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perform my wifely duty. The faint was a long one; he said it was caused by the surprise of ham meeting turkey, and both such strangers. When I returned to the dining room dinner was over. My hostess fared sumptuously every day; had she ever known hunger she would have put my plate aside; instead, she handed me a plate of pickles, saying, "We always eat pickles after ice cream." Ice cream! Insult to injury! The loss of that dinner haunted my waking hours for many a month, and that ice cream became a night-mare that banished sleep.
The last of the crushed, disappointed and disheartened men who returned to us was my brother, Major Hugh Cole. At the very beginning of the war he had marched off to Virginia at the head of a gallant company. Returned alone; he had been one of those who had constituted Mr. Davis' body guard, had been at the last cabinet meeting, and when his beloved President was captured he had ridden off to join the "last man and the last dollar" patriots across the mountain. He brought with him a valuable souvenir. Mr. Davis, in parting with his officers, devided among them a little gold he had with him. My brother devided his share ($30) among the children of the family, giving each one a little gold dollar. This they prize more than any of their possessions. Not enough has been written on the faithfulness and devotion of the negroes of the South during the war. I collected them on Sunday evenings and taught them. Our children taught them to read and write. And we had the church service and a sermon for the older ones on Sundays. Their affection and devotion to me and my little ones was beautiful. How often have I stood at my nursery
door and listened to Uncle Remus and the little boy. This is what I saw. A big fire of logs. In one corner dear old Mammy with her spotless turban and apron, with her baby in her arms, Uncle Remus and the little boy in front of the fire. These two, Mammy and Uncle John, occupying the only chairs, on a row of soap boxes--the other nurses with the little white faces pressed against the black ones, the little white baby arms around black necks, and on each side of Uncle Remus (John) the two larger boys, and at his feet his own grandchildren. All listening to "Brer Rabbit" stories. But when it came to the "Tar baby" mammy must tell that. No one else could do it justice. Mammy ruled supreme in the nursery, all had to obey her. The rest of the house was mine, but the nursery was hers. The close friendship between Uncle Remus and the little boy (Uncle John and little Marse Jack) was very beautiful. If Uncle John split rails, Marse Jack, three years old, had his wedges and malls and split rails too. If Uncle John ploughed, Marse Jack held the reins. When an uncle came home wounded Uncle John made the crutches that Marse Jack walked on till the wounded uncle threw his aside. And none grieved more sincerely than Uncle John when little Marse Jack fell asleep. In a strange land, deprived of their comforts and luxuries, having barely enough to eat, these negroes served my husband and myself as cheerfully and as uncomplainingly as though tney had never left their homes. Often I was alone on the farm with them and I felt perfectly safe and secure. I knew they would take care of me and mine.
MRS. F. C. ROBERTS,
New Bern, N. C.
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Images scanned by John B. Green, III. Text prepared by
John B. Green, III and Victor T. Jones, Jr.
This page last edited on August 19, 2009.