[Story of Uncle Dick:]
Uncle Dick, a negro servant of one of the Hendersons, was the fiddler
of the neighborhood at weddings, husking parties and dances. Dick's
presence was essential. Uncle Dick was fully aware of his own
importance, and in consequence assumed a great deal of dignity in his
bearing. Before setting out he always dressed himself with the greatest
nicety. At the appointed time he was at the place with all the weight of
his dignity upon him. Woe to the "darkies" who violated any of the laws
of etiquette in his presence.
On a certain evening there was to be a grand wedding festival among the
colored gentry on a farm about 6 miles from Uncle Dick's residence. He
was, of course called upon to officiate as master of ceremonies. He
donned his long-tailed blue coat, having carefully polished the
glittering gilt buttons; then raised his immense shirt collar, which he
considered essential to his dignity, and, fiddle in hand, sallied forth
alone. The younger folk had set out sometime before; but Uncle Dick was
not to be hurried out of his dignity.
The narrow path led, for the greater part of the way, through a dense
forest, which was as wild as when roamed by the Indians. A heavy snow
lay on the ground, on which the moonbeams were shining whenever they
could force a passage through the trees.
The dreary solitude of the way made no impression on the mind of Uncle
Dick. He was anxiously hurrying on to reach the scene of operation,
having spent a little too much time in polishing his gilt buttons.
On he dashed, heedless of the black shadows and hideous night cries of
the deep forest. Wolves were howling around him; but he paid no
attention to sounds so common, thinking only of the feet that were
waiting his arrival to be set in motion.
Soon, however, the howling began to approach nearer than was agreeable,
The wolves continued to become more and more noisy, till, to his
indescribable horror, he heard them on each side of the crackling
Very soon the woods seemed to the old man to be alive with the yelling
pack. Wolves are cautious about attacking human beings; they usually
require some little time to work themselves up to the point. Every few
moments a dark object would brush past poor old Dick's legs with a
snapping sound like that of a steel trap, while the yelling and
crackling increased with terrible rapidity.
Dick new that to run would mean instant death, as the cowardly pack
would all rush on him the moment he showed fear. His only chance of
safety consisted in preserving the utmost coolness. A short distance
before him lay some open ground; and he hoped that on reaching this they
would leave him, as they do not like to make an attack in such a place.
He remembered, too, that in the middle of the open space there stood an
old cabin, in which he might be able to find refuge. But now the wolves
rushed at him more and more boldly, snapping in closer and closer
proximity to his legs.
Snap! Snap! Nearer and nearer! Instinctively he thrust out his fiddle at
them. The jarring of the strings made than leap back. Hope returned. He
drew his hand violently across the strings--twang, twang! Instantly the
wolves sprang back as if he had fired a gun among them.
He was now at the edge of the open space. He twanged his fiddle--the
wolves recoiled. Dick rushed toward the hut with all his speed, raking
the strings more violently at every jump, till they rang again.
The astonished wolves paused for a moment on the edge of the open
ground, with tails between their legs. But the sight of his flying form
renewed their savage instincts. With a loud burst of yells they darted
after him at full speed. He reached the hut just as the jaws of the
foremost wolf opened to seize him.
He rushed in, and the closing door dashed against the nose of the
nearest beast. The door was too rickety to keep the enemy out; but Dick
had time to push himself through the broken roof and get on top of the
cabin. The wolves were now furious. Rushing into the hut, they jumped
and snapped at him, so that Dick almost felt their teeth. It required
the greatest activity to keep his legs out of their reach.
Notwithstanding his agonizing terror, he still clung to his fiffle. Now,
in desperation, as he was kicking his feet in the air to avoid their
steel like fangs, he drew his bow shrieking across the strings. The
yells instantly ceased. Dick continued to make the most frightful spasms
of sound, but the wolves could not long endure bad fiddling. As soon as
the first surprise was over the attack was renewed more furiously than
A monstrous head was now thrust up between the boards of the roof, only
a few inches from Dick. He gave himself up for lost. But the excess of
terror seemed to stimulate him, so that almost of their own accord his
fingers began to play "Yankee-Doodle." Instantly there was complete
silence! The silence continued as long as he continued to play; but the
moment he ceased the listeners again became furious, and rushed on with
Uncle Dick's pride as a fiddler was flattered. He entered for awhile
completely into the spirit of the thing. But never before had he played
to an audience so fond of music. They permitted no pause. His enthusiasm
began to give way to cold and fatigue. He was tired to death and almost
What was to be done? There sat the listeners with tongues lolling and
ears pricked up, allowing not a moments pause, but demanding an
uninterrupted stream of music. Several weary hours passed, and Uncle
Dick was almost exhausted.
But all this while the wedding company had been anxiously expecting
their musician. Becoming at last impatient or alarmed, some of them set
out in search for him. They found him on top of the hut, still sawing
away for for life. The wolves were driven away and Uncle Dick was
relieved from his unwilling efforts to charm listeners who got more
music than they paid for.
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