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A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It

Mark Twain

        It was summer time, and twilight. We were sitting on the porch of the farm-house, on the summit of the hill, and "Aunt Rachel" was sitting respectfully below our level, on the steps,--for she was our servant, and colored. She was of mighty frame and stature; she was sixty years old, but her eye was undimmed and her strength unabated. She was a cheerful, hearty soul, and it was no more trouble for her to laugh than it is for a bird to sing. She was under fire, now, as usual when the day was done. That is to say, she was being chaffed without mercy, and was enjoying it. She would let off peal after peal of laughter, and then sit with her face in her hands and shake with throes of enjoyment which she could no longer get breath enough to express. At such a moment as this a thought occurred to me, and I said:--

        "Aunt Rachel, how is it that you've lived sixty years and never had any trouble?"

        She stopped quaking. She paused, and there was a moment of silence. She turned her face over her shoulder toward me, and said, without even a smile in her voice:--

        "Misto C----, is you in 'arnest?"

        It surprised me a good deal; and it sobered my manner and my speech, too. I said:--

        "Why, I thought--that is, I meant--why, you can't have had any trouble. I've never heard you sigh, and never seen your eye when there was n't a laugh in it."

        She faced fairly around, now, and was full of earnestness.

        "Has I had any trouble? Misto C----, I's gwyne to tell you, den I leave it to you. I was bawn down 'mongst de slaves; I knows all 'bout slavery, 'case I been one of 'em my own se'f. Well, sah, my ole man--dat's my husban'--he was lovin' an' kind to me, jist as kind as you is to yo' own wife. An' we had chil'en--seven chil'en--an' we loved dem chil'en jist de same as you loves yo' chil'en. Dey was black, but de Lord can't make no chil'en so black but what dey mother love 'em an' would n't give 'em up, no, not for anything dat's in dis whole world.

        "Well, sah, I was raised in ole Fo'ginny, but my mother she was raised in Maryland; an' my souls! she was turrible when she'd git started! My lan'! but she'd make de fur fly!