PORGY


PART I

PORGY lived in the Golden Age. Not the Golden Age of a remote and legendary past; nor yet the chimerical era treasured by every man past middle life, that never existed except in the heart of youth; but an age when men, not yet old, were boys in an ancient, beautiful city that time had forgotten before it destroyed.

In this city there persisted the Golden Age of many things, and not the least among them was that of beggary. In those days the profession was one with a tradition. A man begged, presumably, because he was hungry, much as a man of more energetic tempera-ment became a stevedore from the same cause. His plea for help produced the simple reactions of a generous impulse, a movement of the hand, and the gift of a coin, instead of the elaborate and terrifying

12 PORGY


processes of organized philanthropy. His antecedents and his mental age were his own affair, and, in the majority of cases, he was as happily oblivious of one as of the other.

Had it all been otherwise, had Porgy come a generation, or even a score of years, later, there would have been a repetition of the old tragedy of genius without opportunity. For, as the artist is born with the vision of beauty, and the tradesman with an eye for barter, so was Porgy equipped by a beneficent providence for a career of mendicancy. Instead of the sturdy legs that would have predestined him for the life of a stevedore on one of the great cotton wharves, he had, when he entered the world, totally inadequate nether extremities, quick to catch the eye, and touch the ready sympathy of the passerby. Either by birth, or through the application of a philosophy of life, he had acquired a personality that could not be ignored, one which at the same time interested and subtly disturbed. There was that about him which differentiated him from the hordes of fellow practitioners who competed with him for the notice of the tender-hearted. Where others bid eagerly for attention, and burst into voluble thanks and blessings, Porgy sat silent, rapt. There was something

PORGY 13

Eastern and mystic about the intense introspection of his look. He never smiled, and he acknowledged gifts only by a slow lifting of the eyes that had odd shadows in them. He was black with the almost purple blackness of unadulterated Congo blood. His hands were very large and muscular, and, even when flexed idly in his lap, seemed shockingly formidable in contrast with his frail body. Unless one were unusually preoccupied at the moment of dropping a coin in his cup, he carried away in return a very definite, yet somewhat disquieting, impression: a sense of infinite patience, and beneath it the vibration of unrealized, but terrific, energy.

No one knew Porgy's age. No one remembered when he first made his appearance among the ranks of the local beggars. A woman who had married twenty years before remembered him because he had been seated on the church steps, and had given her a turn when she went in.

Once a child saw Porgy, and said suddenly, "What is he waiting for ?" That expressed him better than anything else. He was waiting, waiting with the concentrating intensity of a burning glass.

As consistent in the practice of his profession as any of the business and professional

14 PORGY

men who were his most valued customers, Porgy was to be found any morning, by the first arrival in the financial district, against the wall of the old apothecary shop that stands at the corner of King Charles Street and The Meeting House Road. Long custom, reinforced by an eye for the beautiful, had endeared that spot to him. He would sit there in the cool of the early hours and look across the narrow thoroughfare into the green freshness of Jasper Square, where the children flew their kites, and played hide-and-seek among the shrubs. Then, when the morning advanced, and the sun poured its semitropical heat between the twin rows of brick, to lie impounded there, like a stagnant pool of flame, he would experience a pleasant atavistic calm, and would doze lightly under the terrific heat, as only a fullblooded negro can. Toward afternoon a slender blue shadow would commence to grow about him that would broaden with great rapidity, cool the baking flags, and turn the tide of customers home before his empty cup.

But Porgy best loved the late afternoons, when the street was quiet again, and the sunlight, deep with color, shot level over the low roof of the apothecary shop to paint the cream stucco on the opposite dwelling a

PORGY 15

ruddy gold and turn the old rain-washed tiles on the roof to burnished copper. Then the slender, white-clad lady who lived in the house would throw open the deep French windows of the second story drawing-room, and sitting at the piano, where Porgy could see her dimly, she would play on through the dusk until old Peter drove by with his wagon to carry him home.

$

Porgy had but one vice. With his day reduced to the dead level of the commonplace, he was by night an inveterate gambler. Each evening his collections were carefully divided into a minimum for room and food, and the remainder for the evening's game. Seen in the light of the smoking kerosene lamp, with the circle of excited faces about him, he was no longer the beggar in the dust. His stagnant blood leaped to sudden life. He was the peer of the great, hulking fellows who swung cotton bales and stank intolerably from labor in the fertilizer mills. He even knew that he had won their grudging respect, for he had a way of coaxing and wheedling the little ivory cubes that forced them to respond. The loud "Oh, my Baby," and explosive "Come seben," of his fellow

16 P O RGY

gamesters seldom brought silver when he experienced that light, keen feeling and thought of the new, soft-spoken words to say. In those hours he lost his look of living in the future. While the ivories flew, he existed in an intense and burning present.

One Saturday night in late April, with the first premonitory breath of summer in the air, Porgy sat in the gaming circle that had gathered before his door in Catfish Row, and murmured softly to his gods of chance. All day he had been conscious of a vague unrest. There had been no breeze from the bay, and from his seat outside the apothecary shop the sky showed opaque blue-grey and bore heavily upon the town. Towards evening, a thunder-head had lifted over the western horizon and growled ominously; but it had passed, leaving the air hot, vitiated, and moist. The negroes had come in for the night feeling irritable, and, instead of the usual Saturday night of song and talk, the rooms were for the most part dark and silent, and the court deserted.

The game started late, and there were few players. Opposite Porgy, sitting upon his haunches, and casting his dice in moody silence, was a negro called Crown. He was a stevedore, had the body of a gladiator, and a bad name. His cotton-hook, hanging from

PORGY 17

his belt by a thong, gleamed in the lamplight, and rang a clear note on the flags when he leant forward to throw. Crown had been drinking with Robbins, who sat next to him, and the air was rank with the effluvium of vile corn whisky. Robbins was voluble, and as usual, when in liquor, talked incessantly of his wife and children, of whom he was inordinately proud. He was a good provider, and, except for his Saturday night drink and game, of steady habits.

"Dat lady ob mine is a born white-folks nigger," he boasted. "She fambly belong tuh Gob'ner Rutledge. Ain't yer see Miss Rutledge sheself come tuh visit she when she sick! An' dem chillen ob mine, dem is raise wid ways."

"Yo' bes sabe yo' talk for dem damn dice. Dice ain't gots no patience wid 'oman!" cut in a young negro of the group.

"Da's de trut'," called another. "Dey is all two after de same nigger money. Dat mek um can't git 'long."

"Shet yo' damn mout' an' t'row!" growled Crown.

Robbins, taken aback, rolled the dice hastily. Scarcely had they settled before Crown scooped them fiercely into his great hand, and, swearing foully at them, sent them tumbling out across the faintly illumi-

18 PORGY

nated circle, to lose them on the first cast. Then Porgy took them up tenderly, and held them for a moment cupped in his muscular, slim-fingered hand.

"Oh, little stars, roll me some light!" he sang softly; made a pass, and won. "Roll me a sun an' moon!" he urged; and again the cubes did his bidding.

"Porgy witch dem dice," Crown snarled, as he drained his flask and sent it shattering against the pavement.

Under the beetling walls of the tenement the game went swiftly forward. In a remote room several voices were singing drowsily, as though burdened by the oppression of the day. In another part of the building some one was picking a guitar monotonously, chord after chord, until the dark throbbed like an old wound. But the players were oblivious of all except the splash of orange light that fell upon the flags, and the living little cubes that flashed or dawdled upon it, according to the mood of the hand that propelled them. Peter, the old wagoner, sat quietly smoking in Porgy's doorway, and looked on with the indulgent smile of tolerant age. Once when Crown lost heavily, and turned snarling upon Robbins with, "T'row dem damn dice fair, nigger," he cautioned mildly, "Frien' an'

PORGY 19

licker an' dice ain't meant tuh 'sociate. Yo' mens bes' go slow."

Then, in a flash, it happened.

Robbins rolled again, called the dice, and retrieved them before Crown's slow wits got the count, then swept the heap of coins into his pocket.

With a low snarl, straight from his crouching position, Crown hurled his tremendous weight forward, shattering the lamp, and bowling Robbins over against the wall. Then they were up and facing each other. The oil from the broken lamp settled between two flags and blazed up ruddily. Crown was crouched for a second spring, with lips drawn from gleaming teeth. The light fell strong upon thrusting jaw, and threw the sloping brow into shadow. One hand touched the ground lightly, balancing the massive torso. The other arm held the cotton-hook forward, ready, like a prehensile claw. In comparison Robbins was pitifully slender and inadequate. There was a single desperate moment of indecision; then he took his only chance. Like a thrown spear, he hurled his lithe body forward under the terrifying hook, and clinched. Down, down, down the centuries they slid. Clothes could not hold them. Miraculously the tawny, ridged bodies tore through the thin

20 PORGY

coverings. Bronze ropes and bars slid and wove over great shoulders. Bright, ruddy planes leaped out on backs in the fire flare, then were gulped by sliding shadows. A heady, bestial stench absorbed all other odors. A fringe of shadowy watchers crept from cavernous doorways, sensed it, and commenced to wail eerily. Backward and forward, in a space no larger than a small room, the heaving, inseparable mass rocked and swayed. Breath labored like steam. At times the fused single body would thrust out a rigid arm, or the light would point out, for one hideous second, a tortured, mad face. Again the mass would rise as though propelled a short distance from the earth, topple, and crash down upon the pavement with a jarring impact.

Such terrific expenditure of human energy could not last. The end came quickly, and with startling suddenness. Crown broke his adversary's weakening hold, and held him the length of one mighty arm. The other swung the cottonhook downward. Then he dropped his victim, and swaggered drunkenly toward the street. Even to the most inexperienced the result would have been obvious. Robbins was dead: horribly dead.

A scream rose to a crescendo of unendurable agony, and a woman broke through the

PORGY 21

circle of spectators and cast herself upon the body. The fire flickered to a faint, blue flame, unearthly, terrifying.

Porgy shivered violently, whimpered in the gloom; then drew himself across his threshold and closed the door.

Catfish Row, in which Porgy lived, was not a row at all, but a great brick structure that lifted its three stories about the three sides of a court. The fourth side was partly closed by a high wall, surmounted by jagged edges of broken glass set firmly in old lime plaster, and pierced in its center by a wide entranceway. Over the entrance there still remained a massive grill of Italian wrought iron, and a battered capital of marble surmounted each of the lofty gate-posts. The court itself was paved with large flag-stones, which even beneath the accumulated grime of a century, glimmered with faint and varying pastel shades in direct sunlight. The south wall, which was always in shadow, was lichened from pavement to rotting gutter; and opposite, the northern face, unbroken except by rows of smallpaned windows, showed every color through its flaking stucco, and, in summer, a steady blaze of

22 PORGY

scarlet from rows of geraniums that bloomed in old vegetable tins upon every window-sill.

Within the high-ceilinged rooms, with their battered colonial mantels and broken decorations of Adam designs in plaster, governors had come and gone, and ambassadors of kings had schemed and danced. Now before the gaping entrance lay only a narrow, cobbled street, and beyond, a tumbled wharf used by negro fishermen. Only the bay remained unchanged. Beyond the litter of the wharf, it stretched to the horizon, taking its mood from the changing skies; always different--invariably the same.

Directly within the entrance of the Row, and having upon the street a single bleary window, wherein were displayed plates of fried fish, was the "cook-shop" which catered to the residents of the tenement.

Porgy's room was opposite the shop and enjoyed the great advantage of having a front window that commanded the street and harbor, and an inner door where he could sit and enter into the life of the court. To him, the front window signified adventure, the door--home.

It was Porgy's custom, when the day's work was done and he had exchanged a part

PORGY 23

of his collections for his evening meal of fish and bread, to sit at his front window and watch the world pass by. The great cotton wharves lay up the river, beyond the Row; and when the cotton season was on, he loved to sit in the dusk and see the drays go by. They would sweep into view with a loud thunder of wheels on the cobbles; and from his low seat they loomed huge and mysterious in the gathering dark. Sometimes there would be twenty of them in a row, with great swiftly-stepping mules, crouched figures of drivers, and bales piled toweringly above them. Always Porgy experienced a vague and not unpleasant fear when the drays swung past. There was power, vast, awe-inspiring; it could so easily crush him were he in its path. But here, safe within his window, he could watch it with perfect safety. At times when the train was unusually long, the sustained, rhythmic thunder and the sweep of form after form past his window produced an odd pleasurable detachment in his mind, and pictures of strange things and places would brighten and fade. But the night following the killing, the window was closed, and through the open door behind him beat the rhythm of a dirge from Robbins' room."What de matter, chillen'?" came the

24 PORGY

strophe. And the antistrophe swelled to the answer:

"Pain gots de body, an' I can't Stan' still."

Porgy sat upon his floor counting the day's collection: one dollar and twenty cents. It had been a good day. Perhaps the sorrow that had brooded over his spirit had quickened the sympathy of the passers-by.

"What de matter, Sister?"

"Jedus gots our brudder, an' I can't stan' still."

Ever since Porgy had come home the air had swung to the rhythm of the chant. He divided his pile into equal portions, and commenced to pocket one. The burden swayed out again.

"Pain gots de body, an' I can't Stan' still."

He hesitated a moment, poured all the coins together again, selected a twentyfivecent piece which he put into his pocket, and, taking the remainder in his hand, went out and drew himself across the short distance to the room of mourning.

The body lay upon a bed in the corner of the room, sheeted to the eyes, and upon its breast rested a large blue saucer. Standing in a circle about the bed, or seated upon the floor, backs to the wall, were a score of negroes, some singing, and others swaying,

PORGY 25

patting the floor with their large feet. For not a single moment since the body had been laid out had the rhythm slackened. With each hour it gathered weight until it seemed to swing the massive structure.

Porgy had heard that Robbins had left no burial insurance, the customary Saturday night festivities having consumed the slender margin between daily wage and immediate need. Now, at sight of the saucer, he knew that rumor had not erred. It had been an old custom among penniless negroes to prepare the corpse thus, then to sing dirges until neighborhood sympathy provided the wherewithal for proper interment. Recent years had introduced the insurance agent and the "buryin' lodge," and the old custom had fallen into disuse. It-had even become a grievous reproach to have a member of the family a "saucerburied nigger."

At the foot of the bed, bowed by the double weight of sorrow and disgrace, the widow sat swaying to the rhythm like a beach palm in the ebb and flow of a bleak sea wind.

The sight of her grief, the close room, the awful presence beneath the sheet, and the unceasing pulse of sound that beat against his ears, all contributed to stir a strange desire into being within Porgy. Suddenly he

26 PORGY

threw his head back and wailed long and quaveringly. In rushed a vast feeling of relief. He wailed again, emptied his handful of small coins into the saucer, and sank to the floor at the head of the bed. Presently he commenced to croon with the others, and a sense of exaltation flooded his being, compelling him from the despair of the dirge to a more triumphant measure.

"Oh, I gots a little brudder in de new grabe-yahd. What outshine de sun," he sang.

Without missing the beat, the chorus shifted: "An' I'll meet urn in the primus lan'."

Then came a rude interruption. A short yellow negro bustled into the room. His voice was low, oily, and penetrating. He was dressed entirely in black, and had an air of great importance. The song fell away to scarcely more than a throbbing silence. The man crossed the room to where the widow sat huddled at the foot of the bed, and touched her on the shoulder. She raised a face like a burned out ember.

"How de saucer stan' now, my sister?" he whispered, at the same time casting an appraising glance toward the subject of his inquiry.

PORGY 27

"Dere ain't but fifteen dollar," she replied in a flat, despairing voice.

"An' he gots tuh git buried termorrer," called an awed voice, "or de boahd ob healt' will take um, an' give urn tuh de students."

The widow's scream shrilled wildly. She rose to her knees and clutched the man's hand between both of hers. "Oh, fuh Gawd's sake bury urn in de grabeyahd. I goin' tuh work Monday, and I swear tuh Gawd I goin' tuh pay yuh ebery cent."

For a second even the rhythm ceased, leaving an aching suspense in the air. Watchers waited tensely. Wide eyes, riveted on the man's face, pleaded silently. Presently his professional manner slipped from him. "All right, Sister," he said simply. "Wid de box, an' one ca'age it will cost me more dan twenty-five. But I'll see yuh t'rough. Yuh can all be ready at eight tumorruh. It's a long trip tuh de cemetery."

The woman relaxed silently across the foot of the bed, her head between her outflung arms. Then from the narrow confines of the room, the song beat up and out triumphantly:

"Oh, I gots a little brudder in de new grabe-yahd. What outshine de sun!"

The rhythm swelled, and voices in the

28 PORGY

court and upper rooms took it up, until the deeply-rooted old walls seemed to rock and surge with the sweep of it.

In the cool of the early morning, the procession took its departure for the cemetery that lay beyond the city limits to the north. First went the dilapidated hearse, with its rigid wooden plumes, and faded black velvet draperies that nodded and swayed inside the plate glass panels. Then followed the solitary carriage, in which could be seen massed black accentuated by several pairs of white cotton gloves held to lowered eyes. Behind the carriage came the mourners in a motley procession of wagons and buggies that had been borrowed for the occasion.

Porgy drove with Peter, and four women, seated on straight chairs in the wagon behind them, completed their company. From time to time a longdrawn wail would rise from one of the conveyances, to be taken up and passed back from wagon to wagon like a dismal echo.

Moving from the negro district into the wide thoroughfare of Meeting House Road, with its high buildings and its white faces that massed and scattered on the pavements,

PORGY 29

the cortege appeared almost grotesque, with the odd fusion of comedy and tragedy so inextricably a part of negro life in its deep moments.

The fat German who kept the shop on the corner of King Charles Street and Summer Road, called his clerk from the depths of the building, and their stomachs shook with laughter. But the little, dark Russian Jew in the next shop, who dealt in abominably smelling clothing, gave them a reproving look, and disappeared indoors.

The cemetery lay several miles beyond the city limits. The lot was bare of trees, but among the graves many bright flowering weeds masked the ugliness of the troubled earth. To the eastward a wide marsh stretched away to a far, bright line of sea. Westward, ploughed fields swept out to a distant forest of yellow pine. From the sea to the far tree tops, the sky swung a dizzy arch of thin blue, high in the center of which several buzzards hung motionless, watching.

In the vast emptiness of the morning the little procession crawled out to the edge of the broken wooden fence that marked the enclosure, and stopped.

By the time the last wagon had arrived, the cheap pine casket was resting upon

PORGY 30

battens over the grave, and the preacher, robed in white, was preparing to commence the service.

The mourners gathered close about the grave.

"Death, ain't yuh gots no shamed" called a clear, high, soprano voice; and immediately the mortal embodiment of infinite sorrow broke and swayed about the grave in the funeral chant. Three times the line swung its curve of song, shrill, keen, agonizing; then it fell away to a heart-wrenching minor on the burden:

"Take dis man an' gone gone.Death, ain't yuh gots noshame."

When the singing ceased, the burial service commenced, the preacher extemporizing fluently. Taking his rhythm from the hymn, he poured his words along its interminable reiteration until the cumulative effect rocked the entire company.

The final moment of the ritual arrived. The lid was removed from the casket, and the mourners were formed into line to pass and look upon the face of the dead. A very old, bent negress went first. She stooped, then suddenly, with a shriek of anguish, cast herself beside the coffin.

PORGY 31

"Tell Peter tuh hold de do' open fuh me. I's comin' soon!" she cried.

"Yes, Gawd, goin' soon," responded a voice in the crowd. Others pressed about the grave, and the air was stabbed by scream on scream. Grief spent itself freely, terrifyingly.

Slowly the clashing sounds merged into the regular measure of a spiritual. Beautiful and poignant it rose, swelling out above the sounds of falling earth as the grave was filled:

"What yuh goin' ter do when yuh come out de wilderness,Come out de wilderness,Come out de wilderness;What yuh goin' ter do when yuh come out de wildernessLeanin' on my Lord."Leanin' on my Lord,Leanin' on my Lord,Leanin' on my LordWho died on Calvary."

The music faded away in vague, uncertain minors. The mood of the crowd changed almost tangibly. There was an air of restless apprehension. Nervous glances

32 PORGY

were directed toward the entrance. Peter, always sagacious, unless taken unawares, had conferred in advance with Porgy about this moment. When he had helped him from the wagon, he had stationed him just inside the fence, where he could be lifted quickly into the road.

"De las' man in de grabe-yahd goin' tuh be de nex' one tuh git buried," he had reminded his friend.

Now, as the final shovelful of earth was thrown upon the grave, he came running to Porgy, and lifted him quickly into the road. Behind them broke a sudden earth-shaking burst of sound, as of the stampeding of many cattle, and past them the mourners swept, stumbling, fighting for room; some assisting weaker friends, others fighting savagely to be free of the enclosure. In the center of the crowd, plunging forward with robes flying, was the preacher. In an incredibly short time the lot was cleared. Then, from a screening bush near the grave, arose the old negress who had been the first to wail out her grief. She had lain there forgotten, overcome by the storm of her emotion. She tottered feebly into the road.

"Nebber you min', Sister," the preacher assured her comfortingly. "Gawd always lub de righteous."

PORGY 33

Dazed, and much pleased at the attention that she was receiving, while still happily unmindful of its cause, the old woman smiled a vague smile, and was hoisted into the wagon.

During the funeral the sun had disappeared behind clouds that had blown in swiftly from the sea, and now a scurry of large drops swept over the vehicles, and trailed away across the desolate graves.

Dat's all right now fer Robbins," commented Porgy. "Gawd done sen' he rain already fuh wash he feet-steps often dis eart'."

"Oh, yes, Brudder!" contributed a woman's voice; and, "Amen, my Jedus!" added another.

In the early afternoon of the day of the funeral, Porgy sat in his doorway communing with Peter. The old man was silent for awhile, his grizzled head bowed, and an expression of brooding tenderness upon his lined face.

"Robbins war a good man," he reflected at length, "an' dat nigger, Crown, war a killer, an fuhebber gettin' intuh trouble. Yet, dere lie Robbins, wid he wife an'

34 PORGY

fadderless chillen; an' Crown done gone he ways tuh do de same t'ing ober again somewheres else."

"Gone fuh true. I reckon he done lose now on Kittiwar Islan', in dem palmettuh t'icket; an' de rope ain't nebber make fuh ketch urn an' hang um." Porgy stopped suddenly, and motioned with his head toward someone who had just entered the court. The new arrival was a white man of stocky build, wearing a widebrimmed hat, and a goatee. He was swinging a heavy cane, and he crossed the court directly and paused before the two. For a moment he stood looking down at them with brows drawn fiercely together. Then he drew back his coat, exhibiting a police badge, and a heavy revolver in a breast holster.

"You killed Robbins," he shot out suddenly at Peter. "And I'm going to hang you for it. Come along now !" and he reached out and laid a firm hand upon the old man's shoulder.

Peter shook violently, and his eyes rolled in his head. He made an ineffectual effort to speak, tried again, and finally said, "'Fore Gawd, Boss, I ain't nebber done it."

Like a flash, the pistol was out of its holster, and pointing between his eyes. "Who did it, then!" snapped the man.

PORGY 35

"Crown, Boss. I done see him do um," Peter cried in utter panic.

The man laughed shortly. "I thought so," he said. Then he turned to Porgy.

"You saw it too, eh!"

There was panic in Porgy's face, and in his lap his hands had clinched upon each other. But his eyes were fixed upon the paving. He drew a deep breath, and waited.

A flare of anger swept the face above him. "Come. Out with it. I don't want to have to put the law on you."

Porgy's only answer was a slight tremor that shook the hands in his lap. The detective's face darkened, and sweat showed under his hat-brim. Suddenly his temper bolted.

"Look at me, you damned nigger!" he shouted.

Slowly the sitting figure before him relaxed, almost it seemed, muscle by muscle. At last the hands fell apart, and lay flexed and idle. Finally Porgy raised eyes that had become hard and impenetrable as onyx. They met the angry glare that beat down upon them without flinching. After a long moment, he spoke slowly, and with great quietness.

"I ain't know nuttin' 'bout um. I been

36 PORGY

inside, asleep on my bed, wid de do' closed."

"You're a damn liar," the man snapped.

He shrilled a whistle, and two policemen entered.

"He saw the killing," the detective said, indicating Peter. "Take him along, and lock him up as a material witness."

"How about the cripple?" asked one of the officers.

"He could not have helped seeing it," the man said sourly. "That's his room right there. But I can't make him come through. But it don't matter. One's enough to hang Crown, if we ever get him. Come, get the old man in the wagon."

The policeman lifted the shaking old negro to his feet. "Come along, Uncle. It ain't going to be as bad for you as Crown, anyway," encouraged one of them. Then the little party passed out of the entrance, leaving Porgy alone.

From the street sounded the shrill gong of the patrol wagon, followed by the beat of swiftly receding hoofs upon the cobbles.

Ten days had passed since the detective had taken Peter away. For a week the

PORGY 37

wagon had waited under the tottering shed, and the dejected old horse had subsisted upon a varied diet brought to him by the friends of his absent master. Then a man had come and taken the outfit away. In answer to the protests of the negroes, he had exhibited a contract, dated three years previous, by which Peter was to pay two dollars a week for an indefinite period, on an exorbitant purchase price. Failure to pay any installment would cause the property to revert to the seller. It all looked thoroughly legal. And so the dilapidated old rig rattled over the cobbles and departed.

Then the man from the installment furniture house came. He was a vilemouthed, bearded Teuton, and swore so fiercely that no one dared to protest when he loaded Peter's furniture on his truck and drove away.

Now there remained in a corner of Porgy's room, where he had taken them into custody, only a battered leather trunk, a chromo of "The Great Emancipator," and a bundle of old clothes; mute reminders of their kindly and gentle old owner.


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