8

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8

murmurs, "I'se gwine tuh show yuh muh pritty shoe-shine
box duh Massa done gib me."

I twist about in my chair and watch him. He kneels
beside the bed and begins to fish about under the bed; he has
found it. He tries to pull it out. The box is just a little
higher than the bed railing and it will not come out. I step
into the room to help him; I reach for the box myself. George
brushes me away; the box is sacred to him; he does not want
me to touch it.

He continues to struggle with the box; I look around.

This is George's bed-room. And what a room, just big
enough to hold a double bed. As he struggles for the box George
is tightly jammed between the bed and the wall. The bed is
unusually interesting; I have never seen another like it, fine
grade mahogany, a simple roll-top foot board, and a decorative
head board that rises to a great height with graduations of
wings. It is decidedly out of harmony with the jumpers, drawers,
and ragged overalls that decorate the cold slate walls.

George has fished out the box; he blows the dust away, and
rubs the cobwebs off affectionately. He loves this box.

He sets it before me. Indeed, it is a splendid piece of
work, heavy big-grain oak sealed with hand wrought nails and
copper bound; the foot rest is large and long. It was made for
boots. I imagine Doctor Arnold had a large foot.

"Some day," George says happily, "I'se gwine tuh shine it
'til it shines lik duh sun."

George may shine the copper, but he can never improve the
heavy oak. It shines with a natural gloss that comes only after
years of handling by human hands.

1497

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