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HOME > Classical Novels > The House Behind the Cedars33 > XII TRYON GOES TO PATESVILLE
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 Tryon arrived in the early morning and put up at the Patesville Hotel, a very comfortable inn. After a bath, breakfast, and a visit to the barbershop, he inquired of the hotel clerk the way to the office of Dr. Green, his mother's cousin.  
"On the corner, sir," answered the clerk, "by the market-house, just over the drugstore. The doctor drove past here only half an hour ago. You'll probably catch him in his office."
Tryon found the office without difficulty. He climbed the stair, but found no one in except a young colored man seated in the outer office, who rose promptly1 as Tryon entered.
"No, suh," replied the man to Tryon's question, "he ain't hyuh now. He's gone out to see a patient, suh, but he'll be back soon. Won't you set down in de private office an' wait fer 'im, suh?"
Tryon had not slept well during his journey, and felt somewhat fatigued2. Through the open door of the next room he saw an inviting4 armchair, with a window at one side, and upon the other a table strewn with papers and magazines.
"Yes," he answered, "I'll wait."
He entered the private office, sank into the armchair, and looked out of the window upon the square below. The view was mildly interesting. The old brick market-house with the tower was quite picturesque5. On a wagon-scale at one end the public weighmaster was weighing a load of hay. In the booths under the wide arches several old negro women were frying fish on little charcoal6 stoves—the odor would have been appetizing to one who had not breakfasted. On the shady side stood half a dozen two-wheeled carts, loaded with lightwood and drawn7 by diminutive8 steers9, or superannuated10 army mules11 branded on the flank with the cabalistic letters "C. S. A.," which represented a vanished dream, or "U. S. A.," which, as any negro about the market-house would have borne witness, signified a very concrete fact. Now and then a lady or gentleman passed with leisurely12 step—no one ever hurried in Patesville—or some poor white sandhiller slouched listlessly along toward store or bar-room.
Tryon mechanically counted the slabs13 of gingerbread on the nearest market-stall, and calculated the cubical contents of several of the meagre loads of wood. Having exhausted14 the view, he turned to the table at his elbow and picked up a medical journal, in which he read first an account of a marvelous surgical15 operation. Turning the leaves idly, he came upon an article by a Southern writer, upon the perennial16 race problem that has vexed17 the country for a century. The writer maintained that owing to a special tendency of the negro blood, however diluted18, to revert19 to the African type, any future amalgamation20 of the white and black races, which foolish and wicked Northern negrophiles predicted as the ultimate result of the new conditions confronting the South, would therefore be an ethnological impossibility; for the smallest trace of negro blood would inevitably21 drag down the superior race to the level of the inferior, and reduce the fair Southland, already devastated22 by the hand of the invader23, to the frightful24 level of Hayti, the awful example of negro incapacity. To forefend their beloved land, now doubly sanctified by the blood of her devoted25 sons who had fallen in the struggle to maintain her liberties and preserve her property, it behooved26 every true Southron to stand firm against the abhorrent27 tide of radicalism28, to maintain the supremacy29 and purity of his all-pervading, all-conquering race, and to resist by every available means the threatened domination of an inferior and degraded people, who were set to rule hereditary30 freemen ere they had themselves scarce ceased to be slaves.
When Tryon had finished the article, which seemed to him a well-considered argument, albeit31 a trifle bombastic32, he threw the book upon the table. Finding the armchair wonderfully comfortable, and feeling the fatigue3 of his journey, he yielded to a drowsy34 impulse, leaned his head on the cushioned back of the chair, and fell asleep. According to the habit of youth, he dreamed, and pursuant to his own individual habit, he dreamed of Rena. They were walking in the moonlight, along the quiet road in front of her brother's house. The air was redolent with the perfume of flowers. His arm was around her waist. He had asked her if she loved him, and was awaiting her answer in tremulous but confident expectation. She opened her lips to speak. The sound that came from them seemed to be:—
"Is Dr. Green in? No? Ask him, when he comes back, please, to call at our house as soon as he can."
Tryon was in that state of somnolence35 in which one may dream and yet be aware that one is dreaming,—the state where one, during a dream, dreams that one pinches one's self to be sure that one is not dreaming. He was therefore aware of a ringing quality about the words he had just heard that did not comport36 with the shadowy converse37 of a dream—an incongruity38 in the remark, too, which marred39 the harmony of the vision. The shock was sufficient to disturb Tryon's slumber40, and he struggled slowly back to consciousness. When fully33 awake, he thought he heard a light footfall descending41 the stairs.
"Was there some one here?" he inquired of the attendant in the outer office, who was visible through the open door.
"Yas, suh," replied the boy, "a young cullud 'oman wuz in jes' now, axin' fer de doctuh."
Tryon felt a momentary42 touch of annoyance43 that a negro woman should have intruded44 herself into his dream at its most interesting point. Nevertheless, the voice had been so real, his imagination had reproduced with such exactness the dulcet45 tones so dear to him, that he turned his head involuntarily and looked out of the window. He could just see the flutter of a woman's skirt disappearing around the corner.
A moment later the doctor came bustling46 in,—a plump, rosy47 man of fifty or more, with a frank, open countenance48 and an air of genial49 good nature. Such a doctor, Tryon fancied, ought to enjoy a wide popularity. His mere50 presence would suggest life and hope and healthfulness.
"My dear boy," exclaimed the doctor cordially, after Tryon had introduced himself, "I'm delighted to meet you—or any one of the old blood. Your mother and I were sweethearts, long ago, when we both wore pinafores, and went to see our grandfather at Christmas; and I met her more than once, and paid her more than one compliment, after she had grown to be a fine young woman. You're like her! too, but not quite so handsome—you've more of what I suppose to be the Tryon favor, though I never met your father. So one of old Duncan McSwayne's notes went so far as that? Well, well, I don't know where you won't find them. One of them turned up here the other day from New York.
"The man you want to see," he added later in the conversation, "is old Judge Straight. He's getting somewhat stiff in the joints51, but he knows more law, and more about the M............
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