Infomotions, Inc.Our World, Or, the Slaveholder's Daughter / Adams, F. Colburn (Francis Colburn)



Author: Adams, F. Colburn (Francis Colburn)
Title: Our World, Or, the Slaveholder's Daughter
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): franconia; marston; nigger; plantation; harry; slave
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Title: Our World, or, The Slaveholders Daughter

Author: F. Colburn Adams

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OUR WORLD:

OR, The Slaveholder's Daughter.

"An honest tale speeds best being plainly told."

NEW YORK AND AUBURN:

1855.






PREFACE.





IN presenting this work to the public, we are fully conscious of the
grave charges of misrepresenting society, and misconstruing facts,
which will be made by our friends of the South, and its very
peculiar institution; but earnestly do we enjoin all such champions
of "things as they are," to read and well digest what is here set
before them, believing that they will find the TRUTH even "stranger
than fiction." And, as an incentive to the noble exertions of those,
either North or South, who would rid our country of its "darkest,
foulest blot," we would say, that our attempt has been to give a
true picture of Southern society in its various aspects, and that,
in our judgment, the institution of Slavery is directly chargeable
with the various moral, social and political evils detailed in OUR
WORLD.

THE AUTHOR.






CONTENTS.





I. Marston's Plantation,
II. How a Night was spent on Marston's Plantation
III. Things not so bright as they seem
IV. An Unexpected Confession
V. The Marooning Party
VI. Another Scene in Southern Life
VII. "Buckra-Man very Uncertain,"
VIII. A Cloud of Misfortune hangs over the Plantation
IX. Who is Safe against the Power?
X. Another Shade of the Picture,
XI. Mrs. Rosebrook's Project,
XII. Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy Changes his Business,
XIII. A Father tries to be a Father,
XIV. In which Extremes are Presented,
XV. A Scene of Many Lights,
XVI. Another Phase of the Picture,
XVII. Pleasant Dealings with Human Property,
XVIII. A not uncommon Scene slightly changed,
XIX. They are going to be Sold,
XX. Let us follow poor Human Nature to the Man Shambles,
XXI. A Father's Trials,
XXII. We Change with Fortune,
XXIII. The Vicissitudes of a Preacher,
XXIV. How we Manufacture Political Faith,
XXV. Mr. M'Fadden sees Shadows of the Future,
XXVI. How they stole the Preacher,
XXVII. Competition in Human Things,
XXVIII. The Pretty Children are to be Sold,
XXIX. Nature Shames Itself,
XXX. The Vision of Death is Past,
XXXI. A Friend is Woman,
XXXII. Marston in Prison,
XXXIII. Venders of Human Property are not Responsible for its
    Mental Caprices,
XXXIV. A Common Incident shortly told,
XXXV. The Children are Improving,
XXXVI. Workings of the Slave System,
XXXVII. An Item in the Common Calendar,
XXXVIII. In which Regrets are shown of little Worth,
XXXIX. How we should all be Forgiving,
XL. Containing Various Matters,
XLI. Nicholas's Simple Story,
XLII. He would Deliver her from Bondage,
XLIII. Other Phases of the Subject,
XLIV. How Daddy Bob Departed,
XLV. How Slaveholders Fear each other,
XLVI. Southern Administration of Justice,
XLVII. Prosperity the Result of Justice,
XLVIII. In which the Fate of Franconia is seen,
XLIX. In which is a Sad Recognition,
L. In which a Dangerous Principle is Illustrated,
LI. A Continuation of the Last Chapter,
LII. In which are Pleasures and Disappointments,
LIII. A Familiar Scene, in which Pringle Blowers has Business,
LIV. In which are Discoveries and Pleasant Scenes,
LV. In which is a Happy Meeting, some Curious Facts Developed,
    and Clotild History Disclosed,
LVI. In which a Plot is Disclosed, and the Man-Seller made to
    Pay the Penalty of his Crimes,






OUR WORLD.

CHAPTER I

MARSTON'S PLANTATION.





ON the left bank of the Ashly River, in the State of South Carolina,
and a few miles from its principal city, is a plantation once the
property of Hugh Marston. It was near this spot, the brave
Huguenots, fleeing religious and political persecution, founded
their first American colony-invoked Heaven to guard their
liberties-sought a refuge in a new world! And it was here the pious
Huguenot forgot his appeals to high heaven-forgot what had driven
him from his fatherland, and-unlike the pilgrim fathers who planted
their standard on "New England's happy shore,"-became the first to
oppress. It was here, against a fierce tyranny, the gallant
Yamassee,

A tribe of faithful and heroic Indians. loyal to his professed
friend, struggled and died for his liberty. It was here the last
remnant of his tribe fought the fierce battle of right over might!
It was here, in this domain, destined to be the great and powerful
of nations-the asylum of an old world's shelter seeking poor, and
the proud embodiment of a people's sovereignty,-liberty was first
betrayed! It was here men deceived themselves, and freedom
proclaimers became freedom destroyers. And, too, it was here Spanish
cupidity, murderous in its search for gold, turned a deaf ear to
humanity's cries, slaughtered the friendly Indian, and drenched the
soil with his innocent blood. And it is here, at this moment,
slavery-fierce monster, threatening the peace of a happy people-runs
riot in all its savage vicissitudes, denying man his commonest
birthright.

If history did but record the barbarous scenes yet enacted on the
banks of this lovely stream, the contrast with its calm surface
sweeping gently onward to mingle its waters with the great deep,
would be strange indeed. How mellowed by the calm beauty of a summer
evening, the one!-how stained with scenes of misery, torment, and
death, the other!

Let us beg the reader to follow us back to the time when Marston is
found in possession of the plantation, and view it as it is when his
friends gather round him to enjoy his bounteous hospitality.

We have ascended the Ashly on a bright spring morning, and are at a
jut covered with dark jungle, where the river, about twenty rods
wide, sweeps slowly round ;-flowering brakes, waving their tops to
and fro in the breeze, bedeck the river banks, and far in the
distance, on the left, opens the broad area of the plantation. As we
near it, a beautifully undulating slope presents itself, bounded on
its upper edge by a long line of sombre-looking pines. Again we
emerge beneath clustering foliage overhanging the river; and from
out this-sovereign of a southern clime-the wild azalia and fair
magnolia diffuse their fragrance to perfume the air. From the pine
ridge the slope recedes till it reaches a line of jungle, or hedge,
that separates it from the marshy bottom, extending to the river,
against which it is protected by a dyke. Most of the slope is under
a high state of cultivation, and on its upper edge is a newly
cleared patch of ground, which negroes are preparing for the
cotton-seed.

Smoking piles burn here and there, burned stumps and trees point
their black peaks upward in the murky atmosphere, half-clad negroes
in coarse osnaburgs are busy among the smoke and fire: the scene
presents a smouldering volcano inhabited by semi-devils. Among the
sombre denizens are women, their only clothing being osnaburg
frocks, made loose at the neck and tied about the waist with a
string: with hoes they work upon the "top surface," gather charred
wood into piles, and waddle along as if time were a drug upon life.

Far away to the right the young corn shoots its green sprouts in a
square plat, where a few negroes are quietly engaged at the first
hoeing. Being tasked, they work with system, and expect, if they
never receive, a share of the fruits. All love and respect Marston,
for he is generous and kind to them; but system in business is at
variance with his nature. His overseer, however, is just the
reverse: he is a sharp fellow, has an unbending will, is proud of
his office, and has long been reckoned among the very best in the
county. Full well he knows what sort of negro makes the best driver;
and where nature is ignorant of itself, the accomplishment is
valuable. That he watches Marston's welfare, no one doubts; that he
never forgets his own, is equally certain. From near mid-distance of
the slope we see him approaching on a bay-coloured horse. The sun's
rays are fiercely hot, and, though his features are browned and
haggard, he holds a huge umbrella in one hand and the inseparable
whip in the other. The former is his protector; the latter, his
sceptre. John Ryan, for such is his name, is a tall, athletic man,
whose very look excites terror. Some say he was born in Limerick, on
the Emerald Isle, and only left it because his proud spirit would
not succumb to the unbending rod England held over his poor bleeding
country.

Running along the centre of the slope is a line of cotton-fields, in
which the young plants, sickly in spots, have reached a stage when
they require much nursing. Among them are men, women, and children,
crouched on the ground like so many sable spectres, picking and
pulling at the roots to give them strength. John Ryan has been
keeping a sharp eye on them. He will salute you with an air of
independence, tell you how he hated oppression and loved freedom,
and how, at the present day, he is a great democrat. Now, whether
John left his country for his country's good, is a question; but
certain it is he dearly delights to ply the lash,-to whip mankind
merely for amusement's sake. In a word, John has a good Irish heart
within him, and he always lays particular emphasis on the good, when
he tells us of its qualities; but let us rather charge to the State
that spare use he makes of its gentler parts.

John Ryan, his face indicating tyranny stereotyped, has just been
placing drivers over each gang of workmen. How careful he was to
select a trustworthy negro, whose vanity he has excited, and who
views his position as dearly important. Our driver not unfrequently
is the monster tyrant of his circle; but whether from inclination to
serve the interests of his master, or a knowledge of the fierce
system that holds him alike abject, we know not. At times he is more
than obedient to his master's will.

Excuse, reader, this distant view of the plantation at early spring,
and follow us back to the Ashly. Here we will still continue along
the river-bank, pass borders of thick jungle, flowering vines, and
rows of stately pines, their tops moaning in the wind,-and soon find
we have reached Marston's landing. This is situated at the
termination of an elevated plat extending from thence to the
mansion, nearly a mile distant. Three negroes lay basking on the
bank; they were sent to wait our coming. Tonio! Murel! Pompe!-they
ejaculate, calling one another, as we surprise them. They are
cheerful and polite, are dressed in striped shirts and trousers,
receive us with great suavity of manner, present master's
compliments, tell us with an air of welcome that master will be
"right glad" to see us, and conclude by making sundry inquiries
about our passage and our "Missuses." Pompe, the "most important
nigger" of the three, expresses great solicitude lest we get our
feet in the mud. Black as Afric's purest, and with a face of great
good nature, Pompe, in curious jargon, apologises for the bad state
of the landing, tells us he often reminds Mas'r how necessary it is
to have it look genteel. Pompe, more than master, is deeply
concerned lest the dignity of the plantation suffer.

Planks and slabs are lain from the water's edge to the high ground
on the ridge, upon which we ascend to the crown, a piece of natural
soil rising into a beautiful convex of about six rods wide,
extending to the garden gate. We wend our way to the mansion,
leaving Pompe and his assistants in charge of our luggage, which
they will see safely landed. The ridge forms a level walk,
sequestered by long lines of huge oaks, their massive branches
forming an arch of foliage, with long trailing moss hanging like
mourning drapery to enhance its rural beauty. At the extreme of this
festooned walk the mansion is seen dwindling into an almost
imperceptible perspective. There is something grand and impressive
in the still arch above us-something which revives our sense of the
beauty of nature. Through the trunks of the trees, on our right and
left, extensive rice fields are seen stretching far into the
distance. The young blades are shooting above the surface of the
water, giving it the appearance of a frozen sheet clothed with
green, and protected from the river by a serpentine embankment. How
beautiful the expanse viewed from beneath these hoary-headed oaks!

On the surface and along the banks of the river aligators are
sporting; moccason snakes twist their way along, and scouring
kingfishers croak in the balmy air. If a venerable rattlesnake warn
us we need not fear-being an honourable snake partaking of the old
southerner's affected chivalry;-he will not approach disguised;-no!
he will politely give us warning. But we have emerged from the mossy
walk and reached a slab fence, dilapidated and broken, which
encloses an area of an acre of ground, in the centre of which stands
the mansion: the area seems to have been a garden, which, in former
days, may have been cultivated with great care. At present it only
presents a few beds rank with weeds. We are told the gardener has
been dismissed in consideration of his more lucrative services in
the corn-field. That the place is not entirely neglected, we have
only to add that Marston's hogs are exercising an independent right
to till the soil according to their own system. The mansion is a
quadrangular building, about sixty feet long by fifty wide, built of
wood, two stories high, having upper and lower verandas.

We pass the dilapidated gate, and reach it by a narrow passage
through the garden, on each side of which is a piece of antique
statuary, broken and defaced. Entering the lower veranda, we pace
the quadrangle, viewing innumerable cuttings and carvings upon the
posts: they are initials and full names, cut to please the vanity of
those anxious to leave the Marston family a memento. Again we arrive
at the back of the mansion where the quadrangle opens a courtyard
filled with broken vines, blackened cedars, and venerable-looking
leaks;-they were once much valued by the ancient and very
respectable Marston family. A few yards from the left wing of the
mansion are the "yard houses"-little, comely cabins, about twelve
feet by twenty, and proportionately high. One is the kitchen: it has
a dingy look, the smoke issuing from its chinks regardless of the
chimney; while from its door, sable denizens, ragged and greasy, and
straining their curious faces, issue forth. The polished black cook,
with her ample figure, is foaming with excitement, lest the feast
she is preparing for master's guests may fail to sustain her
celebrity. Conspicuous among these cabins are two presenting a much
neater appearance: they are brightly whitewashed, and the little
windows are decorated with flowering plants. Within them there is an
air of simple neatness and freshness we have seldom seen surpassed;
the meagre furniture seems to have been arranged by some careful
hand, and presents an air of cheerfulness in strange contrast with
the dingy cabins around. In each there is a neatly arranged bed,
spread over with a white cover, and by its side a piece of soft
carpet. It is from these we shall draw forth the principal
characters of our story.

Upon a brick foundation, about twenty rods from the right wing of
the mansion, stands a wood cottage, occupied by the overseer. Mr.
John Ryan not being blessed with family, when Marston is not
honoured with company takes his meals at the mansion. In the
distance, to the left, is seen a long line of humble huts, standing
upon piles, and occupied by promiscuous negro families:--we say
promiscuous, for the marriage-tie is of little value to the master,
nor does it give forth specific claim to parentage. The sable
occupants are beings of uncertainty; their toil is for a life-time-a
weary waste of hope and disappointment. Yes! their dreary life is a
heritage, the conditions of which no man would share willingly.
Victors of husbandry, they share not of the spoils; nor is the sweat
of their brows repaid with justice.

Near these cabins, mere specks in the distance, are two large sheds,
under which are primitive mills, wherein negroes grind corn for
their humble meal. Returning from the field at night, hungry and
fatigued, he who gets a turn at the mill first is the luckiest
fellow. Now that the workpeople are busily engaged on the
plantation, the cabins are in charge of two nurses, matronly-looking
old bodies, who are vainly endeavouring to keep in order numerous
growing specimens of the race too young to destroy a grub at the
root of a cotton plant. The task is indeed a difficult one, they
being as unruly as an excited Congress. They gambol round the door,
make pert faces at old mamma, and seem as happy as snakes in the
spring sun. Some are in a nude state, others have bits of frocks
covering hapless portions of their bodies; they are imps of mischief
personified, yet our heart bounds with sympathy for them. Alive with
comicality, they move us, almost unconsciously, to fondle them. And
yet we know not why we would fondle the sable "rascals." One knot is
larking on the grass, running, toddling, yelling, and hooting;
another, ankle-deep in mud, clench together and roll among the
ducks, work their clawy fingers through the tufts of each other's
crispy hair, and enjoy their childish sports with an air of genial
happiness; while a third sit in a circle beside an oak tree, playing
with "Dash," whose tail they pull without stint. "Dash" is the
faithful and favourite dog; he rather likes a saucy young "nigger,"
and, while feeling himself equal to the very best in the clan, will
permit the small fry, without resenting the injury, to pull his
tail.

It being "ration day," we must describe the serving, that being an
interesting phase of plantation life. Negroes have gathered into
motley groups around two weatherbeaten store-houses--the overseer
has retired to his apartment-when they wait the signal from the head
driver, who figures as master of ceremonies. One sings:---"Jim Crack
corn, an' I don't care, Fo'h mas'r's gone away! way! way!" Another
is croaking over the time he saved on his task, a third is trying to
play a trick with the driver (come the possum over him), and a third
unfolds the scheme by which the extra for whiskey and molasses was
raised. Presenting a sable pot pourri, they jibber and croak among
themselves, laugh and whistle, go through the antics of the
"break-down" dance, make the very air echo with the music of their
incomprehensible jargon. We are well nigh deafened by it, and yet it
excites our joy. We are amused and instructed; we laugh because they
laugh, our feelings vibrate with theirs, their quaint humour forces
itself into our very soul, and our sympathy glows with their happy
anticipations. The philosophy of their jargon is catching to our
senses; we listen that we may know their natures, and learn good
from their simplicity. He is a strange mortal who cannot learn
something from a fool!

The happy moment has arrived: "Ho, boys!" is sounded,-the doors
open, the negroes stop their antics and their jargon; stores are
exposed, and with one dinning mutter all press into a half-circle at
the doors, in one of which stands the huge figure of Balam, the head
driver. He gives a scanning look at the circle of anxious faces; he
would have us think the importance of the plantation centred in his
glowing black face. There he stands-a measure in his hand-while
another driver, with an air of less dignity, cries out, with a
stentorian voice, the names of the heads of families, and the number
of children belonging thereto. Thus, one by one, the name being
announced in muddled accents, they step forward, and receive their
corn, or rice, as may be. In pans and pails they receive it, pass it
to the younger members of the family; with running and scampering,
they carry the coarse allotment to their cabin with seeming
cheerfulness. Marston, esteemed a good master, always gives bacon,
and to receive this the negroes will gather round the store a second
time. In this, the all-fascinating bacon is concealed, for which the
children evince more concern; their eyes begin to shine brighter,
their watchfulness becomes more intent. Presently a negro begins to
withdraw the meat, and as he commences action the jargon gets
louder, until we are deafened, and would fain move beyond it. Just
then, the important driver, with hand extended, commands,-"Order!"
at the very top of his loud voice. All is again still; the man
returns to his duty. The meat is somewhat oily and rancid, but Balam
cuts it as if it were choice and scarce. Another driver weighs it in
a pair of scales he holds in his hands; while still another, cutting
the same as before, throws it upon some chaff at the door, as if it
were a bone thrown to a hungry dog. How humbly the recipient picks
it up and carries it to his or her cabin! Not unfrequently the young
"imps" will scramble for it, string it upon skewers, and with great
nonchalance throw it over their shoulders, and walk off. If it bathe
their backs with grease so much more the comfort. Those little
necessaries which add so much to the negro's comfort, and of which
he is so fond, must be purchased with the result of his extra
energy. Even this allowance may serve the boasted hospitality; but
the impression that there is a pennyworth of generosity for every
pound of parsimony, forces itself upon us. On his little spot, by
moonlight or starlight, the negro must cultivate for himself, that
his family may enjoy a few of those fruits of which master has many.
How miserable is the man without a spark of generosity in his soul;
and how much more miserable the man who will not return good for
good's worth! To the negro, kindness is a mite inspiring the
impulses of a simple heart, and bringing forth great good.

Let us again beg the reader to return with us to those conspicuous
cottages near the court-yard, and in which we will find several of
our characters.

We cross the threshold of one, and are accosted by a female who,
speaking in musical accents, invites us to sit down. She has none of
Afric's blood in her veins;-no! her features are beautifully olive,
and the intonation of her voice discovers a different origin. Her
figure is tall and well-formed; she has delicately-formed hands and
feet, long, tapering fingers, well-rounded limbs, and an oval face,
shaded with melancholy. How reserved she seems, and yet how quickly
she moves her graceful figure! Now she places her right hand upon
her finely-arched forehead, parts the heavy folds of glossy hair
that hang carelessly over her brown shoulders, and with a
half-suppressed smile answers our salutation. We are welcome in her
humble cabin; but her dark, languishing eyes, so full of intensity,
watch us with irresistible suspicion. They are the symbols of her
inward soul; they speak through that melancholy pervading her
countenance! The deep purple of her cheek is softened by it, while
it adds to her face that calm beauty which moves the gentle of our
nature. How like a woman born to fill a loftier sphere than that to
which a cruel law subjects her, she seems!

Neither a field nor a house servant, the uninitiated may be at a
loss to know what sphere on the plantation is her's? She is the
mother of Annette, a little girl of remarkable beauty, sitting at
her side, playing with her left hand. Annette is fair, has light
auburn hair-not the first tinge of her mother's olive invades her
features. Her little cheerful face is lit up with a smile, and while
toying with the rings on her mother's fingers, asks questions that
person does not seem inclined to answer. Vivacious and sprightly,
she chatters and lisps until we become eager for her history. "It's
only a child's history," some would say. But the mother displays so
much fondness for it; and yet we become more and more excited by the
strange manner in which she tries to suppress an outward display of
her feelings. At times she pats it gently on the head, runs her
hands through its hair, and twists the ends into tiny ringlets.

In the next cabin we meet the shortish figure of a tawny female,
whose Indian features stand boldly out. Her high cheek bones, long
glossy black hair, and flashing eyes, are the indexes of her
pedigree. "My master says I am a slave:" in broken accents she
answers our question. As she sits in her chair near the fire-place
of bricks, a male issue of the mixed blood toddles round and round
her, tossing her long coarse hair every time he makes a circut. The
little boy is much fairer than the brawny daughter who seems his
mother. Playful, and even mischievous, he delights in pulling the
hair which curls over his head; and when the woman calls him he
answers with a childish heedlessness, and runs for the door. Reader!
this woman's name is Ellen Juvarna; she has youth on her side, and
though she retains the name of her ancient sire, is proud of being
master's mistress. She tells us how comfortable she is; how
Nicholas, for such is his name, resembles his father, how he loves
him, but how he fails to acknowledge him. A feud, with its
consequences, is kept up between the two cabins; and while she makes
many insinuations about her rival, tells us she knows her features
have few charms. Meanwhile, she assures us that neither good looks
nor sweet smiles make good mothers. "Nicholas!" she exclaims, "come
here; the gentlemen want to know all about papa." And, as she
extends her hand, the child answers the summons, runs across the
room, fondles his head in his mother's lap,-seems ashamed!






CHAPTER II.

HOW A NIGHT WAS SPENT ON MARSTON'S PLANTATION.





EARTH is mantled with richest verdure; far away to the west and
south of the mansion the scene stretches out in calm grandeur. The
sun sinks beneath glowing clouds that crimson the horizon and spread
refulgent shadows on the distant hills, as darkness slowly steals
its way on the mellow landscape.

Motley groups of negroes are returned from the field, fires are
lighted in and about the cabins, and men mutter their curious jargon
while moving to prepare the coarse meal. Their anxious countenances
form a picture wild and deeply interesting.

Entering Marston's mansion, we find its interior neater than its
weather-stained and paintless sides portended. Through the centre
runs a broad passage, and on the left and right are large parlours,
comfortably furnished, divided by folding doors of carved walnut. We
are ushered into the one on the right by a yellow servant, who,
neatly dressed in black, has prepared his politeness for the
occasion. With great suavity, accompanied by a figurative grin, he
informs us that master will pay his respects presently. Pieces of
singularly antique furniture are arranged round the room, of which,
he adds, master is proud indeed. Two plaster figures, standing in
dingy niches, he tells us are wonders of the white man's genius. In
his own random style he gives us an essay on the arts, adding a word
here and there to remind us of master's exquisite taste, and
anxiously waits our confirmation of what he says.

A large open fire-place, with fancifully carved framework and
mantel-pieces, in Italian marble of polished blackness, upon which
stood massive silver candlesticks, in chased work, denotes the
ancient character of the mansion. It has many years been the home of
the ever-hospitable Marston family.

In another part of the room is a mahogany side-board of antique
pattern, upon which stand sundry bottles and glasses, indicative of
Marston having entertained company in the morning. While we are
contemplating the furniture around us, and somewhat disappointed at
the want of taste displayed in its arrangement, the door opens, and
Sam, the yellow servant, bows Marston in with a gracious smile. It
is in the south where the polite part is played by the negro. Deacon
Rosebrook and Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy, a man of the world,
follow Marston into the room. Marston is rather tall of figure,
robust, and frank of countenance. A florid face, and an extremely
large nose bordering on the red, at times give him an aldermanic
air. He rubs his fingers through the short, sandy-coloured hair that
bristles over a low forehead (Tom, the barber, has just fritted it)
smiles, and introduces us to his friends. He is vain-vanity belongs
to the slave world-is sorry his eyes are grey, but adds an assurance
every now and then that his blood is of the very best stock. Lest a
doubt should hang upon our mind, he asserts, with great confidence,
that grey eyes indicate pure Norman birth. As for phrenology! he
never believed in a single bump, and cites his own contracted
forehead as the very strongest proof against the theory. Indeed,
there is nothing remarkable in our host's countenance, if we except
its floridness; but a blunt nose protruding over a wide mouth and
flat chin gives the contour of his face an expression not the most
prepossessing. He has been heard to say, "A man who didn't love
himself wasn't worth loving:" and, to show his belief in this
principle of nature, he adorns his face with thick red whiskers, not
the most pleasing to those unaccustomed to the hairy follies of a
fashionable southron.

Times are prosperous; the plantation puts forth its bounties, and
Marston withholds nothing that can make time pass pleasantly with
those who honour him with a visit. He is dressed in an elaborately
cut black coat, with sweeping skirts, a white vest, fancy-coloured
pantaloons, and bright boots. About his neck is an enormous shirt
collar, turned carelessly over, and secured with a plain black
ribbon. Elder Praiseworthy is of lean figure, with sharp, craven
features. The people of the parish have a doubtful opinion of him.
Some say he will preach sermons setting forth the divine right of
slavery, or any other institution that has freedom for its foe,
provided always there is no lack of pay. As a divine, he is
particularly sensitive lest anything should be said disparagingly
against the institution he lends his aid to protect. That all
institutions founded in patriarchal usage are of God's creation, he
holds to be indisputable; and that working for their overthrow is a
great crime, as well as an unpardonable sin, he never had the
slightest doubt. He is careful of his clerical dress, which is of
smoothest black; and remembering how essential are gold-framed
spectacles, arranges and re-arranges his with greatest care. He is a
great admirer of large books with gilt edges and very expensive
bindings. They show to best advantage in the southern parlour
library, where books are rarely opened. To say the Elder is not a
man of great parts, is to circulate a libel of the first magnitude.
Indeed, he liked big books for their solidity; they reminded him of
great thoughts well preserved, and sound principles more firmly
established. At times he had thought they were like modern
democratic rights, linked to huge comprehending faculties, such as
was his good fortune to use when expounding state rights and federal
obligations.

Deacon Rosebrook is a comely, fair-faced man, a moderate thinker, a
charitable Christian, a very good man, who lets his deeds of
kindness speak of him. He is not a politician-no! he is a better
quality of man, has filled higher stations. Nor is he of the
modernly pious-that is, as piety professes itself in our democratic
world, where men use it more as a necessary appliance to subdue the
mind than a means to improve civilization. But he was always
cautious in giving expression to his sentiments, knowing the
delicate sensibilities of those he had to deal with, and fearing
lest he might spring a democratic mine of very illiberal
indignation.

"Come, gentlemen guests, you are as welcome as the showers," says
Marston, in a stentorious voice: "Be seated; you are at home under
my roof. Yes, the hospitality of my plantation is at your service."
The yellow man removes a table that stood in the centre of the room,
places chairs around it, and each takes his seat.

"Pardon me, my dear Marston, you live with the comfort of a nabob.
Wealth seems to spring up on all sides," returns the Deacon,
good-naturedly.

"And so I think," joins the Elder: "the pleasures of the plantation
are manifold, swimming along from day to day; but I fear there is
one thing our friend has not yet considered."

"Pray what is that? Let us hear it; let us hear it. Perhaps it is
the very piety of nonsense," rejoined Marston, quickly. "Dead men
and devils are always haunting us." The Elder draws his spectacles
from his pocket, wipes them with his silk handkerchief, adjusts them
on his nose, and replies with some effort, "The Future."

"Nothing more?" Marston inquires, quaintly: "Never contented; riches
all around us, favourable prospects for the next crop, prices stiff,
markets good, advices from abroad exciting. Let the future take care
of itself; you are like all preachers, Elder, borrowing darkness
when you can't see light."

"The Elder, so full of allegory!" whispers the Deacon. "He means a
moral condition, which we all esteem as a source of riches laid up
in store for the future."

"I discover; but it never troubles me while I take care of others. I
pray for my negro property-pray loudly and long. And then, their
piety is a charge of great magnitude; but when I need your
assistance in looking after it, be assured you will receive an extra
fee."

"That's personal-personal, decidedly personal."

"Quite the reverse," returns Marston, suddenly smiling, and, placing
his elbows on the table, rests his face on his hands. "Religion is
well in its place, good on simple minds; just the thing to keep
vassals in their places: that's why I pay to have it talked to my
property. Elder, I get the worth of my money in seeing the
excitement my fellows get into by hearing you preach that old
worn-out sermon. You've preached it to them so long, they have got
it by heart. Only impress the rascals that it's God's will they
should labour for a life, and they'll stick to it like Trojans: they
are just like pigs, sir."

"You don't comprehend me, my friend Marston: I mean that you should
prepare-it's a rule applicable to all-to meet the terrible that may
come upon us at any moment." The Elder is fearful that he is not
quite explicit enough. He continues: "Well, there is something to be
considered;"-he is not quite certain that we should curtail the
pleasures of this life by binding ourselves with the dread of what
is to come. "Seems as if we owed a common duty to ourselves," he
ejaculates.

The conversation became more exciting, Marston facetiously
attempting to be humorous at the Elder's expense: "It isn't the
pleasure, my dear fellow, it's the contentment. We were all born to
an end; and if that end be to labour through life for others, it
must be right. Everything is right that custom has established
right."

"Marston, give us your hand, my friend. 'Twould do to plead so if we
had no enemies, but enemies are upon us, watching our movements
through partizans' eyes, full of fierceness, and evil to
misconstruct."

"I care not," interrupts Marston. "My slaves are my property-I shall
do with them as it pleases me; no insinuations about morality, or I
shall mark you on an old score. Do you sound? Good Elders should be
good men; but they, as well as planters, have their frailties; it
would not do to tell them all, lest high heaven should cry out."
Marston points his finger, and laughs heartily. "I wish we had seven
lives to live, and they were all as happy as most of our planters
could desire to make them."

The Elder understood the delicate hint, but desiring to avoid
placing himself in an awkward position before the Deacon, began to
change the conversation, criticising the merits of several old
pictures hung upon the walls. They were much valued by Marston, as
mementoes of his ancestry: of this the Elder attempted in vain to
make a point. During this conversation, so disguised in meaning, the
mulatto servant stood at the door waiting Marston's commands. Soon,
wine and refreshments were brought in, and spread out in old
plantation style. The company had scarcely filled glasses, when a
rap sounded at the hall door: a servant hastened to announce a
carriage; and in another minute was ushered into the room the
graceful figure of a young lady whose sweet and joyous countenance
bespoke the absence of care. She was followed by a genteelly-dressed
young man of straight person and placid features.

"Oh! Franconia," said Marston, rising from his seat, grasping her
hand affectionately, and bestowing a kiss on her fair cheek, for it
was fair indeed.

Taking her right hand in his left, he added, "My niece, gentlemen;
my brother's only daughter, and nearly spoiled with attentions." A
pleasant smile stole over her face, as gracefully she acknowledged
the compliment. In another minute three or four old negroes, moved
by the exuberance of their affection for her, gathered about her,
contending with anxious faces for the honour of seeing her
comfortable.

"I love her!" continued Marston; "and, as well as she could a
father, she loves me, making time pass pleasantly with her
cheerfulness." She was the child of his affections; and as he spoke
his face glowed with animation. Scarce seventeen summers had bloomed
upon his fair niece, who, though well developed in form, was of a
delicate constitution, and had inherited that sensitiveness so
peculiar to the child of the South, especially she who has been
cradled in the nursery of ease and refinement. As she spoke, smiled,
and raised her jewelled fingers, the grace accompanying the words
was expressive of love and tenderness. Turning to the gentleman who
accompanied her, "My friend!" she added, simply, with a frolicsome
laugh. A dozen anxious black faces were now watching in the hall,
ready to scamper round her ere she made her appearance to say, "How
de'h!" to young Missus, and get a glimpse at her stranger friend.
After receiving a happy salute from the old servants, she re-enters
the room. "Uncle's always drinking wine when I come;-but Uncle
forgets me; he has not so much as once asked me to join him!" She
lays her hand on his arm playfully, smiles cunningly, points
reproachfully at the Elder, and takes a seat at her uncle's side.
The wine has seized the Elder's mind; he stares at her through his
spectacles, and holds his glass with his left hand.

"Come, Dandy," said Marston, addressing himself to the mulatto
attendant, "bring a glass; she shall join us." The glass is brought,
Marston fills it, she bows, they drink to her and to the buoyant
spirits of the noble southern lady. "I don't admire the habit; but I
do like to please so," she whispers, and, excusing herself, skips
into the parlour on the right, where she is again beset by the old
servants, who rush to her, shake her hand, cling playfully to her
dress: some present various new-plucked flowers others are become
noisy with their chattering jargon. At length she is so beset with
the display of their affection as to be compelled to break away from
them, and call for Clotilda. "I must have Clotilda!" she says: "Tell
her to come soon, Dandy: she alone can arrange my dress." Thus
saying, she disappeared up a winding stair leading from the hall
into the second story.

We were anxious to know who Clotilda was, and why Franconia should
summon her with so much solicitude. Presently a door opened:
Franconia appeared at the top of the stairs, her face glowing with
vivacity, her hair dishevelled waving in beautiful confusion, giving
a fascination to her person. "I do wish she would come, I do!" she
mutters, resting her hands upon the banisters, and looking intently
into the passage: "she thinks more of fussing over Annette's hair,
than she does about taking care of mine. Well, I won't get cross-I
won't! Poor Clotilda, I do like her; I can't help it; it is no more
than natural that she should evince so much solicitude for her
child: we would do the same." Scarcely had she uttered these words,
when the beautiful female we have described in the foregoing chapter
ran from her cabin, across the yard, into the mansion. "Where is
young Miss Franconia?" she inquires; looks hastily around, ascends
the stairs, greets Franconia with a fervent shake of the hand,
commences adjusting her hair. There is a marked similarity in their
countenances: it awakens our reflections. Had Clotilda exhibited
that exactness of toilet for which Franconia is become celebrated,
she would excel in her attractions. There was the same oval face,
the same arched brows; there was the same Grecian contour of
features, the same sharply lined nose; there was the same delicately
cut mouth, disclosing white, pearly teeth; the same eyes, now
glowing with sentiment, and again pensive, indicating thought and
tenderness; there was the same classically moulded bust, a shoulder
slightly converging, of beautiful olive, enriched by a dark mole.

Clotilda would fain have kissed Franconia, but she dare not.
"Clotilda, you must take good care of me while I make my visit. Only
do my hair nicely, and I will see that Uncle gets a new dress for
you when he goes to the city. If Uncle would only get married, how
much happier it would be," says Franconia, looking at Clotilda the
while.

"And me, too,-I would be happier!" Clotilda replies, resting her
arms on the back of Franconia's lolling chair, as her eyes assumed a
melancholy glare. She heaved a sigh.

"You could not be happier than you are; you are well cared for;
Uncle will never see you want; but you must be cheerful when I come,
Clotilda,-you must! To see you unhappy makes me feel unhappy."

"Cheerful!-its better said than felt. Can he or she be cheerful who
is forced to sin against God and himself? There is little to be
cheerful with, where the nature is not its own. Why should I be the
despised wretch at your Uncle's feet: did God, the great God, make
me a slave to his licentiousness?"

"Suppress such feelings, Clotilda; do not let them get the better of
you. God ordains all things: it is well to abide by His will, for it
is sinful to be discontented, especially where everything is so well
provided. Why, Uncle has learned you to read, and even to write."

"Ah! that's just what gave me light; through it I knew that I had a
life, and a soul beyond that, as valuable to me as yours is to you."

"Be careful, Clotilda," she interrupts; "remember there is a wide
difference between us. Do not cross Uncle; he is kind, but he may
get a freak into his head, and sell you."

Clotilda's cheeks brightened; she frowned at the word, and, giving
her black hair a toss from her shoulder, muttered, "To sell me!-Had
you measured the depth of pain in that word, Franconia, your lips
had never given it utterance. To sell me!-'tis that. The difference
is wide indeed, but the point is sharpest. Was it my mother who made
that point so sharp? It could not! a mother would not entail such
misery on her offspring. That name, so full of associations dear to
me-so full of a mother's love and tenderness,-could not reflect
pain. Nay; her affections were bestowed upon me,-I love to treasure
them, I do. To tell me that a mother would entail misery without an
end, is to tell me that the spirit of love is without good!"

"Do not make yourself unhappy, Clotilda. Perhaps you are as well
with us as you would be elsewhere. Even at the free north, in happy
New England, ladies would not take the notice of you we do: many of
your class have died there, poor and wretched, among the most
miserable creatures ever born to a sad end. And you are not black-"

"All is not truth that is told for such," Clotilda interrupts
Franconia. "If I were black, my life would have but one stream: now
it is terrible with uncertainty. As I am, my hopes and affections
are blasted."

"Sit down, Clotilda," rejoins Franconia, quickly.

Clotilda, having lavished her skill on Franconia's hair, seats
herself by her side. Franconia affectionately takes her tapering
hand and presses it with her jewelled fingers. "Remember, Clotilda,"
she continues, "all the negroes on the plantation become unhappy at
seeing you fretful. It is well to seem happy, for its influence on
others. Uncle will always provide for Annette and you; and he is
kind. If he pays more attention to Ellen at times, take no notice of
it. Ellen Juvarna is Indian, moved to peculiarities by the instincts
of her race. Uncle is imprudent, I admit; but society is not with us
as it is elsewhere!"

"I care not so much for myself," speaks the woman, in a desponding
voice; "it is Annette; and when you spoke of her you touched the
chord of all my troubles. I can endure the sin forced upon myself;
but, O heavens! how can I butcher my very thoughts with the unhappy
life that is before her? My poor mother's words haunt me. I know her
feelings now, because I can judge them by my own-can see how her
broken heart was crushed into the grave! She kissed my hand, and
said, 'Clotilda, my child, you are born to a cruel death. Give me
but a heart to meet my friends in judgment!'"

The child with the flaxen hair, humming a tune, came scampering up
the stairs into the room. It recognises Franconia, and, with a
sportive laugh, runs to her and fondles in her lap; then, turning to
its mother, seems anxious to divide its affections between them. Its
features resembled Franconia's-the similarity was unmistakeable; and
although she fondled it, talked with it, and smoothed its little
locks, she resisted its attempts to climb on her knee: she was cold.

"Mother says I look like you, and so does old Aunt Rachel, Miss
Franconia-they do," whispers the child, shyly, as it twisted its
fingers round the rings on Franconia's hand. Franconia blushed,
and cast an inquiring look at Clotilda.

"You must not be naughty," she says; "those black imps you play with
around Aunt Rachel's cabin teach you wrong. You must be careful with
her, Clotilda; never allow her to such things to white people: she
may use such expressions before strangers,-which would be extremely
painful-"

"It seems too plain: if there be no social sin, why fear the
degradation?" she quietly interrupts. "You cannot keep it from the
child. O, how I should like to know my strange history,
Franconia,-to know if it can be that I was born to such cruel
misfortunes, such bitter heart-achings, such gloomy forebodings. If
I were, then am I content with my lot."

Franconia listened attentively, saw the anguish that was bursting
the bounds of the unhappy woman's feelings, and interrupted by
saying, "Speak of it no more, Clotilda. Take your child; go to your
cabin. I shall stay a few days: to-morrow I will visit you there."
As she spoke, she waved her hand, bid Clotilda good night, kissing
Annette as she was led down stairs. Now alone, she begins to
contemplate the subject more deeply. "It must be wrong," she says to
herself: "but few are brought to feel it who have the power to remove
it. The poor creature seems so unhappy; and my feelings are pained
when they tell me how much she looks like me--and it must be so; for
when she sat by my side, looking in the glass the portrait of
similarity touched my feelings deeply. 'Tis not the thing for Uncle
to live in this way. Here am I, loved and beloved, with the luxury
of wealth, and friends at my pleasure; I am caressed: she is but
born a wretch to serve my Uncle's vanity; and, too, were I to
reproach him, he would laugh at what he calls our folly, our sickly
sensitiveness; he would tell me of the pleasures of southern life,
southern scenery, southern chivalry, southern refinement;--yes, he
would tell me how it were best to credit the whole to southern
liberality of custom:--so it continues! There is a principle to be
served after all: he says we are not sent into the world to
excommune ourselves from its pleasures. This may be good logic, for
I own I don't believe with those who want the world screwed up into
a religious vice; but pleasure is divided into so many different
qualities, one hardly knows which suits best now-a-days.
Philosophers say we should avoid making pleasure of that which can
give pain to others; but philosophers say so many things, and give
so much advice that we never think of following. Uncle has a
standard of his own. I do, however, wish southern society would be
more circumspect, looking upon morality in its proper light. Its all
doubtful! doubtful! doubtful! There is Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy;
he preaches, preaches, preaches!--his preaching is to live, not to
die by. I do pity those poor negroes, who, notwithstanding their
impenetrable heads, are bored to death every Sunday with that
selfsame sermon. Such preaching, such strained effort, such
machinery to make men pious,--it's as soulless as a well. I don't
wonder the world has got to be so very wicked, when the wickedness
of the slavery church has become so sublime. And there's Uncle,
too,--he's been affected just in that way; hearing pious discourses
to uphold that which in his soul he knew to be the heaviest
wickedness the world groaned under, he has come to look upon
religion as if it were a commodity too stale for him. He sees the
minister of God's Word a mere machine of task, paid to do a certain
amount of talking to negroes, endeavouring to impress their simple
minds with the belief that it is God's will they should be slaves.
And this is all for necessity's sake!" In this musing mood she sits
rocking in her chair, until at length, overcome with the heat, she
reclines her head against the cushion, resigning herself to the
soothing embrace of sweet sleep.

The moon's silver rays were playing on the calm surface of the
river, the foliage on its banks seemed bathed in quiet repose, the
gentle breeze, bearing its balmy odours, wafted through the arbour
of oaks, as if to fan her crimson cheeks; the azalia and magnolia
combined their fragrance, impregnating the dew falling over the
scene, as if to mantle it with beauty. She slept, a picture of
southern beauty; her auburn tresses in undulating richness playing
to and fro upon her swelling bosom,-how developed in all its
delicacy!-her sensitive nature made more lovely by the warmth and
generosity of her heart. Still she slept, her youthful mind
overflowing with joy and buoyancy: about her there was a ravishing
simplicity more than earthly: a blush upon her cheek became
deeper,-it was the blush of love flashing in a dream, that tells its
tale in nervous vibrations, adding enchantment to sleeping
voluptuousness;-and yet all was sacred, an envied object no rude
hand dare touch!

Franconia had been educated at the north, in a land where--God bless
the name--Puritanism is not quite extinct; and through the force of
principles there inculcated had outgrown much of that feeling which
at the south admits to be right what is basely wrong. She hesitated
to reproach Marston with the bad effect of his life, but resolved on
endeavouring to enlist Clotilda's confidence, and learn how far her
degraded condition affected her feelings. She saw her with the same
proud spirit that burned in her own bosom; the same tenderness, the
same affection for her child, the same hopes and expectations for
the future, and its rewards. The question was, what could be done
for Clotilda? Was it better to reason with her,-to, if possible,
make her happy in her condition? Custom had sanctioned many
unrighteous inconsistencies: they were southern, nothing more! She
would intercede with her Uncle, she would have him sign free papers
for Clotilda and her child; she saw a relationship which the law
could not disguise, though it might crush out the natural
affections. With these thoughts passing in her mind, her imagination
wandered until she dropped into the sleep we have described.

There she slept, the blushes suffusing her cheeks, until old Aunt
Rachel, puffing and blowing like an exhausting engine, entered the
room. Aunty is the pink of a plantation mother: she is as black as
the blackest, has a face embodying all the good-nature of the
plantation, boasts of her dimensions, which she says are six feet,
well as anybody proportioned. Her head is done up in a flashy
bandana, the points nicely crosslain, and extending an elaborate
distance beyond her ears, nearly covering the immense circular rings
that hang from them. Her gingham dress, starched just so, her
whitest white apron, never worn before missus come, sets her off to
great advantage. Aunty is a good piece of property-tells us how many
hundred dollars there is in her-feels that she has been promoted
because Mas'r told somebody he would not take a dollar less for her.
She can superintend the domestic affairs of the mansion just as well
as anybody. In one hand she bears a cup of orange-grove coffee, in
the other a fan, made of palmetto-leaves.

"Gi'h-e-you!" she exclaimed. "If young missus aint nappin' just so
nice! I likes to cotch 'em just so;" and setting her tray upon a
stand, she views Franconia intently, and in the exuberance of her
feelings seats herself in front of her chair, fanning her with the
palmetto. The inquisitive and affectionate nature of the good old
slave was here presented in its purity. Nothing can be stronger,
nothing show the existence of happy associations more forcibly. The
old servant's attachment is proverbial,-his enthusiasm knows no
bounds,-Mas'r's comfort absorbs all his thoughts. Here, Aunt
Rachel's feelings rose beyond her power of restraint: she gazed on
her young missus with admiration, laughed, fanned her more and more;
then grasping her little jewelled hand, pressed it to her spacious
mouth and kissed it. "Young Missus! Franconia, I does lub ye so!"
she whispers.

"Why, Aunt Rachel!" ejaculated Franconia, starting suddenly: "I am
glad you wakened me, for I dreamed of trouble: it made me
weak-nervous. Where is Clotilda?" And she stared vacantly round the
room, as if unconscious of her position. "Guess 'e aint 'bout
nowhere. Ye see, Miss, how she don't take no care on ye,-takes dis
child to stir up de old cook, when ye comes to see us." And stepping
to the stand she brings the salver; and in her excitement to serve
Missus, forgets that the coffee is cold. "Da'h he is; just as nice
as 'em get in de city. Rachel made 'em!"

"I want Clotilda, Rachel; you must bring her to me. I was dreaming
of her and Annette; and she can tell dreams-"

The old slave interrupts her. "If Miss Franconia hab had dream, 'e
bad, sartin. Old Mas'r spoil dat gal, Clotilda,-make her tink she
lady, anyhow. She mos' white, fo'h true; but aint no better den oder
nigger on de plantation," she returns. Franconia sips her coffee,
takes a waf from the plate as the old servant holds it before her,
and orders Dandy to summon Clotilda.






CHAPTER III.

THINGS ARE NOT SO BRIGHT AS THEY SEEM.





THE following morning broke forth bright and serene. Marston and his
guests, after passing a pleasant night, were early at breakfast.
When over, they joined him for a stroll over the plantation, to hear
him descant upon the prospects of the coming crop. Nothing could be
more certain, to his mind, than a bountiful harvest. The rice,
cotton, and corn grounds had been well prepared, the weather was
most favourable, he had plenty of help, a good overseer, and
faithful drivers. "We have plenty,-we live easy, you see, and our
people are contented," he says, directing his conversation to the
young Englishman, who was suspected of being Franconia's friend. "We
do things different from what you do in your country. Your
countrymen will not learn to grow cotton: they manufacture it, and
hence we are connected in firm bonds. Cotton connects many things,
even men's minds and souls. You would like to be a planter, I know
you would: who would not, seeing how we live? Here is the Elder, as
happy a fellow as you'll find in forty. He can be as jolly as an
Englishman over a good dinner: he can think with anybody, preach
with anybody!" Touching the Elder on the shoulder, he smiles, and
with an insinuating leer, smooths his beard. "I am at your service,"
replies the Elder, folding his arms.

"I pay him to preach for my nigger property,-I pay him to teach them
to be good. He preaches just as I wants him to. My boys think him a
little man, but a great divine. You would like to hear the Elder on
Sunday; he's funny then, and has a very funny sermon, which you may
get by heart without much exertion." The young man seems indifferent
to the conversation. He had not been taught to realise how easy it
was to bring religion into contempt.

"Make no grave charges against me, Marston; you carry your practical
jokes a little too far, Sir. I am a quiet man, but the feelings of
quiet men may be disturbed." The Elder speaks moodily, as if
considering whether it were best to resent Marston's trifling
sarcasm. Deacon Rosebrook now interceded by saying, with unruffled
countenance, that the Elder had but one thing funny about him,-his
dignity on Sundays: that he was, at times, half inclined to believe
it the dignity of cogniac, instead of pious sentiment.

"I preach my sermon,-who can do more?" the Elder rejoins, with
seeming concern for his honour. "I thought we came to view the
plantation?"

"Yes, true; but our little repartee cannot stop our sight. You
preach your sermon, Elder,--that is, you preach what there is left
of it. It is one of the best-used sermons ever manufactured. It
would serve as a model for the most stale Oxonian. Do you think you
could write another like it? It has lasted seven years, and served
the means of propitiating the gospel on seven manors. Can they beat
that in your country?" says Marston, again turning to the young
Englishmam, and laughing at the Elder, who was deliberately taking
off his glasses to wipe the perspiration from his forehead.

"Our ministers have a different way of patching up old sermons; but
I'm not quite sure about their mode of getting them," the young man
replies, takes Deacon Rosebrook's arm, and walks ahead.

"The Elder must conform to the doctrines of the South; but they say
he bets at the race-course, which is not an uncommon thing for our
divines," rejoins the Deacon, facetiously.

The Elder, becoming seriously inclined, thinks gentlemen had better
avoid personalities. Personalities are not tolerated in the South,
where gentlemen are removed far above common people, and protect
themselves by the code duello. He will expose Marston.

Marston's good capon sides are proof against jokes. He may crack on,
that individual says.

"My friend," interposed the Elder, "you desired me to preach to your
niggers in one style and for one purpose,-according to the rule of
labour and submission. Just such an one as your niggers would think
the right stripe, I preached, and it made your niggers wonder and
gape. I'll pledge you my religious faith I can preach a different-"

"Oh! oh! oh! Elder," interrupted Marston, "pledge something
valuable."

"To me, my faith is the most sacred thing in the world. I will-as I
was going to say-preach to your moulding and necessities. Pay for
it, and, on my word, it shall be in the cause of the South! With the
landmarks from my planter customers, I will follow to their liking,"
continues Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy, not a smile on his hard
face.

Deacon Rosebrook thinks it is well said. Pay is the great
desideratum in everything. The Elder, though not an uncommon
southern clergyman, is the most versatile preacher to be met with in
a day's walk. Having a wonderful opinion of nigger knowledge, he
preaches to it in accordance, receiving good pay and having no
objection to the wine.

"Well, Gentlemen," Marston remarks, coolly, "I think the Elder has
borne our jokes well; we will now go and moisten our lips. The elder
likes my old Madeira-always passes the highest compliments upon it."
Having sallied about the plantation, we return to the mansion, where
Dandy, Enoch, and Sam-three well-dressed mulattoes-their hair
frizzed and their white aprons looking so bright, meet us at the
veranda, and bow us back into the parlour, as we bear our willing
testimony of the prospects of the crop. With scraping of feet,
grins, and bows, they welcome us back, smother us with compliments,
and seem overwilling to lavish their kindness. From the parlour they
bow us into a long room in the right wing, its walls being plain
boarded, and well ventilated with open seams. A table is spread with
substantial edibles,-such as ham, bacon, mutton, and fish. These
represent the southern planter's fare, to which he seldom adds those
pastry delicacies with which the New Englander is prone to decorate
his table. The party become seated as Franconia graces the festive
board with her presence, which, being an incentive of gallantry,
preserves the nicest decorum, smooths the conversation. The wine-cup
flows freely; the Elder dips deeply-as he declares it choice.
Temperance being unpopular in the south, it is little regarded at
Marston's mansion. As for Marston himself, he is merely preparing
the way to play facetious jokes on the Elder, whose arm he touches
every few minutes, reminding him how backward he is in replenishing
his glass.

Not at all backward in such matters, the Elder fills up, asks the
pleasure of drinking his very good health, and empties the liquid
into the safest place nearest at hand. Repeated courses have their
effect; Marston is pleased, the Elder is mellow. With muddled
sensibilities his eyes glare wildly about the table, and at every
fresh invitation to drink he begs pardon for having neglected his
duty, fingers the ends of his cravat, and deposits another
glass,-certainly the very last. Franconia, perceiving her uncle's
motive, begs to be excused, and is escorted out of the room. Mr.
Praiseworthy, attempting to get a last glass of wine to his lips
without spilling, is quite surprised that the lady should leave. He
commences descanting on his own fierce enmity to infidelity and
catholicism. He would that everybody rose up and trampled them into
the dust; both are ruinous to negro property.

Marston coolly suggests that the Elder is decidedly uncatholicised.

"Elder," interrupted Deacon Rosebrook, touching him on the shoulder,
"you are modestly undone-that is, very respectably sold to your
wine."

"Yes," rejoined Marston; "I would give an extra ten dollars to hear
him preach a sermon to my niggers at this moment."

"Villainous inconsistency!" exclaimed the Elder, in an indistinct
voice, his eyes half closed, and the spectacles gradually falling
from his nose. "You are scandalising my excellent character, which
can't be replaced with gold." Making another attempt to raise a
glass of wine to his lips, as he concluded, he unconsciously let the
contents flow into his bosom, instead of his mouth.

"Well, my opinion is, Elder, that if you get my nigger property into
heaven with your preaching, there'll be a chance for the likes of
me," said Marston, watching the Elder intently. It was now evident
the party were all becoming pretty deeply tinctured. Rosebrook
thought a minister of the gospel, to get in such a condition, and
then refer to religious matters, must have a soul empty to the very
core. There could be no better proof of how easily true religion
could be brought into contempt. The Elder foreclosed with the
spirit, considered himself unsafe in the chair, and was about to
relieve it, when Dandy caught him in his arms like a lifeless mass,
and carried him to a settee, upon which he spread him, like a
substance to be bleached in the sun.

"Gentlemen! the Elder is completely unreverenced,-he is the most
versatile individual that ever wore black cloth. I reverence him for
his qualities," says Marston: then, turning to Maxwell, he
continued, "you must excuse this little joviality; it occurs but
seldom, and the southern people take it for what it is worth,
excusing, or forgetting its effects."

"Don't speak of it-it's not unlike our English do at times-nor do
our ministers form exceptions; but they do such things under a
monster protection, without reckoning the effect," the Englishman
replied, looking round as if he missed the presence of Franconia.

The Elder, soon in a profound sleep, was beset by swarms of
mosquitoes preying upon his haggard face, as if it were good food.
"He's a pretty picture," says Marston, looking upon the sleeping
Elder with a frown, and then working his fingers through his crispy
red hair. "A hard subject for the student's knife he'll make, won't
he?" To add to the comical appearance of the reverend gentleman,
Marston, rising from his seat, approached him, drew the spectacles
from his pocket, and placed them on the tip of his nose, adding
piquancy to his already indescribable physiognomy.

"Don't you think this is carrying the joke a point too far?" asked
Deacon Rosebrook, who had been some time silently watching the
prostrate condition of Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy.

Marston shrugs his shoulders, whispers a word or two in the ear of
his friend Maxwell, twirls his glass upon the table. He is somewhat
cautious how he gives an opinion on such matters, having previously
read one or two law books; but believes it does'nt portray all
things just right. He has studied ideal good-at least he tells us
so-if he never practises it; finally, he is constrained to admit
that this 'ere's all very well once in a while, but becomes
tiresome--especially when kept up as strong as the Elder does it. He
is free to confess that southern mankind is curiously constituted,
too often giving license to revelries, but condemning those who fall
by them. He feels quite right about the Elder's preaching being just
the chime for his nigger property; but, were he a professing
Christian, it would'nt suit him by fifty per cent. There is
something between the mind of a "nigger" and the mind of a white
man,--something he can't exactly analyse, though he is certain it is
wonderfully different; and though such preaching can do niggers no
harm, he would just as soon think of listening to Infidelity.
Painful as it was to acknowledge the fact, he only appeared at the
"Meet'n House" on Sundays for the looks of the thing, and in the
hope that it might have some influence with his nigger property.
Several times he had been heard to say it was mere
machine-preaching-made according to pattern, delivered according to
price, by persons whose heads and hearts had no sympathy with the
downcast.

"There's my prime fellow Harry; a right good fellow, worth nine
hundred, nothing short, and he is a Christian in conscience. He has
got a kind of a notion into his head about being a divine. He
thinks, in the consequence of his black noddle, that he can preach
just as well as anybody; and, believe me, he can't read a letter in
the book,--at least, I don't see how he can. True, he has heard the
Elder's sermon so often that he has committed every word of it to
memory,--can say it off like a plantation song, and no mistake." Thus
Marston discoursed. And yet he declared that nobody could fool him
with the idea of "niggers" having souls: they were only mortal,--he
would produce abundant proof, if required.

Deacon Rosebrook listened attentively to this part of Marston's
discourse. "The task of proving your theory would be rendered
difficult if you were to transcend upon the scale of blood," he
replied, getting up and spreading his handkerchief over the Elder's
face, to keep off the mosquitoes.

"When our most learned divines and philosophers are the stringent
supporters of the principle, what should make the task difficult?
Nevertheless, I admit, if my fellow Harry could do the preaching for
our plantation, no objections would be interposed by me; on the
contrary, I could make a good speculation by it. Harry would be
worth two common niggers then. Nigger property, christianised, is
the most valuable of property. You may distinguish a christianised
nigger in a moment; and piety takes the stubborn out of their
composition better than all the cowhides you can employ; and, too,
it's a saving of time, considering that it subdues so much quicker,"
says Marston, stretching back in his chair, as he orders Dandy to
bring Harry into his presence. He will tell them what he knows about
preaching, the Elder's sermon, and the Bible!

Maxwell smiles at such singularly out of place remarks on religion.
They are not uncommon in the south, notwithstanding.

A few minutes elapsed, when Dandy opened the door, and entered the
room, followed by a creature-a piece of property!-in which the right
of a soul had been disputed, not alone by Marston, but by southern
ministers and southern philosophers. The thing was very good-
looking, very black;-it had straight features, differing from the
common African, and stood very erect. We have said he differed from
the common African-we mean, as he is recognised through our
prejudices. His forehead was bold and well-developed-his hair short,
thick and crispy, eyes keen and piercing, cheeks regularly declining
into a well-shaped mouth and chin. Dejected and forlorn, the wretch
of chance stood before them, the fires of a burning soul glaring
forth from his quick, wandering eyes. "There!" exclaimed Marston.
"See that," pointing at his extremes; "he has foot enough for a
brick-maker, and a head equal to a deacon-no insinuation, my
friend," bowing to Deacon Rosebrook. "They say it takes a big head
to get into Congress; but I'm afraid, Harry, I'd never get there."

The door again opened, and another clever-looking old negro, anxious
to say "how de do" to mas'r and his visitors, made his appearance,
bowing, and keeping time with his foot. "Oh, here's my old daddy-old
Daddy Bob, one of the best old niggers on the plantation; Harry and
Bob are my deacons. There,--stand there, Harry; tell these
gentlemen,--they are right glad to see you,--what you know about Elder
Praiseworthy's sermon, and what you can do in the way of preaching,"
says Marston, laughing good-naturedly.

"Rather a rough piece of property to make a preacher of," muttered
Maxwell.

The poor fellow's feet were encrusted as hard as an alligator's
back; and there he stood, a picture upon which the sympathies of
Christendom were enlisted-a human object without the rights of man,
in a free republic. He held a red cap in his left hand, a pair of
coarse osnaburg trousers reached a few inches below his knees, and,
together with a ragged shirt of the same material, constituted his
covering.

"You might have dressed yourself before you appeared before
gentlemen from abroad-at least, put on your new jacket," said
Marston.

"Why, mas'r, t'ant de clothes. God neber make Christian wid'e his
clothes on;-den, mas'r, I gin' my new jacket to Daddy Bob. But neber
mind him, mas'r-you wants I to tell you what I tinks ob de Lor. I
tink great site ob the Bible, mas'r, but me don' tink much ob
Elder's sermon, mas'r."

"How is that, Harry?" interrupted the deacon.

"Why, Mas'r Deacon, ye sees how when ye preaches de good tings ob de
Lor', ye mus'nt 'dulge in 'e wicked tings on 'arth. A'h done want
say Mas'r Elder do dem tings-but 'e seem to me t' warn't right wen
'e join de wickedness ob de world, and preach so ebery Sunday. He
may know de varse, and de chapter, but 'e done preach what de Lor'
say, nohow."

"Then you don't believe in a one-sided sermon, Harry?" returned the
deacon, while Marston and Maxwell sat enjoying the negro's simple
opinion of the Elder's sermon.

"No, mas'r. What the Bible teach me is to lob de Lor'-be good
myself, and set example fo'h oders. I an't what big white Christian
say must be good, wen 'e neber practice him,--but I good in me heart
when me tink what de Lor' say be good. Why, mas'r, Elder preach dat
sarmon so many Sundays, dat a' forgot him three times, since me know
'im ebery word," said Harry; and his face began to fill with
animation and fervency.

"Well, now, Harry, I think you are a little too severe on the
Elder's sermon; but if you know so much about it, give these
gentlemen a small portion of it, just to amuse them while the Elder
is taking a nap," said Marston.

"Ay, mas'r, be nap dat way too often for pious man what say he lobe
de Lor'," replied Harry; and drawing himself into a tragic attitude,
making sundry gesticulations, and putting his hand to his forehead,
commenced with the opening portion of the Elder's sermon. "And it
was said-Servants obey your masters, for that is right in the sight
of the Lord," and with a style of native eloquence, and rich
cantation, he continued for about ten minutes, giving every word,
seriatim, of the Elder's sermon; and would have kept it up, in word
and action, to the end, had he not been stopped by Marston. All
seemed astonished at his power of memory. Maxwell begged that he
might be allowed to proceed.

"He's a valuable fellow, that-eh?" said Marston. "He'll be worth
three-sixteenths of a rise on cotton to all the planters in the
neighbourhood, by-and-by. He's larned to read, somehow, on the
sly-isn't it so, Harry? come, talk up!"

"Yes, mas'r, I larn dat when you sleepin'; do Lor' tell me his
spirit warn't in dat sarmon what de Elder preach,--dat me must sarch
de good book, and make me own tinking valuable. Mas'r tink ignorant
nigger lob him best, but t'ant so, mas'r. Good book make heart good,
and make nigger love de Lor', and love mas'r too."

"I'll bet the rascal's got a Bible, or a Prayer-book, hid up
somewhere. He and old Daddy Bob are worse on religion than two old
coons on a fowl-yard," said Marston. Here old Aunt Rachel entered
the room to fuss around a little, and have a pleasant meeting with
mas'r's guests. Harry smiled at Marston's remark, and turned his
eyes upward, as much as to say, "a day will come when God's Word
will not thus be turned into ridicule!"

"And he's made such a good old Christian of this dark sinner, Aunt
Rachel, that I wouldn't take two thousand dollars for her. I expect
she'll be turning preacher next, and going north to join the
abolitionists."

"Mas'r," said Rachel, "'t wouldn't do to mind what you say. Neber
mind, you get old one ob dese days; den you don't make so much fun
ob old Rachel."

"Shut up your corn-trap," Marston says, smiling; and turning to his
guests, continues-"You hear that, gentlemen; she talks just as she
pleases, directs my household as if she were governor." Again, Aunt
Rachel, summoning her dignity, retorts,

"Not so, Mas'r Deacon, (turning to Deacon Rosebrook,) "'t won't
square t' believe all old Boss tell, dat it won't! Mas'r take care
ob de two cabins in de yard yonder, while I tends de big house."
Rachel was more than a match for Marston; she could beat him in
quick retort. The party, recognising Aunt Rachel's insinuation,
joined in a hearty laugh. The conversation was a little too pointed
for Marston, who, changing the subject, turned to Harry, saying,
"now, my old boy, we'll have a little more of your wisdom on
religious matters." Harry had been standing the while like a forlorn
image, with a red cap in his hand.

"I can preach, mas'r; I can do dat, fo'h true," he replied quickly.
"But mas'r, nigger got to preach against his colour; Buckra tink
nigger preachin' ain't good, cus he black."

"Never mind that, Harry," interrupts Marston: "We'll forget the
nigger, and listen just as if it were all white. Give us the very
best specimen of it. Daddy Bob, my old patriarch, must help you; and
after you get through, he must lift out by telling us all about the
time when General Washington landed in the city; and how the people
spread carpets, at the landing, for him to walk upon." The
entertainment was, in Marston's estimation, quite a recherch‚
concern: that his guests should be the better pleased, the venerable
old Daddy Bob, his head white with goodly years of toil, and full of
genuine negro humour, steps forward to perform his part. He makes
his best bows, his best scrapes, his best laughs; and says, "Bob
ready to do anything to please mas'r." He pulls the sleeves of his
jacket, looks vacantly at Harry, is proud to be in the presence of
mas'r's guests. He tells them he is a better nigger "den" Harry,
points to his extremes, which are decorated with a pair of new
russet broghans.

"Daddy's worth his weight in gold," continues Marston, "and can do
as much work as any nigger on the plantation, if he is old."

"No, no, mas'r; I ain't so good what I was. Bob can't tote so much
wid de hoe now. I work first-rate once, mas'r, but 'a done gone
now!"

"Now, Bob, I want you to tell me the truth,--niggers will lie, but
you are an exception, Bob; and can tell the truth when there's no
bacon in the way."

"Gih! Mas'r, I do dat sartin," replied Bob, laughing heartily, and
pulling up the little piece of shirt that peeped out above the
collar of his jacket.

"How did Harry and you come by so much knowledge of the Bible? you
got one somewhere, hav'n't you?" enquired Marston, laconically.

This was rather a "poser" on Bob; and, after stammering and mumbling
for some time-looking at Harry slyly, then at Marston, and again
dropping his eyes on the floor, he ejaculated,

"Well, mas'r, 'spose I might as well own 'im. Harry and me got one,
for sartin!"

"Ah, you black rascals, I knew you had one somewhere. Where did you
get it? That's some of Miss Franconia's doings."

"Can't tell you, mas'r, whar I got him; but he don't stop my hoein'
corn, for' true."

Franconia had observed Harry's tractableness, and heard him wish for
a Bible, that he might learn to read from it,--and she had secretly
supplied him with one. Two years Harry and Daddy Bob had spent hours
of the night in communion over it; the latter had learned to read
from it, the former had imbibed its great truths. The artless girl
had given it to them in confidence, knowing its consolatory
influences and that they, with a peculiar firmness in such cases,
would never betray her trust. Bob would not have refused his master
any other request; but he would never disclose the secret of Miss
Franconia giving it.

"Well, my old faithful," said Marston, "we want you to put the sprit
into Harry; we want to hear a sample of his preaching. Now, Harry,
you can begin; give it big eloquence, none of the new fashion
preaching, give us the old plantation break-down style."

The negro's countenance assumed a look indicative of more than his
lips dare speak. Looking upward pensively, he replied,--"Can't do
dat, mas'r; he ain't what do God justice; but there is something in
de text,--where shall I take 'em from?"

"Ministers should choose their own; I always do," interrupted Deacon
Rosebrook.

Daddy Bob, touching Harry on the arm, looks up innocently,
interposes his knowledge of Scripture. "D'ar, Harry, I tells you
what text to gin 'em. Gin 'em dat one from de fourt' chapter of
Ephes: dat one whar de Lor' say:--'Great mas'r led captivity captive,
and gin gifts unto men.' And whar he say, 'Till we come unto a unity
of the faith of the knowledge of the son of God unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that we be
no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every
wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lay in wait to deceive.'"

"And you tink dat 'll do,--eh, Daddy?" Harry replies, looking at the
old man, as if to say, were he anything but a slave he would follow
the advice.

"Den, dars t' oder one, away 'long yonder, where 'e say in Isaiah,
fifty-eight chapter--'Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou
seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no
knowledge? Behold ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with
the fist of wickedness." The old man seemed perfectly at home on
matters of Scripture; he had studied it in stolen moments.

The young Englishman seemed surprised at such a show of talent. He
saw the humble position of the old man, his want of early
instruction, and his anxiety to be enlightened. "How singular!" he
ejaculated, "to hear property preach, and know so much of the Bible,
too! People in my country would open their eyes with surprise." The
young man had been educated in an atmosphere where religion was
prized-where it was held as a sacred element for the good of man.
His feelings were tenderly susceptible; the scene before him
awakened his better nature, struck deep into his mind. He viewed it
as a cruel mockery of Christianity, a torture of innocent nature,
for which man had no shame. He saw the struggling spirit of the old
negro contending against wrong,--his yearnings for the teachings of
Christianity, his solicitude for Marston's good. And he saw how man
had cut down the unoffending image of himself-how Christian
ministers had become the tyrant's hand-fellow in the work of
oppression. It incited him to resolution; a project sprung up in his
mind, which, from that day forward, as if it had been a new
discovery in the rights of man, he determined to carry out in
future, for the freedom of his fellows.

Harry, in accordance with Bob's advice, chose the latter text. For
some minutes he expounded the power of divine inspiration, in his
simple but impressive manner, being several times interrupted by the
Deacon, who assumed the right of correcting his philosophy. At
length, Marston interrupted, reminding him that he had lost the
"plantation gauge." "You must preach according to the Elder's rule,"
said he.

With a submissive stare, Harry replied: "Mas'r, a man what lives
fo'h dis world only is a slave to himself; but God says, he dat
lives fo'h de world to come, is the light of life coming forth to
enjoy the pleasures of eternity;" and again he burst into a rhapsody
of eloquence, to the astonishment and admiration of Maxwell, and
even touching the feelings of Marston, who was seldom moved by such
displays. Seeing the man in the thing of merchandise, he inclined to
look upon him as a being worthy of immortality; and yet it seemed
next to impossible that he should bring his natural feelings to
realise the simple nobleness that stood before him,--the man beyond
the increase of dollars and cents in his person! The coloured
winter's hand leaned against the mantel-piece, watching the changes
in Marston's countenance, as Daddy stood at Harry's side, in
patriarchal muteness. A tear stealing down Maxwell's cheek told of
the sensation produced; while Marston, setting his elbow on the
table, supported his head in his hands, and listened. The Deacon,
good man that he was, filled his glass,--as if to say, "I don't stand
nigger preaching." As for the Elder, his pishes and painful
gurglings, while he slept, were a source of much annoyance. Awaking
suddenly-raising himself to a half-bent position-he rubs his little
eyes, adjusts his spectacles on his nose, stares at Harry with
surprise, and then, with quizzical demeanour, leaves us to infer
what sort of a protest he is about to enter. He, however, thinks it
better to say nothing.

"Stop, Harry," says Marston, interrupting him in a point of his
discourse: then turning to his guests, he inquired, with a look of
ridicule, "Gentlemen, what have you got to say against such
preaching? Elder, you old snoring Christian, you have lost all the
best of it. Why didn't you wake up before?"

"Verri-ly, truly! ah, indeed: you have been giving us a monkey-show
with your nigger, I suppose. I thought I'd lost nothing; you should
remember, Marston, there's a future," said the Elder, winking and
blinking sardonically.

"Yes, old boosey," Marston replies, with an air of indifference,
"and you should remember there's a present, which you may lose your
way in. That venerable sermon won't keep you straight-"

The Elder is extremely sensitive on this particular point-anything
but speak disparagingly of that sermon. It has been his stock in
trade for numerous years. He begs they will listen to him for a
minute, excuse this little trifling variation, charge it to the
susceptibility of his constitution. He is willing to admit there is
capital in his example which may be used for bad purposes, and says,
"Somehow, when I take a little, it don't seem to go right." Again he
gives a vacant look at his friends, gets up, resting his hands on
the table, endeavours to keep a perpendicular, but declares himself
so debilitated by his sleep that he must wait a little longer.
Sinking back upon the settee, he exclaims, "You had better send that
nigger to his cabin." This was carrying the amusement a little
beyond Marston's own "gauge," and it being declared time to adjourn,
preparations were made to take care of the Elder, who was soon
placed horizontally in a waggon and driven away for his home. "The
Elder is gone beyond himself, beyond everything," said Marston, as
they carried him out of the door. "You can go, Harry, I like your
preaching; bring it down to the right system for my property, and
I'll make a dollar or two out of it yet," he whispers, shaking his
head, as Harry, bowing submissively, leaves the door.

Just as they were making preparations to retire, a carriage drove to
the gate, and in the next minute a dashing young fellow came rushing
into the house, apparently in great anxiety. He was followed by a
well-dressed man, whose countenance and sharp features, full of
sternness, indicated much mechanical study. He hesitated as the
young man advanced, took Marston by the hand, nervously, led him
aside, whispered something in his ear. Taking a few steps towards a
window, the intruder, for such he seemed, stood almost motionless,
with his eyes firmly and watchfully fixed upon them, a paper in his
right hand. "It is too often, Lorenzo; these things may prove
fatal," said Marston, giving an inquiring glance at the man, still
standing at the window.

"I pledge you my honour, uncle, it shall be the last time," said the
young stranger. "Uncle, I have not forgotten your advice." Marston,
much excited, exhibited changes of countenance peculiar to a man
labouring under the effect of sudden disappointment. Apologising to
his guests, he dismissed them-with the exception of Maxwell-ordered
pen and ink, drew a chair to the table, and without asking the
stranger to be seated, signed his name to a paper. While this was
being done, the man who had waited in silence stepped to the door
and admitted two gentlemanly-looking men, who approached Marston and
authenticated the instrument. It was evident there was something of
deep importance associated with Marston's signature. No sooner had
his pen fulfilled the mission, than Lorenzo's face, which had just
before exhibited the most watchful anxiety, lighted up with joy, as
if it had dismantled its care for some new scene of worldly
prosperity.






CHAPTER IV.

AN UNEXPECTED CONFESSION.





HAVING executed the document, Marston ordered one of the servants to
show Maxwell his room. The persons who had acted the part of
justices, authenticating the instrument, withdrew without further
conversation; while the person who had followed Lorenzo, for such
was the young man's name, remained as if requiring some further
negotiation with Marston. He approached the table sullenly, and with
one hand resting upon it, and the other adjusted in his vest,
deliberately waited the moment to interrupt the conversation. This
man, reader, is Marco Graspum, an immense dealer in human
flesh,--great in that dealing in the flesh and blood of mankind which
brings with it all the wickedness of the demon. It is almost
impossible to conceive the suddenness with which that species of
trade changes man into a craving creature, restless for the dross of
the world. There he was, the heartless dealer in human flesh,
dressed in the garb of a gentleman, and by many would have been
taken as such. Care and anxiety sat upon his countenance; he watched
the chances of the flesh market, stood ready to ensnare the careless
youth, to take advantage of the frailer portions of a Southerner's
noble nature. "A word or two with you, Mr. Marston," said he.

"Sit down, Graspum, sit down," Marston rejoined, ordering Dandy to
give him a chair; which being done he seats himself in front of
Marston, and commences dilating upon his leniency. "You may take me
for an importune feller, in coming this time o'night, but the fact
is I've been-you know my feelings for helpin'
everybody-good-naturedly drawn into a very bad scrape with this
careless young nephew of yourn: he's a dashing devil, and you don't
know it, he is. But I've stood it so long that I was compelled to
make myself sure. This nephew of yourn," said he, turning to
Lorenzo, "thinks my money is made for his gambling propensities, and
if he has used your name improperly, you should have known of it
before." At this Lorenzo's fine open countenance assumed a glow of
indignation, and turning to his uncle, with a nervous tremor, he
said, "Uncle, he has led me into this trouble. You know not the
snares of city life; and were I to tell you him-this monster-yea, I
say monster, for he has drawn me into a snare like one who was
seeking to devour my life-that document, uncle, which he now holds
in his hand saves me from a shame and disgrace which I never could
have withstood before the world."

"Ah! you are just like all gamblers: never consider yourself in the
light of bringing yourself into trouble. Take my advice, young man;
there is a step in a gambler's life to which it is dangerous to
descend, and if you have brought your father and uncle into trouble,
blame neither me nor my money," returned Graspum.

"You do not say that there is forgery connected with this affair, do
you?" inquired Marston, grasping Lorenzo by the arm.

"I wish it were otherwise, uncle," replied Lorenzo, leaning forward
upon the table and covering his face with his hands. "It was my
folly, and the flattery of this man, which have driven me to it," he
continued.

"Oh! cursed inconsistency: and you have now fallen back upon the
last resource, to save a name that, once gone, cannot reinstate
itself. Tell me, Marco Graspum; are you not implicated in this
affair? Your name stands full of dark implications; are you not
following up one of those avenues through which you make so many
victims? What is the amount?" returned Marston.

"You will know that to-morrow. He has given paper in your name to an
uncertain extent. You should have known this before. Your nephew has
been leading a reckless gambler's life-spending whatsoever money
came into his possession, and at length giving bills purporting to
be drawn by you and his father. You must now honour them, or
dishonour him. You see, I am straightforward in business: all my
transactions are conducted with promptness; but I must have what is
due to me. I have a purpose in all my transactions, and I pursue
them to the end. You know the purport of this document, Marston;
save yourself trouble, and do not allow me to call too often." Thus
saying, he took his hat and left the room.

Uncle," said Lorenzo, as soon as Graspum had left, "I have been led
into difficulty. First led away by fashionable associations, into
the allurements with which our city is filled, from small vices I
have been hurried onward, step by step, deeper and deeper, until now
I have arrived at the dark abyss. Those who have watched me through
each sin, been my supposed friends, and hurried me onwards to this
sad climax, have proved my worst enemies. I have but just learned
the great virtue of human nature,--mistrust him who would make
pleasure of vice. I have ruined my father, and have involved you by
the very act which you have committed for my relief to-night. In my
vain struggle to relieve myself from the odium which must attach to
my transactions, I have only added to your sorrows. I cannot ask you
to forgive me, nor can I disclose all my errors-they are manifold."

"This is an unexpected blow-one which I was not prepared to meet. I
am ready to save your honour, but there is something beyond this
which the voice of rumour will soon spread. You know our society,
and the strange manner in which it countenances certain things, yet
shuts out those who fall by them. But what is to be done? Although
we may discharge the obligation with Graspum, it does not follow
that he retains the stigma in his own breast. Tell me, Lorenzo, what
is the amount?" inquired Marston, anxiously.

"My father has already discharged a secret debt of fourteen thousand
dollars for me, and there cannot be less than thirty thousand
remaining. Uncle, do not let it worry you; I will leave the country,
bear the stigma with me, and you can repudiate the obligation," said
he, pleading nervously, as he grasped his uncle's hand firmer and
firmer.

Among the many vices of the south, spreading their corrupting
influence through the social body, that of gambling stands first.
Confined to no one grade of society, it may be found working ruin
among rich and poor, old and young. Labour being disreputable, one
class of men affect to consider themselves born gentlemen, while the
planter is ever ready to indulge his sons with some profession they
seldom practise, and which too often results in idleness and its
attendants. This, coupled to a want of proper society with which the
young may mix for social elevation, finds gratification in drinking
saloons, fashionable billiard rooms, and at the card table. In the
first, gentlemen of all professions meet and revel away the night in
suppers and wine. They must keep up appearances, or fall doubtful
visitors of these fashionable stepping-stones to ruin. Like a
furnace to devour its victims, the drinking saloon first opens its
gorgeous doors, and when the burning liquid has inflamed the mental
and physical man, soon hurries him onward into those fascinating
habitations where vice and voluptuousness mingle their degrading
powers. Once in these whirlpools of sin, the young man finds himself
borne away by every species of vicious allurement-his feelings
become unrestrained, until at length that last spark of filial
advice which had hovered round his consciousness dies out. When this
is gone, vice becomes the great charmer, and with its thousand
snares and resplendent workers never fails to hold out a hope with
each temptation; but while the victim now and then asks hope to be
his guardian, he seldom thinks how surely he is sinking faster and
faster to an irretrievable depth.

Through this combination of snares-all having their life-springs in
slavery-Lorenzo brought ruin upon his father, and involved his
uncle. With an excellent education, a fine person, frank and gentle
demeanour, he made his way into the city, and soon attracted the
attention of those who affect to grace polished society. Had society
laid its restraints upon character and personal worth, it would have
been well for Lorenzo; but the neglect to found this moral
conservator only serves to increase the avenues to vice, and to
bring men from high places into the lowest moral scale. This is the
lamentable fault of southern society; and through the want of that
moral bulwark, so protective of society in the New England
States-personal worth-estates are squandered, families brought to
poverty, young men degraded, and persons once happy driven from
those homes they can only look back upon with pain and regret. The
associations of birth, education, and polished society-so much
valued by the southerner-all become as nothing when poverty sets its
seal upon the victim.

And yet, among some classes in the south there exists a religious
sentiment apparently grateful; but what credit for sincerity shall
we accord to it when the result proves that no part of the
organisation itself works for the elevation of a degraded class? How
much this is to be regretted we leave to the reader's
discrimination. The want of a greater effort to make religious
influence predominant has been, and yet is, a source of great evil.
But let us continue our narrative, and beg the reader's indulgence
for having thus transgressed.

Flattered and caressed among gay assemblages, Lorenzo soon found
himself drawn beyond their social pleasantries into deeper and more
alluring excitements. His frequent visits at the saloon and
gambling-tables did not detract, for a time, from the social
position society had conferred upon him.

His parents, instead of restraining, fostered these associations,
prided themselves on his reception, providing means of maintaining
him in this style of living. Vanity and passion led him captive in
their gratifications; they were inseparable from the whirlpool of
confused society that triumphs at the south,--that leads the proud
heart writhing in the agony of its follies. He cast himself upon
this, like a frail thing upon a rapid stream, and--forgetting the
voyage was short--found his pleasures soon ended in the troubled
waters of misery and disgrace.

There is no fundamental morality in the south, nor is education
invested with the material qualities of social good; in this it
differs from the north, against which it is fast building up a
political and social organisation totally at variance. Instead of
maintaining those great principles upon which the true foundation of
the republic stands, the south allows itself to run into a hyper-
aristocratic vagueness, coupled with an arbitrary determination to
perpetuate its follies for the guidance of the whole Union. And the
effect of this becomes still more dangerous, when it is attempted to
carry it out under the name of democracy,--American democracy! In
this manner it serves the despotic ends of European despots: they
point to the freest government in the world for examples of their
own absolutism, shield their autocracy beneath its democracy, and
with it annihilate the rights of the commoner.

Heedlessly wending his way, the man of rank and station at one side,
the courtesan with his bland smiles at the other, Lorenzo had not
seen the black poniard that was to cut the cord of his downfall,--it
had remained gilded. He drank copious draughts at the house of
licentiousness, became infatuated with the soft music that leads the
way of the unwary, until at length, he, unconsciously at it were,
found himself in the midst of a clan who are forming a plot to put
the black seal upon his dishonour. Monto Graspum, his money playing
through the hands of his minions in the gambling rooms, had
professed to be his friend. He had watched his pliable nature, had
studied the resources of his parents, knew their kindness, felt sure
of his prey while abetting the downfall. Causing him to perpetrate
the crime, from time to time, he would incite him with prospects of
retrieve, guide his hand to consummate the crime again, and watch
the moment when he might reap the harvest of his own infamy. Thus,
when he had brought the young man to that last pitiless issue, where
the proud heart quickens with a sense of its wrongs-when the mind
recurs painfully to the past, imploring that forgiveness which seems
beyond the power of mankind to grant, he left him a poor outcast,
whose errors would be first condemned by his professed friends. That
which seemed worthy of praise was forgotten, his errors were
magnified; and the seducer made himself secure by crushing his
victim, compromising the respectability of his parents, making the
disgrace a forfeiture for life.

Unexpected as the shock was to Marston, he bore it with seeming
coolness, as if dreading the appearance of the man who had taken
advantage of the moment to bring him under obligations, more than he
did the amount to be discharged. Arising from the table, he took
Lorenzo by the hand, saying:--"Veil your trouble, Lorenzo! Let the
past be forgotten, bury the stigma in your own bosom; let it be an
example to your feelings and your actions. Go not upon the world to
wrestle with its ingratitude; if you do, misfortune will befall
you-you will stumble through it the remainder of your life. With me,
I fear the very presence of the man who has found means of
engrafting his avarice upon our misfortunes; he deals with those in
his grasp like one who would cut the flesh and blood of mankind into
fragments of gain. Be firm, Lorenzo; be firm! Remember, it is not
the province of youth to despair; be manly-manliness even in crime
lends its virtue to the falling." At which he bid him good night,
and retired to rest.

The young man, more pained at his uncle's kindness,--kindness
stronger in its effects than reproof,--still lingered, as if to watch
some change of expression on his uncle's countenance, as he left the
door. His face changed into pallid gloominess, and again, as if by
magic influence, filled with the impress of passion; it was despair
holding conflict with a bending spirit. He felt himself a criminal,
marked by the whispers of society; he might not hear the charges
against him, nor be within the sound of scandal's tongue, but he
would see it outlined in faces that once smiled at his seeming
prosperity. He would feel it in the cold hand that had welcomed
him,--that had warmly embraced him; his name would no longer be
respected. The circle of refined society that had kindly received
him, had made him one of its attractions, would now shun him as if
he were contagion. Beyond this he saw the fate that hovered over his
father's and his uncle's estates;-all the filial affection they had
bestowed upon him, blasted; the caresses of his beloved and
beautiful sister; the shame the exposure would bring upon her; the
knave who held him in his grasp, while dragging the last remnants of
their property away to appease dishonest demands, haunted him to
despair. And, yet, to sink under them-to leave all behind him and be
an outcast, homeless and friendless upon the world, where he could
only look back upon the familiar scenes of his boyhood with regret,
would be to carry a greater amount of anguish to his destiny. The
destroyer was upon him; his grasp was firm and painful. He might
live a life of rectitude; but his principles and affections would be
unfixed. It would be like an infectious robe encircling him,--a
disease which he never could eradicate, so that he might feel he was
not an empty vessel among honourable men. When men depicted their
villains, moving in the grateful spheres of life, he would be one of
their models; and though the thoughtlessness of youth had made him
the type haunting himself by day and night, the world never made a
distinction. Right and wrong were things that to him only murmured
in distrust; they would be blemishes exaggerated from simple error;
but the judgment of society would never overlook them. He must now
choose between a resolution to bear the consequences at home, or
turn his back upon all that had been near and dear to him,--be a
wanderer struggling with the eventful trials of life in a distant
land! Turning pale, as if frantic with the thought of what was
before him, the struggle to choose between the two extremes, and the
only seeming alternative, he grasped the candle that flickered
before him, gave a glance round the room, as if taking a last look
at each familiar object that met his eyes, and retired.






CHAPTER V.

THE MAROONING PARTY.





A MAROONING pic-nic had been proposed and arranged by the young
beaux and belles of the neighbouring plantations. The day proposed
for the festive event was that following the disclosure of Lorenzo's
difficulties. Every negro on the plantation was agog long before
daylight: the morning ushered forth bright and balmy, with bustle
and confusion reigning throughout the plantation,--the rendezvous
being Marston's mansion, from which the gay party would be conveyed
in a barge, overspread with an awning, to a romantic spot,
overshaded with luxuriant pines, some ten miles up the stream. Here
gay fˆtes, mirth and joy, the mingling of happy spirits, were to
make the time pass pleasantly. The night passed without producing
any decision in Lorenzo's mind; and when he made his appearance on
the veranda an unusual thoughtfulness pervaded his countenance; all
his attempts to be joyous failed to conceal his trouble. Marston,
too, was moody and reserved even to coldness; that frank, happy, and
careless expression of a genial nature, which had so long marked him
in social gatherings, was departed. When Maxwell, the young
Englishman, with quiet demeanour, attempted to draw him into
conversation about the prospects of the day, his answers were
measured, cold, beyond his power of comprehending, yet inciting.

To appreciate those pleasant scenes-those scenes so apparently
happy, at times adding a charm to plantation life-those innocent
merry-makings in spring time-one must live among them, be born to
the recreations of the soil. Not a negro on the plantation, old or
young, who does not think himself part and parcel of the scene-that
he is indispensably necessary to make Mas'r's enjoyment complete! In
this instance, the lawn, decked in resplendent verdure, the foliage
tinged by the mellow rays of the rising sun, presented a pastoral
loveliness that can only be appreciated by those who have
contemplated that soft beauty which pervades a southern landscape at
morning and evening. The arbour of old oaks, their branches twined
into a panoply of thick foliage, stretching from the mansion to the
landing, seemed like a sleeping battlement, its dark clusters
soaring above redolent brakes and spreading water-leaks. Beneath
their fretted branches hung the bedewed moss like a veil of
sparkling crystals, moving gently to and fro as if touched by some
unseen power. The rice fields, stretching far in the distance,
present the appearance of a mirror decked with shadows of fleecy
clouds, transparent and sublime. Around the cabins of the plantation
people-the human property-the dark sons and daughters of promiscuous
families-are in "heyday glee:" they laughed, chattered, contended,
and sported over the presence of the party;-the overseer had given
them an hour or two to see the party "gwine so;" and they were
overjoyed. Even the dogs, as if incited by an instinctive sense of
some gay scene in which they were to take part, joined their barking
with the jargon of the negroes, while the mules claimed a right to
do likewise. In the cabins near the mansion another scene of fixing,
fussing, toddling, chattering, running here and there with
sun-slouches, white aprons, fans, shades, baskets, and tin pans,
presented itself; any sort of vessel that would hold provender for
the day was being brought forth. Clotilda, her face more cheerful,
is dressed in a nice drab merino, a plain white stomacher, a little
collar neatly turned over: with her plain bodice, her white ruffles
round her wrists, she presents the embodiment of neatness. She is
pretty, very pretty; and yet her beauty has made her the worst
slave-a slave in the sight of Heaven and earth! Her large, meaning
eyes, glow beneath her arched brows, while her auburn hair, laid in
smooth folds over her ears and braided into a heavy circle at the
back of her head, gives her the fascinating beauty of a Norman
peasant. Annette plays around her, is dressed in her very best,--for
Marston is proud of the child's beauty, and nothing is withheld that
can gratify the ambition of the mother, so characteristic, to dress
with fantastic colours: the child gambols at her feet, views its
many-coloured dress, keeps asking various unanswerable questions
about Daddy Bob, Harry, and the pic-nic. Again it scrambles
pettishly, sings snatches of some merry plantation song, pulls its
braided hat about the floor, climbs upon the table to see what is in
the basket.

Passing to the cabin of Ellen Juvarna, we see her in the same
confusion which seems to have beset the plantation: her dark,
piercing eyes, display more of that melancholy which marks
Clotilda's; nor does thoughtfulness pervade her countenance, and yet
there is the restlessness of an Indian about her,--she is Indian by
blood and birth; her look calls up all the sad associations of her
forefathers; her black glossy hair, in heavy folds, hangs carelessly
about her olive shoulders, contrasting strangely with the other.

"And you, Nicholas! remember what your father will say: but you must
not call him such," she says, taking by the hand a child we have
described, who is impatient to join the gay group.

"That ain't no harm, mother! Father always is fondling about me when
nobody's lookin'," the child answers, with a pertness indicating a
knowledge of his parentage rather in advance of his years.

We pass to the kitchen,--a little, dingy cabin, presenting the most
indescribable portion of the scene, the smoke issuing from every
crevice. Here old Peggy, the cook,--an enveloped representative of
smoke and grease,--as if emerging from the regions of Vulcan, moves
her fat sides with the independence of a sovereign. In this
miniature smoke-pit she sweats and frets, runs to the door every few
minutes, adjusts the points of her flashy bandana, and takes a
wistful look at the movements without. Sal, Suke, Rose, and Beck,
young members of Peggy's family, are working at the top of their
energy among stew-pans, griddles, pots and pails, baskets, bottles
and jugs. Wafs, fritters, donjohns and hominy flap-jacks, fine
doused hams, savoury meats, ices, and fruit-cakes, are being
prepared and packed up for the occasion. Negro faces of every shade
seem full of interest and freshness, newly brightened for the
pleasures of the day. Now and then broke upon our ear that plaintive
melody with the words, "Down on the Old Plantation;" and again, "Jim
crack corn, an' I don't care, for Mas'r's gone away." Then came Aunt
Rachel, always persisting in her right to be master of ceremonies,
dressed in her Sunday bombazine, puffed and flounced, her gingham
apron so clean, her head "did up" with the flashiest bandana in her
wardrobe; it's just the colour for her taste-real yellow, red, and
blue, tied with that knot which is the height of plantation toilet:
there is as little restraint in her familiarity with the gentry of
the mansion as there is in her control over the denizens of the
kitchen. Even Dandy and Enoch, dressed in their best black coats,
white pantaloons, ruffled shirts, with collars endangering their
ears, hair crisped with an extra nicety, stand aside at her bidding.
The height of her ambition is to direct the affairs of the mansion:
sometimes she extends it to the overseer. The trait is amiably
exercised: she is the best nigger on the plantation, and Marston
allows her to indulge her feelings, while his guests laugh at her
native pomposity, so generously carried out in all her commands. She
is preparing an elegant breakfast, which "her friends" must partake
of before starting. Everything must be in her nicest: she runs from
the ante-room to the hall, and from thence to the yard, gathering
plates and dishes; she hurries Old Peggy the cook, and again scolds
the waiters.

Daddy Bob and Harry have come into the yard to ask Marston's
permission to join the party as boatmen. They are in Aunt Rachel's
way, and she rushes past them, pushing them aside, and calling Mas'r
to come and attend to their wants. Marston comes forward, greets
them with a familiar shake of the hand, granting their request
without further ceremony. Breakfast is ready; but, anxious for the
amusement of the day, their appetites are despoiled. Franconia, more
lovely than ever, presenting that ease, elegance, and reserve of the
southern lady, makes her appearance in the hall, is escorted to the
table leaning on the arm of Maxwell. Delicacy, sensitiveness,
womanly character full of genial goodness, are traits with which the
true southern lady is blessed:--would she were blessed with another,
an energy to work for the good of the enslaved! Could she add that
to the poetry of her nature, how much greater would be her charm-how
much more fascinating that quiet current of thought with which she
seems blessed! There is a gentleness in her impulses--a pensiveness
in her smile--a softness in her emotions--a grace in her movements--an
ardent soul in her love! She is gay and lightsome in her youth; she
values her beauty, is capricious with her admirers, and yet becomes
the most affectionate mother; she can level her frowns, play with
the feelings, make her mercurial sympathy touching, knows the power
of her smiles: but once her feelings are enlisted, she is sincere
and ardent in her responses. If she cannot boast of the bright
carnatic cheek, she can swell the painter's ideal with her fine
features, her classic face, the glow of her impassioned eyes. But
she seldom carries this fresh picture into the ordinary years of
womanhood: the bloom enlivening her face is but transient; she loses
the freshness of girlhood, and in riper years, fades like a
sensitive flower, withering, unhappy with herself, unadmired by
others.

Franconia sat at the table, a pensiveness pervading her countenance
that bespoke melancholy: as she glanced inquiringly round, her eyes
rested upon Lorenzo fixedly, as if she detected something in his
manner at variance with his natural deportment. She addressed him;
but his cold reply only excited her more: she resolved upon knowing
the cause ere they embarked. Breakfast was scarcely over before the
guests of the party from the neighbouring plantations began to
assemble in the veranda, leaving their servants in charge of the
viands grouped together upon the grass, under a clump of oaks a few
rods from the mansion. Soon the merry-makers, about forty in number,
old and young, their servants following, repaired to the landing,
where a long barge, surrounded by brakes and water-lilies, presented
another picture.

"Him all straight, Mas'r-him all straight, jus so!" said Daddy Bob,
as he strode off ahead, singing "Dis is de way to de jim crack
corn."

Servants of all ages and colour, mammies and daddies, young 'uns and
prime fellows,--"wenches" that had just become hand-maids,--brought
up the train, dancing, singing, hopping, laughing, and sporting:
some discuss the looks of their young mistresses, others are
criticising their dress. Arrived at the landing, Daddy Bob and
Harry, full of cares, are hurrying several prime fellows, giving
orders to subordinate boatmen about getting the substantial on
board,--the baskets of champagne, the demijohns, the sparkling
nectar. The young beaux and belles, mingling with their dark sons
and daughters of servitude, present a motley group indeed-a scene
from which the different issues of southern life may be faithfully
drawn.

A band of five musicians, engaged to enliven the sports of the day
with their music, announce, "All on board!" and give the signal for
starting by striking up "Life on the Ocean Wave." Away they speed,
drawn by horses on the bank, amidst the waving of handkerchiefs, the
soft notes of the music reverberating over the pine-clad hills.
Smoothly and gently, onward they speed upon the still bosom of the
Ashly;-the deep, dark stream, its banks bedecked with blossoms and
richest verdure, is indeed enough to excite the romantic of one's
nature. Wild, yet serene with rural beauty, if ever sensations of
love steal upon us, it is while mingling in the simple
convivialities so expressive of southern life. On, on, the barge
moved, as lovers gathered together, the music dancing upon the
waters. Another party sing the waterman's merry song, still another
trail for lilies, and a third gather into the prow to test champagne
and ice, or regale with choice Havannas. Marston, and a few of the
older members, seated at midships, discuss the all-absorbing
question of State-rights; while the negroes are as merry as larks in
May, their deep jargon sounding high above the clarion notes of the
music. Now it subsides into stillness, broken only by the splashing
of an alligator, whose sports call forth a rapturous shout.

After some three hours' sailing the barge nears a jut of rising
ground on the left bank. Close by it is a grove of noble old pines,
in the centre of which stands a dilapidated brick building, deserted
for some cause not set forth on the door: it is a pretty, shaded
retreat-a spot breathing of romance. To the right are broad lagoons
stretching far into the distance; their dark waters, beneath thick
cypress, presenting the appearance of an inundated grove. The
cypress-trees hang their tufted tops over the water's surface,
opening an area beneath studded with their trunks, like rude columns
supporting a panoply of foliage.

The barge stops, the party land; the shrill music, still dancing
through the thick forest, re-echoes in soft chimes as it steals
back upon the scene. Another minute, and we hear the voices of Daddy
Bob and Harry, Dandy and Enoch: they are exchanging merry laughs,
shouting in great good-nature, directing the smaller fry, who are
fagging away at the larder, sucking the ice, and pocketing the
lemons. "Dat ain't just straight, nohow: got de tings ashore, an' ye
get 'e share whin de white folk done! Don' make 'e nigger ob
yourse'f, now, old Boss, doing the ting up so nice," Daddy says,
frowning on his minions. A vanguard have proceeded in advance to
take possession of the deserted house; while Aunt Rachel, with her
cortŠge of feminines, is fussing over "young missus." Here, a group
are adjusting their sun-shades; there, another are preparing their
fans and nets. Then they follow the train, Clotilda and Ellen
leading their young representatives by the hand, bringing up the
rear among a cluster of smaller fry. Taking peaceable possession of
the house, they commence to clear the rooms, the back ones being
reserved for the sumptuous collation which Rachel and her juniors
are preparing. The musicians are mustered,--the young belles and
beaux, and not a few old bachelors, gather into the front room,
commence the fˆtes with country dances, and conclude with the polka
and schottische.

Rachel's department presents a bustling picture; she is master of
ceremonies, making her sombre minions move at her bidding, adjusting
the various dishes upon the table. None, not even the most favoured
guests, dare intrude themselves into her apartments until she
announces the completion of her tables, her readiness to receive
friends. And yet, amidst all this interest of character, this happy
pleasantry, this seeming contentment, there is one group pauses ere
it arrives at the house,--dare not enter. The distinction seems
undefinable to us; but they, poor wretches, feel it deeply. Shame
rankles deep, to their very heart's core. They doubt their position,
hesitate at the door, and, after several nervous attempts to enter,
fall back,--gather round a pine-tree, where they enjoy the day,
separated from the rest. There is a simplicity-a forlornness, about
this little group, which attracts our attention, excites our
sympathies, unbends our curiosity: we would relieve the burden it
labours under. They are Ellen Juvarna, Clotilda, and their children.
Socially, they are disowned; they are not allowed to join the
festivities with those in the dance, and their feelings revolt at
being compelled to associate with the negroes. They are as white as
many of the whitest, have the same outlines of interest upon their
faces; but their lives are sealed with the black seal of slavery.
Sensible of the injustice that has stripped them of their rights,
they value their whiteness; the blood of birth tinges their face,
and through it they find themselves mere dregs of human
kind,--objects of sensualism in its vilest associations.

Maxwell has taken a deep interest in Clotilda; and the solicitude
she manifests for her child has drawn him still further in her
favour; he is determined to solve the mystery that shrouds her
history. Drawing near to them, he seats himself upon the ground at
their side, inquires why they did not come into the house. "There's
no place there for us,--none for me," Clotilda modestly replies,
holding down her head, placing her arm around Annette's waist.

"You would enjoy it much better, and there is no restraint upon
anyone."

"We know not why the day was not for us to enjoy as well as others;
but it is ordained so. Where life is a dreary pain, pleasure is no
recompense for disgrace enforced upon us. They tell us we are not
what God made us to be; but it is the worst torture to be told so.
There is nothing in it-it is the curse only that remains to enforce
wrong. Those who have gifts to enjoy life, and those who move to
make others happy, can enjoy their separate pleasures; our lives are
between the two, hence there is little pleasure for us," she
answered, her eyes moistening with tears.

"If you will but come with me-"

"Oh, I will go anywhere," she rejoined, quickly; "anywhere from
this; that I may know who I am-may bear my child with me-may lead a
virtuous life, instead of suffering the pangs of shame through a
life of unholy trouble."

"She never knows when she's well off. If Marston was to hear her
talk in that way, I wouldn't stand in her shoes," interrupted Ellen,
with a significant air.

Touched by this anxious reply, Maxwell determined to know more of
her feelings-to solve the anxiety that was hanging upon her mind,
and, if possible, to carry her beyond the power that held her and
her child in such an uncertain position.

"I meant into the house," said he, observing that Ellen was not
inclined to favour Clotilda's feelings; and just at that moment the
shrill sounds of a bugle summoned the party to the collation. Here
another scene was enacted, which is beyond the power of pen to
describe. The tables, decorated with wild flowers, were spread with
meats of all descriptions,--fowl, game, pastry, and fruit, wines, and
cool drinks. Faces wearing the blandest smiles, grave matrons, and
cheerful planters,--all dressed in rustic style and neatness-gathered
around to partake of the feast, while servants were running hither
and thither to serve mas'r and missus with the choicest bits.
Toasts, compliments, and piquant squibs, follow the wine-cup. Then
came that picture of southern life which would be more worthy of
praise if it were carried out in the purity of motive:--as soon as
the party had finished, the older members, in their turn, set about
preparing a repast for the servants. This seemed to elate the
negroes, who sat down to their meal with great pomp, and were not
restrained in the free use of the choicest beverage. While this was
going on, Marston ordered Rachel to prepare fruit and pastry for
Ellen and Clotilda. "See to them; and they must have wine too,"
whispered Marston.

"I know's dat, old Boss," returned Rachel, with a knowing wink.

After the collation, the party divided into different sections. Some
enjoyed the dance, others strolled through the pine-grove,
whispering tales of love. Anglers repaired to the deep pond in quest
of trout, but more likely to find water-snakes and snapping turtles.
Far in the distance, on the right, moving like fairy gondolas
through the cypress-covered lagoon, little barks skim the dark
surface. They move like spectres, carrying their fair freight,
fanned by the gentle breeze pregnant with the magnolia' sweet
perfume. The fair ones in those tiny barks are fishing; they move
from tree to tree trailing their lines to tempt the finny tribe
here, and there breaking the surface with their gambols.

Lorenzo, as we have before informed the reader, exhibited signs of
melancholy during the day. So evident were they that Franconia's
sympathies became enlisted in his behalf, and even carried so far,
that Maxwell mistook her manner for indifference toward himself.
And, as if to confirm his apprehensions, no sooner had the collation
ended than she took Lorenzo's arm and retired to the remains of an
old mill, a few rods above the landing. It was a quiet, sequestered
spot-just such an one as would inspire the emotions of a sensitive
heart, recall the associations of childhood, and give life to our
pent-up enthusiasm. There they seated themselves, the one waiting
for the other to speak.

"Tell me, Lorenzo," said Franconia, laying her hand on his arm, and
watching with nervous anxiety each change of his countenance, "why
are you not joyous? you are gloomy to-day. I speak as a sister-you
are nervous, faltering with trouble-"

"Trouble!" he interrupted, raising his eyes, and accompanying an
affected indifference with a sigh. It is something he hesitates to
disclose. He has erred! his heart speaks, it is high-handed crime!
He looks upon her affectionately, a forced smile spreads itself over
his face. How forcibly it tells its tale. "Speak out," she
continues, tremulously: "I am a sister; a sister cannot betray a
brother's secrets." She removes her hand and lays it gently upon his
shoulder.

Looking imploringly in her face for a few minutes, he replies as if
it were an effort of great magnitude. "Something you must not
know-nor must the world! Many things are buried in the secrets of
time that would make great commotion if the world knew them. It were
well they passed unknown, for the world is like a great stream with
a surface of busy life moving on its way above a troubled current,
lashing and foaming beneath, but only breaking here and there as if
to mark the smothered conflict. And yet with me it is nothing, a
moment of disappointment creeping into my contemplations,
transplanting them with melancholy-"

"Something more!" interrupted Franconia, "something more; it is a
step beyond melancholy, more than disappointment. Uncle feels it
sensibly-it pains him, it wears upon him. I have seen it foremost in
his thoughts." Her anxiety increases, her soft meaning eyes look
upon him imploringly, she fondles him with a sister's tenderness,
the tears trickling down her cheeks as she beholds him downcast and
in sorrow. His reluctance to disclose the secret becomes more
painful to her.

"You may know it soon enough," he replies. "I have erred, and my
errors have brought me to a sad brink. My friends-those who have
indulged my follies-have quickened the canker that will destroy
themselves. Indulgence too often hastens the cup of sorrow, and when
it poisons most, we are least conscious. It is an alluring charmer,
betraying in the gayest livery-"

"Lorenzo," she interrupts, wiping the tears from her eyes. "Tell me
all; remember woman's influence-she can relieve others when she
cannot relieve herself. Make me your confidant--relieve your
feelings."

"This night, Franconia, I shall bid a painful good-bye to those
familiar scenes which have surrounded my life,--to you, my sister, to
those faithful old friends of the plantation, Daddy Bob and Harry.
They have fondled me, protected me, played with me in my childhood,
led me to my boyish sports when all was bright and pleasant, when
the plantation had its merry scenes for slave and master. I must go
upon the world, mingle with strange life, make experience my
guardian. I have committed a crime-one which for ever disgraces the
honourable-"

Crime, crime, crime! weighed itself in her mind. "And what of that?"
she rejoined, suddenly; "a sister can forgive a brother any crime;
and even a lover, if she love truly, can forget them in her
affections. Do not go upon the world; be a man above crime, above
the bar of scandal. Have confidence in yourself; do not let the
injustice overcome you. Once on the world a wanderer, remember the
untold tale of misery, speeding its victims to that death of
conscience burning unseen."

"Nay, Franconia, you mean well; but you have not learned the world.
Take this as my advice, remember it when I am gone, and in years to
come you will acknowledge its truth--Fortune at the south rests on
an unsound foundation! We are lofty in feelings, but poor in
principle, poor in government,--poor in that which has built our
great republic. Uncertainty hangs over us at every step; but,
whatever befall you, stand firm through adversity. Never chide
others for the evils that may befall you; bear your burdens without
casting reflections on others,--it is nobler! Befriend those who have
no power to befriend themselves; and when the world forgets you, do
not forget yourself. There is no step of return for those who falter
in poverty. To-night I shall leave for the city; in a few days you
will know all." Thus saying, he conducted Franconia back to rejoin
the party, already making preparations to return.

He gave her an insight of his troubles, in such a manner as to
create deep agitation; and, although satisfied that an event of more
than ordinary magnitude was at hand, she could not associate it with
the commission of crime. The day, spent with all the conviviality of
southern life, ended amidst the clang of merry voices, and soft
music: a gay group assembled at the bank, ready to return under the
cheering influence of music and moonlight.

The bugle sounded,--the soft notes of "Home, sweet Home!" followed:
the party, forming into double file, gay and grotesque, marched
through the grove to the barge. Servants, old and young, were in
high glee; some joining in chorus with the music; some preparing the
barge, others strewing branches and flowers in the pathway, to the
delight of young "mas'r" and "missus,"-all singing. Aunt Rachel,
high above her minions in authority, is poised on the bank, giving
directions at the very top of her voice. Daddy Bob, Harry, and
Dandy-the latter named after "mas'r's" fleetest horse-are freighting
their young "missusses" in their arms to the boat, shielding their
feet from the damp.

"Now, mas'r, Old Boss," Bob says, directing himself to Marston,
after completing his charge with the young ladies, "Jus' lef' 'um
tote, old mas'r safe da'? So 'e don' mus e' foot." And forthwith he
shoulders Marston, lands him like a bale of cotton on one of the
seats, much to the amusement of those on board, sending forth shouts
of applause. The party are on board; all is quiet for a minute;
again the music strikes up, the barge is gliding over the still
bosom of the fairy-like stream.

The sun has just sunk into a fiery cloud that hangs its crimson
curtains high in the heavens, shedding refulgent beauty over the
dark jungle lining the river's banks. And then, twilight, as if
stealing its way across the hills, follows, softening the scene.
Soon it has gone, the landscape sleeps, tranquilly arched by the
serene vault of a southern sky. Everything seems peaceful, reposing,
and serene; the air breathes warm and balmy, distributing its
invigorating influence. The music has ceased, nothing but the ripple
of the water is heard; then the stars, like pearls suspended over
the dark surface, begin to glimmer and shine. Above all is the moon,
like a silver goddess, rising stealthily and shedding her pale light
upon the calm glow.

Onward, onward, onward, over the still stream, winding its way to
the great deep, they move; and again the music echoes and re-echoes
through the forest, over the lawn; dying away in chimes that faintly
play around us. The sudden changes in the heavens,--monitor of things
divine,--call up in Lorenzo's feelings the reverses of fortune that
will soon take place on the plantation. He had never before
recognised the lesson conveyed by heavenly bodies; and such was the
effect at that moment that it proved a guardian to him in his future
career.

It was near midnight when the barge reached the plantation. Fires
were lighted on the bank, negroes were here and there stretched upon
the ground, sleeping with such superlative comfort that it landed
ere they awoke. One by one the parties returned for their homes;
and, after shaking hands with Marston, taking an affectionate adieu
of Franconia (telling her he would call on the morrow), lisping a
kind word to the old negroes, Lorenzo ordered a horse, and left for
the city. He took leave of the plantation, of its dearest
associations, like one who had the conflict of battle before him,
and the light of friendship behind.






CHAPTER VI.

ANOTHER SCENE IN SOUTHERN LIFE.





IN the city, a few miles from the plantation, a scene which too
often affords those degrading pictures that disgrace a free and
happy country, was being enacted. A low brick building, standing in
an area protected by a high fence, surmounted with spikes and other
dangerous projectiles, formed the place. The upper and lower windows
of this building were strongly secured with iron gratings, and
emitted the morbid air from cells scarcely large enough to contain
human beings of ordinary size. In the rear, a sort of triangular
area opened, along which was a line of low buildings, displaying
single and double cells. Some had iron rings in the floor; some had
rings in the walls; and, again, others had rings over head. Some of
these confines of misery-for here men's souls were goaded by the
avarice of our natures-were solitary; and at night, when the turmoil
of the day had ceased, human wailings and the clank of chains might
be heard breaking through the walls of this charnel-house. These
narrow confines were filled with living beings-beings with souls,
souls sold according to the privileges of a free and happy
country,--a country that fills us with admiration of its greatness.
It is here, O man, the tyrant sways his hand most! it is here the
flesh and blood of the same Maker, in chains of death, yearns for
freedom.

We walk through the corridor, between narrow arches containing the
abodes of misery, while our ears drink the sad melancholy that
sounds in agitated throbs, made painful by the gloom and darkness.
Touching an iron latch, the door of a cell opens, cold and damp, as
if death sat upon its walls; but it discloses no part of the
inmate's person, and excites our sympathies still more. We know the
unfortunate is there,--we hear the murmuring, like a death-bell in
our ears; it is mingled with a dismal chaos of sound, piercing deep
into our feelings. It tells us in terror how gold blasts the very
soul of man-what a dark monster of cruelty he can become,--how he can
forget the grave, and think only of his living self,--how he can
strip reason of its right, making himself an animal with man for his
food. See the monster seeking only for the things that can serve him
on earth-see him stripping man of his best birth-right, see him the
raving fiend, unconscious of his hell-born practices, dissevering
the hope that by a fibre hangs over the ruins of those beings who
will stand in judgment against him. His soul, like their faces, will
be black, when theirs has been whitened for judgment in the world to
come!

Ascending a few steps, leading into a centre building-where the
slave merchant is polished into respectability-we enter a small room
at the right hand. Several men, some having the appearance of
respectable merchants, some dressed in a coarse, red-mixed homespun,
others smoking cigars very leisurely, are seated at a table, upon
which are several bottles and tumblers. They drank every few
minutes, touched glasses, uttered the vilest imprecations.
Conspicuous among them is Marco Graspum: it is enough that we have
before introduced him to the reader at Marston's mansion. His dark
peering eyes glisten as he sits holding a glass of liquor in one
hand, and runs his fingers through his bristly hair with the other.
"The depths of trade are beyond some men," he says, striking his
hand on the table; then, catching up a paper, tears it into pieces.
"Only follow my directions; and there can be no missing your man,"
he continued, addressing one who sat opposite to him; and who up to
that time had been puffing his cigar with great unconcern. His whole
energies seemed roused to action at the word. After keeping his eyes
fixed upon Graspum for more than a minute, he replied, at the same
time replenishing his cigar with a fresh one--

"Yee'h sees, Marco,--you'r just got to take that ar' say back, or
stand an all-fired chaffing. You don't scar' this 'un, on a point a'
business. If I hain't larned to put in the big pins, no fellow has.
When ye wants to 'sap' a tall 'un, like Marston, ye stands shy until
ye thinks he's right for pulling, and then ye'll make a muffin on
him, quicker. But, ye likes to have yer own way in gettin' round
things, so that a fellow can't stick a pinte to make a hundred or
two unless he weaves his way clean through the law-unless he
understands Mr. Justice, and puts a double blinder on his eye.
There's nothing like getting on the right side of a fellow what
knows how to get on the wrong side of the law; and seeing how I've
studied Mr. Justice a little bit better than he's studied his books,
I knows just what can be done with him when a feller's got chink in
his pocket. You can't buy 'em, sir, they're so modest; but you can
coax 'em at a mighty cheaper rate-you can do that!" "And ye can make
him feel as if law and his business warn't two and two," rejoined
Anthony Romescos, a lean, wiry man, whose small indescribable face,
very much sun-scorched, is covered with bright sandy hair, matted
and uncombed. His forehead is low, the hair grows nearly to his
eyebrows, profuse and red; his eyes wander and glisten with
desperation; he is a merciless character. Men fear him, dread him;
he sets the law at defiance, laughs when he is told he is the
cunningest rogue in the county. He owns to the fearful; says it has
served him through many a hard squeeze; but now that he finds law so
necessary to carry out villainy, he's taken to studying it himself.
His dress is of yellow cotton, of which he has a short roundabout
and loose pantaloons. His shirt bosom is open, the collar secured at
the neck with a short black ribbon; he is much bedaubed with
tobacco-juice, which he has deposited over his clothes for the want
of a more convenient place. A gray, slouch hat usually adorns his
head, which, in consequence of the thinking it does, needs a deal of
scratching. Reminding us how careful he is of his feet, he shows
them ensconced in a pair of Indian moccasins ornamented with
bead-work; and, as if we had not become fully conscious of his
power, he draws aside his roundabout, and there, beneath the waist
of his pantaloons, is a girdle, to which a large hunting-knife is
attached, some five inches of the handle protruding above the belt.
"Now, fellers, I tell ye what's what, ye'r point-up at bragin'; but
ye don't come square up to the line when there's anything to put
through what wants pluck. 'Tain't what a knowin' 'un like I can do;
it's just what he can larn to be with a little training in things
requiring spunk. I'm a going to have a square horse, or no horse; if
I don't, by the great Davy, I'll back out and do business on my own
account,--Anthony Romescos always makes his mark and then masters it.
If ye don't give Anthony a fair showin', he'll set up business on
his own account, and pocket the comins in. Now! thar's Dan Bengal
and his dogs; they can do a thing or two in the way of trade now and
then; but it requires the cunnin as well as the plucky part of a
feller. It makes a great go when they're combined, though,--they
ala's makes sure game and slap-up profit."

"Hold a stave, Anthony," interrupted a grim-visaged individual who
had just filled his glass with whiskey, which he declared was only
to counteract the effect of what he had already taken. He begs they
will not think him half so stupid as he seems, says he is always
well behaved in genteel society, and is fully convinced from the
appearance of things that they are all gentlemen. He wears a
semi-bandittical garb, which, with his craven features, presents his
character in all its repulsiveness. "You needn't reckon on that
courage o' yourn, old fellow; this citizen can go two pins above it.
If you wants a showin', just name the mark. I've seed ye times
enough,--how ye would not stand ramrod when a nigger looked lightning
at ye. Twice I seed a nigger make ye show flum; and ye darn't make
the cussed critter toe the line trim up, nohow," he mumbles out,
dropping his tumbler on the table, spilling his liquor. They are
Graspum's "men;" they move as he directs-carry out his plans of
trade in human flesh. Through these promulgators of his plans, his
plots, his desperate games, he has become a mighty man of trade.
They are all his good fellows-they are worth their weight in gold;
but he can purchase their souls for any purpose, at any price! "Ah,
yes, I see-the best I can do don't satisfy. My good fellows, you are
plum up on business, do the square thing; but you're becomin' a
little too familiar. Doing the nigger business is one thing, and
choosing company's another. Remember, gentlemen, I hold a position
in society, I do," says Graspum, all the dignity of his dear self
glowing in his countenance.

"I see! There's no spoilin' a gentleman what's got to be one by his
merits in trade. Thar's whar ye takes the shine out of us. Y'er
gentleman gives ye a right smart chance to walk into them ar' big
bugs what's careless,--don't think yer comin' it over 'em with a sort
o' dignity what don't 'tract no s'picion." rejoined Romescos, taking
up his hat, and placing it carelessly on his head, as if to assure
Graspum that he is no better than the rest.

"Comprehend me, comprehend me, gentlemen! There can, and must be,
dignity in nigger trading; it can be made as honourable as any other
branch of business. For there is an intricacy about our business
requiring more dignity and ability than general folks know. You
fellers couldn't carry out the schemes, run the law down, keep your
finger on people's opinion, and them sort o' things, if I didn't
take a position in society what 'ud ensure puttin' ye straight
through. South's the place where position's worth somethin'; and
then, when we acts independent, and don't look as if we cared two
toss-ups, ah!"

"I wonder you don't set up a dignity shop, and go to selling the
article;-might have it manufactured to sell down south."

"Ah, Romescos," continued Graspum, "you may play the fool; but you
must play it wisely to make it profitable. Here, position puts law
at defiance!-here it puts croakers over humanity to rest-here, when
it has money, it makes lawyers talk round the points, get fat among
themselves, fills the old judge's head with anything; so that he
laughs and thinks he don't know nothin'. Listen to what I'm goin' to
say, because you'll all make somethin' out on't. I've just got the
dignity to do all; and with the coin to back her up, can safe every
chance. When you fellers get into a snarl running off a white 'un,
or a free nigger, I has to bring out the big talk to make it seem
how you didn't understand the thing. 'Tain't the putting the big on,
but it's the keepin' on it on. You'd laugh to see how I does it;
it's the way I keeps you out of limbo, though."

We have said these men were Graspum's "men;" they are more-they are
a band of outlaws, who boast of living in a free country, where its
institutions may be turned into despotism. They carry on a system of
trade in human bodies; they stain the fairest spots of earth with
their crimes. They set law at defiance-they scoff at the depths of
hell that yawn for them,--the blackness of their villainy is known
only in heaven. Earth cares little for it; and those familiar with
the devices of dealers in human bodies shrink from the shame of
making them known to the world. There was a discontent in the party,
a clashing of interests, occasioned by the meagre manner in which
Graspum had divided the spoils of their degradation. He had set his
dignity and position in society at a much higher value than they
were willing to recognise,--especially when it was to share the
spoils in proportion. Dan Bengal, so called from his ferocity of
character, was a celebrated dog-trainer and negro-hunter, "was great
in doing the savager portion of negro business." This, Romescos
contended, did not require so much cunning as his branch of the
business-which was to find "loose places," where doubtful whites see
out remnants of the Indian race, and free negroes could be found
easy objects of prey; to lay plots, do the "sharp," carry out plans
for running all free rubbish down south, where they would sell for
something.

"True! it's all true as sunshine," says Romescos; "we understand Mr.
Graspum inside and out. But ye ain't paid a dime to get me out of
any scrape. I was larned to nigger business afore I got into the
'tarnal thing; and when I just gits me eye on a nigger what nobody
don't own, I comes the sly over him-puts him through a course of
nigger diplomacy. The way he goes down to the Mississippi is a
caution to nigger property!"

He has enlisted their attention, all eyes are set upon him, every
voice calls out to know his process. He begs they will drink round;
they fill their glasses, and demand that he will continue the
interest of his story.

"My plans are worth a fortune to those who follow the business," he
says, giving his glass a twirl as he sets it upon the table, and
commences--

"Born 'cute, you see; trade comes natural. Afore a free 'un don't
know it, I has him bonded and tucked off for eight or nine hundred
dollars, slap-up, cash and all. And then, ye sees, it's worth
somethin' in knowin' who to sell such criturs too-so that the brute
don't git a chance to talk about it without getting his back
troubled. And then, it requires as much knowin' as a senator's got
just to fix things as smooth so nobody won't know it; and just like
ye can jingle the coin in yer pocket, for the nigger, what
everybody's wonderin' where he can be gone to. I tell ye what, it
takes some stameny to keep the price of a prime feller in your
pocket, and wonder along with the rest where the rascal can be. If
you'd just see Bob Osmand doe it up, you'd think his face was made
for a methodist deacon in camp meeting-time. The way he comes it
when he wants to prove a free nigger's a runaway, would beat all the
disciples of Blackstone between here and old Kentuck. And then,
Bob's any sort of a gentleman, what you don't get in town every day,
and wouldn't make a bad senator, if he'd bin in Congress when the
compromise was settled upon,--'cos he can reason right into just
nothin' at all. Ye see it ain't the feelings that makes a feller a
gentleman in our business, it's knowing the human natur o' things;
how to be a statesman, when ye meets the like, how to be a
gentleman, and talk polite things, and sich like; how to be a jolly
fellow, an' put the tall sayings into the things of life; and when
ye gets among the lawyers, to know all about the pintes of the law,
and how to cut off the corners, so they'll think ye're bin a parish
judge. And then, when ye comes before the squire, just to talk
dignity to him-tell him where the law is what he don't seem to
comprehend. You've got to make a right good feller of the squire by
sticking a fee under his vest-pocket when he don't obsarve it. And
then, ye know, when ye make the squire a right good feller, you must
keep him to the point; and when there's any swarin' to be done, he's
just as easily satisfied as the law. It's all business, you see; and
thar's just the same kind a thing in it; because profit rules
principle, and puts a right smart chance o' business into their
hands without troubling their consciences. But then, Bob ain't got
the cunnin' in him like I-nor he can't "rope-in on the sly,"-knock
down and drag out, and just tell a whole possee to come on, as I do.
And that's what ye don't seem to come at, Graspum," said Romescos,
again filling his glass, and drawing a long black pipe from his
pocket prepares it for a smoke.

"Now, the trouble is, you all think you can carry out these matters
on your own hook; but it's no go, and you'll find it so. It's a
scheme that must have larger means at the head of it; and each man's
rights must be stipulated, and paid according to his own enterprise.
But this discontent is monstrous and injurious, and if continued
will prove unprofitable. You see, fellers, you've no responsibility,
and my position is your protection, and if you don't get rich you
must not charge the blame to me; and then just see how you live now
to what you did when ranging the piny woods and catching a stray
nigger here and there, what didn't hardly pay dog money. There's a
good deal in the sport of the thing, too; and ye know it amounts to
a good deal to do the gentleman and associate with big folks, who
puts the business into one's hands, by finding out who's got lean
purses and prime niggers," rejoined Graspum, very coolly.

"Ah, yes; that's the way ye comes it over these haristocrats, by
doin' the modest. Now, Graspum, 'tain't no trouble to leak a sap
like that Lorenzo, and make his friends stand the blunt after we've
roped him into your fixings," replied Romescos.

"No, no; not a bit of it," resounded several voices. "We do all the
dragwork with the niggers, and Graspum gets the tin."

"But he pays for the drink. Come, none of this bickering; we must
agree upon business, and do the thing up brown under the old
system," interrupted another.

"Hold! close that bread trap o' yourn," Romescos shouts at the top
of his voice. "You're only a green croaker from the piny woods,
where gophers crawl independent; you ain't seen life on the borders
of Texas. Fellers, I can whip any man in the crowd,--can maker the
best stump speech, can bring up the best logic; and can prove that
the best frightenin' man is the best man in the nigger business.
Now, if you wants a brief sketch of this child's history, ye can
have it." Here Romescos entered into an interesting account of
himself. He was the descendant of a good family, living in the city
of Charleston; his parents, when a youth, had encouraged his
propensities for bravery. Without protecting them with that medium
of education which assimilates courage with gentlemanly conduct,
carrying out the nobler impulses of our nature, they allowed him to
roam in that sphere which produces its ruffians. At the age of
fifteen he entered a counting-room, when his quick mercurial
temperament soon rendered him expert at its minor functions. Three
years had hardly elapsed when, in a moment of passion, he drew his
dirk, (a weapon he always carried) and, in making a plunge at his
antagonist, inflicted a wound in the breast of a near friend. The
wound was deep, and proved fatal. For this he was arraigned before a
jury, tried for his life. He proved the accident by an existing
friendship-he was honourably acquitted. His employer, after
reproaching him for his proceedings, again admitted him into his
employment. Such, however, was his inclination to display the
desperado, that before the expiration of another year he killed a
negro, shot two balls at one of his fellows, one of which was well
nigh proving fatal, and left the state. His recklessness, his
previous acts of malignity, his want of position, all left him
little hope of escaping the confines of a prison. Fleeing to parts
unknown, his absence relieved the neighbourhood of a responsibility.
For a time, he roamed among farmers and drovers in the mountains of
Tennessee; again he did menial labour, often forced to the direst
necessity to live. One day, when nearly famished, he met a
slave-driver, conducting his coffle towards the Mississippi, to whom
he proffered his services. The coarse driver readily accepted them;
they proceeded on together, and it was not long before they found
themselves fitting companions. The one was desperate-the other
traded in desperation. An ardent nature, full of courage and
adventure, was a valuable acquisition to the dealer, who found that
he had enlisted a youngster capable of relieving him of inflicting
that cruelty so necessary to his profession. With a passion for
inflicting torture, this youth could now gratify it upon those
unfortunate beings of merchandise who were being driven to the
shambles: he could gloat in the exercise of those natural
propensities which made the infliction of pain a pleasant
recreation. In the trade of human flesh all these cruel traits
became valuable; they enabled him to demand a good price for his
services. Initiated in all the mysteries of the trade, he was soon
entrusted with gangs of very considerable extent; then he made
purchases, laid plans to entrap free negroes, performed the various
intricacies of procuring affidavits with which to make slave
property out of free flesh. Nature was nature, and what was hard in
him soon became harder; he could crib "doubtful white stuff" that
was a nuisance among folks, and sell it for something he could put
in his pocket. In this way Romescos accumulated several hundred
dollars; but avarice increased, and with it his ferocity. It
belonged to the trade, a trade of wanton depravity. He became the
terror of those who assumed to look upon a negro's sufferings with
sympathy, scoffing at the finer feelings of mankind. Twice had his
rapacity been let loose-twice had it nearly brought him to the
gallows, or to the tribunal of Judge Lynch. And now, when completely
inured in the traffic of human flesh,--that traffic which transposes
man into a demon, his progress is checked for a while by a false
step.

It was this; and this only to the deep disgrace of the freest and
happiest country on earth. A poor orphan girl, like many of her
class in our hospitable slave world, had been a mere cast-off upon
the community. She knew nothing of the world, was ignorant, could
neither read nor write,--something quite common in the south, but
seldom known in New England. Thus she became the associate of
depraved negroes, and again, served Romescos as a victim. Not
content with this, after becoming tired of her, he secured her in
the slave-pen of one of his fellow traders. Here he kept her for
several weeks, closely confined, feeding her with grits. Eventually
"running" her to Vicksburg, he found an accomplice to sign a bill of
sale, by which he sold her to a notorious planter, who carried her
into the interior. The wretched girl had qualities which the planter
saw might, with a little care, be made extremely valuable in the New
Orleans market,--one was natural beauty. She was not suitable
property for the agricultural department of either a cotton or sugar
plantation, nor was she "the stripe" to increase prime stock; hence
she must be prepared for the general market. When qualified
according to what the planter knew would suit the fancy market, she
was conveyed to New Orleans, a piece of property bright as the very
brightest, very handsome, not very intelligent,--just suited to the
wants of bidders.

Here, at the shambles in the crescent city, she remained guarded,
and for several weeks was not allowed to go beyond the door-sill;
after which a sale was effected of her with the keeper of a brothel,
for the good price of thirteen hundred dollars. In this sink of
iniquity she remained nearly two years. Fearing the ulterior
consequences, she dared not assert her rights to freedom, she dared
not say she was born free in a free country. Her disappearance from
the village in which she had been reared caused some excitement; but
it soon reduced itself to a very trifling affair. Indeed, white
trash like this was considered little else than rubbish, not worth
bringing up respectably. And while suspicion pointed to Romescos, as
the person who could account for her mysterious disappearance, such
was the fear of his revenge that no one dared be the accuser.
Quietly matters rested, poor virtue was mean merchandise, had its
value, could be bought and sold-could be turned to various uses,
except enlisting the sympathies of those who study it as a market
commodity. A few days passed and all was hushed; no one enquired
about the poor orphan, Martha Johnson. In the hands of her creole
owner, who held her as a price for licentious purposes, she
associated with gentlemen of polite manners-of wealth and position.
Even this, though profane, had advantages, which she employed for
the best of purposes; she learned to read and to write,--to
assimilate her feelings with those of a higher class. Society had
degraded her, she had not degraded herself. One night, as the
promiscuous company gathered into the drawing-room, she recognised a
young man from her native village; the familiar face inspired her
with joy, her heart leaped with gladness; he had befriended her poor
mother-she knew he had kind feelings, and would be her friend once
her story was told. The moments passed painfully; she watched him
restlessly through the dance,--sat at his side. Still he did not
recognise her,--toilet had changed her for another being; but she had
courted self-respect rather than yielded to degradation. Again she
made signs to attract his attention; she passed and repassed him,
and failed. Have I thus changed, she thought to herself.

At length she succeeded in attracting his attention; she drew him
aside, then to her chamber. In it she disclosed her touching
narrative, unfolded her sorrows, appealed to him with tears in her
eyes to procure her freedom and restore her to her rights. Her story
enlisted the better feelings of a man, while her self-respect, the
earnestness with which she pleaded her deliverance, and the
heartlessness of the act, strongly rebuked the levity of those who
had made her an orphan outcast in her own village. She was then in
the theatre of vice, surrounded by its allurements, consigned to its
degradation, a prey to libertinism-yet respecting herself. The
object of his visit among the denizens was changed to a higher
mission, a duty which he owed to his moral life,--to his own
manliness. He promised his mediation to better her eventful and
mysterious life, to be a friend to her; and nobly did he keep his
promise. On the following day he took measures for her rescue, and
though several attempts were made to wrest her from him, and the
mendacity of slave-dealers summoned to effect it, he had the
satisfaction of seeing her restored to her native village,--to
freedom, to respectability.

We withhold the details of this too true transaction, lest we should
be classed among those who are endeavouring to create undue
excitement. The orphan girl we here refer to was married to a
respectable mechanic, who afterwards removed to Cincinnati, and with
his wife became much respected citizens.

Proceedings were after some delay commenced against Romescos,
but,--we trust it was not through collusion with officials-he escaped
the merited punishment that would have been inflicted upon him by a
New England tribunal. Again he left the state, and during his
absence it is supposed he was engaged in nefarious practices with
the notorious Murrel, who carried rapine and death into the
unoffending villages of the far west. However, be this as it may,
little was known of him for several years, except in some desperate
encounter. The next step in his career of desperation known, was
joining a band of guerillos led by one of the most intrepid captains
that infested the borders of Mexico, during the internal warfare by
which her Texan provinces struggled for independence. Freebooters,
they espoused the Texan cause because it offered food for their
rapacity, and through it they became formidable and desperate foes
to the enemy. They were the terror of the ranchoes, the inhabitants
fled at their approach; their pillage, rapine, and slaughtering,
would stain the annals of barbarous Africa. They are buried, let us
hope for the name of a great nation, that they may remain beneath
the pale of oblivion.

In their incursions, as mounted riflemen, they besieged villages,
slaughtered the inhabitants, plundered churches, and burned
dwellings; they carried off captive females, drove herds of cattle
to distant markets. Through the auspices of this band, as is now
well known, many young females were carried off and sold into
slavery, where they and their offspring yet remain. While pursuing
this nefarious course of life, Romescos accumulated more than twenty
thousand dollars; and yet,--though ferocity increased with the
daring of his profession,--there was one impulse of his nature,
deeply buried, directing his ambition. Amid the dangers of war, the
tumult of conflict, the passion for daring-this impulse kept alive
the associations of home,--it was love! In early life he had formed
an attachment for a beautiful young lady of his native town; it had
ripened with his years; the thoughts of her, and the hope of
regaining her love if he gained wealth, so worked upon his mind that
he resolved to abandon the life of a guerillo, and return home.
After an absence of fourteen years he found the object of his early
love,--that woman who had refused to requite his affection,--a widow,
having buried her husband, a gentleman of position, some months
previous.

Romescos had money,--the man was not considered; he is not considered
where slavery spreads its vices to corrupt social life. He had been
careful to keep his business a profound secret, and pressing his
affections, soon found the object of his ambition keenly sensitive
to his advances. Rumour recounted his character with mystery and
suspicion; friends remonstrated, but in vain; they were united
despite all opposition, all appeals. For a time he seemed a better
man, the business he had followed harassed his mind, seeming to
haunt him, and poison his progress. He purchased a plantation on the
banks of the Santee; for once resolved to pursue an honest course,
to be a respectable citizen, and enjoy the quiet of home.

A year passed: he might have enjoyed the felicity of domestic life,
the affections of a beautiful bride; but the change was too sudden
for his restless spirit. He was not made to enjoy the quiet of life,
the task stood before him like a mountain without a pass, he could
not wean himself from the vices of a marauder. He had abused the
free offerings of a free country, had set law at defiance; he had
dealt in human flesh, and the task of resistance was more than the
moral element in his nature could effect. Violations of human laws
were mere speculations to him; they had beguiled him, body and soul.
He had no apology for violating personal feeling; what cared he for
that small consideration, when the bodies of men, women, and
children could be sacrificed for that gold which would give him
position among the men of the south. If he carried off poor whites,
and sold them into slavery, he saw no enormity in the performance;
the law invested him with power he made absolute. Society was
chargeable with all his wrongs, with all his crimes, all his
enormities. He had repeatedly told it so, pointing for proof to that
literal observance of the rule by which man is made mere
merchandise. Society had continued in its pedantic folly,
disregarding legal rights, imposing no restraints on the holder of
human property, violating its spirit and pride by neglecting to
enforce the great principles of justice whereby we are bound to
protect the lives of those unjustly considered inferior beings. Thus
ends a sketch of what Romescos gave of his own career.

We now find him associated with the desperadoes of slave-dealing, in
the scene we have presented. After Romescos had related what he
called the romance of his life,--intended, no doubt, to impress the
party with his power and intrepidity, and enable him to set a higher
value upon his services,--he lighted a pipe, threw his hat upon the
floor, commenced pacing up and down the room, as if labouring under
deep excitement. And while each one seemed watching him intently, a
loud knocking was heard at the door,--then the baying of
blood-hounds, the yelps of curs, mingling with the murmurs of those
poor wretches confined in the cells beneath. Then followed the
clanking of chains, cries, and wailings, startling and fearful.

Dan Bengal sprang to the door, as if conscious of its import. A
voice demanded admittance; and as the door opened Bengal exclaimed,
"Halloo!-here's Nath Nimrod: what's the tune of the adventure?"

A short, stout man entered, dressed in a coarse homespun hunting
dress, a profuse black beard and moustache nearly covering his face.
"I is'nt so bad a feller a'ter all-is I?" he says, rushing forward
into the centre of the room, followed by four huge hounds. They were
noble animals, had more instinctive gentleness than their masters,
displayed a knowledge of the importance of the prize they had just
gained.

"Hurrah for Nath! hurrah! hurrah! hurrah, for Nath! You got him,
Nath-did'nt ye?" resounded from several tongues, and was followed by
a variety of expressions highly complimentary to his efficiency.

Romescos, however, remained silent, pacing the floor unconcerned,
except in his own anxiety-as if nothing had occurred to disturb him.
Advancing to the table, the new visitor, his face glowing with
exultation, held forth, by the crispy hair, the blanched and bloody
head of an unfortunate negro who had paid the penalty of the State's
allowance for outlaws. "There: beat that, who can? Four hundred
dollars made since breakfast;" he cries out at the top of his voice.
They cast a measured look at the ghastly object, as if it were a
precious ornament, much valued for the price it would bring,
according to law. The demon expresses his joy, descants on his
expertness and skill, holds up his prize again, turns it round,
smiles upon it as his offering, then throws it into the fire place,
carelessly, like a piece of fuel. The dogs spring upon it, as if the
trophy was for their feast; but he repulses them; dogs are not so
bad after all-the canine is often the better of the two-the morsel
is too precious for canine dogs,--human dogs must devour it. "There
is nothing like a free country, nothing; and good business, when
it's well protected by law," says Nimrod, seating himself at the
table, filling a glass, bowing to his companions, drinking to the
health of his friends. He imagines himself the best fellow of the
lot. Taking Graspum by the hand, he says, "there is a clear hundred
for you, old patron!" pulls an Executive proclamation from his
pocket, and points to where it sets forth the amount of reward for
the outlaw-dead or alive. "I know'd whar the brute had his hole in
the swamp," he continues: "and I summed up the resolution to bring
him out. And then the gal o' Ginral Brinkle's, if I could pin her,
would be a clear fifty more, provided I could catch her without
damage, and twenty-five if the dogs havocked her shins. There was no
trouble in getting the fifty, seeing how my dogs were trained to the
point and call. Taste or no taste, they come square off at the word.
To see the critters trace a nigger, you'd think they had human in
them; they understands it so! But, I tell you what, it's one thing
to hunt a gal nigger, and another to run down an outlaw what has had
two or three years in the swamp. The catching him's not much, but
when ye have to slide the head off, all the pious in yer natur comes
right up to make yer feelings feel kind a' softish. However, the law
protects ye, and the game being only a nigger, different rules and
things govern one's feelings."

Bengal interrupts by laconically insinuating-raising his moody face,
and winking at Graspum-that it was all moonshine to talk about
trouble in that kind of business; "It's the very highest of
exhilarating sport!" he concludes emphatically.

"Dan!" returns the other, with a fierce stare, as he seizes the
bottle and is about to enjoy a glass of whisky uninvited; "let your
liquor stop your mouth. I set the whole pack upon the trail at
daylight, and in less than two hours they came upon him, bolted him,
and put him to the river. The leader nabbed him about half way
across, but the chap, instead of giving in, turned and fought like a
hero. Twice I thought he would whip the whole pack, but the way they
made the rags fly warn't nobody's business. Well, I just come up
with him as he plunged into the stream, lifts old sure mark, as
gives him about a dozen plugs; and then the old feller begged just
so, you'd thought he was a Christian pleadin' forgiveness at the
last moment. But, when I seizes him and gives him three or four
levellers with the butt of the rifle, ye never saw a sarpent plunge,
and struggle, and warp so. Says I, 'It's no use, old feller,--yer
might as well give her up;' and the way his eyes popped, just as if
he expected I war'nt goin to finish him. I tell ye, boys, it
required some spunk about then, for the critter got his claws upon
me with a death grip, and the dogs ripped him like an old corn
stalk, and would'nt keep off. And then there was no fracturin his
skull; and seeing how he was overpowering me, I just seizes him by
the throat and pops his head off quicker than a Chinese executioner."

The author has given the language of the slave-hunter who related
the case personally.

"Now, thar' war'nt so much in takin' the gal, cos jist when she seed
the dogs comin', the critter took to tree and gin right up: but when
I went to muzlin' on her, so she could'nt scream, then she gets
saucy; and I promised to gin her bricks,--which, fellers, I reckon
yer must take a hand in so the brute won't wake the neighbours; and
I'll do'e it afore I sleeps," said Nimrod, getting up from the table
and playfully touching Romescos upon the arm. "I see ye ain't
brightened to-day--Graspum's share don't seem to suit yer, old
feller; ah! ah!!" he continued.

"Just put another ten per cent. upon the out-lining, and running
free 'uns, and I'll stand flint," said Romescos, seeming to be acted
upon by a sudden change of feelings, as he turned to Graspum, with a
look of anxiety.

"Very well," returned Graspum. "Yer see, there's that Marston affair
to be brought to a point; and his affairs are just in such a fix
that he don't know what's what, nor who's who. Ther'll have to be
some tall swearing done in that case afore it's brought to the
hammer. That cunning of yours, Romescos, will just come into play in
this case. It'll be just the thing to do the crooked and get round
the legal points." Thus Graspum, with the dignity and assurance of a
gentleman, gave his opinion, drank with his companions, and withdrew
for the night.

Romescos, Bengal, and Nimrod, soon after descended into the vaults
below, followed by a negro bearing a lantern. Here they unbolted one
of the cells, dragged forth a dejected-looking mulatto woman, her
rags scarcely covering her nakedness. The poor wretch, a child born
to degradation and torture, whose cries were heard in heaven, heaved
a deep sigh, then gave vent to a flood of tears. They told how deep
was her anguish, how she struggled against injustice, how sorrow was
burning her very soul. The outpourings of her feelings might have
aroused the sympathies of savage hearts; but the slave monsters were
unmoved. Humbleness, despair, and even death, sat upon her very
countenance; hope had fled her, left her a wreck for whom man had no
pity. And though her prayers ascended to heaven, the God of mercy
seemed to have abandoned her to her tormentors. She came forward
trembling and reluctantly, her countenance changed; she gave a
frowning look at her tormentors, wild and gloomy, shrank back into
the cell, the folds of straight, black hair hanging about her
shoulders.

"Come out here!" Nimrod commands in an angry tone; then, seizing her
by the arm, dragged her forth, and jerked her prostrate on the
ground. Here, like as many fiends in human form, the rest fell upon
her, held her flat to the floor by the hands and feet, her face
downwards, while Nimrod, with a raw hide, inflicted thirty lashes on
her bare back. Her cries and groans, as she lay writhing, the flesh
hanging in quivering shreds, and lifting with the lash,--her appeals
for mercy, her prayers to heaven, her fainting moans as the agony of
her torture stung into her very soul, would have touched a heart of
stone. But, though her skin had not defiled her in the eyes of the
righteous, there was none to take pity on her, nor to break the
galling chains; no! the punishment was inflicted with the measured
coolness of men engaged in an every-day vocation. It was simply the
right which a democratic law gave men to become lawless, fierce in
the conspiracy of wrong, and where the legal excitement of
trafficking in the flesh and blood of one another sinks them
unconsciously into demons.






CHAPTER VII.

"BUCKRA-MAN VERY UNCERTAIN."





THE caption, a common saying among negroes at the south, had its
origin in a consciousness, on the part of the negro, of the many
liabilities to which his master's affairs are subject, and his own
dependence on the ulterior consequences. It carries with it a deep
significance, opens a field for reflection, comprehends the negro's
knowledge of his own uncertain state, his being a piece of property
the good or evil of which is effected by his master's caprices, the
binding force of the law that makes him merchandise. Nevertheless,
while the negro feels them in all their force, the master values
them only in an abstract light. Ask the negro whose master is kind
to him, if he would prefer his freedom and go north?-At first he
will hesitate, dilate upon his master's goodness, his affection for
him, the kindly feeling evinced for him by the family-they often
look upon him with a patriarchal tenderness-and, finally, he will
conclude by telling you he wishes master and missus would live for
ever. He tells you, in the very simplicity of his nature, that "Eve'
ting so unsartin! and mas'r don't know if he die when he gwine to."
That when he is dying he does not realise it; and though his
intention be good, death may blot out his desires, and he, the
dependent, being only a chattel, must sink into the uncertain stream
of slave-life. Marston's plantation might have been taken as an
illustration of the truth of this saying. Long had it been
considered one of eminent profit; his field slaves were well cared
for; his favourite house servants had every reasonable indulgence
granted them. And, too, Marston's mansion was the pleasant retreat
of many a neighbour, whose visits were welcomed by the kindly
attention he had taught his domestics to bestow. Marston's fault lay
in his belonging to that class of planters who repose too much
confidence in others.

The morning following Lorenzo's departure ushered forth bright and
balmy. A quiet aspect reigned in and about the plantation, servants
moved sluggishly about, the incidents of the preceding night
oppressed Marston's mind; his feelings broke beyond his power of
restraint. Like contagion, the effect seized each member of his
household,--forcibly it spoke in word and action! Marston had
bestowed much care upon Lorenzo and Franconia; he had indulged and
idolised the latter, and given the former some good advice. But
advice without example seldom produces lasting good; in truth,
precept had the very worst effect upon Lorenzo,--it had proved his
ruin! His singular and mysterious departure might for a time be
excused,--even accounted for in some plausible manner, but suspicion
was a stealing monster that would play upon the deeply tinctured
surface, and soar above in disgrace. That the Rovero family were
among the first of the State would not be received as a palliation;
they had suffered reverses of fortune, and, with the addition of
Lorenzo's profligacy, which had been secretly drawing upon their
resources, were themselves well nigh in discredit. And now that this
sudden and unexpected reverse had befallen Marston, he could do
nothing for their relief. Involved, perplexed, and distrusted-with
ever-slaying suspicion staring him in the face-he was a victim
pursued by one who never failed to lay low his object. That man
moved with unerring method, could look around him upon the
destitution made by his avarice, without evincing a shadow of
sympathy. Yes! he was in the grasp of a living Shylock, whose soul,
worn out in the love of gold, had forgotten that there existed a
distinction between right and wrong.

Surrounded by all these dark forebodings, Marston begins to reflect
on his past life. He sees that mercy which overlooks the sins of man
when repentance is pure; but his life is full of moral blemishes; he
has sinned against the innocent, against the God of forgiveness. The
inert of his nature is unfolding itself,--he has lived according to
the tolerated vices of society-he has done no more than the law gave
him a right to do! And yet, that very society, overlooking its own
wrongs, would now strip him of its associations. He lives in a State
where it is difficult to tell what society will approve or
reprobate; where a rich man may do with impunity what would consign
a poor man to the gallows.

If we examine the many rencontres that take place in the south,
especially those proving fatal, we will find that the perpetrator,
if he be a rich man, invariably receives an "honourable acquittal."
Again, when the man of position shoots down his victim in the
streets of a city, he is esteemed brave; but a singular reversion
takes place if the rencontre be between poor men. It is then a
diabolical act, a murder, which nothing short of the gallows can
serve for punishment. The creatures whom he had made mere objects to
serve his sensuality were before him; he traced the gloomy history
of their unfortunate sires; he knew that Ellen and Clotilda were
born free. The cordon that had bound his feelings to the system of
slavery relaxed. For the first time, he saw that which he could not
recognise in his better nature-himself the medium of keeping human
beings in slavery who were the rightful heirs of freedom. The
blackness of the crime-its cruelty, its injustice-haunted him; they
were at that very moment held by Graspum's caprice. He might doom
the poor wretches to irretrievable slavery, to torture and death!
Then his mind wandered to Annette and Nicholas; he saw them of his
own flesh and blood; his natural affections bounded forth; how could
he disown them? The creations of love and right were upon him,
misfortune had unbound his sensations; his own offspring stood
before him clothed in trouble thick and dangerous. His follies have
entailed a life-rent of misery upon others; the fathomless depth of
the future opens its yawning jaws to swallow up those upon whom the
fondness of a father should have been bestowed for their moral and
physical good.

As he sits contemplating this painful picture, Aunt Rachel enters
the room to inquire if Lorenzo breakfasts with them. "Why! old
mas'r, what ail ye dis mornin'? Ye don't seems nohow. Not a stripe
like what ye was yesterday; somethin' gi 'h de wrong way, and mas'r
done know what i' is," she mutters to herself, looking seriously at
Marston.

"Nothing! old bustler; nothing that concerns you. Do not mention
Lorenzo's name again; he has gone on a journey. Send my old faithful
Daddy Bob to me." Rachel hastened to fulfil the command; soon
brought the old servant to the door. His countenance lighted up with
smiles as he stood at the doorway, bowing and scraping, working his
red cap in his hand. There stood the old man, a picture of
attachment.

"Come in, Bob, come in!" Marston says, motioning his hand, "I wish
the world was as faithful as you are. You are worthy the indulgence
I have bestowed upon you; let me hope there is something better in
prospect for you. My life reproves me; and when I turn and review
its crooked path-when I behold each inconsistency chiding me-I
lament what I cannot recall." Taking the old man by the hand, the
tears glistening in his eyes, he looks upon him as a father would
his child.

"In a short time, Bob, you shall be free to go where you please, on
the plantation or off it. But remember, Bob, you are old-you have
grown grey in faithfulness,--the good southerner is the true friend
of the negro! I mean he is the true friend of the negro, because he
has associated with him from childhood, assimilated with his
feelings, made his nature a study. He welcomes him without reserve,
approaches him without that sensitiveness and prejudice which the
northerner too often manifests towards him. You shall be free, Bob!
you shall be free!-free to go where you please; but you must remain
among southerners, southerners are your friends."

"Yes, mas'r, 'im all just so good, if t'warn't dat I so old. Free
nigger, when 'e old, don't gwane to get along much. Old Bob tink on
dat mighty much, he do dat! Lef Bob free win 'e young, den 'e get
tru' de world like Buckra, only lef 'im de chance what Buckra hab.
Freedom ain't wof much ven old Bob worn out, mas'r; and Buckra what
sell nigger,--what make 'e trade on him, run 'im off sartin. He sell
old nigger what got five dollar wof' a work in 'e old bones. Mas'r
set 'um free, bad Buckra catch 'um, old Bob get used up afo' he know
nofin," quaintly replied the old man, seeming to have an instinctive
knowledge of the "nigger trade," but with so much attachment for his
master that he could not be induced to accept his freedom.

"It's not the leaving me, Bob; you may be taken from me. You are
worth but little, 'tis true, and yet you may be sold from me to a
bad master. If the slave-dealers run you off, you can let me know,
and I will prosecute them," returned Marston.

"Ah! mas'r; dat's just whar de blunt is-in de unsartainty! How I
gwane to let mas'r know, when mas'r no larn nigger to read," he
quickly responded. There is something in his simple remark that
Marston has never before condescended to contemplate,--something the
simple nature of the negro has just disclosed; it lies deeply rooted
at the foundation of all the wrongs of slavery. Education would be
valuable to the negro, especially in his old age; it would soften
his impulses rather than impair his attachment, unless the master be
a tyrant fearing the results of his own oppression. Marston, a good
master, had deprived the old man of the means of protecting himself
against the avarice of those who would snatch him from freedom, and
while his flesh and blood contained dollars and cents, sell him into
slavery. Freedom, under the best circumstances, could do him little
good in his old age; and yet, a knowledge of the wrong rankled deep
in Marston's feelings: he could relieve it only by giving Daddy Bob
and Harry their freedom if they would accept it.

Relinquishing Daddy's hand, he commanded him to go and bring him
Annette and Nicholas. "Bring them," he says, "without the knowledge
of their mothers." Bob withdrew, hastened to the cabins in the yard
to fulfil the mission. Poor things, thought Marston; they are mine,
how can I disown them? Ah, there's the point to conquer-I cannot! It
is like the mad torrents of hell, stretched out before me to consume
my very soul, to bid me defiance. Misfortune is truly a great
purifier, a great regenerator of our moral being; but how can I make
the wrong right?-how can I live to hope for something beyond the
caprice of this alluring world? My frailties have stamped their
future with shame.

Thus he mused as the children came scampering into the room.
Annette, her flaxen curls dangling about her neck, looking as tidy
and bright as the skill of Clotilda could make her, runs to Marston,
throws herself on his knee, fondles about his bosom, kisses his hand
again and again. She loves him,--she knows no other father. Nicholas,
more shy, moves slowly behind a chair, his fingers in his mouth the
while. Looking through its rounds wistfully, he shakes his head
enviously, moves the chair backwards and forwards, and is too
bashful to approach Annette's position.

Marston has taken Annette in his arms, he caresses her; she twirls
her tiny fingers through his whiskers, as if to play with him in the
toying recognition of a father. He is deeply immersed in thought,
smooths her hair, walks to the glass with her in his arms, holds her
before it as if to detect his own features in the countenance of the
child. Resuming his seat, he sets her on one knee, calls Nicholas to
him, takes him on the other, and fondles them with an air of
kindness it had never before been their good fortune to receive at
his hands. He looked upon them again, and again caressed them,
parted their hair with his fingers. And as Annette would open her
eyes and gaze in his, with an air of sweetest acknowledgment, his
thoughts seemed contending with something fearful. He was in
trouble; he saw the enemy brooding over the future; he heaved a
sigh, a convulsive motion followed, a tear stealing down his cheek
told the tale of his reflections.

"Now, Daddy;" he speaks, directing himself to old Bob, who stands at
the door surprised at Marston's singular movements, "you are my
confidant, what do you think the world-I mean the people about the
district, about the city-would say if they knew these were mine? You
know, Bob,--you must tell me straight out, do they look like me?-have
they features like mine?" he inquires with rapid utterance.

"Mas'r, Bob don' like to say all he feels," meekly muttered the old
man.

"There is the spot on which we lay the most unholy blot; and yet, it
recoils upon us when we least think. Unfortunate wretches bear them
unto us; yet we dare not make them our own; we blast their lives for
selfish ends, yield them to others, shield ourselves by a misnomer
called right! We sell the most interesting beings for a
price,--beings that should be nearest and dearest to our hearts."

The old slave's eyes glistened with excitement; he looked on
astonished, as if some extraordinary scene had surprised him. As his
agitation subsided, he continued, "Mas'r, I bin watch 'im dis long
time. Reckon how nobody wouldn't take 'em fo'h nobody else's-fo'h
true! Dar ain't no spozin' bout 'em, 'e so right smart twarn't no
use to guise 'em: da'h just like old Boss. Mas'r, nigger watch dem
tings mighty close; more close den Buckra, cos' Buckra tink 'e all
right when nigger tink 'e all wrong."

Marston is not quite content with this: he must needs put another
question to the old man. "You are sure there can be no mistaking
them for mine?" he rejoins, fixing his eyes upon the children with
an almost death-like stare, as Daddy leads them out of the room. The
door closes after them, he paces the room for a time, seats himself
in his chair again, and is soon absorbed in contemplation. "I must
do something for them-I must snatch them from the jaws of danger.
They are full of interest-they are mine; there is not a drop of
negro blood in their veins, and yet the world asks who are their
mothers, what is their history? Ah! yes; in that history lies the
canker that has eaten out the living springs of many lives. It is
that which cuts deepest. Had I known myself, done what I might have
done before it was too late, kindness would have its rewards; but I
am fettered, and the more I move the worse for them. Custom has laid
the foundation of wrong, the law protects it, and a free government
tolerates a law that shields iniquities blackening earth." In this
train of thought his mind wandered. He would send the children into
a free state, there to be educated; that they may live in the
enjoyment of those rights with which nature had blest them. The
obstacles of the law again stared him in the face; the wrong by
which they were first enslaved, now forgotten, had brought its
climax.

Suddenly arousing from his reverie, he started to his feet, and
walking across the floor, exclaimed in an audible voice, "I will
surmount all difficulties,--I will recognise them as my children; I
will send them where they may become ornaments of society, instead
of living in shame and licentiousness. This is my resolve, and I
will carry it out, or die!"






CHAPTER VIII.

A CLOUD OF MISFORTUNE HANGS OVER THE PLANTATION.





THE document Marston signed for Lorenzo-to release him from the
difficulties into which he had been drawn by Graspum-guaranteed the
holder against all loss. This, in the absence of Lorenzo, and under
such stranger circumstances, implied an amount which might be
increased according to the will of the man into whose hands he had
so unfortunately fallen.

Nearly twelve months had now elapsed since the disclosure of the
crime. Maxwell, our young Englishman, had spent the time among the
neighbouring plantations; and failing to enlist more than friendly
considerations from Franconia, resolved to return to Bermuda and
join his family. He had, however, taken a deep interest in Clotilda
and Annette,--had gone to their apartment unobserved, and in secret
interviews listened to Clotilda's tale of trouble. Its recital
enlisted his sympathies; and being of an ardent and impressible
temper, he determined to carry out a design for her relief. He
realised her silent suffering,--saw how her degraded condition
wrangled with her noble feelings,--how the true character of a woman
loathed at being the slave of one who claimed her as his property.
And this, too, without the hope of redeeming herself, except by some
desperate effort. And, too, he saw but little difference between the
blood of Franconia and the blood of Clotilda; the same outline of
person was there,--her delicate countenance, finely moulded bust,
smoothly converging shoulders. There was the same Grecian cast of
face, the same soft, reflective eyes,--filling a smile with
sweetness, and again with deep-felt sorrow. The same sensitive
nature, ready to yield forth love and tenderness, or to press onward
the more impassioned affections, was visible in both. And yet, what
art had done for Franconia nature had replenished for Clotilda. But,
the servile hand was upon her, she crouched beneath its grasp; it
branded her life, and that of her child, with ignominy and death.

During these interviews he would watch her emotions as she looked
upon her child; when she would clasp it to her bosom, weeping, until
from the slightest emotion her feelings would become frantic with
anguish.

"And you, my child, a mother's hope when all other pleasures are
gone! Are you some day to be torn from me, and, like myself, sent to
writhe under the coarse hand of a slave-dealer, to be stung with
shame enforced while asking God's forgiveness? Sometimes I think it
cannot be so; I think it must all be a dream. But it is so, and we
might as well submit, say as little of the hardship as possible, and
think it's all as they tell us-according to God's will," she would
say, pressing the child closer and closer to her bosom, the
agitation of her feelings rising into convulsions as the tears
coursed down her cheeks. Then she would roll her soft eyes upwards,
her countenance filling with despair. The preservation of her child
was pictured in the depth of her imploring look. For a time her
emotions would recede into quiet,--she would smile placidly upon
Annette, forget the realities that had just swept her mind into such
a train of trouble.

One night, as Maxwell entered her apartment, he found her kneeling
at her bed-side, supplicating in prayer. The word, "Oh, God; not me,
but my child-guide her through the perils that are before her, and
receive her into heaven at last," fell upon his ear. He paused,
gazed upon her as if some angel spirit had touched the tenderest
chord of his feelings-listened unmoved. A lovely woman, an
affectionate mother, the offspring of a noble race,--herself forced
by relentless injustice to become an instrument of
licentiousness-stood before him in all that can make woman an
ornament to her sex. What to Ellen Juvarna seemed the happiness of
her lot, was pain and remorse to Clotilda; and when she arose there
was a nervousness, a shrinking in her manner, betokening
apprehension. "It is not now; it is hereafter. And yet there is no
glimmer of hope!" she whispers, as she seats herself in a chair,
pulls the little curtain around the bed, and prepares to retire.

The scene so worked upon Maxwell's feelings that he could withstand
the effect no longer; he approached her, held out his hand, greeted
her with a smile: "Clotilda, I am your friend," he whispers, "come,
sit down and tell me what troubles you!"

"If what I say be told in confidence?" she replied, as if
questioning his advance.

"You may trust me with any secret; I am ready to serve you, if it be
with my life!"

Clasping her arms round her child, again she wept in silence. The
moment was propitious--the summer sun had just set beneath dark
foliage in the west, its refulgent curtains now fading into mellow
tints; night was closing rapidly over the scene, the serene moon
shone softly through the arbour into the little window at her
bedside. Again she took him by the hand, invited him to sit down at
her side, and, looking imploringly in his face, continued,--"If you
are a friend, you can be a friend in confidence, in purpose. I am a
slave! yes, a slave; there is much in the word, more than most men
are disposed to analyse. It may seem simple to you, but follow it to
its degraded depths-follow it to where it sows the seeds of sorrow,
and there you will find it spreading poison and death, uprooting all
that is good in nature. Worse than that, my child is a slave too. It
is that which makes the wrong more cruel, that mantles the polished
vice, that holds us in that fearful grasp by which we dare not seek
our rights.

"My mother, ah! yes, my mother"-Clotilda shakes her head in sorrow.
"How strange that, by her misfortune, all, all, is misfortune for
ever! from one generation to another, sinking each life down, down,
down, into misery and woe. How oft she clasped my hand and whispered
in my ear: 'If we could but have our rights.' And she, my mother,--as
by that sacred name I called her-was fair; fairer than those who
held her for a hideous purpose, made her existence loathsome to
herself, who knew the right but forced the wrong. She once had
rights, but was stripped of them; and once in slavery who can ask
that right be done?"

"What rights have you beyond these?" he interrupted, suddenly.
"There is mystery in what you have said, in what I have seen;
something I want to solve. The same ardent devotion, tenderness,
affection,--the same touching chasteness, that characterises
Franconia, assimilates in you. You are a slave, a menial-she is
courted and caressed by persons of rank and station. Heavens! here
is the curse confounding the flesh and blood of those in high
places, making slaves of their own kinsmen, crushing out the spirit
of life, rearing up those broken flowers whose heads droop with
shame. And you want your freedom?"

"For my child first," she replied, quickly: "I rest my hopes of her
in the future."

Maxwell hesitated for a moment, as if contemplating some plan for
her escape, ran his fingers through his hair again and again, then
rested his forehead in his hand, as the perspiration stood in heavy
drops upon it. "My child!" There was something inexpressibly
touching in the words of a mother ready to sacrifice her own
happiness for the freedom of her child. And yet an awful
responsibility hung over him; should he attempt to gain their
freedom, and fail in carrying out the project, notwithstanding he
was in a free country, the act might cost him his life. But there
was the mother, her pride beaming forth in every action, a wounded
spirit stung with the knowledge of being a slave, the remorse of her
suffering soul-the vicissitudes of that sin thus forced upon her.
The temptation became irresistible.

"You are English!"-northerners and Englishmen know what liberty is.

Negroes at the South have a very high opinion of Northern cleverness
in devising means of procuring their liberty. The Author here uses
the language employed by a slave girl who frequently implored aid to
devise some plan by which she would be enabled to make her escape.
Northerners could do great things for us, if they would but know us
as we are, study our feelings, cast aside selfish motives, and
sustain our rights!" Clotilda now commenced giving Maxwell a history
of her mother,--which, however, we must reserve for another chapter.
"And my mother gave me this!" she said, drawing from her pocket a
paper written over in Greek characters, but so defaced as to be
almost unintelligible. "Some day you will find a friend who will
secure your freedom through that," she would say. "But freedom-that
which is such a boon to us-is so much feared by others that you must
mark that friend cautiously, know him well, and be sure he will not
betray the liberty you attempt to gain." And she handed him the
defaced paper, telling him to put it in his pocket.

"And where is your mother?"

"There would be a store of balm in that, if I did but know. Her
beauty doomed her to a creature life, which, when she had worn out,
she was sold, as I may be, God knows how soon. Though far away from
me, she is my mother still, in all that recollection can make her;
her countenance seems like a wreath decorating our past
associations. Shrink not when I tell it, for few shrink at such
things now,--I saw her chained; I didn't think much of it then, for I
was too young. And she took me in her arms and kissed me, the tears
rolled down her cheeks; and she said-'Clotilda, Clotilda, farewell!
There is a world beyond this, a God who knows our hearts, who
records our sorrows;' and her image impressed me with feelings I
cannot banish. To look back upon it seems like a rough pilgrimage;
and then when I think of seeing her again my mind gets lost in
hopeless expectations"--

"You saw her chained?" interrupted Maxwell.

"Yes, even chained with strong irons. It need not surprise you.
Slavery is a crime; and they chain the innocent lest the wrong
should break forth upon themselves." And she raised her hands to her
face, shook her head, and laid Annette in the little bed at the foot
of her own.

What is it that in chaining a woman, whether she be black as ebony
or white as snow, degrades all the traits of the southerner's
character, which he would have the world think noble? It is fear!
The monster which the southerner sees by day, tolerates in his
silence, protects as part and parcel of a legal trade, only clothes
him with the disgrace that menials who make themselves mere fiends
are guilty of, Maxwell thought to himself.

"I will set you free, if it cost my life!" he exclaimed.

"Hush, hush!" rejoined Clotilda: "remember those wretches on the
plantation. They, through their ignorance, have learned to wield the
tyranny of petty power; they look upon us with suspicious eyes. They
know we are negroes (white negroes, who are despicable in their
eyes), and feeling that we are more favoured, their envy is excited.
They, with the hope of gaining favour, are first to disclose a
secret. Save my child first, and then save me"--

"I will save you first; rest assured, I will save you;" he
responded, shaking her hand, bidding her good night. On returning to
the mansion he found Marston seated at the table in the
drawing-room, in a meditative mood. Good night, my friend!" he
accosted him.

"Ah, good night!" was the sudden response.

"You seem cast down?"

"No!-all's not as it seems with a man in trouble. How misfortune
quickens our sense of right! O! how it unfolds political and moral
wrongs! how it purges the understanding, and turns the good of our
natures to thoughts of justice. But when the power to correct is
beyond our reach we feel the wrong most painfully," Marston coldly
replied.

"It never is too late to do good; my word for it, friend Marston,
good is always worth its services. I am young and may serve you yet;
rise above trouble, never let trifles trouble a man like you. The
world seems wagging pleasantly for you; everybody on the plantation
is happy; Lorenzo has gone into the world to distinguish himself;
grief should never lay its scalpel in your feelings. Remember the
motto-peace, pleasantry, and plenty; they are things which should
always dispel the foreshadowing of unhappiness," says Maxwell,
jocularly, taking a chair at Marston's request, and seating himself
by the table.

Marston declares such consolation to be refreshing, but too easily
conceived to effect his purpose. The ripest fruits of vice often
produce the best moral reflections: he feels convinced of this
truth; but here the consequences are entailed upon others. The
degradation is sunk too deep for recovery by him,--his reflections
are only a burden to him. The principle that moves him to atone is
crushed by the very perplexity of the law that compels him to do
wrong. "There's what goads me," he says: "it is the system, the
forced condition making one man merchandise, and giving another
power to continue him as such." He arises from the table, his face
flushed with excitement, and in silence paces the room to and fro
for several minutes. Every now and then he watches at the
window,--looks out towards the river, and again at the pine-woods
forming a belt in the background, as if he expected some one from
that direction. The serene scene without, calm and beautiful,
contrasting with the perplexity that surrounded him within,
brought the reality of the change which must soon take place in his
affairs more vividly to his mind.

"Your feelings have been stimulated and modified by education; they
are keenly sensitive to right,--to justice between man and man. Those
are the beautiful results of early instruction. New England
education! It founds a principle for doing good; it needs no
contingencies to rouse it to action. You can view slavery with the
unprejudiced eye of a philosopher. Listen to what I am about to say:
but a few months have passed since I thought myself a man of
affluence, and now nothing but the inroads of penury are upon me.
The cholera (that scourge of a southern plantation) is again
sweeping the district: I cannot expect to escape it, and I am in the
hands of a greater scourge than the cholera,--a slow death-broker. He
will take from you that which the cholera would not deign to touch:
he has no more conscience than a cotton-press," says Marston,
reclining back in his chair, and calling the negro waiter.

The word conscience fell upon Maxwell's ear with strange effect. He
had esteemed Marston according to his habits-not a good test when
society is so remiss of its duties: he could not reconcile the touch
of conscience in such a person, nor could he realise the impulse
through which some sudden event was working a moral regeneration in
his mind. There was something he struggled to keep from notice. The
season had been unpropitious, bad crops had resulted; the cholera
made its appearance, swept off many of the best negroes, spread
consternation, nearly suspended discipline and labour. One by one
his negroes fell victims to its ravages, until it became
imperatively necessary to remove the remainder to the pine-woods.

Families might be seen here and there making their little
preparations to leave for the hills: the direful scourge to them was
an evil spirit, sent as a visitation upon their bad deeds. This they
sincerely believe, coupling it with all the superstition their
ignorance gives rise to. A few miles from the mansion, among the
pines, rude camps are spread out, fires burn to absorb the malaria,
to war against mosquitoes, to cook the evening meal; while, up
lonely paths, ragged and forlorn-looking negroes are quietly
wending their way to take possession. The stranger might view this
forest bivouac as a picture of humble life pleasantly domiciled; but
it is one of those unfortunate scenes, fruitful of evil, which beset
the planter when he is least able to contend against them. Such
events develope the sin of an unrighteous institution, bring its
supporters to the portals of poverty, consign harmless hundreds to
the slave-marts.

In this instance, however, we must give Marston credit for all that
was good in his intentions, and separate him from the system.
Repentance, however produced, is valuable for its example, and if
too late for present utility, seldom fails to have an ultimate
influence. Thus it was with Marston; and now that all these
inevitable disasters were upon him, he resolved to be a father to
Annette and Nicholas,--those unfortunates whom law and custom had
hitherto compelled him to disown.

Drawing his chair close to Maxwell, he lighted a cigar, and resumed
the disclosure his feelings had apparently interrupted a few minutes
before. "Now, my good friend, all these things are upon me; there is
no escaping the issue. My people will soon be separated from me; my
old, faithful servants, Bob and Harry, will regret me, and if they
fall into the hands of a knave, will die thinking of the old
plantation. As for Harry, I have made him a preacher,--his knowledge
is wonderfully up on Scripture; he has demonstrated to me that
niggers are more than mortal, or transitory things. My conscience
was touched while listening to one of his sermons; and then, to
think how I had leased him to preach upon a neighbouring plantation,
just as a man would an ox to do a day's work! Planters paid me so
much per sermon, as if the gospel were merchandise, and he a mere
thing falsifying all my arguments against his knowledge of the Word
of God. Well, it makes me feel as if I were half buried in my own
degradation and blindness. And then, again, they are our property,
and are bestowed upon us by a legal-"

"If that be wrong," interrupted Maxwell, "you have no excuse for
continuing it."

"True! That's just what I was coming at. The evil in its broadest
expanse is there. We look calmly on the external objects of the
system without solving its internal grievances,--we build a right
upon the ruins of ancient wrongs, and we swathe our thoughts with
inconsistency that we may make the curse of a system invulnerable.
It is not that we cannot do good under a bad system, but that we
cannot ameliorate it, lest we weaken the foundation. And yet all
this seems as nothing when I recall a sin of greater magnitude-a sin
that is upon me-a hideous blot, goading my very soul, rising up
against me like a mountain, over which I can see no pass. Again the
impelling force of conscience incites me to make a desperate effort;
but conscience rebukes me for not preparing the way in time. I could
translate my feelings further, but, in doing so, the remedy seems
still further from me-"

"Is it ever too late to try a remedy-to make an effort to surmount
great impediments-to render justice to those who have suffered from
such acts?" inquired Maxwell, interrupting Marston as he proceeded.

"If I could do it without sacrificing my honour, without exposing
myself to the vengeance of the law. We are great sticklers for
constitutional law, while we care little for constitutional justice.
There is Clotilda; you see her, but you don't know her history: if
it were told it would resound through the broad expanse of our land.
Yes, it would disclose a wrong, perpetrated under the smiles of
liberty, against which the vengeance of high Heaven would be
invoked. I know the secret, and yet I dare not disclose it; the
curse handed down from her forefathers has been perpetuated by me.
She seems happy, and yet she is unhappy; the secret recesses of her
soul are poisoned. And what more natural? for, by some unlucky
incident, she has got an inkling of the foul means by which she was
made a slave. To him who knows the right, the wrong is most painful;
but I bought her of him whose trade it was to sell such flesh and
blood! And yet that does not relieve me from the curse: there's the
stain; it hangs upon me, it involves my inclinations, it gloats over
my downfall-"

"You bought her!" again interrupts Maxwell.

"True," rejoins the other, quickly, "'tis a trade well protected by
our democracy. Once bought, we cannot relieve ourselves by giving
them rights in conflict with the claims of creditors. Our will may
be good, but the will without the means falls hopeless. My heart
breaks under the knowledge that those children are mine. It is a sad
revelation to make,--sad in the eyes of heaven and earth. My
participation in wrong has proved sorrow to them: how can I look to
the pains and struggles they must endure in life, when stung with
the knowledge that I am the cause of it? I shall wither under the
torture of my own conscience. And there is even an interest about
them that makes my feelings bound joyfully when I recur them. Can it
be aught but the fruit of natural affection? I think not; and yet I
am compelled to disown them, and even to smother with falsehood the
rancour that might find a place in Franconia's bosom. Clotilda loves
Annette with a mother's fondness; but with all her fondness for her
child she dare not love me, nor I the child."

Maxwell suggests that his not having bought the child would
certainly give him the right to control his own flesh and blood: but
he knows little of slave law, and less of its customs. He, however,
was anxious to draw from Marston full particulars of the secret that
would disclose Clotilda's history, over which the partial exposition
had thrown the charm of mystery. Several times he was on the eve of
proffering his services to relieve the burden working upon Marston's
mind; but his sympathies were enlisted toward the two unfortunate
women, for whom he was ready to render good service, to relieve them
and their children. Again, he remembered how singularly sensitive
Southerners were on matters concerning the peculiar institution,
especially when approached by persons from abroad. Perhaps it was a
plot laid by Marston to ascertain his feelings on the subject, or,
under that peculiar jealousy of Southerners who live in this manner,
he might have discovered his interview with Clotilda, and, in
forming a plan to thwart his project, adopted this singular course
for disarming apprehensions.

At this stage of the proceedings a whispering noise was heard, as if
coming from another part of the room. They stopped at the moment,
looked round with surprise, but not seeing anything, resumed the
conversation.

"Of whom did you purchase?" inquired Maxwell, anxiously.

"One Silenus; a trader who trades in this quality of property only,
and has become rich by the traffic. He is associated with Anthony
Romescos, once a desperado on the Texan frontier. These two coveys
would sell their mossmates without a scruple, and think it no harm
so long as they turned a dime. They know every justice of the peace
from Texas to Fort M'Henry. Romescos is turned the desperado again,
shoots, kills, and otherwise commits fell deeds upon his neighbour's
negroes; he even threatens them with death when they approach him
for reparation. He snaps his fingers at law, lawyers, and judges:
slave law is moonshine to those who have no rights in common law-"

"And he escapes? Then you institute laws, and substitute custom to
make them null. It is a poor apology for a namesake. But do you
assert that in the freest and happiest country-a country that boasts
the observance of its statute laws-a man is privileged to shoot,
maim, and torture a fellow-being, and that public opinion fails to
bring him to justice?" ejaculated Maxwell.

"Yes," returns Marston, seriously; "it is no less shameful than
true. Three of my negroes has he killed very good-naturedly, and yet
I have no proof to convict him. Even were I to seek redress, it
would be against that prejudice which makes the rights of the
enslaved unpopular."

The trouble exists in making the man merchandise, reducing him to an
abject being, without the protection of common law. Presently the
tears began to flow down Marston's cheeks, as he unbuttoned his
shirt-collar with an air of restlessness, approached a desk that
stood in one corner of the room, and drew from it a somewhat defaced
bill of sale. There was something connected with that bit of paper,
which, apart from anything else, seemed to harass him most. "But a
minute before you entered I looked upon that paper," he spoke,
throwing it upon the table, "and thought how much trouble it had
brought me, how through it I had left a curse upon innocent life. I
paid fifteen hundred dollars for the souls and bodies of those two
women, creatures of sense, delicacy, and tenderness. But I am not a
bad man, after all. No, there are worse men than me in the world."

"Gather, gather, ye incubus of misfortune, bearing to me the light
of heaven, with which to see my sins. May it come to turn my heart
in the right way, to seek its retribution on the wrong!" Thus
concluding, Marston covers his face in his hands, and for several
minutes weeps like a child. Again rising from his seat, he throws
the paper on a table near an open window, and himself upon a couch
near by.

Maxwell attempts to quiet him by drawing his attention from the
subject. There is little use, however,--it is a terrible
conflict,--the conflict of conscience awakening to a sense of its
errors; the fate of regrets when it is too late to make amends.

While this was going on, a brawny hand reached into the window, and
quickly withdrew the paper from the table. Neither observed it.

And at the moment, Marston ejaculated, "I will! I will! let it cost
what it may. I will do justice to Clotilda and her child,--to Ellen
and her child; I will free them, send them into a free country to be
educated." In his excitement he forgot the bill of sale.

"Like enough you will!" responds a gruff voice; and a loud rap at
the hall-door followed. Dandy was summoned, opened the door, bowed
Romescos into the room. He pretends to be under the influence of
liquor, which he hopes will excuse his extraordinary familiarity at
such a late hour. Touching the hilt of his knife, he swaggers into
the presence of Marston, looks at him fixedly, impertinently demands
something to drink. He cares not what it be, waits for no ceremony,
tips the decanter, gulps his glass, and deliberately takes a seat.

The reader will perhaps detect the object of his presence; but,
beyond that, there is something deep and desperate in the appearance
of the man, rendering his familiarity exceedingly disagreeable. That
he should present himself at such an untimely hour was strange,
beyond Marston's comprehension. It was, indeed, most inopportune;
but knowing him, he feared him. He could not treat him with
indifference,--there was his connection with Graspum, his power over
the poor servile whites; he must be courteous-so, summoning his
suavity, he orders Dandy to wait upon him.

Romescos amuses himself with sundry rude expressions about the
etiquette of gentlemen,--their rights and associations,--the glorious
freedom of a glorious land. Not heeding Dandy's attention, he fills
another glass copiously, twirls it upon the table, eyes Marston, and
then Maxwell, playfully-drinks his beverage with the air of one
quite at home.

"Marston, old feller," he says, winking at Maxwell, "things don't
jibe so straight as they use't-do they? I wants a stave o'
conversation on matters o' business with ye to-morrow. It's a smart
little property arrangement; but I ain't in the right fix just now;
I can't make the marks straight so we can understand two and two. Ye
take, don't ye? Somethin' touching a genteel business with your fast
young nephew, Lorenzo. Caution to the wise." Romescos, making
several vain attempts, rises, laughing with a half-independent air,
puts his slouch hat on his head, staggers to the door, makes passes
at Dandy, who waits his egress, and bidding them good night,
disappears.






CHAPTER IX.

WHO IS SAFE AGAINST THE POWER?





THE cholera raging on Marston's plantation, had excited Graspum's
fears. His pecuniary interests were above every other
consideration-he knew no higher object than the accumulation of
wealth; and to ascertain the precise nature and extent of the malady
he had sent Romescos to reconnoitre.

Returning to the long-room at Graspum's slave-pen, we must introduce
the reader to scenes which take place on the night following that
upon which Romescos secured the bill of sale at Marston's mansion.

Around the table we have before described sit Graspum and some dozen
of his clan. Conspicuous among them is Dan Bengal, and Nath Nimrod,
whom we described as running into the room unceremoniously, holding
by the hair the head of a negro, and exulting over it as a prize of
much value. They are relating their adventures, speculating over the
prospects of trade, comparing notes on the result of making free
trash human property worth something! They all manifest the happiest
of feelings, have a language of their own, converse freely; at times
sprinkle their conversation with pointed oaths. They are conversant
with the business affairs of every planter in the State, know his
liabilities, the condition of his negroes, his hard cases, his bad
cases, his runaways, and his prime property. Their dilations on the
development of wenches, shades of colour, qualities of stock suited
to the various markets-from Richmond to New Orleans-disclose a
singular foresight into the article of poor human nature.

"There's nothing like pushing our kind of business, specially whin
ye gits it where ye can push profitably," speaks Bengal, his fiery
red eyes glaring over the table as he droops his head sluggishly,
and, sipping his whiskey, lets it drip over his beard upon his
bosom; "if 't warn't for Anthony's cunnin' we'd have a pesky deal of
crooked law to stumble through afore we'd get them rich uns upset."

My reader must know that southern law and justice for the poor
succumb to popular feeling in all slave atmospheres; and happy is
the fellow who can work his way through slavedom without being
dependent upon the one or brought under the influence of the other.

Graspum, in reply to Bengal, feels that gentlemen in the "nigger
business" should respect themselves. He well knows there exists not
the best feeling in the world between them and the more exclusive
aristocracy, whose feelings must inevitably be modified to suit the
democratic spirit of the age. He himself enjoys that most refined
society, which he asserts to be strong proof of the manner in which
democracy is working its way to distinction. Our business, he says,
hath so many avenues that it has become positively necessary that
some of them should be guarded by men of honour, dignity, and
irreproachable conduct. Now, he has sent Anthony Romescos to do some
watching on the sly, at Marston's plantation; but there is nothing
dishonourable in that, inasmuch as the victim is safe in his claws.
Contented with these considerations, Graspum puffs his cigar very
composedly. From slave nature, slave-seeking adventures, and the
intricacies of the human-property-market, they turn to the
discussion of state rights, of freedom in its broadest and most
practical sense. And, upon the principle of the greatest despot
being foremost to discuss what really constitutes freedom, which,
however, he always argues in an abstract sense, Nimrod was loudest
and most lavish in his praises of a protective government--a
government that would grant great good justice to the white man
only. It matters little to Nimrod which is the greater nigger; he
believes in the straight principles of right in the white man. It is
not so much how justice is carried out when menial beings form a
glorious merchandise; but it is the true essence of liberty, giving
men power to keep society all straight, to practice liberty very
liberally. "Ye see, now, Graspum," he quaintly remarks, as he takes
up the candle to light his cigar, "whatever ye do is right, so long
as the law gives a feller a right to do it. 'Tisn't a bit o' use to
think how a man can be too nice in his feelings when a hundred or
two's to be made on nigger property what's delicate, t'aint! A
feller feels sore once in a while, a' cos his conscience is a little
touchy now and then; but it won't do to give way to it-conscience
don't bring cash. When ye launches out in the nigger-trading
business ye must feel vengeance agin the brutes, and think how it's
only trade; how it's perfectly legal-and how it's encouraged by the
Governor's proclamations. Human natur's human natur'; and when ye
can turn a penny at it, sink all the in'ard inclinations. Just let
the shiners slide in, it don't matter a tenpence where ye got 'em.
Trade's everything! you might as well talk about patriotism among
crowned heads,--about the chivalry of commerce: cash makes
consequence, and them's what makes gentlemen, south."

They welcome the spirits, although it has already made them
soulless. The negro listens to a dialogue of singular import to
himself; his eyes glistened with interest, as one by one they
sported over the ignorance enforced upon the weak. One by one they
threw their slouch hats upon the floor, drew closer in conclave,
forming a grotesque picture of fiendish faces. "Now, gentlemen,"
Graspum deigns to say, after a moment's pause, motioning to the
decanter, "pass it along round when ye gets a turn about." He fills
his glass and drinks, as if drink were a necessary accompaniment of
the project before them. "This case of Marston's is a regular
plumper; there's a spec to be made in that stock of stuff; and them
bright bits of his own-they look like him-'ll make right smart
fancy. Ther' developing just in the right sort of way to be valuable
for market."

"There's movin' o' the shrewdest kind to be done there, Graspum!
Where's the dockerment what 'll make 'um property, eh?" interrupted
Nimrod, twisting the hair with which his face is covered into
fantastic points.

"Oh, my good fellows, public opinion's the dockerment; with the
bright side of public opinion! Public opinion whispers about
Clotilda: it says she looks so much like that niece of Marston's,
that you couldn't tell them apart. And they are like two pins,
gentlemen; but then one's property and t'other's anything but
property. One will bring something substantial in the market: I
wouldn't say much about the other. But there's pride in the whole
family, and where it's got into the niggers it's worth a few extra
dollars. The Marstons and Roveros don't think much of we dealers
when they don't want our money; but when they do we are cousins of
the right stripe. However, these ere little aristocratic notions
don't mount to much; they are bin generous blood-mixers, and now
they may wince over it-"

Graspum is interrupted again. Bengal has been analysing his logic,
and rises to dispute the logic of his arguments. He is ready to
stake his political faith, and all his common sense-of which he
never fails to boast-that mixing the blood of the two races destroys
the purity of the nigger, spiles the gauge of the market, detracts
from real plantation property, and will just upset the growin' of
young niggers. He is sure he knows just as much about the thing as
anybody else, has never missed his guess, although folks say he aint
no way clever at selection; and, rubbing his eyes after adjusting
the long black hair that hangs down over his shoulders, he folds his
arms with an independent air, and waits the rejoinder.

The dingy room breathes thick of deleterious fumes; a gloom hangs
over their meditations, deep and treacherous: it excites fear, not
of the men, but of the horrors of their trade. A dim light hangs
suspended from the ceiling: even the sickly shade contrasts
strangely with their black purpose.

"Variety of shade, my dear Bengal, is none of our business. If you
make a division you destroy the property and the principle. We don't
represent the South: if we did, my stars! how the abolitionists
would start up,--eh! Now, there's a right smart chance of big
aristocrat folks in the district, and they think something of their
niggers, and some are fools enough to think niggers have souls just
as white as we. That's where the thing don't strike our morals
alike. It's all right to let such folks represent us-that it is! It
tells down north."

"I goes in for that! It puts a polished face on the brown side of
things. That's the way I puts it on when I gets among the big 'uns
on 'Change. I talks to one, shakes hands with another, touches my
hat to the president of the bank; and then them what don't know
thinks how I do a little in the taking a corner of notes line!" "In
the same sly way that directors of banks do," interrupts a voice,
sullenly and slow. It was long Joe Morphet, the constable's sponge,
who did a little in the line of nigger trailing, and now and then
acted as a contingent of Graspum. Joe had, silently and with great
attention, listened to their consultations, expecting to get a hook
on at some point where his services would play at a profit; but it
all seemed beyond his comprehension-amounted to nothing.

"There's something in Joe, gentlemen! But our genteelest folks don't
alway do the genteelest things, arter all. Right-right! Joe's
right!" Graspum has suddenly comprehended Joe's logic, and brightens
up with the possession of a new idea, that at first was inclined to
get crosswise in his mind, which he has drilled in the minor details
of human nature rather than the political dignity of the state.
Joe's ideas are ranging over the necessity of keeping up a good
outside for the state; Graspum thinks only of keeping up the dignity
of himself. "Well, give in, fellers; Joe's right clever. He's got
head enough to get into Congress, and if polished up wouldn't make
the worst feller that ever was sent: he wouldn't, to my certain
knowledge. Joe's clever! What great men do with impunity little men
have no scruples in following; what the state tolerates, knaves may
play upon to their own advantage. To keep up the dignity of a slave
state, slave dealers must keep up dignity among themselves: the one
cannot live without the other. They must affect, and the state must
put on, the dignity; and northerners what aint gentlemen must be
taught to know that they aint gentlemen." This is the conclusion to
which Graspum has arrived on the maturest reflection of a few
minutes: it conforms with the opinion and dignity of
slaveocracy-must be right, else the glorious Union, with the
free-thinking north unfortunately attached, could never be
preserved. It's the nut of a glorious compact which the south only
must crack, and will crack. Graspum apologised for the thing having
escaped his memory so long. He remembered that southerners left no
stone unturned that could serve the policy of concentrating slave
power; and he remembered that it was equally necessary to keep an
eye to the feeling abroad. There were in America none but southern
nobles,--no affable gentlemen who could do the grace of polite
circles except themselves,--none who, through their bland manners,
could do more to repel the awful descriptions given of southern
society, nor who could not make strangers believe slaves were happy
mortals, happily created to live in all the happiness of slave life.
"There's nothing like putting our learned folks ahead-they're
polished down for the purpose, you see-and letting them represent us
when abroad; they puts a different sort of shine on things what our
institution makes profitable. They don't always set good examples at
home, but we can't control their tastes on small matters of that
kind: and then, what a valuable offset it is, just to have the power
of doing the free and easy gentleman, to be the brilliant companion,
to put on the smooth when you go among nobility what don't
understand the thing!" Graspum adds, with a cunning wink.

"Pooh! pooh! such talk don't jingle. You can't separate our
aristocracy from mistress-keeping. It's a matter of romance with
them,--a matter of romance, gentlemen, that's all. The south couldn't
live without romance, she couldn't!" adds Nimrod, stretching back in
his chair.

"And where did you get that broad idea from, Jakey? I kind o' likes
that sort of philosophy," adds another.

"Philosophy! I reckon how there is deep and strong philosophy in
that ar; but ye can't calc'late much on't when ye haint talents to
bring it out. That point where the soul comes in is a puzzler on
Yankees; but it takes our editors and parsons to put the arguments
where the Yankees can't demolish them. Read the Richmond--, my
grandmother of the day, if ye want to see the philosophy of niggers,
and their souls. That editor is a philosopher; the world's got to
learn his philosophy. Just take that preacher from New Jersey, what
preaches in All Saints; if he don't prove niggers aint no souls I'm
a Dutchman, and dead at that! He gives 'em broadside logic,
gentlemen; and if he hadn't been raised north he wouldn't bin so up
on niggers when he cum south," was the quick rejoinder of our
knowing expounder, who, looking Graspum in the face, demanded to
know if he was not correct. Graspum thinks it better to waste no
more time in words, but to get at the particular piece of business
for which they have been called together. He is a man of money,--a
man of trade, ever willing to admit the philosophy of the
man-market, but don't see the difference of honour between the
aristocrat who sells his bits in the market, and the honourable
dealer who gets but a commission for selling them. And there's
something about the parson who, forgetting the sanctity of his
calling, sanctifies everything pertaining to slavery. Conscience, he
admits, is a wonderful thing fixed somewhere about the heart, and,
in spite of all he can do, will trouble it once in a while.
Marston-poor Marston!-he declares to be foolishly troubled with it,
and it makes him commit grievous errors. And then, there's no
understandin' it, because Marston has a funny way of keeping it
under such a knotty-looking exterior. Graspum declares he had
nothing to do with the breaking out of the cholera, is very sorry
for it,--only wants his own, just like any other honest man. He kind
o' likes Marston, admits he is a sort of good fellow in his way;
mighty careless though, wouldn't cheat anybody if he knew it, and
never gave half a minute's thinking about how uncertain the world
was. But the cholera-a dire disease among niggers-has broke out in
all the fury of its ravages; and it makes him think of his sick
niggers and paying his debts. "You see, gentlemen-we are all
gentlemen here," Graspum continues,--"a man must pay the penalty of
his folly once in a while. It's the fate of great men as well as
smaller ones; all are liable to it. That isn't the thing, though; it
don't do to be chicken-hearted afore niggers, nor when yer dealing
in niggers, nor in any kind o' business what ye want to make coin
at. Marston 'll stick on that point, he will; see if he don't. His
feelins' are troubling him: he knows I've got the assignment; and if
he don't put them ar' white 'uns of his in the schedule, I'll snap
him up for fraud,--I will-"

The conversation is here interrupted by a loud rap at the door,
which is opened by the negro, who stands with his finger on the
latch. Romescos, in his slovenly garb, presents himself with an air
of self-assurance that marks the result of his enterprise. He is a
prominent feature in all Graspum's great operations; he is desperate
in serving his interests. Drawing a handkerchief from his pocket-it
is printed with the stars and stripes of freedom-he calls it a New
England rag, disdainfully denounces that area of unbelievers in
slaveocracy, wipes his blistered face with it, advances to the
table-every eye intently watching him-and pauses for breath.

"What success, Anthony? Tell us quickly," Graspum demands, extending
his hand nervously. "Anthony never fails! It's a fool who fails in
our business," was the reply, delivered with great unconcern, and
responded to with unanimous applause. A warrior returned from
victory was Anthony,--a victory of villainy recorded in heaven, where
the rewards will, at some day, be measured out with a just but awful
retribution.

The bosom of his shirt lays broadly open: one by one they shake his
hand, as he hastily unties the chequered cloth about his neck, pours
out his drink of whiskey, seats himself in a chair, and deliberately
places his feet upon the table. "Ther's nothin' like making a
triangle of oneself when ye wants to feel so ye can blow
comfortable," he says. "I done nothin' shorter than put all straight
at Marston's last night. It was science, ye see, gents; and I done
it up strictly according to science. A feller what aint cunnin', and
don't know the nice work o' the law, can't do nothin' in the way o'
science. It's just as you said"-addressing his remarks to Graspum,--
"Marston's slackin' out his conscience because he sees how things
are goin' down hill with him. If that old hoss cholera don't clar
off the nigger property, I'm no prophet. It'll carry 'em into glory;
and glory, I reckon, isn't what you calls good pay, eh, Graspum? I
overheard his intentions: he sees the black page before him; it
troubles the chicken part of his heart. Feels mighty meek and gentle
all at once; and, it's no lie, he begins to see sin in what he has
done; and to make repentance good he's goin' to shove off that nabob
stock of his, so the creditors can't lay paws upon it. Ye got to
spring; Marston 'll get ahead of ye if he don't, old feller. This
child 'll show him how he can't cum some o' them things while Squire
Hobble and I'm on hand." Thus quaintly he speaks, pulling the bill
of sale from a side-pocket, throwing it upon the table with an air
of satisfaction amounting to exultation. "Take that ar; put it where
ye can put yer finger on't when the 'mergency comes." And he smiles
to see how gratefully and anxiously Graspum receives it, reviews it,
re-reviews it,--how it excites the joy of his nature. He has no soul
beyond the love of gold, and the system of his bloody trade. It was
that fatal instrument, great in the atmosphere of ungrateful law,
bending some of nature's noblest beneath its seal of crimes. "It's
from Silenus to Marston; rather old, but just the thing! Ah, you're
a valuable fellow, Anthony." Mr. Graspum manifests his approbation
by certain smiles, grimaces, and shakes of the hand, while word by
word he reads it, as if eagerly relishing its worth. "It's a little
thing for a great purpose; it'll tell a tale in its time;" and he
puts the precious scrip safely in his pocket, and rubbing his hands
together, declares "that deserves a bumper!" They fill up at
Graspum's request, drink with social cheers, followed by a song from
Nimrod, who pitches his tune to the words, "Come, landlord, fill the
flowing bowl."

Nimrod finishes his song: Romescos takes the floor to tell a story
about the old judge what hung the nigger a'cos he didn't want to
spend his patience listening to the testimony, and adjourned the
court to go and take a drink at Sal Stiles's grocery. His
description of the court, its high jurisdiction, the dignity of the
squire what sits as judge, how he drinks the three
jurymen-freeholders-what are going to try a nigger, how they goes
out and takes three drinks when the case gets about half way
through, how the nigger winks and blinks when he sees the jury
drunk, and hears the judge say there's only two things he likes to
hang,--niggers and schoolmasters. But as it's no harm to kill
schoolmasters-speaking in a southern sense-so Romescos thinks the
squire who got the jury inebriated afore he sent the "nigger" to be
hung doesn't mean the least harm when he evinces an abhorrence to
the whole clan of schoolmaster trash. He turns to the old story of
doing everything by system; ends by describing his method of
drinking a whole jury. He has surprised Marston, got him on the hip,
where he can feather him or sciver him, and where things must be
done sly. Public opinion, he whispers, may set folks moving, and
then they'll all be down upon him like hawks after chickens. In his
mind, the feller what pulls first comes off first best-if the law
hounds are not too soon let loose! If they are, there will be a long
drag, a small cage for the flock, and very few birds with feathers
on. Romescos cares for nobody but the judge: he tells us how the
judge and he are right good cronies, and how it's telling a good
many dollars at the end of the year to keep on the best of terms
with him, always taking him to drink when they meet. The judge is a
wonderfully clever fellow, in Romescos' opinion; ranks among
first-class drinkers; can do most anything, from hanging a nigger to
clearing the fellow that killed the schoolmaster, and said he'd
clear a dozen in two two's, if they'd kill off ever so many of the
rubbish. It is well to make his favour a point of interest. The
company are become tired of this sort of cantation; they have heard
enough of high functionaries, know quite enough of judges:--such
things are in their line of business. Romescos must needs turn the
conversation. "Well, taking it how I can entertain ye to most
anything, I'll give ye a story on the secrets of how I used to run
off Ingin remnants of the old tribes. 'Taint but a few years ago, ye
know, when ther was a lot of Ingin and white, mixed stuff-some
called it beautiful-down in Beaufort district. It was temptin'
though, I reckon, and made a feller feel just as if he was runnin'
it off to sell, every time it come in his way. Ye see, most on't was
gal property, and that kind, ollers keeps the whole district in a
hubbub; everybody's offended, and there's so much delicacy about the
ladies what come in contact with it. Yes, gentlemen! the ladies-I
means the aristocracy's ladies-hate these copper-coloured Ingins as
they would female devils. It didn't do to offend the delicacy of our
ladies, ye see; so something must be done, but it was all for
charity's sake. Squire Hornblower and me fixes a plan a'tween us: it
was just the plan to do good for the town-we must always be kind, ye
know, and try to do good-and save the dear good ladies a great deal
of unnecessary pain.

"Now, the squire had law larnin', and I had cunnin'; and both put
together made the thing work to a point. The scheme worked so nicely
that we put twelve out of fifteen of 'em right into pocket-money in
less than three years-"

"Hold a second, Romescos; how did you play the game so adroitly,
when they were all members of families living in the town? You're a
remarkable fellow," Graspum interposes, stretching his arms, and
twisting his sturdy figure over the side of his chair.

"That's what I was coming at. Ye see, whenever ye makes white trash
what ain't slaved a nuisance, you makes it mightily unpopular; and
when folks is unpopular the nuisance is easily removed, especially
when ye can get pay for removing it. The law will be as tame as a
mouse-nobody 'll say nothin'? Ingin and white rubbish is just
alike-one's worth as little as t'other. Both's only fit to sell,
sir!-worthless for any other purpose. Ye see, gentlemen, I'm
something of a philosopher, and has strong faith in the doctrine of
our popular governor, who believes it better to sell all poor whites
into slavery. 'Tain't a free country where ye don't have the right
to sell folks what don't provide for number one. I likes to hear our
big folks talk so"-Anthony's face brightens-"'cause it gives a
feller a chance for a free speculation in them lank, lean rascals;
and, too, it would stop their rifle-shooting and corn-stealing-"

"You never try your hand at such hits-do you, Nathe?" Bengal
interrupts, his fore-finger poised on his nose.

"Now, Dan," Anthony quaintly replies, "none o' yer pointed
insinuations. 'Twouldn't be much harm if the varmin would only keep
its mouth shut along the road. But when the critturs ar' got
schoolmaster gumption it's mighty apt to get a feller into a
tarnation snarl. Schoolmaster gumption makes d-d bad niggers; and
there's why I say it's best to hang schoolmasters. It's dangerous,
'cos it larns the critturs to writin' a scrawl now and then; and,
unless ye knows just how much talent he's got, and can whitewash him
yaller, it's plaguy ticklish. When the brutes have larnin', and can
write a little, they won't stay sold when ye sell 'em-that is, I
mean, white riff-raff stuff; they ain't a bit like niggers and
Ingins. And there's just as much difference a'tween the human natur
of a white nigger and a poverty-bloated white as there is a'twixt
philosophy and water-melons."

"You're drawing a long bow, Anthony," interrupts Graspum, with a
suggestion that it were better to come to the point; and concludes
by saying: "We don't care sevenpence about the worthless whites all
over the State. They can't read nor write-except a few on 'em-and
everybody knows it wouldn't do to give them learning-that wouldn't
do! We want the way you cleared that nuisance out of Beaufort
district so quick-that's what we want to hear."

"Well, ye'h sees, it took some keen play, some sly play, some
dignity, and some talent; but the best thing of the whole was the
squire's honour. He and me, ye see, joined partners--that is, he gets
places for 'em away out o' town--you understand--places where I keeps
a couple of the very best nags that ever stepped turf. And then he
puts on the soft sauder, an' is so friendly to the critturs--gets 'em
to come out with him to where he will make 'um nice house servants,
and such things. He is good at planin', as all justices is, and
would time it to arrive at midnight. I, havin' got a start, has all
ready to meet him; so when he gives me the papers, I makes a bolt at
full speed, and has 'um nowhere afore they knows it. And then, when
they sees who it is, it don't do to make a fuss about it--don't! And
then, they're so handsome, it ain't no trouble finding a market for
'em down Memphis way. It only takes forty-eight hours--the way things
is done up by steam--from the time I clears the line until Timothy
Portman signs the bond-that's five per cent. for him-and Ned Sturm
does the swearin', and they're sold for a slap-up price--sent to
where there's no muttering about it. That's one way we does it; and
then, there's another. But, all in all, there's a right smart lot of
other ways that will work their way into a talented mind. And when a
feller gets the hang on it, and knows lawyer gumption, he can do it
up smooth. You must strap 'em down, chain 'em, look vengeance at
'em; and now and then, when the varmin will squeal, spite of all the
thrashin' ye can give 'em, box 'em up like rats, and put yer horses
like Jehu until ye cl'ar the State. The more ye scars 'em the
better-make 'em as whist as mice, and ye can run 'em through the
rail-road, and sell 'um just as easy.

"There was another way I used to do the thing-it was a sort of an
honourable way; but it used to take the talents of a senator to do
it up square, so the dignity didn't suffer. Then the gals got shy of
squire, 'cos them he got places for never cum back; and I know'd how
'twas best to leave two or three for a nest-egg. It was the way to
do, in case some green should raise a fuss. But connected with these
Ingin gals was one of the likleest yaller fellers that ever shined
on a stand. Thar' was about twelve hundred dollars in him, I saw it
just as straight, and felt it just as safe in my pocket; and then it
made a feller's eyes glisten afore it was got out of him. I tell you
what, boys, it's rather hard when ye comes to think on't." Anthony
pauses for a moment, sharpens his eloquence with another drop of
whiskey, and resumes his discourse. "The feller shined all outside,
but he hadn't head talents-though he was as cunnin' as a fox-and
every time the squire tried an experiment to get him out o'town, the
nigger would dodge like a wounded raccoon. 'Twarn't a bit of use for
the squire-so he just gin it up. Then I trys a hand, ye see, comes
the soft soap over him, in a Sam Slick kind of a way. I'se a private
gentleman, and gets the fellers round to call me a sort of an
aristocrat. Doing this 'ere makes me a nabob in the town-another
time I'm from New York, and has monstrous letters of introduction to
the squire. Then I goes among the niggers and comes it over their
stupid; tells 'em how I'm an abolitionist in a kind of secret
way-gets their confidence. And then I larns a right smart deal of
sayings from the Bible-a nigger's curious on Christianity, ye
see-and it makes him think ye belong to that school, sartin! All the
deviltry in his black natur' 'll cum out then; and he'll do just
what ye tells him. So, ye see, I just draws the pious over him, and
then-like all niggers-I gets him to jine in what he calculates to be
a nice little bit of roguery-running off."

Graspum becomes interested in the fine qualities of the prospective
property, and must needs ask if he is bright and trim.

"Bright! I reckon he warn't nothin' else in a money sense-brighter
nor most niggers, but mighty Inginy. Had the fierce of one and the
cunnin' of t'other. Tom Pridgeon and me has an understandin' about
the thing; and Tom's such a ripper for tradin' in nigger property-he
is about the only devil niggers can imagine; and they delight to
play tricks on Tom. Well, the nigger and me's good friends, right to
the point; a good trick is to be played off on Tom, who buys the
nigger in confidence; the nigger is to run off when he gets to
Savannah, and Tom is to be indicted for running off 'free niggers.'
I'se a great Christian, and joins heart and hand with the darkey; we
takes our walks together, reads together, prays together. And then
'tain't long afore I becomes just the best white man in his
estimation. Knowing when Tom makes up his gang, I proposes a walk in
the grove to the nigger. 'Thank ye, sir,' says he, in an Ingin kind
of way, and out we goes, sits down, talks pious, sings hymns, and
waits to see the rascally nigger-trader come along. Presently Tom
makes his appearance, with a right smart lot of extra prime
property. The nigger and me marches down the road just like master
and servant, and stops just when we meets Tom. You'd laughed to see
Tom and me do the stranger, 'Well, mister,' says I, 'how's trade in
your line?-there's mighty good prices for cotton just now; an' I
'spose 't keeps the market stiff up in your line!'"

'Well, no,' says Tom: 'a feller can turn a good penny in the way o'
fancy articles, just now; but 'tain't the time for prime
plantation-stock. Planters are all buying, and breeders down
Virginia way won't give a feller a chance to make a shaving. It
drives a feller hard up, ye see, and forces more business in running
the free 'uns.'

'Why, stranger! what on 'arth do you mean by that 'ar;-wouldn't ye
get straightened if you'd git catched at that business?'

'Oh, nothing, nothing! I forgot what I was saying,' says Tom, just
as if he was scared at what he had let slip.

'I say, trader, ye got the brightest assortment of property thar' I
seen for many a day: you don't call them gals slaves, do you? Down
where I cum from, our folks wouldn't know 'em from white folks.' I
tell you, boys, he had some bits that would o' made yer heart cum
straight up.

'But I say, mister, I kind 'a like yer horse property-somehow he's
full blood,' says I.

'Yes,' says Tom; 'he's one o' the best critturs to drive niggers
with that ye ever did see; and he's beat the best horse on the
Columbia course, twice.'

'Well, now; seein' how I likes the animal, about how much do ye'h
set him at?' says I.

'Well! can't part with the nag nohow; seems as if he knowed a
nigger, and understands the business right up.'

'But, you see, I'se got a bit of nigger property here what ye'h
don't pick up every day for the Memphis trade,' says I, looking at
the feller, who played his part right up to the hilt.

'Well, I don't mind strikin' a trade,' says Tom: 'but you see my
nag's worth a little risin' a thousand dollars.'

'I don't doubt that, stranger,' says I: 'but ye'h sees this 'ar
piece of property o' mine is worth more 'an twelve hundred. You
don't come across such a looking chap every day. There's a spec. in
him, in any market down south,' says I; and I puts my hands on the
nigger and makes him show out, just as if Tom and me was striking
for a trade. So Tom examines him, as if he was green in nigger
business, and he and me strangers just come from t'other side of
moon shadows.

'Well, now,' says Tom, 'it's mighty likely property, and seeing it's
you, jist name a trade.'

'Put down the nag and two hundred dollars, and I'll sign the bill of
sale, for a swap.' And Tom plants down the dimes, and takes the
nigger. When Tom gets him to Savannah, he plunks him into jail, and
keeps him locked up in a cell until he is ready to start south. I
promises the nigger half of the spiles; but I slips an X

Ten dollars. into his hand, and promises him the rest when he gets
back-when he does! And ye see how Tom just tryced him up to the
cross and put thirty-nine to his bare skin when he talked about
being free, in Savannah; and gagged him when he got his Ingin up.
Warn't that doing the thing up slick, fellers?" exclaimed Romescos,
chuckling over the sport.

"It warn't nothing else. That's what I calls catching a nigger in
his own trap," said one. "That's sarvin' him right; I go for sellin'
all niggers and Ingins," said another. "Free niggers have no souls,
and are impediments to personal rights in a free country," said a
third.

"Ye'h see, there's such an infernal lot of loose corners about our
business, that it takes a feller what has got a big head to do all
the things smooth, in a legal way; and it's so profitable all round
that it kind o' tempts a feller, once in a while, to do things he
don't feel just right in; but then a glass of old monongahela brings
ye'h all straight in yer feelins again, a'ter a few minutes," said
Romescos.

"It's an amusing business; a man's got to have nerve and maxim, if
he wants to make a fortune at it. But-now, gentlemen, we'll take
another round," said Graspum, stopping short. "Anthony, tell us how
you work it when you want to run a free nigger down Maryland way."

"There ain't no trouble about that," replied Romescos, quickly. "You
see," he continued, squinting his eye, and holding his glass between
his face and the light. "Shut out all hope first, and then prime
legal gentlemen along the road, and yer sartin to make safe
business. I has chaps what keeps their eye on all the free bits, and
makes good fellers with 'em; niggers think they'r the right stripe
friends; and then they gives 'em jobs once in a while, and tobacco,
and whiskey. So when I gets all fixed for a run, some on 'm gets the
nigger into a sly spot, and then we pounces upon him like a hawk on
a chicken-gags him, and screws him up in the chains, head and
feet,--boxes him up, too, and drives him like lightning until I meets
Tilman at the cross-roads; and then I just has a document

"A forged bill of sale, all ready, which I gives to Till, and he
puts his nags in-a pair what can take the road from anything
about-and the way he drives, just to make the nigger forget where
he's going, and think he's riding in a balloon on his way to glory.
Just afore Til. gets to the boat, ye see, he takes the headchains
off-so the delicate-hearted passengers won't let their feelins get
kind-a out o' sorts. Once in a while the nigger makes a blubber
about being free, to the captain,--and if he's fool enough t' take
any notice on't then there's a fuss; but that's just the easiest
thing to get over, if ye only know the squire, and how to manage
him. You must know the pintes of the law, and ye must do the clean
thing in the 'tin' way with the squire; and then ye can cut 'em
right off by makin' t'other pintes make 'em mean nothing. Once in a
while t'll do to make the nigger a criminal, and then there's no
trouble in't, 'cos ye can ollers git the swearin' done cheap. Old
Captain Smith used to get himself into a scrape a heap o' times by
listenin' to free nigger stories, till he gets sick and would kick
every nigger what came to him about being free. He takes the law in
his hands with a nigger o' mine once, and hands him over to a city
policeman as soon as we lands. He didn't understand the thing, ye
see, and I jist puts an Ten dollars into the pole's hand, what he
takes the hint at. 'Now, ye'll take good care on the feller," says
I, giving him a wink. "And he just keeps broad off from the old
hard-faced mayor, and runs up to the squire's, who commits him on
his own committimus. Then I gets Bob Blanker to stand 'all right'
with the squire, who's got all the say in the matter, when it's done
so. I cuts like lightenin' on to far down Mississippi, and there
gets Sam Slang, just one o' the keenest fellers in that line, about.
Sam's a hotel-keeper all at once, and I gets him up afore the
Mississippi squire; and as Sam don't think much about the swearin'
and the squire ain't particular, so he makes a five: we proves
straight off how the crittur's Sam's runaway, gets the dockerment
and sends to Bob Blanker, who puts a blinder on the squire's eye,
and gets an order to the old jailor, who must give him up, when he
sees the squire's order. You see, it's larnin' the secret, that's
the thing, and the difference between common law and nigger law; and
the way to work the matter so the squire will have it all in his own
fingers, and don't let the old judge get a pick. Squire makes it
square, hands the nigger over to Bob, Bob puts fifty cuts on his
hide, makes him as clever as a kitten, and ships him off down south
afore he has time to wink. Then, ye sees, I goes back as independent
as a senator from Arkansas, and sues Captain Smith for damages in
detainin' the property, and I makes him pay a right round sum, what
larns him never to try that agin."

Thus Romescos concludes the details of his nefarious trade, amid
cheers and bravos. The party are in ecstasies, evincing a singular
merriment at the issue. There is nothing like liberty--liberty to do
what you please, to turn freedom into barbarity! They gloat over the
privileges of a free country; and, as Romescos recounts each
proceeding,--tracing it into the lowest depths of human villainy,
they sing songs to right, justice, freedom-they praise the bounties
of a great country. How different is the picture below! Beneath this
plotting conclave, devising schemes to defraud human nature of its
rights, to bring poverty and disgrace upon happy families-all in
accordance with the law-are chained in narrow cells poor mortals,
hoping for an end to their dreary existence, pining under the weight
of pinions dashing their very souls into endless despair. A tale of
freedom is being told above, but their chains of death clank in
solemn music as the midnight revelry sports with the very agony of
their sorrows. Oh! who has made their lives a wanton jest?-can it be
the will of heaven, or is it the birthright of a downtrodden race?
They look for to-morrow, hope reverberates one happy thought, it may
bring some tidings of joy; but again they sink, as that endless
gloom rises before them. Hope fades from their feelings, from the
bleeding heart for which compassion is dead. The tyrant's heart is
of stone; what cares he for their supplications, their cries, their
pleadings to heaven; such things have no dollars for him!

Arranging the preliminaries necessary for proceeding with Marston's
affairs, they agreed to the plans, received orders from Graspum in
reference to their proceedings on the following day, and retired to
their homes, singing praises to great good laws, and the freedom of
a free country.






CHAPTER X.

ANOTHER SHADE OF THE PICTURE.





WHILE the proceedings we have detailed in the foregoing chapter were
progressing at Graspum's slave-pen, a different phase of the system
was being discussed by several persons who had assembled at the
house of Deacon Rosebrook. Rumour had been busy spreading its
many-sided tales about Marston-his difficulties, his connection with
Graspum, his sudden downfall. All agreed that Marston was a
noble-minded fellow, generous to a fault-generous in his worst
errors; and, like many other southerners, who meant well, though
personally kind to his slaves, never set a good example in his own
person. Religion was indispensably necessary to preserve submission;
and, with a view to that end, he had made the Church a means of
producing it.

Now, if the southerner resorted to the Church in the purity of
Christian motives, he would merit that praise which many are so
willing to bestow. Or, if Christianity were embraced by the
southerner with heartfelt purity and faith, it would undoubtedly
have a beneficial influence, elevate the character of the slave,
promote kindly feelings between him and his master, and ultimately
prove profitable to both. But where Christianity, used by
irreligious persons, whose very acts destroy the vitality of the
means, is made the medium of enforcing superstition, and of debasing
the mind of the person it degrades into submission, its application
becomes nothing less than criminal. It is criminal because it brings
true religion into contempt, perverts Christianity-makes it a
mockery, and gives to the degraded whites of the South a plea for
discarding its precepts. Religion-were it not used as a mechanical
agency-would elevate the degraded white population of the South;
they would, through its influence, become valuable citizens.

These remarks have been forced upon us by observation. Frequently
have we lamented its application, and grieved that its holy mission
were made to serve the vilest purposes in a land of liberty, of
Christian love. Religion a means of degrading the masses-a
subservient agent! It is so, nevertheless; and men use it whose only
desire it is to make it serve a property interest-the interest of
making men, women, and children, more valuable in the market. God
ordained it for a higher purpose,--man applies it for his benefit in
the man-market. Hence, where the means for exercising the mind upon
the right is forbidden-where ignorance becomes the necessary part of
the maintenance of a system, and religion is applied to that end, it
becomes farcical; and while it must combine all the imperfections of
the performer, necessarily tends to confine the ignorance of those
it seeks to degrade, within the narrowest boundary. There are
different ways of destroying the rights of different classes; and as
many different ways, after they are destroyed, of wiping out the
knowledge of their ever having had rights. But, we regret to say,
that most resorted to by the South, in the face of civilisation, is
the Holy Scriptures, which are made the medium of blotting out all
knowledge of the rights a people once possessed. The wrong-doer thus
fears the result of natural laws; if they be allowed to produce
results through the cultivation of a slave's mind, such may prove
fatal to his immediate interests. And to maintain a system which is
based on force, the southern minister of the gospel is doubly
culpable in the sight of heaven; for while he stimulates ignorance
by degrading the man, he mystifies the Word of God, that he may
remain for ever and ever degraded.

What a deplorable process of stealing-nay, gently taking away the
knowledge which an all-wise Providence has given to man as his
inheritance; how it reduces his natural immunities to sensual
misery! And, too, it forbids all legitimate influences that could
possibly give the menial a link to elevation, to the formation of a
society of his own. We would fain shrink from such a system of
debasing mankind-even more, from the hideous crimes of those who
would make Scripture the means to such an end. And yet, the Church
defender of slavery-the Christian little one-his neck-cloth as white
as the crimes he defends are black-must distinguish his arguments;
and that the world may not suspect his devotion, his honesty, his
serious intention, he points us to the many blessings of the
plantation-service.

Heavenly divinity! Let us have faith in the little ones sent to
teach it; they tell us slavery enforces Christianity! The management
of ignorance under the direction of ministers of the gospel is
certainly becoming well-defined; while statesmen more energetically
legalise it. The one devises, the other carries out a law to make
man ignorant of everything but labour. But while the statesman
moulds the theory, the preacher manufactures Scripture texts, that
the menial may believe God has ordained him the pliable victim.

Under the apparent necessity of the slave world, Marston had
regularly paid Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy for preaching to his
property on Sundays; and to the requisite end the good Elder felt
himself in duty bound to inculcate humility in all things that would
promote obedience to a master's will. Of course, one sermon was
quite sufficient; and this the credulous property had listened to
for more than three years. The effect was entirely satisfactory, the
result being that the honest property were really impressed with a
belief, that to evince Christian fortitude under suffering and
punishment was the best means of cleansing themselves of the sins
they were born to. This formality was misnamed Christianity--it was!
And through the force of this one sermon the Elder became indolent;
and indolence led him to its natural yoke-fellow-intemperance. His
indulgent mood, such as we have described him enjoying in a previous
chapter, became too frequent, leading to serious annoyances. They
had been especially serious for Marston, whom they placed in an
awkward situation before his property, and he resolved to tolerate
them no longer. Probably this resolution was hastened by the sudden
discovery of Harry's singular knowledge of Scripture; be that as it
may, the only difficulty in the way was to know if Harry could be so
trained, that he would preach the "right stripe" doctrine. This,
however, was soon settled, and Marston not only suspended his
engagement with the Elder, but entered into a contract with the
neighbouring planters, by the terms of which Harry will fill their
pulpit, and preach extempore--the Elder has brought written sermons
into contempt with Harry--at a stipulated price per Sunday. In this
new avocation-this leap from the plantation to the pulpit, Harry, as
a piece of property, became extremely valuable; while, through the
charm of his new black coat, he rose a great man in the estimation
of the common property. Here was a valuable incentive of submission,
a lesson for all bad niggers, a chance for them to improve under the
peculiar institution. It proved to niggerdom what a good nigger
could be if he only fear God and obey his master in all things.

Here was proof that a nigger could be something more than a nigger,
in spite of southern philosophy. The Elder-good, pious man that he
was-found himself out of pocket and out of preaching. Thrown upon
the resources of his ingenuity, he had, in order to save the
dictates of his conscience, while taking advantage of the many
opportunities of making money afforded by the peculiar institution,
entered upon another branch of business, having for its object the
advancement of humanity. He resolved to go forth purchasing the sick
and the dying; to reclaim sinking humanity and make it marketable.

But, before describing the vicissitudes through which Elder
Pemberton Praiseworthy passes in his new mission of humanity, we
must introduce the reader to the precincts of a neat little villa,
situated at the outskirts of the city of C--. It is a small cottage
surrounded with verandas and trellis-work, over which are creeping
numerous woodbines and multafloras, spreading their fragrant
blossoms, giving it an air of sequestered beauty. An arbour of
grapevines extends from a little portico at the front to a wicker
fence that separates the embankment of a well-arranged garden, in
which are pots of rare plants, beds and walks decorated with
flowers, presenting great care and taste. A few paces in the rear of
the cottage are several "negro cabins" nicely white-washed without,
and an air of cheerfulness and comfort reigning within. The house-
servants are trimly dressed; they look and act as if their thoughts
and affections were with "mas'r and missus." Their white aprons and
clean bright frocks-some bombazine, and some gingham-give them an
appearance of exactness, which, whether it be voluntary or force of
discipline, bears evidence of attention in the slave, and
encouragement on the part of the master. This is the Villa of Deacon
Rosebrook; they call him deacon, by courtesy; in the same sense that
Georgia majors and South Carolina generals are honoured with those
far-famed titles which so distinguish them when abroad. Perhaps we
should be doing the deacon no more than justice if we were to admit
that he had preached in very respectable spheres; but, feeling that
he was wanting in the purity of divine love-that he could not do
justice to his conscience while setting forth teachings he did not
follow, he laid the profession aside for the more genial
associations of plantation life. Indeed, he was what many called a
very easy backslider; and at times was recognised by the somewhat
singular soubriquet of Deacon Pious-proof. But he was kind to his
slaves, and had projected a system singularly at variance with that
of his neighbours-a system of mildness, amelioration, freedom.

His plantation, a small one, some few miles from the Villa,
presented the same neatness and comfort, the same cheerfulness among
the negroes, and the same kindly feeling between master and slave,
which characterised the Villa.

We enter a neatly-furnished parlour, where the deacon and a friend
are seated on a sofa; various pictures are suspended from the
wall,--everything betokens New England neatness. The old-fashioned
dog-irons and fender are polished to exquisite brightness, a
Brussels carpet spreads the floor, a bright surbase encircles the
room; upon the flossy hearth-rug lies crouched the little canine
pet, which Aunt Dolly has washed to snowy whiteness. Aunt Dolly
enters the room with a low curtsy, gently raises the poodle, then
lays him down as carefully as if he were an heir to the estate.
Master is happy, "missus" is happy, and Aunt Dolly is happy; and the
large bookcase, filled with well-selected volumes, adds to the air
of contentment everywhere apparent. In a niche stands a large
pier-table, upon which are sundry volumes with gilt edges, nets of
cross-work, porcelain ornaments, and card-cases inlaid with mosaic.
Antique tables with massive carved feet, in imitation of lions'
paws, chairs of curious patterns, reclines and ottomans of softest
material, and covered with satin damask, are arranged round the room
in harmony and good taste.

"Now, Mr. Scranton," the deacon says to his friend, who is a tall,
prim, sedate-looking man, apparently about forty, "I pity Marston; I
pity him because he is a noble-hearted fellow. But, after all, this
whispering about the city may be only mother Rumour distributing her
false tales. Let us hope it is all rumour and scandal. Come, tell
me-what do you think of our negroes?"

"Nigger character has not changed a bit in my mind, since I came
south. Inferior race of mortals, sir!-without principles, and fit
only for service and submission. A southern man knows their
composition, but it takes a northern to study the philosophy-it
does," replies Mr. Scranton, running his left hand over his
forehead, and then his right over the crown of his head, as if to
cover a bald spot with the scanty remnant of hair that projected
from the sides.

The deacon smiles at the quaint reply. He knows Mr. Scranton's
northern tenacity, and begs to differ with him. "You are ultra, a
little ultra, in all things, Mr. Scranton. I fear it is that,
carried out in morals as well as politics, that is fast reducing our
system to degradation and tyranny. You northern gentlemen have a
sort of pedantic solicitude for our rights, but you underrate our
feelings upon the slavery question. I'm one among the few
southerners who hold what are considered strange views: we are
subjected to ridicule for our views; but it is only by those who see
nothing but servitude in the negro,--nothing but dollars and cents in
the institution of slavery."

Mr. Scranton is struck with astonishment, interrupts the argument by
insisting upon the great superiority of the gentlemen whites, and
the Bible philosophy which he can bring to sustain his argument.

"Stop one moment, my philosophic friend," the deacon interposes,
earnestly. "Upon that you northerners who come out here to sustain
the cause of slavery for the south, all make fools of yourselves.
This continual reasoning upon Bible philosophy has lost its life,
funeral dirges have been played over it, the instruments are worn
out. And yet, the subject of the philosophy lives,--he belies it with
his physical vigour and moral action. We doubt the sincerity of
northerners; we have reasons for so doing; they know little of the
negro, and care less. Instead of assisting southerners who are
inclined to do justice to the wretch-to be his friend-to improve his
condition-to protect him against a tyrant's wrong, you bring us into
contempt by your proclaiming virtue over the vice we acknowledge
belongs to the institution. We know its defects-we fear them; but,
in the name of heaven, do not defend them at the cost of virtue,
truth, honesty. Do not debase us by proclaiming its glories over our
heads;-do not take advantage of us by attempting to make wrong
right." The deacon's feelings have become earnest; his face glows
with animation.

Mr. Scranton seems discomfited. "That's just like all you
southerners: you never appreciate anything we do for you. What is
the good of our love, if you always doubt it?"

"Such love!" says the deacon, with a sarcastic curl on his lip.
"It's cotton-bag love, as full of self as a pressed bale-"

"But, deacon; you're getting up on the question."

"Up as high as northern sincerity is low. Nothing personal," is the
cool rejoinder.

Mr. Scranton inquires very seriously-wishing it particularly to be
understood that he is not a fighting-man-if Deacon Rosebrook
considers all northerners white-washed, ready to deceive through the
dim shadows of self. The deacon's frank and manly opinion of
northern editors and preachers disturbs Scranton's serious
philosophy. "Cotton-bag love!" there's something in it, and contempt
at the bottom, he declares within himself. And he gives a serious
look, as much as to say-"go on."

"I do! He who maketh right, what those most interested in know to be
wrong, cherishes a bad motive. When a philosopher teaches doctrines
that become doubtful in their ultraness, the weakness carries the
insincerity,--the effort becomes stagnant. Never sell yourself to any
class of evils for popularity's sake. If you attempt it you mistake
the end, and sell yourself to the obscurity of a political
trickster, flatttered by a few, believed by none."

"Deacon! a little more moderate. Give us credit for the good we do.
Don't get excited, don't. These are ticklish times, and we
northerners are quick to observe-"

"Yes, when it will turn a penny on a nigger or a bale of cotton."

"Allow me; one minute if you please!" returned Scranton, with a
nasal twang peculiar to his class, as he began to work himself up
into a declamatory attitude. "You southerners don't understand what
a force them northern abolitionists are bringing against you; and
you know how slow you are to do things, and to let your property all
go to waste while you might make a good speculation on it. There's
just the difference of things: we study political economy so as to
apply it to trade and such like; you let things go to waste, just
thinking over it. And, you see, it's our nature to be restless and
searching out the best avenues for developing trade. Why, deacon,
your political philosophy would die out if the New Englander didn't
edit your papers and keep your nigger principles straight."

"Nigger principles straight! Ah, indeed! Only another evidence of
that cotton bag love that has caused the banns of matrimony to be
published between tyrants who disgrace us and northern speculators.
The book-publisher-poor servile tool-fears to publish Mrs. Johnson's
book, lest it should contain something to offend Mrs. Colonel
Sportington, at the south. Mr. Stevens, the grocer, dare not put his
vote into the ballot-box for somebody, because he fears one of his
customers at the south will hear of it. Parson Munson dare not speak
what he thinks in a New England village, because Mrs. Bruce and
Deacon Donaldson have yearly interests in slaves at the south; and
old Mattock, the boot-maker, thinks it aint right for niggers to be
in church with white folks, and declares, if they do go, they should
sit away back in one corner, up stairs. He thinks about the
combination that brings wealth, old age, and the grave, into one
vortex,--feels little misgiving upon humanity, but loves the union,
and wants nothing said about niggers. We understand what it all
means, Mr. Scranton; and we can credit it for what it's worth,
without making any account for its sincerity and independence. I am
one among the few who go for educating the negroes, and in that
education to cultivate affections between slave and master, to make
encouragement perform the part of discipline, and inspire energy
through proper rewards."

"What!-educate a nigger! These are pretty principles for a
southerner to maintain! Why, sir, if such doctrines were advocated
in the body politic they would be incendiary to southern
institutions. Just educate the niggers, and I wouldn't be an editor
in the south two days. You'd see me tramping, bag and baggage, for
the north, much as I dislike it! It would never do to educate such a
miserable set of wretches as they are. You may depend what I say is
true, sir. Their condition is perfectly hopeless at the north, and
the more you try to teach them, the greater nuisance they become."

"Now, my good northern friend, not so fast, if you please; I can see
the evil of all this, and so can you, if you will but study the
negro's character a little deeper. The menial man who has passed
through generations of oppression, and whose life and soul are
blotted from the right of manhood, is sensitive of the power that
crushes him. He has been robbed of the means of elevating himself by
those who now accuse him of the crime of degradation: and, wherever
the chance is afforded him of elevation, as that increases so does a
tenacious knowledge of his rights; yet, he feels the prejudice that
cuts and slights him in his progress, that charges him with the
impudence of a negro, that calls his attempts to be a man mere
pompous foolery."

"And it is so! To see a nigger setting himself up among white
folks-it's perfectly ridiculous!"

"Mark me, Mr. Scranton: there's where you northerners mistake
yourselves. The negro seldom desires to mix with whites, and I hold
it better they should keep together; but that two races cannot live
together without the one enslaving the other is a fallacy popular
only with those who will not see the future, and obstinately refuse
to review the past. You must lessen your delicate sensibilities; and
when you make them less painful to the man of colour at the north,
believe me, the south will respond to the feeling. Experience has
changed my feelings,--experience has been my teacher. I have based
my new system upon experience; and its working justifies me in all I
have said. Let us set about extracting the poison from our
institutions, instead of losing ourselves in contemplating an
abstract theory for its government."

"Remember, deacon, men are not all born to see alike. There are
rights and privileges belonging to the southerner: he holds the
trade in men right, and he would see the Union sundered to atoms
before he would permit the intervention of the federal government on
that subject," Mr. Scranton seriously remarks, placing his two
thumbs in the armpits of his vest, and assuming an air of
confidence, as if to say, "I shall outsouthern the southerner yet, I
shall."

"That's just the point upon which all the villainy of our
institution rests: the simple word man!-man a progressive being; man
a chattel,--a thing upon which the sordid appetite of every wretch
may feed. Why cannot Africa give up men? She has been the victim of
Christendom-her flesh and blood have served its traffic, have
enriched its coffers, and even built its churches; but like a
ferocious wolf that preys upon the fold in spite of watchers, she
yet steals Afric's bleeding victims, and frowns upon them because
they are not white, nor live as white men live."

"Mercy on me!" says Mr. Scranton, with a sigh, "you can't ameliorate
the system as it stands: that's out of the question. Begin to loosen
the props, and the whole fabric will tumble down. And then, niggers
won't be encouraged to work at a price for their labour; and how are
you going to get along in this climate, and with such an enormous
population of vagabonds?"

"Remember, Mr. Scranton," ejaculated the deacon, "there's where you
mistake the man in the negro; and through these arguments, set forth
in your journal, we suffer. You must have contracted them by
association with bad slave-owners. Mark ye! the negro has been sunk
to the depths where we yet curse him; and is it right that we should
keep him cursed?-to say nothing of the semi-barbarous position in
which it finds our poor whites. He feels that his curse is for
life-time; his hopes vibrate with its knowledge, and through it he
falls from that holy inspiration that could make him a man, enjoying
manhood's rights. Would not our energy yield itself a sacrifice to
the same sacrificer? Had we been loaded with chains of tyranny, what
would have been our condition? Would not that passion which has led
the Saxon on to conquest, and spread his energy through the western
world, have yielded when he saw the last shadow of hope die out, and
realised that his degradation was for life-time? Would not the
yearnings of such a consummation have recoiled to blast every action
of the being who found himself a chattel? And yet this very chattel,
thus yoked in death, toils on in doubts and fears, in humbleness and
submission, with unrequited fortitude and affection. And still all
is doubted that he does, even crushed in the prejudice against his
colour!"

"Well, deacon, you perfectly startle me, to hear a southerner talk
that way at the south. If you keep on, you'll soon have an abolition
society without sending north for it."

"That's just what I want. I want our southerners to look upon the
matter properly, and to take such steps as will set us right in the
eyes of the world. Humanity is progressing with rapid
strides-slavery cannot exist before it! It must fall; and we should
prepare to meet it, and not be so ungrateful, at least, that we
cannot reflect upon its worth, and give merit to whom merit is due."
Thus were presented the north and south; the former loses her
interests in humanity by seeking to serve the political ends of the
latter.






CHAPTER XI.

MRS. ROSEBROOK'S PROJECT.





AT this juncture of the conversation, a sprightly, well-dressed
servant opens the parlour-door, announces missus! The deacon's good
lady enters. She is a perfect pattern of neatness,--a
finely-developed woman of more than ordinary height, with blonde
features, and a countenance as full of cheerfulness as a bright May
morning. She bows gracefully; her soft eyes kindle with intelligence
as she approaches Mr. Scranton, who rises with the coldness of an
iceberg.

"Be seated, Mr. Scranton," she says, with a voice so full of
gentleness,--"be seated." Her form is well-rounded, her features
exquisite. Mr. Scranton views her seriously, as if he found
something of great interest in that marble forehead, those fine
features moulding a countenance full of soul, love, and sweetness.
Her dress is of plain black brocade, made high at the neck, where it
is secured with a small diamond pin, the front opening and
disclosing a lace stomacher set with undressed pearls. Rufflets and
diamond bracelets, of chaste workmanship, clasp her wrists; while
her light auburn hair, neatly laid in plain folds, and gathered into
a plait on the back of her head, where it is delicately secured with
gold and silver cord, forms a soft contrast. There is chasteness and
simplicity combined to represent character, sense, and refinement.
She is the mother of the plantation: old negroes call her mother,
young ones clamour with joy when she visits their abodes: her very
soul is in their wants; they look to her for guidance. Their
happiness is her pleasure, and by sharing the good fortune that has
followed them she has fostered the energy of their negroes, formed
them into families, encouraged their morality, impressed them with
the necessity of preserving family relations. Against the stern
mandates of the law, she has taught them to read the Bible, reading
and explaining it to them herself. Indeed, she has risen above the
law: she has taught the more tractable ones to write; she has
supplied the younger with little story-books, attractive and
containing good moral lessons. She rejoices over her system: it is
honest, kind, generous,--it will serve the future, and is not
unprofitable at present. It is different from that pursued by those
who would, through the instrumentality of bad laws, enforce
ignorance. Nay, to her there is something abhorrent in using the
Word of God as an excuse for the existence of slavery. Her system is
practicable, enlightening first, and then enforcing that which gives
encouragement to the inert faculties of our nature. Punishments were
scarcely known upon her plantation; the lash never used. Old and
young were made to feel themselves part and parcel of a family
compact, to know they had an interest in the crop, to gather hopes
for the future, to make home on the old plantation pleasant. There
was something refreshing in the pride and protection evinced in the
solicitation of this gentle creature for her negroes. In early life
she had listened to their fables, had mixed with them as children,
had enjoyed their hours of play, had studied their sympathies, and
entered with delight into the very soul of their jargon merriment.
She felt their wants, and knew their grievances; she had come
forward to be their protector, their mother! "Why, Mr. Scranton,"
she exclaims, laughingly, in reply to that gentleman's remarks, as
she interrupted the conversation between him and the deacon, "we
would sooner suffer than sell one of our boys or girls-even if the
worst came to the worst. I know the value of family ties; I know how
to manage negroes. I would just as soon think of selling our
Matilda, I would! If some of you good northern folks could only see
how comfortable my negroes are!-"

"Oh, yes!" interrupts the deacon, "she takes it all out of my hands;
I'm going to give her the reins altogether one of these days. She
has got a nice way of touching a negro's feelings so that anything
can be done with him: it tells largely at times." Mr. Scranton's
face becomes more serious; he doesn't seem to understand this new
"nigger philosophy." "Poor creatures!" the deacon continues, "how
wonderful is the power of encouragement;-how much may be done if
proper means are applied-"

"The trouble is in the means," Mr. Scranton interposes, scratching
his head, as if ideas were scarce, and valuable for the distance
they had to be transported.

Our good lady smiles. "I cannot help smiling, Mr. Scranton." She
speaks softly. "There are two things I want done-done quickly: I
want southern philosophers to consider, and I want southern ladies
to act-to put on energy-to take less care of themselves and more of
the poor negro!" She lays her hand gently upon Mr. Scranton's arm,
her soft blue eyes staring him in the face. "When they do this," she
continues, "all will be well. We can soon show the north how much
can be done without their assistance. I don't believe in women's
rights meetings,--not I; but I hold there should be some combination
of southern ladies, to take the moral elevation of the slave into
consideration,--to set about the work in good earnest, to see what
can be done. It's a monster work; but monster evils can be removed
if females will give their hands and hearts to the task. This
separating families to serve the interests of traders in human
beings must be stopped: females know the pains it inflicts on
suffering wretches; they are best suited to stop that heinous
offence in the sight of God and man. They must rise to the work;
they must devise means to stay the waste of fortune now progressing
through dissipation; and, above all other things, they must rise up
and drive these frightful slave-dealers from their doors."

Mr. Scranton admits there is something in all this, but suggests
that it were better to let the future take care of itself; there's
no knowing what the future may do; and to let those who come in it
enjoy our labours "aint just the policy." He contends-willing to
admit how much the ladies could do if they would-it would not be
consistent with the times to put forth such experiments, especially
when there is so much opposition. "It wouldn't do!" he whispers.

The deacon here interrupts Mr. Scranton, by stepping to the door and
ordering one of the servants to prepare refreshments.

"'It must do! It won't do!' keeps us where we are, and where we are
always complaining that we never have done. You know I speak
frankly, Mr. Scranton-women may say what they please;-and let me
tell you, that when you do your duty it will do. Hard times never
were harder than when everybody thought them hard. We must infuse
principle into our poor people; we must make them earnest in
agricultural pursuits; we must elevate the character of labour; we
must encourage the mechanic, and give tone to his pursuits; and,
more than all, we must arrest the spread of conventional nonsense,
and develope our natural resources by establishing a system of paid
labour, and removing the odium which attaches itself to those who
pursue such avocations as the slave may be engaged in. My word for
it, Mr. Scranton, there's where the trouble lies. Nature has been
lavish in her good gifts to the south; but we must lend Nature a
helping hand,--we must be the women of the south for the south's
good; and we must break down those social barriers clogging our
progress. Nature wants good government to go along with her, to be
her handfellow in regeneration; but good government must give Nature
her rights. This done, slavery will cease to spread its loathsome
diseases through the body politic, virtue will be protected and
receive its rewards, and the buds of prosperity will be nourished
with energy and ripen into greatness."

Mr. Scranton suggests that the nigger question was forced upon him,
and thinks it better to change the conversation. Mr. Scranton was
once in Congress, thinks a deal of his Congressional experience, and
declares, with great seriousness, that the nigger question will come
to something one of these days. "Ah! bless me, madam," he says,
adjusting his arms, "you talk-very-like-a-statesman. Southerners
better leave all this regenerating of slaves to you. But let me say,
whatever you may see in perspective, it's mighty dangerous when you
move such principles to practice. Mark me! you'll have to pull down
the iron walls of the south, make planters of different minds, drive
self out of mankind, and overthrow the northern speculator's
cotton-bag love. You've got a great work before you, my dear
madam,--a work that'll want an extended lease of your life-time.
Remember how hard it is to convince man of the wrong of anything
that's profitable. A paid system, even emancipation, would have been
a small affair in 1824 or 1827. Old niggers and prime fellows were
then of little value; now it is different. You may see the obstacle
to your project in the Nashville Convention or Georgia platform-"

"Nashville Convention, indeed!" exclaims Mrs. Rosebrook, her face
infused with animation, and a curl of disdain on her lip. "Such
things! Mere happy illustrations of the folly of our political
affairs. The one was an exotic do-nothing got up by Mister
Wanting-to-say-something, who soon gets ashamed of his mission; the
other was a mixture of political log-rolling, got up by those who
wanted to tell the Union not to mind the Nashville Convention. What
a pity they did not tell the Union to be patient with us! We must
have no more Nashville Conventions; we must change Georgia platforms
for individual enterprise,--southern conventions for moral
regeneration. Give us these changes, and we shall show you what can
be done without the aid of the north." Several servants in tidy
dresses, their white aprons looking so clean, come bustling into the
room and invite missus and her guest into an airy ante-room, where a
table is bountifully spread with cake, fruit, fine old Madeira, and
lemonade. Mr. Scranton bows and asks "the pleasure;" Mrs. Rosebrook
acknowledgingly takes his arm, while the negroes bow and scrape as
they enter the room. Mr. Scranton stands a few moments gazing at the
set-out. "I hope Mr. Scranton will make himself quite at home," the
good lady interposes. Everything was so exquisitely arranged, so set
off with fresh-plucked flowers, as if some magic hand had just
touched the whole.

"Now!" continued Mrs. Rosebrook, motioning her head as she points to
the table: "you'll admit my negroes can do something? Poor helpless
wretches, we say continually: perhaps they are worse when bad owners
can make the world look upon them through northern prejudice. They
are just like children; nobody gives them credit for being anything
else; and yet they can do much for our good. It would trouble some
persons to arrange a table so neatly; my boys did it all, you see!"
And she exults over the efficiency of her negroes, who stand at her
side acknowledging the compliment with broad grins. The deacon helps
Mr. Scranton, who commences stowing away the sweetmeats with great
gusto. "It is truly surprising what charming nigger property you
have got. They don't seem a bit like niggers" he concludes
deliberately taking a mouthful. Mrs. Rosebrook, pleased at the
honest remark, reminds him that the deacon carries out her views
most charmingly, that she studies negro character, and knows that by
stimulating it with little things she promotes good. She studies
character while the deacon studies politics. At the same time, she
rather ironically reminds Mr. Scranton that the deacon is not guilty
of reading any long-winded articles on "state rights and secession."
"Not he!" she says, laughingly; "you don't catch him with such
cast-iron material in his head. They call him pious-proof now and
then, but he's progress all over."

Mr. Scranton, attentive to his appetite, draws a serious face, gives
a side glance, begs a negro to supply his plate anew, and reckons he
may soon make a new discovery in southern political economy. But he
fears Mrs. Rosebrook's plan will make a mongrel, the specific nature
of which it would be difficult to define in philosophy. Perhaps it
will not be acceptable to the north as a thinking people, nor will
it please the generosity of southern ladies.

"There is where the trouble lies!" exclaimed the deacon, who had
until then yielded up the discussion to his good lady. "They look
upon our system with distrust, as if it were something they could
not understand."

"I move we don't say another word about it, but take our part
quietly," says Mrs. Rosebrook, insinuating that Mr. Scranton had
better be left to take his refreshment comfortably; that he is a
little misanthropic; that he must be cheered up. "Come, my
boys"-directing her conversation to the negroes-"see that Mr.
Scranton is cared for. And you must summon Daddy; tell him to get
the carriage ready, to put on his best blue coat,--that we are going
to take Mr. Scranton over the plantation, to show him how things can
prosper when we ladies take a hand in the management." The negro
leaves to execute the order: Mr. Scranton remains mute, now and then
sipping his wine. He imagines himself in a small paradise, but
"hadn't the least idea how it was made such a place by niggers."
Why, they are just the smartest things in the shape of property that
could be started up. Regular dandy niggers, dressed up to "shine
so," they set him thinking there was something in his politics not
just straight. And then, there was so much intelligence, so much
politeness about the critters! Why, if it had not been for the
doctrines he had so long held, he would have felt bashful at his
want of ease and suavity,--things seldom taught in the New England
village where our pro-slavery advocate was born and educated.

Presently servants are seen outside, running here and there, their
eyes glistening with anxiety, as if preparing for a May-day
festival. Old Dolly, the cook, shining with the importance of her
profession, stands her greasy portions in the kitchen door, scolds
away at old Dad, whose face smiles with good-nature as he fusses
over the carriage, wipes it, rubs it, and brushes it, every now and
then stopping to see if it will reflect his full black face. Little
woolly-headed urchins are toddling round old Maum Dolly, pulling the
folds of her frock, teasing for cakes and fritters. One, more expert
in mischief, has perched himself in an aperture over the door,
substituting himself for the old black hat with which it is usually
filled. Here, his face like a full moon in a cloud, he twists his
moving fingers into the ingeniously-tied knot of Dolly's bandana,
which he cunningly draws from her head. Ben and Loblolly, two minor
sprats of the race, are seated in the centre of the yard, contending
for the leaves of a picture-book, which, to appease their
characteristic inquisitiveness, they have dissected. Daddy has the
horses ready and the carriage waiting; and Uncle Bradshaw, the
coachman, and C‘sar, the likely fellow, wait at the door with as
much satisfaction expressed in their faces as if it were all for
them. Missus is not to be outdone in expertness: a few minutes ago
she was "snaring" Mr. Scranton with his own philosophy; now she is
ready to take her seat.

"Missus! I wants t' go down yander wid ye, I doe," says Daddy,
approaching her with hand extended, and working his black face up
into a broad grin as he detects Mr. Scranton's awkwardness in
getting into the carriage.

"Certainly, Daddy, certainly: you shall go. Daddy knows how to get
alongside of Aunt Rachel when he gets down on the plantation. He
knows where to get a good cup of coffee and a waff." And she pats
the old negro on the head as he clambers up on the box. "No, him
aint dat. Daddy want t' go wid missus-ya'h, ya! dat him, tis. Missus
want somebody down da'h what spry, so'e take care on 'em round de
old plantation. Takes my missus to know what nigger is," says Daddy,
taking off his cap, and bowing missus into the carriage.

"Not one word for mas'r, eh, Daddy?" rejoins the deacon, looking
playfully at Daddy. "Why, Boss, you aint nofin whin missus about,"
returns Daddy, tauntingly, as he buttons his grey coat, and tells
Bradshaw to "go ahead!" Away they go, galloping over the plain,
through the swamp, for the plantation,--that model experiment doubted
by so many. Major Sprag, the politician, and Judge Snow, the
statesman, had declared publicly it never would do any good. With
them it was not practical,--it gave negroes too much liberty; and
they declared the system must be kept within the narrowest sphere of
law, or it would be destroyed for ever.

Onward the carriage bounded, and long before it reached the
plantation gate was espied by the negroes, who came sallying forth
from their white cabins, crying out at the top of their
voices-"Missus comin'! Missus comin! Da'h missus-dat she! I know'd
missus wa' comin' t' day!" and the music of their voices re-echoed
through the arbour of oaks that lined the road. Their tongues seemed
to have taken new impulse for the occasion. The dogs, at full run,
came barking to the gate; old daddies and mammas, with faces "all
over smiles," followed in the train. And they were dressed so
tidily, looked so cheerful, and gave such expressions of their
exuberant feelings, that Mr. Scranton seemed quite at a loss how to
account for it. He had never before witnessed such a mingling of
fondness for owners,--the welcome sounds of "God bless good missus!"
They were at variance with the misanthropic ideas he had imbibed at
the north. And then there was a regular retinue of the "small-fry
property" bringing up the rear, with curious faces, and making the
jargon more confounding with the music of their voices. They
toddled, screamed, and shouted, clustered around the gate, and
before Daddy had time to dismount, had it wide open, and were
contending for the palm of shaking missus by the hand "fust."

The carriage drives to the plantation house, followed by the train
of moving darkness, flocking around it like as many devotees before
an object of superstitious worship. Mas'r is only a secondary
consideration, Missus is the angel of their thoughts; her kindness
and perseverance in their behalf has softened their
feelings--stimulated their energy. How touching is the fondness and
tenderness of these degraded mortals! They love their benefactor.
And, too, there is a lesson in it worthy the statesman's
consideration,--it shows a knowledge of right, and a deep sense of
gratitude for kindness bestowed. Mrs. Rosebrook alights from the
carriage, receives their warm congratulations, and, turning to Mr.
Scranton, touches him on the arm, and remarks:--"Now, here they are.
Poor old bodies,"--taking them by the hand in rotation-just like as
many children. "What do you think of them, Mr. Scranton? do you not
find a softening sympathy creeping upon you? I forgot, though, your
political responsibility! Ah! that is the point with statesmen. You
feel a touch of conscience once in a while, but cannot speak for
fear of the consequences." And she laughs heartily at Mr. Scranton,
who draws his face into a very serious length. "Pest the niggers!"
he says, as they gather at his feet, asking all sorts of importune
questions.

"My good lady is a regular reformer, you see, Mr. Scranton," rejoins
the deacon, as he follows that gentleman into the hall.

Mr. Scranton remarks, in reply, that such does not become caste, and
two pompous-looking servants set upon him brushing the dirt from
his clothes with great earnestness. The negroes understand Mr.
Scranton at a glance; he is an amiable stoic!

Mrs. Rosebrook disappears for a few minutes, and returns minus her
bonnet and mantle. She delights to have the old and the young around
her,--to study their characters, to hear their stories, their
grievances, and to relieve their wants. "These little black imps,"
she says, patting them on the head as they toddle around her,
"They're just as full of interest as their shiny black skins are
full of mischief;" and one after another, with hand extended, they
seek a recognition; and she takes them in her arms, fondling them
with the affection of a nurse.

"Here's Toby, too; the little cunning rascal! He is as sleek as a
mole, a young coon," she ejaculates, stooping down and playfully
working her fingers over Toby's crispy hair, as he sits upon the
grass in front of the house, feasting on a huge sweet potato, with
which he has so bedaubed his face that it looks like a mask with the
terrific portrayed in the rolling of two immense white eyes. "And
here is Nichol Garvio!" and she turns to another, pats him on the
head, and shakes his hand. "We mean to make a great man of him, you
see,--he has head enough to make a Congress man; who knows but that
he'll get there when he grows up?"

"Congress, happily, is beyond niggers," replies Mr. Scranton,
approving the lady: "Congress is pure yet!" Turning round, she
recommends Mr. Scranton to put his northern prejudices in his
pocket, where they will be safe when required for the purposes of
the south. "A nigger 's a nigger all over the world," rejoins Mr.
Scranton, significantly shrugging his shoulders and casting a
doubtful glance at the young type.

"True! true!" she returns, giving Mr. Scranton a look of pity. "God
give us sight to see! We praise our forefathers-honest praise!-but
we forget what they did. They brought them here, poor wretches;
decoyed them, deceived them,--and now we wish them back at the very
time it would be impossible to live without them. How happy is the
mind that believes a 'nigger' must be a nigger for ever and ever;
and that we must do all in our power to keep him from being anything
else!" And her soft blue eyes glowed with sympathy; it was the soul
of a noble woman intent on doing good. She had stepped from the
darkness of a political error into the airy height of light and
love.

Daddy and Bradshaw had taken care of the horses; the deacon greeted
his negroes as one by one they came to welcome him; and for each he
had a kind word, a joke, a shake of the hand, or an enquiry about
some missing member of a family. The scene presented an interesting
picture-the interest, policy, and good faith between master and
slave. No sooner were the horses cared for, than Daddy and Bradshaw
started for the "cabins," to say welcome to the old folks, "a heap
a' how de" to the gals, and tell de boys, down yander, in de tater
patch, dat Missus come. They must have their touching
congratulations, interchange the news of the city for the gossip of
the plantation, and drink the cup of tea Mamma makes for the
occasion. Soon the plantation is all agog; and the homely, but neat
cabins, swarm with negroes of all ages, bustling here and there, and
making preparations for the evening supper, which Aunt Peggy, the
cook, has been instructed to prepare in her very best style.

The deacon joins his good lady, and, with Mr. Scranton, they prepare
to walk over and view the plantation. They are followed by a retinue
of old and young property, giving vent to their thoughts in
expressions of gratitude to Missus and Mas'r. A broad expanse of
rural beauty stretches towards the west, soft and enchanting. The
sun is sinking into the curtains of a refulgent cloud; its crimson
light casts a mellow shade over the broad landscape; the evening
breeze is wafting coolly over the foliage, a welcome relief to the
scorching heat of mid-day; the balmy atmosphere breathes sweetness
over the whole. To the north stands a clump of fine old oaks, high
above the distant "bottom," reflecting in all their richness the
warm tints of the setting sun. The leaves rustle as they pass along;
long lines of cotton plants, with their healthy blossoms, brighten
in the evening shade; the corn bends under its fruit; the potato
field looks fresh and luxuriant, and negroes are gathering from the
slip-beds supplies of market gardening. There is but one appearance
among the workers-cheerfulness! They welcome Mas'r as he passes
along; and again busily employ themselves, hoeing, weeding, and
working at the roots of vines in search of destructive insects.

"My overseers are all black, every one! I would'nt have a white one;
they are mostly tyrants," says the deacon, looking at his fields,
exultingly. "And my overseers plan out the very best mode of
planting. They get through a heap of work, with a little kindness
and a little management. Those two things do a deal, Sir! Five years
ago, I projected this new system of managing negroes-or, rather my
lady planned it,--she is a great manager, you see,--and I adopted it.
You see how it has worked, Mr. Scranton." The deacon takes Mr.
Scranton by the arm, pointing over the broad expanse of cultivated
land, bending under the harvest. I make all my negroes marry when
they have arrived at a specific age; I assure them I never will sell
one unless he or she commits a heinous crime; and I never have.
There is a great deal in keeping faith with a negro; he is of
mankind, and moved by natural laws mentally and physically, and
feels deeply the want of what we rarely regard of much
consequence-confidence in his master's word. Wife encourages their
moral energy; I encourage their physical by filling their bellies
with as much corn and bacon as they can eat; and then I give them
five cents per day (the heads of families) to get those little
necessaries which are so essential to their comfort and
encouragement. I call it our paid-labour system; and I give them
tasks, too, and when they have finished them I allow a small stipend
for extra work. It's a small mite for a great end; and it's such an
encouragement with them that I get about thirty per cent. more work
done. And then I allow them to read just as much as they please-what
do I care about law? I don't want to live where learning to read is
dangerous to the State, I don't. Their learning to read never can
destroy their affections for me and wife; and kindness to them will
make them less dangerous in case of insurrection. It's not the
education we've got to fear; our fears increase with the knowledge
of our oppression. They know these things-they feel them; and if by
educating them one can cultivate their confidence, had we not better
do it with a view to contingencies? Now, as the result of our
system, we have promised to give all our negroes their freedom at
the expiration of ten years, and send such as wish to go, to
Liberia; but, I hold that they can do as much for us at home, work
for us if properly encouraged, and be good free citizens, obedient
to the laws of the State, serving the general good of a great
country."

"Yes!" the good lady interposes; "I want to see those things carried
out; they will yet work for the regeneration of their own race.
Heaven will some day reward the hand that drags the cursed mantle
from off poor Africa; and Africa herself will breathe a prayer to
Heaven in grateful acknowledgment of the act that frees her from the
stain of being the world's bonded warehouse for human flesh and
blood."

The deacon interrupts,--suggests "that it were better to move
practically; and that small streams may yet direct how a mountain
may be removed. Our Union is a great monument of what a Republic may
be,--a happy combination of life, freshness, and greatness, upon
which the Old World looks with distrust. The people have founded its
happiness-its greatness! God alone knows its destiny; crowned heads
would not weep over its downfall! It were better each citizen felt
his heart beating to the words-It is my country; cursed be the hand
raised to sever its members!" The lady tells Mr. Scranton that their
produce has increased every year; that last year they planted one
hundred and twenty acres with cotton, ninety with corn, forty with
sweet potatoes, as many more with slips and roots; and three acres
of water-melons for the boys, which they may eat or sell. She
assures him that by encouraging the pay system they get a double
profit, besides preparing the way for something that must come.

"Come!" Mr. Scranton interrupts: "let the south be true to herself,
and there's no fear of that. But I confess, deacon, there is
something good as well as curious about your way of treating
niggers." And Mr. Scranton shakes his head, as if the practicability
yet remained the great obstacle in his mind. "Your niggers ain't
every body's," he concludes.

"Try it, try it!" Mrs. Rosebrook rejoins: "Go home and propound
something that will relieve us from fear-something that will prepare
us for any crisis that may occur!"

It was six o'clock, the plantation bell struck, and the cry sounded
"All hands quit work, and repair to supper!" Scarcely had the echoes
resounded over the woods when the labourers were seen scampering for
their cabins, in great glee. They jumped, danced, jostled one
another, and sang the cheering melodies, "Sally put da' hoe cake
down!" and "Down in Old Tennessee."

Reaching their cabins they gathered into a conclave around Daddy and
Bradshaw, making the very air resound with their merry jargon. Such
a happy meeting-such social congratulations, pouring forth of the
heart's affections, warm and true,--it had never been before Mr.
Scranton's fortune to witness. Indeed, when he listened to the ready
flashes of dialogue accompanying their animation, and saw the
strange contortions of their fresh, shining faces, he began to
"reckon" there was something about niggers that might, by a process
not yet discovered, be turned into something.

Old "Mammies" strive for the honour of having Daddy and Bradshaw sup
at their cabins, taunting each other on the spareness of their meal.
Fires are soon lit, the stew-pans brought into requisition, and the
smoke, curling upward among a myriad of mosquitoes, is dispersing
them like a band of unwelcome intruders; while the corn-mills rattle
and rumble, making the din and clatter more confounding. Daddy and
Bradshaw being "aristocratic darkies from the city"-caste being
tenaciously kept up among negroes-were, of course, recipients of the
choicest delicacies the plantation afforded, not excepting fresh
eggs poached, and possum. Bradshaw is particularly fond of ghost
stories; and as old Maum Nancy deals largely in this article, as
well as being the best believer in spectres on the plantation, he
concludes to sup with her, in her hospitable cabin, when she will
relate all that she has seen since she last saw him. Maum Nancy is
as black as a crow, has a rich store of tales on hand; she will
please the old man, more particularly when she tells him about the
very bad ghost seen about the mansion for more than "three weeks of
nights." He has got two sarpents' heads; Maum Nancy declares the
statement true, for uncle Enoch "seen him,"-he is a grey ghost-and
might a' knocked him over with his wattle, only he darn't lest he
should reek his vengeance at some unexpected moment. And then he was
the very worst kind of a ghost, for he stole all the chickens, not
even leaving the feathers. They said he had a tail like the thing
Mas'r Sluck whipped his "niggers" with. Bradshaw sups of Maum
Nancy's best, listening to her stories with great concern. The story
of the ghost with two heads startles him; his black picture, frame
fills with excitement; he has never before heard that ghosts were
guilty of predatory crimes. So enchained and excited is he with her
story, that the party at the house having finished supper, have made
preparations to leave for the city. A finger touches him on the
shoulder; he startles, recognises Daddy, who is in search of him,
and suddenly becomes conscious that his absence has caused great
anxiety. Daddy has found him quietly eating Maum Nancy's cakes,
while intently listening to the story about the ghost "what" steals
all her chickens. He is quite unconcerned about Mas'r,
Missus-anything but the ghost! He catches his cap, gives Nancy's
hand a warm shake, says God bless 'em, hastens for the mansion,
finds the carriage waiting at the door, for Mas'r and Missus, who
take their seats as he arrives. Bradshaw mounts the box again, and
away it rolls down the oak avenue. The happy party leave for home;
the plantation people are turned out en masse to say good bye to
Missus, and "hope Mas'r get safe home." Their greetings sound forth
as the carriage disappears in the distance; fainter and fainter the
good wish falls upon their ears. They are well on the road; Mr.
Scranton, who sits at the side of the good lady, on the back seat,
has not deigned to say a word: the evening grows dark, and his mind
seems correspondingly gloomy. "I tell you, I feel so pleased, so
overjoyed, and so happy when I visit the plantation, to see those
poor creatures so happy and so full of fondness! It's worth all the
riches to know that one is loved by the poor. Did you ever see such
happiness, Mr. Scranton?" Mrs. Rosebrook enquires, coolly.

"It requires a great deal of thinking, a great deal of caution, a
great deal of political foresight, before answering such questions.
You'll pardon me, my dear madam, I know you will; I always speak
square on questions, you know. It's hard to reconcile oneself to
niggers being free."

"Ah! yes-it's very amiable to think; but how much more praiseworthy
to act! If we southern ladies set ourselves about it we can do a
great deal; we can save the poor creatures being sold, like cows and
calves, in this free country. We must save ourselves from the moral
degradation that is upon us. What a pity Marston's friends did not
make an effort to change his course! If they had he would not now be
in the hands of that Graspum. We are surrounded by a world of
temptation; and yet our planters yield to them; they think
everything a certainty, forgetting that the moment they fall into
Graspum's hands they are gone."

Mr. Scranton acknowledges he likes the look of things on the
plantation, but suggests that it will be considered an
innovation,--an innovation too dangerous to be considered.
Innovations are dangerous with him,--unpopular, cannot amount to much
practical good. He gives these insinuations merely as happy
expressions of his own profound opinion. The carriage approaches the
villa, which, seen from the distance, seems sleeping in the calm of
night. Mr. Scranton is like those among us who are always fearing,
but never make an effort to remove the cause; they, too, are
doggedly attached to political inconsistency, and, though at times
led to see the evil, never can be made to acknowledge the wrong.
They reach the garden gate; Mr. Scranton begs to be excused from
entering the Villa,--takes a formal leave of his friend, and wends
his way home, thinking. "There's something in it!" he says to
himself, as he passes the old bridge that separates the city from
the suburb. "It's not so much for the present as it is for the
hereafter. Nobody thinks of repairing this old bridge, and yet it
has been decaying under our eyes for years. Some day it will
suddenly fall,--a dozen people will be precipitated into the water
below, some killed; the city will then resound with lamentations;
every body knows it must take place one of these days, everybody is
to blame, but no special criminal can be found. There's something in
the comparison!" he says, looking over the old railing into the
water. And then his thoughts wandered to the plantation. There the
germs of an enlightened policy were growing up; the purity of a
noble woman's heart was spreading blessings among a downcast race,
cultivating their minds, raising them up to do good for themselves,
to reward the efforts of the benefactor. Her motto was:--Let us
through simple means seek the elevation of a class of beings whose
degradation has distracted the political wisdom of our happy
country, from its conquest to the present day. "There's something in
it," again mutters Mr. Scranton, as he enters his room, lights his
taper, and with his elbow resting on the table, his head supported
in his hand, sits musing over the subject.






CHAPTER XII.

ELDER PEMBERTON PRAISEWORTHY CHANGES HIS BUSINESS.





LET us beg the reader's indulgence for a few moments, while we say
that Mr. Scranton belonged to that large class of servile flatterers
who too often come from the New England States-men, who, having no
direct interest in slaves, make no scruple of sacrificing their
independence that they may appear true to the south and slavery.
Such men not unfrequently do the political vampirism of the south
without receiving its thanks, but look for the respect of political
factions for being loudest supporters of inconsistency. They never
receive the thanks of the southerner; frequently and deservedly do
they sink into contempt!

A few days after the visit to the plantation we have described in
the foregoing chapter, Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy, divested of his
pastoral occupation, and seriously anxious to keep up his friendly
associations with those who had taken a part in furthering the cause
of humanity, calls on his old acquaintance, Mrs. Rosebrook. He has
always found a welcome under her hospitable roof,--a good meal, over
which he could discourse the benefits he bestowed, through his
spiritual mission, upon a fallen race; never leaving without kindly
asking permission to offer up a prayer, in which he invoked the
mercy of the Supreme Ruler over all things. In this instance he
seems somewhat downcast, forlorn; he has changed his business; his
brown, lean face, small peering eyes, and low forehead, with bristly
black hair standing erect, give his features a careworn air. He
apologises for the unceremonious call, and says he always forgets
etiquette in his fervour to do good; to serve his fellow-creatures,
to be a Christian among the living, and serve the dying and the
dead-if such have wants--is his motto. And that his motives may not
be misconstrued he has come to report the peculiar phases of the
business he found it actually necessary to turn his hand to. That he
will gain a complete mastery over the devil he has not the fraction
of a doubt; and as he has always--deeming him less harmless than many
citizens of the south--had strong prejudices against that gentleman,
he now has strong expectations of carrying his point against him.
Elder Praiseworthy once heard a great statesman--who said singular
things as well in as out of Congress--say that he did'nt believe the
devil was a bad fellow after all; and that with a little more
schooling he might make a very useful gentleman to prevent
duelling--in a word, that there was no knowing how we'd get along at
the south without such an all-important personage. He has had
several spells of deep thinking on this point, which, though he
cannot exactly agree with it, he holds firmly to the belief that, so
far as it affects duelling, the devil should be one of the
principals, and he, being specially ordained, the great antagonist
to demolish him with his chosen weapon--humanity.

"They tell me you have gone back into the world," says Mrs.
Rosebrook, as the waiter hands Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy a chair.
"It's only the duty of love, of Christian goodness, he humbly
replies, and takes his seat as Mrs. Rosebrook says-"pray be seated!"

"I'm somewhat fatigued; but it's the fatigue of loving to do good,"
he says, rubbing his hands very piously, and giving a look of great
ministerial seriousness at the good lady. We will omit several minor
portions of the Elder's cautious introduction of his humane
occupation, commencing where he sets forth the kind reasons for such
a virtuous policy. "You honestly think you are serving the Lord, do
you?" enquires the lady, as she takes her seat.

The Elder evinces surprise at such a question. Hath he moved among
Christians so many years, ministering to spiritual wants, and yet
the purity of his motives be questioned? "Good madam! we must have
faith to believe. All that is meant well should be accepted in the
greatness of the intention. You will observe, I am neither a lawyer
nor a politician; I would'nt be for the world! We must always be
doing something for the good of others; and we must not forget,
whilst we are doing it, to serve the Allwise one; and while we are
effecting the good of one we are serving the designs of the other."
Thus emphatically spoke the Elder, fingering a book that lay on the
table. "I buy sick people, I save the dying, and I instruct them in
the ways of the Lord as soon as they are cured, and-" And here the
Elder suddenly stops.

"Add, Mr. Praiseworthy, that when you have cured them, and
instructed them in the way of the Lord, you sell them!" interrupts
the lady, watching the sudden changes that pass over his craven
features.

"I always get them good masters; I never fail in that. Nor do I
stand upon the profit-it's the humanity I takes into the balance."
He conceives good under the motley garb of his new mission.

"Humanity-strange humanity, with self coiled beneath. Why, Mr.
Praiseworthy!" the lady starts from her seat, and speaks with
emphasis, "do you tell me that you have become a resurrection man,
standing at the platform of death, interposing with it for a
speculation?"

"It's no uncommon business, Madam; hundreds follow it; some have got
rich at it."

"Got rich at it!" Mrs. Rosebrook interrupts, as a sagacious looking
cat bounds on the table, much to the discomfiture of the Elder, who
jumps up in a great fright,--"What irresistible natures we have; may
heaven save us from the cravings of avarice!"

The Elder very methodically puts the interrupting cat upon the
floor, and resumes his seat. "Why, bless us, good madam, we must
have something to keep our consciences clear; there's nothing like
living a straightforward life."

"What a horrible inconsistency! Buying the sick and the dying. May
the dead not come in for a portion of your singular generosity? If
you can speculate in the dying why exclude the dead? the principle
would serve the same faith in Christianity. The heart that can
purchase the dying must be full of sad coldness, dragging the woes
and pains of mortality down to a tortuous death. Save us from the
feelings of speculation,--call them Christian, if you will,--that
makes man look upon a dying mortal, valuing but the dollars and
cents that are passing away with his life," she interrupts, giving
vent to her pent-up feelings.

Mr. Praiseworthy suggests that the good lady does not comprehend the
virtue lying beneath his motives; that it takes a philosophical mind
to analyse the good that can be done to human nature, especially
poor black human nature. And he asserts, with great sincerity, that
saving the lives of those about to die miserable deaths is a
wonderful thing for the cause of humanity. Buying them saves their
hopeless lives; and if that isn't praiseworthy nothing can be, and
when the act is good the motive should not be questioned.

"Do you save their lives for a Christian purpose, or is it lucre you
seek, Mr. Praiseworthy?" she enquires, giving the Elder a
significant look, and waiting for a reply.

The Elder rises sedately, and walks across the room, considering his
reply. "The question's so kind of round about," he mutters, as she
continues:--

"Sick when you purchase, your Christianity consists in the art of
healing; but you sell them, and consequently save their lives for a
profit. There is no cholera in our plantation, thank God! you cannot
speculate on our sick. You outshine the London street Jews; they
deal in old clothes, you deal in human oddities, tottering
infirmity, sick negroes." Mrs. Rosebrook suggests that such a
business in a great and happy country should be consigned to its
grave-digger and executioner, or made to pay a killing income tax.

The humane Elder views his clothes; they have become somewhat
threadbare since he entered upon his new profession. He, as may be
supposed, feels the force of the lady's remarks, and yet cannot
bring his mind to believe himself actuated by anything but a love to
do good. Kindness, he contends, was always the most inherent thing
in his nature: it is an insult to insinuate anything degrading
connected with his calling. And, too, there is another consolation
which soars above all,--it is legal, and there is a respectability
connected with all legal callings.

"To be upright is my motto, madam," the Elder says, drawing his hand
modestly over his mouth, and again adjusting the tie of his white
neck-cloth. "I'm trying to save them, and a penny with them. You
see-the Lord forgive him!-my dear madam, Marston didn't do the clean
thing with me; and, the worst of all was, he made a preacher of that
nigger of his. The principle is a very bad one for nigger property
to contend for; and when their masters permit it, our profession is
upset; for, whenever a nigger becomes a preacher, he's sure to be a
profitable investment for his owner. There is where it injures us;
and we have no redress, because the nigger preacher is his master's
property, and his master can make him preach, or do what he pleases
with him," says Mr. Praiseworthy, becoming extremely serious.

"Ah! yes,--self pinches the principles; I see where it is, Elder,"
says the lady. "But you were indiscreet, given to taking at times;
and the boy Harry, proving himself quite as good at preaching,
destroyed your practice. I wish every negro knew as much of the
Bible as that boy Harry. There would be no fear of insurrections; it
would be the greatest blessing that ever befell the South. It would
make some of your Christians blush,--perhaps ashamed."

"Ashamed! ashamed! a thing little used the way times are," he
mutters, fretting his fingers through his bristly hair, until it
stands erect like quills on a porcupine's back. This done, he
measuredly adjusts his glasses on the tip of his nose, giving his
tawny visage an appearance at once strange and indicative of all the
peculiarities of his peculiar character. "It wasn't that," he says,
"Marston did'nt get dissatisfied with my spiritual conditions; it
was the saving made by the negro's preaching. But, to my new
business, which so touches your sensitive feelings. If you will
honour me, my dear madam, with a visit at my hospital, I am certain
your impressions will change, and you will do justice to my
motives."

"Indeed!" interrupts the lady, quickly, "nothing would give me more
gratification,--I esteem any person engaged in a laudable pursuit;
but if philanthropy be expressed through the frailties of
speculation,--especially where it is carried out in the buying and
selling of afflicted men and women,--I am willing to admit the age of
progress to have got ahead of me. However, Elder, I suppose you go
upon the principle of what is not lost to sin being gained to the
Lord: and if your sick property die pious, the knowledge of it is a
sufficient recompense for the loss." Thus saying, she readily
accepted the Elder's kind invitation, and, ordering a basket of
prepared nourishment, which, together with the carriage, was soon
ready, she accompanied him to his infirmary. They drove through
narrow lanes and streets lined with small dilapidated cottages, and
reached a wooden tenement near the suburb of the city of C--. It was
surrounded by a lattice fence, the approach being through a gate, on
which was inscribed, "Mr. Praiseworthy's Infirmary;" and immediately
below this, in small letters, was the significant notice, "Planters
having the cholera and other prevailing diseases upon their
plantations will please take notice that I am prepared to pay the
highest price for the infirm and other negroes attacked with the
disease. Offers will be made for the most doubtful cases!"

"Elder Praiseworthy!" ejaculates the lady, starting back, and
stopping to read the strange sign. "'Offers will be made for the
most doubtful cases!'" she mutters, turning towards him with a look
of melancholy. "What thoughts, feelings, sentiments! That means,
that unto death you have a pecuniary interest in their bodies; and,
for a price, you will interpose between their owners and death. The
mind so grotesque as to conceive such a purpose should be
restrained, lest it trifle with life unconsciously."

"You see," interrupts Mr. Praiseworthy, looking more serious than
ever, "It's the life saved to the nigger; he's grateful for it; and
if they ain't pious just then, it gives them time to consider, to
prepare themselves. My little per centage is small-it's a mean
commission; and if it were not for the satisfaction of knowing how
much good I do, it wouldn't begin to pay a professional gentleman."
As the Elder concludes his remarks, melancholy sounds are breaking
forth in frightful discord. From strange murmurings it rises into
loud wailings and implorings. "Take me, good Lord, to a world of
peace!" sounds in her ears, as they approach through a garden and
enter a door that opens into a long room, a store-house of human
infirmity, where moans, cries, and groans are made a medium of
traffic. The room, about thirty feet long and twenty wide, is
rough-boarded, contains three tiers of narrow berths, one above the
other, encircling its walls. Here and there on the floor are cots,
which Mr. Praiseworthy informs us are for those whose cases he would
not give much for. Black nurses are busily attending the sick
property; some are carrying bowls of gruel, others rubbing limbs and
quieting the cries of the frantic, and again supplying water to
quench thirst. On a round table that stands in the centre of the
room is a large medicine-chest, disclosing papers, pills, powders,
phials, and plasters, strewn about in great disorder. A bedlam of
ghastly faces presents itself,--dark, haggard, and frantic with the
pains of the malady preying upon the victims. One poor wretch
springs from his couch, crying, "Oh, death! death! come soon!" and
his features glare with terror. Again he utters a wild shriek, and
bounds round the room, looking madly at one and another, as if
chased by some furious animal. The figure of a female, whose
elongated body seems ready to sink under its disease, sits on a
little box in the corner, humming a dolorous air, and looking with
glassy eyes pensively around the room at those stretched in their
berths. For a few seconds she is quiet; then, contorting her face
into a deep scowl, she gives vent to the most violent bursts of
passion,--holds her long black hair above her head, assumes a tragic
attitude, threatens to distort it from the scalp. "That one's lost
her mind-she's fitty; but I think the devil has something to do with
her fits. And, though you wouldn't think it, she's just as harmless
as can be," Mr. Praiseworthy coolly remarks, looking at Mrs.
Rosebrook, hoping she will say something encouraging in reply. The
lady only replies by asking him if he purchased her from her owner?

Mr. Praiseworthy responds in the affirmative, adding that she
doesn't seem to like it much. He, however, has strong hopes of
curing her mind, getting it "in fix" again, and making a good penny
on her. "She's a'most white, and, unfortunately, took a liking to a
young man down town. Marston owned her then, and, being a friend of
hers, wouldn't allow it, and it took away her senses; he thought her
malady incurable, and sold her to me for a little or nothing," he
continues, with great complacency.

This poor broken flower of misfortune holds down her head as the
lady approaches, gives a look of melancholy expressive of shame and
remorse. "She's sensitive for a nigger, and the only one that has
said anything about being put among men," Mr. Praiseworthy remarks,
advancing a few steps, and then going from berth to berth,
descanting on the prospects of his sick, explaining their various
diseases, their improvements, and his doubts of the dying. The lady
watches all his movements, as if more intently interested in Mr.
Praiseworthy's strange character. "And here's one," he says, "I fear
I shall lose; and if I do, there's fifty dollars gone, slap!" and he
points to an emaciated yellow man, whose body is literally a crust
of sores, and whose painful implorings for water and nourishment are
deep and touching.

"Poor wretch!" Mr. Praiseworthy exclaims, "I wish I'd never bought
him-it's pained my feelings so; but I did it to save his life when
he was most dead with the rheumatics, and was drawn up as crooked as
branch cord-wood. And then, after I had got the cinques out of him-
after nearly getting him straight for a 'prime fellow' (good care
did the thing), he took the water on the chest, and is grown out
like that." He points coolly to the sufferer's breast, which is
fearfully distended with disease; saying that, "as if that wasn't
enough, he took the lepors, and it's a squeak if they don't end
him." He pities the "crittur," but has done all he can for him,
which he would have done if he hadn't expected a copper for selling
him when cured. "So you see, madam," he reiterates, "it isn't all
profit. I paid a good price for the poor skeleton, have had all ny
trouble, and shall have no gain-except the recompense of feeling.
There was a time when I might have shared one hundred and fifty
dollars by him, but I felt humane towards him; didn't want him to
slide until he was a No. 1." Thus the Elder sets forth his own
goodness of heart.

"Pray, what do you pay a head for them, Mr. Praiseworthy?" enquires
the lady, smoothing her hand over the feverish head of the poor
victim, as the carnatic of her cheek changed to pallid languor.
Pursuing her object with calmness, she determined not to display her
emotions until fully satisfied how far the Elder would go.

"That, madam, depends on cases; cripples are not worth much. But,
now and then, we get a legless fellow what's sound in body, can get
round sprightly, and such like; and, seeing how we can make him
answer a sight of purposes, he'll bring something," he sedately
replies, with muscles unmoved. "Cases what doctors give up as 'done
gone,' we gets for ten and twenty dollars; cases not hanging under
other diseases, we give from thirty to fifty-and so on! Remember,
however, you must deduct thirty per cent. for death. At times, where
you would make two or three hundred dollars by curing one, and
saving his life, you lose three, sometimes half-a-dozen head." The
Elder consoles his feelings with the fact that it is not all profit,
looks highly gratified, puts a large cut of tobacco in his mouth,
thanks God that the common school-bill didn't pass in the
legislature, and that his business is more humane than people
generally admit.

"How many have you in all?"

"The number of head, I suppose? Well, there's about thirty sick, and
ten well ones what I sent to market last week. Did-n-'t-make-a-good
market, though," he drawls out.

"You are alone in the business?"

"Well, no; I've a partner-Jones; there's a good many phases in the
business, you see, and one can't get along. Jones was a
nigger-broker, and Jones and me went into partnership to do the
thing smooth up, on joint account. I does the curing, and he does
the selling, and we both turns a dollar or two-"

"Oh, horrors!" interrupts the lady, looking at Mr. Praiseworthy
sarcastically. "Murder will out, men's sentiments will betray them,
selfishness will get above them all; ornament them as you will,
their ornaments will drop,--naked self will uncover herself and be
the deceiver."

"Not at all!" the Elder exclaims, in his confidence. "The Lord's
will is in everything; without it we could not battle with the
devil; we relieve suffering humanity, and the end justifies the
means."

"You should have left out the means: it is only the end you aim at."

"That's like accusing Deacon Seabury of impious motives, because he
shaves notes at an illegal interest. It's worse-because what the law
makes legal the church should not make sinful." This is
Praiseworthy's philosophy, which he proclaims while forgetting the
existence of a law of conscience having higher claims than the
technicalities of statutes. We must look to that to modify our
selfishness, to strengthen our love for human laws when founded in
justice.

"And who is this poor girl?" enquires Mrs. Rosebrook, stepping
softly forward, and taking her by the hand.

"Marston's once; some Indian in her, they say. She's right fair
looks when she's herself. Marston's in trouble now, and the cholera
has made sad havoc of his niggers," Mr. Praiseworthy replies,
placing a chair, and motioning his hand for the lady to be seated.
The lady seats herself beside the girl,--takes her hand.

"Yes, missus; God bless good missus. Ye don't know me now," mutters
the poor girl, raising her wild glassy eyes, as she parts the long
black hair from her forehead: "you don't know me; I'm changed so!"

"My child, who has made you this wretch?" says the good lady,
pressing her tawny hand.

My child!" she exclaims, with emphasis: "My child Nicholas,--my
child! Missus, save Nicholas; he is my child. Oh! do save him!" and,
as if terrified, she grasps tighter the lady's hand, while her
emotions swell into a frantic outburst of grief. "Nicholas, my
child!" she shrieks.

"She will come to, soon: it's only one of her strange fits of
aberration. Sometimes I fling cold water over her; and, if it's very
cold, she soon comes to," Mr. Praiseworthy remarks, as he stands
unmoved, probably contemplating the goodness of a forgiving God.
What magic simplicity lies concealed in his nature; and yet it is
his trade, sanctioned by the law of a generous state. Let us bless
the land that has given us power to discover the depths to which
human nature can reduce itself, and what man can make himself when
human flesh and blood become mere things of traffic.

"That gal's name is Ellen. I wish I knew all that has turned up at
Marston's," remarks the Elder.

"Ellen!" ejaculates the lady, looking at her more intently, placing
her left hand under her chin. "Not Ellen Juvarna?"

"Yes, good missus-the lady has distributed her nourishment among the
sick-that's my name," she says, raising her eyes with a look of
melancholy that tells the tale of her troubles. Again her feelings
subside into quiet; she seems in meditation. "I knowed you once,
good missus, but you don't know me now, I'm changed so!" she
whispers, the good lady holding her hand, as a tear courses down her
cheek-"I'm changed so!" she whispers, shaking her head.






CHAPTER XII.

A FATHER TRIES TO BE A FATHER.





WE have conducted the reader through scenes perhaps unnecessary to
our narration, nevertheless associated with and appertaining to the
object of our work. And, in this sense, the reader cannot fail to
draw from them lessons developing the corrupting influences of a
body politic that gives one man power to sell another. They go to
prove how soon a man may forget himself,--how soon he may become a
demon in the practice of abominations, how soon he can reconcile
himself to things that outrage the most sacred ties of our social
being. And, too, consoling himself with the usages of society,
making it right, gives himself up to the most barbarous practices.

When we left Marston in a former chapter, he had become sensible of
the wrong he so long assisted to inflict upon innocent and
defenceless persons; and, stung with remorse made painful by the
weight of misfortune, had avowed his object of saving his children.
Yet, strange as it may seem, so inured were his feelings to those
arbitrary customs which slave-owners are educated to view as
privileges guaranteed in the rights of a peculiar institution-the
rights of property in the being slave-that, although conscious of
his duty toward the children, no sooner had the mother of Nicholas
been attacked with cholera, than he sold her to the Elder Pemberton
Praiseworthy, in whose infirmary we have just left her. The Elder,
since his discharge from parochial life,--from ministering the
gospel, has transferred his mission to that of being the partner in
a firm, the ostensible business of which is purchasing the sick, the
living, and the dying.

Do not blush, reader; you know not how elastic dealing in human kind
makes man's feelings. Gold is the beacon-light of avarice; for it
man will climb over a catacomb of the dead. In this instance the
very man-Marston-who, touched by misfortune, began to cherish a
father's natural feelings, could see nothing but property in the
mother, though he knew that mother to be born free. Perhaps it was
not without some compunction of feelings-perhaps it was done to
soften the separation at that moment so necessary to the
preservation of the children. But we must leave this phase of the
picture, and turn to another.

Graspum had diligently watched Marston's affairs, and through the
cunning and perseverance of Romescos, carefully noted every movement
on the plantation. Each death from cholera was reported,--the change
in Marston's feelings observed and provided against,--every stage of
the crop carefully watched. Graspum, however, had secured himself in
the real estate, and gave little heed to the epidemic that was
carrying off the negro property. Finally, to pass over several
stages in the decline of Marston's affairs, the ravages of the
disease continued until but forty-three negroes, old and young,
were left on the old homestead. The culminating point had arrived.
He was in the grasp of Graspum, and nothing could save him from
utter ruin. It had lately been proved that the Rovero family,
instead of being rich, were extremely poor, their plantation having
long been under a mortgage, the holder of which was threatening
foreclosure.

With Marston, an amount of promiscuous debts had accumulated so far
beyond his expectation that he was without means of discharging
them. His affairs became more and more confused, while the amount of
his liabilities remained a perfect obscurity to the community.
Rumour began to disseminate his troubles, suspicion summoned her
charges, and town-talk left little unadded; while those of his
creditors who had been least suspicious of his wealth and honour
became the most importunate applicants for their claims. At length,
driven by the pressure of the times, he calls Clotilda to him, and
tells her that he is resolved to send Annette and Nicholas into the
city, where they will remain in the care of a coloured woman, until
an opportunity offers of sending them to the north. He is fond of
Clotilda,--tells her of the excitement concerning his business
affairs, and impresses her with the necessity of preserving
calmness; it is requisite to the evasion of any ulterior consequence
that may be brought upon him. Every-thing hangs upon a thread-a
political thread, a lawful thread-a thread that holds the fate of
thirty, forty, or fifty human beings-that separates them from that
verge of uncertainty upon which a straw may turn the weal or woe of
their lives. "When I get them comfortably cared for, Clotilda, I
will send for you. Nicholas's mother has gone, but you shall be a
mother to them both," he says, looking upon her seriously, as if
contemplating the trouble before him in the attempt to rescue his
children.

"You will not send Annette away without me?" she inquires, quickly,
falling on her knees at his side, and reiterating, "Don't send
Annette away without me,--don't, mas'r!"

"The separation will only be for a few days. Annette shall be
educated-I care not for the laws of our free land against it-and
together you shall go where your parentage will not shame you,--where
you may ornament society," he replies, as Clotilda's face lights up
with satisfaction. With such an assurance-she does not comprehend
the tenour of his troubles-her freedom seems at hand: it excites her
to joy. Marston retires and she takes his seat, writes a note to
Maxwell, who is then in the city, relating what has transpired, and
concluding with a request that he will call and see her.

A few days passed, and the two children were sent into the city and
placed in the charge of a free woman, with instructions to keep them
secreted for several weeks. This movement being discovered by
Romescos, was the first signal for an onset of creditors. Graspum,
always first to secure himself, in this instance compelled Marston
to succumb to his demands by threatening to disclose the crime
Lorenzo had committed. Forcing him to fulfil the obligation in the
bond, he took formal possession of the plantation. This increased
the suspicion of fraud; there was a mystery somewhere,--nobody could
solve it. Marston, even his former friends declared, was a swindler.
He could not be honestly indebted in so large an amount to Graspum;
nor could he be so connected with such persons without something
being wrong somewhere. Friends began to insinuate that they had been
misled; and not a few among those who had enjoyed his hospitality
were first inclined to scandalise his integrity. Graspum had
foreseen all this, and, with Romescos, who had purloined the bill of
sale, was prepared to do any amount of swearing. Marston is a victim
of circumstances; his proud spirit prompts him to preserve from
disgrace the name of his family, and thus he the more easily yielded
to the demands of the betrayer. Hence, Graspum, secure in his
ill-gotten booty, leaves his victim to struggle with those who come
after him.

A few weeks pass over, and the equity of Graspum's claim is
questioned: his character for honour being doubted, gives rise to
much comment. The whole thing is denounced-proclaimed a concerted
movement to defraud the rightful creditors. And yet, knowing the
supremacy of money over law in a slave state, Graspum's power, the
revenge his followers inflict, and their desperate character, not
one dare come forward to test the validity of the debt. They know
and fear the fierce penalty: they are forced to fall back,--to seize
his person, his property, his personal effects.

In this dilemma, Marston repairs to the city, attempts to make an
arrangement with his creditors, singularly fails; he can effect
nothing. Wherever he goes his salutation meets a cold, measured
response; whisper marks him a swindler. The knife stabs deep into
the already festered wound. Misfortune bears heavily upon a
sensitive mind; but accusation of wrong, when struggling under
trials, stabs deepest into the heart, and bears its victim suffering
to the very depths of despair.

To add to this combination of misfortunes, on his return to the
plantation he found it deserted,--a sheriff's keeper guarding his
personal effects, his few remaining negroes seized upon and marched
into the city for the satisfaction of his debts. Clotilda has been
seized upon, manacled, driven to the city, committed to prison.
Another creditor has found out the hiding-place of the children;
directs the sheriff, who seizes upon them, like property of their
kind, and drags them to prison. Oh, that prison walls were made for
torturing the innocent!

Marston is left poor upon the world; Ellen Juvarna is in the hands
of a resurrectionist; Nicholas-a bright boy he has grown-is within
the dark confines of a prison cell, along with Clotilda and Annette.
Melancholy broods over the plantation now. The act of justice,--the
right which Marston saw through wrong, and which he had intended to
carry out,--is now beyond his power. Stripped of those comforts he
had enjoyed, his offspring carried off as trophies of
avarice,--perhaps for sale to some ruffian who would set a price upon
their beauty,--he sits down, sick at heart, and weeps a child's
tears. The mansion, so long the scene of pleasure and hospitality,
is like a deserted barrack;-still, gloomy, cold, in the absence of
familiar faces. No servant comes to call him master,--Dandy and Enoch
are gone; and those familiar words, so significant of affection
between master and slave, "Glad to see ye home, mas'r," no longer
sounded in his ears. Even his overseer has become alarmed, and like
the rest levied for arrears of wages.

There is nothing for Marston but to give up all,--to leave the home
of his childhood, his manhood, his happier days. He is suddenly
reminded that there is virtue in fortitude; and, as he gazes round
the room, the relics of happier days redouble his conviction of the
evil he has brought upon himself by straying from the paths of
rectitude. Indeed, so sudden was his fall from distinction, that the
scene around him seemed like a dream, from which he had just awoke
to question its precipitancy. "A sheriff is here now, and I am a
mere being of sufferance," he says, casting a moody glance around
the room, as if contemplating the dark prospect before him. A few
moments' pause, and he rises, walks to the window, looks out upon
the serene scene spread out before the mansion. There is the river,
on which he has spent so many pleasant hours, calmly winding its way
through deep green foliage mellowed by the moonlight. Its beauties
only remind him of the past. He walks away,--struggles to forget, to
look above his trials. He goes to the old side-board that has so
long given forth its cheer; that, too, is locked! "Locked to me!" he
says, attempting to open its doors. A sheriff's lock hangs upon
them. Accustomed to every indulgence, each check indicated a doubt
of his honour, wounding his feelings. The smaller the restraint the
deeper did it pierce his heart. While in this desponding mood,
vainly endeavouring to gain resolution to carry him through, a
gentle rap is heard at the door. Who can it be at this hour? he
questions to himself. No servant is near him; servants have all been
led into captivity for the satisfaction of debts. He approaches the
door and opens it himself, looking cautiously into the corridor.
There, crouched in a niche, alternately presenting fear and
joy,--fear lest he be seen by the enemy, and joy to see his
master,--is a dark figure with the familiar face of Daddy Bob,--Bob of
the old plantation. The old, faithful servant puts out his wrinkled
hand nervously, saying, "Oh, good mas'r!" He has looked up to
Marston with the same love that an affectionate child does to a kind
parent; he has enjoyed mas'r's warm welcome, nurtured his
confidence, had his say in directing the affairs of the plantation,
and watched the frailties that threatened it.

"Why, Daddy Bob! Can it be you?" Marston says, modulating his voice,
as a change comes over his feelings.

"Dis is me, mas'r; it is me," again says the old man. He is wet with
the night dew, but his heart is warm and affectionate. Marston
seizes his hand as if to return the old man's gratitude, and leads
him into the room, smiling. "Sit down, Bob, sit down!" he says,
handing him a chair. The old servant stands at the chair
hesitatingly, doubting his position. "Fear nothing, Bob; sit down.
You are my best friend," Marston continues. Bob takes a seat, lays
his cap quietly upon the floor, smiles to see old mas'r, but don't
feel just right because there's something wrong: he draws the laps
of his jacket together, covers the remnant of a shirt. "Mas'r, what
be da' gwine to do wid de old plantation? Tings, Bob reckon, b'nt
gwine straight," he speaks, looking at Marston shyly. The old slave
knew his master's heart, and had waited for him to unfold its
beatings; but the kind heart of the master yielded to the burden
that was upon it, and never more so than when moved by the strong
attachment evinced by the old man. There was mutual sympathy
pourtrayed in the tenderest emotions. The one was full of grief,
and, if touched by the word of a friend, would overflow; the other
was susceptible of kindness, knew something had befallen his master,
and was ready to present the best proofs of his attachment.

"And how did you get here, my old faithful?" inquires Marston,
drawing nearer to him.

"Well, mas'r, ye see, t'ant just so wid nigger what don' know how
tings is! But, Bob up t' dese tings. I sees Buckra, what look as if
he hab no rights on dis plantation, grab'n up all de folks. And
Lor,' mas'r, old Bob could'nt leave mas'r no how. An, den, when da'
begins to chain de folks up-da' chain up old Rachel, mas'r!-Old Bob
feel so de plantation war'nt no-whare; and him time t'be gwine. Da'h
an't gwine t' cotch old Bob, and carry 'm way from mas'r, so I jist
cum possum ober dem-stows away yander, down close in de old corn
crib,--"

"And you eluded the sheriff to take care of me, did you, Daddy?"
interrupts Marston, and again takes the old man's hand.

"Oh, mas'r, Bob ain't white, but 'is feeling get so fo' h mas'r, he
can't speak 'em," the old slave replies, pearls glistening in his
eyes. "My feelings feel so, I can't speak 'em!" And with a brother's
fondness he shakes his master's hand.

We must beg the reader's indulgence here for the purpose of making a
few remarks upon the negro's power of observation. From the many
strange disquisitions that have been put forward on the mental
qualities of the man of colour-more particularly the African-few can
be selected which have not had for their object his
disqualification. His power of observation has been much
undervalued; but it has been chiefly by those who judge him by a
superficial scale, or from a selfish motive. In the position of mere
property, he is, of necessity, compelled to yield all claims to
mental elevation. And yet, forced to degradation, there are few
negroes on the plantation, or in the spheres of labour, who do not
note the rise and fall of their master's fortunes, study the nature
and prospects of the crop, make enquiries about the market, concoct
the best economy in managing lands, and consult among themselves as
to what would promote the interests of the whole. So far is this
carried out, that in many districts a rivalry for the largest amount
of crop on a given space is carried on among the slaves, who not
unfrequently "chafe" each other upon the superior wealth and talent
of their masters. It is a well-known fact, that John C. Calhoun's
slaves, in addition to being extremely fond of him, were proud and
boastful of his talent.

Daddy Bob is an exemplification. The faithful old slave had become
sensible of something wrong on the plantation: he saw the sheriff
seizing upon the families, secreted himself in the corn crib, and
fled to the woods when they were out of sight. Here, sheltered by
the myrtle, he remained until midnight, intently watching the
mansion for signs of old mas'r. Suddenly a light glimmers from the
window; the old slave's feelings bound with joy; he feels it an
invitation for him to return, and, leaving his hiding-place,
approaches the house stealthily, and descries his master at the
window. Confidence returns, his joy is complete, his hopes have not
misled him. Hungry and wet, he has found his way back to master,
whose face at the window gladdens his heart,--carries him beyond the
bounds of caution. Hence the cordial greeting between the old slave
and his indulgent master. We hear the oft-expressed words-"Master! I
love ye, I do!" Marston gets a candle, lights the old man to a bed
in the attic, bids him good night, and retires.






CHAPTER XIV.

IN WHICH THE EXTREMES ARE PRESENTED.





WHILE the gloomy prospect we have just presented hovered over
Marston's plantation, proceedings of no minor importance, and having
reference to this particular case, are going on in and about the
city. Maxwell, moved by Clotilda's implorings, had promised to gain
her freedom for her; but he knew the penalty, feared the result of a
failure, and had hesitated to make the attempt. The consequences
were upon him, he saw the want of prompt action, and regretted that
the time for carrying his resolution into effect had passed. The
result harassed him; he saw this daughter of misfortune, on her
bended knees, breathing a prayer to Omnipotence for the deliverance
of her child; he remembered her appeal to him, imploring him to
deliver her from the grasp of slavery, from that licentiousness
which the female slave is compelled to bear. He saw her confiding in
him as a deliverer,--the sight haunted him unto madness! Her child!
her child! Yes, that offspring in which her hopes were centered! For
it she pleaded and pleaded; for it she offered to sacrifice her own
happiness; for it she invoked the all-protecting hand. That child,
doomed to a life of chattel misery; to serve the lusts of modern
barbarism in a country where freedom and civilization sound praises
from ocean to ocean; to be obscured in the darkness and cruelty of
an institution in which justice is scoffed, where distress has no
listeners, and the trap-keepers of men's souls scorn to make honest
recompense while human flesh and blood are weighed in the scale of
dollars and cents! He trembles before the sad picture; remonstrances
and entreaties from him will be in vain; nor can he seize them and
carry them off. His life might be forfeited in the attempt, even
were they without prison walls. No! it is almost hopeless. In the
narrow confines of a securely grated cell, where thoughts and
anxieties waste the soul in disappointment, and where hopes only
come and go to spread time with grief, he could only see her and her
child as they suffered. The spectacle had no charm; and those who
carried them into captivity for the satisfaction of paltry debts
could not be made to divest themselves of the self in nature. Cries
and sobs were nothing,--such were poor stock for "niggers" to have;
pains and anxieties were at a discount, chivalry proclaimed its
rule, and nothing was thought well of that lessened the market value
of body and soul. Among great, generous, hospitable, and chivalrous
men, such things could only be weighed in the common scale of trade.

Again, Maxwell remembered that Marston had unfolded his troubles to
him, and being a mere stranger the confidence warranted mutual
reciprocity. If it were merely an act dictated by the impulse of his
feelings at that moment, the secret was now laid broadly open. He
was father of the children, and, sensible of their critical
situation, the sting was goading him to their rescue. The question
was-would he interpose and declare them as such? Ah, he forgot it
was not the father's assertion,--it was the law. The crime of being
property was inherited from the mother. Acknowledging them his
children would neither satisfy law nor the creditors. What
honourable-we except the modernly chivalrous-man would see his
children jostled by the ruffian trader? What man, with feelings less
sensitive than iron, would see his child sold to the man-vender for
purposes so impious that heaven and earth frowned upon them? And yet
the scene was no uncommon one; slavery affords the medium, and men,
laying their hearts aside, make it serve their pockets. Those whom
it would insult to call less than gentlemen have covered their
scruples with the law, while consigning their own offspring to the
hand of an auctioneer. Man property is subvervient material,--woman
is even more; for where her virtue forms its tissues, and can be
sold, the issue is indeed deplorable. Again, where vice is made a
pleasure, and the offspring of it become a burden on our hands,
slavery affords the most convenient medium of getting rid of the
incumbrance. They sell it, perhaps profitably, and console
themselves with the happy recollection of what a great thing it is
to live in a free country, where one may get rid of such things
profitably. It may save our shame in the eyes of man, but God sees
all,--records the wrong!

Thus Maxwell contemplated the prospects before him. At length he
resolved to visit Marston upon his plantation, impress him with the
necessity of asserting their freedom, in order to save them from
being sold with the effects of the estate.

He visits Marston's mansion,--finds the picture sadly changed; his
generous friend, who has entertained him so hospitably, sits in a
little ante-chamber, pensively, as if something of importance has
absorbed his attention. No well-dressed servants welcome him with
their smiles and grimaces; no Franconia greets him with her
vivacity, her pleasing conversation, her frankness and fondness for
the old servants. No table is decked out with the viands of the
season-Marston's viands have turned into troubles,--loneliness reigns
throughout. It is night, and nothing but the dull sound of the
keeper's tread breaks the silence. His (Maxwell's) mission is a
delicate one. It may be construed as intrusive, he thinks. But its
importance outweighs the doubt, and, though he approaches with
caution, is received with that embrace of friendship which a
gentleman can claim as his own when he feels the justice of the
mission of him who approaches, even though its tenor be painful.
Maxwell hesitated for a few moments, looked silently upon the scene.
Trouble had already left its prints of sadness upon Marston's
countenance; the past, full of happy associations, floated in his
mind; the future--ah! that was--. Happily, at that moment, he had
been contemplating the means by which he could save Clotilda and the
children. He rises, approaches Maxwell, hands him a chair, listens
to his proposal. "If I can assist you, we will save them," concludes
Maxwell.

"That," he replies, doubtingly, "my good friend, has engaged my
thoughts by night and day--has made me most uneasy. Misfortune likes
sympathy; your words are as soothing as praiseworthy. I will defend
my children if every creditor call me swindler. I will destroy the
infernal bill of sale,--I will crush the hell-born paper that gives
life to deeds so bloody,--I will free them from the shame!" Thus, his
feelings excited to the uttermost, he rises from his seat,
approaches a cupboard, draws forth the small trunk we have before
described, unlocks it. "That fatal document is here, I put it here,
I will destroy it now; I will save them through its destruction.
There shall be no evidence of Clotilda's mother being a slave, oh
no!" he mutters rapidly, running his fingers over packages, papers,
and documents. Again he glances vacantly over the whole file,
examining paper after paper, carefully. He looks in vain. It is not
there; there is no document so fatal. Sharper men have taken better
care of it. "It is not here!" he whispers, his countenance becoming
pallid and death-like. "Not here!"-and they will swear to suit their
purposes. Oaths are only worth what they bring in the market, among
slave dealers. But, who can have taken it?" he continues, looking
wildly at Maxwell. Consternation is pictured on his countenance; he
feels there is intrigue at work, and that the want of that paper
will prove fatal to his resolution. A man in trouble always confides
in others, sometimes those whom he would scarce have trusted before.
He throws the paper aside, takes a seat at Maxwell's side, grasps
him by the hand, saying, "My friend! save them! save them! save
them! Use what stratagem you please; make it the experiment of your
life. Consummate it, and a penitent's prayer will bless you! I see
the impending catastrophe-"

"We may do without it; be quiet. Let your feelings calm. I have
consulted Franconia on the same subject. Woman can do much if she
will; and she has promised me she will. My knowledge of her womanly
nature tells me she will be true to Clotilda!" Maxwell speaks
assuringly, and his words seem as balm to a wounded spirit.

The bill of sale was among the things intended for a more profitable
use. Marston has satisfied Graspum's claim; but he knew that slavery
deadened the sensibilities of men. Yet, could it have so deadened
Graspum's feeling that he would have been found in a plot against
him? No! he could not believe it. He would not look for foul play
from that quarter. It might have been mislaid-if lost, all the
better. A second thought, and he begins to quiet himself with the
belief that it had become extinct; that, there not being evidence to
prove them property, his word would be sufficient to procure their
release. Somewhat relieved of the force of parental anxiety-we can
call it by no other name-the troubled planter, with his troubles
inherited, promises Maxwell, who has postponed his departure that he
may aid in saving Clotilda and her child, that he will proceed
direct to the sheriff's office, give notice of their freedom to that
functionary, and forbid the sale. Upon this resolution they part for
the night, and on the following morning, Marston, sick at heart,
leaves for the city, hoping to make arrangements with his attorney,
who will serve notice of freedom with all the expense and legality
of form.

The reader will excuse us for passing over many things of minor
importance which take place during the progress of arrangements
between Marston and the attorney, Mr. Dyson--commonly called Thomas
Dyson, Esq., wonderfully clever in the practice of slave law--and
proceeding to where we find the notice formally served. The document
forbids the sale of certain persons, physically and mentally
described, according to the nicest rules of law and tenour of trade;
and is, with the dignity of legal proceedings, served on the
honourable sheriff. We give a portion of it, for those who are not
informed on such curious matters: it runs thus:--"'The girl
Clotilda-aged 27 years; her child Annette-aged 7 years, and a
remarkable boy, Nicholas, 6 years old, all negroes, levied upon at
the suit of--, to satisfy a fi fa issued from the--, and set forth
to be the property of Hugh Marston of--, &c. &c.;'" as set forth in
the writ of attachment. Thus runs the curious law, based on
privilege, not principle.

The document served on the sheriff, Marston resolved to remain a few
days in the city and watch its effect. The sheriff, who is seldom
supposed to evince sympathy in his duties, conforms with the
ordinary routine of law in nigger cases; and, in his turn, gives
notice to the plaintiff, who is required to enter security for the
purpose of testing the point of freedom. Freedom here is a slender
commodity; it can be sworn away for a small compensation. Mr.
Anthony Romescos has peculiar talent that way, and his services are
always in the market. The point, however, has not resolved itself
into that peculiar position where it must be either a matter of
compromise, or a question for the court and jury to decide.

If Marston, now sensible of his position as father of the children,
will yield them a sacrifice to the man trader, it is in his power;
the creditors will make it their profit. Who, then, can solve the
perplexity for him? The custom of society, pointing the finger of
shame, denies him the right to acknowledge them his children.
Society has established the licentious wrong,--the law protects it,
custom enforces it. He can only proceed by declaring the mother to
be a free woman, and leaving the producing proof to convict her of
being slave property to the plaintiff. In doing this, his judgment
wars with his softer feelings. Custom--though it has nothing to give
him-is goading him with its advice; it tells him to abandon the
unfashionable, unpolite scheme. Natural laws have given birth to
natural feelings--natural affections are stronger than bad laws. They
burn with our nature,--they warm the gentle, inspire the noble, and
awake the daring that lies unmoved until it be called into action
for the rescue of those for whom our affections have taken life.

Things had arrived at that particular point where law-lovers-we mean
lawyers-look on with happy consciences and pleasing expectations;
that is, they had arrived at that certain hinge of slave law the
turn of which sends men, women, and children, into the vortex of
slavery, where their hopes are for ever crushed. One day Marston had
strong hopes of saving them; but his hopes vanished on the next. The
fair creature, by him made a wretch, seemed before him, on her
bended knees, clasping his hand while imploring him to save her
child. The very thought would have doubly nerved him to action; and
yet, what mattered such action against the force of slavery
injustice? All his exertions, all his pleadings, all his
protestations, in a land where liberty boasts its greatness, would
sink to nothing under the power he had placed in their possession
for his overthrow.

With this fatal scene before him, this indecision, he walked the
streets, resolving and re-resolving, weighing and re-weighing the
consequences, hoping without a chance for hope. He would be a father
as he has been a kind master; but the law says, no! no! Society
forbids right, the law crushes justice,--the justice of heaven!
Marston is like one driven from his home, from the scene of his
happy childhood, upon which he can now only look back to make the
present more painful. He has fallen from the full flow of pleasure
and wealth to the low ebb of poverty clothed in suspicion; he is
homeless, and fast becoming friendless. A few days after, as he
takes his morning walk, he is pointed to the painful fact, made
known through certain legal documents, posted at certain corners of
streets, that his "negro property" is advertised for sale by the
sheriff. He fears his legal notice has done little legal good,
except to the legal gentlemen who receive the costs. He retires to a
saloon, finds the morning paper, commences glancing over its legal
columns. The waiter is surprised to see him at that hour, is
ignorant of the war of trouble that is waging within him, knows him
only as a great man, a rice planter of wealth in negroes, treats him
with becoming civility, and enquires, with a polite bow, what he
will be served with. He wants nothing that will supply the physical
man. He has supped on trouble,--the following, painful as it is, will
serve him for breakfast; it meets his eye as he traces down the
column:--"SHERIFF'S SALE.

"According to former notice, will be sold on the first Tuesday in
September next, between the usual hours of sale, before the Court
House door, in this city, the following property-to wit!

"Three yoke of prime oxen, and four carts.

"Seven horses; two of celebrated breed.

"Twenty-two mules, together with sundry other effects as per
previous schedule, which will be produced at the sale, when the
property will be pointed out. The said being levied on as the
property of Hugh Marston, of--District, and sold to satisfy a fi
fa issued from the Superior Court, W. W. C--.

"Also the following gang of negroes, many of whom have been
accustomed to the cultivation of cotton and rice. Said negroes are
very prime and orderly, having been well trained and fed, in
addition to enjoying the benefit of Christian teaching through a
Sunday-school worship on the plantation.

"Dandy, and Enock (yellow), prime house servants.

"Choate, and Cato, aged 29 and 32, coachman and blacksmith.

"Harry, a prime fellow of remarkable sagacity, said to be very
pious, and has been very valuable as a preacher.

"Seventeen prime field hands, ranging from 17 to 63 years old,
together with sundry children, set forth in the schedule.

"Peggy, aged 23 years, an excellent cook, house servant-can do
almost any work, is faithful and strictly honest.

"Rachel, one of the very best wenches in the County; has had charge
of the Manor for several years, is very motherly and well disposed,
and fully capable of taking charge of a plantation."

The description of the negro property continues until it reaches the
last and most touching point, which Marston reads with tears
coursing down his cheeks. But, it is only trade, and it is
refreshing to see how much talent the auctionee-himself a
distinguished politician,--exhibits in displaying his bill. It is
that which has worked itself so deep into Marston's feelings.

"Clotilda, a white negro, and her child Annette; together with
Nicholas--a bright boy," remarkably intelligent-six years old. "These
last," adds the list, "have been well brought up, with great care,
and are extremely promising and pleasant when speaking. The woman
has superior looks, is sometimes called beautiful, has finely
developed features, and is considered to be the handsomest bright
woman in the county."

We acknowledge the italics to be ours. The list, displaying great
competency in the trade of human beings, concludes with warranting
them sound and healthy, informing all those in want of such property
of the wonderful opportunity of purchasing, and offering to
guarantee its qualities. The above being "levied on to satisfy three
fi fas," &c. &c.

Poor Clotilda! her beauty has betrayed her: her mother was made a
slave, and she has inherited the sin which the enlightened of the
western world say shall be handed down from generation to generation
until time itself has an end. She is within the damp walls of a
narrow cell; the cold stones give forth their moisture to chill her
bleeding heart; the rust of oppression cuts into her very soul. The
warm sunlight of heaven, once so cheering, has now turned black and
cold to her. She sits in that cold confine, filled with sorrow,
hope, and expectation, awaiting her doom, like a culprit who
measures the chances of escape between him and the gallows. She
thinks of Marston. "He was a kind friend to me-he was a good
master," she says, little thinking that at that very moment he sits
in the saloon reading that southern death-warrant which dooms so
many to a life of woe. In it fathers were not mentioned-Marston's
feelings were spared that pain; mothers' tears, too, were omitted,
lest the sensitiveness of the fashionable world should be touched.
Pained, and sick at heart-stung by remorse at finding himself
without power to relieve Clotilda-he rises from his seat, and makes
arrangement to return to his plantation.






CHAPTER XV.

A SCENE OF MANY LIGHTS.





WE must leave Marston wending his way for the old plantation, and
pass to another phase of this complicated affair. In doing this, we
must leave the reader to draw from his own imagination much that
must have transpired previous to the present incidents.

The Rovero family-old and distinguished-had struggled against the
misfortunes brought upon them by their son Lorenzo. Deeply involved,
they had allowed their difficulties to go on till they had found
themselves living by the favour of courtesy and indulgence. Lorenzo
and Franconia were only children; and since the departure of the
former the latter had been the idol of their indulgence. She was, as
we have before said, delicate, sensitive, endowed with generous
impulses, and admired for her gentleness, grace, and vivacity. To
these she added firmness, and, when once resolved upon any object,
could not be moved from her purpose. Nor was she-as is the popular
fallacy of the South-susceptible to the influence of wealth. Her
love and tenderness soared above it; she prized wealth less than
moral worth. But she could not appease the pride of her parents with
her feelings. They, labouring under the influence of their reduced
fortunes, had favoured and insisted upon the advances of the very
wealthy Colonel M'Carstrow, a rice-planter, who had a few years
before inherited a large estate. The colonel is a sturdy specimen of
the Southern gentleman, which combines a singular mixture of
qualities, some of which are represented by a love of good living,
good drinking, good horse-racing, good gambling, and fast company.
He lives on the fat of the land, because the fat of the land was
made for him to enjoy. He has no particular objection to anybody in
the world, providing they believe in slavery, and live according to
his notions of a gentleman. His soul's delight is faro, which he
would not exchange for all the religion in the world; he has strong
doubts about the good of religion, which, he says, should be boxed
up with modern morality.

Laying these things aside, however, he is anything but what would
have been properly selected as a partner for Franconia; and, while
she is only eighteen, he has turned the corner of his forty-third
year. In a word, his manners are unmodelled, his feelings coarse,
his associations of the worst kind; nor is he adapted to make the
happiness of domestic life lasting. He is one of those persons so
often met with, whose affections-if they may be supposed to have
any-are held in a sort of compromise between an incitement to love,
and their natural inclination to revel in voluptuous pleasures. The
two being antagonistic at times, the latter is sure to be the
stronger, and not unfrequently carries its victim into dissolute
extremes. Riches, however, will always weigh heavy in the scale;
their possession sways,--the charm of gold is precious and powerful.
And, too, the colonel had another attraction-very much esteemed
among slave-dealers and owners--he had a military title, though no
one knew how he came by it.

Franconia must be the affianced bride of the supposed wealthy
Colonel M'Carstrow; so say her parents, who feel they are being
crushed out by misfortune. It is their desire; and, however
repulsive it may be to Franconia's feelings, she must accept the
man: she must forget his years, his habits, his associations, for
the wealth he can bring to the relief of the family.

To add ‚clat to the event, it is arranged that the nuptial ceremony
shall take place in the spacious old mansion of General P--, in the
city. General P--is a distant relation of the Rovero family. His
mansion is one of those noble old edifices, met here and there in
the South--especially in South Carolina-which strongly mark the
grandeur of their ancient occupants. It is a massive pile of marble,
of mixed style of Grecian and Doric architecture, with three stories
divided by projecting trellised arbours, and ornamented with fluted
columns surmounted with ingeniously-worked and sculptured capitals,
set off with grotesque figures. The front is ornamented with tablets
of bas-relief, variegated and chaste. These are bordered with
scroll-work, chases of flowers, graces, and historical designs.
Around the lower story, palisades and curvatures project here and
there between the divisions, forming bowers shaded by vines and
sweet-scented blossoms. These are diffusing their fragrance through
the spacious halls and corridors beneath. The stately old pile wears
a romantic appearance; but it has grown brown with decay, and stands
in dumb testimony of that taste and feeling which prevailed among
its British founders. The garden in which it stands, once rich with
the choicest flowers of every clime, now presents an area overgrown
with rank weeds, decaying hedges, dilapidated walks, and sickly
shrubbery. The hand that once nurtured this pretty scene of buds and
blossoms with so much care has passed away. Dull inertness now hangs
its lifeless festoons over the whole, from the vaulted hall to the
iron railing enclosing the whole.

The day for consummating the nuptial ceremony has arrived; many
years have passed since the old mansion witnessed such a scene. The
gay, wealthy, and intelligent of the little fashionable world will
be here. The spell of loneliness in which the old walls have so long
slept will be broken. Sparkling jewels, bland smiles, the rich
decorations of former years, are to again enhance the scene.
Exhausted nature is to shake off its monotony, to be enlivened with
the happiness of a seemingly happy assemblage. A lovely bride is to
be showered with smiles, congratulations, tokens of love. Southern
gallantry will doff its cares, put on its smiling face. Whatever may
smoulder beneath, pleasure and gaiety will adorn the surface.

Franconia sits in her spacious chamber. She is arrayed in flowing
n‚glig‚; a pensive smile invades her countenance; she supports her
head on her left hand, the jewels on her tiny fingers sparkling
though her hair. Everything round her bears evidence of comfort and
luxury; the gentle breeze, as it sweeps through the window to fan
her blushing cheek, is impregnated with sweetest odours. She
contemplates the meeting of him who is to be the partner of her
life; can she reconcile it? Nay, there is something forcing itself
against her will. Her bridesmaids,--young, gay, and
accomplished,--gather around her. The fierce conflict raging in her
bosom discloses itself; the attempt to cheer her up, under the
impression that it arises from want of vigour to buoy up her
sensitive system, fails. Again she seems labouring under excitement.

"Franconia!" exclaims one, taking her by the hand, "is not the time
approaching?"

"Time always approaches," she speaks: her mind has been wandering,
picturing the gloomy spectacle that presents itself in Clotilda's
cell. She moves her right hand slowly across her brow, casts an
enquiring glance around the room, then at those beside her, and
changes her position in the chair. "The time to have your toilet
prepared-the servants await you," is the reply. Franconia gathers
strength, sits erect in her chair, seems to have just resolved upon
something. A servant hastens into her presence bearing a
delicately-enveloped note. She breaks the seal, reads it and
re-reads it, holds it carelessly in her hand for a minute, then puts
it in her bosom. There is something important in the contents,
something she must keep secret. It is from Maxwell. Her friend
evinced some surprise, while waiting a reply as she read the letter.

"No! not yet," she says, rising from her chair and sallying across
the room. "That which is forced upon me-ah! I cannot love him. To me
there is no loving wealth. Money may shelter; but it never moves
hearts to love truly. How I have struggled against it!" Again she
resumes her chair, weeps. Her tears gush from the parent
fountain-woman's heart. "My noble uncle in trouble, my dear brother
gone; yes! to where, and for what, I dare not think; and yet it has
preyed upon me through the struggle of pride against love. My father
may soon follow; but I am to be consigned to the arms of one whom it
would be folly to say I respect."

Her friend, Miss Alice Latel, reminds her that it were well not to
let such melancholy wanderings trouble her. She suggests that the
colonel, being rich, will fill the place of father as well as
husband; that she will be surrounded by the pleasures which wealth
only can bring, and in this world what more can be desired?

"Such fathers seldom make affectionate husbands; nor do I want the
father without the husband; his wealth would not make me respect
him." Franconia becomes excited, giving rapid utterance to her
language. "Can I suppress my melancholy-can I enjoy such pleasure,
and my dear Clotilda in a prison, looking through those galling
gratings? Can I be happy when the anguish of despair pierces deep
into her heart? No! oh, no! Never, while I think of her, can I
summon resolution to put on a bridal robe. Nay! I will not put them
on without her. I will not dissemble joy while she sinks in her
prison solitude!"

"Can you mean that-at this hour?" enquires Miss Alice, looking upon
her with anxiety pictured in her face. One gives the other a look of
surprise. Miss Alice must needs call older counsel.

"Yes!" replies Franconia, more calm; "even at this hour! It is never
too late to serve our sisters. Could I smile-could I seem happy, and
so many things to contemplate? We cannot disguise them now; we
cannot smother scandal with a silken mantle. Clotilda must be with
me. Negro as she is by law, she is no less dear to me. Nor can I
yield to those feelings so prominent in southern breasts,--I cannot
disclaim her rights, leave her the mere chattel subject of brute
force, and then ask forgiveness of heaven!" This declaration, made
in a positive tone, at once disclosed her resolution. We need not
tell the reader with what surprise it took the household; nor, when
she as suddenly went into a violent paroxysm of hysterics, the alarm
it spread.

The quiet of the mansion has changed for uproar and confusion.
Servants are running here and there, getting in each other's way,
blocking the passages, and making the confusion more intense.
Colonel M'Carstrow is sent for, reaches the mansion in great
consternation, expects to find Franconia a corpse, for the negro
messenger told him such a crooked story, and seemed so frightened,
that he can't make anything straight of it-except that there is
something very alarming.

She has been carried to one of the ante-chambers, reclines on a
couch of softest tapestry, a physician at one side, and Alice,
bathing her temples with aromatic liquid, on the other. She presents
a ravishing picture of delicacy, modesty, and simplicity,--of all
that is calmly beautiful in woman. "I can scarcely account for it;
but, she's coming to," says the man of medicine, looking on
mechanically. Her white bosom swells gently, like a newly-waked
zephyr playing among virgin leaves; while her eyes, like melancholy
stars, glimmer with the lustre of her soul. "Ah me!" she sighs,
raising her hand over her head and resting it upon the cushion, as
her auburn hair floats, calm and beautiful, down her pearly
shoulder.

The colonel touches her hand; and, as if it had been too rudely, she
draws it to her side, then places it upon her bosom. Again raising
her eyes till they meet his, she blushes. It is the blush of
innocence, that brightens beneath the spirit of calm resolution. She
extends her hand again, slowly, and accepts his. "You will gratify
me-will you not?" she mutters, attempting to gain a recumbent
position. They raise her as she intimates a desire; she seems
herself again.

"Whatever your wish may be, you have but to intimate it," replies
the colonel, kissing her hand.

"Then, I want Clotilda. Go, bring her to me; she only can wait on
me; and I am fond of her. With her I shall be well soon; she will
dress me. Uncle will be happy, and we shall all be happy."

"But," the colonel interrupts, suddenly, "where is she to be found?"

"In the prison. You'll find her there!" There is little time to
lose,--a carriage is ordered, the colonel drives to the prison, and
there finds the object of Franconia's trouble. She, the two children
at her side, sits in a cell seven by five feet; the strong grasp of
slave power fears itself, its tyranny glares forth in the emaciated
appearance of its female victim. The cell is lighted through a small
aperture in the door, which hangs with heavy bolts and bars, as if
torturing the innocent served the power of injustice. The
prison-keeper led the way through a narrow passage between stone
walls. His tap on the door startles her; she moves from her
position, where she had been seated on a coarse blanket. It is all
they (the hospitable southern world, with its generous laws) can
afford her; she makes it a bed for three. A people less boastful of
hospitality may give her more. She holds a prayer-book in her hand,
and motions to the children as they crouch at her feet.

"Come, girl! somebody's here to see you," says the keeper, looking
in at the aperture, as the sickly stench escapes from the dark
cavern-like place.

Nervously, the poor victim approaches, lays her trembling hand on
the grating, gives a doubting glance at the stranger, seems
surprised, anxious to know the purport of his mission.

"Am I wanted?" she enquires eagerly, as if fearing some rude dealer
has come-perhaps to examine her person, that he may be the better
able to judge of her market value.

Notwithstanding the coldness of M'Carstrow's nature, his feelings
are moved by the womanly appearance of the wench, as he calls her,
when addressing the warden. There is something in the means by which
so fair a creature is reduced to merchandise he cannot altogether
reconcile. Were it not for what habit and education can do, it would
be repulsive to nature in its crudest state. But it is according to
law, that inhuman law which is tolerated in a free country.

"I want you to go with me, and you will see your young missis," says
M'Carstrow, shrugging his shoulders. He is half inclined to let his
better feelings give way to sympathy. But custom and commerce forbid
it; they carry off the spoil, just as the sagacious pumpkin
philosopher of England admits slavery a great evil, while delivering
an essay for the purpose of ridiculing emancipation.

M'Carstrow soon changes his feelings,--addresses himself to business.
"Are you in here for sale?" he enquires, attempting to whistle an
air, and preserve an unaffected appearance.

The question touches a tender chord of her feelings; her bosom
swells with emotions of grief; he has wounded that sensitive chord
upon which the knowledge of her degradation hangs. She draws a
handkerchief from her pocket, wipes the tear that glistens in her
eye, clasps Annette in her arms-while Nicholas, frightened, hangs by
the skirts of her dress,--buries her face in her bosom, retires a few
steps, and again seats herself on the blanket.

"The question is pending. If I'm right about it-and I believe I'm
generally so on such cases-it comes on before the next session, fall
term," says the gaoler, turning to M'Carstrow with a look of
wonderful importance. The gaoler, who, with his keys, lets loose the
anxieties of men, continues his learned remarks. "Notice has been
served how she's free. But that kind o' twisting things to make
slave property free never amounts to much, especially when a man
gets where they say Marston is! Anthony Romescos has been quizzing
about, and it don't take much to make such things property when he's
round." The man of keys again looks very wise, runs his hand deep
into the pocket of his coat, and says something about this being a
great country.

"How much do you reckon her worth, my friend?" enquires M'Carstrow,
exchanging a significant glance.

"Well, now you've got me. It's a point of judgment, you see. The
article's rather questionable-been spoiled. There's a doubt about
such property when you put it up, except a gentleman wants it; and
then, I reckon, it'll bring a smart price. There's this to be
considered, I reckon, though they haven't set a price on her yet,
she's excellent good looking; and the young un's a perfect cherry.
It'll bring a big heap one of these days."

"We won't mind that, just now, gaoler," M'Carstrow says, very
complacently; "you'll let me have her tonight, and I'll return her
safe in the morning."

"No, no," interposes Clotilda, mistaking M'Carstrow's object. She
crouches down on the blanket, as if shrinking from a deadly assault:
"let me remain, even in my cell." She draws the children to her
side.

"Don't mistake me, my girl: I am a friend. I want you for Franconia
Rovero. She is fond of you, you know."

"Franconia!" she exclaims with joy, starting to her feet at the
sound of the name. "I do know her, dear Franconia! I know her, I
love her, she loves me-I wish she was my mother. But she is to be
the angel of my freedom-" Here she suddenly stopped, as if she had
betrayed something.

"We must lose no time," M'Carstrow says, informing her that
Franconia is that night to be his bride, and cannot be happy without
seeing her.

"Bride! and cannot prepare without me," mutters the woman, seeming
to doubt the reality of his statement. A thought flashes in her
mind: "Franconia has not forgotten me; I will go and be Franconia's
friend." And with a child-like simplicity she takes Annette by the
hand, as if they were inseparable. "Can't Nicholas go, too?" she
inquires.

"You must leave the child," is the cool reply. M'Carstrow attempts
to draw the heavy bolt that fastens the door.

"Not so fast, if you please," the warden speaks. "I cannot permit
her to leave without an order from the sheriff." He puts his hand
against the door.

"She will surely be returned in the morning; I'm good for a hundred
such pieces of property."

"Can't help that," interrupts the gaoler, coolly.

"But, there's my honour!"

"An article gaolers better not deal in. It may be very good
commodity in some kinds of business-don't pay in ours; and then,
when this kind of property is in question, it won't do to show a
favour beyond the rule."

M'Carstrow is in a sad dilemma. He must relieve himself through a
problem of law, which, at this late hour, brings matters to a
singular point. He believes Franconia suffers from a nervous
affection, as the doctors call it, and has fixed her mind upon the
only object of relief. He had made no preparation for such a
critical event; but there is no postponing the ceremony,--no
depriving her of the indulgence. Not a moment is to be lost: he sets
off, post-haste, for the sheriff's office. That functionary is well
known for his crude method of executing business; to ask a favour of
him would be like asking the sea to give up its dead. He is cold,
methodical, unmoveable; very much opposed to anything having the
appearance of an innovation upon his square rules of business.

M'Carstrow finds him in just the mood to interpose all the frigid
peculiarities of his incomprehensible nature. The colonel has known
him by reputation; he knows him now through a different medium.
After listening to M'Carstrow's request, and comporting himself with
all imaginable dignity, he runs his fingers through his hair, looks
at M'Carstrow vacantly, and well nigh rouses his temper. M'Carstrow
feels, as southern gentlemen are wont to feel, that his position and
title are enough to ensure courtesy and a quick response. The man of
writs and summonses feels quite sure that the pomp of his office is
sufficient to offset all other distinctions.

"Whar' d'ye say the gal was,--in my gaol?" the sheriff inquires, with
solemn earnestness, and drawling his words measuredly, as if the
whole affair was quite within his line of business. The sheriff has
the opportunity of making a nice little thing of it; the object to
be released will serve the profits of the profession. "Gittin' that
gal out yander ain't an easy thing now, 'taint! It'll cost ye 'bout
twenty dollars, sartin," he adds, turning over the leaves of his big
book, and running his finger down a scale of names.

"I don't care if it costs a hundred! Give me an order for her
release!" M'Carstrow begins to understand Mr. Sheriff's composition,
and putting his hand into his pocket, draws forth a dwenty-dollar
gold piece, throws it upon the table. The effect is electric: it
smooths down the surface of Mr. Sheriff's nature,--brings out the
disposition to accommodate. The Sheriff's politeness now taxes
M'Carstrow's power to reciprocate.

"Now, ye see, my friend," says Mr. Sheriff, in a quaint tone,
"there's three fi fas on that critter. Hold a minute!" He must needs
take a better glance; he runs his fingers over the page again,
mutters to himself, and then breaks out into a half-musical,
half-undefinable humming. "It's a snarled-up affair, the whole on't.
T'll take a plaguy cunnin' lawyer to take the shine out." The
sheriff pushes the piece of coin nearer the inkstand, into the
centre of the table. "I feel all over like accommodatin' ye," he
deigns to say; "but then t'll be so pestky crooked gettin' the thing
straight." He hesitates before the wonderful difficulty,--he can't
see his way straight through it. "Three fi fas! I believe I'm
correct; there's one principal one, however."

"I pledge my honour for her return in the morning; and she shall be
all shined up with a new dress. Her presence is imperatively
necessary to-night," M'Carstrow remarks, becoming impatient.

"Two fi fas!-well, the first look looked like three. But, the
principal one out of the way,--no matter." Mr. Sheriff becomes more
and more enlightened on the unenlightened difficulties of the law.
He remarks, touching M'Carstrow on the arm, with great seriousness
of countenance, "I sees how the knot's tied. Ye know, my functions
are turned t' most everything; and it makes a body see through a
thing just as straight as--. Pest on't! Ye see, it's mighty likely
property,--don't strike such every day. That gal 'll bring a big tick
in the market-"

"Excuse me, my dear sir," M'Carstrow suddenly interrupts.
"Understand me, if you please. I want her for nothing that you
contemplate,--nothing, I pledge you my honour as a southern
gentleman!"

"'Ah,--bless me! Well, but there's nothin' in that. I see! I see! I
see!" Mr. Sheriff brightens up, his very soul seems to expand with
legal tenacity. "Well, ye see, there's a question of property raised
about the gal, and her young 'un, too-nice young 'un 'tis; but it's
mighty easy tellin' whose it is. About the law matter, though, you
must get the consent of all the plaintiff's attorneys,--that's no
small job. Lawyers are devilish slippery, rough a feller amazingly,
once in a while; chance if ye don't have to get the critter valued
by a survey. Graspum, though's ollers on hand, is first best good at
that: can say her top price while ye'd say seven," says Mr. Sheriff,
maintaining his wise dignity, as he reminds M'Carstrow that his name
is Cur, commonly called Mr. Cur, sheriff of the county. It must not
be inferred that Mr. Cur has any of the canine qualities about him.
The hour for the ceremony is close at hand. M'Carstrow, satisfied
that rules of law are very arbitrary things in the hands of
officials-that such property is difficult to get out of the meshes
of legal technicality-that honour is neither marketable or
pledgeable in such cases, must move quickly: he seeks the very
conscientious attorneys, gets them together, pleads the necessity of
the case: a convention is arranged, Graspum will value the
property-as a weigher and gauger of human flesh. This done,
M'Carstrow signs a bond in the sum of fifteen hundred dollars,
making himself responsible for the property. The instrument contains
a provision, that should any unforeseen disaster befall it, the
question of property will remain subject to the decision of Court.
Upon these conditions, M'Carstrow procures an order for her release.
He is careful, however, that nothing herein set forth shall affect
the suit already instituted.

Love is an exhilarating medicine, moving and quickening the hearts
of old and young. M'Carstrow felt its influence sensibly, as he
hurried back to the prison-excited by the near approach of the
ceremony-with the all-important order. Bolts, bars, and malarious
walls, yield to it the pining captive whose presence will soothe
Franconia's feelings.

Clotilda was no less elated at the hope of changing her prison for
the presence of her young mistress; and yet, the previous summons
had nearly unnerved her. She lingers at the grating, waiting
M'Carstrow's return. Time seems to linger, until her feelings are
nearly overwhelmed in suspense. Again, there is a mystery in the
mission of the stranger; she almost doubts his sincerity. It may be
one of those plots, so often laid by slave-traders, to separate her
from her child,--perhaps to run her where all hope of regaining
freedom will be for ever lost. One after another did these things
recur to her mind, only to make the burden of her troubles more
painful.

Her child has eaten its crust, fallen into a deep sleep, and, its
little hands resting clasped on its bosom, lies calmly upon the
coarse blanket. She gazes upon it, as a mother only can gaze. There
is beauty in that sweet face; it is not valued for its loveliness,
its tenderness, its purity. How cursed that it is to be the prime
object of her disgrace! Thus contemplating, M'Carstrow appears at
the outer gate, is admitted into the prison, reaches the inner
grating, is received by the warden, who smiles generously. "I'm as
glad as anything! Hope you had a good time with his honour, Mr.
Cur?" he says, holding the big key in his hand, and leading the way
into the office. He takes his seat at a table, commences preparing
the big book. "Here is the entry," he says, with a smile of
satisfaction. "We'll soon straighten the thing now." Puts out his
hand for the order which M'Carstrow has been holding. "That's just
the little thing," he says, reading it word by word carefully, and
concluding with the remark that he has had a deal of trouble with
it. M'Carstrow places some pieces of silver in his hand; they turn
the man of keys into a subservient creature. He hastens to the cell,
M'Carstrow following,--draws the heavy bolts,--bids the prisoner come
forth. "Yes, come, girl; I've had a tough time to get you out of
that place: it holds its prey like lawyers' seals," rejoins
M'Carstrow.

"Not without my child?" she inquires quickly. She stoops down and
kisses it. "My daughter,--my sweet child!" she mutters.

"Till to-morrow. You must leave her for to-night."

"If I must!" Again she kisses the child, adding, as she smoothed her
hand over Annette, and parted her hair, "Mother will return soon."
There was something so touching in the word mother, spoken while
leaning over a sleeping babe. Clotilda reaches the door, having kept
her eyes upon the child as she left her behind. A tremor comes over
her,--she reluctantly passes the threshold of the narrow arch; but
she breathes the fresh air of heaven,--feels as if her life had been
renewed. A mother's thoughts, a mother's anxieties, a mother's love,
veil her countenance. She turns to take a last look as the cold door
closes upon the dearest object of her life. How it grates upon its
hinges! her hopes seem for ever extinguished.

The law is thus far satisfied-the legal gentlemen are satisfied, the
warden is not the least generous; and Mr. Cur feels that, while the
job was a very nice one, he has not transcended one jot of his
importance. Such is highly gratifying to all parties. Clotilda is
hurried into a carriage, driven at a rapid rate, and soon arrives at
the mansion. Here she is ushered into a chamber, arrayed in a new
dress, and conducted into the presence of Franconia. The meeting may
be more easily imagined than described. Their congratulations were
warm, affectionate, touching. Clotilda kisses Franconia's hand again
and again; Franconia, in turn, lays her hand upon Clotilda's
shoulder, and, with a look of commiseration, sets her eyes intently
upon her, as if she detects in her countenance those features she
cannot disown. She requests to be left alone with Clotilda for a
short time. Her friends withdraw. She discloses the difficulties
into which the family have suddenly fallen, the plan of escape she
has arranged, the hopes she entertains of her regaining her freedom.
"Public opinion and the state of our difficulties prompted this
course,--I prefer it to any other: follow my directions,--Maxwell has
everything prepared, and to-night will carry you off upon the broad
blue ocean of liberty. Enjoy that liberty, Clotilda,--be a
woman,--follow the path God has strewn for your happiness; above all,
let freedom be rewarded with your virtue, your example," says
Franconia, as she again places her arm round Clotilda's neck.

"And leave my child, Franconia?" the other inquires, looking up
imploringly in Franconia's face.

"To me," is the quick response. "I will be her guardian, her mother.
Get you beyond the grasp of slavery-get beyond its contaminating
breath, and I will be Annette's mother. When you are safely there,
when you can breathe the free air of liberty, write me, and she
shall meet you. Leave her to me; think of her only in my care, and
in my trust she will be happy. Meet Maxwell-he is your friend-at the
centre corridor; he will be there as soon as the ceremony commences;
he will have a pass from me; he will be your guide!" She overcomes
Clotilda's doubts, reasons away her pleadings for her child, gives
her a letter and small miniature (they are to be kept until she
reaches her destination of freedom), and commences preparing for the
ceremony.

Night arrives, the old mansion brightens and resounds with the
bustle of preparation. Servants are moving about in great confusion.
Everything is in full dress; "yellow fellows," immersed in trim
black coats, nicely-cut pantaloons, white vests and gloves,
shirt-collars of extraordinary dimensions, and hair curiously
crimped, are standing at their places along the halls, ready for
reception. Another class, equally well dressed, are running to and
fro through the corridors in the despatch of business. Old mammas
have a new shine on their faces, their best "go to church" fixings
on their backs. Younger members of the same property species are
gaudily attired-some in silk, some in missus's slightly worn
cashmere. The colour of their faces grades from the purest ebony to
the palest olive. A curious philosophy may be drawn from the
mixture: it contrasts strangely with the flash and dazzle of their
fantastic dresses, their large circular ear-rings, their
curiously-tied bandanas, the large bow points of which lay crossed
on the tufts of their crimpy hair. The whole scene has an air of
bewitching strangeness. In another part of the mansion we find the
small figures of the estate, all agog, toddling and doddling, with
faces polished like black-balled shoes; they are as piquant and
interesting as their own admiration of the dress master has provided
them for the occasion.

The darkness increases as the night advances. The arbour leading
from the great gate to the vaulted hall in the base of the mansion
is hung with lanterns of grotesque patterns, emitting light and
shade as variegated as the hues of the rainbow. The trees and
shrubbery in the arena, hung with fantastic lanterns, enliven the
picture-make it grand and imposing. It presents a fairy-like
perspective, with spectre lights hung here and there, their mellow
glows reflecting softly upon the luxuriant foliage.

Entering the vaulted hall, its floor of antique tiles; frescoed
walls with well-executed mythological designs, jetting lights
flickering and dazzling through its arches, we find ourselves amidst
splendour unsurpassed in our land. At the termination of the great
hall a massive flight of spiral steps, of Egyptian marble, ascends
to the fourth story, forming a balcony at each, where ottomans are
placed, and from which a fine view of the curvature presents itself,
from whence those who have ascended may descry those ascending. On
the second story is a corridor, with moulded juttings and fretwork
overhead; these are hung with festoons of jasmines and other
delicate flowers, extending its whole length, and lighted by
globular lamps, the prismatic ornaments of which shed their soft
glows on the fixtures beneath. They invest it with the appearance of
a bower decorated with buds and blossoms. From this, on the right, a
spacious arched door, surmounted by a semi-circle of stained glass
containing devices of the Muses and other allegorical figures, leads
into an immense parlour, having a centre arch hung with heavy folds
of maroon coloured velvet overspread with lace. Look where you will,
the picture of former wealth and taste presents itself. Around the
walls hang costly paintings, by celebrated Italian masters; some are
portraits of the sovereigns of England, from that of Elizabeth to
George the Third. Brilliant lights jet forth from massive
chandeliers and girandoles, lighting up the long line of chaste
furniture beneath. The floor is spread with softest Turkey carpet;
groups of figures in marble, skilfully executed, form a curiously
arranged fire-place; Britannia's crest surmounting the whole. At
each end of the room stand chastely designed pieces of statuary of
heroes and heroines of past ages. Lounges, ottomans, reclines, and
couches, elaborately carved and upholstered, stand here and there in
all their antiqueness and grandeur. Pier-glasses, massive tables
inlaid with mosaic and pearl, are arranged along the sides, and
overhung with flowing tapestry that falls carelessly from the large
Doric windows. Over these windows are massive cornices, richly
designed and gilded. Quiet grandeur pervades the whole; even the
fairy-like dais that has been raised for the nuptial ceremony rests
upon four pieces of statuary, and is covered with crimson velvet set
with sparkling crystals. And while this spectacle presents but the
vanity of our nature, grand but not lasting, the sweet breath of
summer is wafting its balmy odours to refresh and give life to its
lifeless luxury.

The gay cortŠge begins to assemble; the halls fill with guests; the
beauty, grace, and intelligence of this little fashionable world,
arrayed in its very best, will be here with its best face. Sparkling
diamonds and other precious stones, dazzling, will enhance the
gorgeous display. And yet, how much of folly's littleness does it
all present! All this costly drapery-all this show of worldly
voluptuousness-all this tempest of gaiety, is but the product of
pain and sorrow. The cheek that blushes in the gay circle, that fair
form born to revel in luxury, would not blush nor shrink to see a
naked wretch driven with the lash. Yea! we have said it was the
product of pain and sorrow; it is the force of oppression wringing
from ignorance and degradation the very dregs of its life. Men say,
what of that?-do we not live in a great good land of liberty?

The young affianced,--dressed in a flowing skirt of white satin, with
richly embroidered train; a neat bodice of the same material, with
incisions of lace tipped with brilliants; sleeves tapering into neat
rufflets of lace clasped upon the wrist with diamond bracelets, a
stomacher of chastely worked lace with brilliants in the centre,
relieved by two rows of small unpolished pearls,--is ushered into the
parlour, followed by groomsmen and bridesmaids as chastely dressed.

There is a striking contrast between the youth and delicacy of
Franconia, blushing modestly and in her calmness suppressing that
inert repugnance working in her mind, and the brusqueness of
M'Carstrow, who assumes the free and easy dash, hoping thereby to
lessen his years in the picture of himself. Clotilda, for the last
time, has arranged Franconia's hair, which lies in simple braids
across her polished brows, and folds upon the back, where it is
secured and set off with a garland of wild flowers. The hand that
laid it there, that arranged it so neatly, will never arrange it
again. As a last token of affection for her young mistress, Clotilda
has plucked a new-blown chiponique, white with crystal dew, and
surrounded it with tiny buds and orange blossoms: this, Franconia
holds in her left hand, the lace to which it is attached falling
like mist to the ground.

Thus arrayed, they appear at the altar: the good man of modest cloth
takes his place, the ceremony commences; and as it proceeds, and the
solemn words fall upon her ear, "Those whom God hath joined together
let no man put asunder," she raises her eyes upwards, with a look of
melancholy, as tears, like pearls, glisten in her soft expressive
eyes. Her heart is moved with deeper emotion than this display of
southern galaxy can produce. The combination of circumstances that
has brought her to the altar, the decline of fortune, perhaps
disgrace, worked upon her mind. It is that which has consigned her
to the arms of one she cannot love, whose feelings and associations
she never can respect. Was she to be the ransom?-was she to atone
for the loss of family fortune, family pride, family inconsistency?
kept forcing itself upon her. There was no gladness in it-no
happiness. And there was the captive, the victim of foul slavery-so
foul that hell yearns for its abettors-whose deliverance she prayed
for with her earnest soul. She knew the oppressor's grasp-she had,
with womanly pride, come forward to relieve the wronged, and she had
become sensible of the ties binding her to Clotilda. Unlike too many
of her sex, she did not suppress her natural affections; she could
not see only the slave in a disowned sister; she acknowledged the
relationship, and hastened to free her, to send her beyond slavery's
grasp, into the glad embrace of freedom.

The ceremony ends; the smiles and congratulations of friends, as
they gather round Franconia, shower upon her; she receives them
coldly, her heart has no love for them, it throbs with anxiety for
that slave whose liberty she has planned, and for whose safety she
invokes the all-protecting hand of heaven.






CHAPTER XVI.

ANOTHER PHASE OF THE PICTURE.





WHILE the ceremony we have described in the foregoing chapter was
proceeding, Clotilda, yielding to the earnest request of Franconia,
dresses herself in garments she has provided, and awaits the
commencement of the scene. A little schooner from one of the Bahama
Islands lies moored in the harbour awaiting a fair wind to return.

We need scarcely tell the reader that a plan of escape had been
previously arranged between Franconia and Maxwell; but why she took
so earnest a part in carrying it out, we must reserve for another
chapter.

Maxwell had sought the captain of this schooner, found him of a
generous disposition, ready to act in behalf of freedom. Having soon
gained his confidence, and enlisted his good services, it took no
great amount of persuasion to do this, his feelings having already
been aroused against slavery, the giant arms of which, stretched out
between fear and injustice, had interfered with his rights. He had
seen it grasp the bones and sinews of those who were born in
freedom-he had seen men laugh at his appeals for justice-he had seen
one of his free-born British seamen manacled and dragged to prison
at noonday, merely because his skin was slightly coloured; he had
been compelled to pay tribute to keep alive the oppressor's power,
to compensate the villainy rogues practise upon honest men.

"Yes!" says the captain, a sturdy son of the sea, in answer to
Maxwell; "bring her on board; and with a heart's best wishes, if I
don't land her free and safe in Old Bahama I'll never cross the gulf
stream again." And the mode of getting the boats ready was at once
arranged.

The night was still and dark; picturesque illuminations in and
around the mansion glittered in contrast with the starry arch of
heaven; the soft south breeze fans to life the dark foliage that
clusters around-nature has clothed the scene with her beauties.
Clotilda-she has eagerly awaited the coming time-descends to the
balustrade in the rear of the mansion. Here she meets a band of
musicians; they have assembled to serenade, and wait the
benediction, a signal for which will be made from one of the
balconies. She fears they may recognise her, hesitates at the
entrance, paces backward and forward in the colonnade, and professes
to be awaiting some message from her mistress. Again scanning the
scene, she watches intently, keeping her eyes fixed in the direction
Franconia has suggested. "I was to meet Maxwell there!" works upon
her mind until she becomes nervous and agitated. "I was, and must
meet him there;" and she walks slowly back to the entrance, turns
and returns, watches until her soul has nearly sickened, at length
espies the joyous signal. Franconia did not deceive her. Oh, no! he
stands there in the glare of a lamp that hangs from a willow-tree.
She vaults over the path, grasps his hand with a sister's affection,
and simultaneously the soft swelling music of "Still so gently o'er
me stealing!" floats in the air, as dulcet and soul-stirring as ever
touched the fancy, or clothed with holy inspiration the still repose
of a southern landscape at midnight. But she is with Maxwell; they
have passed the serenaders,--liberty is the haven of her joy, it
gives her new hopes of the future. Those hopes dispel the regrets
that hover over her mind as she thinks of her child.

For several minutes they stand together, listening to the music, and
watching the familiar faces of old friends as they come upon the
balcony in the second story. Southern life had its pleasant
associations-none would attempt to deny them; but the evil brooded
in the uncertainty that hung over the fate of millions, now yielding
indulgence to make life pleasant, then sinking them for ever in the
cruelties of a tyrant's power. It is the crushing out of the mind's
force,--the subduing the mental and physical man to make the chattel
complete,--the shutting out of all the succinct virtues that nurture
freedom, that incite us to improve the endowments of nature, that
proves the rankling poison. And this poison spreads its baneful
influence in and around good men's better desires.

After watching in silence for a few moments, Clotilda gives vent to
her feelings. "I should like to see old Daddy Bob once more, I
should! And my poor Annette; she is celled to be sold, I'm afraid;
but I must yield to the kindness of Franconia. I have seen some
good times among the old folks on the plantation. And there's Aunt
Rachel,--a good creature after all,--and Harry. Well; I mustn't think
of these things; freedom is sweetest," she says. Maxwell suggests
that they move onward. The music dies away in the stillness, as they
turn from the scene to flee beyond the grasp of men who traffic in
human things called property,--not by a great constitution, but under
a constitution's freedom giving power. Would that a great and
glorious nation had not sold its freedom to the damning stain of
avarice! would that it had not perverted that holy word, for the
blessings of which generations have struggled in vain! would that it
had not substituted a freedom that mystifies a jurisprudence,--that
brings forth the strangest fruit of human passions,--that makes
prison walls and dreary cells death-beds of the innocent;-that
permits human beings to be born for the market, and judged by the
ripest wisdom! "Has God ordained such freedom lasting?" will force
itself upon us.-We must return to our humble adventurers.

The fugitives reached the back gate, leading into a narrow lane,
from whence they cross into the main street. Clotilda has none of
the African about her; the most observing guardsman would not stop
her for a slave. They pass along unmolested; the guardsmen, some
mounted and some walking at a slow pace, bow politely. No one
demands a pass. They arrive in safety at a point about two miles
from the city, where the captain and his boat await them. No time is
lost in embarking: the little bark rides at anchor in the stream;
the boat quietly glides to her; they are safely on board. A few
minutes more, and the little craft moves seaward under the pressure
of a gentle breeze. There is no tragic pursuit of slave-hunters, no
tramp of horses to terrify the bleeding victim, no howlings of
ravenous bloodhounds,--nothing that would seem to make the issue
freedom or death. No! all is as still as a midsummer night in the
same clime. The woman--this daughter of slavery's vices--cherishes a
love for freedom; the hope of gaining it, and improving those
endowments nature has bestowed upon her, freshens her spirits and
gives her life to look forward without desponding. Maxwell is her
friend; he has witnessed the blighting power of slavery-not alone in
its workings upon the black man, but upon the lineal offspring of
freemen-and has resolved to work against its mighty arm. With him it
is the spontaneous action of a generous heart sympathising for the
wrongs inflicted upon the weak, and loving to see right respected.

The fair Franconia, who has just been forced to accept the hand of a
mere charlatan, disclosed the secrets of her mind to him; it was she
who incited him to an act which might have sacrificed his freedom,
perhaps his life. But mankind is possessed of an innate feeling to
do good; and there is a charm added when the object to be served is
a fair creature about to be dragged into the miseries of slavery.
Even the rougher of our kind cannot resist it; and at times-we
except the servile opinion which slavery inflicts upon a people
through its profitable issues-prompts the ruffian to generous acts.

The little bark, bound for the haven of freedom, sailed onward over
the blue waters, and when daylight dawned had crossed the bar
separating the harbour from the ocean. Clotilda ascends to the deck,
sits on the companion-seat, and in a pensive mood watches the fading
hills where slavery stains the fair name of freedom,--where
oppression rears its dark monuments to for ever torture and disgrace
a harmless race. She looks intently upon them, as one by one they
fade in the obscure horizon, seeming to recall the many
associations, pleasant and painful, through which she has passed.
She turns from the contemplation to the deep blue sea, and the
unclouded arch of heaven, as they spread out before her: they are
God's own, man cannot pollute them; they are like a picture of glory
inspiring her with emotions she cannot suppress. As the last dim
sight of land is lost in the distance, she waves a handkerchief, as
if to bid it adieu for ever; then looking at Maxwell, who sits by
her side, she says, with a sigh, "I am beyond it! Free,--yes, free!
But, have I not left a sufferer behind? There is my poor Annette, my
child; I will clasp her to my bosom,--I will love her more when I
meet her again. Good-bye, Franconia-dear Franconia! She will be a
mother to my little one; she will keep her word." Thus saying, she
casts a look upward, invokes heaven to be merciful to her
persecutors,--to protect her child,--to guard Franconia through life.
Tears stream down her cheeks as she waves her hand and retires to
the cabin.






CHAPTER XVII.

PLEASANT DEALINGS WITH HUMAN PROPERTY.





WE must deal gently with our scenes; we must describe them without
exaggeration, and in rotation. While the scenes we have just
described were proceeding, another, of deeper import, and more
expressive of slavery's complicated combinations, was being enacted
in another part of the city.

A raffle of ordinary character had been announced in the morning
papers,--we say ordinary, because it came within the ordinary
specification of trade, and violated neither statute law nor
municipal ordinance,--and the raffler, esteemed a great character in
the city, was no less celebrated for his taste in catering for the
amusement of his patrons. On this occasion, purporting to be a very
great one, the inducements held out were no less an incentive of
gambling propensities than an aim to serve licentious purposes. In a
word, it offered "all young connoisseurs of beauty a chance to
procure one of the finest-developed young wenches,--fair, bright,
perfectly brought up, young, chaste, and of most amiable
disposition, for a trifling sum." This was all straight in the way
of trade, in a free country; nobody should blush at it (some
maidens, reading the notice, might feel modestly inclined to),
because nobody could gainsay it. This is prize No. 1, prime-as set
down in the schedule-and the amount per toss being only a trifle,
persons in want of such prizes are respectfully informed of the fact
that only a few chances remain, which will command a premium before
candle-light. Prize No. 2 is a superior pony, of well-known
breed-here the pedigree is set forth; which advantage had not been
accorded to the human animal, lest certain members of the same stock
should blush-raised with great care and attention, and exactly
suited for a gentleman's jant or a lady's saddle-nag. Prize No. 3 is
a superior setter dog, who has also been well brought up, is from
good stock, is kind to children, who play with him when they please.
He knows niggers, is good to watch them, has been known to catch
runaways, to tear their shins wonderfully. Indeed, according to the
setting forth of the sagacious animal, he would seem to understand
slave-law quite well, and to be ready and willing to lend his aid
with dogs of a different species to enforce its provisions. The only
fault the brute has, if fault it may be called, is that he does not
understand the constitutionality of the fugitive slave law,--a law
destined to be exceedingly troublesome among a free people. Did the
sagacity of the animal thus extend to the sovereign law of the land
of the brave and free, he would bring a large price at the north,
where men are made to do what dogs most delight in at the south.

The first prize, as set forth, is valued at seven hundred dollars:
the magnanimous gentleman who caters thus generously for his patrons
states the delicate prize to be worth fifty or a hundred dollars
more, and will, with a little more developing, be worth a great deal
more money. Hence, he hopes his patrons will duly appreciate
enterprising liberality.

The second prize he considers generously low at two hundred dollars;
and the dog-the sagacious animal constituting the third prize-would
be a great bargain to anybody wanting such an animal, especially in
consideration of his propensity to catch negroes, at sixty dollars.
The trio of human and animal prizes produce no distinctive effect
upon the feelings of those who speculate in such property; with them
it is only a matter of gradation between dollars and cents.

But, to be more off-handed in this generous undertaking, and in
consideration of the deep-felt sensibility and hospitality which
must always protect southern character, the chances will be
restricted to two hundred, at five dollars per chance. Money must be
paid in before friends can consider themselves stock-holders. It is
to be a happy time, in a happy country, where all are boasted happy.
The first lucky dog will get the human prize; the next lucky dog
will get the pony; the third will make a dog of himself by only
winning a dog. The fun of the thing, however, will be the great
attraction; men of steady habits are reminded of this. Older
gentlemen, having very nice taste for colour, but no particular
scruples about religion, and who seldom think morals worth much to
niggers, "because they aint got sense to appreciate such things,"
are expected to be on hand. Those who know bright and fair niggers
were never made for anything under the sun but to gratify their own
desires, are expected to spread the good news, to set the young
aristocracy of the city all agog,--to start up a first-best
crowd,--have some tall drinking and first-rate amusement. Everybody
is expected to tell his friend, and his friend is expected to help
the generous man out with his generous scheme, and all are expected
to join in the "bender." Nobody must forget that the whole thing is
to come off at "Your House,"-an eating and drinking saloon, of great
capacity, kept by the very distinguished man, Mr. O'Brodereque.

Mr. O'Brodereque, who always pledges his word upon the honour of a
southern gentleman-frequently asserting his greatness in the
political world, and wondering who could account for his not finding
his way into Congress, where talent like his would be brought out
for the protection of our south-has made no end of money by selling
a monstrous deal of very bad liquor to customers of all
grades,--niggers excepted. And, although his hair is well mixed with
the grey of many years, he declares the guilt of selling liquor to
niggers is not on his shoulders. It is owing to this clean state of
his character, that he has been able to maintain his aristocratic
position. "Yes, indeed," said one of his patrons, who, having fallen
in arrears, found himself undergoing the very disagreeable process
of being politely kicked into the street, "money makes a man big in
the south: big in niggers, big in politics, big with everything but
the way I'm big,--with an empty pocket. I don't care, though; he's
going up by the process that I'm coming down. There's philosophy in
that." It could not be denied that Mr. O'Brodereque-commonly called
General O'Brodereque-was very much looked up to by great people and
Bacchanalians,--men who pay court to appease the wondrous discontent
of the belly, to the total neglect of the back. Not a few swore, by
all their importance, a greater man never lived. He is, indeed, all
that can be desired to please the simple pretensions of a
free-thinking and free-acting southern people, who, having elevated
him to the office of alderman, declare him exactly the man to
develope its functions. A few of the old school aristocracy, who
still retain the bad left them by their English ancestry, having
long since forgotten the good, do sneer now and then at Mr.
Brodereque's pretensions. But, like all great men who have a great
object to carry out, he affects to frown such things down,--to remind
the perpetrators of such aristocratic sneers what a spare few they
are. He asserts, and with more truth than poetry, that any gentleman
having the capacity to deluge the old aristocracy with doubtful
wine, line his pockets while draining theirs-all the time making
them feel satisfied he imports the choicest-and who can keep on a
cheerful face the while, can fill an alderman's chair to a nicety.

In addition to the above, Mr. O'Brodereque is one of those very
accommodating individuals who never fail to please their customers,
while inciting their vanity; and, at the same time, always secure a
good opinion for themselves. And, too, he was liberally inclined,
never refused tick, but always made it tell; by which well-devised
process, his patrons were continually becoming his humble servants,
ready to serve him at call.

Always civil, and even obsequious at first, ready to condescend and
accommodate, he is equally prompt when matters require that peculiar
turn which southerners frequently find themselves turned into,--no
more tick and a turn out of doors. At times, Mr. O'Brodereque's
customers have the very unenviable consolation of knowing that a
small document called a mortgage of their real and personal property
remains in his hands, which he will very soon find it necessary to
foreclose.

It is dark,--night has stolen upon us again,--the hour for the raffle
is at hand. The saloon, about a hundred and forty feet long by forty
wide, is brilliantly lighted for the occasion. The gas-lights throw
strange shadows upon the distemper painting with which the walls are
decorated. Hanging carelessly here and there are badly-daubed
paintings of battle scenes and heroic devices, alternated with
lithographic and badly-executed engravings of lustfully-exposed
females. Soon the saloon fills with a throng of variously-mixed
gentlemen. The gay, the grave, the old, and the young men of the
fashionable world, are present. Some affect the fast young man;
others seem mere speculators, attracted to the place for the purpose
of enjoying an hour, seeing the sight, and, it may be, taking a
throw for the "gal." The crowd presents a singular contrast of
beings. Some are dressed to the very extreme of fantastic fashion,
and would seem to have wasted their brains in devising colours for
their backs; others, aspiring to the seriously genteel, are
fashioned in very extravagant broadcloth; while a third group is
dressed in most niggardly attire, which sets very loosely. In
addition to this they wear very large black, white, and
grey-coloured felt hats, slouched over their heads; while their
nether garments, of red and brown linsey-woolsey, fit like
Falstaff's doublet on a whip stock. They seem proud of the grim
tufts of hair that, like the moss-grown clumps upon an old oak,
spread over their faces; and they move about in the grotesque crowd,
making their physiognomies increase its piquancy.

The saloon is one of those places at the south where great men,
small men, men of different spheres and occupations, men in
prominently defined positions, men in doubtful calls of life, and
men most disreputably employed, most do congregate. At one end of
the saloon is a large oyster counter, behind which stand two
coloured men, with sauces, savories, and other mixtures at hand,
ready to serve customers who prefer the delicacy in its raw state.
Men are partaking without noting numbers. Mr. O'Brodereque has boys
serving who take very good care of the numbers. Extending along one
side of the saloon is an elaborately carved mahogany counter, with
panels of French white and gilt mouldings. This is surmounted with a
marble slab, upon which stand well-filled decanters, vases, and
salvers. Behind this counter, genteelly-dressed and polite
attendants are serving customers who stand along its side in a line,
treating in true southern style. The calling for drinks is a problem
for nice ears to solve, so varied are the sounds, so strange the
names: style, quantity, and mixture seemed without limit, set on in
various colours to flow and flood the spirits of the jovial. On the
opposite side of the saloon are rows of seats and arm-chairs,
interspersed with small tables, from which the beverage can be
imbibed more at ease. On the second story is the great "eating
saloon," with its various apartments, its curtained boxes, its
prim-looking waiters, its pier-glass walls. There is every
accommodation for belly theologians, who may discuss the choicest
viands of the season.

The company are assembled,--the lower saloon is crowded; Mr.
O'Brodereque, with great dignity, mounts the stand,--a little table
standing at one end of the room. His face reddens, he gives several
delinquent coughs, looks round and smiles upon his motley patrons,
points a finger recognisingly at a wag in the corner, who has
addressed some remarks to him, puts his thumbs in the sleeve-holes
of his vest, throws back his coat-collar, puts himself in a defiant
attitude, and is ready to deliver himself of his speech.

"A political speech from the General! Gentlemen, hats off, and give
your attention to Mr. General O'Brodereque's remarks!" resounds from
several voices. Mr. O'Brodereque is somewhat overcome, his friends
compliment him so: he stands, hesitating, as if he had lost the
opening part of his speech, like a statue on a molasses-cask. At
length he speaks. "If it was a great political question, gentlemen,
I'd get the twist of the thing,--I'd pitch into it, big! These little
things always trouble public men more than the important intricacies
of government do. You see, they are not comesurate,--that's it!" says
Mr. Brodereque, looking wondrously wise the while. After bowing,
smiling, and acknowledging the compliments of his generous customers
with prodigious grace, he merely announces to his friends--with
eloquence that defies imitation, and turns rhetoric into a
discordant exposition of his own important self--that, not having
examined the constitution for more nor three Sundays, they must,
upon the honour of a gentleman, excuse his political speech. "But,
gents," he says, "you all know how I trys to please ye in the way of
raffles and such things, and how I throws in the belly and stomach
fixins. Now, brighten up, ye men of taste"--Mr. Brodereque laughs
satisfactorily as he surveys his crowd--"I'm going to do the thing
up brown for ye,--to give ye a chance for a bit of bright property
what ye don't get every day; can't scare up such property only once
in a while. It'll make ye old fellers wink, some"--Mr. O'Brodereque
winks at several aged gentlemen, whose grey hair is figurative in
the crowd--"think about being young again. And, my friends below
thirty-my young friends--ah, ye rascals! I thought I'd play the tune
on the right string!"--he laughs, and puts his finger to his mouth
quizzically--"I likes to suit ye, and please ye: own her up, now,--
don't I?"

"Hurrah! for Brod,--Brod's a trump!" again resounds from a dozen
voices.

They all agree to the remark that nobody can touch the great Mr.
O'Brodereque in getting up a nice bit of fun, amusing young men with
more money than mind, and being in the favour of aristocratic
gentlemen who think nothing of staking a couple of prime niggers on
a point of faro.

Mr. O'Brodereque has been interrupted; he begs his friends will, for
a moment, cease their compliments and allow him to proceed.
"Gentlemen!" he continues, "the gal's what ye don't get every day;
and she's as choice as she's young; and she's as handsome as she's
young; and for this delicious young crittur throws are only five
dollars a piece." The sentimental southern gentleman has no
reference to the throes of anguish that are piercing the wounded
soul of the woman.

"A gentleman what ain't got a five-dollar bill in his pocket better
not show his winkers in this crowd. After that, gentlemen, there's a
slap-up pony, and one of the knowinest dogs outside of a
court-house. Now,--gents! if this ain't some tall doings,--some of a
raffle, just take my boots and I'll put it for Texas. A chance for a
nigger gal-a pony-a dog; who on 'arth wants more, gentlemen?" Mr.
O'Brodereque again throws back his coat, shrugs his shoulders, wipes
the perspiration from his brow, and is about to descend from the
table. No, he won't come down just yet. He has struck a vein; his
friends are getting up a favourable excitement.

"Bravo! bravo!-long may General Brodereque keep the hospitable Your
House! Who wouldn't give a vote for Brodereque at the next
election?" re-echoes through the room.

"One more remark, gentlemen." Mr. Brodereque again wipes the
perspiration from his forehead, and orders a glass of water, to
loosen his oratorical organs. He drinks the water, seems to increase
in his own greatness; his red face glows redder, he makes a
theatrical gesticulation with his right hand, crumples his hair into
curious points, and proceeds:--"The lucky man what gets the gal prize
is to treat the crowd!" This is seconded and carried by acclamation,
without a dissenting voice.

A murmuring noise, as of some one in trouble, is now heard at the
door: the crowd gives way: a beautiful mulatto girl, in a black silk
dress, with low waist and short sleeves, and morocco slippers on her
feet, is led in and placed upon the stand Mr. O'Brodereque has just
vacated. Her complexion is that of a swarthy Greek; her countenance
is moody and reflective; her feelings are stung with the poison of
her degraded position. This last step of her disgrace broods in the
melancholy of her face. Shame, pain, hope, and fear, combine to goad
her very soul. But it's all for a bit of fun, clearly legal; it's
all in accordance with society; misfortune is turned into a
plaything, that generous, good, and noble-hearted men may be amused.
Those who stand around her are extravagant with joy. After remaining
a few moments in silence, a mute victim of generous freedom, she
turns her head bashfully, covers her face with her hands. Her
feelings gush forth in a stream of tears; she cannot suppress them
longer.

There is a touching beauty in her face, made more effective by the
deplorable condition to which she is reduced. Again she looks
upward, and covers her face with her hands; her soul seems merged in
supplication to the God who rules all things aright. He is a
forgiving God! Can he thus direct man's injustice to man, while this
poor broken flower thus withers under the bane? Sad, melancholy,
doomed! there is no hope, no joy for her. She weeps over her
degradation.

"Stop that whimperin!" says a ruffianly bystander, who orders a
coloured boy to let down her hair. He obeys the summons; it falls in
thick, black, undulating tresses over her neck and shoulders. A few
moments more, and she resumes a calm appearance, looks resolutely
upon her auditors, with indignation and contempt pictured in her
countenance.

"She'll soon get over that!" ejaculates another bystander, as he
smooths the long beard on his haggard face. "Strip her down!" The
request is no sooner made, than Mr. O'Brodereque mounts the stand to
perform the feat. "Great country this, gentlemen!" he speaks, taking
her by the shoulders.

"All off! all off, general!" is the popular demand.

The sensitive nature of the innocent girl recoils; she cringes from
his touch; she shudders, and vainly attempts to resist. She must
yield; the demand is imperative. Her dress falls at Mr.
O'Brodereque's touch. She stands before the gazing crowd, exposed to
the very thighs, holding the loose folds of her dress in her hands.
There is no sympathy for those moistened eyes; oh, no! it is a
luscious feast-puritans have no part in the sin-for those who, in
our land of love and liberty, buy and sell poor human nature, and
make it food for serving hell.

Naked she stands for minutes; the assembled gentlemen have feasted
their eyes,--good men have played the part of their good natures.
General O'Brodereque, conscious of his dignity, orders her to be
taken down. The waiter performs the duty, and she is led out midst
the acclamations and plaudits of the crowd, who call for the raffle.

Mr. O'Brodereque hopes gentlemen are satisfied with what they have
seen, and will pledge his honour that the pony and dog are quite as
sound and healthy as the wench whose portions they have had a chance
to shy; and for which-the extra sight-they should pay an extra
treat. This, however, his generosity will not allow him to stand
upon; and, seeing how time is precious, and the weather warm, he
hopes his friends will excuse the presence of the animals, take his
word of honour in consideration of the sight of the wench.

"Now, gentlemen," he says, "the throws are soon to commence, and all
what ain't put down the tin better attend that ar' needful
arrangement, quicker!"

As the general concludes this very significant invitation, Dan
Bengal, Anthony Romescos, and Nath Nimrod, enter together. Their
presence creates some little commotion, for Romescos is known to be
turbulent, and very uncertain when liquor flows freely, which is the
case at present.

"I say, general!-old hoss! I takes all the chances what's left,"
Romescos shouts at the top of his voice. His eyes glare with
anxiety,--his red, savage face, doubly sun-scorched, glows out as he
elbows his way through the crowd up to the desk, where sits a
corpulent clerk. "Beg your pardon, gentlemen: not so fast, if you
please!" he says, entering names in his ledger, receiving money,
"doing the polite of the establishment."

Romescos's coat and nether clothing are torn in several places, a
hunting-belt girdles his waist; a bowie-knife (Sheffield make)
protrudes from his breast-pocket, his hair hangs in jagged tufts
over the collar of his coat, which, with the rough moccasons on his
feet, give him an air of fierce desperaton and recklessness. His
presence is evidently viewed with suspicion; he is a curious object
which the crowd are willing to give ample space to.

"No, you don't take 'em all, neither!" says another, in a defiant
tone. The remaining "chances" are at once put up for sale; they
bring premiums, as one by one they are knocked down to the highest
bidders, some as much as fifty per cent. advance. Gentlemen are not
to know it, because Mr. O'Brodereque thinks his honour above
everything else; but the fact is, there is a collusion between
Romescos and the honourable Mr. O'Brodereque. The former is playing
his part to create a rivalry that will put dollars and cents into
the pocket of the latter.

"Well!" exclaims Romescos, with great indifference, as soon as the
sale had concluded, "I've got seven throws, all lucky ones. I'll
take any man's bet for two hundred dollars that I gets the gal
prize." Nobody seems inclined to accept the challenge. A table is
set in the centre of the saloon, the dice are brought on, amidst a
jargon of noise and confusion; to this is added drinking, smoking,
swearing, and all kinds of small betting.

The raffle commences; one by one the numbers are called. Romescos'
turn has come; all eyes are intently set upon him. He is celebrated
for tricks of his trade; he seldom repudiates the character, and
oftener prides in the name of a shrewd one, who can command a prize
for his sharp dealing. In a word, he has a peculiar faculty of
shielding the doubtful transactions of a class of men no less
dishonest, but more modest in point of reputation.

Romescos spreads himself wonderfully, throws his dice, and exults
over the result. He has turned up three sixes at the first and
second throws, and two sixes and five at the third.

"Beat that! who can?" he says. No one discovers that he has, by a
very dexterous movement, slipped a set of false dice into the box,
while O'Brodereque diverted attention at the moment by introducing
the pony into the saloon.

We will pass over many things that occurred, and inform the reader
that Romescos won the first prize-the woman. The dog and pony prizes
were carried off by legitimate winners. This specific part of the
scene over, a band of negro minstrels are introduced, who strike up
their happy glees, the music giving new life to the revelry. Such a
medley of drinking, gambling, and carousing followed, as defies
description. What a happy thing it is to be free; they feel this,--it
it is a happy feeling! The sport lasts till the small hours of
morning advance. Romescos is seen leaving the saloon very quietly.

"There!" says Mr. O'Brodereque exultingly, "he hasn't got so much of
a showing. That nigger gal ain't what she's cracked up to be!" and
he shakes his head knowingly, thrusts his hands deep into his
breeches pockets, smiles with an air of great consequence.

"Where did ye raise the critter? devil of a feller ye be,
Brodereque!" says a young sprig, giving his hat a particular set on
the side of his head, and adjusting his eye-glass anew. "Ye ain't
gin her a name, in all the showin'," he continues, drawlingly.

"That gal! She ain't worth so much, a'ter all. She's of Marston's
stock; Ellen Juvarna, I think they call her. She's only good for her
looks, in the animal way,--that's all!"

"Hav'n't told where ye got her, yet," interrupts the sprig; "none of
yer crossin' corners, general."

"Well, I started up that gal of Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy. She
takes it into her mind to get crazed now and then, and Marston had
to sell her; and the Elder bought her for a trifle, cured up her
thinkin'-trap, got her sound up for market, and I makes a strike
with the Elder, and gets her at a tall bargain." Mr. O'Brodereque
has lost none of his dignity, none of his honour, none of his hopes
of getting into Congress by the speculation.

It is poor Ellen Juvarna; she has been cured for the market. She
might have said, and with truth,--"You don't know me now, so
wonderful are they who deal with my rights in this our world of
liberty!"






CHAPTER XVII.

A NOT UNCOMMON SCENE SLIGHTLY CHANGED.





ROMESCOS, having withdrawn from the saloon while the excitement
raged highest, may be seen, with several others, seated at a table
in the upper room. They are in earnest consultation,--evidently
devising some plan for carrying out a deep-laid plot.

"I have just called my friend, who will give us the particulars
about the constitutionality of the thing. Here he is. Mr. Scranton,
ye see, knows all about such intricacies; he is an editor! formerly
from the North," one of the party is particular to explain, as he
directs his conversation to Romescos. That gentleman of slave-cloth
only knows the part they call the rascality; he pays the gentlemen
of the learned law profession to shuffle him out of all the legal
intricacies that hang around his murderous deeds. He seems revolving
the thing over in his mind at the moment, makes no reply. The
gentleman turns to Mr. Scranton--the same methodical gentleman we
have described with the good Mrs. Rosebrook--hopes he will be good
enough to advise on the point in question. Mr. Scranton sits in all
the dignity of his serious philosophy, quite unmoved; his mind is
nearly distracted about all that is constitutionally right or
constitutionally wrong. He is bound to his own ways of thinking, and
would suffer martyrdom before his own conscientious scruples would
allow him to acknowledge a right superior to that constitution. As
for the humanity! that has nothing to do with the constitution,
nothing to do with the laws of the land, nothing to do with popular
government,--nothing to do with anything, and never should be taken
into consideration when the point at issue involved negro property.
The schedule of humanity would be a poor account at one's banker's.
Mr. Scranton begins to smooth his face, which seems to elongate like
a wet moon. "The question is, as I understand it, gentlemen, how far
the law will give you a right to convict and sell the woman in the
absence of papers and against the assertions of her owner, that she
is free? Now, gentlemen, in the absence of my law books, and without
the least scruple that I am legally right, for I'm seldom legally
wrong, having been many years secretary to a senator in Congress who
made it my particular duty to keep him posted on all points of the
constitution--he drawls out with the serious complacency of a London
beggar--I will just say that, whatever is legal must be just. Laws
are always founded in justice--that's logical, you see,--and I always
maintained it long 'afore I come south, long 'afore I knowed a thing
about 'nigger law.' The point, thus far, you see, gentlemen, I've
settled. Now then!" Mr. Scranton rests his elbow on the table, makes
many legal gesticulations with his finger; he, however, disclaims
all and every connection with the legal body, inasmuch as its
members have sunk very much in the scale of character, and will
require a deal of purifying ere he can call them brothers; but he
knows a thing or two of constitutional law, and thus proceeds:
"'Tain't a whit of matter about the woman, barring the dockerment's
all right. You only want to prove that Marston bought her, that's
all! As for the young scraps, why--supposing they are his-that won't
make a bit of difference; they are property for all that, subject to
legal restraints. Your claim will be valid against it. You may have
to play nicely over some intricate legal points. But, remember,
nigger law is wonderfully elastic; it requires superhuman wisdom to
unravel its social and political intricacies, and when I view it
through the horoscope of an indefinite future it makes my very head
ache. You may, however, let your claim revert to another, and
traverse the case until such time as you can procure reliable proof
to convict." Mr. Scranton asserts this as the force of his legal and
constitutional acumen. He addresses himself to a mercantile-looking
gentleman who sits at the opposite side of the table, attentively
listening. He is one of several of Marston's creditors, who sit at
the table; they have attached certain property, and having some
doubts of overthrowing Marston's plea of freedom, which he has
intimated his intention to enter, have called in the valuable aid of
Romescos. That indomitable individual, however, has more interests
than one to serve, and is playing his cards with great "diplomatic
skill." Indeed, he often remarks that his wonderful diplomatic skill
would have been a great acquisition to the federal government,
inasmuch as it would have facilitated all its Southern American
projects.

The point in question at present, and which they must get over, in
order to prove the property, is made more difficult by the doubt in
which the origin of Clotilda has always been involved. Many are the
surmises about her parentage-many are the assertions that she is not
of negro extraction--she has no one feature indicating it--but no one
can positively assert where she came from; in a word, no one dare!
Hence is constituted the ground for fearing the issue of Marston's
notice of freedom.

"Well! I'll own it puzzles my cunnin'; there's a way to get round
it-there is-but deuced if 'tain't too much for my noddle," Romescos
interposes, taking a little more whiskey, and seeming quite
indifferent about the whole affair. "Suppose-Marston-comes-forward!
yes, and brings somebody to swear as a kind a' sideways? That'll be
a poser in asserting their freedom; it'll saddle you creditors with
the burden of proof. There'll be the rub; and ye can't plead a right
to enjoin the schedule he files in bankruptcy unless ye show how
they were purchased by him. Perchance on some legal uncertainty it
might be done,--by your producing proof that he had made an
admission, anterior to the levy, of their being purchased by him,"
Romescos continues, very wisely appealing to his learned and
constitutional friend, Mr. Scranton, who yields his assent by adding
that the remarks are very legal, and contain truths worth
considering, inasmuch as they involve great principles of popular
government. "I think our worthy friend has a clear idea of the
points," Mr. Scranton concludes.

"One word more, gentlemen: a bit of advice what's worth a right
smart price to ye all"--here he parenthesises by saying he has great
sympathy for creditors in distress--"and ye must profit by it, for
yer own interests. As the case now stands, it's a game for lawyers
to play and get fat at. And, seein' how Marston's feelins are up in
a sort of tender way, he feels strong about savin' them young 'uns;
and ye, nor all the gentlemen of the lower place, can't make 'em
property, if he plays his game right;--he knows how to! ye'll only
make a fuss over the brutes, while the lawyers bag all the game
worth a dollar. Never see'd a nigger yet what raised a legal squall,
that didn't get used up in law leakins; lawyers are sainted pocket
masters! But--that kind a' stuff!--it takes a mighty deal of
cross-cornered swearing to turn it into property. The only way ye
can drive the peg in so the lawyers won't get hold on't, is by
sellin' out to old Graspum-Norman, I mean--he does up such business
as fine as a fiddle. Make the best strike with him ye can--he's as
tough as a knot on nigger trade!--and, if there's any making
property out on 'em, he's just the tinker to do it."

They shake their heads doubtingly, as if questioning the policy of
the advice. Mr. Scranton, however, to whom all looked with great
solicitation, speaks up, and affirms the advice to be the wiser
course, as a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

"Oh, yes!" says Romescos, significantly, "you'll be safe then, and
free from responsibility; Graspum's a great fellow to buy risks;
but, seeing how he's not popular with juries, he may want to play
behind the scenes, continue to prosecute the case in the name of the
creditors,--that's all! Curious work, this making property out of
doubtful women. Sell out to them what understands the curious of the
things, clear yerselfs of the perplexin' risks--ye won't bag a bit of
the game, you won't. Saddle it on Norman; he knows the philosophy of
nigger trade, and can swim through a sea of legal perplexities in
nigger cases." Mr. Romescos never gave more serious advice in his
life; he finishes his whiskey, adjusts his hat slouchingly on his
head, bids them good night; and, in return for their thanks, assures
them that they are welcome. He withdraws; Mr. Scranton, after a
time, gets very muddled; so much so, that, when daylight appears, he
finds, to his utter astonishment, he has enjoyed a sweet sleep on
the floor, some of his quizzical friends having disfigured his face
very much after the fashion of a clown's. He modestly, and
mechanically, picks up his lethargic body, views his constitutional
self in the glass, and is much horrified, much disgusted with those
who perpetrated the freak.






CHAPTER XVIII.

THEY ARE ALL GOING TO BE SOLD.





SLOWLY we pass through the precious scenes, hoping our readers will
indulge us with their patience.

Five days have passed since Clotilda's departure; her absence is
creating alarm. No one knows anything of her! a general search is
instituted, but the searchers search in vain. Maxwell has eluded
suspicion-Franconia no one for a moment suspects. Colonel
M'Carstrow-his mind, for the time, absorbed in the charms of his
young bride-gives little attention to the matter. He only knows that
he has signed a bond for fifteen hundred dollars, to indemnify the
sheriff, or creditors, in the event of loss; he reconciles himself
with the belief that she has been enticed into some of the
neighbouring bright houses, from which he can regain her in the
course of time. M'Carstrow knows little of Clotilda's real
character; and thus the matter rests a time.

The sheriff,--important gentleman of an important office,--will give
himself no concern about the matter: the plaintiff's attorney
acknowledged the deed of release, which is quite enough for him.
Graspum, a perfect savan where human property was to be judged, had
decided that her square inches of human vitality were worth strong
fifteen hundred; that was all desirable for the sheriff-it would
leave margin enough to cover the cost. But M'Carstrow, when given
the bond, knew enough of nigger law to demand the insertion of a
clause leaving it subject to the question of property, which is to
be decided by the court. A high court this, where freemen sit
assembled to administer curious justice. What constitutional
inconsistencies hover over the monstrous judicial dignity of this
court,--this court having jurisdiction over the monetary value of
beings moulded after God's own image! It forms a happy jurisprudence
for those who view it for their selfish ends; it gains freedom
tyranny's license, gives birth to strange incongruities, clashing
between the right of property in man and all the viler passions of
our nature. It holds forth a jurisprudence that turns men into
hounds of hell, devouring one another, and dragging human nature
down into the very filth of earth.

Marston's troubles keep increasing. All the preliminaries of law
necessary to a sale of the undisputed property have been gone
through; the day of its disposal has arrived. The children, Annette
and Nicholas, have remained in a cell, suffering under its malarious
atmosphere, anxiously awaiting their fate. Marston has had them
taught to read,--contrary to a generous law of a generous land,--and
at intervals they sit together pondering over little books he has
sent them.

What are such little books to them? the unbending avarice of human
nature, fostered by slavery's power, is grappling at their
existence. There is no sympathy for them; it is crushed out by the
law which makes them chattels. Oh, no! sympathy, generosity, human
affections, have little to do with the transactions of slave
dealing; that belongs to commerce,--commerce has an unbending rule to
maintain while money is to be made by a legalised traffic.

We must invite the reader to accompany us to the county gaol, on the
morning of sale.

The "gang"-Marston's slaves-have been ordered to prepare themselves
for the market; the yard resounds with their jargon. Some are
arranging their little clothing, washing, "brightening up" their
faces to make the property show off in the market. Others are
preparing homony for breakfast; children, in ragged garments, are
toddling, running, playing, and sporting about the brick pavement;
the smallest are crouched at the feet of their mothers, as if
sharing the gloom or nonchalance of their feeling. Men are gathering
together the remnants of some cherished memento of the old
plantation; they had many a happy day upon it. Women view as things
of great worth the little trinkets with which good master, in former
days, rewarded their energy. They recall each happy association of
the cabin. Husbands, or such as should be husbands, look upon their
wives with solicitude; they feel it is to be the last day they will
meet together on earth. They may meet in heaven; there is no slavery
there. Mothers look upon their children only to feel the pangs of
sorrow more keenly; they know and feel that their offspring are born
for the market, not for the enjoyment of their affections. They may
be torn from them, and sold like sheep in the shambles. Happy, free
country! How fair, how beautiful the picture of constitutional
rights! how in keeping with every-day scenes of southern life!

"I'ze gwine to be sold; you're gwint to be sold; we're all gwine to
be sold. Wonder what mas'r's gwine t'buy dis child," says Aunt
Rachel, arranging her best dress, making her face "shine just so."
Aunt Rachel endeavours to suit her feelings to the occasion, trims
her bandana about her head with exquisite taste, and lets the
bright-coloured points hang about her ears in great profusion.

"Da'h 's a right smart heap o' dollar in dis old nigger, yet!-if
mas'r what gwine t'buy 'em know how't fotch um out; Mas'r must do
da'h clean ting wid dis child," Rachel says, as if exulting over the
value of her own person. She brushes and brushes, views and reviews
herself in a piece of mirror-several are waiting to borrow it-thinks
she is just right for market, asks herself what's the use of
fretting? It's a free country, with boundless hospitality-of the
southern stamp,--and why not submit to all freedom's dealings? Aunt
Rachel is something of a philosopher.

"Aunte! da' would'nt gin much fo'h yer old pack a' bones if mas'r
what gwine to buy ye know'd ye like I. Ye' h'ant da property what
bring long price wid Buckra," replies Dandy, who views Aunt Rachel
rather suspiciously, seems inclined to relieve her conceit, and has
taken very good care that his own dimensions are trimmed up to the
highest point.

"Dis nigger would'nt swop h'r carcas fo'h yourn. Dat she don't,"
Rachel retorts.

"Reckon how ye wouldn't, ah!" Dandy's face fills with indignation.
"Buckra what sting ye back wid de lash 'll buy ye old bag a' bones
fo'h down south; and when 'e get ye down da' he make ye fo'h a corn
grinder." Dandy is somewhat inflated with his rank among the
domestics; he is none of yer common niggers, has never associated
with black, field niggers, which he views as quite too common for
his aristocratic notions, has on his very best looks, his hair
combed with extraordinary care, his shirt collar dangerously
standing above his ears. He feels something better than nigger blood
in his composition, knows the ins and outs of nigger philosophy; he
knows it to be the very best kind of philosophy for a "nigger" to
put on a good appearance at the shambles. A dandy nigger is not
plantation stock,--hence he has "trimmed up," and hopes to find a
purchaser in want of his specific kind of property; it will save him
from that field-life so much dreaded.

The property, in all its varied shades, comes rolling out from all
manner of places in and about the gaol, filling the yard. It is a
momentous occasion, the most momentous of their life-time. And yet
many seem indifferent about its consequences. They speak of the old
plantation, jeer each other about the value of themselves, offer
bets on the price they will bring, assert a superiority over each
other, and boast of belonging to some particular grade of the
property. Harry--we mean Harry the preacher--is busy getting his wife
and children ready for market. He evinces great affection for his
little ones, has helped his wife to arrange their apparel with so
much care. The uninitiated might imagine them going to church
instead of the man shambles. Indeed, so earnest are many good
divines in the promotion of slavery, that it would not be unbecoming
to form a connection between the southern church and the southern
man shambles. The material aid they now give each other for the
purpose of keeping up the man trade would be much facilitated.

However, there is a chance of Harry being sold to a brother divine,
who by way of serving his good Lord and righteous master, may let
him out to preach, after the old way. Harry will then be serving his
brother in brotherly faith; that is, he will be his brother's
property, very profitable, strong in the faith with his dear divine
brother, to whom he will pay large tribute for the right to serve
the same God.

Harry's emotions-he has been struggling to suppress them-have got
beyond his control; tears will now and then show themselves and
course down his cheeks. "Never mind, my good folks! it is something
to know that Jesus still guards us; still watches over us." He
speaks encouragingly to them. "The scourge of earth is man's wrongs,
the deathspring of injustice. We are made bearers of the burden; but
that very burden will be our passport into a brighter, a juster
world. Let us meekly bear it. Cheer up! arm yourselves with the
spirit of the Lord; it will give you fortitude to live out the long
journey of slave life. How we shall feel when, in heaven, we are
brought face to face with master, before the Lord Judge. Our rights
and his wrongs will then weigh in the balance of heavenly justice."
With these remarks, Harry counsels them to join him in prayer. He
kneels on the brick pavement of the yard, clasps his hands together
as they gather around him kneeling devotedly. Fervently he offers up
a prayer,--he invokes the God of heaven to look down upon them, to
bestow his mercy upon master, to incline his ways in the paths of
good; and to protect these, his unfortunate children, and guide them
through their separate wayfaring. The ardour, grotesqueness, and
devotion of this poor forlorn group, are painfully touching. How it
presents the portrait of an oppressed race! how sunk is the nature
that has thus degraded it! Under the painful burden of their sorrow
they yet manifest the purity of simple goodness. "Oh! Father in
heaven, hast thou thus ordained it to be so?" breaks forth from
Harry's lips, as the criminals, moved by the affecting picture,
gather upon the veranda, and stand attentive listeners. Their
attention seems rivetted to his words; the more vicious, as he looks
through grated bars upon them, whispers words of respect.

Harry has scarcely concluded his prayer when the sheriff,
accompanied by several brokers (slave-dealers), comes rushing
through the transept into the yard. The sheriff is not rude; he
approaches Harry, tells him he is a good boy, has no objection to
his praying, and hopes a good master will buy him. He will do all he
can to further his interests, having heard a deal about his talents.
He says this with good-natured measure, and proceeds to take a
cursory view of the felons. While he is thus proceeding, the
gentlemen of trade who accompanied him are putting "the property"
through a series of examinations.

"Property like this ye don't start up every day," says one. "Best
I'ze seen come from that ar' district. Give ye plenty corn, down
there, don't they, boys?" enjoins another, walking among them, and
every moment bringing the end of a small whip which he holds in his
right hand about their legs. This, the gentleman remarks, is merely
for the purpose-one of the phrases of the very honourable trade-of
testing their nimbleness.

"Well!" replies a tall, lithe dealer, whose figure would seem to
have been moulded for chasing hogs through the swamp, "There's some
good bits among it; but it won't stand prime, as a lot!" The
gentleman, who seems to have a nicely balanced mind for judging the
human nature value of such things, is not quite sure that they have
been bacon fed. He continues his learned remarks. "Ye'h han't had
full tuck out, I reckon, boys?" he inquires of them, deliberately
examining the mouths and nostrils of several. The gentleman is very
cool in this little matter of trade; it is an essential element of
southern democracy; some say, nothing more!

"Yes, Boss!" replies Enoch, one of the negroes; "Mas'r ollers good
t' e niggers, gin him bacon free times a week-sometimes mo' den
dat." Several voices chime in to affirm what Enoch says.

"Ah, very good. Few planters in that district give their negroes
bacon; and an all corn-fed nigger won't last two years on a sugar
plantation," remarks one of the gentlemen dealers, as he smokes his
cigar with great nonchalance.

While these quaint appendancies of the trade are proceeding,
Romescos and Graspum make their appearance. They have come to
forestall opinion, to make a few side-winded remarks. They are ready
to enter upon the disgusting business of examining property more
carefully, more scrupulously, more in private. The honourable
sheriff again joins the party. He orders that every accommodation be
afforded the gentlemen in their examinations of the property. Men,
women, and children-sorrowing property-are made to stand erect; to
gesticulate their arms; to expand their chests, to jump about like
jackals, and to perform sundry antics pleasing to the gentlemen
lookers-on. This is all very free, very democratic, very gentlemanly
in the way of trade,--very necessary to test the ingredient of the
valuable square inches of the property. What matters all this! the
honourable sheriff holds it no dishonour; modest gentlemen never
blush at it; the coarse dealer makes it his study,--he trades in
human nature; the happy democrat thinks it should have a
co-fellowship with southern hospitality-so long and loudly boasted.

Those little necessary displays over, the honourable sheriff invites
his distinguished friends to "have a cigar round;" having satisfied
their taste in gymnastarising the property. Romescos, however,
thinks he has not quite satisfied his feelings; he is very dogged on
nigger flesh. The other gentlemen may smoke their cigars; Mr.
Romescos thinks he will enjoy the exercise of his skill in testing
the tenacity of negroes' chests; which he does by administering
heavy blows, which make them groan out now and then. Groans,
however, don't amount to much; they are only nigger groans. Again
Mr. Romescos applies the full force of his hands upon their ears;
then he will just pull them systematically. "Nice property!" he
says, telling the forbearing creatures not to mind the pain.

Messrs. Graspum and Romescos will make a close inspection of a few
pieces. Here, several men and women are led into a basement cell,
under the veranda, and stript most rudely. No discrimination is
permitted. Happy freedom! What a boon is liberty! Mr. Romescos views
their nice firm bodies, and their ebony black skins, with great
skill and precaution; his object is to prove the disposition of the
articles,--strong evidence being absence of scars. He lays his bony
fingers on their left shoulders-they being compelled to stand in a
recumbent position-tracing their bodies to the hips and thighs. Here
the process ends. Mr. Romescos has satisfied his very nice judgment
on the solidity of the human-flesh-property-he has put their bodies
through other disgusting inspections-they belong to the trade-which
cannot be told here; but he finds clean skins, very smooth, without
scars or cuts, or dangerous diseases. He laughs exultingly, orders
the people to stow themselves in their clothes again, and relights
his cigar. "If it 'ant a tall lot!" he whispers to Graspum, and
gives him a significant touch with his elbow. "Bright-smooth as a
leather ninepence; han't had a lash-Marston was a fool, or his
niggers are angels, rather black, though-couldn't start up a scar on
their flesh. A little trimmin' down-it wants it, you see!-to make it
show off; must have it-eh! Graspum, old feller? It only wants a
little, though, and them dandy niggers, and that slap-up preacher,
will bring a smart price fixed up. Great institution! The preacher's
got knowin'; can discourse like a college-made deacon, and can
convert a whole plantation with his nigger eloquence. A nigger
preacher with Bible knowin, when it's smart, is right valuable when
ye want to keep the pious of a plantation straight. And then! when
the preacher 'ant got a notion a' runnin away in him." Romescos
crooks his finger upon Graspum's arm, whispers cautiously in his
ear.

"There 'll be a sharp bidding for some of it; they 'll run up some
on the preacher. He 'll be a capital investment,--pay more than
thirty per cent. insinuates another gentleman-a small inquisitive
looking dealer in articles of the nigger line. When a planter's got
a big gang a' niggers, and is just fool enough to keep such a thing
for the special purpose of making pious valuable in 'um," Mr.
Romescos rejoins, shrugging his shoulders, rubbing his little hawk's
eyes, and looking seriously indifferent. Romescos gives wonderful
evidence of his "first best cunning propensities;" and here he
fancies he has pronounced an opinion that will be taken as profound.
He affects heedlessness of everything, is quite disinterested, and,
thrusting his hands deep into his pockets, assumes an air of dignity
that would not unbecome my Lord Chief Justice.

"Let us see them two bits of disputed property,--where are they?"
inquires Graspum, turning half round, and addressing himself to the
gaoler.

"In the close cells," is the quick reply,--"through the narrow vault,
up the stone passage, and on the right, in the arched cell."

The gaoler-good, honest-hearted man-leads the way, through a chilly
vault, up the narrow passage, to the left wing of the building. The
air is pestiferous; warm and diseased, it fans us as we approach.
The gaoler puts his face to the grating, and in a guttural voice,
says, "You're wanted, young uns." They understand the summons; they
come forward as if released from torture to enjoy the pure air of
heaven. Confinement, dreary and damp, has worn deep into their
systems.

Annette speaks feebly, looks pale and sickly. Her flaxen curls still
dangle prettily upon her shoulders. She expected her mother; that
mother has not come. The picture seems strange; she looks childishly
and vacantly round,--at the dealers, at Graspum, at the sheriff, at
the familiar faces of the old plantation people. She recognizes
Harry, and would fain leap into his arms. Nicholas, less moved by
what is going on around him, hangs reluctantly behind, holding by
the skirt of Annette's frock. He has lost that vivacity and pertness
so characteristic on the plantation. Happy picture of freedom's
love! Happy picture of immortalised injustice! Happy picture of
everything that is unhappy! How modest is the boast that we live to
be free; and that in our virtuous freedom a child's mother has been
sold for losing her mind: a faithful divine, strong with love for
his fellow divines, is to be sold for his faith; the child-the
daughter of the democrat-they say, will be sold from her democratic
father. The death-stinging enemy Washington and Jefferson sought to
slaughter-to lay ever dead at their feet, has risen to life again.
Annette's mother has fled to escape its poison. We must pause! we
must not discourse thus in our day, when the sordid web of trade is
being drawn over the land by King Cotton.

The children, like all such doubtful stock, are considered very
fancy, very choice of their kind. It must be dressed in style to
suit nice eyes at the shambles.

"Well! ye'r right interesting looking," says the sheriff--Messrs.
Graspum and Co. look upon them with great concern, now and then
interrupting with some observations upon their pedigree,--taking them
by the arms, and again rumpling their hair by rubbing his hands over
their heads. "Fix it up, trim; we must put them up along with the
rest to-day. It 'll make Marston--I pity the poor fellow--show his
hand on the question of their freedom. Mr. sheriff, being
sufficiently secured against harm, is quite indifferent about the
latent phases of the suit. He remarks, with great legal logic--we
mean legal slave logic--that Marston must object to the sale when the
children are on the stand. It is very pretty kind a' property, very
like Marston--will be as handsome as pictures when they grow up," he
says, ordering it put back to be got ready.

"Why didn't my mother come?" the child whimpers, dewy tears
decorating her eyes. "Why won't she come back and take me to the
plantation again? I want her to come back; I've waited so long." As
she turns to follow the gaoler--Nicholas still holds her by the skirt
of her frock--her flaxen curls again wave to and fro upon her
shoulders, adding beauty to her childlike simplicity. "You'll grow
to be something, one of these days, won't ye, little dear?" says the
gaoler, taking her by the hand. She replies in those silent and
touching arguments of the soul; she raises her soft blue eyes, and
heaven fills them with tears, which she lifts her tiny hands to wipe
away.

Nicholas tremblingly-he cannot understand the strange
movement-follows them through the vault; he looks up submissively,
and with instinctive sympathy commences a loud blubbering. "You're
going to be sold, little uns! but, don't roar about it; there's no
use in that," says the gaoler, inclining to sympathy.

Nicholas does'nt comprehend it; he looks up to Annette, plaintively,
and, forgetting his own tears, says, in a whisper, "Don't cry,
Annette; they 'll let us go and see mother, and mother will be so
kind to us-."

"It does seem a pity to sell ye, young 'uns; ye'r such nice
'uns,--have so much interestin' in yer little skins!" interrupts the
gaoler, suddenly. The man of keys could unfold a strange history of
misery, suffering, and death, if fear of popular opinion,
illustrated in popular liberty, did not seal his lips. He admits the
present to be

We are narrating a scene related to us by the very gaoler we here
describe, and as nearly as possible in his own language. rather an
uncommon case, says it makes a body feel kind a' unhinged about the
heart, which heart, however rocky at times, will have its own way
when little children are sorrowing. "And then, to know their
parents! that's what tells deeper on a body's feeling,--it makes a
body look into the hereafter." The man of keys and shackles would be
a father, if the law did but let him. There is a monster power over
him, a power he dreads-it is the power of unbending democracy, moved
alone by fretful painstakers of their own freedom.

"Poor little things! ye 'r most white, yes!-suddenly changing-just
as white as white need be. Property's property, though, all over the
world. What's sanctioned by the constitution, and protected by the
spirit and wisdom of Congress, must be right, and maintained," the
gaoler concludes. His heart is at war with his head; but the head
has the power, and he must protect the rights of an unrighteous
system. They have arrived at a flight of steps, up which they
ascend, and are soon lost in its windings. They are going to be
dressed for the market.

The sheriff is in the yard, awaiting the preparation of the
property. Even he-iron-hearted, they say-gives them a look of
generous solicitude, as they pass out. He really feels there is a
point, no less in the scale of slave dealing, beyond which there is
something so repugnant that hell itself might frown upon it. "It's a
phase too hard, touches a body's conscience," he says, not observing
Romescos at his elbow.

"Conscience!" interrupts Romescos, his eyes flashing like meteors of
red fire, "the article don't belong to the philosophy of our
business. Establish conscience-let us, gentlemen, give way to our
feelins, and trade in nigger property 'd be deader than Chatham's
statue, what was pulled through our streets by the neck. The great
obstacle, however, is only this-it is profitable in its way!"
Romescos cautiously attempts to shield this, but it will not do.

The gaoler, protruding his head from a second-story window, like a
mop in a rain storm, enquires if it is requisite to dress the
children in their very best shine. It is evident he merely views
them as two bales of merchandise.

The sheriff, angrily, says, "Yes! I told you that already. Make them
look as bright as two new pins." His honour has been contemplating
how they will be mere pins in the market,--pins to bolt the doors of
justice, pins to play men into Congress, pins to play men out of
Congress, pins to play a President into the White House.

An old negress, one of the plantation nurses, is called into
service. She commences the process of preparing them for market.
They are nicely washed, dressed in clean clothes; they shine out as
bright and white as anybody's children. Their heads look so sleek,
their hair is so nicely combed, so nicely parted, so nicely curled.
The old slave loves them,--she loved their father. Her skill has been
lavished upon them,--they look as choice and interesting as the human
property of any democratic gentleman can be expected to do. Let us
be patriotic, let us be law-loving, patient law-abiding citizens,
loving that law of our free country which puts them under the
man-vender's hammer,--say our peace-abiding neighbours.

The gaoler has not been long in getting Annette and Nicholas ready.
He brings them forward, so neatly and prettily dressed: he places
them among the "gang." But they are disputed property: hence all
that ingenuity which the system engenders for the advancement of
dealers is brought into use to defeat the attempt to assert their
freedom. Romescos declares it no difficult matter to do this: he has
the deadly weapon in his possession; he can work (shuffle) the debt
into Graspum's hands, and he can supply the proof to convict. By
this very desirable arrangement the thing may be made nicely
profitable.

No sooner has Aunt Rachel seen the children in their neat and
familiar attire, than her feelings bound with joy,--she cannot longer
restrain them. She has watched Marston's moral delinquencies with
suspicion; but she loves the children none the less. And with honest
negro nature she runs to them, clasps them to her bosom, fondles
them, and kisses them like a fond mother. The happy associations of
the past, contrasted with their present unhappy condition, unbind
the fountain of her solicitude,--she pours it upon them, warm and
fervent. "Gwine t' sell ye, too! Mas'r, poor old Mas'r, would'nt
sell ye, no how! that he don't. But poor old Boss hab 'e trouble
now, God bless 'em," she says, again pressing Annette to her bosom,
nearer and nearer, with fondest, simplest, holiest affection.
Looking intently in the child's face, she laughs with the bounding
joy of her soul; then she smooths its hair with her brawny black
hands: they contrast strangely with the pure carnatic of the child's
cheek.

"Lor! good Lor, Mas'r Buckra," aunt Rachel exclaims, "if eber de
Lor' smote 'e vengence on yeh, 't'll be fo' sellin' de likes o'
dese. Old Mas'r tinks much on 'em, fo' true. Gwine t' sell dem what
Mas'r be so fond on? Hard tellin' what Buckra don't sell win i'
makes money on him. Neber mind, children; de Lor' aint so unsartin
as white man. He,--da'h good Mas'r yonder in the clouds,--save ye yet;
he'll make white man gin ye back when de day o' judgment come." Aunt
Rachel has an instinctive knowledge of the errors, accidents, and
delays which have brought about this sad event,--she becomes absorbed
in their cares, as she loses sight of her own trouble.

All ready for the market, they are chained together in pairs, men
and women, as if the wrongs they bore had made them untrustworthy.

Romescos, ever employed in his favourite trade, is busily engaged
chaining up-assorting the pairs! One by one they quietly submit to
the proceeding, until he reaches Harry. That minister-of-the-gospel
piece of property thinks,--that is, is foolish enough to think,--his
nigger religion a sufficient guarantee against any inert propensity
to run away. "Now, good master, save my hands from irons, and my
heart from pain. Trust me, let me go unbound; my old Master trust me
wid 'is life-"

"Halloo!" says Romescos, quickly interrupting, and beginning to
bristle with rage; "preach about old Master here you'll get the
tinglers, I reckon. Put 'em on-not a grunt-or you'll get thirty
more-yes, a collar on yer neck." Holding a heavy stick over the poor
victim's head, for several minutes with one hand, he rubs the other,
clenched, several times across his nose. Graspum interposes by
reminding the minister that it is for his interest to be very
careful how he makes any reply to white gentlemen.

"Why, massa, I'ze the minister on de plantation. My old master
wouldn't sell-wouldn't do so wid me. Master knows I love God, am
honest and peaceable. Why chain the honest? why chain the peaceable?
why chain the innocent? They need no fetters, no poisoning shackles.
The guilty only fear the hand of retribution," says Harry, a curl of
contempt on his lip. He takes a step backwards as Romescos holds the
heavy irons before him.

"You don't come nigger preacher over this ar' child; 't'ant what's
crack'd up to be. I larns niggers to preach different tunes. Don't
spoil prime stock for such nonsense-"

"Master Sheriff will stand answerable for me," interrupts Harry,
turning to that honourable functionary, and claiming his protection.
That gentleman says it is rather out of his line to interfere.

"Not a preacher trick, I say again-Romescos evinces signs of
increasing temper-ya' black theologin. Preachers can't put on such
dignity when they'r property." Preachers of colour must be doubly
humbled: they must be humble before God, humbled before King Cotton,
humbled before the king dealer, who will sell them for their
dollars' worth. Harry must do the bidding of his king master; his
monkey tricks won't shine with such a philosopher as Romescos. The
man of bones, blood, and flesh, can tell him to sell a nigger
preacher to his brother of the ministry, and make it very
profitable. He assures Harry, while holding the shackles in his
hands, that he may put on just as much of the preacher as he can
get, when he gets to the shambles, and hears the fives and tens
bidding on his black hide.

Harry must submit; he does it with pain and reluctance. He is
chained to his wife-a favour suggested by the sheriff-with whom he
can walk the streets of a free country,--but they must be bound in
freedom's iron fellowship. The iron shackle clasps his wrist; the
lock ticks as Romescos turns the key: it vibrates to his very heart.
With a sigh he says, "Ours is a life of sorrow, streaming its dark
way along a dangerous path. It will ebb into the bright and
beautiful of heaven; that heaven wherein we put our trust-where our
hopes are strengthened. O! come the day when we shall be borne to
the realms of joy-joy celestial! There no unholy shade of
birth-unholy only to man-shall doom us; the colour of our skin will
not there be our misfortune-"

"What!" quickly interrupts Romescos, "what's that?" The property
minister, thus circumstanced, must not show belligerent feelings.
Romescos simply, but very skilfully, draws his club; measures him an
unamiable blow on the head, fells him to the ground. The poor wretch
struggles a few moments, raises his manacled hands to his face as
his wife falls weeping upon his shuddering body. She supplicates
mercy at the hands of the ruffian-the ruffian torturer. "Quietly,
mas'r; my man 'ill go wid me," says the woman, interposing her hand
to prevent a second blow.

Harry opens his eyes imploringly, casts a look of pity upon the man
standing over him. Romescos is in the attitude of dealing him
another blow. The wretch stays his hand. "Do with me as you please,
master; you are over me. My hope will be my protector when your
pleasure will have its reward."

A second thought has struck Romescos; the nigger isn't so bad, after
all. "Well, reckon how nobody won't have no objection to ya'r
thinking just as ya'v mind to; but ya' can't talk ya'r own way, nor
ya' can't have ya'r own way with this child. A nigger what puts on
parson airs-if it is a progressive age nigger-musn't put on fast
notions to a white gentleman of my standing! If he does, we just
take 'em out on him by the process of a small quantity of first-
rate knockin down," says Romescos, amiably lending him a hand to get
up. Graspum and the honourable sheriff are measuredly pacing up and
down the yard, talking over affairs of state, and the singular
purity of their own southern democracy-that democracy which will
surely elect the next President. Stepping aside in one of his
sallies, Graspum, in a half whisper, reminds Romescos that, now the
nigger has shown symptoms of disobedience, he had better prove the
safety of the shackles. "Right! right! all right!" the man of chains
responds; he had forgot this very necessary piece of amusement. He
places both hands upon the shackles; grasps them firmly; places his
left foot against Harry's stomach; and then, uttering a fierce
imprecation, makes his victim pull with might and main while he
braces against him with full power. The victim, groaning under the
pain, begs for mercy. Mercy was not made for him. Freedom and mercy,
in this our land of greatness, have been betrayed.

Harry, made willing property, is now placed by the side of his wife,
as four small children--the youngest not more than two years
old--cling at the skirts of her gown. The children are scarcely old
enough to chain; their strong affections for poor chained mother and
father are quite enough to guarantee against their running away.
Romescos, in his ample kindness, will allow them to toddle their way
to market. They are not dangerous property;--they have their
feelings, and will go to market to be sold, without running away.

The gang is ready. The gaoler, nearly out of breath, congratulates
himself upon the manner of dispatching business at his
establishment. Romescos will put them through a few evolutions
before marching in the street; so, placing himself at their right,
and the gaoler at their left flank, they are made to march and
counter-march several times round the yard. This done, the generous
gaoler invites the gentlemen into his office: he has a good glass of
whiskey waiting their superior tastes.

The ward gates are opened; the great gate is withdrawn; the
property, linked in iron fellowship,--the gentlemen having taken
their whiskey,--are all ready for the word, march! This significant
admonition the sheriff gives, and the property sets off in solemn
procession, like wanderers bound on a pilgrimage. Tramp, tramp,
tramp, their footsteps fall in dull tones as they sally forth, in
broken file, through the long aisles. Romescos is in high glee,--his
feelings bound with exultation, he marches along, twirling a stick
over his head. They are soon in the street, where he invites them to
strike up a lively song--"Jim crack corn, and I don't care, fo'h
Mas'r's gone away!" he shouts; and several strike up, the rest
joining in the old plantation chorus--"Away! away! away! Mas'r's
gone away." Thus, with jingling chorus and seemingly joyous hearts,
they march down to the man-market. The two children, Annette and
Nicholas, trail behind, in charge of the sheriff, whose better
feelings seem to be troubling him very much. Every now and then, as
they walk by his side, he casts a serious look at Annette, as if
conscience, speaking in deep pulsations, said it wasn't just right
to sell such an interesting little creature. Onward they marched,
his head and heart warring the while. "There's something about it
that does'nt seem to come just right in a fellow's feelins," keeps
working itself in his mind, until at length he mutters the words. It
is the natural will to do good, struggling against the privileges
which a government gives ungovernable men to do wrong.






CHAPTER XVIII.

LET US FOLLOW POOR HUMAN NATURE TO THE MAN SHAMBLES.





GENTLEMEN dealers in want of human property,--planters in want of a
few prime people,--brokers who have large transactions in such
articles,--and factors who, being rather sensitive of their dignity,
give to others the negotiation of their business,--are assembled in
and around the mart, a covered shed, somewhat resembling those used
by railroad companies for the storing of coarse merchandise.
Marston's negroes are to be sold. Suspicious circumstances are
connected with his sudden decline: rumour has sounded her
seven-tongued symbols upon it, and loud are the speculations. The
cholera has made mighty ravages; but the cholera could not have done
all. Graspum has grasped the plantation, quietly and adroitly, but
he has not raised the veil of mystery that hangs over the process.
There must be long explanations before the obdurate creditors are
satisfied.

The irons have been removed from the property, who are crouched
round the stand-an elevated platform-in a forlorn group, where
sundry customers can scrutinize their proportions. Being little or
no fancy among it, the fast young gentlemen of the town, finding
nothing worthy their attention and taste, make a few cursory
observations, and slowly swagger out of the ring. The children are
wonderfully attractive and promising; they are generally admired by
the customers, who view them with suspicious glances. Annette's
clean white skin and fine features are remarkably promising,--much
valued as articles of merchandise,--and will, in time, pay good
interest. Her youth, however, saves her from present sacrifice,--it
thwarts that spirited competition which older property of the same
quality produces when about to be knocked down under the hammer of
freedom.

It is a great day, a day of tribulation, with the once happy people
of Marston's plantation. No prayer is offered up for them, their
souls being only embodied in their market value. Prayers are not
known at the man shambles, though the hammer of the vender seals
with death the lives of many. No gentleman in modest black cares
aught for such death. The dealer will not pay the service fee! Good
master is no longer their protector; his familiar face, so buoyant
with joy and affection, has passed from them. No more will that
strong attachment manifest itself in their greetings. Fathers will
be fathers no longer-it is unlawful. Mothers cannot longer clasp
their children in their arms with warm affections. Children will no
longer cling around their mothers,--no longer fondle in that bosom
where once they toyed and joyed.

The articles murmur among themselves, cast longing glances at each
other, meet the gaze of their purchasers, with pain and distrust
brooding over their countenances. They would seem to trace the
character-cruel or gentle-of each in his look.

Was it that God ordained one man thus to doom another? No! the very
thought repulsed the plea. He never made one man's life to be sorrow
and fear-to be the basest object, upon which blighting strife for
gold fills the passions of tyrants. He never made man to be a dealer
in his own kind. He never made man after his own image to imprecate
the wrath of heaven by blackening earth with his foul deeds. He
never made man to blacken this fair portion of earth with storms of
contention, nor to overthrow the principles that gave it greatness.
He never made man to fill the cup that makes the grim oppressor
fierce in his triumphs over right.

Come reader-come with us: let us look around the pale of these
common man shambles. Here a venerable father sits, a bale of
merchandise, moved with the quick pulsation of human senses. He
looks around him as the storm of resentment seems ready to burst
forth: his wrinkled brow and haggard face in vain ask for sympathy.
A little further on, and a mother leans over her child,--tremblingly
draws it to her side; presses it nearer and nearer to her bosom.
Near her, feeding a child with crumbs of bread, is a coarse negro,
whose rough exterior covers a good heart. He gives a glance of hate
and scorn at those who are soon to tear from him his nearest and
dearest. A gloomy ring of sullen faces encircle us: hope, fear, and
contempt are pictured in each countenance. Anxious to know its doom,
the pent-up soul burns madly within their breasts; no tears can
quench the fire-freedom only can extinguish it. But, what are such
things? mere trifles when the soul loves only gold. What are they to
men who buy such human trifles? who buy and sell mankind, with
feelings as unmoved as the virgin heart that knows no guilt?

Various are the remarks made by those who are taking a cursory view
of the people; very learned in nigger nature are many; their sayings
evince great profoundness. A question seems to be the separating of
wenches from their young 'uns. This is soon settled. Graspum, who
has made his appearance, and is very quaintly and slowly making his
apprehensions known, informs the doubting spectators that Romescos,
being well skilled, will do that little affair right up for a mere
trifle. It takes him to bring the nonsense out of nigger wenches.
This statement being quite satisfactory, the gentlemen purchasers
are at rest on that point.

The hour of sale has arrived,--the crier rings his bell, the
purchasers crowd up to the stand, the motley group of negroes take
the alarm, and seem inclined to close in towards a centre as the
vender mounts the stand. The bell, with the sharp clanking sound,
rings their funeral knell; they startle, as with terror; they listen
with subdued anxiety; they wait the result in painful suspense. How
little we would recognise the picture from abroad. The vender, an
amiable gentleman dressed in modest black, and whose cheerful
countenance, graced with the blandest smile, betokens the antipodes
of his inhuman traffic, holding his hat in his left hand, and a long
paper in his right, makes an obsequious bow to those who have
honoured him with their company. He views them for a few moments,
smiles, casts his eye over the paper again,--it sets forth age and
quality--and then at his marketable people. The invoice is complete;
the goods correspond exactly. The texture and quality have been
appraised by good judges. Being specified, he commences reading the
summons and writs, and concludes with other preliminaries of the
sale.

"Now, gentlemen," says Mr. Forshou--for such is his name--as he
adjusts his hat, lays the document on the desk at his right hand,
pulls up the point of his shirt-collar, sets his neatly-trimmed
whiskers a point forward, and smooths his well-oiled hair:
"We-will-proceed-with-the-sale-of this lot of negroes, according to
the directions of the sheriff of the county. And if no restrictions
are imposed, gentlemen can make their selection of old or young to
suit their choice or necessities! Gentlemen, however, will be
expected to pay for separating." Mr. Forshou, by way of
interpolation, reminds his friends that, seeing many of his very
best customers present, he expects sharp and healthy bids. He will
further remind them (smiling and fretting his hands, as if to show
the number of diamond rings he can afford to wear), that the
property has been well raised, is well known, and ranges from the
brightest and most interesting, to the commonest black field hand.
"Yes, gentlemen," he adds, "by the fortune of this unfortunate sale
we can accommodate you with anything in the line of negro property.
We can sell you a Church and a preacher-a dance-house and a
fiddler-a cook and an oyster-shop. Anything! All sold for no fault;
and warranted as sound as a roach. The honourable sheriff will gives
titles-that functionary being present signifies his willingness-and
every man purchasing is expected to have his shiners ready, so that
he can plunk down cash in ten days. I need not recount the
circumstances under which this property is offered for sale; it is
enough to say that it is offered; but, let me say, gentlemen, to
enlarge upon it would be painful to my feelings. I will merely read
the schedule, and, after selling the people, put up the oxen, mules,
and farming utensils." Mr. Forshou, with easy contentment, takes up
the list and reads at the top of his voice. The names of heads of
families are announced one by one; they answer the call promptly. He
continues till he reaches Annette and Nicholas, and here he pauses
for a few moments, turning from the paper to them, as if he one
minute saw them on the paper and the next on the floor. "Here,
gentlemen," he ejaculates, in a half guttural voice-something he
could not account for touched his conscience at the moment-holding
the paper nearer his eye-glass, "there is two bits of property
bordering on the sublime. It dazzles-seems almost too interesting to
sell. It makes a feller's heart feel as if it warn't stuck in the
right place." Mr. Forshou casts another irresistible look at the
children; his countenance changes; he says he is very sensitive, and
shows it in his blushes. He might have saved his blushes for the
benefit of the State. The State is careful of its blushes; it has
none to sell-none to bestow on a child's sorrow!

Annette returns his somewhat touching manifestation of remorse with
a childlike smile.

"Well! I reckon how folks is gettin' tenderish, now a' days. Who'd
thought the major had such touchy kind a' feelins? Anything wrong
just about yer goggler?" interrupts Romescos, giving the vender a
quizzical look, and a "half-way wink." Then, setting his slouch hat
on an extra poise, he contorts his face into a dozen grimaces. "Keep
conscience down, and strike up trade," he says, very coolly, drawing
a large piece of tobacco from his breast-pocket and filling his
mouth to its utmost capacity.

"Feelings are over all things," responds the sheriff, who stands by,
and will speak for the vender, who is less accustomed to speaking
for himself. "Feelings bring up recollections of things one never
thought of before,--of the happiest days of our happiest home.
'Tain't much, no, nothing at all, to sell regular black and coloured
property; but there's a sort of cross-grained mythology about the
business when it comes to selling such clear grain as this."

The vender relieves the honourable sheriff from all further display
of sympathy, by saying that he feels the truth of all the honourable
and learned gentleman has said, "which has 'most made the inward
virtue of his heart come right up." He leans over the desk, extends
his hand, helps himself to a generous piece of Romescos' tobacco.

Romescos rejoins in a subdued voice-"He thinks a man what loves
dimes like the major cannot be modest in nigger business, because
modesty ain't trade commodity. It cannot be; the man who thinks of
such nonsense should sell out-should go north and join the humane
society. Folks are all saints, he feels sure, down north yander;
wouldn't sell nigger property;--they only send south right smart
preachers to keep up the dignity of the institution; to do the
peculiar religion of the very peculiar institution. No objection to
that; nor hain't no objection to their feelin' bad about the poor
niggers, so long as they like our cash and take our cotton. That's
where the pin's drove in; while it hangs they wouldn't be bad
friends with us for the world."

"You may, Mr. Romescos, suspend your remarks," says the vender,
looking indignant, as he thrusts his right hand into his bosom, and
attempts a word of introduction.

Romescos must have his last word; he never says die while he has a
word at hand. "The major's love must be credited, gentlemen; he's a
modest auctioneer,--a gentleman what don't feel just right when white
property's for sale," he whispers, sarcastically.

Another pause, then a hearty laughing, and the man commences to sell
his people. He has uttered but a few words, when Marston's attorney,
stepping into the centre of the ring, and near the vender, draws a
paper from his pocket, and commences reading in a loud tone. It is a
copy of the notice he had previously served on the sheriff, setting
forth in legal phraseology the freedom of the children, "And
therfo'h this is t' stay proceedings until further orders from the
honourable Court of Common Pleas," is audible at the conclusion. The
company are not much surprised. There is not much to be surprised
at, when slave law and common law come in contact. With Marston's
sudden decline and unfathomable connection with Graspum, there is
nothing left to make the reading of the notice interesting.

"You hear this, gentlemen?" says the vender, biting his lips: "the
sale of this very interesting portion of this very interesting
property is objected to by the attorney for the defendant at law.
They must, therefore, be remanded to the custody of the sheriff, to
await the decision of court." That court of strange judgments! The
sheriff, that wonderful medium of slaveocratic power, comes forward,
muttering a word of consolation; he will take them away. He passes
them over to an attendant, who conducts them to their dark chilly
cells.

"All right!" says Graspum, moving aside to let the children pass
out. "No more than might have been expected; it's no use, though.
Marston will settle that little affair in a very quiet way." He
gives the man-vender a look of approval; the very celebrated Mr.
Graspum has self-confidence enough for "six folks what don't deal
in niggers." A bystander touching him on the arm, he gives his head
a cunning shake, crooks his finger on his red nose. "Just a thing of
that kind," he whispers, making some very delicate legal
gesticulations with the fore-finger of his right hand in the palm of
his left; then, with great gravity, he discusses some very nice
points of nigger law. He is heard to say it will only be a waste of
time, and make some profitable rascality for the lawyers. He could
have settled the whole on't in seven minutes. "Better give them up
honourably, and let them be sold with the rest. Property's property
all over the world; and we must abide by the laws, or what's the
good of the constitution? To feel bad about one's own folly! The
idea of taking advantage of it at this late hour won't hold good in
law. How contemptibly silly! men feeling fatherly after they have
made property of their own children! Poor, conscientious fools, how
they whine at times, never thinking how they would let their
womanish feelings cheat their creditors. There's no honour in that."

"Gentlemen!" interrupts the vender, "we have had enough discussion,
moral, legal, and otherwise. We will now have some selling."

The honourable sheriff desires to say a word or two upon points not
yet advanced. "The sheriff! the sheriff!" is exclaimed by several
voices. He speaks, having first adjusted his spectacles, and
relieved himself of three troublesome coughs. "The institution-I
mean, gentlemen, the peculiar institution-must be preserved; we
cannot, must not, violate statutes to accommodate good-feeling
people. My friend Graspum is right, bob and sinker; we'd get
ourselves into an everlasting snarl, if we did. I am done!" The
sheriff withdraws his spectacles, places them very carefully in a
little case, wipes his mouth modestly, and walks away humming an
air.

"Now, gentlemen," says the vender, bristling with renewed animation
"seeing how you've all recovered from a small shock of conscience,
we will commence the sale."

Aunt Rachel is now placed upon the stand. Her huge person, cleanly
appearance-Auntie has got her bandana tied with exquisite knot-and
very motherly countenance excite general admiration, as on an
elevated stand she looms up before her audience. Mr. Forshou, the
very gentlemanly vender, taking up the paper, proceeds to describe
Aunt Rachel's qualities, according to the style and manner of a
celebrated race-horse. Auntie doesn't like this,--her dignity is
touched; she honours him with an angry frown. Then she appeals to
the amiable gentleman; "come, mas'r, sell 'um quick; don' hab no
nonsense wid dis child! Sell 'um to some mas'r what make I
housekeeper. Old mas'r,--good old Boss,--know I fus' rate at dat. Let
'um done gone, mas'r, fo'h soon." Rachel is decidedly opposed to
long drawn-out humbuggery.

The bids now commence; Rachel, in mute anxiety, tremblingly watches
the lips they fall from.

"Give you a first best title to this ar' old critter, gentlemen!"
says the vender, affecting much dignity, as he holds up his baton of
the trade in flesh. "Anybody wanting a good old mother on a
plantation where little niggers are raised will find the thing in
the old institution before you. The value is not so much in the size
of her, as in her glorious disposition." Aunt Rachel makes three or
four turns, like a peacock on a pedestal, to amuse her admirers.
Again, Mr. Wormlock intimates, in a tone that the vender may hear,
that she has some grit, for he sees it in her demeanour, which is
assuming the tragic. Her eyes, as she turns, rest upon the crispy
face of Romescos. She views him for a few moments-she fears he will
become her purchaser. Her lip curls with contempt, as she turns from
his gaze and recognises an old acquaintance, whom she at once
singles out, accosts and invites beseechingly to be her purchaser,
"to save her from dat man!" She points to Romescos.

Her friend shakes his head unwillingly. Fearing he may become an
object of derision, he will not come forward. Poor old slave!
faithful from her childhood up, she has reached an age where few
find it profitable to listen to her supplications. The black veil of
slavery has shut out the past good of her life,--all her faithfulness
has gone for nothing; she has passed into that channel where only
the man-dealer seeks her for the few dollars worth of labour left in
a once powerful body. Oh! valuable remnant of a life, how soon it
may be exhausted-forgotten!

Bidders have some doubts about the amount of labour she can yet
perform; and, after much manifest hesitancy, she is knocked down to
Romescos for the sum of two hundred and seventy dollars. "There!
'tain't a bad price for ye, nohow!" says the vender, laconically.
"Get down, old woman." Rachel moves to the steps, and is received by
Romescos, who, taking his purchase by the arm, very mechanically
sets it on one side. "Come, Auntie, we'll make a corn-cracker a'
you, until such time as we can put yer old bones in trim to send
south. Generousness, ye see, made me gin more nor ye war' worth-not
much work in ye when ye take it on the square;--but a feller what
understands the trimmin' a' niggers like I can do ye up young, and
put an honest face on while he's cheatin' some green chap with yer
old bones." Romescos, very clever in his profession, is not quite
sure that his newly-purchased property will "stay put." He turns
about suddenly, approaches Rachel-crouched in a corner-mumbling over
some incomprehensible jargon, evidently very much disturbed in her
feelings, saying, "I kind a' think I see devil in yer eye, old
woman." Rachel turns her head aside, but makes no answer. Mr.
Romescos will make everything certain; so, drawing a cord, similar
to a small sized clothes line, from his pocket, she holds up her
hands at his bidding: he winds it several times round her wrists,
then ties it securely. "The property's all safe now," he whispers,
and returns to attend the bidding arrangements.

One by one-mothers, fathers, and single property, old and young, as
may be-are put upon the stand; sold for the various uses of manifest
democracy. Harry,--the thinking property, whose sense-keeping has
betrayed the philosophy of profound democracy,--is a preacher, and,
by the value of his theological capacity, attracts more than
ordinary attention. But his life has been a failure,--a mere
experiment in divinity struggling with the sensitive power of model
democracy. He now seems impatient to know that doom to which the
freedom of an enlightened age has consigned him. One minute some
cheering hope of his getting a good master presents itself in a
familiar face; then it turns away, and with it vanishes his hope.
Another comes forward, but it is merely to view his fine
proportions.

Harry has feelings, and is strongly inclined to cling to the opinion
that those who know his character and talents, will be inclined to
purchase. Will they save him from the cruelties of ordinary
plantation life?

"Now for the preacher!"-Mr. Forshou touches his hat, politely.
"Gentlemen purchasing, and wanting a church can be accommodated with
that article to-morrow. Come, boy, mount up here!" The preaching
article draws his steps reluctantly, gets up, and there stands,--a
black divine: anybody may look at him, anybody may examine him,
anybody may kick him; anybody may buy him, body, soul, and theology.
How pleasing, how charmingly liberal, is the democracy that grants
the sweet privilege of doing all these things! Harry has a few
simple requests to make, which his black sense might have told him
the democracy could not grant. He requests (referring to his
position as a minister of the gospel) that good master-the
vender-will sell him with his poor old woman, and that he do not
separate him from his dear children. In support of his appeal he
sets forth, in language that would be impressive were it from white
lips, that he wants to teach his little ones in the ways of the
Lord. "Do, mas'r! try sell us so we live together, where my heart
can feel and my eyes see my children," he concludes, pointing to his
children (living emblems of an oppressed race), who, with his
hapless wife, are brought forward and placed on the stand at his
feet. Harry (the vender pausing a moment) reaches out his hand (that
hand so feared and yet so harmless), and affectionately places it on
the head of his youngest child; then, taking it up, he places it in
the arms of his wife,--perhaps not long to be so,--who stands
trembling and sobbing at his side. Behold how picturesque is the
fruit of democracy! Three small children, clinging round the skirts
of a mother's garment, casting sly peeps at purchasers as if they
had an instinctive knowledge of their fate. They must be sold for
the satisfaction of sundry debts held by sundry democratic
creditors. How we affect to scorn the tyranny of Russia, because of
her serfdom! Would to God there were truth and virtue in the scorn!

Mr. Forshou, the very sensitive and gentlemanly vender-he has
dropped the title of honourable, which was given him on account of
his having been a member of the State Senate-takes Harry by the
right hand, and leads him round, where, at the front of the tribune,
customers may have a much better opportunity of seeing for
themselves.

"Yes! he's a swell-a right good fellow." Mr. Forshou turns to his
schedule, glancing his eye up and down. "I see; it's put down here
in the invoice: a minister-warranted sound in every respect. It does
seem to me, gentlemen, that here 's a right smart chance for a
planter who 'tends to the pious of his niggers, giving them a little
preaching once in a while. Now, let the generous move; shake your
dimes; let us turn a point, and see what can be done in the way of
selling the lot,--preacher, wife, and family. The boy, Harry, is a
preacher by nature; has by some unknown process tumbled into the
profession. He's a methodist, I reckon! But there's choice field
property in him; and his wife, one of the primest wenches in the
gang, never says die when there's plenty of cotton to pick. As for
the young uns, they are pure stock. You must remember, gentlemen,
preachers are not in the market every day; and when one's to be got
that'll preach the right stripe, there's no knowing the value of
him-"

"We don't want so much of this," interrupts a voice in the crowd.

"Rather anxious to buy the feller," Mr. Forshou replies, affecting
much indifference. He will say a few words more. "Think the matter
over, upon strict principles of political economy, and you'll find,
gentlemen, he's just the article for big planters. I am happy to see
the calm and serene faces of three of my friends of the clergy
present; will they not take an interest for a fellow-worker in a
righteous cause?" The vender smiles, seems inclined to jocularity,
to which the gentlemen in black are unwilling to submit. They have
not been moving among dealers, and examining a piece of property
here and there, with any sinecure motive. They view the vender's
remarks as exceedingly offensive, return a look of indignation, and
slowly, as if with wounded piety, walk away. The gentlemen in black
are most sensitive when any comparison is made between them and a
black brother. How horible shocked they seem, as, with white
neckerchiefs so modest, they look back as they merge from the mart
into the street!

It is a question whether these sensitive divines were shocked at the
affectation and cold indifference manifested by legitimate dealers,
or at the vender's very impertinent remarks. We will not charge
aught against our brethren of the clergy: no, we will leave the
question open to the reader. We love them as good men who might
labour for a better cause; we will leave them valiant defenders of
southern chivalry, southern generosity, southern affability, and
southern injustice. To be offended at so small an affair as selling
a brother clergyman,--to make the insinuation that they are not
humane, cause of insult,--is, indeed, the very essence of absurdity.

The vender makes a few side-motions with his thumbs, winks to
several of his customers, and gives a significant nod, as the
gentlemen in black pass out of the insulting establishment. "Well,
gentlemen, I'm sorry if I've offended anybody; but there's a
deep-rooted principle in what I've said, nor do I think it christian
for the clergy to clear out in that shape. However, God bless 'em;
let 'em go on their way rejoicing. Here's the boy-he turns and puts
his hand kindly on Harry's shoulder-and his wench, and his young
uns,--a minister and family, put down in the invoice as genuine
prime. Our worthy sheriff's a good judge of deacons-the sheriff-high
functionary-acknowledges the compliment by respectfully nodding-and
my opinion is that the boy'll make a good bishop yet: he only wants
an apron and a fair showing." He touches Harry under the chin,
laughing heartily the while.

"Yes, master," replies Harry-he has little of the negro
accent-quieting his feelings; "what I larn is all from the Bible,
while master slept. Sell my old woman and little ones with me; my
heart is in their welfare-"

"Don't trifle with the poor fellow's feelings; put him up and sell
him to the best advantage. There's nobody here that wants a preacher
and family. It's only depreciating the value of the property to sell
it in the lot," says Graspum, in a firm voice. He has been standing
as unmoved as a stoic, seeing nothing but property in the wretch of
a clergyman, whose natural affections, pictured in his imploring
looks, might have touched some tender chord of his feelings.

After several attempts, it is found impossible to sell the minister
and his family in one lot. Hence, by the force of necessity, his
agonising beseechings pouring forth, he is put up like other single
bales of merchandise, and sold to Mr. M'Fadden, of A--district. The
minister brought eleven hundred dollars, ready money down! The
purchaser is a well-known planter; he has worked his way up in the
world, is a rigid disciplinarian, measuring the square inches of
labour in his property, and adapting the best process of bringing it
all out.

"He's all I want," says M'Fadden, making a move outward, and edging
his way through the crowd.

"A moment with my poor old woman, master, if you please?" says
Harry, turning round to his wife.

"None of your black humbugging; there's wives enough on my place,
and a parson can have his choice out of fifty," returns M'Fadden,
dragging him along by the arm. The scene that here ensues is
harrowing in the extreme. The cries and sobs of children,--the
solicitude and affection of his poor wife, as she throws her arms
about her husband's neck,--his falling tears of sorrow, as one by one
he snatches up his children and kisses them,--are painfully touching.
It is the purest, simplest, holiest of love, gushing forth from
nature's fountain. It were well if we could but cherish its heavenly
worth. That woman, the degraded of a despised race, her arms round a
fond husband's neck, struggling with death-like grasp, and imploring
them not to take him from her. The men who have made him
merchandise,--who have trodden his race in the dust,--look on unmoved
as the unfeeling purchaser drags him from the embrace of all that is
near and dear to him on earth. Here, in this boasted freest country
the sun shines on-where freedom was bequeathed by our brave
forefathers,--where the complex tyranny of an old world was
overthrown,--such scenes violate no law. When will the glorious, the
happy day of their death come? When shall the land be free?

M'Fadden, having paid the price of his clergyman, drags him to the
door. "Once more, master," mutters the victim, looking back with
fear and hope pictured on his imploring face. M'Fadden has no
patience with such useless implorings, and orders him to move along.
"I will see them once more!" the man exclaims, "I will! Good bye!
may Heaven bless you on earth, my little ones!-God will protect us
when we meet again!" The tears course down his cheeks.

"None of that ar' kind of nonsense! Shut down yer tear-trap," says
M'Fadden, calling an attendant, and, drawing a pair of irons from
his pocket, placing them about Harry's hands. Mr. M'Fadden's
property shows signs of being somewhat belligerent: to obviate any
further nonsense, and to make short work of the thing, Mr. M'Fadden
calls in aid, throws his property on the ground, ties its legs with
a piece of rope, places it upon a drag, and orders it to be conveyed
to the depot, from whence it will be despatched by rail for a new
home.

This little ceremony over, the wife and children (Romescos and
M'Fadden, not very good friends, were competitors for the preacher
property) are put up and sold to Romescos. That skilful and very
adroit gentleman is engaged to do the exciting business of
separating, which he is progressing with very coolly and cleverly.
The whole scene closes with selling the animal property and farming
utensils. Happy Christian brothers are they who would spread the
wings of their Christianity over such scenes!






CHAPTER XX.

A FATHER'S TRIALS.





IF modern Christianity, as improved in our southern world-we mean
our world of slavery-had blushes, it might improve the use of them
were we to recount in detail the many painful incidents which the
improved and very christianly process of separating husbands from
wives, parents from children, brothers from sisters, and friends
from all the ties and associations the heart, gives birth to.
Negroes have tender sympathies, strong loves. Reader, we will save
your feelings,--we will not recount them; our aim is not to excite
undue feeling, but to relate every-day scenes.

Days and weeks pass on drearily with Marston. Unhappy, forlorn,
driven to the last extremity by obdurate creditors, he waits the
tardy process of the law. He seldom appears in public; for those who
professed to be his best friends have become his coldest
acquaintances. But he has two friends left,--friends whose pure
friendship is like sweetest dew-drops: they are Franconia and Daddy
Bob. The rusty old servant is faithful, full of benevolence,
gratitude, and unshaken fidelity; the other is the generous woman,
in whose bosom beat the tender impulses of a noble soul. Those
impulses have been moved to action in defence of the innocent; they
never can be defeated. Bob is poor, abject, and old with toil. He
cares not to be free,--he wants mas'r free. But there yet remains
some value in Bob; and he has secreted himself, in hopes of escaping
the man-dealer, and sharing his earnings in the support of old
mas'r. Franconia is differently situated; yet she can only take
advantage of circumstances which yet depend upon the caprice of a
subtle-minded husband. Over both these friends of the unfortunate,
slavery has stretched its giant arms, confusing the social system,
uprooting the integrity of men, weakening respect for law, violating
the best precepts of nature, substituting passion for principle,
confounding reason, and enslaving public opinion.

Under the above disorganising state of the social compact, the
children, known to be Marston's, are pursued as property belonging
to the bankrupt estate. When the law has made it such, it must be
sold in satisfaction of Marston's debts.

Seven months have passed since they were shut up in a felon's cell.
They have been visited by Marston; he has been kind to them,--kind as
a father could be under such circumstances. Franconia has not
forgotten them: she sends many little things to lighten the gloom of
their confinement; but society closes her lips, and will frown upon
any disclosure she may make of their parentage. Were she to disclose
it to Colonel M'Carstrow, the effect would be doubtful: it might add
to the suspicious circumstances already excited against her
unfortunate uncle. The paramount question-whether they are hereafter
to be chattel slaves, or human beings with inalienable rights-must
be submitted to the decision of a judicial tribunal. It is by no
means an uncommon case, but very full of interest. It will merely be
interesting-not as involving any new question of law, nor presenting
new phases of southern jurisprudence-in showing what very notorious
dealers in human kind, and lawyers of great legal ability, can
morally and legally perform. It will show how great men figure in
the arena of legal degradation, how they unravel the mystery of
slave power.

Graspum, professedly uninterested, has purchased the claims, and
will pursue the payment in the name of the original plaintiffs. With
Romescos's cunning aid, of course the trial will be a perfect farce,
the only exception being that the very profound Mr. Graspum will
exhibit a degree of great sincerity on his part.

The sessions are sitting; the day for the trial of this important
case has arrived; the little dingy court-room is early crowded to
excess, but there is not much expression of anxiety. Men speak
lightly of the issue, as if some simple game were to be played. The
judge, a grave-looking gentleman of no ordinary mien, in whose full
countenance sternness is predominant in the well-displayed
estimation in which he holds his important self, walks measuredly
into court-the lacqueys of the law crying "Court! court!" to which
he bows-and takes his seat upon an elevated tribune. There is great
solemnity preserved at the opening: the sheriff, with well-ordained
costume and sword, sits at his honour's left, his deputy on the
right, and the very honourable clerk of the court just below, where
there can be no impediment during the process of feeding "the Court"
on very legal points of "nigger law." In truth, the solemnity of
this court, to those unacquainted with the tenor of legal
proceedings at the south, might have been misconstrued for something
more in keeping with justice.

The legal gentlemen, most modest of face, are seated round the bar-a
semicircular railing dividing their dignity from the common
spectator-waiting the reading of the docket. The clerk takes his
time about that, and seems a great favourite with the spectators,
who applaud his rising. He reads, the sheriff crying "order! order!"
while the judge learnedly examines his notes. Some consultation
takes place between several of the attorneys, which is interlarded
with remarks from the judge, who, with seeming satisfaction to all
parties, orders the case of B. C. R. K. Marston's writ of replevin
to be called and proceeded with. "As there are three fi fas," says
the junior attorney for the defendants, a very lean strippling of
the law, just working his way up in the world, "I object to the
manner of procedure; the case only involves a question of law, and
should be submitted to the special decision of the Court. It is not
a matter for a jury to decide upon," he concludes. The judge has
listened to his remarks, objections, and disclaimers, with marked
attention; nevertheless, he is compelled to overrule them, and order
the case to proceed. Upon this it is agreed among the
attorneys-happy fellows, always ready to agree or disagree-that a
decision taken upon one fi fa shall be held as establishing a
decision for all the cases at issue.

The children are now brought into Court, and seated near one of the
attorneys. Marston stands, almost motionless, a few steps back,
gazing upon them as intently and solicitously as if the issue were
life or death. Deacon Rosebrook, his good lady, and Franconia, have
been summoned as witnesses, and sit by the side of each other on a
bench within the bar. We hear a voice here and there among the crowd
of spectators expressing sympathy for the children; others say they
are only "niggers," and can't be aught else, if it be proved that
Marston bought the mother. And there is Mr. Scranton! He is well
seated among the gentlemen of the legal profession, for whom he has
a strong fellow feeling. He sits, unmoved, in his wonted moodiness;
now and then he gives the children a sly look of commiseration, as
if the screws of his feelings were unloosing. They-the little
property-look so interesting, so innocent, so worthy of being
something more than merchandise in a land of liberty, that Mr.
Scranton's heart has become irresistibly softened. It gets a few
degrees above Mr. Scranton's constitutional scruples. "Painful
affair this! What do you think of it, Mr. Scranton?" enquires a
member of the profession, touching his arm.

"It is the fruit of Marston's weakness, you see!-don't feel just
straight, I reckon. Didn't understand the philosophy of the law,
neither; and finds himself pinched up by a sort of humanity that
won't pass for a legal tender in business-"

"Ah! we cannot always look into the future," interrupts the
attorney.

Mr. Scranton holds that whatever is constitutional must be right and
abidable; that one's feelings never should joggle our better
understanding when these little curiosities come in the way. He
admits, however, that they are strange attendants coming up once in
a while, like the fluctuations of an occult science. With him, the
constitution gives an indisputable right to overlook every outrage
upon natural law; and, while it exists in full force, though it may
strip one half the human race of rights, he has no right to complain
so long as it does not interfere with him. It strikes Mr. Scranton
that people who differ with him in opinion must have been educated
under the teaching of a bad philosophy. Great governments, he holds,
often nurture the greatest errors. It matters not how much they feel
their magnitude; often, the more they do, the least inclined are
they to correct them. Others fear the constitutional structure so
much, that they stand trembling lest the slightest correction totter
it to the ground. Great governments, too, are most likely to stand
on small points when these errors are pointed out. Mr. Scranton
declares, with great emphasis, that all these things are most
legally true, perfectly natural: they follow in man as well as
governments.

With all due deference to Mr. Scranton's opinion, so much demanded
among his admiring neighbours, it must be said that he never could
bring his mind to understand the difference between natural
philosophy and his own constitutional scruples, and was very apt to
commit himself in argument, forgetting that the evil was in the
fruits of a bad system, bringing disgrace upon his countrymen,
corrupting the moral foundation of society, spreading vice around
the domestic fireside, and giving to base-minded men power to
speculate in the foulness of their own crimes.

The case is opened by the attorney for the plaintiff, who makes a
great many direct and indirect remarks, and then calls witnesses.
"Marco Graspum!" the clerk exclaims. That gentleman comes forward,
takes his place, calmly, upon the witnesses' stand. At first he
affects to know but little; then suddenly remembers that he has
heard Marston call their mothers property. Further, he has heard
him, while extolling their qualities, state the purchase to have
been made of one Silenus, a trader.

"He stated-be sure now!-to you, that he purchased them of one
Silenus, a trader?" interpolates the judge, raising his glasses, and
advancing his ear, with his hand raised at its side.

Yes, yer honour!" "Please observe this testimony," rejoins the
attorney, quickly. He bows; says that is enough. The opposing
attorney has no question to put on cross-examination: he knows
Graspum too well. Being quite at home with the gentlemen of the
legal profession, they know his cool nonchalance never can be shaken
upon a point of testimony.

"Any questions to put?" asks the legal opponent, with an air of
indifference.

"No, nothing," is the reply.

His brother of special pleas smiles, gives a cunning glance at
Graspum, and wipes his face with a very white handkerchief. He is
conscious of the character of his man; it saves all further trouble.
"When we know who we have to deal with, we know how to deal," he
mutters, as he sits down.

Graspum retires from the stand, and takes his seat among the
witnesses. "We will now call Anthony Romescos," says the attorney. A
few minutes' pause, and that individual rolls out in all his
independence, takes his place on the stand. He goes through a long
series of questioning and cross-questioning, answers for which he
seems to have well studied.

The whole amounts to nothing more than a corroboration of Graspum's
testimony. He has heard Marston call their mothers property: once,
he thinks, but would hesitate before pledging his honour, that
Marston offered to him the woman Clotilda. Yes; it was her!

Considerable excitement is now apparent; the auditory whisper among
themselves, attorneys put their heads together, turn and turn over
the leaves of their statutes. His honour, the Court, looks wiser
still. Marston trembles and turns pale; his soul is pinioned between
hope and fear. Romescos has told something more than he knows, and
continues, at random, recounting a dozen or more irrelevant things.
The court, at length, deems it necessary to stop his voluntary
testimony, orders that he only answer such questions as are put to
him.

"There's no harm in a feller tellin' what he knows, eh! judge?"
returns Romescos, dropping a quid of tobacco at his side, bowing
sarcastically to the judge, and drawing his face into a comical
picture.

Mr. Romescos is told that he can stand aside. At this seemingly
acceptable announcement, he bristles his crispy red hair with his
fingers, shrugs his shoulders, winks at two or three of the jurymen,
pats Graspum on the shoulder as he passes him, and takes his seat.

"We will close the case here, but reserve the right of introducing
further testimony, if necessary," says the learned and very
honourable counsel.

The defence here rises, and states the means by which his client
intends to prove the freedom of the children; and concludes by
calling over the names of the witnesses. Franconia! Franconia! we
hear that name called; it sounds high above the others, and falls
upon our ear most mournfully. Franconia, that sweet creature of
grace and delicacy, brought into a court where the scales of
injustice are made to serve iniquity!

Franconia's reserve and modesty put legal gentlemen's gallantry to
the test. One looks over the pages of his reports, another casts a
sly look as she sweeps by to take that place the basest of men has
just left. The interested spectators stretch their persons
anxiously, to get a look at the two pretty children, honourable and
legal gentlemen are straining their ability to reduce to property.
There stands the blushing woman, calm and beautiful, a virtuous
rebuke to curious spectators, mercenary slave dealers, the very
learned gentlemen of the bar, and his enthroned honour, the Court!
She will give testimony that makes nature frown at its own
degradation. Not far from Franconia sits the very constitutional Mr.
Scranton, casting side glances now and then. Our philosopher
certainly thinks, though he will not admit it, the chivalry is
overtaxing itself; there was no occasion for compelling so fair a
creature to come into court, and hear base testimony before a base
crowd,--to aid a base law in securing base ends. And then, just think
and blush, ye who have blushes to spare.

"Will the learned gentleman proceed with the examination of this
witness?" says his honour, who, pen in hand, has been waiting
several minutes to take down her testimony. Court and audience,
without knowing why, have come to an unconscious pause.

"Will the witness state to the court in what relation she stands to
the gentleman who defends title freedom of the children,--Mr. Hugh
Marston?" says the attorney, addressing his bland words to
Franconia, somewhat nervously.

"He--he--he--is my--," she mutters, and stops. Her face turns pale; then
suddenly changes to glowing crimson. She rests her left hand on the
rail, while the judge, as if suddenly moved by a generous impulse,
suggests that the attorney pause a moment, until the deputy provides
a chair for the lady. She is quiet again. Calmly and modestly, as
her soft, meaning eyes wander over the scene before her, compelled
to encounter its piercing gaze, the crystal tears leave their wet
courses on her blushing cheeks. Her feelings are too delicate, too
sensitive, to withstand the sharp and deadly poison of liberty's
framework of black laws. She sees her uncle, so kind, so fond of her
and her absent brother; her eye meets his in kindred sympathy,
imagination wings its way through recollections of the past, draws
forth its pleasures with touching sensations, and fills the cup too
full. That cup is the fountain of the soul, from which trouble draws
its draughts. She watches her uncle as he turns toward the children;
she knows they are his; she feels how much he loves them.

The attorney--the man of duty--is somewhat affected. "I have a duty to
perform," he says, looking at the court, at the witness, at the
children, at the very red-faced clerk, at the opposing counsel, and
anything within the precincts of the court-room. We see his lips
move; he hesitates, makes slight gesticulations, turns and turns a
volume of Blackstone with his hands, and mutters something we cannot
understand. The devil is doing battle with his heart-a heart bound
with the iron strings of the black law. At length, in broken
accents, we catch the following remarks, which the learned gentleman
thinks it necessary to make in order to save his gallantry:--"I am
sorry--extremely sorry, to see the witness, a lady so touchingly
sensitive, somewhat affected; but, nevertheless" (the gentleman bows
to the judge, and says the Court will understand his position!) "it
is one of those cases which the demands of the profession at times
find us engaged in. As such we are bound, morally, let me say, as
well as legally, to protect the interests of our clients. In doing
so, we are often compelled to encounter those delicate
irregularities to which the laws governing our peculiar institutions
are liable. I may say that they are so interwoven with our peculiar
institution, that to act in accordance with our duty makes it a
painful task to our feelings. We--I may appeal to the court for
corroboration--can scarcely pursue an analysation of these cases
without pain; I may say, remorse of conscience." Mr. Petterwester,
for such is his name, is evidently touched with that sense of shame
which the disclosures of the black system bring upon his profession.
This is aided by the fascinating appearance of the witness on the
stand. It is irresistible because it is at variance with those legal
proceedings, those horrors of southern jurisprudence, which he is
pressing for the benefit of his clients. Again he attempts to put
another question, but is seized with a tremor; he blushes, is
nervous and confused, casts a doubting look at the judge. That
functionary is indeed very grave--unmoved. The responsibility of the
peculiar institution sorely hardened the war of heart against head
that was waging among the learned gentlemen; but the institution
must be preserved, for its political power works wonders, and its
legal power is wondrously curious. "Please tell the court and jury
what you know about the relation in which these children stand to
the gentleman who asserts their freedom, dear madam? We will not
trouble you with questions; make a statement," says Mr.
Petterwester, with great sincerity of manner. Indeed, Mr.
Petterwester has been highly spoken of among the very oldest, most
respectable, and best kind of female society, for his gallantry.

The brother opposite, a small gentleman, with an exceedingly
studious countenance, dressed in shining black, and a profusion of
glossy hair falling upon his shoulders, rises with great legal
calmness, and objects to the manner of procedure, describing it as
contrary to the well-established rules of the bar. The court
interpolates a few remarks, and then intimates that it very
seriously thinks gentlemen better waive the points,--better come to
an understanding to let the lady make her statements! Courtesy
entitles her, as a lady, to every respect and consideration. The
gentlemen, having whispered a few words together, bow assent to the
high functionary's intimation.

Franconia proceeds. She asserts that Hugh Marston (pointing to him)
is her uncle; that she knows little or nothing of his business
affairs, cannot tell why her brother left the country so suddenly;
she knew Clotilda and Ellen Juvarna, mothers of the children. They
never were considered among the property of the plantation. Her
short story is told in touching tones. The learned and gallant
attorney, esteeming it indispensable, puts a question or two as to
whether anything was ever said about selling them in consequence of
certain jealousies. Before the brother can object, she answers them
evasively, and the testimony amounts to just no testimony at all.
The court, bowing respectfully, informs the lady she can get down
from the stand.

The next witness called is Mrs. Rosebrook. This good and benevolent
lady is more resolute and determined. The gentlemen of the bar find
her quite clever enough for them. Approaching the stand with a firm
step, she takes her place as if determined upon rescuing the
children. Her answers come rather faster than is compatible with the
dignity of the learned gentlemen of the bar. She knows Marston,
knows Franconia, knows the old plantation, has spent many happy
hours upon it, is sorry to see the old proprietor reduced to this
state of things. She knows the two children,--dear creatures,--has
always had a kindly feeling for them; knew their poor mothers, has
befriended them since Marston's troubles began. She always-her
large, loving eyes glowing with the kindness of her soul-heard
Marston say they were just as free as people could be, and they
should be free, too! Some people did'nt look at the moral obligation
of the thing. Here, the good lady, blushing, draws the veil over her
face. There is something more she would like to disclose if modesty
did not forbid.

"Nothing direct in such testimony, your honour will perceive!" says
Mr. Petterwester, directing himself to the judge.

"Is there any question with regard to the father of the children?"
enquires his honour, again placing his hand to his ear and leaning
forward inquisitively. His honour suddenly forgot himself.

"Ah, ha'h, he-em! The question, so buried under a mountain of
complexity, requires very nice legal discrimination to define it
properly. However, we must be governed by distinct pleadings, and I
think that, in this case, this specific question is not material;
nor do my brother colleagues of the Bench think it would be
advisable to establish such questions, lest they affect the moral
purity of the atmosphere we live in."

"If your honour will permit it, I may say it will only be necessary
in this case to establish the fact of property existing in the
mothers. That will settle the whole question; fathers, as you are
aware, not being embraced in the law regulating this species of
property;" the learned gentleman instructs the court.

His honour, rejoining with a few very grave and very legal remarks,
says they look very much alike, and are of one mother. He is a
little undecided, however, takes another good stare at them, and
then adds his glasses, that the affinity may be more clear. Turning
again to his book, he examines his pages, vacantly. A legal wag, who
has been watching the trial for mere amusement, whispering in the
ear of his brother, insinuates that the presiding functionary is
meditating some problem of speculation, and has forgotten the point
at issue.

"No!" interrupts Mr. Petterwester, "your honour is curiously
labouring under an error; they have two mothers, both of the same
tenour in life--that is"--Mr. Petterwester corrects himself--"embodying
the same questions of property. The issue of the case now on is
taken as final over the rest."

"Ah! bless me, now-I-rather-see-into it. The clerk will hand me
Cobb's Georgia Reports. A late case, curiously serious, there
recorded, may lead me to gather a parallel. Believe me, gentlemen,
my feelings are not so dead-his honour addresses himself to the bar
in general--that I cannot perceive it to be one of those very
delicate necessities of our law which so embarrasses the gallantry
of the profession at times--"

"Yes! yer honour," the attorney for the defence suddenly interrupts,
"and which renders it no less a disgrace to drag ladies of high rank
into a court of this kind--."

His honour can assure the learned gentleman that this court has very
high functions, and can administer justice equal to anything this
side of divine power,--his honour interrupts, indignantly.

"The court misunderstood the counsel,--he had no reference to the
unquestioned high authority of the tribunal; it was only the
character of the trials brought before it. When, notwithstanding our
boasts of chivalry, delicate ladies are dragged before it in this
manner, they must not only endure the painful tenour of the
evidence, but submit to the insolence of men who would plunder
nature of its right--"

"I shall claim the protection of the court against such
unprofessional imputations," his brother of the opposite interrupts,
rising and affecting an air of indignation. The court, quite
bewildered, turns a listening ear to his remarks--"Hopes the learned
gentlemen will not disgrace themselves."

Order! order! order! demands the sheriff, making a flourish with his
sword. The spectators, rising on tip-toe, express their anxiety to
have the case proceed. They whisper, shake their heads, and are
heard to say that it will be utterly useless to attempt anything
against the testimony of Graspum and Romescos. Mr. Graspum, in the
fulness of his slavish and impudent pedantry, feeling secure in the
possession of his victims, sits within the bar, seeming to feel his
position elevated a few degrees above his highness the judge.

"I do hope the interposition of this Court will not be necessary in
this case. Gentlemen of the learned profession should settle those
differences more like gentlemen," says his honour, looking down upon
his minions with a frown of contempt.

"The matter is one entirely of a professional nature, yer honour!"
responds the scion of the law, quickly, first addressing himself to
the judge, and then to the jury. "If the testimony we have already
adduced--direct as it is--be not sufficient to establish the existence
of property in these children" (Romescos has just whispered
something in his ear) "we will produce other testimony of the most
conclusive character. However, we will yield all further
cross-questioning the ladies; and I now suggest that they be
relieved from the painful position of appearing before this court
again."

Mrs. Rosebrook descends from the stand amidst murmurs and applause.
Some amount of legal tact now ensues; the attorney for the
prosecution displays an earnestness amounting to personal interest.

Here the counsel for the defence steps forward, whispers to the
clerk, and gives notice that he shall call witnesses to impeach the
characters of Graspum and Romescos. These two high dignitaries,
sitting together, express the utmost surprise at such an
insinuation. The character of neither is sacred material, nor will
it stand even in a southern atmosphere. They have been pronounced
legally impure many years ago.

Just at this juncture there is quite an excitement in the
court-room. Romescos, like a disfigured statue, rises from among his
legal friends and addresses the court on the independent principle.
"Well now, Squire, if ya'r goin' to play that ar' lawyer game on a
feller what don't understand the dodge, I'll just put a settler
on't; I'll put a settler on't what ya' won't get over. My word's my
honour; didn't come into this establishment to do swarin' cos I
wanted to; seein' how, when a feller's summoned by the Boss Squire,
he's got to walk up and tell the truth and nothin' shorter. I knows
ya' don't feel right about it; and it kind a hurts a feller's
feelins to make property of such nice young uns, especially when one
knows how nice they've been brought up. This aint the thing, though;
'taint the way to get along in the world; and seein' I'm a man of
honour, and wouldn't do a crooked thing nohow-"

His honour the Sheriff, being somewhat impressed with the fact that
Mr. Romescos is rather transgressing the rules of the court,
interposes. His defence of his honour cannot longer be tolerated;
and yet, very much after the fashion of great outlaws, who, when
arraigned for their crimes, think themselves very badly used men,
Romescos has the most exalted opinion of himself; never for a moment
entertains a doubt of his own integrity.

He reaches over the bar; places his lips to the attorney's ear; is
about to whisper something. That gentleman quickly draws back, as if
his presence were repulsive. Not the least offended, Romescos winks
significantly, crooks the fore-finger of his right hand, and
says-"something that'll put the stopper on." The legal gentleman
seems reconciled; listens attentively to the important information.
"All right! nothing more is needed," he says, rising from his seat,
and asking permission to introduce proof which will render it quite
unnecessary to proceed with anything that may have for its object
the impeachment of the witnesses.

The attorney for the defence objects to this mode of procedure; and
the judge, having sustained the objections, orders the counsel to
proceed with his witnesses. Several persons, said to be of very high
standing, are now called. They successively depose that they would
not believe Romescos nor Graspum upon oath; notwithstanding, both
may be very honourable and respectable gentlemen. Thus invalidating
the testimony of these high functionaries of the peculiar
institution, the gentleman of the prosecution has an opportunity of
producing his conclusive proof. Romescos has been seen passing him a
very suspicious-looking document.

All attention is now directed to the children; they sit pensively,
unconscious of the dread fate hanging over them. "What can this
testimony be?" rings in whispers about the court-room. Some deep
intrigue is going on; it is some unforeseen movement of the
slave-dealers, not comprehended by the spectators. Can the bonƒ-fide
creditors be implicated? Even Mr. Scranton feels that his knowledge
of the philosophy of slave power is completely at fault.

"Now, your honour, and gentlemen of the jury," says the gentleman of
the prosecution, "I am fully aware of the painful suspense in which
this case has kept the court, the jury, and the very respectable
persons I see assembled; but, notwithstanding the respectability and
well-known position of my clients and witnesses, the defence in this
case has succeeded in expunging the testimony, and compelling us to
bring forward such proof as cannot be impeached." Here the legal
gentleman draws from his pocket a stained and coloured paper,
saying, "Will the gentlemen of the jury be kind enough to minutely
examine that instrument." He passes it to the foreman.

"What is the purport of the instrument?" his honour enquires.

"The bill of sale, your honour."

Foreman has examined it satisfactorily; passes it to several of his
fellows. All are satisfied. He returns it to the learned gentleman.
That very important and chivalrous individual throws it upon the
table with great self-confidence.

His honour would like to scan over its details. It is passed to the
little fat clerk, and by that gentleman to his honour. "Very,
singularly strong!" his honour says, giving his head a very wise
shake.

"When the court gets through," says the advocate for the defence,
rising and placing his hand on the clerk's desk.

"The gentleman can examine," replies the court, passing it coldly to
the Sheriff, who politely forwards it.

He turns it and turns it; reads it slowly; examines the dates
minutely. "How did the prosecution come in possession of this
document?"

His brother of the law objects, "That's not an admissible question.
If the defence will institute an action against the parties for
unlawfully procuring it, we will take great pleasure in showing our
hands. It may be, however, well to say, that Mr. Marston and Mr.
Graspum have always been on the most friendly terms; but the former
gentleman forgot to take care of this very essential document," he
continues, taking it from the hand of his professional brother, and
turning toward the spectators, his countenance glowing with
exultation. The pride of his ambition is served. The profession has
honourably sustained itself through the wonderful abilities of this
learned brother, who, holding the paper in his hand, awaits the
gracious applause of the assembled spectators. There is some
applause, some murmuring, much whispering.

The court, in coldly measured words, hopes the audience will evince
no excitement pro or con.

Some persons declare the bill of sale a forgery,--that Romescos has
tried that very same trick twice before. Others say it matters but
little on that score,--that all the law in the country won't restrain
Graspum; if he sets at it in good earnest he can turn any sort of
people into property. A third whispers that the present order of
things must be changed, or nobody's children will be safe. Legal
gentlemen, not interested in the suit, shake their heads, and
successively whisper, "The prosecution never came by that bill of
sale honestly." Creditors, not parties to this suit, and brokers who
now and then do something in the trade of human beings, say, "If
this be the way Marston's going to play the dodge with his property,
we will see if there be not some more under the same shaded
protection."

"Will the counsel for the defence permit his client to inspect this
instrument?" says the learned gentleman, passing it across the
table.

Marston's face flushes with shame; he is overcome; he extends his
trembling hand and takes the fatal document. It is, to him, his
children's death-warrant. A cloud of darkness overshadows his hopes;
he would question the signature, but the signer, Silenus, is
dead,--as dead as the justice of the law by which the children are
being tried. And there is the bond attached to it! Again the thought
flashed through his mind, that he had sold Ellen Juvarna to Elder
Pemberton Praiseworthy. However much he might struggle to save his
children-however much a father's obligations might force themselves
upon him-however much he might acknowledge them the offspring of his
own body, they were property in the law-property in the hands of
Graspum; and, with the forethought of that honourable gentleman
opposed to him--as it evidently was--his efforts and pleadings would
not only prove futile, but tend to expose Lorenzo's crime.

"The philosophy of the thing is coming out, just as I
said-precisely," ejaculates Mr. Scranton, raising his methodical
eyes, and whispering to a legal gentleman who sits at his right.

"Serious philosophy, that embraces and sanctions the sale of such
lovely children,--making property of one's children against his
wishes! I'm a great Southern rights man, but this is shaving the
intermixture a little too close," rejoins the other, casting a
solicitous look at Marston, who has been intently and nervously
examining the bill of sale.

"Any objections to make to it?" says the learned gentleman, bowing
politely and extending his hand, as he concludes by inquiring how it
happened, in the face of such an array of evidence, that he sold the
girl, Ellen Juvarna?

"No objection, none!" is Marston's quick response. His head droops;
he wipes the tears from his eyes; he leaves the court in silence,
amid murmurs from the crowd. The female witnesses left before him;
it was well they did so.

That this is the original bill of sale, from one Silenus to Hugh
Marston, has been fully established. However painful the issue,
nothing remained but to give the case to the jury. All is silent for
several minutes. The judge has rarely sat upon a case of this kind.
He sits unnerved, the pen in his hand refusing to write as his
thoughts wander into the wondrous vortex of the future of slavery.
But the spell has passed; his face shades with pallor as slowly he
rises to address the jury. He has but few words to say; they fall
like death-knells on the ears of his listeners. Some touching words
escape his hesitating lips; but duty, enforced by the iron rod of
slave power, demands him to sustain the laws of the land. He sets
forth the undisputed evidence contained in the bill of sale, the
unmistakeable bond, the singular and very high-handed attempt to
conceal it from the honest creditors, and the necessity of jurymen
restraining their sympathies for the children while performing a
duty to the laws of the land. Having thus made his brief address, he
sits down; the sheriff shoulders his tip-staff, and the august
twelve, with papers provided, are marched into the jury-room, as the
court orders that the case of Dunton v. Higgins be called.

Five minutes have intervened; the clerk calling the case s
interrupted by a knocking at the jury-room door; he stops his
reading, the door is opened, and the sheriff conducts his twelve
gentlemen back to their seats. Not a whisper is heard; the stillness
of the tomb reigns over this high judicial scene. The sheriff
receives a packet of papers from the foreman's hands, and passes
them to the clerk.

"Gentlemen of the jury will please stand up," says that very amiable
functionary. "Have you agreed on your verdict?" The foreman bows
assent.

"Guilty or not guilty, gentlemen?"

"Guilty," says the former, in tones like church-yard wailings:
"Guilty. I suppose that's the style we must render the verdict in?"
The foreman is at a loss to know what style of verdict is necessary.

"Yes," returns the clerk, bowing; and the gentlemen of the jury well
complimented by the judge, are discharged until to-morrow. The
attorney for the defence made a noble, generous, and touching appeal
to the fatherly twelve; but his appeal fell like dull mist before
the majesty of slavery. Guilty! O heavens, that ever the innocent
should be made guilty of being born of a mother! That a mother-that
name so holy-should be stained with the crime of bearing her child
to criminal life!

Two children, fair and beautiful, are judged by a jury of
twelve-perhaps all good and kind fathers, free and enlightened
citizens of a free and happy republic-guilty of the crime of being
born of a slave mother. Can this inquiring jury, this thinking
twelve, feel as fathers only can feel when their children are on the
precipice of danger? Could they but break over that seeming
invulnerable power of slavery which crushes humanity, freezes up the
souls of men, and makes the lives of millions but a blight of
misery, and behold with the honesty of the heart what a picture of
misery their voice "Guilty!" spreads before these unfortunate
children, how changed would be the result!

A judge, endeared to his own children by the kindest affections,
feels no compunction of conscience while administering the law which
denies a father his own children-which commands those children to be
sold with the beasts of the field! Mark the slender cord upon which
the fate of these unfortunates turns; mark the suffering through
which they must pass.

The hand on the clock's pale face marks four. His honour reminds
gentlemen of the bar that it is time to adjourn court. Court is
accordingly adjourned. The crowd disperse in silence. Gentlemen of
the legal profession are satisfied the majesty of the law has been
sustained.

Hence the guilty children, scions of rights-loving democracy, like
two pieces of valuable merchandise judicially decreed upon, are led
back to prison, where they will await sale. Annette has caught the
sound of "Guilty!"-she mutters it while being taken home from the
court, in the arms of an old slave. May heaven forgive the guilt we
inherit from a mother, in this our land of freedom!






CHAPTER XXI.

WE CHANGE WITH FORTUNE.





BUT a few months have passed since the popularly called gallant
M'Carstrow led the fair Franconia to the hymeneal altar; and, now
that he has taken up his residence in the city, the excitement of
the honeymoon is waning, and he has betaken himself to his more
congenial associations. The beautiful Franconia for him had but
transient charms, which he now views as he would objects necessary
to the gratifications of his coarse passions. His feelings have not
been softened with those finer associations which make man the kind
patron of domestic life; nor is his mind capable of appreciating
that respect for a wife which makes her an ornament of her circle.
Saloons, race-courses, and nameless places, have superior
attractions for him: home is become but endurable.

In truth, Franconia, compelled to marry in deference to fortune,
finds she is ensnared into misfortunes. M'Carstrow (Colonel by
courtesy) had fifteen hundred dollars, cash down, to pay for
Clotilda: this sad grievance excites his feelings, inasmuch as it
was all owing to his wife's whims, and the poverty of her relations.
The verdict of the jury, recently rendered, was to his mind a
strictly correct one; but he cannot forget the insane manner in
which the responsibility was fastened upon him, and the hard
cash-which might have made two handsome stakes on the turf-drawn
from his pocket. His wife's poverty-stricken relations he now
detests, and can tolerate them best when farthest away from him. But
Franconia does not forget that he is her husband; no, night after
night she sits at the window until midnight, waiting his return.
Feeble and weary with anxiety, she will despatch a negro on a
hopeless errand of search; he, true to his charge, returns with the
confidential intelligence of finding Mas'r in a place less reputable
than it is proper to mention. Such is our southern society,--very
hospitable in language, chivalrous in memory,--base in morals! Some-
times the gallant colonel deems it necessary to remain until
daylight, lest, in returning by night, the pavement may annoy his
understanding. Of this, however, he felt the world knew but little.
Now and then, merely to keep up the luxury of southern life, the
colonel finds it gratifying to his feelings, on returning home at
night, to order a bed to be made for him in one of the yard-houses,
in such manner as to give the deepest pain to his Franconia. Coarse
and dissolute, indifference follows, cold and cutting; she finds
herself a mere instrument of baser purpose in the hands of one she
knows only as a ruffian-she loathes! Thus driven under the burden of
trouble, she begins to express her unhappiness, to remonstrate
against his associations, to plead with him against his course of
life. He jeers at this, scouts such prudery, proclaims it far
beneath the dignity of his standing as a southern gentleman.

The generous woman could have endured his dissipation-she might have
tolerated his licentiousness, but his arbitrary and very
uncalled-for remarks upon the misfortunes of her family are more
than she can bear. She has tried to respect him-love him she
cannot-and yet her sensitive nature recoils at the thought of being
attached to one whose feelings and associations are so at variance
with her own. Her impulsive spirit quails under the bitterness of
her lot; she sees the dreary waste of trouble before her only to
envy the happiness of those days of rural life spent on the old
plantation. That she should become fretful and unhappy is a natural
consequence.

We must invite the reader to go with us to M'Carstrow's residence,
an old-fashioned wooden building, three stories high, with large
basement windows and doors, on the south side of King Street. It is
a wet, gloomy night, in the month of November,--the wind, fierce and
chilling, has just set in from the north-east; a drenching rain
begins to fall, the ships in the harbour ride ill at ease; the
sudden gusts of wind, sweeping through the narrow streets of the
city, lighted here and there by the sickly light of an old-fashioned
lamp, bespread the scene with drear. At a second-story window,
lighted by a taper burning on the sill, sits Franconia, alone,
waiting the return of M'Carstrow. M'Carstrow is enjoying his night
orgies! He cares neither for the pelting storm, the anxiety of his
wife, nor the sweets of home.

A gust of wind shakes the house; the windows rattle their stormy
music; the cricket answers to the wailings of the gale as it gushes
through the crevices; Franconia's cares are borne to her husband.
Now the wind subsides,--a slow rap is heard at the hall door, in the
basement: a female servant, expecting her master, hastens to open
it. Her master is not there; the wind has extinguished the flaring
light; and the storm, sweeping through the sombre arch, spreads
noise and confusion. She runs to the kitchen, seizes the globular
lamp, and soon returns, frightened at the sight presented in the
door. Master is not there-it is the lean figure of a strange old
"nigger," whose weather-worn face, snowy with beard and wrinkled
with age, is lit up with gladness. He has a warm soul within him,--a
soul not unacceptable to heaven! The servant shrinks back,--she is
frightened at the strange sight of the strange old man. "Don' be
feared, good child; Bob ain't bad nigger," says the figure, in a
guttural whisper.

"An't da'h fo'h notin good; who is ye'?" returns the girl, holding
the globular lamp before her shining black face. Cautiously she
makes a step or two forward, squinting at the sombre figure of the
old negro, as he stands trembling in the doorway. "Is my good young
Miss wid'n?" he enquires, in the same whispering voice, holding his
cap in his right hand.

"Reckon how ye bes be gwine out a dat afo'h Miss come. Yer miss don'
lib in dis ouse." So saying, the girl is about to close the door in
the old man's face, for he is ragged and dejected, and has the
appearance of a "suspicious nigger without a master."

"Don' talk so, good gal; ye don' know dis old man,--so hungry,--most
starved. I lub Miss Franconia. Tell she I'ze here," he says, in a
supplicating tone, as the girl, regaining confidence, scrutinises
him from head to foot with the aid of her lamp.

The servant is about to request he will come inside that she may
shut out the storm. "Frankone knows old Daddy Bob,--dat she do!" he
reiterates, working his cap in his fingers. The familiar words have
caught Franconia's ear; she recognises the sound of the old man's
voice; she springs to her feet, as her heart gladdens with joy. She
bounds down the stairs, and to the door, grasps the old man's hand,
as a fond child warmly grasps the hand of a parent, and welcomes him
with the tenderness of a sister. "Poor-my poor old Daddy!" she says,
looking in his face so sweetly, so earnestly, "where have you come
from? who bought you? how did you escape?" she asks, in rapid
succession. Holding his hand, she leads him along the passage, as he
tells her. "Ah, missus, I sees hard times since old mas'r lef' de
plantation. Him an't how he was ven you dah." He views her,
curiously, from head to foot; kisses her hand; laughs with joy, as
he was wont to laugh on the old plantation.

"Faithful as ever, Daddy? You found me out, and came to see me,
didn't you?" says Franconia, so kindly, leading him into a small
room on the left hand of the hall, where, after ordering some supper
for him, she begs he will tell her all about his wayfaring. It is
some minutes before Bob can get an opportunity to tell Franconia
that he is a fugitive, having escaped the iron grasp of the law to
stand true to old mas'r. At length he, in the enthusiastic boundings
of his heart, commences his story.

"Nigger true, Miss Franconia"-he mumbles out-"on'e gib 'im chance to
be. Ye sees, Bob warn't gwine t' lef' old mas'r, nohow; so I gin
'ein da slip when'e come t' takes 'em fo'h sell-"

"Then they didn't sell you, old Dad? That's good! that's good! And
Daddy's cold and wet?" she interrupts, anxiously, telling the
servant to get some dry clothes for him.

"I is dat, Miss Frankone. Han't ad nofin t' eat dis most two days,"
he returns, looking at her affectionately, with one of those simple
smiles, so true, so expressive.

A supper is soon ready for Daddy, to which he sits down as if he
were about to renew all his former fondness and familiarity. "Seems
like old times, don 'un, Miss Frankone? Wish old mas'r war here,
too," says the old man, putting the bowl of coffee to his lips, and
casting a side-look at the servant.

Franconia sits watching him intently, as if he were a child just
rescued from some impending danger. "Don't mention my poor uncle,
Daddy. He feels as much interest in you as I do; but the world don't
look upon him now as it once did-"

"Neber mind: I gwine to work fo' old mas'r. It'll take dis old child
to see old mas'r all right," replies the old man, forgetting that he
is too old to take care of himself, properly. Bob finishes his
supper, rests his elbow on the table and his head in his hand, and
commences disclosing his troubles to Franconia. He tells her how he
secreted himself in the pine-woods,--how he wandered through swamps,
waded creeks, slept on trunks of trees, crept stealthily to the old
mansion at night, listened for mas'r's footsteps, and watched
beneath the veranda; and when he found he was not there, how he
turned and left the spot, his poor heart regretting. How his heart
beat as he passed the old familiar cabin, retracing his steps to
seek a shelter in the swamp; how, when he learned her residence,
famished with hunger, he wended his way into the city to seek her
out, knowing she would relieve his wants.

"What vil da do wid me, spose da cotch me, Miss Frankone?" enquires
the old man, simply, looking down at his encrusted feet, and again
at his nether wardrobe, which he feels is not just the thing to
appear in before young missus.

"They won't do anything cruel to you, Daddy. You are too old; your
grey hairs will protect you. Why, Daddy, you would not fetch a bid
if they found out who owned you, and put you up at auction
to-morrow," she says, with seeming unconsciousness. She little knew
how much the old man prided in his value,--how much he esteemed the
amount of good work he could do for master. He shakes his head,
looks doubtingly at her, as if questioning the sincerity of her
remark.

"Just get Daddy Bob-he mutters-a badge, den 'e show missus how much
work in 'um."

Franconia promises to comply with his request, and, with the aid of
a friend, will intercede for him, and procure for him a badge, that
he may display his energies for the benefit of old mas'r. This done,
she orders the servant to show him his bed in one of the "yard
houses;" bids the old man an affectionate good night, retires to her
room, and watches the return of her truant swain.

There, seated in an arm-chair, she waits, and waits, and waits, hope
and anxiety recording time as it passes. The servant has seen Daddy
safe in his room, and joins her missus, where, by the force of
habit, she coils herself at her feet, and sleeps. She has not long
remained in this position when loud singing breaks upon her ear;
louder and louder it vibrates through the music of the storm, and
approaches. Now she distinctly recognises the sharp voice of
M'Carstrow, which is followed by loud rappings at the door of the
basement hall. M'Carstrow, impatiently, demands entrance. The
half-sleeping servant, startled at the noise, springs to her feet,
rubs her eyes, bounds down the stairs, seizes the globular lamp, and
proceeds to open the door. Franconia, a candle in her hand, waits at
the top of the stairs. She swings back the door, and there,
bespattered with mud, face bleeding and distorted, and eyes glassy,
stands the chivalrous M'Carstrow. He presents a sorry picture;
mutters, or half growls, some sharp imprecations; makes a grasp at
the girl, falls prostrate on the floor. Attempting to gain his
perpendicular, he staggers a few yards-the girl screaming with
fright-and groans as his face again confronts the tiles. To make the
matter still worse, three of his boon companions follow him, and,
almost in succession, pay their penance to the floor, in an
indescribable catacomb.

"I tell you what, Colonel! if that nigger gal a' yourn don't stand
close with her blazer we'll get into an all-fired snarl," says one,
endeavouring to extricate himself and regain his upright. After
sundry ineffectual attempts, surging round the room in search of his
hat, which is being very unceremoniously transformed into a muff
beneath their entangled extremes, he turns over quietly, saying,
"There's something very strange about the floor of this
establishment,--it don't seem solid; 'pears how there's ups and downs
in it." They wriggle and twist in a curious pile; endeavour to bring
their knees out of "a fix"--to free themselves from the angles which
they are most unmathematically working on the floor. Working and
twisting,--now staggering, and again giving utterance to the coarsest
language,--one of the gentry--they belong to the sporting world-calls
loudly for the colonel's little 'oman. Regaining his feet, he makes
indelicate advances towards the female servant, who, nearly pale
with fright--a negro can look pale--runs to her mistress at the top
of the stairs.

He misses the frightened maid, and seats himself on the lowest step
of the stairs. Here he delivers a sort of half-musical soliloquy,
like the following: "Gentlemen! this kind a' thing only happens at
times, and isn't just the square thing when yer straight; but--seein'
how southern life will be so--when a body get's crooked what's got a
wife what don't look to matters and things, and never comes to take
care on a body when he's done gone, he better shut up shop. Better
be lookin' round to see what he can scare up!"

Franconia holds the flaring light over the stairs: pale and
death-like, she trembles with fear, every moment expecting to see
them ascend.

"I see the colonel's 'oman! yander she is; she what was imposed on
him to save the poverty of her folks. The M'Carstrows know a thing
or two: her folks may crawl under the dignity of the name, but they
don't shell under the dignity of the money-they don't!" says a
stalwart companion, attempting to gain a position by the side of his
fellow on the steps. He gives a leering wink, contorts his face into
a dozen grimaces, stares vacantly round the hall (sliding himself
along on his hands and knees), his glassy eyes inflamed like balls
of fire. "It'll be all square soon," he growls out.

The poor affrighted servant again attempts-having descended the
stairs-to relieve her master; but the crawling creature has regained
his feet. He springs upon her like a fiend, utters a fierce yell,
and, snatching the lamp from her hand, dashes it upon the tiles,
spreading the fractured pieces about the hall. Wringing herself from
his grasp, she leaves a portion of her dress in his bony hand, and
seeks shelter in a distant part of the hall. Holding up the fragment
as a trophy, he staggers from place to place, making hieroglyphics
on the wall with his fingers. His misty mind searches for some point
of egress. Confronting (rather uncomfortably) hat stands, tables,
porcelains, and other hall appurtenances, he at length shuffles his
way back to the stairs, where, as if doubting his bleered optics, he
stands some moments, swaying to and fro. His hat again falls from
his head, and his body, following, lays its lumbering length on the
stairs. Happy fraternity! how useful is that body! His companion,
laying his muddled head upon it, says it will serve for a pillow.
"E'ke-hum-spose 'tis so? I reckon how I'm some-ec! eke!-somewhere or
nowhere; aint we, Joe? It's a funny house, fellers," he continues to
soliloquise, laying his arm affectionately over his companion's
neck, and again yielding to the caprice of his nether limbs.

The gentlemen will now enjoy a little refreshing sleep; to further
which enjoyment, they very coolly and unceremoniously commence a
pot-pourri of discordant snoring. This seems of grateful concord for
their boon companions, who-forming an equanimity of good feeling on
the floor-join in.

The servant is but a slave, subject to her owner's will; she dare
not approach him while in such an uncertain condition. Franconia
cannot intercede, lest his companions, strangers to her, and having
the appearance of low-bred men, taking advantage of M'Carstrow's
besotted condition, make rude advances. M'Carstrow, snoring high
above his cares, will take his comfort upon the tiles.

The servant is supplied with another candle, which, at Franconia's
bidding, she places in a niche of the hall. It will supply light to
the grotesque sleepers, whose lamp has gone out.

Franconia has not forgotten that M'Carstrow is her husband; she has
not forgotten that she owes him a wife's debt of kindness. She
descends the stairs gently, leans over his besotted body, smooths
his feverish brow with her hand, and orders the servant to bring a
soft cushion; which done, she raises his head and places it
beneath-so gently, so carefully. Her loving heart seems swelling
with grief, as compassionately she gazes upon him; then, drawing a
cambric handkerchief from her bosom, spreads it so kindly over his
face. Woman! there is worth in that last little act. She leaves him
to enjoy his follies, but regrets their existence. Retiring to the
drawing-room, agitated and sleepless, she reclines on a lounge to
await the light of morning. Again the faithful servant, endeavouring
to appease her mistress's agitation, crouches upon the carpet,
resting her head on the ottoman at Franconia's feet.

The morning dawns bright and sunny: Franconia has not slept. She has
passed the hours in watchfulness; has watched the negro sleeping,
while her thoughts were rivetted to the scene in the hall. She gets
up, paces the room from the couch to the window, and sits down again
undecided, unresolved. Taking Diana-such is the servant's name-by
the hand, she wakes her, and sends her into the hall to ascertain
the condition of the sleepers. The metamorphosed group, poisoning
the air with their reeking breath, are still enjoying the morbid
fruits of their bacchanalianism. Quietly, coolly, and promiscuously,
they lay as lovingly as fellows of the animal world could desire.

The servant returns, shaking her head. "Missus, da'h lays yander, so
in all fixins dat no tellin' which most done gone. Mas'r seems done
gone, sartin!" says the servant, her face glowing with apprehension.

The significant phrase alarms Franconia. She repairs to the hall,
and commences restoring the sleepers to consciousness. The gentlemen
are doggedly obstinate; they refuse to be disturbed. She recognises
the face of one whose business it is to reduce men to the last stage
of poverty. Her sensitive nature shudders at the sight, as she views
him with a curl of contempt on her lip. "Oh,
M'Carstrow,--M'Carstrow!" she whispers, and taking him by the hand,
shakes it violently. M'Carstrow, with countenance ghastly and
inflamed, begins to raise his sluggish head. He sees Franconia
pensively gazing in his face; and yet he enquires who it is that
disturbs the progress of his comforts. "Only me!" says the good
woman, soliciting him to leave his companions and accompany her.

Oh, you, is it?" he replies, grumblingly, rising on his right elbow,
and rubbing his eyes with his left hand. Wildly and vacantly he
stares round the hall, as if aroused from a trance, and made
sensible of his condition.

"Yes, me-simply me, who, lost to your affections, is made most
unhappy-" Franconia would proceed, but is interrupted by her
muddling swain.

"Unhappy! unhappy!" says the man of southern chivalry, making sundry
irresistible nods. "Propagator of mischief, of evil contentions, of
peace annihilators. Ah! ah! ah! Thinking about the lustre of them
beggared relations. It always takes fools to make a fuss over small
things: an angel wouldn't make a discontented woman happy."
Franconia breaks out into a paroxysm of grief, so unfeeling is the
tone in which he addresses her. He is a southern gentleman,--happily
not of New England in his manners, not of New England in his
affections, not of New England in his domestic associations. He
thinks Franconia very silly, and scouts with derision the idea of
marrying a southern gentleman who likes enjoyment, and then making a
fuss about it. He thinks she had better shut up her
whimpering,--learn to be a good wife upon southern principles.

"Husbands should be husbands, to claim a wife's respect; and they
should never forget that kindness makes good wives. Take away the
life springs of woman's love, and what is she? What is she with her
happiness gone, her pride touched, her prospects blasted? What
respect or love can she have for the man who degrades her to the
level of his own loathsome companions?" Franconia points to those
who lie upon the floor, repulsive, and reeking with the fumes of
dissipation. "There are your companions," she says.

"Companions?" he returns, enquiringly. He looks round upon them with
surprise. "Who are those fellows you have got here?" he enquires,
angrily.

"You brought them to your own home; that home you might make happy-"

"Not a bit of it! They are some of your d-d disreputable relations."

"My relations never violate the conduct of gentlemen." "No; but they
sponge on me. These my companions!" looking at them inquisitively.
"Oh, no! Don't let us talk about such things; I'ze got fifteen
hundred dollars and costs to pay for that nigger gal you were fool
enough to get into a fit about when we were married. That's what
I'ze got for my good-heartedness." M'Carstrow permits his very
gentlemanly southern self to get into a rage. He springs to his feet
suddenly, crosses and recrosses the hall like one frenzied with
excitement. Franconia is frightened, runs up the stairs, and into
her chamber, where, secreting herself, she fastens the door. He
looks wistfully after her, stamping his foot, but he will not
follow. Too much of a polished gentleman, he will merely amuse
himself by running over the gamut of his strongest imprecations. The
noise creates general alarm among his companions, who, gaining their
uprights, commence remonstrating with him on his rude conduct, as if
they were much superior beings.

"Now, colonel, major,--or whatever they dubbed ye, in the way of a
title," says one, putting his hand to his hat with a swaggering bow;
"just stop that ar' sort a' nonsense, and pay over this 'ere little
affair afore we gets into polite etiquette and such things. When, to
make the expenses, ye comes into a place like ours, and runs up a
credit score,--when ye gets so lofty that ye can't tell fifty from
five, we puts a sealer on, so customers don't forget in the
morning." The modest gentleman presents to M'Carstrow's astonished
eyes a note for twenty-seven hundred dollars, with the genuine
signature. M'Carstrow takes it in his hand, stares at it, turns it
over and over. The signature is his; but he is undecided about the
manner of its getting there, and begins to give expression to some
doubt.

The gentleman watches M'Carstrow very cautiously. "Straight!
colonel-he says-just turn out the shiners, or, to 'commodate, we'll
let ye off with a sprinkling of niggers."

The colonel puts the fore-finger of his left hand to his lips, and,
with serious countenance, walks twice or thrice across the hall, as
if consulting his dignity: "Shell out the niggers first; we'll take
the dignity part a'ter," he concludes.

"I demand to know how you came in my house," interrupts the colonel,
impatiently. He finds himself in very bad company; company southern
gentlemen never acknowledge by daylight.

"We brought you here! Anything else you'd like to know?" is the
cool, sneering response. The gentleman will take a pinch of snuff;
he draws his fancy box from his pocket, gives the cover a polite rap
with his finger, invites the enraged M'Carstrow to "take." That
gentleman shakes his head,--declines. He is turning the whole affair
over in his head, seems taking it into serious consideration.
Seriously, he accepted their accommodation, and now finds himself
compelled to endure their painful presence.

"I, I, I-m, rather in doubt," stammers M'Carstrow, fingering the
little obligation again, turning it over and over, rubbing his eyes,
applying his glass. He sees nothing in the signature to dispute. "I
must stop this kind of fishing," he says; "don't do. It 's just what
friend Scranton would call very bad philosophy. Gentlemen, suppose
you sit down; we'd better consider this matter a little. Han't got a
dime in the bank, just now." M'Carstrow is becoming more quiet,
takes a philosophical view of the matter, affects more suavity.
Calling loudly for the negro servant, that personage presents
herself, and is ordered to bring chairs to provide accommodation for
the gentlemen, in the hall.

"Might just as well settle the matter in the parlour, colonel;
t'wont put you out a mite," the gambler suggests, with a laconic
air. He will not trouble M'Carstrow by waiting for his reply. No; he
leads the way, very coolly, asking no odds of etiquette; and, having
entered the apartment, invites his comrades to take seats. The
dignity and coolness with which the manouvre is executed takes
"Boss" M'Carstrow by surprise; makes him feel that he is merely a
dependent individual, whose presence there is not much need of. "I
tell you what it is, gents, I'ze shaved my accounts at the bank down
to the smallest figure, have! but there's an honourable
consideration about this matter; and, honour's honour, and I want to
discharge it somehow--niggers or cash!" The gentlemen's feelings
have smoothed down amazingly. M'Carstrow is entirely serious, and
willing to comply.

The gentlemen have seated themselves in a triangle, with the "done
over" colonel in the centre.

"Well, niggers will do just as well, provided they are sound, prime,
and put at prices so a feller can turn 'em into tin, quick," says
the gentleman, who elects himself spokesman of the party.

"Keeps my property in tall condition, but won't shove it off under
market quotations, no how!" M'Carstrow interrupts, as the spokesman,
affecting the nonchalance of a newly-elected alderman, places his
feet upon the rich upholstery of a sofa close by. He would enjoy the
extremes of southern comfort. "Colonel, I wish you had a more
convenient place to spit," rejoins the gentleman. He will not
trouble the maid, however-he let's fly the noxious mixture,
promiscuously; it falls from his lips upon the soft hearth-rug. "It
will add another flower to the expensive thing," he says, very
coolly, elongating his figure a little more. He has relieved
himself, wondrously. M'Carstrow calls the servant, points to the
additional wreath on the hearth-rug!

"All your nigger property as good-conditioned as that gal?" enquires
the gentleman, the others laughing at the nicety of his humour.
Rising from his seat very deliberately, he approaches the servant,
lays his hand upon her neck and shoulders.

"Not quite so fast, my friend: d-n it, gentlemen, don't be rude.
That's coming the thing a little too familiar. There is a medium:
please direct your moist appropriations and your improper remarks in
their proper places." The girl, cringing beneath the ruffian's hand,
places the necessary receptacle at his feet.

The gentleman is offended,--very much offended. He thinks it beneath
the expansion of his mind-to be standing on aristocratic nonsense!
"Spit boxes and nigger property ain't the thing to stand on about
haristocrats; just put down the dimes. Three bright niggers 'll do:
turn 'em out."

"Three of my best niggers!" ejaculates the Colonel.

"Nothin' shorter, Colonel."

"Remember, gentlemen, the market price of such property. The demand
for cotton has made niggers worth their weight in gold, for any
purpose. Take the prosperity of our country into consideration,
gentlemen; remember the worth of prime men. The tip men of the
market are worth 1200 dollars."

"Might as well lay that kind a' financerin aside, Colonel. What's
the use of living in a free country, where every man has a right to
make a penny when he can, and talk so? Now, 'pears to me t'aint no
use a' mincing the matter; we might a' leaked ye in for as many
thousands as hundreds. Seein' how ye was a good customer, we saved
ye on a small shot. Better put the niggers out: ownin' such a lot,
ye won't feel it! Give us three prime chaps; none a' yer old
sawbones what ye puts up at auction when ther' worked down to
nothin'."

M'Carstrow's powers of reasoning are quite limited; and, finding
himself in one of those strange situations southern gentlemen so
often get into, and which not unfrequently prove as perplexing as
the workings of the peculiar institution itself, he seeks relief by
giving an order for three prime fellows. They will be delivered up,
at the plantation, on the following day, when the merchandise will
be duly made over, as per invoice. Everything is according to style
and honour; the gentlemen pledge their faith to be gentlemen, to
leave no dishonourable loop-hole for creeping out. And now, having
settled the little matter, they make M'Carstrow the very best of
bows, desire to be remembered to his woman, bid him good morning,
and leave. They will claim their property-three prime men-by the
justice of a "free-born democracy."

M'Carstrow watches them from the house, moralising over his folly.
They have gone! He turns from the sight, ascends the stairs, and
repairs to meet his Franconia.






CHAPTER XXII.

THE VICISSITUDES OF A PREACHER.





WE left Harry, the faithful servant, whose ministerial functions had
been employed in elevating the souls of Marston's property, being
separated from his wife and sold to Mr. M'Fadden. M'Fadden is a
gentleman--we do not impugn the name, in a southern sense--of that
class--very large class--who, finding the laws of their own country
too oppressive for their liberal thoughts, seek a republican's home
in ours. It is to such men, unhappily, the vices of slavery are
open. They grasp them, apply them to purposes most mercenary, most
vile. The most hardened of foreigners-that essence of degraded
outcasts,--may, under the privileges of slavery, turn human misery
into the means of making money. He has no true affiliations with the
people of the south, nor can he feel aught beyond a selfish interest
in the prosperity of the State; but he can be active in the work of
evil. With the foreigner--we speak from observation--affecting love
of liberty at home, it would seem, only makes him the greater tyrant
when slavery gives him power to execute its inhuman trusts. Mr.
Lawrence M'Fadden is one of this description of persons; he will
make a fortune in the South, and live a gentleman in the North--
perhaps, at home on his own native Isle. Education he has none;
moral principle he never enjoyed,--never expects to. He is a tall,
athletic man, nearly six feet two inches in height, with extremely
broad, stooping shoulders, and always walks as if he were meditating
some speculation. His dress is usually of southern red-mixed
homespun,--a dress which he takes much pride in wearing, in
connection with a black brigand hat, which gives his broad face,
projecting cheek-bones, and blunt chin, a look of unmistakeable
sullenness. Add to this a low, narrow forehead, generally covered
with thick tufts of matted black hair, beneath which two savage eyes
incessantly glare, and, reader, you have the repulsive
personification of the man. Mr. M'Fadden has bought a preacher,--an
article with the very best kind of a soul,--which he would send to
his place in the country. Having just sent the article to the
rail-road, he stands in a neighbouring bar-room, surrounded by his
cronies, who are joining him in a social glass, discussing the
qualities of the article preacher. We are not favoured with the
point at issue; but we hear Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden say, with great
force,--"Preachers are only good property under certain
circumstances; and if them circumstances ain't just so, it won't do
to buy 'em. Old aristocrat rice planters may make a good thing or
two on 'em, because they can make 'em regulate the cummin' o' their
property, and make it understand what the Lord says about minding
their masters." For his-Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden's-own part, he
wouldn't give seven coppers for the thinking part of any property,
having no belief in that fashionable way of improving its value. "My
preacher has been nicely packed up and sent off in advance," he
says, wiping his mouth with his coat sleeve, and smacking his lips,
as he twirls his glass upon the zinc counter, shakes hands with his
friends-they congratulate him upon the good bargain in his
divine-and proceeds to the railroad dep“t. Harry has arrived nearly
two hours in advance,--delivered in good condition, as stated in a
receipt which he holds in his hand, and which purports to be from
the baggage-master. "Ah! here you are," says M'Fadden, taking the
paper from Harry's hand, as he enters the luggage-room. "Take good
care on ye,--I reckon I will!" He looks down upon him with an air of
satisfaction. The poor preacher-the soul-glowing property-is yet
chained, hand and foot. He sits upon the cold floor, those imploring
eyes swelling at the thought that freedom only awaits him in another
world. M'Fadden takes a little flask from his breast pocket, and,
with a motion of kindness, draws the cork, passes it to him. "It's
whiskey!" he says; "take a drop-do ye good, old feller." Quietly the
man passes it to his lips, and moistens his mouth. "No winking and
blinking-it's tip-top stuff," enjoins M'Fadden; "don't get it every
day."

Mr. M'Fadden will take a little himself. "Glad to find ye here, all
straight!" he mutters, taking the flask from his mouth. He had
returned the receipt to his property; and, having gratified his
appetite a little, he begins to take a more perspective view of his
theological purchase.

"Yes, master; I am here!" He again holds up his chained hands, drops
his face upon his knees; as much as to say, be sure I am all safe
and sound.

Looking at the receipt again, and then at his preacher, "Guess
'hain't made a bad rap on ye' to-day!" he ejaculates, taking out his
pocket-book and laying away the precious paper as carefully as if it
were a hundred dollar note. "Should like to have bought your old
woman and young 'uns, but hadn't tin enough. And the way stock's up
now, ain't slow! Look up here, my old buck! just put on a face as
bright and smooth as a full moon-no sulkin'. Come along here."

The manacled preacher turns upon his hands, gets up as best he
can-M'Fadden kindly assists by taking hold of his shoulder-and
follows his purchaser to the platform,--like a submissive animal
goaded to the very flesh, but chained, lest it make some show of
resentment. "Good heap o' work in ye', old chuck; had a master what
didn't understand bringing on't out, though!" mutters M'Fadden, as
he introduces Harry to the negro car, at the same time casting a
look of satisfaction at the brakeman standing at his left hand ready
to receive the freight.

In the car-a dungeon-like box about ten feet square, the only
aperture for admitting light being a lattice of about eight inches
square, in the door-are three rough negro men and one woman, the
latter apparently about twenty years of age.

"Got a tall chap here, boys! Make ye stand round some, in pickin'
time; and can preach, too." M'Fadden shakes his head exultingly!
"Can put in the big licks preachin'; and I'ze goin' t' let 'im, once
in a while. Goin' t' have good times on my place, boys--ha'h! Got a
jug of whiskey to have a fandango when ye gits home. Got it
somewhere, I knows." Mr. M'Fadden exults over the happy times his
boys have at home. He shakes himself all over, like a polar bear
just out of the water, and laughs heartily. He has delivered himself
of something that makes everybody else laugh; the mania has caught
upon his own subtle self. The negroes laugh in expressive
cadences, and shrug their shoulders as Mr. M'Fadden continues to
address them so sportively, so familiarly. Less initiated persons
might have formed very satisfactory opinions of his character. He
takes a peep under one of the seats, and with a rhapsody of laughter
draws forth a small jug. "You can't come the smuggle over me, boys!
I knew ye had a shot somewhere," he exclaims. At his bidding, the
woman hands him a gourd, from which he very deliberately helps
himself to a stout draught.

"Sit down here!-Isaac, Abraham, Daniel, or whatever yer name is-Mr.
M'Fadden addresses himself to his preacher. Ye'll get yer share on't
when ye gits to my place." He sets the jug down, and passes the
gourd back, saying: "What a saucy hussy ye are!" slapping the
woman's black shoulder playfully. "Give him some-won't ye', boys?"
he concludes.

Mr. M'Fadden (the cars are not yet ready to start, but the dep“t is
thronging with travellers, and the engine is puffing and snorting,
as the driver holds his hand on the throttle, and the stoker crams
with pitch pine knots the iron steed of fiery swiftness) will step
out and take the comfort of his cigar. He pats his preacher on the
shoulder, takes off his shackles, rubs his head with his hand, tells
the boys to keep an eye on him. "Yes, mas'r," they answer, in tones
of happy ignorance. The preacher must be jolly, keep on a bright
face, never mind the old gal and her young 'uns, and remember what a
chance he will have to get another. He can have two or more, if he
pleases; so says his very generous owner.

Mr. M'Fadden shakes hands with his friends on the platform, smokes
his cigar leisurely, mingles with the crowd importantly, thinking
the while what an unalloyed paragon of amiability he is. Presently
the time-bell strikes its warning; the crowd of passengers rush for
the cars; the whistle shrieks; the exhaust gives forth its gruff
snorts, the connections clank, a jerk is felt, and onward
bounds-mighty in power, but controlled by a finger's slightest
touch-the iron steed, dragging its curious train of living
merchandise.

M'Fadden again finds his way to the negroes' car, where, sitting
down in front of his property, he will take a bird's-eye view of it.
It is very fascinating to a man who loves the quality of such
articles as preachers. He will draw his seat somewhat closer to the
minister; his heart bounds with joy at the prime appearance of his
purchase. Reaching out his hand, he takes the cap from Harry's head,
throws it into the woman's lap; again rubs his hair into a friz.
Thus relieved of his pleasing emotions, he will pass into one of the
fashionable cars, and take his place among the aristocrats.

"Boss mighty funny when 'e come t' town, and git just so 'e don't
see straight: wish 'e so good wen 'e out da'h on de plantation
yander," ejaculates one of the negroes, who answers to the name-Joe!
Joe seems to have charge of the rest; but he watches M'Fadden's
departure with a look of sullen hatred.

"Hard old Boss on time-an't he, boys?" enquires Harry, as an
introduction to the conversation.

"Won't take ye long t' find 'um out, I reckon! Git nigger on de
plantation 'e don't spa' him, nohow," rejoins another.

"Lor', man, if ye ain't tough ye'll git used up in no time, wid
him!" the woman speaks up, sharply. Then, pulling her ragged skirts
around her, she casts a sympathising look at Harry, and, raising her
hand in a threatening attitude, and shaking it spitefully in the
direction M'Fadden has gone, says:--"If only had dat man, old Boss,
where 'um could revenge 'um, how a' would make 'um suffer! He don'
treat 'e nigger like 'e do 'e dog. If 'twarn't fo'h Buckra I'd cut
'e troat, sartin." This ominous expression, delivered with such
emphasis, satisfies Harry that he has got into the hands of a master
very unlike the kind and careless Marston.

Onward the cars speed, with clanking music making din as they go.
One of the negroes will add something to change the monotony.
Fumbling beneath the seats for some minutes, he draws forth a little
bag, carefully unties it, and presents his favourite violin. Its
appearance gladdens the hearts of his comrades, who welcome it with
smiling faces and loud applause. The instrument is of the most
antique and original description. It has only two strings; but Simon
thinks wonders of it, and would not swap it for a world of modern
fiddles, what don't touch the heart with their music. He can bring
out tremendous wailings with these two strings; such as will set the
whole plantation dancing. He puts it through the process of tuning,
adding all the scientific motions and twists of an Italian
first-fiddling artiste. Simon will moisten its ears by spitting on
them, which he does, turning and twisting himself into the attitudes
of a pompous maestro. But now he has got it in what he considers the
very nick of tune; it makes his face glow with satisfaction.
"Jest-lef'-'um cum, Simon;--big and strong!" says Joe, beginning to
keep time by slapping his hands on his knees. And such a sawing,
such a scraping, as he inflicts, never machine of its kind, ancient
or modern, got before. Simon and his companions are in ecstasies;
but such cross-grained, such painful jingling of sounds! Its charm
is irresistible with the negro; he mustn't lose a note of the tune;
every creak is exhausted in a break-down dance, which the motion of
the "Jim Crow" car makes more grotesque by every now and then
jolting them into a huddle in one corner.

Mr. M'Fadden has been told that his property are having a lively
time, and thinks he will leave his aristocratic friends, and go to
see it; here he is followed by several young gentlemen, anxious to
enjoy the hilarity of the scene.

"All my property,--right prime, isn't it?" says M'Fadden, exultingly,
nudging one of the young men on the shoulder, as he, returning,
enters the car. The gentleman nods assent, sits down, and coolly
lights his cigar. "Good thing to have a fiddler on a plantation! I'd
rather have it than a preacher; keeps the boys together, and makes
'um a deal better contented," he adds, beginning to exhale the fumes
from his weed.

"Yes!-and ye sees, fellers, how I'ze bought a parson, too. Can do
the thing up brown now, boys, I reckon," remarks the happy
politician, slapping his professional gentleman on the knee, and
laughing right heartily.

Turning to Harry with a firm look, he informs the gentlemen that
"this critter's kind o got the sulks, a'cos Romescos-he hates
Romescos-has bought his wench and young 'uns. Take that out on him,
at my place," he adds.

The dancing continues right merrily. One of the young gentlemen
would like to have the fiddler strike up "Down in Old Tennessee."
The tune is sounded forth with all that warmth of feeling the negro
only can add to the comical action of his body.

"Clar' the way; let the boys have a good time," says Mr. Lawrence
M'Fadden, taking Harry by the arm and giving him a violent shake. He
commands him to join in, and have a jolly good tune with the rest on
'em.

"Have no call for that, master. Let me act but the part of servant
to you."

"Do you mean to come nigger sulks over this child?" interrupts
M'Fadden, impatiently, scowling his heavy eyebrows, and casting a
ferocious look at Harry. After ordering him to stow himself in a
corner, he gets the others upon the floor, and compels them to
shuffle what he calls a plantation "rip-her-up." The effect of this,
added to the singular positions into which they are frequently
thrown by the motion of the cars, affords infinite amusement.

"You see, gentlemen, there's nothing like putting the springs of
life into property. Makes it worth fifty per cent. more; and then
ye'll get the hard knocks out to a better profit. Old southerners
spoil niggers, makin' so much on 'em; and soft-soapin' on 'em. That
bit o' property's bin spiled just so-he points to Harry, crouched in
the corner-And the critter thinks he can preach! Take that out on
him with a round turn, when I git to my place," he continues.

Harry cares very little for M'Fadden's conversation; he sits as
quietly and peaceably as if it had been addressed to some other
negro. M'Fadden, that he may not be found wanting in his efforts to
amuse the young gentlemen, reaches out his hand to one of them,
takes his cigar from a case, lights it, and proceeds to keep time by
beating his hands on his knees.

The train is approaching the crossing where Mr. M'Fadden will
discharge his property,--his human merchandise, and proceed with it
some eleven miles on the high road. The noise created by the
exuberance of feeling on the part of Mr. M'Fadden has attracted a
numerous assemblage of passengers to the "Jim Crow" car. The
conductor views this as violating the rules of the corporation; he
demands it shall be stopped. All is quiet for a time; they reach the
"crossing" about five o'clock P.M., where, to Mr. Lawrence
M'Fadden's great delight, he finds himself surrounded by a
promiscuous assembly of sovereign citizens, met to partake of the
hospitalities offered by the candidate for the Assembly, who, having
offered himself, expects the distinguished honour of being elected.
The assembled citizens will hear what the learned man's going to
talk about when he gets into the Assembly.

As Mr. M'Fadden is a great politician, and a greater democrat-we
speak according to the southern acceptation-his presence is welcomed
with an enthusiastic burst of applause. Shout after shout makes the
very welkin ring, as his numerous friends gather round him, smile
solicitously, shake him warmly by the hand, honour him as the
peasantry honour the Lord of the Manor.

The crossing-one of those points so well known in the south-is a
flat, wooded lawn, interspersed here and there with clumps of tall
pine-trees. It is generally dignified with a grocery, a justice's
office, and a tavern, where entertainment for man and beast may
always be had. An immense deal of judicial and political business
"is put through a process" at these strange places. The squire's
law-book is the oracle; all settlements must be made by it; all
important sayings drawn from it. The squire himself is scarcely less
an individual of mysterious importance; he draws settled facts from
his copious volume, and thus saves himself the trouble of analysing
them. Open it where he will, the whys and wherefores for every case
are never wanting.

Our present crossing is a place of much importance, being where the
political effervescence of the state often concentrates. It will not
do, however, to analyse that concentration, lest the fungi that give
it life and power may seem to conflict with the safety of law and
order. On other occasions it might be taken for a place of rural
quiet, instead of those indescribable gatherings of the rotten
membranes of a bad political power.

Here the justice's office is attached to the grocery, a little shop
in which all men may drink very deleterious liquor; and, in addition
to the tavern, which is the chief building-a quadrangular structure
raised a few feet from the ground on piles of the palmetto
tree-there is a small church, shingled and clapboarded, and having a
belfry with lattice-work sides. An upper and lower veranda surround
the tavern, affording gentlemen an opportunity to enjoy the shade.

Several of Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden's friends meet him at the station,
and, as he receives his property, assist him in securing it with
irons preparatory to lodging it in a place of safe keeping.

"Goin' t' make this chap a deacon on my place; can preach like
sixty. It'll save the trouble sendin' north for such trash as they
send us. Can make this feller truer on southern principles," says
M'Fadden, exultingly, addressing himself to his companions, looking
Harry smilingly in the face, and patting him on the shoulder. The
gentlemen view Harry with particular admiration, and remark upon his
fine points with the usual satisfaction of connoisseurs. Mr.
M'Fadden will secure his preacher, in iron fellowship, to the left
hand of the woman slave.

"All right!" he says, as the irons are locked, and he marches his
property up to the tavern, where he meets mine host-a short, fat
man, with a very red and good-natured face, who always dresses in
brown clothes, smiles, and has an extra laugh for 'lection days-who
stands his consequential proportions in the entrance to the lower
veranda, and is receiving his customers with the blandest smiles. "I
thinks a right smart heap on ye, or I would'nt a' 'gin ye that gal
for a mate," continues M'Fadden, walking along, looking at Harry
earnestly, and, with an air of self-congratulation, ejecting a
quantity of tobacco-juice from his capacious mouth. "Mr. M'Fadden is
very, very welcome;" so says mine host, who would have him take a
social glass with his own dear self.

Mr. M'Fadden must be excused until he has seen the place in which to
deposit his preacher and other property.

"Ah, ha!"-mine host cants his ear, enquiringly;--"want grits for 'em,
I s'pose?" he returns, and his round fat face glows with
satisfaction. "Can suit you to a shavin'."

"That's right, Colonel; I know'd ye could," ejaculates the other.
Mine host is much elated at hearing his title appended. Colonel
Frank Jones-such is mine host's name--never fought but one duel, and
that was the time when, being a delegate to the southern blowing-up
convention, lately holden in the secession city of Charleston, he
entered his name on the register of the Charleston Hotel--"Colonel
Frank Jones, Esq., of the South Carolina Dragoons;" beneath which an
impertinent wag scrawled-"Corporal James Henry Williamson M'Donal
Cudgo, Esq. of the same regiment." Colonel Frank Jones, Esq. took
this very gross insult in the highest kind of dudgeon, and forthwith
challenged the impertinent wag to settle the matter as became
gentlemen. The duel, however, ended quite as harmlessly as the
blowing-up convention of which Mr. Colonel Frank Jones was a
delegate, the seconds-thoughtless wretches-having forgot to put
bullets in the weapons.

Our readers must excuse us for digressing a little. Mine host rubs
his hands, draws his mouth into a dozen different puckers, and then
cries out at the top of his voice, "Ho, boys, ho!"

Three or four half-clad negroes come scampering into the room, ready
to answer the summons. "Take charge o' this property o' my friend's
here. Get 'em a good tuck out o' grits."

"Can grind 'em themselves," interrupts M'Fadden, quickly. "About the
price, Colonel?"

"That's all straight," spreading his hands with an accompanying nod
of satisfaction: "'commodate ye with a first-rate lock-up and the
grits at seven-pence a day."

"No objection." Mr. M'Fadden is entirely satisfied. The waiters take
the gentleman's property in charge, and conduct it to a small
building, an appropriate habitation of hens and pigs. It was of
logs, rough hewn, without chinking; without floor to keep Mr.
M'Fadden's property from the ground, damp and cold. Unsuited as it
is to the reception of human beings, many planters of great opulence
have none better for their plantation people. It is about ten feet
high, seven broad, and eleven long.

"Have a dandy time on't in here to-night," says Mr. M'Fadden,
addressing himself to Harry, as one of the waiters unlocks the door
and ushers the human property into its dreary abode. Mr. M'Fadden
will step inside, to take a bird's-eye view of the security of the
place. He entertains some doubts about the faith of his preacher,
however, and has half an inclination to turn round as he is about
making his exit. He will. Approaches Harry a second time; he feels
his pockets carefully, and suggests that he has some mischievous
weapon of liberty stowed away somewhere. He presses and presses his
hands to his skirts and bosom. And now he knew he was not mistaken,
for he feels something solid in the bosom of his shirt, which is not
his heart, although that thing makes a deuce of a fluttering. Mr.
M'Fadden's anxiety increases as he squeezes his hands over its
shapes, and watches the changes of Harry's countenance. "Book,
ha'h!" he exclaims, drawing the osnaburg tight over the square with
his left hand, while, with his right, he suddenly grasps Harry
firmly by the hair of the head, as if he has discovered an infernal
machine. "Book, ha'h!"

"Pull it out, old buck. That's the worst o' learned niggers; puts
the very seven devils in their black heads, and makes 'em carry
their conceit right into nigger stubbornness, so ye have t' bring it
out by lashin' and botherin'. Can't stand such nigger nonsense
nohow."

Harry has borne all very peaceably; but there is a time when even
the worm will turn. He draws forth the book,--it is the Bible, his
hope and comforter; he has treasured it near his heart-that heart
that beats loudly against the rocks of oppression. "What man can he
be who feareth the word of God, and says he is of his chosen?
Master, that's my Bible: can it do evil against righteousness? It is
the light my burdened spirit loves, my guide--"

"Your spirit?" inquires M'Fadden, sullenly, interrupting Harry. "A
black spirit, ye' mean, ye' nigger of a preacher. I didn't buy that,
nor don't want it. 'Taint worth seven coppers in picking time. But I
tell ye, cuff, wouldn't mind lettin' on ye preach, if a feller can
make a spec good profit on't." The gentleman concludes, contracting
his eyebrows, and scowling at his property forbiddingly.

"You'll let me have it again when I gets on the plantation, won't
ye, master?" inquires Harry, calmly.

"Let you have it on the plantation?"-Mr. M'Fadden gives his preacher
a piercingly fierce look-"that's just where ye won't have 't. Have
any kind o' song-book ye' wants; only larn 'em to other niggers, so
they can put in the chorus once in a while. Now, old buck (I'm a man
o' genius, ye know), when niggers get larnin' the Bible out o' ther'
own heads, 't makes 'em sassy'r than ther's any calculatin' on. It
just puts the very d-l into property. Why, deacon," he addresses
himself to Harry with more complacency, "my old father-he was as
good a father as ever came from Dublin-said it was just the spilin'
on his children to larn 'em to read. See me, now! what larnin' I'ze
got; got it all don't know how: cum as nat'ral as daylight. I've got
the allfired'st sense ye ever did see; and it's common sense what
makes money. Yer don't think a feller what's got sense like me would
bother his head with larnin' in this ar' down south?" Mr. M'Fadden
exhibits great confidence in himself, and seems quite playful with
his preacher, whom he pats on the shoulder and shakes by the hand.
"I never read three chapters in that ar' book in my whole
life-wouldn't neither. Really, deacon, two-thirds of the people of
our State can't read a word out o' that book. As for larnin', I just
put me mind on the thing, and got the meanin' out on't sudden."

Mr. M'Fadden's soothing consolation, that, as he has become such a
wonderful specimen of mankind without learning, Harry must be a very
dangerous implement of progress if allowed to go about the
plantation with a Bible in his pocket, seems strange in this our
Christian land. "Can fiddle just as much as yer mind t'," concludes
Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden, as he again shakes the hand of his preacher,
and proceeds to mingle with the political gathering, the Bible in
his pocket.






CHAPTER XXIII.

HOW WE MANUFACTURE POLITICAL FAITH.





MR. M'FADDEN enters the tavern, which presents one of those
grotesque scenes so peculiarly southern, almost impossible for the
reader to imagine, and scarcely less for pen to describe. In and
around the verandas are numerous armchairs, occupied by the
fashionable portion of the political material, who, dressed in
extreme profuseness, are displaying their extraordinary distinctions
in jewellery of heavy seals and long dangling chains. Some are young
men who have enjoyed the advantage of a liberal education, which
they now turn into the more genial duty of ornamenting themselves.
They have spent much time and many valuable cosmetics on their
heads, all of which is very satisfactorily repaid by the smoothness
of their hair. Their pleasure never penetrated beyond this; they ask
no more.

They ask but little of the world, and are discussing the
all-important question, whether Colonel Mophany or General Vandart
will get the more votes at the polls. So they smoke and harangue,
and drink and swear, and with inimitable provincialisms fill up the
clattering music. There is a fascinating piquancy in the strange
slang and conversational intermixture. It is a great day at the
crossing; the political sediment has reduced all men to one grade,
one harmonious whole, niggers excepted. Spirits that cannot flow one
way must flow another.

In an adjoining room sit the two candidates-gentlemen of high
distinction-for the votes of the sovereign people. Through those
sovereign rights they will satisfy their yearning desire to reach
the very high position of member of the general assembly. Anxiety is
pictured on their very countenances; it is the fruit of care when
men travel the road to distinction without finding it. They are well
dressed, and would be modest, if modesty were worth its having in
such an atmosphere. Indeed, they might have been taken for men with
other motives than those of gaining office by wallowing in a
political quagmire reeking with democratic filth. Courteous to each
other, they sit at a large table containing long slips of paper,
each candidate's sentiments printed thereon. As each voter--good
fellow that he is--enters the room, one or the other candidate
reaches out his hand to welcome him, and, as a sequel, hands him his
slip, making the politest bow. Much is said about the prospects of
the South, and much more that is very acceptable to those about to
do the drinking part of the scene.

Both candidates are very ambitious men; both profess to be the
people's champion-the sovereign people-the dear people-the
noble-hearted people-the iron-handed, unbribable, unterrified
democracy-the people from whom all power springs. The
never-flinching, unterrified, irresistible democracy are smothered
with encomiums of praise, sounding from all parts of the room. Mr.
Lawrence M'Fadden is ushered into the room to the great joy of his
friends: being a very great man among the loyal voters, his
appearance produces great excitement.

Several friends of the candidates, working for their favourites, are
making themselves very humble in their behalf. Although there is
little care for maintaining any fundamental principle of government
that does not serve his own pocket, Mr. M'Fadden can and will
control a large number of votes, do a deal of knocking down at the
polls, and bring up first-rate fighting men to do the keeping away
the opposite's constituents. Thus our man, who has lately been
bought as preacher, is most useful in this our little democratic
world.

Some two or three hundred persons have collected near a clump of
trees on the lawn, and are divided into knots intermixed with
ruffian-looking desperadoes, dressed most coarsely and
fantastically. They are pitting their men, after the fashion of good
horses; then they boldly draw forth and expose the minor
delinquencies of opposing candidates. Among them are the "Saw-
piters," who affect an air of dignity, and scout the planter's offer
of work so long as a herring runs the river; the "piny woods-man,"
of great independence while rabbits are found in the woods, and he
can wander over the barren unrestrained; and the "Wire-Grass-Men;"
and the Crackers,

Singular species of gypsies, found throughout the State. who live
anywhere and everywhere, and whom the government delights to keep
in ignorance, while declaring it much better they were enslaved. The
State possesses many thousands of these people; but few of them can
read, while never having written a stroke in their lives is a boast.
Continually armed with double-barrel guns, to hunt the panting buck
is one of their sports; to torture a runaway negro is another; to
make free with a planter's corn field is the very best. The reader
may imagine this picture of lean, craven faces-unshaven and made
fiercely repulsive by their small, treacherous eyes, if he can. It
can only be seen in these our happy slave states of our happy Union.

The time draws near when the candidates will come forward, address
the sovereign constituency, and declare their free and open
principles-their love of liberal governments, and their undying
affection for the great truths of democracy. The scene, as the time
approaches, becomes more and more animated. All are armed to the
teeth, with the symbol of honour--something so called--beneath their
coarse doublets, or in the waistbands of their pantaloons. The group
evinces so much excitement that belligerents are well nigh coming to
blows; in fact, peace is only preserved by the timely appearance of
the landlord, who proclaims that unless order be preserved until
after the candidates have addressed them, the next barrel of whiskey
will positively "not be tapped." He could not use a more effectual
argument. Mr. M'Fadden, who exercises great authority over the
minions under him, at this announcement mounts the top of an empty
whiskey barrel, and declares he will whip the "whole crowd," if they
do not cease to wage their political arguments.

While the above cursory remarks and party sparrings are going on,
some forty negroes are seen busily employed preparing the
indispensable adjuncts of the occasion-the meats. Here, beneath the
clump of trees, a few yards from the grocery and justices' office,
the candidates' tables are being spread with cold meats, crackers,
bread and cheese, cigars, &c., &c. As soon as the gentlemen
candidates have delivered themselves of their sentiments, two
barrels of real "straight-back" whiskey will be added.

"This is the way we puts our candidate through, down south, ye see,
fellers, voters: it's we what's the bone and siners o' the rights o'
the south. It's we what's got t' take the slow-coach politics out o'
the hands o' them ar' old harristocrats what don't think them ar'
northern abolitionists han't goin to do nothin. It's we, fellow
citizens, what puts southern-rights principles clean through; it's
we what puts them ar' old Union haristocrats, what spiles all the
nigger property, into the straight up way o' doing things! Now,
feller voters, free and independent citizens-freemen who have fought
for freedom,--you, whose old, grey-headed fathers died for freedom!
it takes you t' know what sort a thing freedom is; and how to enjoy
it so niggers can't take it away from you! I'ze lived north way,
know how it is! Yer jist the chaps to put niggers straight,--to vote
for my man, Colonel Mohpany," Mr. M'Fadden cries out at the very top
of his voice, as he comes rushing out of the tavern, edging his way
through the crowd, followed by the two candidates. The gentlemen
look anxiously good-natured; they walk together to the rostrum,
followed by a crowd, measuring their way to the assembly through the
darling affections of our free and independent voters. Gossamer
citizenship, this!

As they reach the rostrum, a carriage is seen in the distance,
approaching in great haste. All attention being directed to it, the
first candidate, Colonel Mohpany, mounts the stump, places his right
hand in his bosom, and pauses as if to learn who it brings. To the
happy consolation of Mr. M'Fadden and his friends, it bears Mr.
Scranton the philosopher. Poor Mr. Scranton looks quite worn out
with anxiety; he has come all the way from the city, prepared with
the very best kind of a southern-rights speech, to relieve his
friend, General Vardant, who is not accustomed to public
declamation. The General is a cunning fellow, fears the stump
accomplishments of his antagonist, and has secured the valuable
services of philosopher Scranton. Mr. S. will tell the constituency,
in very logical phraseology,--making the language suit the sentiments
of his friends,--what principles must be maintained; how the General
depends upon the soundness of their judgment to sustain him; how
they are the bone and sinews of the great political power of the
South; how their hard, uncontrastable appearance, and their garments
of similar primitiveness, are emblematic of the iron firmness of
their democracy. Mr. Scranton will further assure them that their
democracy is founded on that very accommodating sort of freedom
which will be sure to keep all persons of doubtful colour in
slavery.

Mr. Scranton arrives, receives the congratulations of his friends,
gets the negroes to brush him down,--for it is difficult to
distinguish him from a pillar of dust, save that we have his modest
eyes for assurances-takes a few glasses of moderate mixture, and
coolly collects his ideas. The mixture will bring out Mr. Scranton's
philosophical facts: and, now that he has got his face and beard
cleanly washed, he will proceed to the stand. Here he is received
with loud cheering; the gentleman is a great man, all the way from
the city. Sitting on a chair he is sorry was made at the north, he
exhibits a deal of method in taking from his pocket a long cedar
pencil, with which he will make notes of all Colonel Mohpany's loose
points.

The reader, we feel assured, will excuse us for not following
Colonel Mohpany through his speech, so laudatory of the patriotism
of his friends, so much interrupted by applause. The warm manner in
which his conclusion is received assures him that he now is the most
popular man in the State. Mr. Scranton, armed with his usually
melancholy countenance, rises to the stump, makes his modestly
political bow, offers many impressive apologies for the unprepared
state in which he finds himself, informs his hearers that he appears
before them only as a substitute for his very intimate and
particular friend, General Vardant. He, too, has a wonderful
prolixity of compliments to bestow upon the free, the patriotic, the
independent voters of the very independent district. He tries to be
facetious; but his temperament will not admit of any
inconsistencies, not even in a political contest. No! he must be
serious; because the election of a candidate to so high an office is
a serious affair. So he will tell the "Saw-pit men" a great deal
about their noble sires; how they lived and died for liberty; how
the tombstones of immortality are emblazoned with the fame of their
glorious deeds. And he will tell these glorious squatters what
inalienable rights they possess; how they must be maintained; and
how they have always been first to maintain the principle of keeping
"niggers" in their places, and resisting those mischievous
propagators of northern villainy-abolitionists. He will tell the
deep-thinking saw-pit voters how it has been charged against them
that they were only independent once a year, and that was when
herrings run up the Santee river. Such a gross slander Mr. Scranton
declares to be the most impious. They were always independent; and,
if they were poor, and preferred to habit themselves in primitive
garbs, it was only because they preferred to be honest! This, Mr.
Scranton, the northern philosopher, asserts with great emphasis.
Yes! they are honest; and honest patriots are always better than
rich traitors. From the san-pit men, Mr. Scranton, his face
distended with eloquence, turns to his cracker and "wire-grass"
friends, upon whom he bestows most piercing compliments. Their lean
mules-the speaker laughs at his own wit-and pioneer waggons always
remind him of the good old times, when he was a boy, and everybody
was so honest it was unnecessary even to have such useless finery as
people put on at the present day. A word or two, very derogatory of
the anti-slavery people, is received with deafening applause. Of the
descendants of the Huguenots he says but little; they are few, rich,
and very unpopular in this part of the little sovereign state. And
he quite forgot to tell this unlettered mass of a sovereign
constituency the true cause of their poverty and degradation. Mr.
Scranton, however, in one particular point, which is a vital one to
the slave-ocracy, differs with the ungovernable Romescos,--he would
not burn all common schools, nor scout all such trash as
schoolmasters.

In another part of Mr. Scranton's speech he enjoins them to be
staunch supporters of men known to be firm to the south, and who
would blow up every yankee who came south, and refused to declare
his sentiments to be for concession. "You!"-he points round him to
the grotesque crowd-"were first to take a stand and keep niggers
down; to keep them where they can't turn round and enslave you!
Great Britain, fell ercitizens,"-Mr. Scranton begins to wax warm; he
adjusts his coat sleeves, and draws himself into a tragic attitude
as he takes his tobacco from his mouth, seemingly unconscious of his
own enthusiasm-I say Great Britain-" A sudden interruption is
caused. Mr. Scranton's muddled quid, thrown with such violence, has
bedaubed the cheek of an admiring saw-pitter, whose mind was
completely absorbed in his eloquence. He was listening with
breathless suspense, and only saved its admission in his capacious
mouth by closing it a few seconds before.

"Sarved him just right; keep on, Colonel!" exclaims Mr. M'Fadden. He
takes the man by the arm, pushes him aside, and makes a slight bow
to Mr. Scranton. He would have him go on.

"Great Britain-feller citizens, I say-was first to commence the
warfare against nigger slavery; and now she is joining the north to
seek its permanent overthrow. She is a monster tyrant wherever she
sets her foot-I say! (Three cheers for that.) She contributed to
fasten the curse upon us; and now she wants to destroy us by taking
it away according to the measures of the northern
abolitionists-fanaticism! Whatever the old school southerner
neglects to do for the preservation of the peculiar institution, we
must do for him! And we, who have lived at the north, can, with your
independent support, put the whole thing through a course of
political crooks." Again Mr. Scranton pauses; surveys his assembly
of free and independent citizens.

"That we can: I knows what fanatics down east be!" rejoins Mr.
M'Fadden, shaking his head very knowingly. He laughs with an air of
great satisfaction, as much as to say that, with such northern
philosophers to do the championism of slavery in the south, all the
commercial relations for which northern merchants are under so many
obligations to slave-labour, will be perfectly safe. But Mr.
Scranton has drawn out his speech to such an uncommon length, that
the loquacious M'Fadden is becoming decidedly wearied. His eyes
begin to glow languid, and the lids to close,--and now he nods assent
to all Mr. Scranton's sayings, which singularly attracts the
attention of that orator's hearers. The orator becomes very much
annoyed at this, suddenly stops-begs Mr. M'Fadden will postpone his
repose. This, from so great a man as Mr. Scranton, is accepted as
provokingly witty. Mr. M'Fadden laughs; and they all laugh. The
gentleman will continue his speech.

"The South must come out; must establish free trade, direct
trade,--trade that will free her from her disreputable association
with the North. She can do it!" Mr. Scranton wipes his forehead with
his white pocket-handkerchief.

"Ain't we deeply indebted to the North?" a voice in the crowd cries
out.

"Well! what if we are? Can't we offset the debts on the principles
of war? Let it go against the injury of abolition excitements!" Mr.
Scranton makes a theatrical flourish with his right hand, and runs
the fingers of his left through his crispy hair, setting it on end
like quills on a porcupine's back. Three long and loud cheers
follow, and the gentleman is involuntarily compelled to laugh at his
own singular sayings. "The South must hold conventions; she must
enforce constitutional guarantees; she must plant herself in the
federal capital, and plead her cause at the bar of the world. She
will get a hearing there! And she must supplant that dangerous
engine of abolition, now waging war against our property, our
rights, our social system." Thus concluding, Mr. Scranton sits down,
very much fatigued from his mental effervescence, yet much lighter
from having relieved himself of his speech, amidst a storm of
applause. Such a throwing up of hats and slouches, such jostling,
abetting, and haranguing upon the merits of the candidates, their
speeches and their sentiments, never was heard or seen before.

Mine host now mounts the stand to make the welcome announcement,
that, the speeches being over, the eating entertainments are ready.
He hopes the friends of the candidates will repair to the tables,
and help themselves without stint or restraint. As they are on the
point of rushing upon the tables, Colonel Mohpany suddenly jumps up,
and arrests the progress of the group by intimating that he has one
word more to say. That word is, his desire to inform the bone and
sinew of the constituency that his opponent belongs to a party which
once declared in the Assembly that they-the very men who stand
before him now-were a dangerous class unless reduced to slavery! The
Colonel has scarcely delivered himself of this very clever charge,
when the tables, a few yards distant, are surrounded by promiscuous
friends and foes, who help themselves after the fashion most
advantageous. All rules of etiquette are unceremoniously dispensed
with,--he who can secure most is the best diplomatist. Many find
their mouths so inadequate to the temptation of the feast, that they
improve on Mr. Scranton's philosophy by making good use of their
ample pockets. Believe us, reader, the entertainment is the
essential part of the candidate's political virtue, which must be
measured according to the extent of his cold meats and very bad
whiskey.

To carry out the strength of General Vardant's principles, several
of his opponent's friends are busily employed in circulating a
report that his barrel of whiskey has been "brought on" only half
full. A grosser slander could not have been invented. But the report
gains circulation so fast, that his meats and drinks are
mischievously absorbed, and the demonstration of his unpopular
position begins to be manifest. The candidates, unflinching in their
efforts, mix with the medley, have the benefit of the full exercise
of free thought and action, hear various opinions upon "the Squire's
chances," and listen to the chiming of high-sounding compliments.
While this clanging of merry jargon is at its highest, as if by some
magic influence Romescos makes his appearance, and immediately
commences to pit sides with Mr. M'Fadden. With all Romescos'
outlawry, he is tenacious of his southern origin; and he will assert
its rights against Mr. M'Fadden, whom he declares to be no better
than a northern humbug, taking advantage of southern institutions.
To him all northerners are great vagabonds, having neither
principles nor humanity in their composition; he makes the assertion
emphatically, without fear or trembling; and he calls upon his
friends to sustain him, that he may maintain the rights of the
South. Those rights Romescos asserts, and re-asserts, can only be
preserved by southern men-not by sneaking northerners, who, with
their trade, pocket their souls. Northerners are great men for
whitewashing their faces with pretence! Romescos is received with
considerable ‚clat. He declares, independently, that Mr. Scranton
too is no less a sheer humbug of the same stripe, and whose
humbugging propensities make him the humble servant of the south so
long as he can make a dollar by the bemeaning operation. His full
and unmeasured appreciation of all this northern-southern
independence is here given to the world for the world's good. And he
wants the world to particularly understand, that the old southerner
is the only independent man, the only true protector of humanity!

Romescos' sudden appearance, and the bold stand he takes against Mr.
M'Fadden and his candidate, produce the utmost confusion; he being
unpopular with the saw-pit men, with whom he once exhibited
considerable dexterity in carrying off one of their number and
putting the seal of slavery on him, they take sides against him. It
is the Saw-pitters against Romescos and the Crackers. The spirits
have flowed, and now the gods of our political power sway to and fro
under most violent shocks. Many, being unable to keep a
perpendicular, are accusing each other of all sorts of misdeeds-of
the misdeeds of their ancestors-of the specific crimes they
committed-the punishments they suffered. From personalities of their
own time they descend forth into jeering each other on matters of
family frailty, setting what their just deserts would have entitled
them to receive. They continue in this strain of jargon for some
time, until at length it becomes evident the storm of war is fast
approaching a crisis. Mr. M'Fadden is mentally unprepared to meet
this crisis, which Romescos will make to suit himself; and to this
end the comical and somewhat tragical finale seems pretty well
understood by the candidates and a few of the "swell-ocracy," who
have assembled more to see the grand representation of physical
power on the part of these free and enlightened citizens, than to
partake of the feast or listen to the rhetoric of the speeches. In
order to get a good view of the scene they have ascended trees,
where, perched among their branches like so many jackals, they cheer
and urge on the sport, as the nobility of Spain applaud a favourite
champion of the ring. At length the opposing parties doff their hats
and coats, draw knives, make threatening grimaces, and twirl their
steel in the air: their desperation is earnest; they make an onset,
charging with the bravado of men determined to sacrifice life. The
very air resounds with their shouts of blasphemy; blood flows from
deep incisions of bowie-knives, garments are rent into shreds; and
men seem to have betaken themselves to personating the demons.

Would that they were rational beings! would that they were men
capable of constituting a power to protect the liberty of principle
and the justice of law! Shout after shout goes up; tumult is
triumphant. Two fatal rencontres are announced, and Mr. Lawrence
M'Fadden is dangerously wounded; he has a cut in the abdomen. The
poor victims attract but little attention; such little trifling
affairs are very common, scarcely worth a word of commiseration. One
gentleman insinuates that the affair has been a desperately amusing
one; another very coolly adds, that this political feed has had much
more interest in it than any preceding one.

The victims are rolled in blankets, and laid away in the corn-shed;
they will await the arrival of the coroner, who, the landlord says,
it will be no more than right to send for. They are only two dead
Crackers, however, and nobody doubts what the verdict will be. In
truth-and it must be told once in a while, even in our
atmosphere-the only loss is the two votes, which the candidate had
already secured with his meat and drink, and which have now, he
regrets, been returned to the box of death instead of his ballot.
Poor voters, now only fit to serve the vilest purpose! how degraded
in the scale of human nature is the being, only worth a suffrance at
elections, where votes cast from impulse control the balance of
power. Such beings are worth just nothing; they would not sell in
the market. The negro waiters say, "It don't make a bit of matter
how much white rubbish like this is killed, it won't fetch a bid in
the market; and when you sell it, it won't stay sold."

"Lose I dat way, Cato, might jist as well take tousand dollar
straight out o' mas'r's pocket; but dese critters b'nt notin'
nohow," says old Daniel, one of the servants, who knows the value of
his own body quite well. Daniel exults as he looks upon the dead
bodies he is assisting to deposit in the corn-shed.

Mr. M'Fadden is carefully borne into the tavern, where, after much
difficulty, he is got up stairs and laid on a very nice bed, spread
with snowy white linen. A physician is called, and his wound dressed
with all possible skill and attention. He is in great pain, however;
begs his friends to bestow all care upon him, and save no expense.

Thus ends our political day. The process of making power to shape
the social and political weal of our State, closes.






CHAPTER XXIV.

MR. M'FADDEN SEES SHADOWS IN THE FUTURE.





NIGHT has quickly drawn its curtain over the scene. Mr. M'Fadden
lies on his bed, writhing under the pain of the poisoned wound. He
left his preacher locked up for the night in a cold hovel, and he
has secured the dangerous Bible, lest it lessen his value. Mr.
M'Fadden, however, feels that now his earthly career is fast closing
he must seek redemption. Hie has called in the aid of a physician,
who tells him there is great danger, and little hope unless his case
takes a favourable turn about midnight. The professional gentleman
merely suggests this, but the suggestion conveys an awful warning.
All the misdeeds of the past cloud before his eyes; they summon him
to make his peace with his Maker. He remembers what has been told
him about the quality of mercy,--the duration of hope in
redemption,--which he may secure by rendering justice to those he has
wronged. But now conscience wars with him; he sees the fierce
elements of retribution gathering their poisoned shafts about him;
he quails lest their points pierce his heart; and he sees the God of
right arraigning him at the bar of justice. There, that Dispenser of
all Good sits in his glory and omnipotence, listening while the
oppressed recites his sufferings: the oppressed there meets him face
to face, robed in that same garb of submission which he has
inflicted upon him on earth. His fevered brain gives out strange
warnings,--warnings in which he sees the angel of light unfolding the
long list of his injustice to his fellow man, and an angry God
passing the awful sentence. Writhing, turning, and contorting his
face, his very soul burns with the agony of despair. He grasps the
hand of his physician, who leans over his wounded body, and with
eyes distorted and glassy, stares wildly and frantically round the
room. Again, as if suffering inward torture, he springs from his
pillow, utters fierce imprecations against the visions that surround
him, grasps at them with his out-stretched fingers, motions his
hand backward and forward, and breaks out into violent paroxysms of
passion, as if struggling in the unyielding grasp of death.

That physical power which has so long borne him up in his daily
pursuits yields to the wanderings of his haunted mind. He lays his
hand upon the physician's shoulder as his struggles now subside,
looks mournfully in his face, and rather mutters than speaks:
"Bring-bring-bring him here: I'll see him,--I must see him! I-I-I
took away the book; there's what makes the sting worse! And when I
close my eyes I see it burning fiercely-"

"Who shall I bring?" interrupts the physician, mildly, endeavouring
to soothe his feelings by assuring him there is no danger, if he
will but remain calm.

"Heaven is casting its thick vengeance round me; heaven is consuming
me with the fire of my own heart! How can I be calm, and my past
life vaulted with a glow of fire? The finger of Almighty God points
to that deed I did today. I deprived a wretch of his only hope: that
wretch can forgive me before heaven. Y-e-s, he can,--can speak for
me,--can intercede for me; he can sign my repentance, and save me
from the just vengeance of heaven. His-his-his-"

"What?" the physician whispers, putting his ear to his mouth. "Be
calm."

"Calm!" he mutters in return.

"Neither fear death nor be frightened at its shadows-"

"It's life, life, life I fear--not death!" he gurgles out. "Bring him
to me; there is the Bible. Oh! how could I have robbed him of it!
'Twas our folly--all folly--my folly!" Mr. M'Fadden had forgotten that
the bustle of current life was no excuse for his folly; that it
would be summed up against him in the day of trouble. He never for
once thought that the Bible and its teachings were as dear to slave
as master, and that its truths were equally consoling in the hour of
death. In life it strengthens man's hopes; could it have been thus
with M'Fadden before death placed its troubled sea before his eyes,
how happy he would have died in the Lord!

The emphatic language, uttered in such supplicating tones, and so at
variance with his habits of life, naturally excited the feelings of
his physician, whose only solicitude had been evinced in his efforts
to save life,--to heal the wound. Never had he watched at a patient's
bed-side who had exhibited such convulsions of passion,--such fears
of death.

Now struggling against a storm of convulsions, then subsiding into
sluggish writhings, accompanied with low moans, indicating more
mental disquietude than bodily pain. Again he is quiet; points to
his coat.

The physician brings it forward and lays it upon the bed, where Mr.
M'Fadden can put his hand upon it. "It is there--in there!" he says,
turning on his left side, and with a solicitous look pointing to the
pockets of his coat. The professional gentleman does not understand
him.

He half raises himself on his pillow, but sinks back fatigued, and
faintly whispers, "Oh, take it to him--to him! Give him the
comforter: bring him, poor fellow, to me, that his spirit may be my
comforter!"

The physician understands, puts his hand into the pocket; draws
forth the little boon companion. It is the Bible, book of books; its
great truths have borne Harry through many trials,--he hopes it will
be his shield and buckler to carry him through many more. Its
associations are as dear to him as its teachings are consoling in
the days of tribulation. It is dear to him, because the promptings
of a noble-hearted woman secretly entrusted it to his care, in
violation of slavery's statutes. Its well-worn pages bear testimony
of the good service it has done. It was Franconia's gift-Franconia,
whose tender emotions made her the friend of the slave-made in the
kindness of woman's generous nature. The good example, when
contrasted with the fierce tenor of slavery's fears, is worthy many
followers.

But men seldom profit by small examples, especially when great fears
are paramount.

The physician, holding the good book in his hand, enquires if Mr.
M'Fadden would have him read from it? He has no answer to make,
turns his feverish face from it, closes his eyes, and compressing
his forehead with his hands, mutely shakes his head. A minute or two
passes in silence; he has re-considered the point,--answers, no! He
wants Harry brought to him, that he may acknowledge his crimes; that
he may quench the fire of unhappiness burning within him. "How
seldom we think of death while in life,--and how painful to see death
while gathering together the dross of this worldly chaos! Great,
great, great is the reward of the good, and mighty is the hand of
Omnipotence that, holding the record of our sins, warns us to
prepare." As Mr. M'Fadden utters these words, a coloured woman
enters the room to enquire if the patient wants nourishment. She
will wait at the door.

The physician looks at the patient; the patient shakes his head and
whispers, "Only the boy. The boy I bought to-day." The Bible lays at
his side on the sheet. He points to it, again whispering, "The boy I
took it from!"

The boy, the preacher, Mr. M'Fadden's purchase, can read; she will
know him by that; she must bring him from the shed, from his cold
bed of earth. That crime of slavery man wastes his energies to make
right, is wrong in the sight of heaven; our patient reads the
glaring testimony as the demons of his morbid fancy haunt him with
their damning terrors, their ghastly visages.

"Go, woman, bring him!" he whispers again.

Almost motionless the woman stands. She has seen the little book-she
knows it, and her eyes wander over the inscription on the cover. A
deep blush shadows her countenance; she fixes her piercing black
eyes upon it until they seem melting into sadness; with a delicacy
and reserve at variance with her menial condition, she approaches
the bed, lays her hand upon the book, and, while the physician's
attention is attracted in another direction, closes its pages, and
is about to depart.

"Can you tell which one he wants, girl?" enquires the physician, in
a stern voice.

"His name, I think, is Harry; and they say the poor thing can
preach; forgive me what I have done to him, oh Lord! It is the
weakness of man grasping the things of this world, to leave behind
for the world's nothingness," says Mr. M'Fadden, as the woman leaves
the room giving an affirmative reply.

The presence of the Bible surprised the woman; she knew it as the
one much used by Harry, on Marston's plantation. It was Franconia's
gift! The associations of the name touched the chord upon which hung
the happiest incidents of her life. Retracing her steps down the
stairs, she seeks mine host of the tavern, makes known the demand,
and receives the keys of this man-pen of our land of liberty.
Lantern in hand, she soon reaches the door, unlocks it gently, as if
she expects the approach of some strange object, and fears a sudden
surprise.

There the poor dejected wretches lay; nothing but earth's surface
for a bed,--no blanket to cover them. They have eaten their measure
of corn, and are sleeping; they sleep while chivalry revels! Harry
has drawn his hat partly over his face, and made a pillow of the
little bundle he carried under his arm.

Passing from one to the other, the woman approaches him, as if to
see if she can recognise any familiar feature. She stoops over him,
passes the light along his body, from head to foot, and from foot to
head. "Can it be our Harry?" she mutters. "It can't be; master
wouldn't sell him." Her eyes glare with anxiety as they wander up
and down his sleeping figure.

"Harry,--Harry,--Harry! which is Harry?" she demands.

Scarcely has she lisped the words, when the sleeper starts to his
feet, and sets his eyes on the woman with a stare of wonderment. His
mind wanders-bewildered; is he back on the old plantation? That
cannot be; they would not thus provide for him there. "Back at the
old home! Oh, how glad I am: yes, my home is there, with good old
master. My poor old woman; I've nothing for her, nothing," he says,
extending his hand to the woman, and again, as his mind regains
itself, their glances become mutual; the sympathy of two old
associates gushes forth from the purest of fountains,--the oppressed
heart.

"Harry-oh, Harry! is it you?"

"Ellen! my good Ellen, my friend, and old master's friend!" is the
simultaneous salutation.

"Sold you, too?" enquires Harry, embracing her with all the fervour
of a father who has regained his long-lost child. She throws her
arms about his neck, and clings to him, as he kisses, and kisses,
and kisses her olive brow.

"My sale, Harry, was of little consequence; but why did they sell
you? (Her emotions have swollen into tears). You must tell me all,
to-night! You must tell me of my child, my Nicholas,--if master
cares for him, and how he looks, grows, and acts. Oh, how my heart
beats to have him at my side;--when, when will that day come! I would
have him with me, even if sold for the purpose." Tears gush down her
cheeks, as Harry, encircling her with his arm, whispers words of
consolation in her ear.

"If we were always for this world, Ellen, our lot could not be
borne. But heaven has a recompense, which awaits us in the world to
come. Ellen!"-he holds her from him and looks intently in her
face-"masters are not to blame for our sufferings,--the law is the
sinner! Hope not, seek not for common justice, rights, privileges,
or anything else while we are merchandise among men who, to please
themselves, gamble with our souls and bodies. Take away that
injustice, Ellen, and men who now plead our unprofitableness would
hide their heads with shame. Make us men, and we will plead our own
cause; we will show to the world that we are men; black men, who can
be made men when they are not made merchandise." Ellen must tell him
what has brought her here, first! He notices sad changes in her
countenance, and feels anxious to listen to the recital of her
troubles.

She cannot tell him now, and begs that he will not ask her, as the
recollection of them fills her heart with sorrow. She discloses the
object of her mission, will guide him to his new master, who, they
say, is going to die, and feels very bad about it. He was a
desperate man on his plantation, and has become the more contrite at
death's call. "I hope God will forgive him!"

"He will!-He will! He is forgiving," interrupts Harry, hurriedly.

Ellen reconnoitres the wearied bodies of the others as they lie
around. "Poor wretches! what can I do for them?" she says, holding
the lamp over them. She can do but little for them, poor girl. The
will is good, but the wherewith she hath not. Necessity is a hard
master; none know it better than the slave woman. She will take
Harry by the hand, and, retracing her steps, usher him into the
presence of the wounded man. Pressing his hand as she opens the
door, she bids him good night, and retires to her cabin. "Poor
Harry!" she says, with a sigh.

The kind woman is Ellen Juvarna. She has passed another eventful
stage of her eventful life. Mine host, good fellow, bought her of
Mr. O'Brodereque, that's all!






CHAPTER XXV.

HOW THEY STOLE THE PREACHER.





THE scenes we have described in the foregoing chapter have not yet
been brought to a close. In and about the tavern may be seen groups
of men, in the last stage of muddled mellowness, the rank fumes of
bad liquor making the very air morbid. Conclaves of grotesque
figures are seated in the veranda and drinking-room, breaking the
midnight stillness with their stifled songs, their frenzied
congratulations, their political jargon; nothing of fatal
consequence would seem to have happened.

"Did master send for me? You've risen from a rag shop, my man!"
interrupts the physician.

"Master there-sorry to see him sick-owns me." Harry cast a subdued
look on the bed where lay his late purchaser.

Harry's appearance is not the most prepossessing,--he might have been
taken for anything else but a minister of the gospel; though the
quick eye of the southerner readily detected those frank and manly
features which belong to a class of very dark men who exhibit
uncommon natural genius.

At the sound of Harry's voice, M'Fadden makes an effort to raise
himself on his elbow. The loss of blood has so reduced his physical
power that his effort is unsuccessful. He sinks back,
prostrate,--requests the physician to assist him in turning over. He
will face his preacher. Putting out his hand, he embraces him
cordially,--motions him to be seated.

The black preacher, that article of men merchandise, takes a seat at
the bed-side, while the man of medicine withdraws to the table. The
summons is as acceptable to Harry as it is strange to the physician,
who has never before witnessed so strange a scene of familiarity
between slave and master. All is silent for several minutes. Harry
looks at his master, as if questioning the motive for which he is
summoned into his presence; and still he can read the deep anxiety
playing upon M'Fadden's distorted countenance. At length, Harry,
feeling that his presence may be intrusive, breaks the silence by
enquiring if there is anything he can do for master. Mr. M'Fadden
whispers something, lays his trembling hand on Harry's, casts a
meaning glance at the physician, and seems to swoon. Returning to
his bed-side, the physician lays his hand upon the sick man's brow;
he will ascertain the state of his system.

"Give-him-his-Bible," mutters the wounded man, pointing languidly to
the table. "Give it to him that he may ask God's blessing for me-for
me-for me,--"

The doctor obeys his commands, and the wretch, heart bounding with
joy, receives back his inspiring companion. It is dear to him, and
with a smile of gratitude invading his countenance he returns
thanks. There is pleasure in that little book. "And now, Harry, my
boy," says M'Fadden, raising his hand to Harry's shoulder, and
looking imploringly in his face as he regains strength; "forgive
what I have done. I took from you that which was most dear to your
feelings; I took it from you when the wounds of your heart were
gushing with grief-" He makes an effort to say more, but his voice
fails; he will wait a few moments.

The kind words touch Harry's feelings; tears glistening in his eyes
tell how he struggles to suppress the emotions of his heart. "Did
you mean my wife and children, master?" he enquires.

M'Fadden, somewhat regaining strength, replies in the affirmative.
He acknowledges to have seen that the thing "warn't just right." His
imagination has been wandering through the regions of heaven, where,
he is fully satisfied, there is no objection to a black face. God
has made a great opening in his eyes and heart just now. He sees and
believes such things as he neither saw nor believed before; they
pass like clouds before his eyes, never, never to be erased from his
memory. Never before has he thought much about repentance; but now
that he sees heaven on one side and hell on the other, all that once
seemed right in bartering and selling the bodies and souls of men,
vanishes. There, high above all, is the vengeance of heaven written
in letters of blood, execrating such acts, and pointing to the
retribution. It is a burning consciousness of all the suffering he
has inflicted upon his negroes. Death, awful monitor! stares him in
the face; it holds the stern realities of truth and justice before
him; it tells him of the wrong,--points him to the right. The
unbending mandates of slave law, giving to man power to debase
himself with crimes the judicious dare not punish, are being
consumed before Omnipotence, the warning voice of which is calling
him to his last account.

And now the wounded man is all condescension, hoping forgiveness!
His spirit has yielded to Almighty power; he no longer craves for
property in man; no, his coarse voice is subdued into softest
accents. He whispers "coloured man," as if the merchandise changed
as his thoughts are brought in contact with revelations of the
future.

"Take the Bible, my good boy-take it, read it to me, before I die.
Read it, that it may convert my soul. If I have neglected myself on
earth, forgive me; receive my repentance, and let me be saved from
eternal misery. Read, my dear good boy,"-M'Fadden grasps his hand
tighter and tighter-"and let your voice be a warning to those who
never look beyond earth and earth's enjoyments." The physician
thinks his patient will get along until morning, and giving
directions to the attendants, leaves him.

Harry has recovered from the surprise which so sudden a change of
circumstances produced, and has drawn from the patient the cause of
his suffering. He opens the restored Bible, and reads from it, to
Mr. M'Fadden's satisfaction. He reads from Job; the words producing
a deep effect upon the patient's mind.

The wretched preacher, whose white soul is concealed beneath black
skin, has finished his reading. He will now address himself to his
master, in the following simple manner.

"Master, it is one thing to die, and another to die happy. It is one
thing to be prepared to die, another to forget that we have to die,
to leave the world and its nothingness behind us. But you are not
going to die, not now. Master, the Lord will forgive you if you,
make your repentance durable. 'Tis only the fear of death that has
produced the change on your mind. Do, master! learn the Lord; be
just to we poor creatures, for the Lord now tells you it is not
right to buy and sell us."

"Buy and sell you!" interrupts the frightened man, making an effort
to rise from his pillow; "that I never will, man nor woman. If God
spares my life, my people shall be liberated; I feel different on
that subject, now! The difference between the commerce of this world
and the glory of heaven brightens before me. I was an ignorant man
on all religious matters; I only wanted to be set right in the way
of the Lord,--that's all." Again he draws his face under the sheet,
writhing with the pain of his wound.

"I wish everybody could see us as master does, about this time; for
surely God can touch the heart of the most hardened. But master
ain't going to die so soon as he thinks," mutters Harry, wiping the
sweat from his face, as he lays his left hand softly upon master's
arm. "God guide us in all coming time, and make us forget the
retribution that awaits our sins!" he concludes, with a smile
glowing on his countenance.

The half spoken words catch upon the patient's ear. He starts
suddenly from his pillow, as if eager to receive some favourable
intelligence. "Don't you think my case dangerous, my boy? Do you
know how deep is the wound?" he enquires, his glassy eyes staring
intently at Harry.

"It is all the same, master!" is the reply.

"Give me your hand again"-M'Fadden grasps his hand and seems to
revive-"pray for me now; your prayers will be received into heaven,
they will serve me there!"

"Ah, master," says Harry, kindly, interrupting him at this juncture,
"I feel more than ever like a christian. It does my heart good to
hear you talk so true, so kind. How different from yesterday! then I
was a poor slave, forced from my children, with nobody to speak a
kind word for me; everybody to reckon me as a good piece of property
only. I forgive you, master-I forgive you; God is a loving God, and
will forgive you also." The sick man is consoled; and, while his
preacher kneels at his bed-side, offering up a prayer imploring
forgiveness, he listens to the words as they fall like cooling drops
on his burning soul. The earnestness--the fervency and pathos of the
words, as they gush forth from the lips of a wretch, produce a still
deeper effect upon the wounded man. Nay, there is even a chord
loosened in his heart; he sobs audibly. "Live on earth so as to be
prepared for heaven; that when death knocks at the door you may
receive him as a welcome guest. But, master! you cannot meet our
Father in heaven while the sin of selling men clings to your
garments. Let your hair grow grey with justice, and God will reward
you," he concludes.

"True, Harry; true!"--he lays his hand on the black man's shoulder, is
about to rise--"it is the truth plainly told, and nothing more." He
will have a glass of water to quench his thirst; Harry must bring it
to him, for there is consolation in his touch. Seized with another
pain, he grasps with his left hand the arm of his consoler, works
his fingers through his matted hair, breathes violently, contorts
his face haggardly, as if suffering acutely. Harry waits till the
spasm has subsided, then calls an attendant to watch the patient
while he goes to the well. This done he proceeds into the kitchen to
enquire for a vessel. Having entered that department as the clock
strikes two, he finds Ellen busily engaged preparing food for Mr.
M'Fadden's property, which is yet fast secured in the pen. Feeling
himself a little more at liberty to move about unrestrained, he
procures a vessel, fills it at the well, carries it to his master's
bed-side, sees him comfortably cared for, and returns to the
kitchen, where he will assist Ellen in her mission of goodness.

The little pen is situated a few yards from the tavern, on the edge
of a clump of tall pines.

Ellen has got ready the corn and bacon, and with Harry she proceeds
to the pen, where the property are still enjoying that inestimable
boon,--a deep sleep.

"Always sleeping," he says, waking them one by one at the
announcement of corn and bacon. "Start up and get something good my
girl has prepared for you." He shakes them, while Ellen holds the
lantern. There is something piercing in the summons-meats are strong
arguments with the slave-they start from their slumbers, seize upon
the food, and swallow it with great relish. Harry and Ellen stand
smiling over the gusto with which they swallow their coarse meal.

"You must be good boys to-night. Old master's sick; flat down on e'
back, and 'spects he's going to die, he does." Harry shakes his head
as he tells it to the astonished merchandise. "Had a great time at
the crossing to-day; killed two or three certain, and almost put
master on the plank."

"'Twarn't no matter, nohow: nobody lose nofin if old Boss do die:
nigger on e' plantation don' put e' hat in mournin'," mutters the
negro woman, with an air of hatred. She has eaten her share of the
meal, shrugs her shoulders, and again stretches her valuable body on
the ground.

"Uncle Sparton know'd old Boss warn't gwine t' be whar de debil
couldn't cotch 'em, so long as 'e tink. If dat old mas'r debil, what
white man talk 'bout so much, don' gib 'em big roasting win 'e git
'e dah, better hab no place wid fireins fo' such folks," speaks up
old Uncle Sparton, one of the negroes, whose face shines like a
black-balled boot.

"Neber mind dat, Uncle Sparton; 'taint what ye say 'bout he. Ven
mas'r debil cotch old Boss 'e don't cotch no fool. Mas'r debil down
yander find old Boss too tuf fo' he business; he jus' like old hoss
what neber die," rejoins another.

In a word, M'Fadden had told his negroes what a great democrat he
was-how he loved freedom and a free country-until their ideas of
freedom became strangely mystified; and they ventured to assert that
he would not find so free a country when the devil became his
keeper. "Mas'r tink 'e carry 'e plantation t' t'oder world wid him,
reckon," Uncle Sparton grumblingly concludes, joining the motley
conclave of property about to resume its repose.

Ellen returns to the house. Harry will remain, and have a few words
more with the boys. A few minutes pass, and Ellen returns with an
armful of blankets, with which she covers the people carefully and
kindly. How full of goodness-how touching is the act! She has done
her part, and she returns to the house in advance of Harry, who
stops to take a parting good-night, and whisper a word of
consolation in their ears. He looks upon them as dear brothers in
distress, objects for whom he has a fellow sympathy. He leaves them
for the night; closes the door after him; locks it. He will return
to Ellen, and enjoy a mutual exchange of feeling.

Scarcely has he left the door, when three persons, disguised, rush
upon him, muffle his head with a blanket, bind his hands and feet,
throw him bodily into a waggon, and drive away at a rapid speed.






CHAPTER XXVI.

COMPETITION IN HUMAN THINGS.





IT is enough to inform the reader that Romescos and Mr. M'Fadden
were not only rival bidders for this very desirable piece of
preaching property, but, being near neighbours, had become
inveterate enemies and fierce political opponents. The former, a
reckless trader in men, women, and children, was a daring,
unprincipled, and revengeful man, whose occupation seldom called him
to his plantation; while the latter was notorious as a hard master
and a cruel tyrant, who exacted a larger amount of labour from his
negroes than his fellow planters, and gave them less to eat. His
opinion was, that a peck of corn a week was quite enough for a
negro; and this was his systematic allowance;--but he otherwise
tempted the appetites of his property, by driving them, famished, to
the utmost verge of necessity. Thus driven to predatory acts in
order to sustain life, the advantages offered by Romescos'
swamp-generally well sprinkled with swine-were readily appropriated
to a very good use.

Under covert of Romescos' absence, Mr. M'Fadden had no very
scrupulous objection to his negroes foraging the amply provided
swamp,--provided, however, they did the thing on the sly, were
careful whose porker they dispatched, and said nothing to him about
the eating. In fact, it was simply a matter of economy with Mr.
M'Fadden; and as Romescos had a great number of the obstinate
brutes, it saved the trouble of raising such undignified stock.
Finding, however, that neighbour M'Fadden, or his predatory
negroes-such they were called-were laying claim to more than a
generous share of their porkships, Romescos thought it high time to
put the thing down by a summary process. But what particularly
"riled" Romescos in this affair of the hogs was, that M'Fadden's
negroes were not content with catching them in an honourable way,
but would do it through the agency of nasty cur-dogs, which he
always had despised, and held as unfit even to hunt niggers with.
Several times had he expressed his willingness to permit a small
number of his grunters to be captured for the benefit of his
neighbour's half-starved negroes, provided, always, they were hunted
with honourable hound-dogs. He held such animals in high esteem,
while curs he looked upon with utter contempt; he likened the one to
the chivalrous old rice-planter, the other to a pettifogging
schoolmaster fit for nothing but to be despised and shot. With these
feelings he (Romescos) declared his intention to kill the very first
negro he caught in his swamp with cur-dogs; and he kept his word.
Lying in ambush, he would await their approach, and, when most
engaged in appropriating the porkers, rush from his hiding-place,
shoot the dogs, and then take a turn at the more exhilarating
business of shooting the negroes. He would, with all possible
calmness, command the frightened property to approach and partake of
his peculiar mixture, administered from his double-barrel gun.

That the reader may better understand Romescos' process of curing
this malady of his neighbour's negroes, we will give it as related
by himself. It is a curious mode of dispatching negro property; the
reader, however, cannot fail to comprehend it. "Plantin' didn't suit
my notions o' gittin' rich, ye see, so I spec'lates in nigger
property, and makes a better thing on't. But there's philosophy
about the thing, and a body's got t' know the hang on't afore he can
twist it out profitably; so I keeps a sort of a plantation just to
make a swell; cos ye got to make a splash to be anybody down south.
Can't be a gentleman, ye see, 'cept ye plants cotton and rice; and
then a feller what's got a plantation in this kind of a way can be a
gentleman, and do so many other bits of trade to advantage. The
thing works like the handle of a pump; and then it makes a right
good place for raising young niggers, and gettin' old uns trimmed
up. With me, the worst thing is that old screwdriver, M'Fadden, what
don't care no more for the wear and tear of a nigger than nothin',
and drives 'em like as many steam-engines he thinks he can keep
going by feeding on saw-dust. He han't no conception o' nigger
constitution, and is just the worst sort of a chap that ever cum
south to get a fortune. Why, look right at his niggers: they look
like crows after corn-shuckin. Don't give 'em no meat, and the
critters must steal somethin' t' keep out o' the bone-yard. Well, I
argers the case with Mack, tells him how t'll be atween he and me on
this thing, and warns him that if he don't chunk more corn and
grease into his niggers, there 'll be a ruptous fuss. But he don't
stand on honour, as I does, especially when his property makes a
haul on my swamp of shoats. I an't home often; so the hogs suffer;
and Mack's niggers get the pork. This 'ere kind o'
business"--Romescos maintains the serious dignity of himself the
while--"don't go down nohow with me; so Mack and me just has a bit
of a good-natured quarrel; and from that we gets at daggers' points,
and I swears how I'll kill the first nigger o' his'n what steals
hogs o' mine. Wouldn't a cared a sous, mark ye, but it cum crossways
on a feller's feelins to think how the 'tarnal niggers had no more
sense than t' hunt hogs o' mine with cur-dogs: bin hounds,
honourable dogs, or respectable dogs what 'll do to hunt niggers
with, wouldn't a cared a toss about it; but-when-I-hears-a cur-dog
yelp, oh! hang me if it don't set my sensations all on pins, just as
somethin' was crucifyin' a feller. I warns and talks, and then
pleads like a lawyer what's got a bad case; but all to no end o'
reformin' Mack's morals,--feller han't got no sense o' reform in him.
So I sets my niggers on the scent-it gives 'em some fun-and swears
I'll kill a nigger for every hog he steals. This I concludes on; and
I never backs out when once I fixes a conclusion.

"Hears the infernal cur-dog's yelp, yelp, yelp, down in the swamp;
then I creeps through the jungle so sly, lays low till the fellers
cum up, all jumpin'-pig ahead, then dogs, niggers follerin', puffin'
and blowin', eyes poppin' out, 'most out o' breath, just as if they
tasted the sparerib afore they'd got the critter.

"Well, ye see, I know'd all the ins and outs of the law,--keeps
mighty shy about all the judicial quibbles on't,--never takes nobody
with me whose swearin' would stand muster in a court of law. All
right on that score (Romescos exults in his law proficiency). I
makes sure o' the dogs fust, ollers keepin' the double-barrel on the
right eye for the best nigger in the lot. It would make the
longest-faced deacon in the district laugh to see the fire flash out
o' the nigger's big black eyes, when he sees the cur drop, knowin'
how he'll get the next plugs souced into him. It's only natural, cos
it would frighten a feller what warn't used to it just to see what a
thunder-cloud of agitation the nigger screws his black face into.
And then he starts to run, and puts it like streaks o' cannon-balls
chased by express lightnin'.

"'Stand still, ye thievin' varmint! hold up,--bring to a mooring:
take the mixture according to Gunter!' I shouts. The way the nigger
pulls up, begs, pleads, and says things what'll touch a feller's
tender feelins, aint no small kind of an institution. 'Twould just
make a man what had stretchy conscience think there was somethin'
crooked somewhere. 'Well, boys,' says I, feeling a little soft about
the stomach, 'seeing how it's yer Boss what don't feed ye, I'll be
kind o' good, and give ye a dose of the mixture in an honourable
way.' Then I loads t'other barrel, the feller's eyes flashin'
streaks of blue lightnin' all the time, lookin' at how I rams it
down, chunk! 'Now, boys,' says I, when the plugs
shot is all ready, 'there's system 'bout this ere thing a'
mine--t'aint killin' ye I wants,--don't care a copper about that
(there an't no music in that), but must make it bring the finances
out a' yer master's pocket. That's the place where he keeps all his
morals. Now, run twenty paces and I'll gin ye a fair chance! The
nigger understands me, ye see, and moves off, as if he expected a
thunderbolt at his heel, lookin' back and whining like a puppy
what's lost his mother. Just when he gets to an honourable
distance,--say twenty paces, according to fighting rule,--I draws up,
takes aim, and plumps the plugs into him. The way the critter jumps
reminds me of a circus rider vaultin' and turnin' sumersets. You'd
think he was inginrubber 'lectrified. A'ter all, I finds these
playin' doses don't do; they don't settle things on the square. So I
tries a little stronger mixture, which ends in killin' three o'
Mack's niggers right up smooth. But the best on't is that Mack finds
he han't no proof, goes right into it and kills three o' my prime
fat niggers: that makes us bad friends on every score. But he got a
nigger ahead o' me a'ter awhile, and I ware detarmined to straighten
accounts, if it was by stealin' the odds. Them ar's my principles,
and that's just the way I settles accounts with folks what don't do
the square thing in the way o' nigger property."

Thus the two gentlemen lived in the terror of internal war; and
Romescos, seeing such a fine piece of property pass into the hands
of his antagonist, resolved on squaring accounts by stealing the
preacher,--an act Mr. M'Fadden least expected.

The candidates' festival offered every facility for carrying this
singular coup-d'‚tat into effect. Hence, with the skilful assistance
of Nath. Nimrod, and Dan Bengal, Harry was very precipitately and
dexterously passed over to the chances of a new phase of slave life.

Ellen waited patiently for Harry's return until it became evident
some ill-luck had befallen him. Lantern in hand, she proceeds to the
pen in search. No Harry is to be found there; Mr. M'Fadden's common
negroes only are there, and they sleep sweetly and soundly. What can
have befallen him? She conjectures many things, none of which are
the right. The lock is upon the door; all is still outside; no
traces of kidnapping can be found. She knows his faithfulness,--
knows he would not desert his master unless some foul means had been
used to decoy him into trouble. She returns to the house and
acquaints her master.

Straggling members, who had met to enjoy the generous political
banquet, and who still remain to see the night "through" with
appropriate honour, are apprised of the sudden disappearance of this
very valuable piece of property. They are ready for any turn of
excitement,--anything for "topping off" with a little amusement; and
to this end they immediately gather round mine host in a party of
pursuit. Romescos-he must make his innocence more imposing-has been
conspicuous during the night, at times expressing sympathy for Mr.
M'Fadden, and again assuring the company that he has known fifty
worse cases cured. In order to make this better understood, he will
pay the doctor's bill if M'Fadden dies. Mine host has no sooner
given the alarm than Romescos expresses superlative surprise. He was
standing in the centre of a conclave of men, whom he harangues on
the particular political points necessary for the candidates to
support in order to maintain the honour of the State; now he listens
to mine host as he recounts the strange absence of the preacher,
pauses and combs his long red beard with his fingers, looks
distrustfully, and then says, with a quaintness that disarmed
suspicion, "Nigger-like!-preacher or angel, nigger will be nigger!
The idea o' makin' the black rascals preachers, thinkin' they won't
run away! Now, fellers, that ar' chap's skulkin' about, not far off,
out among the pines; and here's my two dogs"-he points to his dogs,
stretched on the floor-"what'll scent him and bring him out afore
ten minutes! Don't say a word to Mack about it; don't let it 'scape
yer fly-trap, cos they say he's got a notion o' dying, and suddenly
changed his feelins 'bout nigger tradin'. There's no tellin' how it
would affect the old democrat if he felt he warnt goin' to slip his
breeze. This child"-Romescos refers to himself-"felt just as Mack
does more nor a dozen times, when Davy Jones looked as if he was
making slight advances: a feller soon gets straight again,
nevertheless. It's only the difference atween one's feelings about
makin' money when he's well, and thinkin' how he made it when he's
about to bid his friends good morning and leave town for awhile.
Anyhow, there aint no dodging now, fellers! We got to hunt up the
nigger afore daylight, so let us take a drop more and be moving." He
orders the landlord to set on the decanters,--they join in a social
glass, touch glasses to the recovery of the nigger, and then rush
out to the pursuit. Romescos heads the party. With dogs, horses,
guns, and all sorts of negro-hunting apparatus, they scour the
pinegrove, the swamp, and the heather. They make the pursuit of man
full of interest to those who are fond of the chase; they allow
their enthusiasm to bound in unison with the sharp baying of the
dogs.

For more than two hours is this exhilarating sport kept up. It is
sweet music to their ears; they have been trained (educated) to the
fascination of a man-hunt, and dogs and men become wearied with the
useless search.

Romescos declares the nigger is near at hand: he sees the dogs curl
down their noses; he must be somewhere in a hole or jungle of the
swamp, and, with more daylight and another dog or two, his
apprehension is certain. He makes a halt on the brow of a hill, and
addresses his fellow-hunters from the saddle. In his wisdom on
nigger nature he will advise a return to the tavern-for it is now
daylight-where they will spend another hour merrily, and then return
brightened to the pursuit. Acting on this advice, friends and
foes-both join as good fellows in the chase for a nigger-followed
his retreat as they had his advance.

"No nigger preacher just about this circle, Major!" exclaims
Romescos, addressing mine host, as he puts his head into the
bar-room, on his return. "Feller's burrowed somewhere, like a coon:
catch him on the broad end of morning, or I'll hang up my old
double-barrel," he concludes, shaking his head, and ordering drink
for the party at his expense.

The morning advanced, however, and nothing was to be seen of
Romescos: he vanished as suddenly from among them as Harry had from
the pen. Some little surprise is expressed by the knowing ones; they
whisper among themselves, while mine host reaches over the counter,
cants his head solicitously, and says:--"What's that, gentlemen?"

In this dilemma they cannot inform mine host; they must continue the
useless chase without Romescos' valuable services. And here we must
leave mine host preparing further necessaries for capturing the lost
property, that he may restore it to its owner so soon as he shall
become convalescent, and turn to Harry.

Like a well-stowed bale of merchandise, to be delivered at a stated
place within a specified time, he was rolled in bagging, and not
permitted to see the direction in which he was being driven. When
the pursuing party started from the crossing, Romescos took the lead
in order to draw it in an opposite direction, and keep the dogs from
the trail. This would allow the stolen clergyman to get beyond their
reach. When daylight broke upon the capturers they were nearly
twenty miles beyond the reach of the pursuers, approaching an inn by
the road side. The waggon suddenly stopped, and Harry found himself
being unrolled from his winding sheet by the hands of two strangers.
Lifting him to his feet, they took him from the waggon, loosed the
chains from his legs, led him into the house, and placed him in a
dark back room. Here, his head being uncovered, he looks upon his
captors with an air of confusion and distrust. "Ye know me too, I
reckon, old feller, don't ye?" enquires one of the men, with a
sardonic grin, as he lifts his hat with his left hand, and scratches
his head with his right.

"Yes, mas'r; there's no mistakin on ye!" returns Harry, shaking his
head, as they release the chains from his hands. He at length
recognises the familiar faces of Dan Bengal and Nath. Nimrod. Both
have figured about Marston's plantation, in the purchase and sale of
negroes.

"Ye had a jolly good ride, old feller, had'nt ye?" says Bengal,
exultingly, looking Harry in the face, shrugging his shoulders, and
putting out his hand to make his friendship.

Harry has no reply to make; but rubs his face as if he is not quite
satisfied with his new apartment, and wants to know a little more of
the motive of the expedition. "Mas'r! I don't seem to know myself,
nor nothin'. Please tell me where I am going to, and who is to be my
master? It will relieve my double troubles," he says, casting an
enquiring look at Nimrod.

"Shook up yer parson-thinkin' some, I reckon, did'nt it, old chap?"
returns Nimrod, laughing heartily, but making no further reply. He
thinks it was very much like riding in a railroad backwards.

"Did my sick mas'r sell me to you?" again he enquires.

"No business o' yourn, that ain't; yer nigger-knowin ought to tell
you how ye'd got into safe hands. We'll push along down south as
soon as ye gets some feed. Put on a straight face, and face the
music like a clever deacon, and we'll do the square in selling ye to
a Boss what 'll let ye preach now and then. (Nimrod becomes very
affectionate). Do the thing up righteous, and when yer sold there
'll be a five-dollar shiner for yerself. (He pats him on the head,
and puts his arm over his shoulder.) Best t' have a little shot in a
body's own pocket; now, shut up yer black bread-trap, and don't go
makin a fuss about where yer goin' to: that's my business!"

Harry pauses as if in contemplation; he is struggling against his
indignation excited by such remarks. He knew his old master's
weaknesses, enjoyed his indulgences; but he had never been made to
feel so acutely how degraded he could be as a mere article of trade.
It would have been some consolation to know which way he was
proceeding, and why he had been so suddenly snatched from his new
owner. Fate had not ordained this for him; oh no! He must resign
himself without making any further enquiries; he must be nothing
more than a nigger--happy nigger happily subdued! Seating himself
upon the floor, in a recumbent position, he drops his face on his
knees,--is humbled among the humblest. He is left alone for some
time, while his captors, retiring into an adjoining room, hold a
consultation.

Breakfast is being prepared, and much conversation is kept up in an
inaudible tone of voice. Harry has an instinctive knowledge that it
is about him, for he hears the words, "Peter! Peter!" his name must
be transmogrified into "Peter!" In another minute he hears dishes
rattling on the table, and Bengal distinctly complimenting the
adjuncts, as he orders some for the nigger preacher. This excites
his anxiety; he feels like placing his ear at the keyhole,--doing a
little evesdropping. He is happily disappointed, however, for the
door opens, and a black boy bearing a dish of homony enters, and,
placing it before him, begs that he will help himself. Harry takes
the plate and sets it beside him, as the strange boy watches him
with an air of commiseration that enlists his confidence. "Ain't
da'h somefin mo' dat I can bring ye?" enquires the boy, pausing for
an answer.

"Nothing,--nothing more!"

Harry will venture to make some enquiries about the locality. "Do
you belong to master what live here?" He puts out his hand, takes
the other by the arm.

"Hard tellin who I belongs to. Buckra man own 'em to-day; ain't
sartin if he own 'em to-morrow, dough. What country-born nigger is
you?"

"Down country! My poor old master's gone, and now I'm goin'; but God
only knows where to. White man sell all old Boss's folks in a
string,--my old woman and children among the rest. My heart is with
them, God bless them!"

"Reckon how ya' had a right good old Boss what larn ye somethin."
The boy listens to Harry with surprise. "Don't talk like dat down
dis a way; no country-born nigger put in larn'd wods so, nohow,"
returns the boy, with a look of curious admiration.

"But you harn't told me what place this is?"

"Dis 'ouse! e' ant nowhare when Buckra bring nigger what he want to
sell, and don' want nobody to know whar e' bring him from. Dat man
what bring ye here be great Buckra. De 'h way he lash nigger whin e'
don do jist so!" The boy shakes his head with a warning air.

"How did you get here? There must be roads leading in some
directions?"

"Roads runnin' every which way, yand'r; and trou de woods anyway,
but mighty hard tellin whar he going to, he is. Mas'r Boss don lef
'e nigger know how 'e bring'um, nor how he takes 'um way. Guess da
'h gwine to run ye down country, so God bless you," says the boy,
shaking him by the hand, and taking leave.

"Well! if I only knew which way I was going I should feel happy;
because I could then write to my old master, somewhere or somehow.
And I know my good friend Missus Rosebrook will buy me for her
plantation,--I know she will. She knows my feelings, and in her heart
wouldn't see me abused, she wouldn't! I wish I knew who my master
is, where I am, and to whom I'm going to be sold next. I think new
master has stolen me, thinking old master was going to die," Harry
mutters to himself, commencing his breakfast, but still applying his
listening faculties to the conversation in the next room. At length,
after a long pause, they seem to have finished breakfast and taken
up the further consideration of his sale.

"I don't fear anything of the kind! Romescos is just the keenest
fellow that can be scared up this side of Baltimore. He never takes
a thing o' this stamp in hand but what he puts it through," says
Bengal, in a whispering tone.

"True! the trouble's in his infernal preaching; that's the devil of
niggers having intelligence. Can do anything in our way with common
niggers what don't know nothin'; but when the critters can do
clergy, and preach, they'll be sending notes to somebody they know
as acquaintances. An intelligent nigger's a bad article when ye want
to play off in this way," replies the other, curtly.

"Never mind," returns Bengal, "can't ollers transpose a nigger, as
easy as turnin' over a sixpence, specially when he don't have his
ideas brightened. Can't steer clar on't. Larnin's mighty dangerous
to our business, Nath.-better knock him on the head at once; better
end him and save a sight of trouble. It'll put a stopper on his
preaching, this pesks exercisin' his ideas."

A third interrupts. "Thinks such a set of chicken-hearted fellows
won't do when it comes to cases of 'mergency like this. He will just
make clergyman Peter Somebody the deacon; and with this honorary
title he'll put him through to Major Wiley's plantation, when he'll
be all right down in old Mississippi. The Colonel and he,
understanding the thing, can settle it just as smooth as sunrise.
The curate is what we call a right clever fellow, would make the
tallest kind of a preacher, and pay first-rate per centage on
himself." Bengal refers to Harry. His remarks are, indeed, quite
applicable. "I've got the dockerment, ye see, all prepared; and
we'll put him through without a wink," he concludes, in a measured
tone of voice.

The door of Harry's room opens, and the three enter together. "Had a
good breakfast, old feller, hain't ye?" says Nimrod, approaching
with hand extended, and patting him on the head with a child's
playfulness. "I kind o' likes the looks on ye" (a congratulatory
smile curls over his countenance), "old feller; and means to do the
square thing in the way o' gettin' on ye a good Boss. Put on the
Lazarus, and no nigger tricks on the road. I'm sorry to leave ye on
the excursion, but here's the gentleman what'll see ye through,--will
put ye through to old Mississip just as safe as if ye were a nugget
of gold." Nimrod introduces Harry to a short gentleman with a bald
head, and very smooth, red face. His dress is of brown homespun, a
garb which would seem peculiar to those who do the villainy of the
peculiar institution. The gentleman has a pair of handcuffs in his
left hand, with which he will make his pious merchandise safe.
Stepping forward, he places the forefinger of his right hand on the
preacher's forehead, and reads him a lesson which he must get firm
into his thinking shell. It is this. "Now, at this very time, yer
any kind of a nigger; but a'ter this ar' ye got to be a Tennessee
nigger, raised in a pious Tennessee family. And yer name is
Peter-Peter-Peter!-don't forget the Peter: yer a parson, and ought
t' keep the old apostle what preached in the marketplace in yer
noddle. Peter, ye see, is a pious name, and Harry isn't; so ye must
think Peter and sink Harry."

"What do I want to change my name for? Old master give me that name
long time ago!"

"None o' yer business; niggers ain't t' know the philosophy of such
things. No nigger tricks, now!" interrupts Bengal, quickly, drawing
his face into savage contortions. At this the gentleman in whose
charge he will proceed steps forward and places the manacles on
Harry's hands with the coolness and indifference of one executing
the commonest branch of his profession. Thus packed and baled for
export, he is hurried from the house into a two-horse waggon, and
driven off at full speed. Bengal watches the waggon as it rolls down
the highway and is lost in the distance. He laughs heartily, thinks
how safe he has got the preacher, and how much hard cash he will
bring. God speed the slave on his journey downward, we might add.

It will be needless for us to trace them through the many incidents
of their journey; our purpose will be served when we state that his
new guardian landed him safely at the plantation of Major Wiley, on
the Tallahatchee River, Mississippi, on the evening of the fourth
day after their departure, having made a portion of their passage on
the steamer Ohio. By some process unknown to Harry he finds himself
duly ingratiated among the major's field hands, as nothing more than
plain Peter. He is far from the high-road, far from his friends,
without any prospect of communicating with his old master. The
major, in his way, seems a well-disposed sort of man, inclined to
"do right" by his negroes, and willing to afford them an opportunity
of employing their time after task, for their own benefit. And yet
it is evident that he must in some way be connected with Graspum and
his party, for there is a continual interchange of negroes to and
from his plantation. This, however, we must not analyse too closely,
but leave to the reader's own conjectures, inasmuch as Major Wiley
is a very distinguished gentleman, and confidently expects a very
prominent diplomatic appointment under the next administration.

Harry, in a very quiet way, sets himself about gaining a knowledge
of his master's opinions on religion, as well as obtaining his
confidence by strict fidelity to his interests. So far does he
succeed, that in a short time he finds himself holding the
respectable and confidential office of master of stores. Then he
succeeds in inducing his master to hear him preach a sermon to his
negroes. The major is perfectly willing to allow him the full
exercise of his talents, and is moved to admiration at his fervency,
his aptitude, his knowledge of the Bible, and the worth there must
be in such a piece of clergy property. Master Wiley makes his man
the offer of purchasing his time, which Harry, under the alias of
Peter, accepts, and commences his mission of preaching on the
neighbouring plantations.

Ardently and devoutedly does he pursue his mission of Christianity
among his fellow-bondmen; but he has reaped little of the harvest
to himself, his master having so increased the demand for his time
that he can scarcely save money enough to purchase clothes. At first
he was only required to pay six dollars a week; now, nothing less
than ten is received. It is a happy premium on profitable human
nature; and through it swings the strongest hinge of that cursed
institution which blasts alike master and slave. Major Wiley is very
chivalrous, very hospitable, and very eminent for his many
distinguished qualifications; but his very pious piece of property
must pay forty-seven per cent. annual tribute for the very
hospitable privilege of administering the Word of God to his brother
bondmen. Speak not of robed bishops robbing Christianity in a
foreign land, ye men who deal in men, and would rob nature of its
tombstone! Ye would rob the angels did their garments give forth
gold.

The poor fellow's income, depending, in some measure, upon small
presents bestowed by the negroes to whom he preached, was scarcely
enough to bring him out at the end of the week, and to be thus
deprived of it seemed more than his spirits could bear. Again and
again had he appealed to his master for justice; but there was no
justice for him,--his appeals proved as fruitless as the wind, on his
master's callous sensibilities. Instead of exciting compassion, he
only drew upon him his master's prejudices; he was threatened with
being sold, if he resisted for a day the payment of wages for his
own body. Hence he saw but one alternative left-one hope, one smile
from a good woman, who might, and he felt would, deliver him; that
was in writing to his good friend, Mrs. Rosebrook, whose generous
heart he might touch through his appeals for mercy. And yet there
was another obstacle; the post-office might be ten miles off, and
his master having compelled him to take the name of Peter Wiley, how
was he to get a letter to her without the knowledge of his master?
Should his letter be intercepted, his master, a strict
disciplinarian, would not only sell him farther south, but inflict
the severest punishment. Nevertheless, there was one consolation
left; his exertions on behalf of the slaves, and his earnestness in
promoting the interests of their masters, had not passed unnoticed
with the daughter of a neighbouring planter (this lady has since
distinguished herself for sympathy with the slave), who became much
interested in his welfare. She had listened to his exhortations with
admiration; she had listened to his advice on religion, and become
his friend and confidant. She would invite him to her father's
house, sit for hours at his side, and listen with breathless
attention to his pathos, his display of natural genius. To her he
unfolded his deep and painful troubles; to her he looked for
consolation; she was the angel of light guiding him on his weary
way, cheering his drooping soul on its journey to heaven. To her he
disclosed how he had been called to the bedside of his dying master;
how, previously, he had been sold from his good old master, Marston,
his wife, his children; how he was mysteriously carried off and left
in the charge of his present master, who exacts all he can earn.

The simple recital of his story excites the genial feelings of the
young lady; she knows some foul transaction is associated with his
transition, and at once tenders her services to release him. But she
must move cautiously, for even Harry's preaching is in direct
violation of the statutes; and were she found aiding in that which
would unfavourably affect the interests of his master she would be
subjected to serious consequences-perhaps be invited to spend a
short season at the sheriff's hotel, commonly called the county
gaol. However, there was virtue in the object to be served, and
feeling that whatever else she could do to relieve him would be
conferring a lasting benefit on a suffering mortal, she will brave
the attempt.

"Tell me he is not a man, but a slave! tell me a being with such
faculties should be thus sunken beneath the amenities of freedom!
that man may barter almighty gifts for gold! trample his religion
into dust, and turn it into dollars and cents! What a mockery is
this against the justice of heaven! When this is done in this our
happy land of happy freedom, scoffers may make it their foot-ball,
and kings in their tyranny may point the finger of scorn at us, and
ask us for our honest men, our cherished freedom!

"Woman can do something, if she will; let me see what I can do to
relieve this poor oppressed," she exclaims one day, after he has
consulted her on the best means of relief. "I will try."

Woman knows the beatings of the heart; she can respond more quickly
to its pains and sorrows. Our youthful missionary will sit down and
write a letter to Mrs. Rosebrook-she will do something, the
atmosphere of slavery will hear of her yet-it will!






CHAPTER XXVII.

THE PRETTY CHILDREN ARE TO BE SOLD.





HOW varied are the sources of human nature-how changing its tints
and glows-how immeasurable its uncertainties, and how obdurate the
will that can turn its tenderest threads into profitable
degradation! But what democrat can know himself a freeman when the
whitest blood makes good merchandise in the market? When the only
lineal stain on a mother's name for ever binds the chains, let no
man boast of liberty. The very voice re-echoes, oh, man, why be a
hypocrite! cans't thou not see the scorner looking from above? But
the oligarchy asks in tones so modest, so full of chivalrous
fascination, what hast thou to do with that? be no longer a fanatic.
So we will bear the warning-pass from it for the present.

More than two years have passed; writs of error have been filed and
argued; the children have dragged out time in a prison-house. Is it
in freedom's land a prison was made for the innocent to waste in? So
it is, and may Heaven one day change the tenour! Excuse, reader,
this digression, and let us proceed with our narrative.

The morning is clear and bright; Mrs. Rosebrook sits at the window
of her cheerful villa, watching the approach of the post-rider seen
in the distance, near a cluster of oaks that surround the entrance
of the arbour, at the north side of the garden. The scene spread out
before her is full of rural beauty, softened by the dew-decked
foliage, clothing the landscape with its clumps. As if some fairy
hand had spread a crystal mist about the calm of morning, and angels
were bedecking it with the richest tints of a rising sun at morn,
the picture sparkles with silvery life. There she sits, her soft
glowing eyes scanning the reposing scene, as her graceful form seems
infusing spirit into its silent loveliness. And then she speaks, as
if whispering a secret to the wafting air: "our happy union!" It
falls upon the ear like some angel voice speaking of things too
pure, too holy for the caprices of earth. She would be a type of
that calmness pervading the scene-that sweetness and repose which
seem mingling to work out some holy purpose; and yet there is a
touching sadness depicted in her face.

"Two years have passed; how changed!" she exclaims, as if rousing
from a reverie: "I would not be surprised if he brought bad
tidings."

The postman has reached the gate and delivered a letter, which the
servant quickly bears to her hand. She grasps it anxiously, as if
recognising the superscription; opens it nervously; reads the
contents. It is from Franconia, interceding with her in behalf of
her uncle and the two children, in the following manner:--"My
dearest Friend,

"Can I appeal to one whose feelings are more ready to be enlisted in
a good cause? I think not. I wish now to enlist your feelings in
something that concerns myself. It is to save two interesting
children-who, though our eyes may at times be blinded to facts, I
cannot forget are nearly allied to me by birth and association-from
the grasp of slavery. Misfortune never comes alone; nor, in this
instance, need I recount ours to you. Of my own I will say but
little; the least is best. Into wedlock I have been sold to one it
were impossible for me to love; he cannot cherish the respect due to
my feelings. His associations are of the coarsest, and his heartless
treatment beyond my endurance. He subjects me to the meanest
grievances; makes my position more degraded than that of the slave
upon whom he gratifies his lusts. Had my parents saved me from such
a monster-I cannot call him less-they would have saved me many a
painful reflection. As for his riches-I know not whether they really
exist-they are destined only to serve his lowest passions. With him
misfortune is a crime; and I am made to suffer under his taunts
about the disappearance of my brother, the poverty of my parents.

"You are well aware of the verdict of the jury, and the affirmation
of the Court of Appeal, upon those dear children. The decree orders
them to be sold in the market, for the benefit of my uncle's
creditors: this is the day, the fatal day, the sale takes place. Let
me beseech of you, as you have it in your power, to induce the
deacon to purchase them. O, save them from the fate that awaits
them! You know my uncle's errors; you know also his goodness of
heart; you can sympathise with him in his sudden downfall. Then the
affection he has for Annette is unbounded. No father could be more
dotingly fond of his legitimate child. But you know what our laws
are-what they force us to do against our better inclinations.
Annette's mother, poor wretch, has fled, and M'Carstrow charges me
with being accessory to her escape: I cannot, nor will I, deny it,
while my most ardent prayer invokes her future happiness. That she
has saved herself from a life of shame I cannot doubt; and if I have
failed to carry out a promise I made her before her departure-that
of rescuing her child-the satisfaction of knowing that she at least
is enjoying the reward of freedom partially repays my feelings. Let
me entreat you to repair to the city, and, at least, rescue Annette
from that life of shame and disgrace now pending over her-a shame
and disgrace no less black in the sight of heaven because society
tolerates it as among the common things of social life.

"I am now almost heart-broken, and fear it will soon be my lot to be
driven from under the roof of Colonel M'Carstrow, which is no longer
a home, but a mere place of durance to me. It would be needless for
me here to recount his conduct. Were I differently constituted I
might tolerate his abuse, and accept a ruffian's recompense in
consideration of his wealth.

"Go, my dear friend, save that child,

"Is the prayer of your affectionate

"FRANCONIA."

Mrs. Rosebrook reads and re-reads the letter; then heaves a sigh as
she lays it upon the table at her side. As if discussing the matter
in her mind, her face resumes a contemplative seriousness.

"And those children are to be sold in the market! Who won't they
sell, and sanctify the act? How can I relieve them? how can I be
their friend, for Franconia's sake? My husband is away on the
plantation, and I cannot brave the coarse slang of a slave mart; I
cannot mingle with those who there congregate.

"And, too, there are so many such cases-bearing on their front the
fallacy of this our democracy-that however much one may have claims
over another, it were impossible to take one into consideration
without inciting a hundred to press their demands. In this sense,
then, the whole accursed system would have to be uprooted before the
remedy could be applied effectually. Notwithstanding, I will go; I
will go: I'll see what can be done in the city," says Mrs.
Rosebrook, bristling with animation. "Our ladies must have something
to arouse their energies; they all have a deep interest to serve,
and can do much:" she will summon resolution and brave all. Rising
from her seat, she paces the room several times, and then orders a
servant to command Uncle Bradshaw to get the carriage ready, and be
prepared for a drive into the city.

Soon Bradshaw has got the carriage ready, and our good lady is on
the road, rolling away toward the city. As they approach a curvature
that winds round a wooded hill, Bradshaw intimates to "missus" that
he sees signs of a camp a short distance ahead. He sees smoke
curling upwards among the trees, and very soon the notes of a
long-metre tune fall softly on the ear, like the tinkling of distant
bells in the desert. Louder and louder, as they approach, the sounds
become more and more distinct. Then our good lady recognises the
familiar voice of Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy. This worthy
christian of the Southern Church is straining his musical organ to
its utmost capacity, in the hope there will be no doubt left on the
minds of those congregated around him as to his very sound piety.
The carriage rounds the curvature, and there, encamped in a grove of
pines by the road side, is our pious Elder, administering
consolation to his infirm property. Such people! they present one of
the most grotesque and indiscriminate spectacles ever eyes beheld.
The cholera has subsided; the Elder's greatest harvest time is gone;
few victims are to be found for the Elder's present purposes. Now he
is constrained to resort to the refuse of human property (those
afflicted with what are called ordinary diseases), to keep alive the
Christian motive of his unctuous business. To speak plainly, he must
content himself with the purchase of such infirmity as can be picked
up here and there about the country.

A fire of pine knots blazes in the centre of a mound, and over it
hangs an iron kettle, on a straddle, filled with corn-grits. Around
this, and anxiously watching its boiling, are the lean figures of
negroes, with haggard and sickly faces, telling but too forcibly the
tale of their troubles. They watch and watch, mutter in grumbling
accents, stir the homony, and sit down again. Two large mule carts
stand in the shade of a pine tree, a few yards from the fire. A few
paces further on are the mules tethered, quietly grazing; while,
seated on a whiskey-keg, is the Elder, book in hand, giving out the
hymn to some ten or a dozen infirm negroes seated round him on the
ground. They have enjoyed much consolation by listening with
wondrous astonishment to the Elder's exhortations, and are now ready
to join their musical jargon to the words of a Watts's hymn.

On arriving opposite the spot, our good lady requests Bradshaw to
stop; which done, the Elder recognises her, and suddenly adjourning
his spiritual exercises, advances to meet her, his emotions
expanding with enthusiastic joy. In his eagerness, with outstretched
hand, he comes sailing along, trips his toe in a vine, and plunges
head foremost into a broad ditch that separates the road from the
rising ground.

The accident is very unfortunate at this moment; the Elder's
enthusiasm is somewhat cooled, nevertheless; but, as there is seldom
a large loss without a small gain, he finds himself strangely
bespattered from head to foot with the ingredients of a quagmire.

"U'h! u'h! u'h! my dear madam, pardon me, I pray;--strange moment to
meet with a misfortune of this kind. But I was so glad to see you!"
he ejaculates, sensitively, making the best of his way out, brushing
his sleeves, and wiping his face with his never-failing India
handkerchief. He approaches the carriage, apologising for his
appearance.

He hopes our lady will excuse him, having so far lost himself in his
enthusiasm, which, together with the fervency and devotion of the
spiritual exercises he was enjoying with his poor, helpless
property, made him quite careless of himself. Begging a thousand
pardons for presenting himself in such a predicament (his gallantry
is proverbially southern), he forgets that his hat and spectacles
have been dislodged by his precipitation into the ditch.

The good lady reaches out her hand, as a smile curls over her face;
but Bradshaw must grin; and grin he does, in right good earnest.

"Bless me, my dear Elder! what trade are you now engaged in?" she
enquires.

"A little devotional exercises, my dear madam! We were enjoying them
with so much christian feeling that I was quite carried away, indeed
I was!" He rubs his fingers through his bristly hair, and then
downwards to his nasal organ, feeling for his devoted glasses. He is
surprised at their absence-makes another apology. He affirms, adding
his sacred honour, as all real southerners do, that he had begun to
feel justified in the belief that there never was a religion like
that preached by the good apostles, when such rural spots as this
(he points to his encampment) were chosen for its administration.
Everything round him made him feel so good, so much like the purest
christian of the olden time. He tells her, with great seriousness,
that we must serve God, and not forget poor human nature, never! To
the world he would seem labouring under the influence of those inert
convictions by which we strive to conceal our natural inclinations,
while drawing the flimsy curtain of "to do good" over the real
object.

He winks and blinks, rubs his eyes, works his face into all the
angles and contortions it is capable of, and commences searching for
his hat and spectacles. Both are necessary adjuncts to his pious
appearance; without them there is that in the expression of his
countenance from which none can fail to draw an unfavourable opinion
of his real character. The haggard, care-worn face, browned to the
darkest tropical tints; the ceaseless leer of that small, piercing
eye, anxiety and agitation pervading the tout ensemble of the man,
will not be dissembled. Nay; those acute promontories of the face,
narrow and sharp, and that low, reclining forehead, and head covered
with bristly iron-grey hair, standing erect in rugged tufts, are too
strong an index of character for all the disguises Elder Pemberton
Praiseworthy can invent.

"One minute, my dear madam," he exclaims, in his eagerness for the
lost ornaments of his face.

"Never mind them, Elder; never mind them! In my eyes you are just as
well without them," she rejoins, an ironical smile invading her
countenance, and a curl of contempt on her lip. "But,--tell me what
are you doing here?"

"Here! my dear madam? Doing good for mankind and the truth of
religion. I claim merit of the parish, for my pursuit is laudable,
and saves the parish much trouble," says the Elder, beginning to wax
warm in the goodness of his pursuit, before anyone has undertaken to
dispute him, or question the purity of his purpose.

"Still speculating in infirmity; making a resurrection man of
yourself! You are death's strongest opponent; you fight the great
slayer for small dollars and cents."

"Well, now," interrupts the Elder, with a serious smile, "I'd rather
face a Mexican army than a woman's insinuating questions,--in matters
of this kind! But it's business, ye see! according to law; and ye
can't get over that. There's no getting over the law; and he that
serveth the Lord, no matter how, deserveth recompense; my recompense
is in the amount of life I saves for the nigger."

"That is not what I asked; you evade my questions, Elder! better
acknowledge honestly, for the sake of the country, where did you
pick up these poor wretches?"

"I goes round the district, madam, and picks up a cripple here, and
a cancer case there, and a dropsy doubtful yonder; and then, some on
em's got diseases what don't get out until one comes to apply
medical skill. Shan't make much on these sort o' cases,--"

The lady interrupts him, by bidding him good morning, and advising
him, whenever he affects to serve the Lord, to serve him honestly,
without a selfish motive. She leaves the Elder to his own
reflections, to carry his victim property to his charnel-house,
where, if he save life for the enjoyment of liberty, he may serve
the Lord to a good purpose. She leaves him to the care of the
christian church of the South,--the church of christian slavery, the
rules of which he so strictly follows.

As our good lady moves quickly away toward the city, the Elder looks
up, imploringly, as if invoking the praise of heaven on his good
deeds. He is, indeed, astonished, that his dear friend, the lady,
should have made such a declaration so closely applied, so
insinuating. That such should have escaped her lips when she must
know that his very soul and intention are purity! "I never felt like
making a wish before now; and now I wishes I was, or that my father
had made me, a lawyer. I would defend my position in a legal sense
then! I don't like lawyers generally, I confess; the profession's
not as honourable as ours, and its members are a set of sharpers,
who would upset gospel and everything else for a small fee, they
would!" He concludes, as his eyes regrettingly wander after the
carriage. The words have moved him; there is something he wishes to
say, but can't just get the point he would arrive at. He turns away,
sad at heart, to his sadder scenes. "I know that my Redeemer
liveth," he sings.

In the city a different piece is in progress of performance. Papers,
and all necessary preparations for procuring the smooth transfer of
the youthful property, are completed; customers have begun to gather
round the mart. Some are searching among the negroes sent to the
warehouse; others are inquiring where this property, advertised in
the morning journals, and so strongly commented upon, may be found.
They have been incited to examine, in consequence of the many
attractions set forth in the conditions of sale.

There the two children sit, on a little seat near the vender's
tribune. Old Aunt Dina, at the prison, has dressed Annette so
neatly! Her white pinafore shines so brightly, is so neatly
arranged, and her silky auburn locks curl so prettily, in tiny
ringlets, over her shoulders; and then her round fair face looks so
sweetly, glows with such innocent curiosity, as her soft blue eyes,
deep with sparkling vivacity, wander over the strange scene. She
instinctively feels that she is the special object of some important
event. Laying her little hand gently upon the arm of an old slave
that sits by her side, she casts shy glances at those admirers who
stand round her and view her as a marketable article only.

"Auntie, where are they going to take me?" the child inquires, with
a solicitous look, as she straightens the folds of her dress with
her little hands.

"Gwine t' sell 'um," mumbles the old slave. "Lor', child, a'h wishes
ye wa'h mine; reckon da'h wouldn't sell ye. T'ant much to sell
nigger like I, nohow; but e' hurt my feelins just so 'twarnt right
t' sell de likes o' ye." The old slave, in return, lays her hand
upon Annette's head, and smooths her hair, as if solicitous of her
fate. "Sell ye, child-sell ye?" she concludes, shaking her head.

"And what will they do with me and Nicholas when they get us sold?"
continues the child, turning to Nicholas and taking him by the arm.

"Don' kno': perhaps save ye fo'h sinnin' agin de Lor'," is the old
slave's quick reply. She shakes her head doubtingly, and bursts into
tears, as she takes Annette in her arms, presses her to her bosom,
kisses and kisses her pure cheek. How heavenly is the affection of
that old slave--how it rebukes our Christian mockery!

"Will they sell us where we can't see mother, auntie? I do want to
see mother so," says the child, looking up in the old slave's face.
There seemed something too pure, too holy, in the child's
simplicity, as it prattled about its mother, for such purposes as it
is about to be consigned to. "They do not sell white folks, auntie,
do they? My face is as white as anybody's; and Nicholas's aint
black. I do want to see mother so! when will she come back and take
care of me, auntie?"

"Lor', child," interrupts the old negro, suppressing her emotions,
"no use to ax dem questions ven ye gwine t' market. Buckra right
smart at makin' nigger what bring cash."

The child expresses a wish that auntie would take her back to the
old plantation, where master, as mother used to call him, wouldn't
let them sell her away off. And she shakes her head with an air of
unconscious pertness; tells the old negro not to cry for her.

The cryer's bell sounds forth its muddling peals to summon the
customers; a grotesque mixture of men close round the stand. The old
slave, as if from instinct, again takes Annette in her arms, presses
and presses her to her bosom, looks compassionately in her face, and
smiles while a tear glistens in her eyes. She is inspired by the
beauty of the child; her heart bounds with affection for her tender
years; she loves her because she is lovely; and she smiles upon her
as a beautiful image of God's creation. But the old slave grieves
over her fate; her grief flows from the purity of the heart; she
knows not the rules of the slave church.

Annette is born a child of sorrow in this our land of love and
liberty; she is a democrat's daughter, cursed by the inconsistencies
of that ever-praised democratic goodness. A child! nothing more than
an item of common trade. It is even so; but let not happy democracy
blush, for the child, being merchandise, has no claims to that law
of the soul which looks above the frigidity of slave statutes. What
generosity is there in this generous land? what impulses of nature
not quenched by force of public opinion, when the associations of a
child like this (we are picturing a true story), her birth and
blood, her clear complexion, the bright carnatic of her cheek, will
not save her from the mercenary grasp of dollars and cents? It was
the law; the law had made men demons, craving the bodies and souls
of their fellow men. It was the white man's charge to protect the
law and the constitution; and any manifestation of sympathy for this
child would be in violation of a system which cannot be ameliorated
without endangering the whole structure: hence the comments escaping
from purchasers are only such as might have been expressed by the
sporting man in his admiration of a finely proportioned animal.

"What a sweet child!" says one, as they close round.

"Make a woman when she grows up!" rejoins another, twirling his
cane, and giving his hat an extra set on the side of his head.

"Take too long to keep it afore its valuable is developed; but it's
a picture of beauty. Face would do to take drawings from, it's so
full of delicate outlines," interposes a third.

An old gentleman, with something of the ministerial in his
countenance, and who has been very earnestly watching them for some
time, thinks a great deal about the subject of slavery, and the
strange laws by which it is governed just at this moment. He says,
"One is inspired with a sort of admiration that unlocks the heart,
while gazing at such delicacy and child-like sweetness as is
expressed in the face of that child." He points his cane coldly at
Annette. "It causes a sort of reaction in one's sense of right,
socially and politically, when we see it mixed up with niggers and
black ruffians to be sold."

"Must abide the laws, though," says a gentleman in black, on his
left.

"Yes," returns our friend, quickly, "if such property could be saved
the hands of speculators"--

"Speculators! speculators!" rejoins the gentleman in black, knitting
his brows.

"Yes; it's always the case in our society. The beauty of such
property makes it dangerous about a well-ordained man's house. Our
ladies, generally, have no sympathy with, and rather dislike its
ill-gotten tendencies. The piety of the south amounts to but little
in its influence on the slave population. The slave population
generates its own piety. There is black piety and white piety; but
the white piety effects little when it can dispose of poor black
piety just as it pleases; and there's no use in clipping the
branches off the tree while the root is diseased," concludes our
ministerial-looking gentleman, who might have been persuaded himself
to advance a bid, were he not so well versed in the tenour of
society that surrounded him.

During the above ad interim at the shambles, our good lady, Mrs.
Rosebrook, is straining every nerve to induce a gentleman of her
acquaintance to repair to the mart, and purchase the children on her
account.






CHAPTER XXVIII.

NATURE SHAMES ITSELF.





MRS. ROSEBROOK sits in Mrs. Pringle's parlour. Mrs. Pringle is
thought well of in the city of Charleston, where she resides, and
has done something towards establishing a church union for the
protection of orphan females. They must, however, be purely white,
and without slave or base blood in their veins, to entitle them to
admittance into its charitable precincts. This is upon the principle
that slave blood is not acceptable in the sight of Heaven; and that
allowing its admittance into this charitable earthly union would
only be a sad waste of time and Christian love. Mrs. Pringle,
however, feels a little softened to the good cause, and does hope
Mrs. Rosebrook may succeed at least in rescuing the little girl. She
has counselled Mr. Seabrook, commonly called Colonel Seabrook, a
very distinguished gentleman, who has a very distinguished opinion
of himself, having studied law to distinguish himself, and now and
then merely practises it for his own amusement. Mr. Seabrook never
gives an opinion, nor acts for his friends, unless every thing he
does be considered distinguished, and gratuitously rendered.

"What will you do with such property, madam?" inquires the
gentleman, having listened profoundly to her request.

"To save them from being sold into the hands of such men as Graspum
and Romescos; it's the only motive I have" she speaks, gently: "I
love the child; and her mother still loves her: I am a mother."

"Remember, my dear lady, they are adjudged property by law; and all
that you can do for them won't save them, nor change the odour of
negro with which it has stamped them."

"Of that I am already too well aware, Mr. Seabrook; and I know, too,
when once enslaved, how hard it is to unslave. Public sentiment is
the worst slave we have; unslave that, and the righteousness of
heaven will give us hearts to save ourselves from the
unrighteousness of our laws.

"Go, Mr. Seabrook, purchase the children for me, and you will soon
see what ornaments of society I will make them!"

"Ornaments to our society!" interrupts Mr. Seabrook, pausing for a
moment, as he places the fore-finger of his right hand upon his
upper lip. "That would be a pretty consummation-at the south! Make
ornaments of our society!" Mr. Seabrook turns the matter over and
over and over in his mind. "Of such things as have been pronounced
property by law! A pretty fix it would get our society into!" he
rejoins, with emphasis. Mr. Seabrook shakes his head doubtingly, and
then, taking three or four strides across the room, his hands well
down in his nether pockets, relieves himself of his positive
opinion. "Ah! ah! hem! my dear madam," he says, "if you undertake
the purchase of all that delicate kind of property-I mean the amount
total, as it is mixed up-your head'll grow grey afore you get all
the bills of sale paid up,--my word for it! That's my undisguised
opinion, backed up by all the pale-faced property about the city."

"We will omit the opinion, Mr. Seabrook; such have kept our society
where it now is. I am resolved to have those children. If you
hesitate to act for me, I'll brave-"

"Don't say that, my dear lady. Let me remind you that it ill becomes
a lady of the south to be seen at a slave-mart; more especially when
such delicate property is for sale. Persons might be present who did
not understand your motive, and would not only make rude advances,
but question the propriety of your proceedings. You would lose
caste, most surely."

Mrs. Rosebrook cares little for Mr. Seabrook's very learned opinion,
knowing that learned opinions are not always the most sensible ones,
and is seen arranging her bonnet hastily in a manner betokening her
intention to make a bold front of it at the slave-mart. This is
rather too much for Mr. Seabrook, who sets great value on his
chivalrous virtues, and fearing they may suffer in the esteem of the
softer sex, suddenly proffers his kind interposition, becomes
extremely courteous, begs she will remain quiet, assuring her that
no stone that can further her wishes shall be left unturned. Mr.
Seabrook (frequently called the gallant colonel) makes one of his
very best bows, adjusts his hat with exquisite grace, and leaves to
exercise the wisest judgment and strictest faith at the man-market.

"Such matters are exceedingly annoying to gentlemen of my standing,"
says Mr. Seabrook, as deliberately he proceeds to the fulfilment of
his promise. He is a methodical gentleman, and having weighed the
matter well over in his legal mind, is deeply indebted to it for the
conclusion that Mrs. Rosebrook has got a very unsystematised
crotchet into her brain. "The exhibition of sympathy for
'niggers'-they're nothing else" says Mr. Seabrook-"much adds to that
popular prejudice which is already placing her in an extremely
delicate position." He will call to his aid some very nice legal
tact, and by that never-failing unction satisfy the good lady.

When Mr. Seabrook enters the mart (our readers will remember that we
have already described it) he finds the children undergoing a very
minute examination at the hands of several slave-dealers. As Mr.
Forshou, the very polite man-seller, is despatching the rougher
quality of human merchandise, our hero advances to the children,
about whose father he asks them unanswerable questions. How
interesting the children look!-how like a picture of beauty
Annette's cherub face glows forth! Being seriously concerned about
the child, his countenance wears an air of deep thought. "Colonel,
what's your legal opinion of such pretty property?" enquires
Romescos, who advances to Mr. Seabrook, and, after a minute's
hesitation, takes the little girl in his arms, rudely kissing her as
she presses his face from her with her left hand, and poutingly
wipes her mouth with her right.

"Pretty as a picture"-Romescos has set the child down-"but I
wouldn't give seven coppers for both; for, by my faith, such
property never does well." The gentleman shakes his head in return.
"It's a pity they're made it out nigger, though,--it's so handsome.
Sweet little creature, that child, I declare: her beauty would be
worth a fortune on the stage, when she grows up."

Romescos touches Mr. Seabrook on the arm; remarks that such things
are only good for certain purposes; although one can make them pay
if they know how to trade in them. But it wants a man with a capable
conscience to do the business up profitably. "No chance o' your
biddin' on 'um, is there, colonel?" he enquires, with a significant
leer, folding his arms with the indifference of a field-marshal.
After a few minutes' pause, during which Mr. Seabrook seems
manufacturing an answer, he shrugs his shoulders, and takes a few
pleasing steps, as if moved to a waltzing humour. "Don't scare up
the like o' that gal-nigger every day," he adds. Again, as if moved
by some sudden idea, he approaches Annette, and placing his hand on
her head, continues: "If this ain't tumbling down a man's affairs by
the run! Why, colonel, 'taint more nor three years since old Hugh
Marston war looked on as the tallest planter on the Ashley; and he
thought just as much o' these young 'uns as if their mother had
belonged to one of the first families. Now-I pity the poor
fellow!-because he tried to save 'em from being sold as slaves,
they-his creditors-think he has got more property stowed away
somewhere. They're going to cell him, just to try his talent at
putting away things."

The "prime fellows" and wenches of the darker and coarser quality
have all been disposed of; and the vender (the same gentlemanly man
we have described selling Marston's undisputed property) now orders
the children to be brought forward. Romescos, eagerly seizing them
by the arms, brings them forward through the crowd, places them upon
the stand, before the eager gaze of those assembled. Strangely
placed upon the strange block, the spectators close in again,
anxious to gain the best position for inspection: but little
children cannot stand the gaze of such an assemblage: no; Annette
turns toward Nicholas, and with a childish embrace throws her tiny
arms about his neck, buries her face on his bosom. The child of
misfortune seeks shelter from that shame of her condition, the
evidence of which is strengthened by the eager glances of those who
stand round the shambles, ready to purchase her fate. Even the
vender,--distinguished gentleman that he is, and very respectably
allied by marriage to one of the "first families,"-is moved with a
strange sense of wrong at finding himself in a position somewhat
repugnant to his feelings. He cannot suppress a blush that indicates
an innate sense of shame.

"Here they are, gentlemen! let no man say I have not done my duty.
You have, surely, all seen the pedigree of these children set forth
in the morning papers; and, now that you have them before you, the
living specimen of their beauty will fully authenticate anything
therein set forth," the vender exclaims, affecting an appearance in
keeping with his trade. Notwithstanding this, there is a faltering
nervousness in his manner, betraying all his efforts at
dissimulation. He reads the invoice of human property to the
listening crowd, dilates on its specific qualities with powers of
elucidation that would do credit to any member of the learned
profession. This opinion is confirmed by Romescos, the associations
of whose trade have gained for him a very intimate acquaintance with
numerous gentlemen of that very honourable profession.

"Now, gentlemen," continues the vender, "the honourable high sheriff
is anxious, and so am I-and it's no more than a feelin' of deserving
humanity, which every southern gentleman is proud to exercise-that
these children be sold to good, kind, and respectable owners; and
that they do not fall into the hands, as is generally the case, of
men who raise them up for infamous purposes. Gentlemen, I am
decidedly opposed to making licentiousness a means of profit."

"That neither means you nor me," mutters Romescos, touching Mr.
Seabrook on the arm, shaking his head knowingly, and stepping aside
to Graspum, in whose ear he whispers a word. The very distinguished
Mr. Graspum has been intently listening to the outpouring of the
vender's simplicity. What sublime nonsense it seems to him! He
suggests that it would be much more effectual if it came from the
pulpit,--the southern pulpit!

"Better sell 'um to some deacon's family," mutters a voice in the
crowd.

"That's precisely what we should like, gentlemen; any bidder of that
description would get them on more favourable terms than a trader,
he would," he returns, quickly. The man of feeling, now wealthy from
the sale of human beings, hopes gentlemen will pardon his
nervousness on this occasion. He never felt the delicacy of his
profession so forcibly-never, until now! His countenance changes
with the emotions of his heart; he blushes as he looks upon the
human invoice, glances slily over the corner at the children, and
again at his customers. The culminating point of his profession has
arrived; its unholy character is making war upon his better
feelings. "I am not speaking ironically, gentlemen: any bidder of
the description I have named will get these children at a
satisfactory figure. Remember that, and that I am only acting in my
office for the honourable sheriff and the creditors," he concludes.

"If that be the case," Mr. Seabrook thinks to himself, "it's quite
as well. Our good lady friend will be fully satisfied. She only
wants to see them in good hands: deacons are just the fellows." He
very politely steps aside, lights his choice habanero, and sends
forth its curling fumes as the bidding goes on.

A person having the appearance of a country gentleman, who has been
some time watching the proceedings, is seen to approach Graspum:
this dignitary whispers something in his ear, and he leaves the
mart.

"I say, squire!" exclaims Romescos, addressing himself to the
auctioneer, "do you assume the responsibility of making special
purchasers? perhaps you had better keep an eye to the law and the
creditors, you had!" (Romescos's little red face fires with
excitement.) "No objection t' yer sellin' the gal to deacons and
elders,--even to old Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy, who's always
singing, 'I know that my Redeemer cometh!' But the statutes give me
just as good a right to buy her, as any first-class deacon. I knows
law, and got lots o' lawyer friends."

"The issue is painful enough, without any interposition from you, my
friend," rejoins the vender, interrupting Romescos in his
conversation. After a few minutes pause, during which time he has
been watching the faces of his customers, he adds: "Perhaps, seeing
how well mated they are, gentlemen will not let them be separated.
They have been raised together."

"Certainly!" again interrupts Romescos, "it would be a pity to
separate them, 'cos it might touch somebody's heart."

"Ah, that comes from Romescos; we may judge of its motive as we
please," rejoins the man of feeling, taking Annette by the arm and
leading her to the extreme edge of the stand. "Make us a bid,
gentlemen, for the pair. I can see in the looks of my customers that
nobody will be so hard-hearted as to separate them. What do you
offer? say it! Start them; don't be bashful, gentlemen!"

"Rather cool for a hard-faced nigger-seller! Well, squire, say four
hundred dollars and the treats,--that is, sposin' ye don't double my
bid cos I isn't a deacon. Wants the boy t' make a general on when he
grows up; don't want the gal at all. Let the deacon here (he points
to the man who was seen whispering to Graspum) have her, if he
wants." The deacon, as Romescos calls him, edges his way through the
crowd up to the stand, and looks first at the vender and then at the
children. Turning his head aside, as if it may catch the ears of
several bystanders, Romescos whispers, "That's deacon Staggers, from
Pineville."

"Like your bid; but I'm frank enough to say I don't want you to have
them, Romescos," interposes the auctioneer, with a smile.

"Four hundred and fifty dollars!" is sounded by a second bidder. The
vender enquires, "For the two?"

"Yes! the pair on 'em," is the quick reply.

"Four hundred and fifty dollars!" re-echoes the man of feeling.
"What good democrats you are! Why, gentlemen, it's not half the
value of them. You must look upon this property in a social light;
then you will see its immense value. It's intelligent, civil, and
promisingly handsome; sold for no fault, and here you are hesitating
on a small bid.

"Only four hundred and fifty dollars for such property, in this
enlightened nineteenth century!"

"Trade will out, like murder. Squire wouldn't sell 'em to nobody but
a deacon a few minutes ago!" is heard coming from a voice in the
crowd. The vender again pauses, blushes, and contorts his face: he
cannot suppress the zest of his profession; it is uppermost in his
feelings.

Romescos says it is one of the squire's unconscious mistakes. There
is no use of humbugging; why not let them run off to the highest
bidder?

"The deacon has bid upon them; why not continue his advance?" says
Mr. Seabrook, who has been smoking his cigar the while.

"Oh, well! seein' how it's the deacon, I won't stand agin his bid.
It's Deacon Staggers of Pineville; nobody doubts his generosity,"
ejaculates Romescos, in a growling tone. The bids quicken,--soon
reach six hundred dollars.

"Getting up pretty well, gentlemen! You must not estimate this
property upon their age: it's the likeliness and the promise."

"Six hundred and twenty-five!" mutters the strange gentleman they
call Deacon Staggers from Pineville.

"All right," rejoins Romescos; "just the man what ought to have 'em.
I motion every other bidder withdraw in deference to the deacon's
claim," rejoins Romescos, laughing.

The clever vender gets down from the stand, views the young property
from every advantageous angle, dwells upon the bid, makes further
comments on its choiceness, and after considerable bantering, knocks
them down to-"What name, sir?" he enquires, staring at the stranger
vacantly.

"Deacon Staggers," replies the man, with a broad grin. Romescos
motions him aside,--slips a piece of gold into his hand; it is the
price of his pretensions.

The clerk enters his name in the sales book: "Deacon Staggers, of
Pineville, bought May 18th, 18-.

"Two children, very likely: boy, prime child, darkish hair, round
figure, intelligent face, not downcast, and well outlined in limb.
Girl, very pretty, bluish eyes, flaxen hair, very fair and very
delicate. Price 625 dollars. Property of Hugh Marston, and sold per
order of the sheriff of the county, to satisfy two fi fas issued
from the Court of Common Pleas, &c. &c. &c."

An attendant now steps forward, takes the children into his charge,
and leads them away. To where? The reader may surmise to the gaol.
No, reader, not to the gaol; to Marco Graspum's slave-pen,--to that
pent-up hell where the living are tortured unto death, and where
yearning souls are sold to sink!

Thus are the beauties of this our democratic system illustrated in
two innocent children being consigned to the miseries of slave life
because a mother is supposed a slave: a father has acknowledged
them, and yet they are sold before his eyes. It is the majesty of
slave law, before which good men prostrate their love of
independence. Democracy says the majesty of that law must be carried
out; creditors must be satisfied, even though all that is generous
and noble in man should be crushed out, and the rights of free men
consigned to oblivion. A stout arm may yet rise up in a good cause;
democrats may stand ashamed of the inhuman traffic, and seek to
cover its poisoning head with artifices and pretences; but they
write only an obituary for the curse.

"A quaint-faced, good-looking country deacon has bought them. Very
good; I can now go home, and relieve Mrs. Rosebrook's very generous
feelings," says the very distinguished Mr. Seabrook, shrugging his
shoulders, lighting a fresh cigar, and turning toward home with a
deliberate step, full of good tidings.






CHAPTER XXX.

THE VISION OF DEATH HAS PAST.





MR. SEABROOK returns to the mansion, and consoles the anxious lady
by assuring her the children have been saved from the hands of
obnoxious traders-sold to a good, country deacon. He was so
delighted with their appearance that he could not keep from admiring
them, and does not wonder the good lady took so great an interest in
their welfare. He knows the ministerial-looking gentleman who bought
them is a kind master; he has an acute knowledge of human nature,
and judges from his looks. And he will further assure the good lady
that the auctioneer proved himself a gentleman-every inch of him! He
wouldn't take a single bid from a trader, not even from old Graspum
(he dreads to come in contact with such a brute as he is, when he
gets his eye on a good piece o' nigger property), with all his
money. As soon as he heard the name of a deacon among the bidders,
something in his heart forbade his bidding against him.

"You were not as good as your word, Mr. Seabrook," says the good
lady, still holding Mr. Seabrook by the hand. "But, are you sure
there was no disguise about the sale?"

"Not the least, madam!" interrupts Mr. Seabrook, emphatically.
"Bless me, madam, our people are too sensitive not to detect
anything of that kind; and too generous to allow it if they did
discover it. The children-my heart feels for them-are in the very
best hands; will be brought up just as pious and morally. Can't go
astray in the hands of a deacon-that's certain!" Mr. Seabrook rubs
his hands, twists his fingers in various ways, and gives utterance
to words of consolation, most blandly. The anxious lady seems
disappointed, but is forced to accept the assurance.

We need scarcely tell the reader how intentionally Mr. Seabrook
contented himself with the deception practised at the mart, nor with
what freedom he made use of that blandest essence of southern
assurance,--extreme politeness, to deceive the lady. She, however,
had long been laudably engaged in behalf of a down-trodden race; and
her knowledge of the secret workings of an institution which could
only cover its monstrosity with sophistry and fraud impressed her
with the idea of some deception having been practised. She well knew
that Mr. Seabrook was one of those very contented gentlemen who have
strong faith in the present, and are willing to sacrifice the
future, if peace and plenty be secured to their hands. He had many
times been known to listen to the advice of his confidential slaves,
and even to yield to their caprices. And, too, he had been known to
decry the ill-treatment of slaves by brutal and inconsiderate
masters; but he never thinks it worth while to go beyond expressing
a sort of rain-water sympathy for the maltreated. With those traits
most prominent in his character, Annette and Nicholas were to him
mere merchandise; and whatever claims to freedom they might have,
through the acknowledgments of a father, he could give them no
consideration, inasmuch as the law was paramount, and the great
conservator of the south.

Our worthy benefactress felt the force of the above, in his
reluctance to execute her commands, and the manner in which he
faltered when questioned about the purchase. Returning to her home,
weighing the circumstances, she resolves to devise some method of
ascertaining the true position of the children. "Women are not to be
outdone," she says to herself.

We must again beg the reader's indulgence while accompanying us in a
retrograde necessary to the connection of our narrative. When we
left Mr. M'Fadden at the crossing, more than two years ago, he was
labouring under the excitement of a wound he greatly feared would
close the account of his mortal speculations.

On the morning following that great political gathering, and during
the night Harry had so singularly disappeared, the tavern was rife
with conjectures. On the piazza and about the "bar-room" were a few
stupefied and half-insensible figures stretched upon benches, or
reclining in chairs, their coarse garments rent into tatters, and
their besotted faces resembling as many florid masks grouped
together to represent some demoniacal scene among the infernals;
others were sleeping soundly beside the tables, or on the lawn. With
filthy limbs bared, they snored with painful discord, in superlative
contempt of everything around. Another party, reeking with the fumes
of that poisonous drug upon which candidates for a people's favours
had built their high expectations, were leaning carelessly against
the rude counter of the "bar-room," casting wistful glances at the
fascinating bottles so securely locked within the lattice-work in
the corner. Oaths of touching horror are mingling with loud calls
for slave attendants, whose presence they wait to quench their
burning thirst. Reader! digest the moral. In this human menagerie-in
this sink of besotted degradation-lay the nucleus of a power by
which the greatest interests of state are controlled.

A bedusted party of mounted men have returned from a second
ineffectual attempt to recover the lost preacher: the appearance of
responsibility haunts mine host. He assured Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden
that his property would be perfectly secure under the lock of the
corn-shed. And now his anxiety exhibits itself in the readiness
with which he supplies dogs, horses, guns, and such implements as
are necessary to hunt down an unfortunate minister of the gospel.
What makes the whole thing worse, was the report of M'Fadden having
had a good sleep and awaking much more comfortable; that there was
little chance of the fortunate issue of his death. In this, mine
host saw the liability increasing two-fold.

He stands his important person, (hat off, face red with expectancy,
and hands thrust well down into his breeches pocket), on the top
step of the stairs leading to the veranda, and hears the
unfavourable report with sad discomfiture. "That's what comes of
making a preacher of a slave! Well! I've done all I can. It puts all
kinds of deviltry about runnin' away into their heads," he ventures
to assert, as he turns away, re-enters the "bar-room," and invites
all his friends to drink at his expense.

"Mark what I say, now, Squire Jones. The quickest way to catch that
ar' nigger 's just to lay low and keep whist. He's a pious nigger;
and a nigger can't keep his pious a'tween his teeth, no more nor a
blackbird can his chattering. The feller 'll feel as if he wants to
redeem somebody; and seeing how 'tis so, if ye just watch close some
Sunday ye'll nab the fellow with his own pious bait. Can catch a
pious runaway nigger 'most any time; the brute never knows enough to
keep it to himself," says a flashily dressed gentleman, as he leaned
against the counter, squinted his eye with an air of ponderous
satisfaction, and twirled his tumbler round and round on the
counter. "'Pears to me," he continues, quizzically, "Squire, you've
got a lot o' mixed cracker material here, what it'll be hard to
manufactor to make dependable voters on, 'lection day:" he casts a
look at the medley of sleepers.

"I wish the whole pack on 'em was sold into slavery, I do! They form
six-tenths of the voters in our state, and are more ignorant, and a
great deal worse citizens, than our slaves. Bl-'em, there is'nt one
in fifty can read or write, and they're impudenter than the
Governor."

"Hush! hush! squire. 'Twon't do to talk so. There ain't men nowhere
stand on dignity like them fellers; they are the very
bone-and-siners of the unwashed, hard-fisted democracy. The way
they'd pull this old tavern down, if they heard reflections on their
honour, would be a caution to storms. But how's old iron-sided
M'Fadden this morning? Begins to think of his niggers, I reckon,"
interrupts the gentleman; to which mine host shakes his head,
despondingly. Mine host wishes M'Fadden, nigger, candidates and all,
a very long distance from his place.

"I s'pose he thinks old Death, with his grim visage, ain't going to
call for him just now. That's ollers the way with northerners, who
lives atween the hope of something above, and the love of makin'
money below: they never feel bad about the conscience, until old
Davy Jones, Esq., the gentleman with the horns and tail, takes them
by the nose, and says-'come!'"

"I have struck an idea," says our worthy host, suddenly striking his
hand on the counter. "I will put up a poster. I will offer a big
reward. T'other property's all safe; there's only the preacher
missing."

"Just the strike! Give us yer hand, squire!" The gentleman reaches
his hand across the counter, and smiles, while cordially embracing
mine host. "Make the reward about two hundred, so I can make a good
week's work for the dogs and me. Got the best pack in the parish;
one on 'em knows as much as most clergymen, he does!" he very
deliberately concludes, displaying a wonderful opinion of his own
nigger-catching philosophy.

And Mr. Jones, such is mine host's name, immediately commenced
exercising his skill in composition on a large, poster, which with a
good hour's labour he completes, and posts upon the ceiling of the
"bar-room," just below an enormously illustrated Circus bill.

"There! now's a chance of some enterprise and some sense. There's a
deuced nice sum to be made at that!" says Mr. Jones, emphatically,
as he stands a few steps back, and reads aloud the following sublime
outline of his genius:--

"GREAT INDUCEMENT FOR SPORTSMEN. Two Hundred Dollars Reward.

"The above reward will be given anybody for the apprehension of the
nigger-boy, Harry, the property of Mr. M'Fadden. Said Harry
suddenly disappeared from these premises last night, while his
master was supposed to be dying. The boy's a well-developed nigger,
'ant sassy, got fine bold head and round face, and intelligent eye,
and 's about five feet eleven inches high, and equally proportionate
elsewhere. He's much giv'n to preachin', and most likely is secreted
in some of the surrounding swamps, where he will remain until
tempted to make his appearance on some plantation for the purpose of
exortin his feller niggers. He is well disposed, and is said to have
a good disposition, so that no person need fear to approach him for
capture. The above reward will be paid upon his delivery at any gaol
in the State, and a hundred and fifty dollars if delivered at any
gaol out of the State.

"JETHRO JONES."

"Just the instrument to bring him, Jethro!" intimates our
fashionable gent, quizzically, as he stands a few feet behind Mr.
Jones, making grimaces. Then, gazing intently at the bill for some
minutes, he runs his hands deep into his pockets, affects an air of
greatest satisfaction, and commences whistling a tune to aid in
suppressing a smile that is invading his countenance. "Wouldn't be
in that nigger's skin for a thousand or more dollars, I wouldn't!"
he continues, screeching in the loudest manner, and then shaking,
kicking, and rousing the half-animate occupants of the floor and
benches. "Come! get up here! Prize money ahead! Fine fun for a week.
Prize money ahead! wake up, ye jolly sleepers, loyal citizens,
independent voters-wake up, I say. Here's fun and frolic, plenty of
whiskey, and two hundred dollars reward for every mother's son of ye
what wants to hunt a nigger; and he's a preachin nigger at that!
Come; whose in for the frolic, ye hard-faced democracy that love to
vote for your country's good and a good cause?" After exerting
himself for some time, they begin to scramble up like so many
bewildered spectres of blackness, troubled to get light through the
means of their blurred faculties.

"Who's dragging the life out o' me?" exclaims one, straining his
mottled eyes, extending his wearied limbs, gasping as if for breath;
then staggering to the counter. Finally, after much struggling,
staggering, expressing consternation, obscene jeering, blasphemous
oaths and filthy slang, they stand upright, and huddle around the
notice. The picture presented by their ragged garments, their
woebegone faces, and their drenched faculties, would, indeed, be
difficult to transfer to canvas.

"Now, stare! stare! with all yer fire-stained eyes, ye clan of
motley vagrants-ye sovereign citizens of a sovereign state. Two
hundred dollars! aye, two hundred dollars for ye. Make plenty o'
work for yer dogs; knowin brutes they are. And ye'll get whiskey
enough to last the whole district more nor a year," says our worthy
Jones, standing before them, and pointing his finger at the notice.
They, as if doubting their own perceptibilities, draw nearer and
nearer, straining their eyes, while their bodies oscillate against
each other.

Mine host tells them to consider the matter, and be prepared for
action, while he will proceed to M'Fadden's chamber and learn the
state of his health.

He opens the sick man's chamber, and there, to his surprise, is the
invalid gentleman, deliberately taking his tea and toast. Mine host
congratulates him upon his appearance, extends his hand, takes a
seat by his bed-side. "I had fearful apprehensions about you, my
friend," he says.

"So had I about myself. I thought I was going to slip it in right
earnest. My thoughts and feelins-how they wandered!" M'Fadden raises
his hand to his forehead, and slowly shakes his head. "I would'nt a'
given much for the chances, at one time; but the wound isn't so bad,
after all. My nigger property gets along all straight, I suppose?"
he enquires, coolly, rolling his eyes upwards with a look of serious
reflection. "Boy preacher never returned last night. It's all right,
though, I suppose?" again he enquired, looking mine host right in
the eye, as if he discovered some misgiving. His seriousness soon
begins to give place to anxiety.

"That boy was a bad nigger," says mine host, in a half-whisper; "but
you must not let your property worry you, my friend."

"Bad nigger!" interrupts the invalid. Mine host pauses for a moment,
while M'Fadden sets his eyes upon him with a piercing stare.

"Not been cutting up nigger tricks?" he ejaculates, enquiringly,
about to spring from his couch with his usual nimbleness. Mine host
places his left hand upon his shoulder, and assures him there is no
cause of alarm.

"Tell me if any thing's wrong about my property. Now do,--be candid:"
his eyes roll, anxiously.

"All right-except the preacher; he's run away," mine host answers,
suggesting how much better it will be to take the matter cool, as he
is sure to be captured.

"What! who-how? you don't say! My very choicest piece of property.
Well-well! who will believe in religion, after that? He came to my
sick chamber, the black vagabond did, and prayed as piously as a
white man. And it went right to my heart; and I felt that if I died
it would a' been the means o' savin my soul from all sorts of things
infernal," says the recovering M'Fadden. He, the black preacher, is
only a nigger after all; and his owner will have him back, or he'll
have his black hide-that he will! The sick man makes another effort
to rise, but is calmed into resignation through mine host's further
assurance that the property will be "all right" by the time he gets
well.

"How cunning it was in the black vagrant! I shouldn't be a bit
surprised if he cleared straight for Massachusetts-Massachusetts
hates our State. Her abolitionists will ruin us yet, sure as the
world. We men of the South must do something on a grand scale to
protect our rights and our property. The merchants of the North will
help us; they are all interested in slave labour. Cotton is king;
and cotton can rule, if it will. Cotton can make friendship strong,
and political power great.

"There's my cousin John, ye see; he lives north, but is married to a
woman south. He got her with seventeen mules and twenty-three
niggers. And there's brother Jake's daughter was married to a
planter out south what owns lots o' niggers. And there's good old
uncle Richard; he traded a long time with down south folks, made
heaps a money tradin niggers in a sly way, and never heard a word
said about slavery not being right, that he did'nt get into a deuce
of a fuss, and feel like fightin? Two of Simon Wattler's gals were
married down south, and all the family connections became down-south
in principle. And here's Judge Brooks out here, the very best
down-south Judge on the bench; he come from cousin Ephraim's
neighbourhood, down east. It's just this way things is snarled up
a'tween us and them ar' fellers down New England way. It keeps up
the strength of our peculiar institution, though. And southern
Editors! just look at them; why, Lord love yer soul! two thirds on'
em are imported from down-north way; and they make the very best
southern-principled men. I thought of that last night, when Mr.
Jones with the horns looked as if he would go with him. But, I'll
have that preachin vagrant, I'll have him!" says Mr. M'Fadden,
emphatically, seeming much more at rest about his departing affairs.
As the shadows of death fade from his sight into their proper
distance, worldly figures and property justice resume their wonted
possession of his thoughts.

Again, as if suddenly seized with pain, he contorts his face, and
enquires in a half-whisper--"What if this wound should mortify?
would death follow quickly? I'm dubious yet!"

Mine host approaches nearer his bed-side, takes his hand. M'Fadden,
with much apparent meekness, would know what he thought of his case?

He is assured by the kind gentleman that he is entirely out of
danger-worth a whole parish of dead men. At the same time, mine host
insinuates that he will never do to fight duels until he learns to
die fashionably.

M'Fadden smiles,--remembers how many men have been nearly killed and
yet escaped the undertaker,--seems to have regained strength, and
calls for a glass of whiskey and water. Not too strong! but,
reminding mine host of the excellent quality of his bitters, he
suggests that a little may better his case.

"I didn't mean the wound," resuming his anxiety for the lost
preacher: "I meant the case of the runaway?"

"Oh! oh! bless me! he will forget he is a runaway piece of property
in his anxiousness to put forth his spiritual inclinations. That's
what'll betray the scamp;--nigger will be nigger, you know! They
can't play the lawyer, nohow," mine host replies, with an assurance
of his ability to judge negro character. This is a new idea, coming
like the dew-drops of heaven to relieve his anxiety. The consoling
intelligence makes him feel more comfortable.

The whiskey-and-bitters-most unpoetic drink-is brought to his
bed-side. He tremblingly carries it to his lips, sips and sips;
then, with one gulp, empties the glass. At this moment the pedantic
physician makes his appearance, scents the whiskey, gives a
favourable opinion of its application as a remedy in certain cases.
The prescription is not a bad one. Climate, and such a rusty
constitution as Mr. M'Fadden is blest with, renders a little
stimulant very necessary to keep up the one thing needful-courage!
The patient complains bitterly to the man of pills and powders;
tells a great many things about pains and fears. What a dreadful
thing if the consequence had proved fatal! He further thinks that it
was by the merest act of Providence, in such a desperate affray, he
had not been killed outright. A great many bad visions have haunted
him in his dreams, and he is very desirous of knowing what the man
of salts and senna thinks about the true interpretation of such.
About the time he was dreaming such dreams he was extremely anxious
to know how the spiritual character of slave-holders stood on the
records of heaven, and whether the fact of slave-owning would cause
the insertion of an item in the mortal warrant forming the exception
to a peaceful conclusion with the Father's forgiveness. He felt as
if he would surely die during the night past, and his mind became so
abstracted about what he had done in his life,--what was to come, how
negro property had been treated, how it should be treated,--that,
although he had opinions now and then widely-different, it had left
a problem which would take him all his life-time to solve,--if he
should live ever so long. And, too, there were these poor wretches
accidentally shot down at his side; his feelings couldn't withstand
the ghostly appearance of their corpses as he was carried past them,
perhaps to be buried n the same forlorn grave, the very next day.
All these things reflected their results through the morbidity of
Mr. M'Fadden's mind; but his last observation, showing how slender
is the cord between life and death, proved what was uppermost in his
mind. "You'll allow I'm an honest man? I have great faith in your
opinion, Doctor! And if I have been rather go-ahead with my niggers,
my virtue in business matters can't be sprung," he mutters. The
physician endeavours to calm his anxiety, by telling him he is a
perfect model of goodness,--a just, honest, fearless, and
enterprising planter; and that these attributes of our better nature
constitute such a balance in the scale as will give any gentleman
slaveholder very large claims to that spiritual proficiency
necessary for the world to come.

Mr. M'Fadden acquiesces in the correctness of this remark, but
desires to inform the practitioner what a sad loss he has met with.
He is sure the gentleman will scarcely believe his word when he
tells him what it is. "I saw how ye felt downright affected when
that nigger o' mine prayed with so much that seemed like honesty and
christianity, last night," he says.

"Yes," interrupts the man of medicine, "he was a wonderful nigger
that. I never heard such natural eloquence nor such pathos; he is a
wonder among niggers, he is! Extraordinary fellow for one raised up
on a plantation. Pity, almost, that such a clergyman should be a
slave."

"You don't say so, Doctor, do you? Well! I've lost him just when I
wanted him most."

"He is not dead?" enquires the physician, suddenly interrupting. He
had seen Mr. M'Fadden's courage fail at the approach of death, and
again recover quickly when the distance widened between that monitor
and himself, and could not suppress the smile stealing over his
countenance.

"Dead! no indeed. Worse-he has run away!" Mr. M'Fadden quickly
retorted, clenching his right hand, and scowling. In another minute
he turns back the sheets, and, with returned strength, makes a
successful attempt to sit up in bed. "I don't know whether I'm
better or worse; but I think it would be all right if I warn't
worried so much about the loss of that preacher. I paid a tremendous
sum for him. And the worst of it is, my cousin deacon Stoner, of a
down-east church, holds a mortgage on my nigger stock, and he may
feel streaked when he hears of the loss;" Mr. M'Fadden concludes,
holding his side to the physician, who commences examining the
wound, which the enfeebled man says is very sore and must be dressed
cautiously, so that he may be enabled to get out and see to his
property.

To the great surprise of all, the wound turns out to be merely a
slight cut, with no appearance of inflammation, and every prospect
of being cured through a further application of a very small bit of
dressing plaster.

The physician smiled, mine host smiled; it was impossible to
suppress the risible faculties. The poor invalid is overpowered with
disappointment. His imagination had betrayed him into one of those
desperate, fearful, and indubitable brinks of death, upon which it
seems the first law of nature reminds us what is necessary to die
by. They laughed, and laughed, and laughed, till Mr. M'Fadden
suddenly changed countenance, and said it was no laughing
affair,--such things were not to be trifled with; men should be
thinking of more important matters. And he looked at the wound, run
his fingers over it gently, and rubbed it as if doubting the depth.

"A little more whiskey would'nt hurt me, Doctor?" he enquires,
complacently, looking round the room distrustfully at those who were
enjoying the joke, more at his expense than he held to be in
accordance with strict rules of etiquette.

"I'll admit, my worthy citizen, your case seemed to baffle my skill,
last night," the physician replies, jocosely. "Had I taken your
political enthusiasm into consideration,--and your readiness to
instruct an assemblage in the holy democracy of our south,--and your
hopes of making strong draughts do strong political work, I might
have saved my opiate, and administered to your case more in
accordance with the skilfully administered prescriptions of our
politicians. Notwithstanding, I am glad you are all right, and trust
that whenever you get your enthusiasm fired with bad brandy, or the
candidates' bad whiskey, you will not tax other people's feelings
with your own dying affairs; nor send for a 'nigger' preacher to
redeem your soul, who will run away when he thinks the job
completed."

Mr. M'Fadden seemed not to comprehend the nature of his physician's
language, and after a few minutes pause he must needs enquire about
the weather? if a coroner's inquest has been held over the dead men?
what was its decision? was there any decision at all? and have they
been buried? Satisfied on all these points, he gets up, himself
again, complaining only of a little muddled giddiness about the
head, and a hip so sore that he scarcely could reconcile his mind to
place confidence in it.

"Good by! good by!" says the physician, shaking him by the hand.
"Measure the stimulant carefully; and take good care of dumplin
dep“t No. 1, and you'll be all right very soon. You're a good
democrat, and you'll make as good a stump orator as ever took the
field."

The man of medicine, laughing heartily within himself, descends the
stairs and reaches the bar-room, where are concentrated sundry of
the party we have before described. They make anxious enquiries
about Mr. M'Fadden,--how he seemed to "take it;" did he evince want
of pluck? had he courage enough to fight a duel? and could his vote
be taken afore he died? These, and many other questions of a like
nature, were put to the physician so fast, and with so many
invitations to drink "somethin'," that he gave a sweeping answer by
saying Mac had been more frightened than hurt; that the fear of
death having passed from before his eyes his mind had now centered
on the loss of his nigger preacher-a valuable piece of property that
had cost him no less than fifteen hundred dollars. And the worst of
it was, that the nigger had aggravatingly prayed for him when he
thought he was going to sink out into the arms of father death.

So pressing were the invitations to drink, that our man of medicine
advanced to the counter, like a true gentleman of the south, and
with his glass filled with an aristocratic mixture, made one of his
politest bows, toasted the health of all free citizens, adding his
hope for the success of the favourite candidate.

"Drink it with three cheers, standin'!" shouted a formidably
mustached figure, leaning against the counter with his left hand,
while his right was grasping the jug from which he was attempting in
vain to water his whiskey. To this the physic gentleman bows assent;
and they are given to the very echo. Taking his departure for the
city, as the sounds of cheering die away, he emerged from the front
door, as Mr. M'Fadden, unexpectedly as a ghost rising from the tomb,
made his entrance from the old staircase in the back. The
citizens-for of such is our assembly composed-are astonished and
perplexed. "Such a set of scapegoats as you are!" grumbles out the
debutant, as he stands before them like a disentombed spectre. With
open arms they approach him, congratulate him on his recovery, and
shower upon him many good wishes, and long and strong drinks.

A few drinks more, and our hero is quite satisfied with his welcome.
His desire being intimated, mine host conducts himself to the
corn-shed, where he satisfies himself that his faithful property
(the preacher excepted) is all snugly safe. Happy property in the
hands of a prodigious democrat! happy republicanism that makes
freedom but a privilege! that makes a mockery of itself, and
enslaves the noblest blood of noble freemen! They were happy, the
victims of ignorance, contented with the freedom their country had
given them, bowing beneath the enslaving yoke of justice-boasting
democracy, and ready to be sold and shipped, with an invoice of
freight, at the beckon of an owner.

Mr. M'Fadden questions the people concerning Harry's departure; but
they are as ignorant of his whereabouts as himself. They only
remember that he came to the shed at midnight, whispered some words
of consolation, and of his plain fare gave them to eat;--nothing
more.

"Poor recompense for my goodness!" says Mr. M'Fadden, muttering some
indistinct words as he returns to the tavern, followed by a humorous
negro, making grimaces in satisfaction of "mas'r's" disappointment.
Now friends are gathered together, chuckling in great glee over the
large reward offered for the lost parson, for the capture of which
absconding article they have numerous horses, dogs, confidential
negroes, and a large supply of whiskey, with which very necessary
liquid they will themselves become dogs of one kine. The game to be
played is purely a democratic one; hence the clansmen are ready to
loosen their souls' love for the service. M'Fadden never before
witnessed such satisfactory proofs of his popularity; his tenderest
emotions are excited; he cannot express the fullness of his heart;
he bows, puts his hand to his heart, orders the balance of his
invoice sent to his plantation, mounts his horse, and rides off at
full gallop, followed by his friends.






CHAPTER XXXI.

A FRIEND IS WOMAN.





THE reader will again accompany us to the time when we find Annette
and Nicholas in the hands of Graspum, who will nurture them for
their increasing value.

Merciless creditors have driven Marston from that home of so many
happy and hospitable associations, to seek shelter in the obscure
and humble chamber of a wretched building in the outskirts of the
city. Fortune can afford him but a small cot, two or three broken
chairs, an ordinary deal table, a large chest, which stands near the
fire-place, and a dressing-stand, for furniture. Here, obscured from
the society he had so long mingled with, he spends most of his time,
seldom venturing in public lest he may encounter those indomitable
gentlemen who would seem to love the following misfortune into its
last stage of distress. His worst enemy, however, is that source of
his misfortunes he cannot disclose; over it hangs the mystery he
must not solve! It enshrines him with guilt before public opinion;
by it his integrity lies dead; it is that which gives to mother
rumour the weapons with which to wield her keenest slanders.

Having seized Marston's real estate, Graspum had no scruples about
swearing to the equity of his claim; nor were any of the creditors
willing to challenge an investigation; and thus, through fear of
such a formidable abettor, Marston laboured under the strongest, and
perhaps the most unjust imputations. But there was no limit to
Graspum's mercenary proceedings; for beyond involving Marston
through Lorenzo, he had secretly purchased many claims of the
creditors, and secured his money by a dexterous movement, with which
he reduced the innocent children to slavery.

Reports have spread among the professedly knowing that Marston can
never have made away with all his property in so few years. And the
manner being so invisible, the charge becomes stronger. Thus,
labouring between the pain of misfortune and the want of means to
resent suspicion, his cheerless chamber is all he can now call his
home. But he has two good friends left-Franconia, and the old negro
Bob. Franconia has procured a municipal badge for Daddy; and,
through it (disguised) he seeks and obtains work at stowing cotton
on the wharfs. His earnings are small, but his soul is large, and
embued with attachment for his old master, with whom he will share
them. Day by day the old slave seems to share the feelings of his
master,--to exhibit a solicitous concern for his comfort. Earning his
dollars and twenty-five cents a day, he will return when the week
has ended, full of exultation, spread out his earnings with
childlike simplicity, take thirty cents a day for himself, and slip
the remainder into Marston's pocket. How happy he seems, as he
watches the changes of Marston's countenance, and restrains the
gushing forth of his feelings!

It was on one of those nights upon which Daddy had received his
earnings, that Marston sat in his cheerless chamber, crouched over
the faint blaze of a few pieces of wood burning on the bricks of his
narrow fire-place, contemplating the eventful scenes of the few
years just passed. The more he contemplated the more it seemed like
a dream; his very head wearied with the interminable maze of his
difficulties. Further and further, as he contemplated, did it open
to his thoughts the strange social and political mystery of that
more strange institution for reducing mankind to the level of
brutes. And yet, democracy, apparently honest, held such inviolable
and just to its creed; which creed it would defend with a cordon of
steel. The dejected gentleman sighs, rests his head on his left
hand, and his elbow on the little table at his side. Without, the
weather is cold and damp; an incessant rain had pattered upon the
roof throughout the day, wild and murky clouds hang their dreary
festoons along the heavens, and swift scudding fleeces, driven by
fierce, murmuring winds, bespread the prospect with gloom that finds
its way into the recesses of the heart.

"Who is worse than a slave!" sighs the rejected man, getting up and
looking out of his window into the dreary recesses of the narrow
lane. "If it be not a ruined planter I mistake the policy by which
we govern our institution! As the slave is born a subject being, so
is the planter a dependent being. We planters live in
disappointment, in fear, in unhappy uncertainty; and yet we make no
preparations for the result. Nay, we even content ourselves with
pleasantly contemplating what may come through the eventful issue of
political discord; and when it comes in earnest, we find ourselves
the most hapless of unfortunates. For myself, bereft of all I had
once,--even friends, I am but a forlorn object in the scale of weak
mankind! No man will trust me with his confidence,--scarce one knows
me but to harass me; I can give them no more, and yet I am suspected
of having more. It is so, and ever will be so. Such are the phases
of man's downfall, that few follow them to the facts, while rumour
rules supreme over misfortune. There may be a fountain of human pain
concealed beneath it; but few extend the hand to stay its
quickening. Nay, when all is gone, mammon cries, more! until body
and soul are crushed beneath the "more" of relentless self.

"Few know the intricacies of our system; perhaps 'twere well, lest
our souls should not be safe within us. But, ah! my conscience
chides me here. And betwixt those feelings which once saw all things
right, but now through necessity beholds their grossest wrongs,
comes the pain of self-condemnation. It is a condemnation haunting
me unto death. Had I been ignorant of Clotilda's history, the
fiendish deed of those who wronged her in her childhood had not now
hung like a loathsome pestilence around my very garments. That which
the heart rebukes cannot be concealed; but we must be obedient to
the will that directs all things;--and if it be that we remain blind
in despotism until misfortune opens our eyes, let the cause of the
calamity be charged to those it belongs to," he concludes; and then,
after a few minutes' silence, he lights his taper, and sets it upon
the table. His care-worn countenance pales with melancholy; his hair
has whitened with tribulation; his demeanour denotes a man of tender
sensibility fast sinking into a physical wreck. A well-soiled book
lies on the table, beside which he takes his seat; he turns its
pages over and over carelessly, as if it were an indifferent
amusement to wile away the time. "They cannot enslave affection, nor
can they confine it within prison walls," he mutters. He has proof
in the faithfulness of Daddy, his old slave. And as he contemplates,
the words "she will be more than welcome to-night," escape his lips.
Simultaneously a gentle tapping is heard at the door. Slowly it
opens, and the figure of an old negro, bearing a basket on his arm,
enters. He is followed by the slender and graceful form of
Franconia, who approaches her uncle, hand extended, salutes him with
a kiss, seats herself at his side, says he must not be sad. Then she
silently gazes upon him for a few moments, as if touched by his
troubles, while the negro, having spread the contents of the basket
upon the chest, makes a humble bow, wishes mas'r and missus good
night, and withdraws. "There, uncle," she says, laying her hand
gently on his arm, "I didn't forget you, did I?" She couples the
word with a smile-a smile so sweet, so expressive of her soul's
goodness. "You are dear to me, uncle; yes, as dear as a father. How
could I forget that you have been a father to me? I have brought
these little things to make you comfortable,"-she points to the
edibles on the chest-"and I wish I were not tied to a slave, uncle,
for then I could do more. Twice, since my marriage to M'Carstrow,
have I had to protect myself from his ruffianism."

"From his ruffianism!" interrupts Marston, quickly: "Can it be, my
child, that even a ruffian would dare exhibit his vileness toward
you?"

"Even toward me, uncle. With reluctance I married him, and my only
regret is, that a slave's fate had not been mine ere the fruits of
that day fell upon me. Women like me make a feeble defence in the
world; and bad husbands are the shame of their sex," she returns,
her eyes brightening with animation, as she endeavours to calm the
excitement her remarks have given rise to: "Don't, pray don't mind
it, uncle," she concludes.

"Such news had been anticipated; but I was cautious not to"--

"Never mind," she interrupts, suddenly coiling her delicate arm
round his neck, and impressing a kiss on his care-worn cheek. "Let
us forget these things; they are but the fruits of weak nature. It
were better to bear up under trouble than yield to trouble's
burdens: better far. Who knows but that it is all for the best?" She
rises, and, with seeming cheerfulness, proceeds to spread the little
table with the refreshing tokens of her friendship. Yielding to
necessity, the table is spread, and they sit down, with an
appearance of domestic quietness touchingly humble.

"There is some pleasure, after all, in having a quiet spot where we
can sit down and forget our cares. Perhaps (all said and done) a man
may call himself prince of his own garret, when he can forget all
beyond it," says Marston affected to tears by Franconia's womanly
resignation.

"Yes," returns Franconia, joyously, "it's a consolation to know that
we have people among us much worse off than we are. I confess,
though, I feel uneasy about our old slaves. Slavery's wrong, uncle;
and it's when one's reduced to such extremes as are presented in
this uninviting garret that we realise it the more forcibly. It
gives the poor wretches no chance of bettering their condition; and
if one exhibits ever so much talent over the other, there is no
chance left him to improve it. It is no recompense to the slave that
his talent only increases the price of the article to be sold. Look
what Harry would have been had he enjoyed freedom. Uncle, we forget
our best interests while pondering over the security of a bad
system. Would it not be better to cultivate the slave's affections,
rather than oppress his feelings?" Franconia has their cause at
heart-forgets her own. She is far removed from the cold speculations
of the south; she is free from mercenary motives; unstained by that
principle of logic which recognises only the man merchandise. No
will hath she to contrive ingenious apologies for the wrongs
inflicted upon a fallen race. Her words spring from the purest
sentiment of the soul; they contain a smarting rebuke of Marston's
former misdoings: but he cannot resent it, nor can he turn the tide
of his troubles against her noble generosity.

They had eaten their humble supper of meats and bread, and coffee,
when Franconia hears a rap at the lower entrance, leading into the
street. Bearing the taper in her hand, she descends the stairs
quickly, and, opening the door, recognises the smiling face of Daddy
Bob. Daddy greets her as if he were surcharged with the very best
news for old mas'r and missus. He laughs in the exuberance of his
simplicity, and, with an air of fondness that would better become a
child, says, "Lor', young missus, how glad old Bob is to see ye!
Seems like long time since old man see'd Miss Frankone look so spry.
Got dat badge." The old man shows her his badge, exultingly.
"Missus, nobody know whose nigger I'm's, and old Bob arns a right
smart heap o' money to make mas'r comfortable." The old slave never
for once thinks of his own infirmities; no, his attachment for
master soars above every thing else; he thinks only in what way he
can relieve his necessities. Honest, faithful, and affectionate, the
associations of the past are uppermost in his mind; he forgets his
slavery in his love for master and the old plantation. Readily would
he lay down his life, could he, by so doing, lighten the troubles he
instinctively sees in the changes of master's position. The old
plantation and its people have been sold; and he, being among the
separated from earth's chosen, must save his infirm body lest some
man sell him for the worth thereof. Bob's face is white with beard,
and his coarse garments are much worn and ragged; but there is
something pleasing in the familiarity with which Franconia accepts
his brawny hand. How free from that cold advance, that measured
welcome, and that religious indifference, with which the would-be
friend of the slave, at the north, too often accepts the black man's
hand! There is something in the fervency with which she shakes his
wrinkled hand that speaks of the goodness of the heart; something
that touches the old slave's childlike nature. He smiles bashfully,
and says, "Glad t' see ye, missus; dat I is: 'spishilly ven ye takes
care on old mas'r." After receiving her salutation he follows her to
the chamber, across which he hastens to receive a welcome from old
mas'r. Marston warmly receives his hand, and motions him to be
seated on the chest near the fire-place. Bob takes his seat, keeping
his eye on mas'r the while. "Neber mind, mas'r," he says, "Big Mas'r
above be better dan Buckra. Da'h is somefin' what Buckra no sell
from ye, dat's a good heart. If old mas'r on'y keeps up he spirit,
de Lor' 'll carry un throu' 'e triblation," he continues; and, after
watching his master a few minutes, returns to Franconia, and resumes
his jargon.

Franconia is the same fair creature Bob watched over when she
visited the plantation: her countenance wears the same air of
freshness and frankness; her words are of the same gentleness; she
seems as solicitous of his comfort as before. And yet a shadow of
sadness shrouds that vivacity which had made her the welcome guest
of the old slaves. He cannot resist those expressions which are ever
ready to lisp forth from the negro when his feelings are excited.
"Lor, missus, how old Bob's heart feels! Hah, ah! yah, yah! Looks so
good, and reminds old Bob how e' look down on dah Astley, yander.
But, dah somefin in dat ar face what make old nigger like I know
missus don't feel just right," he exclaims.

The kind woman reads his thoughts in the glowing simplicity of his
wrinkled face. "It has been said that a dog was our last friend,
Bob: I now think a slave should have been added. Don't you think so,
uncle?" she enquires, looking at Marston, and, again taking the old
slave by the hand, awaits the reply.

"We rarely appreciate their friendship until it be too late to
reward it," he replies, with an attempt to smile.

"True, true! but the world is full of ingratitude,--very amiable
ingratitude. Never mind, Daddy; you must now tell me all about your
affairs, and what has happened since the night you surprised me at
our house; and you must tell me how you escaped M'Carstrow on the
morning of the disturbance," she enjoins. And while Bob relates his
story Franconia prepares his supper. Some cold ham, bread, and
coffee, are soon spread out before him. He will remove them to the
chest, near the fire-place. "Why, Missus Frankone," he says, "ye
sees how I'se so old now dat nobody tink I'se werf ownin; and so
nobody axes old Bob whose nigger he is. An't prime nigger, now; but
den a' good fo' work some, and get cash, so t' help old mas'r yander
(Bob points to old master). Likes t' make old master feel not so
bad."

"Yes," rejoins Marston, "Bob's good to me. He makes his sleeping
apartments, when he comes, at the foot of my bed, and shares his
earnings with me every Saturday night. He's like an old clock that
can keep time as well as a new one, only wind it up with care."

"Dat I is!" says Daddy, with an exulting nod of the head, as he, to
his own surprise, lets fall his cup. It was only the negro's
forgetfulness in the moment of excitement. Giving a wistful look at
Franconia, he commences picking up the pieces, and drawing his
week's earnings from a side pocket of his jacket.

"Eat your supper, Daddy; never mind your money now" says Franconia,
laughing heartily: at which Bob regains confidence and resumes his
supper, keeping a watchful eye upon his old master the while. Every
now and then he will pause, cant his ear, and shake his head, as if
drinking in the tenour of the conversation between Franconia and her
uncle. Having concluded, he pulls out his money and spreads it upon
the chest. "Old Bob work hard fo' dat!" he says, with emphasis,
spreading a five-dollar bill and two dollars and fifty cents in
silver into divisions. "Dah!" he ejaculates, "dat old mas'r share,
and dis is dis child's." The old man looks proudly upon the coin,
and feels he is not so worthless, after all. "Now! who say old Bob
aint werf nofin?" he concludes, getting up, putting his share into
his pocket, and then, as if unobserved, slipping the balance into
Marston's. This done, he goes to the window, affects to be looking
out, and then resuming his seat upon the chest, commences humming a
familiar plantation tune, as if his pious feelings had been
superseded by the recollection of past scenes.

"What, Daddy,--singing songs?" interrupts Franconia, looking at him
enquiringly. He stops as suddenly as he commenced, exchanges an
expressive look, and fain would question her sincerity.

"Didn't mean 'um, missus," he returns, after a moment's hesitation,
"didn't mean 'um. Was thinkin 'bout somefin back'ards; down old
plantation times."

"You had better forget them times, Bob."

"Buckra won't sell dis old nigger,--will he, Miss Frankone?" he
enquires, resuming his wonted simplicity.

"Sell you, Bob? You're a funny old man. Don't think your old
half-worn-out bones are going to save you. Money's the word: they'll
sell anything that will produce it,--dried up of age are no
exceptions. Keep out of Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy's way: whenever
you hear him singing, 'I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he
shall come,' as he always does,--run! He lives on the sale of
infirmity, and your old age would be a capital thing for the
exercise of his genius. He will put you through a course of
regeneration, take the wrinkles smooth out of your face, dye those
old grey whiskers, and get a profit for his magic power of
transposing the age of negro property," she replied, gravely, while
Bob stares at her as if doubting his own security.

"Why, missus!" he interposes, his face glowing with astonishment;
"Buckra don't be so smart dat he make old nigger young, be he?"

"Traders can do anything with niggers that have got money in them,
as they say. Our distinguished people are sensitive of the crime,
but excuse themselves with apologies they cannot make cover the
shame."

"Franke!" interrupts Marston, "spare the negro's feelings,--it may
have a bad effect." He touches her on the arm, and knits his brows
in caution.

"How strange, to think that bad influence could come of such an
inoffensive old man! Truth, I know and feel, is powerfully painful
when brought home to the doors of our best people,--it cuts deep when
told in broad letters; but they make the matter worse by attempting
to enshrine the stains with their chivalry. We are a wondrous
people, uncle, and the world is just finding it out, to our shame.
We may find it out ourselves, by and by; perhaps pay the penalty
with sorrow. We look upon negroes as if they were dropped down from
some unaccountable origin,--intended to raise the world's cotton,
rice, and sugar, but never to get above the menial sphere we have
conditioned for them. Uncle, there is a mistake somewhere,--a mistake
sadly at variance with our democratic professions. Democracy needs
to reclaim its all-claiming principles of right and justice for the
down-trodden. And yet, while the negro generously submits to serve
us, we look upon him as an auspicious innovator, who never could
have been born to enjoy manhood, and was subjected to bear a black
face because God had marked him for servitude. Did God found an
aristocracy of colour, or make men to be governed by their
distinctive qualifications of colour relationship?" says Franconia,
her face resuming a flush of agitation. Touching Marston on the arm
with the fore-finger of her right hand, and giving a glance at Bob,
who listens attentively to the theme of conversation, she continues:
"Say no more of bad influence coming of slaves, when the corruptest
examples are set by those who hold them as such,--who crash their
hopes, blot out their mental faculties, and turn their bodies into
licentious merchandise that they may profit by its degradation! Show
me the humblest slave on your plantation, and, in comparison with
the slave-dealer, I will prove him a nobleman of God's kind,--of
God's image: his simple nature will be his clean passport into
heaven. The Father of Mercy will receive him there; he will forgive
the crimes enforced upon him by man; and that dark body on earth
will be recompensed in a world of light,--it will shine with the
brighter spirits of that realm of justice and love. Earth may bring
the slavetrader bounties; but heaven will reject the foul offering."
The good woman unfolds the tender emotions of her heart, as only
woman can.

Bob listens, as if taking a deep interest in the force and
earnestness of young missus's language. He is swayed by her pathos,
and at length interposes his word.

"Nigger ain't so good as white man" (he shakes his head,
philosophically). "White man sharp; puzzle nigger to find out what
'e don, know ven 'e mind t'." Thus saying, he takes a small hymn-
book from his pocket, and, Franconia setting the light beside him,
commences reading to himself by its dim glare.

"Well! now, uncle, it's getting late, and I've a good way to go, and
the night's stormy; so I must prepare for home." Franconia gets up,
and evinces signs of withdrawing. She walks across the little
chamber three or four times, looks out of the window, strains her
sight into the gloomy prospect, and then, as if reluctant to leave
her uncle, again takes a seat by his side. Gently laying her left
hand upon his shoulder, she makes an effort at pleasantry, tells him
to keep up his resolution-to be of good cheer.

"Remember, uncle," she says, calmly, "they tell us it is no disgrace
to be poor,--no shame to work to live; and yet poor people are
treated as criminals. For my own part, I would rather be poor and
happy than rich with a base husband; I have lived in New England,
know how to appreciate its domestic happiness. It was there
Puritanism founded true American liberty.--Puritanism yet lives, and
may be driven to action; but we must resign ourselves to the will of
an all-wise Providence." Thus concluding, she makes another attempt
to withdraw.

"You must not leave me yet!" says Marston, grasping her hand firmly
in his. "Franke, I cannot part with you until I have disclosed what
I have been summoning resolution to suppress. I know your
attachment, Franconia; you have been more than dear to me. You have
known my feelings,--what they have already had to undergo." He
pauses.

"Speak it, uncle, speak it! Keep nothing from me, nor make secrets
in fear of my feelings. Speak out,--I may relieve you!" she
interrupts, nervously: and again encircling her arm round his neck,
waits his reply, in breathless suspense.

He falters for a moment, and then endeavours to regain his usual
coolness. "To-morrow, Franconia," he half mutters out, "to-morrow,
you may find me not so well situated," (here tears are seen
trickling down his cheeks) "and in a place where it will not become
your delicate nature to visit me."

"Nay, uncle!" she stops him there; "I will visit you wherever you
may be-in a castle or a prison."

The word prison has touched the tender chord upon which all his
troubles are strung. He sobs audibly; but they are only sobs of
regret, for which there is no recompense in this late hour. "And
would you follow me to a prison, Franconia?" he enquires, throwing
his arms about her neck, kissing her pure cheek with the fondness of
a father.

"Yea, and share your sorrows within its cold walls. Do not yield to
melancholy, uncle,--you have friends left: if not, heaven will
prepare a place of rest for you; heaven shields the unfortunate at
last," rejoins the good woman, the pearly tears brightening in
mutual sympathy.

"To-morrow, my child, you will find me the unhappy tenant of those
walls where man's discomfiture is complete."

"Nay, uncle, nay! you are only allowing your melancholy forebodings
to get the better of you. Such men as Graspum-men who have stripped
families of their all-might take away your property, and leave you
as they have left my poor parents; but no one would be so heartless
as to drive you to the extreme of imprisonment. It is a foolish
result at best." Franconia's voice falters; she looks more and more
intently in her uncle's face, struggles to suppress her rising
emotions. She knows his frankness, she feels the pain of his
position; but, though the dreadful extreme seems scarcely possible,
there is that in his face conveying strong evidence of the truth of
his remark.

"Do not weep, Franconia; spare your tears for a more worthy object:
such trials have been borne by better men than I. I am but the
merchandise of my creditors. There is, however, one thing which
haunts me to grief; could I have saved my children, the pain of my
position had been slight indeed."

"Speak not of them, uncle," Franconia interrupts, "you cannot feel
the bitterness of their lot more than myself. I have saved a mother,
but have failed to execute my plan of saving them; and my heart
throbs with pain when I think that now it is beyond my power. Let me
not attempt to again excite in your bosom feelings which must ever
be harassing, for the evil only can work its destruction. To clip
the poisoning branches and not uproot the succouring trunk, is like
casting pearls into the waste of time. My heart will ever be with
the destinies of those children, my feelings bound in unison with
theirs; our hopes are the same, and if fortune should smile on me in
times to come I will keep my word-I will snatch them from the
devouring element of slavery."

"Stop, my child!" speaks Marston, earnestly: "Remember you can do
little against the strong arm of the law, and still stronger arm of
public opinion. Lay aside your hopes of rescuing those children,
Franconia, and remember that while I am in prison I am the property
of my creditors, subject to their falsely conceived notions of my
affairs," he continues. "I cannot now make amends to the law of
nature," he adds, burying his face in his hand, weeping a child's
tears.

Franconia looks solicitously upon her uncle, as he sorrows. She
would dry her tears to save his throbbing heart. Her noble
generosity and disinterestedness have carried her through many
trials since her marriage, but it fails to nerve her longer. Her's
is a single-hearted sincerity, dispensing its goodness for the
benefit of the needy; she suppresses her own troubles that she may
administer consolation to others. "The affection that refuses to
follow misfortune to its lowest step is weak indeed. If you go to
prison, Franconia will follow you there," she says, with touching
pathos, her musical voice adding strength to the resolution. Blended
with that soft angelic expression her eyes give forth, her calm
dignity and inspiring nobleness show how firm is that principle of
her nature never to abandon her old friend.

The old negro, who had seemed absorbed in his sympathetic
reflections, gazes steadfastly at his old master, until his emotions
spring forth in kindest solicitude. Resistance is beyond his power.
"Neber mind, old mas'r," (he speaks in a devoted tone) "dar's better
days comin, bof fo' old Bob and mas'r. Tink 'um sees de day when de
old plantation jus so 't was wid mas'r and da' old folks."
Concluding in a subdued voice, he approaches Franconia, and seats
himself, book in hand, on the floor at her feet. Moved by his
earnestness, she lays her hand playfully upon his head, saying:
"Here is our truest friend, uncle!"

"My own heart lubs Miss Frankone more den eber," he whispers in
return. How pure, how holy, is the simple recompense! It is nature's
only offering, all the slave can give; and he gives it in the bounty
of his soul.

Marston's grief having subsided, he attempts to soothe Franconia's
feelings, by affecting an air of indifference. "What need I care,
after all? my resolution should be above it," he says, thrusting his
right hand into his breast pocket, and drawing out a folded paper,
which he throws upon the little table, and says, "There, Franconia,
my child! that contains the climax of my unlamented misfortunes;
read it: it will show you where my next abode will be-I may be at
peace there; and there is consolation at being at peace, even in a
cell." He passes the paper into her hand.

With an expression of surprise she opens it, and glances over its
contents; then reads it word by word. "Do they expect to get
something from nothing?" she says, sarcastically. "It is one of
those soothsayers so valuable to men whose feelings are only with
money-to men who forget they cannot carry money to the graves; and
that no tribute is demanded on either road leading to the last abode
of man."

"Stop there, my child! stop!" interrupts Marston. "I have given them
all, 'tis true; but suspicion is my persecutor-suspicion, and trying
to be a father to my own children!"

"It is, indeed, a misfortune to be a father under such
circumstances, in such an atmosphere!" the good woman exclaims,
clasping her hands and looking upward, as if imploring the
forgiveness of Heaven. Tremblingly she held the paper in her hand,
until it fell upon the floor, as she, overcome, swooned in her
uncle's arms.

She swooned! yes, she swooned. That friend upon whom her affections
had been concentrated was a prisoner. The paper was a bail writ,
demanding the body of the accused. The officer serving had been kind
enough to allow Marston his parole of honour until the next morning.
He granted this in accordance with Marston's request, that by the
lenity he might see Daddy Bob and Franconia once more.

Lifting Franconia in his arms, her hair falling loosely down,
Marston lays her gently on the cot, and commences bathing her
temples. He has nothing but water to bathe them with,--nothing but
poverty's liquid. The old negro, frightened at the sudden change
that has come over his young missus, falls to rubbing and kissing
her hands,--he has no other aid to lend. Marston has drawn his chair
beside her, sits down upon it, unbuttons her stomacher, and
continues bathing and chafing her temples. How gently heaves that
bosom so full of fondness, how marble-like those features, how
pallid but touchingly beautiful that face! Love, affection, and
tenderness, there repose so calmly! All that once gave out so much
hope, so much joy, now withers before the blighting sting of
misfortune. "Poor child, how fondly she loves me!" says Marston,
placing his right arm under her head, and raising it gently. The
motion quickens her senses-she speaks; he kisses her pallid
cheek-kisses and kisses it. "Is it you uncle?" she whispers. She has
opened her eyes, stares at Marston, then wildly along the ceiling.
"Yes, I'm in uncle's arms; how good!" she continues, as if fatigued.
Reclining back on the pillow, she again rests her head upon his arm.
"I am at the mansion-how pleasant; let me rest, uncle; let me rest.
Send aunt Rachel to me." She raises her right hand and lays her arms
about Marston's neck, as anxiously he leans over her. How dear are
the associations of that old mansion! how sweet the thought of home!
how uppermost in her wandering mind the remembrance of those happy
days!






CHAPTER XXXII.

MARSTON IN PRISON.





WHILE Franconia revives, let us beg the reader's indulgence for not
recounting the details thereof. The night continues dark and stormy,
but she must return to her own home,--she must soothe the excited
feelings of a dissolute and disregarding husband, who, no doubt, is
enjoying his night orgies, while she is administering consolation to
the downcast. "Ah! uncle," she says, about to take leave of him for
the night, "how with spirit the force of hope fortifies us; and yet
how seldom are our expectations realised through what we look
forward to! You now see the value of virtue; but when seen through
necessity, how vain the repentance. Nevertheless, let us profit by
the lesson before us; let us hope the issue may yet be favourable!"
Bob will see his young missus safe home-he will be her guide and
protector. So, preparing his cap, he buttons his jacket, laughs and
grins with joy, goes to the door, then to the fire-place, and to the
door again, where, keeping his left hand on the latch, and his right
holding the casement, he bows and scrapes, for "Missus comin."
Franconia arranges her dress as best she can, adjusts her bonnet,
embraces Marston, imprints a fond kiss on his cheek, reluctantly
relinquishes his hand, whispers a last word of consolation, and bids
him good night,--a gentle good night-in sorrow.

She has gone, and the old slave is her guide, her human watch-dog.
Slowly Marston paces the silent chamber alone, giving vent to his
pent-up emotions. What may to-morrow bring forth? runs through his
wearied mind. It is but the sudden downfall of life, so inseparable
from the planter who rests his hopes on the abundance of his human
property. But the slave returns, and relieves him of his musings. He
has seen his young missus safe to her door; he has received her kind
word, and her good, good night! Entering the chamber with a smile,
he sets about clearing away the little things, and, when done, draws
his seat close to Marston, at the fire-place. As if quite at home
beside his old master, he eyes Marston intently for some time,--seems
studying his thoughts and fears. At length the old slave commences
disclosing his feelings. His well-worn bones are not worth a large
sum; nor are the merits of his worthy age saleable;--no! there is
nothing left but his feelings, those genuine virtues so happily
illustrated. Daddy Bob will stand by mas'r, as he expresses it, in
power or in prison. Kindness has excited all that vanity in Bob so
peculiar to the negro, and by which he prides himself in the prime
value of his person. There he sits-Marston's faithful friend,
contemplating his silence with a steady gaze, and then, giving his
jet-black face a double degree of seriousness, shrugs his shoulders,
significantly nods his head, and intimates that it will soon be time
to retire, by commencing to unboot master.

"You seem in a hurry to get rid of me, Daddy! Want to get your own
cranium into a pine-knot sleep, eh?" says Marston, with an
encouraging smile, pulling the old slave's whiskers in a playful
manner.

"No, Boss; 'tant dat," returns Bob, keeping on tugging at Marston's
boots until he has got them from his feet, and safely stowed away in
a corner. A gentle hint that he is all ready to relieve Marston of
his upper garments brings him to his feet, when Bob commences upon
him in right good earnest, and soon has him stowed away between the
sheets. "Bob neber likes to hurry old Boss, but den 'e kno' what's
on old Mas'r's feelins, an 'e kno' dat sleep make 'um forget 'um!"
rejoins Bob, in a half whisper that caught Marston's ear, as he
patted and fussed about his pillow, in order to make him as
comfortable as circumstances would admit. After this he extinguishes
the light, and, accustomed to a slave's bed, lumbers himself down on
the floor beside his master's cot. Thus, watchfully, he spends the
night.

When morning dawned, Bob was in the full enjoyment of what the negro
so pertinently calls a long and strong sleep. He cannot resist its
soothing powers, nor will master disturb him in its enjoyment.
Before breakfast-time arrives, however, he arouses with a loud
guffaw, looks round the room vacantly, as if he were doubting the
presence of things about him. Rising to his knees, he rubs his eyes
languidly, yawns, and stretches his arms, scratches his head, and
suddenly gets a glimpse of old master, who is already dressed, and
sits by the window, his attention intently set upon some object
without. The old slave recognises the same chamber from which he
guided Franconia on the night before, and, after saluting mas'r,
sets about arranging the domestic affairs of the apartment, and
preparing the breakfast table, the breakfast being cooked at Aunt
Beckie's cabin, in the yard. Aunt Beckie had the distinguished
satisfaction of knowing Marston in his better days, and now esteems
it an honour to serve him, even in his poverty. Always happy to
inform her friends that she was brought up a first-rate pastry-cook,
she now adds, with great satisfaction, that she pays her owner, the
very Reverend Mr. Thomas Tippletony, the ever-pious rector of St.
Michael's, no end of money for her time, and makes a good profit at
her business beside. Notwithstanding she has a large family of
bright children to maintain in a respectable way, she hopes for a
continuance of their patronage, and will give the best terms her
limited means admit. She knows how very necessary it is for a
southern gentleman who would be anybody to keep up appearances, and,
with little means, to make a great display: hence she is very easy
in matters of payment. In Marston's case, she is extremely proud to
render him service,--to "do for him" as far as she can, and wait a
change for the better concerning any balance outstanding.

Bob fetches the breakfast of coffee, fritters, homony, and bacon,--a
very good breakfast it is, considering the circumstances,--and
spreads the little rustic board with an air of comfort and neatness
complimentary to the old slave's taste. And, withal, the old man
cannot forego the inherent vanity of his nature, for he is,
unconsciously, performing all the ceremonies of attendance he has
seen Dandy and his satellites go through at the plantation mansion.
He fusses and grins, and praises and laughs, as he sets the dishes
down one by one, keeping a watchful eye on mas'r, as if to detect an
approval in his countenance. "Reckon 'ow dis old nigger can fix old
Boss up aristocratic breakfast like Dandy. Now, Boss-da'h he is!" he
says, whisking round the table, setting the cups just so, and
spreading himself with exultation. "Want to see master smile-laugh
some-like 'e used down on da'h old plantation!" he ejaculates,
emphatically, placing a chair at Marston's plate. This done, he
accompanies his best bow with a scrape of his right foot, spreads
his hands,--the gesture being the signal of readiness. Marston takes
his chair, as Bob affects the compound dignity of the very best
trained nigger, doing the distinguished in waiting.

"A little less ceremony, my old faithful! the small follies of
etiquette ill become such a place as this. We must succumb to
circumstances: come, sit down, Bob; draw your bench to the chest,
and there eat your share, while I wait on myself," says Marston,
touching Bob on the arm. The words were no sooner uttered, than
Bob's countenance changed from the playful to the serious; he could
see nothing but dignity in master, no matter in what sphere he might
be placed. His simple nature recoils at the idea of dispensing with
the attention due from slave to master. Master's fallen fortunes,
and the cheerless character of the chamber, are nothing to Daddy-
master must keep up his dignity.

"You need'nt look so serious, Daddy; it only gives an extra shade to
your face, already black enough for any immediate purpose!" says
Marston, turning round and smiling at the old slave's discomfiture.
To make amends, master takes a plate from the table, and gives Bob a
share of his homony and bacon. This is very pleasing to the old
slave, who regains his wonted earnestness, takes the plate politely
from his master's hand, retires with it to the chest, and keeps up a
regular fire of chit-chat while dispensing its contents. In this
humble apartment, master and slave-the former once opulent, and the
latter still warm with attachment for his friend-are happily
companioned. They finish their breakfast,--a long pause intervenes.
"I would I were beyond the bounds of this our south," says Marston,
breaking the silence, as he draws his chair and seats himself by the
window, where he can look out upon the dingy little houses in the
lane.

The unhappy man feels the burden of a misspent life; he cannot
recall the past, nor make amends for its errors. But, withal, it is
some relief that he can disclose his feelings to the old man, his
slave.

"Mas'r," interrupts the old slave, looking complacently in his face,
"Bob 'll fowler ye, and be de same old friend. I will walk behind
Miss Frankone." His simple nature seems warming into fervency.

"Ah! old man," returns Marston, "if there be a wish (you may go
before me, though) I have on earth, it is that when I die our graves
may be side by side, with an epitaph to denote master, friend, and
faithful servant lie here." He takes the old man by the hand again,
as the tears drop from his cheeks. "A prison is but a grave to the
man of honourable feelings," he concludes. Thus disclosing his
feelings, a rap at the door announces a messenger. It is nine
o'clock, and immediately the sheriff, a gentlemanly-looking man,
wearing the insignia of office on his hat, walks in, and politely
intimates that, painful as may be the duty, he must request his
company to the county gaol, that place so accommodatingly prepared
for the reception of unfortunates.

"Sorry for your misfortunes, sir! but we'll try to make you as
comfortable as we can in our place." The servitor of the law seems
to have some sympathy in him. "I have my duty to perform, you know,
sir; nevertheless, I have my opinion about imprisoning honest men
for debt: it's a poor satisfaction, sir. I'm only an officer, you
see, sir, not a law-maker-never want to be, sir. I very much dislike
to execute these kind of writs," says the man of the law, as, with
an expression of commiseration, he glances round the room, and then
at Daddy, who has made preparations for a sudden dodge, should such
an expedient be found necessary.

"Nay, sheriff, think nothing of it; it's but a thing of common
life,--it may befall us all. I can be no exception to the rule, and
may console myself with the knowledge of companionship," replies
Marston, as coolly as if he were preparing for a journey of
pleasure.

How true it is, that, concealed beneath the smallest things, there
is a consolation which necessity may bring out: how Providence has
suited it to our misfortunes!

"There are a few things here-a very few-I should like to take to my
cell; perhaps I can send for them," he remarks, looking at the
officer, enquiringly.

"My name is Martin-Captain Martin, they call me,"-returns that
functionary, politely. "If you accept my word of honour, I pledge it
they are taken care of, and sent to your apartments."

"You mean my new lodging-house, or my new grave, I suppose,"
interrupted Marston, jocosely, pointing out to Daddy the few
articles of bedding, chairs, and a window-curtain he desired
removed. Daddy has been pensively standing by the fire-place the
while, contemplating the scene.

Marston soon announces his readiness to proceed; and, followed by
the old slave, the officer leads the way down the ricketty old
stairs to the street. "I's gwine t'see whar dey takes old mas'r, any
how, reckon I is," says the old slave, giving his head a significant
turn.

"Now, sir," interrupts the officer, as they arrive at the bottom of
the stairs, "perhaps you have a delicacy about going through the
street with a sheriff; many men have: therefore I shall confide in
your honour, sir, and shall give you the privilege of proceeding to
the gaol as best suits your feelings. I never allow myself to follow
the will of creditors; if I did, my duties would be turned into a
system of tyranny, to gratify their feelings only. Now, you may take
a carriage, or walk; only meet me at the prison gate."

"Thanks, thanks!" returns Marston, grateful for the officer's
kindness, "my crime is generosity; you need not fear me. My old
faithful here will guide me along." The officer bows assent, and
with a respectful wave of the hand they separate to pursue different
routes.

Marston walks slowly along, Bob keeping pace close behind. He passes
many of his old acquaintances, who, in better times, would have
recognised him with a cordial embrace; at present they have scarcely
a nod to spare. Marston, however, is firm in his resolution, looks
not on one side nor the other, and reaches the prison-gate in good
time. The officer has reached it in advance, and waits him there.
They pause a few moments as Marston scans the frowning wall that
encloses the gloomy-looking old prison. "I am ready to go in," says
Marston; and just as they are about to enter the arched gate, the
old slave touches him on the arm, and says, "Mas'r, dat's no place
fo'h Bob. Can't stand seein' on ye locked up wid sich folks as in
dah!" Solicitously he looks in his master's face. The man of trouble
grasps firmly the old slave's hand, holds it in silence for some
minutes-the officer, moved by the touching scene, turns his head
away-as tears course down his cheeks. He has no words to speak the
emotions of his heart; he shakes the old man's hand affectionately,
attempts to whisper a word in his ear, but is too deeply affected.

"Good by, mas'r: may God bless 'um! Ther's a place fo'h old mas'r
yet. I'll com t' see mas'r every night," says the old man, his words
flowing from the bounty of his heart. He turns away reluctantly,
draws his hand from Marston's, heaves a sigh, and repairs to his
labour. How precious was that labour of love, wherein the old slave
toils that he may share the proceeds with his master!

As Marston and the sheriff disappear through the gate, and are about
to ascend the large stone steps leading to the portal in which is
situated the inner iron gate opening into the debtors' ward, the
sheriff made a halt, and, placing his arm in a friendly manner
through Marston's, enquires, "Anything I can do for you? If there
is, just name it. Pardon my remark, sir, but you will, in all
probability, take the benefit of the act; and, as no person seems
willing to sign your bail, I may do something to relieve your wants,
in my humble way." Marston shakes his head; the kindness impedes an
expression of his feelings. "A word of advice from me, however, may
not be without its effect, and I will give it you; it is this:--Your
earnestness to save those two children, and the singular manner in
which those slave drudges of Graspum produced the documentary
testimony showing them property, has created wondrous suspicion
about your affairs. I will here say, Graspum's no friend of yours;
in fact, he's a friend to nobody but himself; and even now, when
questioned on the manner of possessing all your real estate, he
gives out insinuations, which, instead of exonerating you, create a
still worse impression against you. His conversation on the matter
leaves the inference with your creditors that you have still more
property secreted. Hence, mark me! it behoves you to keep close
lips. Don't let your right hand know what your left does," continues
the officer, in a tone of friendliness. They ascend to the iron
gate, look through the grating. The officer, giving a whistle, rings
the bell by touching a spring in the right-hand wall. "My lot at
last!" exclaims Marston. "How many poor unfortunates have passed
this threshold-how many times the emotions of the heart have burst
forth on this spot-how many have here found a gloomy rest from their
importuners-how many have here whiled away precious time in a gloomy
cell, provided for the punishment of poverty!" The disowned man, for
such he is, struggles to retain his resolution; fain would he,
knowing the price of that resolution, repress those sensations
threatening to overwhelm him.

The brusque gaoler appears at the iron gate; stands his burly figure
in the portal; nods recognition to the officer; swings back the iron
frame, as a number of motley prisoners gather into a semicircle in
the passage. "Go back, prisoners; don't stare so at every new
comer," says the gaoler, clearing the way with his hands extended.

One or two of the locked-up recognise Marston. They lisp strange
remarks, drawn forth by his appearance in charge of an officer. "Big
as well as little fish bring up here," ejaculates one.

"Where are his worshippers and his hospitable friends?" whispers
another.

"There's not much hospitality for poverty," rejoins a third,
mutteringly. "Southern hospitality is unsound, shallow, and flimsy;
a little dazzling of observances to cover very bad facts. You are
sure to find a people who maintain the grossest errors in their
political system laying the greatest claims to benevolence and
principle-things to which they never had a right. The phantom of
hospitality draws the curtain over many a vice-it is a well-told
nothingness ornamenting the beggared system of your slavery; that's
my honest opinion," says a third, in a gruff voice, which indicates
that he has no very choice opinion of such generosity. "If they want
a specimen of true hospitality, they must go to New England; there
the poor man's offering stocks the garden of liberty, happiness, and
justice; and from them spring the living good of all," he concludes;
and folding his arms with an air of independence, walks up the long
passage running at right angles with the entrance portal, and
disappears in a cell on the left.

"I knew him when he was great on the turf. He was very distinguished
then." "He'll be extinguished here," insinuates another, as he
protrudes his eager face over the shoulders of those who are again
crowding round the office-door, Marston and the officer having
entered following the gaoler.

The sheriff passes the committimus to the man of keys; that
functionary takes his seat at a small desk, while Marston stands by
its side, watching the process of his prison reception, in silence.
The gaoler reads the commitment, draws a book deliberately from off
a side window, spreads it open on his desk, and commences humming an
air. "Pootty smart sums, eh!" he says, looking up at the sheriff, as
he holds a quill in his left hand, and feels with the fingers of his
right for a knife, which, he observes, he always keeps in his right
vest pocket. "We have a poor debtor's calendar for registering these
things. I do these things different from other gaolers, and it loses
me nothin'. I goes on the true principle, that 'tant right to put
criminals and debtors together; and if the state hasn't made
provision for keeping them in different cells, I makes a difference
on the books, and that's somethin'. Helps the feelins over the
smarting point," says the benevolent keeper of all such troublesome
persons as won't pay their debts;--as if the monstrous concentration
of his amiability, in keeping separate books for the criminal and
poverty-stricken gentlemen of his establishment, must be duly
appreciated. Marston, particularly, is requested to take the
initiative, he being the most aristocratic fish the gaoler has
caught in a long time. But the man has made his pen, and now he
registers Marston's name among the state's forlorn gentlemen,
commonly called poor debtors. They always confess themselves in
dependent circumstances. Endorsing the commitment, he returns it to
the sheriff, who will keep the original carefully filed away in his
own well-stocked department. The sheriff will bid his prisoner good
morning! having reminded the gaoler what good care it was desirable
to take of his guest; and, extending his hand and shaking that of
Marston warmly, takes his departure, whilst our gaoler leads Marston
into an almost empty cell, where he hopes he will find things
comfortable, and leaves him to contemplate upon the fallen fruit of
poverty. "Come to this, at last!" said Marston, entering the
cavern-like place.






CHAPTER XXXIII.

VENDERS OF HUMAN PROPERTY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS MENTAL




CAPRICES.

READER! be patient with us, for our task is complex and tedious. We
have but one great object in view-that of showing a large number of
persons in the south, now held as slaves, who are by the laws of the
land, as well as the laws of nature, entitled to their freedom.
These people, for whom, in the name of justice and every offspring
of human right, we plead, were consigned to the bondage they now
endure through the unrighteous act of one whose name (instead of
being execrated by a nation jealous of its honour), a singular
species of southern historian has attempted to enshrine with fame.
Posterity, ignorant of his character, will find his name clothed
with a paragon's armour, while respecting the writer who so cleverly
with a pen obliterated his crimes. We have only feelings of pity for
the historian who discards truth thus to pollute paper with his
kindness; such debts due to friendship are badly paid at the shrine
of falsehood. No such debts do we owe; we shall perform our duty
fearlessly, avoiding dramatic effect, or aught else that may tend to
improperly excite the feelings of the benevolent. No one better
knows the defects of our social system-no one feels more forcibly
that much to be lamented fact of there being no human law extant not
liable to be evaded or weakened by the intrigues of designing
men;--we know of no power reposed in man the administration of which
is not susceptible of abuse, or being turned to means of oppression:
how much more exposed, then, must all these functions be where
slavery in its popular sway rides triumphant over the common law of
the land. Divine laws are with impunity disregarded and abused by
anointed teachers of divinity. Peculation, in sumptuous garb, and
with modern appliances, finds itself modestly-perhaps
unconsciously-gathering dross at the sacred altar. How saint-like in
semblance, and how unconscious of wrong, are ye bishops (holy ones,
scarce of earth, in holy lawn) in that land of freedom where the
slave's chains fall ere his foot pads its soil! how calmly resigned
the freemen who yield to the necessity of making strong the altar
with the sword of state! How, in the fulness of an expansive soul,
these little ones, in lawn so white, spurn the unsanctified
spoiler-themselves neck-deep in the very coffers of covetousness the
while! How to their christian spirit it seems ordained they should
see a people's ekeings serve their rolling in wealth and luxury!
and, yet, let no man question their walking in the ways of a meek
and lowly Saviour-that Redeemer of mankind whose seamless garb no
man purchaseth with the rights of his fellow. Complacently innocent
of themselves, they would have us join their flock and follow
them,--their pious eyes seeing only heavenly objects to be gained,
and their pure hearts beating in heavy throbs for the wicked turmoil
of our common world. Pardon us, brother of the flesh, say they, in
saintly whispers,--it is all for the Church and Christ. Boldly
fortified with sanctimony, they hurl back the shafts of reform, and
ask to live on sumptuously, as the only sought recompense for their
christian love. Pious infallibility! how blind, to see not the
crime!

Reader! excuse the diversion, and accompany us while we retrace our
steps to where we left the loquacious Mr. M'Fadden, recovered from
the fear of death, which had been produced by whiskey in draughts
too strong. In company with a numerous party, he is just returning
from an unsuccessful search for his lost preacher. They have scoured
the lawns, delved the morasses, penetrated thick jungles of brakes,
driven the cypress swamps, and sent the hounds through places
seemingly impossible for human being to seclude himself, and where
only the veteran rattlesnake would seek to lay his viperous head. No
preacher have they found. They utter vile imprecations on his head,
pit him "a common nigger," declare he has just learned enough, in
his own crooked way, to be dubious property-good, if a man can keep
him at minister business.

Mine host of the Inn feels assured, if he be hiding among the swamp
jungle, the snakes and alligators will certainly drive him out: an
indisputable fact this, inasmuch as alligators and snakes hate
niggers. M'Fadden affirms solemnly, that the day he bought that
clergyman was one of the unlucky days of his life; and he positively
regrets ever having been a politician, or troubling his head about
the southern-rights question. The party gather round the front
stoop, and are what is termed in southern parlance "tuckered out."
They are equally well satisfied of having done their duty to the
state and a good cause. Dogs, their tails drooping, sneak to their
kennels, horses reek with foam, the human dogs will "liquor" long
and strong.

"Tisn't such prime stock, after all!" says M'Fadden, entering the
veranda, reeking with mud and perspiration: "after a third attempt
we had as well give it up." He shakes his head, and then strikes his
whip on the floor. "I'll stand shy about buying a preacher, another
time," he continues; like a man, much against his will, forced to
give up a prize.

The crackers and wire-grass men (rude sons of the sand hills), take
the matter more philosophically,--probably under the impression that
to keep quiet will be to "bring the nigger out" where he may be
caught and the reward secured. Two hundred dollars is a sum for
which they would not scruple to sacrifice life; but they have three
gods-whiskey, ignorance, and idleness, any one of which can easily
gain a mastery over their faculties.

Mr. M'Fadden requests that his friends will all come into the
bar-room-all jolly fellows; which, when done, he orders mine host to
supply as much "good strong stuff" as will warm up their spirits.
He, however, will first take a glass himself, that he may drink all
their very good healths. This compliment paid, he finds himself
pacing up and down, and across the room, now and then casting
suspicious glances at the notice of reward, as if questioning the
policy of offering so large an amount. But sundown is close upon
them, and as the bar-room begins to fill up again, each new-comer
anxiously enquires the result of the last search,--which only serves
to increase the disappointed gentleman's excitement. The affair has
been unnecessarily expensive, for, in addition to the loss of his
preacher, the price of whom is no very inconsiderable sum, he finds
a vexatious bill running up against him at the bar. The friendship
of those who have sympathised with him, and have joined him in the
exhilarating sport of man-hunting, must be repaid with swimming
drinks. Somewhat celebrated for economy, his friends are surprised
to find him, on this occasion, rather inclined to extend the
latitude of his liberality. His keen eye, however, soon detects, to
his sudden surprise, that the hunters are not alone enjoying his
liberality, but that every new comer, finding the drinks provided at
M'Fadden's expense, has no objection to join in drinking his health;
to which he would have no sort of an objection, but for the cost.
Like all men suffering from the effect of sudden loss, he begins to
consider the means of economising by which he may repay the loss of
the preacher. "I say, Squire!" he ejaculates, suddenly stopping
short in one of his walks, and beckoning mine host aside, "That
won't do, it won't! It's a coming too tough, I tell you!" he says,
shaking his head, and touching mine host significantly on the arm.
"A fellow what's lost his property in this shape don't feel like
drinkin everybody on whiskey what costs as much as your 'bright
eye.' You see, every feller what's comin in's 'takin' at my expense,
and claiming friendship on the strength on't. It don't pay, Squire!
just stop it, won't ye?"

Mine host immediately directs the bar-keeper, with a sign and a
whisper:--"No more drinks at M'Fadden's score, 'cept to two or three
o' the most harristocratic." He must not announce the discontinuance
openly; it will insult the feelings of the friendly people, many of
whom anticipate a feast of drinks commensurate with their services
and Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden's distinguished position in political
life. Were they, the magnanimous people, informed of this sudden
shutting off of their supplies, the man who had just enjoyed their
flattering encomiums would suddenly find himself plentifully
showered with epithets a tyrant slave-dealer could scarcely endure.

Calling mine host into a little room opening from the bar, he takes
him by the arm,--intimates his desire to have a consultation on the
state of his affairs, and the probable whereabouts of his
divine:--"You see, this is all the thanks I get for my kindness (he
spreads his hands and shrugs his shoulders.) A northern man may do
what he pleases for southern rights, and it's just the same; he
never gets any thanks for it. These sort o' fellers isn't to be
sneered at when a body wants to carry a political end," he adds,
touching mine host modestly on the shoulder, and giving him a
quizzing look, "but ye can't make 'um behave mannerly towards
respectable people, such as you and me is. But 'twould'nt do to give
'um edukation, for they'd just spile society-they would! Ain't my
ideas logical, now, squire?" Mr. M'Fadden's mind seems soaring away
among the generalities of state.

"Well!" returns mine host, prefacing the importance of his opinion
with an imprecation, "I'm fixed a'tween two fires; so I can't say
what would be square policy in affairs of state. One has feelins
different on these things: I depends a deal on what our big folks
say in the way of setting examples. And, too, what can you expect
when this sort a ruff-scuff forms the means of raising their
political positions; but, they are customers of mine,--have made my
success in tavern-keeping!" he concludes, in an earnest whisper.

"Now, squire!" M'Fadden places his hand in mine host's arm, and
looks at him seriously: "What 'bout that ar nigger preacher gittin
off so? No way t' find it out, eh squire?" M'Fadden enquires, with
great seriousness.

"Can't tell how on earth the critter did the thing; looked like
peaceable property when he went to be locked up, did!"

"I think somebody's responsible for him, squire?" interrupts
M'Fadden, watching the changes of the other's countenance: "seems
how I heard ye say ye'd take the risk-"

"No,--no,--no!" rejoins the other, quickly; "that never will do. I
never receipt for nigger property, never hold myself responsible to
the customers, and never run any risks about their niggers. You
forget, my friend, that whatever shadow of a claim you had on me by
law was invalidated by your own act."

"My own act?" interrupts the disappointed man. "How by my own act?
explain yourself!" suddenly allowing his feelings to become excited.

"Sending for him to come to your bedside and pray for you. It was
when you thought Mr. Jones, the gentleman with the horns, stood over
you with a warrant in his hand," mine host whispers in his ear,
shrugging his shoulders, and giving his face a quizzical expression.
"You appreciated the mental of the property then; but now you view
it as a decided defect."

The disappointed gentleman remains silent for a few moments. He is
deeply impressed with the anomaly of his case, but has not the
slightest objection to fasten the responsibility on somebody, never
for a moment supposing the law would interpose against the exercise
of his very best inclinations. He hopes God will bless him, says it
is always his luck; yet he cannot relinquish the idea of somebody
being responsible. He will know more about the preaching rascal's
departure. Turning to mine host of the inn: "But, you must have a
clue to him, somewhere?" he says, enquiringly.

"There's my woman; can see if she knows anything about the nigger!"
returns mine host, complacently. Ellen Juvarna is brought into the
presence of the injured man, who interrogates her with great care;
but all her disclosures only tend to throw a greater degree of
mystery over the whole affair. At this, Mr. M'Fadden declares that
the policy he has always maintained with reference to education is
proved true with the preacher's running away. Nigger property should
never be perverted by learning; though, if you could separate the
nigger from the preaching part of the property, it might do some
good, for preaching was at times a good article to distribute among
certain slaves "what had keen instincts." At times, nevertheless, it
would make them run away. Ellen knew Harry as a good slave, a good
man, a good Christian, sound in his probity, not at all inclined to
be roguish,--as most niggers are--a little given to drink, but never
bad-tempered. Her honest opinion is that such a pattern of worthy
nature and moral firmness would not disgrace itself by running away,
unless induced by white "Buckra." She thinks she heard a lumbering
and shuffling somewhere about the pen, shortly after midnight. It
might have been wolves, however. To all this Mr. M'Fadden listens
with marked attention. Now and then he interposes a word, to gratify
some new idea swelling his brain. There is nothing satisfactory yet:
he turns the matter over and over in his mind, looks Ellen
steadfastly in the face, and watches the movement of every muscle.
"Ah!" he sighs, "nothing new developing." He dismissed the wench,
and turns to mine host of the inn. "Now, squire, (one minute mine
host is squire, and the next Mr. Jones) tell ye what 'tis; thar's
roguery goin on somewhere among them ar' fellers--them sharpers in
the city, I means! (he shakes his head knowingly, and buttons his
light sack-coat round him). That's a good gal, isn't she?" he
enquires, drawing his chair somewhat closer, his hard face assuming
great seriousness.

Mine host gives an affirmative nod, and says, "Nothin shorter! Can
take her word on a turn of life or death. Tip top gal, that! Paid a
price for her what u'd make ye wink, I reckon."

"That's just what I wanted to know," he interrupts, suddenly
grasping the hand of his friend. "Ye see how I'se a little of a
philosopher, a tall politician, and a major in the brigade down our
district,--I didn't get my law akermin for nothin; and now I jist
discovers how somebody-I mean some white somebody-has had a hand in
helpin that ar' nig' preacher to run off. Cus'd critters! never know
nothing till some white nigger fills their heads with roguery."

"Say, my worthy M'Fadden," interrupts the publican, rising suddenly
from his seat, as if some new discovery had just broke forth in his
mind, "war'nt that boy sold under a warrant?"

"Warranted-warranted-warranted sound in every particular? That he
was. Just think of this, squire; you're a knowin one. It takes you!
I never thought on't afore, and have had all my nervousness for
nothin. Warranted sound in every particular, means-"

"A moment!" mine host interposes, suddenly: "there's a keen point of
law there; but it might be twisted to some account, if a body only
had the right sort of a lawyer to twist it."

The perplexed man rejoins by hoping he may not be interrupted just
at this moment. He is just getting the point of it straight in his
mind. "You see," he says, "the thing begun to dissolve itself in my
philosophy, and by that I discovered the pint the whole thing stands
on. Its entirely metaphysical, though," he says, with a significant
shake of the head. He laughs at his discovery; his father, long
since, told him he was exceedingly clever. Quite a match for the
publican in all matters requiring a comprehensive mind, he declares
there are few lawyers his equal at penetrating into points. "He
warranted him in every particular," he mutters, as mine host,
watching his seriousness, endeavours to suppress a smile. M'Fadden
makes a most learned motion of the fore finger of the right hand,
which he presses firmly into the palm of his left, while contracting
his brows. He will soon essay forth the point of logic he wishes to
enforce. The property being a certain man endowed with preaching
propensities, soundness means the qualities of the man, mental as
well as physical; and running away being an unsound quality, the
auctioneer is responsible for all such contingencies. "I have him
there,--I have!" he holds up his hands exultingly, as he exclaims the
words; his face brightens with animation. Thrusting his hands into
his trowsers pockets he paces the room for several minutes, at a
rapid pace, as if his mind had been relieved of some deep study. "I
will go directly into the city, and there see what I can do with the
chap I bought that feller of. I think when I put the law points to
him, he'll shell out."

Making some preliminary arrangements with Jones of the tavern, he
orders a horse to the door immediately, and in a few minutes more is
hastening on his way to the city.

Arriving about noon-day, he makes his way through its busy
thoroughfares, and is soon in the presence of the auctioneer. There,
in wondrous dignity, sits the seller of bodies and souls, his
cushioned arm-chair presenting an air of opulence. How coolly that
pomp of his profession sits on the hard mask of his iron features,
beneath which lurks a contempt of shame! He is an important item in
the political hemisphere of the state, has an honourable position in
society (for he is high above the minion traders), joined the
Episcopal church not many months ago, and cautions Mr. M'Fadden
against the immorality of using profane language, which that
aggrieved individual allows to escape his lips ere he enters the
door.

The office of our man of fame and fortune is thirty feet long by
twenty wide, and sixteen high. Its walls are brilliantly papered,
and painted with landscape designs; and from the centre of the
ceiling hangs a large chandelier, with ground-glass globes, on which
eagles of liberty are inscribed. Fine black-walnut desks, in chaste
carving, stand along its sides, at which genteelly-dressed clerks
are exhibiting great attention to business. An oil-cloth, with large
flowers painted on its surface, spreads the floor, while an air of
neatness reigns throughout the establishment singularly at variance
with the outer mart, where Mr. Forshou sells his men, women, and
little children. But its walls are hung with badly-executed
engravings, in frames of gilt. Of the distinguished vender's taste a
correct estimation may be drawn when we inform the reader that many
of these engravings represented nude females and celebrated
racehorses.

"Excuse me, sir! I didn't mean it," Mr. M'Fadden says, in reply to
the gentleman's caution, approaching him as he sits in his elegant
chair, a few feet from the street door, luxuriantly enjoying a
choice regalia. "It's the little point of a very nasty habit that
hangs upon me yet. I does let out the swear once in a while, ye see;
but it's only when I gets a crook in my mind what won't come
straight." Thus M'Fadden introduces himself, surprised to find the
few very consistent oaths he has made use of not compatible with the
man-seller's pious business habits. He will be cautious the next
time; he will not permit such foul breath to escape and wound the
gentleman's very tender feelings.

Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden addresses him as squire, and with studious
words informs him of the nigger preacher property he sold him having
actually run away! "Ye warranted him, ye know, squire!" he says,
discovering the object of his visit, then drawing a chair, and
seating himself in close proximity.

"Can't help that-quality we never warrant!" coolly returns the
other, turning politely in his arm-chair, which works in a socket,
and directing a clerk at one of the desks to add six months'
interest to the item of three wenches sold at ten o'clock.

"Don't talk that ar way, squire! I trades a deal in your line, and a
heap o' times, with you. Now we'll talk over the legal points."

"Make them short, if you please!"

"Well! ye warranted the nigger in every particular. There's the
advertisement; and there's no getting over that! Ye must do the
clean thing-no possumin-squire, or there 'll be a long lawsuit what
takes the tin. Honour's the word in our trade." He watches the
changes that are fast coming over the vender's countenance, folds
his arms, places his right foot over his left knee, and awaits a
reply. Interrupting the vender just as he is about to give his
opinion he draws from his pocket a copy of the paper containing
the advertisement, and places it in his hand: "If ye'll be good
enough to squint at it, ye'll see the hang o' my ideas," he says.

"My friend," returns the vender, curtly, having glanced over the
paper, "save me and yourself any further annoyance. I could have
told you how far the property was warranted, before I read the
paper; and I remember making some very particular remarks when
selling that item in the invoice. A nigger's intelligence is often a
mere item of consideration in the amount he brings under the hammer;
but we never warrant the exercise or extension of it. Po'h, man! we
might just as well attempt to warrant a nigger's stealing, lying,
cunning, and all such 'cheating master' propensities. Some of them
are considered qualities of much value-especially by poor planters.
Warrant nigger property not to run away, eh! Oh! nothing could be
worse in our business."

"A minute, squire!" interrupts the appealing Mr. M'Fadden, just as
the other is about to add a suspending clause to his remarks. "If
warrantin nigger proper sound in all partiklers is'nt warrantin it
not to run away, I'm no deacon! When a nigger's got run-away in him
he ain't sound property, no way ye can fix it. Ye may turn all the
law and philosophy yer mind to over in yer head, but it won't cum
common sense to me, that ye warrant a nigger's body part, and let
the head part go unwarranted. When ye sells a critter like that, ye
sells all his deviltry; and when ye warrants one ye warrants
t'other; that's the square rule o' my law and philosophy!"

The vender puffs his weed very coolly the while; and then, calling a
negro servant, orders a chair upon which to comfortably place his
feet. "Are you through, my friend?" he enquires, laconically; and
being answered in the affirmative, proceeds-"I fear your philosophy
is common philosophy-not the philosophy upon which nigger law is
founded. You don't comprehend, my valued friend, that when we insert
that negro property will be warranted, we don't include the thinking
part; and, of course, running away belongs to that!" he would inform
all those curious on such matters. Having given this opinion for the
benefit of M'Fadden, and the rest of mankind interested in slavery,
he rises from his seat, elongates himself into a consequential posi-
tion, and stands biting his lips, and dangling his watch chain with
the fingers of his left hand.

"Take ye up, there," the other suddenly interrupts, as if he has
drawn the point from his antagonist, and is prepared to sustain the
principle, having brought to his aid new ideas from the deepest
recesses of his logical mind. Grasping the vender firmly by the arm,
he looks him in the face, and reminds him that the runaway part of
niggers belongs to the heels, and not to the head.

The vender exhibits some discomfiture, and, at the same time, a
decided unwillingness to become a disciple of such philosophy. Nor
is he pleased with the familiarity of his importuning customer,
whose arm he rejects with a repulsive air.

There has evidently become a very nice and serious question, of
which Mr. M'Fadden is inclined to take a commonsense view. His
opponent, however, will not deviate from the strictest usages of
business. Business mentioned the mental qualities of the property,
but warranted only the physical,--hence the curious perplexity.

While the point stands thus nicely poised between their logic,
Romescos rushes into the office, and, as if to surprise M'Fadden,
extends his hand, smiling and looking in his face gratefully, as if
the very soul of friendship incited him. "Mighty glad to see ye, old
Buck!" he ejaculates, "feared ye war going to kick out."

The appalled man stands for a few seconds as unmoved as a statue;
and then, turning with a half-subdued smile, takes the hand of the
other, coldly.

"Friends again! ain't we, old boy?" breaks forth from Romescos, who
continues shaking his hand, at the same time turning his head and
giving a significant wink to a clerk at one of the desks. "Politics
makes bad friends now and then, but I always thought well of you,
Mack! Now, neighbour, I'll make a bargain with you; we'll live as
good folks ought to after this," Romescos continues, laconically.
His advance is so strange that the other is at a loss to comprehend
its purport. He casts doubting glances at his wily antagonist, seems
considering how to appreciate the quality of such an unexpected
expression of friendship, and is half inclined to demand an earnest
of its sincerity. At the same time, and as the matter now stands, he
would fain give his considerate friend wide space, and remain within
a proper range of etiquette until his eyes behold the substantial.
He draws aside from Romescos, who says tremblingly: "Losing that
preacher, neighbour, was a hard case-warn't it? You wouldn't a'
catched this individual buyin' preachers-know too much about 'em, I
reckon! It's no use frettin, though; the two hundred dollars 'll
bring him. This child wouldn't want a profitabler day's work for his
hound dogs." Romescos winks at the vender, and makes grimaces over
M'Fadden's shoulder, as that gentleman turns and grumbles out,--"He
warranted him in every partikler; and running away is one of a
nigger's partiklers?"

"My pertinacious friend!" exclaims the vender, turning suddenly
towards his dissatisfied customer, "seeing you are not disposed to
comprehend the necessities of my business, nor to respect my
position, I will have nothing further to say to you upon the
subject-not another word, now!" The dignified gentleman expresses
himself in peremptory tones. It is only the obtuseness of his innate
character becoming unnecessarily excited.

Romescos interposes a word or two, by way of keeping up the zest;
for so he calls it. Things are getting crooked, according to his
notion of the dispute, but fightin' won't bring back the lost.
"'Spose ye leaves the settlin on't to me? There's nothing like
friendship in trade; and seeing how I am up in such matters, p'raps
I can smooth it down."

"There's not much friendship about a loss of this kind; and he was
warranted sound in every particular!" returns the invincible man,
shaking his head, and affecting great seriousness of countenance.

"Stop that harpin, I say!" the vender demands, drawing himself into
a pugnacious attitude; "your insinuations against my honour
aggravate me more and more."

"Well! just as you say about it," is the cool rejoinder. "But you
'll have to settle the case afore lawyer Sprouts, you will!"
Stupidly inclined to dog his opinions, the sensitive gentleman,
claiming to be much better versed in the mode of selling human
things, becomes fearfully enraged. M'Fadden contends purely upon
contingencies which may arise in the mental and physical
complications of property in man; and this the gentleman man-seller
cannot bear the reiteration of.

"Romescos thinks it is at best but a perplexin snarl, requiring
gentlemen to keep very cool. To him they are both honourable men,
who should not quarrel over the very small item of one preacher.
"This warrantin' niggers' heads never amounts to anything,--it's just
like warrantin' their heels; and when one gets bad, isn't t'other
sure to be movin? Them's my sentiments, gratis!" Stepping a few feet
behind M'Fadden, Romescos rubs his hands in great anxiety, makes
curious signs to the clerks at the desk, and charges his mouth with
a fresh cut of tobacco.

"Nobody bespoke your opinion," says the disconsolate M'Fadden,
turning quickly, in consequence of a sign he detected one of the
clerks making, and catching Romescos bestowing a grimace of no very
complimentary character, "Your presence and your opinion are, in my
estimation, things that may easily be dispensed with."

"I say!" interrupts Romescos, his right hand in a threatening
attitude, "not quite so fast"-he drawls his words-"a gentleman don't
stand an insult o' that sort. Just draw them ar' words back, like a
yard of tape, or this individual 'll do a small amount of bruising
on that ar' profile, (he draws his hand backward and forward across
M'Fadden's face). 'Twon't do to go to church on Sundays with a
broken phiz?" His face reddens with anger, as he works his head into
a daring attitude, grates his teeth, again draws his fist across
M'Fadden's face; and at length rubs his nasal organ.

"I understand you too well!" replies M'Fadden, with a curt twist of
his head. "A man of your cloth can't insult a gentleman like me;
you're lawless!" He moves towards the door, stepping sideways,
watching Romescos over his left shoulder.

"I say!-Romescos takes his man by the arm-Come back here, and make a
gentleman's apology!" He lets go M'Fadden's arm and seizes him by
the collar violently, his face in a blaze of excitement.

"Nigger killer!" ejaculates M'Fadden, "let go there!" He gives his
angry antagonist a determined look, as he, for a moment, looses his
hold. He pauses, as if contemplating his next move.

The very amiable and gentlemanly man-vender thinks it time he
interposed for the purpose of reconciling matters. "Gentlemen!
gentlemen! respect me, if you do not respect yourselves. My office
is no place for such disgraceful broils as these; you must go
elsewhere." The modest gentleman, whose very distinguished family
connexions have done much to promote his interests, would have it
particularly understood that his office is an important place, used
only for the very distinguished business of selling men, women, and
little children. But Romescos is not so easily satisfied. He pushes
the amiable gentleman aside, calls Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden a tyrant
what kills niggers by the detestably mean process of starving them
to death. "A pretty feller he is to talk about nigger killin! And
just think what our state has come to when such fellers as him can
make votes for the next election!" says Romescos, addressing himself
to the vender. "The Irish influence is fast destroying the political
morality of the country."

Turning to Mr. M'Fadden, who seems preparing for a display of his
combativeness, he adds, "Ye see, Mack, ye will lie, and lie crooked
too! and ye will steal, and steal dishonourably; and I can lick a
dozen on ye quicker nor chain lightnin? I can send the hol batch on
ye-rubbish as it is-to take supper t'other side of sundown." To be
equal with his adversary, Romescos is evidently preparing himself
for the reception of something more than words. Twice or thrice he
is seen to pass his right hand into the left breast pocket of his
sack, where commonly his shining steel is secreted. In another
moment he turns suddenly towards the vender, pushes him aside with
his left hand, and brings his right in close proximity with Mr.
M'Fadden's left listener. That individual exhibits signs of renewed
courage, to which he adds the significant warning: "Not quite so
close, if you please!"

"As close as I sees fit!" returns the other, with a sardonic grin.
"Why don't you resent it?-a gentleman would!"

Following the word, Mr. M'Fadden makes a pass at his antagonist,
which, he says, is only with the intention of keeping him at a
respectful distance. Scarcely has his arm passed when Romescos cries
out, "There! he has struck me! He has struck me again!" and deals
M'Fadden a blow with his clenched fist that fells him lumbering to
the floor. Simultaneously Romescos falls upon his prostrate victim,
and a desperate struggle ensues.

The vender, whose sacred premises are thus disgraced, runs out to
call the police, while the clerks make an ineffectual attempt to
separate the combatants. Not a policeman is to be found. At night
they may be seen swarming the city, guarding the fears of a white
populace ever sensitive of black rebellion.

Like an infuriated tiger, Romescos, nimble as a catamount, is fast
destroying every vestige of outline in his antagonist's face,
drenching it with blood, and adding ghastliness by the strangulation
he is endeavouring to effect.

"Try-try-trying to-kill-me-eh? You-you mad brute!" gutters out the
struggling man, his eyes starting from the sockets like balls of
fire, while gore and saliva foam from his mouth and nostrils as if
his struggles are in death.

"Kill ye-kill ye?" Romescos rejoins, the shaggy red hair falling in
tufts about his face, now burning with desperation: "it would be
killin' only a wretch whose death society calls for."

At this, the struggling man, like one borne to energy by the last
throes of despair, gives a desperate spring, succeeds in turning his
antagonist, grasps him by the throat with his left hand, and from
his pocket fires a pistol with his right. The report alarms; the
shrill whistle calls to the rescue; but the ball has only taken
effect in the flesh of Romescos's right arm. Quick to the moment,
his arm dripping with gore from the wound, he draws his glittering
dirk, and plunges it, with unerring aim, into the breast of his
antagonist. The wounded man starts convulsively, as the other coolly
draws back the weapon, the blood gushing forth in a livid stream.
"Is not that in self-defence?" exclaims the bloody votary, turning
his haggard and enraged face to receive the approval of the
bystanders. The dying man, writhing under the grasp of his murderer,
utters a piercing shriek. "Murdered! I'm dying! Oh, heaven! is this
my last-last-last? Forgive me, Lord,--forgive me!" he gurgles; and
making another convulsive effort, wrings his body from under the
perpetrator of the foul deed. How tenacious of life is the dying
man! He grasps the leg of a desk, raises himself to his feet, and,
as if goaded with the thoughts of hell, in his last struggles
staggers to the door,--discharges a second shot, vaults, as it were,
into the street, and falls prostrate upon the pavement, surrounded
by a crowd of eager lookers-on. He is dead! The career of Mr.
M'Fadden is ended; his spirit is summoned for trial before a just
God.

The murderer (perhaps we abuse the word, and should apply the more
southern, term of renconterist), sits in a chair, calling for water,
as a few among the crowd prepare to carry the dead body into
Graspum's slave-pen, a few squares below.

Southern sensibility may call these scenes by whatever name it will;
we have no desire to change the appropriateness, nor to lessen the
moral tenor of southern society. It nurtures a frail democracy, and
from its bastard offspring we have a tyrant dying by the hand of a
tyrant, and the spoils of tyranny serving the good growth of the
Christian church. Money constructs opinions, pious as well as
political, and even changes the feelings of good men, who invoke
heaven's aid against the bondage of the souls of men.

Romescos will not flee to escape the terrible award of earthly
justice. Nay, that, in our atmosphere of probity, would be
dishonourable; nor would it aid the purpose he seeks to gain.






CHAPTER XXXIV.

A COMMON INCIDENT SHORTLY TOLD.





THE dead body of Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden, whose heart was strong with
love of southern democracy, lies upon two pine-boards, ghastly and
unshrouded, in a wretched slave-pen. Romescos, surrounded by
admiring friends, has found his way to the gaol, where, as is the
custom, he has delivered himself up to its keeper. He has spent a
good night in that ancient establishment, and on the following
morning finds his friends vastly increased. They have viewed him as
rather desperate now and then; but, knowing he is brave withal, have
"come to the rescue" on the present occasion. These frequent visits
he receives with wonderful coolness and deference, their meats and
drinks (so amply furnished to make his stay comfortable) being a
great Godsend to the gaoler, who, while they last, will spread a
princely table.

Brien Moon, Esq.-better known as the good-natured coroner-has placed
a negro watchman over the body of the deceased, on which he proposes
to hold one of those curious ceremonies called inquests. Brien Moon,
Esq. is particularly fond of the ludicrous, is ever ready to
appreciate a good joke, and well known for his happy mode of
disposing of dead dogs and cats, which, with anonymous letters, are
in great numbers entrusted to his care by certain waggish gentlemen,
who desire he will "hold an inquest over the deceased, and not
forget the fees." It is said-the aristocracy, however, look upon the
charge with contempt-that Brien Moon, Esq. makes a small per centage
by selling those canine remains to the governor of the workhouse,
which very humane gentleman pays from his own pocket the means of
transferring them into giblet-pies for the inmates. It may be all
scandal about Mr. Moon making so large an amount from his office;
but it is nevertheless true that sad disclosures have of late been
made concerning the internal affairs of the workhouse.

The hour of twelve has arrived; and since eight in the morning Mr.
Moon's time has been consumed in preliminaries necessary to the
organisation of a coroner's jury. The reader we know will excuse our
not entering into the minuti‘ of the organisation. Eleven jurors
have answered the summons, but a twelfth seems difficult to procure.
John, the good Coroner's negro servant, has provided a sufficiency
of brandy and cigars, which, since the hour of eleven, have been
discussed without stint. The only objection our worthy disposer of
the dead has to this is, that some of his jurors, becoming very
mellow, may turn the inquest into a farce, with himself playing the
low-comedy part. The dead body, which lies covered with a sheet, is
fast becoming enveloped in smoke, while no one seems to have a
passing thought for it. Colonel Tom Edon,--who, they say, is not
colonel of any regiment, but has merely received the title from the
known fact of his being a hogdriver, which honourable profession is
distinguished by its colonels proceeding to market mounted, while
the captains walk,--merely wonders how much bad whiskey the dead 'un
consumed while he lived.

"This won't do!" exclaims Brien Moon, Esq., and proceeds to the door
in the hope of catching something to make his mournful number
complete. He happens upon Mr. Jonas Academy, an honest cracker, from
Christ's parish, who visits the city on a little business. Jonas is
a person of great originality, is enclosed in loosely-setting
homespun, has a woe-begone countenance, and wears a large-brimmed
felt hat. He is just the person to make the number complete, and is
led in, unconscious of the object for which he finds himself a
captive. Mr. Brien Moon now becomes wondrous grave, mounts a barrel
at the head of the corpse, orders the negro to uncover the body, and
hopes gentlemen will take seats on the benches he has provided for
them, while he proceeds to administer the oath. Three or four yet
retain their cigars: he hopes gentlemen will suspend their smoking
during the inquest. Suddenly it is found that seven out of the
twelve can neither read nor write; and Mr. Jonas Academy makes known
the sad fact that he does not comprehend the nature of an oath,
never having taken such an article in his life. Five of the
gentlemen, who can read and write, are from New England; while Mr.
Jonas Academy declares poor folks in Christ's parish are not fools,
troubled with reading and writing knowledge. He has been told they
have a thing called a college at Columbia; but only haristocrats get
any good of it. In answer to a question from Mr. Moon, he is happy
to state that their parish is not pestered with a schoolmaster.
"Yes, they killed the one we had more nor two years ago, thank Good!
Han't bin trubl'd with one o' the critters since" he adds, with
unmoved nerves. The Coroner suggests that in a matter of expediency
like the present it may be well to explain the nature of an oath;
and, seeing that a man may not read and write, and yet comprehend
its sacredness, perhaps it would be as well to forego the letter of
the law. "Six used to do for this sort of a jury, but now law must
have twelve," says Mr. Moon. Numerous voices assent to this, and Mr.
Moon commences what he calls "an halucidation of the nature of an
oath." The jurors receive this with great satisfaction, take the
oath according to his directions, and after listening to the
statement of two competent witnesses, who know but very little about
the affair, are ready to render a verdict,--"that M'Fadden, the
deceased, came to his death by a stab in the left breast, inflicted
by a sharp instrument in the hand or hands of Anthony Romescos,
during an affray commonly called a rencontre, regarding which there
are many extenuating circumstances." To this verdict Mr. Moon
forthwith bows assent, directs the removal of the body, and invites
the gentlemen jurors to join him in another drink, which he does in
compliment to their distinguished services. The dead body will be
removed to the receiving vault, and Mr. Moon dismisses his jurors
with many bows and thanks; and nothing more.






CHAPTER XXXV.

THE CHILDREN ARE IMPROVING.





THREE years have rolled round, and wrought great changes in the
aspect of affairs. M'Fadden was buried on his plantation, Romescos
was bailed by Graspum, and took his trial at the sessions for
manslaughter. It was scarcely worth while to trouble a respectable
jury with the paltry case-and then, they were so frequent! We need
scarcely tell the reader that he was honourably acquitted, and borne
from the court amid great rejoicing. His crime was only that of
murder in self-defence; and, as two tyrants had met, the successful
had the advantage of public opinion, which in the slave world soars
high above law. Romescos being again on the world, making his
cleverness known, we must beg the reader's indulgence, and request
him to accompany us while we return to the children.

Annette and Nicholas are, and have been since the sale, the property
of Graspum. They develope in size and beauty-two qualities very
essential in the man-market of our democratic world, the South.
Those beautiful features, intelligence, and reserve, are much
admired as merchandise; for southern souls are not lifted above this
grade of estimating coloured worth. Annette's cherub face, soft blue
eyes, clear complexion, and light auburn hair, add to the sweetness
of a countenance that education and care might make brilliant; and
yet, though reared on Marston's plantation, with unrestricted
indulgence, her childish heart seems an outpouring of native
goodness. She speaks of her mother with the affection of one of
maturer years; she grieves for her return, wonders why she is left
alone, remembers how kind that mother spoke to her when she said
good by, at the cell door. How sweet is the remembrance of a mother!
how it lingers, sparkling as a dewdrop, in a child's memory. Annette
feels the affliction, but is too young to divine the cause thereof.
She recalls the many happy plantation scenes; they are bright to her
yet! She prattles about Daddy Bob, Harry, Aunt Rachel, and old Sue,
now and then adding a solicitous question about Marston. But she
does not realise that he is her father; no, it was not her lot to
bestow a daughter's affection upon him, and she is yet too young to
comprehend the poison of slave power. Her childlike simplicity
affords a touching contrast to that melancholy injustice by which a
fair creature with hopes and virtues after God's moulding, pure and
holy, is made mere merchandise for the slave-market.

Annette has learned to look upon Nicholas as a brother; but, like
herself, he is kept from those of his own colour by some, to him,
unintelligible agency. Strange reflections flit through her youthful
imagination, as she embraces him with a sister's fondness. How oft
she lays her little head upon his shoulder, encircles his neck with
her fair arm, and braids his raven hair with her tiny fingers! She
little thinks how fatal are those charms she bears bloomingly into
womanhood.

But, if they alike increase in beauty as they increase in age, their
dispositions are as unlike as two opposites can be moulded. Nicholas
has inherited that petulant will, unbending determination, and
lurking love of avenging wrong, so peculiar to the Indian race. To
restlessness he adds distrust of those around him; and when
displeased, is not easily reconciled. He is, however, tractable, and
early evinced an aptitude for mechanical pursuits that would have
done credit to maturer years. Both have been at service, and during
the period have created no small degree of admiration-Annette for
her promising personal appearance, Nicholas for his precocious
display of talent. Both have earned their living; and now Nicholas
is arrived at an age when his genius attracts purchasers.

Conspicuous among those who have been keeping an eye on the little
fellow, is Mr. Jonathan Grabguy, a master-builder, largely engaged
in rearing dwellings. His father was a builder, and his mother used
to help the workmen to make Venetian blinds. Fortune showered her
smiles upon their energies, and brought them negro property in great
abundance. Of this property they made much; the father of the
present Mr. Grabguy (who became a distinguished mayor of the city)
viewing it peculiarly profitable to use up his niggers in five
years. To this end he forced them to incessant toil, belabouring
them with a weapon of raw hide, to which he gave the singular
cognomen of "hell-fire." When extra punishment was-according to his
policy-necessary to bring out the "digs," he would lock them up in
his cage (a sort of grated sentry-box, large enough to retain the
body in an upright position), and when the duration of this
punishment was satisfactory to his feelings, he would administer a
counter quantity of stings with his "hell-fire" wattle. Indeed, the
elder Mr. Grabguy, who afterwards became "His Worship the Mayor,"
was a wonderful disciplinarian, which very valuable traits of
character his son retains in all their purity. His acts deserve more
specific notice than we are at present able to give them, inasmuch
as by them the safety of a state is frequently endangered, as we
shall show in the climax.

Our present Mr. Grabguy is a small man, somewhat slender of person,
about five feet seven inches high, who usually dresses in the
habiliments of a working man, and is remarkable for his quickness.
His features are dark and undefinable, marked with that
thoughtfulness which applies only to the getting of wordly goods.
His face is narrow and careworn, with piercing brown eyes, high
cheek bones, projecting nose and chin, low forehead, and greyish
hair, which he parts in the centre. These form the strongest index
to his stubborn character; nevertheless he hopes, ere long, to reach
the same distinguished position held by his venerable father, who,
peace to his ashes! is dead.

"Now, good neighbour Graspum," says our Mr. Grabguy, as he stands in
Graspum's warehouse examining a few prime fellows, "I've got a small
amount to invest in stock, but I wants somethin' choice-say two or
three prime uns, handy at tools. I wants somethin' what 'll make
mechanics. Then I wants to buy," he continues, deliberately, "a few
smart young uns, what have heads with somethin' in 'um, that ye can
bring up to larn things. White mechanics, you see, are so
independent now-a-days, that you can't keep 'um under as you can
niggers.

"I've bin thinkin' 'bout tryin' an experiment with nigger prentices;
and, if it goes, we can dispense with white mechanics entirely. My
word for it, they're only a great nuisance at best. When you put 'um
to work with niggers they don't feel right, and they have notions
that our society don't respect 'um because they must mix with the
black rascals in following their trades; and this works its way into
their feelings so, that the best on 'um from the north soon give
themselves up to the worst dissipation. Ah! our white mechanics are
poor wretches; there isn't twenty in the city you can depend on to
keep sober two days."

"Well, sir," interrupts Graspum, with an air of great importance,
as, with serious countenance, he stands watching every change in Mr.
Grabguy's face, at intervals taking a cursory survey of his
merchandise, "can suit you to most anything in the line. You
understand my mode of trade, perfectly?" He touches Mr. Grabguy on
the arm, significantly, and waits the reply, which that gentleman
makes with a bow. "Well, if you do," he continues, "you know the
means and markets I have at my command. Can sell you young uns of
any age, prime uns of various qualities-from field hands down to
watch-makers, clergymen!" He always keeps a good supply on hand, and
has the very best means of supply. So Mr. Grabguy makes a purchase
of three prime men, whom he intends to transform into first-rate
mechanics. He declares he will not be troubled hereafter with those
very miserable white workmen he is constrained to import from the
north. They are foolish enough to think they are just as good as any
body, and can be gentlemen in their profession. They, poor fools!
mistake the south in their love of happy New England and its
society, as they call it.

Having completed his bargain, he hesitates, as if there is something
more he would like to have. "Graspum!" he says, "What for trade? can
we strike for that imp o' yours at Mrs. Tuttlewill's?" Without
waiting for Graspum's reply, he adds-"That chap 's goin to make a
tall bit of property one of these days!"

"Ought to," rejoins Graspum, stoically; "he's got right good stock
in him." The man of business gives his head a knowing shake, and
takes a fresh quid of tobacco. "Give that 'sprout' a chance in the
world, and he'll show his hand!" he adds.

"That's what I wants," intimates our tradesman. He has had his eye
on the fellow, and knows he's got a head what 'll make the very best
kind of a workman. But it will be necessary to take the stubborn out
without injuring the "larning" part. Mr. Grabguy, with great
unconcern, merely suggests these trifling matters for the better
regulating of Mr. Graspum's price.

"Can do that easy enough, if you only study the difference between a
nigger's hide and head. Can put welts on pretty strong, if you
understand the difference a'tween the too," intimates our man of
business, as he places his thumbs in his vest, and commences humming
a tune. Then he stops suddenly, and working his face into a very
learned contortion, continues-"Ye see, Grabguy, a man has to study
the human natur of a nigger just the same as he would a mule or a
machine. In truth, Grabguy, niggers are more like mules nor anything
else, 'cause the brute 'll do everything but what ye wants him to
do, afore he's subdued. You must break them when they are young.
About ten or a dozen welts, sir, well laid on when ye first begin,
and every time he don't toe the mark, will, in the course of a year,
make him as submissive as a spaniel-it will! The virtue of
submission is in the lash, it supples like seeds."

"About the stock, Graspum: I don't quite agree with you about
that,--I never believed in blood, ye know. As far as this imp goes, I
have my doubts about the blood doin on him much good; seein' how it
kind o' comes across my mind that there's some Ingin in him. Now, if
my philosophy serves me right, Ingin blood makes slave property want
to run away (the speaker spreads himself with great nonchalance),
the very worst fault."

"Poh! poh!-isn't a bit o' that about him. That imp 's from Marston's
estate, can't scare up nothin so promisin' in the way of likely
colour," Graspum interposes, with great assurance of manner. "You
didn't see the gal-did you?" he concludes.

"I reckon I've taken a squint at both on 'em! Pretty fine and
likely. From the same bankrupt concern, I s'pose?" Mr. Grabguy looks
quite serious, and waits for a reply.

"Yes-nothing less," Graspum replies, measuredly. "But won't it make
your eye water, neighbour Grabguy, one of these days! Bring a tall
price among some of our young bucks, eh!" He gives neighbour Grabguy
a significant touch on the arm, and that gentleman turns his head
and smiles. How quaintly modest!

"By the by, talking of Marston, what has become of him? His affairs
seem to have died out in the general levity which the number of such
cases occasion. But I tell you what it is, Graspum," (he whispers,
accompanying the word with an insinuating look), "report implicates
you in that affair."

"Me?-Me?-Me, Sir? God bless you! why, you really startle me. My
honour is above the world's scandal. Ah! if you only knew what I've
done for that man, Marston;--that cussed nephew of his came within a
feather of effecting my ruin. And there he lies, stubborn as a door-
plate, sweating out his obstinacy in gaol. Lord bless your soul, I'm
not to blame, you know!-I have done a world of things for him; but
he won't be advised."

"His creditors think he has more money, and money being the upshot
of all his troubles, interposes the point of difficulty in the
present instance. I tell them he has no more money, but--I know not
why--they doubt the fact the more, and refuse to release him, on the
ground of my purchasing their claims at some ulterior period, as I
did those two fi fas when the right of freedom was being contested
in the children. But, you see, Grabguy, I'm a man of standing; and
no money would tempt me to have anything to do with another such
case. It was by a mere quirk of law, and the friendship of so many
eminent lawyers, that I secured that fifteen hundred dollars from
M'Carstrow for the gal what disappeared so mysteriously."

"Graspum!" interrupts Mr. Grabguy, suddenly, accompanying his remark
with a laugh, "you're a good bit of a lawyer when it comes to the
cross-grained. You tell it all on one side, as lawyers do. I know
the risk you run in buying the fi fas on which those children were
attached!" Mr. Grabguy smiles, doubtingly, and shakes his head.

"There are liabilities in everything," Graspum drawls out,
measuredly. "Pardon me, my friend, you never should found opinion on
suspicion. More than a dozen times have I solicited Marston to file
his schedule, and take the benefit of the act. However, with all my
advice and kindness to him, he will not move a finger towards his
own release. Like all our high-minded Southerners, he is ready to
maintain a sort of compound between dignity and distress, with which
he will gratify his feelings. It's all pride, sir-pride!-you may
depend upon it." (Graspum lays his hands together, and affects
wondrous charity). "I pity such men from the very bottom of my
heart, because it always makes me feel bad when I think what they
have been. Creditors, sir, are very unrelenting; and seldom think
that an honourable man would suffer the miseries of a prison rather
than undergo the pain of being arraigned before an open court, for
the exposition of his poverty. Sensitiveness often founds the charge
of wrong. The thing is much misunderstood; I know it, sir! Yes, sir!
My own feelings make me the best judge," continues Graspum, with a
most serious countenance. He feels he is a man of wonderful parts,
much abused by public opinion, and, though always trying to promote
public good, never credited for his many kind acts.

Turning his head aside to relieve himself of a smile, Mr. Grabguy
admits that he is quite an abused man; and, setting aside small
matters, thinks it well to be guided by the good motto:--'retire
from business with plenty of money.' It may not subdue tongues, but
it will soften whispers. "Money," Mr. Grabguy intimates, "upon the
strength of his venerable father's experience, is a curious medium
of overcoming the ditchwork of society. In fact," he assures Graspum,
"that with plenty of shiners you may be just such a man as you
please; everybody will forget that you ever bought or sold a nigger,
and ten chances to one if you do not find yourself sloped off into
Congress, before you have had time to study the process of getting
there. But, enough of this, Graspum;--let us turn to trade matters.
What's the lowest shot ye'll take for that mellow mixture of Ingin
and aristocracy. Send up and bring him down: let us hear the lowest
dodge you'll let him slide at."

Mr. Grabguy evinces an off-handedness in trade that is quite equal
to Graspum's keen tact. But Graspum has the faculty of preserving a
disinterested appearance singularly at variance with his object.

A messenger is despatched, receipt in hand, for the boy Nicholas.
Mrs. Tuttlewell, a brusque body of some sixty years, and with
thirteen in a family, having had three husbands (all gentlemen of
the highest standing, and connected with first families), keeps a
stylish boarding-house, exclusively for the aristocracy, common
people not being competent to her style of living; and as nobody
could ever say one word against the Tuttlewell family, the present
head of the Tuttlewell house has become very fashionably
distinguished. The messenger's arrival is made known to Mrs.
Tuttlewell, who must duly consider the nature of the immediate
demand. She had reason to expect the services of the children would
have been at her command for some years to come. However, she must
make the very best of it; they are Graspum's property, and he can do
what he pleases with them. She suggests, with great politeness, that
the messenger take a seat in the lower veranda. Her house is located
in a most fashionable street, and none knew better than good lady
Tuttlewell herself the value of living up to a fashionable nicety;
for, where slavery exists, it is a trade to live.

Both children have been "waiting on table," and, on hearing the
summons, repair to their cabin in the yard. Mrs. Tuttlewell,
reconsidering her former decision, thinks the messenger better
follow them, seeing that he is a nigger with kindly looks. "Uncle!"
says Annette, looking up at the old Negro, as he joins them: "Don't
you want me too?"

"No," returns the man, coolly shaking his head.

"I think they must be going to take us back to the old plantation,
where Daddy Bob used to sing so. Then I shall see mother-how I do
want to see her!" she exclaims, her little heart bounding with
ecstasy. Three years or more have passed since she prattled on her
mother's knee.

The negro recognizes the child's simplicity. "I on'e wants dat
child; but da'h an't gwine t' lef ye out on da plantation, nohow!"
he says.

"Not going to take us home!" she says, with a sigh. Nicholas moodily
submits himself to be prepared, as Annette, more vivacious, keeps
interposing with various enquiries. She would like to know where
they are going to take little Nicholas; and when they will let her
go and see Daddy Bob and mother? "Now, you can take me; I know you
can!" she says, looking up at the messenger, and taking his hand
pertly.

"No-can't, little 'un! Mus' lef' 'um fo'h nuder time. You isn't
broder and sister-is ye?"

"No!" quickly replies the little girl, swinging his hand playfully;
"but I want to go where he goes; I want to see mother when he does."

"Well, den, little 'un (the negro sees he cannot overcome the
child's simplicity by any other means), dis child will come fo'h 'um
to-morrow-dat I will!"

"And you'll bring Nicholas back-won't you?" she enquires, grasping
the messenger more firmly by the hand.

"Sartin! no mistake 'bout dat, little 'uman." At this she takes
Nicholas by the hand, and retires to their little room in the cabin.
Here, like one of older years, she washes him, and dresses him, and
fusses over him.

He is merely a child for sale; so she combs his little locks, puts
on his new osnaburgs, arranges his nice white collar about his neck,
and makes him look so prim. And then she ties a piece of black
ribbon about his neck, giving him the bright appearance of a
school-boy on examination-day. The little girl's feelings seem as
much elated as would be a mother's at the prospect of her child
gaining a medal of distinction.

"Now, Nicholas!" she whispers, with touching simplicity, as she
views him from head to foot with a smile of exultation on her face,
"your mother never dressed you so neat. But I like you more and
more, Nicholas, because both our mothers are gone; and maybe we
shall never see 'um again." And she kisses him fondly,--tells him not
to stay long,--to tell her all he has seen and heard about mother,
when he returns.

"I don't know, 'Nette, but 'pears to me we ain't like other
children-they don't have to be sold so often; and I don't seem to
have any father."

"Neither do I; but Mrs. Tuttlewell says I mustn't mind that, because
there's thousands just like us. And then she says we ain't the same
kind o' white folks that she is; she says we are white, but niggers
for all that. I don't know how it is! I'm not like black folks,
because I'm just as white as any white folks," she rejoins, placing
her little arms round his neck and smoothing his hair with her left
hand.

"I'll grow up, one o' these days."

"And so will I," she speaks, boldly.

"And I'm goin' to know where my mother's gone, and why I ain't as
good as other folks' white children," he rejoins sullenly, shaking
his head, and muttering away to himself. It is quite evident that
the many singular stages through which he is passing, serve only to
increase the stubborness of his nature. The only black
distinguishable in his features are his eyes and hair; and, as he
looks in the glass to confirm what he has said, Annette takes him by
the hand, tells him he must not mind, now; that if he is good he
shall see Franconia,--and mother, too, one of these days. He must not
be pettish, she remarks, holding him by the hand like a sister whose
heart glows with hope for a brother's welfare. She gives him in
charge of the messenger, saying, "Good by!" as she imprints a kiss
on his cheek, its olive hues changing into deep crimson.

The negro answers her adieu with "Good by, little dear! God bless
'um!" Nay, the native goodness of his heart will not permit him to
leave her thus. He turns round, takes her in his arms, kisses and
kisses her fair cheek. It is the truth of an honest soul, expressed
with tears glistening in his eyes. Again taking Nicholas by the
hand, he hastens through the passage of Mrs. Tuttlewell's house
where, on emerging into the street, he is accosted by that very
fashionable lady, who desires to know if he has got the boy "all
right!" Being answered in the affirmative, she gives a very
dignified-"Glad of it," and desires her compliments to Mr. Graspum,
who she hopes will extend the same special regards to his family,
and retires to the quietude of her richly-furnished parlour.

The gentleman dealer and his customer are waiting in the man
shambles, while the negro messenger with his boy article of trade
plod their way along through the busy streets. The negro looks on
his charge with a smile of congratulation. "Mas'r 'll laugh all over
'e clothes when he sees ye-dat he will!" he says, with an air of
exultation.

"I'd like to know where I'm goin' to afore I go much further,"
returns the boy, curtly, as he walks along, every few minutes asking
unanswerable questions of the negro.

"Lor, child!" returns the negro, with a significant smile, "take ye
down to old massa what own 'um! Fo'h true!"

"Own me!" mutters the child, surlily. "How can they own me without
owning my mother?--and I've no father."

"White man great 'losipher; he know so much, dat nigger don't know
nofin," is the singularly significant answer.

"But God didn't make me for a nigger,--did he?"

"Don' know how dat is, child. 'Pears like old mas'r tink da' ain't
no God; and what he sees in yander good book lef 'um do just as 'e
mind to wid nigger. Sometimes Buckra sell nigger by de pound, just
like 'e sell pig; and den 'e say 't was wid de Lord's will."

"If mas'r Lord be what Buckra say he be, dis child don' want t'be
'quainted wid 'um," he coolly dilates, as if he foresees the
mournful result of the child's bright endowments.

The negro tries to quiet the child's apprehensions by telling him he
thinks "Buckra, what's waiting down in da'h office, gwine t' buy 'um
of old mas'r. Know dat Buckra he sharp feller. Get e' eye on ye, and
make up 'e mind what 'e gwine to give fo'h 'um, quicker!" says the
negro.

Graspum has invited his customer, Mr. Grabguy, into his more
comfortable counting-room, where, as Nicholas is led in, they may be
found discussing the rights of the south, as guaranteed by the
federal constitution. The south claim rights independent of the
north; and those rights are to secede from the wrongs of the north
whenever she takes into her head the very simple notion of carrying
them out. Graspum, a man of great experience, whose keen sense of
justice is made keener by his sense of practical injustice,--thinks
the democracy of the south was never fully understood, and that the
most sure way of developing its great principles is by hanging every
northerner, whose abolition mania is fast absorbing the liberties of
the country at large.

"That's the feller!" says Mr. Grabguy, as the negro leads Nicholas
into his presence, and orders him to keep his hands down while the
gentleman looks at him. "Stubborn sticks out some, though, I
reckon," Mr. Grabguy adds, rather enthusiastically. "Absalom! Isaac!
Joe! eh? what's your name?"

"He's a trump!" interposes Graspum, rubbing his hands together, and
giving his head a significant shake.

"Nicholas, they call me, master," answers the boy, pettishly.

Mr. Grabguy takes him by the arms, feels his muscle with great care
and caution, tries the elasticity of his body by lifting him from
the floor by his two ears. This is too much, which the child
announces with loud screams. "Stuff! out and out," says Mr. Grabguy,
patting him on the back, in a kind sort of way. At the same time he
gives a look of satisfaction at Graspum.

"Everything a man wants, in that yaller skin," returns that
methodical tradesman, with a gracious nod.

"Black lightnin' eyes-long wiry black hair, a skin full of Ingin
devil, and a face full of stubborn," Mr. Grabguy discourses, as he
contemplates the article before him.

"Well, now, about the lowest figure for him?" he continues, again
looking at Graspum, and waiting his reply. That gentleman, drawing
his right hand across his mouth, relieves it of the virtueless
deposit, and supplies it with a fresh quid.

"Sit down, neighbour Grabguy," he says, placing a chair beside him.
They both sit down; the negro attendant stands a few feet behind
them: the boy may walk a line backward and forward. "Say the word!
You know I'll have a deal o' trouble afore breaking the feller in,"
Grabguy exclaims, impatiently.

Graspum is invoking his philosophy. He will gauge the point of value
according to the coming prospect and Mr. Grabguy's wants. "Well,
now, seeing it's you, and taking the large amount of negro property
I have sold to your distinguished father into consideration-I hope
to sell forty thousand niggers yet, before I die-he should bring six
hundred." Graspum lays his left hand modestly on Mr. Grabguy's right
arm, as that gentleman rather starts with surprise. "Take the
extraordinary qualities into consideration, my friend; he's got a
head what's worth two hundred dollars more nor a common nigger,--that
is, if you be going to turn it into knowledge profit. But that
wasn't just what I was going to say" (Graspum becomes profound, as
he spreads himself back in his chair). "I was going to say, I'd let
you-you mustn't whisper it, though-have him for five hundred and
twenty; and he's as cheap at that as bull-dogs at five dollars."

Grabguy shakes his head: he thinks the price rather beyond his mark.
He, however, has no objection to chalking on the figure; and as both
are good democrats, they will split the difference.

Graspum, smiling, touches his customer significantly with his elbow.
"I never do business after that model," he says. "Speaking of
bull-dogs, why, Lord bless your soul, Sam Beals and me traded
t'other day: I gin him a young five-year old nigger for his hound,
and two hundred dollars to boot. Can't go five hundred and twenty
for that imp, nohow! Could o' got a prime nigger for that, two years
ago."

"Wouldn't lower a fraction! He's extraordinary prime, and'll
increase fifty dollars a year every year for ten years or more."

Mr. Grabguy can't help that: he is merely in search of an article
capable of being turned into a mechanic, or professional
man,--anything to suit the exigencies of a free country, in which
such things are sold. And as it will require much time to get the
article to a point where it'll be sure to turn the pennies back,
perhaps he'd as well let it alone: so he turns the matter over in
his head. And yet, there is a certain something about the "young
imp" that really fascinates him; his keen eye, and deep sense of
nigger natur' value, detect the wonderful promise the article holds
forth.

"Not one cent lower would I take for that chap. In fact, I almost
feel like recanting now," says Graspum, by way of breaking the
monotony.

"Well, I'll bid you good day," says the other, in return, affecting
preparation to leave. He puts out his hand to Graspum, and with a
serious look desires to know if that be the lowest figure.

"Fact! Don't care 'bout selling at that. Couldn't have a better
investment than to keep him!"

Mr. Grabguy considers and reconsiders the matter over in his mind;
paces up and down the floor several times, commences humming a tune,
steps to the door, looks up and down the street, and says, "Well,
I'll be moving homeward, I will."

"Like yer custom, that I do; but then, knowing what I can do with
the fellow, I feels stiff about letting him go," interposes Graspum,
with great indifference, following to the door, with hands extended.

This is rather too insinuating for Mr. Grabguy. Never did piece of
property loom up so brightly, so physically and intellectually
valuable. He will return to the table. Taking his seat again, he
draws forth a piece of paper, and with his pencil commences figuring
upon it. He wants to get at the cost of free and slave labour, and
the relative advantages of the one over the other. After a deal of
multiplying and subtracting, he gives it up in despair. The fine
proportions of the youth before him distract his very brain with
contemplation. He won't bother another minute; figures are only
confusions: so far as using them to compute the relative value of
free and slave labour, they are enough to make one's head ache.
"Would ye like to go with me, boy? Give ye enough to eat, but make
ye toe the mark!" He looks at Nicholas, and waits a reply.

"Don't matter!" is the boy's answer. "Seems as if nobody cared for
me; and so I don't care for nobody."

"That's enough," he interrupts, turning to Graspum: "there's a
showing of grit in that, eh?"

"Soon take it out," rejoins that methodical gentleman. "Anyhow, I've
a mind to try the fellow, Graspum. I feel the risk I run; but I
don't mind-it's neck or nothin here in the south! Ye'll take a long
note, s'pose? Good, ye know!"

Graspum motions his head and works his lips, half affirmatively.

"Good as old gold, ye knows that," insinuates Mr. Grabguy.

"Yes, but notes aint cash; and our banks are shut down as tight as
steel traps. At all events make it bankable, and add the interest
for six months. It's against my rules of business, though," returns
Graspum, with great financial emphasis.

After considerably more very nice exhibitions of business tact, it
is agreed that Mr. Grabguy takes the "imp" at five hundred and
twenty dollars, for which Graspum accepts his note at six months,
with interest. Mr. Grabguy's paper is good, and Graspum considers it
equal to cash, less the interest. The "imp" is now left in charge of
the negro, while the two gentlemen retire to the private
counting-room, where they will settle the preliminaries.

A grave-looking gentleman at a large desk is ordered to make the
entry of sale; as the initiate of which he takes a ponderous ledger
from the case, and, with great coolness, opens its large leaves.
"Nicholas, I think his name is?" he ejaculates, turning to Graspum,
who, unconcernedly, has resumed his seat in the great arm-chair.

"Yes; but I suppose it must be Nicholas Grabguy, now," returns
Graspum, bowing to his book-keeper, and then turning to Mr. Grabguy.

"One minute, if you please!" rejoins that gentlemen, as the sedate
book-keeper turns to his page of N's in the index. Mr. Grabguy will
consider that very important point for a few seconds.

"Better drop the Marston, as things are. A good many high feeling
connections of that family remain; and to continue the name might be
to give pain." This, Graspum says, he only puts out as a suggestion.

"Enter him as you say, gentlemen," interposes the clerk, who will
mend his pen while waiting their pleasure.

Mr. Grabguy runs his right hand several times across his forehead,
and after a breathless pause, thinks it as well not to connect his
distinguished name with that of the nigger,--not just at this moment!
Being his property, and associating with his business and people,
that will naturally follow. "Just enter him, and make out the bill
of sale describing him as the boy Nicholas," he adds.

"Boy Nicholas!" reiterates the book-keeper, and straight-way enters
his name, amount fetched, to whom sold, and general description, on
his files. In a few minutes more-Graspum, in his chair of state, is
regretting having sold so quick,--Mr. Grabguy is handed his bill of
sale, duly made out. At the same time, that sedate official places
the note for the amount into Graspum's hands. Graspum examines it
minutely, while Mr. Grabguy surveys the bill of sale. "Mr. Benson,
my clerk here, does these things up according to legal tenour; he,
let me inform you, was brought up at the law business, and was
rather celebrated once; but the profession won't pay a man of his
ability," remarks Graspum, with an "all right!" as he lays the note
of hand down for Mr. Grabguy's signature.

Mr. Benson smiles in reply, and adjusts the very stiffly starched
corners of his ponderous shirt collar, which he desires to keep well
closed around his chin. "An honourable man, that's true, sir, can't
live honestly by the law, now-a-days," he concludes, with measured
sedateness. He will now get his bill-book, in which to make a record
of the piece of paper taken in exchange for the human 'imp.'

"Clap your name across the face!" demands Graspum; and Grabguy
seizes a pen, and quickly consummates the bargain by inscribing his
name, passing it to Mr. Benson, and, in return, receiving the bill
of sale, which he places in his breast pocket. He will not trouble
Mr. Benson any further; but, if he will supply a small piece of
paper, Mr. Grabguy will very kindly give the imp an order, and send
him to his workshop.

"Will the gentleman be kind enough to help himself," says Mr.
Benson, passing a quire upon the table at which Mr. Grabguy sits.

"I'll trim that chap into a first-rate mechanic," says Mr. Grabguy,
as he writes,--"I have bought the bearer, Nicholas, a promising chap,
as you will see. Take him into the shop and set him at something, if
it is only turning the grindstone; as I hav'nt made up my mind
exactly about what branch to set him at. He's got temper-you'll see
that in a minute, and will want some breakin in, if I don't calklate
'rong." This Mr. Grabguy envelopes, and directs to his master
mechanic. When all things are arranged to his satisfaction, Nicholas
is again brought into his presence, receives an admonition, is told
what he may expect if he displays his bad temper, is presented with
the note, and despatched, with sundry directions, to seek his way
alone, to his late purchaser's workshop.

"Come, boy! ain't you going to say 'good-by' to me 'afore you go? I
hav'nt been a bad master to you," says Graspum, putting out his
hand.

"Yes, master," mutters the child, turning about ere he reaches the
door. He advances towards Graspum, puts out his little hand; and in
saying "good by, master," there is so much childish simplicity in
his manner that it touches the tender chord embalmed within that
iron frame. "Be a good little fellow!" he says, his emotions rising.
How strong are the workings of nature when brought in contact with
unnatural laws! The monster who has made the child wretched--who has
for ever blasted its hopes, shakes it by the hand, and says--"good
by, little 'un!" as it leaves the door to seek the home of a new
purchaser. How strange the thoughts invading that child's mind, as,
a slave for life, it plods its way through the busy thoroughfares!
Forcibly the happy incidents of the past are recalled; they are
touching reclections-sweets in the dark void of a slave's life; but
to him no way-marks, to measure the happy home embalmed therein, are
left.






CHAPTER XXXVI.

WORKINGS OF THE SLAVE SYSTEM.





DEMOCRACY! thy trumpet voice for liberty is ever ringing in our
ears; but thy strange workings defame thee. Thou art rampant in love
of the "popular cause," crushing of that which secures liberty to
all; and, whilst thou art great at demolishing structures, building
firm foundations seems beyond thee, for thereto thou forgetteth to
lay the cornerstone well on the solid rock of principle. And, too,
we love thee when thou art moved and governed by justice; we hate
thee when thou showest thyself a sycophant to make a mad mob serve a
pestilential ambition. Like a young giant thou graspest power; but,
when in thy hands, it becomes a means of serving the baser ends of
factious demagogues. Hypocrite! With breath of poison thou hast sung
thy songs to liberty while making it a stepping-stone to injustice;
nor hast thou ever ceased to wage a tyrant's war against the rights
of man. Thou wearest false robes; thou blasphemest against heaven,
that thy strength in wrong may be secure-yea, we fear thy end is
fast coming badly, for thou art the bastard offspring of
Republicanism so purely planted in our land. Clamour and the lash
are thy sceptres, and, like a viper seeking its prey, thou charmest
with one and goadeth men's souls with the other. Having worked thy
way through our simple narrative, show us what thou hast done. A
father hast thou driven within the humid wall of a prison, because
he would repent and acknowledge his child. Bolts and bars, in such
cases, are democracy's safeguards; but thou hast bound with heavy
chains the being who would rise in the world, and go forth healing
the sick and preaching God's word. Even hast thou turned the hearts
of men into stone, and made them weep at the wrong thou gavest them
power to inflict. That bond which God gave to man, and charged him
to keep sacred, thou hast sundered for the sake of gold,--thereby
levelling man with the brutes of the field. Thou hast sent two
beautiful children to linger in the wickedness of slavery,--to die
stained with its infamy! Thou hast robbed many a fair one of her
virtue, stolen many a charm; but thy foulest crime is, that thou
drivest mothers and fathers from the land of their birth to seek
shelter on foreign soil. Would to God thou could'st see thyself as
thou art,--make thy teachings known in truth and justice,--cease to
mock thyself in the eyes of foreign tyrants, nor longer serve
despots who would make thee the shield of their ill-gotten power!

Within those malarious prison walls, where fast decays a father who
sought to save from slavery's death the offspring he loved, will be
found a poor, dejected negro, sitting at the bedside of the
oppressed man, administering to his wants. His friendship is true
unto death,--the oppressed man is his angel, he will serve him at
the sacrifice of life and liberty. He is your true republican, the
friend of the oppressed! Your lessons of democracy, so swelling, so
boastfully arrayed for a world's good, have no place in his
soul,--goodness alone directs his examples of republicanism. But we
must not be over venturous in calling democracy to account, lest we
offend the gods of power and progress. We will, to save ourselves,
return to our narrative.

Marston, yet in gaol, stubbornly refuses to take the benefit of the
act,--commonly called the poor debtor's act. He has a faithful friend
in Daddy Bob, who has kept his ownership concealed, and, with the
assistance of Franconia, still relieves his necessities. Rumour,
however, strongly whispers that Colonel M'Carstrow is fast gambling
away his property, keeping the worst of company, and leading the
life of a debauchee,--which sorely grieves his noble-hearted wife. In
fact, Mrs. Templeton, who is chief gossip-monger of the city,
declares that he is more than ruined, and that his once beautiful
wife must seek support at something.

An honest jury of twelve free and enlightened citizens, before the
honourable court of Sessions, have declared Romescos honourably
acquitted of the charge of murder, the fatal blow being given in
commendable self-defence.

The reader will remember that in a former chapter we left the stolen
clergyman (no thanks to his white face and whiter necked brethren of
the profession), on the banks of the Mississippi, where, having
purchased his time of his owner, he is not only a very profitable
investment to that gentleman, but of great service on the
neighbouring plantations. Earnest in doing good for his fellow
bondmen, his efforts have enlisted for him the sympathy of a
generous-hearted young lady, the daughter of a neighbouring planter.
Many times had he recounted Mrs. Rosebrook's friendship for him to
her, and by its influence succeeded in opening the desired
communication. Mrs. Rosebrook had received and promptly answered all
his fair friend's letters: the answers contained good news for
Harry; she knew him well, and would at once set about inducing her
husband to purchase him. But here again his profession interposed a
difficulty, inasmuch as its enhancing the value of the property to
so great an extent would make his master reluctant to part with him.
However, as nothing could be more expressive of domestic attachment
than the manner in which the Rosebrooks studied each other's
feelings for the purpose of giving a more complete happiness, our
good lady had but to make known her wish, and the deacon stood ready
to execute it. In the present case he was but too glad of the
opportunity of gratifying her feelings, having had the purchase of a
clergyman in contemplation for some months back. He sought Harry
out, and, after bartering (the planter setting forth what a deal of
money he had made by his clergyman) succeeded in purchasing him for
fourteen hundred dollars, the gentleman producing legalised papers
of his purchase, and giving the same. As for his running away, there
is no evidence to prove that; nor will Harry's pious word be taken
in law to disclose the kidnapping. M'Fadden is dead,--his estate has
long since been administered upon; Romescos murdered the proof, and
swept away the dangerous contingency.

Here, then, we find Harry-we must pass over the incidents of his
return back in the old district-about to administer the Gospel to
the negroes on the Rosebrook estates. He is the same good,
generous-hearted black man he was years ago. But he has worked hard,
paid his master a deal of money for his time, and laid up but little
for himself. His clothes, too, are somewhat shabby, which, in the
estimation of the Rosebrook negroes-who are notoriously aristocratic
in their notions-is some detriment to his ministerial character. At
the same time, they are not quite sure that Harry Marston, as he
must now be called, will preach to please their peculiar mode of
thinking. Master and missus have given them an interest in their
labour; and, having laid by a little money in missus's savings bank,
they are all looking forward to the time when they will have gained
their freedom, according to the promises held out. With these
incitements of renewed energy they work cheerfully, take a deep
interest in the amount of crop produced, and have a worthy regard
for their own moral condition. And as they will now pay tribute for
the support of a minister of the Gospel, his respectability is a
particular object of their watchfulness. Thus, Harry's first
appearance on the plantation, shabbily dressed, is viewed with
distrust. Uncle Bradshaw, and old Bill, the coachman, and Aunt
Sophy, and Sophy's two gals, and their husbands, are heard in
serious conclave to say that "It won't do!" A clergy gentleman, with
no better clothes than that newcomer wears, can't preach good and
strong, nohow! Dad Daniel is heard to say. Bradshaw shakes his white
head, and says he's goin' to have a short talk with master about it.
Something must be done to reconcile the matter.

Franconia and good Mrs. Rosebrook are not so exacting: the latter
has received him with a warm welcome, while the former, her heart
bounding with joy on hearing of his return, hastened into his
presence, and with the affection of a child shook, and shook, and
shook his hand, as he fell on his knees and kissed hers. "Poor
Harry!" she says, "how I have longed to see you, and your poor wife
and children!"

"Ah, Franconia, my young missus, it is for them my soul fears."

"But we have found out where they are," she interrupts.

"Where they are!" he reiterates.

"Indeed we have!" Franconia makes a significant motion with her
head.

"It's true, Harry; and we'll see what can be done to get them back,
one of these days," adds Mrs. Rosebrook, her soul-glowing eyes
affirming the truth of her assertion. They have come out to spend
the day at the plantation, and a happy day it is for those whose
hearts they gladden with their kind words. How happy would be our
south-how desolate the mania for abolition--if such a comity of good
feeling between master and slaves existed on every plantation! And
there is nothing to hinder such happy results of kindness.

"When that day comes, missus,--that day my good old woman and me will
be together again,--how happy I shall be! Seems as if the regaining
that one object would complete my earthly desires. And my
children,--how much I have felt for them, and how little I have
said!" returns Harry, as, seated in the veranda of the plantation
mansion, the two ladies near him are watching his rising emotions.

"Never mind, Harry," rejoins Franconia; "it will all be well, one of
these days. You, as well as uncle, must bear with trouble. It is a
world of trouble and trial." She draws her chair nearer him, and
listens to his narrative of being carried off,--his endeavours to
please his strange master down in Mississippi,--the curious manner in
which his name was changed,--the sum he was compelled to pay for his
time, and the good he effected while pursuing the object of his
mission on the neighbouring plantations. Hope carried him through
every trial,--hope prepared his heart for the time of his
delivery,--hope filled his soul with gratitude to his Maker, and
hope, which ever held its light of freedom before him, inspired him
with that prayer he so thankfully bestowed on the head of his
benefactor, whose presence was as the light of love borne to him on
angels' wings.

Moved to tears by his recital of past struggles, and the expression
of natural goodness exhibited in the resignation with which he bore
them, ever praying and trusting to Him who guides our course in
life, Franconia in turn commenced relating the misfortunes that had
befallen her uncle. She tells him how her uncle has been reduced to
poverty through Lorenzo's folly, and Graspum, the negro dealer's
undiscoverable mode of ensnaring the unwary. He has been importuned,
harassed, subjected to every degradation and shame, scouted by
society for attempting to save those beautiful children, Annette and
Nicholas, from the snares of slavery. And he now welters in a
debtor's prison, with few save his old faithful Daddy Bob for
friends.

"Master, and my old companion, Daddy Bob!" exclaims Harry,
interrupting her at the moment.

"Yes: Daddy takes care of him in his prison cell."

"How often old Bob's expressive face has looked upon me in my
dreams! how often he has occupied my thoughts by day!"

"Goodness belongs to him by nature."

"And master is in prison; but Daddy is still his friend and
faithful! Well, my heart sorrows for master: I know his proud heart
bleeds under the burden," he says, shaking his head sorrowfully.
There is more sympathy concealed beneath that black exterior than
words can express. He will go and see master; he will comfort him
within his prison walls; he will rejoin Daddy Bob, and be master's
friend once more. Mrs. Rosebrook, he is sure, will grant him any
privilege in her power. That good lady is forthwith solicited, and
grants Harry permission to go into the city any day it suits his
convenience-except Sunday, when his services are required for the
good of the people on the plantation. Harry is delighted with this
token of her goodness, and appoints a day when he will meet Miss
Franconia,--as he yet calls her,--and go see old master and Daddy. How
glowing is that honest heart, as it warms with ecstasy at the
thought of seeing "old master," even though he be degraded within
prison walls!

While this conversation is going on in the veranda, sundry aged
members of negro families--aunties and mammies--are passing backwards
and forwards in front of the house, casting curious glances at the
affection exhibited for the new preacher by "Miss Franconia." The
effect is a sort of reconciliation of the highly aristocratic
objections they at first interposed against his reception. "Mus' be
somebody bigger dan common nigger preacher; wudn't cotch Miss
Frankone spoken wid 'um if 'um warn't," says Dad Timothy's Jane, who
is Uncle Absalom's wife, and, in addition to having six coal-black
children, as fat and sleek as beavers, is the wise woman of the
cabins, around whom all the old veteran mammies gather for
explanations upon most important subjects. In this instance she is
surrounded by six or seven grave worthies, whose comical faces add
great piquancy to the conclave. Grandmumma Dorothy, who declares
that she is grandmother to she don't know how much little growing-up
property, will venture every grey hair in her head-which is as white
as the snows of Nova Scotia-that he knows a deal o' things about the
gospel, or he wouldn't have missus for such a close acquaintance.
"But his shirt ain't just da'h fashon fo'h a 'spectable minister ob
de gospel," she concludes, with profound wisdom evinced in her
measured nod.

Aunt Betsy, than whose face none is blacker, or more comically
moulded, will say her word; but she is very profound withal. "Reckon
how tain't de clo' what make e' de preacher tink good" (Aunty's lip
hangs seriously low the while). "Lef missus send some calico fum
town, and dis old woman son fix 'um into shirt fo'h him," she says,
with great assurance of her sincerity.

Harry-Mister Harry, as he is to be called by the people-finds
himself comfortably at home; the only drawback, if such it may be
called, existing in the unwillingness exhibited on the part of one
of the overseers to his being provided with apartments in the
basement of the house instead of one of the cabins. This, however,
is, by a few conciliatory words from Mrs. Rosebrook, settled to the
satisfaction of all. Harry has supper provided for him in one of the
little rooms downstairs, which he is to make his Study, and into
which he retires for the night.

When daylight has departed, and the very air seems hanging in
stillness over the plantation, a great whispering is heard in Dad
Daniel's cabin-the head quarters, where grave matters of state, or
questions affecting the moral or physical interests of the
plantation, are discussed, and Dad Daniel's opinion held as most
learned-the importance of which over the other cabins is denoted by
three windows, one just above the door being usually filled with
moss or an old black hat. Singular enough, on approaching the cabin
it is discovered that Daniel has convoked a senate of his sable
brethren, to whom he is proposing a measure of great importance.
"Da'h new precher, gemen! is one ob yer own colur-no more Buckra
what on'e gib dat one sarmon,--tank God fo'h dat!-and dat colour
geman, my children, ye must look up to fo'h de word from de good
book. Now, my bredren, 'tis posin' on ye dat ye make dat geman
'spectable. I poses den, dat we, bredren, puts in a mite apiece, and
gib dat ar' geman new suit ob fus' bes'clof', so 'e preach fresh and
clean," Dad Daniel is heard to say. And this proposition is carried
out on the following morning, when Daddy Daniel-his white wool so
cleanly washed, and his face glowing with great
good-nature-accompanied by a conclave of his sable companions,
presents himself in the front veranda, and demands to see "missus."
That all-conciliating personage is ever ready to receive
deputations, and on making her appearance, and receiving the usual
salutations from her people, receives from the hand of that
venerable prime minister, Daddy Daniel, a purse containing twelve
dollars and fifty cents. It is the amount of a voluntary
contribution-a gift for the new preacher. "Missus" is requested,
after adding her portion, to expend it in a suit of best black for
the newcomer, whom they would like to see, and say "how de, to."

Missus receives this noble expression of their gratitude with thanks
and kind words. Harry is summoned to the veranda, where, on making
his appearance, he is introduced to Dad Daniel, who, in return,
escorts him down on the plazza where numbers of the people have
assembled to receive him. Here, with wondrous ceremony, Dad Daniel
doing the polite rather strong, he is introduced to all the
important people of the plantation. And such a shaking of hands,
earnest congratulations, happy "how des," bows, and joyous laughs,
as follow, place the scene so expressive of happiness beyond the
power of pen to describe. Then he is led away, followed by a train
of curious faces, to see Dad Daniel's neatly-arranged cabin; after
which he will see plantation church, and successively the people's
cabins. To-morrow evening, at early dusk, it is said, according to
invitation and arrangement, he will sup on the green with his sable
brethren, old and young, and spice up the evening's entertainment
with an exhortation; Dad Daniel, as is his custom, performing the
duties of deacon.

Let us pass over this scene, and-Harry having ingratiated himself
with the plantation people, who are ready to give him their
distinguished consideration-ask the reader to follow us through the
description of another, which took place a few days after.

Our clergyman has delivered to his sable flock his first sermon,
which Dad Daniel and his compatriots pronounce great and good,--just
what a sermon should be. Such pathos they never heard before; the
enthusiasm and fervency with which it was delivered inspires
delight; they want no more earnestness of soul than the fervency
with which his gesticulations accompanied the words; and now he has
obtained a furlough that he may go into the city and console his old
master. A thrill of commiseration seizes him as he contemplates his
once joyous master now in prison; but, misgivings being useless,
onward he goes. And he will see old Bob, recall the happy incidents
of the past, when time went smoothly on.

He reaches the city, having tarried a while at missus's villa, and
seeks M'Carstrow's residence, at the door of which he is met by
Franconia, who receives him gratefully, and orders a servant to show
him into the recess of the hall, where he will wait until such time
as she is ready to accompany him to the county prison. M'Carstrow
has recently removed into plainer tenements: some whisper that
necessity compelled it, and that the "large shot" gamblers have
shorn him down to the lowest imaginable scale of living. Be this as
it may, certain it is that he has not looked within the doors of his
own house for more than a week: report says he is enjoying himself
in a fashionable house, to the inmates of which he is familiarly
known. He certainly leads his beautiful wife anything but a pleasant
or happy life. Soon Franconia is ready, and onward wending her way
for the gaol, closely followed by Harry. She would have no objection
to his walking by her side, but custom (intolerant interposer) will
not permit it. They pass through busy thoroughfares and narrow
streets into the suburbs, and have reached the prison outer gate, on
the right hand of which, and just above a brass knob, are the
significant words, "Ring the bell."

"What a place to put master in!" says Harry, in a half whisper,
turning to Franconia, as he pulls the brass handle and listens for
the dull tinkling of the bell within. He starts at the muffled
summons, and sighs as he hears the heavy tread of the officer,
advancing through the corridor to challenge his presence. The man
advances, and has reached the inner iron gate, situated in a narrow,
vaulted arch in the main building. A clanking and clicking sound is
heard, and the iron door swings back: a thick-set man, with features
of iron, advances to the stoop, down the steps, and to the gate.
"What's here now?" he growls, rather than speaks, looking sternly at
the coloured man, as he thrusts his left hand deep into his side
pocket, while holding the key of the inner door in his right.

"Visitor," returns Franconia, modestly.

"Who does the nigger want to see?" he enquires, with pertinacity in
keeping with his profession.

"His old master!" is the quick reply.

"You both? I guess I know what it is,--you want to see Marston: he
used to be a rice-planter, but's now in the debtor's ward for a
swimming lot of debts. Well, s'pose I must let you in: got a lot o'
things, I s'pose?" he says, looking wickedly through the bars as he
springs the bolts, and swings back the gate. "I beg yer pardon a
dozen times! but I didn't recognise ye on the outer side," continues
the official, becoming suddenly servile. He makes a low bow as he
recognises Franconia-motions his hand for them to walk ahead. They
reach the steps leading to the inner gate, and ascending, soon are
in the vaulted passage.

If they will allow him, the polite official will unlock the grated
door. Stepping before Franconia, who, as the clanking of the locks
grate on her ear, is seized with sensations she cannot describe, he
inserts the heavy key. She turns to Harry, her face pallid as
marble, and lays her tremulous hand on his arm, as if to relieve the
nervousness with which she is seized. Click! click! sounds forth:
again the door creaks on its hinges, and they are in the confines of
the prison. A narrow vaulted arch, its stone walls moistened with
pestilential malaria, leads into a small vestibule, on the right
hand of which stretched a narrow aisle lined on both sides with
cells. Damp and pestiferous, a hollow gloominess seems to pervade
the place, as if it were a pest-house for torturing the living.
Even the air breathes of disease,--a stench, as of dead men buried in
its vaults, darts its poison deep into the system. It is this,
coupled with the mind's discontent, that commits its ravages upon
the poor prisoner,--that sends him pale and haggard to a soon-
forgotten grave.

"Last door on the right,--you know, mum," says the official: "boy
will follow, lightly: whist! whist!"

"I know, to my sorrow," is her reply, delivered in a whisper. Ah!
her emotions are too tender for prison walls; they are yielding
tears from the fountain of her very soul.

"He's sick: walk softly, and don't think of the prisoners. Knock at
the door afore enterin'," says a staid-looking warden, emerging
from a small door on the left hand of the vestibule.

"Zist! zist!" returns the other, pointing with the forefinger of his
right hand down the aisle, and, placing his left, gently, on
Franconia's shoulder, motioning her to move on.

Slowly, her handkerchief to her face, she obeys the sign, and is
moving down the corridor, now encountering anxious eyes peering
through the narrow grating of huge black doors. And then a faint,
dolorous sound strikes on their listening ears. They pause for a
moment,--listen again! It becomes clearer and clearer; and they
advance with anxious curiosity. "It's Daddy Bob's voice," whispers
Harry; "but how distant it sounds!

"Even that murmurs in his confinement," returns Franconia.

"How, like a thing of life, it recalls the past-the past of
happiness!" says Harry, as they reach the cell door, and,
tremulously, hesitate for a few moments.

"Listen again!" continues Harry. The sound having ceased a moment or
two, again commences, and the word "There's a place for old mas'r
yet, And de Lord will see him dar," are distinctly audible. "How the
old man battles for his good master!" returns Harry, as Franconia
taps gently on the door. The wooden trap over the grating is closed;
bolts hang carelessly from their staples; and yet, though the door
is secured with a hook on the inside, disease and death breathe
their morbid fumes through the scarce perceptible crevices. A
whispering-"Come in!" is heard in reply to the tap upon the door,
which slowly opens, and the face of old Bob, bathed in grief,
protrudes round the frame. "Oh, missus-missus-missus-God give good
missus spirit!" he exclaims, seizing Franconia fervently by the
hand, and looking in her face imploringly. A fotid stench pervaded
the atmosphere of the gloomy cell; it is death spreading its humid
malaria. "Good old master is g-g-g-gone!" mutters the negro, in
half-choked accents.

With a wild shriek, the noble woman rushes to the side of his prison
cot, seizes his blanched hand that hangs carelessly over the iron
frame, grasps his head frantically, and draws it to her bosom, as
the last gurgle of life bids adieu to the prostrate body. He is
dead!

The old slave has watched over him, shared his sorrows and his
crust, has sung a last song to his departing spirit. How truthful
was that picture of the dying master and his slave! The old man,
struggling against the infirmities of age, had escaped the hands of
the man-seller, served his master with but one object-his soul's
love-and relieved his necessities, until death, ending his troubles,
left no more to relieve. Now, distracted between joy at meeting
Harry, and sorrow for the death of master, the poor old man is lost
in the confusion of his feelings. After saluting Franconia, he
turned to Harry, threw his arms around his neck, buried his head in
his bosom, and wept like a child. "Home-home again,--my Harry! but
too late to see mas'r," he says, as the fountains of his soul give
out their streams.

"We must all go where master has gone," returns Harry, as he, more
calm, fondles the old man, and endeavours to reconcile his feelings.
"Sit there, my old friend-sit there; and remember that God called
master away. I must go to his bed-side," whispers Harry, seating the
old man on a block of wood near the foot of the cot, where he pours
forth the earnest of his grief.






CHAPTER XXXVII.

AN ITEM IN THE COMMON CALENDAR.





THUS painfully has Marston paid his debtors. Around his lifeless
body may spring to life those sympathies which were dead while he
lived; but deplorings fall useless on dead men. There is one
consideration, however, which must always be taken into account; it
is, that while sympathy for the living may cost something, sympathy
for the dead is cheap indeed, and always to be had. How simply plain
is the dead man's cell! In this humid space, ten by sixteen feet,
and arched over-head, is a bucket of water, with a tin cup at the
side, a prison tub in one corner, two wooden chairs, a little deal
stand, (off which the prisoner ate his meals), and his trunk of
clothing. The sheriff, insisting that it was his rule to make no
distinction of persons, allowed prison cot and prison matress to
which, by the kind permission of the warden, Franconia added sheets
and a coverlit. Upon this, in a corner at the right, and opposite a
spacious fire-place, in which are two bricks supporting a small iron
kettle, lies the once opulent planter,--now with eyes glassy and
discoloured, a ghastly corpse. His house once was famous for its
princely hospitality,--the prison cot is not now his bequest: but it
is all the world has left him on which to yield up his life. "Oh,
uncle! uncle! uncle!" exclaims Franconia, who has been bathing his
contorted face with her tears, "would that God had taken me
too-buried our troubles in one grave! There is no trouble in that
world to which he has gone: joy, virtue, and peace, reign triumphant
there," she speaks, sighing, as she raises her bosom from off the
dead man. Harry has touched her on the shoulder with his left hand,
and is holding the dead man's with his right: he seems in deep
contemplation. His mind is absorbed in the melancholy scene; but,
though his affection is deep, he has no tears to shed at this
moment. No; he will draw a chair for Franconia, and seat her near
the head of the cot, for the fountains of her grief have overflown.
Discoloured and contorted, what a ghastly picture the dead man's
face presents! Glassy, and with vacant glare, those eyes, strange in
death, seem wildly staring upward from earth. How unnatural those
sunken cheeks--those lips wet with the excrement of black vomit--that
throat reddened with the pestilential poison! "Call a warden,
Daddy!" says Harry; "he has died of black vomit, I think." And he
lays the dead body square upon the cot, turns the sheets from off
the shoulders, unbuttons the collar of its shirt. "How changed! I
never would have known master; but I can see something of him left
yet." Harry remains some minutes looking upon the face of the
departed, as if tracing some long lost feature. And then he takes
his hands-it's master's hand, he says-and places them gently to his
sides, closes his glassy eyes, wipes his mouth and nostrils, puts
his ear to the dead man's mouth, as if doubting the all-slayer's
possession of the body, and with his right hand parts the matted
hair from off the cold brow. What a step between the cares of the
world and the peace of death! Harry smooths, and smooths, and
smooths his forehead with his hand; until at length his feelings get
the better of his resolution; he will wipe the dewy tears from his
eyes. "Don't weep, Miss Franconia,--don't weep! master is happy with
Jesus,--happier than all the plantations and slaves of the world
could make him" he says, turning to her as she sits weeping, her
elbow resting on the cot, and her face buried in her handkerchief.

"Bad job this here!" exclaims the warden, as he comes lumbering into
the cell, his face flushed with anxiety. "This yaller-fever beats
everything: but he hasn't been well for some time," he continues,
advancing to the bed-side, looking on the deceased for a few
minutes, and then, as if it were a part of his profession to look on
dead men, says: "How strange to die out so soon!"

"He was a good master," rejoins Harry.

"He wasn't your master-Was he?" enquires the gaoler, in gruff
accents.

"Once he was."

"But, did you see him die, boy?"

"Thank God, I did not."

"And this stupid old nigger hadn't sense to call me!" (he turns
threateningly to Bob): "Well,--must 'a drop'd off like the snuff of
a tallow candle!"

Daddy knew master was a poor man now;--calling would have availed
nothing; gaolers are bad friends of poverty.

"Could you not have sent for me, good man?" enquires Franconia, her
weeping eyes turning upon the warden, who says, by way of answering
her question, "We must have him out o' here."

"I said mas'r was sicker den ye s'posed, yesterday; nor ye didn't
notice 'um!" interposes Bob, giving a significant look at the
warden, and again at Franconia.

"What a shame, in this our land of boasted hospitality! He died
neglected in a prison cell!"

"Truth is, ma'am," interrupts the warden, who, suddenly becoming
conscious that it is polite to be courteous to ladies wherever they
may be met, uncovers, and holds his hat in his hand,--"we are sorely
tried with black-vomit cases; no provision is made for them, and
they die on our hands afore we know it, just like sheep with the
rot. It gives us a great deal of trouble;--you may depend it does,
ma'am; and not a cent extra pay do we get for it. For my own part,
I've become quite at home to dead men and prisoners. My name is-you
have no doubt heard of me before-John Lafayette Flewellen: my
situation was once, madam, that of a distinguished road contractor;
and then they run me for the democratic senator from our district,
and I lost all my money without getting the office-and here I am
now, pestered with sick men and dead prisoners. And the very worst
is that ye can't please nobody; but if anything is wanted, ma'am,
just call for me: John Lafayette Flewellen's my name, ma'am." The
man of nerve, with curious indifference, is about to turn away,--to
leave the mourning party to themselves, merely remarking, as he
takes his hand from that of the corpse, that his limbs are becoming
fridgid, fast.

"Stay-a-moment,--warden," says Franconia, sobbing: "When was he
seized with the fever?"

"Day afore yesterday, ma'am; but he didn't complain until yesterday.
That he was in a dangerous way I'm sure I'd no idea." The warden
shrugs his shoulders, and spreads his hands. "My eyes, ma'am, but he
drank strongly of late! Perhaps that, combined with the fever,
helped slide him off?"

"Ah! yes,--it was something else-it was grief! His troubles were his
destroyer." She wipes her eyes, and, with a look of commiseration,
turns from the man whose business it is to look coldly upon
unfortunate dead men.

"There was the things you sent him, ma'am; and he got his gaol
allowance, and some gruel. The law wouldn't allow us to do more for
him,--no, it wouldn't!" He shakes his head in confirmation.

"I wanted old mas'r to let 'um bring doctor; but he said no! he
would meet de doctor what cured all diseases in another world,"
interrupts old Bob, as he draws his seat close to the foot of the
cot, and, with his shining face of grief, gazes on the pale features
of his beloved master.

"Let him lie as he is, till the coroner comes," says the warden,
retiring slowly, and drawing the heavy door after him.

The humble picture was no less an expression of goodness, than proof
of the cruel severity of the law. The news of death soon brought
curious debtors into the long aisle, while sorrow and sympathy might
be read on every face. But he was gone, and with him his wants and
grievances. A physician was called in, but he could not recall life,
and, after making a few very learned and unintelligible remarks on
the appearance of the body, took his departure, saying that they
must not grieve-that it was the way all flesh would go. "He, no
doubt, died of the black vomit, hastened by the want of care," he
concluded, as he left the cell.

"Want of care!" rejoins Franconia, again giving vent to her
feelings. How deeply did the arrow dart into the recesses of her
already wounded heart!

Mr. Moon, the methodical coroner, was not long repairing to the
spot. He felt, and felt, and felt the dead man's limbs, asked a few
questions, bared the cold breast, ordered the body to be
straightened a little, viewed it from several angles, and said an
inquest was unnecessary. It would reveal no new facts, and, as so
many were dying of the same disease, could give no more relief to
his friends. Concerning his death, no one could doubt the cause
being black vomit. With a frigid attempt at consolation for
Franconia, he will withdraw. He has not been long gone, when the
warden, a sheet over his left arm, again makes his appearance; he
passes the sheet to Harry, with a request that he will wind the dead
debtor up in it.

Franconia, sobbing, rises from her seat, opens a window at the head
of the cot (the dead will not escape through the iron grating), and
paces the floor, while Harry and Daddy sponge the body, lay it
carefully down, and fold it in the winding-sheet. "Poor master,--God
has taken him; but how I shall miss him! I've spent happy days wid
'im in dis place, I have!" says Bob, as they lay his head on the
hard pillow. He gazes upon him with affection,--and says "Mas'r 'll
want no more clothes."

And now night is fast drawing its dark mantle over the scene,--the
refulgent shadows of the setting sun play through the grated window
into the gloomy cell: how like a spirit of goodness sent from on
high to lighten the sorrows of the downcast, seems the light. A
faint ray plays its soft tints on that face now pallid in death; how
it inspires our thoughts of heaven! Franconia watches, and watches,
as fainter and fainter it fades away, like an angel sent for the
spirit taking its departure. "Farewell!" she whispers, as darkness
shuts out the last mellow glimmer: "Come sombre night, and spread
thy stillness!"

The warden, moved by the spark of generosity his soul possesses, has
brought some cologne, and silently places it in Franconia's hands.
She advances to the cot, seats herself near the head of her dear
departed, encircles his head with her left arm, and with her white
'kerchief bathes his face with the liquid, Harry holding the vessel
in his hand, at her request. A candle sheds its sickly light upon
the humid walls; faintly it discloses the face of Daddy Bob,
immersed in tears, watching intently over the foot of the cot.
"Missus Frankone is alw's kind to mas'r!"

"I loved uncle because his heart was good," returns Franconia.

"'Tis dat, missus. How kindly old mas'r, long time ago, used to say,
'Good mornin', Bob! Daddy, mas'r lubs you!"

How firmly the happy recollection of these kind words is sealed in
the old man's memory.






CHAPTER XXXVIII.

IN WHICH REGRETS ARE SHOWN OF LITTLE WORTH.





THE reader may remember, that we, in the early part of our
narrative, made some slight mention of the Rovero family, of which
Franconia and Lorenzo were the only surviving children. They, too,
had been distinguished as belonging to a class of opulent planters;
but, having been reduced to poverty by the same nefarious process
through which we have traced Marston's decline, and which we shall
more fully disclose in the sequel, had gathered together the
remnants of a once extensive property, and with the proceeds
migrated to a western province of Mexico, where, for many years,
though not with much success, Rovero pursued a mining speculation.
They lived in a humble manner; Mrs. Rovero, Marston's sister-and of
whom we have a type in the character of her daughter,
Franconia-discarded all unnecessary appurtenances of living, and
looked forward to the time when they would be enabled to retrieve
their fortunes and return to their native district to spend the
future of their days on the old homestead. More than four years,
however, had passed since any tidings had been received of them by
Franconia; and it was strongly surmised that they had fallen victims
to the savage incursions of marauding parties, who were at that time
devastating the country, and scattering its defenceless inhabitants
homeless over the western shores of central America. So strong had
this impression found place in Franconia's mind that she had given
up all hopes of again meeting them. As for M'Carstrow's friends,
they had never taken any interest in her welfare, viewing her
marriage with the distinguished colonel as a mere catch on the part
of her parents, whose only motive was to secure themselves the
protection of a name, and, perhaps, the means of sustaining
themselves above the rank disclosure of their real poverty. To keep
"above board" is everything in the south; and the family not
distinguished soon finds itself well nigh extinguished. Hence that
ever tenacious clinging to pretensions, sounding of important names,
and maintenance of absurd fallacies,--all having for their end the
drawing a curtain over that real state of poverty there existing.
Indeed, it was no secret that even the M'Carstrow family (counting
itself among the very few really distinguished families of the
state, and notorious for the contempt in which they affected to hold
all common people), had mortgaged their plantation and all its
negroes for much more than their worth in ordinary times. As for
tradesmen's bills, there were any quantity outstanding, without the
shadow of a prospect of their being paid, notwithstanding
importuners had frequently intimated that a place called the gaol
was not far distant, and that the squire's office was within a
stone's throw of "the corner." Colonel M'Carstrow, reports say, had
some years ago got a deal of money by an unexplainable hocus pocus,
but it was well nigh gone in gambling, and now he was keeping
brothel society and rioting away his life faster than the
race-horses he had formerly kept on the course could run.

Hospitality hides itself when friends are needy; and it will be seen
here that Franconia had few friends-we mean friends in need. The
Rosebrook family formed an exception. The good deacon, and his ever
generous lady, had remained Franconia's firmest friends; but so
large and complicated were the demands against Marston, and so gross
the charges of dishonour--suspicion said he fraudulently made over
his property to Graspum-that they dared not interpose for his
relief; nor would Marston himself have permitted it. The question
now was, what was to be done with the dead body?

We left Franconia bathing its face, and smoothing the hair across
its temples with her hand. She cannot bury the body from her own
home:--no! M'Carstow will not permit that. She cannot consign it to
the commissioners for the better regulation of the "poor house,"-her
feelings repulse the thought. One thought lightens her cares; she
will straightway proceed to Mrs. Rosebrook's villa,--she will herself
be the bearer of the mournful intelligence; while Harry will watch
over the remains of the departed, until Daddy, who must be her guide
through the city, shall return. "I will go to prepare the next
resting-place for uncle," says Franconia, as if nerving herself to
carry out the resolution.

"With your permission, missus," returns Harry, touching her on the
arm, and pointing through the grated window into the gloomy yard.
"Years since-before I passed through a tribulation worse than
death-when we were going to be sold in the market, I called my
brothers and sisters of the plantation together, and in that yard
invoked heaven to be merciful to its fallen. I was sold on that day;
but heaven has been merciful to me; heaven has guided me through
many weary pilgrimages, and brought me here to-night; and its
protecting hand will yet restore me my wife and little ones. Let us
pray to-night; let us be grateful to Him who seeth the fallen in his
tribulation, but prepareth a place for him in a better world. Let us
pray and hope," he continued: and they knelt at the side of the
humble cot on which lay the departed, while he devoutly and
fervently invoked the Giver of all Good to forgive the oppressor, to
guide the oppressed, to make man feel there is a world beyond this,
to strengthen the resolution of that fair one who is thus sorely
afflicted, to give the old man who weeps at the feet of the departed
new hope for the world to come,--and to receive that warm spirit
which has just left the cold body into his realms of bliss.

What of roughness there was in his manner is softened by simplicity
and truthfulness. The roughest lips may breathe the purest prayer.
At the conclusion, Franconia and Daddy leave for Mrs. Rosebrook's
villa, while Harry, remaining to watch over the remains, draws his
chair to the stand, and reads by the murky light.

"I won't be long; take care of old mas'r," says Daddy, as he leaves
the cell, solicitously looking back into the cavern-like place.

It is past ten when they reach the house of Mrs. Rosebrook, the
inmates of which have retired, and are sleeping. Everything is quiet
in and about the enclosure; the luxuriant foliage bespreading a lawn
extending far away to the westward, seems refreshing itself with dew
that sparkles beneath the starlight heavens, now arched like a
crystal mist hung with diamond lights. The distant watchdog's bark
re-echoes faintly over the broad lagoon, to the east; a cricket's
chirrup sounds beneath the woodbine arbour; a moody guardsman,
mounted on his lean steed, and armed for danger, paces his slow way
along: he it is that breaks the stillness while guarding the fears
of a watchful community, who know liberty, but crush with steel the
love thereof.

A rap soon brings to the door the trim figure of a mulatto servant.
He conveys the name of the visitor to his "missus," who, surprised
at the untimely hour Franconia seeks her, loses no time in reaching
the ante-room, into which she has been conducted.

Daddy has taken his seat in the hall, and recognises "missus" as she
approaches; but as she puts out her hand to salute him, she
recognises trouble seated on his countenance. "Young missus in
da'h," he says, pointing to the ante-room while rubbing his eyes.

"But you must tell me what trouble has befallen you," she returns,
as quickly, in her dishabille, she drops his hand and starts back.

"Missus know 'um all,--missus da'h." Again he points, and she hastens
into the ante-room, when, grasping Franconia by the hand, she stares
at her with breathless anxiety expressed in her face. A pause ensues
in which both seem bewildered. At length Franconia breaks the
silence. "Uncle is gone!" she exclaims, following the words with a
flow of tears.

"Gone!" reiterates the generous-hearted woman, encircling
Franconia's neck with her left arm, and drawing her fondly to her
bosom.

"Yes,--dead!" she continues, sobbing audibly. There is something
touching in the words,--something which recalls the dearest
associations of the past, and touches the fountains of the heart. It
is the soft tone in which they are uttered,--it gives new life to old
images. So forcibly are they called up, that the good woman has no
power to resist her violent emotions: gently she guides Franconia to
the sofa, seats her upon its soft cushion, and attempts to console
her wrecked spirit.

The men-servants are called up,--told to be prepared for orders. One
of them recognises Daddy, and, inviting him into the pantry, would
give him food, Trouble has wasted the old man's appetite; he thinks
of master, but has no will to eat. No; he will see missus, and
proceed back to the prison, there join Harry, and watch over all
that is mortal of master. He thanks Abraham for what he gave him,
declines the coat he would kindly lend him to keep out the chill,
seeks the presence of his mistress (she has become more reconciled),
says, "God bless 'um!" bids her good night, and sallies forth.

Mrs. Rosebrook listens to the recital of the melancholy scene with
astonishment and awe. "How death grapples for us!" she exclaims, her
soft, soul-beaming eyes glaring with surprise. "How it cuts its way
with edge unseen. Be calm, be calm, Franconia; you have nobly done
your part,--nobly! Whatever the pecuniary misfortunes,--whatever the
secret cause of his downfall, you have played the woman to the very
end. You have illustrated the purest of true affection; would it had
repaid you better. Before daylight-negroes are, in consequence of
their superstition, unwilling to remove the dead at midnight-I will
have the body removed here,--buried from my house." The good woman
did not disclose to Franconia that her husband was from home, making
an effort to purchase Harry's wife and children from their present
owner. But she will do all she can,--the best can do no more.

At the gaol a different scene is presented. Harry, alone with the
dead man, waits Daddy's return. Each tap of the bell awakes a new
hope, soon to be disappointed. The clock strikes eleven: no Daddy
returns. The gates are shut: Harry must wile away the night, in this
tomb-like abode, with the dead. What stillness pervades the cell;
how mournfully calm in death sleeps the departed! The watcher has
read himself to sleep; his taper, like life on its way, has nearly
shed out its pale light; the hot breath of summer breathes balmy
through the lattice bars; mosquitoes sing their torturous tunes
while seeking for the dead man's blood; lizards, with diamond eyes,
crawl upon the wall, waiting their ration: but death, less
inexorable than creditors, sits pale king over all. The palace and
the cell are alike to him; the sharp edge of his unseen sword spares
neither the king in his purple robe, nor the starving beggar who
seeks a crust at his palace gate,--of all places the worst.

As morning dawns, and soft fleeting clouds tinge the heavens with
light, four negroes may be seen sitting at the prison gate, a litter
by their side, now and then casting silent glances upward, as if
contemplating the sombre wall that frowns above their heads,
enclosing the prison. The guard, armed to the teeth, have passed and
repassed them, challenged and received their answer, and as often
examined their passes. They-the negroes-have come for a dead man.
Guardmen get no fees of dead men,--the law has no more demands to
serve: they wish the boys much joy with their booty, and pass on.

Six o'clock arrives; the first bell rings; locks, bolts, and bars
clank in ungrateful medley; rumbling voices are heard within the
hollow-sounding aisles; whispers from above chime ominously with the
dull shuffle rumbling from below. "Seven more cases,--how it rages!"
grumbles a monotonous voice, and the gate opens at the warden's
touch. "Who's here?" he demands, with stern countenance unchanged,
as he shrugs his formidable shoulders. "I see, (he continues,
quickly), you have come for the dead debtor. Glad of it, my good
fellow; this is the place to make dead men of debtors. Brought an
order, I s'pose?" Saying "follow me," he turns about, hastens to the
vestibule, receives the order from the hand of Duncan, the chief
negro, reads it with grave attention, supposes it is all straight,
and is about to show him the cell where the body lays, and which he
is only too glad to release. "Hold a moment!" Mr. Winterflint--such
is his name--says. Heaven knows he wants to get rid of the dead
debtor; but the laws are so curious, creditors are so obdurate, and
sheriffs have such a crooked way of doing straight things, that he
is in the very bad position of not knowing what to do. Some document
from the sheriff may be necessary; perhaps the creditors must agree
to the compromise. He forgets that inexorable Death, as he is
vulgarly styled, has forced a compromise: creditors must now credit
"by decease." Upon this point, however, he must be satisfied by his
superior. He now wishes Mr. Brien Moon would evince more exactness
in holding inquests, and less anxiety for the fees. Mr. Winterflint
depends not on his own decisions, where the laws relating to debtors
are so absurdly mystical. "Rest here, boy," he says; "I won't be a
minute or two,--must do the thing straight." He seeks the presence of
that extremely high functionary, the gaoler (high indeed wherever
slavery rules), who, having weighed the points with great legal
impartiality, gives it as his most distinguished opinion that no
order of release from the high sheriff is requisite to satisfy the
creditors of his death: take care of the order sent, and make a note
of the niggers who take him away, concludes that highly important
gentleman, as comfortably his head reclines on soft pillow. To this
end was Mr. Moon's certificate essential.

Mr. Winterflint returns; enquires who owns the boys.

"Mas'r Rosebrook's niggers," Duncan replies, firmly; "but Missus
send da order."

"Sure of that, now? Good niggers them of Rosebrook's: wouldn't a'
gin it to nobody else's niggers. Follow me-zist, zist!" he says,
crooking his finger at the other three, and scowling, as Duncan
relieves their timidity by advancing. They move slowly and
noiselessly up the aisle, the humid atmosphere of which, pregnant
with death, sickens as it steals into the very blood. "In
there-zist! make no noise; the dead debtor lies there," whispers the
warden, laying his left hand upon Duncan's shoulder, and, the
forefinger of his right extended, pointing toward the last cell on
the left. "Door's open; not locked, I meant. Left it unsecured last
night. Rap afore ye go in, though." At the methodical warden's
bidding Duncan proceeds, his foot falling lightly on the floor.
Reaching the door, he places his right hand on the swinging bolt,
and for a few seconds seems listening. He hears the muffled sound of
a footfall pacing the floor, and then a muttering as of voices in
secret communion, or dying echoes from the tomb. He has not mistaken
the cell; its crevices give forth odours pergnant of proof. Two
successive raps bring Harry to the door: they are admitted to the
presence of the dead. One by one Harry receives them by the hand,
but he must needs be told why Daddy is not with them. They know not.
He ate a morsel, and left late last night, says one of the negroes.
Harry is astonished at this singular intelligence: Daddy Bob never
before was known to commit an act of unfaithfulness; he was true to
Marston in life,--strange that he should desert him in death.
"Mas'r's death-bed wasn't much at last," says Duncan, as they gather
round the cot, and, with curious faces, mingle their more curious
remarks. Harry draws back the white handkerchief which Franconia had
spread over the face of the corpse, as the negroes start back
affrighted. As of nervous contortion, the ghastly face presents an
awful picture. Swollen, discoloured, and contracted, no one outline
of that once cheerful countenance can be traced. "Don't look much
like Mas'r Marston used to look; times must a' changed mightily
since he used to look so happy at home," mutters Duncan, shaking his
head, and telling the others not to be "fear'd; dead men can't hurt
nobody."

"Died penniless;--but e' war good on e' own plantation," rejoins
another. "One ting be sartin 'bout nigger-he know how he die wen 'e
time cum; Mas'r don know how 'e gwine to die!"

Having seen enough of the melancholy finale, they spread the litter
in the aisle, as the warden enters the cell to facilitate the dead
debtor's exit. Harry again covers the face, and prepares to roll the
body in a coverlit brought by Duncan. "I kind of liked him-he was so
gentlemanly-has been with us so long, and did'nt seem like a
prisoner. He was very quiet, and always civil when spoken to,"
interposes the warden, as, assisting the second shrouding, he
presses the hand of the corpse in his own.

Now he is ready; they place his cold body on the litter; a few
listless prisoners stand their sickly figures along the passage,
watch him slowly borne to the iron gate in the arched vault.
Death-less inexorable than creditors-has signed his release, thrown
back prison bolts and bars, wrested him from the grasp of human
laws, and now mocks at creditors, annuls fi fas, bids the dead
debtor make his exit. Death pays no gaol fees; it makes that bequest
to creditors; but it reserves the keys of heaven for another
purpose. "One ration less," says the warden, who, closing the grated
door, casts a lingering look after the humble procession, bearing
away the remains of our departed.

With Harry as the only follower, they proceed along, through
suburban streets, and soon reach the house of that generous woman. A
minister of the gospel awaits his coming; the good man's words are
consoling, but he cannot remodel the past for the advantage of the
dead. Soon the body is placed in a "ready-made coffin," and the good
man offers up the last funeral rites; he can do no more than invoke
the great protector to receive the departed into his bosom.

"How the troubles of this world rise up before me! Oh! uncle! uncle!
how I could part with the world and bury my troubles in the same
grave!" exclaims Franconia, as, the ceremony having ended, they bear
the body away to its last resting-place; and, in a paroxysm of
grief, she shrieks and falls swooning to the floor.

In a neatly inclosed plat, a short distance from the Rosebrook
Villa, and near the bank of a meandering rivulet, overhung with
mourning willows and clustering vines, they lay him to rest. The
world gave the fallen man nothing but a prison-cell wherein to
stretch his dying body; a woman gives him a sequestered grave, and
nature spreads it with her loveliest offering. It is the last
resting-place of the Rosebrook family, which their negroes,
partaking of that contentment so characteristic of the family, have
planted with flowers they nurture with tenderest care. There is
something touching in the calm beauty of the spot; something
breathing of rural contentment. It is something to be buried in a
pretty grave-to be mourned by a slave-to be loved by the untutored.
How abject the slave, and yet how true his affection! how dear his
requiem over a departed friend! "God bless master-receive his
spirit!" is heard mingling with the music of the gentle breeze, as
Harry, sitting at the head of the grave, looks upward to heaven,
while earth covers from sight the mortal relics of a once kind
master.

It has been a day of sadness at the villa-a day of mourning and
tribulation. How different the scene in the city! There, men whisper
strange regrets. Sympathy is let loose, and is expanding itself to
an unusual degree. Who was there that did not know Marston's
generous, gushing soul! Who was there that would not have stretched
forth the helping hand, had they known his truly abject condition!
Who that was not, and had not been twenty times, on the very brink
of wresting him from the useless tyranny of his obdurate creditors!
Who that had not waited from day to day, with purse-strings open,
ready to pour forth the unmistakeable tokens of friendship! How many
were only restrained from doing good-from giving vent to the
fountains of their hospitality-through fear of being contaminated
with that scandal rumour had thrown around his decline! Over his
death hath sprung to life that curious fabric of living generosity,
so ready to bespread a grave with unneeded bounties,--so emblematic
of how many false mourners hath the dead. But Graspum would have all
such expressions shrink beneath his glowing goodness. With honied
words he tells the tale of his own honesty: his business intercourse
with the deceased was in character most generous. Many a good turn
did Marston receive at his hands; long had he been his faithful and
unwearied friend. Fierce are the words with which he would execrate
the tyrant creditors; yea, he would heap condign punishment on their
obdurate heads. Time after time did he tell them the fallen man was
penniless; how strange, then, that they tortured him to death within
prison walls. He would sweep away such vengeance, bury it with his
curses, and make obsolete such laws as give one man power to gratify
his passion on another. His burning, surging anger can find no
relief; nor can he tolerate such antiquated debtor laws: to him they
are the very essence of barbarism, tainting that enlightened
civilisation so long implanted by the State, so well maintained by
the people. It is on those ennobling virtues of state, he says, the
cherished doctrines of our democracy are founded. Graspum is,
indeed, a well-developed type of our modern democracy, the flimsy
fabric of which is well represented in the gasconade of the above
outpouring philanthropy.

And now, as again the crimson clouds of evening soften into golden
hues-as the sun, like a fiery chariot, sinks beneath the western
landscape, and still night spreads her shadowy mantle down the
distant hills, and over the broad lagoon to the north-two sable
figures may be seen patting, sodding, and bespreading with
fresh-plucked flowers the new grave. As the rippling brook gives out
its silvery music, and earth seems drinking of the misty dew, that,
like a bridal veil, spreads over its verdant hillocks, they whisper
their requiem of regret, and mould the grave so carefully. "It's
mas'r's last," says one, smoothing the cone with his hands.

"We will plant the tree now," returns the other, bringing forward a
young clustering pine, which he places at the head of the grave, and
on which he cuts the significant epitaph-"Good master lies here!"

Duncan and Harry have paid their last tribute. "He is at peace with
this world," says the latter, as, at the gate, he turns to take a
last look over the paling.






CHAPTER XXXIX.

HOW WE SHOULD ALL BE FORGIVING.





LET us forget the scenes of the foregoing chapters, and turn to
something of pleasanter hue. In the meantime, let us freely
acknowledge that we live in a land-our democratic south, we
mean-where sumptuous living and abject misery present their boldest
outlines,--where the ignorance of the many is excused by the polished
education of a very few,--where autocracy sways its lash with
bitterest absolutism,--where menial life lies prostrate at the feet
of injustice, and despairingly appeals to heaven for succour,--where
feasts and funerals rival each other,--and when pestilence, like a
glutton, sends its victims to the graveyard most, the ball-room
glitters brightest with its galaxy. Even here, where clamour cries
aloud for popular government, men's souls are most crushed-not with
legal right, but by popular will! And yet, from out all this
incongruous substance, there seems a genial spirit working itself
upon the surface, and making good its influence; and it is to that
influence we should award the credit due. That genial spirit is the
good master's protection; we would it were wider exercised for the
good of all. But we must return to our narrative.

The Rosebrook Villa has assumed its usual cheerfulness; but while
pestilence makes sad havoc among the inhabitants of the city, gaiety
is equally rampant. In a word, even the many funeral trains which
pass along every day begin to wear a sort of cheerfulness, in
consequence of which, it is rumoured, the aristocracy-we mean those
who have money to spend-have made up their minds not to depart for
the springs yet awhile. As for Franconia, finding she could no
longer endure M'Carstrow's dissolute habits, and having been told by
that very distinguished gentleman, but unamiable husband, that he
despised the whole tribe of her poor relations, she has retired to
private boarding, where, with the five dollars a week, he, in the
outpouring of his southern generosity, allows her, she subsists
plainly but comfortably. It is, indeed, a paltry pittance, which the
M'Carstrow family will excuse to the public with the greatness of
their name.

Harry has returned to the plantation, where the people have
smothered him in a new suit of black. Already has he preached three
sermons in it, which said sermons are declared wonderful proofs of
his biblical knowledge. Even Daddy Daniel, who expended fourteen
picayunes in a new pair of spectacles, with which to hear the new
parson more distinctly, pronounces the preaching prodigious. He is
vehement in his exultation, lavishes his praise without stint; and
as his black face glows with happiness, thanks missus for her great
goodness in thus providing for their spiritual welfare. The
Rosebrook "niggers" were always extremely respectable and well
ordered in their moral condition; but now they seem invested with a
new impulse for working out their own good; and by the advice of
missus, whom every sable son and daughter loves most dearly, Daddy
Daniel has arranged a system of evening prayer meetings, which will
be held in the little church, twice a week. And, too, there prevails
a strong desire for an evening gathering now and then, at which the
young shiners may be instructed how to grow. A curiously democratic
law, however, offers a fierce impediment to this; and Daddy Daniel
shakes his head, and aunt Peggy makes a belligerent muttering when
told such gatherings cannot take place without endangering the
state's rights. It is, nevertheless, decided that Kate, and Nan, and
Dorothy, and Webster, and Clay, and such like young folks, may go to
"settings up" and funerals, but strictly abstain from all
fandangoes. Dad Daniel and his brother deacons cannot countenance
such fiddling and dancing, such break-downs, and shoutings, and
whirlings, and flouncing and frilling, and gay ribboning, as
generally make up the evening's merriment at these fandangoes, so
prevalent on neighbouring plantations about Christmas time. "Da don'
mount to no good!" Daniel says, with a broad guffaw. "Nigger what
spect t' git hi' way up in da world bes lef dem tings." And so one
or two more screws are to be worked up for the better regulation of
the machinery of the plantation. As for Master Rosebrook-why, he
wouldn't sell a nigger for a world of money; and he doesn't care how
much they learn; the more the better, provided they learn on the
sly. They are all to be freed at a certain time, and although
freedom is sweet, without learning they might make bad use of it.
But master has had a noble object in view for some days past, and
which, after encountering many difficulties, he has succeeded in
carrying out to the great joy of all parties concerned.

One day, as the people were all busily engaged on the plantation,
Bradshaw's familiar figure presents itself at the house, and demands
to see Harry. He has great good news, but don't want to tell him
"nofin" till he arrives at the Villa. "Ah, good man" (Bradshaw's
face beams good tidings, as he approaches Harry, and delivers a
note) "mas'r specs ye down da' wid no time loss." Bradshaw rubs his
hands, and grins, and bows, his face seeming two shades blacker than
ever, but no less cheerful.

"Master wants me to preach somewhere, next Sunday,--I know he does,"
says Harry, reading the note, which requests him to come immediately
into the city. He will prepare to obey the summons, Dan and Sprat
meanwhile taking good care of the horse and carriage, while Bradshaw
makes a friendly visit to a few of the more distinguished cabins,
and says "how de" to venerable aunties, who spread their best fare
before him, and, with grave ceremony, invite him in to refresh
before taking his return journey into the city; and Maum Betsy packs
up six of her real smart made sweet cakes for the parson and
Bradshaw to eat along the road. Betsy is in a strange state of
bewilderment to know why master wants to take the new parson away
just now, when he's so happy, and is only satisfied when assured
that he will be safely returned to-morrow. A signal is made for Dad
Daniel, who hastens to the cabin in time to see everything properly
arranged for the parson's departure, and say: "God bless 'um,--good
by!"

"Now, what can master want with me?" enquires Harry, as, on the
road, they roll away towards the city.

Bradshaw cracks his whip, and with a significant smile looks Harry
in the face, and returns: "Don' ax dis child no mo' sich question.
Old mas'r and me neber break secret. Tell ye dis, do'h! Old mas'r do
good ting, sartin."

"You know, but won't tell me, eh?" rejoins Harry, his manly face
wearing a solicitous look. Bradshaw shakes his head, and adds a
cunning wink in reply.

It is three o'clock when they arrive at the Villa, where, without
reserve, missus extends her hand, and gives him a cordial
welcome,--tells him Franconia has been waiting to see him with great
patience, and has got a present for him. Franconia comes rushing
into the hall, and is so glad to see him; but her countenance wears
an air of sadness, which does not escape his notice-she is not the
beautiful creature she was years ago, care has sadly worn upon those
rounded features. But master is there, and he looks happy and
cheerful; and there is something about the house servants, as they
gather round him to have their say, which looks of suspiciously good
omen. He cannot divine what it is; his first suspicions being
aroused by missus saying Franconia had been waiting to see him.

"We must not call him Harry any longer-it doesn't become his
profession: now that he is Elder of my plantation flock, he must,
from this time, be called Elder!" says Rosebrook, touching him on
the arm with the right hand. And the two ladies joined in, that it
must be so. "Go into the parlour, ladies; I must say a word or two
to the Elder," continued Rosebrook, taking Harry by the arm, and
pacing through the hall into the conservatory at the back of the
house. Here, after ordering Harry to be seated, he recounts his plan
of emancipation, which, so far, has worked admirably, and, at the
time proposed, will, without doubt or danger, produce the hoped-for
result. "You, my good man," he says, "can be a useful instrument in
furthering my ends; I want you to be that instrument!" His negroes
have all an interest in their labour, which interest is preserved
for them in missus's savings-bank; and at a given time they are to
have their freedom, but to remain on the plantation if they choose,
at a stipulated rate of wages. Indeed, so strongly impressed with
the good results of his proposed system is Rosebrook, that he long
since scouted that contemptible fallacy, which must have had its
origin in the very dregs of selfishness, that the two races can only
live in proximity by one enslaving the other. Justice to each other,
he holds, will solve the problem of their living together; but,
between the oppressor and the oppressed, a volcano that may at any
day send forth its devouring flame, smoulders. Rosebrook knows
goodness always deserves its reward; and Harry assures him he never
will violate the trust. Having said thus much, he rises from his
chair, takes Harry by the arm, and leading him to the door of the
conservatory, points him to a passage leading to the right, and
says: "In there!-proceed into that passage, enter a door, first door
on the left, and then you will find something you may consider your
own."

Harry hesitated for a moment, watched master's countenance
doubtingly, as if questioning the singular command.

"Fear not! nobody will hurt you," continues Rosebrook.

"Master never had a bad intention," thinks Harry; "I know he would
not harm me; and then missus is so good." Slowly and nervously he
proceeds, and on reaching the door hears a familiar "come in"
answering his nervous rap. The door opened into a neat little room,
with carpet and chairs, a mahogany bureau and prints, all so neatly
arranged, and wearing such an air of cleanliness. No sooner has he
advanced beyond the threshold than the emaciated figure of a black
sister vaults into his arms, crying, "Oh Harry! Harry! Harry!-my
dear husband!" She throws her arms about his neck, and kisses, and
kisses him, and buries her tears of joy in his bosom. How she pours
out her soul's love!-how, in rapturous embraces, her black impulses
give out the purest affection!

"And you!-you!-you!-my own dear Jane! Is it you? Has God commanded
us to meet once more, to be happy once more, to live as heaven hath
ordained us to live?" he returns, as fervently and affectionately he
holds her in his arms, and returns her token of love. "Never! never!
I forget you, never! By night and by day I have prayed the
protecting hand of Providence to guide you through life's trials.
How my heart has yearned to meet you in heaven! happy am I we have
met once more on earth; yea, my soul leaps with joy. Forgive them,
Father, forgive them who separate us on earth, for heaven makes the
anointed!" And while they embrace thus fondly, their tears mingling
with joy, children, recognising a returned father as he entered the
door, are clinging at his feet beseechingly. He is their father;--how
like children they love! "Sam, Sue, and Beckie, too!" he says, as
one by one he takes them in his arms and kisses them. But there are
two more, sombre and strange. He had caught the fourth in his arms,
unconsciously. "Ah, Jane!" he exclaims, turning toward her, his face
filled with grief and chagrin, "they are not of me, Jane!" He still
holds the little innocent by the hand, as nervously he waits her
reply. It is not guilt, but shame, with which she returns an answer.

"It was not my sin, Harry! It was him that forced me to live with
another,--that lashed me when I refused, and, bleeding, made me obey
the will," she returns, looking at him imploringly. Virtue is weaker
than the lash; none feel it more than the slave. She loved Harry,
she followed him with her thoughts; but it was the Christian that
reduced her to the level of the brute. Laying her coloured hand upon
his shoulder, she besought his forgiveness, as God was forgiving.

"Why should I not forgive thee, Jane? I would not chide thee, for no
sin is on thy garments. Injustice gave master the right to sell
thee, to make of thee what he pleased. Heaven made thy soul
purest,--man thy body an outcast for the unrighteous to feast upon.
How could I withhold forgiveness, Jane? I will be a father to them,
a husband to thee; for what thou hast been compelled to do is right,
in the land we live in." So saying, he again embraces her, wipes the
tears from her eyes, and comforts her. How sweet is forgiveness! It
freshens like the dew of morning on the drooping plant; it
strengthens the weary spirit, it steals into the desponding soul,
and wakes to life new hopes of bliss,--to the slave it is sweet
indeed!

"I will kiss them, too," he ejaculates, taking them in his arms with
the embrace of a fond father,--which simple expression of love they
return with prattling. They know not the trials of their parents;
how blessed to know them not!

And now they gather the children around them, and seat themselves on
a little settee near the window, where Harry, overjoyed at meeting
his dear ones once more, fondles them and listens to Jane, as with
her left arm round his neck she discloses the sad tale of her
tribulation. Let us beg the reader to excuse the recital; there is
nothing fascinating in it, nor would we call forth the modest
blushes of our generous south. A few words of the woman's story,
however, we cannot omit; and we trust the forgiving will pardon
their insertion. She tells Harry she was not separated from her
children; but that Romescos, having well considered her worth, sold
her with her "young uns" to the Rev. Peter--, who had a small
plantation down in Christ's Parish. The reverend gentleman, being
born and educated to the degrading socialities of democratic states,
always says he is not to blame for "using" the rights the law gives
him; nor does he forget to express sundry regrets that he cannot see
as preachers at the north see. As for money, he thinks preachers
have just as good a right to get it as gentlemen of any other
honourable profession. Now and then he preaches to niggers; and for
telling them how they must live in the fear of the Lord, be obedient
to their master, and pay for redemption by the sweat of their brows,
he adds to his pile of coin. But he is strongly of the opinion that
niggers are inferior "brutes" of the human species, and in
furtherance of this opinion (so popular in the whole south) he
expects them to live a week on a peck of corn. As for Jane-we must
excuse the reverend gentleman, because of his faith in southern
principles-he compelled her to live with the man Absalom ere she had
been two days on his plantation, and by the same Absalom she had two
children, which materially increased the cash value of the Reverend
Peter--'s slave property. Indeed, so well is the reverend gentleman
known for his foul play, that it has been thrown up to him in open
court-by wicked planters who never had the fear of God before their
eyes-that he more than half starved his niggers, and charged them
toll for grinding their corn in his mill. Though the Reverend Peter
--never failed to assure his friends and acquaintances of his
generosity (a noble quality which had long been worthily maintained
by the ancient family to which he belonged), the light of one
generous act had never found its way to the public. In truth, so
elastically did his reverend conscientiousness expand when he
learned the strange motive which prompted Rosebrook to purchase Jane
and her little ones, that he sorely regretted he had not put two
hundred dollars more on the price of the lot. Fortunately Jane was
much worn down by grief and toil, and was viewed by the reverend
gentleman as a piece of property he would rather like to dispose of
to the best advantage, lest she should suddenly make a void in his
dollars and cents by sliding into some out of the way grave-yard.
But Rosebrook, duly appreciating the unchristian qualities of our
worthy one's generosity, kept his motive a profound secret until the
negociation was completed. Now that it had become known that the
Reverend Peter--(who dresses in blackest black, most
sanctimoniously cut, whitest neckcloth wedded to his holy neck, and
face so simply serious) assures Rosebrook he has got good
people,--they are valuably promising-he will pray for them, that the
future may prosper their wayfaring. He cannot, however, part with
the good man without admonishing him how dangerous it is to give
unto "niggers" the advantage of a superior position.

Reader, let us hope the clergy of the south will take heed lest by
permitting their brethren to be sold and stolen in this manner they
bring the profession into contempt. Let us hope the southern church
will not much longer continue to bring pure Christianity into
disgrace by serving ends so vile that heaven and earth frowns upon
them; for false is the voice raised in sanctimony to heaven for
power to make a footstool of a fallen race!






CHAPTER XL.

CONTAINING VARIOUS MATTERS.





GREAT regularity prevails on the Rosebrook plantation, and cheering
are the prospects held out to those who toil thereon. Mrs. Rosebrook
has dressed Jane (Harry's wife) in a nice new calico, which, with
her feet encased in shining calf-skin shoes, and her head done up in
a bandana, with spots of great brightness, shows her lean figure to
good advantage. Like a good wife, happy with her own dear husband,
she pours forth the emotions of a grateful heart, and feels that the
world-not so bad after all-has something good in store for her. And
then Harry looks even better than he did on Master Marston's
plantation; and, with their little ones-sable types of their
parents-dressed so neatly, they must be happy. And now that they are
duly installed at the plantation, where Harry pursues his duties as
father of the flock, and Jane lends her cheering voice and helping
hand to make comfort in the various cabins complete-and with Dad
Daniel's assurance that the people won't go astray-we must leave
them for a time, and beg the reader's indulgence while following us
through another phase of the children's history.

A slave is but a slave--an article subject to all the fluctuations of
trade--a mere item in the scale of traffic, and reduced to serving
the ends of avarice or licentiousness. This is a consequence
inseparable from his sale. It matters not whether the blood of the
noblest patriot course in his veins, his hair be of flaxen
brightness, his eyes of azure blue, his skin of Norman whiteness,
and his features classic,--he can be no more than a slave, and as
such must yield to the debasing influences of an institution that
crushes and curses wherever it exists. In proof of this, we find the
bright eyes of our little Annette, glowing with kindliest love,
failing to thaw the frozen souls of man-dealers. Nay, bright eyes
only lend their aid to the law that debases her life. She has become
valuable only as a finely and delicately developed woman, whose
appearance in the market will produce sharp bidding, and a deal of
dollars and cents. Graspum never lost an opportunity of trimming up
these nice pieces of female property, making the money invested in
them turn the largest premium, and satisfying his customers that, so
far as dealing in the brightest kind of fancy stock was concerned,
he is not a jot behind the most careful selecter in the Charleston
market. Major John Bowling--who is very distinguished, having
descended from the very ancient family of that name, and is highly
thought of by the aristocracy--has made the selection of such
merchandise his particular branch of study for more than fourteen
years. In consequence of the major's supposed taste, his pen was
hitherto most frequented by gentlemen and connoisseur; but now
Graspum assures all respectable people, gentlemen of acknowledged
taste, and young men who are cultivating their way up in the world,
that his selections are second to none; of this he will produce
sufficient proof, provided customers will make him a call and look
into the area of his fold. The fold itself is most uninviting (it
is, he assures us, owing to his determination to carry out the faith
of his plain democracy); nevertheless, it contains the white,
beautiful, and voluptuous,--all for sale. In fact--the truth must be
told--Mr. Graspum assures the world that he firmly believes there is
a sort of human nature extant--he is troubled sometimes to know just
where the line breaks off--which never by any possibility could have
been intended for any thing but the other to traffic in-to turn into
the most dollars and cents. In proof of this principle he kept
Annette until she had well nigh merged into womanhood, or until such
time as she became a choice marketable article, with eyes worth so
much; nose, mouth, so much; pretty auburn hair, worth so much; and
fine rounded figure--with all its fascinating appurtenances--worth so
much;--the whole amounting to so much; to be sold for so much, the
nice little profit being chalked down on the credit side of his
formidable ledger, in which stands recorded against his little soul
(he knows will get to heaven) the sale of ten thousand black souls,
which will shine in brightness when his is refused admittance to the
portal above.

Having arrived at the point most marketable, he sells her to Mr.
Gurdoin Choicewest, who pays no less a sum than sixteen hundred
dollars in hard cash for the unyielding beauty-money advanced to him
by his dear papa, who had no objection to his having a pretty
coloured girl, provided Madam Choicewest-most indulgent mother she
was, too-gave her consent; and she said she was willing, provided-;
and now, notwithstanding she was his own, insisted on the
preservation of her virtue, or death. Awful dilemma, this! To lash
her will be useless; and the few kicks she has already received have
not yet begun to thaw her frozen determination. Such an unyielding
thing is quite useless for the purpose for which young Choicewest
purchased her. What must be done with her? The older Choicewest is
consulted, and gives it as his decided opinion that there is one of
two things the younger Choicewest must do with this dear piece of
property he has so unfortunately got on his hands,--he must sell her,
or tie her up every day and pump her with cold water, say fifteen
minutes at a time. Pumping niggers, the elder Mr. Choicewest
remarks, with the coolness of an Austrian diplomatist, has a
wondrous effect upon them; "it makes 'em give in when nothing else
will." He once had four prime fellows, who, in stubbornness, seemed
a match for Mr. Beelzebub himself. He lashed them, and he burned
them, and he clipped their ears; and then he stretched them on
planks, thinking they would cry "give in" afore the sockets of their
joints were drawn out; but it was all to no purpose, they were as
unyielding as granite.

About that time there was a celebrated manager of negroes keeping
the prison. This clever functionary had a peculiar way of bringing
the stubbornness out of them; so he consigned the four unbending
rascals to his skill. And this very valuable and very skilful
gaol-keeper had a large window in his establishment, with iron bars
running perpendicular; to the inside of which he would strap the
four stubborn rascals, with their faces scientifically arranged
between the bars, to prevent the moving of a muscle. Thus caged,
their black heads bound to the grating, the scientific gaoler, who
was something of a humourist withal, would enjoy a nice bit of fun
at seeing the more favoured prisoners (with his kind permission)
exercise their dexterity in throwing peas at the faces of the
bounden. How he would laugh-how the pea-punishing prisoners would
enjoy it-how the fast bound niggers, foaming with rage and maddened
to desperation, would bellow, as their very eyeballs darted fire and
blood! What grand fun it was! bull-baiting sank into a mere shadow
beside it. The former was measuredly passive, because the bull only
roared, and pitched, and tossed; whereas here the sport was made
more exhilarating by expressions of vengeance or implorings. And
then, as a change of pastime, the skilful gaoler would demand a
cessation of the pea hostilities, and enjoin the commencement of the
water war; which said war was carried out by supplying about a dozen
prisoners with as many buckets, which they would fill with great
alacrity, and, in succession, throw the contents with great force
over the unyielding, from the outside. The effect of this on naked
men, bound with chains to iron bars, may be imagined; but the older
Choicewest declares it was a cure. It brought steel out of the
"rascals," and made them as submissive as shoe-strings. Sometimes
the jolly prisoners would make the bath so strong, that the niggers
would seem completely drowned when released; but then they'd soon
come to with a jolly good rolling, a little hartshorn applied to
their nostrils, and the like of that. About a dozen times putting
through the pea and water process cured them.

So says the very respectable Mr. Choicewest, with great dignity of
manners, as he seriously advises the younger Choicewest to try a
little quantity of the same sort on his now useless female purchase.
Lady Choicewest must, however, be consulted on this point, as she is
very particular about the mode in which all females about her
establishment are chastised. Indeed, Lady Choicewest is much
concerned about the only male, heir of the family, to whom she looks
forward for very distinguished results to the family name. The
family (Lady Choicewest always assures those whom she graciously
condescends to admit into the fashionable precincts of her small but
very select circle), descended from the very ancient and chivalric
house of that name, whose celebrated estate was in Warwickshire,
England; and, in proof of this, my Lady Choicewest invariably points
to a sad daub, illustrative of some incomprehensible object,
suspended over the antique mantelpiece. With methodical grace, and
dignity which frowns with superlative contempt upon every thing very
vulgar--for she says "she sublimely detests them very low creatures
what are never brought up to manners at the north, and are worse
than haystacks to larn civility"--my lady solicits a near inspection
of this wonderful hieroglyphic, which she tells us is the family
arms,--an ancient and choice bit of art she would not part with for
the world. If her friends evince any want of perception in tracing
the many deeds of valour it heralds, on behalf of the noble family
of which she is an undisputed descendant, my lady will at once enter
upon the task of instruction; and with the beautiful fore-finger of
her right hand, always jewelled with great brilliancy, will she
satisfactorily enlighten the stupid on the fame of the ancient
Choicewest family, thereon inscribed. With no ordinary design on the
credulity of her friends, Lady Choicewest has several times strongly
intimated that she was not quite sure that one or two of her
ancestors in the male line of the family were not reigning dukes as
far down as the noble reign of the ignoble Oliver Cromwell! The
question, nevertheless, is whether the honour of the ancient
Choicewest family descended from Mr. or Mrs. Choicewest. The vulgar
mass have been known to say (smilingly) that Lady Choicewest's name
was Brown, the father of which very ancient family sold herrings and
small pigs at a little stand in the market: this, however, was a
very long time ago, and, as my lady is known to be troubled with an
exceedingly crooked memory, persons better acquainted with her are
more ready to accept the oblivious excuse.

Taking all these things into consideration, my Lady Choicewest is
exceedingly cautious lest young Gourdoin Choicewest should do aught
to dishonour the family name; and on this strange perplexity in
which her much indulged son is placed being referred to her, she
gives it as her most decided opinion that the wench, if as obstinate
as described, had better be sold to the highest bidder-the sooner
the better. My lady lays great emphasis on "the sooner the better."
That something will be lost she has not the slightest doubt; but
then it were better to lose a little in the price of the stubborn
wretch, than to have her always creating disturbance about the
genteel premises. In furtherance of this-my lady's mandate-Annette
is sold to Mr. Blackmore Blackett for the nice round sum of fifteen
hundred dollars. Gourdoin Choicewest hates to part with the beauty,
grieves and regrets,--she is so charmingly fascinating. "Must let her
slide, though; critter won't do at all as I wants her to," he lisps,
regretting the serious loss of the dollars. His friend Blackmore
Blackett, however, is a gentleman, and therefore he would not
deceive him in the wench: hence he makes the reduction, because he
finds her decidedly faulty. Had Blackmore Blackett been a regular
flesh trader, he would not have scrupled to take him in. As it is,
gentlemen must always be gentlemen among themselves. Blackett, a
gentleman of fortune, who lives at his ease in the city, and has the
very finest taste for female beauty, was left, most unfortunately, a
widower with four lovely daughters, any one of which may be
considered a belle not to be rung by gentlemen of ordinary rank or
vulgar pretension. In fact, the Blackett girls are considered very
fine specimens of beauty, are much admired in society, and expect
ere long, on the clear merit of polish, to rank equal with the first
aristocracy of the place.

Mr. Blackmore Blackett esteems himself an extremely lucky fellow in
having so advantageously procured such a nice piece of property,--so
suited to his taste. Her price, when compared with her singularly
valuable charms, is a mere nothing; and, too, all his fashionable
friends will congratulate him upon his good fortune. But as
disappointments will come, so Mr. Blackmore Blackett finds he has
got something not quite so valuable as anticipated; however, being
something of a philosopher, he will improve upon the course pursued
by the younger Choicewest: he makes his first advances with great
caution; whispers words of tenderness in her ear; tells her his
happy jewel for life she must be. Remembering her mother, she turns
a deaf ear to Mr. Blackett's pleadings. The very cabin which he has
provided for her in the yard reminds her of that familiar domicile
on Marston's plantation. Neither by soft pleadings, nor threatenings
of sale to plantation life, nor terrors of the lash, can he soften
the creature's sympathies, so that the flesh may succumb. When he
whispered soft words and made fascinating promises, she would shake
her head and move from him; when he threatened, she would plead her
abject position; when he resorted to force, she would struggle with
him, making the issue her virtue or death. Once she paid the penalty
of her struggles with a broken wrist, which she shows us more in
sorrow than anger. Annette is beautiful but delicate; has soft eyes
beaming with the fulness of a great soul; but they were sold,
once,--now, sympathy for her is dead. The law gives her no protection
for her virtue; the ruffian may violate it, and Heaven only can
shelter it with forgiveness. As for Blackett, he has no forgiveness
in his temperament,--passion soars highest with him; he would slay
with violent hands the minion who dared oppose its triumph.

About this time, Mr. Blackett, much to his surprise, finds a storm
of mischief brewing about his domestic domain. The Miss Blacketts,
dashing beauties, have had it come to their ears over and over again
that all the young men about the city say Annette Mazatlin (as she
is now called) is far more beautiful than any one of the Blacketts.
This is quite enough to kindle the elements of a female war. In the
south nothing can spread the war of jealousy and vanity with such
undying rage as comparing slave beauty with that of the more
favoured of the sexes. A firman of the strongest kind is now issued
from the portfolio of the Miss Blacketts, forbidding the wretched
girl entering the house; and storms of abuse are plentifully and
very cheaply lavished on her head, ere she puts it outside the
cabin. She was a nasty, impudent hussy; the very worst of all kind
of creatures to have about a respectable mansion,--enough to shock
respectable people! The worst of it was, that the miserable white
nigger thought she was handsome, and a lot of young, silly-headed
men flattered her vanity by telling the fool she was prettier than
the Blacketts themselves,--so said the very accomplished Miss
Blacketts. And if ever domicile was becoming too warm for man to
live in, in consequence of female indignation, that one was Mr.
Blackmore Blackett's. It was not so much that the father had
purchased this beautiful creature to serve fiendish purposes. Oh
no!-that was a thing of every-day occurrence,--something excusable in
any respectable man's family. It was beauty rivalling, fierce and
jealous of its compliments. Again, the wretch-found incorrigible,
and useless for the purpose purchased-is sold. Poor, luckless
maiden! she might add, as she passed through the hands of so many
purchasers. This time, however, she is less valuable from having
fractured her left wrist, deformity being always taken into account
when such property is up at the flesh shambles. But Mr. Blackmore
Blackett has a delicacy about putting her up under the hammer just
now, inasmuch as he could not say she was sold for no fault; while
the disfigured wrist might lead to suspicious remarks concerning his
treatment of her. Another extremely unfortunate circumstance was its
getting all about the city that she was a cold, soulless thing, who
declared that sooner than yield to be the abject wretch men sought
to make her, she would die that only death. She had but one life,
and it were better to yield that up virtuously than die degraded.
Graspum, then, is the only safe channel in which to dispose of the
like. That functionary assures Mr. Blackmore Blackett that the girl
is beautiful, delicate, and an exceedingly sweet creature yet! but
that during the four months she has depreciated more than fifty per
cent in value. His remarks may be considered out of place, but they
are none the less true, for it is ascertained, on private
examination, that sundry stripes have been laid about her bare
loins. Gurdoin Choicewest declared to his mother that he never for
once had laid violent hands on the obstinate wench; Mr. Blackmore
Blackett stood ready to lay his hand on the Bible, and lift his eyes
to heaven for proof of his innocence; but a record of the
infliction, indelible of blood, remained there to tell its sad
tale,--to shame, if shame had aught in slavery whereon to make itself
known. Notwithstanding this bold denial, it is found that Mr.
Blackmore Blackett did on two occasions strip her and secure her
hands and feet to the bed-post, where he put on "about six at a
time," remarkably "gently." He admired her symmetrical form, her
fine, white, soft, smooth skin-her voluptuous limbs, so beautifully
and delicately developed; and then there was so much gushing
sweetness, mingled with grief, in her face, as she cast her soft
glances upon him, and implored him to end her existence, or save her
such shame! Such, he says, laconically, completely disarmed him, and
he only switched her a few times.

"She's not worth a dot more than a thousand dollars. I couldn't give
it for her, because I couldn't make it out on her. The fact is,
she'll get a bad name by passing through so many hands-a deuced bad
name!" says Graspum, whose commercial language is politically cold.
"And then there's her broken wrist-doubtful! doubtful! doubtful!
what I can do with her. For a plantation she isn't worth seven
coppers, and sempstresses and housemaids of her kind are looked on
suspiciously. It's only with great nicety of skill ye can work such
property to advantage," he continues, viewing her in one of Mr.
Blackmore Blackett's ante-rooms.

The upshot of the matter is, that Mr. Blackmore Blackett accepts the
offer, and Graspum, having again taken the damaged property under
his charge, sends it back to his pen. As an offset for the broken
wrist, she has three new dresses, two of which were presented by the
younger Choicewest, and one by the generous Blackmore Blackett.

Poor Annette! she leaves for her home in the slave-pen, sad at
heart, and in tears. "My mother! Oh, that I had a mother to love me,
to say Annette so kindly,--to share with me my heart's bitter
anguish. How I could love Nicholas, now that there is no mother to
love me!" she mutters as she sobs, wending her way to that place of
earthly torment. How different are the feelings of the oppressor. He
drinks a social glass of wine with his friend Blackett, lights his
cigar most fashionably, bids him a polite good morning, and
intimates that a cheque for the amount of the purchase will be ready
any time he may be pleased to call. And now he wends his way
homeward, little imagining what good fortune awaits him at the pen
to which he has despatched his purchase.

Annette has reached the pen, in which she sits, pensively, holding
her bonnet by the strings, the heavy folds of her light auburn hair
hanging dishevelled over her shoulders. Melancholy indeed she is,
for she has passed an ordeal of unholy brutality. Near her sits one
Pringle Blowers, a man of coarse habits, who resides on his
rice-plantation, a few miles from the city, into which he frequently
comes, much to the annoyance of quietly disposed citizens and
guardsmen, who are not unfrequently called upon to preserve the
peace he threatens to disturb. Dearly does he love his legitimate
brandy, and dearly does it make him pay for the insane frolics it
incites him to perpetrate, to the profit of certain saloons, and
danger of persons. Madman under the influence of his favourite
drink, a strange pride besets his faculties, which is only appeased
with the demolition of glass and men's faces. For this strange
amusement he has become famous and feared; and as the light of his
own besotted countenance makes its appearance, citizens generally
are not inclined to interpose any obstacle to the exercise of his
belligerent propensities.

Here he sits, viewing Annette with excited scrutiny. Never before
has he seen anything so pretty, so bright, so fascinating-all
clothed with a halo of modesty-for sale in the market. The nigger is
completely absorbed in the beauty, he mutters to himself: and yet
she must be a nigger or she would not be here. That she is an
article of sale, then, there can be no doubt. "Van, yer the nicest
gal I've seen! Reckon how Grasp. paid a tall shot for ye, eh?" he
says, in the exuberance of his fascinated soul. He will draw nearer
to her, toss her undulating hair, playfully, and with seeming
unconsciousness draw his brawny hand across her bosom. "Didn't mean
it!" he exclaims, contorting his broad red face, as she puts out her
hand, presses him from her, and disdains his second attempt. "Pluck,
I reckon! needn't put on mouths, though, when a feller's only
quizzin." He shrugs his great round shoulders, and rolls his wicked
eyes.

"I am not for you, man!" she interrupts: "I would scorn you, were I
not enslaved," she continues, a curl of contempt on her lip, as her
very soul kindles with grief. Rising quickly from his side she
walked across the pen, and seated herself on the opposite side. Here
she casts a frowning look upon him, as if loathing his very
presence. This, Mr. Pringle Blowers don't altogether like: slaves
have no right to look loathingly on white people. His flushed face
glows red with excitement; he runs his brawny fingers through the
tufted mats of short curly hair that stand almost erect on his head,
draws his capacious jaws into a singular angle, and makes a hideous
grimace.

The terrified girl has no answer to make; she is a forlorn outcast
of democracy's rule. He takes the black ribbon from round his neck,
bares his bosom more broadly than before, throws the plaid sack in
which he is dressed from off him, and leaping as it were across the
room, seizes her in his arms. "Kisses are cheap, I reckon, and a
feller what don't have enough on 'em 's a fool," he ejaculates, as
with a desperate struggle she bounds from his grasp, seizes the
knife from a negro's hand as she passes him, and is about to plunge
the shining steel into her breast. "Oh, mother, mother!-what have I
done?-is not God my Saviour?-has he forsaken me?-left me a prey to
those who seek my life?"

"I settle those things," said a voice in the rear, and immediately a
hand grasped her arm, and the knife fell carelessly upon the floor.
It was Graspum; the sudden surprise overcame her; she sank back in
his arms, and swooned. "She swoons,--how limber, how lifeless she
seems!" says Graspum, as with great coolness he calls a negro
attendant, orders him to remove her to the grass plat, and bathe her
well with cold water. "A good dowsing of water is the cure for
fainting niggers," he concludes.

The black man takes her in his arms, and with great kindness, lays
her on the plat, bathes her temples, loosens her dress, and with his
rough hand manipulates her arms. How soft and silky they seem to his
touch! "Him hard to slave ye, miss," he says, laying his hand upon
her temples, gently, as with commiseration he looks intently on her
pallid features.

"Now, Blowers," says Graspum, as soon as they are by themselves,
"what in the name of the Gentiles have you been up to?"

"Wal-can't say its nothin, a'cos that wouldn't do. But, ye see, the
critter made my mouth water so; there was no standin on't! And I
wanted to be civil, and she wouldn't,--and I went t' fumlin with her
hair what looked so inviting, as there was no resistin on't, and she
looked just as sassy as sixty; and to stun the whole, when I only
wanted to kiss them ar' temptin lips, the fool was going to kill
herself. It wasn't how I cared two buttons about it; but then the
feelin just came over me at the time," he answers, shaking his huge
sides, giving Graspum a significant wink, and laughing heartily.

"Never at a loss, I see!" returns the other, nodding his head,
pertinently: "If I didn't know ye, Blowers, that might go down
without sticking."

"Ye don't tell where ye raised that critter, eh?" he interrupts,
inquisitively, pointing his thumb over his right shoulder, and
crooking his finger, comically.

"Raised her with shiners-lots on 'em!" he rejoins, pushing Mr.
Pringle Blowers in the stomach, playfully, with his forefinger.

"Graspum! yer a wicked 'un."

"Suit ye, kind 'a-eh, Blowers?" he rejoins, enquiringly, maintaining
great gravity of manner as he watches each change of Blowers'
countenance.

Blowers laughs in reply. His laugh has something sardonic in it,
seeming more vicious as he opens his great wicked mouth, and
displays an ugly row of coloured teeth.

"Sit down, Blowers, sit down!" says Graspum, motioning his hand,
with a studied politeness. The two gentlemen take seats side by
side, on a wooden bench, stretched across the centre of the pen, for
negroes to sit upon. "As I live, Blowers, thar ain't another
individual like you in the county. You can whip a file of common
guardsmen, put the Mayor's court through a course of affronts,
frighten all the females out of the fashionable houses, treat a
regiment of volunteers, drink a bar-room dry-"

"Compliments thick, long and strong," interposes Blowers, winking
and wiping his mouth. "Can elect half the members of the assembly!"
he concludes.

"True! nevertheless," rejoins Graspum, "a great man cannot be
flattered-compliments are his by merit! And the city knows you're a
man of exquisite taste."

Blowers interrupts with a loud laugh, as he suggests the propriety
of seeing the "gal get round again."

"Not so fast, Blowers; not so fast!" Graspum ejaculates, as Blowers
is about to rise from his seat and follow Annette.

"Well, now!" returns Blowers, remaining seated, "Might just as well
come square to the mark,--ye want to sell me that wench?"

"Truth's truth!" he replies. "Blowers is the man who's got the gold
to do it."

"Name yer price; and no rounding the corners!" exclaims Blowers, his
countenance quickening with animation. He takes Graspum by the arm
with his left hand, turns him half round, and waits for a reply.

Seeing it's Blowers, (the keen business man replies, in an off-hand
manner), who's a trump in his way, and don't care for a few dollars,
he'll take seventeen hundred for her, tin down; not a fraction less!
He will have no bantering, inasmuch as his friends all know that he
has but one price for niggers, from which it is no use to seek a
discount. Mr. Blowers, generally a good judge of such articles,
would like one more view at it before fully making up his mind.
Graspum calls "Oh, boy!" and the negro making his appearance, says:
"Dat gal 'um all right agin; went mos asleep, but am right as
parched pen now."

"Have her coming," he returns, facing Blowers. "Nothing the matter
with that gal," he exclaims, touching his elbow. "It is merely one of
her flimsy fits; she hasn't quite come to maturity."

Slowly the negro leads her, weeping (Graspum says they will cry-it's
natural!) into the presence of the far-famed and much-feared Mr.
Pringle Blowers. Her hair hangs carelessly about her neck and
shoulders, the open incision of her dress discloses a neatly worked
stomacher; how sweetly glows the melancholy that broods over her
countenance! "I'll take her-I'll take her!" exclaims Blowers, in
spasmodic ecstasy.

"I know'd you would; I'll suit you to a charm," rejoins the man of
trade, laconically, as the negro steps a few feet backward, and
watches the process. "Considers it a trade," is the reply of
Blowers, as he orders his waggon to be brought to the door.

"Oh! master, master! save me-save me! and let me die in peace.
Don't, good master, don't sell me again!" Thus saying she falls on
her knees at Graspum's feet, and with hands uplifted beseeches him
to save her from the hands of a man whose very sight she loathes.
She reads the man's character in his face; she knows too well the
hellish purpose for which he buys her. Bitter, bitter, are the tears
of anguish she sheds at his feet, deep and piercing are her
bemoanings. Again her soft, sorrowing eyes wander in prayer to
heaven: as Graspum is a husband, a brother, and a father,--whose
children are yet in the world's travel of uncertainty, she beseeches
him to save her from that man.

"Don't be mad, girl," he says, pushing her hand from him.

"Frightened, eh? Make ye love me, yet! Why, gal, ye never had such a
master in the world as I'll be to ye. I lay I makes a lady on ye,
and lets ye have it all yer own way, afore a fortnight," he rejoins,
spreading his brawny arms over her, as she, in an attitude of
fright, vaults from beneath them, and, uttering a faint cry, glides
crouching into a corner of the pen. There is no protection for her
now; her weepings and implorings fall harmless on the slavedealer's
ears; heaven will protect her when earth knows her no more!

"There's two can play a game like that, gal!" exclaims Blowers.
"Rough play like that don't do with this ere citizen. Can just take
the vixen out on a dozen on ye as what don't know what's good for
'em." Blowers is evidently allowing his temper to get the better of
him. He stands a few feet from her, makes grim his florid face,
gesticulates his hands, and daringly advances toward her as the
negro announces the arrival of his waggon.

"You must go with him, girl; stop working yourself into a fever;
stop it, I say," interposes Graspum, peremptorily. "The waggon! the
waggon! the waggon! to carry me away, away;--never, never to return
and see my mother?" she exclaims, as well nigh in convulsions she
shrieks, when Blowers grasps her in his arms (Graspum saying, be
gentle, Blowers), drags her to the door, and by force thrusts her
into the waggon, stifling her cries as on the road they drive
quickly away. As the last faint wail dies away, and the vehicle
bearing its victim disappears in the distance, we think how sweet is
liberty, how prone to injustice is man, how crushing of right are
democracy's base practices.

"Does seem kind of hard; but it's a righteous good sale. Shouldn't
wonder if she played the same game on him she did with t'other two
fools. Get her back then, and sell her over again. Well! come now;
there's no great loss without-some-small-gain!" says Graspum, as,
standing his prominent figure in the door of his man pen, he watches
the woman pass out of sight, thrusts his hands deep into his
breeches pockets, and commences humming an air for his own special
amusement.






CHAPTER XLI.

NICHOLAS'S SIMPLE STORY.





THE reader will remember that we left Nicholas seeking his way to
Mr. Grabguy's workshop, situated in the outskirts of the city. And
we must here inform him that considerable change in the social
position of the younger Grabguy family has taken place since we left
them, which is some years ago. The elder Grabguy, who, it will be
remembered, was very distinguished as his Worship the Mayor of the
City (that also was some years ago), has departed this life, leaving
the present principal of the Grabguy family a large portion of his
estate, which, being mostly of "nigger property," requires some
little transforming before it can be made to suit his more extended
business arrangements. This material addition to the already well-
reputed estate of Mr. Grabguy warrants his admittance into very
respectable, and, some say, rather distinguished society. Indeed, it
is more than whispered, that when the question of admitting Mr. and
Mrs. Grabguy to the membership of a very select circle, the saintly
cognomen of which is as indefinable as its system of selecting
members, or the angles presented by the nasal organs of a few ladies
when anything short of the very first families are proposed, there
were seven very fashionable ladies for, and only three against. The
greatest antagonist the Grabguys have to getting into the embrace of
this very select circle is Mrs. Chief Justice Pimpkins, a matronly
body of some fifty summers, who declares there can be no judge in
the world so clever as her own dear Pimpkins, and that society was
becoming so vulgar and coarse, and so many low people-whose English
was as hopefully bad as could be, and who never spoke when they
didn't impugn her risible nerves-were intruding themselves upon its
polished sanctity, that she felt more and more every day the
necessity of withdrawing entirely from it, and enjoying her own
exclusively distinguished self. In the case of Grabguy's admittance
to the St. Cecilia, my Lady Pimpkins-she is commonly called Lady
Chief Justice Pimpkins-had two most formidable black balls; the
first because Mrs. Grabguy's father was a bread-baker, and the
second that the present Grabguy could not be considered a gentleman
while he continued in mechanical business. Another serious objection
Mrs. Pimpkins would merely suggest as a preventive;--such people
were ill suited to mix with titled and other distinguished society!
But, Grabguy, to make up for the vexatious rejection, has got to be
an alderman, which is a step upward in the scale of his father's
attained distinction. There is nothing more natural, then, than that
Grabguy should seek his way up in the world, with the best means at
his hands; it is a worthy trait of human nature, and is as natural
to the slave. In this instance-when master and slave are both
incited to a noble purpose-Grabguy is a wealthy alderman, and
Nicholas-the whiter of the two-his abject slave. The master, a man
of meagre mind, and exceedingly avaricious, would make himself
distinguished in society; the slave, a mercurial being of
impassioned temper, whose mind is quickened by a sense of the
injustice that robs him of his rights, seeks only freedom and what
may follow in its order.

Let us again introduce the reader to Nicholas, as his manly figure,
marked with impressive features, stands before us, in Grabguy's
workshop. Tall, and finely formed, he has grown to manhood,
retaining all the quick fiery impulses of his race. Those black eyes
wandering irresistibly, that curl of contempt that sits upon his
lip, that stare of revenge that scowls beneath those heavy eyebrows,
and that hate of wrong that ever and anon pervades the whole, tell
how burns in his heart the elements of a will that would brave death
for its rights-that would bear unmoved the oppressor's lash-that
would embrace death rather than yield to perfidy. He tells us-"I
came here, sold-so they said-by God's will. Well. I thought to
myself, isn't this strange, that a curious God-they tell me he loves
everybody-should sell me? It all seemed like a misty waste to me. I
remembered home-I learned to read, myself-I remembered mother, I
loved her, but she left me, and I have never seen her since. I loved
her, dear mother! I did love her; but they said she was gone far
away, and I musn't mind if I never see'd her again. It seemed hard
and strange, but I had to put up with it, for they said I never had
a father, and my mother had no right to me" (his piercing black eyes
glare, as fervently he says, mother!). "I thought, at last, it was
true, for everybody had a right to call me nigger,--a blasted white
nigger, a nigger as wouldn't be worth nothing. And then they used to
kick me, and cuff me, and lash me; and if nigger was nigger I was
worse than a nigger, because every black nigger was laughing at me,
and telling me what a fool of a white nigger I was;--that white
niggers was nobody, could be nobody, and was never intended for
nobody, as nobody knew where white niggers come from. But I didn't
believe all this; it warn't sensible. Something said-Nicholas!
you're just as good as anybody: learn to read, write, and cypher,
and you'll be something yet. And this something-I couldn't tell what
it was, nor could I describe it-seemed irresistible in its power to
carry me to be that somebody it prompted in my feelings. I was
white, and when I looked at myself I knew I wasn't a nigger; and
feeling that everybody could be somebody, I began to look forward to
the time when I should rise above the burden of misfortune that
seemed bearing me down into the earth. And then, Franconia, like a
sister, used to come to me, and say so many kind things to me that I
felt relieved, and resolved to go forward. Then I lost sight of
Franconia, and saw nobody I knew but Annette; and she seemed so
pretty, and loved me so affectionately. How long it seems since I
have seen her! She dressed me so nicely, and parted my hair, and
kissed me so kindly; and said good-by, when I left her, so in
regret, I never can forget it. And it was then they said I was sold.
Mr. Graspum said he owned me, and owning me was equal to doing what
he pleased with me. Then I went home to Mr. Grabguy's; and they said
Mr. Grabguy owned me just as he owned his great big dog they called
a democratic bull-dog, the foreman said he paid a democratic
ten-dollar gold piece for. They used to say the only difference
between me and the dog was, that the dog could go where he pleased
without being lashed, and I couldn't. And the dog always got enough
to eat, and seemed a great favourite with everybody, whereas I got
only more kicks than cucumbers, didn't seem liked by anybody, and if
I got enough to eat I had nobody to thank but good old Margery, the
cook, who was kind to me now and then, and used to say-"I like you,
Nicholas!" And that used to make me feel so happy! Old Margery was
coal-black; but I didn't care for that,--the knowledge of somebody
loving you is enough to light up the happy of life, and make the
heart feel contented. In this manner my thoughts went here and there
and everywhere; and the truth is, I had so many thoughts, that I got
completely bewildered in thinking how I was to better myself, and be
like other folks. Mr. Grabguy seemed kind to me at first,--said he
would make a great mechanic of me, and give me a chance to buy
myself. I didn't know what this "buy myself" meant, at first. But I
soon found out-he tells us he must speak with caution-that I must
pay so many hundred dollars afore I could be like other folks. The
kindness Mr. Grabguy at first exhibited for me didn't last long; he
soon began to kick me, and cuff me, and swear at me. And it 'pear'd
to me as if I never could please anybody, and so my feelings got so
embittered I didn't know what to do. I was put into the shop among
the men, and one said Nigger, here! and another said, Nigger, get
there!-and they all seemed not to be inclined to help me along. And
then I would get in a passion: but that never made things better.
The foreman now and then said a kind word to me; and whenever he
did, it made my heart feel so good that I seemed a new being with
brighter hopes. Well, Mr. Grabguy put me to turning the grindstone,
first; and from turning the grindstone-the men used to throw water
in my face when they ground their chisels, and their plane irons,
and axes and adzes-I was learned to saw, and to plain boards, and
then to mortice and frame, and make mouldings, and window-sashes,
and door-frames. When I could do all these, master used to say I was
bound to make a great workman, and, laughingly, would say I was the
most valuable property he ever owned. About this time I began to
find out how it was that the other white folks owned themselves and
master owned me; but then, if I said anything about it, master might
tie me up and lash me as he used to do; and so I remained quiet, but
kept up a thinking. By and by I got perfect at the carpenter's
trade, and I learned engineering; and when I had got engineering
perfect, I took a fancy for making stucco work and images. And
people said I learned wondrously fast, and was the best workman far
or near. Seeing these things, people used to be coming to me, and
talking to me about my value, and then end by wanting me to make
them specimens of stucco. I seemed liked by everybody who came to
see me, and good people had a kind word for me; but Mr. Grabguy was
very strict, and wouldn't allow me to do anything without his
permission. People said my work was perfect, and master said I was a
perfect piece of property; and it used to pain deep into my heart
when master spoke so. Well! I got to be a man, and when the foreman
got drunk master used to put me in his place. And after a while I
got to be foreman altogether: but I was a slave, they said, and men
wouldn't follow my directions when master was away; they all
acknowledged that I was a good workman, but said a nigger never
should be allowed to direct and order white people. That made my
very blood boil, as I grew older, because I was whiter than many of
them. However, submit was the word; and I bore up and trusted to
heaven for deliverance, hoping the day would come soon when its will
would be carried out. With my knowledge of mechanics increased a
love of learning, which almost amounted to a passion. They said it
was against the law for a nigger to read; but I was raised so far
above black niggers that I didn't mind what the law said: so I got
'Pilgrim's Progress,' and the Bible, and 'Young's Night Thoughts,'
and from them I learned great truths: they gave me new hopes,
refreshed my weary soul, and made me like a new-clothed being ready
to soar above the injustice of this life. Oh, how I read them at
night, and re-read them in the morning, and every time found
something new in them, something that suited my case! Through the
sentiments imbibed from them I saw freedom hanging out its light of
love, fascinating me, and inciting me to make a death struggle to
gain it.

"One day, as I was thinking of my hard fate, and how I did all the
work and master got all the money for it-and how I had to live and
how he lived, master came in-looking good-natured. He approached
me, shook hands with me, said I was worth my weight in gold; and
then asked me how I would like to be free. I told him I would jump
for joy, would sing praises, and be glad all the day long.

"'Aint you contented where you are, Nicholas?' he enquired. I told
him I didn't dislike him; but freedom was sweetest. 'Give me a
chance of my freedom, master, and yet you may know me as a man,'
says I, feeling that to be free was to be among the living; to be a
slave was to be among the moving dead. To this he said, he always
had liked me, was proud of me, had unbounded confidence in my
directions over the men, and always felt safe when he went from home
leaving things in my charge. 'In this view of the case, Nicholas,'
he says, 'I have come to the conclusion,--and it's Mrs. Grabguy's
conclusion, too,--to let you work evenings, on overtime, for
yourself. You can earn a deal of money that way, if you please; just
save it up, and let me keep it for you, and in consideration of your
faithfulness I will set you free whenever you get a thousand dollars
to put into my hands. Now that's generous-I want to do the straight
thing, and so Mrs. Grabguy wants to do the straight thing; and what
money you save you can put in Mrs. Grabguy's hands for safe keeping.
She's a noble-minded woman, and 'll take good care of it.' This was
to me like entering upon a new life of hope and joy. How my heart
yearned for the coming day, when I should be free like other folks!
I worked and struggled by night and day; and good Mr. Simons
befriended me, and procured me many little orders, which I executed,
and for which I got good pay. All my own earnings I put into Mrs.
Grabguy's hands; and she told me she would keep it for me, safe,
till I got enough to buy my freedom. My confidence in these
assurances was undivided. I looked upon Mrs. Grabguy as a friend and
mother; and good Mr. Simons, who was poor but honest, did many kind
things to help me out. When I got one hundred dollars in missus'
hands I jumped for joy; with it I seemed to have got over the first
difficult step in the great mountain. Then missus said I must take
Jerushe for my wife. I didn't like Jerushe at first--she was almost
black; but missus said we were both slaves; hence, that could be no
objection. As missus's order was equally as positive as master's,
there was no alternative but to obey it, and Jerushe became my wife.
We were lawfully married, and missus made a nice little party for
us, and Jerushe loved me, and was kind to me, and her solicitude for
my welfare soon made me repay her love. I pitied her condition, and
she seemed to pity mine; and I soon forgot that she was black, and
we lived happily together, and had two children, which missus said
were hers. It was hard to reconcile this, and yet it was so, by law
as well as social right. But then missus was kind to Jerushe, and
let her buy her time at four dollars a week, which, having learned
to make dresses, she could pay and have a small surplus to lay by
every week. Jerushe knew I was struggling for freedom, and she would
help me to buy that freedom, knowing that, if I was free, I would
return her kindness, and struggle to make her free, and our children
free.

"Years rolled on,--we had placed nearly five hundred dollars in
missus's hands: but how vain were the hopes that had borne us
through so many privations for the accumulation of this portion of
our price of freedom! Master has sold my children,--yes, sold them!
He will not tell me where nor to whom. Missus will neither see nor
hear me; and master threatens to sell me to New Orleans if I resent
his act. To what tribunal can I appeal for justice? Shut from the
laws of my native land, what justice is there for the slave where
injustice makes its law oppression? Master may sell me, but he
cannot vanquish the spirit God has given me; never, never, will I
yield to his nefarious designs. I have but one life to yield up a
sacrifice for right-I care not to live for wrong!" Thus he speaks,
as his frenzied soul burns with indignation. His soul's love was
freedom; he asked but justice to achieve it. Sick at heart he has
thrown up that zeal for his master's welfare which bore him onward,
summoned his determination to resist to the last-to die rather than
again confront the dreary waste of a slave's life. Grabguy has
forfeited the amount deposited by Nicholas as part of the price of
his freedom,--betrayed his confidence.

He tells us his simple story, as the workmen, with fear on their
countenances, move heedlessly about the room. As he concludes,
Grabguy, with sullen countenance, enters the great door at the end
of the building; he is followed by three men in official garbs, two
of whom bear manacles in their hands. Nicholas's dark eye flashes
upon them, and with an instinctive knowledge of their errand, he
seizes a broad axe, salutes them, and, defiantly, cautions their
advance. Grabguy heeds not; and as the aggrieved man slowly retreats
backward to protect himself with the wall, still keeping his eye set
on Grabguy, two negroes make a sudden spring upon him from behind,
fetter his arms as the officers rush forward, bind him hand and
foot, and drag him to the door, regardless of his cries for mercy:
they bind him to a dray, and drive through the streets to the slave
pen of Graspum. We hear his pleading voice, as his ruffian captors,
their prey secure, disappear among the busy crowd.






CHAPTER XLII.

HE WOULD DELIVER HER FROM BONDAGE.





ABOUT twelve o'clock of a hazy night, in the month of November, and
while Annette, in the hands of Mr. Pringle Blowers, with death-like
tenacity refuses to yield to his vile purposes, a little
taunt-rigged schooner may be seen stealing her way through the grey
mist into Charleston inner harbour. Like a mysterious messenger, she
advances noiselessly, gibes her half-dimmed sails, rounds to a short
distance from an old fort that stands on a ridge of flats extending
into the sea, drops her anchor, and furls her sails. We hear the
rumble of the chain, and "aye, aye!" sound on the still air, like
the murmur of voices in the clouds. A pause is followed by the sharp
sound of voices echoing through the hollow mist; then she rides like
a thing of life reposing on the polished water, her masts half
obscured in mist, looming high above, like a spectre in gauze
shroud. The sound dies away, and dimly we see the figure of a man
pacing the deck from fore-shroud to taffrail. Now and then he stops
at the wheel, casts sundry glances about the horizon, as if to catch
a recognition of some point of land near by, and walks again. Now he
places his body against the spokes, leans forward, and compares the
"lay" of the land with points of compass. He will reach his hand
into the binnacle, to note the compass with his finger, and wait its
traversing motion. Apparently satisfied, he moves his slow way along
again; now folding his arms, as if in deep study, then locking his
hands behind him, and drooping his head. He paces and paces for an
hour, retires below, and all is still.

Early on the following morning, a man of middle stature, genteelly
dressed, may be seen leaving the craft in a boat, which, rowed by
two seamen, soon reaches a wharf, upon the landing slip of which he
disembarks. He looks pale, and his countenance wears a placidness
indicating a mind absorbed in reflection. With a carpet-bag in his
right hand does he ascend the steps to the crown of the wharf, as
the boat returns to the mysterious-looking craft. Standing on the
capsill for a few minutes, his blue eyes wander over the scene, as
if to detect some familiar object. The warehouses along the wharfs
wear a dingy, neglected air; immense piles of cotton bales stand
under slender sheds erected here and there along the line of
buildings which form a curvature declining to the east and west.
Again, open spaces are strewn with bales of cotton waiting its turn
through the press (a large building near by, from which steam is
issuing in successive puffings and roarings); from which compressed
bales emerge out of the lower story, followed by a dozen half-naked
negroes, who, half-bent, trundle it onward into piles, or on board
ships. Far above these is spread out a semicircle of dwellings,
having a gloomy and irregular appearance, devoid of that freshness
and brightness which so distinguish every New England city. The
bustle of the day is just commencing, and the half-mantled ships,
lying unmoved at the wharfs, give out signs of activity. The new
comer is about to move on up the wharf, when suddenly he is accosted
by a negro, who, in ragged garb, touches his hat politely, and says,
with a smile, "Yer sarvant, mas'r!"

"Your name, my boy?" returns the man, in a kind tone of voice. The
negro, thrusting his hands deep into the pockets of his old sack
coat, seems contemplating an answer. He has had several names, both
surname and Christian; names are but of little value to a slave.
"Pompe they once called me, but da' calls me Bill now," he answers,
eyeing the stranger, suspiciously. "Pompe, Pompe! I've heard that
name: how familiar it sounds!" the stranger says to himself.

"One mas'r call me Turtle Tom," rejoins the negro, scratching his
head the while.

"Turtle Tom!" reiterates the stranger. "Had you no other name
coupled with Pompe, when that was the name by which you were
recognised?"

The negro will not wait his finishing the sentence. He says he had
good old mas'r's name; but good old mas'r-"so dey tells"-dead and
gone long time ago. "His name was Marston; and dat war dis child's
name den, God bless 'um!" he answers the stranger.

"Marston, who lived on the banks of the Ashley?" again he enquires,
as his face crimsons with excitement.

"Dat war my mas'r; and dem war good old times when I lived dar,"
returns the negro, significantly nodding his head.

"Then you are the first man I have met, the first I want to see,"
exclaimed the stranger, grasping the negro by the hand, and, much to
his surprise, shaking it heartily.

"'Taint Lorenzo," returns the negro, contemplating the stranger with
astonishment.

The stranger is not Lorenzo, but he has heard much of him. What
happy recollections its familiar sound recalls: how it strengthens
his hopes of success in his mission. The negro tells him he is a
labourer on the wharf, and cannot leave to conduct him to an hotel;
he will, however, direct the stranger to a comfortable abode in
Church Street. It is quiet and unostentatious, but will serve his
purpose. Placing a piece of money in the negro's hand, he assures
him that he is his friend-has much need of his services-will pay him
well for their employment. He has equally aroused the negro's
curiosity; and, were it nothing more than satisfying that, he would
be faithful to his promise to call the same night at seven o'clock.
Precisely at that hour the negro will fulfil his engagement. The
stranger wends his way to Church Street, and up a narrow alley, on
the left hand side, finds comfortable apartments, as directed. Here
he makes his toilet, and sallies out to reconnoitre the city.
Meanwhile the little craft is entered at the custom-house as a
fruiter, bound from New Providence to New York, and put in for a
harbour. There is something suspicious about a fruiter putting in
for a harbour at this season, and many curious glances are cast upon
the little captain as he bows to the truth of his entry before the
deputy collector.

The stranger has spent the day in viewing the city, and at
nightfall, the negro, true to his engagement, presents his sable
figure at his lodgings. A servant having shown him up stairs, he is
ushered into his presence, where, seeming bewildered, he looks about
inquiringly, as if doubting the object for which he has been
summoned. Abjectly he holds his tattered cap in his hand, and
tremblingly inquires what master wants with him.

"Have confidence, my good fellow," the stranger speaks, with a
smile; "my mission is love and peace." He places a chair beside a
small table in the centre of the room; bids the negro sit down,
which he does with some hesitation. The room is small; it contains a
table, bureau, washstand, bed, and four chairs, which, together with
a few small prints hanging from the dingy walls, and a square piece
of carpet in the centre of the room, constitute its furniture. "You
know Marston's plantation-know it as it was when Marston resided
thereon, do you?" enquires the stranger, seating himself beside the
negro, who evidently is not used to this sort of familiarity.

"Know 'um well, dat I does," answers the negro, quickly, as if the
question had recalled scenes of the past.

"And you know the people, too, I suppose?"

"Da'h people!" ejaculates the negro, with a rhapsody of enthusiasm;
"reckon I does."

"Will you recount them."

The negro, commencing with old master, recounts the names of Miss
Franconia, Clotilda, Ellen, Aunt Rachel, old Daddy Bob, and Harry.

"It is enough," says the stranger, "they are all familiar names."

"Did you know my good old master?" interrupts the negro, suddenly,
as if detecting some familiar feature in the stranger's countenance.

"No," he replies, measuredly; "but his name has sounded in my ears a
thousand times. Tell me where are the children, Annette and
Nicholas? and where may I find Franconia?"

The negro shakes his head, and remains silent for a few minutes. At
length he raises his hand, and in a half-whisper says, "Gone, gone,
gone; sold and scattered, good mas'r. Habn't see dem child dis many
a day: reckon da'h done gone down south." He hesitates suddenly, as
if calling something to memory; and then, placing his left hand on
the stranger's right arm, as he rubs his left across his forehead,
stammers out-"Mas'r, mas'r, I reckon dis child do know somefin 'bout
Miss Frankone. Anyhow, mas'r (ye knows I'se nigger do'h, and don't
keep up 'quaintance a'ter mas'r sell um), can put ye straight 'bout
Missus Rosebrook's house, and reckon how dat lady can put ye
straight on Miss Frankone's where'bout." It is what the stranger
wants. He has heard of Mrs. Rosebrook before; she will give him the
information he seeks; so, turning again to the negro, he tells him
that, for a few days at least, he shall require his presence at the
same hour in the evening: tonight he must conduct him to Mrs.
Rosebrook's sequestered villa.

The watch-tower bell of the guard-house sounds forth nine o'clock.
The soldier-like sentinel, pacing with loaded musket, and armed with
sharpest steel, cries out in hoarse accents, "All's well!" The bell
is summoning all negroes to their habitations: our guide, Bill,
informs the stranger that he must have a "pass" from a white man
before he can venture into the street. "Mas'r may write 'um," he
says, knowing that it matters but little from whom it comes, so long
as the writer be a white man. The pass is written; the negro
partakes of refreshment that has been prepared for him at the
stranger's request, and they are wending their way through the city.
They pass between rows of massive buildings, many of which have an
antique appearance, and bear strong signs of neglect; but their
unique style of architecture denotes the taste of the time in which
they were erected. Some are distinguished by heavy stone colonnades,
others by verandas of fret-work, with large gothic windows standing
in bold outline. Gloomy-looking guard-houses, from which numerous
armed men are issuing forth for the night's duty,--patrolling figures
with white cross belts, and armed with batons, standing at corners
of streets, or moving along with heavy tread on the uneven
side-walk,--give the city an air of military importance. The love of
freedom is dangerous in this democratic world; liberty is simply a
privilege. Again the stranger and his guide (the negro) emerge into
narrow lanes, and pass along between rows of small dwellings
inhabited by negroes; but at every turn they encounter mounted
soldiery, riding two abreast, heavily armed. "Democracy, boast not
of thy privileges! tell no man thou governest with equal justice!"
said the stranger to himself, as the gas-light shed its flickers
upon this military array formed to suppress liberty.

They have reached the outskirts of the city, and are approaching a
pretty villa, which the negro, who has been explaining the nature
and duties of this formidable display of citizen soldiery, points
to, as the peaceful home of the Rosebrook family. Brighter and
brighter, as they approach, glares the bright light of a window in
the north front. "I wish Mas'r Rosebrook owned me," says the negro,
stopping at the garden gate, and viewing the pretty enclosure ere he
opens it. "If ebery mas'r and missus war as kind as da'h is, dar
wouldn't be no need o' dem guard-houses and dem guardmen wid dar
savage steel," he continues, opening the gate gently, and motioning
the stranger to walk in. Noiselessly he advances up the brick walk
to the hall entrance, and rings the bell. A well-dressed negro man
soon makes his appearance, receives him politely, as the guide
retires, and ushers him into a sumptuously furnished parlour. The
Rosebrook negroes quickly recognise a gentleman, and detecting it in
the bearing of the stranger they treat him as such. Mrs. Rosebrook,
followed by her husband, soon makes her appearance, saluting the
stranger with her usual suavity. "I have come, madam," he says, "on
a strange mission. With you I make no secret of it; should I be
successful it will remove the grief and anxiety of one who has for
years mourned the fate of her on whom all her affections seem to
have centred. If you will but read this it will save the further
recital of my mission." Thus saying, he drew a letter from his
pocket, presented it, and watched her countenance as line by line
she read it, and, with tears glistening in her eyes, passed it to
her husband.

"I am, good sir, heartily glad your mission is thus laudable. Be at
home, and while you are in the city let our home be yours. Franconia
is here with us to-night; the child you search after is also with
us, and it was but to-day we learned the cruelties to which she has
been subjected during the last few years. Indeed, her fate had been
kept concealed from us until a few weeks ago, and to-day, having
escaped the brutal designs of a ruffian, she fled to us for
protection, and is now concealed under our roof-"

"Yes, poor wretch-it is too true!" rejoins Rosebrook. "But something
must be done as quickly as possible, for if Pringle Blowers regains
her she will be subjected to tortures her frame is too delicate to
bear up under. There must be no time lost, not a day!" he says, as
Mrs. Rosebrook quickly leaves the room to convey the news to
Franconia, who, with Annette, is in an adjoining apartment.

Like a hunted deer, Annette's fears were excited on hearing the
stranger enter; Franconia is endeavoring to quiet them. The poor
slave fears the ruffian's pursuit, trembles at each foot-fall upon
the door-sill, and piteously turns to her old friend for protection.
Blowers, maddened with disappointment, would rather sacrifice her to
infamy than sell her for money to a good master. The price of a
pretty slave is no object with this boasting democrat,--the
gratification of his carnal desires soars supreme. Rosebrook knows
this, as the abject woman does to her sorrow.

As Rosebrook and the stranger sit conversing upon the object of his
mission, and the best way to effect it, this good woman returns
leading by the arm a delicately-formed girl, whose blonde
countenance is shadowed with an air of melancholy which rather adds
to her charms than detracts from her beauty. The stranger's eye
rests upon her,--quickly he recognises Clotilda's features,
Clotilda's form, and gentleness; but she is fairer than Clotilda,
has blue eyes, and almost golden hair. She hesitates as her eyes
meet the stranger's. "Do not fear, my child," speaks Franconia,
whose slender figure follows her into the room. Assured that the
stranger is her friend, she is introduced to him, and modestly takes
her seat on a chair by the window. The stranger's name is Maxwell,
and on hearing it announced Franconia anticipated the pleasure of
meeting with her old friend, through whose agency she effected
Clotilda's escape. Advancing towards him with extended hand, she
looks enquiringly in his face, saying, "Am I mistaken?" She shakes
her head, doubtingly. "No! it is not my friend Maxwell," she
continues.

"No!" rejoins the stranger; "he is my cousin: by his directions I
have come here. I have brought a letter from his wife Clotilda,
whose dear deliverer you were; and whose thoughts now daily recur to
you, to your love and kindness to her, with undying brightness."
"Ah!" interrupts Franconia, welcoming him with a fervent heart, "I
knew Clotilda would never forget Annette; I knew she would remember
me; I knew her ardent soul would give forth its measure of
gratitude. Happy am I that you have come-though years have rolled by
since I gave up all hopes of the joyous consummation-to relieve this
sorrowing child," she says, running to Annette, and with tears of
joy in her eyes, exclaiming, "My child! my child! you 'll yet be
saved. The ruffian who tortured you to-day will torture you no
more-no more!" And she kisses the sorrowing girl's cheek, as tears
of sympathy gush into her eyes.

Rosebrook handed Franconia the letter, which she read as her face
brightened with joy. "Good Clotilda! how happy she must be! How
generous, how kind, how true dear Maxwell was to her; and they are
living together so comfortably, and have such a nice family growing
up; but she wants her slave child! A slave mother never forgets her
slave offspring!" she exclaims, with enthusiastic delight, as she
reads and re-reads the letter. Back she paces to Annette, lays her
right arm gently over her shoulder, and pats her cheek with her left
hand: "Annette will see her mother, yet. There is an all-protecting
hand guiding us through every ill of life. Be of good cheer, my
child; never despond while there is a hope left; bury the horrors of
the past in the brighter prospect of the future." And leading her to
the table she seats her by her side and reads the letter aloud, as
with joy the forlorn girl's feelings bound forth. We need scarcely
tell the reader that Clotilda's letter was read in listening
silence, and ran thus:--"Nassau, New Providence, "October 24, 18-.
"My Dear Franconia,

"My thoughts have never ceased to recur to you, nor to my dear
Annette. You were a mother and a deliverer to me; I know-though I
have not received a word in reply to any of my letters-you have been
a mother to my child. As you know, I dare not write as much as I
would, lest this letter fall into the hands of tho