STRONG TEMPTATIONS. 27
he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Jim came skipping out at the gate with a tin pail, and singing " Buffalo Gals." Bringing water from the town pump had always been hateful work in Tom's eyes, before, but now it did not strike him so. He remembered that there was company at the pump. White, mulatto, and negro boys and girls were always-there waiting their turns, resting, trading playthings, quarreling, fighting, skylarking. And he remembered that although the pump was only a hundred and fifty yards off, Jim never got back with a bucket of water under an hour—and even, then somebody generally had to go after him. Tom said :
"Say, Jim, I'll fetch the water if you'll whitewash some."
Jim shook his head and said:
" Can't, Mars Tom. Ole missis, she tole me I got to go an' git dis water an' not stop foolin' roun' wid anybody. She say she spec' Mars Tom gwine to ax me to whitewash, an' so she tole me go 'long an' 'tend to my own business—she 'lowed she'd 'tend to de whitewashin'."
"Oh, never you mind what she said, Jim. That's the way she always talks. Gimme the bucket—I won't be gone only a minute. She won't ever know."
"Oh, I dasn't Mars Tom. Ole missis she'd take an' tar de head offn me. 'Deed she would."
"She! She never licks anybody—whacks 'em over the head with her thimble —and who cares for that, I'd like to know. She talks awful, but talk don't hurt —anyways it don't if she don't cry. Jim, I'll give you a marvel. I'll give you a white alley! "
Jim began to waver.
"White alley, Jim! And it's a bully taw."
" My! Dat's a mighty gay marvel, I tell you! But Mars Tom I's powerful 'fraid ole missis—"
"And besides, if you will I'll show you my sore toe."
Jim was only human—this attraction was too much for him. He put down his pail, took the white alley, and bent over the toe with absorbing interest while the