“Boy,” he says t’me, “You look like a smart ‘un. Bet yougot all the licorice and sassafras you want even in these leantimes.”I eyed them candies stickin’ outen his pockets an’ mymouth took up t’waterin’. “No suh,” I says, “We’re low on jestabout evahthing. My mama’s took to boilin okra fer coffee andspinnin’ her own dresses. She says I ain’t ‘lowed t’wear leathershoes ‘cept on Sunday. I don’t mind – I’d druther go bar’foot.But we do run short of store-boughts of late.”“I can see that, with the war and the blockade and all.Why up in Raleigh, corn is going for $30 a bushel; sugar is thatmuch for a pound and a barrel of flour can fetch $500 if yougot it.”My eyes went wide as pinwheels an’ I let out a loud whistle. I ain’t never seen $100, much less five of ‘em. I wondered what form of work this stranger were up to, what with everyone off to war or th’ salt works out on the coast. Mean’ th’ other boys had to scrape th’ smokehouse floors fer salt.“Ain’t you gone off to th’ war with th’ rest?” I said, liftin’ my head, so he’d know I was a smart ‘un.“Well, you’re sharp as briar! Yup, I’m up here studyin’ – studyin’ for when the Confederacy establishes itself and weneed to put every port to working just like Wilmington.”He cocked his head at me, one eye squintin’ in the sun.My eyes was fixed on those candies practically fallin’ out of hiscoat pocket. My mouth was startin’ t’water somethin’ fierce. Th’ feller noticed it.“You’re probably wondering why I am carrying so muchlicorice and sassafras,” he said, turning away as if to notice thebreeze, as if he didn’t care if I answered or not.“I mighta,” I said, diggin’ my toe into the soft dirt at theedge of the rut in the road. I didn’t want t’seem too eager,either.“Well, it’s rewards,” he said, turnin’ his head to catch thebreeze as it brushed by. “Rewards for a smart boy who mightknow a thing or two. Might that be you?” He turned to me with a purpose now.“It might be,” I said, “I know a thing ‘r two, bein’ as myuncle runs the railroad that’s been called ‘The Lifeline of theConfederacy’ an’ he tells me ev’ything.”“Really? And do you know about the Blockade that’sgoing on at the coast? Do you know the great feats of daringthat ‘our boys’ are performing almost daily to get around theUnion Blockade?” His eyes were big now and right on me. Hiseyebrows went way up on his head.