Our World, or, The Slaveholders Daughter
F. Colburn Adams
Part 8 out of 12
calamity be charged to those it belongs to," he concludes; and then,
after a few minutes' silence, he lights his taper, and sets it upon
the table. His care-worn countenance pales with melancholy; his hair
has whitened with tribulation; his demeanour denotes a man of tender
sensibility fast sinking into a physical wreck. A well-soiled book
lies on the table, beside which he takes his seat; he turns its
pages over and over carelessly, as if it were an indifferent
amusement to wile away the time. "They cannot enslave affection, nor
can they confine it within prison walls," he mutters. He has proof
in the faithfulness of Daddy, his old slave. And as he contemplates,
the words "she will be more than welcome to-night," escape his lips.
Simultaneously a gentle tapping is heard at the door. Slowly it
opens, and the figure of an old negro, bearing a basket on his arm,
enters. He is followed by the slender and graceful form of
Franconia, who approaches her uncle, hand extended, salutes him with
a kiss, seats herself at his side, says he must not be sad. Then she
silently gazes upon him for a few moments, as if touched by his
troubles, while the negro, having spread the contents of the basket
upon the chest, makes a humble bow, wishes mas'r and missus good
night, and withdraws. "There, uncle," she says, laying her hand
gently on his arm, "I didn't forget you, did I?" She couples the
word with a smile-a smile so sweet, so expressive of her soul's
goodness. "You are dear to me, uncle; yes, as dear as a father. How
could I forget that you have been a father to me? I have brought
these little things to make you comfortable,"-she points to the
edibles on the chest-"and I wish I were not tied to a slave, uncle,
for then I could do more. Twice, since my marriage to M'Carstrow,
have I had to protect myself from his ruffianism."
"From his ruffianism!" interrupts Marston, quickly: "Can it be, my
child, that even a ruffian would dare exhibit his vileness toward
"Even toward me, uncle. With reluctance I married him, and my only
regret is, that a slave's fate had not been mine ere the fruits of
that day fell upon me. Women like me make a feeble defence in the
world; and bad husbands are the shame of their sex," she returns,
her eyes brightening with animation, as she endeavours to calm the
excitement her remarks have given rise to: "Don't, pray don't mind
it, uncle," she concludes.
"Such news had been anticipated; but I was cautious not to"--
"Never mind," she interrupts, suddenly coiling her delicate arm
round his neck, and impressing a kiss on his care-worn cheek. "Let
us forget these things; they are but the fruits of weak nature. It
were better to bear up under trouble than yield to trouble's
burdens: better far. Who knows but that it is all for the best?" She
rises, and, with seeming cheerfulness, proceeds to spread the little
table with the refreshing tokens of her friendship. Yielding to
necessity, the table is spread, and they sit down, with an
appearance of domestic quietness touchingly humble.
"There is some pleasure, after all, in having a quiet spot where we
can sit down and forget our cares. Perhaps (all said and done) a man
may call himself prince of his own garret, when he can forget all
beyond it," says Marston affected to tears by Franconia's womanly
"Yes," returns Franconia, joyously, "it's a consolation to know that
we have people among us much worse off than we are. I confess,
though, I feel uneasy about our old slaves. Slavery's wrong, uncle;
and it's when one's reduced to such extremes as are presented in
this uninviting garret that we realise it the more forcibly. It
gives the poor wretches no chance of bettering their condition; and
if one exhibits ever so much talent over the other, there is no
chance left him to improve it. It is no recompense to the slave that
his talent only increases the price of the article to be sold. Look
what Harry would have been had he enjoyed freedom. Uncle, we forget
our best interests while pondering over the security of a bad
system. Would it not be better to cultivate the slave's affections,
rather than oppress his feelings?" Franconia has their cause at
heart-forgets her own. She is far removed from the cold speculations
of the south; she is free from mercenary motives; unstained by that
principle of logic which recognises only the man merchandise. No
will hath she to contrive ingenious apologies for the wrongs
inflicted upon a fallen race. Her words spring from the purest
sentiment of the soul; they contain a smarting rebuke of Marston's
former misdoings: but he cannot resent it, nor can he turn the tide
of his troubles against her noble generosity.
They had eaten their humble supper of meats and bread, and coffee,
when Franconia hears a rap at the lower entrance, leading into the
street. Bearing the taper in her hand, she descends the stairs
quickly, and, opening the door, recognises the smiling face of Daddy
Bob. Daddy greets her as if he were surcharged with the very best
news for old mas'r and missus. He laughs in the exuberance of his
simplicity, and, with an air of fondness that would better become a
child, says, "Lor', young missus, how glad old Bob is to see ye!
Seems like long time since old man see'd Miss Frankone look so spry.
Got dat badge." The old man shows her his badge, exultingly.
"Missus, nobody know whose nigger I'm's, and old Bob arns a right
smart heap o' money to make mas'r comfortable." The old slave never
for once thinks of his own infirmities; no, his attachment for
master soars above every thing else; he thinks only in what way he
can relieve his necessities. Honest, faithful, and affectionate, the
associations of the past are uppermost in his mind; he forgets his
slavery in his love for master and the old plantation. Readily would
he lay down his life, could he, by so doing, lighten the troubles he
instinctively sees in the changes of master's position. The old
plantation and its people have been sold; and he, being among the
separated from earth's chosen, must save his infirm body lest some
man sell him for the worth thereof. Bob's face is white with beard,
and his coarse garments are much worn and ragged; but there is
something pleasing in the familiarity with which Franconia accepts
his brawny hand. How free from that cold advance, that measured
welcome, and that religious indifference, with which the would-be
friend of the slave, at the north, too often accepts the black man's
hand! There is something in the fervency with which she shakes his
wrinkled hand that speaks of the goodness of the heart; something
that touches the old slave's childlike nature. He smiles bashfully,
and says, "Glad t' see ye, missus; dat I is: 'spishilly ven ye takes
care on old mas'r." After receiving her salutation he follows her to
the chamber, across which he hastens to receive a welcome from old
mas'r. Marston warmly receives his hand, and motions him to be
seated on the chest near the fire-place. Bob takes his seat, keeping
his eye on mas'r the while. "Neber mind, mas'r," he says, "Big Mas'r
above be better dan Buckra. Da'h is somefin' what Buckra no sell
from ye, dat's a good heart. If old mas'r on'y keeps up he spirit,
de Lor' 'll carry un throu' 'e triblation," he continues; and, after
watching his master a few minutes, returns to Franconia, and resumes
Franconia is the same fair creature Bob watched over when she
visited the plantation: her countenance wears the same air of
freshness and frankness; her words are of the same gentleness; she
seems as solicitous of his comfort as before. And yet a shadow of
sadness shrouds that vivacity which had made her the welcome guest
of the old slaves. He cannot resist those expressions which are ever
ready to lisp forth from the negro when his feelings are excited.
"Lor, missus, how old Bob's heart feels! Hah, ah! yah, yah! Looks so
good, and reminds old Bob how e' look down on dah Astley, yander.
But, dah somefin in dat ar face what make old nigger like I know
missus don't feel just right," he exclaims.
The kind woman reads his thoughts in the glowing simplicity of his
wrinkled face. "It has been said that a dog was our last friend,
Bob: I now think a slave should have been added. Don't you think so,
uncle?" she enquires, looking at Marston, and, again taking the old
slave by the hand, awaits the reply.
"We rarely appreciate their friendship until it be too late to
reward it," he replies, with an attempt to smile.
"True, true! but the world is full of ingratitude,--very amiable
ingratitude. Never mind, Daddy; you must now tell me all about your
affairs, and what has happened since the night you surprised me at
our house; and you must tell me how you escaped M'Carstrow on the
morning of the disturbance," she enjoins. And while Bob relates his
story Franconia prepares his supper. Some cold ham, bread, and
coffee, are soon spread out before him. He will remove them to the
chest, near the fire-place. "Why, Missus Frankone," he says, "ye
sees how I'se so old now dat nobody tink I'se werf ownin; and so
nobody axes old Bob whose nigger he is. An't prime nigger, now; but
den a' good fo' work some, and get cash, so t' help old mas'r yander
(Bob points to old master). Likes t' make old master feel not so
"Yes," rejoins Marston, "Bob's good to me. He makes his sleeping
apartments, when he comes, at the foot of my bed, and shares his
earnings with me every Saturday night. He's like an old clock that
can keep time as well as a new one, only wind it up with care."
"Dat I is!" says Daddy, with an exulting nod of the head, as he, to
his own surprise, lets fall his cup. It was only the negro's
forgetfulness in the moment of excitement. Giving a wistful look at
Franconia, he commences picking up the pieces, and drawing his
week's earnings from a side pocket of his jacket.
"Eat your supper, Daddy; never mind your money now" says Franconia,
laughing heartily: at which Bob regains confidence and resumes his
supper, keeping a watchful eye upon his old master the while. Every
now and then he will pause, cant his ear, and shake his head, as if
drinking in the tenour of the conversation between Franconia and her
uncle. Having concluded, he pulls out his money and spreads it upon
the chest. "Old Bob work hard fo' dat!" he says, with emphasis,
spreading a five-dollar bill and two dollars and fifty cents in
silver into divisions. "Dah!" he ejaculates, "dat old mas'r share,
and dis is dis child's." The old man looks proudly upon the coin,
and feels he is not so worthless, after all. "Now! who say old Bob
aint werf nofin?" he concludes, getting up, putting his share into
his pocket, and then, as if unobserved, slipping the balance into
Marston's. This done, he goes to the window, affects to be looking
out, and then resuming his seat upon the chest, commences humming a
familiar plantation tune, as if his pious feelings had been
superseded by the recollection of past scenes.
"What, Daddy,--singing songs?" interrupts Franconia, looking at him
enquiringly. He stops as suddenly as he commenced, exchanges an
expressive look, and fain would question her sincerity.
"Didn't mean 'um, missus," he returns, after a moment's hesitation,
"didn't mean 'um. Was thinkin 'bout somefin back'ards; down old
"You had better forget them times, Bob."
"Buckra won't sell dis old nigger,--will he, Miss Frankone?" he
enquires, resuming his wonted simplicity.
"Sell you, Bob? You're a funny old man. Don't think your old
half-worn-out bones are going to save you. Money's the word: they'll
sell anything that will produce it,--dried up of age are no
exceptions. Keep out of Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy's way: whenever
you hear him singing, 'I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he
shall come,' as he always does,--run! He lives on the sale of
infirmity, and your old age would be a capital thing for the
exercise of his genius. He will put you through a course of
regeneration, take the wrinkles smooth out of your face, dye those
old grey whiskers, and get a profit for his magic power of
transposing the age of negro property," she replied, gravely, while
Bob stares at her as if doubting his own security.
"Why, missus!" he interposes, his face glowing with astonishment;
"Buckra don't be so smart dat he make old nigger young, be he?"
"Traders can do anything with niggers that have got money in them,
as they say. Our distinguished people are sensitive of the crime,
but excuse themselves with apologies they cannot make cover the
"Franke!" interrupts Marston, "spare the negro's feelings,--it may
have a bad effect." He touches her on the arm, and knits his brows
"How strange, to think that bad influence could come of such an
inoffensive old man! Truth, I know and feel, is powerfully painful
when brought home to the doors of our best people,--it cuts deep when
told in broad letters; but they make the matter worse by attempting
to enshrine the stains with their chivalry. We are a wondrous
people, uncle, and the world is just finding it out, to our shame.
We may find it out ourselves, by and by; perhaps pay the penalty
with sorrow. We look upon negroes as if they were dropped down from
some unaccountable origin,--intended to raise the world's cotton,
rice, and sugar, but never to get above the menial sphere we have
conditioned for them. Uncle, there is a mistake somewhere,--a mistake
sadly at variance with our democratic professions. Democracy needs
to reclaim its all-claiming principles of right and justice for the
down-trodden. And yet, while the negro generously submits to serve
us, we look upon him as an auspicious innovator, who never could
have been born to enjoy manhood, and was subjected to bear a black
face because God had marked him for servitude. Did God found an
aristocracy of colour, or make men to be governed by their
distinctive qualifications of colour relationship?" says Franconia,
her face resuming a flush of agitation. Touching Marston on the arm
with the fore-finger of her right hand, and giving a glance at Bob,
who listens attentively to the theme of conversation, she continues:
"Say no more of bad influence coming of slaves, when the corruptest
examples are set by those who hold them as such,--who crash their
hopes, blot out their mental faculties, and turn their bodies into
licentious merchandise that they may profit by its degradation! Show
me the humblest slave on your plantation, and, in comparison with
the slave-dealer, I will prove him a nobleman of God's kind,--of
God's image: his simple nature will be his clean passport into
heaven. The Father of Mercy will receive him there; he will forgive
the crimes enforced upon him by man; and that dark body on earth
will be recompensed in a world of light,--it will shine with the
brighter spirits of that realm of justice and love. Earth may bring
the slavetrader bounties; but heaven will reject the foul offering."
The good woman unfolds the tender emotions of her heart, as only
Bob listens, as if taking a deep interest in the force and
earnestness of young missus's language. He is swayed by her pathos,
and at length interposes his word.
"Nigger ain't so good as white man" (he shakes his head,
philosophically). "White man sharp; puzzle nigger to find out what
'e don, know ven 'e mind t'." Thus saying, he takes a small hymn-
book from his pocket, and, Franconia setting the light beside him,
commences reading to himself by its dim glare.
"Well! now, uncle, it's getting late, and I've a good way to go, and
the night's stormy; so I must prepare for home." Franconia gets up,
and evinces signs of withdrawing. She walks across the little
chamber three or four times, looks out of the window, strains her
sight into the gloomy prospect, and then, as if reluctant to leave
her uncle, again takes a seat by his side. Gently laying her left
hand upon his shoulder, she makes an effort at pleasantry, tells him
to keep up his resolution-to be of good cheer.
"Remember, uncle," she says, calmly, "they tell us it is no disgrace
to be poor,--no shame to work to live; and yet poor people are
treated as criminals. For my own part, I would rather be poor and
happy than rich with a base husband; I have lived in New England,
know how to appreciate its domestic happiness. It was there
Puritanism founded true American liberty.--Puritanism yet lives, and
may be driven to action; but we must resign ourselves to the will of
an all-wise Providence." Thus concluding, she makes another attempt
"You must not leave me yet!" says Marston, grasping her hand firmly
in his. "Franke, I cannot part with you until I have disclosed what
I have been summoning resolution to suppress. I know your
attachment, Franconia; you have been more than dear to me. You have
known my feelings,--what they have already had to undergo." He
"Speak it, uncle, speak it! Keep nothing from me, nor make secrets
in fear of my feelings. Speak out,--I may relieve you!" she
interrupts, nervously: and again encircling her arm round his neck,
waits his reply, in breathless suspense.
He falters for a moment, and then endeavours to regain his usual
coolness. "To-morrow, Franconia," he half mutters out, "to-morrow,
you may find me not so well situated," (here tears are seen
trickling down his cheeks) "and in a place where it will not become
your delicate nature to visit me."
"Nay, uncle!" she stops him there; "I will visit you wherever you
may be-in a castle or a prison."
The word prison has touched the tender chord upon which all his
troubles are strung. He sobs audibly; but they are only sobs of
regret, for which there is no recompense in this late hour. "And
would you follow me to a prison, Franconia?" he enquires, throwing
his arms about her neck, kissing her pure cheek with the fondness of
"Yea, and share your sorrows within its cold walls. Do not yield to
melancholy, uncle,--you have friends left: if not, heaven will
prepare a place of rest for you; heaven shields the unfortunate at
last," rejoins the good woman, the pearly tears brightening in
"To-morrow, my child, you will find me the unhappy tenant of those
walls where man's discomfiture is complete."
"Nay, uncle, nay! you are only allowing your melancholy forebodings
to get the better of you. Such men as Graspum-men who have stripped
families of their all-might take away your property, and leave you
as they have left my poor parents; but no one would be so heartless
as to drive you to the extreme of imprisonment. It is a foolish
result at best." Franconia's voice falters; she looks more and more
intently in her uncle's face, struggles to suppress her rising
emotions. She knows his frankness, she feels the pain of his
position; but, though the dreadful extreme seems scarcely possible,
there is that in his face conveying strong evidence of the truth of
"Do not weep, Franconia; spare your tears for a more worthy object:
such trials have been borne by better men than I. I am but the
merchandise of my creditors. There is, however, one thing which
haunts me to grief; could I have saved my children, the pain of my
position had been slight indeed."
"Speak not of them, uncle," Franconia interrupts, "you cannot feel
the bitterness of their lot more than myself. I have saved a mother,
but have failed to execute my plan of saving them; and my heart
throbs with pain when I think that now it is beyond my power. Let me
not attempt to again excite in your bosom feelings which must ever
be harassing, for the evil only can work its destruction. To clip
the poisoning branches and not uproot the succouring trunk, is like
casting pearls into the waste of time. My heart will ever be with
the destinies of those children, my feelings bound in unison with
theirs; our hopes are the same, and if fortune should smile on me in
times to come I will keep my word-I will snatch them from the
devouring element of slavery."
"Stop, my child!" speaks Marston, earnestly: "Remember you can do
little against the strong arm of the law, and still stronger arm of
public opinion. Lay aside your hopes of rescuing those children,
Franconia, and remember that while I am in prison I am the property
of my creditors, subject to their falsely conceived notions of my
affairs," he continues. "I cannot now make amends to the law of
nature," he adds, burying his face in his hand, weeping a child's
Franconia looks solicitously upon her uncle, as he sorrows. She
would dry her tears to save his throbbing heart. Her noble
generosity and disinterestedness have carried her through many
trials since her marriage, but it fails to nerve her longer. Her's
is a single-hearted sincerity, dispensing its goodness for the
benefit of the needy; she suppresses her own troubles that she may
administer consolation to others. "The affection that refuses to
follow misfortune to its lowest step is weak indeed. If you go to
prison, Franconia will follow you there," she says, with touching
pathos, her musical voice adding strength to the resolution. Blended
with that soft angelic expression her eyes give forth, her calm
dignity and inspiring nobleness show how firm is that principle of
her nature never to abandon her old friend.
The old negro, who had seemed absorbed in his sympathetic
reflections, gazes steadfastly at his old master, until his emotions
spring forth in kindest solicitude. Resistance is beyond his power.
"Neber mind, old mas'r," (he speaks in a devoted tone) "dar's better
days comin, bof fo' old Bob and mas'r. Tink 'um sees de day when de
old plantation jus so 't was wid mas'r and da' old folks."
Concluding in a subdued voice, he approaches Franconia, and seats
himself, book in hand, on the floor at her feet. Moved by his
earnestness, she lays her hand playfully upon his head, saying:
"Here is our truest friend, uncle!"
"My own heart lubs Miss Frankone more den eber," he whispers in
return. How pure, how holy, is the simple recompense! It is nature's
only offering, all the slave can give; and he gives it in the bounty
of his soul.
Marston's grief having subsided, he attempts to soothe Franconia's
feelings, by affecting an air of indifference. "What need I care,
after all? my resolution should be above it," he says, thrusting his
right hand into his breast pocket, and drawing out a folded paper,
which he throws upon the little table, and says, "There, Franconia,
my child! that contains the climax of my unlamented misfortunes;
read it: it will show you where my next abode will be-I may be at
peace there; and there is consolation at being at peace, even in a
cell." He passes the paper into her hand.
With an expression of surprise she opens it, and glances over its
contents; then reads it word by word. "Do they expect to get
something from nothing?" she says, sarcastically. "It is one of
those soothsayers so valuable to men whose feelings are only with
money-to men who forget they cannot carry money to the graves; and
that no tribute is demanded on either road leading to the last abode
"Stop there, my child! stop!" interrupts Marston. "I have given them
all, 'tis true; but suspicion is my persecutor-suspicion, and trying
to be a father to my own children!"
"It is, indeed, a misfortune to be a father under such
circumstances, in such an atmosphere!" the good woman exclaims,
clasping her hands and looking upward, as if imploring the
forgiveness of Heaven. Tremblingly she held the paper in her hand,
until it fell upon the floor, as she, overcome, swooned in her
She swooned! yes, she swooned. That friend upon whom her affections
had been concentrated was a prisoner. The paper was a bail writ,
demanding the body of the accused. The officer serving had been kind
enough to allow Marston his parole of honour until the next morning.
He granted this in accordance with Marston's request, that by the
lenity he might see Daddy Bob and Franconia once more.
Lifting Franconia in his arms, her hair falling loosely down,
Marston lays her gently on the cot, and commences bathing her
temples. He has nothing but water to bathe them with,--nothing but
poverty's liquid. The old negro, frightened at the sudden change
that has come over his young missus, falls to rubbing and kissing
her hands,--he has no other aid to lend. Marston has drawn his chair
beside her, sits down upon it, unbuttons her stomacher, and
continues bathing and chafing her temples. How gently heaves that
bosom so full of fondness, how marble-like those features, how
pallid but touchingly beautiful that face! Love, affection, and
tenderness, there repose so calmly! All that once gave out so much
hope, so much joy, now withers before the blighting sting of
misfortune. "Poor child, how fondly she loves me!" says Marston,
placing his right arm under her head, and raising it gently. The
motion quickens her senses-she speaks; he kisses her pallid
cheek-kisses and kisses it. "Is it you uncle?" she whispers. She has
opened her eyes, stares at Marston, then wildly along the ceiling.
"Yes, I'm in uncle's arms; how good!" she continues, as if fatigued.
Reclining back on the pillow, she again rests her head upon his arm.
"I am at the mansion-how pleasant; let me rest, uncle; let me rest.
Send aunt Rachel to me." She raises her right hand and lays her arms
about Marston's neck, as anxiously he leans over her. How dear are
the associations of that old mansion! how sweet the thought of home!
how uppermost in her wandering mind the remembrance of those happy
MARSTON IN PRISON.
WHILE Franconia revives, let us beg the reader's indulgence for not
recounting the details thereof. The night continues dark and stormy,
but she must return to her own home,--she must soothe the excited
feelings of a dissolute and disregarding husband, who, no doubt, is
enjoying his night orgies, while she is administering consolation to
the downcast. "Ah! uncle," she says, about to take leave of him for
the night, "how with spirit the force of hope fortifies us; and yet
how seldom are our expectations realised through what we look
forward to! You now see the value of virtue; but when seen through
necessity, how vain the repentance. Nevertheless, let us profit by
the lesson before us; let us hope the issue may yet be favourable!"
Bob will see his young missus safe home-he will be her guide and
protector. So, preparing his cap, he buttons his jacket, laughs and
grins with joy, goes to the door, then to the fire-place, and to the
door again, where, keeping his left hand on the latch, and his right
holding the casement, he bows and scrapes, for "Missus comin."
Franconia arranges her dress as best she can, adjusts her bonnet,
embraces Marston, imprints a fond kiss on his cheek, reluctantly
relinquishes his hand, whispers a last word of consolation, and bids
him good night,--a gentle good night-in sorrow.
She has gone, and the old slave is her guide, her human watch-dog.
Slowly Marston paces the silent chamber alone, giving vent to his
pent-up emotions. What may to-morrow bring forth? runs through his
wearied mind. It is but the sudden downfall of life, so inseparable
from the planter who rests his hopes on the abundance of his human
property. But the slave returns, and relieves him of his musings. He
has seen his young missus safe to her door; he has received her kind
word, and her good, good night! Entering the chamber with a smile,
he sets about clearing away the little things, and, when done, draws
his seat close to Marston, at the fire-place. As if quite at home
beside his old master, he eyes Marston intently for some time,--seems
studying his thoughts and fears. At length the old slave commences
disclosing his feelings. His well-worn bones are not worth a large
sum; nor are the merits of his worthy age saleable;--no! there is
nothing left but his feelings, those genuine virtues so happily
illustrated. Daddy Bob will stand by mas'r, as he expresses it, in
power or in prison. Kindness has excited all that vanity in Bob so
peculiar to the negro, and by which he prides himself in the prime
value of his person. There he sits-Marston's faithful friend,
contemplating his silence with a steady gaze, and then, giving his
jet-black face a double degree of seriousness, shrugs his shoulders,
significantly nods his head, and intimates that it will soon be time
to retire, by commencing to unboot master.
"You seem in a hurry to get rid of me, Daddy! Want to get your own
cranium into a pine-knot sleep, eh?" says Marston, with an
encouraging smile, pulling the old slave's whiskers in a playful
"No, Boss; 'tant dat," returns Bob, keeping on tugging at Marston's
boots until he has got them from his feet, and safely stowed away in
a corner. A gentle hint that he is all ready to relieve Marston of
his upper garments brings him to his feet, when Bob commences upon
him in right good earnest, and soon has him stowed away between the
sheets. "Bob neber likes to hurry old Boss, but den 'e kno' what's
on old Mas'r's feelins, an 'e kno' dat sleep make 'um forget 'um!"
rejoins Bob, in a half whisper that caught Marston's ear, as he
patted and fussed about his pillow, in order to make him as
comfortable as circumstances would admit. After this he extinguishes
the light, and, accustomed to a slave's bed, lumbers himself down on
the floor beside his master's cot. Thus, watchfully, he spends the
When morning dawned, Bob was in the full enjoyment of what the negro
so pertinently calls a long and strong sleep. He cannot resist its
soothing powers, nor will master disturb him in its enjoyment.
Before breakfast-time arrives, however, he arouses with a loud
guffaw, looks round the room vacantly, as if he were doubting the
presence of things about him. Rising to his knees, he rubs his eyes
languidly, yawns, and stretches his arms, scratches his head, and
suddenly gets a glimpse of old master, who is already dressed, and
sits by the window, his attention intently set upon some object
without. The old slave recognises the same chamber from which he
guided Franconia on the night before, and, after saluting mas'r,
sets about arranging the domestic affairs of the apartment, and
preparing the breakfast table, the breakfast being cooked at Aunt
Beckie's cabin, in the yard. Aunt Beckie had the distinguished
satisfaction of knowing Marston in his better days, and now esteems
it an honour to serve him, even in his poverty. Always happy to
inform her friends that she was brought up a first-rate pastry-cook,
she now adds, with great satisfaction, that she pays her owner, the
very Reverend Mr. Thomas Tippletony, the ever-pious rector of St.
Michael's, no end of money for her time, and makes a good profit at
her business beside. Notwithstanding she has a large family of
bright children to maintain in a respectable way, she hopes for a
continuance of their patronage, and will give the best terms her
limited means admit. She knows how very necessary it is for a
southern gentleman who would be anybody to keep up appearances, and,
with little means, to make a great display: hence she is very easy
in matters of payment. In Marston's case, she is extremely proud to
render him service,--to "do for him" as far as she can, and wait a
change for the better concerning any balance outstanding.
Bob fetches the breakfast of coffee, fritters, homony, and bacon,--a
very good breakfast it is, considering the circumstances,--and
spreads the little rustic board with an air of comfort and neatness
complimentary to the old slave's taste. And, withal, the old man
cannot forego the inherent vanity of his nature, for he is,
unconsciously, performing all the ceremonies of attendance he has
seen Dandy and his satellites go through at the plantation mansion.
He fusses and grins, and praises and laughs, as he sets the dishes
down one by one, keeping a watchful eye on mas'r, as if to detect an
approval in his countenance. "Reckon 'ow dis old nigger can fix old
Boss up aristocratic breakfast like Dandy. Now, Boss-da'h he is!" he
says, whisking round the table, setting the cups just so, and
spreading himself with exultation. "Want to see master smile-laugh
some-like 'e used down on da'h old plantation!" he ejaculates,
emphatically, placing a chair at Marston's plate. This done, he
accompanies his best bow with a scrape of his right foot, spreads
his hands,--the gesture being the signal of readiness. Marston takes
his chair, as Bob affects the compound dignity of the very best
trained nigger, doing the distinguished in waiting.
"A little less ceremony, my old faithful! the small follies of
etiquette ill become such a place as this. We must succumb to
circumstances: come, sit down, Bob; draw your bench to the chest,
and there eat your share, while I wait on myself," says Marston,
touching Bob on the arm. The words were no sooner uttered, than
Bob's countenance changed from the playful to the serious; he could
see nothing but dignity in master, no matter in what sphere he might
be placed. His simple nature recoils at the idea of dispensing with
the attention due from slave to master. Master's fallen fortunes,
and the cheerless character of the chamber, are nothing to Daddy-
master must keep up his dignity.
"You need'nt look so serious, Daddy; it only gives an extra shade to
your face, already black enough for any immediate purpose!" says
Marston, turning round and smiling at the old slave's discomfiture.
To make amends, master takes a plate from the table, and gives Bob a
share of his homony and bacon. This is very pleasing to the old
slave, who regains his wonted earnestness, takes the plate politely
from his master's hand, retires with it to the chest, and keeps up a
regular fire of chit-chat while dispensing its contents. In this
humble apartment, master and slave-the former once opulent, and the
latter still warm with attachment for his friend-are happily
companioned. They finish their breakfast,--a long pause intervenes.
"I would I were beyond the bounds of this our south," says Marston,
breaking the silence, as he draws his chair and seats himself by the
window, where he can look out upon the dingy little houses in the
The unhappy man feels the burden of a misspent life; he cannot
recall the past, nor make amends for its errors. But, withal, it is
some relief that he can disclose his feelings to the old man, his
"Mas'r," interrupts the old slave, looking complacently in his face,
"Bob 'll fowler ye, and be de same old friend. I will walk behind
Miss Frankone." His simple nature seems warming into fervency.
"Ah! old man," returns Marston, "if there be a wish (you may go
before me, though) I have on earth, it is that when I die our graves
may be side by side, with an epitaph to denote master, friend, and
faithful servant lie here." He takes the old man by the hand again,
as the tears drop from his cheeks. "A prison is but a grave to the
man of honourable feelings," he concludes. Thus disclosing his
feelings, a rap at the door announces a messenger. It is nine
o'clock, and immediately the sheriff, a gentlemanly-looking man,
wearing the insignia of office on his hat, walks in, and politely
intimates that, painful as may be the duty, he must request his
company to the county gaol, that place so accommodatingly prepared
for the reception of unfortunates.
"Sorry for your misfortunes, sir! but we'll try to make you as
comfortable as we can in our place." The servitor of the law seems
to have some sympathy in him. "I have my duty to perform, you know,
sir; nevertheless, I have my opinion about imprisoning honest men
for debt: it's a poor satisfaction, sir. I'm only an officer, you
see, sir, not a law-maker-never want to be, sir. I very much dislike
to execute these kind of writs," says the man of the law, as, with
an expression of commiseration, he glances round the room, and then
at Daddy, who has made preparations for a sudden dodge, should such
an expedient be found necessary.
"Nay, sheriff, think nothing of it; it's but a thing of common
life,--it may befall us all. I can be no exception to the rule, and
may console myself with the knowledge of companionship," replies
Marston, as coolly as if he were preparing for a journey of
How true it is, that, concealed beneath the smallest things, there
is a consolation which necessity may bring out: how Providence has
suited it to our misfortunes!
"There are a few things here-a very few-I should like to take to my
cell; perhaps I can send for them," he remarks, looking at the
"My name is Martin-Captain Martin, they call me,"-returns that
functionary, politely. "If you accept my word of honour, I pledge it
they are taken care of, and sent to your apartments."
"You mean my new lodging-house, or my new grave, I suppose,"
interrupted Marston, jocosely, pointing out to Daddy the few
articles of bedding, chairs, and a window-curtain he desired
removed. Daddy has been pensively standing by the fire-place the
while, contemplating the scene.
Marston soon announces his readiness to proceed; and, followed by
the old slave, the officer leads the way down the ricketty old
stairs to the street. "I's gwine t'see whar dey takes old mas'r, any
how, reckon I is," says the old slave, giving his head a significant
"Now, sir," interrupts the officer, as they arrive at the bottom of
the stairs, "perhaps you have a delicacy about going through the
street with a sheriff; many men have: therefore I shall confide in
your honour, sir, and shall give you the privilege of proceeding to
the gaol as best suits your feelings. I never allow myself to follow
the will of creditors; if I did, my duties would be turned into a
system of tyranny, to gratify their feelings only. Now, you may take
a carriage, or walk; only meet me at the prison gate."
"Thanks, thanks!" returns Marston, grateful for the officer's
kindness, "my crime is generosity; you need not fear me. My old
faithful here will guide me along." The officer bows assent, and
with a respectful wave of the hand they separate to pursue different
Marston walks slowly along, Bob keeping pace close behind. He passes
many of his old acquaintances, who, in better times, would have
recognised him with a cordial embrace; at present they have scarcely
a nod to spare. Marston, however, is firm in his resolution, looks
not on one side nor the other, and reaches the prison-gate in good
time. The officer has reached it in advance, and waits him there.
They pause a few moments as Marston scans the frowning wall that
encloses the gloomy-looking old prison. "I am ready to go in," says
Marston; and just as they are about to enter the arched gate, the
old slave touches him on the arm, and says, "Mas'r, dat's no place
fo'h Bob. Can't stand seein' on ye locked up wid sich folks as in
dah!" Solicitously he looks in his master's face. The man of trouble
grasps firmly the old slave's hand, holds it in silence for some
minutes-the officer, moved by the touching scene, turns his head
away-as tears course down his cheeks. He has no words to speak the
emotions of his heart; he shakes the old man's hand affectionately,
attempts to whisper a word in his ear, but is too deeply affected.
"Good by, mas'r: may God bless 'um! Ther's a place fo'h old mas'r
yet. I'll com t' see mas'r every night," says the old man, his words
flowing from the bounty of his heart. He turns away reluctantly,
draws his hand from Marston's, heaves a sigh, and repairs to his
labour. How precious was that labour of love, wherein the old slave
toils that he may share the proceeds with his master!
As Marston and the sheriff disappear through the gate, and are about
to ascend the large stone steps leading to the portal in which is
situated the inner iron gate opening into the debtors' ward, the
sheriff made a halt, and, placing his arm in a friendly manner
through Marston's, enquires, "Anything I can do for you? If there
is, just name it. Pardon my remark, sir, but you will, in all
probability, take the benefit of the act; and, as no person seems
willing to sign your bail, I may do something to relieve your wants,
in my humble way." Marston shakes his head; the kindness impedes an
expression of his feelings. "A word of advice from me, however, may
not be without its effect, and I will give it you; it is this:--Your
earnestness to save those two children, and the singular manner in
which those slave drudges of Graspum produced the documentary
testimony showing them property, has created wondrous suspicion
about your affairs. I will here say, Graspum's no friend of yours;
in fact, he's a friend to nobody but himself; and even now, when
questioned on the manner of possessing all your real estate, he
gives out insinuations, which, instead of exonerating you, create a
still worse impression against you. His conversation on the matter
leaves the inference with your creditors that you have still more
property secreted. Hence, mark me! it behoves you to keep close
lips. Don't let your right hand know what your left does," continues
the officer, in a tone of friendliness. They ascend to the iron
gate, look through the grating. The officer, giving a whistle, rings
the bell by touching a spring in the right-hand wall. "My lot at
last!" exclaims Marston. "How many poor unfortunates have passed
this threshold-how many times the emotions of the heart have burst
forth on this spot-how many have here found a gloomy rest from their
importuners-how many have here whiled away precious time in a gloomy
cell, provided for the punishment of poverty!" The disowned man, for
such he is, struggles to retain his resolution; fain would he,
knowing the price of that resolution, repress those sensations
threatening to overwhelm him.
The brusque gaoler appears at the iron gate; stands his burly figure
in the portal; nods recognition to the officer; swings back the iron
frame, as a number of motley prisoners gather into a semicircle in
the passage. "Go back, prisoners; don't stare so at every new
comer," says the gaoler, clearing the way with his hands extended.
One or two of the locked-up recognise Marston. They lisp strange
remarks, drawn forth by his appearance in charge of an officer. "Big
as well as little fish bring up here," ejaculates one.
"Where are his worshippers and his hospitable friends?" whispers
"There's not much hospitality for poverty," rejoins a third,
mutteringly. "Southern hospitality is unsound, shallow, and flimsy;
a little dazzling of observances to cover very bad facts. You are
sure to find a people who maintain the grossest errors in their
political system laying the greatest claims to benevolence and
principle-things to which they never had a right. The phantom of
hospitality draws the curtain over many a vice-it is a well-told
nothingness ornamenting the beggared system of your slavery; that's
my honest opinion," says a third, in a gruff voice, which indicates
that he has no very choice opinion of such generosity. "If they want
a specimen of true hospitality, they must go to New England; there
the poor man's offering stocks the garden of liberty, happiness, and
justice; and from them spring the living good of all," he concludes;
and folding his arms with an air of independence, walks up the long
passage running at right angles with the entrance portal, and
disappears in a cell on the left.
"I knew him when he was great on the turf. He was very distinguished
then." "He'll be extinguished here," insinuates another, as he
protrudes his eager face over the shoulders of those who are again
crowding round the office-door, Marston and the officer having
entered following the gaoler.
The sheriff passes the committimus to the man of keys; that
functionary takes his seat at a small desk, while Marston stands by
its side, watching the process of his prison reception, in silence.
The gaoler reads the commitment, draws a book deliberately from off
a side window, spreads it open on his desk, and commences humming an
air. "Pootty smart sums, eh!" he says, looking up at the sheriff, as
he holds a quill in his left hand, and feels with the fingers of his
right for a knife, which, he observes, he always keeps in his right
vest pocket. "We have a poor debtor's calendar for registering these
things. I do these things different from other gaolers, and it loses
me nothin'. I goes on the true principle, that 'tant right to put
criminals and debtors together; and if the state hasn't made
provision for keeping them in different cells, I makes a difference
on the books, and that's somethin'. Helps the feelins over the
smarting point," says the benevolent keeper of all such troublesome
persons as won't pay their debts;--as if the monstrous concentration
of his amiability, in keeping separate books for the criminal and
poverty-stricken gentlemen of his establishment, must be duly
appreciated. Marston, particularly, is requested to take the
initiative, he being the most aristocratic fish the gaoler has
caught in a long time. But the man has made his pen, and now he
registers Marston's name among the state's forlorn gentlemen,
commonly called poor debtors. They always confess themselves in
dependent circumstances. Endorsing the commitment, he returns it to
the sheriff, who will keep the original carefully filed away in his
own well-stocked department. The sheriff will bid his prisoner good
morning! having reminded the gaoler what good care it was desirable
to take of his guest; and, extending his hand and shaking that of
Marston warmly, takes his departure, whilst our gaoler leads Marston
into an almost empty cell, where he hopes he will find things
comfortable, and leaves him to contemplate upon the fallen fruit of
poverty. "Come to this, at last!" said Marston, entering the
VENDERS OF HUMAN PROPERTY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS MENTAL
READER! be patient with us, for our task is complex and tedious. We
have but one great object in view-that of showing a large number of
persons in the south, now held as slaves, who are by the laws of the
land, as well as the laws of nature, entitled to their freedom.
These people, for whom, in the name of justice and every offspring
of human right, we plead, were consigned to the bondage they now
endure through the unrighteous act of one whose name (instead of
being execrated by a nation jealous of its honour), a singular
species of southern historian has attempted to enshrine with fame.
Posterity, ignorant of his character, will find his name clothed
with a paragon's armour, while respecting the writer who so cleverly
with a pen obliterated his crimes. We have only feelings of pity for
the historian who discards truth thus to pollute paper with his
kindness; such debts due to friendship are badly paid at the shrine
of falsehood. No such debts do we owe; we shall perform our duty
fearlessly, avoiding dramatic effect, or aught else that may tend to
improperly excite the feelings of the benevolent. No one better
knows the defects of our social system-no one feels more forcibly
that much to be lamented fact of there being no human law extant not
liable to be evaded or weakened by the intrigues of designing
men;--we know of no power reposed in man the administration of which
is not susceptible of abuse, or being turned to means of oppression:
how much more exposed, then, must all these functions be where
slavery in its popular sway rides triumphant over the common law of
the land. Divine laws are with impunity disregarded and abused by
anointed teachers of divinity. Peculation, in sumptuous garb, and
with modern appliances, finds itself modestly-perhaps
unconsciously-gathering dross at the sacred altar. How saint-like in
semblance, and how unconscious of wrong, are ye bishops (holy ones,
scarce of earth, in holy lawn) in that land of freedom where the
slave's chains fall ere his foot pads its soil! how calmly resigned
the freemen who yield to the necessity of making strong the altar
with the sword of state! How, in the fulness of an expansive soul,
these little ones, in lawn so white, spurn the unsanctified
spoiler-themselves neck-deep in the very coffers of covetousness the
while! How to their christian spirit it seems ordained they should
see a people's ekeings serve their rolling in wealth and luxury!
and, yet, let no man question their walking in the ways of a meek
and lowly Saviour-that Redeemer of mankind whose seamless garb no
man purchaseth with the rights of his fellow. Complacently innocent
of themselves, they would have us join their flock and follow
them,--their pious eyes seeing only heavenly objects to be gained,
and their pure hearts beating in heavy throbs for the wicked turmoil
of our common world. Pardon us, brother of the flesh, say they, in
saintly whispers,--it is all for the Church and Christ. Boldly
fortified with sanctimony, they hurl back the shafts of reform, and
ask to live on sumptuously, as the only sought recompense for their
christian love. Pious infallibility! how blind, to see not the
Reader! excuse the diversion, and accompany us while we retrace our
steps to where we left the loquacious Mr. M'Fadden, recovered from
the fear of death, which had been produced by whiskey in draughts
too strong. In company with a numerous party, he is just returning
from an unsuccessful search for his lost preacher. They have scoured
the lawns, delved the morasses, penetrated thick jungles of brakes,
driven the cypress swamps, and sent the hounds through places
seemingly impossible for human being to seclude himself, and where
only the veteran rattlesnake would seek to lay his viperous head. No
preacher have they found. They utter vile imprecations on his head,
pit him "a common nigger," declare he has just learned enough, in
his own crooked way, to be dubious property-good, if a man can keep
him at minister business.
Mine host of the Inn feels assured, if he be hiding among the swamp
jungle, the snakes and alligators will certainly drive him out: an
indisputable fact this, inasmuch as alligators and snakes hate
niggers. M'Fadden affirms solemnly, that the day he bought that
clergyman was one of the unlucky days of his life; and he positively
regrets ever having been a politician, or troubling his head about
the southern-rights question. The party gather round the front
stoop, and are what is termed in southern parlance "tuckered out."
They are equally well satisfied of having done their duty to the
state and a good cause. Dogs, their tails drooping, sneak to their
kennels, horses reek with foam, the human dogs will "liquor" long
"Tisn't such prime stock, after all!" says M'Fadden, entering the
veranda, reeking with mud and perspiration: "after a third attempt
we had as well give it up." He shakes his head, and then strikes his
whip on the floor. "I'll stand shy about buying a preacher, another
time," he continues; like a man, much against his will, forced to
give up a prize.
The crackers and wire-grass men (rude sons of the sand hills), take
the matter more philosophically,--probably under the impression that
to keep quiet will be to "bring the nigger out" where he may be
caught and the reward secured. Two hundred dollars is a sum for
which they would not scruple to sacrifice life; but they have three
gods-whiskey, ignorance, and idleness, any one of which can easily
gain a mastery over their faculties.
Mr. M'Fadden requests that his friends will all come into the
bar-room-all jolly fellows; which, when done, he orders mine host to
supply as much "good strong stuff" as will warm up their spirits.
He, however, will first take a glass himself, that he may drink all
their very good healths. This compliment paid, he finds himself
pacing up and down, and across the room, now and then casting
suspicious glances at the notice of reward, as if questioning the
policy of offering so large an amount. But sundown is close upon
them, and as the bar-room begins to fill up again, each new-comer
anxiously enquires the result of the last search,--which only serves
to increase the disappointed gentleman's excitement. The affair has
been unnecessarily expensive, for, in addition to the loss of his
preacher, the price of whom is no very inconsiderable sum, he finds
a vexatious bill running up against him at the bar. The friendship
of those who have sympathised with him, and have joined him in the
exhilarating sport of man-hunting, must be repaid with swimming
drinks. Somewhat celebrated for economy, his friends are surprised
to find him, on this occasion, rather inclined to extend the
latitude of his liberality. His keen eye, however, soon detects, to
his sudden surprise, that the hunters are not alone enjoying his
liberality, but that every new comer, finding the drinks provided at
M'Fadden's expense, has no objection to join in drinking his health;
to which he would have no sort of an objection, but for the cost.
Like all men suffering from the effect of sudden loss, he begins to
consider the means of economising by which he may repay the loss of
the preacher. "I say, Squire!" he ejaculates, suddenly stopping
short in one of his walks, and beckoning mine host aside, "That
won't do, it won't! It's a coming too tough, I tell you!" he says,
shaking his head, and touching mine host significantly on the arm.
"A fellow what's lost his property in this shape don't feel like
drinkin everybody on whiskey what costs as much as your 'bright
eye.' You see, every feller what's comin in's 'takin' at my expense,
and claiming friendship on the strength on't. It don't pay, Squire!
just stop it, won't ye?"
Mine host immediately directs the bar-keeper, with a sign and a
whisper:--"No more drinks at M'Fadden's score, 'cept to two or three
o' the most harristocratic." He must not announce the discontinuance
openly; it will insult the feelings of the friendly people, many of
whom anticipate a feast of drinks commensurate with their services
and Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden's distinguished position in political
life. Were they, the magnanimous people, informed of this sudden
shutting off of their supplies, the man who had just enjoyed their
flattering encomiums would suddenly find himself plentifully
showered with epithets a tyrant slave-dealer could scarcely endure.
Calling mine host into a little room opening from the bar, he takes
him by the arm,--intimates his desire to have a consultation on the
state of his affairs, and the probable whereabouts of his
divine:--"You see, this is all the thanks I get for my kindness (he
spreads his hands and shrugs his shoulders.) A northern man may do
what he pleases for southern rights, and it's just the same; he
never gets any thanks for it. These sort o' fellers isn't to be
sneered at when a body wants to carry a political end," he adds,
touching mine host modestly on the shoulder, and giving him a
quizzing look, "but ye can't make 'um behave mannerly towards
respectable people, such as you and me is. But 'twould'nt do to give
'um edukation, for they'd just spile society-they would! Ain't my
ideas logical, now, squire?" Mr. M'Fadden's mind seems soaring away
among the generalities of state.
"Well!" returns mine host, prefacing the importance of his opinion
with an imprecation, "I'm fixed a'tween two fires; so I can't say
what would be square policy in affairs of state. One has feelins
different on these things: I depends a deal on what our big folks
say in the way of setting examples. And, too, what can you expect
when this sort a ruff-scuff forms the means of raising their
political positions; but, they are customers of mine,--have made my
success in tavern-keeping!" he concludes, in an earnest whisper.
"Now, squire!" M'Fadden places his hand in mine host's arm, and
looks at him seriously: "What 'bout that ar nigger preacher gittin
off so? No way t' find it out, eh squire?" M'Fadden enquires, with
"Can't tell how on earth the critter did the thing; looked like
peaceable property when he went to be locked up, did!"
"I think somebody's responsible for him, squire?" interrupts
M'Fadden, watching the changes of the other's countenance: "seems
how I heard ye say ye'd take the risk-"
"No,--no,--no!" rejoins the other, quickly; "that never will do. I
never receipt for nigger property, never hold myself responsible to
the customers, and never run any risks about their niggers. You
forget, my friend, that whatever shadow of a claim you had on me by
law was invalidated by your own act."
"My own act?" interrupts the disappointed man. "How by my own act?
explain yourself!" suddenly allowing his feelings to become excited.
"Sending for him to come to your bedside and pray for you. It was
when you thought Mr. Jones, the gentleman with the horns, stood over
you with a warrant in his hand," mine host whispers in his ear,
shrugging his shoulders, and giving his face a quizzical expression.
"You appreciated the mental of the property then; but now you view
it as a decided defect."
The disappointed gentleman remains silent for a few moments. He is
deeply impressed with the anomaly of his case, but has not the
slightest objection to fasten the responsibility on somebody, never
for a moment supposing the law would interpose against the exercise
of his very best inclinations. He hopes God will bless him, says it
is always his luck; yet he cannot relinquish the idea of somebody
being responsible. He will know more about the preaching rascal's
departure. Turning to mine host of the inn: "But, you must have a
clue to him, somewhere?" he says, enquiringly.
"There's my woman; can see if she knows anything about the nigger!"
returns mine host, complacently. Ellen Juvarna is brought into the
presence of the injured man, who interrogates her with great care;
but all her disclosures only tend to throw a greater degree of
mystery over the whole affair. At this, Mr. M'Fadden declares that
the policy he has always maintained with reference to education is
proved true with the preacher's running away. Nigger property should
never be perverted by learning; though, if you could separate the
nigger from the preaching part of the property, it might do some
good, for preaching was at times a good article to distribute among
certain slaves "what had keen instincts." At times, nevertheless, it
would make them run away. Ellen knew Harry as a good slave, a good
man, a good Christian, sound in his probity, not at all inclined to
be roguish,--as most niggers are--a little given to drink, but never
bad-tempered. Her honest opinion is that such a pattern of worthy
nature and moral firmness would not disgrace itself by running away,
unless induced by white "Buckra." She thinks she heard a lumbering
and shuffling somewhere about the pen, shortly after midnight. It
might have been wolves, however. To all this Mr. M'Fadden listens
with marked attention. Now and then he interposes a word, to gratify
some new idea swelling his brain. There is nothing satisfactory yet:
he turns the matter over and over in his mind, looks Ellen
steadfastly in the face, and watches the movement of every muscle.
"Ah!" he sighs, "nothing new developing." He dismissed the wench,
and turns to mine host of the inn. "Now, squire, (one minute mine
host is squire, and the next Mr. Jones) tell ye what 'tis; thar's
roguery goin on somewhere among them ar' fellers--them sharpers in
the city, I means! (he shakes his head knowingly, and buttons his
light sack-coat round him). That's a good gal, isn't she?" he
enquires, drawing his chair somewhat closer, his hard face assuming
Mine host gives an affirmative nod, and says, "Nothin shorter! Can
take her word on a turn of life or death. Tip top gal, that! Paid a
price for her what u'd make ye wink, I reckon."
"That's just what I wanted to know," he interrupts, suddenly
grasping the hand of his friend. "Ye see how I'se a little of a
philosopher, a tall politician, and a major in the brigade down our
district,--I didn't get my law akermin for nothin; and now I jist
discovers how somebody-I mean some white somebody-has had a hand in
helpin that ar' nig' preacher to run off. Cus'd critters! never know
nothing till some white nigger fills their heads with roguery."
"Say, my worthy M'Fadden," interrupts the publican, rising suddenly
from his seat, as if some new discovery had just broke forth in his
mind, "war'nt that boy sold under a warrant?"
"Warranted-warranted-warranted sound in every particular? That he
was. Just think of this, squire; you're a knowin one. It takes you!
I never thought on't afore, and have had all my nervousness for
nothin. Warranted sound in every particular, means-"
"A moment!" mine host interposes, suddenly: "there's a keen point of
law there; but it might be twisted to some account, if a body only
had the right sort of a lawyer to twist it."
The perplexed man rejoins by hoping he may not be interrupted just
at this moment. He is just getting the point of it straight in his
mind. "You see," he says, "the thing begun to dissolve itself in my
philosophy, and by that I discovered the pint the whole thing stands
on. Its entirely metaphysical, though," he says, with a significant
shake of the head. He laughs at his discovery; his father, long
since, told him he was exceedingly clever. Quite a match for the
publican in all matters requiring a comprehensive mind, he declares
there are few lawyers his equal at penetrating into points. "He
warranted him in every particular," he mutters, as mine host,
watching his seriousness, endeavours to suppress a smile. M'Fadden
makes a most learned motion of the fore finger of the right hand,
which he presses firmly into the palm of his left, while contracting
his brows. He will soon essay forth the point of logic he wishes to
enforce. The property being a certain man endowed with preaching
propensities, soundness means the qualities of the man, mental as
well as physical; and running away being an unsound quality, the
auctioneer is responsible for all such contingencies. "I have him
there,--I have!" he holds up his hands exultingly, as he exclaims the
words; his face brightens with animation. Thrusting his hands into
his trowsers pockets he paces the room for several minutes, at a
rapid pace, as if his mind had been relieved of some deep study. "I
will go directly into the city, and there see what I can do with the
chap I bought that feller of. I think when I put the law points to
him, he'll shell out."
Making some preliminary arrangements with Jones of the tavern, he
orders a horse to the door immediately, and in a few minutes more is
hastening on his way to the city.
Arriving about noon-day, he makes his way through its busy
thoroughfares, and is soon in the presence of the auctioneer. There,
in wondrous dignity, sits the seller of bodies and souls, his
cushioned arm-chair presenting an air of opulence. How coolly that
pomp of his profession sits on the hard mask of his iron features,
beneath which lurks a contempt of shame! He is an important item in
the political hemisphere of the state, has an honourable position in
society (for he is high above the minion traders), joined the
Episcopal church not many months ago, and cautions Mr. M'Fadden
against the immorality of using profane language, which that
aggrieved individual allows to escape his lips ere he enters the
The office of our man of fame and fortune is thirty feet long by
twenty wide, and sixteen high. Its walls are brilliantly papered,
and painted with landscape designs; and from the centre of the
ceiling hangs a large chandelier, with ground-glass globes, on which
eagles of liberty are inscribed. Fine black-walnut desks, in chaste
carving, stand along its sides, at which genteelly-dressed clerks
are exhibiting great attention to business. An oil-cloth, with large
flowers painted on its surface, spreads the floor, while an air of
neatness reigns throughout the establishment singularly at variance
with the outer mart, where Mr. Forshou sells his men, women, and
little children. But its walls are hung with badly-executed
engravings, in frames of gilt. Of the distinguished vender's taste a
correct estimation may be drawn when we inform the reader that many
of these engravings represented nude females and celebrated
"Excuse me, sir! I didn't mean it," Mr. M'Fadden says, in reply to
the gentleman's caution, approaching him as he sits in his elegant
chair, a few feet from the street door, luxuriantly enjoying a
choice regalia. "It's the little point of a very nasty habit that
hangs upon me yet. I does let out the swear once in a while, ye see;
but it's only when I gets a crook in my mind what won't come
straight." Thus M'Fadden introduces himself, surprised to find the
few very consistent oaths he has made use of not compatible with the
man-seller's pious business habits. He will be cautious the next
time; he will not permit such foul breath to escape and wound the
gentleman's very tender feelings.
Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden addresses him as squire, and with studious
words informs him of the nigger preacher property he sold him having
actually run away! "Ye warranted him, ye know, squire!" he says,
discovering the object of his visit, then drawing a chair, and
seating himself in close proximity.
"Can't help that-quality we never warrant!" coolly returns the
other, turning politely in his arm-chair, which works in a socket,
and directing a clerk at one of the desks to add six months'
interest to the item of three wenches sold at ten o'clock.
"Don't talk that ar way, squire! I trades a deal in your line, and a
heap o' times, with you. Now we'll talk over the legal points."
"Make them short, if you please!"
"Well! ye warranted the nigger in every particular. There's the
advertisement; and there's no getting over that! Ye must do the
clean thing-no possumin-squire, or there 'll be a long lawsuit what
takes the tin. Honour's the word in our trade." He watches the
changes that are fast coming over the vender's countenance, folds
his arms, places his right foot over his left knee, and awaits a
reply. Interrupting the vender just as he is about to give his
opinion he draws from his pocket a copy of the paper containing
the advertisement, and places it in his hand: "If ye'll be good
enough to squint at it, ye'll see the hang o' my ideas," he says.
"My friend," returns the vender, curtly, having glanced over the
paper, "save me and yourself any further annoyance. I could have
told you how far the property was warranted, before I read the
paper; and I remember making some very particular remarks when
selling that item in the invoice. A nigger's intelligence is often a
mere item of consideration in the amount he brings under the hammer;
but we never warrant the exercise or extension of it. Po'h, man! we
might just as well attempt to warrant a nigger's stealing, lying,
cunning, and all such 'cheating master' propensities. Some of them
are considered qualities of much value-especially by poor planters.
Warrant nigger property not to run away, eh! Oh! nothing could be
worse in our business."
"A minute, squire!" interrupts the appealing Mr. M'Fadden, just as
the other is about to add a suspending clause to his remarks. "If
warrantin nigger proper sound in all partiklers is'nt warrantin it
not to run away, I'm no deacon! When a nigger's got run-away in him
he ain't sound property, no way ye can fix it. Ye may turn all the
law and philosophy yer mind to over in yer head, but it won't cum
common sense to me, that ye warrant a nigger's body part, and let
the head part go unwarranted. When ye sells a critter like that, ye
sells all his deviltry; and when ye warrants one ye warrants
t'other; that's the square rule o' my law and philosophy!"
The vender puffs his weed very coolly the while; and then, calling a
negro servant, orders a chair upon which to comfortably place his
feet. "Are you through, my friend?" he enquires, laconically; and
being answered in the affirmative, proceeds-"I fear your philosophy
is common philosophy-not the philosophy upon which nigger law is
founded. You don't comprehend, my valued friend, that when we insert
that negro property will be warranted, we don't include the thinking
part; and, of course, running away belongs to that!" he would inform
all those curious on such matters. Having given this opinion for the
benefit of M'Fadden, and the rest of mankind interested in slavery,
he rises from his seat, elongates himself into a consequential posi-
tion, and stands biting his lips, and dangling his watch chain with
the fingers of his left hand.
"Take ye up, there," the other suddenly interrupts, as if he has
drawn the point from his antagonist, and is prepared to sustain the
principle, having brought to his aid new ideas from the deepest
recesses of his logical mind. Grasping the vender firmly by the arm,
he looks him in the face, and reminds him that the runaway part of
niggers belongs to the heels, and not to the head.
The vender exhibits some discomfiture, and, at the same time, a
decided unwillingness to become a disciple of such philosophy. Nor
is he pleased with the familiarity of his importuning customer,
whose arm he rejects with a repulsive air.
There has evidently become a very nice and serious question, of
which Mr. M'Fadden is inclined to take a commonsense view. His
opponent, however, will not deviate from the strictest usages of
business. Business mentioned the mental qualities of the property,
but warranted only the physical,--hence the curious perplexity.
While the point stands thus nicely poised between their logic,
Romescos rushes into the office, and, as if to surprise M'Fadden,
extends his hand, smiling and looking in his face gratefully, as if
the very soul of friendship incited him. "Mighty glad to see ye, old
Buck!" he ejaculates, "feared ye war going to kick out."
The appalled man stands for a few seconds as unmoved as a statue;
and then, turning with a half-subdued smile, takes the hand of the
"Friends again! ain't we, old boy?" breaks forth from Romescos, who
continues shaking his hand, at the same time turning his head and
giving a significant wink to a clerk at one of the desks. "Politics
makes bad friends now and then, but I always thought well of you,
Mack! Now, neighbour, I'll make a bargain with you; we'll live as
good folks ought to after this," Romescos continues, laconically.
His advance is so strange that the other is at a loss to comprehend
its purport. He casts doubting glances at his wily antagonist, seems
considering how to appreciate the quality of such an unexpected
expression of friendship, and is half inclined to demand an earnest
of its sincerity. At the same time, and as the matter now stands, he
would fain give his considerate friend wide space, and remain within
a proper range of etiquette until his eyes behold the substantial.
He draws aside from Romescos, who says tremblingly: "Losing that
preacher, neighbour, was a hard case-warn't it? You wouldn't a'
catched this individual buyin' preachers-know too much about 'em, I
reckon! It's no use frettin, though; the two hundred dollars 'll
bring him. This child wouldn't want a profitabler day's work for his
hound dogs." Romescos winks at the vender, and makes grimaces over
M'Fadden's shoulder, as that gentleman turns and grumbles out,--"He
warranted him in every partikler; and running away is one of a
"My pertinacious friend!" exclaims the vender, turning suddenly
towards his dissatisfied customer, "seeing you are not disposed to
comprehend the necessities of my business, nor to respect my
position, I will have nothing further to say to you upon the
subject-not another word, now!" The dignified gentleman expresses
himself in peremptory tones. It is only the obtuseness of his innate
character becoming unnecessarily excited.
Romescos interposes a word or two, by way of keeping up the zest;
for so he calls it. Things are getting crooked, according to his
notion of the dispute, but fightin' won't bring back the lost.
"'Spose ye leaves the settlin on't to me? There's nothing like
friendship in trade; and seeing how I am up in such matters, p'raps
I can smooth it down."
"There's not much friendship about a loss of this kind; and he was
warranted sound in every particular!" returns the invincible man,
shaking his head, and affecting great seriousness of countenance.
"Stop that harpin, I say!" the vender demands, drawing himself into
a pugnacious attitude; "your insinuations against my honour
aggravate me more and more."
"Well! just as you say about it," is the cool rejoinder. "But you
'll have to settle the case afore lawyer Sprouts, you will!"
Stupidly inclined to dog his opinions, the sensitive gentleman,
claiming to be much better versed in the mode of selling human
things, becomes fearfully enraged. M'Fadden contends purely upon
contingencies which may arise in the mental and physical
complications of property in man; and this the gentleman man-seller
cannot bear the reiteration of.
"Romescos thinks it is at best but a perplexin snarl, requiring
gentlemen to keep very cool. To him they are both honourable men,
who should not quarrel over the very small item of one preacher.
"This warrantin' niggers' heads never amounts to anything,--it's just
like warrantin' their heels; and when one gets bad, isn't t'other
sure to be movin? Them's my sentiments, gratis!" Stepping a few feet
behind M'Fadden, Romescos rubs his hands in great anxiety, makes
curious signs to the clerks at the desk, and charges his mouth with
a fresh cut of tobacco.
"Nobody bespoke your opinion," says the disconsolate M'Fadden,
turning quickly, in consequence of a sign he detected one of the
clerks making, and catching Romescos bestowing a grimace of no very
complimentary character, "Your presence and your opinion are, in my
estimation, things that may easily be dispensed with."
"I say!" interrupts Romescos, his right hand in a threatening
attitude, "not quite so fast"-he drawls his words-"a gentleman don't
stand an insult o' that sort. Just draw them ar' words back, like a
yard of tape, or this individual 'll do a small amount of bruising
on that ar' profile, (he draws his hand backward and forward across
M'Fadden's face). 'Twon't do to go to church on Sundays with a
broken phiz?" His face reddens with anger, as he works his head into
a daring attitude, grates his teeth, again draws his fist across
M'Fadden's face; and at length rubs his nasal organ.
"I understand you too well!" replies M'Fadden, with a curt twist of
his head. "A man of your cloth can't insult a gentleman like me;
you're lawless!" He moves towards the door, stepping sideways,
watching Romescos over his left shoulder.
"I say!-Romescos takes his man by the arm-Come back here, and make a
gentleman's apology!" He lets go M'Fadden's arm and seizes him by
the collar violently, his face in a blaze of excitement.
"Nigger killer!" ejaculates M'Fadden, "let go there!" He gives his
angry antagonist a determined look, as he, for a moment, looses his
hold. He pauses, as if contemplating his next move.
The very amiable and gentlemanly man-vender thinks it time he
interposed for the purpose of reconciling matters. "Gentlemen!
gentlemen! respect me, if you do not respect yourselves. My office
is no place for such disgraceful broils as these; you must go
elsewhere." The modest gentleman, whose very distinguished family
connexions have done much to promote his interests, would have it
particularly understood that his office is an important place, used
only for the very distinguished business of selling men, women, and
little children. But Romescos is not so easily satisfied. He pushes
the amiable gentleman aside, calls Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden a tyrant
what kills niggers by the detestably mean process of starving them
to death. "A pretty feller he is to talk about nigger killin! And
just think what our state has come to when such fellers as him can
make votes for the next election!" says Romescos, addressing himself
to the vender. "The Irish influence is fast destroying the political
morality of the country."
Turning to Mr. M'Fadden, who seems preparing for a display of his
combativeness, he adds, "Ye see, Mack, ye will lie, and lie crooked
too! and ye will steal, and steal dishonourably; and I can lick a
dozen on ye quicker nor chain lightnin? I can send the hol batch on
ye-rubbish as it is-to take supper t'other side of sundown." To be
equal with his adversary, Romescos is evidently preparing himself
for the reception of something more than words. Twice or thrice he
is seen to pass his right hand into the left breast pocket of his
sack, where commonly his shining steel is secreted. In another
moment he turns suddenly towards the vender, pushes him aside with
his left hand, and brings his right in close proximity with Mr.
M'Fadden's left listener. That individual exhibits signs of renewed
courage, to which he adds the significant warning: "Not quite so
close, if you please!"
"As close as I sees fit!" returns the other, with a sardonic grin.
"Why don't you resent it?-a gentleman would!"
Following the word, Mr. M'Fadden makes a pass at his antagonist,
which, he says, is only with the intention of keeping him at a
respectful distance. Scarcely has his arm passed when Romescos cries
out, "There! he has struck me! He has struck me again!" and deals
M'Fadden a blow with his clenched fist that fells him lumbering to
the floor. Simultaneously Romescos falls upon his prostrate victim,
and a desperate struggle ensues.
The vender, whose sacred premises are thus disgraced, runs out to
call the police, while the clerks make an ineffectual attempt to
separate the combatants. Not a policeman is to be found. At night
they may be seen swarming the city, guarding the fears of a white
populace ever sensitive of black rebellion.
Like an infuriated tiger, Romescos, nimble as a catamount, is fast
destroying every vestige of outline in his antagonist's face,
drenching it with blood, and adding ghastliness by the strangulation
he is endeavouring to effect.
"Try-try-trying to-kill-me-eh? You-you mad brute!" gutters out the
struggling man, his eyes starting from the sockets like balls of
fire, while gore and saliva foam from his mouth and nostrils as if
his struggles are in death.
"Kill ye-kill ye?" Romescos rejoins, the shaggy red hair falling in
tufts about his face, now burning with desperation: "it would be
killin' only a wretch whose death society calls for."
At this, the struggling man, like one borne to energy by the last
throes of despair, gives a desperate spring, succeeds in turning his
antagonist, grasps him by the throat with his left hand, and from
his pocket fires a pistol with his right. The report alarms; the
shrill whistle calls to the rescue; but the ball has only taken
effect in the flesh of Romescos's right arm. Quick to the moment,
his arm dripping with gore from the wound, he draws his glittering
dirk, and plunges it, with unerring aim, into the breast of his
antagonist. The wounded man starts convulsively, as the other coolly
draws back the weapon, the blood gushing forth in a livid stream.
"Is not that in self-defence?" exclaims the bloody votary, turning
his haggard and enraged face to receive the approval of the
bystanders. The dying man, writhing under the grasp of his murderer,
utters a piercing shriek. "Murdered! I'm dying! Oh, heaven! is this
my last-last-last? Forgive me, Lord,--forgive me!" he gurgles; and
making another convulsive effort, wrings his body from under the
perpetrator of the foul deed. How tenacious of life is the dying
man! He grasps the leg of a desk, raises himself to his feet, and,
as if goaded with the thoughts of hell, in his last struggles
staggers to the door,--discharges a second shot, vaults, as it were,
into the street, and falls prostrate upon the pavement, surrounded
by a crowd of eager lookers-on. He is dead! The career of Mr.
M'Fadden is ended; his spirit is summoned for trial before a just
The murderer (perhaps we abuse the word, and should apply the more
southern, term of renconterist), sits in a chair, calling for water,
as a few among the crowd prepare to carry the dead body into
Graspum's slave-pen, a few squares below.
Southern sensibility may call these scenes by whatever name it will;
we have no desire to change the appropriateness, nor to lessen the
moral tenor of southern society. It nurtures a frail democracy, and
from its bastard offspring we have a tyrant dying by the hand of a
tyrant, and the spoils of tyranny serving the good growth of the
Christian church. Money constructs opinions, pious as well as
political, and even changes the feelings of good men, who invoke
heaven's aid against the bondage of the souls of men.
Romescos will not flee to escape the terrible award of earthly
justice. Nay, that, in our atmosphere of probity, would be
dishonourable; nor would it aid the purpose he seeks to gain.
A COMMON INCIDENT SHORTLY TOLD.
THE dead body of Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden, whose heart was strong with
love of southern democracy, lies upon two pine-boards, ghastly and
unshrouded, in a wretched slave-pen. Romescos, surrounded by
admiring friends, has found his way to the gaol, where, as is the
custom, he has delivered himself up to its keeper. He has spent a
good night in that ancient establishment, and on the following
morning finds his friends vastly increased. They have viewed him as
rather desperate now and then; but, knowing he is brave withal, have
"come to the rescue" on the present occasion. These frequent visits
he receives with wonderful coolness and deference, their meats and
drinks (so amply furnished to make his stay comfortable) being a
great Godsend to the gaoler, who, while they last, will spread a
Brien Moon, Esq.-better known as the good-natured coroner-has placed
a negro watchman over the body of the deceased, on which he proposes
to hold one of those curious ceremonies called inquests. Brien Moon,
Esq. is particularly fond of the ludicrous, is ever ready to
appreciate a good joke, and well known for his happy mode of
disposing of dead dogs and cats, which, with anonymous letters, are
in great numbers entrusted to his care by certain waggish gentlemen,
who desire he will "hold an inquest over the deceased, and not
forget the fees." It is said-the aristocracy, however, look upon the
charge with contempt-that Brien Moon, Esq. makes a small per centage
by selling those canine remains to the governor of the workhouse,
which very humane gentleman pays from his own pocket the means of
transferring them into giblet-pies for the inmates. It may be all
scandal about Mr. Moon making so large an amount from his office;
but it is nevertheless true that sad disclosures have of late been
made concerning the internal affairs of the workhouse.
The hour of twelve has arrived; and since eight in the morning Mr.
Moon's time has been consumed in preliminaries necessary to the
organisation of a coroner's jury. The reader we know will excuse our
not entering into the minuti‘ of the organisation. Eleven jurors
have answered the summons, but a twelfth seems difficult to procure.
John, the good Coroner's negro servant, has provided a sufficiency
of brandy and cigars, which, since the hour of eleven, have been
discussed without stint. The only objection our worthy disposer of
the dead has to this is, that some of his jurors, becoming very
mellow, may turn the inquest into a farce, with himself playing the
low-comedy part. The dead body, which lies covered with a sheet, is
fast becoming enveloped in smoke, while no one seems to have a
passing thought for it. Colonel Tom Edon,--who, they say, is not
colonel of any regiment, but has merely received the title from the
known fact of his being a hogdriver, which honourable profession is
distinguished by its colonels proceeding to market mounted, while
the captains walk,--merely wonders how much bad whiskey the dead 'un
consumed while he lived.
"This won't do!" exclaims Brien Moon, Esq., and proceeds to the door
in the hope of catching something to make his mournful number
complete. He happens upon Mr. Jonas Academy, an honest cracker, from
Christ's parish, who visits the city on a little business. Jonas is
a person of great originality, is enclosed in loosely-setting
homespun, has a woe-begone countenance, and wears a large-brimmed
felt hat. He is just the person to make the number complete, and is
led in, unconscious of the object for which he finds himself a
captive. Mr. Brien Moon now becomes wondrous grave, mounts a barrel
at the head of the corpse, orders the negro to uncover the body, and
hopes gentlemen will take seats on the benches he has provided for
them, while he proceeds to administer the oath. Three or four yet
retain their cigars: he hopes gentlemen will suspend their smoking
during the inquest. Suddenly it is found that seven out of the
twelve can neither read nor write; and Mr. Jonas Academy makes known
the sad fact that he does not comprehend the nature of an oath,
never having taken such an article in his life. Five of the
gentlemen, who can read and write, are from New England; while Mr.
Jonas Academy declares poor folks in Christ's parish are not fools,
troubled with reading and writing knowledge. He has been told they
have a thing called a college at Columbia; but only haristocrats get
any good of it. In answer to a question from Mr. Moon, he is happy
to state that their parish is not pestered with a schoolmaster.
"Yes, they killed the one we had more nor two years ago, thank Good!
Han't bin trubl'd with one o' the critters since" he adds, with
unmoved nerves. The Coroner suggests that in a matter of expediency
like the present it may be well to explain the nature of an oath;
and, seeing that a man may not read and write, and yet comprehend
its sacredness, perhaps it would be as well to forego the letter of
the law. "Six used to do for this sort of a jury, but now law must
have twelve," says Mr. Moon. Numerous voices assent to this, and Mr.
Moon commences what he calls "an halucidation of the nature of an
oath." The jurors receive this with great satisfaction, take the
oath according to his directions, and after listening to the
statement of two competent witnesses, who know but very little about
the affair, are ready to render a verdict,--"that M'Fadden, the
deceased, came to his death by a stab in the left breast, inflicted
by a sharp instrument in the hand or hands of Anthony Romescos,
during an affray commonly called a rencontre, regarding which there
are many extenuating circumstances." To this verdict Mr. Moon
forthwith bows assent, directs the removal of the body, and invites
the gentlemen jurors to join him in another drink, which he does in
compliment to their distinguished services. The dead body will be
removed to the receiving vault, and Mr. Moon dismisses his jurors
with many bows and thanks; and nothing more.
THE CHILDREN ARE IMPROVING.
THREE years have rolled round, and wrought great changes in the
aspect of affairs. M'Fadden was buried on his plantation, Romescos
was bailed by Graspum, and took his trial at the sessions for
manslaughter. It was scarcely worth while to trouble a respectable
jury with the paltry case-and then, they were so frequent! We need
scarcely tell the reader that he was honourably acquitted, and borne
from the court amid great rejoicing. His crime was only that of
murder in self-defence; and, as two tyrants had met, the successful
had the advantage of public opinion, which in the slave world soars
high above law. Romescos being again on the world, making his
cleverness known, we must beg the reader's indulgence, and request
him to accompany us while we return to the children.
Annette and Nicholas are, and have been since the sale, the property
of Graspum. They develope in size and beauty-two qualities very
essential in the man-market of our democratic world, the South.
Those beautiful features, intelligence, and reserve, are much
admired as merchandise; for southern souls are not lifted above this
grade of estimating coloured worth. Annette's cherub face, soft blue
eyes, clear complexion, and light auburn hair, add to the sweetness
of a countenance that education and care might make brilliant; and
yet, though reared on Marston's plantation, with unrestricted
indulgence, her childish heart seems an outpouring of native
goodness. She speaks of her mother with the affection of one of
maturer years; she grieves for her return, wonders why she is left
alone, remembers how kind that mother spoke to her when she said
good by, at the cell door. How sweet is the remembrance of a mother!
how it lingers, sparkling as a dewdrop, in a child's memory. Annette
feels the affliction, but is too young to divine the cause thereof.
She recalls the many happy plantation scenes; they are bright to her
yet! She prattles about Daddy Bob, Harry, Aunt Rachel, and old Sue,
now and then adding a solicitous question about Marston. But she
does not realise that he is her father; no, it was not her lot to
bestow a daughter's affection upon him, and she is yet too young to
comprehend the poison of slave power. Her childlike simplicity
affords a touching contrast to that melancholy injustice by which a
fair creature with hopes and virtues after God's moulding, pure and
holy, is made mere merchandise for the slave-market.
Annette has learned to look upon Nicholas as a brother; but, like
herself, he is kept from those of his own colour by some, to him,
unintelligible agency. Strange reflections flit through her youthful
imagination, as she embraces him with a sister's fondness. How oft
she lays her little head upon his shoulder, encircles his neck with
her fair arm, and braids his raven hair with her tiny fingers! She
little thinks how fatal are those charms she bears bloomingly into
But, if they alike increase in beauty as they increase in age, their
dispositions are as unlike as two opposites can be moulded. Nicholas
has inherited that petulant will, unbending determination, and
lurking love of avenging wrong, so peculiar to the Indian race. To
restlessness he adds distrust of those around him; and when
displeased, is not easily reconciled. He is, however, tractable, and
early evinced an aptitude for mechanical pursuits that would have
done credit to maturer years. Both have been at service, and during
the period have created no small degree of admiration-Annette for
her promising personal appearance, Nicholas for his precocious
display of talent. Both have earned their living; and now Nicholas
is arrived at an age when his genius attracts purchasers.
Conspicuous among those who have been keeping an eye on the little
fellow, is Mr. Jonathan Grabguy, a master-builder, largely engaged
in rearing dwellings. His father was a builder, and his mother used
to help the workmen to make Venetian blinds. Fortune showered her
smiles upon their energies, and brought them negro property in great
abundance. Of this property they made much; the father of the
present Mr. Grabguy (who became a distinguished mayor of the city)
viewing it peculiarly profitable to use up his niggers in five
years. To this end he forced them to incessant toil, belabouring
them with a weapon of raw hide, to which he gave the singular
cognomen of "hell-fire." When extra punishment was-according to his
policy-necessary to bring out the "digs," he would lock them up in
his cage (a sort of grated sentry-box, large enough to retain the
body in an upright position), and when the duration of this
punishment was satisfactory to his feelings, he would administer a
counter quantity of stings with his "hell-fire" wattle. Indeed, the
elder Mr. Grabguy, who afterwards became "His Worship the Mayor,"
was a wonderful disciplinarian, which very valuable traits of
character his son retains in all their purity. His acts deserve more
specific notice than we are at present able to give them, inasmuch
as by them the safety of a state is frequently endangered, as we
shall show in the climax.
Our present Mr. Grabguy is a small man, somewhat slender of person,
about five feet seven inches high, who usually dresses in the
habiliments of a working man, and is remarkable for his quickness.
His features are dark and undefinable, marked with that
thoughtfulness which applies only to the getting of wordly goods.
His face is narrow and careworn, with piercing brown eyes, high
cheek bones, projecting nose and chin, low forehead, and greyish
hair, which he parts in the centre. These form the strongest index
to his stubborn character; nevertheless he hopes, ere long, to reach
the same distinguished position held by his venerable father, who,
peace to his ashes! is dead.
"Now, good neighbour Graspum," says our Mr. Grabguy, as he stands in
Graspum's warehouse examining a few prime fellows, "I've got a small
amount to invest in stock, but I wants somethin' choice-say two or
three prime uns, handy at tools. I wants somethin' what 'll make
mechanics. Then I wants to buy," he continues, deliberately, "a few
smart young uns, what have heads with somethin' in 'um, that ye can
bring up to larn things. White mechanics, you see, are so
independent now-a-days, that you can't keep 'um under as you can
"I've bin thinkin' 'bout tryin' an experiment with nigger prentices;
and, if it goes, we can dispense with white mechanics entirely. My
word for it, they're only a great nuisance at best. When you put 'um
to work with niggers they don't feel right, and they have notions
that our society don't respect 'um because they must mix with the
black rascals in following their trades; and this works its way into
their feelings so, that the best on 'um from the north soon give
themselves up to the worst dissipation. Ah! our white mechanics are
poor wretches; there isn't twenty in the city you can depend on to
keep sober two days."
"Well, sir," interrupts Graspum, with an air of great importance,
as, with serious countenance, he stands watching every change in Mr.
Grabguy's face, at intervals taking a cursory survey of his
merchandise, "can suit you to most anything in the line. You
understand my mode of trade, perfectly?" He touches Mr. Grabguy on
the arm, significantly, and waits the reply, which that gentleman
makes with a bow. "Well, if you do," he continues, "you know the
means and markets I have at my command. Can sell you young uns of
any age, prime uns of various qualities-from field hands down to
watch-makers, clergymen!" He always keeps a good supply on hand, and
has the very best means of supply. So Mr. Grabguy makes a purchase
of three prime men, whom he intends to transform into first-rate
mechanics. He declares he will not be troubled hereafter with those
very miserable white workmen he is constrained to import from the
north. They are foolish enough to think they are just as good as any
body, and can be gentlemen in their profession. They, poor fools!
mistake the south in their love of happy New England and its
society, as they call it.
Having completed his bargain, he hesitates, as if there is something
more he would like to have. "Graspum!" he says, "What for trade? can
we strike for that imp o' yours at Mrs. Tuttlewill's?" Without
waiting for Graspum's reply, he adds-"That chap 's goin to make a
tall bit of property one of these days!"
"Ought to," rejoins Graspum, stoically; "he's got right good stock
in him." The man of business gives his head a knowing shake, and
takes a fresh quid of tobacco. "Give that 'sprout' a chance in the
world, and he'll show his hand!" he adds.
"That's what I wants," intimates our tradesman. He has had his eye
on the fellow, and knows he's got a head what 'll make the very best
kind of a workman. But it will be necessary to take the stubborn out
without injuring the "larning" part. Mr. Grabguy, with great
unconcern, merely suggests these trifling matters for the better
regulating of Mr. Graspum's price.
"Can do that easy enough, if you only study the difference between a
nigger's hide and head. Can put welts on pretty strong, if you
understand the difference a'tween the too," intimates our man of
business, as he places his thumbs in his vest, and commences humming
a tune. Then he stops suddenly, and working his face into a very
learned contortion, continues-"Ye see, Grabguy, a man has to study
the human natur of a nigger just the same as he would a mule or a
machine. In truth, Grabguy, niggers are more like mules nor anything
else, 'cause the brute 'll do everything but what ye wants him to
do, afore he's subdued. You must break them when they are young.
About ten or a dozen welts, sir, well laid on when ye first begin,
and every time he don't toe the mark, will, in the course of a year,
make him as submissive as a spaniel-it will! The virtue of
submission is in the lash, it supples like seeds."
"About the stock, Graspum: I don't quite agree with you about
that,--I never believed in blood, ye know. As far as this imp goes, I
have my doubts about the blood doin on him much good; seein' how it
kind o' comes across my mind that there's some Ingin in him. Now, if
my philosophy serves me right, Ingin blood makes slave property want
to run away (the speaker spreads himself with great nonchalance),
the very worst fault."
"Poh! poh!-isn't a bit o' that about him. That imp 's from Marston's
estate, can't scare up nothin so promisin' in the way of likely
colour," Graspum interposes, with great assurance of manner. "You
didn't see the gal-did you?" he concludes.
"I reckon I've taken a squint at both on 'em! Pretty fine and
likely. From the same bankrupt concern, I s'pose?" Mr. Grabguy looks
quite serious, and waits for a reply.
"Yes-nothing less," Graspum replies, measuredly. "But won't it make
your eye water, neighbour Grabguy, one of these days! Bring a tall
price among some of our young bucks, eh!" He gives neighbour Grabguy
a significant touch on the arm, and that gentleman turns his head
and smiles. How quaintly modest!
"By the by, talking of Marston, what has become of him? His affairs
seem to have died out in the general levity which the number of such
cases occasion. But I tell you what it is, Graspum," (he whispers,
accompanying the word with an insinuating look), "report implicates
you in that affair."
"Me?-Me?-Me, Sir? God bless you! why, you really startle me. My
honour is above the world's scandal. Ah! if you only knew what I've
done for that man, Marston;--that cussed nephew of his came within a
feather of effecting my ruin. And there he lies, stubborn as a door-
plate, sweating out his obstinacy in gaol. Lord bless your soul, I'm
not to blame, you know!-I have done a world of things for him; but
he won't be advised."
"His creditors think he has more money, and money being the upshot
of all his troubles, interposes the point of difficulty in the
present instance. I tell them he has no more money, but--I know not
why--they doubt the fact the more, and refuse to release him, on the
ground of my purchasing their claims at some ulterior period, as I
did those two fi fas when the right of freedom was being contested
in the children. But, you see, Grabguy, I'm a man of standing; and
no money would tempt me to have anything to do with another such
case. It was by a mere quirk of law, and the friendship of so many
eminent lawyers, that I secured that fifteen hundred dollars from
M'Carstrow for the gal what disappeared so mysteriously."
"Graspum!" interrupts Mr. Grabguy, suddenly, accompanying his remark
with a laugh, "you're a good bit of a lawyer when it comes to the
cross-grained. You tell it all on one side, as lawyers do. I know
the risk you run in buying the fi fas on which those children were
attached!" Mr. Grabguy smiles, doubtingly, and shakes his head.
"There are liabilities in everything," Graspum drawls out,
measuredly. "Pardon me, my friend, you never should found opinion on
suspicion. More than a dozen times have I solicited Marston to file
his schedule, and take the benefit of the act. However, with all my
advice and kindness to him, he will not move a finger towards his
own release. Like all our high-minded Southerners, he is ready to
maintain a sort of compound between dignity and distress, with which
he will gratify his feelings. It's all pride, sir-pride!-you may
depend upon it." (Graspum lays his hands together, and affects
wondrous charity). "I pity such men from the very bottom of my
heart, because it always makes me feel bad when I think what they
have been. Creditors, sir, are very unrelenting; and seldom think
that an honourable man would suffer the miseries of a prison rather
than undergo the pain of being arraigned before an open court, for
the exposition of his poverty. Sensitiveness often founds the charge
of wrong. The thing is much misunderstood; I know it, sir! Yes, sir!
My own feelings make me the best judge," continues Graspum, with a
most serious countenance. He feels he is a man of wonderful parts,
much abused by public opinion, and, though always trying to promote
public good, never credited for his many kind acts.
Turning his head aside to relieve himself of a smile, Mr. Grabguy
admits that he is quite an abused man; and, setting aside small
matters, thinks it well to be guided by the good motto:--'retire
from business with plenty of money.' It may not subdue tongues, but
it will soften whispers. "Money," Mr. Grabguy intimates, "upon the
strength of his venerable father's experience, is a curious medium
of overcoming the ditchwork of society. In fact," he assures Graspum,
"that with plenty of shiners you may be just such a man as you
please; everybody will forget that you ever bought or sold a nigger,
and ten chances to one if you do not find yourself sloped off into
Congress, before you have had time to study the process of getting
there. But, enough of this, Graspum;--let us turn to trade matters.
What's the lowest shot ye'll take for that mellow mixture of Ingin
and aristocracy. Send up and bring him down: let us hear the lowest
dodge you'll let him slide at."
Mr. Grabguy evinces an off-handedness in trade that is quite equal
to Graspum's keen tact. But Graspum has the faculty of preserving a
disinterested appearance singularly at variance with his object.
A messenger is despatched, receipt in hand, for the boy Nicholas.
Mrs. Tuttlewell, a brusque body of some sixty years, and with
thirteen in a family, having had three husbands (all gentlemen of
the highest standing, and connected with first families), keeps a
stylish boarding-house, exclusively for the aristocracy, common
people not being competent to her style of living; and as nobody
could ever say one word against the Tuttlewell family, the present
head of the Tuttlewell house has become very fashionably
distinguished. The messenger's arrival is made known to Mrs.
Tuttlewell, who must duly consider the nature of the immediate
demand. She had reason to expect the services of the children would
have been at her command for some years to come. However, she must
make the very best of it; they are Graspum's property, and he can do
what he pleases with them. She suggests, with great politeness, that
the messenger take a seat in the lower veranda. Her house is located
in a most fashionable street, and none knew better than good lady
Tuttlewell herself the value of living up to a fashionable nicety;
for, where slavery exists, it is a trade to live.
Both children have been "waiting on table," and, on hearing the
summons, repair to their cabin in the yard. Mrs. Tuttlewell,
reconsidering her former decision, thinks the messenger better
follow them, seeing that he is a nigger with kindly looks. "Uncle!"
says Annette, looking up at the old Negro, as he joins them: "Don't
you want me too?"
"No," returns the man, coolly shaking his head.
"I think they must be going to take us back to the old plantation,
where Daddy Bob used to sing so. Then I shall see mother-how I do
want to see her!" she exclaims, her little heart bounding with
ecstasy. Three years or more have passed since she prattled on her
The negro recognizes the child's simplicity. "I on'e wants dat
child; but da'h an't gwine t' lef ye out on da plantation, nohow!"
"Not going to take us home!" she says, with a sigh. Nicholas moodily
submits himself to be prepared, as Annette, more vivacious, keeps
interposing with various enquiries. She would like to know where
they are going to take little Nicholas; and when they will let her
go and see Daddy Bob and mother? "Now, you can take me; I know you
can!" she says, looking up at the messenger, and taking his hand
"No-can't, little 'un! Mus' lef' 'um fo'h nuder time. You isn't
broder and sister-is ye?"
"No!" quickly replies the little girl, swinging his hand playfully;
"but I want to go where he goes; I want to see mother when he does."
"Well, den, little 'un (the negro sees he cannot overcome the
child's simplicity by any other means), dis child will come fo'h 'um
to-morrow-dat I will!"
"And you'll bring Nicholas back-won't you?" she enquires, grasping
the messenger more firmly by the hand.
"Sartin! no mistake 'bout dat, little 'uman." At this she takes
Nicholas by the hand, and retires to their little room in the cabin.
Here, like one of older years, she washes him, and dresses him, and
fusses over him.
He is merely a child for sale; so she combs his little locks, puts
on his new osnaburgs, arranges his nice white collar about his neck,
and makes him look so prim. And then she ties a piece of black
ribbon about his neck, giving him the bright appearance of a
school-boy on examination-day. The little girl's feelings seem as
much elated as would be a mother's at the prospect of her child
gaining a medal of distinction.
"Now, Nicholas!" she whispers, with touching simplicity, as she
views him from head to foot with a smile of exultation on her face,
"your mother never dressed you so neat. But I like you more and
more, Nicholas, because both our mothers are gone; and maybe we
shall never see 'um again." And she kisses him fondly,--tells him not
to stay long,--to tell her all he has seen and heard about mother,
when he returns.
"I don't know, 'Nette, but 'pears to me we ain't like other
children-they don't have to be sold so often; and I don't seem to
have any father."
"Neither do I; but Mrs. Tuttlewell says I mustn't mind that, because
there's thousands just like us. And then she says we ain't the same
kind o' white folks that she is; she says we are white, but niggers
for all that. I don't know how it is! I'm not like black folks,
because I'm just as white as any white folks," she rejoins, placing
her little arms round his neck and smoothing his hair with her left
"I'll grow up, one o' these days."
"And so will I," she speaks, boldly.
"And I'm goin' to know where my mother's gone, and why I ain't as
good as other folks' white children," he rejoins sullenly, shaking
his head, and muttering away to himself. It is quite evident that
the many singular stages through which he is passing, serve only to
increase the stubborness of his nature. The only black
distinguishable in his features are his eyes and hair; and, as he
looks in the glass to confirm what he has said, Annette takes him by
the hand, tells him he must not mind, now; that if he is good he
shall see Franconia,--and mother, too, one of these days. He must not
be pettish, she remarks, holding him by the hand like a sister whose
heart glows with hope for a brother's welfare. She gives him in
charge of the messenger, saying, "Good by!" as she imprints a kiss
on his cheek, its olive hues changing into deep crimson.
The negro answers her adieu with "Good by, little dear! God bless
'um!" Nay, the native goodness of his heart will not permit him to
leave her thus. He turns round, takes her in his arms, kisses and
kisses her fair cheek. It is the truth of an honest soul, expressed
with tears glistening in his eyes. Again taking Nicholas by the
hand, he hastens through the passage of Mrs. Tuttlewell's house
where, on emerging into the street, he is accosted by that very
fashionable lady, who desires to know if he has got the boy "all
right!" Being answered in the affirmative, she gives a very
dignified-"Glad of it," and desires her compliments to Mr. Graspum,
who she hopes will extend the same special regards to his family,
and retires to the quietude of her richly-furnished parlour.
The gentleman dealer and his customer are waiting in the man
shambles, while the negro messenger with his boy article of trade
plod their way along through the busy streets. The negro looks on
his charge with a smile of congratulation. "Mas'r 'll laugh all over
'e clothes when he sees ye-dat he will!" he says, with an air of
"I'd like to know where I'm goin' to afore I go much further,"
returns the boy, curtly, as he walks along, every few minutes asking
unanswerable questions of the negro.
"Lor, child!" returns the negro, with a significant smile, "take ye
down to old massa what own 'um! Fo'h true!"
"Own me!" mutters the child, surlily. "How can they own me without
owning my mother?--and I've no father."
"White man great 'losipher; he know so much, dat nigger don't know
nofin," is the singularly significant answer.
"But God didn't make me for a nigger,--did he?"
"Don' know how dat is, child. 'Pears like old mas'r tink da' ain't
no God; and what he sees in yander good book lef 'um do just as 'e
mind to wid nigger. Sometimes Buckra sell nigger by de pound, just
like 'e sell pig; and den 'e say 't was wid de Lord's will."
"If mas'r Lord be what Buckra say he be, dis child don' want t'be
'quainted wid 'um," he coolly dilates, as if he foresees the
mournful result of the child's bright endowments.
The negro tries to quiet the child's apprehensions by telling him he
thinks "Buckra, what's waiting down in da'h office, gwine t' buy 'um
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