Clotelle: A Tale of the Southern States
William Wells Brown
Part 2 out of 3
they must have been convinced that a mother's sorrow can be
conceived by none but a mother's heart. The warbling of birds in
the green bowers of bliss, which she occasionally heard, brought
no tidings of gladness to her. Their joy fell cold upon her heart,
and seemed like bitter mockery. They reminded her of her own
cottage, where, with her beloved child, she had spent so many happy
The speculator had kept close watch over his valuable piece of
property, for fear that it might damage itself. This, however,
there was no danger of, for Isabella still hoped and believed that
Henry would come to her rescue. She could not bring herself to
believe that he would allow her to be sent away without at least
seeing her, and the trader did all he could to keep this idea
alive in her.
While Isabella, with a weary heart, was passing sleepless nights
thinking only of her daughter and Henry, the latter was seeking
relief in that insidious enemy of the human race, the intoxicating
cup. His wife did all in her power to make his life a pleasant and
a happy one, for Gertrude was devotedly attached to him; but a
weary heart gets no gladness out of sunshine. The secret remorse
that rankled in his bosom caused him to see all the world
blood-shot. He had not visited his mother-in-law since the evening
he had given her liberty to use her own discretion as to how
Isabella and her child should be disposed of. He feared even to go
near the house, for he did not wish to see his child. Gertrude
felt this every time he declined accompanying her to her mother's.
Possessed of a tender and confiding heart, entirely unlike her
mother, she sympathized deeply with her husband. She well knew
that all young men in the South, to a greater or less extent,
became enamored of the slave-women, and she fancied that his case
was only one of the many, and if he had now forsaken all others
for her she did not wish for him to be punished; but she dared not
let her mother know that such were her feelings. Again and again
had she noticed the great resemblance between Clotelle and Henry,
and she wished the child in better hands than those of her cruel
At last Gertrude determined to mention the matter to her husband.
Consequently, the next morning, when they were seated on the back
piazza, and the sun was pouring its splendid rays upon everything
around, changing the red tints on the lofty hills in the distance
into streaks of purest gold, and nature seeming by her smiles to
favor the object, she said,--
"What, dear Henry, do you intend to do with Clotelle?"
A paleness that overspread his countenance, the tears that trickled
down his cheeks, the deep emotion that was visible in his face,
and the trembling of his voice, showed at once that she had
touched a tender chord. Without a single word, he buried his face
in his handkerchief, and burst into tears.
This made Gertrude still more unhappy, for she feared that he had
misunderstood her; and she immediately expressed her regret that
she had mentioned the subject. Becoming satisfied from this that
his wife sympathized with him in his unhappy situation, Henry told
her of the agony that filled his soul, and Gertrude agreed to
intercede for him with her mother for the removal of the child to
a boarding-school in one of the Free States.
In the afternoon, when Henry returned from his office, his wife met
him with tearful eyes, and informed him that her mother was filled
with rage at the mere mention of the removal of Clotelle from her
In the mean time, the slave-trader, Jennings, had started for the
South with his gang of human cattle, of whom Isabella was one.
Most quadroon women who are taken to the South are either sold to
gentlemen for their own use or disposed of as house-servants or
waiting-maids. Fortunately for Isabella, she was sold, for the
latter purpose. Jennings found a purchaser for her in the person
of Mr. James French.
Mrs. French was a severe mistress. All who lived with her, though
well-dressed, were scantily fed and over-worked. Isabella found
her new situation far different from her Virginia cottage-life.
She had frequently heard Vicksburg spoken of as a cruel place for
slaves, and now she was in a position to test the truthfulness of
A few weeks after her arrival, Mrs. French began to show to
Isabella that she was anything but a pleasant and agreeable
mistress. What social virtues are possible in a society of which
injustice is a primary characteristic,--in a society which is
divided into two classes, masters and slaves? Every married woman
at the South looks upon her husband as unfaithful, and regards
every negro woman as a rival.
Isabella had been with her new mistress but a short time when she
was ordered to cut off her long and beautiful hair. The negro is
naturally fond of dress and outward display. He who has short
woolly hair combs and oils it to death; he who has long hair would
sooner have his teeth drawn than to part with it. But, however
painful it was to Isabella, she was soon seen with her hair cut
short, and the sleeves of her dress altered to fit tight to her
arms. Even with her hair short and with her ill-looking dress,
Isabella was still handsome. Her life had been a secluded one, and
though now twenty-eight years of age, her beauty had only assumed
a quieter tone. The other servants only laughed at Isabella's
misfortune in losing her beautiful hair.
"Miss 'Bell needn't strut so big; she got short nappy har's well's
I," said Nell, with a broad grin that showed her teeth.
"She tink she white when she cum here, wid dat long har ob hers,"
"Yes," continued Nell, "missus make her take down her wool, so she
no put it up to-day."
The fairness of Isabella's complexion was regarded with envy by the
servants as well as by the mistress herself. This is one of the
hard features of slavery. To-day a woman is mistress of her own
cottage; to-morrow she is sold to one who aims to make her life as
intolerable as possible. And let it be remembered that the
house-servant has the best situation a slave can occupy.
But the degradation and harsh treatment Isabella experienced in her
new home was nothing compared to the grief she underwent at being
separated from her dear child. Taken from her with scarcely a
moment's warning, she knew not what had become of her.
This deep and heartfelt grief of Isabella was soon perceived by her
owners, and fearing that her refusal to take proper food would
cause her death, they resolved to sell her. Mr. French found no
difficulty in securing a purchaser for the quadroon woman, for
such are usually the most marketable kind of property. Isabella
was sold at private sale to a young man for a housekeeper; but
even he had missed his aim.
Mr. Gordon, the new master, was a man of pleasure. He was the owner
of a large sugar plantation, which he had left under the charge of
an overseer, and was now giving himself up to the pleasures of a
city life. At first Mr. Gordon sought to win Isabella's favor by
flattery and presents, knowing that whatever he gave her he could
take from her again. The poor innocent creature dreaded every
moment lest the scene should change. At every interview with Gordon
she stoutly maintained that she had left a husband in Virginia,
and could never think of taking another. In this she considered
that she was truthful, for she had ever regarded Henry as her
husband. The gold watch and chain and other glittering presents
which Gordon gave to her were all kept unused.
In the same house with Isabella was a man-servant who had from time
to time hired himself from his master. His name was William. He
could feel for Isabella, for he, like her, had been separated from
near and dear relatives, and he often tried to console the poor
woman. One day Isabella observed to him that her hair was growing
"Yes," replied William; "you look a good deal like a man with your
"Oh," rejoined she, "I have often been told that I would make a
better looking man than woman, and if I had the money I might
avail myself of it to bid farewell to this place."
In a moment afterwards, Isabella feared that she had said too much,
and laughingly observed, "I am always talking some nonsense; you
must not heed me."
William was a tall, full-blooded African, whose countenance beamed
with intelligence. Being a mechanic, he had by industry earned
more money than he had paid to his owner for his time, and this he
had laid aside, with the hope that he might some day get enough to
purchase his freedom. He had in his chest about a hundred and
fifty dollars. His was a heart that felt for others, and he had
again and again wiped the tears from his eyes while listening to
"If she can get free with a little money, why not give her what I
have?" thought he, and then resolved to do it.
An hour after, he entered the quadroon's room, and, laying the
money in her lap, said,--
"There, Miss Isabella, you said just now that if you had the means
you would leave this place. There is money enough to take you to
England, where you will be free. You are much fairer than many of
the white women of the South, and can easily pass for a free white
At first Isabella thought it was a plan by which the negro wished
to try her fidelity to her owner; but she was soon convinced, by
his earnest manner and the deep feeling he manifested, that he was
"I will take the money," said she, "only on one condition, and that
is that I effect your escape, as well as my own."
"How can that be done?" he inquired, eagerly.
"I will assume the disguise of a gentleman, and you that of a
servant, and we will thus take passage in a steamer to Cincinnati,
and from thence to Canada."
With full confidence in Isabella's judgment, William consented at
once to the proposition. The clothes were purchased; everything
was arranged, and the next night, while Mr. Gordon was on one of
his sprees, Isabella, under the assumed name of Mr. Smith, with
William in attendance as a servant, took passage for Cincinnati in
the steamer Heroine.
With a pair of green glasses over her eyes, in addition to her
other disguise, Isabella made quite a gentlemanly appearance. To
avoid conversation, however, she kept closely to her state-room,
under the plea of illness.
Meanwhile, William was playing his part well with the servants. He
was loudly talking of his master's wealth, and nothing on the boat
appeared so good as in his master's fine mansion.
"I don't like dese steamboats, no how," said he; "I hope when massa
goes on anoder journey, he take de carriage and de hosses."
After a nine-days' passage, the Heroine landed at Cincinnati, and
Mr. Smith and his servant walked on shore.
"William, you are now a free man, and can go on to Canada," said
Isabella; "I shall go to Virginia, in search of my daughter."
This sudden announcement fell heavily upon William's ears, and with
tears he besought her not to jeopardize her liberty in such a
manner; but Isabella had made up her mind to rescue her child if
Taking a boat for Wheeling, Isabella was soon on her way to her
native State. Several months had elapsed since she left Richmond,
and all her thoughts were centred on the fate of her dear
Clotelle. It was with a palpitating heart that this injured woman
entered the stage-coach at Wheeling and set out for Richmond.
IT was late in the evening when the coach arrived at Richmond, and
Isabella once more alighted in her native city. She had intended
to seek lodgings somewhere in the outskirts of the town, but the
lateness of the hour compelled her to stop at one of the principal
hotels for the night. She had scarcely entered the inn before she
recognized among the numerous black servants one to whom she was
well known, and her only hope was that her disguise would keep her
from being discovered. The imperturbable calm and entire
forgetfulness of self which induced Isabella to visit a place from
which she could scarcely hope to escape, to attempt the rescue of
a beloved child, demonstrate that over-willingness of woman to
carry out the promptings of the finer feelings of the heart. True
to woman's nature, she had risked her own liberty for another's.
She remained in the hotel during the night, and the next morning,
under the plea of illness, took her breakfast alone.
That day the fugitive slave paid a visit to the suburbs of the
town, and once more beheld the cottage in which she had spent so
many happy hours. It was winter, and the clematis and passion-
flower were not there; but there were the same walks her feet had
so often pressed, and the same trees which had so often shaded her
as she passed through the garden at the back of the house. Old
remembrances rushed upon her memory and caused her to shed tears
freely. Isabella was now in her native town, and near her
daughter; but how could she communicate with her? how could she
see her? To have made herself known would have been a suicidal
act; betrayal would have followed, and she arrested. Three days
passed away, and still she remained in the hotel at which she had
first put up, and yet she got no tidings of her child.
Unfortunately for Isabella, a disturbance had just broken out among
the slave population in the State of Virginia, and all strangers
were treated with suspicion.
The insurrection to which we now refer was headed by a full-blooded
negro, who had been born and brought up a slave. He had heard the
crack of the driver's whip, and seen the warm blood streaming from
the negro's body. He had witnessed the separation of parents from
children, and was made aware, by too many proofs, that the slave
could expect no justice from the hands of the slave-owner. The
name of this man was Nat Turner. He was a preacher amongst the
negroes, distinguished for his eloquence, respected by the whites,
loved and venerated by the negroes. On the discovery of the plan
for the outbreak, Turner fled to the swamps, followed by those who
had joined in the insurrection.
Here the revolted negroes numbered some hundreds, and for a time
bade defiance to their oppressors. The Dismal Swamps cover many
thousand acres of wild land, and a dense forest, with wild animals
and insects such as are unknown in any other part of Virginia.
Here runaway negroes usually seek a hiding-place, and some have
been known to reside here for years. The revolters were joined by
one of these. He was a large, tall, full-blooded negro, with a
stern and savage countenance; the marks on his face showed that he
was from one of the barbarous tribes in Africa, and claimed that
country as his native land. His only covering was a girdle around
his loins, made of skins of wild beasts which he had killed. His
only token of authority among those that he led was a pair of
epaulettes, made of the tail of a fox, and tied to his shoulder by
a cord. Brought from the coast of Africa, when only fifteen years
of age, to the island of Cuba, he was smuggled from thence into
Virginia. He had been two years in the swamps, and considered it
his future home. He had met a negro woman, who was also a runaway,
and, after the fashion of his native land, had gone through the
process of oiling her, as the marriage ceremony. They had built a
cave on a rising mound in the swamp, and this was their home. This
man's name was Picquilo. His only weapon was a sword made from a
scythe which he had stolen from a neighboring plantation. His
dress, his character, his manners, and his mode of fighting were
all in keeping with the early training he had received in the land
of his birth. He moved about with the activity of a cat, and
neither the thickness of the trees nor the depth of the water
could stop him. His was a bold, turbulent spirit; and, from
motives of revenge, he imbrued his hands in the blood of all the
whites he could meet. Hunger, thirst, and loss of sleep, he seemed
made to endure, as if by peculiarity of constitution. His air was
fierce, his step oblique, his look sanguinary.
Such was the character of one of the negroes in the Southampton
Insurrection. All negroes were arrested who were found beyond
their master's threshold, and all white strangers were looked upon
Such was the position in which Isabella found affairs when she
returned to Virginia in search of her child. Had not the
slave-owners been watchful of strangers, owing to the outbreak,
the fugitive could not have escaped the vigilance of the police;
for advertisements announcing her escape, and offering a large
reward for her arrest, had been received in the city previous to
her arrival, and officers were therefore on the lookout for her.
It was on the third day after her arrival in Richmond, as the
quadroon was seated in her room at the hotel, still in the
disguise of a gentleman, that two of the city officers entered the
apartment and informed her that they were authorized to examine
all strangers, to assure the authorities that they were not in
league with the revolted negroes.
With trembling heart the fugitive handed the key of her trunk to
the officers. To their surprise they found nothing but female
apparel in the trunk, which raised their curiosity, and caused a
further investigation that resulted in the arrest of Isabella as a
fugitive slave. She was immediately conveyed to prison, there to
await the orders of her master.
For many days, uncheered by the voice of kindness, alone, hopeless,
desolate, she waited for the time to arrive when the chains should
be placed on her limbs, and she returned to her inhuman and
The arrest of the fugitive was announced in all the newspapers, but
created little or no sensation. The inhabitants were too much
engaged in putting down the revolt among the slaves; and, although
all the odds were against the insurgents, the whites found it no
easy matter, with all their caution. Every day brought news of
fresh outbreaks. Without scruple and without pity, the whites
massacred all blacks found beyond the limits of their owners'
plantations. The negroes, in return, set fire to houses, and put to
death those who attempted to escape from the flames. Thus carnage
was added to carnage, and the blood of the whites flowed to avenge
the blood of the blacks.
These were the ravages of slavery. No graves were dug for the
negroes, but their bodies became food for dogs and vultures; and
their bones, partly calcined by the sun, remained scattered about,
as if to mark the mournful fury of servitude and lust of power.
When the slaves were subdued, except a few in the swamps,
bloodhounds were employed to hunt out the remaining revolters.
DEATH IS FREEDOM.
ON receiving intelligence of the arrest of Isabella, Mr. Gordon
authorized the sheriff to sell her to the highest bidder. She was,
therefore, sold; the purchaser being the noted negro-trader, Hope
H. Slater, who at once placed her in prison. Here the fugitive saw
none but slaves like herself, brought in and taken out to be
placed in ships, and sent away to some part of the country to
which she herself would soon be compelled to go. She had seen or
heard nothing of her daughter while in Richmond, and all hopes of
seeing her had now fled.
At the dusk of the evening previous to the day when she was to be
sent off, as the old prison was being closed for the night,
Isabella suddenly darted past the keeper, and ran for her life.
It was not a great distance from the prison to the long bridge
which passes from the lower part of the city across the Potomac to
the extensive forests and woodlands of the celebrated Arlington
Heights, then occupied by that distinguished relative and
descendant of the immortal Washington, Mr. Geo. W. Custis. Thither
the poor fugitive directed her flight. So unexpected was her
escape that she had gained several rods the start before the
keeper had secured the other prisoners, and rallied his assistants
to aid in the pursuit. It was at an hour, and in a part of the
city where horses could not easily be obtained for the chase; no
bloodhounds were at hand to run down the flying woman, and for
once it seemed as if there was to be a fair trial of speed and
endurance between the slave and the slave-catchers.
The keeper and his force raised the hue-and-cry on her path as they
followed close behind; but so rapid was the flight along the wide
avenue that the astonished citizens, as they poured forth from
their dwellings to learn the cause of alarm, were only able to
comprehend the nature of the case in time to fall in with the
motley throng in pursuit, or raise an anxious prayer to heaven as
they refused to join in the chase (as many a one did that night)
that the panting fugitive might escape, and the merciless
soul-dealer for once be disappointed of his prey. And now, with
the speed of an arrow, having passed the avenue, with the distance
between her and her pursuers constantly increasing, this poor,
hunted female gained the "Long Bridge," as it is called, where
interruption seemed improbable. Already her heart began to beat
high with the hope of success. She had only to pass three-quarters
of a mile across the bridge, when she could bury herself in a vast
forest, just at the time when the curtain of night would close
around her, and protect her from the pursuit of her enemies.
But God, by his providence, had otherwise determined. He had
ordained that an appalling tragedy should be enacted that night
within plain sight of the President's house, and the Capitol of
the Union, which would be an evidence wherever it should be known
of the unconquerable love of liberty which the human heart may
inherit, as well as a fresh admonition to the slave-dealer of the
cruelty and enormity of his crimes.
Just as the pursuers passed the high draw, soon after entering upon
the bridge, they beheld three men slowly approaching from the
Virginia side. They immediately called to them to arrest the
fugitive, proclaiming her a runaway slave. True to their Virginia
instincts, as she came near, they formed a line across the narrow
bridge to intercept her. Seeing that escape was impossible in that
quarter, she stopped suddenly, and turned upon her pursuers.
On came the profane and ribald crew faster than ever, already
exulting in her capture, and threatening punishment for her
flight. For a moment she looked wildly and anxiously around to see
if there was no hope of escape. On either hand, far down below,
rolled the deep, foaming waters of the Potomac, and before and
behind were the rapidly approaching steps and noisy voices of her
pursuers. Seeing how vain would be any further effort to escape,
her resolution was instantly taken. She clasped her hands
convulsively together, raised her tearful and imploring eyes
toward heaven, and begged for the mercy and compassion there which
was unjustly denied her on earth; then, exclaiming, "Henry,
Clotelle, I die for thee!" with a single bound, vaulted over, the
railing of the bridge, and sank forever beneath the angry and
foaming waters of the river!
Such was the life, and such the death, of a woman whose virtues and
goodness of heart would have done honor to one in a higher station
of life, and who, had she been born in any other land but that of
slavery, would have been respected and beloved. What would have
been her feelings if she could have known that the child for whose
rescue she had sacrificed herself would one day be free, honored,
and loved in another land?
THE curtain rises seven years after the death of Isabella. During
that interval, Henry, finding that nothing could induce his
mother-in-law to relinquish her hold on poor little Clotelle, and
not liking to contend with one on whom a future fortune depended,
gradually lost all interest in the child, and left her to her
Although Mrs. Miller treated Clotelle with a degree of harshness
scarcely equalled, when applied to one so tender in years, still
the child grew every day more beautiful, and her hair, though kept
closely cut, seemed to have improved in its soft, silk-like
appearance. Now twelve years of age, and more than usually
well-developed, her harsh old mistress began to view her with a
Henry and Gertrude had just returned from Washington, where the
husband had been on his duties as a member of Congress, and where
he had remained during the preceding three years without returning
home. It was on a beautiful evening, just at twilight, while
seated at his parlor window, that Henry saw a young woman pass by
and go into the kitchen. Not aware of ever having seen the person
before, he made an errand into the cook's department to see who the
girl was. He, however, met her in the hall, as she was about going
"Whom did you wish to see?" he inquired.
"Miss Gertrude," was the reply.
"What did you want to see her for?" he again asked.
"My mistress told me to give her and Master Henry her compliments,
and ask them to come over and spend the evening."
"Who is your mistress?" he eagerly inquired.
"Mrs. Miller, sir," responded the girl.
"And what's your name?" asked Henry, with a trembling voice.
"Clotelle, sir," was the reply.
The astonished father stood completely amazed, looking at the now
womanly form of her who, in his happier days, he had taken on his
knee with so much fondness and alacrity. It was then that he saw
his own and Isabella's features combined in the beautiful face
that he was then beholding. It was then that he was carried back
to the days when with a woman's devotion, poor Isabella hung about
his neck and told him how lonely were the hours in his absence. He
could stand it no longer. Tears rushed to his eyes, and turning
upon his heel, he went back to his own room. It was then that
Isabella was revenged; and she no doubt looked smilingly down from
her home in the spirit-land on the scene below.
On Gertrude's return from her shopping tour, she found Henry in a
melancholy mood, and soon learned its cause. As Gertrude had borne
him no children, it was but natural, that he should now feel his
love centering in Clotelle, and he now intimated to his wife his
determination to remove his daughter from the hands of his
When this news reached Mrs. Miller, through her daughter, she
became furious with rage, and calling Clotelle into her room,
stripped her shoulders bare and flogged her in the presence of
It was nearly a week after the poor girl had been so severely
whipped and for no cause whatever, that her father learned of the
circumstance through one of the servants. With a degree of
boldness unusual for him, he immediately went to his mother-in-law
and demanded his child. But it was too late,--she was gone. To
what place she had been sent no one could tell, and Mrs. Miller
refused to give any information whatever relative to the girl.
It was then that Linwood felt deepest the evil of the institution
under which he was living; for he knew that his daughter would be
exposed to all the vices prevalent in that part of the country
where marriage is not recognized in connection with that class.
A SLAVE-HUNTING PARSON.
IT was a delightful evening after a cloudless day, with the setting
sun reflecting his golden rays on the surrounding hills which were
covered with a beautiful greensward, and the luxuriant verdure
that forms the constant garb of the tropics, that the steamer
Columbia ran into the dock at Natchez, and began unloading the
cargo, taking in passengers and making ready to proceed on her
voyage to New Orleans. The plank connecting the boat with the shore
had scarcely been secured in its place, when a good-looking man
about fifty years of age, with a white neck-tie, and a pair of
gold-rimmed glasses on, was seen hurrying on board the vessel.
Just at that moment could be seen a stout man with his face pitted
with the small-pox, making his way up to the above-mentioned
"How do you do, my dear sir? this is Mr. Wilson, I believe," said
the short man, at the same time taking from his mouth a large chew
of tobacco, and throwing it down on the ship's deck.
"You have the advantage of me, sir," replied the tall man.
"Why, don't you know me? My name is Jennings; I sold you a splendid
negro woman some years ago."
"Yes, yes," answered the Natchez man. "I remember you now, for the
woman died in a few months, and I never got the worth of my money
out of her."
"I could not help that," returned the slave-trader; "she was as
sound as a roach when I sold her to you."
"Oh, yes," replied the parson, "I know she was; but now I want a
young girl, fit for house use,--one that will do to wait on a
"I am your man," said Jennings, "just follow me," continued he,
"and I will show you the fairest little critter you ever saw." And
the two passed to the stern of the boat to where the trader had
between fifty and sixty slaves, the greater portion being women.
"There," said Jennings, as a beautiful young woman shrunk back with
modesty. "There, sir, is the very gal that was made for you. If
she had been made to your order, she could not have suited you
"Indeed, sir, is not that young woman white?" inquired the parson.
"Oh, no, sir; she is no whiter than you see!"
"But is she a slave?" asked the preacher.
"Yes," said the trader, "I bought her in Richmond, and she comes
from an excellent family. She was raised by Squire Miller, and her
mistress was one of the most pious ladies in that city, I may say;
she was the salt of the earth, as the ministers say."
"But she resembles in some respect Agnes, the woman I bought from
you," said Mr. Wilson. As he said the name of Agnes, the young
woman started as if she had been struck. Her pulse seemed to
quicken, but her face alternately flushed and turned pale, and
tears trembled upon her eyelids. It was a name she had heard her
mother mention, and it brought to her memory those days,--those
happy days, when she was so loved and caressed. This young woman
was Clotelle, the granddaughter of Agnes. The preacher, on
learning the fact, purchased her, and took her home, feeling that
his daughter Georgiana would prize her very highly. Clotelle
found in Georgiana more a sister than a mistress, who, unknown to
her father, taught the slave-girl how to read, and did much toward
improving and refining Clotelle's manners, for her own sake. Like
her mother fond of flowers, the "Virginia Maid," as she was
sometimes called, spent many of her leisure hours in the garden.
Beside the flowers which sprang up from the fertility of soil
unplanted and unattended, there was the heliotrope, sweet-pea, and
cup-rose, transplanted from the island of Cuba. In her new home
Clotelle found herself saluted on all sides by the fragrance of
the magnolia. When she went with her young mistress to the Poplar
Farm, as she sometimes did, nature's wild luxuriance greeted her,
wherever she cast her eyes.
The rustling citron, lime, and orange, shady mango with its fruits
of gold, and the palmetto's umbrageous beauty, all welcomed the
child of sorrow. When at the farm, Huckelby, the overseer, kept
his eye on Clotelle if within sight of her, for he knew she was a
slave, and no doubt hoped that she might some day fall into his
hands. But she shrank from his looks as she would have done from
the charm of the rattlesnake. The negro-driver always tried to
insinuate himself into the good opinion of Georgiana and the
company that she brought. Knowing that Miss Wilson at heart hated
slavery, he was ever trying to show that the slaves under his
charge were happy and contented. One day, when Georgiana and some
of her Connecticut friends were there, the overseer called all the
slaves up to the "great house," and set some of the young ones to
dancing. After awhile whiskey was brought in and a dram given to
each slave, in return for which they were expected to give a
toast, or sing a short piece of his own composition; when it came
to Jack's turn he said,--
"The big bee flies high, the little bee makes the honey: the black
folks make the cotton, and the white folks gets the money."
Of course, the overseer was not at all elated with the sentiment
contained in Jack's toast. Mr. Wilson had lately purchased a young
man to assist about the house and to act as coachman. This slave,
whose name was Jerome, was of pure African origin, was perfectly
black, very fine-looking, tall, slim, and erect as any one could
possibly be. His features were not bad, lips thin, nose
prominent, hands and feet small. His brilliant black eyes lighted
up his whole countenance. His hair which was nearly straight, hung
in curls upon his lofty brow. George Combe or Fowler would have
selected his head for a model. He was brave and daring, strong in
person, fiery in spirit, yet kind and true in his affections,
earnest in his doctrines. Clotelle had been at the parson's but a
few weeks when it was observed that a mutual feeling had grown up
between her and Jerome. As time rolled on, they became more and
more attached to each other. After satisfying herself that these
two really loved, Georgiana advised their marriage. But Jerome
contemplated his escape at some future day, and therefore feared
that if married it might militate against it. He hoped, also, to
be able to get Clotelle away too, and it was this hope that kept
him from trying to escape by himself. Dante did not more love his
Beatrice, Swift his Stella, Waller his Saccharissa, Goldsmith his
Jessamy bride, or Bums his Mary, than did Jerome his Clotelle.
Unknown to her father, Miss Wilson could permit these two slaves
to enjoy more privileges than any of the other servants. The young
mistress taught Clotelle, and the latter imparted her instructions
to her lover, until both could read so as to be well understood.
Jerome felt his superiority, and always declared that no master
should ever flog him. Aware of his high spirit and determination,
Clotelle was in constant fear lest some difficulty might arise
between her lover and his master.
One day Mr. Wilson, being somewhat out of temper and irritated at
what he was pleased to call Jerome's insolence, ordered him to
follow him to the barn to be flogged. The young slave obeyed his
master, but those who saw him at the moment felt that he would not
submit to be whipped.
"No, sir," replied Jerome, as his master told him to take off his
coat: "I will serve you, Master Wilson, I will labor for you day
and night, if you demand it, but I will not be whipped."
This was too much for a white man to stand from a negro, and the
preacher seized his slave by the throat, intending to choke him.
But for once he found his match. Jerome knocked him down, and then
escaped through the back-yard to the street, and from thence to
Recovering somewhat from the effect of his fall, the parson
regained his feet and started in pursuit of the fugitive. Finding,
however, that the slave was beyond his reach, he at once resolved
to put the dogs on his track. Tabor, the negro-catcher, was sent
for, and in less than an hour, eight or ten men, including the
parson, were in the woods with hounds, trying the trails. These
dogs will attack a negro at their master's bidding; and cling to
him as the bull-dog will cling to a beast. Many are the
speculations as to whether the negro will be secured alive or
dead, when these dogs once get on his track. Whenever there is to
be a negro hunt, there is no lack of participants. Many go to
enjoy the fun which it is said they derive from these scenes.
The company had been in the woods but a short time ere they got on
the track of two fugitives, one of whom was Jerome. The slaves
immediately bent their steps toward the swamp, with the hope that
the dogs, when put upon their scent would be unable to follow them
through the water.
The slaves then took a straight course for the Baton Rouge and
Bayou Sara road, about four miles distant. Nearer and nearer the
whimpering pack pressed on; their delusion begins to dispel. All
at once the truth flashes upon the minds of the fugitives like a
glare of light,--'tis Tabor with his dogs!
The scent becomes warmer and warmer, and what was at first an
irregular cry now deepens into one ceaseless roar, as the
relentless pack presses on after its human prey.
They at last reach the river, and in the negroes plunge, followed
by the catch-dog. Jerome is caught and is once more in the hands
of his master, while the other poor fellow finds a watery grave.
They return, and the preacher sends his slave to jail.
THE TRUE HEROINE.
IN vain did Georgiana try to console Clotelle, when the latter
heard, through one of the other slaves, that Mr. Wilson had
started with the dogs in pursuit of Jerome. The poor girl well
knew that he would be caught, and that severe punishment, if not
death, would be the result of his capture. It was therefore with a
heart filled with the deepest grief that the slave-girl heard the
footsteps of her master on his return from the chase. The dogged
and stern manner of the preacher forbade even his daughter
inquiring as to the success of his pursuit. Georgiana secretly
hoped that the fugitive had not been caught; she wished it for the
sake of the slave, and more especially for her maid-servant, whom
she regarded more as a companion than a menial. But the news of
the capture of Jerome soon spread through the parson's household,
and found its way to the ears of the weeping and heart-stricken
The reverend gentleman had not been home more than an hour ere come
of his parishioners called to know if they should not take the
negro from the prison and execute Lynch law upon him.
"No negro should be permitted to live after striking a white man;
let us take him and hang him at once," remarked an elderly-looking
man, whose gray hairs thinly covered the crown of his head.
"I think the deacon is right," said another of the company; "if our
slaves are allowed to set the will of their masters at defiance,
there will be no getting along with them,--an insurrection will be
the next thing we hear of."
"No, no," said the preacher; "I am willing to let the law take its
course, as it provides for the punishment of a slave with death if
he strikes his master. We had better let the court decide the
question. Moreover, as a Christian and God-fearing people, we
ought to submit to the dictates of justice. Should we take this
man's life by force, an All-wise Providence would hold us
responsible for the act."
The company then quietly withdrew, showing that the preacher had
some influence with his people.
"This" said Mr. Wilson, when left alone with his daughter,--"this,
my dear Georgiana, is the result of your kindness to the negroes.
You have spoiled every one about the house. I can't whip one of
them, without being in danger of having my life taken."
"I am sure, papa," replied the young lady,--"I am sure I never did
any thing intentionally to induce any of the servants to disobey
"No, my dear," said Mr. Wilson, "but you are too kind to them. Now,
there is Clotelle,--that girl is completely spoiled. She walks
about the house with as dignified an air as if she was mistress of
the premises. By and by you will be sorry for this foolishness of
"But," answered Georgiana, "Clotelle has a superior mind, and God
intended her to hold a higher position in life than that of a
"Yes, my dear, and it was your letting her know that she was
intended for a better station in society that is spoiling her.
Always keep a negro in ignorance of what you conceive to be his
abilities," returned the parson.
It was late on the Saturday afternoon, following the capture of
Jerome that, while Mr. Wilson was seated in his study preparing
his sermon for the next day, Georgiana entered the room and asked
in an excited tone if it were true that Jerome was to be hanged on
the following Thursday.
The minister informed her that such was the decision of the court.
"Then," said she, "Clotelle will die of grief."
"What business has she to die of grief?" returned the father, his
eyes at the moment flashing fire.
"She has neither eaten nor slept since he was captured," replied
Georgians; "and I am certain that she will not live through this."
"I cannot be disturbed now," said the parson; "I must get my
sermon ready for to-morrow. I expect to have some strangers to
preach to, and must, therefore, prepare a sermon that will do me
While the man of God spoke, he seemed to say to himself,--
"With devotion's visage, and pious actions, We do sugar over the
Georgiana did all in her power to soothe the feelings of Clotelle,
and to induce her to put her trust in God. Unknown to her father,
she allowed the poor girl to go every evening to the jail to see
Jerome, and during these visits, despite her own grief, Clotelle
would try to comfort her lover with the hope that justice would be
meted out to him in the spirit-land.
Thus the time passed on, and the day was fast approaching when the
slave was to die. Having heard that some secret meeting had been
held by the negroes, previous to the attempt of Mr. Wilson to flog
his slave, it occurred to a magistrate that Jerome might know
something of the intended revolt. He accordingly visited the
prison to see if he could learn anything from him, but all to no
purpose. Having given up all hopes of escape, Jerome had resolved
to die like a brave man. When questioned as to whether he knew
anything of a conspiracy among the slaves against their masters,
"Do you suppose that I would tell you if I did?"
"But if you know anything," remarked the magistrate, "and will tell
us, you may possibly have your life spared."
"Life," answered the doomed man, "is worth nought to a slave. What
right has a slave to himself, his wife, or his children? We are
kept in heathenish darkness, by laws especially enacted to make
our instruction a criminal offence; and our bones, sinews, blood,
and nerves are exposed in the market for sale.
"My liberty is of as much consequence to me as Mr. Wilson's is to
him. I am as sensitive to feeling as he. If I mistake not, the day
will come when the negro will learn that he can get his freedom by
fighting for it; and should that time arrive, the whites will be
sorry that they have hated us so shamefully. I am free to say
that, could I live my life over again, I would use all the
energies which God has given me to get up an insurrection."
Every one present seemed startled and amazed at the intelligence
with which this descendant of Africa spoke.
"He's a very dangerous man," remarked one.
"Yes," said another, "he got some book-learning somewhere, and that
has spoiled him."
An effort was then made to learn from Jerome where he had learned
to read, but the black refused to give any information on the
The sun was just going down behind the trees as Clotelle entered
the prison to see Jerome for the last time. He was to die on the
next day Her face was bent upon her hands, and the gushing tears
were forcing their way through her fingers. With beating heart and
trembling hands, evincing the deepest emotion, she threw her arms
around her lover's neck and embraced him. But, prompted by her
heart's unchanging love, she had in her own mind a plan by which
she hoped to effect the escape of him to whom she had pledged her
heart and hand. While the overcharged clouds which had hung over
the city during the day broke, and the rain fell in torrents, amid
the most terrific thunder and lightning, Clotelle revealed to
Jerome her plan for his escape.
"Dress yourself in my clothes," said she, "and you can easily pass
This Jerome at first declined doing. He did not wish to place a
confiding girl in a position where, in all probability, she would
have to suffer; but being assured by the young girl that her life
would not be in danger, he resolved to make the attempt. Clotelle
being very tall, it was not probable that the jailer would
discover any difference in them.
At this moment, she took from her pocket a bunch of keys and
unfastened the padlock, and freed him from the floor.
"Come, girl, it is time for you to go," said the jailer, as Jerome
was holding the almost fainting girl by the hand.
Being already attired in Clotelle's clothes, the disguised man
embraced the weeping girl, put his handkerchief to his face, and
passed out of the jail, without the keeper's knowing that his
prisoner was escaping in a disguise and under cover of the night.
THE HERO OF MANY ADVENTURES.
JEROME had scarcely passed the prison-gates, ere he reproached
himself for having taken such a step. There seemed to him no hope
of escape out of the State, and what was a few hours or days at
most, of life to him, when, by obtaining it, another had been
sacrificed. He was on the eve of returning, when he thought of the
last words uttered by Clotelle. "Be brave and determined, and you
will still be free." The words sounded like a charm in his ears and
he went boldly forward.
Clotelle had provided a suit of men's clothes and had placed them
where her lover could get them, if he should succeed in getting
Returning to Mr. Wilson's barn, the fugitive changed his apparel,
and again retraced his steps into the street. To reach the Free
States by travelling by night and lying by during the day, from a
State so far south as Mississippi, no one would think for a moment
of attempting to escape. To remain in the city would be a suicidal
step. The deep sound of the escape of steam from a boat, which was
at that moment ascending the river, broke upon the ears of the
slave. "If that boat is going up the river," said he, "why not I
conceal myself on board, and try to escape?" He went at once to
the steamboat landing, where the boat was just coming in. "Bound
for Louisville," said the captain, to one who was making
inquiries. As the passengers were rushing on board, Jerome
followed them, and proceeding to where some of the hands were
stowing away bales of goods, he took hold and aided them.
"Jump down into the hold, there, and help the men," said the mate
to the fugitive, supposing that, like many persons, he was working
his way up the river. Once in the hull among the boxes, the slave
concealed himself. Weary hours, and at last days, passed without
either water or food with the hidden slave. More than once did he
resolve to let his case be known; but the knowledge that he would
be sent back to Natchez kept him from doing so. At last, with lips
parched and fevered to a crisp, the poor man crawled out into the
freight-room, and began wandering about. The hatches were on, and
the room dark. There happened to be on board a wedding party, and,
a box, containing some of the bridal cake, with several bottles of
port wine, was near Jerome. He found the box, opened it, and
helped himself. In eight days, the boat tied up at the wharf at
the place of her destination. It was late at night; the boat's
crew, with the single exception of the man on watch, were on shore.
The hatches were off, and the fugitive quietly made his way on
deck and jumped on shore. The man saw the fugitive, but too late
to seize him.
Still in a Slave State, Jerome was at a loss to know how he should
proceed. He had with him a few dollars, enough to pay his way to
Canada, if he could find a conveyance. The fugitive procured such
food as he wanted from one of the many eating-houses, and then,
following the direction of the North Star, he passed out of the
city, and took the road leading to Covington. Keeping near the
Ohio River, Jerome soon found an opportunity to cross over into
the State of Indiana. But liberty was a mere name in the latter
State, and the fugitive learned, from some colored persons that he
met, that it was not safe to travel by daylight. While making his
way one night, with nothing to cheer him but the prospect of
freedom in the future, he was pounced upon by three men who were
lying in wait for another fugitive, an advertisement of whom they
had received through the mail. In vain did Jerome tell them that
he was not a slave. True, they had not caught the man they
expected; but, if they could make this slave tell from what place
he had escaped, they knew that a good price would be paid them
for the negro's arrest.
Tortured by the slave-catchers, to make him reveal the name of his
master and the place from whence he had escaped, Jerome gave them
a fictitious name in Virginia, and said that his master would give
a large reward, and manifested a willingness to return to his "old
boss." By this misrepresentation, the fugitive, hoped to have
another chance of getting away. Allured with the prospect of a
large sum of the needful, the slave-catchers started back with
their victim. Stopping on the second night at an inn, on the banks
of the Ohio River, the kidnappers, in lieu of a suitable place in
which to confine their prize during the night, chained him to the
bed-post of their sleeping-chamber. The white men were late in
retiring to rest, after an evening spent in drinking. At dead of
night, when all was still, the slave arose from the floor, upon
which he had been lying, looked around and saw that Morpheus had
possession of his captors. For once, thought he, the brandy bottle
has done a noble work. With palpitating heart and trembling limbs,
he viewed his position. The door was fast, but the warm weather
had compelled them to leave the window open. If he could but get
his chains off, he might escape through the window to the piazza.
The sleepers' clothes hung upon chairs by the bedside. The slave
thought of the padlock-key, examined the pockets, and found it. The
chains were soon off, and the negro stealthily making his way to
the window. He stopped, and said to himself, "These men are
villains; they are enemies to all who, like me, are trying to be
free. Then why not I teach them a lesson?" He then dressed himself
in the best suit, hung his own worn-out and tattered garments on
the same chair, and silently passed through the window to the
piazza, and let himself down by one of the pillars, and started
once more for the North.
Daylight came upon the fugitive before he had selected a
hiding-place for the day, and he was walking at a rapid rate, in
hopes of soon reaching some woodland or forest. The sun had just
begun to show itself, when the fugitive was astounded at seeing
behind him, in the distance, two men upon horseback. Taking a
road to the right, the slave saw before him a farmhouse, and so
near was he to it that he observed two men in front of it looking
at him. It was too late to turn back. The kidnappers were behind
him--strange men before him. Those in the rear he knew to be
enemies, while he had no idea of what principles were the farmers.
The latter also saw the white men coming, and called to the
fugitive to come that way. The broad-brimmed hats that the farmers
wore told the slave that they were Quakers.
Jerome had seen some of these people passing up and down the river,
when employed on a steamer between Natchez and New Orleans, and
had heard that they disliked slavery. He, therefore, hastened
toward the drab-coated men, who, on his approach, opened the
barn-door, and told him to "run in."
When Jerome entered the barn, the two farmers closed the door,
remaining outside themselves, to confront the slave-catchers, who
now came up and demanded admission, feeling that they had their
"Thee can't enter my premises," said one of the Friends, in rather
a musical voice.
The negro-catchers urged their claim to the slave, and intimated
that, unless they were allowed to secure him, they would force
their way in. By this time, several other Quakers had gathered
around the barn-door. Unfortunately for the kidnappers, and most
fortunately for the fugitive, the Friends had just been holding a
quarterly meeting in the neighborhood, and a number of them had
not yet returned to their homes.
After some talk, the men in drab promised to admit the hunters,
provided they procured an officer and a search-warrant from a
justice of the peace. One of the slave-catchers was left to see
that the fugitive did not get away, while the others went in
pursuit of an officer. In the mean time, the owner of the barn
sent for a hammer and nails, and began nailing up the barn-door.
After an hour in search of the man of the law, they returned with
an officer and a warrant. The Quaker demanded to see the paper,
and, after looking at it for some time, called to his son to go
into the house for his glasses. It was a long time before Aunt
Ruth found the leather case, and when she did, the glasses wanted
wiping before they could be used. After comfortably adjusting them
on his nose, he read the warrant over leisurely.
"Come, Mr. Dugdale, we can't wait all day,"' said the officer.
"Well, will thee read it for me?" returned the Quaker.
The officer complied, and the man in drab said,--
"Yes, thee may go in, now. I am inclined to throw no obstacles in
the way of the execution of the law of the land."
On approaching the door, the men found some forty or fifty nails in
it, in the way of their progress.
"Lend me your hammer and a chisel, if you please, Mr. Dugdale,"
said the officer.
"Please read that paper over again, will thee?" asked the Quaker.
The officer once more read the warrant.
"I see nothing there which says I must furnish thee with tools to
open my door. If thee wants a hammer, thee must go elsewhere for
it; I tell thee plainly, thee can't have mine."
The implements for opening the door are at length obtained and
after another half-hour, the slave-catchers are in the barn. Three
hours is a long time for a slave to be in the hands of Quakers.
The hay is turned over, and the barn is visited in every part; but
still the runaway is not found. Uncle Joseph has a glow upon his
countenance; Ephraim shakes his head knowingly; little Elijah is a
perfect know-nothing, and, if you look toward the house, you will
see Aunt Ruth's smiling face, ready to announce that breakfast is
"The nigger is not in this barn," said the officer.
"I know he is not," quietly answered the Quaker.
"What were you nailing up your door for, then, as if you were
afraid we would enter?" inquired one of the kidnappers.
"I can do what I please with my own door, can't I," said the
The secret was out; the fugitive had gone in at the front door and
out at the back; and the reading of the warrant, nailing up of the
door, and other preliminaries of the Quaker, was to give the
fugitive time and opportunity to escape.
It was now late in the morning, and the slave-catchers were a long
way from home, and the horses were jaded by the rapid manner in
which they had travelled. The Friends, in high glee, returned to
the house for breakfast; the man of the law, after taking his fee,
went home, and the kidnappers turned back, muttering, "Better luck
Now in her seventeenth year, Clotelle's personal appearance
presented a great contrast to the time when she lived with old
Mrs. Miller. Her tall and well-developed figure; her long, silky
black hair, falling in curls down her swan-like neck; her bright,
black eyes lighting up her olive-tinted face, and a set of teeth
that a Tuscarora might envy, she was a picture of tropical-ripened
beauty. At times, there was a heavenly smile upon her countenance,
which would have warmed the heart of an anchorite. Such was the
personal appearance of the girl who was now in prison by her own
act to save the life of another. Would she be hanged in his stead,
or would she receive a different kind of punishment? These
questions Clotelle did not ask herself. Open, frank, free, and
generous to a fault, she always thought of others, never of her
The long stay of Clotelle caused some uneasiness to Miss Wilson;
yet she dared not tell her father, for he had forbidden the
slave-girl's going to the prison to see her lover. While the clock
on the church near by was striking eleven, Georgiana called Sam,
and sent him to the prison in search of Clotelle.
"The girl went away from here at eight o'clock," was the jailer's
answer to the servant's inquiries.
The return of Sam without having found the girl saddened the heart
of the young mistress. "Sure, then," said she, "the poor
heart-broken thing has made way with herself."
Still, she waited till morning before breaking the news of
Clotelle's absence to her father.
The jailer discovered, the next morning, to his utter astonishment,
that his prisoner was white instead of black, and his first
impression was that the change of complexion had taken place
during the night, through fear of death. But this conjecture was
soon dissipated; for the dark, glowing eyes, the sable curls upon
the lofty brow, and the mild, sweet voice that answered his
questions, informed him that the prisoner before him was another
On learning, in the morning, that Clotelle was in jail dressed in
male attire, Miss Wilson immediately sent clothes to her to make a
change in her attire. News of the heroic and daring act of the
slave-girl spread through the city with electric speed.
"I will sell every nigger on the place," said the parson, at the
break-fast-table,--"I will sell them all, and get a new lot, and
whip them every day."
Poor Georgiana wept for the safety of Clotelle, while she felt glad
that Jerome had escaped. In vain did they try to extort from the
girl the whereabouts of the man whose escape she had effected. She
was not aware that he had fled on a steamer, and when questioned,
"I don't know; and if I did I would not tell you. I care not what
you do with me, if Jerome but escapes."
The smile with which she uttered these words finely illustrated the
poet's meaning, when he says,--
"A fearful gift upon thy heart is laid, Woman--the power to
suffer and to love."
Her sweet simplicity seemed to dare them to lay their rough hands
amid her trembling curls.
Three days did the heroic young woman remain in prison, to be gazed
at by an unfeeling crowd, drawn there out of curiosity. The
intelligence came to her at last that the court had decided to
spare her life, on condition that she should be whipped, sold, and
sent out of the State within twenty-four hours.
This order of the court she would have cared but little for, had
she not been sincerely attached to her young mistress.
"Do try and sell her to some one who will use her well," said
Georgiana to her father, as he was about taking his hat to leave
"I shall not trouble myself to do any such thing," replied the
hard-hearted parson. "I leave the finding of a master for her with
Bathed in tears, Miss. Wilson paced her room in the absence of her
father. For many months Georgiana had been in a decline, and any
little trouble would lay her on a sick bed for days. She was,
therefore, poorly able to bear the loss of this companion, whom
she so dearly loved.
Mr. Wilson had informed his daughter that Clotelle was to be
flogged; and when Felice came in and informed her mistress that
the poor girl had just received fifty lashes on her bare person,
the young lady fainted and fell on the floor. The servants placed
their mistress on the sofa, and went in pursuit of their master.
Little did the preacher think, on returning to his daughter, that
he should soon be bereft of her; yet such was to be his lot. A
blood-vessel had been ruptured, and the three physicians who were
called in told the father that he must prepare to lose his child.
That moral courage and calmness, which was her great characteristic,
did not forsake Georgiana in her hour of death. She had ever been
kind to the slaves under her charge, and they loved and respected
her. At her request, the servants were all brought into her room,
and took a last farewell of their mistress. Seldom, if ever, was
there witnessed a more touching scene than this. There lay the
young woman, pale and feeble, with death stamped upon her
countenance, surrounded by the sons and daughters of Africa, some
of whom had been separated from every earthly tie, and the most of
whose persons had been torn and gashed by the negro-whip. Some
were upon their knees at the bedside, others standing around, and
Death is a leveler; and neither age, sex, wealth, nor condition,
can avert when he is permitted to strike. The most beautiful
flowers must soon fade and droop and die. So, also, with man; his
days are as uncertain as the passing breeze. This hour he glows
in the blush of health and vigor, but the next, he may be counted
with the number no more known on earth. Oh, what a silence pervaded
the house when this young flower was gone! In the midst of the
buoyancy of youth, this cherished one had drooped and died. Deep
were the sounds of grief and mourning heard in that stately
dwelling when the stricken friends, whose office it had been to
nurse and soothe the weary sufferer, beheld her pale and
motionless in the sleep of death.
Who can imagine the feeling with which poor Clotelle received the
intelligence of her kind friend's death? The deep gashes of the
cruel whip had prostrated the lovely form of the quadroon, and she
lay upon her bed of straw in the dark cell. The speculator had
bought her, but had postponed her removal till she should recover.
Her benefactress was dead, and--
" Hope withering fled, and mercy sighed farewell."
"Is Jerome safe?" she would ask herself continually. If her lover
could have but known of the sufferings of that sweet flower,--
that polyanthus over which he had so often been in his dreams,--.
he would then have learned that she was worthy of his love.
It was more than a fortnight before the slave-trader could take his
prize to more comfortable quarters. Like Alcibiades, who defaced
the images of the gods and expected to be pardoned on the ground
of eccentricity, so men who abuse God's image hope to escape the
vengeance of his wrath under the plea that the law sanctions their
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT AND WHAT FOLLOWED.
It was a beautiful Sunday in September, with a cloudless sky, and
the rays of the sun parching the already thirsty earth, that
Clotelle stood at an upper window in Slater's slave-pen in New
Orleans, gasping for a breath of fresh air. The bells of thirty
churches were calling the people to the different places of
worship. Crowds were seen wending their way to the houses of God;
one followed by a negro boy carrying his master's Bible; another
followed by her maid-servant holding the mistress' fan; a third
supporting an umbrella over his master's head to shield him from
the burning sun. Baptists immersed, Presbyterians sprinkled,
Methodists shouted, and Episcopalians read their prayers, while
ministers of the various sects preached that Christ died for all.
The chiming of the bells seemed to mock the sighs and deep groans
of the forty human beings then incarcerated in the slave-pen.
These imprisoned children of God were many of them Methodists,
some Baptists, and others claiming to believe in the faith of the
Presbyterians and Episcopalians.
0h, with what anxiety did these creatures await the close of that
Sabbath, and the dawn of another day, that should deliver them
from those dismal and close cells. Slowly the day passed away, and
once more the evening breeze found its way through the barred
windows of the prison that contained these injured sons and
daughters of America. The clock on the calaboose had just struck
nine on Monday morning, when hundreds of persons were seen
threading the gates and doors of the negro-pen. It was the same
gang that had the day previous been stepping to the tune and
keeping time with the musical church bells. Their Bibles were not
with them, their prayer-books were left at home, and even their
long and solemn faces had been laid aside for the week. They had
come to the man-market to make their purchases. Methodists were in
search of their brethren. Baptists were looking for those that had
been immersed, while Presbyterians were willing to buy fellow
Christians, whether sprinkled or not. The crowd was soon gazing
at and feasting their eyes upon the lovely features of Clotelle.
"She is handsomer," muttered one to himself, "than the lady that
sat in the pew next to me yesterday."
"I would that my daughter was half so pretty," thinks a second.
Groups are seen talking in every part of the vast building, and the
topic on 'Change, is the "beautiful quadroon." By and by, a tall
young man with a foreign face, the curling mustache protruding
from under a finely-chiseled nose, and having the air of a
gentleman, passes by. His dark hazel eye is fastened on the maid,
and he stops for a moment; the stranger walks away, but soon
returns--he looks, he sees the young woman wipe away the silent
tear that steals down her alabaster cheek; he feels ashamed that
he should gaze so unmanly on the blushing face of the woman. As he
turns upon his heel he takes out his white hankerchief and wipes
his eyes. It may be that he has lost a sister, a mother, or some
dear one to whom he was betrothed. Again he comes, and the
quadroon hides her face. She has heard that foreigners make bad
masters, and she shuns his piercing gaze. Again he goes away and
then returns. He takes a last look and then walks hurriedly off.
The day wears away, but long before the time of closing the sale
the tall young man once more enters the slave-pen. He looks in
every direction for the beautiful slave, but she is not there--
she has been sold! He goes to the trader and inquires, but he is
too late, and he therefore returns to his hotel.
Having entered a military school in Paris when quite young, and
soon after been sent with the French army to India, Antoine
Devenant had never dabbled in matters of love. He viewed all women
from the same stand-point--respected them for their virtues, and
often spoke of the goodness of heart of the sex, but never dreamed
of taking to himself a wife. The unequalled beauty of Clotelle had
dazzled his eyes, and every look that she gave was a dagger that
went to his heart. He felt a shortness of breath, his heart
palpitated, his head grew dizzy, and his limbs trembled; but he
knew not its cause. This was the first stage of "love at first
He who bows to the shrine of beauty when beckoned by this
mysterious agent seldom regrets it. Devenant reproached himself
for not having made inquiries concerning the girl before he left
the market in the morning. His stay in the city was to be short,
and the yellow fever was raging, which caused him to feel like
making a still earlier departure. The disease appeared in a form
unusually severe and repulsive. It seized its victims from amongst
the most healthy of the citizens. The disorder began in the brain
by oppressive pain accompanied or followed by fever. Fiery veins
streaked the eye, the face was inflamed and dyed of a dark dull
red color; the ears from time to time rang painfully. Now mucous
secretions surcharged the tongue and took away the power of speech;
now the sick one spoke, but in speaking had foresight of death.
When the violence of the disease approached the heart, the gums
were blackened. The sleep broken, troubled by convulsions, or by
frightful visions, was worse than the waking hours; and when the
reason sank under a delirium which had its seat in the brain,
repose utterly forsook the patient's couch. The progress of the
fever within was marked by yellowish spots, which spread over the
surface of the body. If then, a happy crisis came not, all hope
was gone. Soon the breath infected the air with a fetid odor, the
lips were glazed, despair painted itself in the eyes, and sobs,
with long intervals of silence, formed the only language. From
each side of the mouth, spread foam tinged with black and burnt
blood. Blue streaks mingled with the yellow all over the frame. All
remedies were useless. This was the yellow fever. The disorder
spread alarm and confusion throughout the city. On an average more
than four hundred died daily. In the midst of disorder and
confusion, death heaped victims on victims. Friend followed friend
in quick succession. The sick were avoided from the fear of
contagion, and for the same reason the dead were left unburied.
Nearly two thousand dead bodies lay uncovered in the burial-
ground, with only here and there a little lime thrown over them,
to prevent the air becoming infected. The negro, whose home is
in a hot climate, was not proof against the disease. Many
plantations had to suspend their work for want of slaves to take
the places of those who had been taken off by the fever.
MEETING OF THE COUSINS.
THE clock in the hall had scarcely finished striking three when Mr.
Taylor entered his own dwelling, a fine residence in Camp Street,
New Orleans, followed by the slave-girl whom he had just purchased
at the negro-pen. Clotelle looked around wildly as she passed
through the hall into the presence of her new mistress. Mrs.
Taylor was much pleased with her servant's appearance, and
congratulated her husband on his judicious choice.
"But," said Mrs. Taylor, after Clotelle had gone into the kitchen,
"how much she looks like Miss Jane Morton."
"Indeed," replied the husband, "I thought, the moment I saw her
that she looked like the Mortons."
"I am sure I never saw two faces more alike in my life, than that
girl's and Jane Morton's," continued Mrs. Taylor.
Dr. Morton, the purchaser of Maron, the youngest daughter of Agnes,
and sister to Isabella, had resided in Camp Street, near the
Taylors, for more than eight years, and the families were on very
intimate terms, and visited each other frequently. Every one spoke
of Clotelle's close resemblance to the Mortons, and especially to
the eldest daughter. Indeed, two sisters could hardly have been
more alike. The large, dark eyes, black, silk-like hair, tall,
graceful figure, and mould of the face, were the same.
The morning following Clotelle's arrival in her new home, Mrs.
Taylor was conversing in a low tone with her husband, and both
with their eyes following Clotelle as she passed through the room.
"She is far above the station of a slave," remarked the lady. "I
saw her, last night, when removing some books, open one and stand
over it a moment as if she was reading; and she is as white as I
am. I almost sorry you bought her."
At this juncture the front door-bell rang, and Clotelle hurried
through the room to answer it.
"Miss Morton," said the servant as she returned to the mistress'
"Ask her to walk in," responded the mistress.
"Now, my dear," said Mrs. Taylor to her husband, "just look and see
if you do not notice a marked resemblance between the countenances
of Jane and Clotelle."
Miss Morton entered the room just as Mrs. Taylor ceased speaking.
"Have you heard that the Jamisons are down with the fever?"
inquired the young lady, after asking about the health of the
"No, I had not; I was in hopes it would not get into our street;"
replied Mrs. Taylor.
All this while Mr. and Mrs. Taylor were keenly scrutinizing their
visitor and Clotelle and even the two young women seemed to be
conscious that they were in some way the objects of more than
Miss Morton had scarcely departed before Mrs. Taylor began
questioning Clotelle concerning her early childhood, and became
more than ever satisfied that the slave-girl was in some way
connected with the Mortons.
Every hour brought fresh news of the ravages of the fever, and the
Taylors commenced preparing to leave town. As Mr. Taylor could not
go at once, it was determined that his wife should leave without
him, accompanied by her new maid servant. Just as Mrs. Taylor and
Clotelle were stepping into the carriage, they were informed that
Dr. Morton was down with the epidemic.
It was a beautiful day, with a fine breeze for the time of year,
that Mrs. Taylor and her servant found themselves in the cabin of
the splendid new steamer "Walk-in-the-Water," bound from New
Orleans to Mobile. Every berth in the boat wad occupied by persons
fleeing from the fearful contagion that was carrying off its
Late in the day, as Clotelle was standing at one of the windows of
the ladies' saloon, she was astonished to see near her, and with
eyes fixed intently upon her, the tall young stranger whom
she had observed in the slave-market a few days before. She turned
hastily away, but the heated cabin and the want of fresh air soon
drove her again to the window. The young gentleman again appeared,
and coming to the end of the saloon, spoke to the slave-girl in
broken English. This confirmed her in her previous opinion that he
was a foreigner, and she rejoiced that she had not fallen into his
"I want to talk with you," said the stranger.
"What do you want with me?" she inquired.
"I am your friend," he answered. "I saw you in the slave-market
last week, and regretted that I did not speak to you then. I
returned in the evening, but you was gone."
Clotelle looked indignantly at the stranger, and was about leaving
the window again when the quivering of his lips and the trembling
of his voice struck her attention and caused her to remain.
"I intended to buy you and make you free and happy, but I was too
late," continued he.
"Why do you wish to make me free?" inquired the girl.
"Because I once had an only and lovely sister, who died three years
ago in France, and you are so much like her that had I not known
of her death I should certainly have taken you for her."
"However much I may resemble your sister, you are aware that I am
not she; why, then, take so much interest in one whom you have
never seen before and may never see again?"
"The love," said he, "which I had for my sister is transferred to
Clotelle had all along suspected that the man was a knave, and this
profession of love at once confirmed her in that belief. She
therefore immediately turned away and left him.
Hours elapsed. Twilight was just "letting down her curtain and
pinning it with a star," as the slave-girl seated herself on a
sofa by the window, and began meditating upon her eventful
history, meanwhile watching the white waves as they seemed to
sport with each other in the wake of the noble vessel, with the
rising moon reflecting its silver rays upon the splendid scene,
when the foreigner once more appeared near the window. Although
agitated for fear her mistress would see her talking to a
stranger, and be angry, Clotelle still thought she saw something
in the countenance of the young man that told her he was sincere,
and she did not wish to hurt his feelings.
"Why persist in your wish to talk with me?" she said, as he again
advanced and spoke to her.
"I wish to purchase you and make you happy," returned he.
"But I am not for sale now," she replied. "My present mistress will
not sell me, and if you wished to do so ever so much you could
"Then," said he, "if I cannot buy you, when the steamer reaches
Mobile, fly with me, and you shall be free."
"I cannot do it," said Clotelle; and she was just leaving the
stranger when he took from his pocket a piece of paper and thrust
it into her hand.
After returning to her room, she unfolded the paper, and found, to
her utter astonishment that it contained a one hundred dollar note
on the Bank of the United States. The first impulse of the girl
was to return the paper and its contents immediately to the giver,
but examining the paper more closely, she saw in faint
pencil-marks, "Remember this is from one who loves you." Another
thought was to give it to her mistress, and she returned to the
saloon for that purpose; but on finding Mrs. Taylor engaged in
conversation with some ladies, she did not deem it proper to
Again, therefore, Clotelle seated herself by the window, and again
the stranger presented himself. She immediately took the paper
from her pocket, and handed it to him; but he declined taking it,
"No, keep it; it may be of some service to you when I am far
"Would that I could understand you," said the slave.
"Believe that I am sincere, and then you will understand me,"
returned the young man. "Would you rather be a slave than be
free?" inquired he, with tears that glistened in the rays of the
"No," said she, "I want my freedom, but I must live a virtuous
"Then, if you would be free and happy, go with me. We shall be in
Mobile in two hours, and when the passengers are going on shore,
you take my arm. Have your face covered with a veil, and you will
not be observed. We will take passage immediately for France; you
can pass as my sister, and I pledge you my honor that I will marry
you as soon as we arrive in France."
This solemn promise, coupled with what had previously been said,
gave Clotelle confidence in the man, and she instantly determined
to go with him. "But then," thought she, "what if I should be
detected? I would be forever ruined, for I would be sold, and in
all probability have to end my days on a cotton, rice, or sugar
plantation." However, the thought of freedom in the future
outweighed this danger, and her resolve was taken.
Dressing herself in some of her best clothes, and placing her
veiled bonnet where she could get it without the knowledge of her
mistress, Clotelle awaited with a heart filled with the deepest
emotions and anxiety the moment when she was to take a step which
seemed so rash, and which would either make or ruin her forever.
The ships which leave Mobile for Europe lie about thirty miles down
the bay, and passengers are taken down from the city in small
vessels. The "Walk-in-the-Water" had just made her lines fast, and
the passengers were hurrying on shore, when a tall gentleman with
a lady at his side descended the stage-plank, and stepped on the
wharf. This was Antoine Devenant and Clotelle.
THE LAW AND ITS VICTIM.
THE death of Dr. Morton, on the third day of his illness, came like
a shock upon his wife and daughters. The corpse had scarcely been
committed to its mother earth before new and unforeseen
difficulties appeared to them. By the laws of the Slave States,
the children follow the condition of their mother. If the mother
is free, the children are free; if a slave, the children are
slaves. Being unacquainted with the Southern code, and no one
presuming that Marion had any negro blood in her veins, Dr. Morton
had not given the subject a single thought. The woman whom he
loved and regarded as his wife was, after all, nothing more than a
slave by the laws of the State. What would have been his feelings
had he known that at his death his wife and children would be
considered as his property? Yet such was the case. Like most men of
means at that time, Dr. Morton was deeply engaged in speculation,
and though generally considered wealthy, was very much involved in
his business affairs.
After the disease with which Dr. Morton had so suddenly died had to
some extent subsided, Mr. James Morton, a brother of the deceased,
went to New Orleans to settle up the estate. On his arrival there,
he was pleased with and felt proud of his nieces, and invited them
to return with him to Vermont, little dreaming that his brother
had married a slave, and that his widow and daughters would be
claimed as such. The girls themselves had never heard that their
mother had been a slave, and therefore knew nothing of the danger
hanging over their heads.
An inventory of the property of the deceased was made out by Mr.
Morton, and placed in the hands of the creditors. These
preliminaries being arranged, the ladies, with their relative,
concluded to leave the city and reside for a few days on the banks
of Lake Ponchartrain, where they could enjoy a fresh air that the
city did not afford. As they were about taking the cars, however,
an officer arrested the whole party--the ladies as slaves, and
the gentleman upon the charge of attempting to conceal the
property of his deceased brother. Mr. Morton was overwhelmed with
horror at the idea of his nieces being claimed as slaves, and
asked for time, that he might save them from such a fate. He even
offered to mortgage his little farm in Vermont for the amount which
young slave-women of their ages would fetch. But the creditors
pleaded that they were an "extra article," and would sell for more
than common slaves, and must therefore be sold at auction.
The uncle was therefore compelled to give them up to the officers
of the law, and they were separated from him. Jane, the oldest of
the girls, as we have before mentioned, was very handsome, bearing
a close resemblance to her cousin Clotelle. Alreka, though not as
handsome as her sister, was nevertheless a beautiful girl, and
both had all the accomplishments that wealth and station could
Though only in her fifteenth year, Alreka had become strongly
attached to Volney Lapie, a young Frenchman, a student in her
father's office. This attachment was reciprocated, although the
poverty of the young man and the extreme youth of the girl had
caused their feelings to be kept from the young lady's parents.
The day of sale came, and Mr. Morton attended, with the hope that
either the magnanimity of the creditors or his own little farm in
Vermont might save his nieces from the fate that awaited them. His
hope, however, was in vain. The feelings of all present seemed to
be lost in the general wish to become the possessor of the young
ladies, who stood trembling, blushing, and weeping as the numerous
throng gazed at them, or as the intended purchaser examined the
graceful proportions of their fair and beautiful frames. Neither
the presence of the uncle nor young Lapie could at all lessen the
gross language of the officers, or stay the rude hands of those
who wished to examine the property thus offered for sale. After a
fierce contest between the bidders, the girls were sold, one for
two thousand three hundred, and the other for two thousand three
hundred and fifty dollars. Had these girls been bought for servants
only, they would in all probability have brought not more than
nine hundred or a thousand dollars each. Here were two beautiful
young girls, accustomed to the fondest indulgence, surrounded by
all the refinements of life, and with the timidity and gentleness
which such a life would naturally produce, bartered away like
cattle in the markets of Smithfield or New York.
The mother, who was also to have been sold, happily followed her
husband to the grave, and was spared the pangs of a broken heart.
The purchaser of the young ladies left the market in triumph, and
the uncle, with a heavy heart, started for his New England home,
with no earthly prospect of ever beholding his nieces again.
The seizure of the young ladies as slaves was the result of the
administrator's having found among Dr. Morton's papers the
bill-of-sale of Marion which he had taken when he purchased her.
He had doubtless intended to liberate her when he married her, but
had neglected from time to time to have the proper papers made
out. Sad was the result of this negligence.
ON once gaining the wharf, Devenant and Clotelle found no
difficulty in securing an immediate passage to France. The fine
packet-ship Utica lay down the bay, and only awaited the return of
the lighter that night to complete her cargo and list of
passengers, ere she departed. The young Frenchman therefore took
his prize on board, and started for the ship.
Daylight was just making its appearance the next morning when the
Utica weighed anchor and turned her prow toward the sea. In the
course of three hours, the vessel, with outspread sails, was
rapidly flying from land. Everything appeared to be auspicious.
The skies were beautifully clear, and the sea calm, with a sun
that dazzled the whole scene. But clouds soon began to chase each
other through the heavens and the sea became rough. It was then
that Clotelle felt that there was hope of escaping. She had
hitherto kept in the cabin, but now she expressed a wish to come
on deck. The hanging clouds were narrowing the horizon to a span,
and gloomily mingling with the rising surges. The old and
grave-looking seamen shook their weather-wise heads as if
foretelling a storm.
As Clotelle came on deck, she strained her eyes in vain to catch a
farewell view of her native land. With a smile on her countenance,
but with her eyes filled with tears, she said,--
"Farewell, farewell to the land of my birth, and welcome, welcome,
ye dark blue waves. I care not where I go, so it is
'Where a tyrant never trod,
Where a slave was never known,
But where nature worships God,
If in the wilderness alone.'"
Devenant stood by her side, seeming proud of his future wife, with
his face in a glow at his success, while over his noble brow
clustering locks of glossy black hair were hanging in careless
ringlets. His finely-cut, classic features wore the aspect of one
possessed with a large and noble heart.
Once more the beautiful Clotelle whispered in the ear of her
"Away, away, o'er land and sea, America is now no home for me."
The winds increased with nightfall, and impenetrable gloom
surrounded the ship. The prospect was too uncheering, even to
persons in love. The attention which Devenant paid to Clotelle,
although she had been registered on the ship's passenger list as
his sister, caused more than one to look upon his as an agreeable
travelling companion. His tall, slender figure and fine
countenance bespoke for him at first sight one's confidence. That
he was sincerely and deeply enamored of Clotelle all could see.
The weather became still more squally. The wind rushed through the
white, foaming waves, and the ship groaned with its own wild and
ungovernable labors, while nothing could be seen but the wild
waste of waters. The scene was indeed one of fearful sublimity.
Day came and went without any abatement of the storm. Despair was
now on every countenance. Occasionally a vivid flash of lightning
would break forth and illuminate the black and boiling surges that
surrounded the vessel, which was now scudding before the blast
under bare poles.
After five days of most intensely stormy weather, the sea settled
down into a dead calm, and the passengers flocked on deck. During
the last three days of the storm, Clotelle had been so unwell as
to be unable to raise her head. Her pale face and quivering lips
and languid appearance made her look as if every pulsation had
ceased. Her magnificent large and soft eyes, fringed with lashes
as dark as night, gave her an angelic appearance. The unreserved
attention of Devenant, even when sea-sick himself, did much to
increase the little love that the at first distrustful girl had
placed in him. The heart must always have some object on which to
centre its affections, and Clotelle having lost all hope of ever
again seeing Jerome, it was but natural that she should now
transfer her love to one who was so greatly befriending her. At
first she respected Devenant for the love he manifested for her,
and for his apparent willingness to make any sacrifice for her
welfare. True, this was an adventure upon which she had risked her
all, and should her heart be foiled in this search for hidden
treasures, her affections would be shipwrecked forever. She felt
under great obligations to the man who had thus effected her
escape, and that noble act alone would entitle him to her love.
Each day became more pleasant as the noble ship sped onward amid
the rippled spray. The whistling of the breeze through the rigging
was music to the ear, and brought gladness to the heart of every
one on board. At last, the long suspense was broken by the
appearance of land, at which all hearts leaped for joy. It was a
beautiful morning in October. The sun had just risen, and sky and
earth were still bathed in his soft, rosy glow, when the Utica
hauled into the dock at Bordeaux. The splendid streets, beautiful
bridges, glittering equipages, and smiling countenances of the
people, gave everything a happy appearance, after a voyage of
twenty-nine days on the deep, deep sea.
After getting their baggage cleared from the custom-house and going
to a hotel, Devenant made immediate arrangements for the marriage.
Clotelle, on arriving at the church where the ceremony was to take
place, was completely overwhelmed at the spectacle. She had never
beheld a scene so gorgeous as this. The magnificent dresses of the
priests and choristers, the deep and solemn voices, the elevated
crucifix, the burning tapers, the splendidly decorated altar, the
sweet-smelling incense, made the occasion truly an imposing one. At
the conclusion of the ceremony, the loud and solemn peals of the
organ's swelling anthem were lost to all in the contemplation of
the interesting scene.
The happy couple set out at once for Dunkirk, the residence of the
bridegroom's parents. But their stay there was short, for they had
scarcely commenced visiting the numerous friends of the husband
ere orders came for him to proceed to India to join that portion
of the French army then stationed there.
In due course of time they left for India, passing through Paris
and Lyons, taking ship at Marseilles. In the metropolis of France,
they spent a week, where the husband took delight in introducing
his wife to his brother officers in the French army, and where the
newly-married couple were introduced to Louis Phillippe, then King
of France. In all of these positions, Clotelle sustained herself
in a most ladylike manner.
At Lyons, they visited the vast factories and other public works,
and all was pleasure with them. The voyage from Marseilles to
Calcutta was very pleasant, as the weather was exceedingly fine.
On arriving in India, Captain Devenant and lady were received with
honors--the former for his heroic bravery in more than one battle,
and the latter for her fascinating beauty and pleasing manners,
and the fact that she was connected with one who was a general
favorite with all who had his acquaintance. This was indeed a
great change for Clotelle. Six months had not elapsed since her
exposure in the slave-market of New Orleans. This life is a
stage, and we are indeed all actors.
THE HERO OF A NIGHT.
MOUNTED on a fast horse, with the Quaker's son for a guide, Jerome
pressed forward while Uncle Joseph was detaining the slave-catchers
at the barn-door, through which the fugitive had just escaped.
When out of present danger, fearing that suspicion might be
aroused if he continued on the road in open day, Jerome buried
himself in a thick, dark forest until nightfall. With a yearning
heart, he saw the splendor of the setting sun lingering on the
hills, as if loath to fade away and be lost in the more sombre
hues of twilight, which, rising from the east, was slowly stealing
over the expanse of heaven, bearing silence and repose, which
should cover his flight from a neighborhood to him so full of
Wearily and alone, with nothing but the hope of safety before him
to cheer him on his way, the poor fugitive urged his tired and
trembling limbs forward for several nights. The new suit of
clothes with which he had provided himself when he made his escape
from his captors, and the twenty dollars which the young Quaker
had slipped into his hand, when bidding him "Fare thee well,"
would enable him to appear genteelly as soon as he dared to travel
by daylight, and would thus facilitate his progress toward
It was late in the evening when the fugitive slave arrived at a
small town on the banks of Lake Erie, where he was to remain over
night. How strange were his feelings! While his heart throbbed for
that freedom and safety which Canada alone could furnish to the
whip-scarred slave, on the American continent, his thoughts were
with Clotelle. Was she still in prison, and if so, what would be
her punishment for aiding him to escape from prison? Would he ever
behold her again? These were the thoughts that followed him to his
pillow, haunted him in is dreams, and awakened him from his
The alarm of fire aroused the inmates of the hotel in which Jerome
had sought shelter for the night from the deep sleep into which
they had fallen. The whole village was buried in slumber, and the
building was half consumed before the frightened inhabitants had
reached the scene of the conflagration. The wind was high, and the
burning embers were wafted like so many rockets through the sky.
The whole town was lighted up, and the cries of women and children
in the streets made the scene a terrific one. Jerome heard the
alarm, and hastily dressing himself, he went forth and hastened
toward the burning building.
"There,--there in that room in the second story, is my child!"
exclaimed a woman, wringing her hands, and imploring some one to
go to the rescue of her little one.
The broad sheets of fire were flying in the direction of the
chamber in which the child was sleeping, and all hope of its being
saved seemed gone. Occasionally the wind would lift the pall of
smoke, and show that the work of destruction was not yet complete.
At last a long ladder was brought, and one end placed under the
window of the room. A moment more and a bystander mounted the
ladder and. ascended in haste to the window. The smoke met him as
he raised the sash, and he cried out, "All is lost!" and returned
to the ground without entering the room.
Another sweep of the wind showed that the destroying element had
not yet made its final visit to that part of the doomed building.
The mother, seeing that all hope of again meeting her child in
this world was gone, wrung her hands and seemed inconsolable with
At this juncture, a man was seen to mount the ladder, and ascend
with great rapidity. All eyes were instantly turned to the figure
of this unknown individual as it disappeared in the cloud of smoke
escaping from the window. Those who a moment before had been
removing furniture, as well as the idlers who had congregated at
the ringing of the bells, assembled at the foot of the ladder, and
awaited with breathless silence the reappearance of the stranger,
who, regardless of his own safety, had thus risked his life to save
another's. Three cheers broke the stillness that had fallen on
the company, as the brave man was seen coming through the window
and slowly descending to the ground, holding under one arm the
inanimate form of the child. Another cheer, and then another, made
the welkin ring, as the stranger, with hair burned and eyebrows
closely singed, fainted at the foot of the ladder. But the child
The stranger was Jerome. As soon as he revived, he shrunk from
every eye, as if he feared they would take from him the freedom
which he had gone through so much to obtain.
The next day, the fugitive took a vessel, and the following morning
found himself standing on the free soil of Canada. As his foot
pressed the shore, he threw himself upon his face, kissed the
earth, and exclaimed, "O God! I thank thee that I am a free man."
THE history of the African race is God's illuminated clock, set in
the dark steeple of time. The negro has been made the hewer of
wood and the drawer of water for nearly all other nations. The
people of the United States, however, will have an account to
settle with God, owing to their treatment of the negro, which will
far surpass the rest of mankind.
Jerome, on reaching Canada, felt for the first time that personal
freedom which God intended that all who bore his image should
enjoy. That same forgetfulness of self which had always
characterized him now caused him to think of others. The thoughts
of dear ones in slavery were continually in his mind, and above
all others, Clotelle occupied his thoughts. Now that he was free,
he could better appreciate her condition as a slave. Although
Jerome met, on his arrival in Canada, numbers who had escaped from
the Southern States, he nevertheless shrank from all society,
particularly that of females. The soft, silver-gray tints on the
leaves of the trees, with their snow-spotted trunks, and a biting
air, warned the new-born freeman that he was in another climate.
Jerome sought work, and soon found it; and arranged with his
employer that the latter should go to Natchez in search of
Clotelle. The good Scotchman, for whom the fugitive was laboring,
freely offered to go down and purchase the girl, if she could be
bought, and let Jerome pay him in work. With such a prospect of
future happiness in view, this injured descendant of outraged and
bleeding Africa went daily to his toil with an energy hitherto
unknown to him. But oh, how vain are the hopes of man!
FAREWELL TO AMERICA.
THREE months had elapsed, from the time the fugitive commenced work
for Mr. Streeter, when that gentleman returned from his Southern
research, and informed Jerome that Parson Wilson had sold
Clotelle, and that she had been sent to the New Orleans
This intelligence fell with crushing weight upon the heart of
Jerome, and he now felt that the last chain which bound him to his
native land was severed. He therefore determined to leave America
forever. His nearest and dearest friends had often been flogged in
his very presence, and he had seen his mother sold to the
negro-trader. An only sister had been torn from him by the
soul-driver; he had himself been sold and resold, and been
compelled to submit to the most degrading and humiliating insults;
and now that the woman upon whom his heart doted, and without whom
life was a burden, had been taken away forever, he felt it a duty
to hate all mankind.
If there is one thing more than another calculated to make one hate
and detest American slavery, it is to witness the meetings between
fugitives and their friends in Canada. Jerome had beheld some of
these scenes. The wife who, after years of separation, had escaped
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