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Chesnutt Release Date: March 22, 2004 [EBook #11666] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE CONJURE WOMAN *** Produced by Suzanne Shell, Sjaani and PG Distributed Proofreaders First published in 1899 by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.THE GOOPHERED GRAPEVINE PO' SANDY MARS JEEMS'S NIGHTMARE THE CONJURER'S REVENGE SIS' BECKY'S PICKANINNY THE GRAY WOLF'S HA'NT HOT-FOOT HANNIBAL "The Conjurer's Revenge" is reprinted from The Overland Monthly by permission of the publishers.Works by this author may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.
He assured me, in response to my inquiries, that no better place could be found in the South than the State and neighborhood where he lived; the climate was perfect for health, and, in conjunction with the soil, ideal for grape-culture; labor was cheap, and land could be bought for a mere song.
He gave us a cordial invitation to come and visit him while we looked into the matter.
We accepted the invitation, and after several days of leisurely travel, the last hundred miles of which were up a river on a sidewheel steamer, we reached our destination, a quaint old town, which I shall call Patesville, because, for one reason, that is not its name.
There was a red brick market-house in the public square, with a tall tower, which held a four-faced clock that struck the hours, and from which there pealed out a curfew at nine o'clock.
The vines—here partly supported by decayed and broken-down trellises, there twining themselves among the branches of the slender saplings which had sprung up among them—grew in wild and unpruned luxuriance, and the few scattered grapes they bore were the undisputed prey of the first comer.
The site was admirably adapted to grape-raising; the soil, with a little attention, could not have been better; and with the native grape, the luscious scuppernong, as my main reliance in the beginning, I felt sure that I could introduce and cultivate successfully a number of other varieties.It was a sufficient time after the war for conditions in the South to have become somewhat settled; and I was enough of a pioneer to start a new industry, if I could not find a place where grape-culture had been tried.I wrote to a cousin who had gone into the turpentine business in central North Carolina.Our route lay partly up hill and partly down, for we were in the sand-hill county; we drove past cultivated farms, and then by abandoned fields grown up in scrub-oak and short-leaved pine, and once or twice through the solemn aisles of the virgin forest, where the tall pines, well-nigh meeting over the narrow road, shut out the sun, and wrapped us in cloistral solitude.Once, at a cross-roads, I was in doubt as to the turn to take, and we sat there waiting ten minutes—we had already caught some of the native infection of restfulness—for some human being to come along, who could direct us on our way.The doctor's advice was that we seek, not a temporary place of sojourn, but a permanent residence, in a warmer and more equable climate.I was engaged at the time in grape-culture in northern Ohio, and, as I liked the business and had given it much study, I decided to look for some other locality suitable for carrying it on.I found that grape-culture, while it had never been carried on to any great extent, was not entirely unknown in the neighborhood.Several planters thereabouts had attempted it on a commercial scale, in former years, with greater or less success; but like most Southern industries, it had felt the blight of war and had fallen into desuetude.One day I went over with my wife to show her the place.We drove out of the town over a long wooden bridge that spanned a spreading mill-pond, passed the long whitewashed fence surrounding the county fair-ground, and struck into a road so sandy that the horse's feet sank to the fetlocks.