LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 429
speech. " It's my system to begin strong, — just let 'em know what to expect."
" Indeed! " said the stranger, looking upon him with the curiosity of a naturalist studying some out-of-the-way specimen.
" Yes, indeed. I 'm none o' yer gentlemen planters, with lily fingers, to slop round and be cheated by some old cuss of an overseer! Just feel of my knuckles, now ; look at my fist. Tell ye, sir, the flesh on 't has come jest like a stone, practicing on niggers, — feel on it."
The stranger applied his fingers to the implement in question, and simply said, —
" 'Tis hard enough; and, I suppose," he added, " practice has made your heart just like it>"
" Why, yes, I may say so," said Simon, with a hearty laugh. " I reckon there's as little soft in me as in any one going. Tell you, nobody comes it over me! Niggers never gets round me, neither with squalling nor soft soap, — that's a fact."
" You have a fine lot there."
" Real," said Simon. " There 's that Tom, they telled me he was suthin uncommon. I paid a little high for him, 'tendin' him for a driver and a managing chap ; only get the notions out that he 's larnt by being treated as niggers never ought to be, he '11 do prime ! The yellow woman I got took in in. I rayther think she 's sickly, but I shall put her through for what she's worth; she may last a year or two. I don't go for savin' niggers. Use up, and buy more, 's my way, — makes you less trouble, and I 'm quite sure it comes cheaper in the end ; " and Simon sipped his glass.
" And how long do they generally last ?" said the stranger.
" Well, donno ; 'cordin' as their constitution is. Stout fellers last six or seven years; trashy ones gets worked up in two or three. I used to, when I fust begun, have considerable trouble fussin' with 'em, and trying to make 'em