Harriet E. Wilson
Part 1 out of 2
Sketches from the
Life of a Free Black,
In A Two-Story White House, North.
SHOWING THAT SLAVERY'S SHADOWS
FALL EVEN THERE.
by "OUR NIG."
Pauline Augusta Coleman Gates
Henry Louis Gates, Sr.
Marguerite Elizabeth Howard Coleman,
Gertrude Helen Redman Gates
That care has iron crowns for many brows;
That Calvaries are everywhere, whereon
Virtue is crucified, and nails and spears
Draw guiltless blood; that sorrow sits and drinks
At sweetest hearts, till all their life is dry;
That gentle spirits on the rack of pain
Grow faint or fierce, and pray and curse by turns;
That hell's temptations, clad in heavenly guise
And armed with might, lie evermore in wait
Along life's path, giving assault to all."--HOLLAND.
IN offering to the public the following pages, the writer
confesses her inability to minister to the refined and culti-
vated, the pleasure supplied by abler pens. It is not for
such these crude narrations appear. Deserted by kindred,
disabled by failing health, I am forced to some experiment
which shall aid me in maintaining myself and child with-
out extinguishing this feeble life. I would not from these
motives even palliate slavery at the South, by disclosures
of its appurtenances North. My mistress was wholly
imbued with SOUTHERN principles. I do not pretend to
divulge every transaction in my own life, which the
unprejudiced would declare unfavorable in comparison
with treatment of legal bondmen; I have purposely
omitted what would most provoke shame in our good
anti-slavery friends at home.
My humble position and frank confession of errors
will, I hope, shield me from severe criticism. Indeed,
defects are so apparent it requires no skilful hand to
I sincerely appeal to my colored brethren universally
for patronage, hoping they will not condemn this attempt
of their sister to be erudite, but rally around me a faithful
band of supporters and defenders.
H. E. W.
MAG SMITH, MY MOTHER.
Oh, Grief beyond all other griefs, when fate
First leaves the young heart lone and desolate
In the wide world, without that only tie
For which it loved to live or feared to die;
Lorn as the hung-up lute, that ne'er hath spoken
Since the sad day its master-chord was broken!
LONELY MAG SMITH! See her as she walks with
downcast eyes and heavy heart. It was not
always thus. She HAD a loving, trusting heart.
Early deprived of parental guardianship, far
removed from relatives, she was left to guide her
tiny boat over life's surges alone and inexperi-
enced. As she merged into womanhood, unpro-
tected, uncherished, uncared for, there fell on her
ear the music of love, awakening an intensity of
emotion long dormant. It whispered of an ele-
vation before unaspired to; of ease and plenty
her simple heart had never dreamed of as hers.
She knew the voice of her charmer, so ravishing,
sounded far above her. It seemed like an an-
gel's, alluring her upward and onward. She
thought she could ascend to him and become an
equal. She surrendered to him a priceless gem,
which he proudly garnered as a trophy, with
those of other victims, and left her to her fate.
The world seemed full of hateful deceivers and
crushing arrogance. Conscious that the great
bond of union to her former companions was sev-
ered, that the disdain of others would be insup-
portable, she determined to leave the few friends
she possessed, and seek an asylum among strangers.
Her offspring came unwelcomed, and before its
nativity numbered weeks, it passed from earth,
ascending to a purer and better life.
"God be thanked," ejaculated Mag, as she saw
its breathing cease; "no one can taunt HER with
Blessed release! may we all respond. How
many pure, innocent children not only inherit a
wicked heart of their own, claiming life-long
scrutiny and restraint, but are heirs also of pa-
rental disgrace and calumny, from which only
long years of patient endurance in paths of recti-
tude can disencumber them.
Mag's new home was soon contaminated by
the publicity of her fall; she had a feeling of
degradation oppressing her; but she resolved to
be circumspect, and try to regain in a measure
what she had lost. Then some foul tongue would
jest of her shame, and averted looks and cold
greetings disheartened her. She saw she could
not bury in forgetfulness her misdeed, so she
resolved to leave her home and seek another in
the place she at first fled from.
Alas, how fearful are we to be first in extend-
ing a helping hand to those who stagger in the
mires of infamy; to speak the first words of hope
and warning to those emerging into the sunlight
of morality! Who can tell what numbers, ad-
vancing just far enough to hear a cold welcome
and join in the reserved converse of professed
reformers, disappointed, disheartened, have cho-
sen to dwell in unclean places, rather than en-
counter these "holier-than-thou" of the great
brotherhood of man!
Such was Mag's experience; and disdaining to
ask favor or friendship from a sneering world,
she resolved to shut herself up in a hovel she
had often passed in better days, and which she
knew to be untenanted. She vowed to ask no
favors of familiar faces; to die neglected and for-
gotten before she would be dependent on any.
Removed from the village, she was seldom seen
except as upon your introduction, gentle reader,
with downcast visage, returning her work to her
employer, and thus providing herself with the
means of subsistence. In two years many hands
craved the same avocation; foreigners who
cheapened toil and clamored for a livelihood,
competed with her, and she could not thus sus-
tain herself. She was now above no drudgery.
Occasionally old acquaintances called to be fa-
vored with help of some kind, which she was glad
to bestow for the sake of the money it would
bring her; but the association with them was
such a painful reminder of by-gones, she re-
turned to her hut morose and revengeful, re-
fusing all offers of a better home than she pos-
sessed. Thus she lived for years, hugging her
wrongs, but making no effort to escape. She
had never known plenty, scarcely competency;
but the present was beyond comparison with
those innocent years when the coronet of virtue
Every year her melancholy increased, her
means diminished. At last no one seemed to
notice her, save a kind-hearted African, who often
called to inquire after her health and to see if
she needed any fuel, he having the responsibility
of furnishing that article, and she in return mend-
ing or making garments.
"How much you earn dis week, Mag?" asked
he one Saturday evening.
"Little enough, Jim. Two or three days with-
out any dinner. I washed for the Reeds, and did
a small job for Mrs. Bellmont; that's all. I shall
starve soon, unless I can get more to do. Folks
seem as afraid to come here as if they expected
to get some awful disease. I don't believe there
is a person in the world but would be glad to
have me dead and out of the way."
"No, no, Mag! don't talk so. You shan't
starve so long as I have barrels to hoop. Peter
Greene boards me cheap. I'll help you, if nobody
A tear stood in Mag's faded eye. "I'm glad,"
she said, with a softer tone than before, "if there
is ONE who isn't glad to see me suffer. I b'lieve
all Singleton wants to see me punished, and feel
as if they could tell when I've been punished
long enough. It's a long day ahead they'll set
it, I reckon."
After the usual supply of fuel was prepared,
Jim returned home. Full of pity for Mag, he set
about devising measures for her relief. "By
golly!" said he to himself one day--for he had
become so absorbed in Mag's interest that he had
fallen into a habit of musing aloud--"By golly!
I wish she'd MARRY me."
"Who?" shouted Pete Greene, suddenly start-
ing from an unobserved corner of the rude shop.
"Where you come from, you sly nigger!" ex-
"Come, tell me, who is't?" said Pete; "Mag
Smith, you want to marry?"
"Git out, Pete! and when you come in dis shop
again, let a nigger know it. Don't steal in like
Pity and love know little severance. One
attends the other. Jim acknowledged the pres-
ence of the former, and his efforts in Mag's behalf
told also of a finer principle.
This sudden expedient which he had uninten-
tionally disclosed, roused his thinking and invent-
ive powers to study upon the best method of
introducing the subject to Mag.
He belted his barrels, with many a scheme re-
volving in his mind, none of which quite satisfied
him, or seemed, on the whole, expedient. He
thought of the pleasing contrast between her fair
face and his own dark skin; the smooth, straight
hair, which he had once, in expression of pity,
kindly stroked on her now wrinkled but once
fair brow. There was a tempest gathering in his
heart, and at last, to ease his pent-up passion, he
exclaimed aloud, "By golly!" Recollecting his
former exposure, he glanced around to see if
Pete was in hearing again. Satisfied on this
point, he continued: "She'd be as much of a prize
to me as she'd fall short of coming up to the
mark with white folks. I don't care for past
things. I've done things 'fore now I's 'shamed
of. She's good enough for me, any how."
One more glance about the premises to be sure
Pete was away.
The next Saturday night brought Jim to the
hovel again. The cold was fast coming to tarry
its apportioned time. Mag was nearly despairing
of meeting its rigor.
"How's the wood, Mag?" asked Jim.
"All gone; and no more to cut, any how," was
"Too bad!" Jim said. His truthful reply
would have been, I'm glad.
"Anything to eat in the house?" continued he.
"No," replied Mag.
"Too bad!" again, orally, with the same INWARD
gratulation as before.
"Well, Mag," said Jim, after a short pause,
"you's down low enough. I don't see but I've
got to take care of ye. 'Sposin' we marry!"
Mag raised her eyes, full of amazement, and
uttered a sonorous "What?"
Jim felt abashed for a moment. He knew well
what were her objections.
"You's had trial of white folks any how. They
run off and left ye, and now none of 'em come
near ye to see if you's dead or alive. I's black
outside, I know, but I's got a white heart inside.
Which you rather have, a black heart in a white
skin, or a white heart in a black one?"
"Oh, dear!" sighed Mag; "Nobody on earth
cares for ME--"
"I do," interrupted Jim.
"I can do but two things," said she, "beg my
living, or get it from you."
"Take me, Mag. I can give you a better
home than this, and not let you suffer so."
He prevailed; they married. You can philos-
ophize, gentle reader, upon the impropriety of
such unions, and preach dozens of sermons on the
evils of amalgamation. Want is a more power-
ful philosopher and preacher. Poor Mag. She
has sundered another bond which held her to her
fellows. She has descended another step down
the ladder of infamy.
MY FATHER'S DEATH.
Misery! we have known each other,
Like a sister and a brother,
Living in the same lone home
Many years--we must live some
Hours or ages yet to come.
JIM, proud of his treasure,--a white wife,--
tried hard to fulfil his promises; and furnished
her with a more comfortable dwelling, diet, and
apparel. It was comparatively a comfortable
winter she passed after her marriage. When
Jim could work, all went on well. Industrious,
and fond of Mag, he was determined she should
not regret her union to him. Time levied an
additional charge upon him, in the form of two
pretty mulattos, whose infantile pranks amply
repaid the additional toil. A few years, and a
severe cough and pain in his side compelled him
to be an idler for weeks together, and Mag had
thus a reminder of by-gones. She cared for him
only as a means to subserve her own comfort;
yet she nursed him faithfully and true to mar-
riage vows till death released her. He became
the victim of consumption. He loved Mag to the
last. So long as life continued, he stifled his
sensibility to pain, and toiled for her sustenance
long after he was able to do so.
A few expressive wishes for her welfare; a
hope of better days for her; an anxiety lest
they should not all go to the "good place;"
brief advice about their children; a hope ex-
pressed that Mag would not be neglected as she
used to be; the manifestation of Christian pa-
tience; these were ALL the legacy of miserable
Mag. A feeling of cold desolation came over
her, as she turned from the grave of one who
had been truly faithful to her.
She was now expelled from companionship
with white people; this last step--her union
with a black--was the climax of repulsion.
Seth Shipley, a partner in Jim's business,
wished her to remain in her present home; but
she declined, and returned to her hovel again,
with obstacles threefold more insurmountable
than before. Seth accompanied her, giving her
a weekly allowance which furnished most of the
food necessary for the four inmates. After a
time, work failed; their means were reduced.
How Mag toiled and suffered, yielding to fits
of desperation, bursts of anger, and uttering
curses too fearful to repeat. When both were
supplied with work, they prospered; if idle, they
were hungry together. In this way their inter-
ests became united; they planned for the future
together. Mag had lived an outcast for years.
She had ceased to feel the gushings of peni-
tence; she had crushed the sharp agonies of an
awakened conscience. She had no longings for
a purer heart, a better life. Far easier to
descend lower. She entered the darkness of
perpetual infamy. She asked not the rite of
civilization or Christianity. Her will made her
the wife of Seth. Soon followed scenes familiar
"It's no use," said Seth one day; "we must
give the children away, and try to get work in
some other place."
"Who'll take the black devils?" snarled Mag.
"They're none of mine," said Seth; "what
you growling about?"
"Nobody will want any thing of mine, or
yours either," she replied.
"We'll make 'em, p'r'aps," he said. "There's
Frado's six years old, and pretty, if she is yours,
and white folks'll say so. She'd be a prize
somewhere," he continued, tipping his chair
back against the wall, and placing his feet upon
the rounds, as if he had much more to say when
in the right position.
Frado, as they called one of Mag's children,
was a beautiful mulatto, with long, curly black
hair, and handsome, roguish eyes, sparkling
with an exuberance of spirit almost beyond
Hearing her name mentioned, she looked up
from her play, to see what Seth had to say of
"Wouldn't the Bellmonts take her?" asked
"Bellmonts?" shouted Mag. "His wife is a
right she-devil! and if--"
"Hadn't they better be all together?" inter-
rupted Seth, reminding her of a like epithet
used in reference to her little ones.
Without seeming to notice him, she continued,
"She can't keep a girl in the house over a
week; and Mr. Bellmont wants to hire a boy to
work for him, but he can't find one that will
live in the house with her; she's so ugly, they
"Well, we've got to make a move soon,"
answered Seth; "if you go with me, we shall go
right off. Had you rather spare the other
one?" asked Seth, after a short pause.
"One's as bad as t'other," replied Mag.
"Frado is such a wild, frolicky thing, and means
to do jest as she's a mind to; she won't go if
she don't want to. I don't want to tell her
she is to be given away."
"I will," said Seth. "Come here, Frado?"
The child seemed to have some dim fore-
shadowing of evil, and declined.
"Come here," he continued; "I want to tell
She came reluctantly. He took her hand and
said: "We're going to move, by-'m-bye; will
"No!" screamed she; and giving a sudden
jerk which destroyed Seth's equilibrium, left
him sprawling on the floor, while she escaped
through the open door.
"She's a hard one," said Seth, brushing his
patched coat sleeve. "I'd risk her at Bell-
They discussed the expediency of a speedy
departure. Seth would first seek employment,
and then return for Mag. They would take
with them what they could carry, and leave the
rest with Pete Greene, and come for them when
they were wanted. They were long in arrang-
ing affairs satisfactorily, and were not a little
startled at the close of their conference to find
Frado missing. They thought approaching night
would bring her. Twilight passed into dark-
ness, and she did not come. They thought she
had understood their plans, and had, perhaps,
permanently withdrawn. They could not rest
without making some effort to ascertain her
retreat. Seth went in pursuit, and returned
without her. They rallied others when they dis-
covered that another little colored girl was miss-
ing, a favorite playmate of Frado's. All effort
proved unavailing. Mag felt sure her fears
were realized, and that she might never see her
again. Before her anxieties became realities,
both were safely returned, and from them and
their attendant they learned that they went to
walk, and not minding the direction soon found
themselves lost. They had climbed fences and
walls, passed through thickets and marshes, and
when night approached selected a thick cluster
of shrubbery as a covert for the night. They
were discovered by the person who now restored
them, chatting of their prospects, Frado attempt-
ing to banish the childish fears of her com-
panion. As they were some miles from home,
they were kindly cared for until morning. Mag
was relieved to know her child was not driven
to desperation by their intentions to relieve
themselves of her, and she was inclined to think
severe restraint would be healthful.
The removal was all arranged; the few days
necessary for such migrations passed quickly,
and one bright summer morning they bade fare-
well to their Singleton hovel, and with budgets
and bundles commenced their weary march.
As they neared the village, they heard the
merry shouts of children gathered around the
schoolroom, awaiting the coming of their teacher.
"Halloo!" screamed one, "Black, white and
yeller!" "Black, white and yeller," echoed a
It did not grate so harshly on poor Mag as
once it would. She did not even turn her head
to look at them. She had passed into an insen-
sibility no childish taunt could penetrate, else
she would have reproached herself as she passed
familiar scenes, for extending the separation
once so easily annihilated by steadfast integrity.
Two miles beyond lived the Bellmonts, in a
large, old fashioned, two-story white house, en-
vironed by fruitful acres, and embellished by
shrubbery and shade trees. Years ago a youth-
ful couple consecrated it as home; and after
many little feet had worn paths to favorite fruit
trees, and over its green hills, and mingled at
last with brother man in the race which belongs
neither to the swift or strong, the sire became
grey-haired and decrepit, and went to his last
repose. His aged consort soon followed him.
The old homestead thus passed into the hands
of a son, to whose wife Mag had applied the
epithet "she-devil," as may be remembered.
John, the son, had not in his family arrange-
ments departed from the example of the father.
The pastimes of his boyhood were ever freshly
revived by witnessing the games of his own sons
as they rallied about the same goal his youthful
feet had often won; as well as by the amuse-
ments of his daughters in their imitations of
At the time we introduce them, however,
John is wearing the badge of age. Most of his
children were from home; some seeking em-
ployment; some were already settled in homes
of their own. A maiden sister shared with him
the estate on which he resided, and occupied a
portion of the house.
Within sight of the house, Seth seated himself
with his bundles and the child he had been lead-
ing, while Mag walked onward to the house
leading Frado. A knock at the door brought
Mrs. Bellmont, and Mag asked if she would be
willing to let that child stop there while she
went to the Reed's house to wash, and when she
came back she would call and get her. It
seemed a novel request, but she consented.
Why the impetuous child entered the house,
we cannot tell; the door closed, and Mag
hastily departed. Frado waited for the close of
day, which was to bring back her mother. Alas!
it never came. It was the last time she ever
saw or heard of her mother.
A NEW HOME FOR ME.
Oh! did we but know of the shadows so nigh,
The world would indeed be a prison of gloom;
All light would be quenched in youth's eloquent eye,
And the prayer-lisping infant would ask for the tomb.
For if Hope be a star that may lead us astray,
And "deceiveth the heart," as the aged ones preach;
Yet 'twas Mercy that gave it, to beacon our way,
Though its halo illumes where it never can reach.
As the day closed and Mag did not appear,
surmises were expressed by the family that she
never intended to return. Mr. Bellmont was a
kind, humane man, who would not grudge hospi-
tality to the poorest wanderer, nor fail to sym-
pathize with any sufferer, however humble.
The child's desertion by her mother appealed to
his sympathy, and he felt inclined to succor her.
To do this in opposition to Mrs. Bellmont's
wishes, would be like encountering a whirlwind
charged with fire, daggers and spikes. She was
not as susceptible of fine emotions as her spouse.
Mag's opinion of her was not without founda-
tion. She was self-willed, haughty, undisciplined,
arbitrary and severe. In common parlance, she
was a SCOLD, a thorough one. Mr. B. remained
silent during the consultation which follows,
engaged in by mother, Mary and John, or Jack,
as he was familiarly called.
"Send her to the County House," said Mary,
in reply to the query what should be done with
her, in a tone which indicated self-importance in
the speaker. She was indeed the idol of her
mother, and more nearly resembled her in dis-
position and manners than the others.
Jane, an invalid daughter, the eldest of those
at home, was reclining on a sofa apparently un-
"Keep her," said Jack. "She's real hand-
some and bright, and not very black, either."
"Yes," rejoined Mary; "that's just like you,
Jack. She'll be of no use at all these three
years, right under foot all the time."
"Poh! Miss Mary; if she should stay, it
wouldn't be two days before you would be telling
the girls about OUR nig, OUR nig!" retorted Jack.
"I don't want a nigger 'round ME, do you,
mother?" asked Mary.
"I don't mind the nigger in the child. I
should like a dozen better than one," replied her
mother. "If I could make her do my work in
a few years, I would keep her. I have so much
trouble with girls I hire, I am almost persuaded
if I have one to train up in my way from a
child, I shall be able to keep them awhile. I
am tired of changing every few months."
"Where could she sleep?" asked Mary. "I
don't want her near me."
"In the L chamber," answered the mother.
"How'll she get there?" asked Jack. "She'll
be afraid to go through that dark passage,
and she can't climb the ladder safely."
"She'll have to go there; it's good enough
for a nigger," was the reply.
Jack was sent on horseback to ascertain if
Mag was at her home. He returned with the
testimony of Pete Greene that they were fairly
departed, and that the child was intentionally
thrust upon their family.
The imposition was not at all relished by Mrs.
B., or the pert, haughty Mary, who had just
glided into her teens.
"Show the child to bed, Jack," said his mother.
"You seem most pleased with the little nigger,
so you may introduce her to her room."
He went to the kitchen, and, taking Frado
gently by the hand, told her he would put her
in bed now; perhaps her mother would come the
next night after her.
It was not yet quite dark, so they ascended
the stairs without any light, passing through
nicely furnished rooms, which were a source of
great amazement to the child. He opened the
door which connected with her room by a dark,
unfinished passage-way. "Don't bump your
head," said Jack, and stepped before to open
the door leading into her apartment,--an unfin-
ished chamber over the kitchen, the roof slant-
ing nearly to the floor, so that the bed could
stand only in the middle of the room. A small
half window furnished light and air. Jack
returned to the sitting room with the remark
that the child would soon outgrow those quarters.
"When she DOES, she'll outgrow the house,"
remarked the mother.
"What can she do to help you?" asked Mary.
"She came just in the right time, didn't she?
Just the very day after Bridget left," continued
"I'll see what she can do in the morning,"
was the answer.
While this conversation was passing below,
Frado lay, revolving in her little mind whether
she would remain or not until her mother's
return. She was of wilful, determined nature,
a stranger to fear, and would not hesitate to
wander away should she decide to. She remem-
bered the conversation of her mother with Seth,
the words "given away" which she heard used
in reference to herself; and though she did not
know their full import, she thought she should,
by remaining, be in some relation to white
people she was never favored with before. So
she resolved to tarry, with the hope that mother
would come and get her some time. The hot
sun had penetrated her room, and it was long
before a cooling breeze reduced the temperature
so that she could sleep.
Frado was called early in the morning by her
new mistress. Her first work was to feed the
hens. She was shown how it was ALWAYS to be
done, and in no other way; any departure from
this rule to be punished by a whipping. She
was then accompanied by Jack to drive the cows
to pasture, so she might learn the way. Upon
her return she was allowed to eat her breakfast,
consisting of a bowl of skimmed milk, with
brown bread crusts, which she was told to eat,
standing, by the kitchen table, and must not be
over ten minutes about it. Meanwhile the
family were taking their morning meal in the
dining-room. This over, she was placed on a
cricket to wash the common dishes; she was to
be in waiting always to bring wood and chips,
to run hither and thither from room to room.
A large amount of dish-washing for small
hands followed dinner. Then the same after tea
and going after the cows finished her first day's
work. It was a new discipline to the child. She
found some attractions about the place, and she
retired to rest at night more willing to remain.
The same routine followed day after day, with
slight variation; adding a little more work, and
spicing the toil with "words that burn," and fre-
quent blows on her head. These were great
annoyances to Frado, and had she known where
her mother was, she would have gone at once to
her. She was often greatly wearied, and silently
wept over her sad fate. At first she wept aloud,
which Mrs. Bellmont noticed by applying a raw-
hide, always at hand in the kitchen. It was a
symptom of discontent and complaining which
must be "nipped in the bud," she said.
Thus passed a year. No intelligence of Mag.
It was now certain Frado was to become a per-
manent member of the family. Her labors were
multiplied; she was quite indispensable, although
but seven years old. She had never learned to
read, never heard of a school until her residence
in the family.
Mrs. Bellmont was in doubt about the utility
of attempting to educate people of color, who
were incapable of elevation. This subject occa-
sioned a lengthy discussion in the family. Mr.
Bellmont, Jane and Jack arguing for Frado's
education; Mary and her mother objecting. At
last Mr. Bellmont declared decisively that she
SHOULD go to school. He was a man who seldom
decided controversies at home. The word once
spoken admitted of no appeal; so, notwithstand-
ing Mary's objection that she would have to attend
the same school she did, the word became law.
It was to be a new scene to Frado, and Jack
had many queries and conjectures to answer.
He was himself too far advanced to attend the
summer school, which Frado regretted, having
had too many opportunities of witnessing Miss
Mary's temper to feel safe in her company alone.
The opening day of school came. Frado
sauntered on far in the rear of Mary, who was
ashamed to be seen "walking with a nigger."
As soon as she appeared, with scanty clothing
and bared feet, the children assembled, noisily
published her approach: "See that nigger,"
shouted one. "Look! look!" cried another.
"I won't play with her," said one little girl.
"Nor I neither," replied another.
Mary evidently relished these sharp attacks,
and saw a fair prospect of lowering Nig where,
according to her views, she belonged. Poor
Frado, chagrined and grieved, felt that her an-
ticipations of pleasure at such a place were far
from being realized. She was just deciding
to return home, and never come there again,
when the teacher appeared, and observing the
downcast looks of the child, took her by the
hand, and led her into the school-room. All fol-
lowed, and, after the bustle of securing seats
was over, Miss Marsh inquired if the children
knew "any cause for the sorrow of that little
girl?" pointing to Frado. It was soon all told.
She then reminded them of their duties to the
poor and friendless; their cowardice in attack-
ing a young innocent child; referred them to
one who looks not on outward appearances, but
on the heart. "She looks like a good girl; I
think _I_ shall love her, so lay aside all prejudice,
and vie with each other in shewing kindness
and good-will to one who seems different from
you," were the closing remarks of the kind lady.
Those kind words! The most agreeable sound
which ever meets the ear of sorrowing, griev-
Example rendered her words efficacious. Day
by day there was a manifest change of de-
portment towards "Nig." Her speeches often
drew merriment from the children; no one
could do more to enliven their favorite pastimes
than Frado. Mary could not endure to see her
thus noticed, yet knew not how to prevent it.
She could not influence her schoolmates as she
wished. She had not gained their affections
by winning ways and yielding points of con-
troversy. On the contrary, she was self-willed,
domineering; every day reported "mad" by
some of her companions. She availed herself
of the only alternative, abuse and taunts, as
they returned from school. This was not satis-
factory; she wanted to use physical force "to
subdue her," to "keep her down."
There was, on their way home, a field inter-
sected by a stream over which a single plank
was placed for a crossing. It occurred to Ma-
ry that it would be a punishment to Nig to
compel her to cross over; so she dragged her
to the edge, and told her authoritatively to go
over. Nig hesitated, resisted. Mary placed
herself behind the child, and, in the struggle
to force her over, lost her footing and plunged
into the stream. Some of the larger scholars
being in sight, ran, and thus prevented Mary
from drowning and Frado from falling. Nig
scampered home fast as possible, and Mary went
to the nearest house, dripping, to procure a
change of garments. She came loitering home,
half crying, exclaiming, "Nig pushed me into
the stream!" She then related the particulars.
Nig was called from the kitchen. Mary stood
with anger flashing in her eyes. Mr. Bellmont
sat quietly reading his paper. He had wit-
nessed too many of Miss Mary's outbreaks to
be startled. Mrs. Bellmont interrogated Nig.
"I didn't do it! I didn't do it!" answered
Nig, passionately, and then related the occur-
The discrepancy greatly enraged Mrs. Bell-
mont. With loud accusations and angry ges-
tures she approached the child. Turning to
her husband, she asked,
"Will you sit still, there, and hear that
black nigger call Mary a liar?"
"How do we know but she has told
the truth? I shall not punish her," he re-
plied, and left the house, as he usually did
when a tempest threatened to envelop him.
No sooner was he out of sight than Mrs. B.
and Mary commenced beating her inhumanly;
then propping her mouth open with a piece
of wood, shut her up in a dark room, with-
out any supper. For employment, while the
tempest raged within, Mr. Bellmont went for
the cows, a task belonging to Frado, and thus
unintentionally prolonged her pain. At dark
Jack came in, and seeing Mary, accosted her
with, "So you thought you'd vent your spite
on Nig, did you? Why can't you let her
alone? It was good enough for you to get
a ducking, only you did not stay in half long
"Stop!" said his mother. "You shall never
talk so before me. You would have that little
nigger trample on Mary, would you? She
came home with a lie; it made Mary's story
"What was Mary's story?" asked Jack.
It was related.
"Now," said Jack, sallying into a chair, "the
school-children happened to see it all, and they
tell the same story Nig does. Which is most
likely to be true, what a dozen agree they
saw, or the contrary?"
"It is very strange you will believe what
others say against your sister," retorted his
mother, with flashing eye. "I think it is time
your father subdued you."
"Father is a sensible man," argued Jack.
"He would not wrong a dog. Where IS Frado?"
"Mother gave her a good whipping and
shut her up," replied Mary.
Just then Mr. Bellmont entered, and asked if
Frado was "shut up yet."
The knowledge of her innocence, the perfidy
of his sister, worked fearfully on Jack. He
bounded from his chair, searched every room
till he found the child; her mouth wedged
apart, her face swollen, and full of pain.
How Jack pitied her! He relieved her jaws,
brought her some supper, took her to her room,
comforted her as well as he knew how, sat by her
till she fell asleep, and then left for the sitting
room. As he passed his mother, he remarked,
"If that was the way Frado was to be treated, he
hoped she would never wake again!" He then
imparted her situation to his father, who seemed
untouched, till a glance at Jack exposed a tear-
ful eye. Jack went early to her next morning.
She awoke sad, but refreshed. After breakfast
Jack took her with him to the field, and kept
her through the day. But it could not be so
generally. She must return to school, to her
household duties. He resolved to do what he
could to protect her from Mary and his mother.
He bought her a dog, which became a great
favorite with both. The invalid, Jane, would
gladly befriend her; but she had not the
strength to brave the iron will of her mother.
Kind words and affectionate glances were the
only expressions of sympathy she could safely
indulge in. The men employed on the farm
were always glad to hear her prattle; she was
a great favorite with them. Mrs. Bellmont al-
lowed them the privilege of talking with her in
the kitchen. She did not fear but she should
have ample opportunity of subduing her when
they were away. Three months of schooling,
summer and winter, she enjoyed for three years.
Her winter over-dress was a cast-off overcoat,
once worn by Jack, and a sun-bonnet. It was a
source of great merriment to the scholars, but
Nig's retorts were so mirthful, and their satisfac-
tion so evident in attributing the selection to
"Old Granny Bellmont," that it was not painful
to Nig or pleasurable to Mary. Her jollity was
not to be quenched by whipping or scolding.
In Mrs. Bellmont's presence she was under re-
straint; but in the kitchen, and among her
schoolmates, the pent up fires burst forth. She
was ever at some sly prank when unseen by her
teacher, in school hours; not unfrequently some
outburst of merriment, of which she was the
original, was charged upon some innocent mate,
and punishment inflicted which she merited.
They enjoyed her antics so fully that any of
them would suffer wrongfully to keep open the
avenues of mirth. She would venture far be-
yond propriety, thus shielded and countenanced.
The teacher's desk was supplied with drawers,
in which were stored his books and other et
ceteras of the profession. The children observed
Nig very busy there one morning before school,
as they flitted in occasionally from their play
outside. The master came; called the children
to order; opened a drawer to take the book the
occasion required; when out poured a volume of
smoke. "Fire! fire!" screamed he, at the top of
his voice. By this time he had become suf-
ficiently acquainted with the peculiar odor, to
know he was imposed upon. The scholars
shouted with laughter to see the terror of the
dupe, who, feeling abashed at the needless fright,
made no very strict investigation, and Nig once
more escaped punishment. She had provided
herself with cigars, and puffing, puffing away at
the crack of the drawer, had filled it with smoke,
and then closed it tightly to deceive the teacher,
and amuse the scholars. The interim of terms
was filled up with a variety of duties new and
peculiar. At home, no matter how powerful
the heat when sent to rake hay or guard the
grazing herd, she was never permitted to shield
her skin from the sun. She was not many
shades darker than Mary now; what a calamity
it would be ever to hear the contrast spoken of.
Mrs. Bellmont was determined the sun should
have full power to darken the shade which
nature had first bestowed upon her as best
A FRIEND FOR NIG.
"Hours of my youth! when nurtured in my breast,
To love a stranger, friendship made me blest:--
Friendship, the dear peculiar bond of youth,
When every artless bosom throbs with truth;
Untaught by worldly wisdom how to feign;
And check each impulse with prudential reign;
When all we feel our honest souls disclose--
In love to friends, in open hate to foes;
No varnished tales the lips of youth repeat,
No dear-bought knowledge purchased by deceit."
WITH what differing emotions have the deni-
zens of earth awaited the approach of to-day.
Some sufferer has counted the vibrations of the
pendulum impatient for its dawn, who, now that
it has arrived, is anxious for its close. The vo-
tary of pleasure, conscious of yesterday's void,
wishes for power to arrest time's haste till a few
more hours of mirth shall be enjoyed. The un-
fortunate are yet gazing in vain for golden-
edged clouds they fancied would appear in their
horizon. The good man feels that he has accom-
plished too little for the Master, and sighs that
another day must so soon close. Innocent child-
hood, weary of its stay, longs for another mor-
row; busy manhood cries, hold! hold! and pur-
sues it to another's dawn. All are dissatisfied.
All crave some good not yet possessed, which
time is expected to bring with all its morrows.
Was it strange that, to a disconsolate child,
three years should seem a long, long time?
During school time she had rest from Mrs. Bell-
mont's tyranny. She was now nine years old;
time, her mistress said, such privileges should
She could now read and spell, and knew the
elementary steps in grammar, arithmetic, and
writing. Her education completed, as SHE said,
Mrs. Bellmont felt that her time and person belonged
solely to her. She was under her in every sense
of the word. What an opportunity to indulge
her vixen nature! No matter what occurred to
ruffle her, or from what source provocation came,
real or fancied, a few blows on Nig seemed to
relieve her of a portion of ill-will.
These were days when Fido was the entire
confidant of Frado. She told him her griefs as
though he were human; and he sat so still, and
listened so attentively, she really believed he
knew her sorrows. All the leisure moments she
could gain were used in teaching him some feat
of dog-agility, so that Jack pronounced him
very knowing, and was truly gratified to know
he had furnished her with a gift answering his
Fido was the constant attendant of Frado,
when sent from the house on errands, going and
returning with the cows, out in the fields, to the
village. If ever she forgot her hardships it was
in his company.
Spring was now retiring. James, one of the
absent sons, was expected home on a visit. He
had never seen the last acquisition to the family.
Jack had written faithfully of all the merits of
his colored protege, and hinted plainly that
mother did not always treat her just right.
Many were the preparations to make the visit
pleasant, and as the day approached when he
was to arrive, great exertions were made to
cook the favorite viands, to prepare the choicest
The morning of the arrival day was a busy
one. Frado knew not who would be of so much
importance; her feet were speeding hither and
thither so unsparingly. Mrs. Bellmont seemed
a trifle fatigued, and her shoes which had, early
in the morning, a methodic squeak, altered to an
irregular, peevish snap.
"Get some little wood to make the fire burn,"
said Mrs. Bellmont, in a sharp tone. Frado
obeyed, bringing the smallest she could find.
Mrs. Bellmont approached her, and, giving her
a box on her ear, reiterated the command.
The first the child brought was the smallest to
be found; of course, the second must be a trifle
larger. She well knew it was, as she threw it
into a box on the hearth. To Mrs. Bellmont
it was a greater affront, as well as larger wood,
so she "taught her" with the raw-hide, and sent
her the third time for "little wood."
Nig, weeping, knew not what to do. She
had carried the smallest; none left would suit
her mistress; of course further punishment await-
ed her; so she gathered up whatever came first,
and threw it down on the hearth. As she ex-
pected, Mrs. Bellmont, enraged, approached her,
and kicked her so forcibly as to throw her upon
the floor. Before she could rise, another foiled
the attempt, and then followed kick after kick in
quick succession and power, till she reached the
door. Mr. Bellmont and Aunt Abby, hearing the
noise, rushed in, just in time to see the last of
the performance. Nig jumped up, and rushed
from the house, out of sight.
Aunt Abby returned to her apartment, fol-
lowed by John, who was muttering to himself.
"What were you saying?" asked Aunt Abby.
"I said I hoped the child never would come
into the house again."
"What would become of her? You cannot
mean THAT," continued his sister.
"I do mean it. The child does as much work
as a woman ought to; and just see how she is
"Why do you have it so, John?" asked his
"How am I to help it? Women rule the
earth, and all in it."
"I think I should rule my own house, John,"--
"And live in hell meantime," added Mr.
John now sauntered out to the barn to await
the quieting of the storm.
Aunt Abby had a glimpse of Nig as she
passed out of the yard; but to arrest her, or
shew her that SHE would shelter her, in Mrs.
Bellmont's presence, would only bring reserved
wrath on her defenceless head. Her sister-in-
law had great prejudices against her. One
cause of the alienation was that she did not
give her right in the homestead to John, and
leave it forever; another was that she was a
professor of religion, (so was Mrs. Bellmont;)
but Nab, as she called her, did not live accord-
ing to her profession; another, that she WOULD
sometimes give Nig cake and pie, which she was
never allowed to have at home. Mary had
often noticed and spoken of her inconsistencies.
The dinner hour passed. Frado had not ap-
peared. Mrs. B. made no inquiry or search.
Aunt Abby looked long, and found her con-
cealed in an outbuilding. "Come into the
house with me," implored Aunt Abby.
"I ain't going in any more," sobbed the child.
"What will you do?" asked Aunt Abby.
"I've got to stay out here and die. I ha'n't
got no mother, no home. I wish I was dead."
"Poor thing," muttered Aunt Abby; and
slyly providing her with some dinner, left her
to her grief.
Jane went to confer with her Aunt about the
affair; and learned from her the retreat. She
would gladly have concealed her in her own
chamber, and ministered to her wants; but she
was dependent on Mary and her mother for
care, and any displeasure caused by attention to
Nig, was seriously felt.
Toward night the coach brought James. A
time of general greeting, inquiries for absent
members of the family, a visit to Aunt Abby's
room, undoing a few delicacies for Jane, brought
them to the tea hour.
"Where's Frado?" asked Mr. Bellmont, ob-
serving she was not in her usual place, behind
her mistress' chair.
"I don't know, and I don't care. If she
makes her appearance again, I'll take the skin
from her body," replied his wife.
James, a fine looking young man, with a
pleasant countenance, placid, and yet decidedly
serious, yet not stern, looked up confounded.
He was no stranger to his mother's nature; but
years of absence had erased the occurrences
once so familiar, and he asked, "Is this that
pretty little Nig, Jack writes to me about, that
you are so severe upon, mother?"
"I'll not leave much of her beauty to be
seen, if she comes in sight; and now, John,"
said Mrs. B., turning to her husband, "you need
not think you are going to learn her to treat me
in this way; just see how saucy she was this
morning. She shall learn her place."
Mr. Bellmont raised his calm, determined eye
full upon her, and said, in a decisive manner:
"You shall not strike, or scald, or skin her, as you
call it, if she comes back again. Remember!"
and he brought his hand down upon the table.
"I have searched an hour for her now, and she
is not to be found on the premises. Do YOU
know where she is? Is she YOUR prisoner?"
"No! I have just told you I did not know
where she was. Nab has her hid somewhere, I
suppose. Oh, dear! I did not think it would
come to this; that my own husband would treat
me so." Then came fast flowing tears, which no
one but Mary seemed to notice. Jane crept
into Aunt Abby's room; Mr. Bellmont and
James went out of doors, and Mary remained to
condole with her parent.
"Do you know where Frado is?" asked Jane
of her aunt.
"No," she replied. "I have hunted every-
where. She has left her first hiding-place. I
cannot think what has become of her. There
comes Jack and Fido; perhaps he knows;" and
she walked to a window near, where James and
his father were conversing together.
The two brothers exchanged a hearty greet-
ing, and then Mr. Bellmont told Jack to eat his
supper; afterward he wished to send him away.
He immediately went in. Accustomed to all
the phases of indoor storms, from a whine to
thunder and lightning, he saw at a glance marks
of disturbance. He had been absent through
the day, with the hired men.
"What's the fuss?" asked he, rushing into
"Eat your supper," said Jane; "go home,
Back again through the dining-room, and out
to his father.
"What's the fuss?" again inquired he of his
"Eat your supper, Jack, and see if you can
find Frado. She's not been seen since morning,
and then she was kicked out of the house."
"I shan't eat my supper till I find her," said
Jack, indignantly. "Come, James, and see the
little creature mother treats so."
They started, calling, searching, coaxing, all
their way along. No Frado. They returned to
the house to consult. James and Jack declared
they would not sleep till she was found.
Mrs. Bellmont attempted to dissuade them
from the search. "It was a shame a little NIGGER
should make so much trouble."
Just then Fido came running up, and Jack
exclaimed, "Fido knows where she is, I'll bet."
"So I believe," said his father; "but we shall
not be wiser unless we can outwit him. He will
not do what his mistress forbids him."
"I know how to fix him," said Jack. Taking
a plate from the table, which was still waiting,
he called, "Fido! Fido! Frado wants some sup-
per. Come!" Jack started, the dog followed,
and soon capered on before, far, far into the
fields, over walls and through fences, into a
piece of swampy land. Jack followed close, and
soon appeared to James, who was quite in the
rear, coaxing and forcing Frado along with him.
A frail child, driven from shelter by the cru-
elty of his mother, was an object of interest to
James. They persuaded her to go home with
them, warmed her by the kitchen fire, gave her
a good supper, and took her with them into the
"Take that nigger out of my sight," was Mrs.
Bellmont's command, before they could be
James led her into Aunt Abby's, where he
knew they were welcome. They chatted awhile
until Frado seemed cheerful; then James led
her to her room, and waited until she retired.
"Are you glad I've come home?" asked
"Yes; if you won't let me be whipped to-
"You won't be whipped. You must try to
be a good girl," counselled James.
"If I do, I get whipped," sobbed the child.
"They won't believe what I say. Oh, I wish I
had my mother back; then I should not be
kicked and whipped so. Who made me so?"
"God," answered James.
"Did God make you?"
"Who made Aunt Abby?"
"Who made your mother?"
"Did the same God that made her make
"Well, then, I don't like him."
"Because he made her white, and me black.
Why didn't he make us BOTH white?"
"I don't know; try to go to sleep, and you
will feel better in the morning," was all the re-
ply he could make to her knotty queries. It
was a long time before she fell asleep; and a
number of days before James felt in a mood to
visit and entertain old associates and friends.
Life is a strange avenue of various trees and flowers;
Lightsome at commencement, but darkening to its end in a distant,
It beginneth as a little path, edged with the violet and primrose,
A little path of lawny grass and soft to tiny feet.
Soon, spring thistles in the way.
JAMES' visit concluded. Frado had become
greatly attached to him, and with sorrow she
listened and joined in the farewells which pre-
ceded his exit. The remembrance of his kind-
ness cheered her through many a weary month,
and an occasional word to her in letters to Jack,
were like "cold waters to a thirsty soul." In-
telligence came that James would soon marry;
Frado hoped he would, and remove her from
such severe treatment as she was subject to.
There had been additional burdens laid on her
since his return. She must now MILK the cows,
she had then only to drive. Flocks of sheep
had been added to the farm, which daily claimed
a portion of her time. In the absence of the
men, she must harness the horse for Mary and
her mother to ride, go to mill, in short, do the
work of a boy, could one be procured to endure
the tirades of Mrs. Bellmont. She was first up
in the morning, doing what she could towards
breakfast. Occasionally, she would utter some
funny thing for Jack's benefit, while she was
waiting on the table, provoking a sharp look
from his mother, or expulsion from the room.
On one such occasion, they found her on the
roof of the barn. Some repairs having been
necessary, a staging had been erected, and was
not wholly removed. Availing herself of lad-
ders, she was mounted in high glee on the top-
most board. Mr. Bellmont called sternly for her
to come down; poor Jane nearly fainted from
fear. Mrs. B. and Mary did not care if she
"broke her neck," while Jack and the men
laughed at her fearlessness. Strange, one spark
of playfulness could remain amid such constant
toil; but her natural temperament was in a
high degree mirthful, and the encouragement
she received from Jack and the hired men, con-
stantly nurtured the inclination. When she had
none of the family around to be merry with,
she would amuse herself with the animals.
Among the sheep was a willful leader, who al-
ways persisted in being first served, and many
times in his fury he had thrown down Nig, till,
provoked, she resolved to punish him. The pas-
ture in which the sheep grazed was founded on
three sides by a wide stream, which flowed on
one side at the base of precipitous banks. The
first spare moments at her command, she ran to
the pasture with a dish in her hand, and mount-
ing the highest point of land nearest the stream,
called the flock to their mock repast. Mr. Bell-
mont, with his laborers, were in sight, though
unseen by Frado. They paused to see what she
was about to do. Should she by any mishap
lose her footing, she must roll into the stream,
and, without aid, must drown. They thought of
shouting; but they feared an unexpected salute
might startle her, and thus ensure what they
were anxious to prevent. They watched in
breathless silence. The willful sheep came furi-
ously leaping and bounding far in advance of
the flock. Just as he leaped for the dish, she
suddenly jumped to one side, when down he rolled
into the river, and swimming across, remained
alone till night. The men lay down, convulsed
with laughter at the trick, and guessed at once
its object. Mr. Bellmont talked seriously to the
child for exposing herself to such danger; but
she hopped about on her toes, and with laugha-
ble grimaces replied, she knew she was quick
enough to "give him a slide."
But to return. James married a Baltimorean
lady of wealthy parentage, an indispensable
requisite, his mother had always taught him.
He did not marry her wealth, though; he loved
HER, sincerely. She was not unlike his sister
Jane, who had a social, gentle, loving nature,
rather TOO yielding, her brother thought. His
Susan had a firmness which Jane needed to
complete her character, but which her ill health
may in a measure have failed to produce. Al-
though an invalid, she was not excluded from
society. Was it strange SHE should seem a desir-
able companion, a treasure as a wife?
Two young men seemed desirous of possess-
ing her. One was a neighbor, Henry Reed, a
tall, spare young man, with sandy hair, and blue,
sinister eyes. He seemed to appreciate her
wants, and watch with interest her improvement
or decay. His kindness she received, and by it
was almost won. Her mother wished her to en-
courage his attentions. She had counted the
acres which were to be transmitted to an only
son; she knew there was silver in the purse;
she would not have Jane too sentimental.
The eagerness with which he amassed wealth,
was repulsive to Jane; he did not spare his per-
son or beasts in its pursuit. She felt that to
such a man she should be considered an incum-
brance; she doubted if he would desire her, if
he did not know she would bring a handsome
patrimony. Her mother, full in favor with the
parents of Henry, commanded her to accept
him. She engaged herself, yielding to her
mother's wishes, because she had not strength to
oppose them; and sometimes, when witness of
her mother's and Mary's tyranny, she felt any
change would be preferable, even such a one as
this. She knew her husband should be the man
of her own selecting, one she was conscious of
preferring before all others. She could not say
this of Henry.
In this dilemma, a visitor came to Aunt
Abby's; one of her boy-favorites, George Means,
from an adjoining State. Sensible, plain looking,
agreeable, talented, he could not long be a
stranger to any one who wished to know him.
Jane was accustomed to sit much with Aunt
Abby always; her presence now seemed neces-
sary to assist in entertaining this youthful friend.
Jane was more pleased with him each day, and
silently wished Henry possessed more refinement,
and the polished manners of George. She felt
dissatisfied with her relation to him. His calls
while George was there, brought their opposing
qualities vividly before her, and she found it
disagreeable to force herself into those atten-
tions belonging to him. She received him ap-
parently only as a neighbor.
George returned home, and Jane endeavored
to stifle the risings of dissatisfaction, and had
nearly succeeded, when a letter came which
needed but one glance to assure her of its birth-
place; and she retired for its perusal. Well
was it for her that her mother's suspicion was
not aroused, or her curiosity startled to inquire
who it came from. After reading it, she glided
into Aunt Abby's, and placed it in her hands,
who was no stranger to Jane's trials.
George could not rest after his return, he
wrote, until he had communicated to Jane the
emotions her presence awakened, and his desire
to love and possess her as his own. He begged
to know if his affections were reciprocated, or
could be; if she would permit him to write to
her; if she was free from all obligation to
"What would mother say?" queried Jane, as
she received the letter from her aunt.
"Not much to comfort you."
"Now, aunt, George is just such a man as I
could really love, I think, from all I have seen
of him; you know I never could say that of
"Then don't marry him," interrupted Aunt
"Mother will make me."
"Your father won't."
"Well, aunt, what can I do? Would you
answer the letter, or not?"
"Yes, answer it. Tell him your situation."
"I shall not tell him all my feelings."
Jane answered that she had enjoyed his com-
pany much; she had seen nothing offensive in
his manner or appearance; that she was under
no obligations which forbade her receiving let-
ters from him as a friend and acquaintance.
George was puzzled by the reply. He wrote to
Aunt Abby, and from her learned all. He
could not see Jane thus sacrificed, without mak-
ing an effort to rescue her. Another visit fol-
lowed. George heard Jane say she preferred
HIM. He then conferred with Henry at his
home. It was not a pleasant subject to talk
upon. To be thus supplanted, was not to be
thought of. He would sacrifice everything but
his inheritance to secure his betrothed.
"And so you are the cause of her late cold-
ness towards me. Leave! I will talk no more
about it; the business is settled between us;
there it will remain," said Henry.
"Have you no wish to know the real state of
Jane's affections towards you?" asked George.
"No! Go, I say! go!" and Henry opened
the door for him to pass out.
He retired to Aunt Abby's. Henry soon fol-
lowed, and presented his cause to Mrs. Bellmont.
Provoked, surprised, indignant, she summoned
Jane to her presence, and after a lengthy tirade
upon Nab, and her satanic influence, told her
she could not break the bonds which held her
to Henry; she should not. George Means was
rightly named; he was, truly, mean enough;
she knew his family of old; his father had four
wives, and five times as many children.
"Go to your room, Miss Jane," she continued.
"Don't let me know of your being in Nab's for
The storm was now visible to all beholders.
Mr. Bellmont sought Jane. She told him her ob-
jections to Henry; showed him George's letter;
told her answer, the occasion of his visit. He
bade her not make herself sick; he would see
that she was not compelled to violate her free
choice in so important a transaction. He then
sought the two young men; told them he could
not as a father see his child compelled to an un-
congenial union; a free, voluntary choice was of
such importance to one of her health. She must
be left free to her own choice.
Jane sent Henry a letter of dismission; he her
one of a legal bearing, in which he balanced his
disappointment by a few hundreds.
To brave her mother's fury, nearly overcame
her, but the consolation of a kind father and
aunt cheered her on. After a suitable interval
she was married to George, and removed to his
home in Vermont. Thus another light disap-
peared from Nig's horizon. Another was soon to
follow. Jack was anxious to try his skill in pro-
viding for his own support; so a situation as
clerk in a store was procured in a Western city,
and six months after Jane's departure, was Nig
abandoned to the tender mercies of Mary and
her mother. As if to remove the last vestige of
earthly joy, Mrs. Bellmont sold the companion and
pet of Frado, the dog Fido.
"Hard are life's early steps; and but that youth is buoyant, con-
fident, and strong in hope, men would behold its threshold and
THE sorrow of Frado was very great for her
pet, and Mr. Bellmont by great exertion obtained
it again, much to the relief of the child. To be
thus deprived of all her sources of pleasure was a
sure way to exalt their worth, and Fido became,
in her estimation, a more valuable presence than
the human beings who surrounded her.
James had now been married a number of
years, and frequent requests for a visit from the
family were at last accepted, and Mrs. Bellmont
made great preparations for a fall sojourn in
Baltimore. Mary was installed housekeeper--in
name merely, for Nig was the only moving power
in the house. Although suffering from their joint
severity, she felt safer than to be thrown wholly
upon an ardent, passionate, unrestrained young
lady, whom she always hated and felt it hard to
be obliged to obey. The trial she must meet.
Were Jack or Jane at home she would have some
refuge; one only remained; good Aunt Abby
was still in the house.
She saw the fast receding coach which con-
veyed her master and mistress with regret, and
begged for one favor only, that James would
send for her when they returned, a hope she had
confidently cherished all these five years.
She was now able to do all the washing, iron-
ing, baking, and the common et cetera of house-
hold duties, though but fourteen. Mary left all
for her to do, though she affected great responsi-
bility. She would show herself in the kitchen
long enough to relieve herself of some command,
better withheld; or insist upon some compliance
to her wishes in some department which she was
very imperfectly acquainted with, very much less
than the person she was addressing; and so im-
petuous till her orders were obeyed, that to
escape the turmoil, Nig would often go contrary
to her own knowledge to gain a respite.
Nig was taken sick! What could be done
The WORK, certainly, but not by Miss Mary. So
Nig would work while she could remain erect,
then sink down upon the floor, or a chair,
till she could rally for a fresh effort. Mary would
look in upon her, chide her for her laziness,
threaten to tell mother when she came home,
and so forth.
"Nig!" screamed Mary, one of her sickest
days, "come here, and sweep these threads from
the carpet." She attempted to drag her weary
limbs along, using the broom as support. Impa-
tient of delay, she called again, but with a differ-
ent request. "Bring me some wood, you lazy
jade, quick." Nig rested the broom against the
wall, and started on the fresh behest.
Too long gone. Flushed with anger, she rose
and greeted her with, "What are you gone so
long for? Bring it in quick, I say."
"I am coming as quick as I can," she replied,
entering the door.
"Saucy, impudent nigger, you! is this the way
you answer me?" and taking a large carving
knife from the table, she hurled it, in her rage,
at the defenceless girl.
Dodging quickly, it fastened in the ceiling a
few inches from where she stood. There rushed
on Mary's mental vision a picture of bloodshed,
in which she was the perpetrator, and the sad
consequences of what was so nearly an actual
"Tell anybody of this, if you dare. If you tell
Aunt Abby, I'll certainly kill you," said she,
terrified. She returned to her room, brushed
her threads herself; was for a day or two more
guarded, and so escaped deserved and merited
Oh, how long the weeks seemed which held
Nig in subjection to Mary; but they passed like
all earth's sorrows and joys. Mr. and Mrs. B.
returned delighted with their visit, and laden
with rich presents for Mary. No word of hope
for Nig. James was quite unwell, and would
come home the next spring for a visit.
This, thought Nig, will be my time of release.
I shall go back with him.
From early dawn until after all were retired,
was she toiling, overworked, disheartened, long-
ing for relief.
Exposure from heat to cold, or the reverse,
often destroyed her health for short intervals.
She wore no shoes until after frost, and snow
even, appeared; and bared her feet again before
the last vestige of winter disappeared. These
sudden changes she was so illy guarded against,
nearly conquered her physical system. Any
word of complaint was severely repulsed or cru-
She was told she had much more than she
deserved. So that manual labor was not in
reality her only burden; but such an incessant
torrent of scolding and boxing and threatening,
was enough to deter one of maturer years from
remaining within sound of the strife.
It is impossible to give an impression of the
manifest enjoyment of Mrs. B. in these kitchen
scenes. It was her favorite exercise to enter
the apartment noisily, vociferate orders, give
a few sudden blows to quicken Nig's pace, then
return to the sitting room with SUCH a satis-
fied expression, congratulating herself upon her
thorough house-keeping qualities.
She usually rose in the morning at the ring-
ing of the bell for breakfast; if she were heard
stirring before that time, Nig knew well there
was an extra amount of scolding to be borne.
No one now stood between herself and Frado,
but Aunt Abby. And if SHE dared to interfere
in the least, she was ordered back to her "own
quarters." Nig would creep slyly into her
room, learn what she could of her regarding the
absent, and thus gain some light in the thick
gloom of care and toil and sorrow in which she
The first of spring a letter came from James,
announcing declining health. He must try
northern air as a restorative; so Frado joyfully
prepared for this agreeable increase of the family,
this addition to her cares.
He arrived feeble, lame, from his disease, so
changed Frado wept at his appearance, fearing
he would be removed from her forever. He
kindly greeted her, took her to the parlor to see
his wife and child, and said many things to kindle
smiles on her sad face.
Frado felt so happy in his presence, so safe
from maltreatment! He was to her a shelter.
He observed, silently, the ways of the house a
few days; Nig still took her meals in the same
manner as formerly, having the same allowance
of food. He, one day, bade her not remove the
food, but sit down to the table and eat.
"She WILL, mother," said he, calmly, but impera-
tively; I'm determined; she works hard; I've
watched her. Now, while I stay, she is going to
sit down HERE, and eat such food as we eat."
A few sparks from the mother's black eyes
were the only reply; she feared to oppose where
she knew she could not prevail. So Nig's stand-
ing attitude, and selected diet vanished.
Her clothing was yet poor and scanty; she was
not blessed with a Sunday attire; for she was
never permitted to attend church with her mis-
tress. "Religion was not meant for niggers,"
SHE said; when the husband and brothers were
absent, she would drive Mrs. B. and Mary there,
then return, and go for them at the close of the
service, but never remain. Aunt Abby would
take her to evening meetings, held in the neigh-
borhood, which Mrs. B. never attended; and im-
part to her lessons of truth and grace as they
walked to the place of prayer.
Many of less piety would scorn to present so
doleful a figure; Mrs. B. had shaved her glossy
ringlets; and, in her coarse cloth gown and an-
cient bonnet, she was anything but an enticing
object. But Aunt Abby looked within. She
saw a soul to save, an immortality of happi-
ness to secure.
These evenings were eagerly anticipated by
Nig; it was such a pleasant release from labor.
Such perfect contrast in the melody and pray-
ers of these good people to the harsh tones which
fell on her ears during the day.
Soon she had all their sacred songs at com-
mand, and enlivened her toil by accompanying
it with this melody.
James encouraged his aunt in her efforts. He
had found the SAVIOUR, he wished to have Frado's
desolate heart gladdened, quieted, sustained, by
HIS presence. He felt sure there were elements
in her heart which, transformed and purified by
the gospel, would make her worthy the esteem
and friendship of the world. A kind, affection-
ate heart, native wit, and common sense, and
the pertness she sometimes exhibited, he felt if
restrained properly, might become useful in
originating a self-reliance which would be of ser-
vice to her in after years.
Yet it was not possible to compass all this,
while she remained where she was. He wished
to be cautious about pressing too closely her
claims on his mother, as it would increase the
burdened one he so anxiously wished to relieve.
He cheered her on with the hope of returning
with his family, when he recovered sufficiently.
Nig seemed awakened to new hopes and
aspirations, and realized a longing for the future,
To complete Nig's enjoyment, Jack arrived
unexpectedly. His greeting was as hearty to
herself as to any of the family.
"Where are your curls, Fra?" asked Jack,
after the usual salutation.
"Your mother cut them off."
"Thought you were getting handsome, did
she? Same old story, is it; knocks and bumps?
Better times coming; never fear, Nig."
How different this appellative sounded from
him; he said it in such a tone, with such a
She laughed, and replied that he had better
take her West for a housekeeper.
Jack was pleased with James's innovations of
table discipline, and would often tarry in the
dining-room, to see Nig in her new place at the
family table. As he was thus sitting one day,
after the family had finished dinner, Frado seated
herself in her mistress' chair, and was just
reaching for a clean dessert plate which was on
the table, when her mistress entered.
"Put that plate down; you shall not have a
clean one; eat from mine," continued she. Nig
hesitated. To eat after James, his wife or Jack,
would have been pleasant; but to be command-
ed to do what was disagreeable by her mistress,
BECAUSE it was disagreeable, was trying. Quickly
looking about, she took the plate, called Fido to
wash it, which he did to the best of his ability;
then, wiping her knife and fork on the cloth, she
proceeded to eat her dinner.
Nig never looked toward her mistress during
the process. She had Jack near; she did not
fear her now.
Insulted, full of rage, Mrs. Bellmont rushed to
her husband, and commanded him to notice
this insult; to whip that child; if he would not
do it, James ought.
James came to hear the kitchen version of the
affair. Jack was boiling over with laughter. He
related all the circumstances to James, and
pulling a bright, silver half-dollar from his
pocket, he threw it at Nig, saying, "There, take
that; 'twas worth paying for."
James sought his mother; told her he "would
not excuse or palliate Nig's impudence; but she
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