?]

Silas, however, was not without the pride of his kind, and although his father protested that it was a useless extravagance, he insisted upon going to the nearest village and investing part of his small savings in a new suit of clothes. It was quaint and peculiar apparel, but it was the boy’s first “store suit,” and it filled him with unspeakable joy. His brothers and sisters regarded his new magnificence with envying admiration. It would be a long while before they got away from bagging, homespun, and copperas-colored cotton, whacked out into some semblance of garments by their “mammy.” And so, armed with a light bundle, in which were his few other belongings, and fearfully and wonderfully arrayed, Silas Jackson set out for the Springs. His father’s parting injunctions were ringing in his ears, and the memory of his mammy’s wet eyes and sad face lingered in his memory. She had wanted him to take the gaudy Bible away, but it was too heavy to carry, especially as he was to walk the whole thirty miles to the land of promise. At the last, his feeling of exaltation gave way to one of sorrow, and as he went down the road, he turned often to look at the cabin, until it faded from sight around the bend. Then a lump rose in his throat, and he felt like turning and running back to it. He had never thought the old place could seem so dear. But he kept his face steadily forward and trudged on toward his destiny.

The Springs was the fashionable resort of Virginia, where the aristocrats who thought they were ill went to recover their health and to dance. Compared with large cities of the North, it was but a small town, even including the transient population, but in the eyes of the rural blacks and the poor whites of the region, it was a place of large importance.

Hither, on the morning after his departure from the home gate, came Silas Jackson, a little foot-sore and weary, but hopeful withal. In spite of the pains that he had put upon his dressing, he was a quaint figure on the city streets. Many an amused smile greeted him as he went his way, but he saw them not. Inquiring the direction, he kept on, until the many windows and broad veranda of the great hotel broke on his view, and he gasped in amazement and awe at the sight of it, and a sudden faintness seized him. He was reluctant to go on, but the broad grins with which some colored men who were working about the place regarded him, drove him forward, in spite of his embarrassment.

He found his way to the kitchen, and asked in trembling tones for the head waiter. Breakfast being over, that individual had leisure to come to the kitchen. There, with the grinning waiters about him, he stopped and calmly surveyed Silas. He was a very pompous head waiter.

Silas had never been self-conscious before, but now he became distressfully aware of himself–of his awkwardness, of his clumsy feet and dangling hands, of the difference between his clothes and the clothes of the men about him.

After a survey, which seemed to the boy of endless duration, the head waiter spoke, and his tone was the undisputed child of his looks.

“I pussoom,” said Mr. Buckner, “that you are the pusson Mistah Ma’ston spoke to the p’op’ietor about?”

“Yes, suh, I reckon I is. He p’omised to git me a job up hyeah, an’ I got yo’ lettah–” here Silas, who had set his bundle on the floor in coming into the Presence, began to fumble in his pockets for the letter. He searched long in vain, because his hands trembled, and he was nervous under the eyes of this great personage who stood unmoved and looked calmly at him.

Finally the missive was found and produced, though not before the perspiration was standing thick on Silas’s brow. The head waiter took the sheet.