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THE CASE OF THE TWO STRANGE LADIES
Tommy Skirmont, Yankee reporter on the Southern City Democrat, gazed in sheer desperation at his superior, the owner, publisher, and editor of the Democrat. Tommy’s typical newspaperman’s black felt hat, with pointed crown, was far back on his blond head—the flowing ends of his typical newspaperman’s black Windsor tie actually drooped—at the news he had just heard.
“Good God, Cu’nnel,” he cried, using the best imitation Southern dialect he could muster together, “yo’ cain’t fiah me now—leavin’ me a Yank ’ithout a job in a South’n city—an’ raght du’in’ this heah post-Wu’ld-Wah Numbah II industr’al let-down whah they ain’t ’nough jobs even fo’ th’ Southenahs—Ah’m—Ah’m engaged to mahhy a gal of this yeah town—an’ ’ithout a job Ah cain’t bohhow money to mahhy huh on, much less to—”
“And yo’ stop yo’ fool spu’ious South’n talk,” said Colonel Dixenberry Lee scornfully, the ends of his snow-white mustache standing straight up, in his indignation, against his round pink cheeks, as though they would attain contact with his equally white hair. He straightened out his black suit with a series of angry jerks, and glowered up from his glass-topped desk at Tommy standing glumly at the side of it. “Why,” the Colonel sputtered, “fo’ tryin’ to imitate us of the Ol’ South alone, Ah—Ah ought to have you th’own out of the office, raght on yo’ fool haid. On’y a damned Yank’d do such a insultin’ thing.”
“I—I—I wasn’t trying to be insulting,” said Tommy meekly. “I just thought—well you see, Colonel, when I was left-footing it, right-footing it, out there in that West Coast army camp where I did my year’s hitch in this recent war of ours, waiting for that fool Jap invasion which never came, we had a Southern commander over us who always used to sort of—of melt plumb into butter when we talked to him in his own lingo—Uh—ah—what I mean, Colonel, is that I thought, when I talked to you thataway—uh—that way, I—I was getting—uh—spiritually closer to you, that’s all. But see here, Colonel, that’s all the McCoy about my marrying—”
“McCoy?” the Colonel roared, with all the ferocity with which he might have roared at a regiment of men during that Spanish-American War where he obtained his colonelship—except that said colonelship had been honorary, even then. “Will yo’ stop yo’ damned Yankee talk! Ah cain’t, half th’ time, make nothin’ out of whar yo’ try to say.”
Tommy wisely made no attempt to reply till Colonel Dixenberry Lee’s well-known wrath had dropped a few millimetres! Dourly Tommy gazed around the coolly-furnished room, with its woven grass rug and its wicker furniture—complete even to wicker swivel chair—complete, even, to wicker-encased wall clock, with hands now pointed at 10 in the morning—and thence out of the room’s north-facing windows, past the two magnolia trees which stood at the curb, thence out to the street where, even now, a two-wheeled cart, drawn by a long-eared mule, a ragged Negro standing singing and whistling back of the mule like a Roman emperor, the cart’s lagging tongue carrying a cotton bale, bounced and jounced its way toward the cotton market. And now Tommy resumed where he had left off.
“What I was trying to say, Cunn—er—Colonel,” he said, contritely, “was that that’s all genuine—about my going to marry one of the town’s sweetest girls. In fact, just as you called me in, I was about to step over to her place, and pay my respects to her, since—well, you see, I came on duty two hours earlier today, because of that cotton warehouse fire on Front Street that’s now out, and I—I knew you wouldn’t mind, since things are dull now, if I took the same number of hours off, since—But anyway, to get back to cases, if you let me go, Colonel—from the Democrat, I mean—I can’t borrow a bloomin’ cent from the Southern City money lenders to marry this girl on; in which case—”
“Ah ain’t runnin’ the money lenders’ business in this town,” returned Colonel Lee darkly. “The fact is, Ski’mont, Ah took you’ on heah, du’in’ the stretch of summah just passed, with absolutely nothin’ in yo’ favah whatsoevah!—abs’lutely nothin’, Ski’mont, but the one single fact that you wuh a Democrat. Ah took yo’ on, to be frank, because Ah thought a Yank might teach some of mah boys some new tricks of jou’nalism. Some o’ them so-called foxy Nawthen tricks! Tricks what they could add to theih—theih ahmamentahiums, as one mought put it. But heah it is now the 6th day of Octobah—the fu’st day of the fu’st cool wave from the East—’ain’t from the Nawth, because theih havin’ theih famous Indian summah yet!—no, this is the well-known fu’st cool wave from the East—with people, by God, most of ’em an’way, weahin’ theih coat-jackets over theih trousers—brrr!—” And the Colonel, like a true Southerner, shivered audibly at such radical investiture. “—and all this meanin’,” he went on, “that the fu’st leg of ouah summah’s gone—and yet the only thing yo’ve taught mah boys, to date, by God, is how to run down ma’ sto’ies to nothin’—to put in the most time nowhah—to make the most beautiful excuses fo’ fallin’ down on sto’ies—in sho’t, to eat up mah time an’ mah mon—”
“But—but, Colonel,” Tommy expostulated, “I—I’ve been a new man, don’t forget—in a new town—full of people who don’t think my thoughts, and don’t speak my language—”
“Speak yo’ language! Why, yo’ impudent young whelp, yo’ mean yo’ don’t speak ouahs—an’ hence don’t speak English at all!—an’ when yo’ do try to speak ouah language yo’—yo’ sound lak a stage comedian. No, Ski’mont,” the Colonel finished, “Ah’ve tried yo’ out—jes’ as an expe’ment in jou’nalism—an’ because, as Ah say, yo’ had the savin’ grace to at least be a Democrat—and yo’ haven’t made good—yo’ haven’t brought in a sto’y good ’nough fo’ a kentry weekly—and if it’s that yo’re figgahin’ to git mahhied, it’s jest yo’ hahd luck, since—but who you figgahin’ to mahhy in this heah town?”
“Tennessee Calhoun!” ejaculated the Colonel. “Whoops!” he broke off. “Why, huh fathah don’t know the wah with the No’th is ovah yet. Fo’ so fah as this recent wah goes, he considahs that on’y a skeetah extuhmination—and done puhley du’in’ a temporahy ahmistice between the No’th an’ th’ South; and so fah as that Spanish wah whah he got his majahship—jes’ drillin’ South’n recruits somewhah in Al’bama—he considahs that wah nothin’ but a minoh castigation—also done du’in’ a temporahy ahmistice—of some bandits who blew up a South’n-christened battleship, th’ Maine!” He shook his head helplessly. “They’s on’y one wah evah was, so far as he looks at things—an’ that’s the Wah with the No’th—an’ ’tain’t ovah yet. Hell—ye’ mean to say th’ Majah hasn’t run yo’ out of the house with a shotgun yet?”
“N-no. He’s—he’s been away, for the whole length of time I’ve known Tennessee. So I’ve never met him—you see. He’s been away—visiting a cousin in Arkansas—and only just now got back. Got back last evening. At least so Tennessee told me, in a short note that a little Negro boy delivered to me late last night. The Major, as I gather, even got back more or less unexpectedly—for some other cousin who was passing through Southern City here in a car, on his way to Mobile, dropped the Major back off here. And so—so what I really was going over there now for was to—to pay my respects—to him.”
Colonel Lee had listened to this entire explanation as a man quite fascinated. And now he spoke almost admiringly.
“Well, by—by the shades of Pres’dent Davis,” were his words, “but yo’ sho’ ah stickin’ a Yank haid raght in front of the cannon’s mouth. Mah God! Why—the Majah may be the po’est man in all Southe’n City—but he sho’ has hifalutin’ ideas fo’ that gal of his. Why—if yo’ ah on yo’ way now to pay yo’ respects to Majah Jeff’son Calhoun—an’ the Majah is back home, as yo’ at least claim th’ gal wrote you—and he knows that yo’—a—a damn’d Yank from Yankeeland—is figgahin’ to mahhy his daughtah—his only daughtah, by God!—why—yo’ ah just as good as shot down in yo’ tracks this ve’y minute. Why, Ski’mont, Ah’m savin’ yo’ skin—yo’ ve’y life—by lettin’ yo’ out, heah and now, and makin’ it impossible fo’ yo’ to think ’bout this ma’ige, since—”
“Then—then you still mean it—that I’m out!”
“Mean it? Well, what the devil do you think Ah had the cashieah send you in heah fo’—when yo’ was tryin’ to wangle a fu’thah ovahdraw from him?”
“Oh,” said Tommy naively, “I just thought you wanted to give me a penny lect—er—lecture—because I was overdrawn by nearly a week—and tried to make it an even week!”
“Yo’ ovahdraw around heah,” retorted the Colonel, “is a meah bagatelle to me—and so fah as Ah’m cuncuhned, goes in on profit and loss—but mostly loss, o’ co’se.”
“But won’t you give me a chance now—to earn my overdraw?”
“No,” said the Colonel, closing his teeth.
“Then—then I’m completely and unequivocally out? And—and right now?”
“You ah out fo’ good now—so fah as evah drawin’ any mo’ of mah money goes,” replied the Colonel firmly. “But yo’ seem to be makin’ a mo’al point of yo’ raghts—to wuhk fo’ nothin’! Of co’se, theih may be a soht of point of honah involved—’bout the time element. Fo’ when you came on heah, Ah said Ah would give yo’ a 3-months’ trial. And that 3 months end—to the houah—at five-thutty today—the houah of the deadline of today’s last edition. So—if yo’ want—if yo’ insist—on standin’ on pu’h technicalities, Ski’mont, yo’ ah not out, puhhaps—in fact,” the Colonel amended cautiously, “yo’ definitely ah not out—till five-thutty this aftahnoon—last edition’s deadline houah. Ah put yo’ trial pe’iod ’riginally at three months—an’ Ah’ll stick to mah wuhds to the—the ve’y minute. Fo’ yo’ see, Ski’mont, a Southe’n gent’man—”
“—always keeps his word,” Tommy finished hurriedly for him. “But see here, Colonel—I—I can’t go to a girl of the—the old, old South—and tell her our marriage is all off because I’m a failure—because I wasn’t even good enough to work for Colonel Dixenberry Lee of the Dem—”
“What’s that!” roared the Colonel, the ends of his white mustache rising straight up again. “Did mah eahs heah raght? Did yo’ say you wan’t good ’nough to wuhk even fo’ me? By the Lawd Ha’y, suh, if it wasn’t fo’ mah wuhd, Ah’d—Ah’d fiah yo’ raght heah an’ now—at 10 in the mo’nin’—instid o’ at five-thutty—when yo’ 3 months is up. Ah’d fiah yo’ highah than a kite—Ah’d—but Ah’ll hold mahse’f togethah till five-thutty. So long as yo’ ah calculatin’ to stand on such technicality—if yo’ ah. Fo’ mah wuhd is a South’n gent’man’s wuhd, suh. But suh, once yo’ ah out of heah, Ah nevah want to see a damnyank again. Su’ttinly not in the newspapah business, anyhow. Why—yo’ Yanks ah the bluffin’est, talkin’est critters Ah evah see in mah life. Yo’ Yanks cain’t get a sto’y neah as well as a quiet, cou’teous, soft-talkin’ South’n gent’man who—”
“Oh—yeah?” retorted Tommy, stung to the marrow. “I can get any damned story any of your men can get! In fact,” he said, “I—I can get any story your men have failed to get!”
“Oh—indeed?” retorted the Colonel, spinning clear ’round in his swivel chair, and bowing. “Ah didn’t know yo’ was that good! Well—well—well! Well—that bein’ the case, jest go out and bring me in the sto’y of the ident’fication of them two eld’ly women—the tall, arist’cratic-lookin’ white woman an’ the sho’t black niggah wench—who got shot to death heah in South’n City, o’ somewhah roundabouts, theih haids cut off, and then theih haids and—and nude co’pses, b’ God—flung off th’ paved No’th Road into Cattail Swamp, no’th of the city. Yes—jest go out and bring in theih ident’fication, so’s—”
“Yeah—but damn it, all Southern City—white and black!—as well as the country around—and the towns around, too—has filed, for 2 full days, past those two nude corp—well, not entirely nude, since bathing suits have been put on ’em!—anyway, the whole city and countryside have filed past those two mudcat-eaten corpses—at least mudcat-eaten at the—umph—raw edges and—and raw surfaces where the murderer hacked ’em apart!—and nary a white man, woman, or child knows the tall white woman, whose parts were picked up at Elbow Bend—and nary a Negro woman knows the short Negro woman, picked up, head and torso, a full eight mile away at Coney Point—so how in hell could I, a Yankee from the North, know them! How—”
“Oh I jest suggested,” said the Colonel, in a suspiciously mild manner, “that fo’ a repo’tah who was really entahprisin’—and who—who could get sto’ies that South’n repo’tahs cain’t get!—that would be quite a sto’y.”
“Well, I don’t see how it could be,” quibbled Tommy, who had twice viewed those fish-nibbled corpses, and knew no more about them than anybody else. “It would be—uh—just an identification—the white woman a Mrs. or Miss A—the black woman a Cindy, or Dinah, or Samanthy, or—or Jemimah Somebody-or-other—and that’s—that’s all you’d get. Just a 2-column slug of type on page 2 reading ‘Two Corpses, with Severed Heads, Found Floating in Swamp, Identified.’ ”
The Colonel regarded Tommy Skirmont in hopeless amazement. The while Tommy shuffled uneasily, and the clock ticked away a full quarter minute. Then the Colonel seemed to manage to find words.
“By the gods!” he retorted helplessly. “Ah—Ah don’t know whethah yo’ ah tryin’ to rag me, Ski’mont o’ whethah yo’ ah a plain damn fool in the newspapah game. But, judgin’ from yo’ empty recohd ’round heah, it must be the lattah. Yes—it jest must.” The Colonel’s gaze, riveted on Tommy Skirmont, was a most perplexed one. Only after a further 8 or 9 seconds of silence did he resume speaking. “Ah take it at least, Ski’mont,” he said, with a great deal of irony in his voice, “that yo’ ah not so dense, puhhaps, as not to at least puhceive that if we—and Ah mean the Democrat, of co’se!—had the mu’deheh of them two women, the name of ouah little humble papah would be on the front pages of every papah in all Ame’ca—even in Eu’ope too, considehin’ the grisliness o’ that crime—and—but Ah do see a flickah of light on yo’ face that indicates yo’ do puhceive that much anyway. All raght! So now ’bout the ident’fication of them two co’pses, which yo’ claim—so he’p me God!—would amount to nothin’. Why, Ski’mont, yo’ young fool, don’t yo’ see that, because of the social an’—an’—an’ sociological relationship we know to have existed between them two women, that if eithah one wuh ident’fied, then the identities of both would be in—in—in the bag, mo’ o’ less. Fo’ the ident’fication of the mist’ess—as we def’nitely know the white woman was, from huh wuhds spoken to that depot ticket sellah in Buhmin’town, if not from the niggah woman’s own wuhds, latah, to the conductah on the South’n Flyah—would lead almost sho’ly to the ident’fication of the maid; and, convuhsely, the ident’-fication of the maid would lead unequivocally to that of the mist’ess, and—but whah the devil am Ah, anyway?—oh yes!—well don’t yo’ see, yo’ young fool, that if them two women wuh ident’fied—individually o’ collectively!—an’ when Ah say ‘ident’fied’ Ah mean ident’fied ex-elusively by us, the Democrat, o’ co’se!—well, th’ Democrat would as good as have theih mu’deheh? Fo’ when yo’ know who people ah, yo’ know—at least with respects to a paih like those two—yo’ know theih poss’ble contacts—that is, who one o’ the othah mought have wanted to see—who mought have wanted to see one o’ the othah of ’em—who, in town heah— o’ theh’abouts—one o’ th’ two mought be related to—evahthing like that—and it’s only a question of a sho’t time then befo’ yo’d have the whole inside sto’y of th’ killin’. Why—take them two women—mist’ess an’ maid as we at least know—it stands to reason that the mist’ess come heah to South’n City, attended by huh black wench, fo’ some reason! o’, convuhsely, that she deviated on some jou’ney she was takin’ with huh maid in o’der to let the maid stop off heah—likewise fo’ some reason—maybe to see some niggah relative. Anyway, take them two now—”
The Colonel, already swinging about in his swivel chair and facing his benighted audience, leaned back in the chair, and put his fingertips together, the better, probably, correctly to analyze this strange crime problem.
“Yes, take them two women now,” he repeated. “Heah we find, damn it to hell, that they suddenly popped into existence, 4 days ago, at Buhmin’town, full hund’ed an’ fifty miles east of heah—popped into existence mehely as a couple o’ women weahin’ black veils and black gloves, the mist’ess’ gloves of expensive leathah, the maid’s of cheap cotton, and the colah—plus the fact of the veils—seemin’ to indicate that the mist’ess was mou’nin’ somebody she’d recen’ lost, and that huh maid was mou’nin’ in symp’thy with huh, since, by God, a mist’ess don’t mou’n when huh maid loses somebody. All raght—they pop into existence, thah in Buhmin’town, as the white woman was buyin’ a compahtment, in the depot, fo’ huh and huh niggah maid on the South’n City Flyah, and, fo’tunate fo’ such latah pa’htial ident’fication as was made in this case, raisin’ huh veil, to the ticket sellah, to show she was a white woman and didn’t have to travel on no Jim Crow cah. Jest popped into existence them two, and nothin’ else, by God!—it bein’ known now that on no steam lines comin’ into Buhmin’town did any white woman and maid travel, veiled o’ unveiled—an’ no ownahless automobiles, futhahmo’, was found pahked nowhah in town—o’ in no ga’age. Popped clean plumb into existence, by God, out o’ the—the sheeh sky lak’—lak’—But heah,” the Colonel broke off, evidently irritated by his own mystification, “Ah’ll jest follow up this case, the full implications o’ which yo’ fool mind appahently don’t even glimpse.”
He paused a moment gloweringly, as though in doubt as to whether an individual so dense as T. Skirmont, Esquire, really existed, then resolutely went on, like a man who felt that somebody had to teach the mentally defective members of newspaperdom their business.
“Well,” he continued, “we find that the paih bo’ded the train all raght, thah in Buhmin’town, and, fo’tunately again fo’ latah pahtial ident’fication, ’twas the niggah maid—all dressed and ready, po’ ign’ant creatuh, with huh hat an’ coat and gloves on, in case he should send huh packin’ to the Jim Crow cah!—who passed out the combination ticket to the conductah, past the pahtly opened do’ of the compahtment, claimin’ huh mist’ess—who was lyin’ in the bu’th mo’ o’ less undah the kivvahs, noddin’ huh haid weakly to show that evahthing was all raght—was a bit indisposed an’ needed huh. Fo’tunate breaks, them two def’nite glimpses of them women’s faces—two of the white woman’s face, and one of the niggah’s—though was they fo’tunate at that? They haven’t led nowhah!” The Colonel was reflectively silent a minute, then pressed on analytically. “But—to continue. The two women arrived heah, as we know, in South’n City. Arrived heah at 11 o’clock at night. And then—what? They—they walk out o’ the depot togethah, all veiled again, th’ sho’t one—th’ niggah wench —totin’ theih one bag and suitcase—they disappeah down a dahk side street—and then—then all goes blank! And thutty-six houahs latah, mo’ o’ less—a bit less, considahin’ ’twas around 8 a.m. the second mo’nin’!—theah found in the swamp, shot to death, theih haids cut off, an’ theih bodies nude, an’ exhibitin’ indisputable med’cal signs that the both of ’em had been daid about that len’th of time—even been in the swamp, as well, about that len’th o’ time—an’—an’ provin’, thahfo’, that they wuh killed the same night they got heah, and—found in the swamp, by God,” the Colonel re-echoed cholerically, “by a ol’ piece o’ white trash in a flatbottom boat lookin’ for a place to fish fo’ mudcats!—the white woman’s co’pse an’ haid at Elbow Bend—the black woman’s cop’se an’ haid at Coney’s Point—the duhty mu’deheh who cut off theih haids eithah afraid to buh’y the two women ’round his place—or else havin’ nowhah to buh’y ’em in.” The Colonel’s head wagged critically from side to side. “Found in the swamp,” he reiterated, “po’ things—and that po’ even applies to the niggah wench—found a full eighth of a mile apaht, the raw aidges of theih po’ haids and to’soes so eat away by the mudcats that it cain’t be told whethah a cleavah, o’ a saw, o’ a knife, o’ even a su’geon’s scalpel did the duhty butche’hy. Why, God damn it, Ski’mont, if we could find out who them wimmen wuh—eithah one of ’em—if we could find out who one o’ the othah of ’em come heah to see—we’d have, by God, theih mu’deheh!”
Tommy Skirmont sighed. Not, however, because of the ineluctable fact that nothing—quite nothing!—had come out of the publication the previous morning, in nearly all the big cities of the United States, of the hurriedly air-mailed photographs of those dead women’s faces. For—to Tommy’s way of thinking—plus some experiences in Northern cities—photographs of “floaters” rushed into print—as all such invariably were—were 101-percent n.g. for purposes of recognition; and exactly in this manner had the pictures of these two women been taken immediately after the bodies had been fished out of the swamp, with faces watersoaked, grotesquely water-puffed, and on top of them the hair of each woman no longer “up” in some manner distinctive to her, but hanging down on each side of her face in damp, tangled strings. No, Tommy’s profound sigh, brought into existence by the gauntlet the Colonel had just now virtually hurled at his head, was due to the younger man’s reflection of how the general physical description of that tall, white-haired, aristocratic-looking white woman had been sent, immediately and instantly on the finding of the bodies, all over the entire country by radio—by broadcasting chains which reached the tiniest crossroads and hamlets —had even been sent into Europe on the early cable press news, in view of the fact that the Birmingtown ticket seller had vaguely thought that, as the unusually tall ticket-buying woman had raised her veil, he had caught a backward flung word of French to the Negress, somewhere off from the ticket wicket. And no tall white woman, employing a Negro maid, or not, so far as that went, was missing anywhere. And likewise—referring again to the depth of Tommy’s sigh!—the description of the short black Negress had been sent all over the country, also—even on all-colored broadcasts that went only into sparse Negro settlements with tin-horn radio receiving sets—and no short black wench, let alone one who worked either at times, or continuously, for any fine white lady, was missing anywhere. In pure newspaperese, the question of those two women was, Tommy had to admit, a lollapaloozer, and he had further to admit to himself what he had known all along—though hadn’t known that the Colonel had seen it!—that if or when those women became identified—but particularly if, since they seemed to be—at least according to the coroner’s report—minus scars, minus birthmarks, minus odd dental work, minus anything distinctive other than their advanced ages, their sex, their weights, the colorless grey eyes of the white woman, their heights of, respectively, 6 feet and one-half inch for the white woman, and 5 feet and 1 inch for the black woman—and, also, their relationship of mistress and maid—that identification would almost certainly lead to the bloody murderer who had shot them wantonly to death, hacked off their heads, destroyed their clothing, taken them out, in the black night, to the paved and deserted North Highway, and tumbled them off into Cattail Swamp!
But Tommy remembered how twice he had been to the morgue, where even now they lay, their faces dehydrated by evaporation back to some fair semblance of human recognizability, whilst thousands, including many who had lived in, at, near, and around Birmingtown, had filed through, conclusively shaking their heads—and Tommy had known no more than those who shook their heads.
“Well, that—that would be a great story,” he now conceded, most generously. “The identification of those women! Yes—a great story.”
“And a sto’y which,” purred Colonel Lee, who may only, at that, have been trying to ease a damnyank out gracefully, “since ’twould put the name of th’ South’n City Democrat, an’ its honorable publisher, Colonel Dixenberry Lee, into the pages of ev’y paper in the United States, would be a sto’y that would make any man on mah staff stand high—ve’y high!—high enough to maybe even ma’y—uh—think o’ ma’yin’ Majah Calhoun’s daughtah, considahin’ such sto’y’d give such a man a full yeah’s contract to so’t o’ loaf around in, and pick up mo’ sto’ies which—”
“But which story,” said Tommy Skirmont firmly, “can’t be got. For if all Southern City and environs—plus a few score thousand people who’ve lived in Birmingtown to boot—can’t identify two unidentifiable women—and all the United States, white and black, besides, find no such persons apparently missing—or all the world, so far as that goes, to boot—how the hell can I—Tommy Skirmont—do it?”
“Ah’m suah Ah don’t know,” said Colonel Lee grimly, swinging grumpily back to his desk, and biting off the end of a big black cigar which he had been extracting from his vest pocket. “But in view of the fact,” he continued, gazing sidewise and balefully toward his hearer, “that Ah don’t want evah to pu’ssenly see Mistah Thomas Ski’mont no mo’—don’t even want to see him around this shop, once his three months’ trial has expiahed at five-thutty today—unless, mayhap, he has solved that little jou’n’listic problem we’ve been discussin’—why, then—the solvin’ of it appeahs, does it not, to be the problem of one Mr. T. Ski’mont? So—good day, Mistah Ski’mont. And if, as yo’ say, yo’ ah on yo’ way to pay yo’ brief respects to Majah Calhoun, give mah respects, also, to th’ Majah—if, that is, yo’ get time to speak a single wuhd befo’ he shoots yo’ down fo’ a Yankee dawg!”
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