SISTER HOTCHKISS. 351
o' what, Brer Phelps, s'l ? think o' that bed-leg sawed off that a way, s'e ? think of it, s'l ? I lay it never sawed itself off, s'l—somebody sawed it, s'l; that's my opinion, take it or leave it, it mayn't be no 'count, s'l, but sich as 't is, it's my opinion, s'l, 'n' if anybody k'n. start a better one, s'l, let him do it, s'l, that's all. I says to Sister Dunlap, s'l------"
" Why, dog my cats, they must a ben a house-full o' niggers in there every night for four weeks, to a done all that work, Sister Phelps. Look at that shirt —every last inch of it kivered over with secret African writ'n done with blood! Must a ben a raft uv 'm at it right along, all the time, amost. Why, I'd give two dollars to have it read to me ; 'n' as for the niggers that wrote it, I 'low I'd take 'n' lash 'm t'll------"
" People to help him, Brother Marples ! Well, I reckon you'd think so, if you'd a been in this house for a while back. Why, they've stole everything they could lay their hands on—and we a watching, all the time, mind you. They stole that shirt right off o' the line ! and as for that sheet they made the rag ladder out of ther' ain't no telling how many times they didn't steal that; and flour, and candles, and candlesticks, and spoons, and the old warming-pan, and most a thousand things that I disremember, now, and my new calico dress ; and me, and Silas, and my Sid and Tom on the constant watch day and night, as I was a telling you, and not a one of us could catch hide nor hair, nor sight nor sound of them ; and here at the last minute, lo and behold you, they slides right in under our noses, and fools us, and not only fools us but the Injun Territory robbers too, and actuly gets away with that nigger, safe and sound, and that with sixteen men and twenty-two dogs right on their very heels at that very time ! I tell you, it just bangs anything I ever heard of. Why, sperits couldn't a done better, and been no smarter. And I reckon they must a been sperits—because, you know our dogs, and thei ain't no better ; well, them dogs never even got on the track of 'm, once ! You explain that to me, if you can !—any of you !"
"Well, it does beat------"
" Laws alive, I never------"
" So help me, I wouldn't a be------"
" House- thieves as well as-----"