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Miss Minerva and William Green Hill   By: (1867-1909)

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By Frances Boyd Calhoun



The bus drove up to the gate and stopped under the electric street light. Perched on the box by the big, black negro driver sat a little boy whose slender figure was swathed in a huge rain coat.

Miss Minerva was on the porch waiting to receive him.

"Mercy on me, child," she said, "what on earth made you ride up there? Why didn't you get inside?"

"I jest wanted to ride by Sam Lamb," replied the child as he was lifted down. "An' I see a nice fat little man name' Major "

"He jes' wouldn' ride inside, Miss Minerva," interrupted the driver, quickly, to pass over the blush that rose to the spinster's thin cheek at mention of the Major. "Twan't no use fer ter try ter make him ride nowhars but jes' up by me. He jes' 'fused an' 'fused an' 'sputed an' 'sputed; he jes' tuck ter me f'om de minute he got off 'm de train an' sot eyes on me; he am one easy chile ter git 'quainted wid; so, I jes' h'isted him up by me. Here am his verlise, ma'am."

"Good bye, Sam Lamb," said the child as the negro got back on the box and gathered up the reins. "I'll see you to morrer."

Miss Minerva imprinted a thin, old maid kiss on the sweet, childish mouth. "I am your Aunt Minerva," she said, as she picked up his satchel.

The little boy carelessly drew the back of his hand across his mouth.

"What are you doing?" she asked. "Are you wiping my kiss off?"

"Naw 'm," he replied, "I's jest a I's a rubbin' it in, I reckon."

"Come in, William," and his aunt led the way through the wide hall into w big bedroom.

"Billy, ma'am," corrected her nephew.

"William," firmly repeated Miss Minerva. "You may have been called Billy on that plantation where you were allowed to run wild with the negroes, but your name is William Green Hill and I shall insist upon your being called by it."

She stooped to help him off with his coat, remarking as she did so, "What a big overcoat; it is several sizes too large for you."

"Darned if 'tain't," agreed the child promptly.

"Who taught you such a naughty word?" she asked in a horrified voice. "Don't you know it is wrong to curse?"

"You call that cussin'?" came in scornful tones from the little boy. "You don't know cussin' when you see it; you jest oughter hear ole Uncle Jimmy Jawed Jup'ter, Aunt Cindy's husban'; he'll show you somer the pretties' cussin' you ever did hear."

"Who is Aunt Cindy?"

"She's the colored 'oman what 'tends to me ever sence me an' Wilkes Booth Lincoln's born, an' Uncle Jup'ter is her husban' an' he sho' is a stingeree on cussin'. Is yo' husban' much of a cusser?" he inquired.

A pale pink dyed Miss Minerva's thin, sallow face.

"I am not a married woman," she replied, curtly, "and I most assuredly would not permit any oaths to be used on my premises."

"Well, Uncle Jimmy Jawed Jup'ter is jest nach'elly boon' to cuss, he's got a repertation to keep up," said Billy.

He sat down in a chair in front of his aunt, crossed his legs and smiled confidentially up into her face.

"Hell an' damn is jest easy ev'y day words to that nigger. I wish you could hear him cuss on a Sunday jest one time, Aunt Minerva; he'd sho' make you open yo' eyes an' take in yo' sign. But Aunt Cindy don't 'low me an' Wilkes Booth Lincoln to say nothin' 't all only jest 'darn' tell we gits grown mens, an' puts on long pants."

"Wilkes Booth Lincoln?" questioned his aunt.

"Ain't you never hear teller him?" asked the child. "He's ole Aunt Blue Gum Tempy's Peruny Pearline's boy; an' Peruny Pearline," he continued enthusiastically, "she ain't no ord'nary nigger, her hair ain't got nare kink an' she's got the grandes' clo'es. They ain't nothin' snide 'bout her. She got ten chillens an' ev'y single one of 'em's got a diff'unt pappy, she been married so much. They do say she got Injun blood in her, too."

Miss Minerva, who had been standing prim, erect, and stiff, fell limply into a convenient rocking chair, and looked closely at this orphaned nephew who had come to live with her... Continue reading book >>

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