Roads of Destiny HTML version
The Emancipation Of Billy
In the old, old, square-porticoed mansion, with the wry window-shutters and the paint
peeling off in discoloured flakes, lived one of the last of the war governors.
The South has forgotten the enmity of the great conflict, but it refuses to abandon its old
traditions and idols. In "Governor" Pemberton, as he was still fondly called, the
inhabitants of Elmville saw the relic of their state's ancient greatness and glory. In his day
he had been a man large in the eye of his country. His state had pressed upon him every
honour within its gift. And now when he was old, and enjoying a richly merited repose
outside the swift current of public affairs, his townsmen loved to do him reverence for the
sake of the past.
The Governor's decaying "mansion" stood upon the main street of Elmville within a few
feet of its rickety paling-fence. Every morning the Governor would descend the steps
with extreme care and deliberation—on account of his rheumatism—and then the click of
his gold-headed cane would be heard as he slowly proceeded up the rugged brick
sidewalk. He was now nearly seventy-eight, but he had grown old gracefully and
beautifully. His rather long, smooth hair and flowing, parted whiskers were snow-white.
His full-skirted frock-croak was always buttoned snugly about his tall, spare figure. He
wore a high, well-kept silk hat—known as a "plug" in Elmville—and nearly always
gloves. His manners were punctilious, and somewhat overcharged with courtesy.
The Governor's walks up Lee Avenue, the principal street, developed in their course into
a sort of memorial, triumphant procession. Everyone he met saluted him with profound
respect. Many would remove their hats. Those who were honoured with his personal
friendship would pause to shake hands, and then you would see exemplified the genuine
beau ideal Southern courtesy.
Upon reaching the corner of the second square from the mansion, the Governor would
pause. Another street crossed the venue there, and traffic, to the extent of several farmers'
wagons and a peddler's cart or two, would rage about the junction. Then the falcon eye of
General Deffenbaugh would perceive the situation, and the General would hasten, with
ponderous solicitude, from his office in the First National Bank building to the assistance
of his old friend.
When the two exchanged greetings the decay of modern manners would become
accusingly apparent. The General's bulky and commanding figure would bend lissomely
at a point where you would have regarded its ability to do so with incredulity. The
Governor would take the General's arm and be piloted safely between the hay-wagons
and the sprinkling-cart to the other side of the street. Proceeding to the post-office in the
care of his friend, the esteemed statesmen would there hold an informal levee among the
citizens who were come for their morning mail. Here, gathering two or three prominent in
law, politics, or family, the pageant would make a stately progress along the Avenue,
stopping at the Palace Hotel, where, perhaps, would be found upon the register the name