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Let us start fairly, and not on an empty stomach.
Reader, we begin with a Georgia breakfast. We are
at one of those plain, unpretending, but substantial
farm-houses, which, in the interior of Georgia, and
other Southern States, distinguished more especially
the older inhabitants; those who, from time immemorial,
have appeared pretty much as we find them now.
These all date back beyond the Revolution; the usual
epoch, in our country, at which an ancient family may
be permitted to begin. The region is one of those
lovely spots among the barrens of middle Georgia, in
which, surveyed from the proper point of view, there is
nothing barren. You are not to suppose the settlement
an old one, by any means, for it is not more than twenty
or twenty-five years since all the contiguous territory
within a space of sixty miles was rescued from the
savages. But our family is an old one; inheriting all
the pride, the tastes, and the feelings which belonged
to the old Southern “Continentaler.” This will be
apparent as we proceed; as it is apparent, in fact, to
the eye which contrasts the exterior of its dwelling with


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that of the neighboring settlements among which it
harbors. The spot, though undistinguished by surprising
scenery, is a very lovely one, and not unfrequent
in the middle country of the Atlantic Southern
States. It presents a pleasing prospect under a single
glance of the eye, of smooth lawn, and gentle acclivity,
and lofty forest growth. A streamlet, or branch, as it
is here called, winds along, murmuring as it goes, at the
foot of a gentle eminence which is crowned with a luxuriant
wealth of pine and cedar. Looking up from this
spot while your steed drinks, you behold, perched on
another gentle swell of ground, as snug and handsome
an edifice as our forest country usually affords; none
of your overgrown ambitious establishments, but a trim
tidy dwelling, consisting of a single story of wood upon
a brick basement, and surrounded on three sides by a
most glorious piazza. The lawn slopes away, for several
hundred yards, an even and very gradual descent even
to the road; a broad tract, well sprinkled with noble
trees, oaks, oranges, and cedars, with here and there a
clump of towering pines, under which steeds are grazing,
in whose slender and symmetrical forms, clean legs, and
glossy skins, you may discern instant signs of those
superior foreign breeds which the Southern planter so
much affects. The house, neatly painted white, with
green blinds and shutters, is kept in admirable trim; and,
from the agreeable arrangement of trees and shrubbery,
it would seem that the place had been laid out and was
tenanted by those who brought good taste and a becoming
sense of the beautiful to the task. There was
no great exercise of art, it is true. That is not pretended.
But nature was not suffered to have her own
way entirely, was not suffered to overrun the face of
the land with her luxuriance; nor was man so savage
as to strip her utterly of all her graceful decorations—
a crime which we are too frequently called upon to deplore
and to denounce, when we contemplate the habitations
even of the wealthy among our people, particularly
in the South, despoiled, by barbarity, of all their shade-trees,


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and denuded of all the grace and softness which
these necessarily confer upon the landscape. Here, the
glance seemed to rest satisfied with what it beheld, and
to want for nothing. There might be bigger houses,
and loftier structures, of more ambitious design and
more commanding proportion; but this was certainly
very neat, and very much in its place. Its white outlines
caught your eye, glinting through openings of the
forest, approaching by the road on either hand, for
some distance before you drew nigh, and with such an
air of peace and sweetness, that you were insensibly
prepared to regard its inmates as very good and well-bred
people. Nor are we wrong in these conjectures.
But of this hereafter. At this moment, you may see
a very splendid iron-gray charger, saddled, and fastened
in the shade, some twenty steps from the dwelling. Lift
your eye to the piazza, and you behold the owner. A
finer-looking fellow lives not in the country. Tall, well
made, and muscular, he treads the piazza like a prince.
The freedom of carriage which belongs to the gentlemen
in our forest country is inimitable, is not to be acquired
by art, and is due to the fact that they suffer from no
laborious occupation, undergo no drudgery, and are
subject to no confinement, which, in childhood, contract
the shoulders into a stoop, depress the spirits, enfeeble
the energies, and wofully impair the freedom and elegance
of the deportment. Constant exercise on foot
and horseback, the fox hunt and the chase; these, with
other sylvan sports, do wonders for the physique, the
grace and the bearing of the country gentleman of the
South. The person before us is one of the noblest specimens
of his class. A frank and handsome countenance,
with a skin clear and inclining to the florid; a bright,
martial blue eye; a full chin; thick, massive locks of
dark brown hair, and lips that express a rare sweetness,
and only do not smile, sufficiently distinguish his peculiarities
of face. His dress is simple, after an ordinary
fashion of the country, but is surprisingly neat and becoming.
A loose blouse, rather more after the Choctaw


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than the Parisian pattern, does not lessen the symmetry
of his shape. His trousers are not so loose as to conceal
the fine muscular developments of his lower limbs;
nor does his loose negligée neckcloth, simply folded
about the neck, prevent the display of a column which
admirably sustains the intellectual and massive head
which crowns it, and which we now behold uncovered.
Booted and spurred, he appears ready for a journey,
walks the piazza with something of impatience in his
manner, and frequently stops to shade his eyes from the
glare, as he strains them in exploring the distant highway.
You see that he is young, scarcely twenty-two;
eager in his impulses, restive under restraint, and better
able to endure and struggle with the conflict than to
wait for its slow approaches. Suddenly he starts. He
turns to a call from within, and a matron lady appears
at the entrance of the dwelling, and joins him in the
piazza. He turns to her with respect and fondness. She
is his mother; a stately dame, with features like his
own; a manner at once easy and dignified; an eye
grave, but benevolent; and a voice whose slow, subdued
accents possess a rare sweetness not unmingled with

“We need wait for Miles no longer, my son,” was
the remark of the old lady. “He surely never meant
to come to breakfast. He knows our hours perfectly;
and knows, moreover, that we old people, who rise with
the fowls, do not relish any unnecessary delay in the
morning meal.”

“Well, mother, have it in, though I certainly understood
John that he would be here to breakfast.”

“Most probably he did not understand himself.”

“He is, indeed, a stupid fellow. But, there he is.
Ho! John”—calling to the servant whom he sees crossing
the lawn in the direction of his house—“ho, John!
what did Miles tell you?”

“He tell me he will come, sa.”

“Ay, but when?”

“He say dis morning, when breakfast come.”


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“Ay, indeed! but whose breakfast; his or mine?
Did he say he would come to breakfast with me, or
after he had eaten his own?”

“He no say.”

“Why did I send that fellow!” muttered the youth
to himself as he passed into the breakfast-room. Let
us follow him. How nice are all the arrangements!
betraying the methodical and tidy hand of one brought
up in the old school. The cloth white as snow, and
neatly spread; the silver shining as brightly as if just
from the burnish of the smith; and the tout ensemble
denoting the vigilant care of a good mistress, who sees,
as well as orders, that her servants do their duty. A
single colored girl stands in waiting, dressed in blue
homespun, with a clean white apron. The aged lady
herself wears an apron, that seems to indicate her own
readiness to share in the labors of the household. And
now for the breakfast. A Georgia, indeed a Southern
breakfast, differs in sundry respects from ours at the
North, chiefly, however, in the matter of breadstuffs.
In this respect our habits are more simple, particularly
in the cities. In the South, there is a variety; and
these are valuable chiefly in proportion to their warmth.
Hominy itself is a breadstuff; a dish that our mush but
poorly represents. It is seldom eatable out of a Southern
household. Then there are waffles, and rice cakes and
fritters, and other things of like description, making
a variety at once persuasive to the palate and not hurtful
to health. These were all in lavish array at the
table of the widow Hammond, for such is the name of
the excellent lady to whose breakfast board we are
self-invited. The breadstuffs had their corresponding
variety of meats. A dish of broiled partridges, a steak
of venison, and a vase of boiled eggs, furnish an ample
choice for a Spring breakfast, and take from us all
motive to look farther. Coffee for her son, and tea for
herself, constituted the beverage of the breakfast; and
we are not unconscious that the platter of white fresh
butter, that occupies a place in the centre of the table,


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is suggestive of a pitcher of foaming buttermilk that
stands at the extremity. Why look further into the

For a while the parties ate in silence, or rather they
did not eat; one of them, at least, seemed to need an
appetizer. Randall Hammond took several things on
his plate at the suggestion of his mother, but he merely
tasted of them. The partridge was sorely gashed at
the first stroke, but the morsel taken from its breast lay
upon the fork unswallowed. The youth seemed more
disposed to exercise his ingenuity in balancing his spoon
upon the edge of his cup; a feat which, having succeeded
in, he abandoned for the more difficult experiment
of standing the egg upon its point, as if to solve
the problem which Columbus submitted to the Spanish
doctors. The mother watched with some anxiety these
movements of her son.

“You do not eat, Randall.”

“No,” he said, “I have somehow no appetite;” and
he pushed away his plate as he replied.

“You have eaten nothing; shall I send you another
cup of coffee?”

“Do so, mother; I am thirsty, though I cannot eat.”

The cup was replenished. The mistress dispatches
the servant-girl on a mission to the kitchen, and then,
after a preliminary hem or two, she addressed her son
in accents of considerable gravity, though so coupled
with fondness as to declare the tender interest which
she had in her subject.

“My son, you well know the regret which I feel at
your going to this horserace.”

“But I must go, mother.”

“Yes, I understand that. You must go, as you have
promised to do so, and I suppose it's quite unreasonable
on my part to desire that you should not comply with
what is customary among your associates. I can believe,
also, that horseracing is a very different thing,
nowadays, from what it was twenty years ago in


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“O yes, indeed; a very different thing!”

“I hope so; I believe so! If I did not, Randall,
nothing should persuade me to give my consent to your
exposing yourself to its dreadful influences.”

“You need fear nothing on my account, mother.”

“Ah! my son;—that is being quite too bold; persons
who are thus strong in their own belief are always in
danger. But, I trust, you have heard me too frequently
on this subject; I trust you feel how deeply I should
suffer, did I suppose that you could run a horse, or risk
a dollar, in such a practice; to be misled by the persuasions
of others, or your own natural tendencies.”

“But, why do you think I have any such tendencies,

“Why have you spent so large an amount on these
foreign horses?”

“For the sake of stock, mother. I have an eye to
the merits and the beauties of the horse. I know his fine
points. I love to look upon them. I know no spectacle
more beautiful than a group of these beautiful creatures,
wheeling and dashing over the lawn; and as a captain of
cavalry, I must be well mounted myself. Beyond this
desire, I do not see that I have any natural tendencies
that should occasion your fears.”

“These tendencies come from this very passion for

“But with me, mother, it is no passion.”

“Alas! my son, I know better; all passions begin very
modestly. That you have the tendency is enough for
me, and, at the risk of giving you pain, I must repeat
what I have said before, that you inherit this passion
from your most unhappy father.”

“No more of that, mother, I entreat you.”

“Nay, Randall, but there must be more of it. It
is needful for your safety that I should remind you that
your father lost his life and fortune both by this insane
and dangerous passion. What remains to us of former
wealth was happily secured by my father's providence.
We had else been destitute. You resemble your father


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greatly in most respects. You have his sanguine temperament;
his hopeful confidence in himself; his eager
will; his lavish expenditure, and his passion for horses.”

“But, dear mother—”

“Restrained only, as I trust, my son, by the constant
lessons of your mother.”

“And by the love I bear her.”

“I believe it, Randall; it is God's blessing that I do
believe it; otherwise, this would be to me a moment of
the dreariest hopelessness of heart. Promise me, dear
son, that you will neither run a horse, nor bet upon a

“Promise, mother!”

“Nay, I ask no promise; I will only pray, Randall,
that you will never for a moment forget how much the
small remnant of your mother's life depends upon the
heed you give to these lessons of her fears and sorrows.
Let me not mourn the fate of an only son, as I must
always mourn that of a husband.”

The youth passed his arms about her, and kissed her
tenderly. They had both risen from the table, and they
now approached the piazza together.

“There is another subject, Randall, about which I
wished to speak with you, but my heart is quite too full
just now. I must keep it for another time. It relates
to this young lady, Miss Foster.”

The youth colored deeply. The flush did not escape
the penetrating eyes of the mother. She did not seem
to observe it, however, but continued with rare quietness
of manner to remark:

“They tell me that you are pleased with her.”

“Who tells you?”

“No matter. Enough, that I hear also that she is a
maiden of singular levities, of bold, masculine habits.”

“O mother! who could have told you this? What a
scandalous story!”

“What! has she not some singular habits?”

“Some slight eccentricities, perhaps; something in
thought and manner more free and confident than is


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common to the uneducated girls of the country, and
which they accordingly censure—but—”

“Well, another time for this, my son. There comes

The youth was not unwilling to waive the subject.
His eyes were eagerly fixed upon the highway, where a
horseman now came in sight.

“Ay, there he is at last, riding like the high-sheriff,
as who but he! Should he want breakfast, now, mother?”

“He can have it in a moment; but, unless I am
greatly mistaken, he has considered his wants of that
sort some time ago.”

A few moments sufficed to determine the doubt.
The new-comer cantered rapidly down the road, and
was soon within the inclosure.

“Well, Randall, are you ready?” he cried, as he
alighted from his horse. The bridle was thrown to a
servant, and Henderson ascended to the piazza, where
he shook hands with mother and son.

“Ready,” said Hammond, “and have been this hour.
What has kept you? Why did you not come to breakfast?”

“For the best of reasons. I overslept myself.”

“Then you have breakfasted, Henderson?” asked the
old lady.

“O yes, ma'am. I wouldn't keep you waiting;
though I sent word by John that I would take coffee
with you.”

“And a pretty tale he made of it. We waited for

“I'm sorry—” he began to apologize, but the old
lady silenced him gracefully, and then took her departure,
leaving the young men together.

“So, you overslept yourself, Miles?” was the remark
of Hammond. “Something singular for you. Where
was you last night?”

The inquirer darted a swift but half-smiling glance of


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suspicion directly to the eye of the other. The answer
was somewhat hesitatingly delivered.

“Where was I? Oh! at Mrs. Foster's.”

“Ah!” was the significant exclamation of Hammond,
and a pause ensued between the parties. The tone with
which the exclamation was uttered was subdued, the
word seemed to escape the lips of the speaker involuntarily,
and a keen eye might have detected a slight
contraction of the muscles of his brow. But this passed
away in a single moment, and putting his arm within
that of his guest, with a glance behind him to the
breakfast-room, Randall Hammond led his companion
down the steps, and they walked away in silence to some
distance in the park.