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A Romance of the Republic by Lydia Maria Francis Child

Part 6 out of 7

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And taking her parasol, she went out, leaning on her husband's arm.

"So you are an Abolitionist?" said Mr. Blumenthal, as they stopped
near their host.

Mr. Bright tossed his hat on a bush, and, leaning on his hoe, sang
in a stentorian voice: "I am an Abolitionist; I glory in the
name.--There," said he, laughing, "I let out _all_ my voice, that the
Deacon might hear. He can pray the loudest; but I reckon I can sing
the loudest. I'll tell you what first made me begin to think about
slavery. You see I was never easy without I could be doing something
in the musical way, so I undertook to teach singing. One winter, I
thought I should like to run away from Jack Frost, and I looked in the
Southern papers to see if any of 'em advertised for a singing-master.
The first thing my eye lighted on was this advertisement:--

"Ran away from the subscriber a stout mulatto slave, named Joe; has
light sandy hair, blue eyes, and ruddy complexion; is intelligent, and
will pass himself for a white man. I will give one hundred dollars'
reward to whoever will seize him and put him in jail.'

"'By George!' said I, 'that's a description of _me_. I didn't know
before that I was a mulatto. It'll never do for me to go _there_.'
So I went to Vermont to teach. I told 'em I was a runaway slave, and
showed 'em the advertisement that described me. Some of 'em believed
me, till I told 'em it was a joke. Well, it is just as bad for those
poor black fellows as it would have been for me; but that blue-eyed
Joe seemed to bring the matter home to me. It set me to thinking about
slavery, and I have kept thinking ever since."

"Not exactly such a silent thinking as the apothecary's famous owl, I
judge," said Mrs. Blumenthal.

"No," replied he, laughing. "I never had the Quaker gift of gathering
into the stillness, that's a fact. But I reckon even that 'pothecary's
owl wouldn't be silent if he could hear and understand all that Betsey
has told me about the goings-on down South. Before I married her, she
went there to teach; but she's a woman o' feeling, and she couldn't
stand it long. But, dear me, if I believed Deacon Steal'em's talk, I
should think it was just about the pleasantest thing in the world to
be sold; and that the niggers down South had nothing 'pon earth to do
but to lick treacle and swing on a gate. Then he proves it to be a
Divine institution from Scripture, chapter and verse. You may have
noticed, perhaps, that such chaps are always mighty well posted up
about the original designs of Providence; especially as to who's
foreordained to be kept down. He says God cussed Ham, and the niggers
are the descendants of Ham. I told him if there was an estate of Ham's
left unsettled, I reckoned 't would puzzle the 'cutest lawyer to hunt
up the rightful heirs."

"I think so," rejoined Mr. Blumenthal, smiling; "especially when
they've become so mixed up that they advertise runaway negroes with
sandy hair, blue eyes, and ruddy complexion."

"When the Deacon feels the ground a little shaky under him," resumed
Mr. Bright, he leans on his minister down in Carolina, who, he says,
is a Northern man, and so pious that folks come from far and near to
get him to pray for rain in a dry time; thinking the prayers of such
a godly man will be sure to bring down the showers. He says that man
preached a sermon that proved niggers were born to be servants of
servants unto their brethren. I told him I didn't doubt that part of
the prophecy was fulfilled about their serving their _brethren_; and
I showed him the advertisement about sandy hair and blue eyes. But
as for being servants of _servants_, I never heard of slaveholders
serving anybody except--a chap whose name it ain't polite to mention
before ladies. As for that preacher, he put me in mind of a minister
my father used to tell of. He'd been to a wedding, and when he come
home he couldn't light his lamp. After trying a long spell he found
out that the extinguisher was on it. I told the deacon that ministers
down South had put an extinguisher on their lamp, and couldn't be
expected to raise much of a light from it to guide anybody's steps."

"Some of the Northern ministers are not much better guides, I think,"
rejoined Mr. Blumenthal.

"Just so," replied his host; "'cause they've got the same extinguisher
on; and ain't it curious to see 'em puffing and blowing at the old
lamp? I get 'most tired of talking common sense and common feeling to
the Deacon. You can't get it into him, and it won't stay on him. You
might as well try to heap a peck o' flax-seed. He keeps eating his
own words, too; though they don't seem to agree with him, neither. He
maintains that the slaves are perfectly contented and happy; and the
next minute, if you quote any of their cruel laws, he tells you they
are obliged to make such laws or else they would rise and cut their
masters' throats. He says blacks and whites won't mix any more than
oil and water; and the next minute he says if the slaves are freed
they'll marry our daughters. I tell him his arguments are like the
Kilkenny cats, that ate one another up to the tip o' their tails. The
Deacon is sensible enough, too, about many other subjects; but he nor
no other man can saw straight with a crooked saw."

"It's an old saying," rejoined Blumenthal, "that, when men enter into
a league with Satan, he always deserts them at the tightest pinch; and
I've often observed he's sure to do it where arguments pinch."

"I don't wonder you are far from being a favorite with the Deacon,"
remarked Flora; "for, according to your own account, you hit him
rather hard."

"I suppose I do," rejoined Mr. Bright. "I'm always in earnest myself;
and when I'm sure I'm in the right, I always drive ahead. I soon get
out o' patience trying to twist a string that ain't fastened at nary
end, as an old neighbor of my father used to say. I suppose some of us
Abolitionists _are_ a little rough at times; but I reckon the coarsest
of us do more good than the false prophets that prophesy smooth
things."

"You said Mrs. Bright had been a teacher in the South. What part of
the South was it?" inquired Mrs. Blumenthal.

"She went to Savannah to be nursery governess to Mrs. Fitzgerald's
little girl," replied he. "But part of the time she was on an island
where Mr. Fitzgerald had a cotton plantation. I dare say you've heard
of him, for he married the daughter of that rich Mr. Bell who lives in
your street. He died some years ago; at least they suppose he died,
but nobody knows what became of him."

Flora pressed her husband's arm, and was about to inquire concerning
the mystery, when Mrs. Delano came, hand in hand with Rosa and Lila,
to say that she had ordered the carriage and wanted them to be in
readiness to take a drive.

They returned to a late dinner; and when they rose from a long chat
over the dessert, Mr. Bright was not to be found, and his wife was
busy; so further inquiries concerning Mr. Fitzgerald's fate were
postponed. Mr. Blumenthal proposed a walk on Round Hill; but the
children preferred staying at home. Rosa had a new tune she wanted to
practise with her guitar; and her little sister had the promise of a
story from Mamita Lila. So Mr. Blumenthal and his wife went forth on
their ramble alone. The scene from Round Hill was beautiful with the
tender foliage of early spring. Slowly they sauntered round from point
to point, pausing now and then to look at the handsome villages before
them, at the blooming peach-trees, the glistening river, and the
venerable mountains, with feathery crowns of violet cloud.

Suddenly a sound of music floated on the air; and they stood
spell-bound, with heads bowed, as if their souls were hushed in
prayer. When it ceased, Mr. Blumenthal drew a long breath, and said,
"Ah! that was our Mendelssohn."

"How exquisitely it was played," observed his wife, "and how in
harmony it was with these groves! It sounded like a hymn in the
forest."

They lingered, hoping again to hear the invisible musician. As they
leaned against the trees, the silver orb of the moon ascended from the
horizon, and rested on the brow of Mount Holyoke; and from the same
quarter whence Mendelssohn's "Song without Words" had proceeded, the
tones of "Casta Diva" rose upon the air. Flora seized her husband's
arm with a quick, convulsive grasp, and trembled all over. Wondering
at the intensity of her emotion, he passed his arm tenderly round her
waist and drew her closely to him. Thus, leaning upon his heart, she
listened with her whole being, from the inmost recesses of her soul,
throughout all her nerves, to her very fingers' ends. When the sounds
died away, she sobbed out: "O, how like Rosa's voice! It seemed as if
she had risen from the dead."

He spoke soothingly, and in a few minutes they descended the hill and
silently wended their way homeward. The voice that had seemed to
come from another world invested the evening landscape with mystical
solemnity. The expression of the moon seemed transfigured, like a
great clairvoyant eye, reflecting light from invisible spheres, and
looking out upon the external world with dreamy abstraction.

When they arrived at their lodgings, Flora exclaimed: "O Mamita Lila,
we have heard such heavenly music, and a voice so wonderfully like
Rosa's! I don't believe I shall sleep a wink to-night."

"Do you mean the Aunt Rosa I was named for?" inquired her daughter.

"Yes, Rosen Blumen," replied her mother; "and I wish you had gone with
us, that you might have an idea what a wonderful voice she had."

This led to talk about old times, and to the singing of various airs
associated with those times. When they retired to rest, Flora fell
asleep with those tunes marching and dancing through her brain; and,
for the first time during many years, she dreamed of playing them to
her father, while Rosabella sang.

The next morning, when the children had gone out to ramble in the
woods with their father, her memory being full of those old times,
she began to say over to the parrot some of the phrases that formerly
amused her father and Rosabella. The old bird was never talkative now;
but when urged by Flora, she croaked out some of her familiar phrases.

"I'm glad we brought _pauvre Manon_ with us," said Mrs. Blumenthal. "I
think she seems livelier since she came here. Sometimes I fancy she
looks like good Madame Guirlande. Those feathers on her head make me
think of the bows on Madame's cap. Come, _jolie Manon_, I'll carry you
out doors, where the sun will shine upon you. You like sunshine, don't
you, Manon?"

She took the cage, and was busy fastening it on the bough of a tree,
when a voice from the street said, "_Bon jour, jolie Manon_!"

The parrot suddenly flapped her wings, gave a loud laugh, and burst
into a perfect tornado of French and Spanish phrases: "_Bon jour!
Buenos dias! Querida mia! Joli diable! Petit blanc! Ha! ha_!"

Surprised at this explosion, Mrs. Blumenthal looked round to discover
the cause, and exclaiming, "_Oh ciel_!" she turned deadly pale, and
rushed into the house.

"What _is_ the matter, my child? inquired Mrs. Delano, anxiously.

"O Mamita, I've seen Rosa's ghost," she replied, sinking into a chair.

Mrs. Delano poured some cologne on a handkerchief, and bathed her
forehead, while she said, "You were excited last night by the tune you
used to hear your sister sing; and it makes you nervous, dear."

While she was speaking, Mrs. Bright entered the room, saying, "Have
you a bottle of sal volatile you can lend me? A lady has come in, who
says she is a little faint."

"I will bring it from my chamber," replied Mrs. Delano. She left
the room, and was gone some time. When she returned, she found Mrs.
Blumenthal leaning her head on the table, with her face buried in her
hands. "My child, I want you to come into the other room," said Mrs.
Delano. "The lady who was faint is the famous Mrs. King, from Boston.
She is boarding on Round Hill, and I suppose it was her voice you
heard singing. She said she had seen a lady come into this house who
looked so much like a deceased relative that it made her feel faint.
Now don't be excited, darling; but this lady certainly resembles the
sketch you made of your sister; and it is barely possible--"

Before she could finish the sentence, Flora started up, and flew into
the adjoining room. A short, quick cry, "O Floracita!" "O Rosabella!"
and they were locked in each other's arms.

After hugging and kissing, and weeping and laughing by turns, Mrs.
King said: "That must have been Madame's parrot. The sight of her made
me think of old times, and I said, '_Bon jour, jolie Manon_! Your back
was toward me, and I should have passed on, if my attention had not
been arrested by her wild outpouring of French and Spanish. I suppose
she knew my voice."

"Bless the dear old bird!" exclaimed Flora. "It was she who brought us
together again at last. She shall come in to see you."

They went out to bring in their old pet. But _jolie Manon_ was lying
on the floor of her cage, with eyes closed and wings outstretched. The
joyful surprise had been too much for her feeble old nerves. She was
dead.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

"So you _are_ alive!" exclaimed Rosa, holding her sister back a
little, and gazing upon her face with all her soul in her eyes.

"Yes, very _much_ alive," answered Flora, with a smile that brought
out all her dimples.

"But do tell me," said Rosa, "how you came to go away so strangely,
and leave me to mourn for you as if you were dead."

The dimples disappeared, and a shadow clouded Flora's expressive eyes,
as she replied: "It would take a long while to explain all that,
_sistita mia_. We will talk it over another time, please."

Rosa sighed as she pressed her sister's hand, and said: "Perhaps I
have already conjectured rightly about it, Floracita. My eyes were
opened by bitter experiences after we were parted. Some time I will
explain to you how I came to run to Europe in such a hurry, with
Madame and the Signor."

"But tell me, the first thing of all, whether Tulee is dead," rejoined
Flora.

"You know Madame was always exceedingly careful about expense,"
responded Rosa. "Mrs. Duroy was willing to board Tulee for her work,
and Madame thought it was most prudent to leave her there till we got
established in Europe, and could send for her; and just when we were
expecting her to rejoin us, letters came informing us that Mr. and
Mrs. Duroy and Tulee all died of yellow-fever. It distresses me beyond
measure to think of our having left poor, faithful Tulee."

"When we found out that Mr. Fitzgerald had married another wife,"
replied Flora, "my new Mamita kindly volunteered to go with me
in search of you and Tulee. We went to the cottage, and to the
plantation, and to New Orleans. Everybody I ever knew seemed to be
dead or gone away. But Madame's parrot was alive, and her chattering
led me into a stranger's house, where I heard that you were lost at
sea on your way to Europe; and that Tulee, with a white baby she had
charge of, had died of yellow-fever. Was that baby yours, dear?"

Rosa lowered her eyes, and colored deeply, as she answered: "That
subject is very painful to me. I can never forgive myself for having
left Tulee and that poor little baby."

Flora pressed her sister's hand in silence for a moment, and then
said: "You told me Madame and the Signor were alive and well. Where
are they?"

"They lived with us in Provence," replied Rosa. "But when we concluded
to return to America, the Signor expressed a wish to end his days in
his native country. So Mr. King purchased an estate for them near
Florence, and settled an annuity upon them. I had a letter from Madame
a few days ago, and she writes that they are as happy as rabbits in
clover. The Signor is getting quite old; and if she survives him, it
is agreed that she will come and end her days with us. How it will
delight her heart to hear that you are alive! What a strange fortune
we have had! It seems that Mr. King always loved me, from the first
evening that he spent at our house. Do you remember how you laughed
because he offered to help us if ever we were in trouble? He knew more
about us then than we knew about ourselves; and he afterward did help
me out of very great troubles. I will tell you all about it some time.
But first I want to know about you. Who is this new Mamita that you
speak of?"

"O, it was wonderful how she came to me when I had the greatest need
of a friend," answered Flora. "You must know that she and Papasito
were in love with each other when they were young; and she is in love
with his memory now. I sometimes think his spirit led her to me. I
will show you a picture I have made of Papasito and Mamita as guardian
angels, placing a crown of violets and lilies of the valley on the
head of my new Mamita. When I had to run away, she brought me to live
with her in Boston; and there I met with an old acquaintance. Do you
remember Florimond Blumenthal?"

"The good German boy that Papasito took such an interest in?" inquired
Rosa. "To be sure I remember him."

"Well, he's a good German boy now," rejoined Flora; "and I'm Mrs.
Blumenthal."

"Is it possible?" exclaimed Rosa. "You look so exactly as you did when
you were such a merry little elf, that I never thought to inquire
whether you were married. In the joy of this sudden meeting, I forgot
how many years had passed since we saw each other."

"You will realize how long it has been when you see my children,"
rejoined Flora. "My oldest, Alfred Royal, is fitting for college. He
is the image of _cher Papa_; and you will see how Mamita Lila doats
upon him. She must have loved Papasito very much. Then I had a
daughter that died in a few days; then I had my Rosen Blumen, and
you will see who she looks like; then some more came and went to
the angels. Last of all came little Lila, who looks just like her
father,--flaxen hair, pink cheeks, and great German forget-me-nots for
eyes."

"How I shall love them all!" exclaimed Rosa. "And you will love our
Eulalia. I had a little Alfred and a little Flora. They came to us
in Provence, and we left their pretty little bodies there among the
roses."

The sisters sat folded in each other's arms, their souls wandering
about among memories, when Mr. Blumenthal returned from his long
ramble with the children. Then, of course, there was a scene of
exclamations and embraces. Little Lila was shy, and soon ran away to
take refuge in Mamita's chamber; but Rosen Blumen was full of wonder
and delight that such a grand, beautiful lady was the Aunt Rosa of
whom she had heard so much.

"Mamita Lila has stayed away all this time, out of regard to our
privacy," said Flora; "but now I am going to bring her."

She soon returned, arm in arm with Mrs. Delano. Mr. Blumenthal took
her hand respectfully, as she entered, and said: "This is our dear
benefactress, our best earthly friend."

"My guardian angel, my darling Mamita," added Flora.

Mrs. King eagerly stepped forward, and folded her in her arms, saying,
in a voice half stifled with emotion, "Thank God and you for all this
happiness."

While they were speaking together, Flora held a whispered consultation
with her husband, who soon went forth in search of Mr. King, with
strict injunctions to say merely that an unexpected pleasure awaited
him. He hastened to obey the summons, wondering what it could mean.
There was no need of introducing him to his new-found relative. The
moment he entered the room, he exclaimed, "Why, Floracita!"

"So you knew me?" she said, clasping his hand warmly.

"To be sure I did," he answered. "You are the same little fairy that
danced in the floral parlor."

"O, I'm a sober matron now," said she, with a comic attempt to look
demure about the mouth, while her eyes were laughing. "Here is my
daughter Rosa; and I have a tall lad, who bears two thirds of your
regal name."

The happy group were loath to separate, though it was only to meet
again in the evening at Mr. King's lodgings on Round Hill. There,
memories and feelings, that tried in vain to express themselves fully
in words, found eloquent utterance in music.

Day after day, and evening after evening, the sisters met, with a
hunger of the heart that could not be satisfied. Their husbands and
children, meanwhile, became mutually attached. Rosen Blumen, richly
colored with her tropical ancestry and her vigorous health, looked
upon her more ethereal cousin Eulalia as a sort of angel, and seemed
to worship her as such. Sometimes she accompanied her sweet, bird-like
voice with the guitar; sometimes they sang duets together; and
sometimes one played on the piano, while the other danced with
Lila, whose tiny feet kept time to the music, true as an echo. Not
unfrequently, the pretty little creature was called upon to dance a
_pas seul_; for she had improvised a dance for herself to the tune of
Yankee Doodle, and it was very amusing to see how emphatically she
stamped the rhythm.

While the young people amused themselves thus, Flora often brought
forward her collection of drawings, which Rosa called the portfolio of
memories.

There was the little fountain in their father's garden, the lonely
cottage on the island, the skeleton of the dead pine tree, with the
moon peeping through its streamers of moss, and Thistle with his
panniers full of flowers. Among the variety of foreign scenes, Mrs.
King particularly admired the dancing peasants from Frascati.

"Ah," said Flora, "I see them now, just as they looked when we passed
them on our beautiful drive to Albano. It was the first really merry
day I had had for a long time. I was just beginning to learn to enjoy
myself without you. It was very selfish of me, dear Rosa, but I was
forgetful of you, that day. And, only to think of it! if it had not
been for that unlucky apparition of Mr. Fitzgerald, I should have gone
to the opera and seen you as Norma."

"Very likely we should both have fainted," rejoined Rosa, "and then
the manager would have refused to let La Campaneo try her luck again.
But what is this, Floracita?"

"That is a group on Monte Pincio," she replied. "I sketched it when I
was shut up in my room, the day before you came out in the opera."

"I do believe it is Madame and the Signor and I," responded Rosa. "The
figures and the dresses are exactly the same; and I remember we went
to Monte Pincio that morning, on my return from rehearsal."

"What a stupid donkey I was, not to know you were so near!" said
Flora. "I should have thought my fingers would have told me while I
was drawing it."

"Ah," exclaimed Rosa, "here is Tulee!" Her eyes moistened while she
gazed upon it. "Poor Tulee!" said she, "how she cared for me, and
comforted me, during those dark and dreadful days! If it hadn't been
for her and Chloe, I could never have lived through that trouble. When
I began to recover, she told me how Chloe held my hand hour after
hour, and prayed over me without ceasing. I believe she prayed me up
out of the grave. She said our Mamita appeared to her once, and told
her she was my guardian angel; but if it had really been our Mamita,
I think she would have told her to tell me you were alive, Mignonne.
When Alfred and I went South, just before we came here, we tried to
find Tom and Chloe. We intend to go to New Bedford soon to see them. A
glimpse of their good-natured black faces would give me more pleasure
than all the richly dressed ladies I saw at Mrs. Green's great party."

"Very likely you'll hear Tom preach when you go to New Bedford,"
rejoined Flora, "for he is a Methodist minister now; and Chloe, they
say, is powerful in prayer at the meetings. I often smile when I think
about the manner of her coming away. It was so funny that my quiet,
refined Mamita Lila should all at once become a kidnapper. But here is
Rosen Blumen. Well, what now, Mignonne?"

"Papa says Lila is very sleepy, and we ought to be going home,"
replied the young damsel.

"Then we will kiss good night, _sistita mia_?" said Mrs. Blumenthal;
"and you will bring Eulalia to us to-morrow."

On their return home, Mr. Bright called to them over the garden fence.
"I've just had a letter from your neighbor, Mrs. Fitzgerald," said he.
"She wants to know whether we can accommodate her, and her father, and
her son with lodgings this summer. I'm mighty glad we can say we've
let all our rooms; for that old Mr. Bell treats mechanics as if he
thought they all had the small-pox, and he was afraid o' catching it.
So different from you, Mr. Blumenthal, and Mr. King! You ain't afraid
to take hold of a rough hand without a glove on. How is Mrs. King?
Hope she's coming to-morrow. If the thrushes and bobolinks could sing
human music, and put human feeling into it, her voice would beat 'em
all. How romantic that you should come here to Joe Bright's to find
your sister, that you thought was dead."

When they had courteously answered his inquiries, he repeated a wish
he had often expressed, that somebody would write a story about it.
If he had been aware of all their antecedents, he would perhaps have
written one himself; but he only knew that the handsome sisters were
orphans, separated in youth, and led by a singular combination of
circumstances to suppose each other dead.

CHAPTER XXIX.

When the sisters were alone together, the next day after dinner,
Flora said, "Rosa, dear, does it pain you very much to hear about Mr.
Fitzgerald?"

"No; that wound has healed," she replied. "It is merely a sad memory
now."

"Mrs. Bright was nursery governess in his family before her marriage,"
rejoined Flora. "I suppose you have heard that he disappeared
mysteriously. I think she may know something about it, and I have been
intending to ask her; but your sudden appearance, and the quantity
of things we have had to say to each other, have driven it out of my
head. Do you object to my asking her to come in and tell us something
about her experiences?"

"I should be unwilling to have her know we were ever acquainted with
Mr. Fitzgerald," responded Mrs. King.

"So should I," said Flora. "It will be a sufficient reason for my
curiosity that Mrs. Fitzgerald is our acquaintance and neighbor."

And she went out to ask her hostess to come and sit with them. After
some general conversation, Flora said: "You know Mrs. Fitzgerald is
our neighbor in Boston. I have some curiosity to know what were your
experiences in her family."

"Mrs. Fitzgerald was always very polite to me," replied Mrs. Bright;
"and personally I had no occasion to find fault with Mr. Fitzgerald,
though I think the Yankee schoolma'am was rather a bore to him.
The South is a beautiful part of the country. I used to think the
sea-island, where they spent most of the summer, was as beautiful as
Paradise before the fall; but I never felt at home there. I didn't
like the state of things. It's my theory that everybody ought to help
in doing the work of the world. There's a great deal to be done,
ladies, and it don't seem right that some backs should be broken with
labor, while others have the spine complaint for want of exercise. It
didn't agree with my independent New England habits to be waited upon
so much. A negro woman named Venus took care of my room. The first
night I slept at the plantation, it annoyed me to see her kneel down
to take off my stockings and shoes. I told her she might go, for I
could undress myself. She seemed surprised; and I think her conclusion
was that I was no lady. But all the negroes liked me. They had got the
idea, somehow, that Northern people were their friends, and were doing
something to set them free."

"Then they generally wanted their freedom, did they?" inquired Flora.

"To be sure they did," rejoined Mrs. Bright. "Did you ever hear of
anybody that liked being a slave?"

Mrs. King asked whether Mr. Fitzgerald was a hard master.

"I don't think he was," said their hostess. "I have known him to do
very generous and kind things for his servants. But early habits had
made him indolent and selfish, and he left the overseer to do as he
liked. Besides, though he was a pleasant gentleman when sober, he was
violent when he was intoxicated; and he had become much addicted
to intemperance before I went there. They said he had been a very
handsome man; but he was red and bloated when I knew him. He had a
dissipated circle of acquaintances, who used to meet at his house in
Savannah, and gamble with cards till late into the night; and the
liquor they drank often made them very boisterous and quarrelsome.
Mrs. Fitzgerald never made any remark, in my presence, about these
doings; but I am sure they troubled her, for I often heard her walking
her chamber long after she had retired for the night. Indeed, they
made such an uproar, that it was difficult to sleep till they were
gone. Sometimes, after they had broken up, I heard them talking on the
piazza; and their oaths and obscene jests were shocking to hear;
yet if I met any of them the next day, they appeared like courtly
gentlemen. When they were intoxicated, niggers and Abolitionists
seemed always to haunt their imaginations. I remember one night in
particular. I judged by their conversation that they had been reading
in a Northern newspaper some discussion about allowing slaveholders to
partake of the sacrament. Their talk was a strange tipsy jumble. If
Mr. Bright had heard it, he would give you a comical account of it. As
they went stumbling down the steps, some were singing and some were
swearing. I heard one of them bawl out, 'God damn their souls to all
eternity, they're going to exclude us from the communion-table.' When
I first told the story to Mr. Bright, I said d---- their souls; but he
said that was all a sham, for everybody knew what d---- stood for, and
it was just like showing an ass's face to avoid speaking his name. So
I have spoken the word right out plain, just as I heard it. It was
shocking talk to hear, and you may think it very improper to repeat
it, ladies; but I have told it to give you an idea of the state of
things in the midst of which I found myself."

Mrs. King listened in sad silence. The Mr. Fitzgerald of this
description was so unlike the elegant young gentleman who had won her
girlish love, that she could not recognize him as the same person.

"Did Mr. Fitzgerald die before you left?" inquired Flora.

"I don't know when or how he died," replied Mrs. Bright; "but I
have my suspicions. Out of regard to Mrs. Fitzgerald, I have never
mentioned them to any one but my husband; and if I name them to you,
ladies, I trust you will consider it strictly confidential."

They promised, and she resumed.

"I never pried into the secrets of the family, but I could not help
learning something about them, partly from my own observation, and
inferences drawn therefrom, and partly from the conversation of Venus,
my talkative waiting-maid. She told me that her master married a
Spanish lady, the most beautiful lady that ever walked the earth; and
that he conveyed her away secretly somewhere after he married the
milk-face, as she called Mrs. Fitzgerald. Venus was still good-looking
when I knew her. From her frequent remarks I judge that, when she was
young, her master thought her extremely pretty; and she frequently
assured me that he was a great judge 'ob we far sex.' She had a
handsome mulatto daughter, whose features greatly resembled his;
and she said there was good reason for it. I used to imagine Mrs.
Fitzgerald thought so too; for she always seemed to owe this handsome
Nelly a grudge. Mr. Fitzgerald had a body-servant named Jim, who was
so genteel that I always called him 'Dandy Jim o' Caroline.' Jim and
Nelly were in love with each other; but their master, for reasons of
his own, forbade their meeting together.

"Finding that Nelly tried to elude his vigilance, he sold Jim to a New
Orleans trader, and the poor girl almost cried her handsome eyes out.
A day or two after he was sold, Mr. Fitzgerald and his lady went to
Beaufort on a visit, and took their little son and daughter with them.
The walls of my sleeping-room were to be repaired, and I was told to
occupy their chamber during their absence. The evening after they went
away, I sat up rather late reading, and when I retired the servants
were all asleep. As I sat before the looking-glass, arranging my hair
for the night, I happened to glance toward the reflection of the bed,
which showed plainly in the mirror; and I distinctly saw a dark eye
peeping through an opening in the curtains. My heart was in my throat,
I assure you; but I had the presence of mind not to cry out or to jump
up. I continued combing my hair, occasionally glancing toward the
eye. If it be one of the negroes, thought I, he surely cannot wish
to injure _me_, for they all know I am friendly to them. I tried to
collect all my faculties, to determine what it was best to do. I
reflected that, if I alarmed the servants, he might be driven to
attack me in self-defence. I began talking aloud to myself, leisurely
taking off my cuffs and collar as I did so, and laying my breastpin
and watch upon the table. 'I wish Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald were not
going to stay so long at Beaufort,' said I. 'It is lonesome here, and
I don't feel at home in this chamber. I sha'n't sleep if I go to bed;
so I think I'll read a little longer. 'I looked round on the table and
chairs, and added: 'There, now! I've left my book down stairs, and
must go for it.' I went down to the parlor and locked myself in. A few
minutes afterward I saw a dark figure steal across the piazza; and,
unless the moonlight deceived me, it was Dandy Jim. I wondered at it,
because I thought he was on his way to New Orleans. Of course, there
was no sleep for me that night. When the household were all astir, I
went to the chamber again. My watch and breastpin, which I had left on
purpose, were still lying on the table. It was evident that robbery
had not been the object. I did not mention the adventure to any one.
I pitied Jim, and if he had escaped, I had no mind to be the means of
his recapture. Whatever harm he had intended, he had not done it, and
there was no probability that he would loiter about in that vicinity.
I had reason to be glad of my silence; for the next day an agent from
the slave-trader arrived, saying that Jim had escaped, and that they
thought he might be lurking near where his wife was. When Mr. and Mrs.
Fitzgerald returned, they questioned Nelly, but she averred that she
had not seen Jim, or heard from him since he was sold. Mr. Fitzgerald
went away on horseback that afternoon. The horse came back in the
evening with an empty saddle, and he never returned. The next morning
Nelly was missing, and she was never found. I thought it right to be
silent about my adventure. To have done otherwise might have produced
mischievous results to Jim and Nelly, and could do their master no
good. I searched the woods in every direction, but I never came upon
any trace of Mr. Fitzgerald, except the marks of footsteps near the
sea, before the rising of the tide. I had made arrangements to return
to the North about that time; but Mrs. Fitzgerald's second son was
seized with fever, and I stayed with her till he was dead and buried.
Then we all came to Boston together. About a year after, her little
daughter, who had been my pupil, died."

"Poor Mrs. Fitzgerald!" said Flora. "I have heard her allude to her
lost children, but I had no idea she had suffered so much."

"She did suffer," replied Mrs. Bright, "though not so deeply as some
natures would have suffered in the same circumstances. Her present
situation is far from being enviable. Her father is a hard, grasping
man, and he was greatly vexed that her splendid marriage turned out to
be such a failure. It must be very mortifying to her to depend upon
him mainly for the support of herself and son. I pitied her, and I
pitied Mr. Fitzgerald too. He was selfish and dissipated, because he
was brought up with plenty of money, and slaves to obey everything he
chose to order. That is enough to spoil any man."

Rosa had listened with downcast eyes, but now she looked up earnestly
and said, "That is a very kind judgment, Mrs. Bright, and I thank you
for the lesson."

"It is a just judgment," replied their sensible hostess. "I often tell
Mr. Bright we cannot be too thankful that we were brought up to wait
upon ourselves and earn our own living. You will please to excuse me
now, ladies, for it is time to prepare tea."

As she closed the door, Rosa pressed her sister's hand, and sighed as
she said, "O, this is dreadful!"

"Dreadful indeed," rejoined Flora. "To think of him as he was when I
used to make you blush by singing, '_Petit blanc! mon bon frere_!' and
then to think what an end he came to!"

The sisters sat in silence for some time, thinking with moistened eyes
of all that had been kind and pleasant in the man who had done them so
much wrong.

CHAPTER XXX.

IF young Fitzgerald had not been strongly inclined to spend the summer
in Northampton, he would have been urged to it by his worldly-minded
mother and grandfather, who were disposed to make any effort to place
him in the vicinity of Eulalia King. They took possession of lodgings
on Round Hill in June; and though very few weeks intervened before
the college vacation, the time seemed so long to Gerald, that he
impatiently counted the days. Twice he took the journey for a short
visit before he was established as an inmate of his grandfather's
household. Alfred Blumenthal had a vacation at the same time, and the
young people of the three families were together almost continually.
Songs and glees enlivened their evenings, and nearly every day there
were boating excursions, or rides on horseback, in which Mr. and Mrs.
King and Mr. and Mrs. Blumenthal invariably joined. No familiarity
could stale the ever fresh charm of the scenery. The beautiful river,
softly flowing in sunlight through richly cultivated meadows, always
seemed to Mr. Blumenthal like the visible music of Mendelssohn. Mr.
King, who had been in Germany, was strongly reminded of the Rhine and
the Black Forest, while looking on that wide level expanse of verdure,
with its broad band of sparkling silver, framed in with thick dark
woods along the river-range of mountains. The younger persons of the
party more especially enjoyed watching Mill River rushing to meet
the Connecticut, like an impatient boy let loose for the holidays,
shouting, and laughing, and leaping, on his way homeward. Mrs. Delano
particularly liked to see, from the summit of Mount Holyoke, the
handsome villages, lying so still in the distance, giving no sign
of all the passions, energies, and sorrows that were seething,
struggling, and aching there; and the great stretch of meadows,
diversified with long, unfenced rows of stately Indian corn, rich with
luxuriant foliage of glossy green, alternating with broad bands of
yellow grain, swayed by the breeze like rippling waves of the sea.
These regular lines of variegated culture, seen from such a height,
seemed like handsome striped calico, which earth had put on for her
working-days, mindful that the richly wooded hills were looking down
upon her picturesque attire. There was something peculiarly congenial
to the thoughtful soul of the cultured lady in the quiet pastoral
beauty of the extensive scene; and still more in the sense of
serene elevation above the whole, seeing it all dwindle into small
proportions, as the wisdom of age calmly surveys the remote panorama
of life.

These riding parties attracted great attention as they passed through
the streets; for all had heard the rumor of their wealth, and all were
struck by the unusual amount of personal beauty, and the distinguished
style of dress. At that time, the Empress Eugenie had issued her
imperial decree that all the world should shine in "barbaric gold,"--a
fashion by no means distasteful to the splendor-loving sisters. Long
sprays of Scotch laburnum mingled their golden bells with the dark
tresses of Eulalia and Rosen Blumen; a cluster of golden wheat mixed
its shining threads with Flora's black curls; and a long, soft
feather, like "the raven down of darkness," dusted with gold, drooped
over the edge of Mrs. King's riding-cap, fastened to its band by a
golden star. Even Mrs. Fitzgerald so far changed her livery of the
moon as to wear golden buds mixed with cerulean flowers. Mrs. Delano
looked cool as evening among them in her small gray bonnet, with a few
violets half hidden in silver leaves. Old Mr. Bell not unfrequently
joined in these excursions. His white hair, and long silky white
beard, formed a picturesque variety in the group; while all recognized
at a glance the thoroughbred aristocrat in his haughty bearing, his
stern mouth, his cold, turquoise eyes, and the clenching expression of
his hand. Mrs. King seemed to have produced upon him the effect Gerald
had predicted. No youthful gallant could have been more assiduous at
her bridle-rein, and he seemed to envy his grandson every smile he
obtained from her beautiful lips.

Both he and Mrs. Fitzgerald viewed with obvious satisfaction the
growing intimacy between that young gentleman and Eulalia. "Capital
match for Gerald, eh?" said Mr. Bell to his daughter. "They say King's
good for three millions at least,--some say four."

"And Eulalia is such a lovely, gentle girl!" rejoined Mrs. Fitzgerald.
"I'm very fond of her, and she seems fond of me; though of course
that's on account of my handsome son."

"Yes, she's a lovely girl," replied the old gentleman; "and Gerald
will be a lucky dog if he wins her. But her beauty isn't to be
compared to her mother's. If I were Emperor of France, and she were a
widow, I know who would have a chance to become Empress."

But though Mrs. King lived in such an atmosphere of love, and was
the object of so much admiration, with ample means for indulging her
benevolence and her tastes, she was evidently far from being happy.
Flora observed it, and often queried with her husband what could be
the reason. One day she spoke to Mr. King of the entire absence of
gayety in her sister, and he said he feared young Mr. Fitzgerald
painfully reminded her of her lost son.

Flora reflected upon this answer without being satisfied with it. "It
doesn't seem natural," said she to her husband. "She parted from that
baby when he was but a few weeks old, and he has been dead nearly
twenty years. She has Eulalia to love, and a noble husband, who
worships the very ground she treads on. It don't seem natural. I
wonder whether she has a cancer or some other secret disease."

She redoubled her tenderness, and exerted all her powers of mimicry to
amuse her sister. The young folks screamed with laughter to see her
perform the shuffling dances of the negroes, or to hear her accompany
their singing with imitations of the growling contra-fagotto, or the
squeaking fife. In vain she filled the room with mocking-birds, or
showed off the accomplishments of the parrot, or dressed herself in a
cap with a great shaking bow, like Madame Guirlande's, or scolded in
vociferous Italian, like Signor Pimentero. The utmost these efforts
could elicit from her sister was a faint, vanishing smile.

Mr. King noticed all this, and was pained to observe that his wife's
sadness increased daily. He would not himself have chosen young
Fitzgerald as a suitor for his daughter, fearing he might resemble his
father in character as he did in person; but he was willing to promote
their acquaintance, because the young man seemed to be a favorite with
his lady, and he thought that as a son-in-law he might supply the loss
of her first-born. But, in their rides and other excursions, he was
surprised to observe that Mrs. King assiduously tried to withdraw
Mr. Fitzgerald from her daughter, and attach him to herself. Her
attentions generally proved too flattering to be resisted; but if
the young man, yielding to attractions more suited to his age, soon
returned to Eulalia, there was an unmistakable expression of pain on
her mother's face. Mr. King was puzzled and pained by this conduct.
Entire confidence had hitherto existed between them. Why had she
become so reserved? Was the fire of first-love still smouldering in
her soul, and did a delicate consideration for him lead her to conceal
it? He could not believe it, she had so often repeated that to love
the unworthy was a thing impossible for her. Sometimes another thought
crossed his mind and gave him exquisite torture, though he repelled it
instantly: "Could it possibly be that his modest and dignified wife
was in love with this stripling, who was of an age suitable for her
daughter?" Whatever this mysterious cloud might be that cast its cold
shadow across the sunshine of his home, he felt that he could not
endure its presence. He resolved to seek an explanation with his
wife, and to propose an immediate return to Europe, if either of his
conjectures should prove true. Returning from a solitary walk, during
which these ideas had been revolving in his mind, he found her in
their chamber kneeling by the bedside, sobbing violently. With the
utmost tenderness he inquired what had grieved her.

She answered with a wild exclamation, "O Alfred, this _must_ be
stopped!"

"_What_ must be stopped, my dear?" said he.

"Gerald Fitzgerald _must_ not court our daughter," she replied.

"I thought it would please you, dearest," rejoined he. "The young
man has always seemed to be a favorite of yours. I should not have
selected him for our Eulalia, for fear the qualities of his father
might develop themselves in him; but you must remember that he has not
been educated among slaves. I think we can trust to that to make a
great difference in his character."

She groaned aloud, and sobbed out: "It _must_ be stopped. It will kill
me."

He sat down by her side, took her hand, and said very gravely: "Rosa,
you have often told me I was your best friend. Why then do you not
confide to me what it is that troubles you?"

"O, I cannot! I cannot!" she exclaimed. "I am a guilty wretch." And
there came a fresh outburst of sobs, which she stifled by keeping her
face hidden in the bedclothes.

"Rosa," said he, still more gravely, "you _must_ tell me the meaning
of this strange conduct. If an unworthy passion has taken possession
of you, it is your duty to try to conquer it for your own sake, for my
sake, for our daughter's sake. If you will confide in me, I will not
judge you harshly. I will return to Europe with you, and help you to
cure yourself. Tell me frankly, Rosa, do you love this young man?"

She looked up suddenly, and, seeing the extreme sadness of his face,
she exclaimed: "O Alfred, if you have thought _that_, I _must_ tell
you all. I do love Gerald; but it is because he is my own son."

"Your son!" he exclaimed, springing up, with the feeling that a great
load was lifted from his heart. He raised her to his bosom, and kissed
her tearful face again and again. The relief was so sudden, that for
an instant he forgot the strangeness of her declaration. But coming
to his senses immediately, he inquired, "How can it be that your son
passes for Mrs. Fitzgerald's son? And if it be so, why did you not
tell me of it?"

"I ought to have told you when I consented to marry you," she replied.
"But your protecting love was so precious to me, that I had not the
courage to tell you anything that would diminish your esteem for me.
Forgive me, dearest. It is the only wrong I have ever done you. But I
will tell you all now; and if it changes your love for me, I must try
to bear it, as a just punishment for the wrong I have done. You know
how Mr. Fitzgerald deserted me, and how I was stricken down when I
discovered that I was his slave. My soul almost parted from my body
during the long illness that followed. When I came to my senses, I
humbled myself to entreat Mr. Fitzgerald to emancipate me, for the
sake of our unborn child. He promised to do it, but he did not. I
was a mere wreck when my babe was born, and I had the feeling that I
should soon die. I loved the helpless little thing; and every time I
looked at him, it gave me a pang to think that he was born a slave. I
sent again and again for papers of manumission, but they never came.
I don't know whether it was mere negligence on the part of Mr.
Fitzgerald, or whether he meant to punish me for my coldness toward
him after I discovered how he had deceived me. I was weak in body, and
much humbled in spirit, after that long illness. I felt no resentment
toward him. I forgave him, and pitied his young wife. The only thing
that bound me to life was my child. I wanted to recover my strength,
that I might carry him to some part of the world where slavery could
not reach him. I was in that state, when Madame sent Mr. Duroy to tell
me Mr. Fitzgerald was in debt, and had sold me to that odious Mr.
Bruteman, whom he had always represented to me as the filthiest soul
alive. I think that incredible cruelty and that horrible danger made
me insane. My soul was in a terrible tempest of hatred and revenge. If
Mr. Fitzgerald had appeared before me, I should have stabbed him. I
never had such feelings before nor since. Unfortunately Chloe had come
to the cottage that day, with Mrs. Fitzgerald's babe, and he was lying
asleep by the side of mine. I had wild thoughts of killing both the
babies, and then killing myself. I had actually risen in search of a
weapon, but I heard my faithful Tulee coming to look upon me, to see
that all was well, and I lay down again and pretended to be asleep.
While I waited for her to cease watching over me, that frightful mood
passed away. Thank God, I was saved from committing such horrible
deeds. But I was still half frantic with misery and fear. A wild, dark
storm was raging in my soul. I looked at the two babes, and thought
how one was born to be indulged and honored, while the other was born
a slave, liable to be sold by his unfeeling father or by his father's
creditors. Mine was only a week the oldest, and was no larger than his
brother. They were so exactly alike that I could distinguish them only
by their dress. I exchanged the dresses, Alfred; and while I did it,
I laughed to think that, if Mr. Fitzgerald should capture me and the
little one, and make us over to Mr. Bruteman, he would sell the child
of his Lily Bell. It was not like me to have such feelings. I hope I
was insane. Do you think I was?"

He pressed her to his heart as he replied, "You surely had suffering
enough to drive you wild, dearest; and I do suppose your reason was
unsettled by intensity of anguish."

She looked at him anxiously, as she asked, "Then it does not make you
love me less?"

"No, darling," he replied; "for I am sure it was not my own gentle
Rosa who had such feelings."

"O, how I thank you, dear one, for judging me so charitably," said
she. "I hope it was temporary insanity; and always when I think it
over, it seems to me it must have been. I fell asleep smiling over the
revenge I had taken, and I slept long and heavily. When I woke, my
first wish was to change the dresses back again; but Chloe had gone
to the plantation with my babe, and Mr. Duroy hurried me on board the
boat before sunrise. I told no one what I had done; but it filled me
with remorse then, and has troubled me ever since. I resolved to atone
for it, as far as I could, by taking the tenderest care of the little
changeling, and trying to educate him as well as his own mother could
have done. It was that which gave me strength to work so hard for
musical distinction; and that motive stimulated me to appear as an
opera-singer, though the publicity was distasteful to me. When I
heard that the poor little creature was dead, I was tormented with
self-reproach, and I was all the more unhappy because I could tell no
one of my trouble. Then you came to console and strengthen me with
your blessed love, and I grew cheerful again. If the changeling had
been living at the time you asked me to marry you, I should have told
you all; but the poor little creature was dead, and there seemed to
be no necessity of confessing the wrong I had done. It was a selfish
feeling. I couldn't bear the thought of diminishing the love that
was so precious to my wounded heart. I have now told you all, dear
husband."

"Your excuse for concealment is very precious to my own heart," he
replied. "But I regret you did not tell me while we were in Europe;
for then I would not have returned to the United States till I was
quite sure all obstacles were removed. You know I never formed the
project until I knew Mr. Fitzgerald was dead."

"The American gentleman who informed you of his death led me into a
mistake, which has proved disastrous," rejoined she. "He said that
Mrs. Fitzgerald lost her husband and son about the same time. I was
not aware of the existence of a second son, and therefore I supposed
that my first-born had died. I knew that you wanted to spend your old
age in your native country, and that you were particularly desirous to
have Eulalia marry in New England. The dread I had of meeting my child
as the son of another, and seeming to him a stranger, was removed by
his death; and though I shed tears in secret, a load was lifted from
my heart. But the old story of avenging Furies following the criminal
wheresoever he goes seems verified in my case. On the day of Mrs.
Green's ball, I heard two gentlemen in the Revere House talking about
Mr. Bell; and one of them said to the other that Mrs. Fitzgerald's
second son and her daughter had died, and that her oldest son was sole
heir to Mr. Bell's property. My first impulse was to tell you all;
but because I had so long concealed my fault, it was all the more
difficult to confess it then. You had so generously overlooked many
disagreeable circumstances connected with my history, that I found
it extremely painful to add this miserable entanglement to the list.
Still, I foresaw that it must be done, and I resolved to do it; but I
was cowardly, and wanted to put off the evil day. You may remember,
perhaps, that at the last moment I objected to attending that ball;
but you thought it would be rude to disappoint Mrs. Green, merely
because I felt out of spirits. I went, not dreaming of seeing my son
there. I had not looked upon him since the little black, silky head
drooped on my arm while I exchanged the dresses. You may partly
imagine what I suffered. And now he and Eulalia are getting in love
with each other; and I know not what is to be done. When you came in,
I was praying for strength to seek your counsel. What _can_ we do,
dear? It will be a great disappointment for you to return to Europe,
now that you have refitted your father's house, and made all your
arrangements to spend the remainder of our days here."

"I would do it willingly," he replied, "if I thought it would avail
to separate Gerald and Eulalia. But a voyage to Europe is nothing
now-a-days, to people of their property. I believe he loves the
dear girl; and if he did not, my reputed millions would prevent his
grandfather and his mother from allowing him to lose sight of her. If
we were to build a castle on the top of Mount Himalaya, they would
scale it, you may depend. I see no other remedy than to tell Gerald
that Eulalia is his sister."

"O, I cannot tell him!" exclaimed she. "It would be so dreadful to
have my son hate me! And he _would_ hate me; for I can see that he is
very proud."

In very kind and serious tones he replied: "You know, dear Rosa, that
you expressed a wish the other day to go to the Catholic church in
which your mother worshipped, because you thought confession and
penance would be a comfort. You have wisely chosen me for your
confessor, and if I recommend penance I trust you will think it best
to follow my advice. I see how difficult it would be to tell all your
own and your mother's story to so young a man as Gerald, and he your
own son. I will tell him; and I need not assure you that you will have
a loving advocate to plead your cause with him. But his mother must
know why he relinquishes Eulalia, when he has had so much reason to
think himself in favor both with her and her parents. Gerald might
tell her the mere external facts; but she could appreciate and
understand them much better if told, as they would be told, by a
delicate and loving woman, who had suffered the wrongs that drove her
to madness, and who repented bitterly of the fault she had committed.
I think you ought to make a full confession to Mrs. Fitzgerald; and
having done that, we ought to do whatever she chooses to prescribe."

"It will be a severe penance," she rejoined; "but I will do whatever
you think is right. If I could have all the suffering, I would not
murmur. But Gerald will suffer and Eulalia will suffer. And for some
weeks I have made you unhappy. How sad you look, dear."

"I am a very happy man, Rosa, compared with what I was before you told
me this strange story. But I am very serious, because I want to be
sure of doing what is right in these difficult premises. As for Gerald
and Eulalia, their acquaintance has been very short, and I don't think
they have spoken of love to each other. Their extreme youth is also
a favorable circumstance. Rochefoucault says, 'Absence extinguishes
small passions, and increases great ones.' My own experience proved
the truth of one part of the maxim; but perhaps Gerald is of a more
volatile temperament, and will realize the other portion."

"And do you still love me as well as you ever did?" she asked.

He folded her more closely as he whispered, "I do, darling." And for
some minutes she wept in silence on his generous breast.

CHAPTER XXXI.

That evening young Fitzgerald was closeted two or three hours with
Mr. King. Though the disclosure was made with the utmost delicacy and
caution, the young man was startled and shocked; for he inherited
pride from both his parents, and he had been educated in the
prejudices of his grandfather. At first he flushed with indignation,
and refused to believe he was so disgraced.

"I don't see that you are disgraced, my young friend," replied Mr.
King. "The world might indeed so misjudge, because it is accustomed
to look only on externals; but there is no need that the world should
know anything about it. And as for your own estimate of yourself, you
were Mr. Fitzgerald the gentleman before you knew this singular story,
and you are Mr. Fitzgerald the gentleman still."

"I am not so much of a philosopher," rejoined the young man. "I shall
not find it easy to endure the double stain of illegitimacy and
alliance with the colored race."

Mr. King regarded him with a friendly smile, as he answered: "Perhaps
this experience, which you find so disagreeable, may educate you to
more wisdom than the schools have done. It may teach you the great
lesson of looking beneath the surface into the reality of things, my
son. Legally you are illegitimate; but morally you are not so. Your
mother believed herself married to your father, and through all the
vicissitudes of her life she has proved herself a modest, pure, and
noble woman. During twenty years of intimate acquaintance, I have
never known her to indulge an unworthy thought, or do a dishonorable
action, except that of substituting you for Mr. Fitzgerald's legal
heir. And if I have at all succeeded in impressing upon your mind the
frantic agony of her soul, desolate and shockingly abused as she
was, I think you will agree with me in considering that an excusable
offence; especially as she would have repaired the wrong a few hours
later, if it had been in her power. With regard to an alliance with
the colored race, I think it would be a more legitimate source
of pride to have descended from that truly great man, Toussaint
L'Ouverture, who was a full-blooded African, than from that
unprincipled filibuster called William the Conqueror, or from any
of his band of robbers, who transmitted titles of nobility to their
posterity. That is the way I have learned to read history, my young
friend, in the plain sunlight of truth, unchanged by looking at it
through the deceptive colored glasses of conventional prejudice. Only
yesterday you would have felt honored to claim my highly accomplished
and noble-minded wife as a near relative. She is as highly
accomplished and noble-minded a lady to-day as she was yesterday. The
only difference is, that to-day you are aware her grandmother had a
dark complexion. No human being can be really stained by anything
apart from his own character; but if there were any blot resting upon
you, it would come from your father. We should remember, however,
that He who made man can alone justly estimate man's temptations. For
myself, I believe that Mr. Fitzgerald's sins were largely attributable
to the system of slavery under which he had the misfortune to be
educated. He loved pleasure, he was rich, and he had irresponsible
power over many of his fellow-beings, whom law and public opinion
alike deprived of protection. Without judging him harshly, let his
career be a warning to you to resist the first enticements to evil;
and, as one means of doing so, let me advise you never to place
yourself in that state of society which had such a malign influence
upon him."

"Give me time to think," rejoined the young man. "This has come upon
me so suddenly that I feel stunned."

"That I can easily imagine," replied his friend. "But I wish you to
understand distinctly, that it depends entirely upon Mrs. Fitzgerald
and yourself to decide what is to be done in relation to this
perplexing affair. We are ready to do anything you wish, or to take
any position you prescribe for us. You may prefer to pass in society
merely as my young friend, but you are my step-son, you know; and
should you at any time of your life need my services, you may rely
upon me as an affectionate father."

That word brought cherished hopes to Gerald's mind, and he sighed as
he answered, "I thank you."

"Whatever outward inconveniences may arise from this state of things,"
resumed Mr. King, "we prefer to have them fall upon ourselves. It
is of course desirable that you and my daughter should not meet at
present. Your vacation has nearly expired, and perhaps you will deem
it prudent to return a little sooner than you intended. We shall
remain here till late in the autumn; and then, if circumstances render
it necessary, we will remove Eulalia to Cuba, or elsewhere, for the
winter. Try to bear this disappointment bravely, my son. As soon as
you feel sufficiently calm, I would advise you to seek an interview
with your mother. Her heart yearns for you, and the longer your
meeting is deferred, the more embarrassing it will be."

While this conversation was going on in the parlor, the two mothers
of the young man were talking confidentially up stairs. The intense
curiosity which Mrs. Fitzgerald had formerly felt was at once renewed
when Mrs. King said, "Do you remember having heard any one singing
about the house and garden at Magnolia Lawn, the first evening you
spent there?"

"Indeed I do," she replied; "and when I first heard you in Rome, I
repeatedly said your voice was precisely like that singer's."

"You might well be reminded of it," responded Mrs. King, "for I was
the person you heard at Magnolia Lawn, and these are the eyes that
peeped at you through the lattice of the veranda."

"But why were you there? And why did you keep yourself invisible?"
inquired Mrs. Fitzgerald.

Rosa hesitated a moment, embarrassed how to choose words to convey the
unwelcome facts. "My dear lady," said she, "we have both had very sad
experiences. On my side, they have been healed by time; and I trust
it is the same with you. Will it pain you too much to hear something
disparaging to the memory of your deceased husband?"

Mrs. Fitzgerald colored very deeply, and remained silent.

"Nothing but an imperious necessity would induce me to say what I
am about to say," continued Mrs. King; "not only because I am
very reluctant to wound your feelings, but because the recital is
humiliating and painful to myself. When I peeped at you in your bridal
attire, I believed myself to be Mr. Fitzgerald's wife. Our marriage
had been kept strictly private, he always assuring me that it was only
for a time. But you need not look so alarmed. I was not his wife. I
learned the next morning that I had been deceived by a sham ceremony.
And even if it had been genuine, the marriage would not have been
valid by the laws of Louisiana, where it was performed; though I did
not know that fact at the time. No marriage with a slave is valid in
that State. My mother was a quadroon slave, and by the law that 'a
child follows the condition of the mother,' I also became a slave."

"_You_ a slave!" exclaimed Mrs. Fitzgerald, with unfeigned
astonishment. "That is incredible. That goes beyond any of the stories
Abolitionists make up to keep the country in agitation."

"Judging by my own experience," rejoined Mrs. King, "I should say that
the most fertile imagination could invent nothing more strange and
romantic than many of the incidents which grow out of slavery."

She then went on to repeat her story in detail; not accusing Mr.
Fitzgerald more than was absolutely necessary to explain the agonized
and frantic state of mind in which she had changed the children. Mrs.
Fitzgerald listened with increasing agitation as she went on; and when
it came to that avowal, she burst out with the passionate exclamation:
"Then Gerald is not my son! And I love him so!"

Mrs. King took her hand and pressed it gently as she said: "You can
love him still, dear lady, and he will love you. Doubtless you will
always seem to him like his own mother. If he takes an aversion to me,
it will give me acute pain; but I shall try to bear it meekly, as a
part of the punishment my fault deserves."

"If you don't intend to take him from me, what was the use of telling
me this dreadful story?" impatiently asked Mrs. Fitzgerald.

"I felt compelled to do it on Eulalia's account," responded Mrs. King.

"Ah, yes!" sighed the lady. "How disappointed he will be, poor
fellow!" After a brief pause, she added, vehemently: "But whatever you
may say, he is _my_ son. I never will give him up. He has slept in my
arms. I have sung him to sleep. I taught him all his little hymns and
songs. He loves me; and I will never consent to take a second place in
his affections."

"You shall not be asked to do so, dear lady," meekly replied Mrs.
King. "I will, as in duty bound, take any place you choose to assign
me."

Somewhat disarmed by this humility, Mrs. Fitzgerald said, in a
softened tone: "I pity you, Mrs. King. You have had a great deal of
trouble, and this is a very trying situation you are in. But it would
break my heart to give up Gerald. And then you must see, of course,
what an embarrassing position it would place me in before the world."

"I see no reason why the world should know anything about it,"
rejoined Mrs. King. "For Gerald's sake, as well as our own, it is very
desirable that the secret should be kept between ourselves."

"You may safely trust my pride for that," she replied.

"Do you think your father ought to be included in our confidence,"
inquired Mrs. King.

"No indeed," she replied, hastily. "He never can bear to hear my poor
husband mentioned. Besides, he has had the gout a good deal lately,
and is more irritable than usual."

As she rose to go, Mrs. King said: "Then, with the exception of
Eulalia, everything remains outwardly as it was. Can you forgive me?
I do believe I was insane with misery; and you don't know how I have
been haunted with remorse."

"You must have suffered terribly," rejoined Mrs. Fitzgerald, evading
a direct answer to the question. "But we had better not talk any more
about it now. I am bewildered, and don't know what to think. Only one
thing is fixed in my mind: Gerald is _my_ son."

They parted politely, but with coldness on Mrs. Fitzgerald's side.
There had arisen in her mind a double dislike toward Mrs. King, as the
first love of her husband, and as the mother of the elegant young man
who was to her an object of pride as well as fondness. But her chagrin
was not without compensation. Mrs. King's superior wealth and beauty
had been felt by her as somewhat overshadowing; and the mortifying
circumstances she had now discovered in her history seemed, in her
imagination, to bring her down below a level with herself. She
and Gerald sat up late into the night, talking over this strange
disclosure. She was rather jealous of the compassion he expressed for
Mrs. King, and of his admiration for her manners and character; though
they mutually declared, again and again, that they could realize no
change whatever in their relation to each other.

The wise words of Mr. King had not been without their effect on
Gerald. The tumult of emotions gradually subsided; and he began to
realize that these external accidents made no essential change in
himself. The next morning he requested an interview with Mrs.
King, and was received alone. When he entered, she cast upon him a
hesitating, beseeching look; but when he said, "My mother!" she flew
into his arms, and wept upon his neck.

"Then you do not hate me?" she said, in a voice choked with emotion,
"You are not ashamed to call me mother?"

"It was only yesterday," he replied, "that I thought with pride and
joy of the possibility that I might some day call you by that dear
name. If I had heard these particulars without knowing you, they might
have repelled me. But I have admired you from the first moment; I have
lately been learning to love you; and I am familiar with the thought
of being your son."

She raised her expressive eyes to his with such a look of love, that
he could not refrain from giving her a filial kiss and pressing
her warmly to his heart. "I was so afraid you would regard me with
dislike," said she. "You can understand now why it made me so faint
to think of singing '_M'odi! Ah, m'odi_!' with you at Mrs. Green's
party. How could I have borne your tones of anguish when you
discovered that you were connected with the Borgias? And how could I
have helped falling on your neck when you sang '_Madre mia_'? But I
must not forget that the mother who tended your childhood has the best
claim to your affection," she added mournfully.

"I love her, and always shall love her. It cannot be otherwise,"
rejoined he. "It has been the pleasant habit of so many years. But
ought I not to consider myself a lucky fellow to have two such
mothers? I don't know how I am to distinguish you. I must call you
Rose-mother and Lily-mother, I believe."

She smiled as he spoke, and she said, "Then it has not made you so
_very_ unhappy to know that you are my son?"

His countenance changed as he replied: "My only unhappiness is the
loss of Eulalia. That disappointment I must bear as I can."

"You are both very young," rejoined she; "and perhaps you may see
another--"

"I don't want to hear about that now," he exclaimed impetuously,
moving hastily toward the window, against which he leaned for a
moment. When he turned, he saw that his mother was weeping; and
he stooped to kiss her forehead, with tender apologies for his
abruptness.

"Thank God," she said, "for these brief moments of happiness with my
son."

"Yes, they must be brief," he replied. "I must go away and stay away.
But I shall always think of you with affection, and cherish the
deepest sympathy for your wrongs and sufferings."

Again she folded him in her arms, and they kissed and blessed each
other at parting. She gazed after him wistfully till he was out of
sight. "Alas!" murmured she, "he cannot be a son to me, and I cannot
be a mother to him." She recalled the lonely, sad hours when she
embroidered his baby clothes, with none but Tulee to sympathize with
her. She remembered how the little black silky head looked as she
first fondled him on her arm; and the tears began to flow like rain.
But she roused in a few moments, saying to herself: "This is all wrong
and selfish. I ought to be glad that he loves his Lily-mother, that he
can live with her, and that her heart will not be made desolate by my
fault. O Father of mercies! this is hard to bear. Help me to bear it
as I ought!" She bowed her head in silence for a while; then, rising
up, she said: "Have I not my lovely Eulalia? Poor child! I must be
very tender with her in this trial of her young heart."

She saw there was need to be very tender, when a farewell card was
sent the next day, with a bouquet of delicate flowers from Gerald
Fitzgerald.

CHAPTER XXXII.

The next morning after these conversations, Mrs. Blumenthal, who was
as yet unconscious of the secret they had revealed, was singing in the
garden, while she gathered some flowers for her vases. Mr. Bright, who
was cutting up weeds, stopped and listened, keeping time on the handle
of his hoe. When Flora came up to him, she glanced at the motion of
his fingers and smiled. "Can't help it, ma'am," said he. "When I hear
your voice, it's as much as ever I can do to keep from dancing; but if
I should do that, I should shock my neighbor the Deacon. Did you
see the stage stop there, last night? They've got visitors from
Carolina,--his daughter, and her husband and children. I reckon I
stirred him up yesterday. He came to my shop to pay for some shoeing
he'd had done. So I invited him to attend our anti-slavery meeting
to-morrow evening. He took it as an insult, and said he didn't need to
be instructed by such sort of men as spoke at our meetings. 'I know
some of us are what they call mudsills down South,' said I; 'but it
might do you good to go and hear 'em, Deacon. When a man's lamp's out,
it's better to light it by the kitchen fire than to go blundering
about in the dark, hitting himself against everything.' He said we
should find it very convenient if we had slaves here; for Northern
women were mere beasts of burden. I told him that was better than to
be beasts of prey. I thought afterward I wasn't very polite. I don't
mean to go headlong against other folks' prejudices; but the fact is,
a man never knows with what impetus he _is_ going till he comes up
against a post. I like to see a man firm as a rock in his opinions. I
have a sort of a respect for a _rock_, even if it _is_ a little mossy.
But when I come across a _post_, I like to give it a shaking, to find
out whether it's rotten at the foundation. As to things in general, I
calculate to be an obliging neighbor; but I shall keep a lookout on
these Carolina folks. If they've brought any blacks with 'em, I shall
let 'em know what the laws of Massachusetts are; and then they may
take their freedom or not, just as they choose."

"That's right," replied Mrs. Blumenthal; "and when you and the Deacon
have another encounter, I hope I shall be near enough to hear it."

As she walked away, tying up her bouquet with a spear of striped
grass, she heard him whistling the tune she had been singing. When she
returned to the parlor, she seated herself near the open window, with
a handkerchief, on which she was embroidering Mrs. Delano's initials.
Mr. Bright's remarks had somewhat excited her curiosity, and from
time to time she glanced toward Deacon Stillham's grounds. A hawthorn
hedge, neatly clipped, separated the two gardens; but here and there
the foliage had died away and left small open spaces. All at once, a
pretty little curly head appeared at one of these leafy lunettes, and
an infantile voice called out, "You're a Bob-o-lith-o-nitht!"

"Do come here, Mamita Lila, and see this little darling," said Flora,
laughing.

For a moment she was invisible. Then the cherub face came peeping out
again; and this time the little mouth was laughing, when it repeated,
"You're a Bob-o-lith-o-nitht."

"Isn't it amusing to hear such an infant trying to abuse us with a
big mouthful of a word, to which she attaches no meaning?" said Mrs.
Delano.

Flora beckoned with her hand, and called out, "Come in and see the
Bobolithonithts, darling." The little creature laughed and ran away.
At that moment, a bright turban was seen moving along above the
bushes. Then a black face became visible. Flora sprang up with a quick
cry, and rushed out of the room, upsetting her basket, and leaving
balls and thimble rolling about the floor. Placing her foot on a
stump, she leaped over the hedge like an opera-dancer, and the next
moment she had the negro woman in her arms, exclaiming: "Bless you,
Tulee! You _are_ alive, after all!"

The black woman was startled and bewildered for an instant; then she
held her off at arm's length, and looked at her with astonishment,
saying: "Bless the Lord! Is it you, Missy Flory? or is it a sperit?
Well now, _is_ it you, little one?"

"Yes, Tulee; it is I," she replied. "The same Missy Flory that used to
plague your life out with her tricks."

The colored woman hugged and kissed, and hugged and kissed, and
laughed and cried; ever and anon exclaiming, "Bless the Lord!"

Meanwhile, the playful cherub was peeping at Joe Bright through
another hole in the hedge, all unconscious how pretty her little fair
face looked in its frame of green leaves, but delighted with her own
sauciness, as she repeated, "You're a Bob-o-lith-o-nitht! you're a
Bob-o-lith-o-nitht!" When he tried to kiss her, she scampered away,
but soon reappeared again to renew the fun.

While this by-play was going on, a white servant came through the
Deacon's grounds, and said to Tulee, "Mrs. Robbem wants you to come to
her immediately, and bring Laura."

"I must go now, darling," said Tulee, clasping Flora's hand with a
warm pressure.

"Come again quickly," said Flora.

"As soon as I can," she replied, and hurried away with her little
charge.

When Mr. Bright offered his hand to help Mrs. Blumenthal over the
hedge, he burst into a hearty laugh. "Wasn't it funny," said he, "to
hear that baby calling us Bob-o-lith-o-nithts? They begin education
early down South. Before the summer is out she'll be talking about the
cuth o' Ham, and telling the story of Onethimuth. But they've found a
mare's nest now, Mrs. Blumenthal. The Deacon will be writing to his
Carolina friends how the Massachusetts ladies hug and kiss niggers."

Flora smiled as she answered: "I suppose it must seem strange to them,
Mr. Bright. But the fact is, that black woman tended me when I was a
child; and I haven't seen her for twenty years."

As soon as she entered the house, she explained the scene to Mrs.
Delano, and then said to her daughter: "Now, Rosen Blumen, you may
leave your drawing and go to Aunt Rosa, and tell her I want to see her
for something special, and she must come as soon as possible. Don't
tell her anything more. You may stay and spend the day with Eulalia,
if you like."

"How many mysteries and surprises we have," observed Mrs. Delano. "A
dozen novels might be made out of your adventures."

The hasty summons found Mrs. King still melancholy with the thought
that her newly found son could be no more to her than a shadow. Glad
to have her thoughts turned in another direction, she sent Rosen
Blumen to her cousin, and immediately prepared to join her sister.
Flora, who was watching for her, ran out to the gate to meet her,
and before she entered the house announced that Tulee was alive. The
little that was known was soon communicated, and they watched with the
greatest anxiety for the reappearance of Tulee. But the bright turban
was seen no more during the forenoon; and throughout the afternoon no
one but the Deacon and his gardener were visible about the grounds.
The hours of waiting were spent by the sisters and Mrs. Delano in a
full explanation of the secret history of Gerald Fitzgerald, and Mrs.
King's consequent depression of spirits. The evening wore away without
any tidings from Tulee. Between nine and ten o'clock they heard the
voice of the Deacon loud in prayer. Joe Bright, who was passing the
open window, stopped to say: "He means his neighbors shall hear him,
anyhow. I reckon he thinks it's a good investment for character. He's
a cute manager, the Deacon is; and a quickster, too, according to his
own account; for he told me when he made up his mind to have religion,
he wasn't half an hour about it. I'd a mind to tell him I should think
slave-trading religion was a job done by contract, knocked up in a
hurry."

"Mr. Bright," said Flora, in a low voice, "if you see that colored
woman, I wish you would speak to her, and show her the way in."

The sisters sat talking over their affairs with their husbands, in low
tones, listening anxiously meanwhile to every sound. Mr. and Mrs. King
were just saying they thought it was best to return home, when Mr.
Bright opened the door and Tulee walked in. Of course, there was a
general exclaiming and embracing. There was no need of introducing the
husbands, for Tulee remembered them both. As soon as she could take
breath, she said: "I've had _such_ a time to get here! I've been
trying all day, and I couldn't get a chance, they kept such watch of
me. At last, when they was all abed and asleep, I crept down stairs
softly, and come out of the back door, and locked it after me."

"Come right up stairs with me," said Rosa. "I want to speak to you."
As soon as they were alone, she said, "Tulee, where is the baby?"

"Don't know no more than the dead what's become of the poor little
picaninny," she replied. "After ye went away, Missy Duroy's cousin,
who was a sea-captain, brought his baby with a black nurse to board
there, because his wife had died. I remember how ye looked at me when
ye said, 'Take good care of the poor little baby.' And I did try to
take good care of him. I toted him about a bit out doors whenever I
could get a chance. One day, just as I was going back into the house,
a gentleman o'horseback turned and looked at me. I didn't think
anything about it then; but the next day, he come to the house, and he
said I was Mr. Royal's slave, and that Mr. Fitzgerald bought me. He
wanted to know where ye was; and when I told him ye'd gone over the
sea with Madame and the Signor, he cursed and swore, and said he'd
been cheated. When he went away, Missis Duroy said it was Mr.
Bruteman. I didn't think there was much to be 'fraid of, 'cause ye'd
got away safe, and I had free papers, and the picaninny was too small
to be sold. But I remembered ye was always anxious about his being a
slave, and I was a little uneasy. One day when the sea-captain came to
see his baby, he was marking an anchor on his own arm with a needle
and some sort of black stuff; and he said 't would never come out. I
thought if they should carry off yer picaninny, it would be more easy
to find him again if he was marked. I told the captain I had heard ye
call him Gerald; and he said he would mark G.F. on his arm. The poor
little thing worried in his sleep while he was doing it, and Missis
Duroy scolded at me for hurting him. The next week Massa Duroy was
taken with yellow-fever; and then Missis Duroy was taken, and then the
captain's baby and the black nurse. I was frighted, and tried to keep
the picaninny out doors all I could. One day, when I'd gone a bit from
the house, two men grabbed us and put us in a cart. When I screamed,
they beat me, and swore at me for a runaway nigger. When I said I was
free, they beat me more, and told me to shut up. They put us in the
calaboose; and when I told 'em the picaninny belonged to a white
lady, they laughed and said there was a great many white niggers. Mr.
Bruteman come to see us, and he said we was his niggers. When I showed
him my free paper, he said 't want good for anything, and tore it to
pieces. O Missy Rosy, that was a dreadful dark time. The jailer's wife
didn't seem so hard-hearted as the rest. I showed her the mark on the
picaninny's arm, and gave her one of the little shirts ye embroidered;
and I told her if they sold me away from him, a white lady would
send for him. They did sell me, Missy Rosy. Mr. Robbem, a Caroliny
slave-trader bought me, and he's my massa now. I don't know what they
did with the picaninny. I didn't know how to write, and I didn't know
where ye was. I was always hoping ye would come for me some time; and
at last I thought ye must be dead."

"Poor Tulee," said Rosa. "They wrote that Mr. and Mrs. Duroy and the
black woman and the white baby all died of yellow-fever; and we didn't
know there was any other black woman there. I've sent to New Orleans,
and I've been there; and many a cry I've had, because we couldn't find
you. But your troubles are all over now. You shall come and live with
us."

"But I'm Mr. Robbem's slave," replied Tulee.

"No, you are not," answered Rosa. "You became free the moment they
brought you to Massachusetts."

"Is it really so?" said Tulee, brightening up in look and tone.
Then, with a sudden sadness, she added: "I've got three chil'ren in
Carolina. They've sold two on 'em; but they've left me my little
Benny, eight years old. They wouldn't have brought me here, if they
hadn't known Benny would pull me back."

"We'll buy your children," said Rosa.

"Bless ye, Missy Rosy!" she exclaimed. "Ye's got the same kind heart
ye always had. How glad I am to see ye all so happy!"

"O Tulee!" groaned Rosa, "I can never be happy till that poor little
baby is found. I've no doubt that wicked Bruteman sold him." She
covered her face with her hands, and the tears trickled through her
fingers.

"The Lord comfort ye!" said Tulee, "I did all I could for yer poor
little picaninny."

"I know you did, Tulee," she replied. "But I am _so_ sorry Madame
didn't take you with us! When she told me she had left you, I was
afraid something bad would happen; and I would have gone back for
you if I could. But it is too late to talk any more now. Mr. King is
waiting for me to go home. Why can't you go with us to-night?"

"I must go back," rejoined Tulee. "I've got the key with me, and I
left the picaninny asleep in my bed. I'll come again to-morrow night,
if I can."

"Don't say if you can, Tulee," replied Mrs. King. "Remember you are
not a slave here. You can walk away at mid-day, and tell them you are
going to live with us."

"They'd lock me up and send me back to Caroliny, if I told 'em so,"
said Tulee. "But I'll come, Missy Rosy."

Rosa kissed the dark cheek she had so often kissed when they were
children together, and they parted for the night.

The next day and the next night passed without a visit from Tulee.
Mr. and Mrs. Bright, who entered into the affair with the liveliest
interest, expressed the opinion that she had been spirited away and
sent South. The sisters began to entertain a similar fear; and it
was decided that their husbands should call with them the following
morning, to have a talk with Mr. and Mrs. Robbem. But not long after
breakfast, Tulee stole into the back door with the cherub in her arms.

"O Missy Flory," said she, "I tried to get here last night. But Missis
Robbem takes a heap o' care o' me." She said this with a mischievous
smile. "When we was at the Astor House, she locked up my clothes in
her room, 'cause New York was such a dreadful wicked place, she was
'fraid they'd be stole; and she never let me out o' her sight, for
fear the colored waiters in the hotel would be impudent to me. Last
night she sent me away up into the cupola to sleep, 'cause she said I
could have more room there. And when I'd got the picaninny asleep, and
was watching for a chance to steal away, she come all the way up there
very softly, and said she'd brought me some hot drink, 'cause I didn't
seem to be well. Then she begun to advise me not to go near the next
house. She told me Abolitionists was very bad people; that they
pretended to be great friends to colored folks, but all they wanted
was to steal 'em and sell 'em to the West Indies. I told her I didn't
know nothing 'bout Abolitionists; that the lady I was hugging and
kissing was a New Orleans lady that I used to wait upon when we was
picaninnies. She said if you had the feelings Southern ladies ought to
have, you wouldn't be boarding with Abolitionists. When she went down
stairs I didn't dare to come here, for fear she'd come up again with
some more hot drink. This morning she told me to walk up street with
the picaninny; and she watched me till I was out o' sight. But I went
round and round and got over a fence, and come through Massa Bright's
barn."

Mr. and Mrs. King came in as she was speaking; and she turned to them,
saying anxiously, "Do you think, Massa, if I don't go back with 'em,
they'll let me have my chil'ren?"

"Don't call me Massa," replied Mr. King, "I dislike the sound of it.
Speak to me as other people do. I have no doubt we shall manage it so
that you will have your children. I will lead home this pretty little
Tot, and tell them you are going to stay with us."

With bonbons and funny talk he gained the favor of Tot, so that she
consented to walk with him. Tulee often applied her apron to her eyes,
as she watched the little creature holding by his finger, and
stepping along in childish fashion, turning her toes inward. When she
disappeared through the Deacon's front door, she sat down and cried
outright. "I love that little picaninny," sobbed she. "I've tended her
ever since she was born; and I love her. She'll cry for Tulee. But I
does want to be free, and I does want to live with ye, Missy Rosy and
Missy Flory."

Mrs. Robbem met Mr. King as soon as he entered her father's door, and
said in a tone of stern surprise, "Where is my servant, sir?"

He bowed and answered, "If you will allow me to walk in for a few
moments, I will explain my errand." As soon as they were seated he
said: "I came to inform you that Tulee does not wish to go back to
Carolina; and that by the laws of Massachusetts she has a perfect
right to remain here."

"She's an ungrateful wench!" exclaimed Mrs. Robbem. "She's always been
treated kindly, and she wouldn't have thought of taking such a step,
if she hadn't been put up to it by meddlesome Abolitionists, who are
always interfering with gentlemen's servants."

"The simple fact is," rejoined Mr. King, "Tulee used to be the
playmate and attendant of my wife when both of them were children.
They lived together many years, and are strongly attached to each
other."

"If your wife is a Southern lady," replied Mrs. Robbem, "she ought to
be above such a mean Yankee trick as stealing my servant from me."

Her husband entered at that moment, and the visitor rose and bowed as
he said, "Mr. Robbem, I presume."

He lowered his head somewhat stiffly in reply; and his wife hastened
to say, "The Abolitionists have been decoying Tulee away from us."

Mr. King repeated the explanation he had already made.

"I thought the wench had more feeling," replied Mr. Robbem. "She left
children in Carolina. But the fact is, niggers have no more feeling
for their young than so many pigs."

"I judge differently," rejoined Mr. King; "and my principal motive for
calling was to speak to you about those children. I wish to purchase
them for Tulee."

"She shall never have them, sir!" exclaimed the slave-trader,
fiercely. "And as for you Abolitionists, all I wish is that we had you
down South."

"Differences of opinion must be allowed in a free country," replied
Mr. King. "I consider slavery a bad institution, injurious to the
South, and to the whole country. But I did not come here to discuss
that subject. I simply wish to make a plain business statement to you.
Tulee chooses to take her freedom, and any court in Massachusetts will
decide that she has a right to take it. But, out of gratitude for
services she has rendered my wife, I am willing to make you gratuitous
compensation, provided you will enable me to buy all her children.
Will you name your terms now, or shall I call again?".

"She shall never have her children," repeated Mr. Robbem; "she has
nobody but herself and the Abolitionists to blame for it."

"I will, however, call again, after you have thought of it more
calmly," said Mr. King. "Good morning, sir; good morning, madam."

His salutations were silently returned with cold, stiff bows.

A second and third attempt was made with no better success. Tulee grew
very uneasy. "They'll sell my Benny," said she. "Ye see they ain't got
any heart, 'cause they's used to selling picaninnies."

"What, does this Mr. Robbem carry on the Deacon's old business?"
inquired Mr. Bright.

"Yes, Massa," replied Tulee. "Two years ago, Massa Stillham come down
to Caroliny to spend the winter, and he was round in the slave-pen
as brisk as Massa Robbem, counting the niggers, and telling how many
dollars they ought to sell for. He had a dreadful bad fever while he
was down there, and I nursed him. He was out of his head half the
time, and he was calling out: 'Going! going! How much for this likely
nigger? Stop that wench's squalling for her brat! Carry the brat off!'
It was dreadful to hear him."

"I suppose he calculated upon going to heaven if he died," rejoined
Mr. Bright; "and if he'd gone into the kingdom with such words in his
mouth, it would have been a heavenly song for the four-and-twenty
elders to accompany with their golden harps."

"They'll sell my Benny," groaned Tulee; "and then I shall never see
him again."

"I have no doubt Mr. King will obtain your children," replied Mr.
Bright; "and you should remember that, if you go back South, just as
likely as not they will sell him where you will never see him or hear
from him."

"I know it, Massa, I know it," answered she.

"I am not your master," rejoined he. "I allow no man to call me
master, and certainly not any woman; though I don't belong to the
chivalry."

His prediction proved true. The Deacon and his son-in-law held
frequent consultations. "This Mr. King is rich as Croesus," said the
Deacon; "and if he thinks his wife owes a debt to Tulee, he'll be
willing to give a round sum for her children. I reckon you can make a
better bargain with him than you could in the New Orleans market."

"Do you suppose he'd give five thousand dollars for the young
niggers?" inquired the trader.

"Try him," said the Deacon.

The final result was that the sum was deposited by Mr. King, to be
paid over whenever Tulee's children made their appearance; and in due
time they all arrived. Tulee was full of joy and gratitude; but Mr.
Bright always maintained it was a sin and a shame to pay slave-traders
so much for what never belonged to them.

Of course there were endless questions to be asked and answered
between the sisters and their faithful servant; but all she could tell
threw no further light on the destiny of the little changeling whom
she supposed to be Rosa's own child. In the course of these private
conversations, it came out that she herself had suffered, as all women
must suffer, who have the feelings of human beings, and the treatment
of animals. But her own humble little episode of love and separation,
of sorrow and shame, was whispered only to Missy Rosy and Missy Flory.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

The probability that the lost child was alive and in slavery was
a very serious complication of existing difficulties. Thinking it
prudent to prepare Gerald's mind for any contingencies that might
occur, Mr. King proceeded immediately to Boston to have a conference
with him. The young man received the news with unexpected composure.

"It will annoy Lily-mother very much," said he, "and on that account
I regret it; but so far as I am myself concerned, it would in some
respects be a relief to me to get out of the false position in which I
find myself. Grandfather Bell has always grumbled about the expense I
have been to him in consequence of my father's loss of fortune, and of
course that adds to the unpleasantness of feeling that I am practising
a fraud upon him. He is just now peculiarly vexed with me for leaving
Northampton so suddenly. He considers it an unaccountable caprice of
mine, and reproaches me with letting Eulalia slip through my fingers,
as he expresses it. Of course, he has no idea how it cuts me. This
state of things is producing a great change in my views. My prevailing
wish now is to obtain an independent position by my own exertions, and
thus be free to become familiar with my new self. At present, I feel
as if there were two of me, and that one was an impostor."

"I heartily approve of your wish to rely upon your own resources,"
replied Mr. King; "and I will gladly assist you to accomplish it. I
have already said you should be to me as a son, and I stand by my
word; but I advise you, as I would an own son, to devote yourself
assiduously to some business, profession, or art. Never be a gentleman
of leisure. It is the worst possible calling a man can have. Nothing
but stagnation of faculties and weariness of soul comes of it. But we
will talk about _your_ plans hereafter. The urgent business of the
present moment is to obtain some clew to your missing brother. My
conscientious wife will suffer continual anxiety till he is found. I
must go to New Orleans and seek out Mr. Bruteman, to ascertain whether
he has sold him."

"Bruteman!" exclaimed the young man, with sudden interest. "Was he the
one who seized that negro woman and the child?"

"Yes," rejoined Mr. King. "But why does that excite your interest?"

"I am almost ashamed to tell you," replied Gerald. "But you know I
was educated in the prejudices of my father and grandfather. It was
natural that I should be proud of being the son of a slaveholder,
that I should despise the colored race, and consider abolition a very
vulgar fanaticism. But the recent discovery that I was myself born a
slave has put me upon my thoughts, and made me a little uneasy about
a transaction in which I was concerned. The afternoon preceding Mrs.
Green's splendid ball, where I first saw my beautiful Rose-mother, two
fugitive slaves arrived here in one of grandfather's ships called 'The
King Cotton.' Mr. Bruteman telegraphed to grandfather about them, and
the next morning he sent me to tell Captain Kane to send the slaves
down to the islands in the harbor, and keep them under guard till a
vessel passed that would take them back to New Orleans. I did his
errand, without bestowing upon the subjects of it any more thought or
care than I should have done upon two bales of cotton. At parting,
Captain Kane said to me, 'By George, Mr. Fitzgerald, one of these
fellows looks so much like you, that, if you were a little tanned by
exposure to the sun, I shouldn't know you apart.' 'That's flattering,'
replied I, 'to be compared to a negro.' And I hurried away, being
impatient to make an early call upon your lady at the Revere House. I
don't suppose I should ever have thought of it again, if your present
conversation had not brought it to my mind."

"Do you know whether Mr. Bruteman sold those slaves after they were
sent back?" inquired Mr. King.

"There is one fact connected with the affair which I will tell you,
if you promise not to mention it," replied the young man. "The
Abolitionists annoyed grandfather a good deal about those runaways,
and he is nervously sensitive lest they should get hold of it, and
publish it in their papers." Having received the desired promise, he
went on to say: "Those slaves were mortgaged to grandfather, and he
sent orders to have them immediately sold. I presume Mr. Bruteman
managed the transaction, for they were his slaves; but I don't know
whether he reported the name of the purchaser. He died two months
ago, leaving his affairs a good deal involved; and I heard that some
distant connections in Mississippi were his heirs."

"Where can I find Captain Kane?" inquired Mr. King.

"He sailed for Calcutta a fortnight ago," rejoined Gerald.

"Then there is no other resource but to go to New Orleans, as soon as
the weather will permit," was the reply.

"I honor your zeal," said the young man. "I wish my own record was
clean on the subject. Since I have taken the case home to myself,
I have felt that it was mean and wrong to send back fugitives from
slavery; but it becomes painful, when I think of the possibility of
having helped to send back my own brother,--and one, too, whom I have
supplanted in his birthright."

* * * * *

When Mr. King returned to Northampton, the information he had obtained
sent a new pang to the heart of his wife. "Then he _is_ a slave!" she
exclaimed. "And while the poor fellow was being bound and sent back
to slavery, I was dancing and receiving homage. Verily the Furies do
pursue me. Do you think it is necessary to tell Mrs. Fitzgerald of
this?"

"In a reverse of cases, I think you would feel that you ought to be
informed of everything," he replied. "But I will save you from that
portion of the pain. It was most fitting that a woman should make the
first part of the disclosure; but this new light on the subject can be
as well revealed by myself."

"Always kind and considerate," she said. "This news will be peculiarly
annoying to her, and perhaps she will receive it better from you than
from me; for I can see that I have lost her favor. But you have taught
me that it is of more consequence to _deserve_ favor than to _have_
it; and I shall do my utmost to deserve a kindly estimate from her."

"I confess I am somewhat puzzled by this tangle," rejoined her
husband. "But where there is both the will and the means to repair a
wrong, it will be strange if a way cannot be found."

"I would like to sell my diamonds, and all my other expensive
ornaments, to buy that young man," said she.

"That you can do, if it will be any gratification to you," he replied;
"but the few thousands I have invested in jewels for you would go but
little way toward the full remuneration I intend to make, if he can be
found. We will send the young people out of the way this evening, and
lay the case before a family council of the elders. I should like to
consult Blumenthal. I have never known a man whose natural instincts
were so true as his; and his entire freedom from conventional
prejudices reminds me of my good father. I have great reliance also
on Mrs. Delano's delicate perceptions and quiet good sense. And our
lively little Flora, though she jumps to her conclusions, always jumps
in a straight line, and usually hits the point."

As soon as the council was convened, and the subject introduced, Mrs.
Blumenthal exclaimed: "Why, Florimond, those slaves in 'The King
Cotton' were the ones you and Mr. Goldwin tried so hard to help them
find."

"Yes," rejoined he; "I caught a hasty glimpse of one of the poor
fellows just as they were seizing him with the cry of 'Stop thief!'
and his Italian look reminded me so forcibly of the danger Flora was
once in, that I was extremely troubled about him after I heard he was
a slave. As I recall him to my mind, I do think he resembled young
Fitzgerald. Mr. Percival might perhaps throw some light on the
subject; for he was unwearied in his efforts to rescue those
fugitives. He already knows Flora's history."

"I should like to have you go to Boston with me and introduce me to
him," said Mr. King.

"That I will do," answered Blumenthal. "I think both Mr. Bell and
Mrs. Fitzgerald would prefer to have it all sink into unquestioned
oblivion; but that does not change our duty with regard to the poor
fellow."

"Do you think they ought to be informed of the present circumstances?"
inquired Mr. King.

"If I were in their position, I should think I ought to know all the
particulars," replied he; "and the golden rule is as good as it is
simple."

"Mrs. Fitzgerald has great dread of her father's knowing anything
about it," responded Rosa; "and I have an earnest desire to spare her
pain as far as possible. It seems as if she had a right to judge in
the premises."

Mrs. Delano took Mr. Blumenthal's view of the subject, and it was
decided to leave that point for further consideration. Flora suggested
that some difficulties might be removed by at once informing Eulalia
that Gerald was her brother. But Mrs. Delano answered: "Some
difficulties might be avoided for ourselves by that process; but the
good of the young people is a paramount consideration. You know none
of them are aware of all the antecedents in their family history,
and it seems to me best that they should not know them till their
characters are fully formed. I should have no objection to telling
them of their colored ancestry, if it did not involve a knowledge of
laws and customs and experiences growing out of slavery, which might,
at this early age, prove unsettling to their principles. Anything that
mystifies moral perceptions is not so easily removed from youthful
minds as breath is wiped from a mirror."

"I have that feeling very deeply fixed with regard to our Eulalia,"
observed Mr. King; "and I really see no need of agitating their
young, unconscious minds with subjects they are too inexperienced to
understand. I will have a talk with Mrs. Fitzgerald, and then proceed
to Boston."

Mrs. Fitzgerald received the announcement with much less equanimity
than she had manifested on a former occasion. Though habitually
polite, she said very abruptly: "I was in hopes I should never be
troubled any more with this vulgar subject. Since Mrs. King saw fit to
change the children, let her take care of the one she has chosen. Of
course, it would be very disagreeable to me to have a son who had been
brought up among slaves. If I wished to make his acquaintance, I could
not do it without exciting a great deal of remark; and there has
already been too much talk about my husband's affairs. But I have no
wish to see him. I have educated a son to my own liking, and everybody
says he is an elegant young man. If you would cease from telling me
that there is a stain in his blood, I should never be reminded of it."

"We thought it right to inform you of everything," rejoined Mr. King,
"and leave you to decide what was to be done."

"Then, once for all," said she, "please leave Gerald and me in peace;
and do what you choose about the other one. We have had sufficient
annoyance already; and I never wish to hear the subject mentioned
again."

"I accept your decision," replied Mr. King. "If the unfortunate young
man can be found, I will educate him and establish him in business,
and do the same for him in all respects that you would have done if he
had been your acknowledged heir."

"And keep him at a distance from me," said the perturbed lady; "for
if he resembles Gerald so strongly, it would of course give rise to
unpleasant inquiries and remarks."

The gentleman bowed, wished her good morning, and departed, thinking
what he had heard was a strange commentary on natural instincts.

Mr. Percival was of course greatly surprised and excited when he
learned the relation which one of the fugitives in "The King Cotton"
bore to Mr. Bell. "We hear a good deal about poetical justice," said
he; "but one rarely sees it meted out in this world. The hardness of

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