When the war was over, old Aunt Peggy went to Monsieur, and said: –
“Massa, I ain’t never gwine to quit yer. I ‘m gittin’ ole an’ feeble, an’ my days is few in dis heah lan’ o’ sorrow an’ sin. All I axes is a li’le co’ner whar I kin set down an’ wait peaceful fu de en’.”
Monsieur and Madame were very much touched at this mark of affection and fidelity from Aunt Peggy. So, in the general reconstruction of the plantation which immediately followed the surrender, a nice cabin, pleasantly appointed, was set apart for the old woman. Madame did not even forget the very comfortable rocking-chair in which Aunt Peggy might “set down,” as she herself feelingly expressed it, “an’ wait fu de en’.”
She has been rocking ever since.
At intervals of about two years Aunt Peggy hobbles up to the house, and delivers the stereotyped address which has become more than familiar: –
“Mist’ess, I ‘s come to take a las’ look at you all. Le’ me look at you good. Le’ me look at de chillun, – de big chillun an’ de li’le chillun. Le’ me look at de picters an’ de photygraphts an’ de pianny, an’ eve’ything ‘fo’ it ‘s too late. One eye is done gone, an’ de udder’ s a-gwine fas’. Any mo’nin’ yo’ po’ ole Aunt Peggy gwine wake up an’ fin’ herse’f stone-bline.”
After such a visit Aunt Peggy invariably returns to her cabin with a generously filled apron.
The scruple which Monsieur one time felt in supporting a woman for so many years in idleness has entirely disappeared. Of late his attitude towards Aunt Peggy is simply one of profound astonishment, – wonder at the surprising age which an old black woman may attain when she sets her mind to it, for Aunt Peggy is a hundred and twenty-five, so she says.
It may not be true, however. Possibly she is older.