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I enjoyed the singing of the choir so much that the next morning, which was Sunday, I attended services at the Baptist church in order to hear them again. They sang a number of the sweet old spirituals, their voices blending in that unstudied harmony that comes so naturally to the Negro choruses. After the song service was over, the preacher asked if I would "say a few words/7 and a young man teacher in the Negro school introduced me as a lady from New York who was touring the South in the interests of the colored race. He expressed the hope that I might stay in the South long enough to get to know the colored folk, and maybe to understand them and love them a little. I answered that I was a Southerner born and bred, and that I had been loving the southern Negroes ever since I could remember anything.
At the close of my brief talk, the elderly preacher thanked me quaintly. He said: "Lady, we feel so kind toward you. I feel about you like a colored man I once heard of. He and his pardner were working on top of a high, tall building, when he got too close to the edge and he fell off. His pardner called out to him, 'Stop, Jim, you'se falling/ But he sang out, 'I can't stop. I'se done fell'
"His pardner leaned over the edge an' call to him an7 say, 'You, Jim! You 'se gwine to fall on a white lady!' An' Jim stopped and come right on back up. That's the way we feel toward you."
I consider that the most chivalrous compliment that anyone ever paid me.
At this point the preacher was interrupted by Aunt Bedie, who tripped hobblingly up the front aisle and stood before the pulpit. "Now I'm gwine to sing you my song," she announced, addressing me. And then she started the same song and dance she had given at the "festibul."
The preacher looked at me in distress, but I indicated that I was not greatly shocked, and he seemed helpless to stop her. I learned afterward that Aunt Bedie had been expelled from the choir because she created so much disturbance. She had taken advantage of my folk-loristic interest to come forward once more; and she was truly an arresting sight, with her tiny hat perched on top of her head, and her diminutive frame contorted in a dance that would have thrilled Broadway.
I am told that Aunt Bedie has a passion for corsets and begs these cast-off garments of everyone she knows, so that her house is filled with them.
I even sought for folk-songs in the Governor's mansion, where I was a guest for several days. Governor Pat Neff told me of a song