Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 735
When the baby was born, there was a great ceremony on the Channing plantation. Mr. Channing brought out the baby and let Sam, their black servant, hold him. Then he told the young black boy that he was to be the baby’s body servant from that day on.
When Marse Chan, as Sam called him, grew up and went to school, he carried Anne Chamberlin’s books, and they were very close friends. The two neighboring families hoped that the friendship would result in a marriage to unite the two families. One day, when the river rose suddenly and Anne was in danger from the high water, Marse Chan waded in and carried her to safety. Mr. Channing was so pleased that he gave his son a pony.
The friendship between the two families was broken soon afterward. When Mr. Channing declared himself a candidate for Congress, Colonel Chamberlin was nominated to oppose him. Mr. Channing lost the election, and from that day on, there was enmity between the families.
One day, Colonel Chamberlin announced that he intended to sell some of his slaves. Mr. Channing wanted to buy Maria because her husband was one of his own slaves, but the Colonel asked far too much for her. Learning of Mr. Channing’s intention, the Colonel sent someone to bid against him at the auction, but Mr. Channing was successful in buying Maria. Then followed a series of lawsuits between the families.
In the meantime, Marse Chan had been going to college. During vacations, in spite of family opposition, his romance with Anne flourished. One day, a barn on the Channing plantation caught fire. Old Mr. Channing, in an effort to release the trapped animals, went into the burning structure. He was so badly burned that he lost the use of his eyes. A short time later, Colonel Chamberlin and Marse Chan became involved in a public debate on secession. Marse Chan, in the crowd’s opinion, was the victor, and he was lustily cheered. The Colonel was so angry that he challenged Marse Chan to a duel. Marse Chan fired over the Colonel’s head and said that he was making a present of him to his family. The Colonel was furious.
When the war broke out, Marse Chan was called up for service. He sent a note to Anne, and the night before he left, he met her in the garden of her home. In reply to his pleadings, she told him that she did not love him. The next day, Marse Chan went off to fight for the South. He was accompanied by Sam, his servant since birth. While at the front, Marse Chan met a fellow soldier who spoke disrespectfully of Colonel Chamberlin. The two men had a fight, and Sam promptly wrote to his wife Judy to tell her about it. Judy just as promptly informed Anne of the incident. At last Colonel Chamberlin, aware that Anne was suffering and that she really loved Marse Chan, told her to attempt a reconciliation. Accordingly, Anne wrote to Marse Chan that she still loved him. Marse Chan read the letter again and again with great pleasure.
He was killed in battle the next day. Sam took his body back to his home and his family. Then Sam hurried over to the Chamberlin estate because he felt sure that was what Marse Chan would have wanted him to do. After he had told his story, Anne set out with him for the Channing home. Mrs. Channing, who had found Anne’s letter in one of Marse Chan’s pockets, was on the porch to greet her. They fell into each other’s arms, and the feud between the families was over. From that day on, Anne lived with the Channings and took care of old Mr. Channing and his wife as long as they lived. After the old Channings died, Anne went to work in a military hospital. Shortly before the fall of Richmond, she became ill with a fever and died. She was buried next to Marse Chan in the Channing graveyard.
Sam, the servant, lived on. Whenever anyone came along the path and saw him with the dog that constantly followed him, he would tell the passerby about Marse Chan. The dog had been Marse Chan’s dog; they were the ones, according to Sam, who remembered Marse Chan best.
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