Nothing pleased John better than a chance to talk of Maude, and he replied: "She came here twelve years ago this very month with that little blue-eyed mother of hern, who is lyin' under them willers in the graveyard. We couldn't live without Miss Maude. She's all the sunshine thar is about the lonesome old place. Why, she does everything, from takin' care of her crippled half-brother to mendin' t'other one's gownd."
"And who is t'other one?" asked J.C., beginning to feel greatly interested in the negro's remarks.
"T'other one," said John, "is Miss Nellie, who won't work for fear of silin' her hands, which some fool of a city chap has made her b'lieve are so white and handsome," and a row of ivory was just visible, as, leaning against a tree, John watched the effect of his words upon "the fool of a city chap."
J.C. was exceedingly good-natured, and tossing his cigar into the grass he replied, "You don't mean me, of course; but tell us more of this Maude, who mops the floor and mends Nellie's dresses."
"She don't mop the floor," muttered John. "This nigger wouldn't let her do that--but she does mend Nellie's gownds, which I wouldn't do, if I's worth as much money as she is!"
If J.C. had been interested before, he was doubly interested now, and coming nearer to John he said: "Money, my good fellow! Is Maude an heiress?"
"She aint nothin' else," returned John, who proceeded to speak of Janet and her generous gift, the amount of which he greatly exaggerated. "Nobody knows how much 'tis," said he: "but everybody s'poses that will and all it must be thirty or forty thousand," and as the doctor was just then seen riding into the yard John walked away to attend to his master's horse.
"Those butter and cheese men do accumulate money fast," said J.C., more to himself than to his companion, who laughingly replied, "It would be funny if you should make this Maude my cousin instead of Nellie. Let me see--Cousin Nellie--Cousin Maude. I like the sound of the latter the best, though I am inclined to think she is altogether too good for a mercenary dog like you."