waiting for his negro familiar to compound a julep


Russian - Ukraine
Crutch, the page by George Alfred Townsend

"THE Honorable Jeems Bee, of Texas, sitting in his committee-room half an hour before the convening of Congress, waiting for his negro familiar to compound a julep, was suddenly confronted by a small boy on crutches."

This sentence puzzled me a little, especially the part highlighted in bold. Was Jeems Bee waiting for his negro or a julep made by his negro? The word familiar confuses me.
Help, please, it's important for me to translate it correctly.
  • JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    It's quite an odd use of the word familiar, so I'm not surprised that you're confused. The most common use of the noun familiar that I am aware of is when it's used to refer to an animal that was used by witches to help them in their witchcraft. (I don't know exactly how they were used, to be honest - I've just heard the term witch's familiar.) It can also mean "familiar associate or friend." But here it seems to be used to refer to a black (or "negro") servant. Bee is waiting for his servant to make him a julep.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    He is waiting for his negro familiar to make him a julep drink.

    Here, 'familiar' means 'very well-known'. When speaking of witches they often have a 'familiar' creature (such as a cat) which is with them everywhere.
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