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   Chapter 5 No.5

Two Little Confederates By Thomas Nelson Page Characters: 5433

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Instead of opening the door, therefore, Willy called to the old man, who was leisurely crossing the yard: "Run, Uncle Balla. Quick, run!"

At the call Old Balla and Frank set out as fast as they could.

"What's the matter? Is he done kill de chickens? Is he done got away?" the old man asked, breathlessly.

"No, he's dyin'," shouted Willy.

"Hi! is you shoot him?" asked the old driver.

"No, that other man's poisoned him. He was the robber and he fooled this one," explained Willy, opening the door and peeping anxiously in.

"Go 'long, boy,-now, d'ye ever heah de better o' dat?-dat man's foolin' wid you; jes' tryin' to git yo' to let him out."

"No, he isn't," said Willy; "you ought to have heard him."

But both Balla and Frank were laughing at him, so he felt very shamefaced. He was relieved by hearing another groan.

"Oh, oh, oh! Ah, ah!"

"You hear that?" he asked, triumphantly.

"I boun' I'll see what's the matter with him, the roscol! Stan' right dyah, y' all, an' if he try to run shoot him, but mine you don' hit me," and the old man walked up to the door, and standing on one side flung it open. "What you doin' in dyah after dese chillern's chickens?" he called fiercely.

"Hello, old man, 's 'at you? I's mighty sick," muttered the person within. Old Balla held his torch inside the house, amid a confused cackle and flutter of fowls.

"Well, ef 'tain' a white man, and a soldier at dat!" he exclaimed. "What you doin' heah, robbin' white folks' hen-roos'?" he called, roughly. "Git up off dat groun'; you ain' sick."

"Let me get up, Sergeant,-hic-don't you heah the roll-call?-the tent's mighty dark; what you fool me in here for?" muttered the man inside.

The boys could see that he was stretched out on the floor, apparently asleep, and that he was a soldier in uniform. Balla stepped inside.

"Is he dead?" asked both boys as Balla caught him by the arms, lifted him, and let him fall again limp on the floor.

"Nor, he's dead-drunk," said Balla, picking up an empty flask. "Come on out. Let me see what I gwi' do wid you?" he said, scratching his head.

THE OLD MAN WALKED UP TO THE DOOR, AND STANDING ON ONE SIDE FLUNG IT OPEN.

"I know what I gwi' do wid you. I gwi' lock you up right whar you is."

"Uncle Balla, s'pose he gets well, won't he get out?"

"Ain' I gwi' lock him up? Dat's good from you, who was jes' gwi' let 'im out ef me an' Frank hadn't come up when we did."

Willy stepped back abashed. His heart accused him and told him the charge was true. Still he ventured one more question:

"Hadn't you better take the hens out?"

"Nor; 'tain' no use to teck nuttin' out dyah. Ef he comes to, he know we got 'im, an' he dyahson'

trouble nuttin'."

And the old man pushed to the door and fastened the iron hasp over the strong staple. Then, as the lock had been broken, he took a large nail from his pocket and fastened it in the staple with a stout string so that it could not be shaken out. All the time he was working he was talking to the boys, or rather to himself, for their benefit.

"Now, you see ef we don' find him heah in the mornin'! Willy jes' gwi' let you get 'way, but a man got you now, wha'ar' been handlin' horses an' know how to hole 'em in the stalls. I boun' he'll have to butt like a ram to git out dis log hen-house," he said, finally, as he finished tying the last knot in his string, and gave the door a vigorous rattle to test its strength.

Willy had been too much abashed at his mistake to fully appreciate all of the witticisms over the prisoner, but Frank enjoyed them almost as much as Unc' Balla himself.

"Now y' all go 'long to bed, an' I'll go back an' teck a little nap myself," said he, in parting. "Ef he gits out that hen-house I'll give you ev'y chicken I got. But he am' gwine git out. A man's done fasten him up dyah."

The boys went off to bed, Willy still feeling depressed over his ridiculous mistake. They were soon fast asleep, and if the dogs barked again they did not hear them.

The next thing they knew, Lucy Ann, convulsed with laughter, was telling them a story about Uncle Balla and the man in the hen-house. They jumped up, and pulling on their clothes ran out in the yard, thinking to see the prisoner.

Instead of doing so, they found Uncle Balla standing by the hen-house with a comical look of mystification and chagrin; the roof had been lifted off at one end and not only the prisoner, but every chicken was gone!

The boys were half inclined to cry; Balla's look, however, set them to laughing.

"Unc' Balla, you got to give me every chicken you got, 'cause you said you would," said Willy.

"Go 'way from heah, boy. Don' pester me when I studyin' to see which way he got out."

"You ain't never had a horse get through the roof before, have you?" said Frank.

"Go 'way from here, I tell you," said the old man, walking around the house, looking at it.

As the boys went back to wash and dress themselves, they heard Balla explaining to Lucy Ann and some of the other servants that "the man them chillern let git away had just come back and tooken out the one he had locked up"; a solution of the mystery he always stoutly insisted upon.

One thing, however, the person's escape effected-it prevented Willy's ever hearing any more of his mistake; but that did not keep him now and then from asking Uncle Balla "if he had fastened his horses well."

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