Our World, or, The Slaveholders Daughter
F. Colburn Adams
Part 10 out of 12
"I am not for you, man!" she interrupts: "I would scorn you, were I
not enslaved," she continues, a curl of contempt on her lip, as her
very soul kindles with grief. Rising quickly from his side she
walked across the pen, and seated herself on the opposite side. Here
she casts a frowning look upon him, as if loathing his very
presence. This, Mr. Pringle Blowers don't altogether like: slaves
have no right to look loathingly on white people. His flushed face
glows red with excitement; he runs his brawny fingers through the
tufted mats of short curly hair that stand almost erect on his head,
draws his capacious jaws into a singular angle, and makes a hideous
The terrified girl has no answer to make; she is a forlorn outcast
of democracy's rule. He takes the black ribbon from round his neck,
bares his bosom more broadly than before, throws the plaid sack in
which he is dressed from off him, and leaping as it were across the
room, seizes her in his arms. "Kisses are cheap, I reckon, and a
feller what don't have enough on 'em 's a fool," he ejaculates, as
with a desperate struggle she bounds from his grasp, seizes the
knife from a negro's hand as she passes him, and is about to plunge
the shining steel into her breast. "Oh, mother, mother!-what have I
done?-is not God my Saviour?-has he forsaken me?-left me a prey to
those who seek my life?"
"I settle those things," said a voice in the rear, and immediately a
hand grasped her arm, and the knife fell carelessly upon the floor.
It was Graspum; the sudden surprise overcame her; she sank back in
his arms, and swooned. "She swoons,--how limber, how lifeless she
seems!" says Graspum, as with great coolness he calls a negro
attendant, orders him to remove her to the grass plat, and bathe her
well with cold water. "A good dowsing of water is the cure for
fainting niggers," he concludes.
The black man takes her in his arms, and with great kindness, lays
her on the plat, bathes her temples, loosens her dress, and with his
rough hand manipulates her arms. How soft and silky they seem to his
touch! "Him hard to slave ye, miss," he says, laying his hand upon
her temples, gently, as with commiseration he looks intently on her
"Now, Blowers," says Graspum, as soon as they are by themselves,
"what in the name of the Gentiles have you been up to?"
"Wal-can't say its nothin, a'cos that wouldn't do. But, ye see, the
critter made my mouth water so; there was no standin on't! And I
wanted to be civil, and she wouldn't,--and I went t' fumlin with her
hair what looked so inviting, as there was no resistin on't, and she
looked just as sassy as sixty; and to stun the whole, when I only
wanted to kiss them ar' temptin lips, the fool was going to kill
herself. It wasn't how I cared two buttons about it; but then the
feelin just came over me at the time," he answers, shaking his huge
sides, giving Graspum a significant wink, and laughing heartily.
"Never at a loss, I see!" returns the other, nodding his head,
pertinently: "If I didn't know ye, Blowers, that might go down
"Ye don't tell where ye raised that critter, eh?" he interrupts,
inquisitively, pointing his thumb over his right shoulder, and
crooking his finger, comically.
"Raised her with shiners-lots on 'em!" he rejoins, pushing Mr.
Pringle Blowers in the stomach, playfully, with his forefinger.
"Graspum! yer a wicked 'un."
"Suit ye, kind 'a-eh, Blowers?" he rejoins, enquiringly, maintaining
great gravity of manner as he watches each change of Blowers'
Blowers laughs in reply. His laugh has something sardonic in it,
seeming more vicious as he opens his great wicked mouth, and
displays an ugly row of coloured teeth.
"Sit down, Blowers, sit down!" says Graspum, motioning his hand,
with a studied politeness. The two gentlemen take seats side by
side, on a wooden bench, stretched across the centre of the pen, for
negroes to sit upon. "As I live, Blowers, thar ain't another
individual like you in the county. You can whip a file of common
guardsmen, put the Mayor's court through a course of affronts,
frighten all the females out of the fashionable houses, treat a
regiment of volunteers, drink a bar-room dry-"
"Compliments thick, long and strong," interposes Blowers, winking
and wiping his mouth. "Can elect half the members of the assembly!"
"True! nevertheless," rejoins Graspum, "a great man cannot be
flattered-compliments are his by merit! And the city knows you're a
man of exquisite taste."
Blowers interrupts with a loud laugh, as he suggests the propriety
of seeing the "gal get round again."
"Not so fast, Blowers; not so fast!" Graspum ejaculates, as Blowers
is about to rise from his seat and follow Annette.
"Well, now!" returns Blowers, remaining seated, "Might just as well
come square to the mark,--ye want to sell me that wench?"
"Truth's truth!" he replies. "Blowers is the man who's got the gold
to do it."
"Name yer price; and no rounding the corners!" exclaims Blowers, his
countenance quickening with animation. He takes Graspum by the arm
with his left hand, turns him half round, and waits for a reply.
Seeing it's Blowers, (the keen business man replies, in an off-hand
manner), who's a trump in his way, and don't care for a few dollars,
he'll take seventeen hundred for her, tin down; not a fraction less!
He will have no bantering, inasmuch as his friends all know that he
has but one price for niggers, from which it is no use to seek a
discount. Mr. Blowers, generally a good judge of such articles,
would like one more view at it before fully making up his mind.
Graspum calls "Oh, boy!" and the negro making his appearance, says:
"Dat gal 'um all right agin; went mos asleep, but am right as
parched pen now."
"Have her coming," he returns, facing Blowers. "Nothing the matter
with that gal," he exclaims, touching his elbow. "It is merely one of
her flimsy fits; she hasn't quite come to maturity."
Slowly the negro leads her, weeping (Graspum says they will cry-it's
natural!) into the presence of the far-famed and much-feared Mr.
Pringle Blowers. Her hair hangs carelessly about her neck and
shoulders, the open incision of her dress discloses a neatly worked
stomacher; how sweetly glows the melancholy that broods over her
countenance! "I'll take her-I'll take her!" exclaims Blowers, in
"I know'd you would; I'll suit you to a charm," rejoins the man of
trade, laconically, as the negro steps a few feet backward, and
watches the process. "Considers it a trade," is the reply of
Blowers, as he orders his waggon to be brought to the door.
"Oh! master, master! save me-save me! and let me die in peace.
Don't, good master, don't sell me again!" Thus saying she falls on
her knees at Graspum's feet, and with hands uplifted beseeches him
to save her from the hands of a man whose very sight she loathes.
She reads the man's character in his face; she knows too well the
hellish purpose for which he buys her. Bitter, bitter, are the tears
of anguish she sheds at his feet, deep and piercing are her
bemoanings. Again her soft, sorrowing eyes wander in prayer to
heaven: as Graspum is a husband, a brother, and a father,--whose
children are yet in the world's travel of uncertainty, she beseeches
him to save her from that man.
"Don't be mad, girl," he says, pushing her hand from him.
"Frightened, eh? Make ye love me, yet! Why, gal, ye never had such a
master in the world as I'll be to ye. I lay I makes a lady on ye,
and lets ye have it all yer own way, afore a fortnight," he rejoins,
spreading his brawny arms over her, as she, in an attitude of
fright, vaults from beneath them, and, uttering a faint cry, glides
crouching into a corner of the pen. There is no protection for her
now; her weepings and implorings fall harmless on the slavedealer's
ears; heaven will protect her when earth knows her no more!
"There's two can play a game like that, gal!" exclaims Blowers.
"Rough play like that don't do with this ere citizen. Can just take
the vixen out on a dozen on ye as what don't know what's good for
'em." Blowers is evidently allowing his temper to get the better of
him. He stands a few feet from her, makes grim his florid face,
gesticulates his hands, and daringly advances toward her as the
negro announces the arrival of his waggon.
"You must go with him, girl; stop working yourself into a fever;
stop it, I say," interposes Graspum, peremptorily. "The waggon! the
waggon! the waggon! to carry me away, away;--never, never to return
and see my mother?" she exclaims, as well nigh in convulsions she
shrieks, when Blowers grasps her in his arms (Graspum saying, be
gentle, Blowers), drags her to the door, and by force thrusts her
into the waggon, stifling her cries as on the road they drive
quickly away. As the last faint wail dies away, and the vehicle
bearing its victim disappears in the distance, we think how sweet is
liberty, how prone to injustice is man, how crushing of right are
democracy's base practices.
"Does seem kind of hard; but it's a righteous good sale. Shouldn't
wonder if she played the same game on him she did with t'other two
fools. Get her back then, and sell her over again. Well! come now;
there's no great loss without-some-small-gain!" says Graspum, as,
standing his prominent figure in the door of his man pen, he watches
the woman pass out of sight, thrusts his hands deep into his
breeches pockets, and commences humming an air for his own special
NICHOLAS'S SIMPLE STORY.
THE reader will remember that we left Nicholas seeking his way to
Mr. Grabguy's workshop, situated in the outskirts of the city. And
we must here inform him that considerable change in the social
position of the younger Grabguy family has taken place since we left
them, which is some years ago. The elder Grabguy, who, it will be
remembered, was very distinguished as his Worship the Mayor of the
City (that also was some years ago), has departed this life, leaving
the present principal of the Grabguy family a large portion of his
estate, which, being mostly of "nigger property," requires some
little transforming before it can be made to suit his more extended
business arrangements. This material addition to the already well-
reputed estate of Mr. Grabguy warrants his admittance into very
respectable, and, some say, rather distinguished society. Indeed, it
is more than whispered, that when the question of admitting Mr. and
Mrs. Grabguy to the membership of a very select circle, the saintly
cognomen of which is as indefinable as its system of selecting
members, or the angles presented by the nasal organs of a few ladies
when anything short of the very first families are proposed, there
were seven very fashionable ladies for, and only three against. The
greatest antagonist the Grabguys have to getting into the embrace of
this very select circle is Mrs. Chief Justice Pimpkins, a matronly
body of some fifty summers, who declares there can be no judge in
the world so clever as her own dear Pimpkins, and that society was
becoming so vulgar and coarse, and so many low people-whose English
was as hopefully bad as could be, and who never spoke when they
didn't impugn her risible nerves-were intruding themselves upon its
polished sanctity, that she felt more and more every day the
necessity of withdrawing entirely from it, and enjoying her own
exclusively distinguished self. In the case of Grabguy's admittance
to the St. Cecilia, my Lady Pimpkins-she is commonly called Lady
Chief Justice Pimpkins-had two most formidable black balls; the
first because Mrs. Grabguy's father was a bread-baker, and the
second that the present Grabguy could not be considered a gentleman
while he continued in mechanical business. Another serious objection
Mrs. Pimpkins would merely suggest as a preventive;--such people
were ill suited to mix with titled and other distinguished society!
But, Grabguy, to make up for the vexatious rejection, has got to be
an alderman, which is a step upward in the scale of his father's
attained distinction. There is nothing more natural, then, than that
Grabguy should seek his way up in the world, with the best means at
his hands; it is a worthy trait of human nature, and is as natural
to the slave. In this instance-when master and slave are both
incited to a noble purpose-Grabguy is a wealthy alderman, and
Nicholas-the whiter of the two-his abject slave. The master, a man
of meagre mind, and exceedingly avaricious, would make himself
distinguished in society; the slave, a mercurial being of
impassioned temper, whose mind is quickened by a sense of the
injustice that robs him of his rights, seeks only freedom and what
may follow in its order.
Let us again introduce the reader to Nicholas, as his manly figure,
marked with impressive features, stands before us, in Grabguy's
workshop. Tall, and finely formed, he has grown to manhood,
retaining all the quick fiery impulses of his race. Those black eyes
wandering irresistibly, that curl of contempt that sits upon his
lip, that stare of revenge that scowls beneath those heavy eyebrows,
and that hate of wrong that ever and anon pervades the whole, tell
how burns in his heart the elements of a will that would brave death
for its rights-that would bear unmoved the oppressor's lash-that
would embrace death rather than yield to perfidy. He tells us-"I
came here, sold-so they said-by God's will. Well. I thought to
myself, isn't this strange, that a curious God-they tell me he loves
everybody-should sell me? It all seemed like a misty waste to me. I
remembered home-I learned to read, myself-I remembered mother, I
loved her, but she left me, and I have never seen her since. I loved
her, dear mother! I did love her; but they said she was gone far
away, and I musn't mind if I never see'd her again. It seemed hard
and strange, but I had to put up with it, for they said I never had
a father, and my mother had no right to me" (his piercing black eyes
glare, as fervently he says, mother!). "I thought, at last, it was
true, for everybody had a right to call me nigger,--a blasted white
nigger, a nigger as wouldn't be worth nothing. And then they used to
kick me, and cuff me, and lash me; and if nigger was nigger I was
worse than a nigger, because every black nigger was laughing at me,
and telling me what a fool of a white nigger I was;--that white
niggers was nobody, could be nobody, and was never intended for
nobody, as nobody knew where white niggers come from. But I didn't
believe all this; it warn't sensible. Something said-Nicholas!
you're just as good as anybody: learn to read, write, and cypher,
and you'll be something yet. And this something-I couldn't tell what
it was, nor could I describe it-seemed irresistible in its power to
carry me to be that somebody it prompted in my feelings. I was
white, and when I looked at myself I knew I wasn't a nigger; and
feeling that everybody could be somebody, I began to look forward to
the time when I should rise above the burden of misfortune that
seemed bearing me down into the earth. And then, Franconia, like a
sister, used to come to me, and say so many kind things to me that I
felt relieved, and resolved to go forward. Then I lost sight of
Franconia, and saw nobody I knew but Annette; and she seemed so
pretty, and loved me so affectionately. How long it seems since I
have seen her! She dressed me so nicely, and parted my hair, and
kissed me so kindly; and said good-by, when I left her, so in
regret, I never can forget it. And it was then they said I was sold.
Mr. Graspum said he owned me, and owning me was equal to doing what
he pleased with me. Then I went home to Mr. Grabguy's; and they said
Mr. Grabguy owned me just as he owned his great big dog they called
a democratic bull-dog, the foreman said he paid a democratic
ten-dollar gold piece for. They used to say the only difference
between me and the dog was, that the dog could go where he pleased
without being lashed, and I couldn't. And the dog always got enough
to eat, and seemed a great favourite with everybody, whereas I got
only more kicks than cucumbers, didn't seem liked by anybody, and if
I got enough to eat I had nobody to thank but good old Margery, the
cook, who was kind to me now and then, and used to say-"I like you,
Nicholas!" And that used to make me feel so happy! Old Margery was
coal-black; but I didn't care for that,--the knowledge of somebody
loving you is enough to light up the happy of life, and make the
heart feel contented. In this manner my thoughts went here and there
and everywhere; and the truth is, I had so many thoughts, that I got
completely bewildered in thinking how I was to better myself, and be
like other folks. Mr. Grabguy seemed kind to me at first,--said he
would make a great mechanic of me, and give me a chance to buy
myself. I didn't know what this "buy myself" meant, at first. But I
soon found out-he tells us he must speak with caution-that I must
pay so many hundred dollars afore I could be like other folks. The
kindness Mr. Grabguy at first exhibited for me didn't last long; he
soon began to kick me, and cuff me, and swear at me. And it 'pear'd
to me as if I never could please anybody, and so my feelings got so
embittered I didn't know what to do. I was put into the shop among
the men, and one said Nigger, here! and another said, Nigger, get
there!-and they all seemed not to be inclined to help me along. And
then I would get in a passion: but that never made things better.
The foreman now and then said a kind word to me; and whenever he
did, it made my heart feel so good that I seemed a new being with
brighter hopes. Well, Mr. Grabguy put me to turning the grindstone,
first; and from turning the grindstone-the men used to throw water
in my face when they ground their chisels, and their plane irons,
and axes and adzes-I was learned to saw, and to plain boards, and
then to mortice and frame, and make mouldings, and window-sashes,
and door-frames. When I could do all these, master used to say I was
bound to make a great workman, and, laughingly, would say I was the
most valuable property he ever owned. About this time I began to
find out how it was that the other white folks owned themselves and
master owned me; but then, if I said anything about it, master might
tie me up and lash me as he used to do; and so I remained quiet, but
kept up a thinking. By and by I got perfect at the carpenter's
trade, and I learned engineering; and when I had got engineering
perfect, I took a fancy for making stucco work and images. And
people said I learned wondrously fast, and was the best workman far
or near. Seeing these things, people used to be coming to me, and
talking to me about my value, and then end by wanting me to make
them specimens of stucco. I seemed liked by everybody who came to
see me, and good people had a kind word for me; but Mr. Grabguy was
very strict, and wouldn't allow me to do anything without his
permission. People said my work was perfect, and master said I was a
perfect piece of property; and it used to pain deep into my heart
when master spoke so. Well! I got to be a man, and when the foreman
got drunk master used to put me in his place. And after a while I
got to be foreman altogether: but I was a slave, they said, and men
wouldn't follow my directions when master was away; they all
acknowledged that I was a good workman, but said a nigger never
should be allowed to direct and order white people. That made my
very blood boil, as I grew older, because I was whiter than many of
them. However, submit was the word; and I bore up and trusted to
heaven for deliverance, hoping the day would come soon when its will
would be carried out. With my knowledge of mechanics increased a
love of learning, which almost amounted to a passion. They said it
was against the law for a nigger to read; but I was raised so far
above black niggers that I didn't mind what the law said: so I got
'Pilgrim's Progress,' and the Bible, and 'Young's Night Thoughts,'
and from them I learned great truths: they gave me new hopes,
refreshed my weary soul, and made me like a new-clothed being ready
to soar above the injustice of this life. Oh, how I read them at
night, and re-read them in the morning, and every time found
something new in them, something that suited my case! Through the
sentiments imbibed from them I saw freedom hanging out its light of
love, fascinating me, and inciting me to make a death struggle to
"One day, as I was thinking of my hard fate, and how I did all the
work and master got all the money for it-and how I had to live and
how he lived, master came in-looking good-natured. He approached
me, shook hands with me, said I was worth my weight in gold; and
then asked me how I would like to be free. I told him I would jump
for joy, would sing praises, and be glad all the day long.
"'Aint you contented where you are, Nicholas?' he enquired. I told
him I didn't dislike him; but freedom was sweetest. 'Give me a
chance of my freedom, master, and yet you may know me as a man,'
says I, feeling that to be free was to be among the living; to be a
slave was to be among the moving dead. To this he said, he always
had liked me, was proud of me, had unbounded confidence in my
directions over the men, and always felt safe when he went from home
leaving things in my charge. 'In this view of the case, Nicholas,'
he says, 'I have come to the conclusion,--and it's Mrs. Grabguy's
conclusion, too,--to let you work evenings, on overtime, for
yourself. You can earn a deal of money that way, if you please; just
save it up, and let me keep it for you, and in consideration of your
faithfulness I will set you free whenever you get a thousand dollars
to put into my hands. Now that's generous-I want to do the straight
thing, and so Mrs. Grabguy wants to do the straight thing; and what
money you save you can put in Mrs. Grabguy's hands for safe keeping.
She's a noble-minded woman, and 'll take good care of it.' This was
to me like entering upon a new life of hope and joy. How my heart
yearned for the coming day, when I should be free like other folks!
I worked and struggled by night and day; and good Mr. Simons
befriended me, and procured me many little orders, which I executed,
and for which I got good pay. All my own earnings I put into Mrs.
Grabguy's hands; and she told me she would keep it for me, safe,
till I got enough to buy my freedom. My confidence in these
assurances was undivided. I looked upon Mrs. Grabguy as a friend and
mother; and good Mr. Simons, who was poor but honest, did many kind
things to help me out. When I got one hundred dollars in missus'
hands I jumped for joy; with it I seemed to have got over the first
difficult step in the great mountain. Then missus said I must take
Jerushe for my wife. I didn't like Jerushe at first--she was almost
black; but missus said we were both slaves; hence, that could be no
objection. As missus's order was equally as positive as master's,
there was no alternative but to obey it, and Jerushe became my wife.
We were lawfully married, and missus made a nice little party for
us, and Jerushe loved me, and was kind to me, and her solicitude for
my welfare soon made me repay her love. I pitied her condition, and
she seemed to pity mine; and I soon forgot that she was black, and
we lived happily together, and had two children, which missus said
were hers. It was hard to reconcile this, and yet it was so, by law
as well as social right. But then missus was kind to Jerushe, and
let her buy her time at four dollars a week, which, having learned
to make dresses, she could pay and have a small surplus to lay by
every week. Jerushe knew I was struggling for freedom, and she would
help me to buy that freedom, knowing that, if I was free, I would
return her kindness, and struggle to make her free, and our children
"Years rolled on,--we had placed nearly five hundred dollars in
missus's hands: but how vain were the hopes that had borne us
through so many privations for the accumulation of this portion of
our price of freedom! Master has sold my children,--yes, sold them!
He will not tell me where nor to whom. Missus will neither see nor
hear me; and master threatens to sell me to New Orleans if I resent
his act. To what tribunal can I appeal for justice? Shut from the
laws of my native land, what justice is there for the slave where
injustice makes its law oppression? Master may sell me, but he
cannot vanquish the spirit God has given me; never, never, will I
yield to his nefarious designs. I have but one life to yield up a
sacrifice for right-I care not to live for wrong!" Thus he speaks,
as his frenzied soul burns with indignation. His soul's love was
freedom; he asked but justice to achieve it. Sick at heart he has
thrown up that zeal for his master's welfare which bore him onward,
summoned his determination to resist to the last-to die rather than
again confront the dreary waste of a slave's life. Grabguy has
forfeited the amount deposited by Nicholas as part of the price of
his freedom,--betrayed his confidence.
He tells us his simple story, as the workmen, with fear on their
countenances, move heedlessly about the room. As he concludes,
Grabguy, with sullen countenance, enters the great door at the end
of the building; he is followed by three men in official garbs, two
of whom bear manacles in their hands. Nicholas's dark eye flashes
upon them, and with an instinctive knowledge of their errand, he
seizes a broad axe, salutes them, and, defiantly, cautions their
advance. Grabguy heeds not; and as the aggrieved man slowly retreats
backward to protect himself with the wall, still keeping his eye set
on Grabguy, two negroes make a sudden spring upon him from behind,
fetter his arms as the officers rush forward, bind him hand and
foot, and drag him to the door, regardless of his cries for mercy:
they bind him to a dray, and drive through the streets to the slave
pen of Graspum. We hear his pleading voice, as his ruffian captors,
their prey secure, disappear among the busy crowd.
HE WOULD DELIVER HER FROM BONDAGE.
ABOUT twelve o'clock of a hazy night, in the month of November, and
while Annette, in the hands of Mr. Pringle Blowers, with death-like
tenacity refuses to yield to his vile purposes, a little
taunt-rigged schooner may be seen stealing her way through the grey
mist into Charleston inner harbour. Like a mysterious messenger, she
advances noiselessly, gibes her half-dimmed sails, rounds to a short
distance from an old fort that stands on a ridge of flats extending
into the sea, drops her anchor, and furls her sails. We hear the
rumble of the chain, and "aye, aye!" sound on the still air, like
the murmur of voices in the clouds. A pause is followed by the sharp
sound of voices echoing through the hollow mist; then she rides like
a thing of life reposing on the polished water, her masts half
obscured in mist, looming high above, like a spectre in gauze
shroud. The sound dies away, and dimly we see the figure of a man
pacing the deck from fore-shroud to taffrail. Now and then he stops
at the wheel, casts sundry glances about the horizon, as if to catch
a recognition of some point of land near by, and walks again. Now he
places his body against the spokes, leans forward, and compares the
"lay" of the land with points of compass. He will reach his hand
into the binnacle, to note the compass with his finger, and wait its
traversing motion. Apparently satisfied, he moves his slow way along
again; now folding his arms, as if in deep study, then locking his
hands behind him, and drooping his head. He paces and paces for an
hour, retires below, and all is still.
Early on the following morning, a man of middle stature, genteelly
dressed, may be seen leaving the craft in a boat, which, rowed by
two seamen, soon reaches a wharf, upon the landing slip of which he
disembarks. He looks pale, and his countenance wears a placidness
indicating a mind absorbed in reflection. With a carpet-bag in his
right hand does he ascend the steps to the crown of the wharf, as
the boat returns to the mysterious-looking craft. Standing on the
capsill for a few minutes, his blue eyes wander over the scene, as
if to detect some familiar object. The warehouses along the wharfs
wear a dingy, neglected air; immense piles of cotton bales stand
under slender sheds erected here and there along the line of
buildings which form a curvature declining to the east and west.
Again, open spaces are strewn with bales of cotton waiting its turn
through the press (a large building near by, from which steam is
issuing in successive puffings and roarings); from which compressed
bales emerge out of the lower story, followed by a dozen half-naked
negroes, who, half-bent, trundle it onward into piles, or on board
ships. Far above these is spread out a semicircle of dwellings,
having a gloomy and irregular appearance, devoid of that freshness
and brightness which so distinguish every New England city. The
bustle of the day is just commencing, and the half-mantled ships,
lying unmoved at the wharfs, give out signs of activity. The new
comer is about to move on up the wharf, when suddenly he is accosted
by a negro, who, in ragged garb, touches his hat politely, and says,
with a smile, "Yer sarvant, mas'r!"
"Your name, my boy?" returns the man, in a kind tone of voice. The
negro, thrusting his hands deep into the pockets of his old sack
coat, seems contemplating an answer. He has had several names, both
surname and Christian; names are but of little value to a slave.
"Pompe they once called me, but da' calls me Bill now," he answers,
eyeing the stranger, suspiciously. "Pompe, Pompe! I've heard that
name: how familiar it sounds!" the stranger says to himself.
"One mas'r call me Turtle Tom," rejoins the negro, scratching his
head the while.
"Turtle Tom!" reiterates the stranger. "Had you no other name
coupled with Pompe, when that was the name by which you were
The negro will not wait his finishing the sentence. He says he had
good old mas'r's name; but good old mas'r-"so dey tells"-dead and
gone long time ago. "His name was Marston; and dat war dis child's
name den, God bless 'um!" he answers the stranger.
"Marston, who lived on the banks of the Ashley?" again he enquires,
as his face crimsons with excitement.
"Dat war my mas'r; and dem war good old times when I lived dar,"
returns the negro, significantly nodding his head.
"Then you are the first man I have met, the first I want to see,"
exclaimed the stranger, grasping the negro by the hand, and, much to
his surprise, shaking it heartily.
"'Taint Lorenzo," returns the negro, contemplating the stranger with
The stranger is not Lorenzo, but he has heard much of him. What
happy recollections its familiar sound recalls: how it strengthens
his hopes of success in his mission. The negro tells him he is a
labourer on the wharf, and cannot leave to conduct him to an hotel;
he will, however, direct the stranger to a comfortable abode in
Church Street. It is quiet and unostentatious, but will serve his
purpose. Placing a piece of money in the negro's hand, he assures
him that he is his friend-has much need of his services-will pay him
well for their employment. He has equally aroused the negro's
curiosity; and, were it nothing more than satisfying that, he would
be faithful to his promise to call the same night at seven o'clock.
Precisely at that hour the negro will fulfil his engagement. The
stranger wends his way to Church Street, and up a narrow alley, on
the left hand side, finds comfortable apartments, as directed. Here
he makes his toilet, and sallies out to reconnoitre the city.
Meanwhile the little craft is entered at the custom-house as a
fruiter, bound from New Providence to New York, and put in for a
harbour. There is something suspicious about a fruiter putting in
for a harbour at this season, and many curious glances are cast upon
the little captain as he bows to the truth of his entry before the
The stranger has spent the day in viewing the city, and at
nightfall, the negro, true to his engagement, presents his sable
figure at his lodgings. A servant having shown him up stairs, he is
ushered into his presence, where, seeming bewildered, he looks about
inquiringly, as if doubting the object for which he has been
summoned. Abjectly he holds his tattered cap in his hand, and
tremblingly inquires what master wants with him.
"Have confidence, my good fellow," the stranger speaks, with a
smile; "my mission is love and peace." He places a chair beside a
small table in the centre of the room; bids the negro sit down,
which he does with some hesitation. The room is small; it contains a
table, bureau, washstand, bed, and four chairs, which, together with
a few small prints hanging from the dingy walls, and a square piece
of carpet in the centre of the room, constitute its furniture. "You
know Marston's plantation-know it as it was when Marston resided
thereon, do you?" enquires the stranger, seating himself beside the
negro, who evidently is not used to this sort of familiarity.
"Know 'um well, dat I does," answers the negro, quickly, as if the
question had recalled scenes of the past.
"And you know the people, too, I suppose?"
"Da'h people!" ejaculates the negro, with a rhapsody of enthusiasm;
"reckon I does."
"Will you recount them."
The negro, commencing with old master, recounts the names of Miss
Franconia, Clotilda, Ellen, Aunt Rachel, old Daddy Bob, and Harry.
"It is enough," says the stranger, "they are all familiar names."
"Did you know my good old master?" interrupts the negro, suddenly,
as if detecting some familiar feature in the stranger's countenance.
"No," he replies, measuredly; "but his name has sounded in my ears a
thousand times. Tell me where are the children, Annette and
Nicholas? and where may I find Franconia?"
The negro shakes his head, and remains silent for a few minutes. At
length he raises his hand, and in a half-whisper says, "Gone, gone,
gone; sold and scattered, good mas'r. Habn't see dem child dis many
a day: reckon da'h done gone down south." He hesitates suddenly, as
if calling something to memory; and then, placing his left hand on
the stranger's right arm, as he rubs his left across his forehead,
stammers out-"Mas'r, mas'r, I reckon dis child do know somefin 'bout
Miss Frankone. Anyhow, mas'r (ye knows I'se nigger do'h, and don't
keep up 'quaintance a'ter mas'r sell um), can put ye straight 'bout
Missus Rosebrook's house, and reckon how dat lady can put ye
straight on Miss Frankone's where'bout." It is what the stranger
wants. He has heard of Mrs. Rosebrook before; she will give him the
information he seeks; so, turning again to the negro, he tells him
that, for a few days at least, he shall require his presence at the
same hour in the evening: tonight he must conduct him to Mrs.
Rosebrook's sequestered villa.
The watch-tower bell of the guard-house sounds forth nine o'clock.
The soldier-like sentinel, pacing with loaded musket, and armed with
sharpest steel, cries out in hoarse accents, "All's well!" The bell
is summoning all negroes to their habitations: our guide, Bill,
informs the stranger that he must have a "pass" from a white man
before he can venture into the street. "Mas'r may write 'um," he
says, knowing that it matters but little from whom it comes, so long
as the writer be a white man. The pass is written; the negro
partakes of refreshment that has been prepared for him at the
stranger's request, and they are wending their way through the city.
They pass between rows of massive buildings, many of which have an
antique appearance, and bear strong signs of neglect; but their
unique style of architecture denotes the taste of the time in which
they were erected. Some are distinguished by heavy stone colonnades,
others by verandas of fret-work, with large gothic windows standing
in bold outline. Gloomy-looking guard-houses, from which numerous
armed men are issuing forth for the night's duty,--patrolling figures
with white cross belts, and armed with batons, standing at corners
of streets, or moving along with heavy tread on the uneven
side-walk,--give the city an air of military importance. The love of
freedom is dangerous in this democratic world; liberty is simply a
privilege. Again the stranger and his guide (the negro) emerge into
narrow lanes, and pass along between rows of small dwellings
inhabited by negroes; but at every turn they encounter mounted
soldiery, riding two abreast, heavily armed. "Democracy, boast not
of thy privileges! tell no man thou governest with equal justice!"
said the stranger to himself, as the gas-light shed its flickers
upon this military array formed to suppress liberty.
They have reached the outskirts of the city, and are approaching a
pretty villa, which the negro, who has been explaining the nature
and duties of this formidable display of citizen soldiery, points
to, as the peaceful home of the Rosebrook family. Brighter and
brighter, as they approach, glares the bright light of a window in
the north front. "I wish Mas'r Rosebrook owned me," says the negro,
stopping at the garden gate, and viewing the pretty enclosure ere he
opens it. "If ebery mas'r and missus war as kind as da'h is, dar
wouldn't be no need o' dem guard-houses and dem guardmen wid dar
savage steel," he continues, opening the gate gently, and motioning
the stranger to walk in. Noiselessly he advances up the brick walk
to the hall entrance, and rings the bell. A well-dressed negro man
soon makes his appearance, receives him politely, as the guide
retires, and ushers him into a sumptuously furnished parlour. The
Rosebrook negroes quickly recognise a gentleman, and detecting it in
the bearing of the stranger they treat him as such. Mrs. Rosebrook,
followed by her husband, soon makes her appearance, saluting the
stranger with her usual suavity. "I have come, madam," he says, "on
a strange mission. With you I make no secret of it; should I be
successful it will remove the grief and anxiety of one who has for
years mourned the fate of her on whom all her affections seem to
have centred. If you will but read this it will save the further
recital of my mission." Thus saying, he drew a letter from his
pocket, presented it, and watched her countenance as line by line
she read it, and, with tears glistening in her eyes, passed it to
"I am, good sir, heartily glad your mission is thus laudable. Be at
home, and while you are in the city let our home be yours. Franconia
is here with us to-night; the child you search after is also with
us, and it was but to-day we learned the cruelties to which she has
been subjected during the last few years. Indeed, her fate had been
kept concealed from us until a few weeks ago, and to-day, having
escaped the brutal designs of a ruffian, she fled to us for
protection, and is now concealed under our roof-"
"Yes, poor wretch-it is too true!" rejoins Rosebrook. "But something
must be done as quickly as possible, for if Pringle Blowers regains
her she will be subjected to tortures her frame is too delicate to
bear up under. There must be no time lost, not a day!" he says, as
Mrs. Rosebrook quickly leaves the room to convey the news to
Franconia, who, with Annette, is in an adjoining apartment.
Like a hunted deer, Annette's fears were excited on hearing the
stranger enter; Franconia is endeavoring to quiet them. The poor
slave fears the ruffian's pursuit, trembles at each foot-fall upon
the door-sill, and piteously turns to her old friend for protection.
Blowers, maddened with disappointment, would rather sacrifice her to
infamy than sell her for money to a good master. The price of a
pretty slave is no object with this boasting democrat,--the
gratification of his carnal desires soars supreme. Rosebrook knows
this, as the abject woman does to her sorrow.
As Rosebrook and the stranger sit conversing upon the object of his
mission, and the best way to effect it, this good woman returns
leading by the arm a delicately-formed girl, whose blonde
countenance is shadowed with an air of melancholy which rather adds
to her charms than detracts from her beauty. The stranger's eye
rests upon her,--quickly he recognises Clotilda's features,
Clotilda's form, and gentleness; but she is fairer than Clotilda,
has blue eyes, and almost golden hair. She hesitates as her eyes
meet the stranger's. "Do not fear, my child," speaks Franconia,
whose slender figure follows her into the room. Assured that the
stranger is her friend, she is introduced to him, and modestly takes
her seat on a chair by the window. The stranger's name is Maxwell,
and on hearing it announced Franconia anticipated the pleasure of
meeting with her old friend, through whose agency she effected
Clotilda's escape. Advancing towards him with extended hand, she
looks enquiringly in his face, saying, "Am I mistaken?" She shakes
her head, doubtingly. "No! it is not my friend Maxwell," she
"No!" rejoins the stranger; "he is my cousin: by his directions I
have come here. I have brought a letter from his wife Clotilda,
whose dear deliverer you were; and whose thoughts now daily recur to
you, to your love and kindness to her, with undying brightness."
"Ah!" interrupts Franconia, welcoming him with a fervent heart, "I
knew Clotilda would never forget Annette; I knew she would remember
me; I knew her ardent soul would give forth its measure of
gratitude. Happy am I that you have come-though years have rolled by
since I gave up all hopes of the joyous consummation-to relieve this
sorrowing child," she says, running to Annette, and with tears of
joy in her eyes, exclaiming, "My child! my child! you 'll yet be
saved. The ruffian who tortured you to-day will torture you no
more-no more!" And she kisses the sorrowing girl's cheek, as tears
of sympathy gush into her eyes.
Rosebrook handed Franconia the letter, which she read as her face
brightened with joy. "Good Clotilda! how happy she must be! How
generous, how kind, how true dear Maxwell was to her; and they are
living together so comfortably, and have such a nice family growing
up; but she wants her slave child! A slave mother never forgets her
slave offspring!" she exclaims, with enthusiastic delight, as she
reads and re-reads the letter. Back she paces to Annette, lays her
right arm gently over her shoulder, and pats her cheek with her left
hand: "Annette will see her mother, yet. There is an all-protecting
hand guiding us through every ill of life. Be of good cheer, my
child; never despond while there is a hope left; bury the horrors of
the past in the brighter prospect of the future." And leading her to
the table she seats her by her side and reads the letter aloud, as
with joy the forlorn girl's feelings bound forth. We need scarcely
tell the reader that Clotilda's letter was read in listening
silence, and ran thus:--"Nassau, New Providence, "October 24, 18-.
"My Dear Franconia,
"My thoughts have never ceased to recur to you, nor to my dear
Annette. You were a mother and a deliverer to me; I know-though I
have not received a word in reply to any of my letters-you have been
a mother to my child. As you know, I dare not write as much as I
would, lest this letter fall into the hands of those whose interest
it is to perpetuate our enslavement. I hope you are happy with a
good husband, as I am. Years have rolled by since we parted, and
many have been the scenes and changes through which I have passed,
but they were all pleasant changes, each for brighter and happier
prospects. I was married to him who, with you, effected my escape, a
few weeks after landing at Harbour Island. Since then we have
resided in Nassau, where my husband, who loves me dearly, pursues an
extensive and lucrative business, and we both move in the best
society of the place. We have a pretty family of three children, the
oldest nine years old, and the youngest five. How my heart would
leap with joy if I thought you would accept an invitation to come
and see me, to spend a few weeks with me, and see yourself how
comfortable and happy a slave may be! Perhaps I should not say
happy, for I never can be truly happy without my Annette. Something
haunts my mind whenever I recur to her,--which is every day. And then
I have written so many letters to which no answers have been
returned; but, a whispering angel, as if to console me, says,
Franconia will be her mother, and you will yet see her.
"The gentleman who bears this letter is my husband's cousin. He has
all my husband's generosity of character, and will seek you for the
purpose of finding Annette, and bearing her safely to me. He has
proffered his services, and sworn to carry out his object; and being
on his way to New York for the purpose of entering into business
with his uncle now in that city, will touch at Charleston, for the
object herein stated. Further his object, my dear Franconia, and
that heaven will reward the hand that in mercy helps the enslaved,
"Is the prayer of your grateful "CLOTILDA MAXWELL."
"I knew mother would never forget me; I knew she would come back to
me, would be kind to me, as she used to be, and save me from such
cruelty as I have suffered. Several times have I resolved on putting
an end to my unhappy existence, but as often did something say to
me, 'live hoping-there is a better day coming.' God guides, governs,
and raises up the weary soul," says Annette, in touching accents, as
Franconia finished reading the letter.
While this conversation is progressing, and the plan of getting
Annette out of the city being devised, a nice supper, at Mrs.
Rosebrook's request, is being prepared in the adjoining room. To
this the stranger is invited, and all sit down in a happy circle.
Franconia seems invested with new life; Annette forgets for the time
her troubles; Mrs. Rosebrook, who does the honours of the table,
wishes every ill-used slave could find means of escaping into
freedom; and Deacon Rosebrook says he will join heart and hand in
getting the forlorn girl free from her base purchaser.
OTHER PHASES OF THE SUBJECT.
WE must leave to the reader's imagination much that transpired at
the Rosebrook Villa during the night above mentioned, and ask him to
accompany us on the following morning, when curious placards may be
seen posted here and there at corners of streets and other
conspicuous places about the city. Mr. Pringle Blowers has lost a
beautiful female slave, whose fair hair, beautiful complexion, deep
blue eyes, delicate features, and charming promise, is in large type
and blackest printer's ink set forth most glowingly. Had Mr. Pringle
Blowers been a poet instead of a chivalric rice-planter, he might
have emblazoned his loss in sentimental rhyme. But Pringle Blowers
says poets always make fools of themselves; and, although the south
is a sweet and sunny land, he is happy indeed that it is troubled
with none of the miscreants. He owned niggers innumerable; but they
were only common stock, all of whom he could have lost without
feeling any more than ordinary disappointment at the loss of their
worth in money. For this one, however, he had a kind of undefined
love, which moved his heart most indescribably. Disappointed in the
gratification of his desires, he is mortified and maddened to
desperation. Why should a slave he had invested so much money in,
and felt so like making a lady of, and never would have thought of
setting at field labour, run away? He only wanted her for the most
aristocratic purpose the south can provide for a beautiful slave.
Hence Mr. Pringle Blowers, through the medium of his knowledge of
letters, puts forward his placard-a copy of which he inserts in all
the most respectable morning journals-in which the fair outlines of
his lost woman are simply set forth. He will give three hundred
dollars for her apprehension, fifty dollars more for proof to
convict any person of harbouring her, and an additional sum for
lodging her in any gaol in the country. This large reward Mr.
Pringle Blowers will pay in hard cash; and he has no doubt the
offering will be quite enough to excite the hunting propensities of
fashionable young gentlemen, as well as inveterate negro hunters.
Beside this, negro hunting being rather a democratic sport than
otherwise, Mr. Pringle Blowers reconciles his feelings with the fact
of these sports being uncommonly successful.
The reader will naturally conclude that the offer of this large
reward produced some sensation in and about the city. People stopped
along the streets, read the curious hand-bill, smiled, and made
various remarks. Ladies, always curious to know what is prominent
among the current events of the day, sent servants to ascertain what
so attractive the posters contained. It was, indeed, a regular bit
of self-enjoyed fun for them; for the ladies had all heard of
Pringle Blowers, and that a female slave for whose capture he would
give three hundred dollars had run away from him they were heartily
glad to learn.
The day-police were equally happy to hear of the loss, and anxious
to make the capture. In this position it was doubly necessary to be
cautious in proceeding to effect the escape of the fair girl. If
discovered in the act the stranger might be subjected to a series of
inprisonments that would sacrifice his life. Again, he might be
assassinated by some disguised hand; or, if an infuriated mob were
let loose upon him, no police interference could save his life. As
suspicion is ever on the point of giving out its dangerous caprices
where a community live fearing one another, so the stranger became
sensible of the shafts of suspicion that might at any moment be
darted at him. Despatching his schooner on her voyage, he continued
for several days walking about the city, as if indifferent to what
was passing. He read the curious poster in which was offered the
goodly reward for the apprehension of a lost slave, affected great
coolness, and even ignorance of the mode by which such articles were
Fortunate was it for the stranger that he despatched the schooner
without the prize he intended to carry off, for no sooner had she
got under way and begun to move down the harbour, than she was
boarded by four men, who, producing their authority, searched her
from stem to stern. Such were their suspicions, that they would not
be satisfied until they had opened a few boxes and bales that were
stowed away in the hold. This done, the schooner was permitted to
continue her voyage, and the stranger, unmolested, continues his
walks about the city. A few days pass and the excitement has calmed
down. Pringle Blowers, although chagrined at the loss of his
valuable piece of woman property, resolves to wait the issue with
patience and forbearance. If she, fool like, has made away with
herself, he cannot bring her to life; if she be carried off by
villainous kidnappers, they must eventually suffer the consequences.
Her beauty will expose their plots. He will absorb his usual
requirement of spirit, keep the nerve up, and never despond of
regaining her while his reward of three hundred dollars stands
before a money-loving public. He would rather have lost two dozen
common niggers than this one he set so much by, intended to make so
much of, and upon whom he had set his very heart, soul, and burning
passions. But there is no profit in grief, no use in giving way to
disappointment. Philosophers bear disappointments with fortitude; he
must be a philosopher, keep a sharp look out and not despair.
How different is the scene presented at Rosebrook's Villa! There,
Annette is seen, prepared to take her departure. Dressed in male
attire, with frock coat and trousers setting so neatly, dress boots,
white vest, and brightly arranged shirt-bosom, she is the type of
perfection of a youthful southron. Franconia has expended her skill
in completing the fair girl's toilet, when Mrs. Rosebrook places a
pair of green spectacles over her eyes, bids her look in the glass,
and tells her she will pass for a planter's son among a million.
"Nobody will know me, now," she answers, viewing herself in the
mirror. Her neat setting suit, Panama hat, and green spectacles,
give a peculiar air to her lithe figure. And though her emotions are
well nigh ready to give forth tears, she cannot suppress a smile at
the singular transformation of her person.
"It'll take sharper eyes than policemen's to discover the disguise,"
says Rosebrook, who, having ordered a carriage to the door, enters
the room and takes her kindly by the hand. "Keep up a good heart;
don't despond, my child, and the chances are that you'll be
safe-you'll be in Wilmington to-morrow morning" he continues: then,
turning to Franconia, who will accompany her to that place, he
awaits her pleasure. "I am ready!" returns that generous woman, as,
arrayed in her travelling dress, she takes Annette by the hand, and
is about to proceed to the gate where the carriage waits. Mrs.
Rosebrook must take one more fond parting. Laying her right arm over
her shoulder, and pressing her to her bosom, she kisses and kisses
her fair cheek, bids her remember that God alone is her protector,
her guide to a happy future. In freedom may she live to freedom's
God; in slavery, hope ever, and trust in his mercy! With this
admonition, the excited girl, trembling, leaves the Villa, leaning
on Franconia's arm. Bradshaw has the carriage at the door, piled
with sundry boxes and portmanteaus, giving it the appearance of a
gentleman's travelling equipage. He has orders to drive to the
steam-boat landing, where the young invalid planter will embark for
New York via Wilmington and the land route. Soon they have taken
their seats, and with Rosebrook's good-natured face shining beside
Bradshaw, on the front seat, they say their happy adieu! and bound
over the road for the steamer.
It is now within fifteen minutes of the starting time. The wharf
presents a bustling scene: carriages and coaches are arriving with
eager-looking passengers, who, fearing they are a little behind
time, stare about as if bewildered, scold heedless drivers, point
out heir baggage to awkward porters who run to and fro with trunks
and boxes on their heads, and then nervously seek the ticket-office,
where they procure the piece of paper that insures them through to
New York. Albeit, finding they have quite time enough on their
hands, they escort their female voyagers on board, and loiter about
in the way of every one else, enjoying that excitement in others
which they have fortunately passed through. Here and there about the
wharf, leaning their head carelessly over black piles, are
sly-looking policemen, who scan every voyager with a searching eye.
They are incog., but the initiated recognise them at a glance. The
restless leer of that lynx eye discovers their object; anything,
from a runaway nigger to a houseless debtor, is to them acceptable
prey. Atween decks of the steamer, secured at the end of the wharf,
another scene of bustle and confusion presents itself. A passenger
is not quite sure his baggage is all on board, and must needs waste
his breath in oaths at the dumb porter, who works at his utmost
strength, under the direction of Mr. Mate, whose important figure is
poised on the wharf. Another wants to "lay over" at Richmond, and is
using most abusive language to a mulatto waiter, who has put his
trunk on one side of the boat and carpet bag on the other. A third,
a fussy old lady with two rosy-faced daughters she is, against her
southern principles, taking to the north to be educated, is making a
piteous lamentation over the remains of two bonnets-just from the
hands of the milliner-hopelessly smashed in her bandbox. The
careless porter set it on a pile of baggage, from where it tottled
over under the feet of an astonished gentleman, who endeavours to
soothe the good lady's feelings with courteous apologies. On the
upper deck, heeding no one, but now and then affecting to read a
newspaper, as passengers pace to and fro, is the stranger, seated on
one of the side seats. The engineer moves his valve now and then,
the cross-head ascends, the steam hisses below, the condenser
rumbles, the steam from the funnel roars furiously forth, spreading
its scalding vapour through the air. Again, the man, almost
imperceptibly touches the iron rod with his finger, the magic
monster again moves its piston downward, the wheels make a turn, the
massive vessel surges upon her lines, as if eager to press forward
on her course. Another gentle touch, and, obeying the summons, the
motive power is still; the man subjects the monster with his little
finger. He has stopped her near the centre, where, with a slight
touch, he can turn back or forward. Again, he lifts a small key, and
the steam, with a deafening roar, issues from the escape: he is
venting his chest. Simultaneously the second bell sounds forth its
clanking medley: two minutes more, and the snake-like craft will be
buffeting the waves, on her daily errand. As passengers begin to
muster on board, their friends clustering round the capsill of the
wharf, obstructing the way, the sturdy figure of Mr. Pringle Blowers
may be seen behind a spile near the capsill, his sharp, peering eyes
scanning the ship from fore to aft. He is not sure she will get off
by this route; common sense tells him that, but there exists a
prompting something underneath common sense telling him it's money
saved to keep a sharp look-out. And this he does merely to gratify
that inert something, knowing at the same time that, having no
money, no person will supply her, and she must be concealed in the
swamps, where only "niggers" will relieve her necessities. At this
moment Rosebrook's carriage may be seen driving to the ticket office
at the head of the wharf, where Rosebrook, with great coolness, gets
out, steps within the railing, and procures the tickets in his own
name. Again taking his seat, the mate, who stands on the capsill of
the wharf, now and then casting a glance up, cries out, "Another
carriage coming!" Bradshaw cracks his whip, and the horses dash down
the wharf, scatter the people who have gathered to see the boat off,
as a dozen black porters, at the mate's command, rush round the
carriage, seize the baggage, and hurry it on board. Rosebrook,
fearing his friends will lose their passage, begs people to clear
the gangway, and almost runs on board, his fugitive charge clinging
to his arms. The captain stands at the gangway, and recognising the
late comer, makes one of his blandest bows: he will send a steward
to show them a good state-room. "Keep close till the boat leaves,
and remember there is a world before you," Rosebrook says, shaking
Annette by the hand, as she returns, "God bless good master!" They
are safe in the state-room: he kisses Franconia's cheek, shuts the
door, and, hurrying back, regains the wharf just as the last bell
strikes, and the gangway is being carried on board.
"Not going along with us, eh?" ejaculates the captain, as, from the
capsill, Rosebrook looks round to bid him good-by.
"Not to-day" (he returns, laconically). "Take good care of my
friends; the young invalid from Lousiana in particular." Just then
he catches the stranger's eye, and, with a significant motion of his
fingers, says, "All safe!" With a nod of recognition the stranger
makes his adieu; the fastenings are cast away, the faint tinkle of a
bell is heard amid the roar of steam; the man at the valves touches
the throttle bar; up mounts the piston rod-down it surges again; the
revolving wheels rustle the water; the huge craft moves backward
easy, and then ahead; a clanking noise denotes the connections are
"hooked on," and onward she bounds over the sea. How leaps with joy
that heart yearning for freedom, as the words "She's away!" gladden
Annette's very soul! Her enraptured feelings gush forth in prayer to
her deliverers; it is as a new spring of life, infusing its
refreshing waters into desert sands. She seems a new being, with
hope, joy, and happiness brightening the future for her. But, alas!
how vain are hopes,--how uncertain the future!
Rosebrook watched the steaming craft as she crosses the bar, and
dwindles out of sight. "Thou art safe, poor slave," he says to
himself, as she passes from view behind the distant peak.
Something touches him on the shoulder as he returns to his carriage.
"Ah! this you, Pringle Blowers?" he exclaims, turning round
suddenly, as the full face of that important personage presented
itself. "Been seeing some friends off to--?"
"No," replies Blowers, with seeming indifference. He is just shying
round,--keeping an eye out for a smart kind of "a gal," lost last
"Quite a misfortune, that, Blowers! God bless me, I'm sorry,"
returns Rosebrook, dryly. Rosebrook invites him to get in and ride a
short distance. Blowers has not the slightest objection; seats his
square frame on the left side of the carriage. "Those were clever
posters you put out for the apprehension of that girl, Blowers!"
"Took some genius, I reckon," interrupts Blowers, with broad laugh.
"They say she was very handsome, and, if it be true, I hope you may
get her, Blowers," continues Rosebrook, naively.
The disappointed man shakes his head, touches the other on the arm,
and says, "Nothing is more sure!"
HOW DADDY BOB DEPARTED.
LET us again beg the indulgence of the reader, while we go back to
the night when Marston was found dead in his cell, and when that old
negro, whose eventful history we shall here close, sat by his
bed-side, unconscious that the spirit of master had winged its way
to another world. Bob, faithful unto death, remained his lone
watcher. Disguising his ownership, he has toiled from day to day
that the fruits thereof might relieve master's necessities; and he
had shared them with the flowing goodness of a simple heart. In a
malarious cell, how happy was he to make his bed on the cold plank
beside his master's cot, where he might watch over his declining
spirit. Kindness was his by nature,--no cruel law could rob his heart
of its treasure: he would follow master to the grave, and lavish it
upon the soil that covered him.
Having accompanied Franconia to the Rosebrook Villa, he will return
to the prison and join Harry, alone watching over the dead. The city
clock strikes the hour of eleven as he leaves the outer gate, and
turns into the broad road leading to the city. The scene before him
is vamped in still darkness; a murky light now and then sheds its
glimmers across the broad road; and as he hurries onward,
contemplating the sad spectacle presented in the prison, happy
incidents of old plantation life mingle their associations with his
thoughts. He muses to himself, and then, as if bewildered, commences
humming his favourite tune-"There's a place for old mas'r yet, when
all 'um dead and gone!" His soul is free from suspicion: he fears
not the savage guardsman's coming; the pure kindliness of his heart
is his shield. How often has he scanned this same scene,--paced this
same road on his master's errands! How death has changed the
circumstances of this his nightly errand! Far away to the east, on
his left, the broad landscape seems black and ominous; before him,
the sleeping city spreads its panorama, broken and sombre, beneath
heavy clouds; the fretted towers on the massive prison frown dimly
through the mist to the right, from which a low marshy expanse
dwindles into the dark horizon. And ever and anon the forked
lightning courses its way through the heavens, now tinging the
sombre scene with mellow light, then closing it in deeper darkness.
Onward the old man wends his way. If he be shut out from the prison,
he will find shelter at Jane's cabin near by, from whence he may
reach the cell early next morning. Presently the dull tramp of
horses breaks upon his ear,--the sound sharpening as they advance.
Through the dimming haze he sees two mounted guardsmen advancing:
the murmuring sound of their conversation floats onward through the
air,--their side arms rattle ominously. Now their white cross belts
are disclosed; their stalwart figures loom out. Nearer and nearer
they approach: as the old man, trembling with fear, remembers he is
without a pass, a gruff voice cries out, "Stop there!"
"A prowling nigger!" rejoins another, in a voice scarcely less
hoarse. The old man halts in the light of a lamp, as the right-hand
guard rides up, and demands his pass.
"Whose nigger are you?" again demands the first voice. "Your pass,
or come with us!"
The old man has no pass; he will go to his master, dead in the
Guardsmen will hear neither falsehoods nor pleading. He doesn't know
"whose nigger he is! he is a runaway without home or master," says
the left-hand guardsman, as he draws his baton from beneath his
coat, and with savage grimace makes a threatening gesture. Again he
poises it over the old man's head, as he, with hand uplifted,
supplicates mercy. "Nobody's nigger, and without a pass!" he
grumbles out, still motioning his baton.
"He says his master is in gaol; that's enough! Stop, now, no more
such nonsense!" rejoins the other, as the old man is about to
explain. "Not another word." He is good prey, made and provided by
the sovereign law of the state. Placing him between their horses,
they conduct him in silence forward to the guard-house. He is a
harmless captive, in a world where democracy with babbling tongue
boasts of equal justice. "A prowler!" exclaims one of the guards-
men, as, dismounting in front of the massive building, with frowning
facade of stone, they disappear, leading the old man within its
great doors, as the glaring gas-light reflects upon his withered
"Found prowling on the neck, sir!" says the right-hand guardsman,
addressing himself to the captain, a portly-looking man in a
military suit, who, with affected importance, casts a look of
suspicion at the old man. "Have seen you before, I think?" he
"Reckon so, mas'r; but neber in dis place," replies Bob, in
You are nobody's nigger, give a false account of yourself, and have
no home, I hear," interrupts the captain, at the same time ordering
a clerkly-looking individual who sits at a desk near an iron railing
enclosing a tribune, to make the entry in his book.
"Your name?" demands the clerk.
"Without owner, or home?"
"My master's cell was my home."
"That won't do, my man!" interrupts the portly-looking captain. "Mr.
Clerk" (directing himself to that functionary) "you must enter
him-nobody's nigger, without home or master." And as such he is
entered upon that high record of a sovereign state-the guard-house
calendar. If this record were carried before the just tribunal of
heaven, how foul of crime, injustice, and wrong, would its pages be
found! The faithful old man has laboured under an assumed ownership.
His badge, procured for him through the intercession of Franconia,
shows him as the property of Mr. Henry Frazer. That gentleman is
many hundred miles away: the old man, ignorant of the barbarous
intricacy of the law, feels it to his sorrow. The production of the
badge, and the statement, though asserting that Miss Franconia is
his friend, show a discrepancy. His statement has no truth for
guardsmen; his poor frame is yet worth something, but his oath has
no value in law: hence he must march into a cold cell, and there
remain till morning.
Before that high functionary, the mayor-whose judgments the Russian
Czar might blush to acknowledge or affirm,--he is arraigned at ten
o'clock on the following morning. He has plenty of accusers,--no one
to plead the justice of his case. A plain story he would tell, did
the law and his honour grant the boon. The fatal badge shows him the
property of Mr. Henry Frazer: Mr. Henry Frazer is nowhere to be
found, and the statement that master was in prison tends to increase
the suspicions against him. Against this increasing force of proof,
the old man begs his honour will send to the prison, where master
will be found,--dead! In his love of clemency that functionary yields
to the request. There looks something harmless about the old negro,
something that warms his honour's legal coldness. An officer is
despatched, and soon returns with a description that corresponds
with the old man's. "He waited on Marston, made Marston's cell his
home; but, your honour-and I have the assurance of the gaoler-he was
not Marston's nigger; all that man's niggers were sold for the
benefit of his creditors." So says the official, returning to his
august master with cringing servility. His honour, in the fulness of
his wisdom, and with every regard for legal straightforwardness (his
honour searched into the profoundest depths of the "nigger statutes"
while learning the tailoring trade, which he now pursues with great
success), is now doubly satisfied that the negro before him is a
vagabond-perhaps, and he is more than half inclined to believe he
is, the very marauder who has been committing so many depredations
about the city. With a profound admonition, wisdom glowing from his
very countenance the while, he orders him twenty-nine paddles on his
bare posteriors,--is sorry the law does not give him power to extend
the number. And with compliments for the lucky fellows who have thus
timely relieved the public of such a dangerous outlaw, his honour
orders him to be taken away to that prison-house where even-handed
democracy has erected a place for torturing the souls of men who
He will get the stripes-large, democratic stripes,--generously laid
on. How much more he will get remains for a proud state, in its
sovereign littleness, to provide. His honour, feeling his duties
toward the state discharged, and his precautionary measures for the
protection of the people fully exemplified in this awful judgment,
orders one of the officers to summon Mr. Ford Fosdick, a
distinguished gentleman of the state's own, who, he is quite sure,
will not neglect her more important interests. Bob has no interests
in this world, nor doth he murmur that he hath not eaten bread for
fourteen hours. Kindliness yet lingers in his withered face as he
goes forth, yields submission to a state's lnjustice, and bares his
back before he eats.
"Return him after administering the dressing," says his honour,
directing his remarks to the official about to lead his victim away.
That functionary, half turning, replies with a polite bow.
The reader, we feel assured, will excuse a description of this
unsavoury dressing, beautifully administered on behalf of a
republican state that makes it a means of crushing out the love of
liberty. Bob has received his dressing and returned; but he has no
tears to shed for democrats who thus degrade him.
Mr. Ford Fosdick, a gentleman of the learned profession, very
straight of person, and most bland of manners, is what may be called
escheator in ordinary to the state. Keeping a sharp eye on her
interests, he has anticipated the commands of his august master,
presents his polite person very unexpectedly in his honour's
court-room. Fosdick, in addition to an excellent reputation for
being the very best gentleman "nigger grabber" the state ever had,
is well thought of in fashionable circles, having fought two duels
of the most desperate character. He is of middle stature, with a
face finely oval, and to which are added features of much softness,
altogether giving him more the appearance of a well-ordained divine,
than the medium of those high functions by which the state's
"grab-all" of homeless negroes distinguishes himself. If the state
tolerated an ignominy, Ford Fosdick--between whom there exists a
mutual partnership--found in it an apology for the part he played;
for--let no man blush when we tell it--the sum total for which
friendless, homeless, and ownerless negroes sold for in the market
was equally divided between them. Generous as was this
copartnership, there were few well-disposed persons independent
enough to sanction it; while here and there an outspoken voice said
it was paying a premium for edging Fosdick's already sharp appetite
for apprehending the wretched, who--God save the state's
honour!--having no means of protecting themselves, would be sold for
the sovereign interests of his own pocket, instead of the peace of
the dear people, of which the state was ever jealous. Mr. Fosdick is
present,--thanks his honour the mayor: he thinks he has seen the
negro before; that he is a prowler not a doubt can exist. Quite
indifferent as to his own interests, he says the city is literally
beset with such vermin: in his own mind, however, he has not a doubt
but that something handsome will be realised from the sale of the
old fellow. There is now a most fearful case in the city,--a negro
belonging to Mr. Grabguy has become mad with disobedience: they have
chained him to the floor, but he sets everything at defiance,
threatens the lives of all who come near him,--says he will die or be
free. Against this there is little hope for old Bob; his crooked
story will not suit the high considerations of these amiable
worthies of state: he must be siezed and dragged to the workhouse,
there to await the result. It is a profitable morning's work for Mr.
Ford Fosdick, who makes a large note in his ledger, and will soon
carry out a very acceptable item on behalf of his dear self. So,
while Bob eats his corn-grits in a cell, and his heart beats high
with purity, Mr. Ford Fosdick revels in luxury he thinks not
Due notice, in accordance with the statutes, is given to all persons
whomsoever may claim a piece of property answering the description
of Daddy Bob, as herein set forth. Weeks pass, but no one comes to
claim Bob. In the eyes of an ignoble law he is a cast out, homeless
upon the world; and as such must be sold. He is put up at the
man-shambles, and, by order of Mr. Ford Fosdick, sold to Mr. Cordes
Kemp for the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars, one half of which
sum is the state's own, the other Mr. Ford Fosdick's. Mr. Cordes
Kemp had seen Bob working about the wharf, and learned that the old
man was of more value than his outward appearance indicated,
inasmuch as he was a good carpenter; which we have not before
informed the reader. But Bob had never been accustomed to a cruel
master: such Cordes Kemp was to the fullest extent of the term. A
few months passed, and Bob became heartily sick of his new master,
who gave him little to eat, and had nearly ended his life with
labour and the lash. Finding he could no longer stand such
treatment, he fled to the swamp; and for two years did he make his
home among the morasses and hillocks, now making his bed by the
trunk of a fallen tree, then seeking shelter in a temporary camp
built with the axe he carried away with him. At times he was forced
to make food of roots, nuts, and such wild fruit as the woods
afforded; and as the ravens found food, so the outcast man did not
suffer while an all-wise Providence watched over him. And then he
found a kind friend in old Jerushe-Aunt Jerushe, as she was commonly
called, who lived on a plantation a few miles from his hiding-place,
and met him at night, and shared her coarse meal with him. Jerushe's
heart was full of kindness; she would have given him more, but for
the want thereof. Full two years did even-handed democracy drive the
old man homeless to seek a shelter among the poisonous reptiles of
the morass. Mr. Cordes Kemp must regain his property, and to that
generous end he puts forth the following extremely southern
proclamation, which may be found in all respectable morning
journals, on posters hung at the "Rough and Ready," at "Your House,"
and at "Our House":--
"SEVENTY-FIVE (75) DOLLARS REWARD is offered for the delivery of my
old negro carpenter man named BOB, in gaol in Charleston, within a
month from this date. The said BOB is a complete carpenter, about
sixty-five years of age, has a fine, full, good-natured face,
knock-kneed, bald-headed, and ran away about two years ago: he is
thought to be harboured in Charleston or James' Island. He was
bought of Mr. Ford Fosdick, on behalf of the state. June 28,--
Mr. Cordes Kemp, sorely grieved at the loss of so venerable and
valuable a piece of property,--and which he bought of the state, for
the rights of which he is a great champion,--will give the above sum
in hard cash to the clever fellow who will secure it within a
prison, so he may get it. If this cannot be done, he will declare
him an outlaw, offer a premium for the old man's head, and, with the
bleeding trophy, demand the premium paid by the state. However,
seventy-five dollars is no mean offer for so old a negro, and as the
said negro cannot be a fast runner, the difficulty of catching him
will not be very great, while the sport will be much more exciting.
Romescos and Dan Bengal keep a sharp look-out for all such little
chances of making money; and as their dogs are considered the very
best and savagest in the country, they feel certain they will be
able to deliver the article over to Mr. Kemp in a very few days.
A few days after the appearance of Mr. Cordes Kemp's proclamation,
these two worthies may be seen riding along the Camden Road, a sandy
level, with little to indicate its tortuous course save a beaten and
irregular path through a forest of stately pines. Their
reddish-coloured home-spun clothes, set loosely, and their large,
felt hats, slouching over their bearded faces, give their figures a
brigand-like appearance which excites apprehension. They are heavily
armed with rifles, revolvers, and bowie-knives; and as their horses
move along at a quick walk, the riders may be heard keeping up an
animated discussion on matters of state policy. The state and its
policy is a matter of deep interest to slave-dealer and
slave-hunter; none discuss them with more pertinacity. And as every
great measure is supposed to have some bearing, directly or
indirectly, on the right of one class to enslave the other, a
never-ceasing political jar is kept up by these worthies, and too
often finds its way into the public acts of men who should be far
removed above their selfishness.
The horse on which Romescos rides, a sprightly dark-bay, seeming to
have an instinctive knowledge of his master's pursuit, pricks his
ears erect, and keeps his head turning from one side to the other,
as if watching the approach of some object in the forest. A few
paces ahead are seven fierce hounds, now scenting about the ground,
then scampering through the trees, and again, quickly obeying the
call, return to the horses. Not a bark is heard, not a growl escapes
them! Nothing could be under more explicit subjection-not even those
northern dogs who pollute their own free soil by making it a forest,
where the souls of men are humbled, and where, willing allies of the
sport, they desecrate that holy sentence, "Our Pilgrim Fathers!"
Presently the lean figure of a man is seen advancing from a thicket
in the distance. Rifle in hand he advances a few paces, leans
against the trunk of a pine tree, relieves his shoulders of a
well-filled haversack, and supports his arms on the stock of his
weapon, the muzzle of which he sets in the ground. He will wait the
horsemen's coming. With lightning quickness the hounds start
suddenly, prick up their ears, make a bound forward. "Hold there!"
exclaims Romescos, at the same time directing Bengal's attention to
the figure far away to the right. His horse shies, an imprecation
quickly follows; the dogs as suddenly obey the word, and crouch back
to await another signal.
"Nothing, I reckon!" returns Bengal, coolly, as the figure in the
distance is seen with smoking fusee lighting a cigar.
Romescos thinks he is a gentleman returning from hunting in the big
swamp, to the north. He has a kind of presentiment, nevertheless,
that some lucky prize will turn up before sunset.
"Well, strangers, what luck to day?" enquires the hunter, as they
run up their horses. At the same time he gracefully raises a
delicate hand, relieves his mouth of the cigar, twists a well-
trimmed mustache, and lifts his hunting-cap from off his head,
disclosing a finely-chiselled face.
"Not a shy!" replies Romescos, taking a cigar from his side pocket,
and motioning his hand: the hunter politely extends his habanna,
with which he communicates a light to his own. It is well nigh
noon-day, and at the hunter's invitation do they dismount, seat
themselves at the foot of the tree, and regale with bread, cheese,
and brandy, he draws from his haversack.
"Thought ye'd got game in that," remarks Bengal, measuredly. Ho has
scoured the woods, but found little game of the kind he hunts. "Our
game is of a different species: you, I take it, hunt niggers, I'm in
search of birds."
"Would have no objection to a stray deer or two!" is the reply, as
he passes his horn and flask to Romescos, who helps himself to a
dose of the liquid, which, he says, smacking his lips, is not bad to
"Especially when yer on a hunting excursion!" rejoins Bengal.
"Now," says the gentleman hunter, quietly resuming his cigar, "as
you do not hunt my game, nor I yours, I think I can give you a scent
that may prove profitable."
"Where away?" interrupts Bengal. Romescos respects the stranger-he
has dignity concealed beneath his hunting garb, which the quick eye
recognised as it flashed upon him. He gives Bengal a significant
wink, the meaning of which he instinctively understands-"Don't be
rude,--he belongs to one of the first families!"
The stranger lays his left hand on Romescos' arm, and with the fore
finger of his right hand pointing to the south-west, says, "My
plantation is nine miles in that direction. I left it this morning,
early. In crossing an inlet of the Pedee, I discovered white smoke,
far ahead, curling upward through the trees, and expanding itself in
the clear blue atmosphere. Feeling sure it indicated the haunt of
runaways, I approached it stealthily, and had almost unconsciously
come upon a negro, who, suddenly springing from his hiding-place,
ran to the water's edge, plunged in, and swam to a little island a
few yards in the stream. It did not become me to pursue him, so I
passed on heedlessly, lest he might have companions, who would set
upon me, and make me an easy prey to their revengeful feelings." As
each word fell from the stranger's lips, Romescos and his companion
became irresistibly excited.
Again repeating the directions, which the stranger did with great
precision, they drank a parting social glass: the mounted huntsmen
thanked the pedestrian for his valuable information, gave him a warm
shake of the hand, and, as he arranged his haversack, rode off at
full gallop in the direction indicated. The dogs, cunning brutes,
trained to the state's brutality, mutely kept in advance. "In luck
yet!" exclaims Bengal, as they rode onward, in high glee,
anticipating the valuable game about to fall into their hands.
"Ho! dogs-and back!" shrieked Romescos, at the top of his shrill
voice, his sandy hair hanging in tufts over his little reddened
face, now glowing with excitement. Instantly the dogs started off
through the thicket, and after making a circle of about a mile,
returned with heads up, and eyes fiercely flashing. Trailing in a
semicircle ahead they seemed eager for another command.
"Better keep them back," mutters Bengal; and as Romescos gives the
word,--"Come back!" they form a trail behind.
Now white fleecy clouds begin to obscure the sun; then it disappears
in a murky haze, and is no longer their guide. After two hours'
riding they find a wrong turn has led them far away from their
course, and to avoid retracing their steps they make a short cut
through the thicket. In another hour they have reached the bank of
the stream they sought. Dogs, horses, and men, together drink of its
limpid waters, and proceed onward. They have yet several miles of
travel before reaching the spot designated by the strange hunter;
and seeking their way along the bank is a slow and tedious process.
The prize-that human outcast, who has no home where democracy
rules,--is the all-absorbing object of their pursuit; money is the
god of their hellish purpose.
It is near night-fall, when they, somewhat wearied of the day's
ride, halt on a little slope that extends into the river, and from
which a long view of its course above opens out. It seems a quiet,
inviting spot, and so sequestered that Bengal suggests it be made a
resting-place for the night.
"Not a whisper," says Romescos, who, having dismounted, is nervously
watching some object in the distance. It is a pretty spot, clothed
in softest verdure. How suddenly the quick eye of Romescos
discovered the white smoke curling above the green foliage! "See!
see!" he whispers again, motioning his hand behind, as Bengal
stretches his neck, and looks eagerly in the same direction. "Close
dogs-close!" he demands, and the dogs crouch back, and coil their
sleek bodies at the horses' feet. There, little more than a mile
ahead, the treacherous smoke curls lazily upward, spreading a white
haze in the blue atmosphere. Daddy Bob has a rude camp there. A few
branches serve for a covering, the bare moss is his bed; the fires
of his heart would warm it, were nothing more at hand! Near by is
the island on which he seeks refuge when the enemy approaches; and
from this lone spot-his home for more than two years-has he sent
forth many a fervent prayer, beseeching Almighty God to be his
shield and his deliverer. It was but yesterday he saw Jerushe, who
shared with him her corn-cakes, which, when she does not meet him at
his accustomed spot, she places at the foot of a marked tree. Bob
had added a few chips to his night fire, (his defence against
tormenting mosquitoes), and made his moss bed. Having tamed an owl
and a squirrel, they now make his rude camp their home, and share
his crumbs. The squirrel nestles above his head, as the owl, moping
about the camp entrance, suddenly hoots a warning and flutters its
way into the thicket. Starting to his feet with surprise-the
squirrel chirping at the sudden commotion-the tramp of horses breaks
fearfully upon the old man's ear; bewildered he bounds from the
camp. Two water oaks stand a few feet from its entrance, and through
them he descries his pursuers bearing down upon him at full speed,
the dogs making the very forest echo with their savage yelps. They
are close upon him; the island is his only refuge! Suddenly he leaps
to the bank, plunges into the stream, and with death-like struggles
gains the opposite shore, where he climbs a cedar, as the dogs,
eager with savage pursuit, follow in his wake, and are well nigh
seizing his extremities ere they cleared their vicious spring. The
two horsemen vault to the spot from whence the old man plunged into
the water; and while the dogs make hideous ravings beneath the tree,
they sit upon their horses, consulting, as the old man, from the
tree top, looks piteously over the scene. Life has few charms for
him; death would not be unwelcome.
The tedious journey, and disappointment at seeing the old man's
resolution, has excited Romescos' ire. "He's an old rack-not worth
much, but he doesn't seem like Kemp's old saw-horse," Romescos
remarks to Bengal, as his hawk eye scans the old man perched among
the cedar branches. They are not more than forty yards apart, and
within speaking distance. Bengal, less excited, thinks it better to
secure the old "coon" without letting the dogs taste of him.
"They'll only hold him with a firm grip, when he dismounts, and swim
him safe back," grumblingly returns Romescos. "Now! old
nig"-Romescos shouts at the top of his voice, directing himself to
the old man-"just trot back here-come along!"
The old man shakes his head, and raises his hands, as if pleading
"You won't, eh?" returns the angry man, raising his rifle in an
attitude of preparation. Bengal reminds Romescos that his horse is
not accustomed to firing from the saddle.
"I will larn him, then," is the reply.
"Mas'r," says Bob, putting out his hand and uncovering his bald
head, "I can harm no white man. Let me live where 'um is, and die
where 'um is."
"None o' that ar kind o' nigger talk;--just put it back here, or
ye'll get a plug or two out o' this long Bill." (He points to his
rifle.) "Ye'll come down out of that-by heavens you will!"
"Wing him; don't shoot the fool!" suggests Bengal, as the old man,
pleading with his pursuers, winds his body half round the tree.
Tick! tick! went the cock of Romescos' rifle; he levelled it to his
eye,--a sharp whistling report rung through the air, and the body of
the old man, shot through the heart, lumbered to the earth, as a
deadly shriek sounds high above the echoes over the distant
landscape-"M'as'r in heaven take 'um and have mercy on 'um!" gurgles
on the air: his body writhes convulsively-the devouring dogs spring
savagely upon the ration-all is over with the old slave!
Instantly with the report of the rifle, Romescos' horse darts,
vaults toward the oaks, halts suddenly, and, ere he has time to
grasp the reins, throws him headlong against one of their trunks. An
oath escapes his lips as from the saddle he lifted; not a word more
did he lisp, but sank on the ground a corpse. His boon companion,
forgetting the dogs in their banquet of flesh, quickly dismounts,
seizes the body in his arms, the head hanging carelessly from the
shoulders: a few quivering shrugs, and all is over. "Neck broken,
and dead!" ejaculates the affrighted companion, resting the dead
hunter's back against his left knee, and with his right hand across
the breast, moving the head to and fro as if to make sure life has
"Poor Anthony,--it's a bad end; but the state should bury him with
honours; he ware the best 'un at this kind o' business the state
ever had," mutters Bengal, glancing revengefully toward the island,
where his democratic dogs are busy in the work of destruction. Then
he stretches the lifeless body on the ground, crosses those hands
full of blood and treachery, draws a handkerchief from his pocket,
spreads it over the ghastly face fast discolouring, as the riderless
horse, as if by instinct, bounds back to the spot and suddenly halts
over his dead master, where he frets the ground with his hoof, and,
with nostrils extended, scents along the body. Having done this, as
if in sorrow, he will rest on the ground beside him; slowly he
lumbers his body down, his head and neck circled toward that of the
lifeless ruffian on the ground.
The disconsolate hunter here leaves his useless companion, swims the
stream, recalls the gory-mouthed dogs, looks with satisfaction on
the body of the torn slave. "You're settled for," says Bengal, as
with his right foot he kicks together the distended and torn limbs.
"Not all loss, yet!" he adds, a glow of satisfaction infusing his
face. With the ghastly head for proof, he will apply for, and
perhaps obtain, the state's reward for the despatch of outlaws; and
with the gory trophy he returns across the limpid stream to his
hapless companion, who, having watched over during the night, he
will convey into the city to-morrow morning. Over his body the very
humorous Mr. Brien Moon will hold one of those ceremonies called
inquests, for which, fourteen dollars and forty cents being paid
into his own pocket, he will order the valueless flesh under the
sod, handsomely treating with cigars and drinks those who honour him
with their presence.
In the old man's camp, a hatchet, a few bits of corn-bread, (old
Jerushe's gift), and two fresh caught fish, are found; they
constituted his earthly store. But he was happy, for his heart's
impulses beat high above the conflict of a State's wrongs. That
spirit so pure has winged its way to another and better world,
where, with that of the monster who wronged nature while making
cruelty his pastime, it will appear before a just God, who sits in
glory and judgeth justly.
HOW SLAVEHOLDERS FEAR EACH OTHER.
THE reader will please remember that we left Nicholas, maddened to
distraction at the perfidy of which Grabguy makes him the victim,
chained to an iron ring in the centre of Graspum's slave pen. In
addition to this very popular mode of subduing souls that love
liberty, his wife and children are sold from him, the ekings of his
toil, so carefully laid up as the boon of his freedom, are
confiscated, and the wrong-doer now seeks to cover his character by
proclaiming to a public without sympathy that no such convention
existed, no such object entertained. Grabguy is a man of position,
and lady Grabguy moves well in society no way vulgar; but the slave
(the more honourable of the two) hath no voice-he is nothing in the
democratic world. Of his origin he knows not; and yet the sting
pierces deeper into his burning heart, as he feels that, would
justice but listen to his tale, freedom had not been a stranger. No
voice in law, no common right of commoners, no power to appeal to
the judiciary of his own country, hath he. Overpowered, chained, his
very soul tortured with the lash, he still proclaims his
resolution-"death or justice!" He will no longer work for him who
has stripped away his rights, and while affecting honesty, would
crush him bleeding into the earth.
Grabguy will counsel an expedient wherewith further to conceal his
perfidy; and to that end, with seeming honesty lady Grabguy would
have her fashionable neighbours believe sincere, he will ship the
oppressed man to New Orleans, there to be sold.-"Notwithstanding, he
is an extremely valuable nigger," he says, affecting superlative
"I'd rather sell him for a song than he should disturb the peace of
the city thus." To New Orleans Mr. Grabguy sends his unsubdued
property; but that the threatened sale is only a feint to more
effectually dissolve the contract and forfeit the money paid as part
of his freedom, he soon becomes fully sensible. Doubly incensed at
such conduct the fire of his determination burns more fiercely; if
no justice for him be made manifest on earth his spirit is consoled
with the knowledge of a reward in heaven. Having tortured for months
the unyielding man, Grabguy, with blandest professions of kindness,
commands that the lacerated servant be brought back to his domicile.
Here, with offers of kindness, and sundry pretexts of his sincerity,
the master will pledge his honour to keep faith with his slave. The
defrauded wretch knows but too well how little confidence he can
place in such promises; to such promises does he turn a deaf ear.
Grabguy, if serious, must give him back his wife, his children, and
his hard earnings, in which the joyous hope of gaining freedom was
centred: that hope had carried him through many trials. Sad is the
dilemma in which Mr. Grabguy finds himself placed; simple justice to
the man would have long since settled the question.
And now Nicholas is a second time sent to Graspum's pen, where
living men are chained to rings of fierce iron for loving freedom
and their country. For twenty-two days and nights is he chained to
that floor where his soul had before been tortured. Threats of being
returned to New Orleans again ring their leaden music in his ears;
but they have no terrors for him; his indignant spirit has battled
with torture and vanquished its smart--he will defend himself unto
death rather than be made the object of a sham sale. A vessel for
New Orleans waits in the harbour a fair wind for sailing. On board
of her Mr. Grabguy will carry out his resolve; and to which end the
reader will please accompany us to a small cell in Graspum's pen,
about fourteen by sixteen feet, and seven in height--in the centre
of which is chained to a ring that man, once so manly of figure,
whose features are now worn down by sorrow or distorted by
torture,--as three policemen enter to carry out the order of
shipment. The heavy chain and shackle with which his left foot is
secured yield to him a circuit of some four feet. As the officials
advance his face brightens up with animation; his spirit resumes its
fiery action, and with a flashing knife, no one knows by whom
provided, he bids them advance no further.
"You must go to the whipping-post, my good fellow! I know it's kind
of hard; but obey orders we must. Ye see, I've gin ye good advice,
time and agin; but ye won't take it, and so ye must abide the
consequences," says one of the officials, who advances before the
others, and addresses himself to the chained man.
"I'll go to a whipping-post no more!" exclaims Nicholas, his angry
spirit flashing in his face, as in an attitude of defence he presses
his right hand into his bosom, and frowns defiantly upon the
"My name is Monsel, an officer! Not a word of disobedience," returns
the officer, in a peremptory voice.
Another suggests that he had better be throated at once. But the
chained victim of democracy's rule warns them against advancing
another step. "Either must die if you advance. I have counselled
death, and will lay my prostrate body on the cold floor rather than
be taken from this cell to the whipping-post. It is far better to
die defending my right, than to yield my life under the lash! I
appeal to you, officers of the state, protectors of the peace, men
who love their right as life's boons!" The men hesitate, whisper
among themselves, seem at a loss as to what course to pursue. "You
are setting the laws of the state at defiance, my good fellow!"
"I care not for the law of the state! Its laws for me are founded in
wrong, exercised with injustice!" Turning towards the door, Mr.
Monsel despatches his fellow-officers for a reinforcement. That
there will be a desperate struggle he has no doubt. The man's
gestures show him fully armed; and he is stark mad. During the
interim, Mr. Monsel will hold a parley with the boy. He finds,
however, that a few smooth words will not subdue him. One of the
officials has a rope in his hand, with which he would make a lasso,
and, throwing it over his head, secure him an easy captive. Mr.
Monsel will not hear of such a cowardly process. He is a wiry man,
with stunted features, and has become enured to the perils of negro
catching. Hand to hand he has had many an encounter with the brutes,
and always came off victor; never did he fail to serve the interests
of the state, nor to protect the property of his client. With a sort
of bravado he makes another advance. The city esteems him for the
valuable services he has rendered its safety; why should he shrink
in this emergency?
Our southern readers, in a certain state, will readily recognise the
scene we here describe. The chained man, drawing his shining steel
from his bosom, says, "You take me not from here, alive." Mr.
Monsel's face becomes pale, while Nicholas's flashes angry scowls;
an irresistible nervousness seizes him,--for a moment he hesitates,
turns half round to see if his companions stand firm. They are close
behind, ready for the spring, like sharp-eyed catamounts; while
around the door anxious visitors crowd their curious faces. The
officers second in command file off to the right and left, draw
their revolvers, and present them in the attitude of firing. "Use
that knife, and you fall!" exclaims one, with a fearful imprecation.
At the next moment he fires, as Monsel rushes upon the chained man,
followed by half a dozen officials. An agonising shriek is heard,
and Monsel, in guttural accents, mutters, "I am a murdered man-he
has murdered me! Oh, my God,--he has murdered me!" Nicholas has
plunged the knife into the fleshy part of Monsel's right arm; and
while the bloody weapon, wrested from his hand, lies on the floor,
an official drags the wounded man from his grasp. As some rise,
others fall upon him like infuriated animals, and but for the timely
presence of Grabguy and Graspum would have despatched him like a
bullock chained to a stake. The presence of these important
personages produces a cessation of hostilities; but the victim,
disarmed, lies prostrate on the ground, a writhing and distorted
body, tortured beyond his strength of endurance. A circle where the
struggle ensued is wet with blood, in which Nicholas bathes his poor
writhing body until it becomes one crimson mass.
All attention is now directed to the wounded man, who, it is found,
although he has bled freely of good red blood, is neither fatally
nor seriously wounded. It is merely a flesh wound in the arm, such
as young gentlemen of the south frequently inflict upon each other
for the purpose of sustaining their character for bravery. But the
oppressed slave has raised his hand against a white man,--he must pay
the penalty with his life; he no longer can live to keep peaceful
citizens in fear and trembling. Prostrate on the floor, the victors
gather round him again, as Graspum stoops down and unlocks the
shackle from his leg. "It's the Ingin, you see: the very devil
wouldn't subdue it, and when once its revenge breaks out you might
just as well try to govern a sweeping tornado," Graspum remarks,
coolly, as he calls a negro attendant, and orders the body to be
drawn from out the puddle of disfiguring gore. Languidly that poor
bosom heaves, his eyes half close, and his motionless lips pale as
"Had I know'd it when I bargained for him, he would never have
pested me in this way, never! But he looked so likely, and had such
a quick insight of things,--Ingin's Ingin, though!" says Grabguy.
"The very look might have told you that, my dear fellow; I sold him
to you with your eyes open, and, of course, expected you to be the
judge," interrupts Graspum, his countenance assuming great
Mr. Grabguy politely says, he meant no insinuations. "Come,
Nicholas! I told you this would be the end on't," he continues,
stooping down and taking him by the shoulders, with an air of
The bruised body, as if suddenly inspired with new life, raises
itself half up, and with eyes opening, gazes vacantly at those
around, at its own hands besmeared with gore; then, with a curl of
contempt on his lip, at the shackle just released from his limb-"Ah,
well, it's ended here; this is the last of me, no doubt," he
murmurs, and makes another attempt to rise.
"Don't move from where you are!" commands an official, setting his
hand firmly against his right shoulder, and pressing him back. He
has got the infective crimson on his hands, chafes them one against
the other, perpendicularly, as Nicholas looks at him doubtingly.
"It's all over--I'll not harm you; take me to a slaughter-house if
you will,--I care not," he says, still keeping his eye on the
Grabguy, somewhat moved at the sight, would confirm his
harmlessness. "You'll give up now, won't you?" he enquires, and
before Nicholas has time to answer, turns to the official, saying,
"Yes, I know'd he would!"
The official bows his head significantly, but begs to inform Mr.
Grabguy, that the negro, having violated the most sacred law of the
state, is no longer under his care. He is a prisoner, and must, as
the law directs, answer for the heinous crime just committed. Mr.
Grabguy, if he please, may forward his demand to the state
department, and by yielding all claim to his criminal property,
receive its award-two hundred round dollars, or thereabouts.
"Stand back, gentlemen-stand back, I say!" commands the officer, as
the crowd from the outside come pressing in, the news of the
struggle having circulated through the city with lightning speed.
Rumour, ever ready to spread its fears in a slave state, reported an
insurrection, and many were they who armed themselves to the very
The officer, in answer to a question why he does not take the man
away, says he has sent for means to secure him. He had scarcely
given out the acceptable information, when an official, followed by
a negro man, bearing cords over his right arm, makes his appearance.
The oppressed man seems subdued, and as they make the first knot
with the cord they wind about his neck, he says, sarcastically,
"'Twouldn't be much to hang a slave! Now round my hands. Now, with a
half hitch, take my legs!" thus mocking, as it were, while they
twist the cords about his yielding limbs. Now they draw his head to
his knees, and his hands to his feet, forming a curve of his
disabled body. "How I bend to your strong ropes, your strong laws,
and your still stronger wills! You make good slip-nooses, and better
bows of human bodies," he says, mildly, shaking his head
contemptuously. The official, with a brutal kick, reminds him that
there will be no joking when he swings by the neck, which he
certainly will, to the great delight of many.
"I welcome the reality,--by heaven I do, for only in heaven is there
justice for me!" With these words falling from his lips, four negro
men seize the body, bear it to the door: an excited crowd having
assembled, place it upon a common dray, amid shouts and furious
imprecations of "D--him, kill him at once!" Soon the dray rolls
speedily away for the county prison, followed by the crowd, who
utter a medley of yells and groans, as it disappears within the
great gates, bearing its captive to a cell of torture.
SOUTHERN ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
IT is just a week since Nicholas committed the heinous offence of
wounding officer Monsel in the arm. That distinguished personage,
having been well cared for, is-to use a common phrase-about again,
as fresh as ever. With Nicholas the case is very different. His
bruised and lacerated body, confined in an unhealthy cell, has
received little care. Suspicion of treachery has been raised against
him; his name has become a terror throughout the city; and all his
bad qualities have been magnified five-fold, while not a person can
be found to say a word in praise of his good. That he always had
some secret villainy in view no one for a moment doubts; that he
intended to raise an insurrection among the blacks every one is
quite sure; and that confession of all his forelaid evil designs may
be extorted from him, the cruellest means have been resorted to.
The day upon which the trial is to take place has arrived. On the
south side of Broad Street there stands a small wooden building, the
boarding discoloured and decayed, looking as if it had been
accidentally dropped between the walls of two brick buildings
standing at its sides. In addition, it has the appearance of one
side having been set at a higher elevation than the other for some
purpose of convenience known only to its occupants. About fifteen
feet high, its front possesses a plain door, painted green, two
small windows much covered with dust, and a round port-hole over the
door. A sheet of tin, tacked above the door, contains, in broad
yellow letters, the significant names of "Fetter and Felsh,
Attorneys at Law." Again, on a board about the size of a shingle,
hanging from a nail at the right side of the door, is "Jabez Fetter,
Magistrate." By these unmistakeable signs we feel assured of its
being the department where the legal firm of Fetter and Felsh do
their customers-that is, where they dispose of an immense amount of
legal filth for which the state pays very acceptable fees. Squire
Fetter, as he is usually called, is extremely tall and well-formed,
and, though straight of person, very crooked in morals. With an oval
and ruddy face, nicely trimmed whiskers, soft blue eyes, tolerably
good teeth, he is considered rather a handsome man. But (to use a
vulgar phrase) he is death on night orgies and nigger trials. He may
be seen any day of the week, about twelve o'clock, standing his long
figure in the door of his legal domicile, his hat touching the sill,
looking up and then down the street, as if waiting the arrival of a
victim upon whom to pronounce one of his awful judgments. Felsh is a
different species of person, being a short, stunted man, with a
flat, inexpressive face. He has very much the appearance of a man
who had been clumsily thrown together for any purpose future
circumstances might require. Between these worthies and one Hanz Von
Vickeinsteighner there has long existed a business connection, which
is now being transferred into a fraternity of good fellowship. Hanz
Von Vickeinsteighner keeps a small grocery, a few doors below: that
is, Von, in a place scarcely large enough to turn his fat sides
without coming in contact with the counter, sells onions,
lager-beer, and whiskey; the last-named article is sure to be very
bad, inasmuch as his customers are principally negroes. Von is
considered a very clever fellow, never a very bad citizen, and
always on terms of politeness with a great many squires, and other
members of the legal profession. A perfect picture of the
good-natured Dutchman is Von, as seen standing his square sides in
his doorway, stripped to his sleeves, his red cap tipped aside, a
crooked grin on his broad fat face, and his hands thrust beneath a
white apron into his nether pockets. Von has a great relish for
squires and police officers, esteems them the salt of all good, nor
ever charges them a cent for his best-brewed lager-beer. There is,
however, a small matter of business in the way, which Von, being
rather a sharp logician, thinks it quite as well to reconcile with
beer. The picture is complete, when of a morning, some exciting
negro case being about to be brought forward, Fetter and Von may be
seen, as before described, standing importantly easy in their
respective doors; while Felsh paces up and down the side-walk,
seemingly in deep study. On these occasions it is generally said Von
makes the criminal "niggers," Felsh orders them caught and brought
before Fletter, and Fetter passes awful judgment upon them. Now and
then, Felsh will prosecute on behalf of the state, for which that
generous embodiment of bad law is debtor the fees.
The city clock has struck twelve; Fetter stands in his doorway, his
countenance wearing an air of great seriousness. Felsh saunters at
the outside, now and then making some legal remark on a point of the
negro statutes, and at every turn casting his bleared eye up the
street. Presently, Nicholas is seen, his hands pinioned, and a heavy
chain about his neck, approaching between two officials. A crowd
follows; among it are several patriotic persons who evince an
inclination to wrest him from the officials, that they may,
according to Judge Lynch's much-used privileges, wreak their
vengeance in a summary manner. "The boy Nicholas is to be tried to-
day!" has rung through the city: curious lookers-on begin to
assemble round the squire's office, and Hanz Von Vickeinsteighner is
in great good humour at the prospect of a profitable day at his
"Bring the criminal in!" says Squire Fetter, turning into his office
as Nicholas is led in,--still bearing the marks of rough usage. Rows
of board seats stretch across the little nook, which is about
sixteen feet wide by twenty long, the floor seeming on the verge of
giving way under its professional burden. The plaster hangs in
broken flakes from the walls, which are exceedingly dingy, and
decorated with festoons of melancholy cobwebs. At the farther end is
an antique book-case of pine slats, on which are promiscuously
thrown sundry venerable-looking works on law, papers, writs,
specimens of minerals, branches of coral, aligators' teeth, several
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