March 22, 1876
Thoughtfully I wish I knew exactly how you'd like to have me launch out
and you might stake well almost anything that I'd conform to your wishes.
You must not forget I'm a kind of "off hand" creature (I won't say
eccentric, for in my opinion tis only a cover for rudeness). My good brother
Sam often admonishes me of this fault to soften his predictions. I'll assure him
the inner current is all right, no matter how it may seem.
But in the meantime what will the Old Dominion Lassie say to
my confectionery addresses?
Speaking of this damsel, I was thinking of you not long since and told Sissie
(Mrs. Tate) I believed I'd embroider a pr. of slippers. (How I have wondered
what became of those I sent you three years ago) however, let them slip and
lets begin on a new footing. But just then I thought you had a "somebody"
to attend to your sole, and though I won't admit to being a slippery character, yet
I abandoned the intention. Give you liberty to enjoy a laugh (I'm out of hearing
you know) at my would be puns. Will laughingly tells me when I indulge too duly
talent of wit. Tis a vein that is hard for me to resist. I know this
without Dr. Barker's confirmation. Tis a trait that has given me pain because by
it I'm not always fully understood, pleasure because tis a strong
staff when oppressed with life's trials.
Glad, very glad was I at the pleasant surprise your letter of yesterday gave me
and I know of no better way to reveal my appreciation than sending you a hasty
I'm entirely cut off from the outer world for the earth is
still mantled in her frozen sheet rendering it unpleasant as well
as dangerous for foot passengers. I ensconced myself in a corner around a good
big fire to be refreshed in a talk with the Capt.
First let me assure you I'd be ever so glad to see you whenever you come,
and do all in my power to render your visit pleasant.
'Tis mine was the club that rose, flourished, and went out. The burden of honor
was greater than I could bear so I threw the mantle of fame on my friend, Capt.
Ervin and his good wife, knowing the precarious health of my mother would prevent
my regular attendance. You see I give my motive for declining honors, ha, ha.
However, the "Sans Sorei" (?) proved a pruning hook to folly and fed
the mind with solid pleasant food till the Lentil Season arrived (most of our
members are "church people"). I see no reason for starving the mind
if they do the body, yet their Rector classed it in the catalogue of amusement
so the chosen elect part of the body observed their usual politeness
and adjourned to meet
Newspaper reading is another weakness of mine, garnering all the chaff
as well as wheat from every sheet I find. I think this fondness was enhanced
by having invalids to entertain and divert, but I've washed my hands of the
Wilmington Post, come what may.
Mr. Canady is one of the com[issioners] of the WRR and to be duly estimated
by these western people he generously and gratuitously keeps them weekly posted.
It must be that offenses come, but woe to that man by
whom they come." This declaration is from the lips of he who will
not have "one job or title pass away till all be fulfilled"
and whose word is the same "yesterday, today and forever."
Speaking of Gov. Vance, tis astonishing how he holds captive the hearts as well
as votes of these western people. I was never more forcible struck with it than
when last at "Old Fort" one afternoon a party of us went up to see the
tunnels. It blew up cold and we went in a cabin to warm. Entering into conversation
I was awestruck with the quickness of a ten year old boy and ventured to tell the
old man (his grandfather) he ought to have the boy at school. "That's just what
Zeb Vance tells me and the old man every time I see him. Oh Lord, if I just knowed
he would ever larn to talk like Zeb, I'd bind out myself and all I had for life to
git him larned. He is the smartest man in the U.S. and then he is honest too with
all his larning." I don't know that I'd go quite as far as the old man, but
knowing his blood I'll bet on my cousin Zeb.
What a patient man you are to spend time in listening to my chips and splinters.
You can't but admit that I've met you halfway and that is all that is required of
Content yourself knowing I appreciate every line of your letters and my most
pleasant task is in answering.
No we must not flatter, genuine stuff needs not to be flattered,
but will stand any test.
No danger of my working too hard. I love comfort to well.
No town news, the Negroes are having a loud time at their church, to the
annoyance of Cam who is "nigh to the synagogue." One and all of
my family are well. Willie is still in Raleigh. Col. T. at "Old Fort."
I've been enjoying Mark Twain's "Gilded Age" for the past two days.
Wafting you pleasant wishes and happy dreams I bid you Goodnight.
Go to LETTER 8
Back to MESSAGES FROM A HIDDEN PAST