|CHAPTER VII. -- RETURN--IMPROVED CONDITION--COMFORTABLE HOME.|
I was now taken back to Luray; and, though McCoy was greatly disappointed at the result of his Richmond venture, he was wise enough to make the best of it. Mrs. McCoy took a fancy to keep me; and, as she had not work enough to employ all my time, I found I could earn in the neighborhood enough money to carry home a large interest on my cost. After a while, McCoy agreed that, if I should bring him one dollar and a half every Saturday night, he would be satisfied, and I could do what I pleased with myself.
I washed blankets and bed-quilts, as well as weekly washings. I cleaned house, and worked in the fields, getting a job whenever I could find it and whatever it might be. I was near my child, where I could see her often; and I was comparatively happy.
After a time, master took a job of work on the pike, designing to work it with free negroes, whom he could hire for a small sum, and board them. He took me out there to cook for them. It gratified me to know that he placed confidence enough in me to do this; and I did my best to deserve it. The negroes were a rude set, as might be expected; for at that time they were the one class despised by everybody. They were despised by the master-class, because they could not subject them to their will quite in
Sometimes, one or another of these men would be insulting to me, and impose upon me; but there was always one of their number who at such times would come to my rescue. He would often bring water from the spring for me, and in many kind ways caused me to regard him with a different feeling from any one I had met since I had lost my poor Jerry. This man was Frank Veney, afterwards my second husband.
I remember telling Master McCoy that, with such a hungry set of fellows to feed, I couldn't see how he could make any money out of that job, so much bread and meat must cost so much. He laughed very heartily, and, as I could see, very approvingly, and said, "Oh, yes, Betty, I know it costs a heap; but I have reckoned that all up, and I know how it is coming out." It pleased him well to see that I thought of his interest; and I think he saw in it, too, that I might have some business tact myself. When the work on this pike was finished, my master took other similar jobs elsewhere, and I had many changes during three or four years. At last, we got back to Luray, and master agreed with me that I should pay him thirty dollars per year for my time, and whatever I earned above that should be my own.
I rented of John Prince a little house at Dry Run, just at the foot of the mountain, and with my little boy Joe, now about two years old, lived very contentedly.