THE BOOK OF ROMANCE - online children's book

King Arthur, His Court and Knights in the Age of Chivalry, by Andrew Lang

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vi
PREFACE
Whar Jim Orpus kum from, granmammy she disremem-ber. He war a boss-fiddler, he war, an' jus' that power­ful, dat when de mules in de cotton field listen to um, dey no budge in de furrer. Orpus he neber want no mess of fish, ketched wid a angle. He just take him fiddle an' fool along de branch, an' play a tune, an' up dey conies, an' he cotch 'em in he hans. He war mighty sot on Dicey, an' dey war married all proper an' reg'lar. Hit war so long ago, dat de railroad war a bran-new spick an' span ting in dose days. Dicey once she lounge 'round de track, 'cause she tink she hear Orpus a fiddlin' in de fur-fur-away. Onyways de hengine smash her. Den Jim Orpus he took on tumble, an' when she war buried, he sot him down on de grave, an' he fiddle an' he fiddle till most yo' heart was bruk.
An' he play so long dat de groun' crummle (crumble) an' sink, an' nex' day, when de peoples look for Jim Orpus, dey no find urn; oney big-hole in de lot, an' nobody never see Jim Orpus no mo'. An' dey do say, dat ef yo' go inter a darky's burial-groun', providin' no white man been planted thar, an' yo' clap yo' ear to de groun', yo' can hear Jim's fiddle way down deep belo', a folloin' Dicey fru' de Ian' of de Golden Slippah.1
The original touch, the sound of Orpus's fiddle heard only in the graveyards of the negroes (like the fairy music under the fairy hill at Ballachulish), is very re­markable. Now the Red Indian story has no harper, and no visit by the hero to the land of the dead. His grief brings his wife back to him, and he loses her again by breaking a taboo, as Orpheus did by looking back, a thing always forbidden. Thus we do not know whether or not the Red Indian version is borrowed from the European myth, probably enough it is not. But in no
1 Mr. Phillips, writing in 1896, says that the tale was told him by a plantation hand, thirty years ago, ' long before the Uncle Remus period,'
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