Her piano was now seldom touched, for the doctor did not care for music; still he was glad that she could play, for "Sister Kelsey," who was to him a kind of terror, would insist that Nellie should take music lessons, and, as his wife was wholly competent to give them, he would be spared a very great expense. "Save, save, save," seemed to be his motto, and when at church the plate was passed to him he gave his dime a loving pinch ere parting company with it; and yet none read the service louder or defended his favorite liturgy more zealously than himself. In some things he was a pattern man, and when once his servant John announced his intention of withdrawing from the Episcopalians and joining himself to the Methodists, who held their meetings in the schoolhouse, he was greatly shocked, and labored long with the degenerate son of Ethiopia, who would render to him no reason for his most unaccountable taste, though he did to Matty, when she questioned him of his choice.
"You see, missus," said he, "I wasn't allus a herrytic, but was as good a 'Piscopal as St. George ever had. That's when I lived in Virginny, and was hired out to Marster Morton, who had a school for boys, and who larnt me how to read a little. After I'd arn't a heap of money for Marster Kennedy he wanted to go to the Legislatur', and as some on 'em wouldn't vote for him while he owned a nigger, he set me free, and sent for me to come home. 'Twas hard partin' wid dem boys and Marster Morton, I tell you, but I kinder wanted to see mother, who had been here a good while, and who, like a fool, was a- workin' an' is a-workin' for nothin'."
"For nothing!" exclaimed Mrs. Kennedy, a suspicion of the reason why Janet was refused crossing her mind.
"Yes, marm, for nothin'," answered John, "but I aint green enough for that, and 'fused outright. Then marster, who got beat 'lection day, threatened to send me back, but I knew he couldn't do it, and so he agreed to pay eight dollars a month. I could get more somewhar else, but I'd rather stay with mother, and so I stayed."
"But that has nothing to do with the church," suggested Mrs. Kennedy, and John replied:
"I'm comin' to the p'int now. I live with Marster Kennedy, and went with him to church, and when I see how he carried on week days, and how peart like he read up Sabba' days, sayin' the Lord's Prar and 'Postle's Creed, I began to think thar's somethin' rotten in Denmark, as the boys use to say in Virginny; so when mother, who allus was a-roarin' Methodis', asked me to go wid her to meetin', I went, and was never so mortified in my life, for arter the elder had 'xorted a spell at the top of his voice, he sot down and said there was room for others. I couldn't see how that was, bein' he took up the whole chair, and while I was wonderin' what he meant, as I'm a livin' nigger, up got marm and spoke a piece right in meetin'! I never was so shamed, and I kep' pullin' at her gownd to make her set down, but the harder I pulled the louder she hollered, till at last she blowed her breath all away, and down she sot."
"And did any of the rest speak pieces?" asked Mrs. Kennedy, convulsed with laughter at John's vivid description.
"Bless your heart," he answered, with a knowing look, "'twarn't a piece she was speaking--she was tellin' her 'sperience; but it sounded so like the boys at school that I was deceived, for I'd never seen such work before. But I've got so I like it now, and I believe thar's more 'sistency down in that schoolhouse than thar is in--I won't say the 'Piscopal church, 'case thar's heaps of shinin' lights thar, but if you won't be mad, I'll say more than thar is in Marster Kennedy, who has hisself to thank for my bein' a Methodis'."