The march afternoon was windy and cold, and Scarlett pulled the lap robe high under her arms as she drove out the Decatur road toward Johnnie Gallegher’s mill. Driving alone was hazardous these days and she knew it, more hazardous than ever before, for now the negroes were completely out of hand. As Ashley had prophesied, there had been hell to pay since the legislature refused to ratify the amendment. The stout refusal had been like a slap in the face of the furious North and retaliation had come swiftly. The North was determined to force the negro vote on the state and, to this end, Georgia had been declared in rebellion and put under the strictest martial law. Georgia’s very existence as a state had been wiped out and it had become, with Florida and Alabama, “Military District Number Three,” under the command of a Federal general.
If life had been insecure and frightening before this, it was doubly so now. The military regulations which had seemed so stringent the year before were now mild by comparison with the ones issued by General Pope. Confronted with the prospect of negro rule, the future seemed dark and hopeless, and the embittered state smarted and writhed helplessly. As for the negroes, their new importance went to their heads, and, realizing that they had the Yankee Army behind them, their outrages increased. No one was safe from them.
In this wild and fearful time, Scarlett was frightened-frightened but determined, and she still made her rounds alone, with Frank’s pistol tucked in the upholstery of the buggy. She silently cursed the legislature for bringing this worse disaster upon them all. What good had it done, this fine brave stand, this gesture which everyone called gallant? It had just made matters so much worse.
As she drew near the path that led down through the bare trees into the creek bottom where the Shantytown settlement was, she clucked to the horse to quicken his speed. She always felt uneasy driving past this dirty, sordid cluster of discarded army tents and slave cabins. It had the worst reputation of any spot in or near Atlanta, for here lived in filth outcast negroes, black prostitutes and a scattering of poor whites of the lowest order. It was rumored to be the refuge of negro and white criminals and was the first place the Yankee soldiers searched when they wanted a man. Shootings and cuttings went on here with such regularity that the authorities seldom troubled to investigate and generally left the Shantytowners to settle their own dark affairs. Back in the woods there was a still that manufactured a cheap quality of corn whisky and, by night, the cabins in the creek bottoms resounded with drunken yells and curses.
Even the Yankees admitted that it was a plague spot and should be wiped out, but they took no steps in this direction. Indignation was loud among the inhabitants of Atlanta and Decatur who were forced to use the road for travel between the two towns. Men went by Shantytown with their pistols loosened in their holsters and nice women never willingly passed it, even under the protection of their men, for usually there were drunken negro slatterns sitting along the road, hurling insults and shouting coarse words.
As long as she had Archie beside her, Scarlett had not given Shantytown a thought, because not even the most impudent negro woman dared laugh in her presence. But since she had been forced to drive alone, there had been any number of annoying, maddening incidents. The negro sluts seemed to try themselves whenever she drove by. There was nothing she could do except ignore them and boil with rage. She could not even take comfort in airing her troubles to her neighbors or family because the neighbors would say triumphantly: “Well, what else did you expect?” And her family would take on dreadfully again and try to stop her. And she had no intention of stopping her trips.
Thank Heaven, there were no ragged women along the roadside today! As she passed the trail leading down to the settlement she looked with distaste at the group of shacks squatting in the hollow in the dreary slant of the afternoon sun. There was a chill wind blowing, and as she passed there came to her nose the mingled smells of wood smoke, frying pork and untended privies. Averting her nose, she flapped the reins smartly across the horse’s back and hurried him past and around the bend of the road.
Just as she was beginning to draw a breath of relief, her heart rose in her throat with sudden fright, for a huge negro slipped silently from behind a large oak tree. She was frightened but not enough to lose her wits and, in an instant, the horse was pulled up and she had Frank’s pistol in her hand.
“What do you want?” she cried with all the sternness she could muster. The big negro ducked back behind the oak, and the voice that answered was frightened.
“Lawd, Miss Scarlett, doan shoot Big Sam!”
Big Sam! For a moment she could not take in his words. Big Sam, the foreman of Tara whom she had seen last in the days of the siege. What on earth…
“Come out of there and let me see if you are really Sam!”
Reluctantly he slid out of his hiding place, a giant ragged figure, bare-footed, clad in denim breeches and a blue Union uniform jacket that was far too short and tight for his big frame. When she saw it was really Big Sam, she shoved the pistol down into the upholstery and smiled with pleasure.
“Oh, Sam! How nice to see you!”
Sam galloped over to the buggy, his eyes rolling with joy and his white teeth flashing, and clutched her outstretched hand with two black hands as big as hams. His watermelon-pink tongue lapped out, his whole body wiggled and his joyful contortions were as ludicrous as the gambolings of a mastiff.
“Mah Lawd, it sho is good ter see some of de fambly agin!” he cried, scrunching her hand until she felt that the bones would crack. “Hucoome you got so mean lak, totin’ a gun, Miss Scarlett?”
“So many mean folks these days, Sam, that I have to tote it. What on earth are you doing in a nasty place like Shantytown, you, a respectable darky? And why haven’t you been into town to see me?”
“Law’m, Miss Scarlett, ah doan lib in Shantytown. Ah jes’ bidin’ hyah fer a spell. Ah wouldn’ lib in dat place for nuthin’. Ah nebber in mah life seed sech trashy niggers. An’ Ah din’ know you wuz in ‘Lanta. Ah thought you wuz at Tara. Ah wuz aimin’ ter come home ter Tara soon as Ah got de chance.”
“Have you been living in Atlanta ever since the siege?”
“No, Ma’m! Ah been trabelin’!” He released her hand and she painfully flexed it to see if the bones were intact. “’Member w’en you seed me las’?”
Scarlett remembered the hot day before the siege began when she and Rhett had sat in the carriage and the gang of negroes with Big Sam at their head had marched down the dusty street toward the entrenchments singing “Go Down, Moses.” She nodded.
“Wel, Ah wuked lak a dawg diggin’ bresswuks an’ fillin’ San’ bags, tell de Confedruts lef’ ‘Lanta. De cap’n gempmum whut had me in charge, he wuz kilt an’ dar warn’t nobody ter tell Big Sam whut ter do, so Ah jes’ lay low in de bushes. Ah thought Ah’d try ter git home ter Tara, but den Ah hear dat all de country roun’ Tara done buhnt up. ’sides, Ah din’ hab no way ter git back an’ Ah wuz sceered de patterollers pick me up, kase Ah din’ hab no pass. Den de Yankees come in an’ a Yankee gempmum, he wuz a cunnel, he tek a shine ter me an’ he keep me te ten’ ter his hawse an’ his boots.
“Yas, Ma’m! Ah sho did feel bigitty, bein’ a body serbant lak Poke, w’en Ah ain’ nuthin’ but a fe’el han’. Ah ain’ tell de Cunnel Ah wuz a fe’el han’ an’ he-Well, Miss Scarlett, Yankees is iggerunt folks! He din’ know de diffunce! So Ah stayed wid him an’ Ah went ter Sabannah wid him w’en Gin’ul Sherman went dar, an’ fo’ Gawd, Miss Scarlett, Ah nebber seed sech awful goin’-ons as Ah seed on de way ter Sabannah! A-stealin’ an’ a-buhnin’-did dey buhn Tara, Miss Scarlett?”
“They set fire to it, but we put it out.”
“Well’m, Ah sho glad ter hear dat. Tara mah home an’ Ah is aimin’ ter go back dar. An’ w’en de wah ober, de Cunnel he say ter me: ‘You Sam! You come on back Nawth wid me. Ah pay you good wages.’ Well’m, lak all de niggers, Ah wuz honin’ ter try disyere freedom fo’ Ah went home, so Ah goes Nawth wid de Cunnel. Yas’m, us went ter Washington an’ Noo Yawk an’ den ter Bawston whar de Cunnel lib. Yas, Ma’am, Ah’s a trabeled nigger! Miss Scarlett, dar’s mo’ hawses and cah’iges on dem Yankee streets dan you kin shake a stick at! Ah wuz sceered all de time Ah wuz gwine git runned ober!”
“Did you like it up North, Sam?”
Sam scratched his woolly head.
“Ah did-an’ Ah din’t. De Cunnel, he a mighty fine man an’ he unnerstan’ niggers. But his wife, she sumpin’ else. His wife, she call me ‘Mister’ fust time she seed me. Yas’m, she do dat an’ Ah lak ter drap in mah tracks w’en she do it. De Cunnel, he tell her ter call me ’sam’ an’ den she do it. But all dem Yankee folks, fust time dey meet me, dey call me ‘Mist’ O’Hara.’ An’ dey ast me ter set down wid dem, lak Ah wuz jes’ as good as dey wuz. Well, Ah ain’ nebber set down wid w’ite folks an’ Ah is too ole ter learn. Dey treat me lak Ah jes’ as good as dey wuz, Miss Scarlett, but in dere hearts, dey din’ lak me-dey din’ lak no niggers. An’ dey wuz sceered of me, kase Ah’s so big. An’ dey wuz allus astin’ me ’bout de blood houn’s dat chase me an’ de beatin’s Ah got. An’, Lawd, Miss Scarlett, Ah ain’ nebber got no beatin’s! You know Mist’ Gerald ain’ gwine let nobody beat a ’spensive nigger lak me!
“W’en Ah tell dem dat an’ tell dem how good Miss Ellen ter de niggers, an’ how she set up a whole week wid me w’en Ah had de pneumony, dey doan b’lieve me. An’, Miss Scarlett, Ah got ter honin’ fer Miss Ellen an’ Tara, tell it look lak Ah kain stan’ it no longer, an’ one night Ah lit out fer home, an’ Ah rid de freight cabs all de way down ter ‘Lanta. Ef you buy me a ticket ter Tara, Ah sho be glad ter git home. Ah sho be glad ter see Miss Ellen and Mist’ Gerald agin. An done had nuff freedom. Ah wants somebody ter feed me good vittles reg’lar, and tell me whut ter do an’ whut not ter do, an’ look affer me w’en Ah gits sick. S’pose Ah gits de pneumony agin? Is dat Yankee lady gwine tek keer of me? No, Ma’m! She gwine call me ‘Mist’ O’Hara’ but she ain’ gwine nuss me. But Miss Ellen, she gwine nuss me, do Ah git sick an’-whut’s de mattuh, Miss Scarlett?”
“Pa and Mother are both dead, Sam.”
“Daid? Is you funnin’ wid me, Miss Scarlett? Dat ain’ no way ter treat me!”
“I’m not funning. It’s true. Mother died when Sherman men came through Tara and Pa-he went last June. Oh, Sam, don’t cry. Please don’t! If you do, I’ll cry too. Sam, don’t! I just can’t stand it. Let’s don’t talk about it now. I’ll tell you all about it some other time… Miss Suellen is at Tara and she’s married to a mighty fine man, Mr. Will Benteen. And Miss Carreen, she’s in a-” Scarlett paused. She could never make plain to the weeping giant what a convent was. “She’s living in Charleston now. But Pork and Prissy are at Tara… There, Sam, wipe your nose. Do you really want to go home?”
“Yas’m but it ain’ gwine be lak Ah thought wid Miss Ellen an’-”
“Sam, how’d you like to stay here in Atlanta and work for me? I need a driver and I need one bad with so many mean folks around these days.”
“Yas’m. You sho do. Ah been aimin’ ter say you ain’ got no bizness drivin’ ‘round by yo’seff, Miss Scarlett. You ain’ got no notion how mean some niggers is dese days, specially dem whut live hyah in Shantytown. It ain’ safe fer you. Ah ain’ been in Shantytown but two days, but Ah hear dem talk ’bout you. An’ yesterday w’en you druv by an’ dem trashy black wenches holler at you, Ah recernize you but you went by so fas’ Ah couldn’ ketch you. But Ah sho tan de hides of dem niggers! Ah sho did. Ain’ you notice dar ain’ none of dem roun’ hyah terday?”
“I did notice and I certainly thank you, Sam. Well, how would you like to be my carriage man?”
“Miss Scarlett, thankee, Ma’m, but Ah specs Ah better go ter Tara.”
Big Sam looked down and his bare toe traced aimless marks in the road. There was a furtive uneasiness about him.
“Now, why? I’ll pay you good wages. You must stay with me.”
The big black face, stupid and as easily read as a child’s, looked up at her and there was fear in it. He came closer and, leaning over the side of the buggy, whispered:
“Miss Scarlett, Ah got ter git outer ‘Lanta. Ah got ter git ter Tara whar dey woan fine me. Ah-Ah done kilt a man.”
“No’m. A w’ite man. A Yankee sojer and dey’s lookin’ fer me. Dat de reason Ah’m hyah at Shantytown.”
“How did it happen?”
“He wuz drunk an’ he said sumpin’ Ah couldn’ tek noways an’ Ah got mah han’s on his neck-an’ Ah din’ mean ter kill him, Miss Scarlett, but mah han’s is pow’ful strong, an’ fo’ Ah knowed it, he wuz kilt. An’ Ah wuz so sceered Ah din’ know whut ter do! So Ah come out hyah ter hide an’ w’en Ah seed you go by yestiddy, Ah says ‘Bress Gawd! Dar Miss Scarlett! She tek keer of me. She ain’ gwine let de Yankees git me. She sen’ me back ter Tara.”
“You say they’re after you? They know you did it?”
“Yas’m, Ah’s so big dar ain’ no mistakin’ me. Ah spec Ah’s de bigges’ nigger in ‘Lanta. Dey done been out hyah already affer me las’ night but a nigger gal, she hid me in a cabe ober in de woods, tell dey wuz gone.”
Scarlett sat frowning for a moment. She was not in the least alarmed or distressed that Sam had committed murder, but she was disappointed that she could not have him as a driver. A big negro like Sam would be as good a bodyguard as Archie. Well, she must get him safe to Tara somehow, for of course the authorities must not get him. He was too valuable a darky to be hanged. Why, he was the best foreman Tara had ever had! It did not enter Scarlett’s mind that he was free. He still belonged to her, like Pork and Mammy and Peter and Cookie and Prissy. He was still “one of our family” and, as such, must be protected.
“I’ll send you to Tara tonight,” she said finally. “Now Sam, I’ve got to drive out the road a piece, but I ought to be back here before sundown. You be waiting here for me when I come back. Don’t tell anyone where you are going and if you’ve got a hat, bring it along to hide your face.”
“Ah ain’ got no hat.”
“Well, here’s a quarter. You buy a hat from one of those shanty darkies and meet me here.”
“Yas’m.” His face glowed with relief at once more having someone to tell him what to do.
Scarlett drove on thoughtfully. Will would certainly welcome a good field hand at Tara. Pork had never been any good in the fields and never would be any good. With Sam on the place, Pork could come to Atlanta and join Dilcey as she had promised him when Gerald died.
When she reached the mill the sun was setting and it was later than she cared to be out. Johnnie Gallegher was standing in the doorway of the miserable shack that served as cook room for the little lumber camp. Sitting on a log in front of the slab-sided shack that was their sleeping quarters were four of the five convicts Scarlett had apportioned to Johnnie’s mill. Their convict uniforms were dirty and foul with sweat, shackles clanked between their ankles when they moved tiredly, and there was an air of apathy and despair about them. They were a thin, unwholesome lot, Scarlett thought, peering sharply at them, and when she had leased them, so short a time before, they were an upstanding crew. They did not even raise their eyes as she dismounted from the buggy but Johnnie turned toward her, carelessly dragging off his hat. His little brown face was as hard as a nut as he greeted her.
“I don’t like the look of the men,” she said abruptly. “They don’t look well. Where’s the other one?”
“Says he’s sick,” said Johnnie laconically. “He’s in the bunk house.”
“What ails him?”
“I’ll go see him.”
“Don’t do that. He’s probably nekkid. I’ll tend to him. He’ll be back at work tomorrow.”
Scarlett hesitated and saw one of the convicts raise a weary head and give Johnnie a stare of intense hatred before he looked at the ground again.
“Have you been whipping these men?”
“Now, Mrs. Kennedy, begging your pardon, who’s running this mill? You put me in charge and told me to run it. You said I’d have a free hand. You ain’t got no complaints to make of me, have you? Ain’t I making twice as much for you as Mr. Elsing did?”
“Yes, you are,” said Scarlett, but a shiver went over her, like a goose walking across her grave.
There was something sinister about this camp with its ugly shacks, something which had not been here when Hugh Elsing had it. There was a loneliness, an isolation, about it that chilled her. These convicts were so far away from everything, so completely at the mercy of Johnnie Gallegher, and if he chose to whip them or otherwise mistreat them, she would probably never know about it. The convicts would be afraid to complain to her for fear of worse punishment after she was gone.
“The men look thin. Are you giving them enough to eat? God knows, I spend enough money on their food to make them fat as hogs. The flour and pork alone cost thirty dollars last month. What are you giving them for supper?”
She stepped over to the cook shack and looked in. A fat mulatto woman, who was leaning over a rusty old stove, dropped a half curtsy as she saw Scarlett and went on stirring a pot in which black-eyed peas were cooking. Scarlett knew Johnnie Gallegher lived with her but thought it best to ignore the fact. She saw that except for the peas and a pan of corn pone there was no other food being prepared.
“Haven’t you got anything else for these men?”
“Haven’t you got any side meat in these peas?”
“No boiling bacon in the peas? But black-eyed peas are no good without bacon. There’s no strength to them. Why isn’t there any
“Mist’ Johnnie, he say dar ain’ no use puttin’ in no side meat.”
“You’ll put bacon in. Where do you keep your supplies?”
The negro woman rolled frightened eyes toward the small closet that served as a pantry and Scarlett threw the door open. There was an open barrel of cornmeal on the floor, a small sack of flour, a pound of coffee, a little sugar, a gallon jug of sorghum and two hams. One of the hams sitting on the shelf had been recently cooked and only one or two slices had been cut from it. Scarlett turned in a fury on Johnnie Gallegher and met his coldly angry gaze.
“Where are the five sacks of white flour I sent out last week? And the sugar sack and the coffee? And I had five hams sent and ten pounds of side meat and God knows how many bushels of yams and Irish potatoes. Well, where are they? You can’t have used them all in a week if you fed the men five meals a day. You’ve sold them! That’s what you’ve done, you thief! Sold my good supplies and put the money in your pocket and fed these men on dried peas and corn pone. No wonder they look so thin. Get out of the way.”
She stormed past him to the doorway.
“You, man, there on the end-yes, you! Come here!”
The man rose and walked awkwardly toward her, his shackles clanking, and she saw that his bare ankles were red and raw from the chafing of the iron.
“When did you last have ham?”
The man looked down at the ground.
Still the man stood silent and abject. Finally he raised his eyes, looked Scarlett in the face imploringly and dropped his gaze again.
“Scared to talk, eh? Well, go in the pantry and get that ham off the shelf. Rebecca, give him your knife. Take it out to those men and divide it up. Rebecca, make some biscuits and coffee for the men. And serve plenty of sorghum. Start now, so I can see you do it.”
“Dat’s Mist’ Johnnie’s privut flour an’ coffee,” Rebecca muttered frightenedly.
“Mr. Johnnie’s, my foot! I suppose it’s his private ham too. You do what I say. Get busy. Johnnie Gallegher, come out to the buggy with me.”
She stalked across the littered yard and climbed into the buggy, noticing with grim satisfaction that the men were tearing at the ham and cramming bits into their mouths voraciously. They looked as if they feared it would be taken from them at any minute.
“You are a rare scoundrel!” she cried furiously to Johnnie as he stood at the wheel, his hat pushed back from his lowering brow. “And you can just hand over to me the price of my supplies. In the future, I’ll bring you provisions every day instead of ordering them by the month. Then you can’t cheat me.”
“In the future I won’t be here,” said Johnnie Gallegher.
“You mean you are quitting!”
For a moment it was on Scarlett’s hot tongue to cry: “Go and good riddance!” but the cool hand of caution stopped her. If Johnnie should quit, what would she do? He had been doubling the amount of lumber Hugh turned out. And just now she had a big order, the biggest she had ever had and a rush order at that. She had to get that lumber into Atlanta. If Johnnie quit, whom would she get to take over the mill?
“Yes, I’m quitting. You put me in complete charge here and you told me that all you expected of me was as much lumber as I could possibly get out. You didn’t tell me how to run my business then and I’m not aiming to have you start now. How I get the lumber out is no affair of yours. You can’t complain that I’ve fallen down on my bargain. I’ve made money for you and I’ve earned my salary-and what I could pick up on the side, too. And here you come out here, interfering, asking questions and breaking my authority in front of the men. How can you expect me to keep discipline after this? What if the men do get an occasional lick? The lazy scum deserve worse. What if they ain’t fed up and pampered? They don’t deserve nothing better. Either you tend to your business and let me tend to mine or I quit tonight.”
His hard little face looked flintier than ever and Scarlett was in a quandary. If he quit tonight, what would she do? She couldn’t stay here all night guarding the convicts!
Something of her dilemma showed in her eyes for Johnnie’s expression changed subtly and some of the hardness went out of his face. There was an easy agreeable note in his voice when he spoke.
“It’s getting late, Mrs. Kennedy, and you’d better be getting on home. We ain’t going to fall out over a little thing like this, are we? S’pose you take ten dollars out of my next month’s wages and let’s call it square.”
Scarlett’s eyes went unwillingly to the miserable group gnawing on the ham and she thought of the sick man lying in the windy shack. She ought to get rid of Johnnie Gallegher. He was a thief and a brutal man. There was no telling what he did to the convicts when she wasn’t there. But, on the other hand, he was smart and, God knows, she needed a smart man. Well, she couldn’t part with him now. He was making money for her. She’d just have to see to it that the convicts got their proper rations in the future.
“I’ll take twenty dollars out of your wages,” she said shortly, “and I’ll be back and discuss the matter further in the morning.”
She picked up the reins. But she knew there would be no further discussion. She knew that the matter had ended there and she knew Johnnie knew it.
As she drove off down the path to the Decatur road her conscience battled with her desire for money. She knew she had no business exposing human lives to the hard little man’s mercies. If he should cause the death of one of them she would be as guilty as he was, for she had kept him in charge after learning of his brutalities. But, on the other hand-well, on the other hand, men had no business getting to be convicts. If they broke laws and got caught, then they deserved what they got. This partly salved her conscience but as she drove down the road the dull thin faces of the convicts would keep coming back into her mind.
“Oh, I’ll think of them later,” she decided, and pushed the thought into the lumber room of her mind and shut the door upon it.
The sun had completely gone when she reached the bend in the road above Shantytown and the woods about her were dark. With the disappearance of the sun, a bitter chill had fallen on the twilight world and a cold wind blew through the dark woods, making the bare boughs crack and the dead leaves rustle. She had never been out this late by herself and she was uneasy and wished herself home.
Big Sam was nowhere to be seen and, as she drew rein to wait for him, she worried about his absence, fearing the Yankees might have already picked him up. Then she heard footsteps coming up the path from the settlement and a sigh of relief went through her lips. She’d certainly dress Sam down for keeping her waiting.
But it wasn’t Sam who came round the bend.
It was a big ragged white man and a squat black negro with shoulders and chest like a gorilla. Swiftly she flapped the reins on the horse’s back and clutched the pistol. The horse started to trot and suddenly shied as the white man threw up his hand.
“Lady,” he said, “can you give me a quarter? I’m sure hungry.”
“Get out of the way,” she answered, keeping her voice as steady as she could. “I haven’t got any money. Giddap.”
With a sudden swift movement the man’s hand was on the horse’s bridle.
“Grab her!” he shouted to the negro. “She’s probably got her money in her bosom!”
What happened next was like a nightmare to Scarlett, and it all happened so quickly. She brought up her pistol swiftly and some instinct told her not to fire at the white man for fear of shooting the horse. As the negro came running to the buggy, his black face twisted in a leering grin, she fired point-blank at him. Whether or not she hit him, she never knew, but the next minute the pistol was wrenched from her hand by a grasp that almost broke her wrist. The negro was beside her, so close that she could smell the rank odor of him as he tried to drag her over the buggy side. With her one free hand she fought madly, clawing at his face, and then she felt his big hand at her throat and, with a ripping noise, her basque was torn open from neck to waist. Then the black hand fumbled between her breasts, and terror and revulsion such as she had never known came over her and she screamed like an insane woman.
“Shut her up! Drag her out!” cried the white man, and the black hand fumbled across Scarlett’s face to her mouth. She bit as savagely as she could and then screamed again, and through her screaming she heard the white man swear and realized that there was a third man in the dark road. The black hand dropped from her mouth and the negro leaped away as Big Sam charged at him.
“Run, Miss Scarlett!” yelled Sam, grappling with the negro; and Scarlett, shaking and screaming, clutched up the reins and whip and laid them both over the horse. It went off at a jump and she felt the wheels pass over something soft, something resistant. It was the white man who lay in the road where Sam had knocked him down.
Maddened by terror, she lashed the horse again and again and it struck a gait that made the buggy rock and sway. Through her terror she was conscious of the sound of feet running behind her and she screamed at the horse to go faster. If that black ape got her again, she would die before he even got his hands upon her.
A voice yelled behind her: “Miss Scarlett! Stop!”
Without slacking, she looked trembling over her shoulder and saw Big Sam racing down the road behind her, his long legs working like hard-driven pistons. She drew rein as he came up and he flung himself into the buggy, his big body crowding her to one side. Sweat and blood were streaming down his face as he panted:
“Is you hu’t? Did dey hu’t you?”
She could not speak, but seeing the direction of his eyes and their quick averting, she realized that her basque was open to the waist and her bare bosom and corset cover were showing. With a shaking hand she clutched the two edges together and bowing her head began to cry in terrified sobs.
“Gimme dem lines,” said Sam, snatching the reins from her. “Hawse, mek tracks!”
The whip cracked and the startled horse went off at a wild gallop that threatened to throw the buggy into the ditch.
“Ah hope Ah done kill dat black baboon. But Ah din’ wait ter fine out,” he panted. “But ef he hahmed you, Miss Scarlett, Ah’ll go back an’ mek sho of it.”
“No-no-drive on quickly,” she sobbed.