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Uncle Simon’s Sundays Out
by [?]

“Oh, I can see why easily enough, and so could you, if you were not so intent on laughing at everything. The poor old man is tired and wants rest, that’s all.” And Mrs. Marston turned into the house with a stately step, for she was a proud and dignified lady.

“And that reason satisfies you? Ah, Mrs. Marston, Mrs. Marston, you discredit your sex!” her husband sighed, mockingly after her.

There was perhaps some ground for George Marston’s perplexity as to Uncle Simon’s intentions. His request for “Sundays off” was so entirely out of the usual order of things. The old man, with the other servants on the plantation had been bequeathed to Marston by his father. Even then, Uncle Simon was an old man, and for many years in the elder Marston’s time had been the plantation exhorter. In this position he continued, and as his age increased, did little of anything else. He had a little log house built in a stretch of woods convenient to the quarters, where Sunday after Sunday he held forth to as many of the hands as could be encouraged to attend.

With time, the importance of his situation grew upon him. He would have thought as soon of giving up his life as his pulpit to any one else. He was never absent a single meeting day in all that time. Sunday after Sunday he was in his place expounding his doctrine. He had grown officious, too, and if any of his congregation were away from service, Monday morning found him early at their cabins to find out the reason why.

After a life, then, of such punctilious rigidity, it is no wonder that his master could not accept Mrs. Marston’s simple excuse for Uncle Simon’s dereliction, “that the old man needed rest.” For the time being, the good lady might have her way, as all good ladies should, but as for him, he chose to watch and wait and speculate.

Mrs. Marston, however, as well as her husband, was destined to hear more that day of Uncle Simon’s strange move, for there was one other person on the place who was not satisfied with Uncle Simon’s explanation of his conduct, and yet could not as easily as the mistress formulate an opinion of her own. This was Lize, who did about the quarters and cooked the meals of the older servants who were no longer in active service.

It was just at the dinner hour that she came hurrying up to the “big house,” and with the freedom of an old and privileged retainer went directly to the dining-room.

“Look hyeah, Mis’ M’ree,” she exclaimed, without the formality of prefacing her remarks, “I wants to know whut’s de mattah wif Brothah Simon–what mek him ac’ de way he do?”

“Why, I do not know, Eliza, what has Uncle Simon been doing?”

“Why, some o’ you all mus’ know, lessn’ he couldn’ ‘a’ done hit. Ain’ he ax you nuffin’, Marse Gawge?”

“Yes, he did have some talk with me.”

“Some talk! I reckon he did have some talk wif somebody!”

“Tell us, Lize,” Mr. Marston said, “what has Uncle Simon done?”

“He done brung somebody else, dat young Merrit darky, to oc’py his pu’pit. He in’juce him, an’ ‘en he say dat he gwine be absent a few Sundays, an’ ‘en he tek hissef off, outen de chu’ch, widout even waitin’ fu’ de sehmont.”

“Well, didn’t you have a good sermon?”

“It mought ‘a’ been a good sehmont, but dat ain’ whut I ax you. I want to know whut de mattah wif Brothah Simon.”

“Why, he told me that the man he put over you was one of the most powerful kind, warranted to make you shout until the last bench was turned over.”

“Oh, some o’ dem, dey shouted enough, dey shouted dey fill. But dat ain’ whut I’s drivin’ at yit. Whut I wan’ ‘o know, whut mek Brothah Simon do dat?”

“Well, I’ll tell you, Lize,” Marston began, but his wife cut him off.